Kelowna becoming commercial hub
Kirk Penton - Jun 30, 2022 - Columnists

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By Terese Cairns

Canada’s real estate market is sustaining continued momentum following more than two years of a global crisis. The economy has staged a strong recovery, and real GDP returned to pre-pandemic levels earlier than anticipated. Commercial activity, in particular, has revived with Canadians keen to return to restaurants, retail spaces and, gradually, offices.

Photo: LinkedIn
Terese Cairns

A surge in commercial real estate activity has been seen in Kelowna as businesses and individuals relocate to the city. This trend has been evident for years. Statistics Canada census data released earlier this year zeroed in on the fact. Kelowna, the largest municipality in the B.C. Interior, emerged as the fastest-growing metropolitan area in Canada—its population increasing to 222,162 in 2021, up from 194,892 in 2016.

Kelowna’s rapid growth, affordability over other markets and lifestyle factors have helped it secure its position as one of Canada’s primary commercial real estate markets.

The industrial landscape and supply 

Kelowna’s industrial marketplace remained strong during the pandemic. Its industrial vacancy rate in April 2021 was among the lowest in Canada at 0.5%, weighing in at the same level as the Greater Toronto Area at the time. In terms of leasing in Kelowna versus other Canadian cities, rates are connected to the year the building was constructed.

Comparing last year’s vacancy rates with those of the first quarter of this year reinforces Kelowna’s position as a popular choice for industrial real estate. In the Greater Vancouver Area, the office vacancy rate sat at 5.9%, while industrial vacancy reached a record low of 0.4%, according to a National Market Snapshot. Toronto’s industrial vacancy rate emerged at 0.4% and its office vacancy rate higher at 9.2%.

One of the largest industrial transactions in Kelowna’s history recently made headlines with the acquisition of 2050 Pier Mac Way by notable Vancouver developer Beedie Group. Formerly a gravel pit, the site covers 14.7 acres and is strategically located directly across Highway 97 from Kelowna International Airport.

Geographical limitations and a plethora of ALR-zoned properties in the Okanagan pose physical constraints on the amount of land that can be used for industrial sites. For that reason, space will always remain in short supply—a factor leading some businesses to move to markets outside the city.

A hot spot for hotels in the Okanagan

A decade ago, Kelowna was considered a secondary market, dwarfed by the primary markets of Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary. The city’s new thrust for development in the downtown core is promoting more high-rise and multifamily projects. That said, we are seeing a lot of interest from larger hotel chains wanting to enter the city due to a resurgence in activity.

In 2021, approximately 30 hotels in Canada were acquired for conversion to alternate uses, equating to more than 2,400 rooms, as stated in a recent 2022 Canadian Hotel Investment Report. A trend we are seeing is that businesses are buying smaller hotels with great locations for land use purposes. A popular range for hotel sites is under $5 million. Buyers will either repurpose the hotel or tear it down if it is functionally obsolete.

At faithwilson Christie’s International Real Estate, the commercial market is mirroring the residential market in terms of demand. As Kelowna is still more affordable than other primary markets, smaller commercial investors who self-manage their portfolios are taking advantage of the lifestyle opportunity offered here to relocate to be closer to their investments.

Commerce and office space use 

The Okanagan’s thriving tech sector is making a significant impact; it has contributed $1.67 billion to the economy, per Accelerate Okanagan. Although there is not a substantial amount of office inventory in Kelowna, the demand for space is high. There is also a greater interest in flexible spaces, adaptable for hybrid working environments—something we expect to see more of moving forward.

In terms of commercial trends in the Okanagan, numerous new cannabis businesses are popping up in the market. Additionally, the food and beverage landscape is growing rapidly with the opening of King Taps Lakeside on Water Street, Hooligans Ales and Eats on Bernard Avenue, and notable winery proprietor Jason Parkes of the Hatch opening The Hatching Post smokehouse on Boucherie Road and also the new rooftop dining lounge, Angel Share, above Crown and Thieves Winery. Previously, it was most commonly companies from Vancouver and Alberta entering the B.C. Interior market, but we are now seeing more investment from locals who believe in the area and entrepreneurs from across Canada.

Kelowna has already carved out its rightful place as a primary commercial real estate market in Canada; with the city projected for future growth, we anticipate more significant updates and listings for industrial, office and retail.

Terese Cairns is a hotel division commercial and investment broker at faithwilson Christie’s International Real Estate

Latest on immigrant workers
Contributed - Jun 28, 2022 - Columnists

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The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the flow of foreign workers, which has impacted business in our communities as well as across the country and still is. At FH&P Lawyers the immigration department has been working diligently with businesses and workers across the world trying to assist where possible to speed up a potential worker’s application.

Canada has recently announced that, as of July 1, most of the immigration programs will reopen that had closed because of the pandemic. These programs will help bring foreign workers back into the country and into the Okanagan, hopefully in time for the fall harvest.

In this episode of the Law Talk podcast, hosts Clay Williams and Tanvir Gill welcome Carly Perryman, who is a paralegal in the FH&P immigration department. Together the three of them discuss the immigration issues and how they are affecting business in the Okanagan.

How to lease for business
Contributed - Jun 14, 2022 - Columnists

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In this episode of the FH&P Lawyers Law Talk podcast, partner Clay Williams and associate Tanvir Gill discuss leasing a space or building for your business. Whether you are just starting out or have been in business for a while, knowing about how a lease works, the obligations of a landlord, the offer to lease and/or renewal of a lease is important.

There are several new buildings popping up across Kelowna with plenty of spaces to open your business. Listen to this podcast and get some helpful information on leasing a space.

