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Rents reach historic levels
Okanagan Edge Staff - 1:34 pm - Biz Releases

Photo: Contributed

Average rent prices in the Central Okanagan hit record highs in June, according to data from Castanet’s classifieds section.

Both the one- and two-bedroom rent prices hit their highest marks since Castanet started collecting the data more than 10 years ago.

The average one-bedroom cost in June was $1,621, which was nearly $200 more than it was in May, and it beat the previous record high of $1,556 from April. The June figure was based on 40 listings in the Castanet classified section.

The average two-bedroom price in June, meanwhile, reached $2,400. The previous high was $2,322, which was set in January of this year. June’s average was based on 79 Castanet listings.

Laughing Stock adds experience
Okanagan Edge Staff - 12:14 pm - People in Business

Photo: Contributed

Naramata’s Laughing Stock Vineyards has hired Sandy Leier as its new winemaker.

Leier grew up in Kelowna and has more than 15 years of experience working with premium B.C. VQA wines.

“I am absolutely thrilled to be joining the team at Laughing Stock Vineyards,” Leier said in a press release. “Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to travel for work to many regions, and Naramata is second to none.

“I look forward to working with the viticulture and winemaking teams to consistently craft the premium, terroir-driven wines that Laughing Stock has become known for.”

Leier earned a bachelor of science degree in chemistry from UBC Okanagan, and under the mentorship of master winemaker Howard Soon she worked for Andrew Peller, Sandhill, Gray Monk and Wayne Gretzky. She is currently completing the viticulture certificate program at Washington State University.

“We could not be happier to welcome Sandy as Laughing Stock’s new winemaker,” Arterra Wines Canada winemaking operations director Derek Kontkanen said. “She is incredibly well-respected in our industry, and with her passion, leadership and eye for innovation the future of Laughing Stock is in good hands.”

Leier replaces senior winemaker Dave Carson, who recently retired after a 40-year career in the B.C. wine industry. She will be supported by assistant winemaker Kaitlyn Berendt and cellar hand Cohen Park.

Top 40: Rick Dhaliwal
Contributed - 10:16 am - People in Business

Photo: Contributed

Okanagan Edge and Kelowna Chamber of Commerce are partnering to showcase some of the region’s most exciting entrepreneurs through the “Top 40 Under 40” program.

Sponsored by BDO, the “Top 40 Under 40” recognizes high-achieving professionals in our community and showcases their accomplishments. This marks the eighth year the chamber has conducted a “Top 40” showcase. Honourees will be featured throughout the year on Okanagan Edge.


As director and owner of Lakeview Homes, Rick Dhaliwal is responsible for building multiple homes and multifamily projects across the Okanagan.

He doesn’t believe in waiting for opportunities to come to him, but rather believes in going after the opportunities that are presented. Over the last 10 years, he has spent his time building Lakeview Homes and advocating for affordable housing in the Okanagan. He believes that everyone should have the right to have a comfortable and affordable house to live in.

Lakeview over the last 10 years has grown into a multimillion-dollar real estate development firm in B.C. and Alberta.

As owner of Lakeview Homes, Dhaliwal has led employees and trade partners while building multiple Okanagan projects. The team and Dhaliwal have continuously satisfied clients’ housing needs; thanks to effective communication, a dedicated team and leadership, they can complete projects on time, even during the uncertainties caused by COVID. He has been praised for an ability to solve problems, which are daily in construction. Lakeview has gone from a single-family home builder doing one to two houses per year to a multimillion-dollar real estate developer.

He is excited for his next project, which is a 106 unit apartment building in Rutland, slated to start early next year. It will be the largest project for Lakeview Homes to date. He is a true believer in building quality living spaces to give homebuyers confidence and satisfaction for their families.

Dhaliwal has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Lakehead University in Thunder Bay. One achievement he is particularly proud of is his building of a gazebo at Zetter Care Centre in Edmonton. He did this to give seniors in the care facility shade from the summer sun. Dhaliwal took on the project to honour his grandfather, Sukhdev Singh Dhaliwal. He thought it would be a sincere tribute to his grandfather’s family legacy.

Who has Kamloops’ best pie?
Tim Petruk - 9:33 am - Biz Releases

Photo: Pexels

The North Shore Business Improvement Association wants to crown Kamloops’ pizza champion.

The NSBIA is holding a pizza eating contest on July 24 at Brocklehurst Park as part of Overlanders Day.

