180-unit apartment proposal

An artist’s rendering of how a proposed 180-unit apartment complex would look from Crescent Hill Road.

A 180-unit rental development near Skaha Lake received unanimous support from Penticton city council Tuesday night.

Kelowna-based High Street Ventures was given council's approval for rezoning what is now the Lake Skaha Tent and Trailer Park at 3790 South Main Street, directly across from Skaha Lake Park in order to put up two five-and-a-half-storey apartment buildings, each with 90 units.

“This is probably the best opportunity we have for rental opportunities for people, and I hope they’ll be reasonably priced,” Mayor John Vassilaki said. “I have no problem with this building going up. It’s probably one of the best things to happen to this end of the city.”

Council heard with Penticton’s rental vacancy rate sitting at 1.7%, the development will fill 8% of the city’s rental stock.

Approximately 23% of the development’s apartments will be one-bedroom units.

High Street Ventures vice president Christina Wilson gave council a teaser of what the units will look like, saying the apartments will feature approximately three-metre ceilings, stainless steel appliances and quartz countertops.

“You wouldn’t recognize going into our apartments, between ours and maybe an entry-level condo,” she said.

Both buildings will include rooftop solar panels, generating electricity for common areas only.

The development also includes 275 parking spaces -  40% of them underground – and views from neighbouring properties will not be impacted because the development backs onto a hill.

Roughly a dozen people spoke at Tuesday's public hearing in favour of the development, however concerns over the increase in traffic flow were brought forward.

An open house held at the Penticton Seniors’ Drop-in Centre on Oct. 17 saw similar concerns raised, said city planning manager Blake Laven.

But a traffic study, he said, discovered the project would only add an additional 61 vehicles an hour in the morning and 78 in the evening.

“The report didn’t recommend any (road) improvements,” Laven said, adding parking on site, listed at 275, exceeded the minimum number required.

Vassilaki, who said speeding has been a concern in the area for the past 25 years, has had no success when speaking with RCMP, the province and other parties about tackling the problem.

“We just have to keep on trying and see what we can put in place to make it safe for everybody,” he commented.

The property was the subject of a previous rezoning application in 2006 to allow for a different proposed development that would have included 280 units in three towers, the tallest of them 16-storeys high. However, the developer later walked away from the project, which attracted a firestorm of criticism due to the proposed building heights.