A piece of Penticton history has been passed along to a new set of community hands.
Just like getting off the train at the city’s Canadian Pacific Railway station at 216 Hastings Avenue, it took a long journey for the Penticton Kinsmen Disability Resource Centre Society to make it to Wednesday, July 19, and formally gift the historic property to local non-profit organization OneSky Community Resources.
“It is truly humbling to be chosen by a group that has such a long and giving history in the community,” said Tanya Behardien, executive director at OneSky. “It’s both an honour and responsibility to continue their legacy and ensure that the building stays as part of the community.”
The process of gifting the landmark to a new group began in March 2022, after the Kinsmen Society had operated the building for more than 30 years. An aging and dwindling membership base prompted their decision to pass along the site to someone new.
They wanted to ensure the future operator of the 82-year-old CPR building was a local and registered society, with a long steady history in serving the community.
OneSky checked all the boxes.
“We thought it was important that the building stayed as a community building,” said Norm Dishkin, director at the Kinsmen Society. “(OneSky) has a vision for a future and their aim and objectives align with ours.
“We’re passing on a piece of Kinsmen’s history and Penticton’s history, and we’re very pleased that they have acknowledged that heritage and are going to maintain the building.”
Dishkin described Wednesday as “historic,” with several staff members from OneSky and Penticton Mayor Julius Bloomfield among those in attendance.
OneSky has assisted a wide range of people in communities across the South Okanagan for more than 50 years.
The Kinsmen Society says the non-profit group will have much-needed space and run and expand its existing programs inside the CRP property.
“I’ve been in social services for 30 years and never received a gift like this,” Behardien said.
The three-storey building, listed as a heritage site, was valued at close to $1.8 million by BC Assessment in the summer of 2021.
“With this merger, OneSky can continue their incredible work and PKDRCS can feel fulfilled and happy with the legacy of keeping the building in the hands of a worthy local community organization,” said Penticton MLA Dan Ashton.
“I am so glad this significant building will be in good hands as it is an important historical site for the City of Penticton.”
The Kinsmen Club’s disability resource centre was formed through the efforts of member Pat Duncan, the former publisher of the Penticton Western News and Summerland Review. Duncan died in February 2010.
He was among the many former members of the club, like Steve Gjukich, Brian Hval and John Reynen, who were thanked on Wednesday for helping preserve the building over the years.