Over the next week, the Downtown Revitalization Committee is once again asking the community for comments on their plans so far to give Penticton’s downtown a makeover.
“We are in the dialogue phase of planning and we’re looking to have a conversation with the community on the ideas that came out of the stakeholder design charrette,” said Barb Haynes, the committee co-chair and Downtown Penticton Association executive director. “Creating a plan for Downtown Penticton requires input from the public, and we’re looking forward to listening to everyone’s thoughts, ideas and suggestions.”
At the same time, the committee is asking city council to put some ideas on the table during the 2013 budget discussions. These are what Nick Bevanda, co-chair of the committee, once referred to as low-hanging fruit, priorities that can be developed in a relatively short time span, but giving great community impact.
“Those priorities are areas that the committee felt they would like to see move forward first and looking at the long-term vision to be expanded over subsequent years,” said Haynes. That includes improvements to Westminster Avenue and Martin Street as well as repurposing the old bus barn on Ellis Street.
“A sub-committee has already met and is working feverishly to move forward on that idea,” said Haynes, describing the concept of turning the city-owned building into a year-round, Granville Island-style indoor market. It would not, however, be a replacement for the regular Saturday markets.
“The markets along Main Street are a major draw for this community,” said Haynes. “We know that people come from all over the Okanagan Valley on Saturdays to come and do the markets. That needs to be retained and enhanced to keep growing that opportunity, It’s great for the business community and great for Penticton in general.”
That will be one of the ideas the committee is hoping for input on, along with the North Park concept, which would see part of Main Street closed.
“There is an artist’s rendering connecting the parks across the street and maybe having an opportunity to close part of the 100 block for community events and community activities,” said Haynes. “Creating a bit of a square concept, really being able to enhance activity in Gyro Park, in particular, that beautiful bandshell that we have.”
The important thing to remember, said Haynes, is that these are still design concepts, that they are looking to refine through public input.
“The downtown plan has not been formally designed yet,” she said. “This is still conversation so that we can move forward with a design that the community is telling us they want to see.”
The dialogue sessions will outline what the city and committee heard from the community during visioning and learning phases this spring, and ideas that came from the Vibrant Penticton downtown design charrette in August.
There will be three sessions, starting on Saturday at the Downtown Market, from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The storyboards and other displays with move to the Penticton Community Centre on Monday, from 3 to 7 p.m., with a final session at the Shatford Centre from 4 to 7 p.m. next Thursday.
A “Come and Eat Downtown” campaign will also be held from Sept. 24 to 28. From noon to 2 p.m. each day, patrons can visit restaurants in downtown Penticton and receive a rack card that includes current pictures of the downtown compared with conceptual drawings of what improvements could be made in future.
Residents and stakeholders are welcome to give their input and feedback at any time by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Regular updates on the Downtown Revitalization Select Committee’s progress will also be available at www.penticton.ca/downtown.