The owner of the Riverside Village has been granted approval to expand his shopping centre on the 200 block of Riverside Drive.
Penticton council voted 5-1 Monday evening to rezone the currently unused portion of land located on the west side of the property from CT1 Tourist Facilities to C2 Shopping Centre.
The change paves the way for the complex’s owner, Shane Worman, to construct a one-storey 3,885 square foot commercial building and a two-storey 12,467 square foot mixed-use building.
The first portion of the strip mall was rezoned from CT1 to C2 in 2005 for the retail businesses that sit there today, while the unused portion was left as a tourist facilities designation with the intent of a hotel or motel being constructed on the site, according city planning technologist Blake Laven.
But with the weak economy crippling development throughout the city, including in locations better suited for a hotel or motel, Worman asked the city to have the entire property rezoned.
“Given the size of the site at this time, and the fact that no hotel or motel interest has been active at the site, it is unlikely that a tourist accommodation use will be forthcoming on the property,” reported Laven. “The C2 Shopping Centre zone offers the property owner a wider range of uses in which to attract users to the site.”
Plus, he added, “the proposed commercial nature of the site will be a draw for the visiting public looking for commercial amenities in the area.”
However, at a public hearing on the matter, two residents said the area did not need anymore retail stores, asserting that such businesses belong in the city’s downtown core.
“Is this your vision for Penticton, to have these satellite shopping centres all over the place?” former Penticton councillor Gary Denton asked council.
“If we don’t tell owners where they can’t do business, we will never get (Penticton’s) downtown developed in time to make it economically viable.”
But Coun. Mike Pearce said the shopping centre is in an established village node which services residents in the area, as well as people living in West Bench, stimulating economic activity in the city.
“The developer has quite a clean development there which is almost fully leased out,” said Pearce. “I think he is shown to this council that he knows what he is doing. It isn’t just a bunch of empty buildings and derelict rundowns.”
Only Coun. Garry Litke voted against the rezoning.
“It was identified as a village node but we see in our quarterly report that zero work is being done on developing a neighbourhood plan for this area,” Litke said. “It seems to me that by acquiescing to the zoning request, the developer is driving the planning for this area. I thought it was supposed to be the other way around.
“I don’t think we should be expanding it. It doesn’t meet with our zoning and certainly doesn’t comply with any planning that we have done because we haven’t done any planning for this area.”
Pearce responded that there is planning in place.
“This is just some minor modifications to a parcel of land that is going on,” he said.