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Taxi company eyes Oliver
Colin Dacre - 9:03 am - Biz Releases

Photo: CTV News

Taxi service in Oliver and Osoyoos could improve considerably in the near future with a new company eying the communities.

Penticton taxi operator Kulvir Panaich has proposed to put four new vehicles on the road between the two municipalities—three hybrids and one wheelchair-accessible van.

The Town of Oliver has been without a dedicated taxi operator since 2010 when the town pulled Oliver Taxi’s business license over complaints of drinking and driving.

Since then, Osoyoos taxi has served the community with its fleet of five vehicles.

Panaich is before Osoyoos council Monday to request a letter of support from the town in his application before the B.C. Passenger Transportation Board.

“More taxis will result in quicker responses for residents and if Mr. Panaich provides this in an eco-friendly and accessible-friendly way it would be a benefit to the community,” director of corporate services Janette Van Vianen said in her report to council.

The new company would bring the first wheelchair accessible taxi van to the two communities.

SilverStar ramps it up
Darren Handschuh - Dec 15 - Biz Releases

Photo: Contributed

Powder hounds were lined up Saturday morning to get a crack at the fresh snow on some newly opened runs at SilverStar Mountain Resort.

SilverStar opened the backside of the mountain today to the delight of some 200 people who were lined up to hit the slopes.

The annual ‘ribbon drop’ took place at Bergerstrasse Gate to officially open Putnam Creek and the Powder Gulch chairlift and Home Run tee lift.

The opening of the backside means an additional 40 runs will be available for snow lovers.

Lake Country finalists named
Okanagan Edge Staff - Dec 14 - Biz Releases

Photo: Contributed
Grillers Meats is a finalist for business of the year (fewer than 10 employees).

Lake Country Chamber of Commerce has named the three finalists in each category of its 2018 Business Excellence Awards.

There are 15 categories in which the top prize will be up for grabs, including business of the year for those with fewer than 10 employees and for those with 10 or more.

The awards gala will be held on Feb. 22 at the Four Points by Sheraton in Kelowna. Tickets for the event will go on sale in January.

Here is the list of finalists for each award:

Rising Star Award
Beach Bum Tours
Invati Yoga & Wellness
Quaint Hair Design

Tourism Excellence Award
Intrigue Wines
Oyama Zipline Adventure Park
Wood Lake RV Park and Marina

Business of the Year (fewer than 10 employees)
Grillers Meats
Lake Country Coffee House
Olive Us Oil and Vinegar Tasting Room

Community Service Award
Lake Country Fire Department
Lake Country Health Planning Society
Lake Country Rail Trail

Young Entrepreneur
Brittany Friedrich-Matheson (Salty Caramel Kitchen)
Rhea McNicol (Lake Country Tan)
Savana Bennett (Odette’s Skin Care and Laser Treatments)

Business of the Year (more than 10 employees)
Beelineweb.com
Interior Savings
Save On Foods

Health Service Provider of the Year
A Place for Yoga
Lake Country Family Dentistry
Lake Country Optometry

Home Based Business of the Year
BB Hair and Nails
Memory Blocks
Turtle Bay IT

People’s Choice Award
Crave Fitness
Nalu Massage Therapy and Wellness
Neon Counselling

Family Farm Award
Gambell Farms
Rose Family Orchard
Sproule and Sons Farm

Volunteer of the Year
Anne Leistner
Maggie Gareau
Shannon Paul-Jost

Professional Service Award
D. Oscar Barnes
Interior Savings
OKWebDesign

Business Leader of the Year
Anne Heenan (Turtle Bay Pub)
Courtney Mueller (Nalu Massage Therapy and Wellness)
Kelly Craig (Invati Yoga & Wellness)

Hospitality Award of the Year
50th Parallel Restaurant
L’Isola Bella Bistro
Wooden Nickel Cafe

Trade Service Provider Award
Gibson Contracting
Kapiti Built
Okanagan Electrical

Sign battle not over
Kirk Penton - Dec 14 - Biz Releases

Photo: Contributed

The man who owns Kelowna’s largest sign rental shop is hoping he can convince city council to re-think its new portable sign bylaw proposal.

Otherwise, he feels his business will slowly but surely perish.

The first reading of the city’s new portable sign bylaws was held Monday, and the increases on rental rates made Okanagan Portable Signs owner Brad Buchanan nearly spit out his coffee.

“I was shocked,” Buchanan said. “It is ridiculous and completely unfair.”

Under the new fee structure, applicants would pay $75 for signs erected for 30 days or less, $175 for those up 31 to 60 days and $350 for signs placed from 61 to 90 days. It’s not a deal if you choose the longest stretch of time, which is the city’s attempt the limit the number of signs that dot the city’s landscape. Currently, it costs $30 for one month, $40 for two and $50 for three.

