Proxima offers elite rentals
Contributed - 12:01 am - Think Local

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Kerkhoff Development is involved in many large Kelowna projects that have either been completed or in the process of being built.

Until recently, all of their buildings contained homes that were available for purchase.

Now the company is building homes that are available for rent. The Packing District opened the first of its two buildings recently, and coming soon across Clement Avenue will be Proxima, a 59-unit rental building consisting of townhomes and apartments.

Even though The Packing District was completed first, Proxima was Kerkhoff’s first foray into Kelowna’s rental market.

“We’re excited about this,” company president and CEO Leonard Kerkhoff says. “It makes sense. It’s downtown. It’s a good location, blocks from the water. We’re building on what we’ve been doing downtown here with ONE Water and 1151 Sunset, keeping the construction going.”

Proxima will feature two-storey, two-bedroom townhomes facing Richter Street, with a parkade accessed from behind the building. Floors three through six of the wood-frame structure will be higher-end apartments, some of which will have two bedrooms as well. The homes will be designed with condominium-type finishes, so it will be an upper-end rental product.

Elite apartments will have large, exterior balcony spaces, while the top of the parkade podium will offer residents access to a rooftop green space that features an indoor kitchenette, an outdoor built-in barbecue and a large fire pit area to go along with seating and planter boxes.

The building will also contain a gym with cardio and workout equipment, and residents will be allowed to have pets.

The sales centre unit has been fast-tracked and is nearly ready to be shown to those who are interested in living in Proxima. Kerkhoff believes the more rental units that are available in Kelowna the better, because more people might be hesitant about putting money down on a new home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Proxima will be ready for its new tenants early next year.

Spiritleaf local, legal choice
Contributed - Oct 27, 2020 - Think Local

Photo: David Wylie/
Sarah Ballantyne of Spiritleaf Vernon

Spiritleaf Vernon has been open for more than a year now, and it has become the go-to cannabis store for those who want to shop locally and legally.

Owner Sarah Ballantyne believes it is her company’s commitment to safety and education that draws customers to their location on 53rd Avenue.

“Our staff have done a good job of encouraging our customers to not necessarily price shop but to trust us and support our approach of customer service and education first,” Ballantyne says.

Spiritleaf, which leads the country with more than 60 locations, educates its staff on every facet of its product through an in-house training program. In fact, staff members just completed training on the last of the 2.0 items, like concentrates and beverages. Another key part of the staff’s education is how to use the product. Employees are taught about how to use each accessory that is required to consume whatever form of cannabis you prefer.

If you have a question, Ballantyne’s Spiritleaf Vernon employees will have the answer.

“Not everyone is familiar with how to use those accessories, so we do a deep dive on the products, and we are sourcing products that are mostly Canadian,” Ballantyne says. “That’s really important to us.”

The popularity of those 2.0 items is starting to build, although dried flower remains the store’s No. 1 seller. Spiritleaf Vernon has a dozen varieties of CBD and THC beverages, and more are arriving every week.

“Dried flower has been our number one seller since day one, but we are seeing a shift to those other categories,” she says. “They’re really picking up. They’re trying it on the side of their dried flower.”

Another reason why Ballantyne believes Spiritleaf is so popular is because customers know what they are getting is safe. That is the hallmark of all legal cannabis stores.

“It’s all about safety,” she says. “In the legal market, everything is done in Health Canada-approved facilities, nobody’s touching it, and there’s no cross-contamination with anything.”

Spiritleaf is ready for the holiday season as well. Canada Post allows for cannabis shipping across the country, so Spiritleaf will package it for you and all you have to do is take it to the post office and pay for postage.

And buying at Spiritleaf will help keep the money in Vernon, as the employees all live in the Okanagan and spend their money there, too.

“Supporting local contributes back to the community,” Ballantyne says. “I have 10 staff, and they have kids here. They have homes here.”

In addition to its store in Vernon, Spiritleaf has locations in Kelowna, West Kelowna and Penticton.

Clean teeth without dentist trip
Contributed - Oct 26, 2020 - Think Local

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Let’s face it: Having your teeth cleaned can be an anxious affair.

The scents. The sounds. The clinical atmosphere.

It’s not exactly comforting.

