Protesters make waves at forum
Oct 18, 2012 / 5:00 am
Penticton residents again made it clear to city officials Wednesday night that they would like few or no changes made to the waterfront on the north end of town.
Around 300 people showed up for a public forum at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre, where they were invited to give feedback on four waterfront revitalization concepts.
"I firmly believe they need to leave it as is and make necessary improvements where needed," said Edna Hugo who has lived in the city since 1937. "There is already little green space here and I feel we are losing the natural aesthetic of the valley."
The evening began with people asked to stick post it notes expressing their concerns on the concepts lining a wall at the convention centre.
The first two, which have met with the most opposition, include replacing the angled parking with parallel parking and changing traffic flow to one way. Each option is estimated to cost around $7 million to implement.
Options three and four, provided by the city after a protest rally was held and a petition presented to the City Council, are more like maintenance plans, with option three making the least changes to the area on Okanagan Lake.
Currently there is a $1.2 million grant from the gas tax available to use for the project. If that money was applied to say the third concept it would only cost the city an additional $75,000. With the fourth concept, the additional cost would be $550,000.
Mayor Dan Ashton, who welcomed attendees to the forum along with moderator Donna Lomas, said it was crumbling infrastructure at the location that led to putting this plan out there to the public.
As the process continues, it is the hope of the city that input they have asked for from the start continues.
"This project is about you the public and what you want," he said. "We are here tonight, because the city wants you to hear about where you want to go from here."
By far the consensus among the crowd was to go with option three, which offers the fewest changes.
"I am more inclined to option three or four myself, because I am concerned the city is going to spend more than $7 million they don't have on upgrades," said Monica Hoffman, one of several people who spoke during the public comment session.
Clifford Martin, the resident who has organized two Lakeshore Drive rallies opposing the revitalization plan, said any major changes would be detrimental to the beach.
"You will never find another place like this," he said. "Why would you want to change what most people think of as paradise."
There were some in the crowd, however, who believe the time is right to make improvements in this part of the city.
"It's the quality that matters, not how close the parking is to the beach," said Jeff Brown. "People are at the beach to get into nature and trees. I think the key thing here is to be world class."
While others stressed creating a brand for the city, getting away from the idea of beach cruising in cars in a time of global warming and seeing this as an opportunity to make Penticton a better place.
The City Council will consider all the input received at their regular meeting on Nov. 5.
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