Legal first at Sikh temple
Jon Manchester - 10:56 am - Biz Releases

Photo: Contributed

More than 200 people crowded Kelowna’s Sikh temple to witness a Canadian business first on Sunday.

Navjit Khunkhun, an articling student at Benson Law, took her oath to become a lawyer in front of her congregation.

It is reportedly the first time in Canada, perhaps in North America, that the oath has been sworn in a Sikh temple. Normally, it would happen at a law office or courthouse.

Congregation members turned out in large numbers to celebrate the occasion at the Guru Amar Dass Durbar Gurdwara in Rutland.

Robert Tonsoo of Benson Law swore Khunkhun in. She will now attend a formal session, where she signs the “rolls” of the law society before a judge in a courtroom.

Law firm founding partner Garry Benson said: It is an honour for our company … to perform this ceremony at a Sikh temple of Gurdwara.”

Born and raised in the Okanagan, Khunkhun obtained her bachelor of arts degree with a major in philosophy from UBC Okanagan. She continued her studies at one of Australia’s leading institutions, Bond University, graduating with her juris doctor with distinction.

Her practice is focused on corporate and commercial matters, real estate, and wills and estates.

Autism academy downtown
Kirk Penton - 9:44 am - Biz Releases

Vista Academy has a perfect record when it comes to ensuring autistic children learn the skills needed to stay enrolled in their full-time schools.

The non-profit academy has been in operation for more than three years, and all 21 students who have gone through Vista are now thriving in their schools.

“What makes Vista different than the other service providers in the community is our goal is to integrate the children back into their regular learning environments,” Vista executive director Ashley Sali said. “So we would like to have them here for a year or two to build the skills they require to integrate successfully and stay meaningfully enrolled in their full-time education.

“We are here to help bridge the gap between early intervention and typical schooling, so we run a program here that goes from kindergarten to Grade 5.”

Vista was able to accomplish its stellar mark of success while operating out of its founder’s basement, too. Henrietta Penney is the woman behind Vista, and she couldn’t be more excited now that the academy has a space of its own in downtown Kelowna.

“It’s going to be marvellous, and I’m pretty excited about it all,” she said. “It’s a legacy for me to fill.”

Vista opened its new doors at 204-1456 St. Paul St. on April 1, and the academy’s new home has even more space to ensure its students get the skills they need. One of the highlights is the 300 square-foot sensory room.

“Here at Vista we believe that kids learn best through movement and then the ability to be able to practise proprioception … you get to have movement breaks, get body awareness, climb on the rock-climbing wall, use the monkey bars and hang on the sensory swings as well as being able to do group activities like yoga and drumming,” Sali said. “It’s a really great opportunity to have that facility for them to get the energy out so that they’re able to learn better.”

The prime location downtown will also allow the teachers and students to go on field trips to places like the library, museum, City Park and Kasugai Gardens.

Majda Stojanovic’s son, Dominic Deck, attends Vista Academy, and she said the improvement in her son has been more than noticeable.

“As a mom whose child attended Vista for over a year, I definitely see—other than the actual growth he would’ve done anyway—he has been taken care of in a way that when he does have a behaviour issue, perhaps in public school or other places he would’ve been sent home,” Stojanovic said. “Individuals wouldn’t have the one-on-one time to tend to Dominic when he’s having a moment, as we all do.

“At Vista they actually work with him specifically during that time, so when he does have a challenge they’ll actually also teach the parent what to do and how to talk to him when he’s having a challenging time. So I see a great change in my son, how he behaves and how we deal with it as well when he has a tough time.”

The academy is accepting students for the upcoming school year, and summer options are available as well. Visit the Vista website for more information.

Art gallery seeks help
Chelsea Powrie - 8:27 am - Biz Releases

Photo: Contributed

The Penticton Art Gallery is seeking money from the city following devastating break-ins and ahead of its lease negotiation.

Currently, the gallery operates on city-owned land through a lease that expires in October 2019. Under the lease terms, the gallery is responsible for maintenance to the building.

A series of break-ins during the last four months have affected its ability to pay those expenses, the gallery explains in a letter to Penticton council.

“We have incurred costs of nearly $25,000 in replacement, repairs and security upgrades,” the letter reads.

“The board of directors of the Penticton Art Gallery is urgently requesting that the City of Penticton pay the expenses that have been incurred by the break-ins and the repairs to the HVAC system.”

In total, the gallery is asking the city for $28,963.94. A report from city staff notes council has no legal responsibility to provide the funding but that it could choose to allocate some municipal grant funding.

Council will decide on Tuesday whether to fully fund, partially fund or deny the gallery’s request.

Breweries up and running
Contributed - 7:22 am - Biz Releases

Photo: Colin Dacre

By Rob Mangelsdorf

This summer is shaping up to be busiest the province has ever seen for new craft brewery openings.

Last week two new breweries opened in the Okanagan, with Barn Owl Brewing Co. in Kelowna and Breakaway Brewing Co. in Summerland both opening their doors.

