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Gondola out of commission until 2020
Contributed - Aug 16, 2019 - BC Biz

Photo Credit: Contributed

The operators of the Sea-to-Sky Gondola say the popular tourist attraction near Squamish, B.C., likely won’t reopen until early next spring.

In a message on the company’s Facebook page, they say the cleanup has started and it is hoped the gondola can reopen in early 2020, but that depends on the delivery of a replacement cable and new cabins from Europe.

When the attraction does restart, the post says it will feature a brand new haul rope and a completely new line of 30 cabins.

No one was hurt last Saturday when the RCMP say someone deliberately cut the gondola’s main cable, sending all of the cars crashing to the ground.

The company has said the damage will reach into the millions of dollars.

The Sea to Sky Gondola officially opened in 2014 and carries between 1,500 and 3,000 people who visit the gondola every day during the summer season, with each cabin holding up to eight people. When in operation, it takes around 10 minutes to reach an elevation of 885 metres above Howe Sound.

Safeway closing early
Anita Sthankiya - Aug 16, 2019 - BC Biz

Photo: Sobeys

Staff at the Safeway store in the Dilworth Centre in Kelowna have been told that their store will be closing a month earlier than expected.

Union staff at the Kelowna location as well as at the Williams Lake Safeway stores received the news this week that the new closing date will be October 26, 2019. That’s one month earlier than the previous closing date slated for November 23.

In June, Sobeys announced it would be converting six Safeway stores in smaller BC communities to FreshCo discount grocery stores.

As Okanagan Edge previously reported, employees were told they had 30 days to decide whether they’ll transfer to FreshCo or take a voluntary buyout. Those who chose to stay would take a hefty pay cut, with only 25% of employees able to keep their full benefits and wages.

According to a statement from Sobeys, the new date has been put in place to allow for the necessary construction and renovations.

“We are proud to have served these communities and are excited to share our FreshCo experience with them in the Spring of 2020,” read the company statement.

The Safeway pharmacies will continue to remain open throughout construction.

Telus email disruptions
Anita Sthankiya - Aug 16, 2019 - BC Biz

Photo Credit: Telus

If you are a Telus subscriber you may have noticed a problem with your email service over the past 24 hours as the company has been dealing with a disruption.

According to a media spokesperson, Telus technicians have been working around the clock to fix the issue. As of Friday morning, they report that most customers should be able to access their email without issue. There are still some customers who have problems with this telus.net email, according to the company.

The issues is said to affect customers in the Lower Mainland, Kelowna, Vernon, Edmonton, and Calgary. The majority of customers that have reported an issue with Downdetector say only their email has been affected, but some say there is also a problem with internet usage.

Telus says the issue was due to hardware problems at a Telus facility.

Call for cannabis products
Anita Sthankiya - Aug 14, 2019 - BC Biz

Photo Credit: BC Liquor Distribution Branch

Licensed cannabis producers are being invited to participate in a call for new products that are due to be legalized later this year.

The BC Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) is looking for input on edibles, beverages, topicals, and extracts as these products will soon be legalized as non-medical cannabis products.

Products selected will be available to wholesale customers throughout the province in both licensed private retailers and government-run BC Cannabis Stores.

“This product call marks an exciting time for the LDB as we work toward introducing new product categories into B.C.’s legal cannabis market,” said Blain Lawson, general manager and CEO, LDB. “We are currently working with over 30 licensed producers and look forward to engaging with new suppliers to expand our wholesale product assortment.”

The product call will open at 9 a.m. August 15 and close at 5 p.m. on September 11, with submissions available online to licensed producers.

The new federal regulations come into force on October 17, however, licensed processors must provide Health Canada with notice at least 60 days before making new cannabis products available for sale. Edibles, topicals, and extracts will not be available for retail sale until late December.

The LDB is also warning customers that, initially, there will be a limited selection, with further new products appearing gradually in legal stores.

Biz launches plant-based meals
Anita Sthankiya - Aug 13, 2019 - BC Biz

Photo Credit: Boosh Foods

If you are a fan of the popular Beyond Meat burgers, you’ll be excited to hear plant-based entrees will soon be hitting grocery shelves in BC.

BC company Boosh Food has developed eight 100% plant-based, heat-and-serve entrees, five that are now available at Thrifty Foods and Safeway stores across the province. According to the company, four of the eight meals feature the popular Beyond Meat plant protein.

“We’re thrilled to be working with Beyond Meat to create these delicious, convenient meals,” says Boosh Founder and President, Connie Marples. “These are not your old-school frozen entrées—our products are a fantastic option for consumers looking for healthy, plant-based meals that can be ready in minutes.”

The Boosh meals are gluten-free, fresh-frozen, and offer single-serve bowl options such as Coconut Curry Cauli and Vegetable Bolognese. Two-person options include Penne Alfredo Bolognese, Middle East Feast, and Shepard’s Pie which all feature the Beyond Meat product.

All of the Boosh meals are available in the freezer section of Thrifty Foods and Safeway stores.

Housing demand on the rise
Anita Sthankiya - Aug 13, 2019 - BC Biz

Photo: contributed

The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) say residential unit sales were up for the month of July as a total of 7,930 homes were sold.

According to the BCREA’s latest report, sales were up 12.4 per cent from the same time last year. The average MLS residential price in the province was $684,497, a slight decline from July 2018. Total sales dollar volume was $5.43 billion, a 10.5 per cent increase from the same month last year.

