Public hearing in the works for housing density plans in Penticton

Plans to densify the city

The public will soon have a say on proposed zoning changes to Penticton's Official Community Plan, which includes a focus on increasing housing and some changes to original plans following public concern.

On Tuesday, Penticton council heard a presentation from city staff that outlined a vision for the OCP changes, ostensibly in response to incoming provincial demands that municipalities pave an easier path to housing densification.

City staff conducted a public engagement period in March and April, and after the feedback, staff recommended to council that infill and density be focused on the established city area, rather than the hillsides.

Under the new proposed OCP amendment, some areas of town would be changed to allow higher density, such as carriage homes or complexes, and extension of height limits in the 400-700 block of Main Street to ten storeys.

A four-storey height limit on Lakeshore Drive would remain.

Notably, the proposed amendment would remove Spiller Road on the Naramata Bench from the "designated growth area" for the future. The area has been contentious for some time due to proposed development.

"We did hear a substantial amount of feedback through public engagement period about the density of new developments on the Naramata Bench. So with that, what is proposed is to remove the 'RSM-Mobile Home Park' zoning from that property which was put in place in the 1970s and have the entire property zoned 'Country Residential' which is the zoning of the rest of that site today," explained Steven Collyer, the city's housing and policy initiatives manager.

Council gave the proposed changes first reading, sending it to a public hearing on June 3, before any final decisions are made.

The entire proposed OCP changes can be viewed online here.


Summerland council agrees to increased $240K cost to repair pool roof

Green light for pricy pool fix

Summerland council has agreed to bite the bullet for an additional $240,000 cost to complete roof repairs on the aging Aquatic & Fitness Centre.

When council first gave the green light to fix the roof at the aquatics and fitness centre in November, they were approving up to $110,000 to be allocated from the general fund capital works reserve to conduct repairs to the east roof section.

This was following the failed community referendum, where 58 per cent of the community voted against the district borrowing $50 million for the construction of a new facility.

On Tuesday, staff presented an assessment from the engineering firm, which noted the roof decking had decayed more than expected, and further repairs and new lumber were needed — hence the price jump.

Funding would come from the growing communities fund reserve and it is estimated that the repairs will take two weeks minimum to complete.

The existing Summerland Aquatic & Fitness Centre is at the end of its serviceable life nearing 50 years, according to the 2018 Facility Condition Assessment Report.

Further steps in regards to the centre will be to explore options for extending the life of the existing facility, with the larger time-sensitive upgrades being considered as part of the 2025-2029 budget deliberations.

“As the building gets older, the repairs and maintenance costs go up and so we should be prepared that we're going to be putting considerably more into repairs and maintenance every year,” Coun. Richard Barkwill said.

“Someday we may have to draw the line, I don't know. But it's not hard to put an extra quarter million for the roof and hope we get another year out of the building.”

Mayor Doug Holmes said they’ll have a better idea once the new report comes out.

“We didn’t get a provincial grant for the new pool, so we might as well use the provincial money for the old one,” he added.

Council unanimously agreed to go ahead with the recommended roof repairs prior to completing the roofing project for an additional $240,000.

Penticton armwrestling club preparing for upcoming local competition, believed to be longest running annual tournament

For the love of armwrestling

Casey Richardson

Every Sunday at noon a small group of men ages 16 to 80 gather in a garage in Penticton and train for their upcoming armwrestling tournament.

Practice benches are set out as they stand across from each other and ready their positions, deciding what move and angle they’ll pull out against their opponent, hoping to bring strength to their side of the table.

The Okanagan Armwrestling Club is preparing for the Okanagan Valley Championships in Summerland’s Memorial Park next week, which they believe to be the longest-running annual arm wrestling tournament in the world.

The contest was started by Keith Koeing, former president of the BC Armwrestling Association for 48 years.

He first brought the sport to B.C. in the 1970s, after he figured out that he couldn’t be beaten arm wrestling.

“I went on to Petaluma, California because that's the only [contest] they had in the wide world of sports and went to compete down there and then I got beat for the first time in my life,” he said.

“So I brought it back to Canada.”

Club organizer Richard Henson said in their research to find any older tournaments, the only thing to come close is the World Armwrestling Federation, which is one year later.

“So unless some Scottish Highland Games has arm wrestling that we don't know about, and they've been doing it for 100 years, I'm sure this is the oldest,” he added.

“I want to prove it.”

This is the last local contest until the National Championships in Quebec in July.

While 80-year-old Koeing doesn't compete anymore, he continues to referee tournaments and help train up the younger guys, being a previous Canadian champion himself.

“The fact was it was just a natural sport for me, but it was mostly just strength in those days, today is altogether different. There's a lot of strength and a lot of psychology in the sport. A lot of you got to be training continuously to get really good at the sport,” he added.

Athletes need to continue building up their muscles and keep themselves in good shape to be competitive, but at the end of the day, Koeing said there’s no better training than arm wrestling itself.

