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Penticton company strikes gold
Okanagan Edge Staff - 12:38 pm - Biz Releases

Photo: Contributed

A Penticton firm is keeping an Indonesian gold mine running with high-voltage power system technology that is now the focus of a research collaboration project.

StruthersTech was able to come in and save the day at the Martabe gold mine, which was unable to hook into the Indonesian national power utility’s new hydroelectric and geothermal generation plants in early 2016. StruthersTech ended up visiting the site, determined the issue and installed large electromagnetic coils, which were untested at the time, to correct the problem.

The owner of the mine, PT Agincourt, liked what it saw and decided to install the technology permanently. StruthersTech designed the entire system in Penticton and had the industrial computer systems assembled in a Penticton-based factory. The equipment was installed and commissioned in October 2017. The results were immediately successful, and the mine transitioned entirely to grid power within a few days.

StruthersTech said the reduction in carbon dioxide emissions is more than 100,000 tonnes per year and is comparable to taking every car in Penticton off the road.

Switching from high-cost diesel generation to lower-cost grid power has saved PT Agincourt over US$1 million a month in energy and operational costs, and the company has decided to purchase a second redundant compensator.

As for the research project at UBCO, professor Liwei Wang and Ph.D. student Yuanshi Zhang have completed a preliminary study of the technology developed by StruthersTech and have found it promising.

“The novel phase-balancing technology developed by StruthersTech has opened up a number of exciting research opportunities and potential applications in next-generation smart-grids and renewable energy projects,” Wang said. “The effectiveness of the proposed phase-balancing technology has been further proven by theoretical analysis and extensive dynamic simulations.

“I look forward to continuing this research with StruthersTech as we prepare two industry whitepapers for release in 2020.”

Keeping nurses no easy task
Okanagan Edge Staff - 10:52 am - Biz Releases

Photo: Contributed
Kathy Rush

A UBCO nursing professor has been researching ways to ensure graduating students remain in the profession long after they graduate.

Kathy Rush recently published a review that evaluated several programs that support nurses as they enter the workforce. It has been determined that between 33 and 61 per cent of nursing graduates change their place of employment or leave the profession entirely within two years of graduation.

“Evidence shows that new graduate transition programs work,” Rush said in a Q and A with UBCO. “They improve retention, increase new nurse confidence and competence in providing patient care, and reduce organizational costs. This is significant for the new graduate and for the institutions in which they work.”

Rush found staggered education is better for nursing students so they don’t have to learn everything at once and the need for quality mentors is vital.

“The quality versus the quantity of preceptor support seems to make a difference in the transition experience and quality appears to be contingent on the use of a bundle of strategies,” Rush said. “Having the new nurse and preceptor working the same shifts and sharing the same patient assignment, giving the preceptor fewer patients, keeping the ratio of preceptor to new nurses low, and providing the preceptor with training, are a few of the strategies that seem to make for a satisfying transition experience for the new nurse.”

The published review determined the following supports would be best for new nursing graduates:
• Partnerships between educational and practice institutions to facilitate newly graduated transition
• Transition programs that are grounded in transition theory
• Orientations of sufficient length with qualified, caring and trained preceptors who use several approaches to support and facilitate newly graduated progress
• Staged approaches, like staggered education and simple to complex skills acquisition, that use evidence-based components
• Healthy work environments with supportive, unit-based nursing staff

Parkade closed this weekend
Wayne Moore - 9:29 am - Biz Releases

File photo

The Chapman Parkade on Lawrence Avenue in Kelowna will be closed to all traffic this weekend.

The parkade will be closed from 6 p.m. Friday until 6 a.m. Monday for ongoing maintenance.

The project, expected to take up to five months, will require some partial and full closures during that time.

Motorists are asked to ensure vehicles are removed from the parkade prior to 6 p.m. Friday.

Residents and visitors are encouraged to use other downtown parking lots and parkades as well as choose other ways to get downtown such as by biking, walking, carpooling or transit.

Most city-owned, off-street parking lots, as well as the library and Memorial parkades, offer no-charge parking on evenings after 6 p.m., weekends and statutory holidays.

Kin Race Track comes down
Darren Handschuh - 8:36 am - Biz Releases

History is being taken down piece by piece as crews dismantle buildings at the Kin Race Track site.

Crews have been removing large trees and stripping some of the buildings as work begins on clearing all of the buildings from the site.

The buildings on the decades-old facility were in such poor shape city officials felt the only option was to demolish them. Vernon CAO Will Pearce said everything on site will be removed.

