New shop, innovative tech
Special to Okanagan Edge - Jan 14 - Think Local

Image: Contributed

Darren Pierce didn’t know what would happen when he pioneered a game-changing new service at his Kelowna Mr. Lube franchise, but he dove in headfirst anyway.

No-appointment-needed tire changes had the potential to open up a whole new world for his customers, he explains, and he just couldn’t resist giving it a shot.

Now, after a season that saw some of the busiest months ever, the success of the project has lead him to open a second Mr. Lube location, on McCurdy Road, so he can offer another convenient location to meet the auto service needs of Kelowna.

“We were one of the very first quick oil change shops in Canada to offer this service, and after people found out about it we started getting a lot of interest,” Pierce explains. “We always knew we needed something else to better serve our customers, so I’m incredibly excited we’ve finally made that happen.”

Image: Contributed
Darren Pierce

Along with the help of his dedicated staff and certified technicians, a new tire changing machine has helped make service at Pierce’s new Mr. Lube shop even quicker and easier for customers.

According to Pierce, the machine can change a single tire in about two-and-a-half minutes. Not only that, it does it virtually on its own, without ever even touching the rim of the wheel.

“At the end of the day it only takes ten minutes to change four tires. It’s crazy,” he says.

Pierce gushes that you normally only find this kind of technology in places like high-end car dealerships, and that having it at his Mr. Lube shops has made tire changing a breeze for customers.

“The big key to success for us was, before we started doing this, nobody was able to just drive up without an appointment and get their tires changed. So we just took that and ran with it.”

“Anything we try to do we try to do for the customer,” he adds.

Pierce adds that he’s thrilled with the new McCurdy Road location, and that, as always, the community has been great to him.

“We’ve been very fortunate with people in the Okanagan Valley supporting the business,” Pierce, who first set up shop in Kelowna in 2006, says. “If it wasn’t for the community and the staff that we have, I wouldn’t be here.”

Mr. Lube offers no-appointment-needed, warranty-approved oil changes and tire services.More information on Pierce’s new Mr. Lube location is available online.

Don’t rule out RRSPs
Special to Okanagan Edge - Jan 07 - Think Local

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Tax-Free savings accounts—those investment accounts that give you a certain amount of contribution room and allow you to grow your investment tax free—are becoming the investing vehicle of choice for many savvy savers.

Jill Diemer is a Certified Financial Planner at Prospera Credit Union’s Kelowna Mission Park branch. She often recommends that individuals set up a tax-free savings account, because it’s such a powerful and flexible investment tool.

“Even though it’s called a savings account, it’s not just a savings account—you can invest in stocks, mutual funds, and a whole lot more,” she explains. “In a lot of cases it makes sense to grow those investments in the tax-free savings account because then everything is tax free.”

But while the promise of ever-increasing tax avoidance is a tantalizing one, you may be able to save even more by strategically deploying an old-school investment vehicle: the RRSP. She says in certain circumstances, with careful planning, a Registered Retirement Savings Plan can compliment (and even enhance) financial plans.

An RRSP allows you to put money away today and avoid paying taxes on it until you’re ready to use it. Traditionally, it’s been a tool for people who have a higher income today than they will in retirement.

Diemer admits the uses of a RRSP are not as flexible as a TFSA, but says they can do wonders for people trying to achieve specific goals.

By strategically moving money from a TSFA into an RRSP, keyed-in savers can take advantage of lucrative government programs aimed at encouraging things like home ownership and continuing education.

The government’s Home Buyers Plan, for example, allows people purchasing their first home to take as much as $25,000 out of their RRSP—tax free—to put towards the purchase.

Meanwhile, the Lifelong Learning program allows adults returning to school to take as much as $20,000 out to use towards their or their spouse’s post-secondary education.

According to Diemer, making these kinds of moves can have a significant impact on your financial future. She points to one of her clients, Jacob, who is going back to school next year to upgrade his education.

