Hawks Landing has it all
Contributed - Jul 02, 2019 - Think Local

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Lamont Land Development knows there are many families looking for good-sized homes at affordable prices in the Okanagan.

And that is where the idea for Hawks Landing was born.

The 84-lot, paired-home community in West Kelowna is currently in its first selling phase, during which 44 lots will be available. They are brand new homes whose prices start in the low $500,000s and offer much more for families looking to find that elusive forever house.

“The reason we purchased and developed this community is because we identified huge potential in the land given the walking proximity to so many homeowner conveniences and the shortage of new homes at an affordable price point in the area,” says Lamont Land’s Phil Moore, who is the project’s lead developer. “Based on that premise we designed the community and homes to provide great value and quality for the future residents.”

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The development, which has homes built by AARO Builders and Okanagan Sunrise Construction, is located off Louie Drive behind Walmart. That means it and dozens of other shops and services are only a walk away. Superstore, restaurants, cafes, theatres and professional services are just a few of the nearby establishments.

The homes are craftsman-inspired with high-end finishes. The current homes are three- or four-bedroom, two-storey houses that feature plenty of space, ranging from 1,800 to 2,100 square feet, although different designs are available for various lifestyles. And they are located a little bit up the mountain, offering incredible views of the valley.

“Home buyers benefit because they receive a bigger, new-home value at smaller, used-home prices,” Moore says.

Hawks Landing is being built for families of various shapes, sizes and lifestyles, and it is also perfect for the active 55-plus market that is looking for convenience and comfort. There is minimal landscaping maintenance required but just enough to keep you busy.

For those who like to be active, the community has an onsite park and playground, plenty of pathway connections and close proximity to Okanagan Lake, Mission Hill Winery and the aforementioned markets.

Brand new show homes are open Wednesday to Sunday from 1 to 3 p.m., and move-in-ready homes are now available.

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Butterfly Effect lifts spirits
Contributed - Jun 27, 2019 - Think Local

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We cannot go around the pain of grief. Instead we must learn to embrace and express it. If you or someone you know has lost someone special to them, then the seventh annual Butterfly Effect next month in Kelowna might be the beautiful way to celebrate them.

The Central Okanagan Hospice Association conducts the event as a fundraiser and, more importantly, as a way to help those on their grief journey.

“We are proud to offer this event, because it brings our community together to take part in a beautiful and symbolic ceremony, where we release hundreds of butterflies in honour and remembrance of loved ones,” COHA bereavement services associate director Jessica Hughes says.

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“Around the world people have used the butterfly as representing endurance, change, hope and life, and this event is a special way to come together with family and friends to remember loved ones and to watch the butterflies fly off into nature, which can be very healing and symbolic.”

Anyone and everyone is invited to attend the all-ages event, which will be held on Sunday, July 21, at Kelowna’s Falcon Ridge Farms (579 Rifle Rd). The program will start at 10 a.m. and go until 1 p.m., with the butterfly release scheduled for 11:30 a.m. if the weather allows for it.

“There is a ceremonial verse that we provide before the release and a song that is specifically chosen and played for the release,” COHA executive director Natasha Girard says. “And we try to release as a group if possible. There’s quite a lot of emotion in that when doing it all together, since we have come together for the day to be with one another and watch the butterflies fly to the sky.”

There will be a kids’ zone, local artisans, live entertainment, food and refreshments, and a spectacular butterfly release. Attendance has been rising every year, and last year more than 700 people came out to support COHA. More than 3,750 butterflies were released over the event’s first six years.

“We see lots of family members coming from our community but also people coming from out of town to share in this experience, as well as friends,” Hughes says. “It can be very emotional, and at the same time the feedback after is that they feel a lot lighter and that they’re supported with everyone being there, the energy that’s there.

“Any time that you can incorporate ceremony when it comes to grief and loss, it’s helpful. It’s a beautiful thing to participate in and just to watch.”

Money raised from the Butterfly Effect supports COHA’s bereavement services, which are free of charge and include grief groups, walking groups, bereavement yoga, one-to-one counselling and other wellness programs.

Hughes recalls a touching moment involving a woman who had recently lost her sister. A butterfly that had been released touched down on the woman’s hand and remained there for several minutes.

“She shared with me,” Hughes says. “She really felt her sister with her.”

Anyone who wants to purchase one or more butterflies can do so online at hospicecoha.org, by phone at 250-763-5511 or by visiting the COHA August Centre at 1890 Cooper Rd.

