If the cost of $40,000 per parking space being quoted to construct a parkade at the South Okanagan Events Centre is accurate, then the Penticton taxpayer has subsidized Cascade Casino’s capital cost by at least $6 million.
This figure is based on the results of the Urban Systems parking survey done prior to the casino locating at the SOEC site.
The casino pays for 60 spaces, but requires 150 to 300 spaces. The additional 90 to 240 cars can park on SOEC grounds at no cost.
In addition to free parking, the casino took over the city owned building that housed the Tourist Information Centre and the Wine Information Centre. A city official stated that the city received no remuneration for the loss of this asset. Also the rental revenue that the city had received from the wine centre now flows to the casino. In other words the casino acquired an asset and a rental stream at no cost. Now due to the parking problems created, the city is acquiring property for parking, all at taxpayer expense.
In no way would the rental income that the casino pays for the land that it leases from the city pay for the cost that the city has and will incur in the future to rectify this parking problem.
It would appear that city officials in their rush to accommodate the casino neglected to exercise due diligence before concluding this deal. They obviously did not properly analyze the parking study. Also, did city officials check with the B.C. government to see if the casino could move the permit that was issued specifically for Penticton if they decided to leave? No one knows as most aspects of the agreement were not revealed.
As mentioned in a recent letter to the editor, if the casino operator is a good corporate citizen, they will agree to pick up a good portion of the added expense to alleviate the parking problem. If not, residents should consider this with respect to their support of the casino.
After upsetting the parking at the SOEC complex, the city now proposes to install a two-sheet arena in the parking lot. This will reduce the parking spaces available while, at the same time, increasing the parking demand. Go figure.
If any of the statements made herein are inaccurate, I would welcome city officials pointing out these inaccuracies in writing backed by documentation.