West Harbour Featured in the Vancouver Sun

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In the early days of the Central Okanagan,
vehicle traffic, cargo, and passengers
coming from down Penticton
way had to board a ferry to cross “the
narrows,” a natural pinch point in
Okanagan Lake to get to Kelowna.
Needless to say, completion of the
Floating Bridge in 1952 and the new
William R. Bennett Bridge — named
after the Social Credit premier from
1975 to 1983 — greatly enhanced the
fortunes of Kelowna’s burgeoning
agricultural, transportation, and tourism
industries and rendered the ferry
dock and its ships obsolete. (Interesting
historic fact: before the construction
of the Floating Bridge in 1952,
Penticton and Kelowna were roughly
the same size.)

Despite its stunning location just a
stone’s throw from Highway 97 and
the bridge, this conspicuously vacant
piece of land is only now being developed.
A brand new marina and beach
at the site of the long-since abandoned
ferry wharf is part of West Harbour
Estates, a 44-acre property developed
by Troika, a Kelowna firm, in conjunction
with the Westbank First Nations.
Conceived as an “exemplary lakefront
village,” West Harbour Estates takes
advantage of a truly stunning natural
location on a flat benchland overlooking
the lake, the new William R.
Bennett Bridge (very easily accessed
from West Harbour) and right up the
northern portion of the lake, bounded
by the craggy, grass covered hillsides
on both sides of the lake.
Troika Developments spokesman
Brad Klassen says West Harbour is
“the perfect place for people who
want to enjoy the Okanagan lifestyle.”
Alas, this is not another boulevard of
monster homes sprawling across the
mountainside. The Tuscan-inspired
homes plans — there are nine exterior
plans in all — “right-sized” between
2,500 and 3,500 square feet. The
money you save in home costs — a
new house in a similar neighbourhood
in Kelowna might cost at least 30 per
cent more — you can put into a new
boat; one that you can tie up at the
dock down by the beach which comes
as part of your purchase.
Klassen continues: “Boating is very
much a part of the Okanagan recreational
culture and our lakefront location
is attractive to boat owners. We
actually have a marketing line that
goes ‘buy a boat and we’ll throw in a
free house.’”

West Harbour Estates has negotiated
a long-term lease with individual
landowners of the Westbank First
Nation, a band that Klassen points out
“is one of the most socially progressive
and stable bands in Canada.” Over
11,000 West Kelowna residents lease
land from the WFN, and, perhaps
more importantly, so do retail giants
such as Walmart and Home Depot.
“It’s important to recognize that the
WFN has self-government and abides
by the same rules and regulations that
other B.C. municipalities do.”
To guarantee financial stability for
the project, $5,000 from the sale
of each new home will be put into a
pooled investment that will appreciate
in value as the number of years on
the lease declines. Klassen continues:
“This fund will help offset the depreciation
of the land as time on the lease
decreases. Assuming an eight per cent
growth rate annually for 95 years, the
fund would be worth $1.5 billion.”
Former Californian and retired
minister Bruce Merrifield sold “at
the top of the market” in Costa Mesa
and moved up to Canada so that he
could be closer to his grandchildren.
He bought into West Harbour Estates
when it was “nothing but a promise
and a pile of dirt.” Eventually, the
44 acres will house 221 single-family
homes, virtually all with a view of the
lake.
He now lives in one of the completed
homes (the Shiraz model) and admits
that some of his interest is due to a
family connection: his daughter Renee
Wasylyk is Troika’s CEO.
Merrifield was excited by the multitude
of amenities offered at West
Harbour – the boat slip, 160 metres of
sandy beach, and a communal swimming
pool and an activity centre, the
latter which will be built during West
Harbour’s second phase that will get
underway shortly.
With an outdoor pool, fitness club,
sandy beach and walking trails on
the property, it would be tempting to
call West Harbour Estates a resort.
However, Klassen much prefers the
term “master-planned lakefront
community.”

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