Armstrong pauses pot talk
Chantelle Deacon - 6:00 am - Biz Releases

Image: The Canadian Press

The sale of cannabis is set to become legal in just over four months, and for many cities, the discussion is heating up.

The City of Armstrong hasn’t had many conversations about what to do with marijuana once it becomes legal, but it is starting to prepare, sort of.

“I think the whole process is evolving as we speak and move forward,” said Armstrong Mayor Chris Pieper. “Even in July, I am quite sure all the processes will not be in place. I think it’s going to evolve over the next few years.”

Many cities don’t want to put any bylaws in place until the provincial government gives more guidance, including Armstrong.

“The City of Armstrong is waiting for direction from both the federal and provincial government’s on who can license it, who can sell it and how they get licenses,” Chris Pieper said. “Once the successful people get the licenses they will be finding locations to sell it.”

“Right now the City of Armstong is saying that they can sell it in commercial areas and industrial areas. Until we no more about the ramifications around it we will be playing it by ear.”

So far, there has been very little direction given by the provincial government, according to Pieper.

“The federal government has come out with a few little statements on quantities and stuff like that, but basically nothing else,” Chris Pieper said. “We’re just going to see how it evolves and deal with it as it evolves.”

The City plans to see a similar amount of dispensaries as they have liquor stores, which is currently two.

“I’m only guessing, but the provincial government and the federal government will have to set the criteria to get a license the same as you get a license to sell liquor,” he added. “When you get that license then you’ll come to the community to find a place to set up your business, that’s where we see our responsibility in the end.”

Jail guards’ wages decided
Trevor Nichols - Jan 15 - Biz Releases

Image: Trevor Nichols

An arbitrator tasked with deciding how much Commissionaires BC has to pay the 17 guards it employs at the Kelowna jail has handed down his decision.

According to Commissionaires’ Julie Powers, Mark Brown released his legally binding decision today. She says the arbitration award sets out how much Commissionaires has to pay its guards, and finalizes a collective agreement between the company and the union.

Powers would not say how much Brown ordered the company to pay its guards, only that Commissionaires is “very pleased” with the decision.

She said the wages Brown ordered are “largely consistent” with what Commissionaires had been offering during collective bargaining, and that the company believes they are “fair and reasonable.”

No one from CUPE, the union representing the guards, immediately responded to Okanagan Edge’s requests for comment.

Represented by CUPE Local 338, the guards first voted to strike in May of 2017, after negotiations over wages broke down.

The guards are officially employed by Commissionaires, which has a contract with the City of Kelowna to provide the city’s jail guards. Commissionaires’ guards had made $16.50 an hour, which is at least $5 an hour less than jail guards in similar, nearby communities.

In November, CUPE BC president Paul Faoro told Okanagan Edge the Kelowna guards weren’t even making a living wage.

“Sixteen dollars and fifty cents for people who are keeping this city safe. No one in this province would think that’s a fair wage for jail guards,” he said.

Prior to Brown’s decision, Powers had consistently maintained that the union was being unreasonable in its wage demands. She said Commissionaires had offered “very reasonable” wage increases to CUPE on three separate occasions, and the union had rejected them all.

When the two sides agreed to enter into binding arbitration in late December, the decision came a few hours before the guards were set to officially hit the picket line.

Prior to the decision, Commissionaires had been pushing for binding arbitration for an “extended period of time.” When the union finally agreed, CUPE representative Harry Nott said the decision was partly because of Brown’s involvement.

“I think that’s part of the reason we went that way,” he said at the time. “We think Brown will help us.”

Nott also said a strike would have put more stress on both the people being held in the Kelowna cells and the Mounties who would have to pick up the slack.

Westside board shakeup
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jan 15 - Biz Releases

Image: Greater Westside Board of Trade

The Greater Westside Board of Trade’s new board of directors features several familiar faces, many returning in new positions.

The 2018 board, which was decided at the organization’s annual general meeting Jan. 11, will be chaired by Bobby Gidda, the president of Volcanic Hills Winery.

Craig Garries, the owner of PostNet, will act as the board’s vice chair; BDO Canada’s Brett Wike was named second vice chair; Aries Accounting owner Sarah Sabo will act as treasurer; and Gord Milsom, a certified financial planner, was named secretary.

Gidda says his tenure will be marked by a push to attract more members to the board, and encourage more trade between members.

“We will continue to build better member connection to encourage members to go to other members first when they are looking for products or services. We also want to communicate the value of being a member of the Board of Trade in more meaningful ways to the membership,” he said.

“We want to be the go-to resource for Westside businesses so they can connect with the right people and make their businesses better in more ways than just improving their bottom line,” adds Garries.

