Shipment of apples in Summerland Packing HouseMural by Larry Hunter on Summerland Packing House wallThe Packing House Project CommitteeInterior of Summerland BC's packing housesummerland-packing-house-05

Packing House Revival

A new lease on life?

A group of Summerland residents have joined forces in an effort to preserve the town’s most well known landmark.

Saving the Summerland Packing House from the same fate that befell the Naramata fruit packing facility was a thought that has been foremost in the minds of several Summerland residents; it was this common goal that brought together a group of five women to determine the feasibility of turning the Packing House into a venue for local artisan food, wine, arts and culture.

The conviction that the demolition of the Packing House would be a big loss for Summerland and the Okanagan, is the driving force for a group determined to save it. Barbara Thornburn, Stephanie Seaton, Linda Beaven, Denise MacDonald and Margaret Holler have formed a committee to determine the feasibility of converting it into a viable business opportunity and in the process locate others who support and share their vision for this historic landmark.

The idea is to create a Granville Island style market environment combined with a centre for cultural and artistic pursuits. This is being done with the assistance of others who have experience with similar projects or are qualified to act as project advisors.

Partial funding for a feasibility study has been granted from the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) through the Summerland Chamber of Commerce.

In the initial stages a few select core organizations will be contacted to determine the level of interest for participation as core group stakeholders. To date a number of market-style smaller retailers have shown interest in being located at the facility and once it is determined that the project is feasible, applications will be sent to the appropriate parties.

The overriding theme as a foundation for the Summerland Packing House merchants would be the promotion of the ‘shop locally’ philosophy. There are a number of different businesses fitting the criteria that would be suited to the project. The objective is two-fold; to promote local growers, farmers and artisans and to increase the number of visitors coming to Summerland throughout the year.

Consumer buying trends are moving towards sustainability and the ‘buy local’ premise goes a long way to help build a community. The Packing House would be an integral part in the promotion of this philosophy for Summerland.

In addition to potentially being a hub for local retailers, the Packing House is also an ideal space for events such as the Rotary Goodwill Shakespeare Festival, live theatre and music, art showings and other arts-based programs.

Members of the Summerland Community Cultural Development Committee (CCDC) form part of the group seeking to engage the community in the development of the Packing House project.

Contact the Packing House project committee for more information: Packing House Project

Update Feb 7, 2013:

The Summerland Packing House has been taken off the market and the ‘For Sale’ sign will be coming down.

The fruit growers who own the valley’s fruit packing facilities have decided to put the Summerland Packing House back into use as a receiving and storage facility for the apple industry, according to Packing House Director, Ron Vollo.

The facility may also be available for other mixed uses and discussions will follow, to determine what can be done at the Packing House. We will post more on that later when we’ve had a chance to talk to the appropriate people.

Note: The attached proposal was presented to Mayor Janice Perrino in 2012 by Barbara Thornburn and Toni Boot. Download a copy of the official Packing House Proposal.

article/photography by Stephanie Seaton



10 Responses to “Packing House Revival”

  1. I hope this project becomes a reality. The possibilities are endless.

    • summerlandlive says:

      Dear PipeDream OfCourse

      I too hope this project becomes a reality as it would well reflect the character of the town, and it would also raise the bar and attract other quality projects.

  2. S Munro says:

    What a wonderful and worthy project and what a beautiful magazine! I think Summerland is a lovely place and your magazine certainly shows it at it’s best. Well done.

  3. Ron Jaggard says:

    This a great idea with great potential and I hope people can embrace the idea.

  4. Marcia says:

    Fantastic idea!

  5. Carol says:

    Absolutely in favor of this. Where do we sign up?

  6. Pat Mccutcheon says:

    Absolutely brilliant! We have so much talent in the local area, talent that needs to be showcased, and what a way to honour/remember the way of life that helped develop Summerland.

  7. Stacystudios says:

    Why isn’t this initiative being shouted from the rooftops? This is a very important venture! There are so many people interested in pushing forward with these kinds of concepts that are being blocked by our elected officials and their staff, who talk the talk, but refuse to walk. Also, the concept of using arts and culture as an economic driver is a completely established fact with so many precedents that are impossible to deny, so why is it so ridiculed and dismissed as some sort of idealistic folly? Perhaps we can’t count on any support from city hall, and we’ll have to do it ourselves.

  8. Prettylittlelids says:

    I love this idea , as a local artist I hate that we can only sell our hande made items in the summer at the market . I think we would get lots of attention from other communities, everyone loves granville island.

  9. Duggy X says:

    I have been involved in theatre for very close to forty years now and to see the amount of interest in this project is heart warming. Having worked on high school stages, converted army huts, college multi-spaces, an old Hudson’s Bay building, a home furnishing store, the University of Victoria and the Janet Richey Centre Stage Theatre, I feel that we could play in a black box theatre or anywhere that an audience and actors can intermingle, would be right for us. The packing house would fit the bill. Good on you Linda, et al.

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