Interest growing in Penticton's lake to lake cycling route | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Interest growing in Penticton's lake to lake cycling route

Penticton residents are being asked to voice their support for the proposed lake to lake cycling route as the matter comes to a public hearing on Monday, Nov. 16, 2020.
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November 15, 2020 - 3:31 PM

Public interest in a lake to lake cycling route through the City of Penticton is reaching new heights as a public hearing to decide the route’s location looms next week.

City engagement officer JoAnn Kleb says the city has seen "an increase in messaging" following a discussion at the Nov. 3 meeting of city council where some of the project's cost figures were discussed.

A dedicated lake to lake cycling route through the heart of Penticton is estimated to cost $6 million with an additional $2 million in contingency funding.

“Once people heard about the dollars involved, it became more real to them,” she says.

Kleb says some downtown businesses have voiced concerns with the proposed route, while other residents have concerns about the timing of the project, how well it will be used and whether or not it’s a good investment.

“We’re also hearing from people who are supportive of the initiative. Bike lanes are controversial in most cities,” she says.

The city is nearing the end of a one-year process to identify a preferred route for the bike lane. Thousands of comments have been collected over the past 12 months as the city has heard from more than 1,000 residents, with 82 per cent supporting the creation of a cycling route between Skaha and Okanagan Lakes.

Part of a public hearing scheduled for Monday, Nov.16 at the Penticton Convention Centre is about capturing the recommendations coming out of the public consultation process. Council will be asked to endorse the location of the route through the city through an amendment of the Official Community Plan.

Kleb says decisions on spending and design are still to be made.

"I know people are seeing this hearing and outcome as a decision on whether to proceed, but there are a few more steps that need to happen before that would occur,” she says.

The hearing is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Although it is possible to appear in person, the city is encouraging people to go online to view the proceedings. Kleb says strict rules are in place for social distancing with COVID-19 protocols, and room capacity is limited to 30 people.

For more information on how to participate, go here.

Penticton and Area Cycling Association spokesperson Matt Hopkins says the idea of a lake to lake route was first proposed in 2012. He says the original plan was shelved and his group approached council more recently to pitch a lake to lake route through the city for all ages and abilities.

“We think Penticton is a great city to cycle in as a transportation option if we did some things to the built environment to make it more bike-friendly,” Hopkins says. “There are concerns from Martin Street business owners about loss of parking but we are making the case this could bring a whole new group of people downtown, and stimulate business."

He says the sticker-shock needs to be put in perspective.

“Cost-wise, in the landscape of capital projects or transportation projects, it’s not really that expensive. It’s also an investment, to the extent you can get people thinking about a bike as transportation over a vehicle. You can save people a lot of money,” Hopkins says.

The cycling association also feels there are tourism related benefits to a lake to lake cycling route. Visitors to the city could park their vehicles and use bikes to get around for the duration of their stay.

“We think there will be significant interest in the route from that perspective,” he says. "We’ve been in the middle of a 'get out and vote campaign,' and we want everyone who feels that it would encourage them to cycle, or if they believe in the project, to make their feelings known to the city by sending an email to the publichearings@penticton.ca,” Hopkins says.

He fears if the initiative fails this time around, it could be another 10 years before there's another opportunity for such a project.


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