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Spin classes spinning again
Okanagan Edge Staff - 7:37 am - Biz Releases

Photo: Contributed

A Kelowna spin studio was able to open its doors earlier this week after making itself COVID-19 compliant.

B Indoor Cycle & Strength Studio, which is located in Lower Mission, is running its spin classes with just 15 bikes spaced at least six feet apart. It is also conducting strength classes and boot camps with six people at their own stations.

“As a young, independently owned business, we definitely took a huge hit during the closure,” owner Britney B said in a press release. “We offered online classes and virtual personal training throughout the quarantine but are grateful that the circumstances have allowed us to re-open, even at a reduced capacity.

“We have carefully gone through and applied all of the government regulations and Interior Health recommendations to allow us to safely bring our members back in for both spin classes as well as strength classes.”

If you’re not completely comfortable working out around strangers yet, B Indoor is also offering semi-private training sessions during which a member can join two people for a three-person training session.

Big White wheeling, dealing
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jun 03, 2020 - Biz Releases

Photo: Contributed

Big White Ski Resort had to end its season early due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is trying to do everything in its power to bring skiers and snowboarders back to the mountain in droves this fall.

The ski resort, which is located 60 kilometres southeast of Kelowna, is offering up to 25% off on accommodations from opening day to Dec. 17. Guests must stay for a minimum of two nights, but the resort’s budget rooms will be available for only $98 per day.

The promotion comes with the resort’s snow guarantee, which means if it is unable to operate at least one high-speed lift due to a lack of snow you can change your accommodation package to another date or cancel with no penalty.

Big White is also making itself COVID-19 compliant, which includes incorporating a 24-hour break between room bookings to ensure their cleanliness.

Last week the resort announced a 20% rebate on next year’s passes for pass holders who had their 2019-20 season cut short due to the pandemic.

Flair back flying into YLW
Jon Manchester - Jun 03, 2020 - Biz Releases

Photo: Contributed

Flair Airlines is resuming service to Kelowna and Winnipeg, the airline announced this morning.

The airline previously resumed flights serving Toronto, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver after shutting down due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Flair said in a press release it also made “the difficult decision” to delay the launch of service into Ottawa and Atlantic Canada due to continued travel restrictions.

The airline said it will offer full refunds for passengers booked on cancelled flights to the affected destinations, which include Ottawa, Halifax, Saint John, N.B., and Charlottetown.

“Due to the current provincial travel restrictions and quarantine requirements, we feel this is the best balance right now for both the provinces, and for Flair as a business,” vice-president of customer experience and airports John Mullins said.

“Safety comes first for Flair, and our customers are our priority.”

The airline said Atlantic Canada remains a priority, and the company will look to return to those destinations soon.

“This is only temporary,” Mullins said. “We look forward to providing more choice to our customers for their travel needs. We will be there for Ottawa and Atlantic Canada as soon as everyone is ready for our arrival.”

Passengers already booked on flights to the affected destinations will be contacted through email with instructions on how to receive refunds.

If customers require support, they are asked to contact Flair at 1-800-441-7214. Information on affected flights can also be found at https://flyflair.com/rerouting-passengers.

Support Local BC expands
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jun 03, 2020 - Biz Releases

Photo: Contributed

BC Economic Development Association and FortisBC have teamed up to expand a support program for provincial small businesses suffering through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Support Local BC is an online platform where customers are able to buy gift certificates from businesses across the province. FortisBC has established a hotline that will make it easy for businesses to sign up for the initiative.

“We’re happy to have expanded our Greater Victoria gift certificate platform to become Support Local BC and include the amazing, local businesses throughout the province,” Think Local First managing director Michele Hamilton said in a press release. “Businesses need positive action now and our partnership with FortisBC, BCEDA, and other regional and provincial organizations is making that happen.”

Businesses can call 1-888-772-4667 to register for the program. The line is open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The Support Local BC platform launched in March, and more than $47,000 in gift certificates have been purchased.

 “While business owners are highly resilient, we want to help ensure they have the support they need to move forward during this time of uncertainty,” FortisBC communications and external relations director David Bennett said. “When businesses call the hotline, our contact centre staff will provide them with the information they need and set them up on the platform.”

