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Update: Chief says new bridge could be underway by September

The site of a proposed new bridge at Green Avenue to Penticton Indian Band lands. - Submitted
The site of a proposed new bridge at Green Avenue to Penticton Indian Band lands.
— image credit: Submitted

Update: March 20, 2014

Another crossing over the Okanagan River channel could open up land for new development later this year, according to Penticton Indian Band Chief Jonathan Kruger.

“I’m pushing hard for a set date of building this bridge by September,” he said this week after the federal government confirmed it would contribute $500,000 for design and engineering of the long-awaited crossing at  Green Avenue.

“We’re tired of talking about this; we want to make this happen,” said Kruger.

Satikw Crossing is intended to provide access to 60 hectares of land sandwiched between the river and the Penticton airport.

The development area would be leased to builders by the locatee owners and the PIB would collect property taxes, Kruger said, while the broader community would benefit from new jobs and increased economic activity.

A funding announcement from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada noted the site is expected to one day boast a 150-room hotel, 23,000 square metres of retail space and 25,000 square metres for a business park.

Kruger said no lease agreements have been signed yet, but “once we start seeing the reality of a bridge being built, I’m sure we’ll see those tenants start lining up.”

It’s unknown how much need there is for new business space in the city.

“I haven’t heard that there’s demand for retail like that, but certainly I’ve heard that nicer hotel rooms are something people would like to have,” said Andre Martin, president of the Penticton and Wine Country Chamber of Commerce.

He also noted new retailers in Penticton could help stop the flow of local shoppers to larger centres like Kelowna.

“And this makes us a hub for Oliver, Osoyoos, Keremeos, Princeton,” Martin added.

The city’s economic development officer believes there’s still plenty of room for growth because Penticton “is pretty much landlocked” with hills on two sides and lakes at either end.

Colleen Pennington said the city has probably reached its limit in some retail sectors, such as groceries, but could handle more variety in others, like outdoor sporting equipment.

She also thinks a top-notch development along the Channel Parkway would perk up the city’s image.

“It’s a gateway to our town. It’s part of the impression you form as you drive in,” said Pennington, “and it’s one more reason to have people look at Penticton as a destination.”

Construction of the bridge is contingent upon the PIB receiving associated land tenure for the project from the B.C government. The tenure application was filed in February and is still under review.

“The land tenure does need to be in place before funding for the next phase, the construction of the bridge, (will) proceed,” Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada spokeswoman Jehan Casey said in a statement.

The band’s application also notes the need for traffic lights at a new intersection on Channel Parkway and a water supply to the development area.

Access to the land that would be serviced by the bridge was cut off when the Okanagan River was channelized in the 1950s to help control flooding.

Okanagan-Coquihalla MP Dan Albas said federal support for the project recognizes the loss of access and is intended to help the PIB make better use of its assets to become more self-sufficient like neighbouring bands in Osoyoos and West Kelowna.

 

*****

Update: 5 p.m.

A third crossing over the Okanagan River channel could open up land for new development later this year, according to Penticton Indian Band Chief Jonathan Kruger.

“I’m pushing hard for a set date of building this bridge by September,” he said this week after the federal government confirmed it would contribute $500,000 for design and engineering of the long-awaited crossing at  Green Avenue.

“We’re tired of talking about this; we want to make this happen,” said Kruger.

Satikw Crossing is intended to provide access to 60 hectares of land sandwiched between the river and the Penticton airport.

The development area would be leased to builders by the locatee owners and the PIB would collect property taxes, Kruger said, and the broader community would benefit from new jobs and increased economic activity.

A funding announcement from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada noted the site is expected to one day boast a 150-room hotel, 23,000 square metres of retail space and 25,000 square metres for a business park.

Kruger said no lease agreements have been signed yet, but “once we start seeing the reality of a bridge being built, I’m sure we’ll see those tenants start lining up.”

It’s unknown how much need there is for new business space in the city.

“I haven’t heard that there’s demand for retail like that, but certainly I’ve heard that nicer hotel rooms are something people would like to have,” said Andre Martin, president of the Penticton and Wine Country Chamber of Commerce.

He noted though that new retailers in Penticton could help stop the flow of local shoppers to larger centres like Kelowna.

“And this makes us a hub for Oliver, Osoyoos, Keremeos, Princeton,” Martin added.

The city’s economic development officer, however, believes there’s still plenty of room for growth because Penticton “is pretty much land-locked” with hills on two sides and lakes at either end.

Colleen Pennington said the city has probably reached its limit in some retail sectors, such as groceries, but could handle more variety in others, like outdoor sporting equipment.

She also thinks a top-notch development along the Channel Parkway would spruce up the city’s image.

“It’s a gateway to our town. It’s part of the impression you form as you drive in,” said Pennington, “and it’s one more reason to have people look at Penticton as a destination.”

Construction of the bridge is contingent upon the PIB receiving associated land tenure for the project from the B.C government. The tenure application was filed in February and is still under review.

“The land tenure does need to be in place before funding for the next phase, the construction of the bridge, (will) proceed,” Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada spokeswoman Jehan Casey said in a statement.

The band’s application also notes the need for traffic lights at a new intersection on Channel Parkway and a water supply to the development area.

Access to the land that would be serviced by the bridge was cut off when the Okanagan River was channelized in the 1950s to help control flooding.

Okanagan-Coquihalla MP Dan Albas said federal support for the project recognizes the loss of access and is intended to help the PIB make better use of its assets to become more self-sufficient like neighbouring bands in Osoyoos and West Kelowna.

*****

Posted: 8 a.m.

The federal government has anted up $500,000 to help the Penticton Indian Band build a new bridge across the Okanagan River channel.

Plans call for the crossing to be constructed at Green Avenue to access band lands between the river channel and the Penticton airport.

A press release from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada states the funding will support the bridge’s engineering and design.

The release notes the bridge is expected to eventually service  250,000 square feet of retail space, a 27,000-square-foot business park and a 150-room hotel.

However, in a land tenure application to the B.C. government, the PIB states the federal funding is tied to the application being approved by March 31.

The application also notes the bridge has been in the works for 20 years, but is  moving forward now because of the availability of federal funding.

Construction could start by May 2014.

More to come.

 

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