First West’s gift for pride, diversity
Miriam Halpenny - 7:00 am - Biz Releases

Photo: Contributed

The Bridge Youth & Family Services has received $10,000 from the First West Foundation to support LGBTQIA2S+ youth in the community.

The grant will go towards the Etcetera program which provides LGBTQIA2S+ youth between the ages of 11 and 18 with a safe environment to meet peers.

The group focuses on inclusion, belonging, engagement, connection, leadership, fun, learning and confidence. The program consists of 44 weekly sessions and three special events each year. The marginalization of LGBTQIA2S+ people puts them at an increased risk of suicide, substance abuse, homelessness, isolation and depression.

Etcetera offers acceptance and support which tackles these known risks and positively impacts the participants self esteem, health and well-being. The program aims to encourage pride and diversity in the city of Kelowna.

“The connection that my child has found with the Etcetera group has been amazing. He looks forward to attending every week. The connections have led to a couple good friendships, on both his and my part – parents. Being heard, seen and openly accepted without judgement has been monumental for him,” says the parent of an Etcetera youth.

Hyatt hotel opens in Kelowna
Okanagan Edge Staff - 6:00 am - Biz Releases

Photo: Hyatt Place Kelowna

It’s an interesting time to open a hotel.

The new Hyatt Place Kelowna opens its doors today. The West Fraser Developments Ltd. project is located in the centre of Kelowna, and offers 161 rooms and suites.

“Our doors are open, COVID-19 protocols are in place, and we would love to welcome you,” said Lloyd Daser, who is the Hyatt Place’s general manager.

The hotel building has retail and event space, an indoor swimming pool, a fitness centre, and a rooftop terrace.

“After much anticipation our team and I are very excited to showcase the new Hyatt Place Kelowna to the community and the world,” said Daser.

There are hundreds of hotels and accommodations under the Hyatt banner around the globe, including several in B.C.— Spirit Ridge at NK’MIP Resort, the Hyatt Regency Vancouver, Hyatt Place Vancouver Airport, and Hyatt Place Prince George.

Hyatt also has luxury brand hotels in Paris, New York, Sydney, and Milan.

“We are proud to call Kelowna home and we will be a community and hospitality leader, representing this great city on a global scale,” said Kyle Bingham, the West Fraser Hospitality Regional Operations Manager.

The news is a sharp contrast to a recent survey that found 43,500 people in the industry are still laid off due to the pandemic.

Photo: Hyatt Place Kelowna

Voyager RV honoured for fundraising
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jul 13, 2020 - Biz Releases

Photo: Contributed
Ward Fraser, General Manager, Voyager RV general manager Ward Fraser and staff receive the award from the ALS Society’s Wendy Toyer

Voyager RV Centre in Lake Country is being honoured for raising donations for ALS.

The ALS Society of BC has presented Winfield’s Voyager with this year’s Exceptional Fundraising Program Award – Corporate Partner.

The company celebrated its 35th anniversary by launching the Voyager Cares Fundraising Initiative, with a goal of raising $100,000 for local charities.

The campaign kicked-off in December of 2018. Over the next 12 months, the family-owned-and-operated dealership committed each of its departments to donate proceeds from every RV sale to seven different non-profit organizations throughout the Central Okanagan.

ALS hit close to home for Voyager general manager Ward Fraser, who lost his mother to ALS. To support him, the Voyager team selected the ALS Society of BC as one of the charities to support. Last September, Voyager raised $16,380 for ALS B.C. The funds were used as part of a matching grant for the Society’s Giving Tuesday campaign, which raised over $140,000 for the ALS BC equipment loan program.

Meanwhile, Kelowna resident Nancy Arbuckle won the Exceptional Public Awareness Program Award – Individual award for her work educating and increasing public awareness of ALS.

Arbuckle is the local coordinator of the Kelowna Walk to End ALS. She also made a key contribution towards June ALS Awareness Month by initiating the involvement of the Spirit of Sail sculpture in Kelowna.

“We also need to share the courageous stories of ALS patients. I am inspired everyday with how positive these individuals are and the way they live life to the fullest,” she said.

Arbuckle said Louise Gauthier, Doug Lundeen and Syd McGuigan have also been key in helping spread the word about ALS.

