Four properties purchased by the City of Penticton are going to be used to add to parking at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
“Short-term, they will be used for parking,” said Mayor Andrew Jakubeit, speaking of the city’s $1.5 million purchase of four properties along Eckhardt Street.
Jakubeit acknowledged that a parking study done in advance of Cascades Casino moving to the SOEC campus underestimated the need for parking. A new SOEC parking study will look at possibilities to address the issue, including reconfiguring the existing parking spaces, and how many are leased to the casino.
Now that we have had two years of parking and events, and the casino coming on board, Jakubeit said, the question is being asked how to deal with parking concerns that are raised in the community.
“The casino is busier than they anticipated. These are opportunities to leverage with B.C. Lotteries or Cascades Casino to reconfigure how many spaces they lease,” said Jakubeit.
The 2015 parking study, completed as a requirement for the development of the Cascades Casino, showed that with more than 1,000-plus parking spaces on site, there would be sufficient parking at SOEC for the vast majority of the year and on rare occasions where a major event is taking place, there are another 1,000-plus spaces in lots and on the streets within a five to 10 minute walk.
Concerns were raised at the time of the original parking study, which were refuted by the city, that more parking would be required than the city originally predicted.
One suggestion, Jakubeit said, might be to increase the number of spots by reconfiguring the exit to Eckhardt Avenue in front of the arena, the use of which is restricted.
“Those are kind of a waste of space,” he said. A parkade, however, is not likely.
“Everyone wants a parkade to be built, but no one actually wants to pay when they use the parkade,” said Jakubeit, adding that parkade are expensive, and the parking study is looking at what else the city can do to address parking needs.
Jakubeit said there are no plans, with more parking available, to remove the pay parking for major events at the SOEC, introduced in 2013.
“It certainly is a revenue source that lowers our subsidy. That might be something that comes out in our parking discussions as an option,” said Jakubeit, adding that pay parking may also be applied to the new lots.
“This is newly unfolding with these new lots, in terms of any revenue generated from them. It’s up in the air still,” said Jakubeit.