Waterfront project to get underway

After months of public input ranging from community meetings to beachfront protests, the waterfront rehabilitation project on Okanagan Lake is moving ahead.

The project, which is expected to kick off in the area near the S.S. Sicamous in the spring, was approved by the Penticton City Council Monday night.

Rod King, chair of the waterfront select committee, said it’s great to see the project begin after public input both ways, with the vast majority of it positive.

“We listened carefully to the public and we think this plan reflects that,” he said.

The plan based on the option 4 approved by the council will include new signage, benches and tables, tree removal and replanting ,curb work, railings and improvements to the existing path.

The project is slated to go out to tender in March and construction is expected to begin soon after. The first phase will be finished by June. Work will then break for the summer tourist season and resume in September.

Currently the rehabilitation effort is  $275,000 over the $1.85 million originally approved for the project, but King said that will be taken care of and not affect any other taxation or moneys.

The effort received the support of the majority of the council, with Councillor John Vassilaki the only one to vote against it.

Vassilaki  said his main concern is the scaled down project is not going to make the beachfront competitive with other waterfronts in North America.

Going over budget is also not a good idea at a time when the city has not even put a shovel in the ground, he said.

“Once they start digging they don’t know what they will find under the ground, and that amount over budget does not include engineering and soft costs like permits,” he said. Also the first phase of the two phases is March to June then continuing again in September or October. So over the summer there will be nothing but a mess there.”

But Mayor Dan Ashton said the planned project will make a big difference and be affordable, in addition to preserving a lot of the amenities that were asked for, such as the parking.

Clifford Martin, the Penticton resident who organized rallies last year protesting the waterfront plan, said he still has concerns, primarily with changes to the path, but he is not planning any more protests.

“That would redundant at this point,” he said.

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