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One of the driving forces who made Vancouver into one of the world’s most livable cities says Kelowna should focus on attracting families to move downtown and into the towers that are popping up all over the core.
Larry Beasley, the author of Vancouverism and the man who helped shape that city’s skyline, believes it will take a team effort to get parents and children to make the jump to urban living.
“In order to make that really high livability, very appealing livability, you really need to have your local government and your development community working together,” Beasley said during an Urban Development Institute Okanagan webinar on Thursday.
“Because if I’m a typical family with kids, I’m not naturally going to think downtown is for me unless I can see the school and it’s a decently good school, unless I see open spaces, unless I see safety, unless I see energy and activity, unless I see options for my housing, unless I see places for my children to play. And that is something that a developer can’t often deliver by themselves, or a city can’t deliver by themselves. They have to work together.”
Vancouverism is essentially defined as a large residential population living in the city centre with mixed-use developments, mass public transit and green spaces. Mission Group president Randy Shier also spoke during the webinar, and he said three of Vancouverism’s seven tenets apply to downtown Kelowna: mass transit, diversity and uniqueness.
Shier believes diversity will come once more families find the urge to abandon the single-family home in the suburbs. And once that diverse community is created downtown, mass public transit will follow.
One of the problems that arose from the massive growth in downtown Vancouver was a lack of affordable housing, which is increasingly becoming an issue in Kelowna, too.
“With everything else that you’re doing, you have to build in a very aggressive strategy for affordability, right from the beginning,” Beasley said.
Part of that affordability problem is a dearth of what’s known as “missing middle housing,” like duplexes, townhouses and walk-up apartments.
“Rental housing does a fantastic job in urban centres of providing for the missing middle,” Shier said. “The City of Kelowna has been at the forefront and done a great job of providing development incentives to builders to build rental housing.”
The city and province can’t stop there, according to Shier, who recently moved downtown to one of Mission Group’s towers from his single-family home in the Mission.
“An elementary school in downtown Kelowna is a critical missing ingredient as something to attract families to live downtown, which would create more diversity,” Shier said.
“Can we always do better? Yes. But I think it’s coming. We’re working hard on trying to bring that housing for the missing middle.”
Another option for addressing the “missing middle” issue is building housing at street level of towers instead of retail space. That could also happen naturally, since e-commerce has exploded in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Whatever kind of housing developers and the city combine to create downtown, Shier said there must be more of it to keep up with demand. If the supply doesn’t increase, affordability will “get way worse,” he said.
Beasley added it has to be attractive and part of a bigger package, too.
“You have to achieve a higher level of livability than people expect,” he said, “because you’re asking them to make a hard decision to jump from what they know to what they don’t know, especially if they’re carrying their kids with them.”
The Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission has added two faces to its 45-member advisory council executive.
Ryan Malcolm, who is the CEO of Ntityix Development Corp., will represent the construction and development industry, while Jill White, who is president of Waterplay Solutions Corp., will sit on the board as a manufacturing representative.
“Having served on the COEDC advisory council since 2018, I have experienced the value of bringing a cross-section of industry and community leaders together to support economic development in the region in times of strong economic growth and in times of economic uncertainty,” advisory council chair Terry Edwards said in a press release. “The appointment of this year’s new members adds valuable new insight and perspective to the council, and I’m honoured to chair the council in 2021.”
The advisory council serves as a conduit of information and insight for the COEDC and is made up of industry leaders, elected officials, local government staff and community organizations representing a cross section of industries.
Nearly 14 months after the mill closed, officials with Vernon-based Tolko Industries say no decision has been made on the future of the site.
Tolko officially shut down the sawmill on Jan. 8 of last year.
Demolition of the property has been ongoing for several months. Just last week, the large smokestack on the property came down.
In a brief email, communications advisor Chris Downey says while he can appreciate there is a lot of interest, there’s not a lot to share.
“At this point, there’s still nothing new to share on the status of the Kelowna property,” he said.
Sources have told Castanet the company and City of Kelowna are in discussions concerning the nearly 40-acre parcel of waterfront property in the city’s north end.
The exact nature of those discussions are not known.
City planner Ryan Smith indicated there have been some calls into the city from parties interested in the future of the property, but nothing more than that.
Smith says the city obviously has interest in the future of what is the last large-scale piece of waterfront property left to be developed in the city.
“The planning of that site,” Smith said, “connecting it to the neighbourhood, connecting it to the Rail Trail and downtown will be a critically important exercise. We are signalling the area as one that needs some planning work done in the upcoming official community plan.
“Whether it is Tolko or whoever drives that plan, we will probably go to council at some point and get their authorization to actually do that planning work.”
