The Easter weekend warm weather was a welcome treat for everyone, so nice in fact it convinced me to bring one of my old cars out of storage early and cruise to Okanagan beach with other local car buffs.
Conversation turned to concern of what was the final outcome of the revitalization plan and the negative consequences of some of their plans. Many are concerned of the tree removal, but the reality is many were nearing their expiry date. They will plant two for every one removed, but what size of trees will they plant in order to provide reasonable shade, and will they cheap out on small ones?
A bigger concern is making the path at street level. The retaining wall is the widest chair in Penticton. If anyone on the Vancouver-minded revitalization committee actually went to or used the beach more than a few times a year, they would understand the importance of this. At present, if a car went too far in their parking stall, the undercarriage would hang up and prevent it from going into pedestrian traffic, but at street level … whamo.
It is also easier for children to quickly wander into traffic/cars parking at street level. At street level, you will have a large drop-off at the beach side where you either jump off and hurt yourself or coral pedestrians like cattle to stairs. Eventually too many will hurt themselves from the large drop-off, so here comes an ugly view-blocking railing to prevent this. Natural looking? Sounds like a Vancouver setting to me.
Also with the shoreline boardwalk, it will remove portions of beach that although small, are still used. The upper portion above the retaining wall is now supposed to have grass in place of the sand, that gets used when the beach gets crowded. Translation of all of this: we will lose a large portion of beachfront and sand for sunbathing to please the vision of a select few. Correct me if I am wrong, but is this not a beach? Maybe the city should replace these Vancouver-minded staff with responsible heritage-minded staff that actually listens and makes what the tourist already enjoy rather than their too modern vision that may hurt tourism. Their so-called extensive survey was from only 220-260 online responses with few that actually use the beach. Almost no one knew such a survey existed. Want an accurate survey? Do it on the beach on a summer afternoon/evening. That is a survey with accuracy. It saddens me to see these big city visionaries ruin what was the gem of Penticton.
City planners took the street and beach parking from Skaha with the vision that tourists would love it. Now tourism there is a fraction of what it once was. Will the same happen at Okanagan beach? Is it not time for a change of staff on this committee?