The sign issue has been ongoing for a while, initiated by former city manager Ron Mattiussi’s dislike for the look of the signs that dotted Harvey Avenue and elsewhere. At first the city was going to ban the signs completely, and then it was going to restrict the colours of the sign letters. Ultimately, it was decided earlier this year that everything would stay mostly the same, with changes to only the fees and some bylaw wording.

Then came this week’s news that broadsided Buchanan.

“I was led to believe through the whole process they were going to be reasonable increases along with everything else that’s going up,” Buchanan said.

Buchanan admitted he has a huge stake in what happens, given it puts food on his table, but he is also concerned about the small businesses that use portable signs.

“There’s a lot of small business that this is their only form of advertising,” he said. “They don’t advertise on Castanet, on banner ads, on TV, newspaper or radio.”

He also doesn’t believe the signs are ugly.

“They’re certainly not ugly to the small business guy who sells out of halibut,” he said, “but they could be visually displeasing to somebody else.”

Buchanan is also disturbed by council’s plan to hire a bylaw officer to enforce any new portable sign bylaws, claiming the city has received four complaints about the issue in the last four years. He doesn’t like the idea of a new bylaw officer both as a sign rental shop owner and as a Kelowna taxpayer.

“My next step is that I’m going to try to mobilize my business community, and we will be in opposition of the rate increases, but probably even more in opposition of spending a hundred grand around a bylaw officer to look at something that I consider to be a non-issue,” he said.

Joys of shopping locally
Contributed - Dec 14 - Biz Releases

Photo: The Canadian Press

By Milton Friesen
Troy Media

Chances are you’ve seen or heard some sort of promotion about the value of shopping local, especially with so many of us in gift-buying mode now. Business improvement areas, chambers of commerce and other organizations tell us when we buy from shops near home, we’re voting for our community.

The logic is generally sound, but our habits don’t change so easily.

My work (and natural inclination) means I spend a lot of time in and around books. I use libraries extensively, but I buy books, too. In that case, it’s easiest just to order them online. You get exactly what you want delivered right to you.

So imagine you hear about Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s newest title Antifragile and you decide you want to read a diplomacy-free account of how most of the world is wrong.

You may stop by a couple of local bookstores to see if they have it. Often, they don’t because they couldn’t possibly stock all the wildly different titles you might request. You end up ordering the book online—or, if you’re really committed, you order it through the store and come back later to get it.

Those extra steps have meant a real decline in local bookstores over the last decade. Most of us skip checking with a local bookstore.

If we really want to make shopping local the norm, the challenge is clear. We need less transaction efficiency thinking and more enjoyment efficiency thinking. The appeal must be to our enjoyment, the pleasure of a different scenario driven by an older cultural liturgy.

Imagine that you visit your local bookstore, owned and operated by someone who shares your love of books—something you know because you have gone there many times and engaged in a human exchange with the owner, a common practice called a ‘conversation’ (ask someone born before 1990 about it).

You come in asking for the new Taleb. Though the store doesn’t have it, the owner knows you well enough to suggest several other in-stock titles along that science and culture line.

Because you’ve bought many books from the shopkeeper before and trust her sense of things, you sort through the options and end up with Aaron Tucker’s novel, Y: Oppenheimer, Horseman of Los Alamos, about J. Robert Oppenheimer’s thought life while developing the atomic bomb. No waiting or coming back or ordering.

Of course, you could’ve just ordered Taleb or done it on your phone while standing in the store. But instead, a much more enriched human nudge provided a unique option.

This is a different logic, a different cultural liturgy. It’s more than a ‘shop local’ slogan and doesn’t appeal to the low motivational power of guilt. Rather than having just what we want when we want it, we accept a limit in exchange for an insight offered through another person.

Buying what a bookstore has, mediated through a knowledgeable bookstore keeper, is like being a locavore—eating what your area provides. You learn to appreciate how you can sustain yourself within a certain range, whether culinary or literary, and realize how much is available nearby.

If we want to see shopping local take deeper root, we need to accept some limitations as a gift—increasing our enjoyment of life by limiting our choice to what our street, community or neighbourhood provides.

It isn’t about policing our neighbours if a courier pulls up and drops off an Amazon parcel. Rather, we can enlarge our pathways to include the pleasure of the shops, the meetings and the passing conversations that exist around us. Many such places have disappeared, but you can usually find some form of them around.

Consider this bit of recent good news from the American Booksellers Association: many local bookstores are growing and some are booming. Our appetite for the pleasure of discovering is kicking back in.

For all the local businesses you’ll walk (or likely drive) past this Christmas, perhaps you’ll consider what it might be like to become a regular in a shop that may yet have the power to surprise and delight.

