Penticton's lake-to-lake cycling path to stay the course
Penticton’s lake-to-lake bike route looks like it will be making it to the finish line on time.
The four-phase project has been an ongoing issue of controversy – it requires lanes on roads to be removed and there is a perception that the bike lanes are seldom used.
The first three phases have been completed, connecting the route from Okanagan Lake to Cherry Lane Shopping Centre. Upon completion of final phase, scheduled for the end of 2023, cyclists will be able to pedal the entire way from Okanagan Lake to Skaha Lake via protected bike lane.
But if one more city councillor had voted to shelve it at this week’s regular council meeting, phase four would not be going ahead as planned.
Councillor Amelia Boultbee proposed council pause “until such time as a review of lessons learned and ridership information has been provided to council,” according to her notice of motion.
Boultbee’s motion had support from councillor James Miller.
“We have an incredibly tough budget ahead of us,” he said at the meeting. “I would like to put the brakes, literally, on it, for at least another year.”
Councillor Helena Konanz, who was critical of the project during her election campaign earlier in 2022, also voted to pause the next phase.
Councillor Issac Gilbert had staff confirm that $1.6 million of the roughly $2.2 million project is eligible for funding through federal grants. He also pointed out how the lake-to-lake cycling route is a priority in the city's official community plan.
Mayor Julius Bloomfield also supported the project going ahead, saying the project will be paid for through reserves and grants so taxpayers won't save any money if it does get shelved.
Councillor Campbell Watt said the project will serve as an important form of transportation.
Councillor Ryan Graham said he was back-and-forth on the issue, but he wants the project to get finished considering how close it is to completion.
"We’re almost there let’s get to the goal line," Coun. Graham said. “To decide not to doesn’t make much sense to me."
Although Mayor Bloomfield, Coun. Watt and Coun. Graham didn’t support the motion, they agreed the design is imperfect – particularly around Martin Street – and said it’s worth revisiting after the job is done.
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