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Pilot program attracts workers
Okanagan Edge Staff - 9:57 am - Biz Releases

If your company is need of employees, there is a pilot program being run in the North Okanagan that might be able to help.

The Vernon and North Okanagan Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) is a federal immigration program designed to bring immigrants to smaller communities.

Businesses that have a permanent, full-time job vacancy can advertise on the website at no cost to attract international applicants. The RNIP co-ordinator will list your job and forward applicants to your business.

More information about RNIP can be found here.

Blind care assistant inspires
Miriam Halpenny - 8:51 am - People in Business

Photo: Contributed

A 52-year-old student at Okanagan College who is legally blind is celebrating after graduating as a health care assistant.

Jacquie Thom was born with an eye condition called coloboma, which causes blurry vision. She describes it like looking through a tunnel.

Despite being blind, Thom wanted to pursue a career in caring for elderly people, after caring for her parents when they were palliative.

“Supporting my parents showed me that it is such an honour to help someone through that period of time just before death. It’s just as important and honourable as birth,” she said in a press release.

“To be there in a loving and supportive way. Even though it’s a very sad time it’s a very joyful time as well.”

At first, Thom was nervous to start a career that was so physical, as being a health-care assistant carries a variety of roles, including moving seniors from their beds to their wheelchairs or being responsible for their personal care.

However Thom trusted herself and knew she wouldn’t do anything she wasn’t confident in. Because of having low vision, she uses her other senses to help her carry out work tasks. Most students would look for the brake release on a wheelchair, but Thom has learned to feel for it.

Okanagan College health care assistant instructor Cathy Farrow says Thom’s dedication to learning was the reason for her strong success. Thom met all course standards with only minor modifications to the instructional practices. This included giving Thom the reading in advance, ensuring proper lighting in the classroom and adding touch when instructing.

“Jacquie is a dedicated learner and true professional,” Farrow said.

“Things those of us with vision take for granted, Jacquie has to put so much more effort into doing, and yet she never complains. She is adaptable, determined and solution-focused. It has been an absolute pleasure working with Jacquie.”

One in four Canadians develop irreversible loss of vision by the age of 75, so Thom also brings experience and empathy to this issue, which can be very difficult for seniors.

“I’m very understanding of the trials and tribulations of having low vision,” said Thom, adding for many people losing their sight is a grieving process.

“I can show them options to help, from using tech that is accommodating to a cane when walking and audiobooks instead of reading paperbacks. You can still do the things you love to do. You just do things differently.”

Thom is now looking forward to her new part-time position working at a local long-term care and assisted living home.

Healing centre gets approved
Casey Richardson - 7:31 am - Biz Releases

Photo: Contributed

Summerland council went against the district staff’s recommendation at Monday’s meeting and approved a business licence that was suggested to be denied via a unanimous vote.

The business licence is for a healing centre at the property located on 9719 Brown St. called New Approach Healing Centre.

The District of Summerland staff advised the denial because the applicant was convicted in 2007 on charges relating to possession of stolen property and drug trafficking and didn’t expand on her expertise in relation to the proposed business.

Jan Demers appeared before council on Monday afternoon and answered questions regarding her plans for the business.

Demers is also running Beyond 12 Steps Healing Centre in Salmon Arm, which focuses on helping people recover and receive treatment for mental health, substance, drug and alcohol abuse. The centre in Summerland has a similar objective, helping individuals heal from trauma and PTSD along with freedom from addiction.

“We’re not here to sell drugs, get unsavoury people sitting outside and causing a ruckus,” Demers said. “These are people that want to get treatment, want to get better and want to have a life.”

“When somebody wants help they want it now, not next week, next month.”

Staff concerns over her past charges were one of the main reasons for its recommendation to deny the licence.

“I own my stuff that I’ve done. I’m not proud of it, but I’m pretty proud of the shoes I’m standing in today,” she said in response.

The district had pointed out in the report that Demers had not stated her expertise in relation to the services in taking care of the individuals who are at risk, nor information as to who will be providing the services and what expertise those individuals have.

“We will be offering individual counselling along with workshops regarding trauma, PTSD and addiction. We will be providing meals and housing to those in our program.”

Support staff and therapists will be coming in from Salmon Arm until the group hires on more counsellors.

“For it to be said that I don’t have any knowledge of all this kind of work, that’s very incorrect, and I took that personally,” Demers said. “I’m there for the families. I answer the phones. I go and do interventions.”

