Gerald Vander Pyl For Calgary Herald 2006
Peachland and Summerland, B.C.
Both epitomize the beauty and allure of the Okanagan Valley and over the years have become highly sought-after locations to own real estate.
Yet each have managed to retain a friendly, small-town feeling and their own unique identity in the heart of the Okanagan.
Summerland is the larger of the two communities – both in population, about 11,000 people, and in geographical size.
In fact, Summerland rivals Penticton in total area, thanks to the many orchards and vineyards that still make up a part of the community.
Most of Summerland is actually agricultural land, which reduces the land available for residential development, says Patrick Murphy, broker/owner of RE/MAX Orchard Country.
“It’s a small town that really can’t boom, because of its geographical location,” he says.
“That’s actually what contributes to Summerland’s charm. You can drive anywhere and see orchards and vineyards alongside houses.”
Summerland in 2006 is not much different from the small community where Murphy grew up as a child, he says.
People feel safe walking at night in a community where the main business street is actually called Main Street.
The feeling of a simpler time is heightened by a local bylaw that requires downtown businesses to have English Tudor decor in the exterior of their buildings.
With a limited supply of land and an enviable lifestyle, Summerland’s real estate scene has become a seller’s market, says Murphy.
Once people buy property, not many of them are tempted to leave, he says.
As in many Okanagan communities, waterfront property is in especially high demand.
Although Summerland hugs the shoreline of Okanagan Lake, there are only a few spots of waterfront land not already developed, he says.
All of the existing lakefront development is single-family homes and there is little condominium development anywhere in the community.
Waterfront property starts from about $800,000 and goes up to $3 or $4 million.
Property within walking distance of public beaches is a popular alternative, with prices starting from about $335,000 for a lot only, or $385,000 with a house.
One unique area of Summerland is that of the houses on Trout Creek Canal, which provides boat access to the lake, says Murphy.
©The Calgary Herald 2006