Penticton hears from citizens a desire for a more vibrant 'North Gateway' area in city

'More vibrancy' wanted

The City of Penticton is forging ahead with plans for a revamped "North Gateway" to the city, after having completed round one of public engagement.

Council heard a presentation Tuesday summarizing the findings so far.

"Over the past few months, we have been working with landowners, businesses, community groups and residents to understand the opportunities in the area,” says Haddad.

“Through these conversations, we are starting to see a vision emerge for the North Gateway as a welcoming and attractive neighbourhood that supports increased variety of residential densities, tourist accommodation and commercial activity and builds on the economic drivers and entertainment hubs in the SOEC and the PTCC.”

Engagement included an online mapping tool that people can drag a marker onto and leave feedback, which has generated 220 comments to date.

People were also able to submit photos with comments, which received 28 submissions, and a traditional comment form that garnered 74 responses.

"There was really great variety in the comments. A lot of people identifying some of the challenges they experience and many identifying opportunities. There were a few comments around cleaning up the entrance and really making the entrance a vibrant showcase for the beginning of the city, there was a desire to transform the area into a vibrant entertainment district," explained public engagement program manager JoAnne Kleb.

Other comments included utilizing the area for more housing, and adding infrastructure to support the convention centre to make it vibrant year-round.

"One of the interesting comments that we heard was there's quite a range in the heights that people were supportive of, there were some, you know that really wanted to keep it fairly low with a maximum of three storeys and there were others that were a little more aggressive and were open to putting six storeys in this area, and seeing this area is really a great place to add some height," Kleb added.

And other creative suggestions were brought to the table, like adding some high-profile destination artwork — as an example, a giant troll statue under the bridge, similar to the famed Fremont Troll in Seattle — and the thought of turning the bridge itself into a unique and attractive piece of architecture, if it's going to be replaced.

"So for my first phase of engagement, lots of great ideas, and I think people are are very keen to see what comes out of the next phase," Kleb said.

In the next phase of the project, the city will complete a transportation analysis to look at the existing road network, future densities and alternative design concepts for road infrastructure.

They will also complete a real estate demand analysis to determine appropriate densities for housing, tourist accommodations and commercial uses.

In the fall, the city will host a design charette to develop concepts based on the first two phases, the results of which will then be reviewed with the community for feedback.

"Council is encouraged by the direction of this work and the potential for this strategy to increase the economic vitality of our community and address some of our housing needs,” said Mayor John Vassilaki.

Full results of phase one and more project documents are available here.

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