Demeres also clarified that the facility will not be available for detox or court mandated recovery when asked by Coun. Erin Carlson regarding those services.

Councillors Marty Van Alphen and Erin Trainer were vocal in their support for the facility, having previously met with Demers and spoken to her about the centre.

“I think that this facility fills a large gap in our community so I hope that it works out,” Trainer said.

Van Alphen also asked staff as to whether there were any complaints regarding the business in Salmon Arm.

Anthony Haddad, the chief administrative officer for Summerland, confirmed that there hadn’t been any.

Council had followup questions regarding RCMP and bylaw involvement, length of stay for participants and program details, which Demers explained.

Van Alphen added a comment that there’s been more deaths related to addiction and opioid than COVID-19.

“It’s a pandemic of its own,” he said. “Having some public engagement process where people are curious can have engagement and enlightenment, (because) this is a problem in our society.”

“I know it’s a difficult thing to talk about, treatment and addiction … But I think it’s a good thing for our town,” Carlson added.

Plans for Canadian Tire site
John Lawless - 6:48 am - Biz Releases

Image: Contributed

Plans may finally be moving forward on redeveloping the old Canadian Tire building in Vernon.

In the third quarter economic report, which was presented to Vernon city council on Monday, a subdivision application is stated to have been submitted to sever the property into two parts. One part will contain the proposed site for the new Vernon Storage Centre, and the other will keep the Canadian Tire gas pumps intact.

The report indicates the application aims to construct a second storey on top of the existing vacant building that used to house Canadian Tire. The size of the current building is approximately 58,000 square feet, and the proposed second floor would be 50,000 square feet.

The application is only in the reviewing process at the moment, so if there is any progress to be made, it likely won’t be for a little while yet.

Canadian Tire moved from its old location at 4510 27th St. in 2016 to its current spot in the Village Green Shopping Centre complex.

SilverStar feels the love
Jon Manchester - Oct 27, 2020 - Biz Releases

Photo: Contributed

Vernon’s SilverStar Mountain Resort is in some impressive company in USA Today’s 10 Best Readers’ Choice Awards in the travel category.

The local mountain is among 20 finalists for best ski resort in North America.

“Someday, we’ll all be ready to pack our suitcases again and head out on our next adventures. In the meantime, we’ll keep supporting the places that inspire us. Temperatures are cooling and ski areas all across the U.S.A. and Canada are gearing up for their winter season,” USA Today’s says on its 10 Best website.

The site says it “wants to know which North American ski resorts are the crème de la crème, so we’ve asked a panel of skiing and snowboarding experts to nominate their 20 favourite resorts – mountains that offer serious snowfall, varied terrain, lots of lift access and all the desirable amenities in town.”

Its description of SilverStar states: “Well known for its excellent cross-country skiing, Silver Star also appeals to downhill enthusiasts with 132 runs, 12 gladed areas, 100 per cent natural snow, 3,282 skiable acres and a ski-in ski-out village. Two terrain parks feature a wide variety of jumps and features to help visitors progress their skills.”

Silver Star is up against some of biggest, most well-known resorts, including Colorado’s Telluride, and B.C.’s Whistler-Blackcomb.

The local hill is currently in 13th place, but readers can vote once per day until Nov. 9.

The top three are currently Brundage Mountain Ski Resort in Idaho, followed by Sunshine Village in Banff and Kirkwood Mountain Resort in California.

Winners will be announced Nov. 20.

Click here to place your vote.

Sun Peaks selling chairs
Tereza Verenca - Oct 27, 2020 - Biz Releases

Photo: Contributed

Locals have a chance to own a piece of Sun Peaks history.

The resort has announced it will be selling the chairs from the now-retired, 40-year-old Crystal chairlift.

The company says it has received a large number of inquiries about purchasing the chairs from the original lift ever since staff revealed plans for the new version of the Crystal, which, by the way, is ready for the 2020-21 season.

“That faithful old triple has served us well for many years, stretching all the way back to its installation in 1979 during the Tod Mountain days. Countless pow laps, high fives, snow ghost sightings, and breathtaking vistas have been served up by that chair during its 40-year run,” the resort website reads.

There’s more interest than chairs—80 in all. To make it fair, Sun Peaks Resort is giving everyone an equal shot at buying one through a public ballot. Ski buffs can buy a ballot for $5 through the resort’s online store until Nov. 8. All proceeds will then be donated to a local charity.