Jacob makes decent money, so Diemer helped him funnel some of his savings from his TFSA into an RRSP to take advantage of the Lifelong Learning program.

“He’s going to make an RRSP contribution and receive a tax credit while he has a high income, and pull it out next year to support himself while he goes to school,” Diemer explains.

That means he’ll be able to use his RRSP contribution to get money back on his taxes this year, but still be able to use that money when he’s in school next year.

“It’s not easy knowing the ins and outs of various government programs, and the websites aren’t always friendly to navigate, so I recommend finding an advisor you trust, and you love, and who will help you achieve your goals,” Diemer says.

In Jacob’s case, he was doing a great job saving in his tax-free savings account, but now he’ll get several thousands back on a tax refund that will help him achieve that goal further.

“Your advisor will just help you navigate the waters.”

To contact an advisor, or for more information on RRSPs and TFSAs, contact Prospera Credit Union.

Right now, Prospera is offering special rates on flexible TFSA and RRSP options – including a 30-month term deposit at 2.5%, with the option to rewrite if rates go up. This investment provides peace of mind that if rates change, you’re still getting great value for money.

Ensuring massage professionalism
Special to Okanagan Edge - Jan 01 - Think Local

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Seeking a ​professional​ ​massage​ therapist ​can​ be a confusing experience.

It is important that the public know and understand the difference between a Registered Massage Therapist (RMT) and a bodyworker or masseuse.

Most importantly, the RMT designation is a guarantee that the therapist is trained and monitored/regulated under BC’s Health Profession Act by the College of Massage Therapists of BC (CMTBC).

The mandate of the CMTBC is to ensure that RMTs have the same public safety ethics and accountability as health care professionals.

RMTs are ​trained​ ​to know and understand the muscle, joint and nervous systems of the body and​ patients ​can​ ​achieve​ ​relief​ ​from​ ​any number​ ​of​ ​physical​ ​ailments especially regarding the musculoskeletal system;​ ​go​ ​to​ ​a​ ​less​ ​qualified​ ​individual ​and​ ​the outcome may not be what you hoped for.

Unqualified​ ​masseuses​ ​and​ ​masseurs,​ ​who​ ​often​ ​operate​ ​in​ ​day​ ​spas​ ​or​ ​mall​ ​kiosks,​ ​may​ ​claim they​ ​can​ ​relieve​ ​and​ ​relax,​ ​but​ ​there’s​ ​a​ ​significant​ ​difference​ ​between​ ​someone​ ​who​ ​gives massages or simply rubs the skin,​ ​and​ ​a​ ​registered​ ​massage​ ​therapist.

Brenda​ ​Locke​ ​is​ ​the​ ​executive​ ​director​ ​of​ ​the​ ​​Registered​ ​Massage​ ​Therapists’​ ​Association​ ​of British​ Columbia​. She​ ​says​ ​making​ ​sure​ ​you​ ​see​ ​a​ ​registered​ ​massage​ ​therapist​ ​is​ ​important​ ​not​ ​just​ ​because you’ll​ ​ have​ ​a​ ​better health outcome and​ ​experience,​ ​but you also know you are seeing a regulated health care professional that brings with it a number of accountability measures.

Many​ ​people​ ​probably​ ​don’t​ ​realize​ ​the​ ​level of education​ ​RMTs​ ​take​ ​in​ ​order​ ​to receive their diploma and meet the legislated requirements for registration with their regulatory body—especially​ ​in​ ​British​ ​Columbia,​ ​where​ ​Locke​ ​says​ ​the​ ​bar​ ​to​ ​become​ ​an RMT​ ​is​ ​among​ ​the​ ​highest​ ​in​ ​the​ ​world.

In​ ​order​ ​to​ ​practice​​ ​massage​ ​therapy​ ​in​ ​British Columbia,​ ​students​ ​have​ ​to​ ​first​ ​complete almost​ ​three​ ​years​ ​of​ ​​education which includes​ ​500​ ​clinical hours​. They then must​ ​pass​ both a written and practical​ ​exam​ ​before​ ​they​ ​are​ ​eligible for registration with their regulatory college.

