Big White lands on cover
Okanagan Edge Staff - 2:25 pm - Biz Releases

Photo: Contributed

Big White Ski Resort is getting some big press in advance of its upcoming season.

Ski Magazine, which is the sport’s biggest selling magazine in the world with more than 1.5 million readers, put Big White on the cover of its latest issue, which takes a look at North America’s best resorts.

The cover shot is of Todd Avison skiing down the slopes. Geoff Holman took the photograph.

“Special thanks to Katie Balkwill and many of the Big White team members who help get early access to the slopes for Geoff and the models each year,” Big White vice-president Michael J. Ballingall said in a press release.

“You can’t make the front cover if we don’t get a great shot, and we can’t get a great shot without the help of the community.”

Last day for whisky lottery
Okanagan Edge Staff - 12:28 pm - Biz Releases

Photo: Contributed
Okanagan Spirits’ master distiller Peter Von Hahn.

Those hoping to have a chance to buy the Laird of Fintry Single Malt Whisky have until tonight to sign up for the lottery.

Okanagan Spirits, which produces the whisky once a year, will close its lottery signup tonight at midnight.

The first group of winners will be notified next Monday. Those whose names are drawn will be eligible to buy one of three options: one 750-millilitre bottle, two 375-millilitre bottles or one 375-millilitre bottle.

The big bottle retails for $75, while the mickeys go for $50.

The whisky is distilled from locally grown malted barley, aged in American white oak casks and then finished in fortified, old-vines foch French Oak barrels.

Click here to enter the lottery.

Vacancy rate on rise
Kirk Penton - 11:03 am - Biz Releases

Photo: Kirk Penton
Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran serves cake to Mission Flats residents on Friday.

Kelowna’s rental vacancy rate is expected to be higher when the next numbers are released, and it is projects like Highstreet’s Mission Flats on K.L.O. Road that will be responsible for the increase.

The 280-unit complex, which held its ceremonial grand opening on Friday night, consists of five buildings, the first of which opened in March and the final one in August. Apartments and townhouses were available, and they were all snapped up quickly.

“This community needs it,” Highstreet vice-president of operations Pino Mancuso said as residents enjoyed food, music and draw prizes around him. “People are looking for a place to live. And if (the rental vacancy) goes up to two per cent and we’re priced right, we won’t have a worry.

“And it’s not just about the rents. It’s about having tennis courts. It’s about having a car-share program. It’s about building the communities differently.”

The City of Kelowna recognized the serious issue facing the community, so it offered tax incentives for companies to build affordable rental units. Highstreet, which is based in Kelowna but has properties all over B.C. and Alberta, jumped at the chance.

“The property tax incentive really helped us make a decision to build,” Highstreet president Scott Butler said. “Three years ago the rents aren’t what they are today, and believe it or not to build a purpose-built rental it was borderline at the time. The rents weren’t quite there. So it really helped tip the balance for us to focus on Kelowna.”

Rents for the apartment units range from $1,239 to $1,609, while townhome prices are between $1,269 and $1,999.

“We could’ve charged top dollar, but really what we wanted to do was charge a fair dollar because at the end of the day we’re trying to build a community. So that’s what we wanted to do,” Mancuso said. “We’re hoping that the people that are here today are going to be the people that will be here two years or three years down the road.

“We could’ve gone after the dollar and then at the end of the year have a whole bunch of turnover, or you could make the rents a little bit lower, build a community, build a place where people can bring their families and their friends, and that’s been the mentality we went after.”

Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran, who attended the grand opening and served cake to residents, pointed out that he and his council have done everything they can to help residents find affordable rental units.

“There’s been over 3,000 rental units approved by this council—more than any other in our city’s history—that are now under construction or occupied,” Basran said. “It’s predicted our vacancy rate in our community will rise to two per cent next year. So we’re making strides, and we will continue to do what we can to make sure housing is available and affordable for people in our community.”

Vacation rental targeted
Colton Davies - 8:34 am - Biz Releases

Photo: Contributed

A luxury estate near Kaleden being used illegally as a vacation rental is being taken to task by the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen.

