Members of the Penticton Indian Band have given the go-ahead to a locatee land owner’s plan to lease a 20-hectare site to a property developer.
The band voted 90 per cent in favour of the arrangement, which could see the former pitch-and-putt golf course at the corner of Warren Avenue and Channel Parkway converted to a housing or mixed-use development.
“I thought that was a good sign to see that many people voting in favour of economic development and locatees,” said Chief Jonathan Kruger.
Locatee lands are privately owned portions of the larger reserve. However, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada requires that the band associated with the land agree in principle through a referendum before the locatee owner can lease the property to a third party.
“It gives everybody certainty,” Kruger said, adding the process was “very educational for community members.”
He said the referendum, the first of its kind in “a long time,” attracted 99 voters and showed band members are serious about economic development.
“There’s opportunities for us to create some jobs and make a lot of people happy.”
Kruger also said it’s a win-win, since the site is located on the city side of the Okanagan River channel, but will generate property tax revenue for the band.
An employee of one of the development companies involved asked that it not be named until it concludes lease negotiations, likely sometime this fall, with locatee owner Anne Allison, who could not be reached for comment.
The best-case scenario, the employee said, would see shovels in the ground next spring.
As planned, the site would feature multi-family units without basements due to a high water table. However, it’s also possible retail space could be added to the mix depending on market conditions.