Picture framers now in the virus-protection business

A West Kelowna business has adapted during the COVID-19 pandemic to keep its employees working, help other businesses protect their staff and customers and support local food banks.

Mouldings and More, a picture frame manufacturer that has been in business for over 25 years, now makes acrylic virus barriers.

The Stevens Road business was already using acrylic to make display cases to protect items such as sports memorabilia, glassware and masks.

It began when a customer whose wife had severe asthma was looking for a way to protect her at work and asked the business if they could make something that could go in front of her.

“It kind of snowballed from there,” said Tracey Spooner with Mouldings and More.

Moving to making the barriers was an easy transition as the company is using a product they already have on hand and employees are using the same skills with different results.

The acrylic, which goes by the trade name Plexiglass, has unique entities and can’t just be glued, cut or drilled in a normal manner.

The acrylic is mounted upright on a counter and creates a barrier to give distance between staff and customers when they’re doing face to face transactions.

“It gives peace of mind,” said Spooner.

The response to the virus barriers has been wonderful, she said.

Mouldings and More didn’t want to appear to be trying to prosper during the pandemic when so many people were not working.

Spooner said the business would have been closed if it wasn’t making something necessary to protect people from the virus.

Mouldings and More is giving 20% of their net profits to the food bank.

They have already made one donation that was matched by Lakeview Market, the first grocery store that worked with Mouldings and More.

The business is helping local employers whose businesses aren’t an essential service prepare to open.

“They are choosing to purchase from our company, we hope not only because we’re doing a good job and we’re giving a donation to the food bank but because we’re a local business,” said Spooner.

They are also getting queries from businesses preparing for if and when they can open and want to have some barriers ready to go.

As word of mouth has spread through communities such as Kamloops, Vernon and Penticton, Mouldings and More has committed that as businesses in those communities start to use their barriers, they will set aside their portion of the proceeds for those communities’ food banks or Salvation Armies.

The barriers from Mouldings and More are attached to the business’s counter with a two-sided tape.

Because they sit on the counter, customers are not changing what they already have and not drilling holes.

“We want to make it feel like it was there the whole time,” said Spooner, adding barriers are customized for each customer and can be easily removed down the line.

Dockside Marine on the Westside, which is open to the public, installed virus barriers from Mouldings and More at the reception desk, parts desk and service desk.

Michelle Cartmell with Dockside said they went with Mouldings and More to support a local business but also to support the local food bank.

“It’s an all-around win,” she said.

Canadian Tire partners with West Kelowna cafe

 Kekuli TireLocal Canadian Tire owner Don Cummins is buying his staff lunches from the Kekuli Cafe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on businesses. Those who remain open to the public as essential services are under pressure to try to keep up, while restaurants struggle to stay alive offering take-out and delivery.

On the Westside, Don Cummins, the Canadian Tire dealer, and Sharon Bond-Hogg, owner of the Kekuli Cafe, have formed a mutually beneficial partnership between their neighbouring businesses.

For more than a month, Cummins has been supplying daily meals to his staff from the Kekuli Cafe.

Cummins came up with the idea as he was heading home after a long day at the store and noticed the large ‘We are open’ sign painted on the Kekuli Cafe’s window.

“It dawned on me that with only take-out orders, small businesses like that were struggling to make ends meet,” said Cummins.

He had met the owners before.

“They are really great local folks,” he said and thought maybe he could help them and at the same time give something back to his team at the store that would lighten their daily stress.

“They make the best bannock in the world, so my staff was just as excited,” he said.

After Cummins got in touch with his general manager, they contacted Bond-Hogg, and together they came up with the plan.

Bond-Hogg said Cummins called her out of the blue asking if she would be interested in forming a partnership as he would be buying his staff lunch through the COVID-19 crisis.

It was good news for Bond Hogg, who said the partnership has allowed her restaurant to remain open. Restrictions during the pandemic had seen her sales drop 75 to 80%, and they were looking at cutting back hours, closing certain days or even closing their doors during the pandemic.

“We gained so many new customers and everyone has loved the food,” said Bond Hogg. “We almost have everyone’s name memorized and the staff there are positive, friendly and supportive.”

The partnership has also given people the chance to see what the Kekuli Cafe offers as the only Indigenous fast casual restaurant in Canada.

Popular items for the catered lunches include frybread powwow tacos, handmade bannock flatbread with homemade pebre salsa, sour creme, lettuce, cheese with a choice of venison, chicken, chorizo or corn/bean and the venison bacon cheddar on homemade baked bannock YeYe bun.