“That way you have to learn what your opponent's doing, where his liabilities are, his Achilles’ heel and take advantage of that, like every sport,” he explained.

“But you have to learn speed because it's such a fast sport and the average contest only lasts three seconds.”

The longest contest he ever saw was in the North American championships, where two guys faced off for 26 minutes.

Henson said it’s took him roughly eight years to get to the point where he considered himself ‘good.’

“It's not as easy as it looks. It's not a barroom sport and it takes three to six years to become good. I've seen it happen sooner, and that was some guys, but that's an anomaly,” he added.

Henson started out competing in arm wrestling back in the 80s. When he came to Penticton and saw the need for the club to be brought to life again, he started it alongside fellow competitor Brian Moore.

“We love the sport. It doesn't matter what age you are, last nationals I was at in 2022 a 72-year-old man won over all the young guys,” he said.” The sport itself is quite complex. It's almost like wrist judo, or arm judo, where you have moves and countermoves. and you have to have strength in multiple different areas and have to be fast to get what you need.”

“So the object is to pull the guy's strength away from them and put them in his weakness and pull them into your power. From there, you can make things happen.”

The men hope to grow the club, especially with their youngest cleaning up so well in provincials recently.

At just 16 years old, Henson and Koeing said Tadan Honeyman is beating out professionals well above his age and weight, showing off his strength.

“You've just seen the 16-year-old kick my butt,” Henson said with a laugh, referencing their practice round where Honeyman took him down. “Super exciting, we're going to Nationals together.”

Koeing encourages people to come by and give the sport a try.

“A lot of people don't think they have the ability to compete, but they're very good at it,” he added.

“It doesn't take big arms. It doesn't take anything. I got some of the smallest guys, my best friend is many, many, many times world champion and yet, he's just this five-foot-six-inch guy 150 pounds. I've seen him go into contests and he can beat everybody, even big heavyweights. So some people just have that ability.”

“It's a sport that doesn't take a lot of money. It doesn't take a lot of expense to learn to arm wrestle and to compete. So it makes it easy for people to come out and say just give it a try once.”

Henson added that anybody is welcome.

“We're very welcoming. We don't want them to get hurt. We ask them not to try dangerous moves and we do reffing. So we'll referee a match as we do here, which helps you get ready for competitions.”

For those interested in seeing the sport for the first time, come out to the 41st Annual Summerland Action Festival on Saturday, June 2 to watch the Okanagan Valley Championship. Weigh ins start at noon and the competition starts at 2:15 p.m.

Those wanting to come by the club can call or message Henson at 250-486-7406 for more information. All ages, genders, and abilities are welcome.


Great laughs, great cause at upcoming charitable comedy night in Penticton

Have a laugh for a cause

Have a laugh and support a great cause at an upcoming comedic fundraiser in Penticton.

On Thursday, May 30 at The Hub on Martin, lauded comedian Tim Nutt will headline the evening of entertainment facilitated by Train Wreck Comedy, which will be sending proceeds right back to Dragonfly Pond Society.

"Train Wreck Comedy is all about spreading joy, embracing inclusivity, and strengthening community ties," shared Rob Balsdon, owner of Train Wreck Comedy.

"If we can lend a hand in raising awareness and funds for local charities like Dragonfly Pond Family Society through a night of hilarious comedy, count us in every time!"

Dragonfly Pond is a non-profit organization that supports families with children aged 0-18 in the South Okanagan-Similkameen who are experiencing disabilities or complex care needs.

“Funds raised from the comedy night will go directly toward running programs that make a difference in the lives of our families,” says Eryn Wiedner, program coordinator at Dragonfly Pond Family Society.

“It has become more challenging to raise funds in recent years and our program costs have increased and our membership is ever-growing. Our hope is to raise $5,000 at this comedy night and most importantly, we are looking forward to a fun evening!”

The event headliner, Tim Nutt, is described as a "comedic explorer with an innate ability to provoke uproarious laughter," and a blend between Billy Connolly and George Carlin.

Tickets are $40 each and are available online here.

Penticton hosting Three's Company pub crawl

Three's Company pub crawl

Fans of the beloved 80s sitcom "Three's Company" can rejoice and have some fun at an upcoming themed pub crawl in Penticton.

On Sunday, May 26, get dressed up and join the "Mrs. Roper Romp," featuring trivia, bingo, signature drinks, prize giveaways and more at multiple Penticton locations.

A ticket gets you one beverage at The Hub, Slackwater and The Barking Parrot, and all the activities in between.

It all starts at 2 p.m. at The Hub, with a photo booth. Then, Slackwater will host Three's Company trivia and prize giveaways.

At 4 p.m., there will be a parade down the street for all in costume, heading to the Barking Parrot to finish of the afternoon with more prizes and activities.

For more information and tickets click here.

Crowds love the annual Keremeos Rodeo

Crowds yee-haw at rodeo

The Keremeos Rodeo was a roaring success this weekend.

