Work starts on new Valley First branch in Rutland

Marc Germain (left), manager of the new Valley First Rutland branch, holds an artist
Marc Germain (left), manager of the new Valley First Rutland branch, holds an artist's rendition of the building as he joins (left to right) Valley First president Paulette Rennie, Deputy Mayor Luke Stack and Gary Tebbut of Compass Real EstateDevelopments at the groundbreaking for the project.
— image credit: Doug Farrow/contributor

Plans for a new, two-story, 16,000-square-foot branch of Valley First Credit Union in Rutland are being described as a positive sign of urban renewal for the area.

Deputy Mayor Luke Stack, on hand for the groundbreaking ceremony at the corner of Rutland Road and Highway 33 Tuesday, said he was encouraged to see the development and eager to see it replicated across the street on another vacant site owned by the same company that owns the Valley First site.

"I would love to see the same thing on the other side," said Stack, who pointed to the city's plan for a nearby transit exchange as another sign of positive change in the area.

Despite his concerns about the slow pace of "up-take" by developers in the area, Stack said the focus on revitalization of the Rutand area is something the city takes very seriously.

With the plans in place, it is now up to developers to get on board, he said.

No plans have been announced for the other vacant site, on the northeast corner of Rutland Road at Highway 33, but a representative of site owner Compass Developments said the company wants a similar type of office building there as well.

Tuesday's event, to mark the start of construction of the credit union's first office in the Rutland area, is expected to act as a catalyst for revitalization in an area become known as the Uptown Rutland.

Valley First president Paulette Rennie said she also sees the new building as part of that revitalization and is pleased her company is helping lead the way.

"We're here to do business with Rutland and to give back," said Rennie, whose credit union has 18 branches in the Okanagan, Similkameen and Thompson areas.

Valley First merged with Envision Financial recently and the Envision has 21 branches, mainly in the Fraser Valley. The recently opened Envision branch in Westbank is soon to be rebranded as a Valley First branch, said Rennie.

The new Rutland Valley First offices will occupy all of the first floor of the new building and about 25 per cent of the second floor. It will offer full banking, insurance and wealth management services and employ a staff of 14.

Rennie said currently the closest Valley First branch is located in Orchard Plaza. While  the credit union hopes to serve existing customers from the Rutland area at the new  branch, it is also looking to expand its business in what is Kelowna's largest residential area.

Actual construction on the new Valley First branch is expected to start this week and be complete by the fall. The credit union expects to open the branch to the public in November.



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