The top half of the picture is the current base of operations for Coyote Cruises within Penticton’s Riverside Park. Operated by the Penticton Indian Band and the K’ul Group, the business wishes to secure a 20-year lease for that portion of land, rather than the five-year lease it currently has, in order to enhance the business and carry through with the renovations illustrated in the bottom half of the picture. (Photo from K’ul Group council presentation).

Penticton’s Coyote Cruises announces new partnership, updates council on proposal to enhance operations

The tourism entity is looking to obtain a 20-year lease from the city for portion of Riverside Park

The Penticton Indian Band (PIB) and the K’ul Group have beefed up their bid for a 20-year lease with the City of Penticton for Coyote Cruises operations by partnering with local entrepreneurs Diana Stirling, owner of LocoLanding, The Peach Ice Cream Shop and Lickety Splitz, and Derek George, owner of Penticton’s Boston Pizza. Stirling, George, and Mike Campol, director of projects and partnerships for K’ul Group, presented before city council during the committee of the whole on May 7 to update their vision for the tourism-based business over the next 20 years.

“Floating the channel is almost a right of passage in Penticton, and I am sure many of the youth in the room can attest to that, and our collective vision is to build Coyote Cruises through an authentic tourism offering, rich in culture and environment,” said Stirling. “This world-class visitor experience that we’d like to build would understand our guests’ travel values and motivations. This is a business that our grandchildren’s grandchildren will experience, which means we are looking at this only long-term. The most important point is this business is proudly led by 3rd, 4th, or 5th generation PIB business operators.”

PIB and the K’ul Group introduced the concept of expanding and enhancing the business to Penticton city council in January, and at that time said that extending their current five-year lease to a 20-year lease would allow them to secure “the best potential partners and subsequent investment.” Now that Coyote Cruises is about to begin its community engagement consultation, the partners wanted to update the city as to the current plans and time line.

“While we may be talking to you about 215 Riverside Drive, this partnership is about the entire channel,” said Stirling. “We’re looking at the beginning, mid-point, and end and the entire journey in between.”

READ MORE: Coyote Cruises looking to enhance Okanagan River Channel experience

Stirling said the business wants to improve its existing infrastructure and buildings, build discoveries throughout the channel, enrich the experience, grow the market, and provide leadership, training and business mentorship to youth. She noted that with all of these changes and enhanced services, the channel would still be free to access with no restriction to public use.

Coun. Jake Kimberley was pleased to see that the intent for the property is to increase the First Nations’ interest and history in this area, which he said is essential.

Coyote Cruises will be hosting public open houses at the Community Centre on May 22 and at the Downtown Penticton Association’s community market on May 25. No times for these open houses have been announced.

Following the public engagement, the PIB and K’ul Group will allow the city to review their proposal internally and then they must present it back to Penticton’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee, as they have done once before. Once they’ve refined the proposal and garnered the committee’s support, it will come back to city council with a final concept in September 2019 to be approved or denied for 2020.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.

Jordyn Thomson | Reporter
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