Rough ride for Okanagan fruit co-op; upgrade for Westin Bayshore mulls fees

Bitter pit

The expansion of BC Tree Fruits Co-operative Inc.’s packing house in Lake Country is getting a rough ride from local council. The facility straddles the municipality’s boundary with Kelowna, which lent its approval to the single-storey project last fall. The majority of the 3,978-square-foot expansion, which would accommodate a new bagging line, lies almost entirely in Kelowna save for 67.6 square feet – an area about the size of this columnist’s university bedroom.

However, councillors are asking the co-op to provide $223,000 in frontage improvements to mitigate the effect on municipal infrastructure. A representative of Lake Country was not available for comment regarding the matter, which highlights the provincewide nature of excessive development fees.

Anne McMullin, president and CEO of the Urban Development Institute in Vancouver, said in a statement that the Okanagan case is one more chapter in a familiar story.

“We have urged municipalities to exercise caution when levying additional fees and charges,” she said, noting that business tax rates are usually higher than for other property classes, and in turn discourage expansion and job creation. “The province should consider taking a closer look at the municipal role in assessing fees and charges.”

Hotel upgrade

Upgrades at the Westin Bayshore Resort and Marina, purchased by Concord Pacific in 2015, reflect the changing nature of hotels, and new general manager Martin Leclerc’s commitment to refresh the ambience of the venerable 499-room hotel.

A former general manager of Delta properties in Richmond and Victoria, Leclerc most recently oversaw hotels in Tianjin and Nanjing, China. Now, he’s bringing his expertise to the Bayshore.

“We’re looking at ironing and polishing and making her all beautiful again,” Leclerc said last week.

The first taste will come in the coming weeks with the opening of H2 Rotisserie & Bar, which replaces the former Seawall Bar & Grill. This fall, a 200-seat lobby lounge will open in space freed up by last year’s relocation of the front desk to more compact quarters to the left of the main entrance.

Leclerc said with many guest check-ins handled via smartphone, a smaller front desk made more sense.

“It was very generous, over-generous to start with. Now this space is going to be reallocated for a world-class lobby lounge,” he explained.

Guest rooms, last given a makeover seven years ago, are also in line for renewal.