Thirty years at Predator Ridge
By Darcy Nybo X Photos Courtesy Predator Ridge
It’s unlike any other resort in this country. You can live year round and still be within minutes of wineries and a wellness resort. It’s a lifestyle you don’t have to escape from.”
Predator Ridge is well known throughout the world as a thriving community built around a golf course—a place where the amenities draw people from all walks of life. With its renowned restaurants, yoga platforms and hiking areas near beautiful lavender fields, Predator Ridge truly is a world-class resort. And this year, it’s celebrating 30 years.
Located in Vernon, the name references the height of land between Kalamalka and Okanagan lakes—home to many birds of prey and raptors, including eagles, osprey, kestrels, peregrine falcons, red-tailed and Cooper’s hawks and several owl species.
A Brief History
In 1989, the Neigel Ranch—so named for the Neigel family who bought the land in 1925 and farmed it for years—was acquired by Barrie Wheeler and the Paterson family with an eye to creating a premier-quality golf course and housing development. Predator Ridge Golf Resort officially opened in July 1991, and the first golf tournament took place two years later in 1993.
Fast-forward to 1998 when Predator Ridge started to build its first subdivision. By 2000, the resort opened its first accommodation, and by 2005 there was an on-site fitness centre complete with an indoor lap pool, hot tub and steam rooms.
In 2007, current owner Wesbild Holdings purchased Predator Ridge with plans to create a true, amenity-rich community. Today, Predator Ridge is considered one of the top resorts in Canada. While golf is still a mainstay, it’s not the number-one draw. The people, amenities and a safe and engaged community continue to attract people from all over the world.
Predator Ridge Growth
Brad Pelletier has been the senior vice president of Wesbild for over 10 years and oversees all aspects of projects and operations at Predator Ridge.
“I’ve seen some amazing growth since I arrived,” Brad said.
In 2011, he added, Predator Ridge was a classic golf course community with a golf-course identity. However, around this time, the quintessential dream of living on a golf course started to decline.
“We decided to open up and expand to create a world-class resort with hiking and biking trails, gyms, restaurants and more. We realized how important it was to be good at a lot of things, which is why we expanded into other areas, while not losing sight of the importance of golf.”
At first Brad focused on developing new architectural designs for the homes being built.
“We really started to evolve those designs and create different neighbourhoods. For example, The Commonage was a modern-ranch design. We really wanted to push that side of it, to push new designs in homes.”
With housing dealt with, Brad and Predator Ridge began forming strategic partnerships to promote the community.
“We formed one with Hockey Canada and one with Okanagan Bucket List. We partnered with some of the strongest lifestyle brands in the Okanagan. It was really fast-paced as we advanced the direction of changing Predator Ridge into a best-in-class community.”
Much has evolved at Predator Ridge in the last decade.
“When I look back over the past 10 years, I think of all the changes that have taken place. Sparkling Hill Resort made their home in the corridor. Then there was the upgrade to the highway and more wineries opened in the area.”
In recent years, Brad and Wesbild have paid close attention to trends and considered what future homeowners might want in a community. They looked at everything from homes to lifestyle and diet.
“We partnered with UBC Okanagan a few years ago and created our lavender field. The project was to discover which lavender species thrive in our area,” Brad said. “It’s right next to one of our yoga platforms and the area has become a must-visit destination for people who live here. They love to grab a bottle of wine, sit up on a yoga platform and enjoy the fabulous views with the relaxing scent of lavender around them.”
While relaxing is a big part of the Predator Ridge community, getting out and having fun is even more important.
“We connect to Ellison Park for world-class mountain biking, have the tennis and pickleball courts, the gym, great hikes and so much more,” Brad said. “Then there’s Commonage Road near Carr’s Landing, which has eight wineries that people can bike to and spend the day wine-tasting.”
The winter of 2020/2021 was a hard one for most people under the cloud of the pandemic, so Brad and his team decided to do something to make life a bit more enjoyable for the residents.
“We created a big skating rink during COVID-19 so people could get outside. We did snowshoeing as well. [In normal times], we hold over 1,500 events a year for our homeowners. Nobody delivers community the way we do. We have a whole team dedicated to ensuring this is a thriving year-round resort community.”
Pets are a large part of the Predator Ridge community plan.
“We have a pet-friendly approach here,” Brad said. “We even make our own dog treats and sell them. If you look around you’ll see some signs that say ‘Petador Ridge.’ Our pets are very important here.”
Celebrating 30 Years
The celebrations this year won’t be like the ones held in the past. For their 25th anniversary, Predator Ridge held its own rodeo, bringing in famed musician Tom Cochrane to play for homeowners. There’s nothing like that planned for the 30th anniversary. Instead, it will be acknowledged virtually.
“We are limited to what we can do because of COVID-19,” Brad said. “We’re getting the word out online and in print so people can learn how much we’ve changed and how great a community this is. Now people look at Predator Ridge as a place to live, or to come visit for the culinary and outdoor-adventure aspects of the area. They don’t just come here to golf.”
While there’s been a lot of growth at Predator Ridge over the years, nothing is as epic as what is planned for the future.
“We are about halfway through our development plans at Predator Ridge,” Brad said. “Extensive planning is underway on some of the lands we have yet to develop.”
He added: “We have two new subdivisions we are working on with great lake views. This summer we really want people to see the future, to see the amenities we are adding to and expanding here.”
Predator Ridge covers an area of 1,200 acres and is zoned for 2,100 units. At the moment, the community has 800 homes, with a few hundred more in the planning phase.
“We won’t develop to the maximum of 2,100 units. We want to leave more green space,” Brad explained. “It’s not just about building houses; we also want to add new services to our community. We want to expand our state-of-the-art fitness centre. We’ve looked at some professional services like healthcare. We want to add complementary services like retail, physio, doctors, grocery, pet stores and other fitness-related retailers. We are looking to see which potential tenants would be part of our expanded plan for homeowners.”
There are sites already zoned commercial at Predator Ridge—some are in The Commonage and some near the main offices.
“We have the density we need on site now to support these new services. In fact, we have a year-round resident base that is very active in all seasons.”
When Brad hears people in his community talk about Predator Ridge, one of the most common things they say is that you don’t have to be a golfer to live there. He echoes this.
“We do so much else here,” he said. “Those 1,500 events range from art classes to outdoor activities, wine-tastings to foot clinics. We even had an on-site nurse offer every single person a flu shot. We have a great speaker series, where we bring people in to talk about photography, writing and travel, to name a few.”
There are very few places in Canada that offer all that Predator Ridge gives its homeowners and visitors, he added.
“This year we are telling the world to look and see how far we’ve come in 30 years. It’s unlike any other resort in this country. You can live year round and still be within minutes of wineries and a wellness resort. It’s a lifestyle you don’t have to escape from.”