March 18, 2014 - 2:25 PM
PENTICTON – Council debated whether an Okanagan shuttle service would direct customers away from the Penticton airport and if public funds should be spent on the private project.
The shuttle service plan was created by the South Okanagan Ground Transportation Committee that is comprised of volunteers, including Robert Lintell, who made a presentation during last night’s council meeting.
Some councillors asked why the city hadn’t been notified of the project before, or why they weren't invited to any previous meetings. But Lintell said he included the city on the list of contacts during invitation send outs.
The shuttle service will be run by a private enterprise that will cover the costs of vehicles and transportation. However, Lintell asked council if public funds could be donated for the beginning of the project, before service fees go into effect.
This is not news, however councillors, including Katie Robinson, were unimpressed that a private enterprise was asking for public funding.
“That’s where the buck stops from this councillor,” she said after expressing her reservations about the funding request.
But the funds would be going to the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association, a public funded organization, responsible for both tourism and enhanced economic development in the region.
“The fund is intended to compliment transportation betterment in the south Okanagan,” Lintell said after the meeting.
Other councillors were more confused than concerned, saying the plan was “just mumble jumble,” as Councillor John Vassilaki phrased it.
The committee is waiting to hear back from all the cities included in the plan, including Osoyoos, Oliver, Okanagan Falls, Penticton, Summerland, Peachland, Westbank and Kelowna. Penticton has yet to agree to get on board.
Councillor Wes Hopkin was the first to raise the question of whether the shuttle would be taking business away from the Penticton Regional Airport, since it was providing an easier way to travel to Kelowna International Airport.
The shuttle will stop at both airports, but a pilot project between Osoyoos and Penticton airport was suggested as a solution for generating more customers to use the local airport.
The city has been trying to schedule an eastbound flight out of the Penticton airport but likely won't convince Air Canada, the airport’s main flight provider, that it's a viable investment if all customers are flying out of Kelowna.
Lintell stressed the shuttle was not just an airport shuttle, but a means of transportation for persons looking to get from one town to another for various reasons, be it hospitals, family or shopping.
People with cars will drive. But people without personal modes of transportation are stuck.
There are other shuttle services in the Okanagan and Penticton, all of which the committee has reached out to and received a warm response.
To contact the reporter for this story, e-mail Meaghan Archer at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 250-488-3065.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014