Locke​ ​points​ ​out​ ​that​ ​RMTs​ ​have​ ​to​ ​learn​ such topics as​ ​anatomy​ ​and​ ​physiology​ ​“just​ ​like ​other​ ​health​ ​care​ ​professionals.”​ ​They​ ​also​ have​ ​to​ ​learn​ ​about​ ​how​ ​to​ ​work​ ​with patients with specific​ ​medical​ ​conditions.

“We’re​ ​really​ ​working​ ​in​​ ​a​ ​healthcare​ ​mindset,​ ​as​ ​opposed​ ​to​ ​somebody​ ​who’s​ ​working for​ ​a​ ​different​ ​reason,”​ ​she​ ​says. RMT treatments are always done with the best interest of the patient at the forefront.

Image: Contributed
The RMTBC logo signals a registered massage therapist.

As mentioned earlier, RMTs​ ​in​ ​B.C.​ ​also​ ​have​ ​a​ ​regulating​ ​college,​ ​like​ ​most​ ​other​ ​healthcare​ professions,​ ​so​ ​patients who​ ​feel​ ​they’ve​ ​been​ ​mistreated​ ​have​ ​a​ ​governing​ ​body​ ​that​ ​will​ ​hold​ the RMT​ accountable.

Anyone​ ​who’s​ ​tried​ ​to​ ​claim​ ​a​ ​visit​ ​to​ ​a​ ​massage​ ​therapist​ ​for​ ​insurance​ ​purposes​ ​knows​ ​that because of this​ ​professionalism​ ​and​ their ​focus​ ​on​ ​medically necessary treatments​ ​means​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​to​ ​insurers,​ ​as​ ​well.

Locke​ ​points​ ​out​ ​that​ ​you​ ​can’t​ ​bill​ ​to​ ​your​ ​third-party​ ​insurer​ ​if​ ​you​ ​don’t​ ​see​ ​an​ ​RMT.​ ​That means​ ​organizations​ ​like​ ​ICBC,​ ​WorksafeBC,​ ​and​ ​personal​ ​work​ ​insurance​ ​won’t​ ​cover​ ​visits​ ​to non-registered​ ​“body​ ​workers.”

In​ ​the​ ​wake​ ​of​ ​recent​ ​news​ ​about​ ​a​ ​masseur​ ​accused​ ​of​ ​sexual​ ​assault,​ ​the Registered​ ​Massage​ ​Therapists’​ ​Association​ ​of​ ​British​ ​Columbia​ ​has​ ​made​ ​an​ ​effort​ ​to​ ​be​ ​more visible.

All​ ​of​ ​the​ ​association’s​ ​members​ ​now​ ​display​ ​its​ ​logo,​ ​which​ ​Locke​ ​says​ ​will​ ​help​ ​people​ ​know when​ they’re​ ​seeing​ ​someone​ ​with​ ​the​ ​proper​ ​credentials.

“If​ ​a​ ​patient​ ​doesn’t​ ​see​ ​that​ ​logo,​ ​the​ ​person​ ​they’re​ ​going​ ​to​ ​is​ ​either​ ​not​ ​a​ ​member​ ​of​ ​ours,​ ​or may​
​not​ ​be​ ​a​ ​massage​ ​therapist​ ​at​ ​all,”​ ​she​ ​says.

About​ ​80​ ​per​ ​cent​ ​of​ ​registered​ ​massage​ ​therapists​ ​in​ ​the​ ​province​ ​are​ ​members​ ​of​ ​the Registered​ Massage​ ​Therapists’​ ​Association​ ​of​ ​British​ ​Columbia,​ ​so​ ​most​ ​legitimate​ ​RMTs​ ​will display​ ​the​ ​logo.

Locke​ ​urges​ ​clients​ ​to​ ​ask​ ​for​ ​credentials​ ​whenever​ ​they​ ​visit​ ​someone​ ​who​ ​doesn’t​ ​have​ ​the association’s​ ​logo​ ​on​ ​display.

