Owning their own restaurant has always been a dream for the Khatari family

 New business

The new Penticton Indian Cuisine restaurant at 325 Main Street opened its doors earlier this month. It will be a family-run business as parents Dambar and Sita will be preparing the meals which will be served by their children Bashal (far left), Asmita and Rahul. The restaurant will feature authentic cuisine from India and Nepal.

It will very much be a family affair when customers sit down to dine at Penticton’s newest downtown restaurant.

The Khatari family, which includes parents Dambar and Sita and their children Bishal, Rahul, and Asmita, are the proud new owners of the Penticton Indian Cuisine Restaurant, located at 325 Main St. right next door to Mykonos.

The restaurant is in the same location as the former Annupurna Restaurant, which like Penticton Indian Cuisine, features a combination of food from India and Nepal, where the Khatari family originates from.

The family took over possession of the restaurant in late May and officially opened its doors to customers earlier this week on June 15.

Owning their own restaurant has been the dream of his parents and family for as long as he can remember, said Bishal.

“My parents have been cooking at another restaurant in town for a few years and at restaurants around the world,” he said. “They have been working in the restaurant industry for over two decades. They started in India and then moved to Cyprus. Then they moved to Japan and from there to Canada. They have always been working for someone else.

“They didn’t plan this, but an opportunity came up recently and they thought we should go for it and here we are today.”

The previous owners of Annapurna had their business on the market for some time and his parents were thrilled to have the opportunity to own and operate their own establishment for the first time, he said.

The restaurant will feature authentic Indian and Nepalese cuisine, including such standards at butter chicken, vegetarian and chicken samosas, pakoras, kormas, and a variety of mixed vegetable and chicken, lamb and beef plates.

“Our family is originally from Nepal, so we added several popular Nepalese dishes as well,” he said.

They include momos, sel roti, gundruk, bara, chatamari and more.

There are also several vegetarian dishes featuring tofu and soy bean items.

Being able to work with his parents and siblings in a family-owned business is something all members of the Khatari clan are very much looking forward to, said Bishal.

“Mom and Dad will be doing the cooking, but we will all be working together,” he said. “We’re a very tight-knit family and at all the other restaurants my parents worked at over the past few years, me and my brother and sister all worked at the front of house, so it’s nothing new for us.”

The Khataris invite all food lovers to come and sample their menu and promise they will enjoy a pleasant dining experience.

“We would like to ask people to give us a try,” he said. “We offer fresh food, great quality, good portions and reasonable prices.”

Like all other restaurant owners in B.C., Penticton Indian Cuisine has opened featuring plenty of space between tables to allow for social distancing and they also have strict cleaning procedures to protect customers, he said.

The restaurant is also offering disposable menus that are tossed out after each customer visit.

Because the restaurant has just opened and the Khatari family is trying to build a loyal clientele, they are offering both in-house service as well as takeout.

“Right now we’re relying on both,” he said. “Since most of the restaurants in town have just been allowed to open, people are slowly starting to come in, but most of our business this first week has been take out, We’re obviously going to rely on both in-house and takeout to get established.”

Penticton Indian Cuisine will be open seven days a week from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m.

For more information or to book a reservation, call the restaurant at 778-476-2683.

Hiking author’s favourite trail is all of them

Makin' Trails
Judie Steeves is the co-author of Okanagan Trips and Trails.

Hiking author’s favourite trail is all of them

The series on the best Okanagan trails takes a break this week with a request for feedback from readers, plus the latest version of a popular outdoors guide.

This spring, the series has featured the following trails up and down the valley: Grand Kelowna Triangle; Wood Lake Loop; Skaha Lake Loop; Okanagan Rail Trail; International Hike and Bike Trail (South Okanagan); Black Mountain Regional Park; Myra Canyon in Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park; Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park; Rose Valley Regional Park; and Spion Kop Mountain (Lake Country).

In recent weeks, the Sheriff surveyed outdoor recreation buddies and those he met on the trail asking about their favourite trail or those not yet featured. The feedback shows the Okanagan indeed has an incredible variety of trails fulfilling a wide variety of appetites for outdoor adventure. Email jp.squire@telus.net to have your say.

