It’s ironic that our Page 1 headline in Wednesday’s Herald “Bike route approved” was beside a story on Cherry Lane threatening to evict The Bay due to unpaid rent.
The Bay is Penticton’s second-largest retail store.
Everyone agrees that the lake-to-lake bike route — approved Tuesday by city council — is a nice idea.
But now is not the time to commit $8 million (at least) to the project.
Everything being said by supporters is true — health benefits, tourism, fewer cars, lowering our carbon footprint, increased liveability, seniors discovering E-bikes, rider safety, affordability.
The only questionable argument is when drawing comparisons with Vancouver and European capital cities.
That’s like saying Hedley should have an indoor pool and recreation facility because it works well in Penticton.
With COVID-19, there’s tons of people out of work. Those who are working are taking home less money.
In the case of the City, there’s zero casino revenue coming in. Some people are forfeiting on their taxes. Parking revenue is down. Homelessness and addiction are at an all-time high.
Many businesses are doing well if they’re breaking even. To put another obstacle in front of downtown businesses — the lack of curbside parking — is a risk to people’s livelihood.
Cycling is already served by Government Street and the Channel Parkway. Neither are perfect, but they’re certainly adequate for a city of 33,000 — for now.
This project shouldn’t have proceeded without a referendum or survey by a professional polling company.
The cycling community is incredibly enthusiastic, but it would be easier to support if they came up with the first $500,000 by fundraising.
If the city is going to commit $8 million to this mega-project, perhaps citizens should be asked for ideas.
The lake-to-lake route could be the No. 1 recreational project. The arts community will disagree. Perhaps extending the Okanagan walkway would benefit more people.
Everyone is learning from COVID-19. Nobody — medical experts and economists — saw this coming. The situation changes almost daily.
Without guaranteed grant money or significant outside donations, we are worried.
James Miller is managing editor of The Penticton Herald.