K streets

 Due in part to the uniformity of house designs, the K streets area in Penticton had been proposed as heritage conservation area.

Residents of one of Penticton’s most charming neighbourhoods were split on the idea of designating it a heritage conservation area, meaning the concept didn’t make it into the final draft of the Official Community Plan update.

City staff in January floated the idea of the special designation for the K streets – Killarney, Kensington and Kilwinning, plus Queen – which would have set out the acceptable design of homes to respond to concerns about the area losing its character.

Guidelines would have covered everything from roof pitch and building height to colour schemes and landscaping material in the neighbourhood, most houses in which were built following the Second World War under a federal program for returning soldiers, resulting in design uniformity.

However, just 48% of K streets residents surveyed supported the idea. Respondents generally expressed support for preserving the neighbourhood’s character, but many felt the guidelines would have been too restrictive and bureaucratic.

Ben Johnson, the City of Penticton’s special projects manager responsible for the OCP update, said there simply wasn’t enough support to move forward with the idea.

Residents of Windsor Avenue, who were also consulted about the possibility of establishing a separate heritage conservation area there, were warmer to the idea, registering 77% support in surveys.

But the city won’t be moving ahead with the concept there either, said Johnson, because Windsor Avenue on its own with only about 70 properties is too small an area to justify creating a new heritage designation system.

Plus, other concerns that emerged from surveys, such as a desire to regulate building heights and setbacks, can be achieved through zoning bylaws.

The OCP update does, however, leave open the possibility of heritage conservation areas, and Johnson said he’s already been approached by those in the Manor Park and Front Street areas about the concept.

“If there are strong levels of support out there, we’d be happy to try it out at that point,” he said.

Consultation on the OCP update concludes this weekend with an open house today, 4-7 p.m., at Cannery Brewing; and Saturday, 9 a.m. to noon, at the Downtown Community Market.

The OCP update is expected to be presented to council for first reading at its July 2 meeting, with a public hearing and adoption to follow July 16.

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