Bringing peace to estate wars
Contributed - Aug 11, 2020 - Think Local

Photo: Contributed

It happens more often than you might think.

An elderly family member passes away, and the reading of the will creates plenty of frustration, anger and hurt when relatives feel they were left out.

“People understandably are emotional,” Pushor Mitchell lawyer Angela Price-Stephens says. “You’ve just lost a loved one, and when the will does not match expectations it can hit a person when they are already low. When the will turns out to be a nasty surprise it can cause a family member to question everything that’s gone on in their life; especially as people may remember the same event or situation in a variety of ways.”

Price-Stephens has been litigating estate matters for more than two decades. She is new to Central Okanagan, but she applies the same strategies to her cases in B.C. as she did during her career in England. Her main goal at first is to calm feelings as much as possible.

“It’s not professional to take instructions from a highly emotional client. You need to let them be heard first, to understand their loss and allow them to consider the next steps, which I set out for them.

“If you retain a lawyer who has little compassion, it can just rub salt into the wound,” she says. “I very much try to be a balm on the situation, at least initially, and try to get everybody to take a breath. Not everybody wants to do that—not by a long shot–but blind retaliation against family members and prolonged arguments over the estate will increase legal fees dramatically. Most of the time the legal fees are taken from the estate, but those individuals who are especially unreasonable are at risk of having an order made against them to pay costs personally.”

Hiring a lawyer who is both compassionate and knowledgeable of the law will bring you to a much speedier conclusion. Price-Stephens acknowledges that “speed” is a relative term given the time estate matters can take to resolve.

“Even where ugliness persists and settlement is derailed by an angry family member, knowing what the court would likely award gives the client the confidence to stand up to a potential bully,” she says.

Ultimately, estate claims may be settled by negotiation, trial or mediation. Price-Stephens is herself a qualified and experienced mediator and appreciates the value of the mediation process—“quicker than trial, less costly, private and, depending on the personalities involved, may save some family ties.”

B.C.’s Wills, Estates and Succession Act allows certain classes of people to contest a will if they feel it is unfair. This includes spouses and children, whether biological or legally adopted.

“Did you know it is possible for an individual to die leaving more than one spouse?” says Price-Stephens, who reports this as a little known fact among those clients affected. “The concept of ‘spouse’ has developed dramatically over the last decade.”

A typical example is a testator who was legally married but was apart and living in a separate long-term relationship at the time of death. Each potential spouse may have a valid claim to challenge the will, and it is essential that an executor does not decide arbitrarily who qualifies as a spouse and who does not, or it can be a costly mistake for the executor.

That’s why it is best to speak to Price-Stephens if you find yourself in an estate dispute. She will examine your case from every angle and get a good idea of what the judge will decide. That way, you will know if it is financially worth it to take the matter to court, pursue a settlement or initiate mediation.

More information about estate disputes can be found here or by visiting Price-Stephens’ web page on Pushor Mitchell’s website. She can also be reached via email at [email protected].

Asian fusion at its finest
Contributed - Aug 06, 2020 - Think Local

Photo: Contributed

If there is one positive thing about opening a new restaurant at the start of a pandemic, it’s that the expectations are low.

Aria Yen and her husband, Levi Hsu, opened T-ONE Restaurant in March, hoping to take advantage of its premier location on ground level of The Shore development across from Kelowna’s Gyro Beach.

Photo: Contributed

COVID-19 shut down the world just as T-ONE opened, so Yen and Hsu spent the first few months polling their customers to find out which dishes were tastiest and had them coming back for more.

Now that restaurants are open and Gyro Beach is overflowing with locals and tourists alike, T-ONE is ready to be the place to visit in Kelowna for the best Asian fusion cuisine.

“For the first three months we were still trying to adjust the dishes according to the feedback we got,” Yen says. “We know what the customers like.”

Hsu has spent the last 20 years in the kitchen, so he knows what he’s doing when it comes to Japanese, Taiwanese and Chinese dishes. T-ONE’s drink menu features Korean alcohol, called soju, as well as Japanese beer and sake.

Many of the restaurant’s appetizers are unique originals that were created by Hsu, who at one point during his career owned and operated a food truck in Taiwan.

T-ONE’s menu features all the best in Asian fusion, including ramen, udon and rice bowls. It also has a spicy beef ramen, and Hsu has made his own version of chili oil for those who are looking for a little bit of kick on their plate. T-ONE also offers dry ramen, which Yen says is the perfect summertime dish. The plan is to add sushi to the menu next year, as Hsu has also been a sushi chef during his career.