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Improve your home’s air
Contributed - Jun 26, 2019 - Think Local

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Air quality inside your home is something that can’t be ignored.

The Environmental Protection Agency, after all, has found that the air inside your four walls can be two to 10 times worse than outside. As a result, it can be tough for some immune systems to fight off all the particles, germs and gases that can be found inside the homes of today. Allergies, illness, and long-term health can all be affected by the quality of the air you breathe.

“That is definitely one reason to ensure the air that enters your lungs is clean,” says Jeff Ballard of Comfort Tech Heating & Cooling Ltd. “More surprising is how dirty air can affect your pocketbook.”

Ballard points out that accumulation of dirt, dust and other particles can result in biological growth inside your heating and cooling system, which can then affect equipment performance. If the equipment is not functioning at a proper level it can affect the efficiency of your system, which in turn can increase what you pay for utilities.

And if you think your home is not affected by pollutants, you are likely misinformed. The Massachusetts-based Silent Spring Institute conducted a 2017 study that found 100 per cent of homes it tested contained toxic compounds, including pesticides, cleaning compounds, and chemicals found in furniture and building materials.

“In the Okanagan Valley, we unfortunately have a new season that we are now dealing with every summer—wildfire season,” Ballard says. “Smelling the smoke is bad enough, but breathing it in can really have an impact on our health.”

While it might be impossible to completely rid your home’s atmosphere of potentially dangerous particles, one way to make a serious dent in it is through your heating and cooling system. They move more than one million cubic feet of air through your home every day, so installing a whole-house, air-cleaning system through your heating and cooling equipment can work wonders.

“We have spent a lot of time researching the possible solutions for indoor air quality problems specific to where we live,” Ballard says. “We installed a complete home solution in our own home last year. I have always suffered from severe allergies every year, but recently my wife pointed out that I haven’t had a single issue this spring.  That is truly remarkable to me.”

A whole-house, air-cleaning system can take control of:
• dirt and dust that accumulates inside your heating and cooling system, whose efficiency can be reduced by as much as 30 to 50 per cent by those contaminants;
• the allergens that cause allergic reactions and asthmatic attacks;
• organisms such as germs, mold, spores, bacteria and viruses;
• noxious odours created by people, pets, smoke, solvents, carpets and vinyl coverings;
• toxins created by pressed-wood products and other materials that cause human ailments.

A whole-house, air-cleaning system that cleans, disinfects and deodorizes your home 24 hours a day is much more effective than units designed for just a room or two.

Most importantly, it will give you and your loved ones peace of mind.

Affordable Okanagan lifestyle
Contributed - Jun 21, 2019 - Think Local

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Developer Len Sloan likes to say “you can park the car and buy some walking shoes” when you move to Barnard’s Village.

The north Vernon development is not only conveniently located within walking distances of dozens of shops and stores, but it offers affordable living for those looking at experiencing the Okanagan lifestyle.

Barnard’s Village features rancher-style homes that are perfect for those looking to downsize and not pay a hefty price for the single-family abode. That’s because Barnard’s Village residents pay for only the home and not the land on which it sits.

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“We’re trying to do a model that is affordable and it’s meant for that retiree with the small lot, but not like a condo where you’ve got neighbours above you and attached to the side,” Sloan says. “It gives you a little bit of space and your own house, your own garage. And it’s affordable because you’re not buying the lot.”

There is no age restriction in Barnard’s Village, but it is trending to those who are nearing the end of their working lives or have recently retired. Sloan is finding the residents have plenty in common and are therefore building a strong community bond as well.

“We’re finding that it’s turned into lots of people are using their garages as their extended man caves, but they’re also having lots of social groups,” Sloan says. “You can see neighbours going over to the neighbours’ to have a glass of wine. It’s turning into what I sort of envisioned—a community where people become friends.”

The 900 square-foot homes feature two bedrooms and two bathrooms, while the 1,429 square-foot version consists of two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a den. The bonus is they have small yards that don’t require the kind of maintenance that would take all day at a regular single-family home.

That leaves much more time for sitting on the patio.

“Less maintenance and more patio time,” Sloan says. “More time enjoying the Okanagan lifestyle without having the big price tag of the house.”

Sloan said the affordable prices, which are between $289,900 to $359,900, make it easier for some Barnard’s Village residents to spend their winters in the southern U.S.

And its location allows residents to not have to hop in the car to pick up a loaf of bread. It borders the Wal-Mart in north Vernon and is within a five-minute walk of more than 100 shops and stores.

Put it all together, and the result is the ability to live the Okanagan lifestyle affordably.

