Public hears hotel plans

Colton Davies

Dozens of people filled the Shatford Centre on Thursday afternoon to take in a second open house for a luxury hotel proposed to be built by Poplar Grove Winery on the Naramata bench. 

Owner Tony Holler originally held an open house on the 20-unit hotel plans last month for neighbouring residents, before hosting Thursday's session to preview a revised design.

The biggest change, he said, was that the hotel will be about 10 feet lower than originally planned by moving all parking underground. There will also be a terraced vineyard in front of the building as opposed to more conventional landscaping. 

The luxury hotel would be built at 468 Lower Bench Road, directly below Poplar Grove Winery.

The new hotel, Holler said, would help accommodate a demographic of tourists that has more commonly been seen in the region.

"When I grew up here, the Okanagan was regarded as a place to have a cheap summer vacation. You had a lot of campgrounds, motels. The clientele coming up now, in particular because of the wine industry, is a different clientele, and has different needs," he said.

Residents in favour of the hotel who spoke to Castanet at the open house said there is the need for high-end accommodation in that area.

"Everyone is down at the valley bottom, there's nothing up there on the bench for tourists besides some Airbnb's," one man said. 

Those against the plans, however, told Castanet the hotel is in the wrong location.

"There's farming activity going on. This is not the right place for a hotel," Cathy Rublee said, who lives across the street from the site and started a petition against the plans.

Staff with the City of Penticton were on hand to provide information to residents as well, as the site is within city limits.

Senior planner Blake Laven said the hotel would be in line with policies to support the city's wine industry, included in the official community plan.

Laven said the city showed the plans to the agricultural advisory committee, which provided support. About one-third of the hotel's property is on ALR land, which has never been used for farming.

"That gave us some confidence... Now it's just how we can mitigate any negative impacts this type of land use would have on neighbouring properties."

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