Board members voted Thursday to take injunctive action on the property owners of 328 and 320 Highway 3A, where a home on the property has been rented to vacationers this year without a permit.

The home is being rented for a minimum of $1,006 per night. It’s described to be 6,700 square feet with room for 16-plus guests and sits on 83 acres.

Pictures on the listing show renovations were also done to convert the attic into bedrooms, which was done without a building permit.

“Neighbours complained and said ‘what’s going on here?’ Because it’s been marketed on Airbnb and numerous other worldwide websites. And large groups of people were coming with as many as 20 people,” area director Tom Siddon said.

“They’re obviously bypassing our zoning bylaws and our permit process.”

Signs saying ‘do not occupy’ were put at the front of the property by RDOS staff when complaints were received in July, but witnesses said the signs were removed and the property continues to be rented.

“The owner contacted us [in July] and we outlined the expectations in order to bring the property into compliance,” a report from the RDOS said. “They did not respond to our entry request and have since ignored further attempts to resolve the issues.”

According to BC Assessment, the property was sold most recently sold on Sept. 28, 2017, for just over $2.25 million.

The home remains listed for rent on Airbnb, with the host said to be based in Vancouver.

Motel cleanup ordered
Wayne Moore - 7:37 am - Biz Releases

File photo: Wayne Moore

The owner of the former Ponderosa Motel on Harvey Avenue will have a little more than a month to clean up the property.

The motel closed in 2011, and since that time, conditions on the property have become “hazardous and unsafe.” There have been four structural fires and another minor fire since it closed. Police have recorded 110 files, including 21 complaints related to trespassing, drug activity and violence.

It’s also become a haven for the homeless and transients over the past several years.

Bylaw is asking city council to declare the buildings, overgrown vegetation and debris as a nuisance and offensive under provisions of the Community Charter.

There are three buildings on the property and, in a report to council, bylaw says while the owner took out a demolition permit in 2012, that permit has not been executed.

The owner of the property would have 30-days to comply after a notice of remedial action is given.

If action is not taken, the city would have the right to do the work and bill the owner directly.

Support business booming
Madison Erhardt - 6:24 am - Biz Releases

Photo: Contributed

This week marks a full year since Foundry Kelowna opened its doors, and in that time more than 1,500 youth have come looking for help.

Foundry Kelowna is a centre that works with youth aged 12 to 24 to get the help they need.

“There are 25 partner agencies working together, as seamlessly as we can, to reduce the burden young people can feel when they are looking for help,” Foundry Kelowna manager Melissa Feddersen said.

“When a youth walks through our doors it’s a safe and welcoming environment where they only have to tell their story once. That means getting help is less traumatic and less frustrating,” Feddersen added.

Foundry Kelowna can connect youth to counsellors, physicians, income assistance, housing and employment services.

“We’ve worked with more than 300 families since we opened. When a young person comes in, sometimes we discover that mom or dad is also experiencing the chaos that comes from navigating services for their child. We work with the whole family,” Feddersen added.

Foundry Kelowna is part of a network of seven centres now open in the province, joining two locations in Vancouver, Abbotsford, Victoria, Prince George and Campbell River.

New mill brings jobs
Colton Davies - Sep 23 - Biz Releases

A South Okanagan manufacturer is preparing to open a new mill in OK Falls next month.

Structurlam will be opening a new 35,000-square-foot facility in the town’s industrial park on Oct. 15th. It will employ 20 people to begin and is expected to employ about 20 more once fully operational.

The company already has a 105,000-square-foot facility in the OK Falls industrial park and has plants in Penticton and Oliver as well.

Structurlam engineers mass timber wood which is then sold to builders. The product is in growing demand, as staff say it’s a better way to build.

“In terms of environment, in terms of speed of construction, in terms of quality and in terms of cost, it really has very compelling reasons to adopt these products into construction applications,” Structurlam chief executive officer Hardy Wentzel said.

