Buy at Parklane while you can
Contributed - 12:01 am - Think Local

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The third and final phase of Parklane Townhomes is now on the market, and there is a good chance they won’t be around for very long.

The second phase of the 29-home development in Kelowna’s North Glenmore neighbourhood sold out in less than a month, and the last 10 homes are expected to move just as quickly—if not quicker.

The current Kelowna real estate market will only increase the earnestness of potential buyers. The number of available townhomes in the Central Okanagan is down a whopping 28.7% over this time last year, which is putting pressure on the prices. The benchmark price of Central Okanagan townhomes in January was $512,700, which means you will be able to get plenty of bang for your buck at Parklane. There is, however, a good chance that prices will increase as homes are sold.

Prices start at $589,900 for the interior homes, while the end units begin at $615,000. They feature main floor living spaces, two-storey layout, ample storage solutions and quality finishings. The main floor will feature an open concept living, kitchen and dining space, powder room and double garage. The upper level will consist of three bedrooms, laundry and another two bathrooms.

Each home has a double, side-by-side garage, and there will be plenty of space for the residents to enjoy. A 3D tour is available here.

“These units will all have private, fenced yards, and they’ll have the biggest yards in the complex,” RE/MAX Kelowna’s Jesse East says.

Some of the modern finishings include waterfall countertops, floor-to-ceiling cabinets, stainless steel appliances and premium flooring.

Parklane Townhomes is located at 115 Wyndham Cres., which means it is a short walking distance to restaurants, pubs, shops, banks, fitness centres and pharmacies in Brandt’s Creek Crossing. Public transportation and cycling routes are easily accessible, and North Glenmore Elementary School is right across the street.

It is only a 10-minute drive to Kelowna International Airport and to downtown, as well as just a five-minute drive or 20-minute bike ride to UBC Okanagan.

“North Glenmore has been one of our fastest growing neighbourhoods,” East says. “It’s great for both young families with the close proximity to all the schools as well as Baby Boomers looking to downsize without being detached from the community.”

Delivering care and hot meals
Contributed - Feb 25, 2021 - Think Local

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(L to R): Ken Yuen, Marion Bremner, Kristine Jones, Ray Bartlett, Sandi Kowalyshyn and Michelle Grummett all play a role in making sure Meals on Wheels reaches those who need it.

TELUS is sharing the love throughout the month of February by celebrating stories of local champions and volunteer heroes.

Giving back comes naturally to Kristine Jones.

So when the TELUS manager learned Meals on Wheels in Kelowna needed help getting deliveries out to seniors and homebound individuals in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, she didn’t hesitate to pitch in.

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Kristine Jones helps with Meals on Wheels.

“Most of the Meals on Wheels’ volunteers are seniors. With the pandemic, seniors were being told to stay home. It was a scary time,” Jones recalls. “It dawned on me that I have this big team of awesome TELUS technicians that know the city in and out, because they drive it all day, every day, and we have the trucks, too.

“So I reached out and asked how we could support Meals on Wheels by doing food deliveries and anything else they needed. We just wanted to help however we could. It felt right.”

Soon, Jones and a team of about 15 at TELUS were pitching in, using TELUS resources, like service trucks, staff and supplies, to bring hot meal deliveries to people in need.

“TELUS supported the idea from the get-go,” Jones says. “They were so generous to say, ‘This is a time where we’re needed in the community.’ It’s part of the culture—really all about people helping people.”

Jones adds the TELUS service team had already been supporting seniors living safely and independently by installing key services like the LivingWell Companion medical alert, with features like fall detection, built-in GPS and one-button emergency support. TELUS also offers Babylon by TELUS Health, a new virtual care service that helps people see a doctor, get a prescription referral, and more—another way to stay healthy, all without leaving home.

Jones plans to continue being involved with Meals on Wheels, whenever they need her help. She can’t wait until she can really get to know the clients better after the pandemic.

“I love volunteering for Meals on Wheels,” Jones says. “To help seniors and people in need feels really good, especially at a time like this.”

Jones would like more people to know about Meals on Wheels, and how it’s a great way to connect and show you care—even if you can’t physically visit them right now.

“It’s so nice to be able to pick up the phone and get fresh food delivered to a loved one when you can’t be there,” she says. “It’s not just about the food, either. For many people, getting to see the volunteers and have that interaction means a lot.”

Photo: Contributed
Ivo Nachenius poses with Marion Bremner.

Support from volunteers like Jones and great corporate citizens, like TELUS, are vital for the Kelowna-based registered charity, says Meals on Wheels manager Marion Bremner.

