After years of focus on Penticton’s downtown and waterfront as strategic priorities, a city staff report is suggesting it’s time to rethink.
One of the key recommendations of the Organizational Focus 2017-2021 report, delivered by Stephanie Chambers of the city’s Economic Development office, is to put downtown and waterfront revitalization on the back burner.
“Seeing we’ve had some success with waterfront and downtown, we need to be looking at areas outside of downtown that need some attention,” said Mayor Andrew Jakubeit. “Certainly for the next couple of years, I would suspect we will be working on some of our facilities, potentially combining them. Memorial Arena is the one that has the biggest need.”
The recommendation is that no more work been done on downtown and waterfront revitalization for the next five years, in light of what has been learned about the condition of the city’s infrastructure and facilities over the last year.
“That will be a discussion at budget, but I think in light of the realities that are in front of us … now we have the infrastructure deficit we have to start creating a plan for,” said Jakubeit.
The hold would include work planned on the area surrounding the SS Sicamous, but Jakubeit said what happens there depends on the will of council and community involvement.
Read more: SS Sicamous master plan gaining steam
“Whether council still has an appetite to do something with the SS Sicamous or some of the service clubs rally together so we can leverage money or grants, it makes sense to look at that,” said Jakubeit, noting this shift in priorities is being brought forward for consideration, and it is up to council to decide what path to take.
“We are hearing loud and clear from the public there is a lot more work to be done,” Chambers told council, referencing the work done by engagement consultant Joanne Kleb. “We are trying to get it down to a manageable space.”
“To make a dent we need to be focused and aligned on a couple of key avenues to make the city a bit more sustainable and livable,” said Jakubeit.
One of those “livable” recommendations is that the city have green and open spaces that are preserved and protected, a key desire of residents who opposed, successfully, the leasing of a portion of Skaha Lake Park to a private developer.
“Over the last 18 months, we saw the passion in the community,” said Jakubeit. “Green space is important, and I think it is evident it is important to the community too.”