“We never anticipated the success of Skaha Hills. We put a lot of planning into the design and development. It’s stunning and sales are doing very well.”
Penticton Indian Band Chief Jonathan Kruger is referring to the Skaha Hills 600 unit residential development overlooking Skaha Lake near Penticton, built by the Penticton Indian Band Development Corporation in partnership with Greyback Construction, a well-known local company.
The first phase with 47 units is sold out. The second phase of 155 units begins in October and already there are deposits on 100 units.
“We have to start working and planning faster because of the explosion in sales. It’s a good mix of young families and retirees from the Okanagan and other parts of B.C. and Alberta.”
With more than 46,000 acres of land and 1,035 members, the Penticton Indian Band has the largest reserve land base in British Columbia. The band’s economic development arm, the Penticton Indian Band Development Corporation (PIBDC) pursues business ventures that maintain the band’s traditional values.
Incorporated in 2007, PIBDC oversees three limited partnerships: Westhills Aggregate LP, Coyote Cruises LP and Sn’pink’tn Forestry LP. With a focus on profits and business sustainability, the results are job creation, training opportunities and wealth generation for the Penticton Indian Band. Kruger estimates the PIBDC has created more than 140 jobs, both off and on reserve.
Other projects like the fish hatchery, PIB Utility Corp. and bridge construction across the Penticton River Channel contribute to building a solid economic base and increasing property tax revenue.
Earlier this year the PIBDC was named the 2015 winner of the Aboriginal Economic Development Corporation Award by the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business.
“We’re breaking records every year for the amount of band members working. The sub trades are really busy and it’s a good injection into the local economy.
“We had a lot of planning and a lot of relationship building,” said Kruger.
That includes the city of Penticton and other neighbours, especially the landowners along the Penticton River Channel.
“It’s great to see so many young people working. It really warms my heart and gives them an opportunity to live better lives. It will mean better services and infrastructure for our community, like streetlights, sidewalks, schools and language programs.”