Penticton eyes new housing option

Neighbours raise parking concerns over flex-unit developments proposed for downtown Penticton

The city has added a new style of housing to the city’s list of residential zones.

Recently, city staff have been approached by two separate developers who are interested in developing infill row housing in areas designated for high-density residential development. In itself, that is not unusual, but what is unique about both these proposals is that the developers wish to feature flex-units. These are small secondary units that could be used as a secondary suite, a third bedroom for the townhouse or even as a small commercial space.

The two sites are both downtown, including two properties in the 500 block of Ellis Street where the developer is planning to build a five-unit townhouse complex, and a six-property section in the 300 block of Van Horne where another developer has proposed a 27-unit development.

While the idea of flex-units drew approval from both staff and council, none of the current zones available support it. So, rather than dealing with a variance for each, planning staff suggested a new zone be added to the city’s zoning bylaw to accommodate current and future proposals.

In the case of the Van Horne site, the six units have been used as a parking lot since about 1989. And parking is the concern of nearby residents in both cases. Lynn Kelsey, who lives near the Ellis Street site, said there are already parking problems in the area. If all five new townhouses should choose to use the flex unit as a secondary suite, that would be the equivalent of a 10-unit housing block.

“There is no space for residents on the street or their visitors until after 5 p.m. daily. If the extra tenants of the flex units were to be residential, this would mean the problem would exist 24 hours a day,” said executive assistant Karen Burley, reading Kelsey’s comments into the council record.

Similarly, Raymond Mills, who lives across from the Van Horne site, said he is happy to see the site being developed, hoping it’s a reversal of the trend that has seen buildings coming down in the downtown core, not going up. But with 54 units coming into the area, he is very concerned about the parking.

“Under the new zone there is no parking requirements for the additional unit or visitors to be accommodated on site,” said Anthony Haddad, Penticton’s director of development services. “The location being in the downtown results in the lower parking requirement, given the availability of parking and the need to move to alternate forms of transportation in the downtown.”

One benefit of the flex-unit design is the possibility of using it as a third bedroom for the unit. Three-bedroom, apartment-style units are not common, and the availability of these units could help promote families moving into the downtown, which goes with the OCP goal of increasing the residential density of downtown Penticton.

If used as a commercial unit, the flex-units are limited to small-scale operations. According to the new zone, those uses would have to fall under the designations of artisan craft, office or a personal service establishment.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Crystal Johns used her lunch break to film her audition video for the Vancouver Canucks.
VIDEO: Former Vees anthem singer wants to bring her voice to the Canucks

Crystal Johns made her audition tape during a lunch break

The Village of Keremeos is preparing to open up the village to in-province travellers as the province enters Phase 3 of its reopening plan. (Brennan Phillips - Keremeos Review)
Electric vehicle use continues to rise in Keremeos

August saw 147 vehicles for the peak of the year

Four staff members at the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen were self-isolating on March 19. The regional district is also considering whether to continue keeping its doors open to the public. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Feedback wanted on plan to make West Bench age-friendly

Some 43 per cent of West Bench residents are over the age of 55

The Okanagan Regional Library is holding a pair of online contests for its young readers. (File photo)
Okanagan Regional Library challenges young readers

Pair of contests online aimed at kids aged up to 18

Penticton Real Canadian Superstore
New COVID case at Penticton Superstore

The last day the employee worked was Jan. 21

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

Auldin Maxwell stacks the 693rd block on the top of record-breaking Jenga tower on Nov. 29. (Submitted)
Salmon Arm boy rests world-record attempt on single Jenga brick

Auldin Maxwell, 12, is now officially a Guinness world record holder.

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply

A Dodge Ram pickup similar to this one was involved in a hit-and-run in Lake Country on Saturday, Jan. 16. (Crime Stoppers photo)
Stolen truck involved in Okanagan hit-and-run

Incident happened on Highway 97 in Lake Country just before 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 16

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

Kelowna Fire Department. (FILE)
Early morning downtown Kelowna dumpster fire deemed suspicious

RCMP and the Kelowna Fire Department will conduct investigations into the cause of the blaze

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

From the left: Midway RCMP Csts. Jonathan Stermscheg and Chris Hansen, Public Servant Leanne Mclaren and Cpl. Phil Peters. Pictured in the front are Mclaren’s dog, Lincoln and Peters’ dog, Angel. Photo courtesy of BC RCMP
B.C. Mounties commended for bringing firewood to elderly woman

Cpl. Phil Peters said he and detachment members acted after the woman’s husband went to hospital

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

Most Read