Groups use skiKrumb for free
Okanagan Edge Staff - Mar 01, 2024 - Biz Releases

Photo: Contributed

New technology that keeps track of children on ski hills has proven quite popular in its first winter of operation, and the company that makes it is already giving back.

SkiKrumb provides custom-made GPS trackers that are used at both Big White Ski Resort and Apex Mountain Resort to track the locations of youth and children skiers. It has a long-lasting battery and works in areas without cell service. It provides location updates every 10 seconds, as well as daily video replays, including highlights from the runs you’ve skied throughout the day. 

Keith MacIntyre, who founded skiKrumb and serves as its CEO, decided to give back to schools and local groups this winter to make life a little easier for teachers and chaperones from Kelowna Christian School, Penticton’s Holy Cross School and Elevation Outdoors.

“We’ve perfected our group tracking features and have donated skiKrumb to schools and local groups to help make their fun day stress free,” MacIntyre said in a press release. “We get the kids set up as they are being dropped off in the morning for the trip, and the teachers can see all of the kids updating live on the map every 10 seconds.

“The school trips we did had a few children late getting back, some as long as 30 minutes, but we knew where they were and that they were safe. It’s my hope that skiKrumb helps more young people try out the sport we all love so much.”

Kelowna Christian School middle teacher Lisa Gossen said the technology worked wonderfully when her class visited Big White on Feb. 15.

“It gave both teachers and parents peace of mind that if a student got separated from their group we could direct a teacher supervisor to check on them,” Gossen said. “We are so grateful that we worked with skiKrumb to help keep us safe.”

The skiKrumb devices can now be used for mountain biking and hiking as well. The company is working with local communities to install skiKrumb infrastructure to be available on trails throughout the Okanagan. As a result, it is now offering skiKrumbs for purchase for $175, which will include an all-resort subscription to the end of the 2024-25 season.

More information about skiKrumb can be found on its website here.

Badke Road rentals proposed
Okanagan Edge Staff - Mar 01, 2024 - Biz Releases

Image: Gravity Architecture

For the second time in three weeks, a Langley developer has asked the City of Kelowna for permission to build housing in Rutland.

Kerr Properties has applied for a development permit at 765 Badke Rd., north of Highway 33 and west of Hollywood Road, for a six-storey rental building.

Patrick Kerr Holdings in mid-February applied for rezoning and development permits for a 55-townhouse project on Mills Road.

The Badge Road project would have 120 rentals, including 28 one-bedroom, 78 two-bedroom and 14 three-bedroom units. There would also be 134 parking stalls and 100 bicycle stalls.

The proposal will make its way through the city planning department before going in front of council later this year.

Business law comes to TRU
Josh Dawson - Mar 01, 2024 - Biz Releases

Photo: TRU

Thompson Rivers University’s school of business will be offering a business law minor, a new program that will help differentiate the university to domestic students, according to a TRU law professor.

The proposal for the new minor came from school of business and economics professor Dan Thompson and law professor John O’Fee. The minor was approved by the board last Friday.

O’Fee said he thinks the new program will help attract and retain domestic students, a goal of the university following recent federal changes to international student permits.

“One of our strategies, perhaps, ought to be to look at what differentiates TRU from other universities in B.C. that are our size, or in Alberta, for example,” O’Fee said.

“As far as I’m aware, none of them have a minor in business law except for us.”

Comparable programs in Western Canada include a business law concentration at UBC, a major in business economics and law at the University of Alberta, a minor in business law at McEwan University in Edmonton and a business law concentration at Douglas College.

O’Fee said he anticipates accounting and finance students would have the most interest in the new minor but said the program is open to all.

“We suspect mostly business students, but again if you’re an arts student with an eye on law school and you want to explore some legal concepts, these courses give you at least an overview,” O’Fee said. “It gives you that opportunity to put your toe in the water and see what things are like and get a taste of it.”

The new minor will be made up of several existing courses and three new offerings.

