City of Penticton offers an international welcome

An all-encompassing greeting has become a part of the community’s headquarters.

Penticton Mayor Andrew Jakubeit (left) and program manager Tahira Saeed of the South Okanagan Immigrant and Community Services at Penticton City Hall March 30 following the unveiling of the new welcome wall in the lobby. The wall was done in partnership between the city and the society and included provincial funding. Welcome is spelled out in English and 15 other languages and is intended to make the facility a more welcoming and friendly place for new immigrants and visitors from other countries.

Penticton Mayor Andrew Jakubeit (left) and program manager Tahira Saeed of the South Okanagan Immigrant and Community Services at Penticton City Hall March 30 following the unveiling of the new welcome wall in the lobby. The wall was done in partnership between the city and the society and included provincial funding. Welcome is spelled out in English and 15 other languages and is intended to make the facility a more welcoming and friendly place for new immigrants and visitors from other countries.

English isn’t always the first language of newcomers to Penticton, and to demonstrate that the city is open for business to everyone, an all-encompassing greeting has become a part of the community’s headquarters.

In partnership with South Okanagan Immigrant and Community Services, the City of Penticton unveiled a diverse collection of “welcomes” on March 30 at city hall. Prominently displayed inside the building’s entrance, guests are now greeted by 15 different languages from Chinese and Punjabi to Italian and Russian.

“New signs may seem like a small addition to the city hall space, but they are symbolic and reinforce how welcoming Penticton is for visitors and newcomers alike,” said Penticton Mayor Andrew Jakubeit. “We thank South Okanagan Immigrant and Community Services for devoting time and energy to this project, and making city hall a more inviting and friendly place to visit.”

Taking advantage of a renovation project at City Hall last year, the need to update signage paved the opportunity for a more inclusive way to say hello. In a release, the city cited Canadian newcomers as 26 per cent of growth in the South Okanagan-Similkameen from 2001 to 2006.

“The area currently receives approximately 100 immigrants per year, and based on general population growth projections,” it states. “This number is anticipated to double.”

The new signage advances the mandate of the South Okanagan Immigrant and Community Services, which helps new Canadians with settling in the area. SOICS approached the city about making Penticton’s key civic building more welcoming to new Canadians and individuals who have English as a second language.

“We were excited to be included in the city hall renovation,” said Tahira Saeed, program manager for South Okanagan Immigrant and Community Services. “It is a central resource location for our newcomer clients and offering a friendly atmosphere is key to their feeling welcome.”

Symbols and wayfinding signage have also gone up to help customers.