Council squeezes in The Wedge
Wayne Moore - Jun 03, 2020 - Biz Releases

Photo: Contributed

Neighbours of a proposed downtown office building voiced concerns the developer was getting preferential treatment by lowering the parking requirement.

Some councillors believed reducing the cash-in-lieu of parking payment by $230,000 was not the compromise they were hoping for.

Despite objections, council voted 6-3 in favour of allowing what will be known as The Wedge to be built on a skinny piece of property at Water Street and Leon Avenue.

At issue was the fact a vehicle could not fit on the property, making on-site parking impossible, triggering the city’s cash-in-lieu policy, which would require the developer to contribute $330,000 in lieu of 10 parking spots.

After discussions with staff to find a compromise, developer Mathew Isabelle offered a cash contribution for three stalls ($99,000) while offering increased bicycle storage and end-of-route amenities such as showers and locker space.

Isabelle told council he had already secured three parking stalls at Chapman Parkade, and has his name in for seven more.

He says he would make those available to tenants of the building.

“I think pay-in-lieu as a means in an urban centre has a lot of merit because it will be an investment into another parkade, but it doesn’t necessarily meet the needs of that building in the moment,” said Coun. Brad Sieben, one of three councillors to vote no.

Sieben suggested the ideal scenario would have been for the applicant to pay the entire cash-in-lieu, while also securing the 10 parking spots.

“I can’t in good faith support this today, although I do want that site to have something. Whether a six-storey office building should be the final form there, I’m not convinced.”

Mayor Colin Basran, a strong advocate for alternate forms of getting around in the city’s urban cores, said he believed this development was ideal for downtown.

“For me, it comes down to are we building downtown for people or are we building downtown for cars,” he said.

“We know if parking is easy and abundant, there is no incentive for anyone to change their behaviour. This may make (parking downtown) a little bit harder, which means somebody will maybe make the choice to get around a little bit differently.”

Basran says that’s how the city can change people’s behaviour.

Marian Grimwood, who owns the building on Leon next to the new development, also told council she was concerned about the precedent a decision to lower the parking requirement would have.

Council did believe that risk was very low, considering the unique nature of the building.

Isabelle told council the five floors of office space would like be rented out to one business per floor or one for the entire building.

TRU laying off 80 workers
Tereza Verenca - Jun 03, 2020 - Biz Releases

Photo: Contributed

Some 80 support staff members at Thompson Rivers University will be receiving layoff notices starting this week.

The news was shared internally on Tuesday in an email written by human resources executive director Larry Phillips.

“Through agreement with CUPE, we will be giving all employees affected by layoff four months’ notice, even in those situations where less notice is required. This means employees will still be working for the next four months,” Phillips wrote.

TRU, like many other organizations and businesses in the city, has had budgetary challenges since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the memo, Phillips noted labour costs are the largest category of expense at the Kamloops university.

He says HR is exploring other possibilities to mitigate the need for layoffs, which include furloughs (temporary, unpaid leaves), job sharing and retirement options, and government programs.

“The reason we are moving ahead with layoff notices for support staff is due to the longer notice period required under the CUPE collective agreement,” he said.

Should fall enrolment and the financial picture improve, TRU would be in a position to rescind the layoff notices, he added.

“As we move forward in these conversations, I am aware that we are all under immense pressure and change,” Phillips wrote. “This is a new situation for us, and we are adapting in a way that we haven’t had to before as a university community. I am appreciative of the productive discussions, everyone’s understanding, and our shared desire to see TRU come out strong on the other side of this pandemic.”

HR will begin meeting with the impacted employees today.

Inca sets hemp course
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jun 02, 2020 - Biz Releases

Photo: Contributed

It’s been a busy few months for a Kelowna hemp company, and that included a name change.

Inca Renewable Technologies, whose headquarters are on St. Paul Street, used to be known as Inca Hemp Co. The name change “reflects the opportunity to not just supply low cost CBD from Colombia and South America, but to develop and commercialize a comprehensive portfolio of high-value and environmentally sustainable, hemp-derived products for a wide range of industrial applications,” according to the company’s quarterly report.

Inca has also added David Saltman as chairman of the board and divided its company into six verticals: bio-plastics and composites; textiles; pulp and paper; health (CBD); building materials; and food and animal feed.

