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What Penticton could have looked like if projects of the past went ahead

From a 2nd hwy to Kelowna to 15-storey towers - Penticton could have looked much different
A 2021 rendering of a 15-storey tower that is being considered along with townhouses and a smaller apartment building for the Ogopogo Motel property in Penticton. (Submitted)

In 1975 there was a plan to turn the KVR Trail into a second highway to Kelowna.

Earlier than that, in the late 1960s, there were great plans to have hotels and resorts front onto Skaha Lake, near where the baseball diamonds currently are. There was also a vision back then to turn Penticton into a golf resort town.

Before the crash of 2008-09, there were massive projects that never took place in Penticton including several high rises in the Skaha area and on Haynes Street.

‘What Penticton might have been’ was part of a housing presentation given by city planners who were speaking to Penticton’s building community last week.

The sold-out ‘Let’s Talk Housing’ presentation at Cannery Brewing was put on by the Canadian Home Builders’ Association South Okanagan (CHBASO), who invited the city mayor and planners to talk about the future of housing.

The group heard that Penticton has seen incredible growth over the last five years, far outstripping projections, with an average of 250 new residents moving to Peach City per year.

The crowd cheered when they heard of the long-ago idea of turning Ellis Street into a Granville Island-style market place.

“The bus barn on Ellis Street would have been turned into a Granville Island market,” said Blake Laven, city planning manager who along with the city’s Anthony Haddad put together the presentation.

Laven spoke about how the Dyck family helped create the Ellis Street entertainment corridor by building the Cannery Brewery more than 20 years ago. There is still great potential for dense residential and businesses in that area, he added.

At one time in Penticton’s distant past there was plans to put 1,400 single-family homes into the Campbell Mountain and Spiller Road area. Hillside development is still in Penticton’s future even beyond the already approved 700-plus homes going into Wiltse’s hillside, said Laven.

There was a time when Penticton’s population went down in 2016, said Laven. That was also around the same time that Penticton re-did its official community plan (OCP) focusing on parks and amenities.

Not so long ago, Penticton was the chosen site for a new jail for the Okanagan. After opposition in the city and not much appetite by the council of the day, the ‘Penticton Pen’ as it was going to be called was squashed. The jail was opened in Oliver instead and is now known as Okanagan Correction Centre.

Just recently there was quite a lofty proposal for where the Ogopogo Motel once stood on Riverside Drive.

The older motel is on a 2.21 acre lot and the idea was to have 31 townhouse units and two 15-storey towers as well as parking levels, patios, roof terraces and other features. That plan has been scaled down considerably since then.

READ MORE: Riverside developer has big plans for Ogopogo property

READ MORE: Ogopogo Motel and RV Park up for sale in Penticton

Penticton’s OCP is coming up and this time around the focus will be on housing, said Laven. But factors like the water table and airport height restrictions will have to be considered, he added.

Big projects are coming on like the Timmins Street project, the El Rancho and Villa Rosa redevelopments, Beach Resort on Marine Way as well more growth in North Gateway. The 103-room six-storey hotel going in beside Penticton Trade and Convention Centre will open this summer.

READ MORE: Penticton’s growth and housing hot topics

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Monique Tamminga

About the Author: Monique Tamminga

Monique brings 20 years of award-winning journalism experience to the role of editor at the Penticton Western News. Of those years, 17 were spent working as a senior reporter and acting editor with the Langley Advance Times.
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