Milton Friesen directs the Social Cities Program at the think-tank Cardus.

Events Centre paid off
Colin Dacre - Dec 14 - Biz Releases

Photo: Contributed
(L to R): Municipal Finance Authority CAO Peter Urbanc, councillor Katie Robinson, former director of corporate services/CFO Jack Kler, Mayor John Vassilaki, councillor Jake Kimberley and councillor Frank Regehr.

The City of Penticton has now fully paid off the mortgage for the South Okanagan Events Centre.

Completed in 2008 at a total cost of $81.2 million, the SOEC was funded by a $39.2 million loan from the Municipal Finance Authority of British Columbia, in addition to $22.5 million from the provincial government, $13.9 million from city reserves and $5.6 million from other sources.

As of the end of 2018, all debt related to the construction of the SOEC building and $7 million to relocate the Queens Park fields has now been retired.

“The successful completion of a project of this scale and magnitude for a community of 33,000 people was a notable achievement when the South Okanagan Events Centre opened,” Penticton Mayor John Vassilaki said. “That achievement has continued forward to today thanks to prudent financial planning that enabled the construction of the SOEC to be paid in full only ten years later.”

A study earlier this year found the facility generated about $10.2 million in spending by event participants. While the number of events held at the SOEC has grown steadily to 245 in 2017, the complex continues to operate at a loss that’s floated a little over $1 million for the past few years and requires subsidization.

“The South Okanagan Events Centre has become an economic driver for Penticton, and now its construction has been paid for,” city councillor Jake Kimberley said.  “This is a great Christmas present for our community.”

COHA will forge ahead
Nicholas Johansen - Dec 14 - Biz Releases

The current executive director of the Central Okanagan Hospice Association says new measures have been put in place after the woman who held her position for six years allegedly stole more than $100,000 from the charity, before doing the same in Nanaimo.

Susan Steen has been charged with stealing $109,000 from COHA from July 2012 to April 2016 before she was hired by the Nanaimo Community Hospice Society in December 2016. That organization began noticing “irregularities” and fired her in June 2017. She has since pleaded guilty to stealing $6,000 from the Vancouver Island organization.

Natasha Girard, who took over the executive director position at COHA in September 2016, says they now conduct a full audit of their finances every year. Prior to 2016, the organization held annual review audits of their financial records, which were less exhaustive.

“I think what’s really important is COHA is the victim here,” Girard said. “This has happened to an organization that does very, very impactful work.”

COHA has provided free services and programs to people who are dying or grieving in the community since 1981.

The theft at the Nanaimo organization and alleged theft in Kelowna were discovered around the same time.

Paul Sibley, the current executive director of the Nanaimo Community Hospice Society, said Steen had been making cash withdrawals with the organization’s credit card at a casino.

“It was clear in retrospect looking at it that it’s someone who has a problem. If you’re using your company credit card in a casino for personal use, no organization would ever authorize that obviously,” Sibley said, adding Steen would have known the stolen funds would eventually be discovered.

“If you have someone in your midst who’s highly committed to stealing, they’re going to steal. The issue is, do you have the controls in place where you can catch it and mitigate the loss.”

Matt August, a director of COHA, said a gambling addiction is no excuse for stealing from a charitable organization.

“It doesn’t make it OK because you have an addiction to something,” August said.

August joined COHA’s board of directors after watching the organization take care of his dying uncle and his grieving family in 2015.

“The volunteers were able to make the worst part of life manageable,” August said, quoting his cousin. “I’m on the board because of it. I’m on the board because of what they do in the city.”

COHA fundraises 92 per cent of its annual budget.

“We rely heavily on our community and our donors. We do need their help and we ask for our community’s continued trust,” Girard said.

Steen will be sentenced for the Nanaimo theft next week. The Kelowna charges were laid in November 2018, and on Tuesday Steen and her co-accused, former COHA office manager Melanie Gray, told the court they have yet to secure lawyers.

District slows down on pot
Darren Handschuh - Dec 14 - Biz Releases

Photo: Contributed

Regional district officials have put the brakes on a proposed cannabis facility and a new cannabis bylaw in the Lumby and Cherryville areas.

Regional District of North Okanagan chairperson and Lumby Mayor Kevin Acton said the regional district is in uncharted territory when it comes to cannabis, so the board decided to slow down on making any decisions without more information and more public input.

The issues are the Green Amber cannabis facility near Schafer Road and a bylaw that would determine where marijuana can be grown.

Acton said the decision to defer to the Agricultural Land Commission on allowing Green Amber to build a 100,000-square-foot facility on farmland was deferred.

Residents from Electoral areas D and E—Lumby and Cherryville—were at the meeting to protest the proposed project. While they were not allowed to speak at Wednesday’s meeting, some had earlier expressed concerns over water supply.