Smith says many neighbourhoods and neighbourhood associations have been lobbying the city for extensive high-level planning in their areas.
However, Smith said, once it is determined such a plan is needed for the Tolko property, that will likely move close to the top of the list for the planning department.
He doesn’t expect that level of planning to happen any time soon, suggesting it could be sometime in the next couple of years.
As for the value of the property, one forecast suggests the property could be worth upwards of $50 million. However, one commercial realtor told Castanet he believes that estimate is incredibly conservative.
Appealing to the conscious consumer, natural wine is one of the most exciting styles of wine in the world right now. Although there has been a surge in interest, natural wine is not a new phenomenon. Despite its growing popularity, natural wine still only represents less than 1% of all the wine in the world.
What is ‘natural’ wine?
Natural wine has no legal, official or regulated definition, but winemaking philosophies are commonly centred around sustainability, organics and biodynamics with little to no chemical or technological manipulation. You may also have heard of natural wine being referred to as ‘minimum intervention,” “low intervention” or “non-invasive.”
Natural wines can range from wild and funky to complex, while others are very normal in style. Natural wines run the full gamut, including white, orange and red wine and Pétillant Naturel, also known as Pet Nat, a natural sparkling wine also affectionately referred to as “hipster bubbles.” Due to the labour-intensive techniques used, natural wines are often made in small quantities.
Natural wine is characterized by:
• Grapes that are usually grown by small-scale, independent producers.
• Grapes are hand-picked from sustainable, organic or biodynamic vineyards.
• Fermentation occurs without the addition of yeast (native yeast).
• No additives are included in fermentation.
• Little to no sulphites are added during the winemaking process.
What’s the difference between natural and conventional wine?
Natural wines are distinctive for their difference in appearance, flavours and aromas in comparison to their more mainstream counterparts. Natural winemakers will use naturally occurring yeasts for fermentation, avoid adding large quantities of sulfites and opt not to remove any impurities prior to bottling. Wines are bottled unfiltered and unfined, meaning steps are not taken to clarify wine by removing dissolved solids.
Sulfites are a natural byproduct of fermentation, and yeasts that are present on all grape skins generate small amounts of them. Therefore, there is no such thing as sulfite-free wine. Sulphur, often in the form of sulphur dioxide (SO2), has been used as a preservative for more than 200 years. It inhibits mould and bacteria growth, stops oxidation (browning) and preserves the wine’s natural flavour.
Properly handled, sulfites are not toxic to humans or the environment, and many winemakers feel that they are essential to prevent oxidation and spoilage. For this reason, some jurisdictions such as the U.S. and European organic winemaking standards allow for the addition of strictly controlled amounts of SO2. Some winemakers add sulfites to their wines to keep them fresher for longer. Those extra sulfites are a point of contention in the natural wine world.
Organic and biodynamic farming
Organic and biodynamic farming are aspects of natural winemaking. Certification requirements for organic wine vary from country to country, with different entities having responsibility over certification worldwide. In Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is responsible for enforcing the applicable regulations through approved third parties that verify the application of the organic standards.
Generally, organic practices mean that the vineyard is farmed without the use of pesticides, chemical fertilizers or herbicides. In some cases, wineries may be technically ‘organic’ but have chosen not to pursue certification. It can take up to three years to convert a traditional vineyard into an organic one. Certification also comes at a cost and often involves working through bureaucracy and government standards. Some wineries may also not pursue organic certification if there is disagreement over the government certification standards. Without certification, wineries cannot use the term ‘organic’ on their label.
Biodynamics is generally viewed as either an enhanced or more extreme form of organic agriculture. Biodynamics is based on the theories of philosopher Rudolf Steiner, which in relation to wine making results in each vineyard being viewed as a self-sustaining organism. Biodynamics attempts to bring the farming process more closely in tune with nature. Some believe that for this reason biodynamic wines are better at exhibiting expressions of terroir, meaning the smells, flavour and textures from which the grapes originate.
Natural wine has become one of the most debated and polarizing topics in the wine industry. Whether your preference is natural or conventional or you love it all, there is a diverse selection of great Canadian wine to suit everyone’s preferences.
Cheers and happy tasting!
Shannan Schimmelmann first fell in love with B.C. wine and spirits while studying hospitality at Camosun College in Victoria, and she has spent the past two decades exploring more than 100 wineries and distilleries in B.C. and beyond. She is a business leader and consultant skilled at partnership development, export strategy and supply chain management. She has an MBA from Royal Roads University, a wine business management certificate from Sonoma State University, a restaurant management diploma from Camosun College and Canadian Wine Scholar WSET-1 accreditation.