The remaining members of the 2018 board include:

-Calvin Barr, owner of Ever-Clear Window Cleaning;
-Nelson Derickson, chair of the Westbank First Nation Economic Development Commission;
-Alex Draper, director of business operations with the West Kelowna Warriors;
-Debbie Dupasquier, owner of Distinctly Kelowna Tours;
-Amber Hall, senior regional market manager at Telus;
-Ray Kandola, Owner of City Furniture and Appliance;
-Sara Lussier, realtor with Royal LePage;
-Ed Stephens, senior manager of airport development at Kelowna International Airport.

Peller director steps down
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jan 15 - Biz Releases

Image: LinkedIn

The company that bought three Okanagan wineries earlier this summer is searching for new talent, after Dino Bianco resigned from its board of directors.

Andrew Peller Ltd., which owns wine brands across the country, made a big impact in the Okanagan in September when it bought three major wineries for close to $100 million.

The company says Bianco left the board after accepting a position as president and chief executive officer of K.P. Tissue Inc. and Kruger Paper Products L.P.

Bianco joined Andrew Peller’s board of directors in October of 2016, and has a long history in the food industry. He spent six years as president of Kraft Canada, from 2006-2012. Later, he worked as an executive vice president at Kraft Foods Group, Inc., and also served as its president of beverages.

“Dino made a strong and valuable contribution to our board of directors and the company. We want to thank Dino for his service and wish him well with his new opportunity,” said Andrew Peller’s CEO, John Peller.

With Bianco’s departure, the company says it has started a formal search for a new director. In the interim, Richard Hossack, a current director, will assume the position of chair of the company’s audit committee. 

Urban winery sheds tradition
Trevor Nichols - Jan 15 - Biz Releases

Image: Instagram

A new winery set to open in the middle of downtown Kelowna will break the traditional mould with more than just its urban location.

Jason Alton says he’s trying to do something different with Ricco Bambino, by creating a more vibrant and social atmosphere inside the winery.

“I wanted to steer heavily away from the traditional approach that many wineries have—which is that artesian, hand-in-the-grapes, wood, rusty metal, brick, dark orange motif—and play on…what the feeling is when you drink wine: which is bright, cheerful, happy, somewhat sophisticated, somewhat opulent—those kinds of elements,” he explains.

To do that, Alton has planned a space splashed with bright colours, accented with features like living walls and focused more on getting people to stick around and enjoy their wine.

He says he’s “baffled” there’s no established wine bar in Kelowna’s downtown core, and that with Ricco Bambino he hopes to fill the void.

“What I wanted to do was create a space that is a wine-making facility, but feels a bit also like a wine bar—so you can come and enjoy having some wine, and not just walk in and buy a bottle and leave,” he says. “It’s a new concept I feel hasn’t really been done in many places.”

Alton says Ricco Bambino will also produce wine that is as natural as possible. To do that, he’s enlisted the help of lauded winemaker Matt Dumayne (of Okanagan Crush Pad), who will use only organic or “sustainably sourced” fruit.

Many of the winery’s varietals will be unfined, and some will be unfiltered. They will also be aged in special concrete vessels, a more porous material Alton says allows wine to breathe and evolve.

“Our philosophy is we want to make minimal-intervention wine, which means we don’t want to add a lot of crap to the wine. We want it to be as natural as possible,” Alton says.

He adds that Ricco Bambino will be a smaller winery, producing about 3,000 cases in its first year, and capping out at around 5,000 cases after a few seasons.

He has planned a soft opening for May 1. Ricco Bambino will be located at 1630 Pandosy St., in the former home of The Garage Sale Luxury Auction House.

More information is available on Ricco Bambino’s website.

All hail ride hailing
Wayne Moore - Jan 15 - Biz Releases

Image: The Canadian Press

The City of Kelowna believes any fees or taxes collected from the impending introduction of ride-hailing services in the province should be returned to municipalities.

That request was one of 11 points the city is making as part of a request by the provincial government for feedback on the implementation of ride-hailing.

The NDP government is expected to introduce legislation in the fall to allow services such as Uber and Lyft to operate in B.C.

In its response for feedback, the city says any fees should be allocated to municipalities to mitigate problems created by ride-hailing, such as congestion, illegal blocking of traffic, bike and bus routes and to fund infrastructure and enhancement requirements.

Other items the city would like the province to consider include giving municipalities the ability to regulate and enforce ride-hailing companies, and a requirement that those companies share data with their host municipalities.

The city also asks that companies not have the ability to pick up passengers from taxi stands or accept street hails.

It’s believed current hailing systems, which record time, location, route, car and the name of passengers and drivers derived through a digital connection is more robust than safety features in standard taxis.

The city is required to send a response to the province by today.

New Central Green project
Wayne Moore - Jan 15 - Biz Releases

Image: Castanet

Another Central Green development permit application is coming before Kelowna city council Monday.

A week after council questioned the lack of height being proposed within the multi-phased Central Green development, a permit application for another site is coming to the table.

