Tower project moving forward

A residential tower complex on Skaha Lake Road is moving forward after council rezoned the land this week.

Council has approved rezoning for a development on Skaha Lake road that includes two 14-storey and one 12-storey tower.

Council has approved rezoning for a development on Skaha Lake road that includes two 14-storey and one 12-storey tower.

A project to build a residential tower complex on a former water slide site is one step closer to reality.

Penticton city council voted this week to rezone 3388 Skaha Lake Road, formerly the site of Wonderful Waterworld from Tourist Commercial to Residential.

Waterworld closed in 2006, selling the land to Vancouver developer Mel Reeves, who planned to build a five-star resort on the property.  Reeves ran into financial difficulties with his project and shut it down in 2008 without ever having broken ground.

The property was put on the market in 2009 for $12 million, far less than an earlier listing price of $22 million, after a court had ordered its sale as part of foreclosure. The land lay idle for several years, until Starline Enterprises purchased the property out of receivership in 2013.

Starline has already built a commercial component at the corner of Skaha Lake Road and Yorkton Avenue and are now looking to back that up by building two 14-storey and one 12-storey residential tower next to it.

The rezoning passed 5-2, with Couns. Max Picton and Tarik Sayeed opposed.

Picton said he approved the developer’s concept, which would both increase the city’s tax base and deal with a property that has long been an eyesore, but he drew the line at the height of the buildings.

“I am just not in favour of a building of that height in that area of town,” said Picton, adding that he believed that if the project went forward, it would be beautiful, but the height didn’t suit his vision of that area of the city.

Sayeed’s concerns were that the design only included a single parking spot per unit, which he said would end up affecting the surrounding neighbourhood, as owners searched for a spot to park their second car.

But while the height of the complex was an issue for some, discussion also included the lack of affordable housing in Penticton.

Tony Vant Geloof, owner of Starline, said that responsibility for affordable housing shouldn’t be laid on developers, noting that his company had already contributed $400,000 into the city’s affordable housing fund during construction of their Athens Creek development.

“That $400,000 is going to be peanuts for affordable housing. That is not the way to go, in my opinion. I think we have to do that as a city or a province or as a federal government. We should not load that on an individual,” he said.

Vant Geloof’s son Bill said that due to the density of the Skaha Road project, they expected to contribute a similar amount to the affordable housing fund again.

“That is essentially a tax on our project to help produce some social housing,” said Bill, who also told council they understood some people were concerned by the height of the towers, but they had worked hard with their designers to minimize the effect.