“My team loves it,” said Cummins, adding some of his staff have mentioned the catered lunches relieve a lot of stress related to getting groceries or making lunch every day.

“It feels good to help out our neighbours and employees,” he said.

Green light for drive-thru that city planners opposed

Drive-thrus might still have a future in Kelowna outside the main town centre areas, city councillors say.

Council, by an 8-1 vote on Tuesday, went against a staff recommendation not to approve a new drive-thru at the northwest corner of Highway 97 North and Sexsmith Road.

Staff had said drive-thrus were “not a necessity” and that vehicle emissions from idling vehicles produced greenhouse gases that caused climate change.

But councillors took the position that the proposed location was a reasonable site for a Triple O’s restaurant with a drive-thru, partly because there are already two other drive-thrus – a Tim Hortons and a McDonald’s – at the intersection.

Some councillors also noted drive-thrus are particularly busy these days with in-restaurant dining options closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the future uncertainty surrounding restaurant operations, drive-thrus are likely to remain popular and useful for many people, councillors said.

As well, there were observations from some councillors that vehicles are increasingly fuel efficient, with newer models producing less greenhouse gas emissions than older cars and trucks.

Planning staff intend to eventually bring forward a proposal to ban drive-thrus in all areas of Kelowna.

At Tuesday’s meeting, councillors were not being asked to comment on that idea directly, as it’s a decision for a future meeting.

Nevertheless, some councillors said they could envision a ban on new drive-thrus in town centres – like downtown Kelowna, central Rutland, and the South Pandosy district – where the city’s general aim is to encourage more walkable areas, with a mix of residential, commercial and office uses, rather than additional car-oriented development.

But some councillors indicated they would likely continue to support new drive-thru proposals along high traffic corridors, like Highway 97.

‘No dice’ – B.C. casinos last on top doctor’s list for re-opening


All B.C. casinos and gaming centres, like Chances Kelowna shown here, have been closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Thursday the businesses would be last on her list to re-open.

Gamblers are out of luck if they’re betting on getting inside a B.C. casino anytime soon.

The re-opening of gaming facilities, among the businesses ordered closed by a public health order in March, is not likely to happen soon, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says.

“It would be last on my list to consider for reopening at this point,” Henry said Thursday during the province’s daily update on COVID-19.

“Because we know that that type of environment, one, it’s an enclosed environment, and we know that many of the people who frequent that environment are older people, or people with underlying illnesses, perhaps. People who are more vulnerable to having severe illness from Covid-19

“So, you know, I would have to be convinced that there’s a valid reason and a safe way to do it, and i think that’s something that is for further down the line.

“It’s certainly not in the first phase of what I’m considering, or what we’re considering, in terms of how do we get things moving again in our economy and in our social structures.”

There are 19 casinos in B.C. and 20 bingo halls or other types of community gaming centres. Kelowna has two such facilities, Playtime Casino downtown and Chances bingo hall and gaming centre on Springfield Road.

Total government revenues from all types of gambling was about  $1.25 billion in revenue in 2014-15, according to figures from the Ministry of Sports and Culture.

In that same fiscal year, the government distributed $96 million to communities that have casinos or bingo halls, and $135 million went to more than 5,000 community organizations and non-profit societies.

Drive-thrus face dead end future in Kelowna


New drive-thru restaurants should be banned in Kelowna as a way of fighting climate change, city officials say.
New drive-thrus restaurants should be banned in Kelowna as a way to fight climate change, city officials say.
Planners will recommend next Tuesday that council not approve plans for a new Triple O’s restaurant at Highway 97 and Sexsmith Road that include a drive-thru lane.
The property is zoned for industrial, so council would need to grant a variance for a drive-thru restaurant to be established.
Planners say denying the drive-thru represents a “straightforward way” the city could reduce emissions from idling vehicles that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.
Although Kelowna, like other communities, has many existing drive-thrus, it is the intention of planning staff to bring forward a bylaw that would prevent new drive-thrus from being established anywhere in Kelowna.
“While drive-thrus represent a convenient way for many to pick up a meal, it cannot be said that they are a necessity,” reads part of a report to council by planner Aaron Thibeault. “Rather, it is a choice, and a choice that comes with a cost.”
“Eliminating drive-thrus may represent a small inconvenience to many, but it also represents a relatively easy win in our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change, and one that stands to have a significant impact in the long run,” Thibeault writes.

