There were smiles all around Friday when Swoop flew in and out of Kelowna International Airport for the first time.
The ultra-low-cost carrier conducted its inaugural voyage to Kelowna, arriving 20 minutes after noon from Winnipeg, and it was greeted by the traditional water cannon salute on the YLW tarmac.
“For a guy who runs an airport, having a new airline launch in your airport is just a wonderful day,” YLW airport director Sam Samaddar said. “It has a huge impact, because we’re adding more seats into the market place. We’re providing the travellers with more choice, and when you add that into a ultra-low-cost model, you potentially have people that would not necessarily fly that would enter into the market place. And those that do fly will actually fly more often.”
Swoop, whose parent company is WestJet, is beginning with three weekly flights to Winnipeg on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It will add two weekly non-stop trips to Las Vegas starting June 27.
The ultra-low-cost business model is still in its infancy in Canada, but Samaddar noted it has proven to be sustainable in other parts of the world. Karen McIsaac, who is Swoop’s senior communications director, said business is going well at the airline, which launched last June.
“We’re following our business plan, and that’s a testament to how well it’s working,” McIsaac said. “We haven’t had to adjust the deliveries of any of our aircraft, we’ve put all of our routes in place, so we’re right on track for where we want to be.”
Tyler Snitynsky, who was the first person to check in at the Swoop counter for the return trip back to Winnipeg, said the price was simply too good to pass up. He paid $198 return, including taxes and fees, for the weekend trip to see friends in the Manitoba capital.
“As long as I get there and come back, I’m good,” Snitynsky said. “But I was shocked to see the fare that I paid, including taxes and fees, was lower than the starting fare for a lot of other airlines. It’s nice to see some competition. Everything’s an up-charge, but I’m OK with that. I got a good deal.”
As for the first Swoop flight into Kelowna, Winnipeg resident Rachel Bevan said she couldn’t tell she was on a low-cost carrier.
“It was exactly the same as every other airline I’ve flown, and I fly a lot,” said Bevan, who also paid $198 return. “The flight attendants were wonderful. They were funny. Everything was really good.
“I would totally recommend it. It was a no-brainer.”
As for anyone who might be leery about hopping on an ultra-low-cost carrier, McIsaac tried to put any myths to rest.
“It doesn’t mean that we’re any less reliable, any less safe and essentially it’s not nickel and diming you for everything,” she said. “It’s giving you choice for what you want to purchase for the product and service that you’re going to use on your flight.”
Oliver teacher Kim Moffat has captured one of six 2019 Inclusive Education Awards.
Moffat, who teaches Grade 5 at Senpaq’cin (SenPokChin) School, was one of two winners in the inclusive teaching category. Moffat works with the entire class to ensure that every student is included, welcomed and respected in class activities.
“Kim has nurtured an environment of compassion and understanding, where classmates look out for each other and care for each other,” principal Val Allen said in a press release.
Moffat uses creativity and empowerment to help her students learn and develop. When one student was having difficulty regulating his behaviour and staying in the classroom, Moffat worked with other teachers to support the student to become a mentor for younger students who faced similar challenges. This helped the student transform his identity so that he was seen as a problem-solver and a leader.
Moffat has taught at the school, which is operated by the Osoyoos Indian Band in Oliver, for nine years.
The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen heard an update on possible composting options for its landfills Thursday, one of which is struggling with reaching its limit and another of which is working to match up to provincial regulations.
Manager of operations Andrew Reeder gave a presentation to council outlining the issues with current landfills, and highlighting the potential importance of composting.
Changes would come with a cost, but, as CAO Bill Newell pointed out, there is little time to waste.
“There is some urgency on this, in that since 2016 we’ve been in contravention of the landfill gas management regulation,” Newell said.
He was referring to the Campbell Mountain landfill, which has been exploring ways to reduce gas emissions through non-conventional methods, namely a bio-cover system.
“We put a bio-cover system on top of the landfill and that cover is effectively like a compost itself,” explained Reeder. “We would actually take some of the biosolids and our compost material and put that on top of the landfill to eat the methane that comes through the landfill.”
But that method hasn’t yet been approved by the provincial government. They mandate a $47 million landfill gas extraction system, and the RDOS has applied to prove their system works just as well, but haven’t yet heard back.
In the meantime, the board decided to deal with the pressing problem of the almost-full Oliver landfill, attempting to address the issue by applying for a $1.2 million grant through the B.C. Organics Infrastructure Program.