Barn Owl Brewing Co. (Kelowna)

Located in an updated heritage barn with seating for 60 people, this farm-based craft brewery is the first for Kelowna’s Lower Mission neighbourhood.

Barn Owl managed to open with a whopping seven beers on tap, including its Lakeshore Lager, Bohemian Red Pilsner, Amai Belgian Witbier, Homegrown IPA, Raspberry Wheat Ale, Night Owl Porter and Espresso Night Owl Porter.

Breakaway Brewing Co. (Summerland)

This new nanobrewery in the heart of Uptown Summerland is led by two young ex-hockey players originally from Colorado.

While the beer is being made on a modest 320-litre system currently, construction is already underway to build a warehouse out the back of the building that will hold an additional 600-litre brewhouse. Breakaway’s opening tap list includes a dry-hopped pilsner, IPA, chocolate stout and a peach wheat ale.

Petition off to city hall
Colin Dacre - 6:17 am - Biz Releases

About 13,000 Kelowna signatures opposed to the McCurdy Road supportive housing project are on their way to city hall.

The petition is the result of two weeks of work by volunteers and Rutland residents who believe the neighbourhood has already done its share in housing the hard to house.

The final petition count saw about 14,000 signatures in total, with just under 13,000 of them coming from Kelowna. The task of getting that many pens to paper in such a short time frame was a massive undertaking.

“So many volunteers came out of the woodwork to make it happen,” organizer Audra Boudreau said.

While the petition isn’t on Monday’s council agenda, Boudreau says they are showing up with the expectation that their voices will be heard.

“I’ve heard from one councillor who has suggested that if Mayor Basran is not willing to give me permission to present it to council, they would make a motion to do that,” Boudreau said. “Because they want the petition to be heard, if 14,000 of your voters speak, they should be heard.”

She says if the city “powers ahead” with the planned project, they will be presenting the petition to the B.C. Legislature once it resumes sitting in the fall.

Boudreau says they would welcome a different type of BC Housing project on the corner, be it for families or seniors, but the red line is any facility that permits drug and alcohol use.

“There are very viable alternative options for this site,” she said, maintaining its not too late for the city and BC Housing to change course and construct a project that doesn’t permit drug and alcohol use.

“There is a perfect opportunity for a win-win for the city, for BC Housing and for the community.”

Kelowna city council has already granted the project final approval, meaning the only way changes will be made to the project would be for the mayor to bring the item back for reconsideration under a rarely used section of the Community Charter.

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick has already asked the province to hit pause on the project.

Cabbies simply want fairness
Nicholas Johansen - Jul 13, 2019 - Biz Releases

This past week, the province announced it will begin to allow ride-sharing applications in B.C. sometime after mid-September and unveiled the new rules that will regulate the service.

Kelowna city councillor Ryan Donn called the new rules “a joke,” singling out the requirement that drivers require a Class 4 licence as a barrier that would keep the service from taking off in smaller cities like Kelowna.

On Friday, Kelowna Cabs spokesperson Roy Paulson said the Class 4 requirement is a positive step for putting ride-share drivers on a level playing field with cab drivers, but he says the new rules still aren’t fair.

“Competition is healthy for any business, but it should be a level playing field for everybody,” Paulson said.

“For me to be a taxi driver, I have to have my Class 4. I also have to have a chauffeur’s permit, which is actually a criminal background check.”

Paulson also pointed to different insurance requirements and the lack of boundary restrictions that will be placed on ride-share drivers.

“With us, we can go just north of Oyama and as far down as Peachland,” he said. “It should be the same set of rules for everybody, in order to make it a competitive business. Having that competition will make it that much healthier because each company will strive to be better than the other.”

Paulson acknowledged the addition of ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft could help ease taxi wait times during peak times, like after bars close on busy weekends. But he says most of the time, cabs are sufficient in meeting demand in Kelowna, with the average wait time of a Kelowna Cabs customer being five to 11 minutes.

“From what I see with what’s going on with Uber so far, it’s not looking fair because of the no boundaries, their insurance and things like that are way different than what it is in the taxi industry,” he said.

Penticton pot shops prepare
Chelsea Powrie - Jul 12, 2019 - Biz Releases

Photo: Contributed

Three private cannabis stores in Penticton are working to clear final hurdles before opening, while a government store could also swoop in at any time to become the first legally operating shop in town.

City development director Anthony Haddad didn’t have a firm prediction on which store will be ready to go first, but said they are all close: “It’s tough to say.”

One of the stores is SpiritLeaf on Skaha Lake Road, which has submitted its business permits but hasn’t received provincial approval.

“If they get their provincial approval, then they will be first out of the gate. But if they don’t get approval, then we won’t issue the licence, and they are still sitting there in a flux,” Haddad said.

The other two, Cannabis Cottage at 385 Martin St. and Greenery Cannabis Boutique at 465 Martin St. have “approval in principle” notices in hand from the province but are still awaiting a final go-ahead.

“The business licence application is in for Cannabis Cottage, for example, and they could theoretically get their provincial approval tomorrow, and they’d be first,” Haddad said.