T-ONE is located on the northeast corner of The Shore, which is the six-storey, mixed-use development now open across from Gyro Beach.

“We put a lot of effort in the design of the restaurant,” Yen says, “the decoration and the furniture.”

For those who are not yet ready to eat in a restaurant, T-ONE dishes can be delivered directly to your door via Skip The Dishes or NINJANow.

Photo: Contributed

It’s time to get Lucky
Contributed - Jul 31, 2020 - Think Local

Have you gotten Lucky yet?

Lucky To Go vehicles have been roaming the streets of the Central Okanagan for the past month, and now it is expanding its coverage area—just in time for the long weekend. Lucky To Go is the same as Uber and Lyft, but Uber and Lyft are not operating in the Okanagan. Lucky To Go, however, is.

In fact, it is the first ride-share company that launched in the Okanagan, and it is now delivering passengers in Lake Country, West Kelowna, Penticton, Peachland and Vernon. To celebrate its expansion, Lucky To Go is offering a long weekend discount code (AUG-LONG) throughout the region. The discount makes an already affordable mode of transportation even easier on the pocketbook, and it was already cheaper than a taxi. If that’s not enough, Lucky To Go customers will also earn a $5 discount if they refer Lucky To Go to friends and family.

Lucky To Go has also been authorized as an official transportation provider at Kelowna International Airport, putting another feather in the company’s cap as the Okanagan’s ride-share leader.

Lucky To Go offers simplicity when it comes to completing a transportation transaction. All you have to do is download the company’s app and add your credit card details. Enter the trip to want to take using your phone’s location services, see what the journey is going to cost you and request a car. You will be able to track the vehicle as it makes its way to your location.

The trip takes place, you get out of the vehicle when you arrive at your destination, and the cost is automatically applied to your credit card. The only optional steps are providing a tip, rating the driver or offering your opinion on the state of the vehicle itself.

You will soon be able to use Lucky To Go to get your favourite food or other products delivered to your home, too. The company will launch its on-demand delivery service in Kelowna on Sept. 1, giving its drivers a second avenue to earn money.

Those wishing to go for a Lucky To Go ride should download the company’s app on either Apple or Android. You can also check out the company’s website here.

Unisus will guide your child
Contributed - Jul 30, 2020 - Think Local

Growing up in today’s world can be tough to navigate. It is even tougher if you have a motivated child exploring personal interests, sports, academic potential and trying to find where they fit in with peers.

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They will undoubtedly experience ups and downs as they work through challenges and transition to independence in their journey. As a parent, you prepare and hope that journey is as kind and safe as possible. What if there was an environment that existed to support your child holistically, encouraging them to play, learn, explore and evolve their self-confidence without judgment while also developing critical skills that would promote life-long success? An inclusive academy education like that of Unisus could be a great option for your child.

At Unisus, all academy students are supported equally within the scholar-athlete environment. That environment includes consistent encouragement to think outside the box, explore new ways of solving a problem or challenge, practise skill competencies and work together to develop innovative ideas.

Through the learning journey at Unisus, your child is supported in their academic studies with an IB World School program. According to International Baccalaureate, “Students studying at IB World Schools will be encouraged to think independently and drive their own learning, take part in programs of education that can lead them to some of the highest-ranking universities around the world, become more culturally aware, through the development of a second language, and be able to engage with people in an increasingly globalized, rapidly changing world.”

When your child pursues their passion at Unisus in a dance, hockey, golf, ski racing or basketball academy, they will receive world-class coaching and training opportunities not just in their sport but also in whole-body wellness through nutrition, mental health awareness, athlete specific mindset coaching and multi-sport cross-training.

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By fostering this balanced approach both inside the learning studios and on the field, ice, stage or court, Unisus instils lifelong success tools known as transferable skills. Once developed, these transferable skills can help your child grow to be a compassionate team member with a strong work ethic and a commitment to completing whatever goal they set out for themselves. As prosperous contributing members of society, they will strive to inspire and lead others to greatness by acting as leaders in all aspects of life. They will develop critical habits in time management to prioritize tasks, meet deadlines in the real world and be lifelong ambassadors of health and wellness. Transferable skills help your child to grow into the innovative leaders that tomorrow is asking for.

Your child can thrive in balancing scholarly academics and developmental athletic achievement. With the scholar-athlete opportunity, your child will adopt a mindset of innovation and inclusivity that knows no bounds. At Unisus, we believe the future is forward. Will you join us?

Limited time scholarships are available now for those who qualify. Unisus invites you to apply today and further explore the scholar-athlete opportunity for your child at

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College’s CEA program delivers
Contributed - Jul 29, 2020 - Think Local

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Miae Choi had a remarkable experience with Okanagan College’s Education Assistant Program.

