Floater traffic a nightmare

Re: Solution to floater crowds?

The City of Penticton has made a bad situation worse for channel goers and local residents by closing the parking lot at the end of the channel to all except bus and taxi traffic. For many years now, the “under-utilized lot near the airport” already served as overflow parking for the channel and beach during the summer months.

The decision to close the main parking lot to traffic has not only greatly decreased the number of spots available for channel parking, but has created a traffic nightmare for the residents of the Sun Leisure mobile home park who live at the end of the parking lot. People looking for parking are double-parking to unload passengers and cargo, causing traffic to back up until they are finished. People driving through the entire lot only to find that it is full are forced to turn around right at the entrance to the mobile home park, causing headaches for residents trying to leave.

The parking lot entrance off of Highway 97 is the only entrance and exit for these residents, who sometimes find themselves waiting as long as ten minutes to enter or exit the park. People force open a metal gate that leads from the park to the highway, intended as an emergency route, to either park in that area or to drive through the mobile home park looking for parking. Some even drive through residents’ yards and gardens causing property damage. What are residents or emergency crews expected to do if this route is blocked with parked vehicles? With nowhere for traffic to go in the event of an emergency, how are residents or emergency crews supposed to enter or exit the park when they can’t get through all of the backed-up traffic looking for parking spots?

There is no highway crossing from the adjacent beach to this parking lot, other than to walk up to the channel bridge and go through a sketchy pedestrian underpass that leads to the recently closed channel parking lot. Numerous people each day tempt fate by squeezing through the narrow opening in a locked gate in the chain link fence on the beach side of the highway, and then run across the four lanes, many with small children, to get to their vehicles.

There are no sidewalks for pedestrians walking through the lot to their vehicles, so they are forced to walk on the roadway, some carrying large floaties that stick out further into traffic. Before the city decided to turn this area into a high-traffic route, they should have addressed concerns which already hamper visibility and safety when attempting to turn onto the highway. Overgrown trees and signage obstruct your view of traffic coming from the channel bridge and heading towards the airport.

The 60km/h posted speed limit is followed by very few motorists, and making a left-hand turn onto the highway can be a nail biting experience to say the least. This area is the site of numerous accidents each year, especially during the summer months when traffic flow on the highway increases.

The safest option it to make a right-hand turn onto the highway and turn at the traffic lights at the beginning of Airport Road, but how many tourists are aware that this is even an option? There is a large empty lot between the two parking lots in question, which the city has made a walking path through to join the two lots. Why didn’t they look at purchasing or leasing this land and turning it into a parking lot? There would be no need to pave it, as it could be left as a dirt lot. Sure, there are a lot of fallen trees that would need to be removed, but the amount of parking would be at least double what is currently available, if not more, and it would have its own entrance and exit joining it to the highway without the need to affect the nearby residents.

Dean Thacker

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