Long-term vision needed for Penticton waterfront

Confining upgrades to repairs and replacement will not deliver significant beach enhancement

In his spirited defence of the status quo on Okanagan Lake’s west waterfront, Clifford Martin continues to rely on questionable assertions.

His Oct. 25 letter (Penticton Herald) labels cyclists, athletes and consumers as hypocrites because they depend on vehicles for inter-city travel and goods transport.  I don’t recall them ever saying vehicles weren’t necessary.  Car dependency is obviously a concern in a world of “peak oil” and climate change, but I digress.

I recall no argument against vintage car displays as a tourist attraction as Mr. Martin infers (Oct. 26 letter Penticton Western News).  I support   accommodating the annual “Beach Cruise” displays under any waterfront option.  However, Penticton’s tourist destination future is hardly dependent on this event alone.  It will be based on offering diverse, quality urban and nature-oriented experiences.

This beach is a special and strategic asset that warrants enhancement.  I don’t agree that free angle parking with “security and easy access to your car”, or the “opportunity to cruise the strip” are integral to a quality beach experience.  Besides, “cruising” contradicts the eco-tourism concept.  Additionally, man-made obstructions on the beach concern Martin, yet existing concrete walls and asphalt parking spaces are hardly natural.

Cyclists and walkers aren’t “big on more access to the beach,” as Martin states.  They simply seek proper consideration in access planning as progressive jurisdictions worldwide are doing.  They are not advocating for mixed use paths as Martin represents.  Instead, they seek safer, properly segregated lanes.  That doesn’t make Lakeshore Drive “a cyclist beach” with unspecified risks to children and seniors as alleged.

I agree with Mr. Martin that Lakeshore Drive is unique and that foresight is required to “make the correct choice.”  Option 3 (minor upgrading) doesn’t deliver foresight.  It precludes opportunities for much-needed secure tree plantings, wider walkways, a dedicated cycling lane as part of a city network, and general esthetic and other improvements to enhance Penticton’s attraction as a destination for tourists, new residents and new enterprises.

Such improvements are part of a long-term waterfront enhancement vision as presented in Option 2.  Careful thought can phase implementation, through a staged capital plan, to address affordability concerns.  Selectively simplified by reducing plazas, boardwalks, shade structures, etc. it can provide the genuine foresight which Mr. Martin and others, including me, support.  Confining upgrades to repairs and replacement will not deliver significant beach enhancement or the innovation, adventure and sustainability that the city’s vision seeks.

Denis O’Gorman