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It may be in Canada’s only desert and feature Canada’s warmest fresh-water lake, but for Edmonton resident Ken Healey, the real appeal of Osoyoos was its walkability and proximity to Area 27. Taking inspiration for its name from the mysterious Area 51 in Nevada, Area 27 is a world-class racetrack located just north of Osoyoos, B.C., in Oliver. It is the culmination of three Canadian racers, including former Formula One world champion Jacques Villeneuve, whose racing number was 27.
“We visited Osoyoos a lot, staying at the Watermark Beach Resort and Spirit Ridge, and the family loves the small-town atmosphere, the lake and the beaches, but as a racing enthusiast, the idea of retiring close to a world-class designer racetrack was irresistible,” says Healey, a realtor with Re/Max Elite in Beaumont, just south of Edmonton.
While Canadian racing enthusiasts are aware of Area 27, it is a hidden gem for the average tourist drawn to the South Okanagan for the wineries and vineyards. It is an exclusive membership-based luxury motorsports club. Its 4.83-kilometre world-class circuit was designed by Jacques Villeneuve to capture the essence of the Classic Grand Prix track. This amazing facility features a racing academy, motorcycle racing, separate karting centre, and offers a Grand Prix lifestyle with the Area 27 Clubhouse that includes a 3,500-square-foot dining room, commanding views of the circuit and an outdoor barbecue centre.
After purchasing during the pre-sales campaign in the new Osoyoos community of The Villas, built by developer Diverse Properties, Healey and family take possession of their home this August. Launched a year and a half ago, The Villas feature a collection of 55 modern Mediterranean-themed townhomes on the picturesque Peanut Lake. Almost fully built out, with the final buildings being completed this year, there are currently 18 unsold homes still available. On offer are three- or four-bedroom townhomes ranging from 1585 square feet to 2100 square feet and starting from $719,900.
The Villas feature minimalist desert architecture with a distinctly modern design direction and rustic Spanish influence. Shady front courtyards and soft variations of colour pulled from the desert are paired with winding, landscaped streets, flowing down to the shores of Peanut Lake. Just opened is the private pool club with swimming pool, hot tub, patio deck, and barbecue facilities. The homes are designed for entertaining, with an open living space, combining the lounge, dining, and kitchen areas. Featuring legal suites and master-on-the-main layouts, The Villas provides flexibility to be a year-round home, a vacation home or an income property.
“It is not easy moving new properties through the approval process in Osoyoos, so the town hasn’t grown that much,” says Greg Lowe, vice-president, sales and marketing, for The Villas, Osoyoos. “As one of the few new communities launched in recent years, we’ve received feedback that The Villas offer the nicest townhomes ever built here. We expect the remaining 18 homes to go quickly.”
Positioned in the centre of town, The Villas are a quick walk away from Gyro Beach and Osoyoos Lake and within walking distance of the town centre, home to restaurants, shops, and grocery stores. Walkability was the second strongest attraction after Area 27, for Healey and his family.
“We like small town living and the walkability that comes with it. From our place in The Villas, we can walk to everything,” he says.
Osoyoos is in the southernmost tip of British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, and it is called Canada’s only desert because the area surrounding Osoyoos is the northern extension of the Sonoran Desert into Canada from the United States. The town has lengthy summers, mild winters and offers an escape from Canada’s winter, with its Mediterranean-like climate.
Osoyoos has unique cultural attractions, too, with world renowned wineries like Burrowing Owl Estate Winery, LaStella Winery and Nk’ Mip Cellars North America’s first Indigenous winery. The town sits on the ancestral lands of the Osoyoos Indian Band and its highly praised Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre, celebrates the deep history and traditions of the First Nations.
The wineries and cultural heritage are very popular, but Osoyoos Lake, the warmest freshwater lake in Canada, is the jewel of the town. Offering panoramic views, the lake is base camp for water-based activities like boating, swimming, and fishing. In winter, 40 minutes from town, the Baldy Mountain Resort provides snowboarding, downhill and cross-country ski trails on Mount Baldy, the third highest elevation ski area in British Columbia.
For Healey, these are all bonuses for owning a townhome in Osoyoos.
“There is so much to do in Osoyoos, and we like our townhome as it’s a little bigger than a resort condo. It has a bit of backyard, and a two-car garage, plus the condo corporation takes care of everything in terms of maintaining the pools, and the community,” he says.
“Our long-term goal is to retire in Osoyoos, so I can spend more time on the racetrack, while the family enjoys the lake and the beach. Everybody wins.”
COMMUNITY: The Villas, Osoyoos, B.C.
DEVELOPER: Diverse Properties.
ARCHITECTURAL THEME: modern Mediterranean townhomes.
HOMES: A – 2 bedroom, 2.5 bathrooms, 1 secondary suite with bathroom and separate entrance; B – 3 bedroom, 2.5 bathrooms; C – 4 bedroom, 3 bathrooms.
AMENITIES: Clubhouse with pool, hot tubs and barbecues.
PRICE: Starting from $719,900.
CONDO/STRATA FEE: Starting from $267 monthly.