Solar will Empower your home
Contributed - 12:01 am - Think Local

Photo: Contributed

The decision to install a solar energy system for your home basically boils down to one question.

“Do you want to pay yourself, or do you want to pay the utility company?” Empower Energy’s B.C. manager Joshua Persaud says.

“Like any investment, it takes time to pay off, but in the end, you can take the money that you would be spending on your utility bill and invest it in your home instead.”

Photo: Contributed

By investing in a solar electric system you are investing in an appreciating asset. As the price of electricity increases, which is inevitable, so does the value of your solar array. Solar energy produces no emissions or noise, there are no moving parts, and the solar panels come with a 25-year performance warranty.

While future-proofing your home against rising energy costs can be reason enough, it is not the only reason people choose to go solar with Empower Energy.

“Our clients realize that this is an investment that also does good for their community,” Persaud says. “And that’s one of the reasons why it’s gained so much popularity over the last few years. It’s clean, renewable and empowering. All it does is sit there and generate power year after year after year.”

Empower Energy is an employee-owned company that offers complete turnkey solar energy solutions. They take care of the permitting, inspections, design and installation. Persaud said having an employee on your roof who is also a company owner means the workmanship is at “a different level. Our installers treat every job like they are working on their own home. We are always challenging each other to be perfect on the job.”

Based in Kelowna and serving the entire Okanagan, Persaud notes “the number of solar energy clients is increasing every year.”

As for the belief that the Okanagan’s winters are too cloudy for solar energy, Persaud says that is simply not true. With net metering, what is important is the amount of energy you produce over the full year.

“You harvest energy when the sun shines, and send it back into the grid to use as credit towards your future electricity use,” he says. “Customers effectively offset their energy use for the rest of the year.

“By providing residents and businesses with solar power, we are empowering them to save the environment, reduce energy and save money.

“Our clients are so happy once they get their system installed. When we first flip the breaker and they start saving money, people love it.”

Photo: Contributed

Ebus taking safety route
Contributed - Jun 02, 2020 - Think Local

Photo: Contributed

For more than 40 years, the motto of Ebus’ parent company has been “Safely Home.”

So when it came time to decide whether or not to continue to provide bus service during the most dangerous days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the decision was simple. They pulled their buses off the road.

And now that Ebus is set to once again start transporting passengers around B.C. again on Thursday, you can bet that safety is going to be the company’s top priority. In fact, Ebus has incorporated the Safely Clean program to assure travellers that their well-being is the primary concern.

Image: Contrbuted

Safely Clean is a collaboration between Ebus’ director of safety, operations and the passenger experience team, who used their time while not operating to build this program to ensure the safety of both staff and passengers.

Safely Clean covers every step of a passenger’s Ebus journey, from check-in to boarding to what happens once they are on board the coach. The company has implemented a total of 22 safety protocols throughout the three stages.

The most important thing for passengers to know, however, is that they will have to wear face masks throughout their journey. If they don’t have one of their own, they will be available for purchase before getting on the bus.

And once on the bus, every other seat will be unoccupied in an effort to create social distancing. Ebus didn’t have to have social distancing on its buses since everyone will be wearing face masks, but it wanted to add another level of safety and protection to its patrons.

Ebus will also be using electrostatic sprayers that take surface cleaning to new levels. They can hit the hard-to-reach places, like in the seat-belts and between the seats and the walls, and they will be used after every trip. Electrostatic sprayers will also be used in the Ebus offices.

The Ebus schedule won’t return to everyday service in the beginning, as routes will be running on Thursday, Friday, Sunday and Monday.

Image: Contributed

Local businesses thank you
Contributed - May 27, 2020 - Think Local

The light is starting to emerge from the darkness.

The second phase of B.C.’s reopening plan is underway, and businesses you have patronized for years are starting to come out of hibernation following the COVID-19 pandemic.

The businesses featured above are owned and operated by your friends, your family, your neighbours. They are all part of an ecosystem that, for the most part, remains closed off from the rest of the world until the next phase begins.

That is why it’s important to Think Local, which not coincidentally happens to be the name of this promotion from Castanet and Okanagan Edge. The Central Okanagan is beginning the process of getting back to normal, and these businesses have relied and will rely on you to get all of us to where we were before.

The businesses that wanted to say thank you are Craftsman Collision, Gulfstream, Kelowna Cell Repair, Savoy Equipment Ltd., Lakeside Hearing and Smack DAB.

It is up to the people of Kelowna and the Central Okanagan to go to bat for one another, to support one another, so we all come out of the pandemic stronger than we were before it struck.

If we all Think Local, we will be back to normal before we know it.

Luxury living in Kelowna
Contributed - May 14, 2020 - Think Local

Photo: Contributed

Are you looking for a brand new place to live in a friendly and welcoming neighbourhood with mature landscapes?

