'Culture war' over bike lane not quite over, due to mistaken vote by Penticton councillor

Bike lane not dead yet

UPDATE: 3 p.m.

It appears a Penticton council member made a mistake during a key vote to shoot down completion of the lake-to-lake bike lane.

At the end of Wednesday's budget deliberations, Coun. Ryan Graham made a motion to re-vote on the matter which had been decided Tuesday.

Graham had voted in favour of removing the final leg of the contentious bike lane from the 2023 budget, and as the vote was 4-3, that was key.

However, he said Wednesday that was an error.

"I had voted in favour of not completing it when in fact, I want to complete it," Graham said.

"So I'm gonna bring a motion forward to next council meeting to re-vote on that."

Council will meet again Thursday to finalize budget deliberations, which is when the vote on whether to accept Graham's motion will take place.

If the re-vote takes place, assuming everyone maintains the same vote aside from Graham, it would change the outcome and allow the completion of the bike lane to stay in the budget for this year.

On Tuesday, Mayor Julius Bloomfield and Couns. Gilbert and Watt had voted against Coun. Miller's motion to remove it from the budget.

ORIGINAL: 12 p.m.

Penticton city council has pressed pause on the final leg of the long-controversial lake-to-lake bike route in an unexpected move at this week's budget deliberations.

The proposed 2023 capital budget had $1.5 million baked in to complete the lane from Galt Avenue to Skaha Lake Road, earning the lane its lake-to-lake moniker.

But after a staff presentation sharing community engagement results shared that continuing the bike lane was not popular, Coun. Amelia Boultbee said she would not support it being finished.

"I will not be voting for anything that includes funding for any bike lanes," Boultbee said.

"It has to be made separate so that those who wish to vote for funding for bike lanes can vote yes, and those who wish to vote no can vote no, otherwise I will be voting no on anything that includes bike lanes."

Coun. James Miller made a motion to pull the final leg of the bike lane from the budget for 2023, to be discussed again in November for next year.

Coun. Boultbee immediately supported the motion.

"This project has been massively unpopular. Many people lost their seats on city council or didn't run again as a result, which I think speaks for itself," Boultbee said.

"So, once again I'm voicing my opposition to any funding to the bike lane."

Coun. Isaac Gilbert spoke in support of the bike lane, pointing out the city would have to reject any grant funding that has already been applied for to complete the route.

"This has turned into, in my opinion, a culture war in the city and I would like to see this project go through to the end," Gilbert said.

"It has been put in our OCP, put in our master plan ... some people don't find it popular but there is a lot of support for that project."

At the end of Tuesday's meeting, council voted 4-3 to remove the plan from the 2023 budget, with Mayor Julius Bloomfield and Couns. Gilbert and Watt in opposition.

City budget deliberations are continuing Wednesday. The public is welcome to attend in person or online here.

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