A​ ​day​ ​spa’s​ ​body​ ​worker​ ​may​ ​be​ ​able​ ​to​ ​provide​ ​an​ ​excellent​ ​relaxation​ ​experience,​ ​and​ ​Locke says​ ​there’s​ ​no​ ​problem​ ​with​ ​going​ ​to​ ​one for a cosmetic experience.

“But​ ​if​ ​you​ ​actually​ ​want​ massage ​therapy,​ ​from​ ​a​ health care​ ​professional,​ ​you​ ​need​ ​to​ ​look​ ​for​ ​the​ ​logo,​ ​you need​ ​to​ ​make​ ​sure​ ​you’re​ ​seeing​ ​an​ ​RMT,”​ ​she​ ​says.

For​ ​more​ ​information​ ​on​ ​RMTs,​ ​visit​ ​the​ ​​Registered​ ​Massage​ ​Therapists​ ​Association​ ​of​ ​British Columbia online.

Escape your reality
Special to Okanagan Edge - Dec 05 - Think Local

It’s Friday afternoon and Arcadia is buzzing.

As neon flashes off the muraled walls, the air crackles with laughter, shouts, and even the occasional scream.

A dad lounges on a leather coach, grinning as he watches his son battle virtual zombies. Not far off, a young girl, decked out in a headset and rumble vest, looks to the ceiling, her mouth agape.

“Wow,” she says breathlessly, as a giant whale only she can see glides by.

The rest of the arcade’s nine virtual reality rooms are occupied by everyone from young kids to grown men, darting and ducking as they play through all manners of adventure.

Erik Madsen owns Arcadia, which is Kelowna’s newest virtual reality arcade.

Image: Contributed

Virtual reality technology has always been on the cutting-edge, but Madsen says it’s taken off in the last couple of years, and has finally reached a point where it can provide a truly immersive experience.

“Until you experience VR, you can’t understand how incredible and realistic the experience is,” he says. “Trying to walk out on a plank 100 stories above the ground, for example, kicks your adrenaline in big time. We spared no expense to provide the user with state of the art equipment run by the fastest computers custom built to ensure the best possible experience for our customers.”

Slipping on one of Arcadia’s headsets plunges you into a dinosaur-infested island, a dark sewer crawling with zombies, or even some of the world’s most famous museums.

With more than 60 games available, Arcadia has one of the largest libraries in the country. Madsen says it’s that selection that has made it so absolutely anyone can enjoy the VR experience.

“We’ve got something for everyone: from fast-paced shooters to something as tame as a virtual reality museum, where you get to experience great works of art like Michelangelo’s David or the Mona Lisa.” he says. “You can even get right up to the Mona Lisa without security tackling you–that in itself is pretty incredible.”

The technology also allows multiple people to join in the same game, competing against one another or exploring together. You can even be in totally different physical locations and still play together.

“People have this idea that virtual reality is just video games, like you’re sitting on a couch and not socializing, but this is completely different,” he says.

Image: Contributed

“You’re active, you’re up, you’re dodging bullets, and you’re playing with your friends. This is a very social experience.”

Arcadia has also done everything it can to make the experience as social as possible.

The virtual reality rooms are three sided, with the fourth “wall” completely taken out, so your friends can be a part of the experience, too. The rooms also fan out around a central set of comfy, leather couches, creating a communal atmosphere.

There’s even a separate party room that large groups can rent for birthdays and other functions.

“I don’t think we’ve had a single person walk away from this and be upset with the experience,” Madsen says.

Right now, Arcadia is selling gift certificates, which Madsen says are perfect for gifts or other occasions. For more information on Arcadia or virtual reality, check them out online.

A Nutcracker prince returns
Special to Okanagan Edge - Nov 30 - Think Local

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Another nutcracker prince is returning to Kelowna to dance in Mission Dance Centre’s The Nutcracker.

