Former mayor Dorothy Tinning says plans for the proposed upgrade of the Okanagan Beach walkway should also strive to preserve its history.
Tinning, who was mayor when the Kiwanis Okanagan Beach Promenade opened in May 1987, admitted Monday she has more than a passing interest in its past and future.
"So much heart and soul went into planning and preparing that pathway, that I don't want to see it just ripped up and a concrete slab put in," she said. "I think it is part of our history and we should be saving that as well."
Tinning said not enough credit is being given to the Penticton Kiwanis club which first approached city council with the pathway idea in 1986, under the leadership of Wayne Evers and Jim Mundle.
"Their service club wanted to improve the lakeshore for all citizens by having some sort of a promenade down on the lakeshore," she recalled. "Virtually there was no place to walk. It was either on the roadway or what might have been a crumbling sidewalk."
The Kiwanis quickly gained public support for the project and launched a $100,000 fundraising campaign. Council provided city staff to help with the planning and design work.
Tinning laid the first brick in April 1987 and the walkway officially opened about six weeks later. A plaque with the names of individual and corporate donors still sits at the eastern end of the walkway near the Peach concession stand.
The former mayor said she'd also like to see the walkway's interlocking bricks retained, noting one of the main considerations by the Kiwanis was to beautify the lakeshore.
"It was felt that paver bricks are so attractive and that beautiful rusty colour would just blend into the hillsides and the sand."
The bricks have stood up well over the past 25 years. Tinning said it is much easier to replace a section of bricks for repairs, than it is to break apart a section of concrete.
None of the four upgrade concepts include the bricks, even though the cost is about the same as concrete.
City engineer Ian Chapman said many people feel bricks are too rough a surface, especially for cyclists, skateboarders and wheelchairs.
"The whole point of changing the surface is to come up with a perfectly smooth surface," he said. "The initial objectives for a multi-use path were to come up with a path suitable for wheeled vehicles to go on."
However, Chapman emphasized nothing has been finalized and any decision on whether to preserve the brickwork would be up to council. An update report on public input into the walkway is to be presented to council next Monday.
The $100,000 cost of the original Kiwanis project compares to today's projected price tag for a walkway upgrade, ranging from about $1.2 million (using gas tax revenues) to nearly $7 million.
Tinning suggested the city consider minimal repairs now and then keep planning for future upgrades.
"Maybe we should just use that small amount to do the repairs and go back and establish a long-term vision that maybe includes the history and the culture of what took place earlier," she said. "People put their hearts and souls into ensuring that the walkway came into existence."
Although the existing pathway is only about a metre wide in some locations, Tinning said no one in 1987 thought it was too narrow.
"People were just so grateful to have a path of any kind for walking and just to enjoy the four seasons, that they never thought of the width of it," she said.
Looking to the future, Tinning said she'd like to see the walkway be wide enough to include a separate lane or section for cyclists. To avoid conflicts with pedestrians, a separate cycling portion of the walkway should be clearly marked. She noted cyclists and pedestrians seem to get along fine along the Penticton Creek walkway.
The Okanagan Beach walkway should also be linked to other routes in the city, she said, including the proposed Summerland-Penticton pathway.
"We don't just want to take a simple solution because we want to save a few dollars. We have to look at the big picture."