Penticton rolls out cycling network plan

Councillor objects to removing Channel Parkway from plan at request of Ministry of Highways

Following a public hearing last week, Penticton council officially adopted the new trails and cycling network plan, which will eventually see the city crisscrossed by interconnecting bike routes.

It didn’t happen without some opposition. George Little of the Penticton Industrial Development Association filed a letter registering their opposition to bike lanes through the industrial area, citing safety and minimal use by cyclists.

But a more vocal opposition came from an unexpected source. Coun. Helen Konanz, an avid cyclist, spoke against adopting the plan, objecting to the removal of the Channel Parkway from the plan, a change made at the behest of the Ministry of Transportation.

“It’s a mistake to take it out of our plan because it is a thoroughfare for bikes in Penticton and around Penticton and the Okanagan,” said Konanz, citing the heavy bike traffic on the corridor in spring, summer and fall. “The MOT should be embracing the thoroughfare on Channel Parkway and making it safer for our bikes to go along there.”

Though the rest of the council agreed the Parkway sees heavy use by cyclists, Coun. Wes Hopkin was the only member that spoke in support of Konanz’ position, though he wasn’t too sure about taking a bike on the highway himself.

“I think it is kind of insane at times. I don’t know that I would want to ride on the highway with my bike or go up the hill to Summerland, but people are going to use it,” said Hopkin.

“It seems silly not to, simply because the MOT would like us not to have bikes on there. The reality is they are going to be on there, so we should plan for it, and including that in the plan is reasonable and responsible for us to do.”

Aaron Berry, president of the Penticton and Area Cycling Association, also filed a letter requesting the Parkway be retained in the cycling plan, but city staff said there wouldn’t be any point.

“You could put it in your plan, but they control that right of way. You would have to lobby them to see if they would be willing to change their position,” said Mitch Moroziuk, director of operations.

Mayor Dan Ashton was also advised by city manager Annette Antoniak that there could be liability issues involved in the MOT request.

“Second of all, it is their property. We don’t go doing things on someone else’s property without permission,” said Ashton.

“I don’t feel like I am drawing a line in the sand, I think I am telling the MOT the truth,” said Konanz. “The truth is that there is going to be so many bikes on that road … I think they need to know that, it’s just a reality that it is part of our bike plan.”

With only Konanz and Hopkin voting against it, council voted to make the updated cycle network plan, without the Channel Parkway, part of the official community plan.