Penticton cit council just approved a variance at 302 Eckhardt Avenue West, known in more recent years as Bogners.
The house was built in 1915 (not 1930 as stated by city planning staff) by Dr. H.B. McGregor, The doctor was Penticton's second physician and arrived here in 1909 to join Dr. R.B.White in a joint business, forming what would evolve into the R.B.White Medical Clinic we know today on Ellis Street.
By 1912, McGregor struck out on his own, being successful enough to build his home on Argyle and Eckhardt in 1915. He and his family lived there until the mid 1954. The home passed into several private hands until 1972 when Earl and Violet Renaud operated the Argyle Guest Home for senior citizens.
By 1976, the Renauds left and the first Granny Bogners—later just Bogners— started operations. At the time it became a guest home, the zoning was changed to meet the operation of the said business.
Today we are now dealing with a 50-year-old zoning bylaw that has now come to bite us in the backside. This allows for an office building in the middle of a character/historic neighbourhood that was never envisioned I suspect over half a century ago.
Council needs good, well-researched background information by staff so it can make well-informed decisions. That did not happen.
More importantly when a council is new and has three rookie councillors staff needs to do due diligence to give the best information possible.
Staff intimated the home was always a care home for seniors, thus diminishing the potential historic value of the location. They also gave the wrong date for its age, again diminishing its historic potential.
Staff, it seems, did not inform council of a recent project called Neighborhood Charm Project (September) that involves area residents in future planning of the area. That, I feel, is negligent on the part of the staff for not doing the due diligence so council can make a decision without looking like they do not know what they are doing.
An office building in this location, in the middle of a neighborhood is just plain wrong regardless of the historic nature of the site.
Martin Street and Main Street have more than two to three acres of empty lots that need to be developed.
I hope that the neighbours challenge this decision—a bad one in my opinion for a new council just starting off.
Randy Manuel, Penticton