Kids and adults can compete for pizza glory. The contest will be sponsored by Papa John’s.

Overlanders Day will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The pizza eating contest will take place at noon.

To register or for more information, email [email protected].

2900 Plaza takes shape
Jon Manchester - 8:46 am - Biz Releases

Photo: Jon Manchester

Closure of the 2900 block of 30th Avenue in downtown Vernon began this morning.

City of Vernon crews are placing barriers, concrete planters and picnic tables on the street as it transforms into 2900 Plaza for the summer.

The one-block section will be closed to vehicles until after the Labour Day long weekend, and the Downtown Vernon Association has a long list of events and entertainment set up to entice the public.

Setup will continue for the next couple of days, and noon-hour entertainment will begin on Thursday.

There will also be evening entertainment on Thursdays, as the Downtown Sounds series of concerts keeps the party going. Performers begin at 6 p.m.

Watch for activities, games and more throughout July and August.

DJ Lunchboxx will be spinning tunes on Friday nights, starting at 5 p.m.

This coming Saturday, most of 30th Avenue will be closed for the Sun Valley Cruise-In downtown car show, from 4 to 8 p.m. There will be live music on the Plaza, with the Silverbacks starting at 5 p.m.

Bernie’s now serving customers
Rob Gibson - 7:54 am - Biz Releases

Photo: Rob Gibson

One of the oldest pubs in Kelowna has reopened after being shut down for renovations for almost five months.

Bernie’s Supper Club and Cinema, formerly Doc Willoughby’s, opened on Canada Day.

The new restaurant and bar has been totally redesigned and updated, and now includes space for twice as many patrons as the old design.

The former Doc Willoughby’s was purchased by Kyle and Carolyn Nixon, who also own BNA and Skinny Duke’s. A spokesperson for Nixon Hospitality, Jill Jarrett, told Castanet they have been working hard to get the place ready to open.

“We’ve done a couple of invite-only soft opens to test things out on friends and family, and are hoping to open to the public by Thursday,” Jarrett said last week.

The freshly renovated space was bustling with customers over Canada Day.

At this point there are no plans for a grand opening until the cinema opens, which is still a few weeks away. Supply chain delays have set the cinema project back by several weeks.

Jarrett said it has taken a ton of work to get to this point but they are excited to share their newest project with the public.

“There’s a lot of Spanish Italian influences and a fairly eclectic menu,” she said.

The vibe of the new location is described as “sort of a Southern California style,” Jarrett said. “It’ll just be this really open, welcoming space.”

Kelowna becoming commercial hub
Kirk Penton - Jun 30, 2022 - Columnists

Image: Contributed

By Terese Cairns

Canada’s real estate market is sustaining continued momentum following more than two years of a global crisis. The economy has staged a strong recovery, and real GDP returned to pre-pandemic levels earlier than anticipated. Commercial activity, in particular, has revived with Canadians keen to return to restaurants, retail spaces and, gradually, offices.

Photo: LinkedIn
Terese Cairns

A surge in commercial real estate activity has been seen in Kelowna as businesses and individuals relocate to the city. This trend has been evident for years. Statistics Canada census data released earlier this year zeroed in on the fact. Kelowna, the largest municipality in the B.C. Interior, emerged as the fastest-growing metropolitan area in Canada—its population increasing to 222,162 in 2021, up from 194,892 in 2016.

Kelowna’s rapid growth, affordability over other markets and lifestyle factors have helped it secure its position as one of Canada’s primary commercial real estate markets.

The industrial landscape and supply 

Kelowna’s industrial marketplace remained strong during the pandemic. Its industrial vacancy rate in April 2021 was among the lowest in Canada at 0.5%, weighing in at the same level as the Greater Toronto Area at the time. In terms of leasing in Kelowna versus other Canadian cities, rates are connected to the year the building was constructed.

Comparing last year’s vacancy rates with those of the first quarter of this year reinforces Kelowna’s position as a popular choice for industrial real estate. In the Greater Vancouver Area, the office vacancy rate sat at 5.9%, while industrial vacancy reached a record low of 0.4%, according to a National Market Snapshot. Toronto’s industrial vacancy rate emerged at 0.4% and its office vacancy rate higher at 9.2%.

One of the largest industrial transactions in Kelowna’s history recently made headlines with the acquisition of 2050 Pier Mac Way by notable Vancouver developer Beedie Group. Formerly a gravel pit, the site covers 14.7 acres and is strategically located directly across Highway 97 from Kelowna International Airport.