Trails that haven’t been included in the series so far, include Three Blind Mice mountain bike trails east of Penticton, KVR Trail from Penticton to Little Tunnel, Mount Boucherie in West Kelowna, Knox Mountain Park in Kelowna, Bear Creek Provincial Park canyon and Fintry Provincial Park falls on the Westside north of West Kelowna.

One way to discover new trails is to ask someone like Judie Steeves who has spent her whole life exploring, and has again teamed up with Murphy Shewchuk for the new version of their guide book, Okanagan Trips and Trails. It is available wherever books are sold, including local wineries in their gift shops.

The latest edition is updated, fully revised and expanded. Steeves is elated that this guide to British Columbia’s Okanagan-Similkameen regions has hundreds of colour photos to illustrate “the many stunning views from some of Canada’s most scenic and awe-inspiring wild places.”

Its 483 pages not only tell you where to hike, bike, boat, fish and camp, but includes the Southern Interior’s heritage, thanks to Shewchuk’s lifelong interest in B.C. history. It also has chapters on the Top Five Okanagan Birding Locations, Birding Walks in Kelowna and Public Gardens in Kelowna.

Trails at ski resorts include Apex and Mount Baldy in the South Okanagan, Big White and Telemark in the Central Okanagan, and Silver Star and Sovereign Lake in the North Okanagan.

This fine book is a must-have for any serious outdoor explorer, but it may take a while to read every page. The Sheriff likes to browse and when he finds a bucket-list outing, he highlights it with yellow marker on the Contents page at the front.

“Actually, it’s been really fun work! It’s taken me years and years of hiking to put it together, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,” says Steeves.

“I admit that in the first half-hour on many of the trails, I’ve wondered briefly whether I really want to do this. But then, I look out over the view that’s starting to appear below me, or the flowers dotting the hillside beside me, and I get my breath back. Lots of the trails involve an uphill start because we live in this valley. But that also means as you climb, the panoramic views can take your breath away, just as the hike does,” she says with a laugh.

“I honestly can’t give you a single trail that’s my favourite because it depends on the time of year and my mood. For that reason, we’re incredibly lucky to have such a variety of trails to hike.

“In mid-summer, I simply love hiking in Cathedral Provincial Park, partly because the meadows of alpine wildflowers and the views out over those lakes are so awe-inspiring.

“But in spring, Knox Mountain Park is among the first spots wildflowers appear because it’s so close to the valley bottom.

“Rose Valley (Regional Park) is one of my favourite places to hike with its views and variety of habitat. But then, I am on the boards of two local land trusts, both of which contributed funds to establish that park. So it’s dear to my heart.

“I also love the High Rim and Okanagan Highlands trails, especially from Canyon Lake to Little White, and particularly in summer.

“Fintry (Provincial Park) is one of my favourite family parks in the Okanagan for its history and lakefront. But for hiking, Okanagan Mountain (Provincial Park) is far better.

“For a workout, the new Mount Boucherie trails are fantastic with the reward of a grand view from the top. But the views from Pincushion in Peachland and the new Black Mountain Regional Park are also amazing.

“Guess I’m a bit long-winded but I am passionate about this valley’s natural areas. We’re very lucky to have preserved some of them, and we must make sure a few more are kept natural too.”

Okanagan braces for tourism wave

 The Peach

Workers at The Peach snack shop on the Penticton waterfront have added masks to their uniforms this year. But they’re ready to dish up ice cream to visitors.

Tourism Kelowna’s message to the rest of the province is: “We’re ready.”

As B.C. eases restrictions on travel after a near total shutdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, Okanagan communities are again inviting tourists to the Valley.

“We’re delighted the province has moved into Phase 3 reopening. I mean delighted. That’s the best news we could have heard,” said Lisanne Ballantyne, president and CEO of Tourism Kelowna.

“The province’s reliance on short-haul markets to help economic recovery completely aligns with Kelowna. The majority of people are driving in for vacations when they’re coming into the Kelowna area, so that is great news for us. We’re perfectly positioned going forward.”

The No. 1 question asked at the Kelowna Visitor Centre from prospective travellers is: “I’m thinking about coming, are you ready?”

Ballantyne said it’s crucial that businesses post on social media that they have protocols in place, they are operating safely, and they are open for business.

She also encouraged locals to post about the beautiful Okanagan and their favourite businesses on their social media feeds.