“Volunteers don’t just deliver food. They do a cursory check-in,” Bremner says. She can list instances of when a client had fallen down, or needed assistance, and a volunteer was there to help out.

“We can’t say enough about our volunteers,” Bremner says. “They are wonderful.”

Retired photographer 93-year-old Ivo Nachenius agrees. He makes a point to try to sit outside on his deck when possible just so he can greet the Meals on Wheels volunteers dropping off his meal delivery.

A bicycle accident left him with a knee injury, and he has limited mobility. This month, the team at Meals on Wheels surprised him on his birthday with a special cupcake and small gifts. “It was unbelievable,” Nachenius says, reflecting on the gesture. “The volunteers are happy. They are cheerful. It’s a great service.”

To learn more about Meals on Wheels or to request the service or donate, visit mow-online.com. To learn more information on the TELUS personal emergency response system, the LivingWell Companion, click here.

Diversity makes children stronger
Contributed - Feb 24, 2021 - Think Local

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Unisus School celebrates diversity because it makes us stronger. By embracing and harnessing our diverse racial backgrounds, cultures, ethnicities and religions in schools, our children become better collaborators and can better achieve their goals.

Diversity is an amazing vehicle for education. Children learn from each other through their different perspectives. They learn tolerance, culture, community and identity. Our children learn from collaborating together, each one using their view of the world to work together to attain a common goal.

There are no limits when our diversity is fuelling us. The only limits come when people hold each other back because of their differences. And that’s why it’s so important to model inclusiveness and celebrate our differences like the strength that it is.

How Unisus offers and celebrates diversity

As an International Baccalaureate school, diversity plays a big part in our culture and values at Unisus. The International Baccalaureate upholds 10 community values, and our teachers and curriculum work to instil these values in every student. These values are who we want our students to become, and are a main feature of our student experience and life. And the importance of diversity relates to each and every one of these 10 values.

Some Unisus students live locally, while others travel from across the globe to live in our boarding house, but all of our students share diverse backgrounds. Many of our students speak multiple languages, and all celebrate diverse races, cultures and religions. In fact, Unisus families have sought out the school because of the diversity of the student body, as this wide range of ethnic and cultural backgrounds is what is important to them. Additionally, most of the staff has taught around the globe, which means that our teachers also bring their global experience, understanding and knowledge to their classrooms.

It is diversity that makes Unisus School the community it is—one that fosters the global perspective from within, and one that is stronger because of it. Being diverse is not only the one thing we all have in common, but it is the one thing that unites us as Canadians.

If you’re curious about what Unisus School has to offer, call 250-404-3232 or visit the website at unisus.ca.

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Your financial one-stop shop
Contributed - Feb 23, 2021 - Think Local

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You are legally required to do your taxes, and you should save money for your retirement.

Those two financial actions are usually co-ordinated by different people or organizations, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Victoria Paquette of Paquette Financial can—and does—do both services, which helps her understand her clients’ complete fiscal picture.

“I pride myself on a high sense of integrity, diligence and continuous learning. I truly understand how important it is to listen in order to serve to the benefit of my clients,” Paquette says. “I love working with the small Canadian businesses and Okanagan families. They both tie into each other really nicely.

“When you’re doing their taxes, you’ve got a large picture of where they’re at and then I can look at their investment side. I get a broader picture when I am working on both sides of it.”

Paquette is a licensed investment specialist, and she can handle both Canadian and American tax returns. She encourages conducting free consultations when it comes to portfolio reviews or RRSP contribution scenarios, which is important at this time of year.

Paquette can handle everything from personal and corporate income tax filing to rental properties to estate returns.

Paquette Financial, which has been operating in the Central Okanagan for 13 years, had been preparing a new mobile solution for processing Canadian returns even prior to COVID-19. The new, free app is called refundr and aims to guide Canadians through the process of collecting their yearly tax profile, communicating, signing and receiving their results. The app securely stores your data without ever storing your SIN number and is available for both iPhones and Androids.

Refundr also appeals to the younger generation of people who are all about the digital way of life. It comes in handy in a COVID-19 world where face-to-face meetings are discouraged.

“Everything’s really simple and easy to use,” Paquette says.

Paquette Financial does not stop at taxes and financial planning. It can also advise clients about insurance, whether it’s for personal or business purposes.

Add it all up, and Paquette Financial is one-stop shopping to get your financial house in order.

“I truly like to look at the whole picture, and I don’t think there are a lot of financial advisors that specialize in income tax as well,” she says. “So I feel like I have a broader picture of people’s positions. I have a young family, so I really have a greater understanding of what that looks like.”