Look no further than TRIO—the latest development by Centurion Property Associates Inc. in the heart of Kelowna’s Glenmore area. It is located at 333 Drysdale Blvd.

Imagine coming home and relaxing after a busy work day with a double balcony (in some units) featuring views of trees and orchards in the area. What could be better than double the view of Glenmore?

Image: Contributed

On top of double the view, imagine cooking your favourite meals after a long day in a gourmet kitchen featuring quartz countertops, stainless-steel appliances and sleek finishes.

In addition to the amazing views and gourmet kitchen, TRIO is centrally located and easily accessible to downtown, Kelowna International Airport and the University of British Columbia Okanagan campus, making it perfect for students, professionals and families. Glenmore is adapting and modernizing, and homes are becoming more affordable to residents.

Glenmore is ideal for students, professionals and families with different rental needs. If you don’t drive, you can bike on the various flat areas and bike paths located throughout this deluxe neighbourhood. You can even bike downtown if you are feeling adventurous. Although Glenmore is centrally located, this area is blissfully peaceful and ideal for family living.

If you’re looking for the excitement of entertaining family and friends, all you need to do is stay at home. TRIO offers deluxe amenities such as: an amenity room, outdoor field, barbecue and picnic area, bike parking and wash station, storage, onsite dog run and more.

TRIO features three, five-storey residential buildings with different unit options. Unit types include studio options, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units that will feature high-end, modern finishes. TRIO prices start at $1,300.

More information about TRIO can be found here, and you can see more about Centurion Property Associates on its Facebook and Instagram pages.

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Partial return for K-12 students
Contributed - May 12, 2020 - Think Local

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A Message from the Central Okanagan Public Schools Board of Education

These are uncertain times. As we follow directions from the Province of B.C. regarding the resumption of some form of in-class instruction, we share our community’s concerns about another major shift.

We know we can face the next challenge because of how your courage and dedication helped us get through these last weeks.

School will not look like it did before the pandemic, but safety remains the top priority in all our decisions. The final weeks of the school year will be preparation for how school may look in the fall. This preparation is essential to ensuring we can safely deliver face-to-face education going forward.

We are currently in Stage 4 of the Ministry of Education’s measured approach to phasing in a return to learning in classrooms no later than June 1st. When the ministry announces a date for return to in-class instruction, we will move to Stage 3, which includes:

• In-class learning for students in Kindergarten to Grade 5 on a part-time basis.
• Access to in-class learning as needed for Grades 6 to 12 on a part-time basis.
• Remote and online learning for some students.

If learning in-class works well for families, we will welcome children to safe classrooms. Parents may choose to keep children at home and some online education will be provided to those students. We will continue to update you on emerging details as they become available.

By following the province’s directives and strict guidelines for health and safety, we are confident that staff and students will be safe, comfortable and ready to learn in our schools. For those who have health challenges or other concerns about returning to schools, the district will continue to consider each individual circumstance.

The Central Okanagan Board of Education is immensely grateful for the hard work of all staff, everyone’s patience and the kindness we witness throughout our community. Together we will navigate through this next shift in education.

More information and updates on the situation can always be found on the district’s website.

Board of Education Trustees (Moyra Baxter, Norah Bowman, Rolli Cacchioni, Chantelle Desrosiers, Julia Fraser, Amy Geistlinger and Lee-Ann Tiede)

Photo: Contributed

Breathe easier at home
Contributed - May 07, 2020 - Think Local

Photo: Contributed

Even though the weather is getting warmer, you’re still spending way more time than normal in your home.

If that weren’t enough, spring means allergy season.

So there’s no better time to make sure the air quality within your four walls is the best it can possibly be. Installing the right indoor air quality filter in your home can make all the difference in the world.

“Regular filters are really meant just to protect the furnace, to stop dust and debris from getting on the blower and the motor,” ComfortTech Heating & Cooling co-owner Terri Wilkinson says. “But there are some filters that are meant to protect the people who live in the house.”

Research by the Environmental Protection Agency found that the air quality inside homes can be two to 10 times worse than it is outside. And once the allergens or wildfire smoke gets in your home, it’s not going anywhere.

“Once allergens or particulates get in the house, they just recirculate through your system,” Wilkinson says. “If you don’t have any way to filter any of these things out, then they’re just there.”

The SolaceAir polarized-media electronic clean air filter installs directly into the one-inch filter rack in your existing heating and cooling system. Its electronically enhanced media combines elements of both electronic and media air cleaners, and it covers your whole house.

The air filter system will also help with the nasty odours that can sometimes permeate a home, including wildfire smoke.

“Filtration can do a lot of great things,” Wilkinson says. “It can take a bunch of particles out that might be allergenic, they can filter out components of wildfire smoke or cigarette smoke. It’s amazing how clean the air in your house can be with proper filtration.”

