These six-storey apartments would front Westminster Avenue with the others going on Power St. In all six apartments are proposed for the El Rancho site. (City agenda)

These six-storey apartments would front Westminster Avenue with the others going on Power St. In all six apartments are proposed for the El Rancho site. (City agenda)

Future of El Rancho and Penticton’s North Gateway goes to public hearing May 17

Six 6-storey buildings proposed for the Westminster Avenue motel site

The future of the El Rancho motel site and Penticton’s North Gateway is headed to the public on May 17.

City council gave their first reading and approval for the public hearing at their May 3 meeting.

Coun. Katie Robinson praised city’s staff’s recommendation of including a conservation covenant to protect the trees along Westminster Avenue as part of the city’s requirements for approving the project.

Along Westminster Avenue the sidewalks are shaded by a number of trees that are included on the city’s Heritage/Significant Trees list, including four that are located next to the El Rancho property.

READ MORE: Opinion: Is Penticton losing its urban forest?

Mayor John Vassilaki was more open to letting the trees be removed if it came down to the covenant being the deciding factor for the developer on whether to go ahead with the project or not.

“When I was a teenager I worked at that location and the trees were only seedlings,” said Vassilaki. “New trees will be planted and they’ll grow to be just as large as the trees that are there now.”

The elm trees along Westminster or one of the few urban forests in the Okanagan.

The six six-storey buildings that are proposed to replace the El Rancho Motel and the other buildings on the property would add 305 residential units to the North Gateway, as well as a 2,000 square-foot commercial area on the bottom floor of one building.

READ MORE: El Rancho Motel site in Penticton could turn into six 6-storey apartment buildings

“I am excited to see this go to public hearing and to see this property getting to this stage,” said Coun. Julius Bloomfield. “It’s one we’ve been talking about for decades and we’d love to see something happen here.”

As a result of the redevelopment, the current 74-unit motel would be demolished and the current residents forced to find housing elsewhere.

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