Kelowna luxury home up for grabs in lottery

This Kelowna home at Kestrel Ridge is one of the grand prizes in the Heroes lottery.

Luxury homes in Kelowna and Penticton will be among the prizes in the 2020 Hometown Heroes lottery.

The lottery supports the Vancouver General Hospital and UBC Hospital Foundation and the B.C. Professional Fire Fighters Burn Fund.

The lottery winner can choose from one of nine grand-prize packages, including the Kelowna or Penticton homes or $2.1 million in tax-free cash.

The Kelowna home is located at Kestrel Ridge, 460 Talon Lane and is part of a prize package worth $2.4 million that includes a Tesla.

The Penticton home at 103 – 190 Vancouver Ave is part of a $2.3-million prize package that also includes a Tesla.

Prize-winning homes are also offered in White Rock, Abbotsford, Vancovuer, Sooke and Courtney.

The homes can be viewed online at heroeslottery.com, but in-person viewings are not available during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The lottery will offer more than 3,000 prizes worth $3.1 million. Tickets can be bought online or at any London Drugs. A three-pack of tickets costs $75 or you can buy six tickets for $100.

New-look Kelowna farmers’ market opens for season Saturday

 Kelowna Farmers and Crafters Market

The Kelowna Farmers and Crafters Market starts its outdoor season on Saturday at the corner of Springfield Road and Dilworth Drive with some new procedures implemented because of COVID-19. Shown here is a market day in 2018.

The Kelowna Farmers and Crafters Market opens for the season this Saturday without any crafters.

At the direction of Interior Health, only vendors who are selling food will be allowed at the market, at the corner of Dilworth Drive and Springfield Road.

“We’re disappointed not to have our crafters for the opening, but maybe later in the summer they’ll be allowed to come,” market manager Frances Callaghan said Thursday.

Several other changes, required as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, will be noticed by market shoppers.

The number of vendors has been limited to 30, where an early May market might draw well over 100 vendors. Two separate market areas have been created, and only 50 people will be allowed in each zone at one time.

“There will probably be a line-up to get in, but I think it’ll go pretty fast as people move through the market,” Callaghan said. “We’re asking people to shop, buy what they want and need, and then leave the market as quickly as they can.”

Farmers selling fresh produce, beef, poultry, herbs, eggs, and baked goods will be at the market. Shoppers are encouraged to use debit or credit as much as possible, to limit the amount of cash changing hands.

Unlike previous years, no tables or chairs will be set out for shoppers. “With social distancing,  unfortunately, we can’t have people sitting or standing around too much and just chatting with one another,” Callaghan said.

In years past, as many as 2,500 people might take in the market. A trial market last week at the Parkinson rec centre drew about 600 people, and Callaghan expects there could be about double that number on Saturday.

A farmers’ market also runs every Wednesday. Times are from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. on both Saturday and Wednesday.

Pot plant put to public hearing despite pandemic

West Kelowna council
During a webcast meeting, West Kelowna city councillors are shown voting in favour of sending plans for a cannabis production facility on Kyle Road to a public hearing despite the challenge of staging such a gathering due to COVID-19 restrictions.

People with concerns about a marijuana production plant in West Kelowna will be able to express their views to city council.

Councillors on Tuesday unanimously voted to go ahead with a public hearing on the proposal, for 2648 Kyle Rd., saying it was important for them to hear from the community.

“To me, it’s a fundamental principle that if there are individuals that wish to be heard, they have a right to be heard,” said Coun. Rick de Jong.

“These are controversial developments and I feel the public should have a chance to say what they think,” said Coun. Doug Findlater.

About 45 people, mainly residents of the nearby Crystal Springs trailer park, have already raised objections to the proposal with the city. They’re concerned about the plant’s proximity to their homes, its potential odour, possible impact on their property values, and overall security.

Municipal staff had suggested council waive the public hearing since the proposed cannabis production plant conforms to the city’s official community plan, and because restrictions on public gatherings imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic make the staging of such meetings a challenge.

Two items require council approval before the project can go ahead. These will be the topics open for discussion at the public hearing, the date for which has not been set.

One issue is a waiver of the usual city rule that cannabis-growing facilities be at least 150 metres from residential buildings. The plant under consideration would be 110 metres from the Brookhaven long-term care facility.

The second issue is the applicant’s request that the cannabis plant be located in a new industrial park designed to have multiple tenants. City rules prohibit normally such an arrangement out of concern for a plant’s potential impact – in terms of such things noise, odour, and security – on other nearby businesses.

