Major changes to roads and intersections in the northwest area of Penticton are starting to take shape.
With up to 2,200 new units and 30,000 square feet of commercial space targeted for the North Gateway neighbourhood over the next 10 to 20 years, city officials have proposed an updated transportation network to accommodate the growth.
“The city has been working with the province and other interested parties on options to improve traffic and road safety on the highway and surrounding roads since the vision for the area was first introduced last year,” said Anthony Haddad, the city’s general manager of community services.
“We now have a plan that will address some of the current traffic issues and the future transportation needs as the major housing, commercial and civic developments proposed for the area advance over the next few decades.”
Council was presented Tuesday, May 2, with two of the city’s several planned changes set to proceed in the short term.
The first of which calls for a permanent closure of Alberni Street between Vernon Avenue and Westminster Avenue.
City staff say the shutdown will improve pedestrian connections between a soon-to-be-completed six-storey, 105-room hotel and the South Okanagan Events Centre (SOEC).
Among other changes include the closure of the left-hand turn lane on Riverside Drive off Highway 97. Instead, the left-hand turn lane to Westminster Avenue from Highway 97 will be extended back to the bridge over the river channel.
Its closure will proceed in the coming months and redirect new residential traffic to Westminster Avenue.
“Other projects that will be considered in the long-term include signalizing an intersection at Alberni Street and Highway 97, narrowing Westminster Avenue where it travels through the North Gateway, and improvements to the intersection at Highway 97, Eckhardt Ave and Vees Drive,” representatives from the city wrote.
Funding for all projects will come from a combination of development cost charges, provincial sources, and grants, they added.
The area in question — best known for being home to the SOEC and Penticton Trade and Convention Centre — currently serves as tourists’ “first impression” of the city, officials have previously said.
Per the development plan, which also includes the addition of up to 350 new hotel rooms, the North Gateway will be divided into three districts: South District, North District and Central District.
Each will serve its own purpose inside what’s dubbed Penticton’s first-ever “live, work and play neighbourhood.”