Penticton’s parking plans drive improvements

Increased rates the most equitable way to fund revitalization of Penticton's waterfront and downtown

Penticton has found a way to come up with more money and park it into areas of the city that need it the most.

Council directed staff this week to begin consultations and development of an updated parking strategy that would broaden pay-parking zones monitored with a new digital meter system that will offer Penticton greater capacity to generate revenue.

The initial outlay of capital funds is minimal — in the hundreds of thousands — which will likely be recovered in five years’ time, if not sooner. Once that milestone is achieved, the city is looking at having an expanded revenue source that could draw millions of dollars each year. Those funds will go into separate reserve accounts destined for three of the city’s most long-anticipated projects: Downtown Penticton, Okanagan Lake and Skaha Lake revitalization plans. There’s been a lot of talk of focusing on these areas, but no concrete plan to fund their revitalization.

But this setup has the ability to create a self-fulfilling prophecy: as revenues trickle in, more investments can be made to a given area. Resulting improvements will then draw more visitors, who will park and subsequently generate even more cash flow.

Details will have to be ironed out like pricing, location and enforcement. Stakeholders like the Downtown Penticton Association will have plenty of feedback and information on the success of past practices and what loopholes in the current parking system need to be closed. It’s a long-term investment, and all stakeholders should give as much input and ideas into the plan as possible.

There will also likely be a group of individuals who grumble about feeding a meter. But the choice is clear: pay more to park your car or pay more in taxes. Penticton residents have been clear about which direction they want to see city taxes go, and it’s not up.

Residents and businesses should park their support behind this plan, because a user-pay system is the most equitable way of revitalizing key parts of the city.