Central Mountain Air expands
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jun 23 - Biz Releases

Image: Facebook

Central Mountain Air has expanded its route network, with the introduction of a non-stop service between Prince George and Edmonton.

“Connecting these points with non-stop service will provide passengers with improved service by eliminating the need to connect in Vancouver, which is a four-hour journey,” said Central Mountain Air’s marketing manager, Johnathan Richardson.

Flights will operate six days a week, using a Dornier 328 aircraft that seats 30 passengers, and also connect to Calgary.

Another benefit of this flight is it connects to Calgary.  Communities in CMA’s extensive network including Terrace, Smithers, Fort Nelson and Dawson Creek, can now easily access Alberta’s two major cities.

Tom Ruth, the president and CEO of Edmonton International Airport, said the airport has been working on the direct flight for years “as there is such a demand for flights between our two cities.”

Passengers will also be able to connect to Central Mountain Air’s interline partners, and receive multiple boarding passes for connecting flights at check-in and baggage can be tagged through to the final destination.

Flights between Prince George and Edmonton will start on Sunday, July 9.

Established in 1987, Central Mountain Air Ltd. is a western Canadian privately owned and operated company, providing flights and cargo services to 16 communities throughout British Columbia, Alberta, and western Canada.

Kelowna trio off to SHAD
Jon Manchester - Jun 23 - Biz Releases

Image: SHAD

Three Kelowna students will attend prestigious SHAD programs this summer.

A record 801 youth from coast to coast will take part in one of Canada’s top incubators for youth innovation and entrepreneurship.

Maddie Bishop from Studio9 School Of The Arts, Pierce Pesant from Kelowna Christian School and Taeuk Kang from Okanagan Mission Secondary will participate in the enrichment program that has helped develop the skills and talents of close to 16,000 youth since 1980.

Thirteen university campuses from coast to coast will host the SHAD students.

Students live in residence for the month of July and attend lectures and workshops in the fields of science, technology, engineering, arts and math.

They are presented with a theme or social problem every summer and have to devise an original product or service that addresses this real-world issue. In the process, they are taught how to build a business plan, marketing plan and working prototype and come away with an entrepreneurial mindset.

Can’t sell in high water
Trevor Nichols - Jun 23 - Biz Releases

Image: Contributed

It’s been a topsy turvy spring for most everyone in the Okanagan Valley this year, including a staple of the season in Kelowna.

The Kelowna Yacht Club, which is still finishing repairs to its docks and breakwater from last August’s devastating windstorm, is feeling the effects of the high water in Okanagan Lake.

Sally Howard, the general manager of the club, says the unusual lake levels have had a “fairly significant” impact on the number of people frequenting the club.

“Usually at this time of year if you walked out onto the docks you’d see 20-30 people on most sunny afternoons, now you’d be lucky if you met four or five,” she says.

Geoff Gowe points out that there’s virtually no boat launches in Kelowna open right now, which means the yacht club has anywhere from 100-200 fewer boats in the basin than normal.

Even the boats that are in, he says, aren’t really getting used.

That has lead to a problem for the yacht club similar to one many Kelowna businesses are facing this year.

“If they’re not here, they’re not coming in to eat,” Gowe says.

Howard says the club’s private dining area is seeing far fewer people come through than it normally would, which is a big deal, because revenue from the club’s food service is “pretty significant.”

But Howard says the hardest part of the slowdown is keeping people employed.

Since the club isn’t serving nearly as many people, they just can’t keep as many employees working as normal. That means some staff aren’t making the summer money they need, and others have begun looking for new jobs where they can get more hours.

But while things have been pretty slow so far this year, Howard is optimistic about the rest of the season.

She explains that many of the club’s members are out-of-towners who come for a few weeks in the summer. She thinks many of them who would normally come in July are simply waiting until things are a little more normal to make their summer excursion to Kelowna.

That should means the tail end of the season should be extra busy, as people who would normally show up in June or July arrive in August instead.

“I’m really hoping that it will pick up and we will generate that lost business throughout the month of August,” Howard says.

Meanwhile, the club has been keeping its membership well-informed with all the latest news about water levels, closures, conditions and the weather.

Howard has been sending detailed newsletters containing all this information, and more, taking special care to remind people that it’s still OK to go out on the lake, so long as they are careful not to create wakes.

Gowe says the lackluster spring hasn’t really affected membership, and the club continues to run as normally as possible.

Not long ago it celebrated “Sailpast” with an “entirely on land” ceremony and celebration with 175 members.

The clubhouse and kitchen also remain fully open.

New home for Sproing
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jun 23 - Biz Releases

Image: Contributed

Vernon’s Sproing Creative has a brand new home.

