The final phase of Penticton’s lake-to-lake bike lane is the cause of concern for a pair of local 27-year business owners.
Tracy and Dan Fehr have seen their fair share of changes since buying South Main Market in 1996, from the construction of new nearby developments to significant city-led roadwork.
Never until now, after close to three decades of running the popular 70-plus-year-old location, have they feared a change will put the viability of the business in doubt.
But that’s how they feel about the pending construction of the city’s bike lane along South Main Street.
“Parking and delivery access,” Tracy told the Western News. “That’s what we’re concerned about.”
Delivery trucks park across the street upon arrival at South Main Market, the Fehrs explained. Those behind the wheel of a Coca-Cola or Pepsi truck, for instance, will unload supplies while stopped on the side of the busy Penticton road and walk through the doors of the market just like any customer would.
Other suppliers choose to back into the market’s side lot, they added.
But city staff confirmed last month the bike lane will feature not one but two concrete barriers on each side of South Main Street. The market’s owners fear that both delivery scenarios, as a result, will be directly impacted.
“What does a truck do, then?” Dan asked.
Customer parking, meanwhile, could also take a hit, the owners say.
Today, South Main Market features eight parking spots.
The bike lane’s final phase — a $1.5 million section that will be built along South Main Street through to Yorkton Avenue near Skaha Lake Park — could change the way customers in vehicles arrive at the neighbourhood grocer, Tracy said.
“They want us to come in a new (parking) entrance, angled spots, so no more backing in and out,” she explained. “That will make it a lot more difficult, and also probably take away from our eight spots now.”
The city has not confirmed its bike-lane design plans for South Main Street.
“City staff are still working on the design proposals and includes working with the owners of the South Main Market,” the city’s communications advisor Shane Mills wrote in an email to the Western News. “Nothing has been finalized as we continue to work on the overall design of the final section. We anticipate being able to share a draft with the public in about a month or so.”
South Main Market features a deli, a bakery and common grocery items. The Fehrs say that could all change in a blink, however, if fewer deliveries are made and customer traffic flow takes a hit, as a result of the potential bike-lane-related changes along the road.
“It can all kind of snowball because if you aren’t busy enough, our grocery provider ups the price,” Dan said.
“We don’t want to turn into a convenience store,” Tracy added. “We’d like to keep it a market, almost like a small grocery store, that has sandwiches, bakery items and stuff. If we don’t have the traffic flow, we won’t be able to offer those services anymore.”
An emotional Tracy appeared before council during public-question period on March 16, after the $1.5 million section of the bike lane was put back into Penticton’s budget for 2023.
“Obviously, I’m extremely emotional about this,” she said to council. “It’s going to affect us greatly after 27 years in business.”
For about 24 hours last month, it appeared as though the bike lane’s final phase wouldn’t become an immediate reality.
Coun. James Miller brought forward a motion during the city’s budget deliberations on March 14, to remove the $1.5 million allotment set aside for the project’s last section. His motion was successful, following a 4-3 vote, but coun. Ryan Graham changed his mind during a re-vote shortly after, defeating Miller’s original motion and giving life to the South Main bike lane once again.
Although stating his opposition to the bike lanes, Graham responded to the South Main Market owner by indicating his desire to finish the project before “fixing” any potential issues in the future.