“Hearing from a tourism office that a destination is ready to welcome visitors is great,” she said. “It becomes very impactful when a restaurant owner or a restaurant fan posts on social media that: ‘My favourite restaurant is open. They are doing a great job on physical distancing, and, wow, Kelowna is ready.’”

Starting Monday, Bernard Avenue in downtown Kelowna will close to vehicles so businesses can expand their patios. It’s expected to stay closed until Sept. 8. Ballantyne said that kind of change will draw people to Kelowna

Being able to spread out into the street for easier shopping, dining, tasting or other experiences can make the difference between profit, or not.

The pandemic hit just as Kelowna was seeing record numbers of tourists in 2019, emerging as a four-season destination.

“We were excited going into 2020, and then COVID hit,” said Ballantyne.

Kelowna airport usually sees two million passengers a year, but is down by 95%.

Visitation in May was down 44% from this time last year, and May occupancy was at about 19%, when normally it’s about 75% at this time of year.

June numbers are expected to improve.

To survive, a number of businesses closed in March or delayed their openings.

“It’s really important to note that returning to travel unfortunately doesn’t necessarily mean returning to profitability. Some businesses are still facing some significant challenges,” she said.

“We’re definitely seeing movement in the right direction.”

Still, there are a lot of “ifs” right now – including if tourism businesses can make it through the summer and if there’s a bump in visitors this fall.

If the right circumstances align, many businesses should be able to start proper recovery, said Ballantyne.

She added that many owners would consider 50% of last year’s business as a success this year.

“If they could make it through the summer, they felt they would be all right,” she said.

Some businesses have completely pivoted to survive, offering curbside pickups or moving completely online. Ballantyne said physical distancing is the most challenging restriction affecting operators. It means businesses like wine tours and restaurants will cater to fewer customers at a time.

“People can’t congregate in a tasting room like they used to,” she said.

Outdoor adventures, meanwhile – like hiking, biking, and boating suppliers – are business as usual, with increased sanitization, of course.

Right now, tourism organizations are only advertising in parts of B.C. “Ideally, by September we’ll be advertising throughout Western Canada,” she said.

However, it appears U.S. visitors may not be coming for some time. Americans, who had been emerging pre-pandemic as a long-term growth market, are facing the world’s highest number of COVID-19 cases, meaning the border could remain closed indefinitely. Tourism Kelowna had been focusing on group travel, corporate conferences and large-scale meetings for U.S. visitors.

It’s a lucrative demographic as business travellers spend more money.

The 50-person cap on groups, though, is affecting that sector. Some advocacy groups are encouraging the province consider approving larger groups on a venue-by-venue basis — for example, an event at an amphitheatre could work better than an indoor space, a conference is easier to social distance at than a concert.

In the South Okanagan, communities have teamed up and formed the South Okanagan Tourism Alliance. It’s a collaboration to promote travel into the region as a whole.

It’s based on an understanding that places like Penticton, Oliver, Osoyoos and Summerland aren’t as big as Kelowna or Kamloops, and they don’t have the same resources.

“What we’re trying to do here is reestablish people to come back into the community and into the South Okanagan region,” said Thom Tischik, executive director of Travel Penticton,

“There’s some optimism of course that there’s going to be some more traffic and that’s certainly what we are all looking for.”

He reminded people not to travel if they’re sick; reserve ahead of time to book accommodation; and make safe choices. That means understanding your limits if you’re doing activities, like rock climbing, floating the channel or mountain biking.

“We want to try to make sure that everybody stays safe. And not only from a COVID situation but also for your own capacity. We’re all eager to get out to experience the province, and that’s awesome. We want to make sure that whatever you’re doing you’re doing it safely,” said Tischik.

Penticton has been helping businesses weather COVID-19 by asking locals to support local businesses, including restaurants, breweries and wineries. Many got on board.

“For Penticton, the initial start of COVID was at a quieter time for us,” he said.

“We have had virtually every event from COVID’s start right through to the end of August cancel for now or postpone to next year. That’s been a hit.”

B.C. Premier John Horgan advised British Columbians who want to travel within the province this summer to plan ahead and be respectful while visiting other communities, especially rural towns.

“As we carefully turn up the dial on our activity, we can now look to travel safely around the province. But as we hit the open roads this summer, we must remember we are not leaving COVID-19 behind, and we need to continue to do our part to bend the curve and protect the progress we’ve made,” said Horgan.

