Peaceful retreat

With a slimmed-down mandate, the Naramata Centre has regained its footing.

Now into the third year of its new operating model, the Naramata Centre is looking to expand its programs through the spring and fall.

Interim managing director Jim Simpson said the centre, located at 460 Ellis Ave., has seen an increase in growth during the summer, with plenty of tourists and locals enjoying the family friendly activities it has to offer.

“We’re starting to see some real traction,” said Simpson. “We’re looking at doing some development. We’re mindful of our needs and the community’s.”

Located on 23 acres on the shore of Okanagan Lake, the centre, owned by the United Church of Canada since 1952, boasts a peaceful oasis for participants.

Simpson said the programs are intergenerational, much like the community.

“We hope to provide a balance this spring,” he said. “The circus acrobatic program is active: think gymnastics. But the retreat day – which happens once a month – allows people of all ages to pause, reflect, journal – but in a more organized fashion.”

An idea the centre has for a fall program, said Simpson, is an art therapy program.

Simpson has lived in Naramata for six years and said he’s noticed the increase in younger families in the area.

“Kindergarten at the school is full,” he said. “Three to five years ago, that wasn’t the case.”

Not only will offering programs throughout the spring and fall keep families and the community busy, he said, it will also help the centre remain open during slower times of the year.

“No business can be a business operating two months out of the year,” said Simpson.

The centre’s transformation began in 2014, when approximately 30 unionized staff went on strike after reaching an impasse while negotiating a new collective agreement.

They never went back to work, and the centre announced it was closing permanently in January 2015.

It reopened in May 2016 with a slimmed-down mandate that moved away from full-service conferences towards the broader array of programs on offer now.

In between, it also hosted Syrian refugees, and some parts of the property were put up for sale.

To check out more of the programs offered at the centre, visit

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