“The need for Oliver has increased quite substantively, over the last little while, in terms of agricultural waste,” Reeder said. “What’s happened in Oliver is the feedlot closed next door and we’re seeing quite a bit of materials that we typically haven’t seen in our agricultural group.”
Reeder explained that compost programs have been shown to work in communities as large as Vancouver and as small as Grand Forks, which has recently managed to cut its garbage down to significantly less than its compostable waste materials.
The board passed the motion supporting an application for the grant, with a further $400,000 from the Oliver Landfill Reserves, contingent on the grant being approved.
Swoop is ready to start flying in and out of Kelowna.
The ultra-low-cost carrier held its grand opening today at Kelowna International Airport prior to it welcoming its first flight into YLW, which is coming from Winnipeg. Swoop will fly between the Okanagan and the Manitoba capital three times a week this summer.
The carrier, whose parent company is WestJet, will also begin flying non-stop to Las Vegas on June 27.
“Having Swoop in Kelowna is a great opportunity for the Okanagan, as it gives travellers more options to fly, and explore other parts of Canada this summer,” YLW director Sam Samaddar said.
Okanagan Edge is attending Swoop’s grand opening at YLW and will have a complete report later in the day.
So long Uncle Frank, hello King Arthur.
For the last five years, Big Apple Productions took people down a time warp with the Rocky Horror Picture Show and the cross-dressing Uncle Frank.
But this year they are offering something new when King Arthur brings Spamalot to Vernon.
Spamalot is a musical lovingly ripped off from the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Like the 1975 film, Spamalot is a highly irreverent parody of the legend of King Arthur, his Knights of the Round Table and their sacred quest for the Holy Grail.
Also featuring a killer bunny, fierce French tauntings and Las Vegas-style dancing girls, the show promises to bring Monty Python at its best to the Okanagan.
The show, which contains adult content, premieres at the Powerhouse theatre May 30.
For a full list of show times, see the Spamalot Facebook page.
Tickets are available online at Ticket Seller.
The federal Minister of Tourism Melanie Joly stopped by for lunch and a speech in Penticton Thursday, touting the benefits of the new $58.5 million Canadian Experiences Fund for the South Okanagan tourism industry.
“We want to make sure that Canadians and international visitors get to see these hidden gems that we have all across the country,” Joly told media ahead of a scheduled luncheon hosted by the Penticton Chamber of Commerce.
Investments from the fund will focus on businesses and projects in winter and shoulder seasons, indigenous tourism, LGBTQ2 projects, rural and remote communities and farm-to-table businesses.
Of those categories, a few stuck out to Joly for this area.
“When I think about Penticton and the South Okanagan region, I think about the farm-to-table experiences. That’s definitely a priority through our fund,” Joly said. “The other thing is anything in line with rural regions can have access to this fund.”
An ongoing problem for the area is labour shortages due to the seasonality of the tourism industry. Joly said the fund will help encourage southern communities to boost their attractiveness to visitors year-round.
“We want people to think about having a career in the tourism sector,” she said. “And we need to have more seniors that want to continue to work, to not be penalized because they continue to work in the hospitality sector.”
While tourism in the South Okanagan is currently fuelled mostly by visitors from around B.C. and western Canada, Joly wants to see that change. She said the idea is to create “destinations” in pockets all around the nation that appeal to Canadians and international visitors alike.
“We just invested $5 million in a new advertising campaign to make sure that Canadians get to see their country,” Joly said. “Definitely the South Okanagan can benefit from that vision.”
Part of an ongoing goal for the tourism ministry is educating people outside the Okanagan about the region. Joly used natural disasters as an example.
“People don’t necessarily know the difference between Penticton, the South Okanagan, the North Okanagan, and sometimes when forest fires can happen, (they) can be 100 kilometres from this destination here,” Joly said. “So definitely it would be great if Destination Canada and Destination BC could work together to make sure that Canadians and international visitors know more about the destination and be better informed.”
When asked whether she thought the proposed national park in the South Okanagan, which has been highly contentious, was a good idea for tourism, she was vague.
“Any good investments in infrastructure would be relevant. Now, if the community has a plan for a national park, we’re always willing to listen,” Joly said.
Joly was in Vernon earlier Thursday discussing the new funding and will complete her day in Vancouver at the B.C. Chamber for Commerce doing the same.
Tourism businesses and projects in the South Okanagan can find out more about applying for the funding from the Canadian Experiences Fund through Western Economic Diversification Canada.
