Penticton MLA Bill Barisoff said he remembers cruising his GTO up and down Lakeshore Drive in his youth. This spring, the popular strip is going to be getting a facelift.
The road and beach along the Okanagan Lake waterfront is one that figures large in the minds of residents. And even if their memories don’t stretch back as far as Barisoff’s, almost all Penticton residents have spent time enjoying the beach, which, among other things, is home to the annual Peach City Beach Cruise.
“As all of us know in the South Okanagan, the beachfront here at the north end of Penticton has been a place where everybody has gone for many years,” said Barisoff. “I know that over the months to come, we are going to see the rehabilitation of the walkway to be something fantastic. This is a great project and it doesn’t happen by chance.”
After almost a year of planning, work is almost ready to start on the popular recreation and tourist area, with confirmation today (Feb. 22) that the federal government is contributing $1.2 million through the Gas Tax fund to the project.
“We’ve done the planning but until you have the cash-in hand, so to speak, you are always wondering,” said Rod King, chair of the Waterfront Revitalization committee.
Okanagan Coquihalla MP Dan Albas was on hand to deliver the announcement, standing near the iconic Peach on a cold, windy winter morning. He started by talking about the vital role the waterfront played in the development of commerce and transportation in Penticton.
“But it was much more than that; it was a gathering place where family and friends could cool off on a hot summer’s day … unlike today,” said Albas, noting that the waterfront still plays that role as well as being a major tourism and economic driver for the city. “We cannot afford not to invest in our critical economic and social infrastructure.”
The pathway will have a smoother surface, enhanced access for those with mobility challenges, additional trees and new high-efficiency lighting, improvements intended not to just to rehabilitate some of the crumbling infrastructure on the current path but make the pathway more inviting to pedestrians and cyclists.
“It will really enhance the experience on the waterfront,” said Coun. Helena Konanz. “We believe this will play a big part in adding to our community’s vibrancy and sustainability.”
King expects a contractor will be chosen and the work started by mid-April.
“The objective is to have it, if possible, completed by mid-June. We can’t have the streets dug up here in tourist season,” said King. “If the timeline is simply unrealistic, we will do as much as we can until mid-September and finish it up in the fall. We’ll find that out once the bids come back.”