On-site hotel could boost business at Penticton Convention Centre

The city would like to add tourist accommodation to uses for the city owned property containing the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre in hopes of attracting a major hotel to the site.

PENTICTON - A premium hotel would help pull in more bookings for the underultilized 60,000-square-foot Penticton Trade and Convention Centre, according to city staff.

In a report to council Monday, April 20, staff recommended council move forward on a zoning amendment that would add 'tourist accommodation' as a site-specific use to the city owned property containing the South Okanagan Events Centre, the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre, the Cleland Theatre, Bambino Field and other facilities.

Interim city manager Chuck Loewen said feedback from groups looking to host conferences in Penticton commented on the lack of hotel facilities on site. He said the issue was directly responsible for the loss of a bid to host the 2016 Union of B.C. Municipalities Convention in the city.

The property is currently zoned 'public assembly' and as such does not permit 'tourist accommodation' as a use. City of Penticton Economic Development Officer Colleen Pennington said adding tourist accommodation as an allowed use would not amount to a zoning change so much as 'adding the use to a long list of uses' already designated for the property. She said it was a precursor to anyone in the private sector who might be interested in constructing a hotel on the site to have the proper zoning in place.

Neither Pennington, staff or council could say what a hotel proposal might look like on the site, or where it might be located. Pennington noted it was a large proper that could accommodate a number of different designs.

Mayor Andrew Jakubeit said although there were several developers 'kicking the tires' around a hotel development on the property, the city had not put any emphasis on attracting a developer until now.

During question period, former Penticton Museum curator Randy Manuel urged council to take a look at previous council’s work, recalling a 2009 study that looked at the potential of the El Rancho Motel property on the other side of Westminster Avenue for a four-star hotel. Manuel said council of the day also looked at the feasibility of developing a 12-story hotel on the Travelodge property.

Council agreed to give first reading to a zoning amendment that would add 'tourist accommodation' as a site-specific use, in addition to presenting information to the public at an open house slated for April 30 from 4 to 8 p.m. in room two of the Penticton Community Centre.

A public hearing at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre is also scheduled for the week of May 11 with further details to be announced.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad at sarstad@infonews.ca or call 250-488-3065. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

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