Artist rendering of the Cascades Casino scheduled to be open by the spring of 2017.

Artist rendering of the Cascades Casino scheduled to be open by the spring of 2017.

Casino breaks ground, Tourism Penticton finds new offices

This summer, the three organizations housed in the Penticton and Wine Country Visitor Centre are going to be in new digs.

This summer, the three organizations housed in the Penticton and Wine Country Visitor Centre are going to be in new digs.

For the Visitor Centre and the Wine Information Centre, it is going to be a temporary move, but the Penticton and Wine Country Chamber of Commerce is making a permanent move across town to a building they just purchased in downtown.

Chamber president Michael Magnusson has a lengthy list of the various spaces the organization has leased over the years, ending with the current location in the visitors’ centre building, but this is the first time the chamber has actually owned its building.

“We had some funds that had been put into trust by the Board of Trade,” said Magnusson. “Those funds could only be accessed if we were to buy a building. So the timing, and the financial ability, allowed us to do that.”

The chamber’s new home is at 102 Ellis St., and Magnusson said they plan to be moved in by the end of June.

“It is a great location. It is nice to be part of that, to feel the pulse of the city down there,” said Magnusson, adding that they are also planning internal renovations to the building.

“It (the Chamber) could be located anyplace, but at the same time, I just think it makes us more accessible to our members and to future members, just by being downtown, where there is a large concentration of commercial businesses.”

The beginning of construction on Gateway’s new Cascades Casino on May 2 encouraged the chamber to seek a new location. The visitor centre and the Wine Information Centre are also vacating the building, but they will only be moving across the parking lot, to a temporary home being constructed in front of the South Okanagan Events Centre for them by Gateway.

Gateway, will be putting up banner screening on the construction fencing, and have agreed the banners can carry both Tourism Penticton’s branding as well as the wine stores, with directions to the temporary location.

As it does now, the visitor centre will occupy the same temporary location as the Wine Information Centre. General manager Laura Kowalchuk said there will be plenty of room for their wine sales.

“It is going to be really visible, lots of parking, easy access.”

Both organizations expect to be in their new temporary home by mid to late June. Construction of the new Cascades Casino is expected to be finished in spring 2017.

At noon on Friday the 13th dignitaries are gathering to make the start of construction official for the new Cascades Casino.

“It might be someone’s lucky day,” joked Tanya Gabara, spokesperson for Gateway Casinos & Entertainment. “We are just really excited that the day is here and we are sticking that shovel in the ground.”

Penticton MLA Dan Ashton and Mayor Andrew Jakubeit will join Gateway CEO Tony Santo for the ceremonial groundbreaking of the site situated in the parking area between the Penticton Curling Club and the current visitor and Wine Information Centre building.

Gabara said the first step is to break up the asphalt and prepare the site for the new building. Construction of the casino could bring up to 150 new jobs and a $25 million investment in the Penticton economy.

Gateway’s Lake City Casino, housed in the Lakeside Resort, will continue operating until the new building is ready to open, according to Gabara. When fully staffed, Cascades Casino Penticton will have approximately 300 employees.