Courses cover real estate law, employment law, environmental law, advanced commercial law and Indigenous business law. Students in the program will be required to take at least four of the five offerings. Those in the program will also be required to take a course on commercial law, a core course for all business administration students.

“We think it’s going to be something that students will see as relevant to their future; gives them an opportunity to explore an area of study that you don’t normally get in undergrad,” O’Fee said.

“Understanding how the law works, understanding core legal concepts is something that will will serve you well in life regardless of whether or not you end up practising law.”

According to the proposal that went in front of the university’s senate and board of governors, a survey of 214 BBA students had 75% of respondents indicate they plan to complete one of the courses in the minor and 70 said they would take the minor or additional business law courses.

The proposal anticipates the program would have 20 graduates a year.

O’Fee said the school of arts is also looking to create a legal studies minor, which he said may eventually help to get a legal studies major off the ground depending on student demand.

“Once we’ve got that in place, we can kind of cobbled together enough courses for a major at some point,” O’Fee said. “That’s going to depend on student demand, but if it’s just as successful as we hope then obviously that would be a step down the line.”

The new minor will be offered for the first time in September.

New plan for old gas station
Wayne Moore - Mar 01, 2024 - Biz Releases

Photo: Worman Commercial

A former gas station and office building could be in for a significant facelift if an application from Worman Commercial gets approved.

Worman is proposing to restore the facade of the empty building on the northeast corner of Water Street and Leon Avenue.

In its application to the city’s planning department, the company hopes to obtain a development permit to re-expose and refurbish the old facade and add a covered glass feature to the prominent corner.

“In our research on the exiting property, we discovered that the building was once used for a gas station operated by Kelowna Motors, among other uses,” the application states.

The original building appears to be hidden underneath a 1976 addition.

“The building was constructed using poured in place concrete formed with horizontal boards making for a very architectural finish.”

The building was at one time owned by CHBC Television and used as office space as late as the 1990s.

As part of the restoration Worman proposes to install windows in the location of the original ones and attempt to “mimic the grid patterns as close as possible.”

“The original garage door location on Water will be filled in with storefront glass and an entry door. We believe the classic look of this old building will complement the new construction happening around it and provide an interesting contrast from new to old.”

Internal city staff will review the application before it is sent to city council for consideration.

Dragons’ Den auditions coming
Colin Dacre - Mar 01, 2024 - Biz Releases

Photo: Flickr

Have a big business idea you need help getting off the ground?

CBC’s Dragons’ Den is holding auditions next week in Kelowna.

Open auditions will take place on Thursday, March 7, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Pela office in the Innovation Centre at 460 Doyle Ave. You can also submit online applications until April 6.

The show is also partnering with Okanagan Regional Library for an entrepreneurial workshop, Lessons From the Den: An Event for Entrepreneurs!, at the Downtown Kelowna branch on March 6 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“Learn what it takes to launch your own business at this special event featuring a panel of successful Dragons’ Den alumni who will share their wisdom of what it takes to BYOB (build your own business),” said the CBC event listing.

You can sign up to register for the event here.

Indigenous business talk on tap
Okanagan Edge Staff - Feb 29, 2024 - Biz Releases

UBC Okanagan’s faculty of management is launching an Indigenous Business Speaker Series, the first of which will be held next week.

The series encourages students, faculty, staff and members of the community to learn from and engage with local Indigenous leaders.

The first speaker will be Ntityix Development Corporation chief executive officer Mic Werstuik, who will discuss leading, managing and organizing on Tuesday, March 5 at UBCO’s University Centre Ballroom. Werstuik has served on the Westbank First Nation executive team since 2021 and has been actively involved in the progress and accomplishments of WFN and its corporate entities.

“Our Indigenous Business Speaker Series serves as a vital step along the path to foster truth, understanding, dialogue and action to reconciliation,” faculty of management dean pro term Dr. Sandy Hilton said in a press release.

“The series aims to honour and share the invaluable contributions and experiences of Indigenous peoples in business, leadership and governance.”

