Plans to change the face of Penticton’s North Gateway are slowly moving forward and will be presented to the public soon.
The Western News was given an early look at the presentation and some of the work that went on over the design charette week of Sept. 15.
That week brought together stakeholders in the North Gateway area, along with five architects and designers, to begin working on what might eventually become a guiding vision for the entire area that would connect both the tourist focus and local needs for future developments.
“A diverse choice of housing is going to be important for locals. The most successful cities, the local community loves it, and people will come from all over the world to those communities,” said Anthony Haddad, the city’s general manager of community services. “You have to build them for the people in the community, you can’t just expect visitors to come and buy up all this land, it has to be a local approach.”
What has emerged out of the design week were 10 key points; three gateways, referring to the Power Street and Westminster Ave. intersection, the Eckhardt Avenue and Highway 97 intersection and the Riverside and Highway 97 intersection; three corridors, referring to the Power Street, Westminster Ave. and Highway 97 corridors; and three districts, which broke up the area into a core around the SOEC, a south section along Highway 97 and a north section along Westminster Ave.
The last key aspect that was discussed and considered was a festival boulevard, separate from Highway 97 that would travel from the roundabout at Vees Drive, along the side of the highway before curving over to connect with Burnaby Ave.; as well as further housing and hotel room opportunities.
“Last year we saw a big focus on the area, with the El Rancho project, the Villa Rosa project, Riverside all of those,” said Haddad.
Some of those immediate projects that are coming would bring in up to 200 new hotel rooms, with 105 in the Villa Rosa project alone.
The 40 or so stakeholders worked on different sections of the area over multiple days alongside the city’s staff and designers.
“It was a pretty intense week, and now we’re putting together the draft plan to bring to the wider community,” said Haddad. “We would have loved to have everyone in the room, but we had good representatives from the community.”
The discussions also included representatives from travel Penticton, the Downtown Penticton Association, the parks committee, arts committee and other community groups.
The work and discussions have been going on since January, with the plan set to go before the public this month on shapeyourcity.penticton.ca for more feedback, before it goes to city council.
The Ministry of Transportation is one of the organizations the city has been in discussions with on slowing traffic into the city, and finding ways to improve the Highway 97 route and make it more appealing for people to not only travel through, but to make them want to stay in the city.
Housing is a major issue that was identified before the charette and brought into planning, and with 300 residential units in the initial stages of approval at the El Rancho property, there are up to 2,000 total that the city has identified as possibly being able to fit in the area.
“Housing was really important to figure out, one of the big discussions here was on employee housing and affordable housing,” said Haddad.
One of the options that was brought up and considered may see the city taking some of the land they own in the area and building housing on city land.
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