On Nov. 9, staff will draw 80 random entries. Those selected will be able to buy a chair for $350 plus tax.

“You can buy as many entries as you like to increase your chances of winning; however, we’re limiting it to one chair per person, so once your name is drawn the first time that’s it. Once you’ve secured a chair you’ll be responsible for picking it up from Sun Peaks during the weekend of Nov. 13 to 14, so make sure you’ll be available to make that happen before you commit to the purchase,” the resort says.

To buy an entry, click here.

Economic indicators show stress
Okanagan Edge Staff - Oct 27, 2020 - Biz Releases

Photo: Contributed

The Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission’s quarterly report of indicators is usually full of nothing but positive news.

That is no longer the case due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Regional District of Central Okanagan’s labour force, building permit values, airport passengers, median new home price and job postings are all down when compared to last year.

Building permit values are down a whopping 35.8% from last year at this time, when the value of building permits approached $1 billion. So far this year nearly $613 million in building permits have been issued.

As has been reported on several occasions this year, the number of passengers that have travelled through Kelowna International Airport is down 60% compared to last year. Traffic is starting to increase, however, as the September passenger count was down 71.5% compared to April’s 96.3%.

The other significant decline is in job postings, which are down 26% but up 33.6% from peak-pandemic times.

The new median home price is down 2% to $877,500 but average rent has increased 9% over 2019.

Job inclusivity webinar today
Okanagan Edge Staff - Oct 27, 2020 - Biz Releases

Photo: Contributed

Kelowna Chamber of Commerce is inviting people to take part in a webinar about workplace inclusivity and diversity today at noon.

In recognition of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, experts from the Neil Squire Society and the Presidents Group will discuss strategic employment opportunities that can become available to you through accessing a largely untapped talent pool.

“Over the past several months, the way that we work has dramatically changed,” the chamber wrote in a press release. “Employers have been adapting their business models to fit a ‘new normal’ of remote work, shifting consumer demands and increased flexibility for staff.

“In many ways, the crisis has shifted our organizations and our concepts of work to align perfectly with the principles of accessibility. While the period has been hard for everyone, the increased accessibility is something we can celebrate and reap the benefits of.”

There is no cost to attend the event, but pre-registration is required. The registration link can be found here.

Patios going all year long
John Lawless - Oct 27, 2020 - Biz Releases

It won’t be your typical patio weather, but expanded patios are here to stay for the coming year.

Vernon city council approved to extend the waiver of the requirement for a sidewalk and boulevard area use permit for downtown businesses until Oct. 31, 2021. This allows businesses to expand onto sidewalks and boulevards, as long as they provide a two-metre clear aisle for pedestrians to walk through.

On top of that, downtown businesses will be able to expand into one available public on-street parking space adjacent to their business between March 1 and Oct. 31 of next year.

Businesses with private off-street parking lots anywhere in the city will also be allowed to temporarily expand up to 25% of their off-street parking spaces until Oct. 31, 2021.

Council is also pre-approving all liquor primary and manufacturer establishments that apply and expanded service areas for food primary, liquor primary and manufacturer licensees. These establishments will be allowed to temporarily expand their services areas until Oct. 31, 2021.

City staff will consult with local businesses and the Downtown Vernon Association to determine recommendations on potential supports for curbside pickup.

Turning Points seeks workers
Jon Manchester - Oct 27, 2020 - Biz Releases

Photo: Contributed

Have you always wanted to help others less fortunate than yourself?

If so, Vernon’s Turning Points Collaborative Society may have the perfect job for you.

The local agency, which provides employment, housing and outreach support along with addictions recovery and shelter services, is holding a job fair this week.

It’s looking to hire 15 to 20 people in positions, including residential workers and cooks.

Wages range from $20 to $27 an hour.

Residential workers must have a minimum Grade 12 education, a diploma or certificate in a social service field, one year’s recent related experience and occupational first aid level 1.

Cooks must have a minimum Grade 12 education, three to five years cooking experience in an industrial/commercial kitchen or an equivalent combination of education and experience, Food Safe certification Level 2, and valid driver’s licence.

The job fair takes place on Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at Our Place, which is located at 2307 43rd St. COVID protocols will be in place.

To schedule an appointment, email your resume and cover letter to [email protected].

Drop-ins will be accepted, but preference will be given to those who schedule an interview in advance.

Masks and hand sanitizer will be provided.

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