TNI Property Management and their architectural firm are slammed in this week’s Peachland View. No doubt TNI President Steve Allison read the two letters to the editor on Page 4 and said, “Oh boy…”
Both M.R. Henderson and Gill Evans wrote letters to the Peachland View, chastising TNI. The letter writers don’t seem concerned that TNI is proposing demolishing the old Edgewater Inn and Chinese Laundry buildings in favor of a new development, but they are concerned with the way the new building will look, if it ever gets built.
Note: A recent article in the same newspaper made it sound like TNI’s proposal was a foregone conclusion, that it’s bye, bye Edgewater and hello new TNI headquarters. Not so. Allison made it every clear at an open house last week that he was merely looking into the idea and that there is a lot of work to do before the proposed project ever gets to the ‘done deal’ stage.
Henderson describes how the District of Peachland has been in charge of many projects that have improved the downtown core. It should be pointed out that one of his examples is the saving of the Little Schoolhouse, which is as far from the truth as one can get. It was a feisty group of volunteers who saved that heritage building from the bulldozer the District of Peachland wanted to hire.
In any event, Henderson says the district has made many improvements downtown but the one they haven’t taken charge of is making sure that building facades are historic in nature. It has to be pointed out that several of Henderson’s examples of downtown improvements have little to do with history.
While it is true that Heritage Park has a historic-resonating name, it contains a modern playground and a modern looking pavilion (thanks to the Peachland Rotary Club). Centennial way, again, has history in its name, but there is nothing historic about its design or appearance.
Downtown Peachland has exactly three historic buildings: the museum, the Little Schoolhouse and the Primary School, all of which have been or are in the process of being saved.
Apparently Henderson thinks that downtown buildings ought to have some kind of consistent, historic facades on them. Too bad and too late. It is true, as he points out, that some buildings in Peachland have some rather dubious looks to them, but many look just fine.
There is no need to turn downtown Peachland into some hokey looking tourist trap by making modern buildings look like they belong in the 1800s.
Evans’ letter takes a slightly different tack. “It is astounding that TNI chose an architect with so little vision,” states Evans. Oh?
According to Evans, the appearance of TNI’s proposed building is no different than any other building built in the past while, save one. Evans states, “The only development we have seen built recently in the whole of the Okanagan, which has the character that would actually add to the appeal of downtown Beach Avenue, is that housing the Marmalade Cat along Pandosy in Kelowna.”
Evans has got to be kidding. Take a look at the picture attached to this story of the building housing the Marmalade Cat (thank you Google Street View) and draw your own conclusion.
No part of Peachland, especially its downtown, needs to look like it belongs on a whimsical street in Disneyland.
Evans says Peachland needs to remain as unique as possible so that it can appeal to “holidaymakers”. No, Peachland has to take care of its own, first, and that means encouraging TNI to build its new building so that its 80-plus employees remain in downtown Peachland.
TNI is Peachland’s biggest employer and we need it to stay here. On the other hand, there are plans for retail shops on the ground floor of the proposed building and, no doubt, those spaces will be occupied by businesses that will gladly cater to Evans’ holidaymakers.
What TNI and its architectural firm have come up with is beautiful, especially compared to the existing look of the Edgewater Inn building and the ugly, just-can’t-shake-it mystique that comes with that structure.
Peachland is historic, but we don’t need to put history before the future. It is too late to have a truly historic downtown core in Peachland and it is silly to think we can fake it using cheesy dressings on modern buildings.