Inca purchased Futura Farms in Peru and is in the process of buying 49% of Real Hemp Straw in an effort to develop low-cost hemp supply options.

Top 40: Dustin Serviss
Contributed - Jun 02, 2020 - People in Business

Photo: Contributed

Dustin Serviss studied civil engineering, completed his diploma and then moved to Alberta to work in the surveying and engineering field.

While doing this, he was also studying stock trading, real estate investing and business operations and marketing. After advancing through his positions with an engineering firm, Serviss moved back to Kelowna in 2005 and started providing financial advice to business owners.

In 2014 he founded Serviss Wealth Management, which has since won numerous awards for client service and, most importantly, having a history of successfully helping our clients hit their goals. Serviss manages a team of three internal staff and co-ordinates approximately 15 staff outside of the office. Past leadership roles have included teaching entrepreneurship seminars to both School District 23 and University of British Columbia Okanagan.

Serviss Wealth Management has conducted do-it-yourself investment seminars for non-business owners and non-high net worth families. In 2018 it focused on raising awareness around families who have experienced in-vitro fertilization struggles. Events held led to the donation of a full treatment to a Kelowna family needing the support to try to make having a family a reality. Serviss’ current volunteer efforts are around teaching finance to people who are interested but may not have a million dollars to invest.

Serviss has also provided support via the fertility community by speaking with couples who need conversations with people who have overcome the having-a-baby road block. Serviss never shies away from an opportunity to take a friend’s, client’s or colleague’s child for coffee and teach about life, money and business.

Serviss has a civil engineering diploma and currently holds three of the highest respected credentials in the financial advice industry: certified financial planner, chartered life underwriter and chartered investment manager.

Recent awards and accomplishments include:
• Top 10 Wealth Builder of the Year (2017)
• IPC Financial, 2018
• Micro Business of the Year, Kelowna Chamber of Commerce (2019)

Home sales down, prices up
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jun 02, 2020 - Biz Releases

Photo: The Canadian Press

The number of home sales in Central and North Okanagan are moving on an upward trajectory when compared to recent months, but they are nowhere near where they were a year ago thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board reported Tuesday that the number of May sales in its region, which stretches from Peachland to Revelstoke, was 446, up from 299 in April. However, that figure is down 42% from this time last year.

Prices also increased in both the Central and North Okanagan last month. OMREB’s benchmark price, which represents a dwelling with typical attributes to those traded in the area, increased 4.8% for a single-family home in Central Okanagan (to $685,900) and 3% in North Okanagan (to $487,500).

“While we are still in the midst of a global pandemic, it is encouraging to see that residential sales are moving at an upward trajectory,” OMREB president Kim Heizmann said in a press release. “We are starting to see a return to real estate activity which looks promising for the future. However, we remain cautious about predicting future outcomes as many economic factors will have impacts.

“Virtual tours and alternative technological solutions have ensured that real estate transactions can continue to transpire responsibly.”

There was a 49% increase in home listings across the region when compared to April, but the number of homes on the market is down 16% when compared to last year at this time.

Image: Contributed

Summer student money available
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jun 02, 2020 - Biz Releases

Photo: Contributed

This will be a summer unlike any other when it comes to business, but the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission is reminding companies that funds are still available to hire a student.

The COEDC has a list of five programs that offer funds for summer students, and businesses are allowed to access as many as they want to cover a student’s salary.

The programs are:

Student Work Placement Program: provides funds toward paid work experience related to post-secondary students’ field of study in both technical and non-technical programs.

Youth Employment And Skills Program (YESP): Enhancement for ages 15 to 30 in the agriculture industry.

Tech Co-op Grants Program: B.C.-based companies with fewer than 500 employees can now receive up to $20,000 per year to hire co-op students.

Innovator Skills Initiative (ISI): provides up to $10,000 a year for B.C.-based companies to hire undergrad or graduate students for tech or business roles.

The Get Youth Working! Program: offers a negotiated wage subsidy up to $2,800 and up to $1,000 in funding for short-term certificate training.

UBC Okanagan and Okanagan College also have available students through their co-op programs. The COEDC suggests hiring a co-op student for cost-effective, short-term support during the pandemic, to develop your talent pipeline for future full-time hiring and to access students from a variety of backgrounds.

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