The digital marketing and web development firm recently took up residence in the Village Green district, a move that coincided with its expanded suite of services.

Some of the upgrades in the company’s new home include loft for photo shoots, a video editing suite, a boardroom and new, open-concept desk space.

As part of its expanded services and new home, Sproing recently put itself through the branding and strategy process it offers clients, resulting in an freshened-up logo which graces its new storefront.

It also serves as the backdrop for Sproing’s new website, which features an updated curation of projects and an “architecture that more clearly outlines” the services it offers.

Drop in at the new location, at 302-2520 53rd Ave. in Vernon, to check out the new space, and learn more about Sproing.

Tourism boss stepping down
Nicholas Johansen - Jun 23 - Biz Releases

Photo: Facebook
Nancy Cameron, Tourism Kelowna’s CEO, is stepping down.

Tourism Kelowna is looking for a new CEO.

Nancy Cameron, CEO of the tourism marketing association for the past 17 years, has resigned, and will be moving to Vancouver Island.

Under Cameron’s direction at Tourism Kelowna, the Central Okanagan has seen a 60 per cent increase in the number of annual visitors.

The association also lauds Cameron’s work in getting City Council to relocate the future visitor centre to a “more pedestrian friendly, prominent location,” a location that has seen its fair share of controversy.

“I would like to extend my sincerest thanks to the Tourism Kelowna Board of Directors, staff, volunteers, and tourism businesses for their support and enthusiasm for Tourism Kelowna and this vibrant and growing tourism economy,” said Cameron. “My time with this organization has been filled with rewarding opportunities and I’ve had the good fortune to work with many very special people who are committed to this industry’s success.”

Tourism Kelowna says they will be looking for Cameron’s replacement in the coming weeks

Wibit opens this weekend
Deborah Pfeiffer - Jun 23 - Biz Releases

Image: Deborah Pfeiffer

The Wibit inflatable water park on Okanagan Lake is opening in Penticton this weekend for its third season.

“It has been a long hard spring and we are just looking forward to things getting back to normal with families enjoying the beach,” said Randy Gallagher, who owns and operates the water park with his son. The pair also have a floating park in Kelowna and will be opening a new park in Osoyoos next year.

The high water has not slowed them down in Penticton, with opening weekend typically coinciding with the Peach City Beach Cruise, taking place this weekend.

“It has all been fantastic so far,” said Gallagher. “The city has been good to work with and we’ve had a really great response from the public. Kids can’t wait to go on it.”

Gallagher said he was also appreciative of all the people who have worked so hard to protect the shoreline along the lake, from firefighters to city crews and yacht club members.

“It has just been a phenomenal effort by everyone,” he said.

The park will be open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., with full day tickets costing $25.

‘Land poor’ West Kelowna
Trevor Nichols - Jun 22 - Biz Releases

Image: Trevor Nichols
Mayor Doug Findlater gave a state of the city address June 22.

West Kelowna has a land problem.

The city doesn’t own enough of it, and that’s hampering efforts to build new recreation facilities, find a place to eventually put a new city hall, and more.

“Land is a big challenge,” Mayor Doug Findlater told members of the Greater Westside Board of Trade at a state of the city address today.

Speaking to the crowd at the Cove Lakeside Resort this afternoon, Findlater said the lack appropriate places to put new buildings in West Kelowna is causing problems.

He pointed to the new soccer dome the city would like to build. West Kelowna has support from a provincial soccer association to build the structure, but, since there isn’t really any place to put it, the project has become “a lot more complex.”

Then there’s the dream of an entire sports complex, or, the new city hall that will in all likelihood eventually be built—where would they go?

Findlater said to deal with the problem the city is looking at a land management plan that will include strategies for acquiring more land, but also selling land the city already has.

Nothing is even close to being decided, and more research will need to be done before anything moves forward, but Findlater twice raised the possibility that some city parks might end up getting sold.

He also raised the possibility—again, nothing has been decided—that properties where some city satellite offices currently sit could also be sold.

That would happen if the city goes ahead with plans to build a major new public works yard in an area near the gravel pit. That facility, Findlater said, would be able to house staff from those and other offices (including the increasingly crowded city hall) potentially freeing them up for sale.

Findlater pointed out that the lack of land and crowded office spaces are both functions of the rapid expansion West Kelowna has seen in recent years.

He pointed out that most every economic indicator in the city is going up, including its population, the number of business licenses issued, construction activity and housing starts.

There were also a record-breaking number of single family homebuilding permits issued in 2016, “and all signs point to an even better year in 2017.”

Meanwhile, the city’s demographics are changing, with the number of seniors and middle aged people growing significantly since 2011, and the number of younger people going down.