That’s why Joanna Bernath created Fresh Dental Hygiene, a Kelowna business that makes its clients feel welcomed and relaxed while receiving their dental hygiene care.

Bernath received her education in Ontario and upon moving to B.C. upgraded her licence from registered dental hygienist to dental hygiene practitioner, which allows her to own and operate a private dental hygiene practice without dentist supervision. They follow the B.C. Dental Hygienists’ Association fee guide, which is more affordable than traditional dental practices.

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“Our space is very calming. We cater to people who are anxious about dental experiences and to those who value extra time and attention,” Bernath says. “When you come in there is no drilling, no filling. Our focus is on prevention.”

Bernath says she hears repeatedly from her clients that they have never felt more comfortable during their dental hygiene care. Adding to the comfort is Fresh Dental Hygiene’s mission to build and maintain trusting relationships between hygienist and patient.

“We provide a high standard of care catered to each individual, taking into account their oral health status, beliefs and values. There is continuity of care,” Bernath says. “When patients come back they know they’re going to see the same hygienist who is familiar with their health needs.”

Fresh Dental Hygiene’s services include dental hygiene therapy, teeth whitening, radiographs and oral cancer screenings as well as providing referrals to local dentists and other health professionals if needed. 

“We go out of our way to make people comfortable,” Bernath says.“We attract a clientele who value their oral health and overall wellness, and we strive to help our clients achieve their goals.”

Fresh Dental Hygiene doesn’t only take care of pearly whites; it is partnered with a registered massage therapist and myofunctional therapist in their office to add to its overall wellness mission. 

Bernath hopes to soon integrate a dentist into her practice to expand the services her clients can access, but the calm and soothing atmosphere at Fresh Dental Hygiene will never change.

Rink coming to Predator Ridge
Contributed - Oct 24, 2020 - Think Local

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Predator Ridge homeowners hoping to skate out of town this winter will now be able to skate on an outdoor rink that will be installed in the community in early December.

Since the U.S.-Canada border is closed and will likely remain that way for an extended period of time, more Canadian snowbirds will be spending their winters in the white stuff. In an effort to make the season more enjoyable for them, Predator Ridge is making sure there will be plenty to do to make time fly.

The outdoor rink is yet another amenity for Predator Ridge homeowners, visitors and resort guests. The target opening date is Monday, Dec. 7, and it will be built using state-of-the-art portable refrigerated technology that will maintain the ice up to an outdoor temperature of 10 C. That will provide a reliable and consistent ice surface all winter long, and it will be the only Okanagan community to offer a refrigerated private skating facility for residents and guests.

“We’ve always been a four-season community,” Predator Ridge marketing manager Dekker Mende says. “We really wanted it to be special this winter.”

If skating is not your cup of tea, there will still be plenty of fun to be had at Predator Ridge this winter. One of the biggest attractions will be the Sim Lounge, which will feature four golf simulators that can be used for lessons and league play on a variety of courses. Food and drinks will be available in the lounge for players to enjoy while hitting the links.

The long list of activities for Predator Ridge homeowners, visitors and resort guests also includes tennis and pickleball, whose facility is open year-round, snowshoe trails, the fitness centre and a wide range of culinary events, like food-themed days of the week, Sunday brunch, cooking classes, cocktail classes, chef’s dinners and wine dinners.

More information about Predator Ridge amenities can be found here.

DrivePur offers more safety
Contributed - Oct 22, 2020 - Think Local

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Every time a vehicle enters a Craftsman Collision location, the goal is to transform so it leaves in the condition it was in before it got banged up.

And now, thanks to an innovative cleaning system, those vehicles are leaving the shop with an extra layer of protection against enemies that cannot be seen.

Craftsman Collision is now offering the DrivePur treatment, which was invented 12 years ago by a Texas car dealer who suffered a staph infection from bacteria in one of his used vehicles and nearly died.

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The treatment is a two-step process that starts with a registered, organic disinfectant called Fresch that eliminates on contact 99.9% of the germs, viruses (including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19), bacteria, fungus and mould that is found on surfaces throughout a vehicle’s interior. Then the DrivePur spray, which consists of titanium dioxide, sodium chlorite and water, is applied to the vehicle’s interior, trunk area and high touch points on the vehicle’s exterior. It is an antimicrobial coating that actively fights to protect against germs, viruses, bacteria and mould from adhering to surfaces for up to six months.

