Penticton’s development industry has met the challenge of COVID-19, adapted new policies and safety measures, and today continues to build momentum.
New development means new businesses providing residents with goods and services. It means additional rental units and condos to serve all income levels. Importantly, it equals jobs, right here in our community. All of this translates to a strong local economy, with money earned here also reinvested here.
In fact, the development industry represents over 10 percent of Penticton’s local economy, totalling more than 1,000 jobs directly related to construction and development, says Blake Laven, Director of Development Services for the City of Penticton.
Construction investment in Penticton totalled more than $200 million in 2019. Despite the economic slowdown this year, construction is expected to meet the City’s pre-COVID predictions.
“Even though we are going through a challenging time with COVID, we’re still seeing a lot of strong investment in Penticton,” he said. “We’re really encouraged with the types of discussions we’ve been having with the development industry in Penticton… Moving into 2021, we’re going to see a strong construction year again.”
Adapting to COVID-19
“Like any company, we were concerned (COVID-19) would have a big impact on our local jobs and remote jobs, but we’ve proven resilient through the whole situation,” said Marcel Olsthoorn, Project Manager for Wildstone Construction Group.
Wildsone, like other construction companies throughout town, enforced safe distancing, daily checklists, extra sanitizing measures and other protocols to support a safe working environment.
“To be able to keep people working and to making those adjustments in how we go about our day has been huge and we’ve worked hard as a group to keep going,” said Christina Wilson, Vice-President of Development and Sales of Highstreet Ventures, which is currently developing the Skaha Shores complex near Skaha Lake.
“I’m glad the construction industry and our team and our trades were able to keep that happening with the new parameters in place.”
A Bright Future
“It’s massive for a small town like Penticton to see new buildings going up around town daily. It shows there’s a lot of opportunity coming and a lot of opportunity being built right here in our town,” said Olsthoorn of Wildstone.
“I think we’re going to see more development coming forward in our local communities – definitely more projects coming up this year… It’s a cascade effect because you see more development and it brings more development in town.”
Development is not only attracting investors, but young families and professionals from the Lower Mainland who appeal to our pace of life and lower cost of living.
“One of our projects, we had two offers come in on it, both from Vancouver. We heard from the realtors that they realized they can work from home and wanted to live somewhere a little less populated,” said Chris Schoenne, Director of Schoenne Homes.
Densification is changing the face of downtown. Breweries and new restaurants are attracting increased foot traffic. This walkable environment is also being noticed by the Vancouver crowd.
“I love seeing density, I love seeing people getting outside of their houses and walking around. I’m all for density. I feel like we’re changing the city for the positive,” said Schoenne.
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