The event on Tuesday begins at 2:30 p.m. with Werstuik’s keynote address. Following his address and after a short break, attendees are welcome to participate in a facilitated group discussion moderated by Krystal Withakay.

The event is free and open to the public, but you are asked to register here.

Future looks good for Avant
Okanagan Edge Staff - Feb 29, 2024 - Biz Releases

Photo: Avant Brands

A Kelowna cannabis company continues to go in the right direction.

Avant Brands on Thursday announced several records it achieved during the 2023 fiscal year, including gross revenue, cash flow from operations and adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.

Gross revenues climbed to $30.2 million, a 33% increase from the previous year, operations cash flow surged by 256% to $5.4 million, and adjusted EBITDA hit a new high of $4.4 million, up 132% compared to 2022. 

Overall, the company produced a net loss of $1.5 million, but that is much improved over its $8.5 million loss during the 2022 fiscal year.

“We’re thrilled by the remarkable growth across all key financial metrics during fiscal year 2023, showcasing our dedication to strategic excellence and operational efficiency,” Avant Brands founder and CEO Norton Singhavon said in a press release. “The successful integration of the Flowr Group Okanagan sets the stage for even greater success in fiscal year 2024 and beyond, bolstering our expansion efforts and strengthening our position at a global scale.

“Additionally, the two strategic acquisitions we made during the fiscal year 2023 underscores our commitment to long-term success and maximizing shareholder value in a dynamic market.”

The acquisition of Flowr Group Okanagan has been a big development for the company, positioning Avant for further growth. The company’s expansion in global distribution channels, with a 78% increase, and the buyout of 3PL Ventures indicate its strategic advancements and commitment to enhancing shareholder value.

Tourism Expo coming soon
Chelsea Powrie - Feb 29, 2024 - Biz Releases

Photo: Unsplash

Visit Penticton is excited to be hosting its seventh annual TRUE Penticton Tourism Expo this spring.

On Sunday April 7, the TRUE Expo, which stands for Think Remarkable Unique Experiences, will take over Penticton Trade and Convention Centre, featuring more than 50 tourism businesses and events exhibiting.

It is free to attend for all locals, but donations of food items for the Penticton Community Fridge and Pantry will be accepted and appreciated.

In attendance will be adventure operators, rentals and tour companies, and festivals and events organizers. There will also be wine, spirits and craft beer tastings, artisan food samples and a kids scavenger hunt. Prize packages will also be up for grabs.

“Whether you are new to the area, have lived in Penticton or the Okanagan for years, or are just visiting for the weekend, there is no better way to learn about our community and all the fantastic things to see, do and explore in Penticton and area,” Visit Penticton marketing and member services manager Paige Schulz said in a press release.

“If you’re a tourism business owner, the TRUE Penticton Tourism Expo is a great opportunity for you to share information with locals, clients, guests and visitors alike about the upcoming season, and boost your bookings with locals and their friends and family that are planning a trip. It’s also a great event to send your frontline staff to, to brush up on local knowledge that will impress your guests and visitors, and boost your customer service.”

The expo runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on April 7. For more information, click here.

Rental project gets approved
Kristen Holliday - Feb 29, 2024 - Biz Releases

Image: Total Concept Developments/Tri City Canada Inc.

Plans for a mixed-use development aiming to bring nearly 200 units of rental housing to the North Shore were given the green light from Kamloops council Tuesday after a public hearing.

Council members voted unanimously to approve a development permit application for The Pulse on Eighth, which will be built over 1006, 1014 and 1024 Eighth St., and agreed to discharge a no-build covenant that will allow the two six-storey buildings to rise.

Coun. Nancy Bepple acknowledged concerns raised during the public hearing by homeowners who live adjacent to the development site but said she would vote in favour of the project.

“Especially for seniors and people who can’t afford a house, they need somewhere to go to live,” Bepple said.

“It’s on the bus routes. It’s going to meet a lot of housing needs within our city. I appreciate that it will change the neighbourhood, but I guess my neighbourhood is in transition too. I think that’s part of what happens with older neighbourhoods.”

