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Penticton council gives enthusiastic approval to Penmar Theatre winery development

Council approved a zoning amendment to allow winery use on the former Penmar Theatre property on Martin Street at the July 18, 2016 council meeting. Above is a rendering of plans for the facade of the former theatre complex.
Image Credit: City of Penticton
July 20, 2016 - 2:30 PM

PENTICTON - Two projects praised by Penticton city councillors for their economic benefits and street enhancements have received approval from the public and council.

Public hearings for the conversion of the former Penmar Theatre buildings into a winery and development of an apartment complex on Duncan Avenue solicited little concern from the public and high praise from councillors, who unanimously approved both projects at the July 18 council meeting.

Time Winery co-owner Harry McWatters told council plans for the property included preservation of the 1959-era Penmar Theatre building, including use of original building materials. He said he would be starting his 49th Okanagan vintage in a matter of weeks, noting the Martin Street location was only three kilometres from where he first began making wine in the Okanagan.

“The idea of a winery in city is not new, it’s just come back again,” he said.

McWatters said his development represented a significant contribution to redevelopment of the street, noting the close proximity to craft breweries and distilleries. He said economic benefits included 15 full-time, high-paying jobs that should enhance employment opportunities in the neighbourhood.

A resident from a condominium complex backing the winery expressed concerns about noise and odour from the winery and McWatters assured the resident steps would be taken to mitigate both issues.

Counc. Max Picton said he would be extremely happy to support the development.

“I think this is a fantastic addition to our downtown and I really love the fact that while it isn’t a heritage building, it is an iconic one," Picton said. "Everything presented to us has been nothing short of incredible and I really think it will enhance our downtown.”

Similar comments were echoed by Coun. Judy Sentes, who called McWatters the "Godfather of Okanagan wine."

Council also approved plans to develop two, five-storey rental apartment blocks at 151 Duncan Ave. West, totalling 99 units. Amendments to the Official Community Plan and zoning was necessary to change the property’s use from general commercial to residential. A parking variance was also sought and approved.

Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of Seymour Developments and Broadstreet properties Kris Mailman said the development, to be known as Bridgecrest Place, would be the company’s first rental property in British Columbia.

“We selected Penticton as our starting point of our expansion in to B.C. for several reasons. First, Penticton has a pent up demand for housing and we think we can play a role in addressing the needs of the community,” he said, adding city staff had also been very supportive of the process to develop the lot.

Mailman said Bridgecrest Place will be the first five-storey wood framed building to be constructed in the city. He did not give a timeline for construction.

The company manages more than 8,000 rental units in Western Canada in 12 cities and three provinces.

“As chair of the Affordable Housing Committee, I’m excited to see some action in this regard,” Coun. Sentes said.


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