The proposed plant conforms to the site’s zoning and, with the October 2018 legalization of marijuana, such businesses are permitted and regulated under federal law.

Coun. Jason Friesen said people shouldn’t come to the public hearing and complain only that the building is going to “stink”, because such businesses are allowed.

Pets can ease anxiety during pandemic, says Valley vet


Dr. Autumn Pulfer of Panorama Veterinary Services in Lake Country, with her pugs, Nacho and Peetree, says her clinic remains open during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Go ahead and appoint your dog an emotional-support animal during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Definitely, pets help reduce anxiety,” said Dr. Autumn Pulfer of Panorama Veterinary Services in Lake Country.

“And that’s exactly what we need as (novel) coronavirus creates a gloomy atmosphere and fear of the unknown. Your dog or cat is a great companion, so spend extra time with them. Also get out there and play with your dog, go for a walk and get some exercise. It will be good for you and good for your dog.”

How true.

You may not be able to go to work, go to a movie, hockey game or concert, or meet up with your isolated friends, but you can hang out with your pooch.

Experts say there’s no evidence pets can transmit the disease to humans and vice versa.

However, Pulfer recommends if you have the virus to avoid contact with your pet and certainly don’t let Rover lick your face.

Even if you don’t have coronavirus, it’s a good idea to wash your hands before and after playing with and feeding your pet.

Panorama Veterinary Services sent out a COVID-19 newsletter via email to all clients last week.

The clinic is still scheduling and keeping appointments, and is open for walk-in and emergency visits.

After-hours emergencies continue to be referred to Fairfield Animal Hospital in Kelowna at 250-860-6590.

Pulfer recommends in this time of coronavirus quarantines, self-isolation and social distancing that you have a three-week supply of pet food and all the medications your pet might require.

“If people are shut in with their pet, we can arrange to have food or medications delivered,” she said.

“People can also come to the clinic to pick up food and medications. If they don’t want to actually come into the clinic, we can come out to your car.”

The same goes for medical visits to the clinic.

People with their patient pet can come into the clinic, or a Panorama staffer can come out to your car to collect your pet to be seen by the veterinarian.

The clinic has increased the frequency of disinfection of all door handles, front desk, point-of-sale terminal, chairs, pens, examination rooms and all other common areas.

With social distancing in mind, people and their pets will not be in the waiting room with any other person or pet.

Therefore, people can call 250-766-4310 as they arrive or open the front door to see if the coast is clear. If it is, they go straight to the exam room.

If not, they can wait outside or in their car.

If people don’t want to handle money or touch the Interac-credit card machine, payment can be taken over the phone or by e-transfer.

Year-long virus-related shutdown urged for Okanagan tourism centre


Kangaroo farm
The visitor centre in Lake Country should be shut down for the entire year because of the coronavirus pandemic, town staff say. A kangaroo farm is one of the popular attractions in the Lake Country area.

The visitor information centre in Lake Country should be closed for the entire year because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, town council will hear Tuesday.

Council should suspend the service, provided by the chamber of commerce through a $28,000 contract, as a way of trying to slow the spread of COVID-19, town officials say.

The centre relies heavily on “in-person gatherings and the sharing of physical space and materials,” reads part of a report to council from planning director Jamie McEwan.

“It is unlikely that this year the service can be provided with full value to the public” given the physical distancing regulations now in effect, McEwan says.

“Given the experiences around the world, Canada is still likely in the early stages of combating COVID-19 and can expect at least five to six months of attempting to limit physical interactions in public,” McEwan says.

Many tourism-related organizations are suspending promotional activities. Tourism Kelowna has shuttered its downtown information centre, and the Penticton Visitor Centre is also closed.

Popular tourism attractions in the Lake Country area include a kangaroo farm and a zip line; notices on websites for both businesses state their openings are delayed indefinitely because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The most scenic parts of the Okanagan Rail Trail, a long-distance hiking and biking corridor, pass through Lake Country along lakeshores and through farmland.

If Lake Country doesn’t shut its visitor centre, McEwan warns, the town could face legal repercussions.

“Funding a service that may put people at risk during this COVID-19 pandemic may present a risk to the district both legally and financially, on top of the greater community health risk,” he says. “The service is not considered essential.”

Under terms of the town’s contract with the chamber of commerce, funding for Lake Country’s visitor centre can be cancelled for any reason with the provision of 60 days’ notice.