UPDATE 11:44 A.M.
The City of Kelowna has organized their first event to get the public and business owners out to discuss the possibility of parking meters on South Pandosy.
The city is holding a 'Coffee and Conversation,' Wednesday March 5, 3 p.m. - 6 p.m. at the Blenz Coffee at 2823 Pandosy Street.
"Pandosy St. City staff and engineering consultants from Urban Systems Ltd. will be available to discuss parking challenges and opportunities in the South Pandosy area," says Dave Duncan is the Parking Operations Coordinator for the City of Kelowna.
All residents, business owners, shoppers and frequenters to the area are encouraged to come out and talk parking so a plan can be developed to identify challenges, and improve parking availability and customer service options.
For those unable to make it to the coffee and conversation meeting, information will also be collected online at http://getinvolved.kelowna.ca/parking-in-the-south-pandosy-area
"After feedback is collected, City staff and the engineering consultants will develop a draft plan with recommendations for changes to parking systems, rules and regulations for the area. The plan will then be presented to council for approval sometime in April," added Duncan.
But another parking project that has stayed under the radar could see meters placed on South Pandosy as early as this summer.
Dave Duncan is the Parking Operations Coordinator for the City of Kelowna and says while nothing is set in stone, it’s a strong possibility that could soon become a reality.
“I would hope we could make some significant changes before the end of this year. I mean the earlier the better. I know there is some issues there have been going on there for a few years and need addressing,” he says.
And local Pandosy Village merchants, who signed a petition, have brought those issues to the city’s attention and say they are fed up with people taking advantage of the current parking situation.
“We do have a petition that was received from many merchants in South Pandosy that requested the city consider putting parking meters in because they say they have problems there with people parking all day,” explained Duncan.
Castanet spoke with some business owners in the South Pandosy area who are in complete support of the proposed meters, arguing their clients have nowhere to park.
“That’s great, I love that. I would love to have meters here because you see that is the whole problem here, people park for the whole day and it is a terrible thing,” said Ted Risko, Owner of La Roca Watch and Jewellery.
This sentiment was echoed by Andrea Cosal, Owner of Dandy Diva, located inside Bella Boutique.
“A lot of people look at meter parking as a negative but as a small business owner it is a positive because customers can come, park for awhile, shop for awhile and not worry about their vehicles and then take turns to bring in another customer,” says Cosal.
"Right now, the problem we face when we come into work and the store opens at 10 a.m. is that every single spot is already taken up."
She adds that most of the spots are taken up by people who work in the area, such as the banks or insurance companies, and that doesn’t leave any parking available for customers.
Custom Ski and Board Owner Mark McNichol says he loses customers every day because they have nowhere to park.
“I think it is good, we have had problems with parking here from businesses up the street and they are staying parked for the entire day out front of my store,” he explains.
“Lots of our customers can’t find parking spots, it hurts our business. I am for meters.”
Kelowna Downtown Business Association Executive Director Peggy Athans also supports the Pandosy meters, saying it takes some stress off downtown businesses.
“We are quite pleased in downtown to see we aren’t the only area that is going to be hit by paid parking,” she says.
“We have always been at a disadvantage in downtown to be the only shopping area that has had pay parking and now that it will be expanded into the Pandosy and possibly the Landmark and Hospital area, it is great news.”
With all this support from business owners, the City is confident something will come into place soon.
“The plan is to meet with stakeholders and meet with the businesses and identify what the issues are and then we will do what we need to resolve it,” Duncan says.
Open houses and consultation meetings are expected in the coming weeks and Duncan invites any interested parties to sign up on the City of Kelowna website for their e-subscribe option. This will provide them with emails containing the details of any upcoming events.
“I'm hoping the sooner the better, hopefully before the summer. But it all depends on how long this process takes to finish,” says Duncan.
“Our number one priority is to get going on this and get it resolved and move forward.”
Meter parking or parking restrictions for areas around the Landmark building and Kelowna General Hospital are on the radar for 2015.