Kamloops air traffic down 97%
Brendan Kergin - Jul 13, 2020 - Biz Releases

Photo: Kamloops Airport

The Kamloops Airport is reporting a massive drop in activity over the second quarter of the year when compared to 2019.

Fewer than 2,500 people passed through the gates from April 1 to June 30; in fact, just 493 people went through in April as the airlines and country were rocked by the COVID-19 pandemic. Only a handful more went through in May, with 593 passengers.

June saw somewhat of a rebound, with 1,407 passengers.

However, those numbers are far behind the normal. April and May 2020 were both more than 98 per cent behind the same months in 2019, though last year was a record breaking year. June was more than 95 per cent behind the same month in 2019; together the three months were 97.01 per cent behind the same quarter in 2019.

The effects of the pandemic were felt by the aviation industry in the first quarter, but not to this extent.

“As expected, passenger numbers in Q2 reflect the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the airline, aviation and tourism industries in Kamloops,” states airport administration in a press release. “Passenger numbers are slowly starting to recover domestically with the increased services of WestJet and reintroduction of service by Air Canada and Central Mountain Air.”

Vision to FURNISH the Okanagan
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jul 13, 2020 - Biz Releases

Photo: Contributed

A new furniture store opening this week in Kelowna will blend décor with interior design expertise.

FURNISH will open Thursday at its location at 464 Adams Rd.

The parent company is Isabey Interiors.

“With the opening of FURNISH you will have access to unique décor and furnishings that you could only have dreamt of before today,” says the company.

Owner Trisha Isabey is also lead designer at Isabey Interiors and “a self-proclaimed shopaholic who has found a way to combine her two passions, which are great design and shopping.”

The store will be a curated a collection of home décor.

Filmmaking in time of pandemic
Laura Brookes - Jul 13, 2020 - Biz Releases

Photo: Laura Brookes

Reel One Entertainment crew members are on site in downtown Kelowna Monday as they head into the final days of filming for the upcoming movie ‘Love and Romance Oregon.’

Crews will film at Karat Chocolate and Pastry Boutique on Monday, and on Tuesday will return to a Casorso Road farm location before wrapping up filming on Wednesday.

The romantic comedy is set to be completed within the next three months, but has been considerably slowed down by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Line producer Ingo Lou says they’re constantly adapting safety and hygiene practices on set to ensure they are able to continue with production in the COVID-19 era.

“Making movies is difficult enough on the best of days. You add a pandemic to it all and we need to change how we work.

“The biggest change is of course you see everybody wearing masks, but in addition everybody in the mornings they go through a check point where everyone gets a temperature taken, health declaration for COVID-19 … in addition we have safety meetings a couple of times a day from our assistant director who assesses all the risks, talks to all of the crew, the cast, makes sure everyone has a good plan for that.”

Lou says they have also established a new department called the COVID-19 sterile technician, ensuring there are staff responsible for sterilizing everything on set multiple times a day.

In addition to ‘Love and Romance Oregon,’ the company has another eight TV films scheduled to be produced in Kelowna by the end of 2020.

New spot to gas up proposed
Brendan Kergin - Jul 13, 2020 - Biz Releases

Photo: City of Kamloops

Westsyde Shopping Centre may be getting some new tenants soon.

A project has been proposed in the neighbourhood’s main shopping area with a fuel bar, convenience store, car wash and pizza shop. Drawings in a report coming to city council show Canco and Fresh Slice logos on the structure.

The project is proposed for the centre’s north west corner, close to Westsyde Road. Currently that section of the shopping centre (which is owned by Jim Pattison Developments) is empty or parking lot.

The project will be before council at this week’s meeting (July 14) for a development permit. City staff note it meets the city’s guidelines for the area.

Businesses help with zero-waste
Sarita Patel - Jul 11, 2020 - Biz Releases

Photo: Sarita Patel

July is plastic-free month and the global movement has inspired over 250 million participants in 177 countries to reduce single-use plastic in their everyday lives.

Castanet spoke with two local businesses to see how they’re helping residents live a more plastic-free, sustainable lifestyle, without getting overwhelmed.

“It is overwhelming and it’s expensive so we’re thinking, hey you know what your toothpaste runs out – think about it, be like hey do I want to switch to a jar – yes,” explains Karolina Bialkowska, general manager at Our Footprints Co. in Kelowna.

She herself started her journey into sustainability by switching out her shampoo to a more eco-friendly option and from there has slowly changed her lifestyle.

