More input needed on parking strategy

Penticton's new parking strategy will bring sweeping changes to many residents of the city

It’s hard to argue with Penticton adopting a city-wide parking strategy. It’s been a long time coming.

But it isn’t hard to argue with the lack of public discussion before its introduction, especially when it includes the possibility of some sweeping changes to where and how Penticton residents and visitors can park.

In the case of visitors, the unanswered question is where are they going to park? The two expanded residential parking only zones surround three of Penticton’s most popular tourist and event areas: downtown, the Okanagan Lake waterfront and Skaha Lake Park.

Over the last few summers, Skaha Lake Park has been the site of a successful, and growing, dragon boat competition. Vehicles, many parked for the entire day of races, soon overflowed the limited parking at the park and marina.

Similar problems occur on the Okanagan Lake side of town during events like Peach City Beach Cruise, or for that matter, a sunny summer long weekend. The crowd almost certainly includes not only out-of-town visitors, but residents of other areas of Penticton — that is, people whose taxes help pay for the city’s road infrastructure.

We sympathise with those whose enjoyment of their homes and property is adversely affected by parking overflowing into residential neighbourhoods. Resident-only parking areas may be part of the solution, but not without including, as part of the strategy, how parking for events is going to be accommodated.

The new parking strategy has many worthwhile points, like taking steps to limit the abuse of the free one-hour parking in downtown lots and generating some revenue from parking at the South Okanagan Events Centre.

But sweeping changes to parking in the city deserve at least a public information session so the public can be fully informed on what changes to expect as the policy is phased in over the next few years.