Words like “shocking” and “alarming” were used when Penticton council heard Tuesday, March 21, that a project to rework an intersection between Skaha Lake Road and South Main Street sits $3 million over budget.
Local politicians deferred making a decision this week on the fate of the Point Intersection Project, a $10 million plan aimed at fixing what Penticton Mayor Julius Bloomfield calls a “dysfunctional” 40-metre stretch of road continuing from Kinney Avenue through to South Main Street.
The project was originally budgeted at $7.4 million.
It includes a new roundabout at Galt Avenue and South Main Street, as well as the closure of Kinney Avenue to vehicle traffic at the aforementioned “dysfunctional” intersection.
“It might have been good 40 years ago, 50 years ago when the population was half of it is now, especially in that area, but today, anyone who tries to navigate that….it’s a lesson in frustration,” said Mayor Bloomfield.
Less than one week removed from narrowly approving a 9.5 per cent tax increase, council has requested city staff to provide more information on the capital project after hearing its price tag of $10 million.
“It is absolutely shocking to me that on a Friday, the day after passing a budget with a 9.5 per cent increase to taxpayers, the very next day we have an agenda with a capital project of $10 million and $3 million in cost overruns,” said coun. Amelia Boultbee.
Council will revisit the matter at its next meeting on April 3.
Boultbee added that she’s opposed to the project altogether, at this time.
“I’m just not persuaded that a roundabout is needed,” she said.
Along with the new roundabout and rework of the 40-metre Kinney Avenue stretch, other infrastructure upgrades included in the proposed $10 million plan are:
• Reconstruction of Galt Avenue including a new signalized intersection with Skaha Lake Road
• Overlapping section of the Lake-to-Lake Bike Route (Kinney Avenue to Galt Avenue)
• Asphalt rehabilitation on Warren Avenue and Main Street
• Sidewalk and traffic calming on Greenwood Drive
Leaders from the local Salvation Army — located off the “dysfunctional intersection” — said last summer the closure of Kinney Avenue, between South Main Street and Skaha Lake Road, would limit easy access for donations to its food bank and thrift shop.
Coun. Helena Konanz said, it is “somewhat alarming” the project has been brought forward immediately following council’s 2023 budget deliberations.
“We haven’t even voted on the bylaw yet for the new budget…how did this not come through the conversation of budget deliberations?” questioned Konanz.
Kristen Dixon, the city’s general manager of infrastructure, acknowledged council’s concerns over the timing and said staff worked late after budget deliberations on Thursday, March 16, to ensure the project could be included in council’s meeting agenda on Friday, March 17.