Bialkowska says as your products run out think about switching over.

“You don’t want to waste money, you don’t want to throw things away. As they run out you can refill them in a more sustainable way and that’s what we’re focusing on for July and long-term as well.”

And over at Chickpeace Zero Waste Refillery, Kelowna only zero-waste refillery they’ve made it easier than ever to switch over to a plastic-free lifestyle during the pandemic because they do all the filling for the customer.

“You come in here, you walk around and you fill out a little clipboard with all the things you want and then we fill it all for you while you walk around or go out,” says Allisha Heidt, owner and CEO of Chickpeace Zero Waste Refillery.

They have many options for free containers like, community jars that have been donated and sanitized, compostable paper bags and deposit jars, where you can bring back the purchased jar to get your money back.

Both say even the little steps make a difference.

“The intention behind that action so even if you feel like oh well I’m using my metal straw but it’s not really going to save all those turtles in the ocean – it’s the energy and the intention behind that action that’s going to catapult all sorts of great actions in the future,” adds Heidt.

“Once you start making small changes in your life you may not think it has an impact it does and then other people around you notice and they might be inspired to make that change,” says Bialkowska.

She says one change leads to another creating a snowball effect and by the time you know it a year is up and you’ve become more sustainable.

“I find that one of the biggest obstacles to making these changes is changing all of your household cleaning and personal beauty products at once is really expensive and people get overwhelmed and it’s daunting and they don’t do it.”

Bialkowska says Footprints help residents figure out their budget and help make small changes until they’re able to make a big impact in the future.

“That’s the goal, you could be half of your life, your whole life or it could be 10 percent of your life but that’s 10 per cent more than you were doing before and that makes a difference.”

To see how you can get involved, check out

Record crowd at Big White
Wayne Moore - Jul 11, 2020 - Biz Releases

Photo: Big White

Bright Okanagan sunshine greeted outdoor enthusiasts on the first day of the summer season at Big White.

The ski hill opened for mountain bikers and hikers alike Friday, 114 days after it closed due to concerns surrounding COVID-19.

More than 300 people hit the resort early in the day and more were expected for “Friday Night Bikes,” in the bike park.

Big White senior VP Michael J. Ballingall says he’s excited to finally get the summer season underway.

“With record crowds on opening day, we’re expecting that people want to get out and about. We look forward to being that space they escape to with the family,” he said in a news release Friday.

Chair lifts will take visitors to scenic Rhonda Lake, home to a network of hiking trails.

People visiting the mountain can bring their own bikes, or rent one on the hill. Five restaurants are also open.

The resort has installed hand sanitizing stations, additional outdoor seating and washrooms and other outdoor amenities for the health and safety of guests, staff and on-hill residents.

Saturday and Sunday, Big While is hosting a geo-hiking scavenger hunt. Clue sheets are available upon registration from 10 a.m. through 1 p.m. each day.

The hill will be open every Friday, Saturday, Sunday and holiday Monday through Sept. 7.

Central Air adds more flights
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jul 10, 2020 - Biz Releases

Photo: Facebook

After resuming flights this week between five B.C. cities, including Kelowna, Central Mountain Air is planning to relaunch flights to and from several more cities.

Flights between Fort St. John, Kamloops, Kelowna, Prince George, and Terrace resumed July 7.

Now the airline has announced it’s starting to book flights between three additional Alberta and B.C. destinations: Fort Nelson, High Level, and Edmonton. While tickets are on sale, the new route schedule does not start until Sept. 14.

CMA is also enhancing its existing booking policy to provide customers more flexible cancellation options. Flex fare passengers are eligible for refunds up to 72 hours before their flight, without any extra fees.

“CMA is proud to lead the Canadian airline industry with this refund policy,” said CMA CEO Bob Cummings.

“Our customers are responding to unprecedented change and need this peace of mind. We also plan to lead the industry in terms of our flight scheduling approach. We are committed to running our schedule as published, we built the schedule to maximize our confidence in minimizing the need to combine, cancel or change flights.”

Cummings said the airline is committed to passenger safety, adding they have been working closely with communities to ensure their health indicators and customer demand support the resumption of service.

“We know how much these communities rely on our connectivity and are proud to partner with them on this schedule,” he said.

Through July 17, passengers can book using the promo code RELAUNCH, which provides a 10% discount for travel through Oct. 31.

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