This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Village of Kettle Valley, a picturesque community located in Kelowna’s Upper Mission. Over the years, our award-winning development has grown and evolved, but many of our core values and principles remain unchanged. At its heart, Kettle Valley is still a community that is about neighbourliness and an unsurpassed lifestyle.
Back in the early 1990s, the property that would become Kettle Valley was slated to house a golf course community instead. When the land was sold to a new developer, the original planning team at Ekistics seized the opportunity to present a ‘small town’ concept based on neo traditional principles.
“It was when we were working with the new ownership that we proposed looking at this property a little bit differently. Instead of doing the typical golf community, which was being done at Predator Ridge and Gallagher’s Canyon, why don’t we look at trying to design a traditional town? Let’s apply a lot of the new urbanist ideas that we were already working on in Edmonton, the Lower Mainland, and Calgary, where we were turning zoning rules on their heads, and go back to the traditional street pattern,” explained Paul Rosenau of Ekistics, a planning and architectural firm with offices in Vancouver, Shanghai, and Vietnam.
“We then started laying out design ideas and had meetings with the planning department and then it started to evolve into eventually being the Village of Kettle Valley. Somewhere along the line, we said “Let’s do something special with this place” and it went from being a vision of golf course-fronting homes to what it is today.”
New urbanism, or neo-traditionalism, is a movement that began in the late 20th century as a direct response to suburban development and poor planning. These “single-use suburbs” provided people a home and a place to live, but offered little else and no real connection to living. But returning to these original community planning principles was not without its challenges.
On December 22, 1994, Paul presented a vision document to the City of Kelowna which included seven primary principles for changes needed in order to make Kettle Valley feel and live differently than what was being built in Kelowna at the time.
Our team needed to convince City Hall to let Kettle Valley change zoning bylaws to build lanes, narrower streets, and place garages behind homes, among other things. Unfortunately, they were met with resistance at every turn, with many City engineers and planners scoffing at the concepts presented by the Kettle Valley team. It ultimately took Kettle Valley years to get the zoning changes approved before they could proceed with the development of our much-treasured community.
Not only do narrower streets increase the sense of intimacy in Kettle Valley, they also help to naturally slow traffic, increasing safety for young families who call our community home.
By placing garages behind homes, we allow the homes to become the focal point of the community. This also allows Kettle Valley to minimize the front yard setback, and helped to eliminate resident parking on streets.
In 1996, the official ribbon cutting ceremony for the Village of Kettle Valley took place. At that time, our first lots were available from $69,900 and homes could be built from $169,900. As part of the opening celebrations, Reverend Albert Baldeo penned an ode to our community:
Put on the kettle, I’m coming for tea, Let us build community!
Put on the kettle, Let us build good cheer, As in community, We begin to care.
Put on the kettle, Let’s light a new torch. Let’s feel comfortable, In each other’s porch.
Let’s break down the walls that keep us apart, As we share with each other, from heart to heart.
Kettle Valley is a vision so great, And this is why we’ve gathered to Celebrate!
From 1996 – 1999, Kettle Valley subdivided 8 phases for a total of 108 lots; In 1998, Phase V lots were as low as $56,900!
While Paul Rosenau and his team do not call Kettle Valley ‘home’, they do take the opportunity to drive around the community when they return to the Okanagan Valley. As the original planners behind our special development, the Ekistics team has a unique connection to the area and are thrilled to see how their original vision continues to grow.
“The physical pattern of being able to live your life in a different way is, I think, Kettle Valley’s biggest achievement,” said Rosenau. “The physical achievement of creating a beautiful street, and then hopefully the social achievement of people appreciating that when you live in that form of development you tend to live a different lifestyle. That is my hope of being the best thing we achieved with Kettle Valley.”
While the home styles have changed over the years, the core principles in the street planning of Kettle Valley remain the same. The bylaw changes that Paul Rosenau and his team fought so hard for more than two decades ago are still producing positive communities and neighbourhoods today.
“The pride that I take when i drive up there is in seeing that the physical form really is different than that of a traditional suburb in the Okanagan. The way that the people use the parks and streets, and hopefully connect within the community, really is a different feeling. That, to me, is our biggest achievement.”