In reply to the invitation to state our preferences for the redevelopment of Penticton’s downtown, we, of course, would like to see Main Street declared a pedestrian zone only between Wade Avenue and Lakeshore Drive.
Within these blocks there are no businesses which would require heavy carrying of customers’ purchases. Front Street, if not closed, could be accessed via Robinson Street, Ellis Street or Lakeshore Drive. The city traffic would then work the same way that it does now on Saturday mornings.
Of course, the best solution would be the construction of a parkade on the grounds of the former Three Gabels Hotel. The opportunity for the city to purchase this crucial lot will never come back if we miss it now. This parkade could be visually attractive, be accessed by two lanes on Main Street as well as have both access and exit on Martin Street and sport businesses on the ground level.
The foundations of the building should be strong enough that parking could take place underground as well as in a couple of storeys above the businesses, and permit upward expansion when our city grows. This parkade would also accommodate patrons who visit our future arts centre on Nanaimo Avenue.
The fear that business would decrease because of pedestrian-only access is not true. The opposite has been shown in many cities. People see the stores and merchandise if they are walking and not when they are driving by. Greenery and benches would entice customers to stay longer downtown and frequent the stores.
A suggestion which requires no city funds would be to force businesses to adhere to planting and greenstrip regulations on Main Street between Industrial and Kinney Avenue, where many trees and shrubs have been removed or have died and need to be replaced.
The same holds true for Skaha Lake Road, which also has non-complying businesses. The Wal-Mart complex plans also called for a central planting area with benches and for far more trees within the parking area. Why is the city not insisting that this complex comply with their original plans? Kelowna and area intend to plant thousand of trees, where are we?
Norbert & Erika Ricker