Wilkinson and her husband, Jeff Ballard, installed the air filter system in their home two years ago, and Ballard, who has bad allergies, realized last July that he made it through the 2019 allergy season unscathed.

Comfort Tech employees carry the Solace Air filters with them at all times, so the installation can be done quick and easily.

FireSmart your home now
Contributed - Apr 30, 2020 - Think Local

Photo: Contributed

Bryan Reid Sr. of Timber Kings fame is sharing his top three tips to help residents prepare for wildfire season using known FireSmart methods.

In 2017, Reid lost a lot to wildfire. Now he’s an advocate for wildfire prevention and calling on all B.C. residents and communities to prepare for the upcoming wildfire season by mitigating wildfire risks where they live.

“I have seen first hand how fast wildfire moves and how destructive it can be,” says Reid, who is the founder of Pioneer Log Homes and star of HGTV’s Timber Kings. “There are a lot of practical steps homeowners can take to prepare for wildfire, and I am proud to be working with FireSmart BC to help residents learn about what they can do.”

Image: Contributed

British Columbians can play a critical role in mitigating wildfire risks around their homes and properties by undertaking FireSmart initiatives. Homeowners who diligently implement the recommended FireSmart guidelines greatly increase the probability that their homes will survive a wildfire event.

Reid’s top three FireSmart tips for homeowners include:

1. Take the FireSmart home assessment
Download the FireSmart Homeowners Manual and take the home assessment to assess your risk from wildfire. Answer the questions in the assessment form to see what changes will make the greatest difference in reducing your home’s risk from wildfire.

2. Find out if your community is FireSmart Canada recognized
Communities whose residents work together to reduce their vulnerability have a greater chance of limiting fire-related damage. Check out the recognized FireSmart Community map and find out if your community has become FireSmart.

3. Don’t wait. FireSmart your home today.
Download the homeowners manual and find out what you can do to FireSmart your home today.

“There are over 100 FireSmart recognized communities in B.C., and hundreds of local FireSmart representatives who are doing their part to mitigate wildfire risks,” FireSmart’s Amanda Reynolds says. “We are encouraging all B.C. residents to visit FireSmart BC’s website, a central resource dedicated solely to wildfire prevention for property owners and communities in B.C. to learn about how they can prepare for wildfire season.”

The BC FireSmart Committee was initiated by the BC Wildfire Service in May 2017 to provide greater direction for wildfire prevention activities and better integration of the seven FireSmart disciplines throughout the province. It was based on the FireSmart Canada model.

Members of the committee include the BC Wildfire Service, the Office of the Fire Commissioner, the Union of B.C. Municipalities, the Fire Chiefs’ Association of B.C., Emergency Management BC, the Forest Enhancement Society of B.C. and the First Nations’ Emergency Services Society of B.C.

Image: Contributed
Some of the Okanagan communities that are FireSmart recognized.

La-Z-Boy reopens Friday
Contributed - Apr 29, 2020 - Think Local

Photo: Contributed

Talk about life not being fair.

People have been forced to sit at home and binge on Netflix during the COVID-19 pandemic, so it would have been the perfect time to buy that La-Z-Boy you’ve always wanted.

The only problem is you haven’t been able to do that for the last six weeks because Kelowna La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries has been closed due to the pandemic.

That will change on Friday, when Kelowna La-Z-Boy, located at 103-1850 Spall Rd., opens for the first time since March 17. The new hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the store will be open five days a week, from Wednesday to Sunday, as life hopefully begins its return to normal.

Image: Contributed

“We’ll have a clean, safe environment for people to shop in,” general manager Ben Gwartney says. “We have lots of inventory that’s available for delivery right away, but we’re also still available to order in that special piece for anyone.”

La-Z-Boy is famous for its recliners, but it also has everything you could possibly need for your home. Chairs, sofas and love seats are among the store’s expansive inventory, as is furniture for the bedroom, kitchen, dining room and outdoors.

La-Z-Boy products are top of the line not only because of their comfort and technology, but they also serve practical needs as well. Gwartney got a clear indication of that earlier this week when he received a call from a senior in an Okanagan care home.

“Her chair broke, and she needs a new chair,” Gwartney says. “She just got out of surgery, and she can’t get out of her chair.

“This is exactly part of the reason why we need to be operational for people.”

The store is taking advantage of the federal government’s wage subsidy program that kicks in on Friday.

There will be a limited number of people allowed to be in the store at any one time, and there will be plenty of sanitizer and disinfectant on hand to ensure everyone’s safety. Cash will not be accepted; only cards can be used for payment.

The delivery crew members will also get back to work, although they will be able to take your new furniture to only your front door and not into your home.

“We’re looking forward to seeing our customers back,” Gwartney says, “and we’re looking forward to servicing them more safely.”