One of the greatest rewards for artistic director Tanya Bakala is when a student who was home-grown at MDC goes out into the professional dance world and returns to share their talent with the next generation of new hopefuls.

This winter season, David Denton Protsack is that returning student. He’s grown into a handsome young man, and will dance the role of the prince in The Nutcracker, along with the dance students of the pre-professional program.

Mission Dance has been blessed in the past years, as students like Protsack come back to partner with the young, up-and-coming ballerinas.

What a treat and wonderful experience for these teen female dancers, who have the opportunity to be partnered with a professional.

Not many teen girls have such a special chance to step into the role of Clara or the Sugarplum Fairy, and to be partnered with
professionals. But here at MDC we strive to make this dream a reality.

This year the role of Clara will be danced by Taria Soames (during the matinee) and Anna Baerg (during the eveing and school shows).

The role of the Sugarplum Fairy will be danced by Annette Bakala for the matinee, evening, and public school performances.

One of the mandates of the centre’s ambitious artistic director is for Mission Dance to service the community of Kelowna by making the training and performances accessible to all who love dance.

Proceeds from the silent auction at this year’s Nutcracker performances will go to the Mission Dance Centre’s scholarship fund.

Protsack was a winning recipient of such a scholarship when he was training at MDC, before he went to the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.

Bakala strives to make dance affordable whether you are a dance hopeful or an audience member.

All of the passion Bakala has for dance was ignited years ago when, believe it or not, she met the great Rudolph Nureyev backstage in Toronto, when he was performing with the National Ballet (now there was a prince in the flesh).

She saw his greatness and electrifying presence during the brief backstage meeting and has been mesmerized all her life ever since.

Holding on to that little girl’s mesmerized moment, and never forgetting that one single person can emit so much beautiful and powerful energy, Bakala holds the belief that each of us has this capacity within us when we’re living our passion.

Now, as a mentor to ballet students, the poised artistic director wishes for each student to experience themselves in all their grandeur of who they are, on and off stage.

It is important that each performer experiences themselves just as Rudolph Nureyev had the passion and conviction to experience himself. Each person has the capacity to make their own dreams to come true.

Upcoming Nutcracker performances are:
-Dec. 1, 12 p.m. at the public school;
-Dec. 2, 2 p.m. matinee;
-Dec. 2, 7:30 p.m. evening.

For more information on the performance, or to purchase tickets, call 250-764- 2222, or visit Mission Dance Centre online.

Could you escape this?
Special to Okanagan Edge - Nov 28 - Think Local

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When Kelowna Escape Games first set up shop in Kelowna a few months ago, it was the first company to bring commercial virtual reality to the city.

But for store manager William Yau, that was just a warm-up.

Now, after months of painstaking work, Kelowna Escape Games is finally making its game-changing escape rooms available to play.

You are probably familiar with escape rooms: they’re themed rooms full of puzzles that you and a group of friends need to solve in order to escape.

Yau, whose main business is creating intricately crafted escape rooms, says it’s time to forget whatever you think you know about that experience, because Kelowna Escape Games is doing something totally unique.

When you think “escape room” you probably imagine being locked in a room trying to find a bunch of keys to open a bunch of padlocks.

But the mere concept of a padlock offends Yau.

“Padlocks are fine, but they are very limited when it comes to puzzle creation,” he says. Why would you mess around with a bunch of locks and keys, when you can build elaborate puzzles using sounds, lasers, and motion sensors?

Kelowna Escape Games is the next generation of escape room, and Yau says many of his puzzle components are hand-made, which creates the most authentic-feeling experience possible.

His The Rise of the Itzamna room, for example, plunges players into a pitch-black Mayan tomb.

One portion of the stunning Rise of Itzamna room

As you and your friends cast the light of your lanterns down a narrow hallway, sand scraping beneath your feet, you’ll stumble across hand-carved idols and elaborate art on the walls.

Place a worn wooden statue in the exact right spot and a sharp crack echoes in the darkness, as a hidden door springs open. Cleverly redirect a beam of light, and a secret room rumbles into view.

