LETTER: Clock is ticking on Penticton parking meters

If you haven’t yet taken a look at the City of Penticton Parking Strategy it is time you did.

If you haven’t yet taken a look at the City of Penticton Parking Strategy 2016-2017 Work Plan File No. RMS 5480 dated Jan. 11, 2016, then perhaps it is time that you did.

You can talk around other values discussed in this plan all you want, but there is a very clear and focused target in this plan to maximize the revenue generation of the asset, that parking represents here in the city.

Plain and simple, the expansion of on-street metering and pay to park public areas is going to take more coin out of your pocket, and in my opinion, is going to be a very major disincentive to visiting and parking in the areas affected.

Here are a few features of the plan:

The installation of pay machines in the parking lots along Okanagan Lake, including the parking lot at Lakawanna Park, the SS Sicamous/LocoLanding parking lot, and the lot between the Youth Park and Coyote Cruses.

The installation of pay machines along Lakeshore Drive.

The installation of pay machines in all of the parking lots at Skaha Lake.

The installation of on-street parking meters or pay machines in select locations around Skaha Lake Park.

Now, I don’t know about you, but this really makes my blood boil with distaste.  In my opinion, these aspects of the staff parking proposal are absolutely asinine. Thumbs down to the senior city staff that recommended and signed-off on this initiative, and shame on the city council members who endorsed this self-serving, penny pinching, cash grabbing parking strategy. City planning at its worst.  Other cities may do this type of thing in their communities, much to their detriment, but that does not mean that it is the right fit for our residents!

Currently, there is little opposition to the changes proposed, and there does not appear to be much talk or concern with this extensive pay to park city plan. Today, no one is standing up shaking their fist at the staff and council because it is status quo’ and no one’s pocket is being further picked to park. Once all those parking meters are installed you may very well see another public reaction and a heightened point of view expressed.

You see, here is how it is going to work: Want to take your children down to the spray park at Skaha Lake to play for a couple of hours? Sure you can go, just put some coin in the meter and we’ll let you stay. Want to go for your daily walk along Lakeshore Drive? Sure you can go, just put some coin in the meter and we’ll let you stay. Want to go for a paddleboard or kayak out in the lakes? Sure you can go, just put some coin in the meter and we’ll let you stay. Want to go and volunteer down at the Rose Garden or with the SS Sicamous Society? Sure you can go, just put some coin in the meter and we’ll let you stay. Want to play tennis every morning with your friends or take the family to the beach at Skaha for a picnic or ice cream cone? Sure you can go, just put some coin in the meter and we’ll let you stay.

You get the picture. It may seem like a small thing to some, but it’s going to affect your lifestyle, that of your family, and the access to the activities that you enjoy every day, in a very significant way and it’s going to affect your quality of life and the livability in the city in the many, many years ahead.  It will be irrevocable.

The bottom line here is that the city staff, city council members and our business associations really need to support and value our residents in more meaningful ways than this.

Clearly, you can do better. The expanded parking strategy is a very small part of the puzzle, but it is a real slap in the face toward creating a welcoming and hospitable city in which to work, recreate and live — forever.

Yes, the clock is ticking. I hope that you enjoy it, while you still can.

Jim Wiggins

Penticton