Eat Clean in Kelowna
Contributed - Jun 20, 2019 - Think Local

Shane Scott and his family learned the hard way there are things in life that you cannot control.

Losing their house in the Fort McMurray, Alta., wildfires three years ago is a prime example of that.

What you can control, however, is what you put in your body, which is why Scott and his family have opened up a new restaurant called Eat Clean Kelowna, located at 1455 Harvey Ave. The restaurant serves up only healthy food, and it has a wide range of good eats that cater to every member of society.

“The reason why I started to get this going is because most communities don’t have an eating establishment that caters to many different walks of eating cultures,” Scott says. “Most places paint you with the same brush. We have a vast menu that includes keto, vegan vegetarian, Paleo, free athletic, body build and weight loss.

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“The reason why we do that is because we want to be able to feed everybody. We realize that not everybody’s the same. You have athletes right to palliative care and everyone in between.”

A large part of Eat Clean Kelowna’s business is meal preparation. Clients are encouraged, of course, to come in and try the food in the restaurant, and then they can choose what they want for their prepared meals. All the restaurant needs is a day’s notice to prepare the order, which must be for a minimum of 10 days.

Athletes and busy parents are big consumers of their prepared meals.

“We give you the option of what you want,” Scott says. “So you would come in and pick your protein, vegetable and carbohydrate all by weight, based on what your specific lifestyle, fitness goal or medical condition is.”

Its beef is grass fed, its chicken has no hormones or antibiotics, and the produce is organic.

“We do not have a deep fryer in our establishment,” Scott says. “We bake, steam and grill everything in olive oil, and it’s all made by hand with regards to our sweet potatoes and patties. The only salt you’re going to see is on the tables out front.”

One thing that Scott loves to do is bring skeptics into his restaurant and show them that healthy food can be delicious, too, noting Eat Clean Kelowna’s steak tastes just like factory-farmed beef.

“Don’t peg it as a normal, healthy shop where it’s very bland,” Scott says. “We’ve actually had a few other people converting over from other meal-prep companies for the simple fact that they were lacking in flavour. With us, it’s literally delicious. I ate for two and a half years up north, and I would continue doing it for the rest of my life.”

The restaurant is putting together a rewards program, and customers will soon be able to order their prepared meals online. Scott has also reached an agreement with Skip the Dishes so clients can get the food delivered right to their door.

Scott is loving life right now, and he hopes the Okanagan will see the benefit in eating healthy while at the same time supporting a family-run business.

“Me and my family have been through quite a bit since the Fort Mac fire, and we absolutely believe in this concept, and this community has been asking for this kind of a service for many years,” he says. “It’s been well received, and I just want to let them know that my family and I certainly appreciate the support that they can provide for us.

“We’re just here to improve things within the community, keep the health trend and the healthy culture going within the community. It’s absolutely beautiful.”

ONE Water Street gets artsy
Contributed - Jun 18, 2019 - Think Local

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The stars are the potential locations of the elaborate art pieces at ONE Water Street.

When ONE Water Street developers were going through the process of getting their building permits, one thing the City of Kelowna asked of them was to make the streetscape interesting.

So the developers pulled the fronts back on Sunset Drive to make way for landscaping and patios, but they are now going the extra mile in honour of where the towers are located downtown.

North American Development Group and Kerkhoff Industries are offering $195,000 to an artist to create an elaborate art piece along Sunset Drive at the base of the massive project. They received 29 submissions of interest from artists across North America and have narrowed the group to a final five.

The winner will be unveiled in July.

“It’s pretty comparable to some of the larger projects the city’s been involved with over the years,” NADG development partner Russ Watson says. “We think we are going to be able to really add some interest to that portion of Sunset Drive and really anchor the north end of the Cultural District, because that’s really what we are.”

The five finalists—three from B.C. and two from other provinces—each received a stipend to create a proposal for the final vote. Watson, who is part of the selection committee, said the finalists’ projects are all unique. One use wood, another incorporates light and a third is an interactive piece.

“We could end up having two artists involved,” Watson says. “We could have a wall mural and a street piece. We don’t know.”

The selection committee includes representatives from the city, the development group and a community member with an art background. Watson, who says he isn’t an art expert, is having a blast choosing the winning bid.

“The process is fun,” Watson says. “I got to review 29 North American artists and their work. No way I would’ve ever had that experience if it wasn’t for this project.

“We’re just waiting for these five submissions. We’re quite excited to see them, and it’ll be fun with our committee hopefully picking one that the city will really embrace.”