Crowds gathered for the highly-anticipated yearly event to enjoy the spectacle on the rodeo grounds, and for the after-hours dancing and mixing events.

The May long weekend event is a staple in the community every year.

If you missed the fun, don't worry, it will be back in 2025. In the meantime, take a peek through the photo gallery for a taste of the excitement.

Penticton business owner pushes for better cardboard and flammables storage after apparent arson attempt

Upset after arson attempt

A Penticton store owner is asking fellow businesses to keep cardboard and flammables out of the alleyway after finding what she believes to have been an arson attempt last week.

Amanda Stewart, the owner of Valley Hemp, said she got a call from her staff member on Friday morning after they found embers under the door and burnt cardboard outside the back entrance.

"At first, it didn't quite register with me that the pictures of the embers were inside the building," she said.

"It looks like they kind of blew the ashes under the door, as if there was a real attempt here to start some fire, because there's no other way those ashes got inside like that."

Stewart said she saw cardboard up against the neighbouring buildings before for garbage pickup and it didn't register at that time that it could be a fire risk.

"I've never seen anything like this before. I had a store burn down in 2001 due to my own careless cardboard storage. So I'm pretty picky about my cardboard storage now, we keep it all inside. It's away from anything flammable. I don't leave it stacked up against the building or anything because I've kind of learned my lesson."

She shared the story to bring awareness to other businesses to be conscious of where they're storing their trash.

"I'm hoping [for] a little awareness, maybe a learning campaign, possibly even a bylaw change, if we had to," she added.

Stewart reported the incident to RCMP and local bylaw officers.

Penticton city staff looking in to possible downtown parkade

Parkade downtown?

City staff in Penticton will be taking a look at the future of downtown parking, including a potential parkade.

At Tuesday's meeting, city council voted to move ahead with a $50,000 study to "assess the current and future public parking needs, including opportunities for a downtown parkade," with funds coming from a reserve earmarked for parking matters.

The goal is to get ahead of potential density infill coming to the downtown area.

"There are a number of known properties in downtown area that are currently used for parking that are in various stages of [development]," said Steven Collyer, Penticton's housing and policy initiatives manager.

"So planning ahead for the loss of those spaces, potentially, some public lands, some private lands. That was really the reasoning for this ... we heard from a number of people through the engagement period that there was real interest in seeing a parkade downtown, sort of like adding density of parking versus having surface level [parking]."

Some on council initially balked at the $50,000 price tag for the study. But after first opposing, Coun. Amelia Boultbee decided to vote in favour, after verifying that the study will include a cost estimate for the potential parkade.

"The issue with consultants is that you say 'Oh, it's $50,000,' and then you get the report and then they say it's another $50,000 to know the cost. So understanding the scope upfront ... it really does matter," Boultbee said.

"Everyone's heard it here in public, that the report is going to include cost."

Funding for the study was approved, with Couns. James Miller and Helena Konanz opposed.

Dropkick Murphys announce Penticton date

Dropkick Murphys in town

Dropkick Murphys will rock the stage in Penticton this fall.

On Oct. 15, the band will bring their international show with punk band Pennywise and Irish rockers The Scratch to the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre.

Dropkick Murphys has been touring since 1996, known for their Boston rock 'n' roll underdog vibe.

Tickets to the Penticton show will be $76.50, plus additional fees.

Tickets go on sale Friday, May 24 at 10 a.m. online at www.ValleyFirstTix.com or in person at the Valley First box office at the SOEC.

Summerland Museum raising funds through online Spring Cleaning Auction full of antique items

Museum auctions antiques

Looking for some unique collectable and antiques? Check out the Summerland Museum and Archives Society's (SMAS) Spring Cleaning Auction.

Offering a wide selection of antique items for sale, everything offered in the auction are de-accessioned collections items that have been removed from their permanent collection over the last few years as part of their re-organization and backlog projects.

This including tools, housewares, and collectibles.

"The goal of these projects is better management and safer storage of our vast collections," the museum said.

"The items selected for de-accessioning underwent a rigorous research process by our staff before being formally de-accessioned."

Criteria for de-accessioning includes: lack of provenance, lack of local connection, being a duplicate of lesser value, or requiring space and care beyond what the SMAS is able to provide, among other factors.

While the museum said transfer to other institutions is generally their preferred method of disposal as it keeps items in the public sphere, when they are unable to transfer items to other museums or heritage organizations, another option for disposal is to sell them for fundraising in support of the Museum’s Permanent Collections.

As a rule, SMAS staff, Board Members, and their families are not allowed to bid on, purchase, or otherwise acquire de-accessioned collections items, they added.

In the current auction, they have over 40 items that to rehome with someone who will appreciate them.

Funds raised from this effort will go towards vital archival and preservation needs in the for the museum.

Bids need to be in before 5 p.m. on Friday, May 24. The auction can be found online here.

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