The COVID-19 pandemic, in a unique way, helped Miae Choi become even better at her future profession.

The Okanagan College Education Assistant student couldn’t complete all of the program in person due to the pandemic, so she got a quick and substantial lesson in online learning that will only help her down the road.

“It was really a great experience for me, because in the future I have to help students online as well, so I’m very comfortable doing it online,” Choi says. “Unexpectedly, I got some extra learning.”

Okanagan College’s certified Education Assistant Program will be conducted online once again this fall, so the online learning will be front and centre in more ways than one.

Choi, who has already earned a job placement, has nothing but great things to say about how the program was conducted virtually. Okanagan College uses Blackboard technology, which is similar to Zoom but more conducive to post-secondary learning.

“It turned out to be really good, actually,” Choi says. “I enjoyed it as much as the in-class program.”

Choi especially loved how interactive the software is, making it feel like she was right there in the classroom with her instructors.

“It was very easy to use,” she says. “I can interact easily with instructors and also with other classmates. It was really great.”

The full-time program normally requires students to be in class from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, but the pandemic changed everything. It was replaced by a two-hour online session, and students were required to complete assignments on their own. Choi says she still committed to six hours of learning each day—four on her own and two online.

School District 23 human resources manager Jayne Booth says Okanagan College’s Education Assistant Program has “high standards” and “prepares students well.” The fact the students are already doing their practicums in the district gives them an advantage in the hiring process, too.

“The Okanagan College course particularly prepares them and actually has them integrated into our own schools,” Booth says. “I’m already seeing the quality of candidates that come to us.”

The need for education assistants in the district has been increasing lately, which is why Okanagan College and School District 23 put their heads together and created a September intake of students to offset retirements and maternity leaves after the winter break.

Virtual classes will begin in September, originating from the college’s Kelowna, Vernon and Penticton campuses. Kelowna, Penticton, Salmon Arm and Revelstoke will have January intakes as well.

Choi believes hopefuls will get what they want—and more—from the program.

“I couldn’t thank them enough at the end of the program,” Choi says. “It was a really good experience, and I felt I got a really good education.”

SkyFire lights up Okanagan
Contributed - Jul 28, 2020 - Think Local

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SkyFire Energy began serving the Okanagan in 2001, and the relationship is getting only hotter.

The solar energy company, which has installed more systems in Western Canada than anyone else, is right at home in the sunny Okanagan and has been busy saving energy for people from Vernon to Osoyoos for the last two decades.

Landon Aldridge

SkyFire Energy has nine full-time employees in the valley. That includes the company’s vice-president of operations, Landon Aldridge, who was born in the Okanagan and is also a part owner.

The company has worked with Okanagan College on all of its solar-related projects, many of the local school districts, and just recently SkyFire installed the panels for Kelowna’s newest middle school, Canyon Falls. The company, which also has locations in Calgary, Edmonton and Regina, also completed B.C.’s first utility-scale project, SunMine, in Kimberley.

“We’ve done some of the more complex, more architectural solar projects in Western Canada,” Aldridge says. “That’s really where our expertise is. We want solar to look good.

“All of these systems are actually individually designed and engineered. That’s something that we do in-house. We actually have four engineers on staff.”

The local business is also proud of the fact it is the only one in the valley that is certified to install the Tesla Powerwall, which is essentially a home storage system. Tesla vehicles are prevalent in the Okanagan, so it’s only fitting that SkyFire has brought more of the company’s technology to the region.

Photo: Contributed

“The Powerwall will help customers with backup power through power outages,” Aldridge says. “It would allow them to essentially run off grid, with the utility as backup. And should or when Fortis decides to change to time-of-use billing, then the Powerwall is well suited for that application. That would allow you to run off of solar and storage during the peak rates.

“… The Powerwall uses the same batteries that are in the Model 3 vehicle. That product is definitely superior to anything else on the market, from a technology standpoint as well as pricing.”

SkyFire doesn’t do only large projects and advanced technology like Tesla Powerwalls. It also installs solar panels that will help any family financially in the long run and also allow new home builders attain net-zero energy efficiency by 2032.

“Solar’s not just for those big fancy showcase projects. You can also install it on your typical, single-family home and see great returns,” says Aldridge, who adds it takes between 10 and 12 years for solar users to begin seeing paybacks.

Aldridge and the SkyFire team, who use only journeymen and apprentice electricians, also install solar technology to help clients offset electric vehicle charging. Solar canopies as a shade structure or covered parking are popular requests these days, too.