ONE Water Street will consist of two towers full of two- and three-bedroom lake-view condominiums, elevated townhomes, sub-penthouses and a live-work collection. Perhaps the highlight of the project is The Bench, a 1.3-acre, landscaped, fourth-floor podium that will feature outdoor swimming pools, fire pit enclaves, a health club, a yoga and Pilates studio, and an entertainment room.

Say Cheers for the Years
Contributed - Jun 17, 2019 - Think Local

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Funerals aren’t going anywhere, but that doesn’t mean celebrations of life isn’t a growing business.

More people are wanting to have a party after the funerals of their loved ones and friends. In fact, a Kelowna couple is banking on that.

Allen and Christine Ransome are the husband-and-wife team behind Cheers for the Years, a new business that helps anyone throw a party for their recently deceased friends or family members.

“The traditional funeral will always be there, and we’re just trying to talk about the best parts of a life,” Allen Ransome says. “You get the eulogy at the funeral, and everybody’s really sad. It’s time for final closure.

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“A celebration of life, even though it’s about a deceased loved one, is for the living. It’s for the people that are left behind who really want to talk about great things.”

The Ransomes came up with Cheers for the Years after watching one of their close friends pass away in March 2018. The man’s wife hosted a celebration of life a few months later, and the Ransomes realized there was nothing like it in the Okanagan.

“It had such a profound effect on us,” Allen says.

The retired investment manager put together a business plan, conducted some focus groups and eventually launched his new venture.

Anyone wishing to throw a celebration of life will sit down with the Ransomes and go through a proprietary questionnaire in an effort to customize the event right down to the last detail. Cheers for the Years will take care of everything, including securing the venue, videographer and photographer, along with creating pamphlets, favours and picture collages.

Think of it as a wedding without the stress.

“A celebration of life is a lot less (money),” Allen says, “and I don’t think the memories ever go away.”

Allen also realizes the population is aging at a remarkable pace, especially in B.C., and more people want to celebrate their loved ones instead of saying goodbye throughout the staid, depressing and stressful funeral process.

“We’re trying to separate ourselves from the funeral industry,” Allen says. “We don’t really want to deal with the mourning part. We really want to deal with the happiness and the happy memories.”

More people are pre-planning their own celebration of life as they would want their friends and family to remember them by. Cheers for the Years offers pre-planning events as well to accommodate them.

RV Wars comes to Kelowna
Contributed - Jun 14, 2019 - Think Local

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Three of the Okanagan’s biggest RV companies are going to war in Kelowna this weekend, but the winner will definitely be the customers who show up to watch the battle.

RV Wars is a four-day event in which three RV companies bring some of the best tent trailers, travel trailers, toy haulers, fifth wheels and motorhomes to the Orchard Park Shopping Centre parking lot, and attempt to outsell each other.

“By doing it this way, it’s allowed us to save money by hosting our own show and passing the savings along to our customers,” Traveland RV general manager Tyler Steel says.

Traveland RV, which is in West Kelowna, is being joined by Kelowna’s Country RV and Vernon’s Mike Rosman RV. The businesses have invited all the factory reps to attend the event so they can answer any questions potential buyers might have. There will be on-site financing to make the process even easier for consumers.

“It is more convenient for our customers to have us all in one place rather than driving from one end of the valley to the other in order to see the inventory in person,” Steel says.

The event started on Thursday and will continue until Sunday. The gates will be open between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Friday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. The Wars are being held on the part of the Orchard Park Shopping Centre parking lot that is on the northwest corner of Springfield and Dilworth—directly across the street from the Kelowna Farmers’ and Crafters’ Market.

“This is geared for the customers’ benefit,” Steel says. “We have a food truck here. The manufacturers have helped out with rebates that allows us to have some of the most aggressive pricing of the year.

“Customers are going to be able to get a deal through the manufacturer that they wouldn’t normally be able to get.”

The dealers have brought more than 100 units to RV Wars, and they range in price from $14,000 to $350,000, which means there is something for everyone—from those who want to do family camping on the weekend to those who want to live full-time in a motorhome.

There is no cost to get into RV Wars.

Protect your vehicle’s value
Contributed - Jun 13, 2019 - Think Local

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A 2018 Mustang Bullitt with a complete Suntek PPF wrap.

Don’t call Solartech Films if you need your tires rotated.

Don’t call them if you are looking for a new paint job.

Don’t bother if you require an oil change.

There are two reasons to call Kelowna’s Solartech Films, and those are for paint protection film and window tinting for your vehicle.