The effects are all built right into the rooms, so there’s no interaction with the outside world required.

Yau has made this possible by equipping his escape rooms with motion and weight sensor technology–and it’s that pairing of the authentic feel and cutting-edge technology he says takes his escape rooms to an entirely new level.

“All our puzzles are really hands-on, so you get to touch and feel everything, hold objects in your hands,” Yau says. “The way we’ve paired them with our technology also lets you interact in a much more interesting way.”

His technological innovations extend beyond the puzzles themselves, to the built-in hint systems that again mean no outside help is necessary.

An iPad screen built into the room allows players to choose hints for any puzzle they’re stuck on, and even choose between a variety of hints for each, spanning from easy to hard.

Yau says he’s also passionate about his customers getting the most out of their experience, which is why he lets groups take a full hour to try and solve them.

In the end, he says, his ultimate goal is for everyone to feel good about the experience. That’s why he’s designed the rooms to have a 20-80 per cent pass rate.

So while the rooms are challenging, Yau also genuinely wants most everyone to pass them.

The Galaxy Defenders escape room has its own unique challenges

“Why would you pay me to spend an hour being frustrated, and end up feeling bad at the end? This is supposed to be fun, it’s supposed to be a great way to hang out with friends, I want you to feel good at the end,” he says.

Right now, Kelowna Escape Games has rooms for both beginner groups, and those looking for a little more of a challenge.

He’s also in the process of putting together a Game of Thrones themed room, which he giddily explains will be complete with a full replica of the Iron Throne.

“I want my customers to be blown away by this,” he says, “They are going to be so wowed by the decoration in this room, they will already feel they’ve got their money’s worth before they start the puzzle.

For more information on Kelowna Escape Games, or to book your escape experience, check them out online.

Your own wondrous view
Special to Okanagan Edge - Nov 23 - Think Local

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People can tell you about how gut-wrenchingly beautiful the view from Kirschner Mountain is; you can pour over pictures of it; or even look up at the mountain and try to imagine–but until you’ve stood at the top of Loseth Road, with the entire city twinkling below you, you really have no idea.

For a long time, a single family had the right to those views, but the last few years have seen new homes pop up atop Kirschner, letting a lucky few snag a piece of it for themselves.

Now, a handful of new lots have gone on sale, giving a brief window of opportunity to anyone who wants to be part of the community.

Allen Kirschner, the man in charge of development on the mountain, will talk for as long as you let him about how breathtaking it is to gaze out over Kelowna from a Kirschner Mountain patio.

But he’ll also tell you how, despite the quiet beauty that surrounds the community, it’s remarkably close to the conveniences of city life.

Image: Contributed

Hop in your car and you can be at the Orchard Park Shopping Centre in mere minutes. In just over 15 minutes you can make it all the way to the downtown.

Kelowna International Airport is an easy 10 minutes away, and some of the best schools in the city sit a breezy five-minute drive from Kirschner Mountain homes.

Allen also points out that very few people can make it to the slopes of Big White faster than those who live at Kirschner Mountain.

“This mountain might give you a slice of quiet, country living, but it’s still very much a part of the city,” Allen says.

“Kirschner is a microcosm of what is best about Okanagan living. Expansive views, clean water and the quiet of the countryside, with the convenience of being right in Kelowna,” he adds.

Allen is also proud of the family spirit imbued in Kirschner.

His family, the one that gave the mountain its name, has lived there for generations. That means it’s not a faceless corporation building the community there, but a family that’s invested in making sure it remains a special place.

The fourth phase of that community will soon begin to take shape, and 36 lots are available for sale right now.

Allen points out that the luxury lots are larger than most in Kelowna, and when you buy one, Kirschner gives you the freedom to choose your own builder to create your home.

For more information on becoming part of the Kirschner community, contact Allen by visiting Kirschner Mountain online.

