Residents bet there will be casino parking concerns

Resident supports the casino complex project, but doesn’t want to see it fail because of parking problems.

An independent parking analysis on the effects of siting the Cascade Casino at the South Okanagan Events Centre has been updated, correcting factual errors in the original.

The first study, delivered to the city on Sept. 17, by Urban Systems listed the Penticton Vees as playing at Memorial Arena, and drawing crowds of 1,600, instead of the 2,000-plus spectators that usually attend. It also included a larger number of parking spots along Power Street that have been replaced by a bike lane.

“The Vees were just in the Western News the other day that they are averaging 2,300 in attendance, not 1,700,” said Daryl Clarke, a nearby homeowner.

Clarke supports the casino complex project, but doesn’t want to see it fail because of parking problems.

“I live down there and I am all for this thing. That is the only issue I have with this (parking) thing,” said Clarke. “They need to review the parking.”

The new report reflects more accurate figures, but consultant James Donnelly said the changes don’t alter the conclusion of the report, that there is sufficient parking on-site to provide shared parking for the SOEC facilities and the proposed casino through the majority of the year. If the coverage is extended to cover a 10-minute walking distance, the study concludes, there would be ample parking on the busiest nights of the year.

“It doesn’t make a material change to the findings,” said director of operations Mitch Moroziuk, who explained when planning parking for a complex like the SOEC, you have to consider average usage, rather than the extremes.

“You are not likely to do that, because most of the time you are going to have a sea of asphalt there, empty. That is not a good use of resources for an event that might happen once or twice a year,” said Moroziuk, explaining that at those times, using on-street parking in the area is the appropriate option.

“People do have to remember that is a public street. Anybody can park there,” said Moroziuk. “Those issues may crop up from time to time and that is a balancing act you have to weigh out.”

Moroziuk said he doesn’t expect the addition of the casino complex to cause many parking difficulties. The report also suggests the addition of satellite parking lots via shuttle services.

“We have lots of parking lots downtown, that is another option,” said Moroziuk. “I don’t think you want to design any on-site parking to meet the maximum need. That is an inefficient use of land to do that.”

Moroziuk said people should also consider other options, like carpooling, buses or other alternate transportation when heading to these events.

Mayor Andrew Jakubeit said they are working on strategies to alleviate parking pressures, including paving the none city-owned lots on Eckhardt Avenue to create more parking spaces, and having staff park offsite and shuttles.

Jakubeit sees congestion for drivers leaving the area after events as possibly more of an issue than availability of parking, which could be solved by the addition of flag people and traffic directors.

“A lot of the frustrations around parking is that bottleneck once an event is over,” said Jakubeit.

The report suggests that there would likely be only six nights a year where parking would a problem, with all facilities at maximum use. Jakubeit suggested that even with the addition of Vees game nights, it still shouldn’t be a big problem.

“Forty  nights a year when the parking lot is relatively full, the other 320 nights it’s pretty empty,” said Jakubeit. “It will all work.”

 

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