Kelowna News

Kelowna’s Ramada hotel tower testing new limits for wood construction

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New building rules will allow Kelowna’s Ramada hotel to add a 12-storey, 83-room wooden tower faster than traditional construction methods in order to compete with an expanding Kelowna hotel market.

Dave Prystay is the general manager of Penticton Lakeside Resort and a spokesperson for RPF Hotels and Resorts, which owns both buildings. He said the company saw a competitive advantage in working with wood when they added a six-storey wooden addition to the Penticton hotel in 2017.

“We’ll run to the market and give them products way superior than anything else that’s being built and let the best man win,” Prystay said, while acknowledging several hotels are under development now. 

Using wood construction only became possible in August when the City of Kelowna agreed to be an early adopter of changes to the Canada Building Code that increased the maximum height of wooden – or “mass timber” buildings - to 12 storeys from six.

The components are prebuilt so the construction window is much shorter and less disruptive. But that comes at a cost.

“It’s not necessarily cheaper,” Prystay said. “We’ve built one already and it’s not cheaper for the initial investment but it is much quicker to put up.”

And speed has the advantage of getting to market sooner.

Prystay plans to have his development permit application to the city by Dec. 20 with the hope of starting construction in the spring or summer of next year.

This will be a freestanding building to the southeast side of the current tower. It may include some retail space.

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