“A lot of the trees are coming from the Interior of B.C., they’re being processed by sawmills that are local to B.C. and then that lumber comes to Structurlam and we convert it one more time into these engineered wood products.

“I think with the amount of jobs we’re creating and with all the economy that drives off of what we do… I think there should be a lot of pride.”

Structurlam has provided mass timber for dozens of buildings in western North America. Among those, the Microsoft Campus in California, and the 18-storey UBC Brock Commons student housing building in Vancouver — the tallest wood building in North America.

Closer to home, one of their bigger projects done recently was the west wing of the Penticton Lakeside Resort.

“We’re having this — I would say — renaissance in the industry, of finding alternative materials to concrete and steel and now using mass timber in their places,” Wentzel said.

The company still needs to hire about 16 people for next month, and Wentzel said the openings are well-paying union jobs with benefits.

Selling pot not cheap
Wayne Moore - Sep 22 - Biz Releases

Photo: The Canadian Press

Potential cannabis retailers in Kelowna will have to pay higher than normal fees just to submit a rezoning application.

Planning staff are suggesting prospective retailers pay a $9,495 fee for the retail cannabis sales subzone. That would go up to $9,685 in 2019.

The initial rezoning fee is nearly three times what the city charges for a comprehensive development zone application ($3,380).

The higher-than-normal fees are not a surprise.

“There has been a lot of staff time to set this up and do reviews on this model. Having staff become familiar with the federal and provincial legislation, and legal time shutting down the illegal dispensaries that have been out there,” planning manager Ryan Smith said when initially discussing the fees a month ago.

The city will begin accepting applications for the retail cannabis sales subzone Oct. 1.

Rezoning application fees are non-refundable, and are over and above the cost of a business licence, which is also expected to be higher than those for other businesses.

Dr. Oz recognized for work
Okanagan Edge Staff - Sep 21 - Biz Releases

Photo: Contributed
Dr. Noa Oz and Dr. Moshe Oz

Dr. Moshe Oz is this year’s winner of the Greater Westside Board of Trade’s Citizen of the Year award.

The Rose Valley Veterinary Hospital owner was honoured on Thursday night at the Key Business Awards Gala at 19 Okanagan Grill+Bar.

Dr. Oz and his wife, Dr. Noa Oz, always open their doors to Westside pet owners who need shelter for their pets in emergency situations, most notably when wildfires strike the region. He does it out of the goodness of his heart and will often spend the night with the evacuated pets.

“Dr. Oz contributes to this community more than people know, and it is time to recognize his noble efforts,” Greater Westside Board of Trade chairperson Bobby Gidda said in a press release. “The Westside is a better place to live with such a caring and compassionate resident and business owner in it.”

Other winners on Thursday night included The Heritage Retirement Residence as business of the year and large business of the year, Galleria Fashions Boutique (aboriginal business), Okanagan Business Excellence (community and public service), A View to Remember Bed and Breakfast (sustainable green business), Best Version Media (new business), Hergott Law (platinum service provider), Postnet (small business), Apothic Boutique Bed and Breakfast (tourism and hospitality), Mike Morsette Precision Fencing (young entrepreneur) and Dance City Academy (performing arts).

Business symposium on tap
Okanagan Edge Staff - Sep 21 - Biz Releases

File photo: Colin Dacre

Penticton will be the site of an inaugural business development symposium in early November.

FutureBiz will bring together the city’s business community to hear from an expert speaker panel, discuss future business opportunities in the Okanagan and learn about trends that could be pursued.

Some of the topics that will be broached are disruptive technologies, regional economic forecasts, housing and real estate trends, U.S. tariffs, local insights and action steps. Participants include futurist, trends and innovation speaker Nikolas Badminton, Business Development Bank of Canada vice-president Pierre Cleroux and Rennie Group vice-president Andrew Ramlo.

The event, which will be held Nov. 8 from noon to 6:30 p.m. at Lakeside Resort Convention Centre and Casino, is the brainchild of the city’s economic development team.

More information can be found at www.futurebizpenticton.com.

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