Geographical limitations and a plethora of ALR-zoned properties in the Okanagan pose physical constraints on the amount of land that can be used for industrial sites. For that reason, space will always remain in short supply—a factor leading some businesses to move to markets outside the city.

A hot spot for hotels in the Okanagan

A decade ago, Kelowna was considered a secondary market, dwarfed by the primary markets of Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary. The city’s new thrust for development in the downtown core is promoting more high-rise and multifamily projects. That said, we are seeing a lot of interest from larger hotel chains wanting to enter the city due to a resurgence in activity.

In 2021, approximately 30 hotels in Canada were acquired for conversion to alternate uses, equating to more than 2,400 rooms, as stated in a recent 2022 Canadian Hotel Investment Report. A trend we are seeing is that businesses are buying smaller hotels with great locations for land use purposes. A popular range for hotel sites is under $5 million. Buyers will either repurpose the hotel or tear it down if it is functionally obsolete.

At faithwilson Christie’s International Real Estate, the commercial market is mirroring the residential market in terms of demand. As Kelowna is still more affordable than other primary markets, smaller commercial investors who self-manage their portfolios are taking advantage of the lifestyle opportunity offered here to relocate to be closer to their investments.

Commerce and office space use 

The Okanagan’s thriving tech sector is making a significant impact; it has contributed $1.67 billion to the economy, per Accelerate Okanagan. Although there is not a substantial amount of office inventory in Kelowna, the demand for space is high. There is also a greater interest in flexible spaces, adaptable for hybrid working environments—something we expect to see more of moving forward.

In terms of commercial trends in the Okanagan, numerous new cannabis businesses are popping up in the market. Additionally, the food and beverage landscape is growing rapidly with the opening of King Taps Lakeside on Water Street, Hooligans Ales and Eats on Bernard Avenue, and notable winery proprietor Jason Parkes of the Hatch opening The Hatching Post smokehouse on Boucherie Road and also the new rooftop dining lounge, Angel Share, above Crown and Thieves Winery. Previously, it was most commonly companies from Vancouver and Alberta entering the B.C. Interior market, but we are now seeing more investment from locals who believe in the area and entrepreneurs from across Canada.

Kelowna has already carved out its rightful place as a primary commercial real estate market in Canada; with the city projected for future growth, we anticipate more significant updates and listings for industrial, office and retail.

Terese Cairns is a hotel division commercial and investment broker at faithwilson Christie’s International Real Estate

Abougoush sells Boyd shops
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jun 30, 2022 - Biz Releases

Photo: Contributed

Abougoush Collision, which owned and operated five Boyd Autobody & Glass locations in the Thompson Okanagan, is in new hands after owner Methal Abougoush decided recently to move on to retired life.

Lift Auto Group, which is part of the CSN Collision Centres Network, purchased the group of repair shops, bringing its total to 29 overall and nine in the B.C. Interior. All the shops are operated as CSN Collision Centres. The five Boyd locations that were sold included two in Kelowna, and one each in West Kelowna, Penticton and Merritt.

“It has been an honour to serve this great community over the years, and I am thankful for the support they have given me,” Abougoush said in a press release. “I am happy to have found a company like Lift Auto Group that I can transfer my team to and that is aligned with my business principles and practices.”

Abougoush used his business to give back substantially to the community, most notably the annual Father’s Day car show that raised money for Okanagan charities. Lift said it remains committed to “continuing the positive legacy” created by Abougoush.

Boyd employees will continue to work for Lift Auto Group, which will be able to provide them with additional resources and support from its network of professionals.

“For decades, Abougoush Collision has been a hallmark of collision repair in the Okanagan, a result of the hard work and dedication of its former owner, Methal Abougoush, and his team,” Lift Auto Group president and CEO Mark Reineking said.

“The addition of these locations furthers our goal of being the leading collision repair provider in Canada and aligns with Lift’s vision of being at the forefront of the industry through understanding its customers, investing in its people and embracing technology to deliver a best-in-class experience.”

Top 40: Charlene Ronquillo
Contributed - Jun 30, 2022 - People in Business

Photo: Contributed

Okanagan Edge and Kelowna Chamber of Commerce are partnering to showcase some of the region’s most exciting entrepreneurs through the “Top 40 Under 40” program.

