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New guidelines coming to preserve Penticton’s most historic neighbourhoods

City being sued on their handling of multi-plex development on iconic Lakeshore Drive
Currently, there are no heritage guidelines for new developments along iconic Lakeshore Drive. Council just approved setting up new zoning bylaws to preserve character of Penticton’s historic neighbourhoods. (Google Maps)

Penticton city council could soon have guidelines and changes to zoning bylaws to protect the heritage and character of some of Penticton’s most unique and historic neighbourhoods.

At the April meeting, council unanimously endorsed staff to draft an amendment to the city’s zoning bylaw to ensure new development on sections of Lakeshore Drive and within the Windsor Avenue area (‘Cherryland’ neighbourhood) reflects the historical character.

If adopted, the zoning bylaw would provide important guidance for future decisions about development on Lakeshore Drive including increasing front yard setbacks reflective of the historical distance from the street, increasing minimum lot widths, limiting maximum building heights and other zoning changes to ensure new development is reflective of the historical development pattern of the two areas.

“With the loss of the Warren House, the need to protect the areas and buildings that are unique and special to Penticton has become more apparent,” said Penticton’s Mayor John Vassilaki.

READ MORE: Heritage value of Lakeshore Drive may get some zoning protection

“These are very recognizable neighbourhoods known for their expansive front yards and mature trees. Through zoning, we can ensure these features are protected for the homes that reflect the historic character of the areas while still allowing for new development,” said director of development services Blake Laven.

Currently, there are no heritage guidelines in place for Lakeshore which has led to several controversial development approvals recently. The first being the demolition of the Walker heritage home on Lakeshore to make way for a four-plex.

READ MORE: Walker Home demolished for 4-plex

The second was at 604 Lakeshore which council recently approved a four-storey, eight-plex housing complex that has needed several variances to take over the footprint of the lot.

Council’s approval of this multi-plex housing has recently drawn a lawsuit against the city. The lawsuit seeks to force a review of the city and council’s approval in order to revoke the development variances that were approved on Jan. 18.

The society was incorporated on March 30, and its directors — Peter Gerald Achtem, Jeanette Shawn Beaven, Gary Vernon Denton and Dennis George Hayashi — are named in the petition to the court.

READ MORE: Lawsuit over controversial Lakeshore Drive development

During discussion at least one councillor was concerned that a slew of development proposals will come through for Lakeshore Drive before the new zoning changes are drawn up.

“My only fear is that the city will get an avalanche of applications while this heritage protection is getting worked on,” said Coun. James Miller.

Council also learned that the city currently does not have the expertise on staff to handle heritage guidelines and zoning bylaws.

“It’s interesting to learn we don’t have the expertise in the planning department on heritage and that has shown in past situations. I wonder if that would have made a difference in critical decisions made in heritage?” said Coun. Frank Regerh.

“It’s nice to see solid direction to protect these areas and give us the tools to make those decisions,” said Coun. Katie Robinson.

The city will also be looking at identifying more heritage buildings and trying to add them to the Heritage Registry.

The 100 to 300 block of Main and all of Front Street commercial areas will also be protected.

“Front Street and the 100-300 blocks of Main Street include several important commercial and institutional buildings that are on the heritage registry and several other strong candidates for inclusion,” said Laven. “If supported, the creation of a Heritage Conservation Area would guide the form and character of new developments being considered for the area.”

Monique Tamminga

About the Author: Monique Tamminga

Monique brings 20 years of award-winning journalism experience to the role of editor at the Penticton Western News. Of those years, 17 were spent working as a senior reporter and acting editor with the Langley Advance Times.
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