Lakeside Hearing to the rescue
Contributed - Feb 22, 2021 - Think Local

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Lakeside Hearing’s Nichole Sorensen, left, and Claire Beldi, right, pose with winner Ashleigh Cohen.

Nichole Sorensen learned quickly that many in the Okanagan need hearing help but might not have the funds readily available to acquire them.

It was two years ago when her locally owned and operated business, Lakeside Hearing, conducted its first contest for a free set of hearing aids. The number of applications exceeded Sorensen’s expectations, and many of the stories that the Doctor of Audiology read were heartbreaking.

On Friday, Lakeside Hearing gave away a set of free hearing aids in its latest contest to lucky recipient Ashleigh Cohen.

“It’s very satisfying to see how much we will be able to help her in her daily life,” Sorensen says.

The hearing aids offer the latest technology in audiology, working with the way brains naturally process sound to make it easier for people to hear in complex environments.

Speaking of complex environments, the need for hearing help has actually been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since mask wearing has become a routine part of daily life, people are unable to see people moving their mouth when they speak.

And that is causing problems.

“You can visually fill in about 30 per cent of the speech sounds just by watching someone speak,” Sorensen says. “You lose some of the context of what’s being said by not seeing facial expressions.”

Even if you or someone you love is apprehensive or incapable of purchasing hearing aids, Sorensen suggests at least getting a diagnostic evaluation so the hearing loss can be monitored over time. 

“It’s important to get a baseline for the future,” she says.

Lakeside Hearing, which also offers balance and tinnitus help, has offices in Kelowna and in Lake Country, but all appointments must be made in advance due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Meals on Wheels seeks support
Contributed - Feb 19, 2021 - Think Local

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TELUS’ Sandi Kowalyshyn, left, and Meals on Wheels’ Marion Bremner.

TELUS is sharing the love throughout the month of February by celebrating stories of local champions and volunteer heroes.

Kelowna resident Marion Bremner has supported the well-being of seniors and those in need for 20 years as manager of Meals on Wheels.

In all that time, she’s proud to say she’s never missed a delivery, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s not just about delivering hot meals each week, supporting people in Kelowna, West Kelowna, and Peachland. It’s also about having someone checking in and making real community connections.

The service is a vital lifeline for seniors who are especially vulnerable, face mobility and health issues, and can be quite isolated.

“For some people, volunteers delivering hot meals are their only contact during the day,” Bremner says.

But operating the non-profit has been even more challenging during COVID-19, and they’ve had to incur greater costs associated with things like gloves, cleaners, disinfectants, food packaging and storage.

It costs $10 per meal, including a soup, entrée, and dessert from local caterer Beets N’ Boos. This money goes directly to cover the price of the meals.

If someone can’t afford the service, Meals on Wheels has been subsidizing the cost for its clients in need out of its own modest budget.

“Being in your home is the safest place you can be during the pandemic. We try to make it easier for seniors and the people we serve,” Bremner says.

As the organization’s only full-time employee, Bremner has moved operations into her own home due to the pandemic. Her extensive list of duties includes registering clients, scheduling and training of about 75 volunteers, reporting to the board of directors, completing grant applications and banking. She’s involved in all of the day-to-day operations needed to ensure the timely delivery of about 340 hot meals, six days a week.

Bremner even gets work calls forwarded to her personal mobile phone and volunteers herself several hours a week.

“We are very frugal,” she says.

The pandemic has made operations so challenging, however, the organization has issued an emergency call for support on its website, mow-online.com: “Our clients are in the critical risk demographics for the COVID-19 pandemic and we must do everything right to ensure their protection.”

This week, TELUS announced a $3,000 donation to help support the Kelowna non-profit, part of its continued commitment to the community—and its Give Where We Live social purpose philosophy. This includes things like financial donations, volunteering and acts of giving to positively impact local communities.

“I am thrilled that we are able to support this vital local resource for Kelowna, and love that we are also working to keep seniors living independently and safely,” says Sandi Kowalyshyn, a regional market manager with TELUS. “I’m proud to work for a company that is committed not only to my own community, but also to the health of all Canadians.

“As the country’s largest health IT company, TELUS also provides valuable services such as its LivingWell Companion medical alert service and the Babylon by TELUS virtual care service.”

Donations and support from TELUS and others help Meals on Wheels keep doing the work it does.

“Most of our volunteers are seniors and so are most of our customers,” Bremner says. “Donations and volunteers keep the program running.”

To learn more about Meals on Wheels or to donate, visit mow-online.com.

To learn more information on the TELUS personal emergency response system, the LivingWell Companion, click here.

TOPS always has a solution
Contributed - Feb 18, 2021 - Think Local

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COVID-19 has likely forever altered the workplace as we know it.

