Tourism Kelowna CEO Lisanne Ballantyne sabres a bottle of sparking wine during the opening of the new $2.8 million visitor centre on Kelowna’s downtown lakefront Thursday. —Image: Alistair Waters/Capital News

New Kelowna visitor centre opens

The controversial $2.8 million wood and glass building is located on the downtown lakefront

Tourism Kelowna’s new $2.8 million, downtown lakeshore visitor centre is now open.

In a ceremony held Thursday afternoon—that featured the sabring of bottles of sparkling wine to mark the occasion—the new single-storey wood and glass building was opened.

“Tourism Kelowna is proud and excited to open our new Kelowna Visitor Centre as an important new addition to our community,” said Thom Killingsworth, chairman of Tourism Kelowna’s board of directors.

“As a sought-after and growing destination for visitors, and an incredible place to call home, we look forward to serving our community and visitors who come from across the world. A strong visitor experience includes a well-positioned visitor information centre and innovative visitor experience strategy, which will keep visitors coming back to Kelowna, and continued growth of our local economy.”

He said Kelowna attracts about two million tourists each year who spend an estimated $337 million. The industry supports 12,000 jobs and the economic impact is $1.25 billion.

Related story: Work continuing on new Kelowna visitor centre

The new visitor centre, located between Kerry and Stuart Parks on the downtown lakeshore at the foot of Bernard Avenue, sits on a former parking lot that was once the landing point of the ferry that carried people across Okanagan Lake in the days before the former Okanagan Lake Floating Bridge was built.

According to Tourism Kelowna CEO Lisanne Ballantyne, an estimated 450,000 pedestrians walk by the location every year because sits alongside the popular downtown lakefront promenade that connects City Park and Waterfront Park.

She said her organization expects 100,000 people will walk through the centre’s doors in its first year of operation.

The visitor centre was built on time and on budget by contractor ANR Construction. It was designed by Kelowna’s Meiklejohn Architects.

The land around the centre, which still resembles a construction site, is being turned into an extension of Kerry Park by the City of Kelowna, and that work is expected to be complete by the end of July or early August, said the city’s Andrew Gibbs.

Part of that work will be to connect the two existing sections of the waterfront promenade, split by the former parking lot up until now.

Related story: Controversial waterfront visitors’ centre approved

The doors of the centre were opened to the public Thursday afternoon, with Mayor Colin Basran calling it a “long awaited and much talked about” building.

Opponents of the location criticized the city for allowing it to be built on the former parking lot because the land used to be zoned as park despite the fact it was never used as such. It had always been a parking lot.

During his turn at sabring a bottle of sparkling wine to mark the opening, Basran joked that he was more nervous doing that than he was in voting to approve the project following a packed, and at times raucous, public hearing on the project last year.

The centre—complete with five new public washrooms—will be open between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. daily during the summer months and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the rest of the year.

The administration offices of Tourism Kelowna will not be in the centre. Instead, they will remain at their current Abbott Street location.

To report a typo, email:


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


The inside of the new Kelowna Visitor Centre. —Image: Alistair Waters/Capital News

The front of the Kelowna Visitor Centre faces onto Okanagan lake and features roll-up glass walls on to to lakeshore patio. —Image: Alistair Waters/Capital News

Mayor Colin Basran takes his turn sabring a bottle of sparkling wine to mark the opening of Kelowna’s new Visitor Centre Thursday. He said he was more nervous doing that than he was voting to approve the controversial building, which was opposed by some in the community because it its downtown lakefront location. —Image: Alistair Waters/Capital News.

Just Posted

Firefighter spring training comes to Lake Country

From LNG to breaking down doors, firefighters get training from industry pros

Okanagan FC kicks off regular season Saturday night

OKFC starts their inaugural season of the Pacific Coast Soccer League (PCSL) in Penticton

Lake Country joins celebration of local government professionals

The district joined communities across the province by planting a new tree

Kootnekoff: Nervous about random drug testing?

Are you an employer with workers performing safety sensitive activities, but without… Continue reading

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: Severe thunderstorm watch

Environment Canada forecasts thunder, cloud and rain for one more day

Firefighter spring training comes to Lake Country

From LNG to breaking down doors, firefighters get training from industry pros

More than just a playground: Penticton’s Busy Beans Play Café to help parents and children

Owners Kim Wade and Tracey Wiseman want to use their expertise to help struggling families

Kamloops girl, 9, recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning now out of ICU

Her mother who was sleeping in the same tent with her did not survive

Highway 1 closed east of Revelstoke

Highway 1 is closed east of Revelstoke near Canyon Hot Springs due… Continue reading

‘I think he’s still alive’: B.C. mom pleads for help finding son last seen a month ago

Family offering $5,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of Tim Delahaye

Okanagan woman celebrates 101 years young on the back of a Harley Davidson

Last Saturday Violet Madeline celebrated 101 years. A member of the Lower… Continue reading

New poll suggests one-third don’t want politicians to wear religious symbols

Local politicians shouldn’t be allowed to wear hijabs, crucifixes or turbans on the job, survey suggests

Raptors fans far from home adjust plans to watch pivotal playoff game

Raptors currently lead the playoff series 3-2, and a win Saturday would vault them into NBA finals

PHOTOS: First responders in Fernie rescue baby owl who fell from nest

The baby owl’s inability to fly back to its nest prompted a rescue by first responders

Most Read