“This is all we do,” Solartech owner Jonas Nohr says. “We don’t do a number of different things. We specialize in two things: window tinting and paint protection film. We don’t know a little bit about everything. We know everything about two things.”

Paint protection film offers an invisible protective layer that is easy to care for, because normal washing and waxing doesn’t affect it. It won’t harm factory paint, and it is backed by a lifetime guarantee on installation. It is installed primarily on areas that are prone to rock chips, but many choose to protect their entire vehicle with the clear, urethane film.

“There’s value in protecting your investment in your car,” Nohr says. “Most cars are a depreciating asset. If you can lessen that depreciation by protecting it, that’s a huge advantage right there. We protect the value in the vehicle. We also protect the actual cosmetic look of the vehicle, too.”

Paint protection film is all about the installation, which goes back to the original point about Solartech doing only two things but doing them well. Nohr and his team will make sure it is installed properly and protects the vehicle for the rest of its life.

The most common package for sedans, sports cars and SUVs is the full-front/full-hood package. It provides bumper and full hood protection as well as partial fenders, lights and fogs, and mirror backs. The most popular package for pickup trucks is their 18-inch full front. This covers the hood, bumper, partial fenders, lights and fogs, and painted mirror backs. Painted grilles and rocker sections are common upgrades for pickups.

“All the films are self-healing,” Nohr says. “What that means is surface scratches from the car wash and maybe trees and what not, on a hot day or when heat is applied to it, it will actually self-level and those scratches will go away.

“That’s a huge thing when it comes to even knowledgeable customers in the industry. They’re sort of unfamiliar with that.”

Solartech’s other specialty is window tinting, which certainly comes in handy in the hot Okanagan.

“Window tinting in the Okanagan is massive, unlike Prince George or even Vancouver,” Nohr says. “The Okanagan gets so hot. This is going to cut out 99 per cent of UV rays. It’s not a replacement for air conditioning, but it’s going to substantially cut down the heat in your vehicle.”

Tinting, which can be done at four levels between five and 50 per cent, also enhances security, improves the vehicle’s appearance and improves resale value.

Solartech also guarantees its tinting work with a lifetime installation warranty and a guarantee it will remain as dark as the first day it was applied.

Rebates serve up savings
Contributed - Jun 12, 2019 - Think Local

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(L to R): Tyler Pronyk, A&W’s director of distribution, equipment and packaging, and Chris Kerr, an A&W franchise owner, with a frosty mug of A&W root beer.

A successful business is built on many things, such as good customer service, controlling costs and a little something special that sets you apart from the competition—like a signature dish. If your restaurant is making that customer favourite day in and day out, chances are you’re using a lot of energy to run a particular piece of kitchen equipment.

Kelowna-based Kelly/Carlos O’Bryan’s restaurants and pubs can credit some of their success to the popularity of Pachos—an Irish take on nachos featuring seasoned lattice fries topped with cheese and green onions. Now with nine locations across B.C., they want to ensure those hard-working deep fryers are as reliable and energy efficient as possible.

FortisBC’s rebates on high-efficiency kitchen equipment have helped Kelly/Carlos O’Bryan’s operators save more than $13,000 on investing in natural gas appliances that help save energy and costs while keeping up with demand. Together with LED lighting and compostable take-out containers and straws, it adds another dimension to the Irish-themed eateries’ “green” image.

A&W Food Services of Canada is another B.C.-based success story, with an iconic image and a long history of initiatives to reduce its environmental impact, from serving root beer in frosty glass mugs to introducing the plant-based Beyond Meat burger.

With 190 locations in B.C., and many restaurants operating 24-7, A&W also recognizes the importance of energy efficiency in its operations and supports franchisees to get rebates for high-efficiency equipment.

Whether opening a new location or investing in upgrades, franchisees have accessed more than $50,000 in rebates for ENERGY STAR natural gas griddles and fryers—premium cooking equipment that’s easier to use and reduces operational costs.

“Energy efficiency and the environment really go hand in hand,” says Tyler Pronyk, an A&W director who leads the company’s corporate and environmental strategy. “If you have a positive effect on the environment while saving money, it’s a win-win for all of us.”

And in recognition of their efforts to save energy, A&W Food Services of Canada and Kelly/Carlos O’Bryan’s each received Efficiency in Action Awards from FortisBC in 2017 and 2018.

Visit fortisbc.com/kitchenrebates or fortisbc.com/businessrebates for more information on FortisBC rebates.

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