Holger Nierfeld will lead the Lake Country Chamber of Commerce executive committee as president for the 2019-20 term.
Nierfeld, who used to be a semi-professional tennis player in Europe, is one of the owners of Dittos Office Services Inc. He came to Canada from Germany in 2004 and in 2016 sold an oil and gas service company he had co-founded. He and his brother then bought Dittos.
Turtle Bay Pub’s Anne Stewart will serve as the chamber’s vice-president, Nalu Wellness’ Courtney Mueller is the secretary, and SAGE Realty’s Jeff Schall was elected treasurer.
The Lake Country Chamber of Commerce’s directors are:
• Anne Leistner, CIBC
• Bonnie Flint, Interior Savings
• Carla Carlson, Comfort Inn
• Dean Taylor, Black Press
• Jennifer Madsen, Oyama Zipline Adventure Park
• Liz McKinney, Sip Happens Wine Tours
• Oscar Barnes, D. Oscar Barnes Barrister & Solicitor
• Sam Sigal, Holiday Park Resort
Now that recreational cannabis has been legal in Canada for more than seven months, the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce is bringing in experts in the field to talk about the business side of things once again.
The “Business of Cannabis” luncheon will be held on Tuesday, June 25, at Coast Capri Hotel. It will feature four experts who will discuss—among other topics—production shortfalls, financial consolidation and uncertainty around approval of edibles.
The panel will include Dr. Terry Lake, who is the vice-president of corporate and social responsibility at HEXO Corp., Starbuds marketing director Dan Winer, Flowr Corp. chief policty and medical officer Dr. Lyle Oberg and MNP’s B.C. cannabis advisory team leader Peter Guo.
The Kelowna chamber held its first “Business of Cannabis” luncheon last year.
More information about the lunch can be found here.
A Vernon café has launched a reusable coffee mug program designed to vastly reduce the amount of waste of to-go drink orders.
Ratio Coffee and Pastry drew inspiration from a program that has has successfully garnered high levels of acceptance in Australia and other countries.
The HuskeeCup is made from repurposed coffee husks and non-toxic, BPA-free plastic. The cup features ridges on the outside to keep the warmth away from your hands like a sleeve. The cups come in three sizes and come with a universal lid.
“Cafés are stocking these cups so you can come in and they’re part of the HuskeeSwap,” Ratio Coffee and Pastry owner Andrew McWilliam said. “You can order your coffee and you can bring your dirty mug, and you get a fresh, clean one. It keeps your drink warm, and it’s nice and sturdy.”
McWilliam said Ratio is the first café in the Okanagan to sell and support the HuskeeCup program, and others are joining the movement.
“We’re trying to get more and more cafés excited about it. Triumph Coffee down the road is ordering a bunch, and we just got a shipment of 50 to Kal Tire,” McWilliam said.
The extra twist in this program is the “dirty cup” exchange.
“Every day you can use this cup, take it to the office, you don’t have to bother with taking it home to clean it and have it ready to go for the next day at work,” McWilliam said. “You just bring it in dirty and we’ll give you a commercially clean, fresh cup to use for your daily coffee.”
The cups are $20 to purchase from participating cafe retailers.
McWilliam said he encourages all other cafés to join the program. He can be reached at [email protected] for more information.
“Hopefully, the idea is we will eliminate a lot of paper waste, sleeve waste and lid waste,” McWilliam said.
The Kelowna Chamber of Commerce sounds fed up with BC Housing’s decision to keep the Cornerstone shelter open for an indefinite amount of time.
The shelter, which is located on Leon Avenue in downtown Kelowna, received its third extension last Friday, with the province indicating it would remain open until other arrangements can be made to find homes for its users.
“The chamber and the business community have long accepted the need for shelters and understand why such facilities are essential especially given the fact that many would be forced to sleep outside if they didn’t have the shelter,” chamber president Nikki Csek said in a press release. “The concern with Cornerstone is its close proximity to the Gospel Mission, its large number of clients, and the fact that open drug use is permitted in the facility.”
The chamber wants BC Housing and other stakeholders to meet with individual business and property owners downtown, and assure them that safety measures are being put in place.
“The chamber only has a small portion of its membership in the downtown area, but we do understand the frustration with the current situation as many businesses have been hit with vandalism over the last number of months and costs associated with safety measures have led to increased levies and tax hikes,” Csek said.