PENTICTON -- City council wants a regional shuttle bus, but at the same time, the politicians are worried the service will hurt business at the local airport.
At the end of the day, the councillors can only express an opinion on the issue.
“We really don’t have much authority to stop them,” said Coun. Andrew Jakubeit.
On Monday, council expressed concerns a new regional transportation service will take business away from the Penticton Airport, one of the shuttles many stops on its route between Osoyoos and Kelowna.
The shuttle will also stop at the Kelowna International Airport. The councillors are concerned travellers will take the shuttle to Kelowna instead of flying out of Penticton.
Jakubeit wants to see a pilot project between Osoyoos and Penticton to see if there is a healthy volume of passengers headed north.
If more people are travelling to Kelowna’s airport, that “hampers our opportunity for an eastbound flight,” he said. The city would like to see Air Canada fly to Calgary out of Penticton, but the airline said there isn’t enough demand.
The city doesn’t want to lose the current air service from Penticton to Vancouver as a result of passengers taking the shuttle to fly out of Kelowna.
“We don’t want our airport to be a parking lot,” Jakubeit said.
The idea for a regional transit service comes from the South Okanagan Ground Transportation Advisory Committee, an entity independent from the city. The committee will select a private bidder to run the shuttle business.
The route will run between Osoyoos and Kelowna, with stops in Oliver, Penticton, Summerland, Peachland and Westbank.
The committee has asked the municipalities to help fund the service through the Thompson-Okanagan Tourism Association, a public funded organization who are responsible for both tourism and enhanced economic development in this region.
The funds are not intended to subsidize the private business, but rather complement transportation betterment in the south Okanagan, said the committee’s acting chair Robert Lintell who made a presentation to council Monday.
The shuttle is scheduled to begin service in June, regardless of whether or not the Penticton councillors agree with it.
To contact the reporter for this story, e-mail Meaghan Archer at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-488-3065.