Penticton shores up plans for Okanagan waterfront

Waterfront Revitalization Committee outlines options that include traffic pattern changes and major plazas along the beach

The ongoing planning process to revitalize the western portion of the Okanagan Lake Waterfront is drawing a lot of interest, though some Pentictonites are beginning to express concerns over the options the committee presented in a series of public input sessions last week.

“Out of our first sessions, we boiled it down to two options for the Lakeshore,” said Rod King, chair of the Waterfront Revitalization Committee. The main difference between the two plans, he said, was that one maintained existing two-way traffic flow, and the other had a hybrid one-way/two-way pattern.

Both options share some common elements, like major plazas at the SS Sicamous, Power Street and the Peach, along with minor plazas at pedestrian crossings and a day moorage dock built into the lake on the west side of the Sicamous. Another shared feature is the elimination of angle parking along the length from the Peach to the SS Sicamous. That, said Coun. Judy Sentes, is unsettling for part of the community.

“The parking is a huge issue. There is a lot of concern out there and I don’t think it’s been addressed. I think they are only becoming aware of it, now that you are saying option one or option two,” she said.

There is a fear, she said, that the two proposals are the result of a decision and direction by council that the final plan will be one or the other. That, she continued, is not the case.

“These are options and we are asking for people’s opinion,” she said, adding that the planning process is still ongoing, and that council has yet to receive final recommendations from the Waterfront Revitalization Committee.

Mitch Moroziuk, the city’s director of operations, is working with the committee on the planning process. He explains the suggested parking changes as the best way to incorporate changes in the limited space available.

“One of the biggest issues we have to deal with on this project is we only have so much real estate to work with. We’ve got the beach, we’ve got the promenade, we’ve got parking and we’ve got driving,” he said.

“The public told us the beach is the number one important thing, they didn’t want us going in to the beach area. Given the things they want to do there, walking and cycling, we need a wider path. That room has to come from somewhere, and the only place we could take it from is to change angle to parallel parking.

“If we expanded towards the beach, we would have to cut down trees, which the public said is very important. We had a lot of constraints to deal with.”

Moroziuk explained that the lost parking spaces would be replaced with off-beach parking.

“There is no net loss of parking, parking has been replaced by the proposed construction of a lot on Power Street and a lot on Riverside and there is  already a pay lot on Martin Street,” he said.

Despite parking concerns, King said the overall concept was getting strong approval from the people who attended the input sessions.

“Overwhelmingly, the public wants to see something done. Again and again, people are saying to us, let’s do something, it’s old, it needs repair, it needs upgrading,” said King. “Parking angle is an issue that was brought up any number of times. Off-site parking seemed to eliminate a lot of the concerns.”

The public still has an opportunity for input on this stage of the planning process. An online survey is available online at www.penticton.ca/waterfront, along with a detailed presentation of the elements of both options.

 

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