After years of trying to lure commercial development to Lake Country’s main street, a development proposal that will include four new commercial buildings on Main Street in a vacant lot between the TD Bank and IGA has received its first round of approvals at Lake Country council.
The Callahan Group out of Kelowna has received first reading for a development permit to construct four commercial buildings that will provide up to 27,000 square feet of development on the site.
It’s just the second development proposed for Main Street since its completion in 2008, the start of an economic downturn that kept developers from building in Lake Country.
Lake Country’s economic development manager says it’s been a long time coming for the district’s main street but the new proposal is a good step forward for the area.
“It means new services, new stores and new jobs for Lake Country as well as new franchise opportunities and vacant commercial space to start businesses,” said Ryan Roycroft. “It’s just one more development to drive traffic to the area which is nothing but good for other businesses up and down Main street. It also shows Lake Country is growing and seen as a vibrant community. Businesses and developers will want to take advantage of that.”
Among the proposed uses for the new commercial project on Main Street is a financial institution as well as a drive-through business. The developer asked for a variance to allow the drive through and it was passed, although Coun. Lisa Cameron voted against it as she has with past drive-through applications.
The Main Street development is one of three commercial developments currently before Lake Country council and all include drive throughs.
“The whole point of Main Street is to get people out of their cars,” said Cameron. “(But) this is definitely a positive. We went through the global economic downturn which changed the landscape for development. The economy is getting better and the development on Main Street is a great step.”
Lake Country council did send the developer back to the drawing board in strategy sessions and asked that the proposed commercial development feature doors facing Main Street and not just Highway 97 as they continue to try and build Main Street into a pedestrian-friendly centre.
Along with the Main Street development, there is also a major development planned at the corner of Highway 97 and Oceola Road while a project at Berry Road and the highway is also moving forward.
Together with the Main street project, there is more commercial development proposals underway at the same time in Lake Country since before the economic downturn of ’08, around 70,000 square feet in total, said Roycroft.
“All three of these projects still require Ministry of Transportation sign-off,” he said. “These projects have been working with the municipality for a number of years. All three have their development plans in place and all of them are looking to get building in short order, assuming they get the rest of their approvals.”
With the approval process in various stages for the three developments, it’s not clear when construction will begin, but Roycroft said the projects will provide a much needed shot in the arm for the community.
“Just the opportunity for residents to get a lot of new services without driving to Kelowna or Vernon is a real good thing,” he said. “The more services people can get in Lake Country creates a positive cycle where potential businesses see more and more people shopping in the community and want to take advantage of that.”