The provincial health officer has laid out travel guidelines for everyone travelling to and within B.C.:

— pre-trip planning and research on available resources at arriving destination;

— respecting any local travel advisories to isolated and remote communities;

— no travelling for anyone who is sick, and if symptoms develop while travelling, self isolate immediately and call 8-1-1 for guidance and testing;

— practising safe physical distancing of two metres at all times;

— spending time in small groups and open spaces; and

— practising good hygiene, including frequent hand washing and cleaning.

Summerland Coun. Richard Barkwill comments on proposed solar project

Letters to the Editor
Richard Barkwill

EDITOR’S NOTE: Summerland Coun. Richard Barkwill submitted the following essay as a letter to the editor. It well exceed our 400 word limit for print. As this is an important issue, and with Barkwill being a member of Council, we are publishing the letter unedited and in its entirety for our online readers.

Dear Editor:

It was a dark and stormy night on February 27th, 2019 – well, I don’t really think it was stormy, but it was a dark night. A dark night for transparency in local government as Summerland Council, in a closed meeting, based on a report received that day, reversed long standing District land use plans and approved the use of municipal land at the toe of Cartwright for a solar project.

Why was it a dark night for municipal transparency? To begin with, the meeting never should have been in a closed session of Council. Section 90 of the Community Charter provides specific reasons for which councils can go into closed session, and this decision did not involve any of them.

I believe that council should never have made such a major decision based on a report we only received that day. This did not allow for proper review by us, much less you, the public. Making matters worse, a lot of information was presented verbally and not documented in the report, which is the third major flaw in this process.

I addressed this with the CAO the next day and a summary of what was said was provided, although I dispute whether it is an accurate summary – which illustrates one reason why councils should not be making major decisions based on verbal reports.

To summarize the errors, the report was not received in advance, it was a closed meeting and much of the information was presented verbally. There is no point in discussing how that happened, the buck stops at the Council table.

Those of you who followed the land swap issue will remember that future growth on ALR land on the North and East of the downtown area was turned down. Preserving ALR land was deemed to be a higher priority than densification through development of lands close to downtown. There is still densification through infill.

This left us with the lands to the West of town as the largest area for future growth. One can readily see that by looking at the Urban Growth Area on the Official Community Plan.

In fact, this has been the plan for many years. At a subsequent meeting of council, former Mayors Peter Waterman and David Gregory came to remind council of this, and the fact that the sewer line down Prairie Valley was oversized when installed in 1999 to accommodate growth to the West. This fell on deaf ears.

To economically get sewer out to Deer Ridge and beyond, it has to be done in a stepwise fashion. The land closest to town must be developed first and the next piece of prime land to be developed in that direction is the District owned land at the toe of Cartwright that is proposed for the solar site.

After this Sunset Court, which already has the pipes in the ground in anticipation of sewer extending West can connect. Beyond that, there is the existing Deer Ridge area where many people are having issues with septic fields with limited capacity in rocky ground, and beyond that again is a large area of undeveloped land.

The previous council (which was largely the same people) turned down a development next to Deer Ridge because it did not have sewer. At the time council gave assurances to the developer that we would work on getting sewer out that way as soon as possible. The video of that meeting is worth watching and can be found here. https://vimeo.com/176268924

The report prepared by planning staff at the time is also very illustrative of the communities plans to develop Cartwright and beyond. This report is can be found on the Summerland District’s website at https://summerland.civicweb.net/filepro/documents/41480?preview=46781

The land proposed for the solar site is very valuable for development. How valuable? We don’t know because council defeated my resolution to have an appraisal done. To me, ignoring the value of the land you are going to put a temporary, $7,000.000 solar site on is not how you make a business decision.

That is the other issue. It appears to me that some councillors supported this location because it would be temporary. In the meantime, it blocks much of the planned development in Summerland and then at the end of 20 or 25 years you tear it all down and abandon $2.8 million in design, engineering, construction and installation costs. Add to those wasted installation costs, the cost of taking it all out.

Would it not make much more sense to put it somewhere where it could stay, does not impede our development, and could possibly expand?

Staff, who had been here only a very short time, decided without any consultation, that the Cartwright site “is not an ideal location for future residential or commercial development due to distance from downtown, schools, walkable amenities and similar community infrastructure.”