The first building will include 126 rental market units, ranging from studios to two-bedroom suites. The second building will include 65 affordable rental suites for seniors, ranging in size from studio to one-bedroom units. Both buildings will have commercial space on the ground floor.

The project will include an underground parkade and at-grade parking around the buildings, with access to and from the northbound lanes of Eighth Street. A rear lane will connect the development to Richmond Avenue south of the site.

Community members attended Tuesday’s public hearing, raising concerns about traffic impacts along Seventh Street, and at the Eighth Street and Richmond Avenue intersection. City staff said a traffic study didn’t raise any concerns and the project isn’t anticipated to have a significant impact.

Development plans show the six-storey building sitting closest to the neighbourhood will be stepped back to five storeys, but nearby homeowners raised concerns about the project’s height and its proximity to the single-family residences.

Mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson addressed concerns raised by a resident that their view of Batchelor Hills and the panorama to the west will be blocked.

“I understand your pain, because I live just up the river from you a little bit, and I had a view of the North Thompson valley. You can see the hills with the snow on them,” the mayor said. “And then a big building showed up right there. So I mean, I got over it, but at the time it was like my life was ending.”

However, he noted a directive from the province that states Kamloops needs to build more than 4,200 units of housing in the next four and a half years.

“We have to do something,” he said. “We’ve got to build for more people.”

In the wake of council’s decision, Sheila Minten, project spokesperson and manager for Total Concept Developments, said the team was “delighted” to have obtained approval for their application.

“The feedback from project stakeholders, including neighbours, downtown businesses and community members, has further fuelled the excitement surrounding this project for our team,” Minten said in a news release.

“We now have the opportunity to maximize the use of an under-utilized area to address Kamloops’ critical need for rental market housing and new commercial space to add to the vibrancy of the area.”

The developers anticipate a three-year timeline for the project.

“As a team, we will now move forward with our next steps, which will be to confirm timelines and details to apply for a building permit,” Minten said.

Mixed reaction to wage increase
Brayden Ursel - Feb 29, 2024 - Biz Releases

Kelowna businesses are giving a mixed reaction to the minimum wage increase coming to B.C. in June, when the hourly wage goes from $16.75 to $17.40—an increase of 3.9%.

“I think it’s good that the minimum wage is going up for people on the bottom rung,” Kelowna Chamber of Commerce chairman Dan Price said. “It’s really difficult for people to make ends meet these days. The cost of food is through the roof, and people need this extra money.

“That being said, it’s just another example of another cost for business. We’ve had a bit of a death by 1,000 cuts situation here in B.C. over the last number of years, and it’s really a situation the government needs to address at some point. The cost of business and doing business in B.C. is higher than it’s ever been, and it’s a struggle for businesses and it needs to be addressed.”

Moving forward, the minimum wage increase will be pegged to the inflation rate.

Subcity Donair co-owner Ray Haider said the change puts pressure on small business.

“I think it’s going to hurt our business,” he said. “We are thinking about not hiring anyone anymore. We are going to cut our hours off. From 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. we will work it ourselves because we’ve got to save some money somehow. Things are getting really tough out there.”

He said the situation is a Catch-22.

“I’m damned if I do and I’m damned if I don’t, so that’s our thoughts, that we are going to be cutting staff down,” he said. “We just can’t afford that kind of money right now.”

Kelowna residents on the street whom Castanet spoke with also had mixed reactions.

“I think it’s interesting,” Cindy said. “I think it’s needed, because obviously tough times economically, but I also understand the impact of small business, and it’s tough for them because wage is one of the biggest line items for them, but overall I think it’s necessary because the cost of living is just skyrocketing.”

Kelowna resident Max added: “My first reaction was to keep it the way it is. I think nowadays there’s so many opportunities for people to get education and to raise their wage by their own efforts as opposed to relying on the government saying hey we’ve got to raise the wages for everyone, and then it just costs everyone more.”

As spring is right around the corner and local businesses start hiring seasonal staff, the minimum wage increase is set to take effect on June 1.

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