Canada’s first free-standing convention centre is turning 50.
The Penticton Trade and Convention Centre is celebrating the anniversary with a national contest with the prize being a trip to Penticton and Wine Country.
The contest is open to residents of Canada and runs until Dec. 31, 2015. The winner and a guest will be flown to Penticton for a three-day, two-night trip.
The contest was sponsored by Tourism Penticton, Air Canada and 12 local partners including Burger 55, the SS Sicamous, The Bench Market, Cannery Brewing and LocoLanding Adventure Park.
“2014 was one of our best years yet, and the momentum is continuing. 2015 marks the convention centre’s 50th anniversary. The Peach Bowl Convention Centre was a bold vision by Mayor M.P. Finnerty and council in the early 1960s,” said Dean Clarke general manager of the South Okanagan Events Centre with Global Spectrum.
The centre originally opened on Aug. 4, 1965 and was called the Penticton Peach Bowl. The centre was made possible through the cooperation of municipal, provincial and federal governments and served the 13,500 people who lived in Penticton at the time.
Designed by architect Roy Meiklejohn and construction company Kenyon and Co. (now Greyback Construction), the centre is the only member of the Convention Centres of Canada that was built before 1970, and then Federal Agriculture Minister Harry Hays attended the opening day.
“I am pleased and proud to be able to refer to this federal involvement in the development of Penticton, but I think the real credit should go to the leaders of this community. They are the ones, after all, who had the vision and enterprise and faith in the future of this community to go ahead with all these developments which I’m sure will contribute to the welfare and prosperity of Penticton residents now and in the days to come,” Hays said on opening day in 1965.
Fifty years later, the Convention Centre is continuing to work towards bringing national conventions and exciting special events to Penticton.
“It has come full-circle and dovetails directly into Penticton’s new mayor and council. Like the community leaders of the 60s, building Canada’s first stand-alone convention centre, today’s mayor and council show innovative business first concepts. We’re very excited to work with them.”
“Penticton has a rich history being a premier tourism destination, and the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre has been a key economic driver by creating year-round visitations by delegates and their families,” said Mayor Andrew Jakubeit in a press release. “Council of the day had great vision to invest in a tremendous facility for our community’s benefit. Fifty years is something we need to celebrate and be excited about.”
The Trade and Convention Centre is looking to create synergy with Pentictonites and becoming a leader in meetings, conventions and special events in the community.
In 2015, local events like the Penticton Indian Band Career Fair, the South Okanagan Roller Derby Association, the Granfondo race, the Princess Margaret Secondary School graduation ceremony and the Okanagan Concert Band Festival will be part of the local connection to the centre.
“Locals are ambassadors for Penticton as a destination, and working together helps to further position Penticton as a top meeting destination,” Clarke said.