The latest is for a four-storey, 55-unit residential/commercial building along Richter Street, bordering on the as-yet-to-be constructed Rowcliffe Park at the south end of the development.

The project before council Monday is for the third for strata building on the south side of the development zone.

The other two strata buildings are already under construction.

Unlike the proposed development deferred a week ago while staff reviews the project with the developer, the latest project was always designed to be a smaller building.

This newest project would include 20 three-bedroom units, 19 two-bedroom units, 12 one-bedroom units and four micro-suites.

The wood-frame building would feature an exterior of red brick, exposed concrete and handi-plank siding.

The height of the parkade podium is consistent with the rest of the buildings across the site.

Workplace fined $120K
Colton Davies - Jan 15 - Biz Releases

Image: Google Maps
Roxul Inc., a manufacturing company in Grand Forks, was fined more than $122,000 last month when a worker was hurt on the job.

A manufacturer in Grand Forks was fined more than $120,000 last month after a worker was injured on the job.

Roxul Inc. was fined $122,444.55 by WorkSafeBC on Dec. 14, after an incident where a “worker’s arms were caught between the heat drum and tension roller” of a machine, which resulted in an injury, a penalty summary showed.

The extent of the employee’s injuries are not known. The incident occurred on Aug. 4, according to a post-incident report provided to Castanet.

“The firm failed to ensure machinery was effectively safeguarded and locked out to protect workers. These were repeated and high-risk violations,” the penalty summary from WorkSafeBC stated.

Further information in the post-incident report showed that Roxul has complied with three orders that were issued by WorkSafeBC as a result of the workplace injury.

Okanagan Edge this week
Trevor Nichols - Jan 13 - Biz Releases

Image: Okanagan Edge

Okanagan Edge this week is out look back at all the week in business in the Okanagan Valley, and beyond.

Local business news

Westbank Shopping Centre sold

Image: Contributed

Prominent West Kelowna business owners bought the Westbank Shopping Centre for close to $14 million.

Vibrant’s $1million expansion

A million-dollar expansion at a well-known Kelowna winery will see the Vibrant Vine expand to triple its current size.

New lease for old building

A Kamloops investor has bought the long-vacant, downtown Vernon building that once held the Liquidation World

Image: Trevor Nichols

Big bucks for AO exports

Accelerate Okanagan is getting a hefty chunk of federal funding to export some its startup-building programs.

The money will allow the tech accelerator to take two of its most popular programs out of the city, and into some of B.C.’s more far-flung communities.


Merger means ‘major shakeup’

There was a “major shakeup” in the B.C. insurance world this month, when an Okanagan and Vancouver insurance brokerage merged.


Raudz eyes downtown diner

The restauranteurs at RaudZ Regional Table are about to bring new restaurant to downtown Kelowna.

Audrey Surrao and Chef Rod Butters have taken over a prime Bernard-Avenue space, and plan to put a modern spin on the traditional diner concept.


Kelowna’s new pot economy

Image: Contributed

Legalized pot has the potential to dramatically reshape Kelowna, and the Okanagan’s economy.

Frustrated over fee hike

An association representing BC home inspectors is upset with a looming, 95 per cent hike in its licensing fees.

People in business

New head of Grand kitchen

Image: Contributed

Chef Daniel Craig has taken over as the new executive chef at Delta Hotels Grand Okanagan Resort.

New exec at KCIB

A former Calgary police officer and travel agency owner will soon take over as the new executive director of the Kamloops Central Business Improvement Association.

Provincial business news

New rules for high rollers

Image: B.C. Lottery Corp

New rules are being brought in for big-spending gamblers at British Columbia’s casinos.

Ride-sharing could ‘destroy’ taxis

The B.C. Taxi Association claims it has found an app to meet customer demands across the province, making the need for ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft unnecessary.

Empty home tax looms

The City of Vancouver has launched its empty homes tax audit system meant to ensure residents are complying with the program.

Featured column

Giving back may not solve the problem

Image: Katie Huisman

Andrew Greer says its time to ditch corporate charity. He says the next evolution of company will build solutions right into its bones, rather than throwing a few token donations to community groups each year.


City wants Uber authority
Wayne Moore - Jan 12 - Biz Releases

Image: The Canadian Press

The City of Kelowna would like to have some authority over licensing of ride-hailing operators.

That was one of several items put on the table during a discussion of the pending introduction to B.C. of ride-hailing services, such as Uber and Lyft.

The NDP government is asking municipalities across the province for feedback on the service.

Kelowna acting mayor Tracy Gray said some of the discussion earlier this week centered around licensing.

Gray says municipalities across the province have the ability to issue chauffeur’s licences, and council would like that same flexibility.

She says council also talked about assurances of a level playing field within the industry.

Gray added council also liked the fact there could be some increased mobility options available with ride hailing.

The province is expected to introduce ride-hailing legislation in the fall.

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