EDITORIAL: Parking retail in green space

Vendors do add to the life of parks, but there needs to be a limit set on the growth of commercial activity in the city’s parks.

On a busy summer day in Penticton, tourists could be forgiven for wondering if they took a wrong turn in their beach stroll and ended up in a mini-mall filled with kiosks.

In recent years, there has been a lot of growth in mobile businesses. That’s especially true in the busy summer tourist season, when everything from food trucks to sunglasses vendors converge on high traffic areas. Lakawanna Park is a good example; the edges of the park are lined with booths selling everything a beachgoer might need.

This burgeoning economic sector is certainly a welcome addition to the community, but in some areas the concentration of these businesses is already becoming excessive.

We wonder though, how much commerce Penticton council thinks should be going on in the city’s parks. Along with representatives from local sport organizations, the Penticton Indian Band and the general public — the new Parks and Recreation Masterplan steering committee includes one member from the development community.

Tourism related businesses are already to be represented by having a member of Tourism Penticton on the new steering committee, nor would it go amiss by having a second member from that sector. But including a developer on the committee seems to imply that city hall considers ongoing commercial development of parks to be an important factor. There is room in parks for commerce. Concessions, for example, can add to the experience of a park, as do operators renting paddle boards and other recreational equipment. But these operations should be limited. After all, whether natural or designed parks are intended to be areas set aside for public enjoyment and recreation.

Vendors are welcome and do add to the life of parks, but there needs to be a limit set on the growth of commercial activity in the city’s parks. Park space should not be treated as a commodity or potential retail space.