UBCO next week will be bringing in experts from around the world—virtually, of course—to reimagine economic futures.
The university is hosting the webinar in conjunction with Orkestra Basque Institute of Competitiveness on Thursday, March 4, at 8:30 a.m.
Speakers include Westbank First Nation Council member Jordan Coble, Mari Jose Aranguren, who is the general director at Orkestra Basque Institute of Competitiveness and economics professor at Deusto University in Spain, and Micaela Camacho, who is director of the Competitiveness Institute at Universidad Católica del Uruguay.
“As we tackle some of the greatest challenges of our time—from the climate change crisis to the COVID-19 pandemic and its accompanying health and economic insecurities to issues of equity, diversity and inclusion across many forums—we also have a unique opportunity to join together with partners from around the world and deepen our understanding and exploration of these challenges and their global impact,” UBC Okanagan provost and academic vice-president Ananya Mukherjee Reed said in a press release.
“We are honoured to join together with this group of inspiring voices to learn with and from one another as we explore opportunities for our future economic pathways.”
The webinar is free, but registration is required.
City staff is looking into developing a program that would financially assist Kamloops businesses struck by vandals.
In city hall’s finance committee meeting Wednesday, Coun. Mike O’Reilly, the committee chair, introduced a motion to have staff create a framework for the program with funding options for council to consider.
The motion was unanimously passed by committee members.
O’Reilly said he wants to help businesses struggling with the costs of fixing acts of vandalism, such as broken windows or damage done by break-and-enters, especially as many owners are also dealing with financial impacts stemming from the pandemic.
O’Reilly had initially introduced the idea at a Feb. 9 city council meeting, asking the council’s support for the finance committee to discuss it further.
In the meeting, O’Reilly referenced statistics presented by Kamloops RCMP Supt. Syd Lecky in a December council meeting, showing that businesses suffered a 51% increase in property crimes when comparing data from 2019 to 2020.
“[This] is substantial, and it very much lines up from what we are hearing from business owners and commercial building owners throughout the city,” O’Reilly said to council.
“There is a significant problem, and I’m not afraid to say that.”
Discussions on what the funding program might look like were kept high level during Wednesday’s finance committee meeting, as staff will be responsible for determining the specific parameters of the program and how it might be administered.
“This is to help businesses bridge the gap to get through [the] COVID crisis,” O’Reilly said, adding he hoped it would be a finite program, but city council would have the final say.
“This is early stages. I look forward to staff coming back and we can have more discussions on the finite details.”
He suggested a program where businesses, located in any Kamloops neighbourhood, could apply for funds specifically when they needed the help.
“I’d like staff to try and find a way for businesses to pay for businesses, rather than tap into a general fund,” O’Reilly said.
He suggested businesses could be reimbursed for either a maximum of $500 per broken window or vandalism incident, or a maximum of 50% of the cost of a repair.
“By all means, this isn’t going to save every business, but it is going to help us through, to help businesses stay open, to continue paying taxes, to continue to be part of the social fabric of our neighbourhood and our community,” he said.
At the Feb. 9 council meeting, Mayor Ken Christian said he understood the need among Kamloops businesses but questioned if a city-run support program might conflict with insurance claims for vandalism.
However, Christian said he supported the idea of the finance committee taking on further discussion.
“I think the notion of the finance committee exploring ways to support businesses within the limitation of the charter, which says we can’t support specific business (and) we have to do something across the board, is certainly within the mandate of the committee.”
Staff said it would create a recommendation for the proposed program in time for discussion at the next finance committee meeting on April 7.
After that, the final recommendation would be passed to city council for a vote.
A South Okanagan business is being recognized for its continual efforts in helping the community, having been nominated for the Best Community Impact Award by Small Business BC.
Total Restoration Services for the South Okanagan had definitely earned its award nomination, stepping up with volunteer efforts, and monetary and giveaway donations throughout the pandemic.
“We’re ecstatic. It’s a huge honour for us to have been nominated,” Tracy Van Raes, the marketing and community relations manager for Total Restoration Services, said.
“Giving back to our community is part of our workplace culture. Our entire team is quite ecstatic and honoured that we’ve been nominated for this prestigious award.”
The Best Community Impact Award goes to the company that is truly making a difference with community impact strategies, diversity and leadership.
On top of being the title sponsor of the Business Excellence Awards for the chamber of commerce and the Stay at Home Gala for the Community Foundation, Total Restoration has also been supporting the Starfish Pack Program, South Okanagan Women in Needs Society (SOWINS), JCI Penticton, the Rotary Club of Penticton and other local charities.