As part of that, businesses have had to adapt their internal communications as people have shifted to remote working. Kelowna-based Total Office Product Solutions, or TOPS, is a local company that has helped many businesses make that shift as seamless as possible. In fact, TOPS has been helping local businesses communicate more effectively for the better part of 40 years in the Okanagan.

“We are helping businesses adapt to the new world. We want to help people work and communicate from anywhere they are or need to be,” TOPS president Brian Fair says. “It doesn’t really matter where you are in the world. You can communicate, whether it be on an app, a laptop, on your cell phone or using your desk phone. Literally, people can work from anywhere these days with the latest technology.”

Supplying elite, unified communication services is nothing new for TOPS, which has been in the Okanagan for four decades. The Delta Grand, SunRype and Pushor Mitchell are just a few of the local businesses that use TOPS for their communication needs.

The fact TOPS is local cannot be overlooked. If there is a problem, Fair and the rest of the team at TOPS await your call. They pride themselves on quick, attentive service to resolve any issues that a business is experiencing.

“We take a lot of pride in building strong relationships with our customers,” Fair says. “We have their back, and that is one of the most important values we strive to achieve as an organization. They trust us with their communications, which is such an integral part of a business’ operations.

“What makes us stand out is a lot of the bigger players really just want to put a phone on somebody’s desk and disappear. We’re primarily focused on making sure that the solution increases the efficiency and productivity of the business we’re working with or fixes some business process issues they might have. Understanding the business needs and how the solution integrates with those needs is a very important part of what we do.”

And never have those needs been more varied than right now, when pandemic restrictions have more people working remotely than ever before. Just as it has done since 1981, TOPS has evolved with the times and is always a step ahead of the curve when it comes to its technology.

“For example, we can help them out by providing a system that incorporates tons of new features such as video conferencing, instant messaging, mobile apps, presence, voice to email, interactive voice response, call recording, fax and application integration, like Microsoft Teams. The list goes on,” Fair says.

“You don’t necessarily have to even have a physical phone on your desk anymore. Most people are shocked to see what this new technology can do and how it can positively impact their business.”

Although unified communications is TOPS’ bread and butter, it also specializes in surveillance and network connectivity as well. The network connectivity side has grown tremendously over the past five years. TOPS has premier-level partnerships with some of the biggest network carriers in Western Canada and can help facilitate everything from basic internet connections to enterprise grade data/fibre pipes connecting multiple locations.

“We’re impacting businesses in a positive way so that they can communicate with their customers and their own team effectively,” Fair says, “regardless of where they might be.”

If you think your business might be making a communications or technology change in 2021, Fair and the team at TOPS are standing by, ready to help.

Last chance at Green Square
Contributed - Feb 17, 2021 - Think Local

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The central location alone makes Kelowna’s Green Square Vert one of the most attractive places to live in the Okanagan.

Add in how the buildings were designed, the amenities offered and the community atmosphere exhibited, and it becomes an even more appealing development in which to live your best Okanagan life.

The 10th and final phase of the Lower Mission development has broken ground and is now for sale. There are 65 homes available in the six- and seven-storey buildings, including one-bedroom units, townhouses and lake-view penthouses. In other words, it has something for everyone.

Troika Management Corp., the company that first broke ground on the development nearly 10 years ago, is also providing financial incentive for potential buyers, paying strata fees for the first three years of ownership if they purchase before May 31, 2021.

While the buildings are taller and slimmer to create better sightlines and less shadowing, it’s the location, the amenities and the community feel that make it stand out from the rest.

It is a short walk or bike ride away from Rotary Beach on a wide, shared-use pathway along Barrera Road, and from there it’s only a hop, skip and a jump to Gyro Beach. Pandosy Village is also just a short bike ride or walk away. Green Square Vert is also close enough to downtown that it’s a 20-minute commute on a bicycle.

Mission Creek Park, H20 Centre and Capital News Centre are all in the neighbourhood, as is every level of schooling. It doesn’t get much more central than Green Square Vert.

“You see it with people being out and about and doing stuff, whether they’re walking the dogs or getting home from biking from work or the beach,” Threlfall says. “It’s a really active area with lots of opportunity to go and do things.”

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The community at Green Square Vert is as diverse as it gets, from young professionals to retirees who are enjoying their golden years in one of the finest cities in Canada. There are plenty of families, too, which Threlfall was thankful for because his son was never without play buddies while growing up.

“You could walk out your door, and the kids have four, five or six different doors they can knock on to have someone to play with at any given time,” he says.

Several people bought homes at Green Square Vert as their retirement spot but are renting out the space until they are ready to put their feet up and enjoy the Okanagan lifestyle. Since this is the 10th and final phase of the project, this is their last chance to do just that.