And if you have any questions about the technology, you simply need to ask Aldridge, whose solar panel system provides 75 to 80% of his family’s electrical needs on an annual basis, including an electric car.

“I ran out of room on my roof,” Aldridge says.

Photo: Contributed
Canyon Falls Middle School

Get your car road trip ready
Contributed - Jul 24, 2020 - Think Local

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Ryan Siffledeen has been coming to the Okanagan since before he can even remember.

“I’ve been vacationing here since I was a kid,” Siffledeen says. “My parents loved it, and then growing up as a kid I loved it. I’ve wanted to make the move since I was a kid. I’m very drawn to this area.”

Siffledeen is now an official resident of the Central Okanagan, as he is now the owner and operator of Budget Brake and Muffler Auto Centre in West Kelowna. He officially made the move from Edmonton in February, arriving just in time for the first global pandemic in more than a century.

He sees the impact COVID-19 has had on society, which is why his business is doing what it can to ensure people are safe on B.C. highways this summer. West Kelowna Budget Brake and Muffler Auto Centre is offering safety inspections for $29.99 to ensure vehicles are road trip ready.

“The biggest thing I’ve noticed is the financial pressure of a cutback in hours or a loss of job or having to take a different job,” Siffledeen says. “In my experience the first thing people tend to do is making their cars a low priority. You’ve got to put food on the table. It’s important to feed your family. You also have to be safe on the roads, too.

“I’m all about education, helping people understand the inner workings of their car and making sure they’re safe.”

Siffledeen has always had a passion for automobiles. He started out washing them as a teenager and then turned wrenches for a while. After a brief foray into the construction industry, Siffledeen returned to the automotive world because it was his passion.

Budget Brake and Muffler Auto Centres provide bumper-to-bumper service, including all maintenance, filters, fluids, repairs, suspension work and full mechanical. Siffledeen says there’s nothing wrong with a trip to a lube shop, but “a car should be on the hoist of a shop, in my opinion, once a year, just to have a certified technician look at it,” he says.

West Kelowna Budget Brake and Muffler Auto Centre takes the wheels off your car during a routine oil change because it can detect issues with brakes and other inner workings of the front end. Problems with technology, like rack and pinion steering, will be detected at Budget Brake and Muffler Auto Centres but might be missed elsewhere. Siffledeen says Budget Brake and Muffler Auto Centres can find problems that are uncommon but are commonly missed.

“We’re literally going through every nook and cranny of your car before we put our stamp of approval on it or sometimes our stamp of recommendation or caution where needed,” Siffledeen says.

West Kelowna’s Budget Brake and Muffler Auto Centre has teamed up with Castanet on a contest in which the winner will receive a free oil and filter change, which also includes a comprehensive multi-point inspection, tire rotation and fluid top-ups.

More information about the contest can be found here.

Westkey offers screen safety
Contributed - Jul 23, 2020 - Think Local

Photo: Contributed

The Okanagan has been mostly COVID-free during much of the pandemic, but that has changed in the last couple of weeks due to an outbreak that has affected dozens of people and several businesses.

As a result, the time is right for the valley to get serious about protecting itself from the virus. Tourism is huge in the region during the summer, and an Okanagan company, Westkey Graphics, can help businesses stay in the game while also keeping everyone safe.

Photo: Contributed

“You either shut down the town and say no one comes into this town that doesn’t live in Kelowna, or you have to protect yourselves against the people coming in and this pandemic,” Westkey Graphics CEO Alfie Karmal says.

Westkey Graphics is the company to trust when it comes to safety screens and sneeze guards because it has a massive supply of acrylic. The business is also well aware of the COVID-19 rules and regulations, which makes the process easier for business owners who already have enough on their minds.

“We have thousands and thousands of sheets of acrylic,” Karmal says. “We can cut it and make it at our Kelowna operation. We want to preserve people and customers, and provide a sneeze guard in relatively short order—and affordably—to protect people.”

Westkey Graphics has already supplied proper safety screens for companies like A&W, COBS Bread Bakery and Canadian Blood Services. It has also supplied some of the country’s hospitals, chiropractors, dentists, restaurants and golf courses.

The company takes pride in being able to make its screens look like they were always part of the furniture. They can be custom made to blend in with the room, whether it’s mahogany, teak, pine or any other design feature.

“We have customized solutions for just about every kind of business there is,” Karmal says. “It really customizes to anyone’s environment and anyone’s budget.”

More information about Westkey Graphics’ products can be found in its online store.

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Look, feel better naturally
Contributed - Jul 21, 2020 - Think Local

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Before and after photos show the impact Body By Design can have.