“Basically any not-for-profit charity fundraising initiative that approaches us and asks us for help, we find a way to help them,” Van Raes said. “We try to step up to the plate however we can.”
“Community impact is at the forefront of our values, and we’ve had to definitely pivot our model. However, we have found all sorts of ways to be able to still continue to give back in 2020 and in 2021.”
The first round of voting ends March 7, when the company will learn if it has made it to the top five. You can vote for Total Restoration online here.
Kelowna city council will get its first look next week at Summerhill Pyramid Winery’s proposed “Culinary College for Humanity.”
The final version of an idea first submitted to the city one year ago will feature a six-storey building built on top of the existing wine production and warehousing facility. Inside would be large kitchens and classrooms, 150 bedrooms for students and faculty, wine tasting rooms, administration offices and a large atrium.
“In addition, gardens aimed at producing biodiverse food are incorporated to every level of the proposed structure to a total of approximately 37,000-square-feet of proposed food producing area,” city staff’s report to council said.
While city planners are endorsing the project, it must also clear the Agricultural Land Commission via a non-farm-use application, which is not a sure thing.
In a letter to the city, the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture said it “has concerns” about the project, calling its scope “disproportionate” to the primary agricultural activity taking place on the property.
And while the ALC board operates independently from the Ministry of Agriculture, the board has never hesitated to reject projects that it believes overtake, rather than complement, existing farming operations on a lot.
While city staff says such a building would typically be in an urban centre, planners believe the positives would outweigh the negatives.
“The proposal has potential to generate alternative agricultural value to the city and the region in providing for a rare opportunity for value-added agricultural amenities,” the staff report says.
Winery owner Stephen Cipes notes in his application that the new building, because it is being built on another, “will not displace a single square foot of arable land.”
The whole facility has been designed with guidance of the Sparking Hill’s Swarovski Management team.
“Both professional and consumer designed courses will be offered to support sustainable, localized food systems, including in subjects as varied as nose-to-tail preparation of animals, urban farming, food preservation, vegetable forward meal preparation, eliminating food waste, and regenerative and organic agricultural systems,” Cipes said in the application.
Kelowna city council will discuss the proposal Monday and vote on whether to forward the plan to the ALC for its consideration.
A Kelowna commercial real estate agent believes the demand for large warehouse, shipping and fulfillment facilities will only increase this year as the e-commerce economy takes off in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kris McLaughlin, who is MCL Real Estate Group’s senior commercial advisor and team lead, says that will be part of the local commercial real estate market’s rebound, which he sees occurring in the second half of this year.
“Quality industrial product from existing inventory was highly sought after in 2020, with small bay strata units selling steadily (and) multiple offers on select units,” said McLaughlin, who is a member of the Re/Max Kelowna team.
McLaughlin pointed out that industrial’s cheaper rents and larger footprints appealed to broader base by mid-year, with retail-type tenants new to the digital marketplace buying and leasing units that could warehouse inventory and provide for a direct shipping base. By the end of last year, McLaughlin said, most industrial activity was in the North Kelowna industrial area, Airport Business Park and the downtown north end.
“Industrial development will likely continue unabated as demand for pre-leased and pre-sold strata units remains unsated,” McLaughlin wrote in his report.
McLaughlin sees vacancy rates remaining low for the most part. Warehouse space should be around 2%, while retail (4.25%) and office availability (4.5%) is not expected to change drastically.
Six companies whose headquarters are in the Thompson Okanagan have cracked the list of the B.C.’s Top 100 Employers, which was released on Thursday.
Five of the companies are based in Kelowna, while the BC Lottery Corporation, whose headquarters are in Kamloops, was the other local company to earn the distinction. The Kelowna-based companies are Houle Electric, Lawson Lundell, Nicola Wealth Management, QHR Technologies and Interior Health Authority.
Mediacorp Canada, which publishes employment periodicals, curated the list for the 16th year. Many of the winners are companies that performed well in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The practical and timely responses we saw in British Columbia included organizing task forces and committees to spearhead organizational response and coordinate important tasks, such as safety and mitigation protocols for essential workers,” Canada’s Top 100 Employers managing editor Richard Yerema said in a press release. “Clear lines of communication and accountability have enabled these employers to create positive outcomes—even in the face of the pandemic’s daunting challenges.”
Employers were judged on eight criteria: physical workplace; work atmosphere and social; health, financial and family benefits; vacation and time off, employee communications; performance management; training and skills development; and community involvement.
Several other companies with locations in the Thompson Okanagan made the list as well, including Wesgroup Equipment, WorkSafeBC and Coast Capital Savings Federal Credit Union.