The area surrounding the buildings features community gardens, a tot lot, green corridors and walkways, and plenty of open spaces. Troika also purchased an electric Modo car that is based at Green Square Vert, and each new homeowner gets a one-year subscription to the car-sharing service for those quick trips that are just out of biking distance.

More information about purchasing at Green Square Vert can be found here.

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Virtual celebration of life Sunday
Contributed - Feb 16, 2021 - Think Local

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Ceremony is an important part of the grieving process, but the COVID-19 pandemic has put most ceremonies on pause.

That’s why the Central Okanagan Hospice Association will be hosting a Virtual Celebration of Life this Sunday, Feb. 21, at 11 a.m. to help those who grieving.

“It helps us to acknowledge the reality of a death, and it gives testimony to the life of the deceased, and it also encourages the expression of grief,” COHA bereavement services associate director Jessica Hughes says.

“So a lot of people think it’s closure or the end, but it’s really not. A meaningful ceremony is a good beginning to a grief journey. It’s very healing. Often when we don’t know what to do, we lean on ceremony.”

COHA has produced a 13-minute ceremony that it will show on its website on Sunday at 11 a.m. People are encouraged to participate alone in the comfort of their own home or together with members of their household.

The ceremony will include the lighting of a candle, so participants should have one ready if they wish to do that part of the program. If members of the public are unable to take part in the event live at 11 a.m., the video will remain on the website for anyone to watch at a later time for future reflection.

“We’re recognizing with everything that’s going on right now we’re not able to come together as we once were able to, and people are really feeling that,” Hughes says. “With how important ceremony is on the healing journey, we’ve put together this virtual celebration of life together.”

The pre-recorded ceremony is about 13 minutes long, and Hughes says it is “beautifully put together” with music and visuals.

COHA normally conducts a celebration of life monthly at Hospice House, but those have been cancelled due to the pandemic. Other fundraising and ceremonial events have been postponed, cancelled or altered as well, so trying to bring the community together is important for the organization.

“We know how important ceremony is, and we were somewhat limited in that we were just offering it in Hospice House to family members who lost a loved there,” Hughes said. “It was very well received.

“This is a little bit different, because we’re opening it up to include the entire community. So anyone who has lost a loved one or is grieving in some way can attend.”

COHA serves the Central Okanagan from Peachland to Oyama, offering compassionate supportive care programs for individuals and families who are experiencing illness or grief.

Perfect place for business
Contributed - Feb 15, 2021 - Think Local

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Commercial and light industrial businesses looking for a location that is new, inviting and prosperous will have to look no further than The Commerce.

Consisting of three buildings in Vernon that will feature more than 105,000 square feet, The Commerce is different than your average commercial building. It offers the perfect amount of space for your company, it allows you to actually own your space, and it is a bright, new, colourful development that will engage customers.

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The Commerce comes from the company behind The Vaults, which offers luxury storage condominiums that are all about privacy and security. The Commerce will be an inviting location for the Okanagan to come and explore.

The Commerce’s first building will feature 14 units, starting at $299,900 for 1,260 square feet including mezzanine. Other units are available at 2,100 square feet,  including the mezzanine, with flexibility to combine units. Normally a commercial building would make you take twice as much space, which is not what most businesses need in this day and age.

“If you are an emerging or growing business, what’s really important to you is that size,” The Commerce vice-president James Murray says. “You don’t want to take too big of a space that ends up forcing you to carry too many operating costs.

“At the same time, you want to be able to have some flexibility with the space size so that you can grow.”

The Commerce is advantageously situated on 45th Avenue in Vernon, just a hop, skip and a jump away from Highway 97. It is also in an area with retail stores and restaurants.

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The second building will consist of 16 units, while the third and final structure will be home to as many as 19 distinct spaces. And as is the case with The Vaults, owners at The Commerce will be able to work with the company’s design team to create their own unique space.

The best part of all is those who buy at The Commerce will not be beholden to landlords, rent increases or sudden building sales. When you buy at The Commerce, you are in control and have made an investment.

The Commerce features 27-foot ceilings that allow for showcasing or stacking of products below and office space above. There are also doors that are 12 feet by 12 feet, a polished concrete floor, rough-in bathroom, sprinkler suppression system and three-phase power.

The Commerce is located next to The Vaults in Vernon, which is currently selling units as well. Since The Vaults offers luxury storage condominiums, it means the two businesses are the perfect combination of work and play.

The Vaults Kelowna II is also in the process of pre-selling units. The Vaults Kelowna I has sold out and is fully operational.

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