“The only thing we would leave are the ball diamonds, of course, because we still use those. We would essentially take it back to a green field site,” said Pearce, adding the public consultation process of what to do with the land will begin in the fall.

Earlier this year, Vernon Mayor Victor Cumming said every session he has been involved in, or read about over the past decade, is to use the land for parks and recreation facilities linked to Kal Tire Place.

“I think it would be a tremendous recreation area for the city and the regional district,” he said.

Cumming said the location would also make it ideal for a large sporting facility as it is close to amenities and accommodations.

The track sat idle for many years while the city and the Okanagn Equestrian Society battled it out in court as to just which body was entitled to the prime piece of real estate.

Earlier this year, a judge ruled in favour of the city. The society was contemplating appealing the decision, but in the end officials with the society said it could not afford another prolonged court battle.

In his ruling, Justice Michael Tammen said he shares the “view that if Kin Park is presently an eyesore, such is deplorable. However, I am unable and unwilling to apportion responsibility or blame for that sad state of affairs. Obviously, the majority of the issues among the parties which I have decided could and likely should have been adjudicated years ago.

“I do not know why this case took more than ten years to get to trial. Hopefully, with this judgment, the defendants can commence to make better use of the land. I dismiss the action. The defendants are entitled to their costs.”

Beware of Hydro scam
Nicholas Johansen - 6:19 am - Biz Releases

A West Kelowna man narrowly avoided losing a whole bunch of money to a BC Hydro scam Tuesday.

Dan Streifel received a phone call Tuesday morning from a recording claiming to be from BC Hydro, threatening to disconnect the power to his West Kelowna Budget Brake & Muffler shop within 45 minutes if he didn’t pay up.

The recording said he would have to pay his bill at the BC Hydro head office or deposit cash into a Bitcoin ATM in Kelowna.

Streifel says he couldn’t remember the last time he had paid his BC Hydro bill.

“So I phone back the number and it does the same thing as BC Hydro, same thing. Press nine for this, press one and then you talk to somebody and they give you somebody else,” Streifel said. “These guys are good.”

Convinced that he needed to pay, and quickly, Streifel closed up shop and headed to the Bitcoin ATM at Mike’s Produce on the corner of Gordon Drive and Guisachan Road. He had been told to input a pin number into the machine and deposit the cash.

Luckily for Streifel, the store’s manager recognized what was going on.

“When I got down to the store in Kelowna, the manager came out because they saw I was in a hurry to do stuff and they said ‘That’s a scam. BC Hydro wouldn’t do that,’” Streifel said, adding that the employees at the store had seen others using the ATM who had fallen for the scam.

“We never collect credit card or bank account over the phone, by email or by text and we don’t accept payment from prepaid cash or credit card or Bitcoin,” said BC Hydro‘s Mary Anne Coules.

She says if anyone is ever suspicious of who they’re talking to, they should hang up and call the real BC Hydro number at 1-800-BC-HYDRO.

Coules says they’ve received about 6,000 reports of BC Hydro customers being contacted by scammers since 2014, and more than 2,000 of those reports were from 2018. She says the problem has been reported across the province, but Vernon has been one of the most targeted cities.

Streifel says he wants others to be aware of the scam before they fall victim to it.

“I’m an old guy but there’s someone out there that’s a little bit more senile than me and they’re going to get hit on this thing,” Streifel said.

Slackwater Brewing is born
Colin Dacre - Jun 19, 2019 - Biz Releases

Penticton’s newest brewery is officially open.

Slackwater Brewing opened Wednesday after a six-month renovation at the former Mule Nightclub at 218 Martin St.

The brewery held a soft open last weekend involving family and friends before closing for a couple days to regroup but will be open seven days a week going forward.

“We’re so incredibly proud to be a permanent fixture in this community, one that has really inspired myself and our entire team—all of whom have earned the high fives and handshakes they’re now getting after the effort it took to get this space opened up,” co-founder Liam Peyton said.

The brewery’s licensed capacity is 248, including the sidewalk patio. Upstairs features a rooftop patio as well as a parlour games lounge, dining room and private dining room.

Brewmaster Chris Vandenberg comes to Slackwater from Powell Street and Postmark Brewing.

On tap is eight Slackwater brews and four guest taps, which will be complemented by food from executive chef Ben Overland.

“We weren’t sure as to how a counter-service operation of this scale would work but it seemed to be well received and added to the casual ambiance of the room,” Peyton said.

Slackwater will operate 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. daily, and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. The ground floor taproom is family-friendly until 8 p.m. with a kids menu.

‘Quality accommodation’ wanted
Colin Dacre - Jun 19, 2019 - Biz Releases

File photo

Penticton is in need of more “quality accommodation” to deal with an increasingly fickle tourist, according to Travel Penticton.

