Penticton downtown revitalization officially underway

Scrims like this one just attached to a construction fence will soon be going up in the area around Martin and Westminster Avenue as Penticton starts work on the downtown plan.  - Steve Kidd/Western News
Scrims like this one just attached to a construction fence will soon be going up in the area around Martin and Westminster Avenue as Penticton starts work on the downtown plan.
— image credit: Steve Kidd/Western News

Renovations to a one-block area on Martin Street and Westminster Avenue will create a western gateway to downtown Penticton, something Mayor Garry Litke said the city has never had before.

“You don’t really realize you are in the downtown core until you notice you are on Main Street somewhere,” said Litke, as he addressed the small group of stakeholders and media that turned out Wednesday for the official kickoff of the first project approved under the new downtown plan.

“Anybody coming from the west, from the convention centre or from the beach will recognize they are about to enter downtown.

“Currently there is no signature like that.”

Repeating the slogan developed for the revitalization project, Litke said this development is part of the path to Penticton being  “a vibrant and innovative and adventurous waterfront city focused on sustainability, community and economic opportunity.”

The kickoff event marked the start of the first project of the new downtown plan approved last year.

The $1.25 million project, which was awarded to Grizzly Excavating, includes streetscape improvements for the 200-block of Martin Street and Westminster Avenue from Main to Winnipeg.

Sidewalks will be replaced with decorative pavers and new street furniture, lighting and trees will be added.

Litke said he was excited about the project, calling it the first step in a cycle of construction and economic activity the city hopes will help all the local businesses once it is complete.

It focuses on the vibrancy of the entertainment district, he said, pointing out the Landmark Cinema which opened in 2012 and the Bad Tattoo brew pub currently under construction, both on the the far side of the zone, facing Winnipeg Street.

The enhanced streetscape, he added, will spur more nightlife and more activity in the downtown.

“It will make this entire area a much more energetic place to be, not only during the daytime but in the evening as well,” said Litke.

“Investing in the downtown’s economic opportunities is what what will make the downtown grow.”

Kerri Milton, executive director of the Downtown Penticton Association, said her group is excited to see downtown taken seriously, but made the point that businesses in the area will be open throughout the construction phase, and held up shiny new signs saying just that.

“We want to encourage you to come downtown and see these businesses and check out what they are doing,” said Milton. “It’s going to be messy. It’s going to be busy, but it is a good way to look forward to the future.”

Work on the project is expected to start over the next few days, with the goal of being completed by May, before the start of the main tourist season.


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