Reshaping Penticton’s downtown for the future involves a lot of questions.
Should Main Street be reverted to two-way traffic? Should its 100 block be closed off for festivals and markets more often – or should a year-round indoor market be created in the former Greyhound bus garage on Ellis Street?
What about more trees? What about parkland?
This week, the city and the Vibrant Penticton advisory committee are seeking the public’s response to these and other questions regarding downtown revitalization.
The public dialogue into proposals developed during a downtown planning charrette this summer, continued Monday at the Penticton Community Centre after an initial introduction at the community market on Saturday.
City resident Paul Smith said Monday he considers downtown revitalization to be a key issue for the community.
“I think it’s important that we revitalize downtown and make it a destination. Your community is based on your downtown,” he said.
Smith said he’d personally like to see more natural enhancements to Penticton Creek and more emphasis on buses and bicycles downtown. Smith said he owns a car, but likes to ride his bike too.
“In the town that we’re in, we have such a great, unique opportunity for cyclists,” he said. “I really think we’re getting too much of a car mentality for Penticton when we’re such a small community and everything’s so close.”
Smith said overall, he’d rate the ideas presented as a B-plus or A-minus, even though he’s not supportive of two-way traffic on Main Street.
He said although planners were recently given a hard time over proposals for the Okanagan Lake waterfront, at least they’re coming up with new ideas.
However, Sharon Otke said the city must also consider the bottom line in its downtown deliberations.
“It would be interesting to know which ones cost more,” she said. “What are projects we could take on that would enhance things but don’t necessarily (cost a lot).
Otke said there is only so much taxpayers’ money, but agreed there are some interesting ideas being put forward.
The proposals will be presented to downtown business and property owners this evening at the Penticton Lakeside Resort, with another public presentation this Thursday at the Shatford Centre from 4-7 p.m.
Jake Belobaba, the city’s manager of planning, said the public’s comments will then be reviewed. A final plan and recommendations, with more opportunity for public input, is expected to be presented to city council before the end of December.
Initial design work on whatever projects are chosen by council will likely begin in 2013.
Belobaba added the vast majority of residents responding to the proposals have indicated they’d like to see something happen now or within the next few years, rather than wait another 10 to 20 years.
Copies of the residents’ survey can be picked up at City Hall or completed online at www.Penticton.ca/downtown.