Scooter company now Rolling
Sarita Patel - Nov 11, 2019 - Biz Releases

Zipping through downtown has become easier thanks to electronic scooters, and Roll Technologies has recently jumped in on the action.

Roll unveiled 30 new e-scooters by the Kelowna Visitor Centre on Sunday, showcasing their innovative new design and software.

“We want to do things differently, even though we’re late to the party, but we want to stay here,” CEO Richard Cao said.

Roll e-scooters are available for a dollar to start and 25 cents per minute afterwards. There is no security deposit.

“A lot of customers said, ‘I only want to try it for one [or] two minutes, but I get charged for ten dollars? That makes no sense.’ So we don’t want that. Once you ride it, you only pay for the time you ride it,” Cao said.

The new design and new software took over six months to create at the University of Toronto.

Roll e-scooter believe safety is their biggest concern that’s why they developed their scooter to have wider base to plant both feet side-by-side, they have a double brake system, higher handles to stand up straight and front-wheel suspension to make the scooter more stable.

“If you want to get [a helmet] you can go on your app, go on your website and request one and I will send you a free helmet,” Cao said.

Other features include pressing pause, where if you want to jump in to grab a coffee your bike can be locked and saved for you while you do a quick errand. They also have a ‘picture park’ feature in their app, where riders send a photo of their parked scooter to ensure the proper protocols are taken when leaving the scooters.

“Our staff at the back end, we’re going to look at the picture … if it’s not right we’re going to contact you via phone and tell you how to do it properly. If you do it (too) many time(s), we have to charge you,” Cao said.

“(The fine) is about 10 bucks to 20 bucks. … We don’t want to make a profit out of it, we just want people to know this is not right,” Cao said.

At the moment Roll is only allowed to operate around the lakeshore, but they’re hoping to get a city-wide permit so they can roll out 70 more e-scooters.

“The whole idea of this company is share mobility. We believe that’s the future… it’s more sustainable, it’s more cost-friendly and e-bikes happens to be a great tool for mid-range transportation.”

Roll is planning to launch 50 electric bikes by the end of the year.

True Leaf seeks partner
Darren Handschuh - Nov 09, 2019 - Biz Releases

True Leaf may be selling its cannabis campus, but founder Darcy Bomford has no plans of pulling out of Lumby.

Bomford said True Leaf has a lot of money in the facility and is looking for someone to invest in the building as a partner.

“Really the intention is to attract a joint venture partner that will purchase a significant portion of the asset. Ideally we would retain a percentage of ownership,” said Bomford, adding True Leaf would still produce its popular CBD pet products and selling the building would “see more a return on our investment over time. That would be the ideal transaction.”

“We have a significant amount of capital invested into the site and we are very close to getting a (marijuana grow) license,” he said of True Leaf’s plans to enter the recreational marijuana industry.

“We’ve had some discussions with Health Canada over the past few weeks and we are pretty confident that will be coming shortly.”

Bomford the facility is also on the verge of being approved for the edible market. THC-infused edibles became legal in Canada last month.

“We think that is going to be a massive market, we think, in Canada – the processing and production of edibles,” said Bomford. “True Leaf is ideally suited with this facility right in the middle of Lumby, which loves what we are doing, and it will be a great opportunity for us and some other people to make it work there.”

Bomford said if no one steps up to purchase they building the will just “tough it out. I am pretty confident we are going to find somebody. There has been quite a bit of interest already.”

It’s hard to say how many people the facility will employ, but initially Bomford said five to 10 people could be hired with more coming on board when necessary.

Liberals incensed over Tolko
Rob Gibson - Nov 08, 2019 - Biz Releases

Photo: Rob Gibson

Ben Stewart, the MLA for Kelowna-West, has added his voice to the hue and cry over Friday’s announcement that Tolko’s mill in Kelowna is shutting down permanently.

“This is just completely unconscionable,” Stewart said. “They are completely ignoring rural British Columbia and the forest sector.”

Stewart says the premier should convene an emergency all-party committee on forestry to look at recommendations to find ways to get workers back to work.

“We’re losing those jobs permanently in Kelowna, but what about those other places: Armstrong, Lavington? They are all struggling, and it’s because we’ve chosen to not even have any dialogue.”

The BC Liberals have gone so far as to call for Forestry Minister Doug Donaldson to be fired.

“I share the anger of the workers here in Kelowna who expected their government to act sooner and more decisively,” Stewart said. “Instead, the NDP just sat on their hands and did nothing to stop to the closure of a mill that’s been in our community for over 80 years.

“Last June, the BC Liberals presented John Horgan with a five-point plan to get the industry back on track and save jobs. That advice was ignored at the cost of permanent job loss in our community.”