Before council Tuesday for a quarterly update, Travel Penticton executive director Thom Tischik made the comments.

“Every community that wants to survive in tourism need quality accommodation,” he said. “The public is far more discerning and far more dangerous than ever before because they can report immediately their likes and dislikes.”

Tischik noted travellers are much more likely to share negative experiences online.

While work is underway on a new 95-room Marriott Hotel at the old bingo hall site, Tischik said the city’s overall room-count is actually just recovering after losing rooms in recent years.

Data collected through the provincial government’s MRDT shows 39 active properties collecting the hotel tax in 2018, up from a number that’s hovered between 34 and 37 in years dating back to 2010.

Tischik pointed to Vernon as a community that has much more new accommodation “in an area of town that isn’t all that attractive,” compared to Penticton’s unique between-two-lakes setting.

“We need to foster that kind of activity if possible,” he added.

No need to disclose death
Bill Hubbard - Jun 19, 2019 - Columnists

Photo: The Canadian Press

There was a court case recently that clarifies the law on whether or not a violent death needs to be disclosed when selling a home.

A B.C. Court of Appeal decision overturned a previous verdict that stated a violent death needs to be disclosed by the seller and the seller’s Realtor. The court found that they did not want to decide where the line is with stigmatized properties. What if there was a divorce or abuse in the house? Does that need to be disclosed?

The seller or the seller’s Realtor cannot lie when specific questions are asked, but they do not have to volunteer the information.

This is another item in a very long list of reasons why it is important to use a well-trained, professional Realtor to handle your real estate needs—someone who has the training to know what specific questions to ask.

(This commentary is not intended to be legal advice, and opinions should be clarified by a lawyer before reliance.)

Bill Hubbard is a real estate broker and the owner and broker of a four-office real estate firm in the Okanagan-Shuswap. He has been in real estate for 28 years and has been an owner and broker in Vernon for 20 years. At almost 60 years old he is just as passionate about real estate as the day he started.

True Leaf hires Petco star
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jun 19, 2019 - People in Business

Photo: Contributed

True Leaf Brands has hired Allen Fujimoto as True Leaf Pet’s senior vice-president of operations.

Fujimoto has more than 25 years of experience leading complex business transformations for global, billion-dollar companies. He most recently served as transformation vice-president for Petco, where he is credited with improving profitability through assortment and supplier optimization.

Fujimoto’s primary role at True Leaf Pet, whose home is in Vernon, will be to design, to implement and to optimize the company’s supply chain network and processes as the company expands its product offerings.

“Allen has deep retail, pet, industrial, and consumer goods industry experience with an impressive track record improving supply chain efficiencies that accelerate business growth,” True Leaf founder and CEO Darcy Bomford said in a press release.

“We are confident his vast process improvement and analytics expertise will be invaluable as True Leaf continues to grow globally, including our further expansion into Europe and Asia.”

Cultural centre cash call coming
Darren Handschuh - Jun 19, 2019 - Biz Releases

Image: Contributed

The people said they wanted it. Now officials just have to come up with the money to build it.

Greater Vernon residents agreed last October to borrow up to $25 million for a cultural centre, but completion of the $40 million project will depend on government grants and fundraising.

So senior government is being lobbied to support a new cultural centre that would house the museum and art gallery.

The Regional District of North Okanagan’s Greater Vernon Advisory Committee hopes to meet with arts and culture minister Lisa Beare about grants to construct the multi-purpose facility.

“If you don’t ask (for funds), you don’t get,” GVAC chairperson Akbal Mund said.

It’s hoped a meeting with Beare could occur within the next month, and her awareness of the community’s desire for a cultural centre will result in provincial support.

“Face to face is critical,” Vernon director Victor Cumming said of establishing relationships with senior government.

Representatives from the Vernon Public Art Gallery recently went to Ottawa to pursue federal grant opportunities for the centre.

And while officials look for the money to build the facility, work is carrying on behind the scenes.

The RDNO will hire a project manager to support and organize the work associated with the business plan development and the project moving forward.

“This will start to connect the consultants,” RDNO’s community services manager Tannis Nelson said.

GVAC supports the current planning approach, but there are some questions about the process.

“What I’m looking for is a timeline. Where do we need to be? Are we behind or are we proceeding?” Mund said.

Cumming believes there is a need to look at the square footage for the building and the construction cost per square foot.

“We don’t know the difference between what people will pay for and what’s on a Christmas list,” he said. “I would encourage us to be really flexible as we move forward.”

– with files from Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce

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