Peachland councillors ask if extension of Beach Ave. pathway is necessary

Is a new path really needed?

Lakeside parking restrictions might be a better way to improve pedestrian safety than building a temporary pathway at the north end of Beach Avenue, some Peachland councillors suggested Tuesday.

Council convened a morning meeting to get details on a proposed walkway extension before sending it to the public for input.

The path from 13th Street to Todd Road would use the existing road with some barriers (bollards or garden boxes were suggested) to separate it from car lanes.

“We are looking for an inexpensive option such as simple line painting or some efficient plastic bollards that would identify the walking area versus the traffic area,” Director of Engineering Jason Sandberg told council during a workshop presentation.

A full pathway to connect with Peachland’s existing Centennial Walkway was estimated in 2015 to cost $2 million or more. In a previous meeting, council heard this new plan would cost about $100,000. The money would come from the Growing Communities Fund, a $2.7-million grant the province gave the municipality last year for infrastructure projects.

Mayor Patrick Van Minsel wondered why a current beachside path wasn’t adequate.

“We found that in the summer when it’s busiest and you’ve got RVs, their camp tends to spill into the beach. There are places where it is quite inconvenient to walk along there. Of course, most of the year it works,” Sandberg responded.

Councillors Keith Thom and David Collins said Peachland should wait to build a proper pedestrian and bike path later.

The Growing Communities money could be better spent on other projects, said Thom.

“I feel that it’s a waste of money at this point in time. Why not wait to do the big job. I’ve never seen any safety issues. We’re creating a problem that isn’t there,” he said.

As a cyclist, Collins said he would rather ride with traffic than mix with pedestrians on a separated pathway.

“When I bike down Beach Avenue, I’m on the road and I don’t find it dangerous. In fact, I don’t want to mix with pedestrians on a multi-use pathway because that would slow me down.”

After Administrator Joe Creron explained that safety was the reason the pathway was being pushed, councillors Alena Glasman and Terry Condon said banning bus and RV parking on the lake side of the street might be a better way to accomplish that goal.

“A lot of the problem I think will be solved by simply prohibiting parking on the lake side of the road,” said Condon.

Glasman suggested banning parking from the May long weekend to Labour Day weekend.

Residents could be asked whether they’d support a parking ban in the first edition of Peachland’s monthly newsletter, slated to come out soon, said Mayor Patrick Van Minsel.

Glasman said multi-use pathways can be dangerous for dogs.

“As a dog walker, multi-modal path lanes can actually be dangerous. I watched it happen once already when a dog on a short leash, and an individual walking a dog on a skateboard can’t get out of the way and it almost killed a dog.”

Council made no decision on the pathway proposal.

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