So many are concerned about safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, so offering the DrivePur treatment was a natural move for Craftsman Collision president Rick Hatswell once the world got moving again. The optional service is available at all Craftsman Collision locations for $49 until Jan. 1, at which time the price will increase to $99.

“The beauty of it is that this DrivePur formula of titanium dioxide leaves a layer on your vehicle that interacts with sunlight and keeps cleaning for up to six months,” Hatswell says. “It’s something that continues to protect your vehicle.”

The Craftsman Collision locations in Kelowna, West Kelowna and Rutland have performed the DrivePur treatment on all of its replacement vehicles that customers drive while their own rides are being repaired. It’s all in the name of safety, which has never been more important for people than it is today.

“Now with the pandemic, with everyone so concerned about their safety—not only of the car repair but also what can’t be seen on the inside of the car and what it will do to me—it just kind of fit in perfectly, actually, for safe, proper repairs,” Hatswell says.

“We’re making sure that everything we do delivers back a car that is safe for the customer.”

The treatment is non-toxic, environmentally friendly and has no fragrance. It leaves a fresh eucalyptus scent in the vehicle for a short period of time following its application. The aroma eventually fades, but the DrivePur treatment keeps working.

“It’s us continuing to perform safe, quality repairs,” Hatswell says, “and making sure that cars are delivered safely back to customers.”

It’s all fun and games here
Contributed - Oct 21, 2020 - Think Local

Photo: Instagram

If the words Tarmogoyf, Ugin and Shockmaw mean anything to you, there is a “gathering” place in the Okanagan you might want to visit.

Or if you simply like being entertained or playing games with friends, this spot will make you happy, too.

Orchard City Games is a new business in Westbank that is hoping to bring together a community of game players. It is already big into Magic: The Gathering, a popular 1993 game that features cards with the unique names mentioned above.

Photo: Instagram

“We’re trying to build a safe space that is non-judgmental with all walks of life welcome,” says Marie Justin, who owns Orchard City Games with her husband, Ken. “All of our staff is very welcoming, very friendly and very knowledgeable.”

The business features everything from role-playing to tabletop to war-playing to card games. Orchard City Games, for instance, is the only location in West Kelowna and Westbank in which single cards for Magic, or MTG as it’s known, can be purchased, and that makes it a natural gathering spot for those who play it. The cards can also be purchased through the Orchard City Games website.

Orchard City Games plays host to Friday Night Magic every week—with COVID-compliant protocols, of course—in its location at 110-2230 on Highway 97, just behind White Spot. Dungeons and Dragons is another game that will be prominent at Orchard City Games.

“We have a game-playing space, and then we have our retail space,” Marie Justin says. “We have a section devoted to having that gaming community coming in and playing and sitting at our tables and chairs.”

The store held its soft opening on Sept. 30 and opened officially earlier this month. The Justins are planning to hold a grand opening close to or on Halloween weekend. It is also teaming up with Castanet to give away a board game package, worth approximately $200, through a contest that can be entered here. People can enter simply by liking the Facebook page as well.

Game players of all kinds are encouraged to check out its Facebook page, where Marie plans to posts quizzes and games for those who cannot make it into the store or are looking for some fun when the business is not open. Participants will have the chance to win discounts off their next purchase, and some will just be for fun.

The Facebook page also has to the ability to become an online meeting place that Orchard City Games will lead to in-person gatherings at their location.

“We’ll do all types of games as our gaming community grows,” Marie Justin says.

Total Restoration local, loyal
Contributed - Oct 20, 2020 - Think Local

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When disaster strikes, it is best to have your restoration company just down the street.

That is where Total Restoration Services is—and has been—since 2002. And it is not going anywhere.

“For any kind of emergency disaster situation, it’s imperative to act quickly,” Total Restoration general manager Marisa Wilson says.

That is just one of the many reasons why Total Restoration prides itself as being the Okanagan’s and Shuswap’s go-to company for restoration services. The family-owned business has been serving the valley for nearly 20 years in more ways than one. It can respond to large, catastrophic losses just as well as the national brands, but it also keeps money in the Okanagan and supports a wide range of community events and organizations.