Sponsored by BDO, the “Top 40 Under 40” recognizes high-achieving professionals in our community and showcases their accomplishments. This marks the eighth year the chamber has conducted a “Top 40” showcase. Honourees will be featured throughout the year on Okanagan Edge.


Charlene Ronquillo is an experienced registered nurse and currently an assistant professor at UBC Okanagan with a research program focused on health equity and health technologies.

Ronquillo’s nursing, professional and research training has taken her from McGill University, through UBC, Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health Authorities, University of the West of England, University of Exeter in the U.K., Ryerson University and now to UBCO.

In the short time she has been in the Central Okanagan, she’s already forged partnerships focused on health technology innovations with colleagues at Interior Health Authority and researchers with a focus on rural health equity. The Rural Health Equity through Social Enterprise and Technology Systems (RHE-SETS) is funded by the UBCO Eminence Program. In the coming years her close collaboration with these groups will bring to the Central Okanagan cutting edge research to support the development of inclusive technologies and innovations to serve the unique needs of the Central Okanagan and rural communities in the Interior and support the routine inclusion of equity in the development of artificial intelligence technologies in the region.

Her growth as a leader continues to develop, informed by her professional and academic experiences as she takes on more leadership roles. Her role as a nurse research facilitator for the Fraser Health Authority from 2011 to 2013 was her first substantial leadership role. There she was responsible for promoting nursing research skill building and facilitating knowledge translation, targeting more than 8,000 nurses in the health region. This experience provided invaluable information about the nature of leadership, the importance of proactivity and relationship building, as well as awareness of contexts and structural factors at play.

Ronquillo’s diverse academic training has further strengthened her leadership skills and enabled her to step into influential leadership roles. She has founded two internationally influential groups: the International Medical Informatics Association Student and Emerging Professionals group, which she currently chairs, and the Nursing and AI Leadership Collaborative. The influence of these groups is evidenced by invitations to spearhead important events and efforts.

Ronquillo is ensuring the work and research she is conducting in the Central Okanagan and Interior are done in meaningful partnership with key stakeholders. As she is new to the region, she focuses first on connecting with health authority stakeholders. This is helpful, as future work will increasingly involve connections with communities. Ronquillo looks forward to identifying and working towards shared goals with community members and continued advocacy for the routine inclusion of equity in the development of health technologies.

She holds a PhD from UBC. Her special interest group was awarded the IMIA Working Group of the Year Award in 2019 and 2020 when she was vice-chair. She was also invited to co-lead the development of the position statement on AI in nursing for the International Council of Nurses, which is the global voice for nursing.

Vernon support mission begins
Jon Manchester - Jun 30, 2022 - Biz Releases

Photo: Contributed

Your mission, should you choose to accept it: shop local.

And this message will not self-destruct in 10 seconds for fans of the Mission Impossible franchise.

This mission is entirely possible.

Yes, the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce’s Mission Possible promotion is back in support of local tourism.

“Secret agents,” or shoppers, are urged to infiltrate Vernon’s tourism sector and show their support.

The second annual program runs from July 1 to 17.

“The inaugural Mission Possible was an overwhelming success, and we are excited to bring back a campaign that is fun, interactive and urges residents to be tourists in their own backyard,” chamber general manager Dan Proulx said in a press release.

“Much like the spies in the Mission Impossible TV show and movies, residents will use their sleuthing skills to locate ‘classified’ information at specific locations. Once that intelligence is gathered, they can enter for a fabulous prize. However, the big winner will be our community, as tourism is a significant component of our economy and tourism related businesses are rebuilding after two challenging years of the pandemic,” Proulx said.

Your mission will take you to at least one of four participating businesses: Allan Brooks Nature Centre, Davison Orchards, O’Keefe Ranch and Vernon Community Arts Centre. Once on site, find a secret code word and fill out a ballot. Participants can go to just one location or all four during the campaign, and multiple entries are encouraged.

“Once the case comes to a close July 17, the masterminds behind the caper will huddle at headquarters and draw the name of one individual, who will walk away with the Ultimate Staycation,” Proulx said.

“The pandemic revealed how supporting local builds a resilient and vibrant economy, and the goal of Mission Possible is to strengthen that trend into a movement residents embrace 365 days of the year,” Tourism Vernon manager Torrie Silverthorn said.

“And once residents become more familiar with what Vernon has to offer as a destination, they can share that information with friends and family visiting the North Okanagan. Mission Possible operatives become ambassadors for the entire community.”

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