Image: Contributed

Buy your own industrial space
Special to Okanagan Edge - Nov 21 - Think Local

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Are you leasing an office or warehouse space in Kelowna? With interest rates still at historic lows and land prices increasing, now might be a good time to think about buying into your own commercial strata unit.

Industrial and commercial strata opportunities are extremely rare in Kelowna, especially in a central retail location, but it is an increasingly popular choice for businesses that understand the value of building equity in their own company.

“Rents in the Kelowna market are on the rise and in the long-term, owning is a prudent and more profitable idea,” says PC Urban principal, Garry Fawley. “For Kelowna companies, owning means they can have more capital to invest in tools and growing the business, rather than throwing the money away at rent. Believe it or not, it tends to cost 25% per cent more to rent rather than to own.”

IntraUrban Enterprise is Kelowna’s first industrial strata in five years. And it’s set in an unparalleled location, in the heart of the city’s Okanagan shopping centre district.

The centrally located, four-acre site will host 39 new, commercial strata units on the major intersection of Enterprise Way and Dilworth Drive, one block off of Highway 97.

The new IntraUrban units will range from 2,700 to 4,200 square feet, and will offer quality flex space for general industrial use, with office and retail components.

The development will feature bay garage doors, built-in upper mezzanines, generous glazing for natural light and a modern, high-end product that is rarely found in other industrial projects in Kelowna.

“The attractiveness of commercial condos is that, with a low interest environment, small business owners see real value in ownership,” says Steve Laursen, a broker with Royal LePage in Kelowna, who is co-marketing the project with CBRE.

“These businesses are able to grow equity through their real estate. They’re able to improve space and reinvest in it knowing that they’ll benefit once the time comes to sell the property. There are tax breaks for them if they own their own property. They’re able to control their costs and expand or contract their business instead of being at the whim of a landlord. They control their own destiny.”

Last year, PC Urban launched a commercial strata development, in the heart of Vancouver, called IntraUrban Laurel. As in Kelowna, it was the first commercial strata within city limits in more than five years and it was a huge success, selling out before construction started–an unprecedented feat in the Vancouver market, one that highlighted the need for ownership opportunities for the city’s small and medium-sized businesses.

PC Urban had a similar experience selling its second industrial strata project on Mitchell Island, just on the border of Vancouver and Richmond, called IntraUrban Rivershore.

The company is now bringing their experience with commercial strata to Kelowna’s burgeoning commercial real estate market.

“There is a rapidly closing window of opportunity for businesses to invest in their own commercial property in central Kelowna,” says Laursen. “IntraUrban Enterprise will be a premier industrial development due to its location, featuring unparalleled access to retail, downtown and main transportation routes for business space, as well as for recreational storage.”

Here are the top reasons to consider buying your own office or warehouse:

1. Location: The long-term value play in real estate is always determined by choosing the right location, with easy access to retail, pedestrian traffic and transportation routes;
2. Growing Equity: This is obvious, but easily forgotten. As you pay down your principle and your property appreciates, so does your equity. Over ten years, the decision to own can result in large equity build;
3. Rental Hikes: This doesn’t happen when you own your own space. And stable mortgage rates offer the kind of stability and security leasing can’t provide;
4. Tax Breaks: Depreciate your unit from its full value annually and write off operating and mortgage interest expenses;
5. Improving Your Space: Money you spend renovating–whether its upgrades to an office or a showroom–increases the value of your real estate and of your business;
6. Alternative Financial Options: Your space can be rented or sold any time you want.

Named by Western Investor magazine as the number one city to invest in real estate in Western Canada over the next year, Kelowna’s land values are set to rise again in the coming years.

For more information on industrial strata in the heart of Kelowna, check out IntraUrban online.

Image: Contributed

Coaches bank on coaches
Special to Okanagan Edge - Nov 19 - Think Local

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Thompson-Okanagan FC’s soccer teams are usually the only ones in their leagues from the B.C. interior. That means they end up playing a ton of games on the coast.

