Penticton will soon have a single business improvement association representing the interests of downtown merchants when the Front Street Business Association merges with the Downtown Penticton Association.
Barb Haynes, executive director of the DPA, said she has already been in conversations with members of the FSBA about the coming merger.
“I have met with some of the Front Street members to take a look at what are some of their needs, what projects are they looking to complete or would like to move forward on,” said Haynes, adding that those projects will be incorporated into the DPA planning. “I am really excited about the opportunity to get to work with some of those amazing businesses. There are some great locations on Front Street.”
Penticton council approved the merger this week, after receiving the results of a petition they initiated on Sept. 17, at the request of the FSBA. Of the 32 parcels in the Front Street area, 10 petitions were received against the merger, representing slightly more than 30 per cent of the assessed land value.
“I am glad to see the business community in the downtown is united,” said Coun. Wes Hopkin. “I know there are some that might be worried about the loss of identity on Front Street and I am sure that is not a concern. It’s going to be still vibrant and made even more vibrant by the fact that they can work together and share resources and continue doing a fantastic job. ”
Haynes said changing the unique feel of Front Street is not something the DPA would want.
“We want to make sure that Front Street is always Front Street, and finding a way to enhance that, to make that an even stronger brand than it currently is,” she said. “We will work very hard to maintain the unique identity that is Front Street.”
That unique identity, Haynes said, has to do with the narrower layout of the street, giving it a quainter feel and making it more approachable for people wanting to explore, especially tourists.
“I think there are some beautiful examples of architecture along that street,” said Haynes. “They do have a look and feel that is specific only to Front Street and I think that needs to be retained. I think it is absolutely picturesque; every time we see photos of Penticton, most frequently, people are wanting to take pictures of Front Street.
For their part, Haynes said the DPA offers a full-time staff, noting that the levy to support it has not increased substantially during the many years the association has been operating.
“What has changed for us is the association has learned to be revenue producing,” said Haynes. The many income-producing projects she said are a valuable addition to their budget over the baseline tax levy.
“That means that all of that money can then go back out into our community for promotions and for events and projects the board would like to see happen. We want to build the vibrancy, that is what this is all about,” she said, adding that the merger just means more collaborations. “I think what it does do is it provides a greater opportunity for those individuals, both on Front Street and downtown, to work corroboratively on visions.”