I couldn’t disagree more. Show me another area of developable land of that size closer to amenities and infrastructure! Furthermore, the statement “is not an ideal location for future residential…….” is a misleading statement. It implies that we should not build there, but what it is really saying is that the site is not perfect. What site is ideal? How much “ideal” land do we have? The community already decided that ALR land was off the table.

This issue has not been presented for public discussion as a land use decision should be. As councillor Van Alphen has said, “We’ve had five times more discussion about where to put a 1-acre dog park than where to put a five-acre Solar site.”

Councillor Doug  Patan has also wisely pointed out that if you want to have solar on this site, we could accelerate the new building codes and require it to be on each of the housing units and provide resiliency for power through a much cheaper diesel backup generator – which would last much longer than batteries in an emergency anyway.”

I would like to finish with three last important points.

1) There is little if any merit to the “resiliency” argument because our critical infrastructure already has longer lasting back up diesel generators and battery storage is limited and would expensive to wire in to microgrid.

2) It is not a GHG emissions reduction project.

3) Everything that I can find says that a community solar project is not economically viable in our area at this time. Four examples are:

A) Kimberley invested $5.5 million in the Sunshine Mine and sold it for $2 million after three years.

B) The National Energy Regulator did a study called The Economics of Solar Power which estimates that solar would cost 146% of available hydro power. https://www.cer-rec.gc.ca/nrg/sttstc/lctrct/rprt/cnmcsfslrpwr/index-eng.html

C) The BC Utilities Commission turned down a project by Fortis for a solar project in the Ellison area of Kelowna saying it was not in the public interest, no dollar savings and no material green house gas emission reduction

D) Midgard Consulting Inc. recently completed an alternative energy study for Penticton and determined that stand alone solar was not worth pursuing. Note: Midgard has consulted on over 75 solar projects in Canada.

Why would Summerland Council want a solar project, that is temporary, wasting over $2,800,000 of design and construction cost and put on the most valuable piece of developable land the District owns? I don’t know.

You will have to call or write one of the four council members who support it and ask them. But I can’t tell you which ones they are because it was a decision made in a closed meeting, one dark night in February 2019.

Richard Barkwill BSc (Agr), MBA, CPA

Councillor

Summerland solar feud boils over

A design concept for a proposed solar array operated by the District of Summerland. The projected cost to local taxpayers is $1 million.

Simmering tensions rose to a boil Monday, as Summerland councillors spent nearly three hours debating the merits of a proposed solar project that will now be the focus of a public meeting in July.

The $7-million project, which would provide enough power to run 100 homes, is slated for a five-acre municipally owned lot at 13500 Prairie Valley Rd. at the base of Cartwright Mountain.

The site was chosen as the preferred location by council at a closed meeting in April 2019 that some of those present now say should have been public.

“Shame on us all,” said Coun. Marty Van Alphen.

“We should have had a selection of lands to be able to go public, and let the public have some input.”

Coun. Erin Trainer said in reply she found Van Alphen’s comments “very offensive,” but admitted the site approval “shouldn’t have been done that way.”

The harshest words, however, were reserved for Coun. Richard Barkwill, who earlier Monday had a 1,200-word letter to the editor published on The Herald’s website that raised even more questions about the project and called for an appraisal of the site’s value.

Coun. Erin Carlson described the open letter as “inappropriate” and meant to “fan the flames on a project that has been a council priority for years,” while Coun. Doug Holmes said it contains misinformation.

“It seems to me there’s an orchestrated campaign in this community to sabotage this whole project, and it has to stop,” said Holmes.

Mayor Toni Boot suggested the letter was unfair to others on council.

“I don’t think that shows, in my opinion, a satisfactory level of integrity, and by doing so you are suggesting this is a debate that should be held in the corridors of the media and on display for the media and all of their readership,” said Boot.

“It gets back to our whole communications policy that we’ve talked about several time since this council was elected. I, for one, am not comfortable or particularly pleased with the way that you have gone about bringing attention to this matter by putting it out to the public as a letter to the editor.”

Barkwill’s letter describes the February 2019 closed meeting as a “dark night for transparency in local government.”

“I believe that council should never have made such a major decision based on a report we only received that day. This did not allow for proper review by us, much less you, the public,” writes Barkwill.

He goes on to argue the preferred site is the next logical place for westward expansion of the community, and that the project doesn’t make as much financial or environmental sense as council is being led to believe.

