Penticton city council has begun the process to turn the former Greyhound Property into a short-term, downtown parking lot.
Located at 303, 307, 313, 317 and 319 Ellis Street, the city purchased the lot in December 2018 for $1.2 million following the closure of Greyhound services in this region of the province. According to a report from city staff, at the time of purchase staff advised that the existing building is approximately 50 years old and is highly likely to contain asbestos and other hazardous material.
At the regular council meeting on Feb. 5, Coun. Judy Sentes noted that members of the public have suggested “the city not move so hastily in making a decision” with tearing down the building so that it may be used for other services such as a homeless shelter. Anthony Haddad, director of development services, said it would be “a financially difficult prospect” because “the building would require significant upgrades to be a habitable space.”
The long-term vision for the lot in question has yet to be reviewed by the Official Community Plan and is expected to take place over the coming years. The idea to have the lot maintained as a parking lot in the interim was proposed to current and expected future demand for downtown parking.
Council voted unanimously to support the allocation of $280,000 from the city’s Capital Reserve for the demolition of the Greyhound building and construction of a parking lot in its place. Of the total cost, $150,000 is allocated to remove the hazardous materials in the building prior to demolition.
Following this allocation of funding, the demolition is expected to take place in March to April of this year. The city’s engineering department designed a parking lot for the space that contains 55 parking stalls and will accommodate electrical vehicles, and bicycles with bike lockers and racks.
“Once constructed, the parking lot will be allocated for long-term parking for downtown employees, where they would pay to park from Monday to Friday (9 a.m. to 6 p.m.), and the parking lot would then be open to the public in the evenings and weekend, similar to other long-term parking along Ellis Street,” states the city report. “Revenue generated from the parking lot will be approximately $40,000 per year, based on current parking rates for long-term parking downtown.”
The report also noted that at the end of 2018, approximately 150 people were on the wait list for the the city’s Ellis Street monthly paid parking lots. It also noted a larger employer has been interested in purchasing 20-30 annual parking passes downtown.
Coun. Julius Bloomfield asked whether the space could be used as a “transport hub” for future buses to exchanges. Haddad said there is opportunity for this in the future and the site in – its parking lot form – will be under review by the Transit Future Plan in 2020.
Coun. Campbell Watt and Mayor John Vassilaki both supported this proposed short-term parking lot project, but were wary about approving multiple parking lots in the future rather than supporting alternate forms of transit. Haddad noted that the city is looking into the feasibility of a parking garage in Penticton in the future.
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