It’s a long and often brutal drive to get there, which is why coach Kai Tolpinrud says the club takes its transportation very seriously.

There’s a lot of things team managers need to consider when they’re hauling young players to far-flung matches. Safety, timeliness, convenience, comfort and camaraderie are all important, he says, and the club needs transportation that takes all of it into account.

For Tolpinrud, the only real answer is a motor coach–and for as long as he can remember, TOFC has been using BlueStar Coach Lines.

“It’s a comfortable atmosphere, with lots of space, great features, and there’s even a bathroom on there,” he says. “The players can sleep if they want, although I think most of them are probably in there on their phones, using the free wifi, playing games, and chirping at each other.”

Corinne Underwood is the director of business development at BlueStar Coachlines.

She says that, these days, motorcoaches are so luxurious and well-equipped you can’t really even call them buses anymore.

BlueStar’s coaches, for example, come chalked full of options like complimentary wifi, reclining seats, fully equipped entertainment systems and onboard washrooms.

Tolpinrud says a trip on a motor coach not only feels better than cramming into a car, but that getting team together can do wonders for team chemistry.

And then there’s the safety factor.

“The safety of having a uniformed driver in a big bus, that’s huge,” he says. “Knowing we have a professional driver, who can handle any kind of weather or road, it makes those tough-weather tripes so much nicer,” he says.

BlueStar, he says, is also incredibly accommodating to the ever-evolving schedules that sports teams can come with.

Not long ago, for example, one of the club’s teams played a semi-final match that decided whether or not they would have to bomb down to the coast in the next morning for the finals.

BlueStar put a coach on standby for the team, so they could be sure they had proper transportation, even though they didn’t know if they would need it until the last minute.

“For me, they’ve always been extremely accommodating,” Tolpinrud says.

Underwood points out that BlueStar has a fleet of coaches–ranging from an-11 seat sprinter, through to a 27-seat executive class motorcoach, a 48-seat motorcoach, and more than 20 56-seat coaches–so it can handle groups and teams of virtually any size.

For more information on motorcoaches, or for a closer look at BlueStar Coachline’s fleet, check out the company online.

Win a $1,000 shopping spree
Special to Okanagan Edge - Nov 15 - Think Local

Image: Contributed

One Kelowna businesses is giving local shoppers the chance to win a new wardrobe this holiday season–and all you have to do for a chance to win is stop by their store.

Maria Centuria may be one of the city’s most exciting hidden gems, but that’s not stopping them from giving a $1,000 shopping spree away to one lucky winner.

Nestled into a small location on Bernard Avenue, the designer boutique is stocked full of custom-selected clothes and accessories hand plucked from across Europe.

For the next four weeks, owner Olga Isakova will enter anyone who comes into the store into the draw, for a chance to win the substantial prize.

Isakova is a super-chic style fanatic, who says she wants nothing more than to share her love of clothes with anyone who comes through her door.

She says you’ll not only strut out of Maria Centuria looking like you’re straight off the runways of Milan, you’ll have a great time getting there, too.

“People come to the store and they have a great time,” she says. “Often they leave just as happy with their experience here as they are with their clothes.”

Isakova says her special, direct relationships with manufacturers and suppliers allows her to bring in the best European brands, without the absurd markups that often get slapped on high-end imports.

“You don’t have to be a millionaire to shop at a boutique store,” she says.

Maria Centuria already sells its products for less than what you’d likely expect, but Isakova says they’ve heaped extra savings on top of that to help ring in the holiday season.

“You don’t need to wait until Christmas to get the best deals. We’ve got great sales on right now, you can come down and get an outfit to wear to your Christmas party, or other holiday events,” she says.

For a chance to get your hands on the shop’s $1,000 spree, simply head down to Marie Centuria–located in the Nesters complex at the corner of Gordon Drive and Bernard Avenue–and you will be automatically be entered.

Isakova will draw a winner Dec. 20.

For more information visit Maria Centuria in person, at 1131 Lawson Ave., or call 250-317-2117.

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