Acton said that was one of the reasons why the deferment was made, adding staff has been directed to look at the water supply and any possible impact it may have on area residents.

Staff was also asked to look into the building design, buffers and other aspects of the facility.

“No decisions have been made yet and we are waiting for the proponent to come back with more information before it is back on the agenda,” said Acton.

Trish Cory, who owns a property across from the proposed industry, is concerned about the effects on the neighbourhood.

“We have no problem with cannabis, but we have a problem with 100,000-square-foot paved buildings surrounded by chain link fencing. There will also be loads of traffic and trucks transporting high-value products. If a robbery occurs the police could take 45 minutes to get there for they often have to come from Vernon. This puts the kids that live, walk and ride their bikes on the road at risk. The effect on property values has already been painful. We want this to go where it belongs, in an industrial park,” said Cory, who was among some 30 protesters who attended the meeting.

Acton said the board also halted a bylaw on where pot can be grown on Electoral areas D and E.

The bylaw was scheduled for a third reading Wednesday to allow processing and growing within the regional district has been returned to a first reading so another public information session can be held.

“There seems to be a lot of public interest in the bylaw,” Acton said, adding people will have a chance to provide more input on the bylaw. “We want to make sure the process isn’t flawed and we are doing things right. We want to make sure the community has been consulted.”

Vernon stores open late
Josh Winquist - Dec 14 - Biz Releases

Photo: Josh Winquist

Trying to cram your shopping into the final 10 days before Christmas?

Downtown Vernon business owners are making it a little easier.

More than 15 downtown Vernon shops will open their doors late on Fridays leading up until Christmas.

“Locals are being encouraged to shop for gifts locally instead of going online or travelling to other areas,” stated Dudley Coulter of the Downtown Vernon Association. “When you shop local, you’re not only supporting entrepreneurs who live, play and work here, in Greater Vernon, but you’re helping to maintain our unique community character.”

Among the businesses open late until 8 p.m. is 2017 Retailer of the Year (Canadian Gift Association), The Room Collection.

“We and so many other businesses try our best to offer a festive shopping experience,” says Alison Ludditt. “We love seeing people on Fridays before or after a dinner or drink downtown when there’s a more relaxed vibe in the air.”

For Olive Us Oil & Vinegar Tasting Room the Shop Late ‘Till 8 promotion is about the spirit of Greater Vernon.

“By shopping locally people can show their support of local families who own and operate their own businesses creating direct impact on the spirit of our town,” explains Co-owner, Ray Morin.

Morin also noted that Olive Us will also be celebrating their 5th anniversary on Friday, December 14 and the public is invited to attend.

You can find a list of participating stores here.

Pot spots all over Kelowna
Nicholas Johansen - Dec 14 - Biz Releases

File photo

The locations of 28 of the 41 proposed cannabis retail stores before Kelowna City Council have been revealed on the city’s website.

The deadline for the first intake of store proposals ended on Nov. 30, and the city will be evaluating the applicants and the proposed locations over “the next few months.”

Two of the applications are from the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch, the government agency tasked with distributing and selling retail cannabis.

The two proposed locations for the government cannabis stores are in the Dilworth Centre shopping plaza near the Safeway and Staples, and in the Capri Centre shopping plaza.

The B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch opened the province’s first legal recreational cannabis store in Kamloops on Oct. 17.

Cannabis stores have been proposed in most areas of the city.

Downtown, three applicants have proposed stores on Pandosy Street between Leon and Lawrence avenues, including at the site of the Starbuds medical cannabis dispensary, which was shut down by the city in January.

Another proposed downtown location is on Ellis Street, just north of Lawrence Avenue, while three applicants are hoping to set up shop on Bernard Avenue between Ellis and Bertram streets.

A little farther north, two retail locations have been proposed on St. Paul Street between Cawston and Doyle avenues, while another has been proposed on Vaughan Avenue, across from the BC Tree Fruits Market.

Two stores are hoping for approval in the Glenmore area, near Kane Road, while another two have been proposed near the Landmark buildings.

To the south, the Domino’s Pizza on Gordon Drive near Cook Road may get a cannabis store as a neighbour, perhaps a welcome addition for the pizza joint.

No less than four stores have applied for cannabis sales rezoning on or near Enterprise Way, and another four are seeking approval in Rutland.

And so far, the closest proposed locations to the no-doubt lucrative UBC Okanagan market are four just east of Reid’s Corner.

The remaining 13 proposed sites are expected to be added to the city’s website in the near future. All of the applications are still subject to evaluation by a committee in the new year, and those that are approved must still get a licence to sell cannabis from the province.

Doors aren’t expected to open at the first legal cannabis store in Kelowna until late spring or early summer 2019.

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