There is a way to give your body a new look without undergoing surgery and going into debt.

Body By Design, which opened recently in Kelowna, is one such business that offers a natural, safe and realistic approach to achieve your body transformation goals.

“The demand for our treatments are ever increasing, and the results are amazing and speak for themselves,” Body By Design’s Rebekah Klassen says. “Body By Design is proud to offer affordable, effective, proven, realistic, natural treatments that actually work.”

Body By Design may be a new business in Kelowna, but Klassen has been in the industry for more than 15 years.

Body By Design conducts facials, body contouring, skin tightening, cellulite reduction and muscle toning. It uses technology that has been proven and improved over decades of use, and they offer immediate and long-term results that are pain free and require no time to recover.

And if you’re thinking Body By Design is for women only, think again. More men are becoming clients every day, and the “bacial,” or back facial, has become quite popular among the business’ male customers.

“We encourage men to try our services,” Klassen says. “This industry can be confusing, and especially men may feel uninvited. Men benefit from our services, too. We all deserve to look and feel our best.”

Body By Design uses technology that stimulates the body’s natural release of lipids from fat cells. This dramatically reduces body fat circumference, and cellulite is diminished with increased collagen and elastin production. All side effects are health benefits.

The business also offers OxyGeneo, which is Canada’s No. 1 super facial.

“This is not a new fad,” Klassen says. “This is a proven, safe technology that has only advanced over the decades. Safety and efficacy are proven.

“Our body and face treatments are undoubtedly the best way to keep a fresh appearance without going under the knife. All our products are paraben- and chemical-free, offering vegan, natural ingredients.”

Body By Design is slowly coming back to its usual pace in the wake of COVID-19 precautions, so treatments are by appointment only. The business has implemented extra safety measures to keep clients and staff safe.

Body By Design is conducting a contest through Castanet, with the winner receiving either an OxyGeneo Facial ($350) or a month of body contouring treatments (four sessions worth more than $1,000.00). That contest can be found here.

Rediscover BC’s West Coast
Contributed - Jul 16, 2020 - Think Local

Photo: Andrew Strain 
Sunshine Coast Trail

B.C.’s West Coast is known the world over for its colourful patchwork of land- and seascapes, but how often do we experience this wild beauty for ourselves? This summer, rediscover the seaside communities you love and the reasons you love them—places like Gibsons and Telegraph Cove, with their laid-back culture, raw nature, ocean adventures, and wildlife sightings. You may just rediscover yourself along the way.

Whether you travel by floatplane or a ferry, a stunning journey is the icing on a decadent (coastal) cake.

Rugged Coastal Landscapes

No matter how many times you experience it, the dramatic coastal scenery stirs the soul. Capture a collage of moments: misty mornings overlooking rocky shores, dewy strolls through ancient rainforest, and sunset beach strolls, to name a few. 

Depending on where you choose to explore, find the tranquility of protected waters or the energy of untamed surf beaches. The remote inlets and plunging fjords of the Sunshine Coast beckon to be explored by kayak, boat, or paddleboard. Tip: take a guided ocean tour to access little-known areas. Or, hop on the ferry to Campbell River on Vancouver Island, where you can head out with an experienced fishing charter and find out why it’s known as “the salmon capital of the world.”

On the mainland, enjoy peek-a-boo views of the ocean as you hike along the Sunshine Coast Trail among towering giants shrouded in lichen. On Vancouver Island, explore the coast along the Juan de Fuca Provincial Park in the south or stroll the eastern shores of Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park near Parksville.     

Laid-back West Coast Culture

Celebrate a world of contrast, from sleepy seaside towns to buzzing cities. With every visit to the coast, you’ll discover a new gem—a funky coffee shop, a new brewery, a colourful art gallery, or a beachy boutique selling locally-made artisan goods. 

The burgeoning coastal culinary scene isn’t just reserved for cities like Victoria and Nanaimo. Head on a foodie adventure to the Cowichan Valley or Salt Spring Island to sample farm-fresh ingredients and craft provisions. Or, try Indigenous-inspired cuisine in Port Hardy

Lively Resident Wildlife

If you haven’t had a chance to experience the wilder side of B.C.’s coast, there’s still time. Take a whale-watching tour to see orcas surge through calm waters and listen to the cacophony of sea lions shouting from their rocky perches. On shore, you might glimpse grizzlies, black bears, wolves, and deer as they slink across the land.

Photo: Yuri Choufour
Port Hardy

Venture on a cultural wildlife tour with an Indigenous guide to gain a deeper connection to the coast and the First Nations people who have been stewards of this land for thousands of years.

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