Good news in those numbers, Findlater said, was the fact that the city’s labour force did grow by two per cent, and there seems to be a slight “baby boom” happening in the city, with the number of very young children increasing slightly from 2011 to 2016.

Okanagan Sears safe
Wayne Moore - Jun 22 - Biz Releases

Today’s announcement by Sears that it will close 59 stores and eliminate about 2,900 jobs will not affect operations in the Okanagan.

Sears outlets in Kelowna, Penticton, Vernon, Oliver, Keremeos and Princeton will all remain open under a court-supervised restructuring that will see about one-third of the company’s various outlets close.

Thursday’s announcement will see five outlets in B.C. close. Included in that list is the Sears store in the Aberdeen Mall in Kamloops.

Sears Hometown stores in Grand Forks, Creston and Sechelt will close, while the outlet store in Abbotsford is also closing.

The closures come after the company was granted temporary court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act this morning.

Trading in Sears shares was halted on the Toronto Stock Exchange prior to the announcement.

The struggling retailer has piled up losses over several years and seen its stock dive, losing more than 80 per cent of its value in the last year, despite efforts to reinvent itself.

Clean sweep for Okanagan wine
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jun 22 - Biz Releases

Image: Grey Monk Estate Winery Facebook

It was a clean sweep for the Okanagan Valley this year, as The Honourable Judith Guichon announced the winners of the 2017 Lieutenant Governor’s Awards for Excellence in British Columbia Wines.

All 12 of the winning wines this year hailed from the Okanagan, with Oliver’s Cassini Cellars getting the nod for two separate vintages.

“Twenty-seventeen’s winning wines represent the best from our province,” Guichon said. “The hundreds of exceptional wines entered each year make it a challenge to select just twelve winners.”

This year, 486 wines were submitted for judging by 132 British Columbia wineries. Winners were chosen through a blind tasting by a panel of wine industry professionals.

Each submitted wine had to be from 100 per cent British Columbian grown grapes and produced in the province to be eligible.

The full list of winners is below:

-Burrowing Owl Estate Winery (Oliver): Cabernet Franc 2014;

-Cassini Cellars (Oliver): The Aristocrat Cabernet Sauvignon 2013;

-Cassini Cellars (Oliver): Nobilus Merlot 2013;

-Castoro de Oro Estate Winery (Oliver): Crimson Rhapsody 2014;

-Gray Monk Estate Winery (Lake Country): Odyssey White Brut 2014;

-The Hatch (Kelowna): Crown + Thieves The Broken Barrel Syrah 2013;

-Howling Bluff Estate Winery (Penticton): Century Block Pinot Noir 2013;

-Kitsch Wines (Kelowna): Riesling 2015;

-Maverick Estate Winery (Oliver): Bush Vine Syrah 2014;

-Noble Ridge Vineyards and Winery (Okanagan Falls): “The One” Sparkling 2012;

-Perseus Winery (Penticton): Invictus 2013;

-Upper Bench Estate Winery (Penticton): Upper Bench Estate Chardonnay 2015.

The lieutenant-governor will visit the winning wineries in September to present the awards. Members of the Consular Corps of British Columbia will accompany her when she makes these presentations so they can gain knowledge and experience British Columbia’s celebrated wine industry.

Big White open for the summer
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jun 22 - Biz Releases

Image: Contributed

You’re not going to see any fresh powder for quite a while, but Big White Ski resort officially opens for the summer this weekend, offering several different ways to get the most of the mountain.

June 23 the resort is opening its brand new pump track to the public. The mountain biking still course sits in the heart of the village, and is free to ride.

But the real action will begin on Saturday, June 24, when the Bullet Chair will begin taking guests on a chairlift ride to the top of the alpine. Along with taking in the view of the Monashee mountain range, it’s a chance to get a first-hand glimpse at the development of Bike Big White’s new bike trails, will are scheduled to open August 4th.

At the same time, the the 3rd Annual Craft & Country Beer and Mountain Festival will be taking place Saturday and Sunday from 11a.m. until 5 p.m. in the village. The all-ages festival will feature more than 20 local breweries on Saturday and a craft fair on Sunday

Up in the village, The Woods’ new outdoor patio will be open for lunch and afternoon drinks, and Clocktower Coffee Co. will also be open for coffee and lunch.

Other restaurants on the hill include: Globe Café and Tapas Bar offering breakfast, lunch and dinner; and Snowshoe Sam’s open for lunch, dinner and post-dinner drinks.

Big White will also be hosting a Canada Day celebration at the top of Bullet Chair, the Wellness Weekend yoga retreat, the L’Alpe de Grand Blanc bike races, the Huckleberry festival, and a GEO hiking scavenger hunt in the alpine.

Visit bigwhite.com to see the full schedule of summer events.

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