Penticton’s traffic drives city council meeting

Downtown Penticton traffic won’t be changing direction anytime soon.

Downtown traffic won’t be changing direction anytime soon.

With one lone holdout, council decided this week to keep the current one-way traffic flow on Main and Martin Streets as the city ramps up its downtown revitalization project.

Based on a report by Urban Systems, city staff had brought forward two options, both of which included removing one lane of traffic to allow for wider, more pedestrian friendly sidewalks and some realignment of the streets. The projected cost for staying with the same traffic flow is $424,600, while switching to two-way traffic would cost between $2 to 2.7 million.

“I would love to make it two-way,” said deputy mayor Helena Konanz. “With the almost $3-million ticket, it’s just not worth the cost.”

Coun. John Vassilaki was the only proponent of the more expensive two-way option, supporting the idea that slowing traffic down would increase visibility of businesses.

“I haven’t been as convinced as wholeheartedly as my other councillors have been by staff,” said Vassilaki. “If people sitting around this table were here at the time it was a two-way street, they would have a completely different view of what downtown could look like.”

Coun. Andrew Jakubeit wasn’t so sure Penticton could turn the calendar back to 1980.

“We can’t live in the past when the highway went through here and this was the Fort Lauderdale of the world. Things have changed and we have to deal with what limited funds we have,” said Jakubeit, adding that the lower cost option would speed the adoption of the project.

“If we keep it at a more realistic budget so it moves forward and people see the benefits of it they are more apt to approve and condone it,” said Jakubeit. “I never bought into the argument that if it was two-way that people would slow down and you would have a chance to see the building.”

With the decision made, city staff are preparing an implementation plan for consideration in the 2014 budget process.