Unemployment rate flatlines
Kirk Penton - Nov 08, 2019 - Biz Releases

Photo: The Canadian Press

Kelowna’s unemployment rate in October remained at 4.1 per cent for the second straight month, and the number hasn’t wavered much over the last 12 months.

The bottom line is Kelowna continues to have one of the lowest unemployment rates among Canadian cities and sits in the province with the lowest mark as well.

Robert Fine, who is Kelowna’s director of business and entrepreneurial development, believes the city’s strength in its major sectors is a driving force behind the low rates. He also credits StatsCan numbers that indicate as much as two per cent economic annual growth in the city.

“The rebound in tourism this year, the growth of the IT sector and its emergence—looking at growth rates of eight per cent per year year over year and creating high-end quality jobs—have certainly had an impact,” Fine said. “And if you look at the drivers of our economy between the airport, the whole KGH area and the cancer clinic, and look at those jobs that are high paying and throw in the university and college, with 15,000 students coming to town, we’ve got a really good base, which is certainly helping the economy grow.”

The news of Tolko’s permanent closure of its Kelowna mill on Friday was in sharp contrast to the Statistics Canada numbers that came out earlier in the day, but Fine is confident Kelowna will be able to handle the major setback of more than 125 job losses.

“This is the reality of a more globalized, connected economy when the markets shift and change,” Fine said. “Nothing lasts forever. It’s difficult, because we just always think we’re going to wake up the next day and look outside and the same businesses that are there from 10 or 20 years ago are still going to be there and they’re going to be there forever. Unfortunately and sadly, that is not how it works.

“We’ve certainly been through our share of big changes and closures and shifts, and the city continues to evolve and thrive. Hopefully we’ll continue to do that moving forward and hopefully find a series of opportunities for anyone who has been involved with Tolko and others in their supplier network to make sure that they continue to have opportunities as well.”

WorkBC announced earlier this week it will conduct special sessions with former Tolko employees who are looking to get back into the work force, and Fine said the city has also been in talks with the company to provide similar programs for affected workers.

One problem that comes along with low unemployment is the lack of workers in occupations that require less skilled training. That remains the number one concern of small businesses the city has been consulting with in recent months.

Image: Contributed

Text glitch causes confusion
The Canadian Press - Nov 08, 2019 - Biz Releases

Photo: The Canadian Press

If you woke up to a weird text that seemed totally out of place, you aren’t alone. A mysterious wave of missives swept North America’s phones earlier this week, delivering confusing messages from friends, family and the occasional ex.

Friends who hadn’t talked to each other in months were jolted into chatting. Others briefly panicked.

A telecom vendor called Syniverse said a server failed on Feb. 14, and messages from multiple carriers didn’t go through. When that server was reactivated Thursday, those messages got sent.

Syniverse initially estimated about 170,000 messages, but the company now says it’s higher, without saying how many. Syniverse said it is reviewing internal procedures so this doesn’t happen again. Syniverse typically deletes messages that don’t go through.

The sudden release of messages sometimes had a dramatic effect.

Stephanie Bovee, a 28-year-old from Portland, woke up at 5 a.m. to a text from her sister that said just “omg.” She immediately thought something had happened to her newborn nephew at the hospital.

She started calling everyone. Her sister and her sister’s husband didn’t answer. She woke up her mom, freaking her out. It was three hours before she learned that everything was fine and the text was an odd anomaly.

“Now it’s funny,” she said. “But out of context, it was not cool.”

Bovee figured out that people were getting some of her old texts that failed to go through when her sister and a co-worker both got texts that she had sent in February. The text her sister received wished her a happy Valentine’s Day.

Marissa Figueroa, a 25-year-old from Turlock, Calif., got an unwanted message from an ex she had stopped talking to—and then he got one from her as well. Neither actually sent them recently, both said. Figueroa couldn’t figure it out, even worrying that her ex was messing with her, until she saw reports of this happening to others.

“It didn’t feel great,” she said. “It just was not good for me and my mental health to be in contact with him.”

A friend who’d just re-entered his life got a mystifying message from Joseph Gomez at 5:32 a.m. Thursday. In that text, Gomez seemed to assume she was on her way over to his house so they could order a Lyft.

It took a half hour of back-and-forth texting and help from a screenshot to clear up the situation. Can their relationship recover? Gomez, who is 22 and lives in Washington, D.C., said it was “confusion, then awkward, and then funny.” No mixed messages there.

Winery planned for Mission
Okanagan Edge Staff - Nov 08, 2019 - Biz Releases

Photo: Contributed

An Oliver-based winery is looking to set up an intimate winery in Kelowna’s Mission neighbourhood.

CheckMate Winery, whose home base is located southwest of Oliver, has applied to the City of Kelowna to place a mobile, 570 square-foot tasting room at 805 Crawford Ave., which is essentially on the southwest corner of the Crawford and DeHart Road intersection.