“BC home sales climbed higher for the first time in 18 months on a year-over-year basis in July,” said BCREA Chief Economist Cameron Muir. Housing demand has also trended higher since March, rising 21 per cent on a seasonally adjusted basis. “Households appear to be adjusting to the tighter credit environment as the shock of the B20 stress test dissipates.”

Year-to-date, BC residential sales dollar volume was down 18.9 per cent to $30 billion, compared with the same period in 2018. Residential unit sales decreased 14.4 per cent to 43,612 units, while the average MLS residential price was down 5.3 per cent to $687,413.

Female entrepreneurs wanted
Anita Sthankiya - Aug 12, 2019 - BC Biz

Photo Credit: Women’s Enterprise Centre

Applications are now open for the Women’s Enterprise Centre’s One-to-One Mentoring program, but for five days only.

From August 12 to 16, BC women are encouraged to apply online for the six-month mentoring program, which will give them access to an experienced entrepreneur. According to the Women’s Enterprise Centre, over 95% of mentees are still in business after five years and 29% have hired new staff since working with their mentor.

For this intake, preference will be given to rural, indigenous, and immigrant women, but all eligible women entrepreneurs are welcome to apply. According to the Centre, the number and location of matches made for each intake will be dependent on the number of mentors available.

The application process is open to women who are in the early stages of business, including those who are actively operating a business in BC and generating revenue, over the age of 19, and available for a minimum of two hours a month for six months.

Millions to repair gondola
Contributed - Aug 12, 2019 - BC Biz

Photo Credit: Contributed

The company operating the Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish, B.C., says the damage total will reach into the millions of dollars for what police have said appears to be a deliberate act of destruction.

A statement from Sea to Sky Gondola says 18 to 20 of the 30 gondola cabins and the main cable will need replacing.

It says it is working with the lift manufacturer and the RCMP to determine its next steps towards reopening.

Police believe someone may have intentionally cut the gondola cable at the tourist attraction sending several unoccupied cabins plummeting to the ground early Saturday.

RCMP spokeswoman Const. Ashley MacKay says the police have no further updates on the investigation.

The company says they are working to relocate as many as possible weddings and events that have been scheduled at the top of the gondola.

The Sea to Sky Gondola officially opened in May 2014, and carries between 1,500 and 3,000 people who visit the gondola every day during the summer season, with each cabin holding up to eight people.

When in operation, it takes around 10 minutes to reach an elevation of 885 metres above Howe Sound.

Lyft coming to BC
Contributed - Aug 12, 2019 - BC Biz

Ride-hailing company Lyft says it plans to be operating in Vancouver before the end of this year.

The Passenger Transportation Board in B.C. has yet to unveil its final ride-hailing regulations, but a statement from Lyft says the company is confident its operations will begin in the Lower Mainland sometime this fall.

The B.C. Transportation Ministry has set Sept. 3 as the date ride-hailing companies can apply to enter the market, while rules covering fares and the number of vehicles permitted for each ride-booking service are expected by the end of the summer.

Peter Lukomskyj has been named as Lyft’s first general manager in B.C., and says the company hopes to expand throughout the province, especially into areas where additional transportation options are most needed.

But he says, given the number of Class 4 commercially-licensed drivers required to sustain the ride-hailing network, the company’s immediate focus is the Lower Mainland.

Lukomskyj says Lyft remains concerned there may not be enough drivers with commercial licences to allow it to expand beyond the region.

Lyft’s plans for ride-hailing services outside Vancouver are expected to be announced closer to its Lower Mainland launch.

“We are still quite concerned about the requirement for drivers to have commercial licences as it will negatively impact driver supply and restrict the regions in which we are able to operate,” Lukomskyj says in an emailed statement.

Class 4 licence holders include taxi, limousine and ambulance drivers. They must be at least 19 years old with a minimum of two years of non-learner experience and fewer than four penalty points over the preceding two years.

Numerous organizations in B.C., including the craft brewers guild, epilepsy society and the province’s gaming and restaurant associations have called for ride-hailing.

Lyft already operates in Ottawa and the Greater Toronto Area between Hamilton and Oshawa.

In the U.S., the company says its ride-hailing app is available to 95 per cent of the population.

Three workplace deaths in BC
Anita Sthankiya - Aug 12, 2019 - BC Biz


Photo Credit: WorkSafeBC

WorkSafeBC has released its latest work-related incident report and confirms there have been three fatalities related to direct harvesting in the province so far in 2019.

According to the August 2019 report, the body of one of these victims has yet to be recovered from the Lower Mainland. WorkSafeBC confirms, in April 2019, a worker was driving an employer’s shop truck on a forest service road to get to a logging camp. When the worker did not arrive at the camp a search was initiated. Co-workers found signs the truck had gone off the road and into a deep part of a large lake. Police were called to the scene and divers were tasked to search for the man. According to the report, neither the truck nor the worker have been located.

The BC Interior saw its fair share of workplace incidents during the first half of 2019 including several injuries at BC sawmills. In May, a maintenance worker at a lumber manufacturing facility was adjusting a planer when their hand came into contact with spinning blades of the planer head. The worker sustained injuries to their fingers as a result of the incident.

During the month of April, another worker at an Interior sawmill tried to clear an obstruction of wood debris from a planer, and sustained injuries when their hand came into contact with the rotating out feed roller drum. As a result, the worker crushed their hand and were rushed to hospital.

According to WorkSafeBC, in 2018 there were a total of 3 workplace related deaths for the entire year.

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