Send your questions in for Clay Williams and Tanvir Gill as [email protected].

Know marketing ins, outs
Contributed - May 31, 2022 - Columnists

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In today’s business world having a good marketing plan is critical. Whether that plan develops campaigns to run on a digital platform or a more traditional avenue, having a focused message is important.

The ability to track your return or investment is just as important as the campaign itself. Tracking your findings can help tailor future campaigns and give you a clear message of what is working and what isn’t.

In this week’s Law Talk podcast lawyers Clay Williams and Tanvir Gill welcome James Shaw the owner of Twin Creek Media Inc., a local company that is also the marketing team for FH&P Lawyers. Our hosts talk with Shaw about good practices, but also what a company can and cannot do legally when it comes to marketing its business.

Send your legal questions to [email protected].

Make your partnership work
Contributed - May 17, 2022 - Columnists

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FH&P business lawyers Clay Williams and Tanvir Gill have explored several ways in which people run their businesses within the Okanagan through the Law Talk podcast. One of the most common and oldest structures to run a business is through a partnership, which is typically unincorporated.

Today the hosts dissect the pros and cons of running a partnership, and offer their knowledge and experience.

Send your legal questions to Clay and Tanvir at [email protected].

How to avoid business litigation
Okanagan Edge Staff - May 03, 2022 - Columnists

Lawyers Clay Williams and Tanvir Gill are business lawyers serving the B.C. Interior and hosts of the Law Talk podcast.

This week our lawyers welcome Associate Shane Gardner, a litigator at FH&P Lawyers, as they discuss litigation strategies and how you can potentially avoid litigation when it comes to business transactions.

Send your legal questions to Williams and Gill at [email protected].

Credit key for businesses
Contributed - Apr 19, 2022 - Columnists

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Over the course of a business’ life cycle, every one of them at some point is going to need some credit. Whether it is applying for a mortgage, or a loan for their operation or perhaps to buy another business, most will need credit.

In this episode of the FH&P Lawyers Law Talk podcast, lawyers Clay Williams and Tanvir Gill welcome a special guest. Greg Wyma, the regional director of Prospera Credit Union’s business banking joins the hosts to talk about the application process of receiving credit, what they would need to provide to be successful and what they can expect.

Send your questions for Williams and Gill to [email protected].

Talking confidentiality and business
Contributed - Apr 05, 2022 - Columnists

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When the Law Talk podcast is recorded on a Friday afternoon there is always some interesting information that seems to pop up. Have a listen to what a llama and a cow have to do with this week’s episode.

Lawyers Clay Williams and Tanvir Gill also discuss competition and confidentiality clauses and why they are extremely important when protecting your business trade secrets. The last thing a business wants is to hire an employee, teach them every piece of the business, just to have that employee leave and open a similar business or work for one of your competitors.

To ask the legal team a question send an email to Williams and Gill at [email protected].

Appraisers key in legal matters
Contributed - Mar 22, 2022 - Columnists

Lawyers Clay Williams and Tanvir Gill work with several professionals around the Okanagan when assisting clients. One of those individuals that they regularly connect with is Steve Danielson, a commercial appraiser from Danielson Caruso who has been working in the area for more than 15 years and has a wealth of experience.

In this episode, Williams and Gill discuss Danielson’s role when it comes to working with commercial properties like office and retail buildings, along with industrial and institutional properties and development lands.

As always, send your legal questions to  [email protected], and you can listen on Spotify if you are on the move.

Learn from bad relationships
Contributed - Mar 09, 2022 - Columnists

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By Annette Adkin

Life is a series of learning experiences, and many of its lessons come in the form of human experiences.

Most of us think that the relationships that are pleasurable are blessings in our lives. But every single person we come in contact with provides a unique opportunity for our inner self to either evolve or degenerate. Relationships, especially those driven by conflict, push us outside our comfort zone. Often the principles taught by these encounters are ones that would be hard for us to grasp on our own—things like forgiveness, humility (not being defensive and really listening to someone else’s needs or reality) and compassion.

So in the big picture even relationships that we would describe as “bad” can be good if we are willing to learn and be vulnerable, yet also have boundaries that protect ourselves. If we are not strong in these areas, this relationship gives us an opportunity to work on these areas.

What happens in our intimate relationships when things aren’t working and we aren’t able to resolve issues or problems? When one person voices their concerns, what happens when another reacts rather than responds? What is going on? Could one of our fears be activated? How do we take a step back and get compassionately curious about what is happening within ourselves?

Sometimes there are deep wounds in this area. If this is activating childhood trauma, does distress equal shame in our relationships? We will often see that if we were over-corrected as children and didn’t talk about our feelings with a safe adult, we may not know what to do when we have hurt our partner.

If your experience is that you hold your feelings in, how do we learn to face our partner’s disappointment and still believe we are worthy and loved? Are there addictions that keep us walled off from our partner as well as our own vulnerable feelings? What happens when one partner shuts down and doesn’t face the difficulties? The other partner feels alone or abandoned? How does this person react or respond when they experiencing these feelings? Counselling can create a safe place to explore these issues and understand more about what each person needs.

What are a couple’s main fears?
• Rejection
• Making things worse
• Financial insecurity
• Losing your sex life
• Abandonment
• Failure

One thing to remember is what hurts is not so much not being understood by others in the context of our experiences, but rather in our desire and our attempts to reach the other and open up in a meaningful way.

Needing to have the courage to express oneself to the other. We need to be able to create emotional safety for relationships to move forward in a healthier direction.

Annette Adkin is the owner of Pure Insights Counselling in Kelowna.

This column was submitted as part of BWB Wednesdays.

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