Keep kids learning, busy
Contributed - Apr 28, 2020 - Think Local

Image: libraryplus.ca

Most parents who have had to keep their children entertained and educated during the COVID-19 pandemic are also learning on the go.

They all need a little help here and there.

That’s why Michal Utko and members of his team at Okanagan Regional Library have created libraryplus.ca, a free website that features hundreds of worksheets for young children. No library card is required.

“I’m a parent, and I’ve been scouring the web for resources for my kids,” said Utko, who serves as ORL’s marketing and communications director. “So I figured chances are pretty good there’s a ton of other parents who are doing the same thing.

“If you’re in need and you’re looking for this kind of stuff, we’re here to help.”

Colouring pages, mazes, cutting and gluing projects, origami and connect-the-dot puzzles are just a few of the worksheet themes. Utko and his team are adding new worksheets to the website all the time.

In other words, you might be able to get a bit of laundry done or simply relax with a press of the print button.

“These are similar to a lot of the activity sheets at the library we produce for either summer reading clubs or in-branch activities,” Utko says. “So that’s something that’s usually available to librarians within our system from the marketing department, but we felt like it was necessary to provide all of these resources to the parents and guardians who are home schooling their kids and who might be looking for additional help in either handwriting or general activities and keeping busy.”

Worksheets aren’t the only feature of libraryplus.com. There is also a section featuring videos that the library staff has produced. Learn how to make catapults with rubber bands, watch a science, tech or education video, or create an insect house.

Utko says more videos will be coming soon, including a wide array of authors reading their new books.

The third and final section of libraryplus.ca is a calendar of events, which lets families know about upcoming online events. Scavenger hunts, online colouring contests and the ability to take part in recreational clubs are just some of the options that are available.

The site was launched last Friday, and Utko says the response has been outstanding so far. He and his team will keep curating the site and run contests to keep it fresh and exciting for youngsters and those who are young at heart.

“It’s going to evolve into whatever the community needs it to be,” says Utko, whose goal is to make libraryplus.ca a resource for librarians across B.C.

Bekins keeps moving forward
Contributed - Apr 23, 2020 - Think Local

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A Kelowna moving company has updated and extended its services to help residents and businesses cope during these uncertain times.

As a B.C.-based moving company that provides local and long-distance movers around Canada, Bekins Kelowna has been looking at proactive ways to offer moving services to those affected by COVID-19, according to Bekins Kelowna general manager Nathan Miller.

“We are an essential service, so we’re still operating and doing what we can to provide our services,” Miller says. “We’re trying to be proactive rather than be reactive. We have looked at our processes and have updated our services and come up with special offers to help both residential and commercial clients with their local and long-distance moving and storage needs.”

One way Bekins Kelowna is helping clients is with virtual in-home or phone-in surveys. The surveys help Bekins’ relocation specialists determine moving quotes.

“We normally conduct these surveys in person. We show up at the clients’ home and walk through it with them while recording everything that needs to be done. Then we come up with a moving quote,” Miller says. “Now that we have to limit in-person contact, we are offering a virtual tour, where we will communicate with clients by video on their smartphones. We will do a virtual walk around their home with them so that we can provide an accurate quote.”

For those who do not have or prefer not to use a video chat forum, Bekins’ relocation specialist can conduct a phone survey, where they will ask questions to get an idea of what needs moving.

“We can still provide an accurate quote and one that doesn’t come with any surprises,” Miller says, adding both the virtual and phone surveys are free of charge.

Bekins Kelowna is also extending its delivery periods for all long-distance moves across B.C. and Canada. The extension is available at no charge and can be for any reason, Miller says.

“Whether they have booked our moving services at the first of the month, and the delivery period is between the fifth and fifteenth, there will be no additional charge if they need to extend that period. This extension includes travel between the provinces, where people may need to self- isolate for two weeks.”

Also, if the client needs to extend their delivery period, yet has nowhere to keep their belongings in the interim, Bekins is offering free storage at its Kelowna facility.

“We can offer free storage that is good for up to 60 days,” Miller says.

With more than 25,000 square feet of storage space within its warehouse, as well as a secure yard available to store equipment and service vehicles, Bekins Kelowna is also offering its storage and delivery services to Okanagan businesses.

Bekins Kelowna can accept freight, store product, and help with pickup and delivery for businesses that have consolidated their operations to e-commerce channels online or have had to shut their doors, Miller says.

A small office space is also available for rent.

“We can store inventory and arrange deliveries and pickups at a quarter of the cost over leasing a commercial retail space,” Miller says. “As a locally owned and operated company, we are happy to provide this service as we want to support other local businesses who are needing help during these uncertain times.”

For more information, or to schedule a free virtual or phone-in moving estimate, contact Bekins Kelowna at www.bekinskelownamovers.com or call 250-766-1966 or toll-free at 1-866-544-9034.

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