Nature & Public Spaces
September 9, 2020

Urbanist in the Okanagan 2 – An Unexpected Rate of Change

This is what Keremeos BC looks like in my memory from the 60s – the uncontested Las Vegas Strip of Fruit Stands.

Except that photograph is from just last month.  Not a lot of difference in a half century.

That’s true of most of Highway 3 from Hope to Osoyoos: it’s changed hardly at all.

Which is fine, since a lot of it looks like this:


The only developments between Hope and Keremeos are at Manning Park, Princeton and Hedley.  In between, no gas stations, no parking lots, no billboards, no major interventions except a copper mine.  After half a century, the biggest changes are the width of the highway and the height of the trees.

Most of us who dwell in the Lower Mainland know there’s a big back yard out there beyond Hope.  We too, like our visitors, are still amazed by the sheer scale.  Best of all, it’s free and it’s close.

Four hours, thirteen minutes away, says Google:

(Two things to note: (1) Google Map insists on using ‘Work’ as my destination pin.  Hardly.   (2) And check out ‘Explore Keremeos’ for its attractions – motordom as tourist bait.)


Princeton is the major stop along the way, though major overstates its impact.  Except for the signs:

Most small towns in the province seem to have received money for main-street beautification programs – or they all decided about the same time to outfit their commercial streets with the same features – rather like a trend in shopping centres and malls – to keep their communities alive with some kind of core. We’ll explore them along the way.

One conclusion: small town BC is still home to independent businesses, especially those that serve coffee.

Note the sidewalk extension into the curb lane, and the patio that results.  A big-city technique especially effective on the super-wide roads that cut though these towns – the provincial highways that connect them all.

These kind of small, incremental, locally rooted changes are unexpected (really, an independent book store?) and gratifying.  The pandemic will test their resiliency.

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