The 12-acre site would also feature a vineyard, an 800 square-foot patio, a 1,075 square-foot production building and 20 parking stalls.

Tolko closure now permanent
Wayne Moore - Nov 08, 2019 - Biz Releases

Photo: Rob Gibson

Officials with Tolko have confirmed its Kelowna mill operation will shut down permanently Jan. 8.

In a news release, officials say the decision was made after carefully examining contributing factors such as log costs, market conditions and cumulative policy burden.

“At this time, our thoughts are with impacted employees in Kelowna,” says president and CEO Brad Thorlakson.

“This is a difficult decision. The Kelowna mill has been in operation since the 1930s and has contributed to the community through job creation and many other economic spinoffs for more than 80 years.

“The mill has always had an excellent team that produced a highly regarded quality stud for North American and export markets. It will always stand as an example of what can be accomplished when ingenuity and know-how come together for a common purpose.”

Thorlakson says employees have been informed of the decision and will soon be provided with information on what to expect in terms of severance and benefits.

Some employees may be offered positions at other Tolko sites that have vacancies.

“We want to thank everyone at Kelowna for their many years of dedication and support and assure them this decision was not easy for us to make and has nothing to do with the quality of work or the caliber of people at the mill,” vice-president of solid wood Troy Connolly said.

“The industry is facing many challenges that are beyond our control, and tough decisions are necessary to ensure our future sustainability.”

He added the decision to close the mill is not a reflection of the hard work put forth by the employees, but rather the cost of B.C. logs.

“The mill is no longer cost-competitive,” he said.

The mill has had numerous owners since it was constructed in 1932. Tolko purchased the mill from Riverside Forest Products in 2004.

Blind Melon concert cancelled
Okanagan Edge Staff - Nov 08, 2019 - Biz Releases

Photo: Contributed

Bif Naked, Blind Melon and Soul Asylum are on a runaway train, and they’re never coming back.

The promotors behind a concert featuring the three rock acts scheduled for Penticton on Wednesday, April 15, 2020, announced Friday that the event has been cancelled due to “unforeseen circumstances.”

The concert was supposed to take place Penticton Trade and Convention Centre.

Pre-sale tickets will automatically be refunded, while customers who purchased their tickets with a credit card will have the ticket price and the per-ticket fee automatically reversed beginning Friday.

Refunds must be completed by the end of Nov. 25.

Friendly rental build begins
Okanagan Edge Staff - Nov 08, 2019 - Biz Releases

Photo: Contributed
West Kelowna Mayor Gord Milsom, councillor Carol Zanon, Highstreet’s Christina Wilson, councillor Doug Findlater, Highstreet’s Jeff Gallant, Highstreet’s Pino Mancuso, councillor Jason Frieson and Highstreet’s Scott Butler break ground on Thursday.

A net-zero, energy-ready apartment building in West Kelowna broke ground on Thursday.

Carrington View is a rental property from Highstreet Ventures that was chosen as one of 11 winners out of 51 expressions of interest in the CleanBC Better Buildings competition.

The project is shooting for 100 per cent electric and zero carbon output, passive house air tightness of 0.6 changes per hour, 304 solar panels for common areas and triple pane windows.

“Our goal is to own and operate 1,000 net-zero homes by the end of 2024,” Highstreet president Scott Butler said. “We are demonstrating that net-zero ready market rentals can be built today, 12 years prior to the legislated requirement, with no difference in the end financial result than building to the code minimum.

“We look forward to building many more net-zero ready and net zero buildings across Western Canada.”

Waterfront big Mixoff winner
Nicholas Johansen - Nov 08, 2019 - Biz Releases

For the seventh year, the top bartenders and chefs in Kelowna battled it out for bragging rights Thursday night.

The annual Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery Mixoff took over The Laurel Packinghouse, where nine restaurants went head to head, dishing out drinks and food to more than 200 attendees, along with four judges.

Bartenders were required to make a cocktail using Okanagan Spirits along with a local craft beer, wine or cider, while their accompanying chefs paired the drink with food.

This year, competing restaurants included Oak + Cru, Skinny Dukes, The Train Station Pub, Broken Anchor, Waterfront Cafe, Provisions Kitchen & Catering, Summerhill Winery, Jack’s Pizza & Liquor and Micro/Raudz.

“They’re looking for taste, presentation, simplicity, workmanship and how it pairs with food,” event organizer Rosanne Ting-Mak Brown said of the judges.

After the four judges had their fill, they handed Waterfront Cafe the best drink award, while Micro and Raudz took the Best Bite award. The People’s Choice award, based on voting from the attendees, also went to Waterfront Cafe.

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