By Lyonel Doherty
A ceremonial sod turning marked Coast Hotels’ debut in Oliver on Monday.
“It’s absolutely a great day for Oliver; I can’t tell you how great it is,” said Mayor Ron Hovanes during the groundbreaking event in Centennial RV Park.
Several dignitaries were on hand to pose for photographs in front of gold-coloured shovels stuck in the earth.
An 83-room hotel will open in this location on June 1 next year, according to developer Ron Mundi from Mundi Hotel Enterprises, Inc. He then smiled at Rod Graham, the president of Horizon North, the company that will build the modular design hotel.
Mundi said he chose the Centennial Park location after a four-hour tour of the community led by Hovanes.
In a personal interview with the Chronicle, Mundi said the park is one of the best locations he has ever seen for a hotel development. He noted the many benefits of this location over others in town. For example, it’s close to Main Street, within walking distance for hotel guests, and it’s close to local sporting facilities.
“The river is the key,” he said, noting guests will be able to open their curtains and see a beautiful environment.
According to Mundi, the hotel will draw about 40,000 people to Oliver every year, and will keep them in town instead of them going elsewhere for lodging.
As for jobs, Mundi said the hotel will initially have about 25 positions available.
When asked about how many of the park’s trees will be lost to the development, he said, “I don’t think there will be too many.”
Bruce Holm, project manager for Horizon North, said all of the trees on the other side of the east fence (adjacent to the hike and bike trail) will be left untouched. But the trees within the main block of the hotel property will be removed. (That’s more than 20 trees by the Chronicle’s count.)
“Anything that can be saved will be saved,” Holm said.
He added there will be new landscaping including some grape vines.
Hovanes thanked Coast Hotels for the courage to invest in the community.
“We have been striving for years to rejuvenate the downtown . . . having a full service hotel will do huge things for our community.”
For example, “it will enhance our diverse economy,” he added.
Victor Komoda, president of Coast Hotels, said he is very pleased to have another of his hotels in Oliver.
Colleen Misner, assistant to Boundary-Similkameen MLA Linda Larson, said this major investment recognizes the growth in tourism in Oliver.
Balwinder Dhaliwal from Kismet Estate Winery in Oliver was really excited about the sod-turning event. He said people coming to Oliver won’t have to look for accommodation in Osoyoos and Penticton anymore.
“They will stay here and eat here . . . I’m very happy.”
Winemaker Dapinder Gill said the new hotel development will give local youth more opportunity to stay in their community.
The hotel is intended to have a modern architectural feel, and colours will be reflective of the local natural landscape
The hotel will feature a restaurant and indoor swimming pool.
It was previously reported that approximately 100 parking stalls will surround the hotel.
Oliver Town council unanimously approved the new hotel on the Centennial Park site, however, not without some backlash. At a public hearing, numerous people spoke against the rezoning, opposing the loss of green space and RV business. Many people said they wanted to see the hotel in a different location. However, many individuals at the hearing spoke in favour of the hotel plan in the RV park.