“Our ability to issue the first business licence will be dependant on the provincial approval,” he explained. “Some of them have different buildings with different renovations needed. Some of them already have renovations underway.”

The other question mark in the race to be first to open is the government-run BC Cannabis Store, slated for 106-2210 Main St. They don’t have to apply for a provincial licence, just city approval.

“So if they had their business licence application in right now, we’d issue it tomorrow,” Haddad said. “But they haven’t submitted their licence. So they could be first.”

It all comes down to a waiting game with the province, and Haddad says the city is working steadily on the process on their end to get cannabis retail stores open soon.

E-scooters hit Kelowna
Kirk Penton - Jul 12, 2019 - Biz Releases

The first electric scooters hit the road in Kelowna on Friday, and the owners are hoping it plays a role in leading a transportation revolution.

OGO Scooters, which is based in Kelowna, will become the first of three e-scooter companies to hit the market when it introduces 60 vehicles to the community on Saturday. It gave the public a chance to test them out for free on Friday near the Kelowna Visitor Centre.

“What we’re always talking about is micro-mobility, to change the way people move in our cities,” OGO Scooters owner Chris Szydlowski said at the launch. “And the e-scooter has really materialized to the forefront of the conversation to be the vehicle that can help drive that change, reduce congestion and all that.

“Kelowna is just the most forward thinking city in Canada, really, to have this program in place.”

OGO, which is a division of Canada West Segway, is the first e-scooter company to operate in a Canadian city under a permit system. Szydlowski said a similar business is operational in Halifax, but there are no permits involved.

OGO will have between six and 10 full-time employees, most of whom will track down the scooters after use, re-charge the batteries and clean the helmets. The scooters will be allowed to travel on bike lanes and on the Okanagan Rail Trail, and geo-fencing will prevent them from being driven outside the established corridor.

The area in which the scooters can travel around Kelowna is not a big one, and Szydlowski is hoping government sees the need to expand it as quickly as possible.

“The electric mobility solutions are there to reduce our congestion, but our traffic laws are set a long time ago and they’re not adapting quick enough to the technology that’s advancing,” Szydlowski said. “It’s well timed that we’ll see the provincial level start to take more recognition of the initiatives that are being taken in Kelowna, and hopefully you’ll see that drive the change.

“We need to have less cars, more people on electric personal mobility devices, less pollution, less congestion, friendlier. Like, you’re riding around smiling on these scooters, so it really gives off a goodwill feeling in the community.”

The scooters top out at about 15 kilometres per hour. Users, who must first download the OGO Scooters app, will pay one dollar to get it started and then 30 cents per minute. The scooters can travel up to 45 kilometres on a single charge. Helmets will be provided with each scooter, but they are not mandatory. You must be at least 19 years old to drive an OGO scooter, but that will work on the honour system until identification technology the company is working on is operational.

OGO is asking users to return the scooters to where they picked them up—most locations will be along the lakefront downtown—although that is not necessary either, as the company has the ability to geo-track them. A rewards program is being established for those who return the scooters to their pick-up locations.

Two other e-scooter companies, Spin Co. and Zip, are expected to begin operations soon.

West K weed wait starts
Wayne Moore - Jul 12, 2019 - Biz Releases

Photo: The Canadian Press

West Kelowna has completed the process of approving rezoning for five cannabis retail stores in the city.

Now, each of the applications will be forwarded to the province for approval and licensing.

However, with the current backlog of well over 400 applications in the hands of the province, it will likely be several months before they are approved.

“We don’t have a timeline, but we do expect to hear back from the province fairly quickly, as they seem to be moving them through more quickly now,” says development services general manager Nancy Henderson.

“Then we would have, potentially, building permit applications for tenant improvements, and of course there’s the business licensing process to go through.”

Henderson expects an October to December opening could be a fair timeline.

The stores would be located at 2528 Main St., 3710 Hoskins Rd., 1812 Byland Rd. and at 1192 and 1195 Industrial Rd.

Vernon’s SpiritLeaf became the first cannabis store to be provincially licensed last month, while a second in Lake Country is expected to open this month.

Scooter biz set to launch
Wayne Moore - Jul 12, 2019 - Biz Releases

Kelowna’s first electric scooter ride share will launch Friday.

Kelowna-based OGO, one of three companies licensed to provide e-scooter products in the city, will officially launch at the Queensway Tourist Information Centre.

According to company officials, this will be the first e-scooter ride share in Western Canada.

The company is expected to have up to 60 e-scooters available.

Two other companies, Spin Co. and Zip, are expected to launch their programs soon.

It’s expected all three companies will use an app-based rental system similar to the one utilized last year by DropBike.

Unlike electric bikes, which are allowed on municipal roadways, there are heavy restrictions to where e-scooters can operate.

Active transportation co-ordinator Matt Worona says the scooters will be allowed only on a specific corridor for now.

“That corridor is the Rail Trail with Angel Way, the Waterfront Walkway to Abbott and all the way to the hospital. It will connect the hospital, downtown, Landmark, and both UBCO and the airport,” Worona said.

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