Total Restoration employees are your friends and neighbours. They know the Okanagan, and they know you. That kind of care, attention and empathy can be found only with a company that has deep local roots. When clients call after hours they will get the company owners, too, so they know their needs will be met.

“Our reputation is everything for us,” Wilson says. “We’re here in the community. Our warranty is stronger than anybody’s because of that. It keeps the money here.”

Just how local is Total Restoration? Well, it is the only company that has an office on Big White Mountain, and it doesn’t get much more Okanagan than that.

They do not just have an office at Big White, however. A percentage of revenue from Total Restoration’s work in the town goes to the Big White Mountain Community Development Association, and it allows the group to use its office for meetings.

“They can’t do their fundraisers due to COVID-19,” Wilson says. “We heard that one loud and clear, and it’s a way for us to help them up there grow their community and make things better for them.

“That’s what local businesses do. They support their community.”

Total Restoration is a major sponsor of the Kelowna Rockets, West Kelowna Warriors, Kelowna Chiefs and Big White racers, and is trying to help as many local groups as possible to help them through the COVID-19 pandemic. It will also be taking part in an initiative to help the Central Okanagan Food Bank this holiday season.

And all the while Total Restoration will be there when troubles arise. It is the most certified company in the Okanagan and Shuswap, as its 60 employees include a master water restorer, a master fire and smoke restorer, and a master textile cleaner.

It’s never been more important to shop local during these uncertain times, which is why if you have a fire or a flood, your first call should be to Total Restoration—that company just down the street.

PeakFine delicious, sustainable
Contributed - Oct 18, 2020 - Think Local

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Executive chef John Stratton

Sparkling Hill Resort is famous for having one of the region’s most alluring vistas.

Area residents and visitors stop by the thousands at the resort for a “selfie on the terrace.”

Now those visitors can come not only for a memorable shot with a gorgeous background, but for some of the Okanagan’s finest food and drink as well. PeakFine Restaurant and Barrique & Java are two spots that offer both picturesque views and delectable menu items.

Both eateries are located at Sparkling Hill, and executive chef John Stratton is ready to show Okanagan residents—and their family and friends—what he has in store for them this fall and winter as life begins its return to normal. His new seasonal menu launched on Wednesday and are now available.

Stratton is passionate about sourcing out as many local ingredients as possible, highlighting the great bounty of the Okanagan, and he also wants the restaurants to focus on sustainability as well. Not only will that help the environment, but the food will be tastier and the price should be kept in line, too.

Photo: Contributed
The views at Sparkling Hill Resort are out of this world.

“We’re trying really hard to use local where we can to create low food miles and to help the growers and pickers and farmers of British Columbia as much as possible,” Stratton says.

The chicken comes from a farm near Salmon Arm, the duck and pork arrives from Chilliwack, and the beef is sourced from locations throughout Western Canada. It is all hand cut, and the carbon footprint is minimal.

PeakFine is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, although the COVID-19 pandemic has altered the usual way food is enjoyed at the restaurant. The breakfast buffet has been discontinued and replaced with an a la carte service that offers five options. The daily lunch feature is $20 and includes a glass of local wine or alcoholic beverage. Patrons are able to enjoy everything from fish and chips to tuna to poke bowls to Albertan ground bison burgers.

Barrique and Java has more of a small-plate menu, like Korean-style pulled pork lettuce wraps for two, hummus on a grilled pita and hand-torched tuna. All of its coffee now comes from Cherry Hill, a local company, and in the morning you are able to grab a pastry and a cup of joe for $5.

“It’s a great spot throughout the day to have a glass of wine and a quick lunch or something light in between your spa treatments,” Stratton says. “And then at night it’s definitely where you want to go after or before dinner and have your aperitif or your before-dinner drink. Maybe something small to eat.”

While savouring the delicious dining options, you will also be able to soak in the stunning Okanagan Lake views and the Swarovski crystals that cause the sunlight to dance throughout the space.

“That’s why at Sparkling Hill we don’t have a lot of art work,” Stratton says. “We focus more on the natural beauty of the Okanagan and the outdoors, and also the architectural design of the building.”

