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Penticton looks at removing building height restrictions in downtown

Task force recommends removing three-storey restrictions for downtown and four-storey on Lakeshore
Some controversy around the council table when M’akola Housing Society, through funding from BC Housing, wanted to build a five storey affordable housing building at 603 Main Street. This project was approved in 2022 but nothing has come of it since. (Rendering)

Penticton’s housing task force is bringing 18 recommendations to council including removing 3-storey height limits in the downtown and 4-storey building height restrictions on Lakeshore Drive.

“As chair of the task force, it has been a privilege to work with such a capable and diverse group of members,” said chair Nathan Little. “The task was difficult as the issues we face are complex and our geography adds another layer of complexity. All of the recommendations made here are designed to meet the housing needs of today and tomorrow. Some of them will challenge perceptions of what Penticton is but we believe this work will set us on a path towards Council’s goal of improved housing across the entire spectrum.”

The recommendations include:

• Allowing up to four or six residential units on all currently single- and two-family designated lands

• In strategic areas, support changing the commercial, tourist commercial, industrial and residential land use designations to the ‘mixed use’ designation

• Removal of the three-storey height limit in the downtown and four-storey height restriction on Lakeshore Drive

Allow additional high-density residential capacity on large shopping centres by designating them ‘mixed use’

• Review parking regulations and shift from parking requirements to parking recommendations, in strategic areas to incentivize housing development and encourage alternative forms of transportation

• Support the city and staff working with non-profit housing proponents to develop new non-market housing that meets the needs of a range of people, and retains existing non-market housing units (no net loss)

• The City to develop a “social housing plan” in the near term to provide strategic direction to determine and achieve a range of non-market housing goals

• Remove the Spiller Road area as a ‘growth area’, and change the future land use designation of Spiller Road to ‘Rural Residential’

• Investigate policies and programs to spur new housing development and redevelopment

“The OCP-Housing Task Force has done a tremendous job of assessing all the data presented, taking in the input through the community engagement process and providing Council with a thoughtful approach to how we move forward,” said Blake Laven, the City’s director of development Services.

The task force was established earlier this year to work on amendments to the OCP to address the housing crisis.

The city recently conducted the 2023 Housing Needs Assessment. The assessment showed that between 2016 to 2021, Penticton’s annual growth rate was high at 1.9 per cent. If this trend continues, the city may have around 20,000 additional residents and 9,200 additional households by 2046.

The task force’s recommendations are being presented to council Dec. 12 and staff are asking council direct staff to incorporate the recommendations into the upcoming Official Community Plan amendments.

READ MORE: City council approves controversial height variance to allow for much-needed housing on Main

READ MORE: Another step towards brining 1,500 housing units near Penticton hospital

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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