Waterfront development decision

Residents strolling along Penticton's Lakeshore Drive Tuesday were glad the city council has chosen to make limited changes to the waterfront on Okanagan Lake.

The long awaited decision came after months of public input on the city's waterfront revitalization plan, which included protest rallies at the beach and a heated town hall meeting.

"This is a much better choice because I did not like the idea of parallel parking from the start," said Olivia Kortmann. as she walked with her husband. "We walk here almost everyday or sit in our car when the weather is nasty."

The council, with the exception of Councillor John Vassilaki, voted for option 4 at their Monday night meeting.

Vassilaki wanted to go with original options that included making more major changes to the area, saying that such an opportunity only comes along every 30 to 40 years and needs to be thought out carefully.

The selected option includes:

  • A road level walkway, which the council agreed to make wider than what was originally suggested, along the length of the project
  • A small over the water section of walkway directly west of the Peach
  • Create a small plaza at Power Street
  • Removal of the mounds at Lakawana Park
  • Mobility challenged access to the beach and water
  • Minor greening of the area.

There is currently $1.2 million in gas tax grant money available for the project, but it will still need an additional $550,000.

Since the decision was made to spruce up the waterfront, the city has asked for public input.

From the input, they came up with two initial options that included replacing angled parking along Lakeshore Drive with parallel parking and changing traffic flow to one way.

After two protest rallies were held on Lakeshore Drive by residents opposed to any major development, the city came up with two additional options that focused on less dramatic changes.

Clifford Martin, the rally organizer, said he was glad the ctiy decided to go with the two way street and angled parking, but still feels the city made this decision to slow down the protests.

He does not have more rallies planned but will keep a close eye on what the city does next.

"My concern is they are still planning more changes, like intersection plazas, that would take away parking spaces and beach space, because they left it open to that," he said.

Councillor Garry Litke said he went with the concept because it increases green space and offers a multi-use walkway for people riding bicycles, or in wheelchairs, as well as pedestrians.

Staff will now go into an accelerated mode of design and the city hopes to get construction underway in early 2013.

Resident John Colbourne, who walked with his dog Foxie along Lakeshore Drive Tuesday, said he was happy the council had made a decision to move ahead with the project.                                                                                                                                                                          

"Let's face it, we are trying to draw tourists into town, so it needs improvements, but it does seem like the council is going with the status quo, so as not to make anyone angry," he said.

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