Photo: Contributed

Enjoy fruits of harvest season
Contributed - Oct 13, 2020 - Think Local

Image: Contributed

It is quite possibly the most underrated time of year to visit B.C. wineries.

October is BC Wine Harvest Month, and that means wine lovers have the opportunity to watch the perfectly ripe grapes come off the vine and begin their journey to a bottle—all while sipping on their current favourite and enjoying new, local and seasonal cuisine.

October is not only one of the prettiest months to visit a winery, but the large summer crowds that come to enjoy the province’s best product are gone for the most part. The tenth month is the perfect time for locals to savour local wines, which this year are expected to flourish due to the fact there were few wildfires and the growing conditions were spectacular.

The year wasn’t without its hurdles, but B.C. wine producers are a gritty and grounded bunch who persevere and are proud of their work.

“2020 has been like no other,” BC Wine Institute president and CEO Miles Prodan says. “Our industries were quick to respond and adapt during an unpredictable time, but we’re not out of the woods yet. This campaign brings local industry together to strengthen the collective and work collaboratively to bolster local support and celebrate some of the finest this province has to offer.”

If you don’t know where to begin when it comes to BC Wine Harvest Month, look no further than the Wines of BC Explorer app. It has not only all the information you could possibly want about wines, accommodations and food related to the industry, but it also helps you curate a wish list of whatever you might be craving—or even a wine trip—before the 2020 season comes to a close.

“The app is designed to help wine lovers find BC wine that suits their unique tastes, offering personalized, expert recommendations based on their flavour profile, available through the app’s taste test,” BC Wine Institute’s marketing director Kim Barnes says. “It provides users with a simple way to find up-to-date information on winery experiences, accommodations, locations, operating hours and promotions all in one place.”

The app also provides a chance to win one of nine grand prizes the BC Wine Institute is offering as part of BC Wine Harvest Month. Each Sips & Trips grand prize consists of two nights and three days—for two people—in one of B.C.’s nine wine regions. The BC Wine Institute has teamed up with several partners for the contest, including Destination British Columbia, the BC Hotel Association, BC Restaurant and Food Association, BC Dairy Association and BC Seafood Alliance, to provide a memorable few days for nine lucky winners.

There are four ways to enter:
1. Enter on the website
2. Download the Wines of BC Explorer app
3. Rate a BC wine in the app
4. Share a wine or a trip within the app

Pins & Pints, food and fun
Contributed - Oct 11, 2020 - Think Local

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Whiski-Jack’s Pins & Pints, and West Kelowna Bowl are the newest attractions in Okanagan Lake Shopping Centre.

Pins & Pints opened in July—smack dab in the middle of the pandemic—and features more than a dozen TVs, draft beer, a delicious food menu, a fantastic cocktail and shooter list, local wine selections and—best of all—a 10-lane bowling alley.

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Pins & Pints co-owners Travis McPherson and Seth Matkin imagined the idea in 2019, and their goal was to create a spot that makes everyone feel welcome. They adapted their food and drink menu from the other Whiski-Jack’s location, but they added some unique offerings.

“We wanted to make this very similar to Whiski-Jack’s,” McPherson says. “But we’re in a different location with different clientele, so we have to offer a few different things. Our cocktail list, shooter list, wine list and food menu are truly fit for where we are.

“The wine list is something I’m immensely proud of. It highlights our local wine bench. All of our wines are VQA, and almost all of them come from wineries within a two-mile radius of our establishment.”

Pins & Pints and West Kelowna Bowl open daily at 11 a.m., and they offer affordable bowling during the week. That gives West Kelownians another recreational offering during the week.

“Activities are lacking on the Westside,” McPherson says. “People on this side of the bridge have been looking for more things to do with their kids, after work or just during the week.

“Aside of golf and boating, there’s not much else to do. And in the winter there’s even less.”

The bowling lanes feature both five- and ten-pin games, which means anyone of any age can pursue those elusive turkeys. Only five of the 10 lanes are currently open due to COVID-19 social distancing restrictions, but that hasn’t stopped them from being busy every night since they opened in July.

Given the food quality, service and specials that Whiski-Jack’s is known for, it is not a surprise to see the new business thriving in West Kelowna.

“Come for the pins,” McPherson says, “and stay for the pints.”

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