Penticton neighbourhood waiting decades for updates

After decades, Corry Place may finally be getting some infrastructure upgrades.

After decades, Corry Place may finally be getting some infrastructure upgrades.

On Sept. 29, city staff met with property owners and were presented with three concept plans for improvements to the street. How much it is going to cost property owners, however, was the subject of heated debate.

Like most city improvement projects, property owners are expected to pay a share of the costs, about $20,000 in this case. But a group of property owners from the neighbourhood made it clear they think the city should be bearing the full cost.

Garry Gratton, who is running for a council seat on Nov. 15, was there as a homeowner, leading a delegation of his neighbours on Corry Place, where he has lived for 15 years with his family.

“I am actually quite shocked at the level of deterioration and neglect on our street,” said Gratton, adding that he has been trying for the 15 years he has lived on Corry Place to get the city to look at improvements. “It is a great place to live, it is a great location. But it is very sadly neglected.”

Gratton said some of his neighbours have been trying to get city hall’s attention for close to two decades. Each year, Gratton said he and his wife visit city hall and are assured by staff that Corry Place is on the books and will be worked on in the next few years.

“We have had that same story for over 20 years, and nothing has been done,” said Gratton. They were happy when city staff were able to present them with some concrete plans, but less than pleased with paying for a portion of the costs.

“I don’t believe that is written in stone, but we want to make it very clear that we, the residents of Corry Place, are unanimous in not thinking or feeling this is a fair,” Gratton said, pointing out that the street hasn’t had a proper drainage system since the first house was built in 1960, and lacks proper street paving.

“As a result, this has been an ongoing issue for over 50 years,” said Gratton, who estimated property owners on the street have paid between $2 and $3 million in property taxes over the last 54 years.

“Not only do we need these improvements but we deserve these improvements after being neglected for 54 years. Give us what we have been paying for,” said Gratton.

Council debated the issue of costs, eventually supporting the a suggestion from Coun. Judy Sentes they send the plan through to the 2015 budget talks with the city taking on the full cost of the curbs.

Coun. Helena Konanz warned that they could be setting a precedent.

“There will be many, many more neighborhoods coming forward that have basic infrastructure issues that need to be met immediately,” said Konanz.

Coun. John Vassilaki said the city shouldn’t be worried about a precedent, but rather see it as a spur to more regular roadwork.

“Perhaps that is what is needed in Penticton to get us fixing up all those roads that should have been fixed many years ago,” said Vassilaki.