“Why would Summerland council want a solar project that is temporary, wasting over $2.8 million of design and construction cost and put on the most valuable piece of developable land the district owns? I don’t know,” Barkwill’s letter concludes.

“You will have to call or write one of the four council members who support it and ask them. But I can’t tell you which ones they are because it was a decision made in a closed meeting, one dark night in February 2019.”

Despite the onslaught of criticism from his peers at Monday’s meeting, Barkwill stood by the letter.

“I do think all these things should be in the public domain, and they haven’t been, and I’m happy they’re now in the public domain,” said Barkwill.

The public will get its say at a meeting July 13 at the arena that will combine in-person attendance – up to 50 people including staff, council and guests – with a livestream.

Representatives from five consulting firms that have already done work on the project will be in attendance, and a land appraisal for 13500 Prairie Valley Rd. is also expected to be ready by then.

The project, made possible by a $6-million federal grant, is expected to generate one megawatt of electricity, enough to power approximately 100 Summerland homes for a year. The batteries at the site would be able to store two megawatts of power.

One of the studies already done on the project estimates Summerland’s $980,000 investment would be paid back in just over five years through the addition of power to the district’s grid.

Trustees in Central Okanagan endorse Pride Month

Kelowna Pride
Kelowna has one of the largest Pride Celebrations in the Interior. Due to COVID-19, a large festival won’t be held this year.

Trustees with Central Okanagan Public Schools have expressed their endorsement of Pride Month.

A resolution to that effect was passed at Wednesday night’s board meeting.

“We absolutely support all our students, and we felt it was important to say that in a public way,” board chair Moyra Baxter said today.

But the motion was not without some controversy, as trustee Amy Geistlinger from Lake Country wanted to change some of the wording in the resolution.

However, no one seconded her proposal and the resolution was not changed.

A statement issued by the district after the meeting states: “Central Okanagan Public Schools gratefully acknowledges the courage and contributions of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities, including student diversity clubs, alliance clubs and community volunteers.

“Our schools are safer and more welcoming for all because of the staff and students who celebrate our LGBT2Q+ community in June and all year long,” the statement reads.

School superintendent Kevin Kaardal said education is the best way to fight discrimination.

“Just like adults, children often fear what they do not understand. We have a responsibility to help learners understand the lives of others so that everyone can feel safe at school and ready to learn,” Kaardal said.

Pride Month gatherings have been suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic, with many events moving online.

“Pride Month is a good time to remind ourselves that each individual in our community deserves to feel welcome, accepted, and safe,” Baxter said.

Fruit growers face COVID challenges

 Challenges aheadJoe and Trish Ciaramella of CC Orchards in Naramata harvest cherries in pre-pandemic times.

Local fruit growers are being impacted in various ways and to varying degrees by COVID-19.

“The biggest impact for me has definitely been with workers,” said Oliver orchardist David Machial as he thinned peaches alone in the rain.

Machial has mainly apples on his 10-acre orchard but also smaller plantings of cherries and soft fruit.

Previously, Mexican workers would be helping him by May 19, but this year they didn’t arrive in Canada until the 28th and are now in quarantine for two weeks.

The provincial government is picking up the tab for expenses associated with quarantining foreign agricultural workers.

For 10 years, Machial has employed the same three men from Mexico; however, this year red tape on the part of the Mexican government snarled their documentation with the result that two other workers will take their place.

Machial has a two-bedroom house which in the past has accommodated three workers — two in the larger bedroom.

The larger bedroom is not spacious enough to meet COVID requirements for two people, so only one worker is permitted.

Meeting requirements to help prevent the spread of covid is a challenge for all growers whether they employ foreign or domestic workers.

For Machial that includes providing separate kitchen utensils for each worker.

“We’re fortunate to have some old trucks for workers to use,” said Jan Carlson who with husband Keith and family operate 110 acres of cherries under the Carcajou Fruit banner.

About 40 acres are in and around Summerland and 70 acres in Meadow Valley, a 20-minute drive from town.

Workers must take special precautions in sharing equipment including vehicles.

“We’ve made a huge change this year in our packing house operation,” Carlson said.

This year there will be about 30 fewer employees in packing and logistics positions because in contrast to the past, Carcajou will be packing only for local vendors.

The bulk of the harvest will be sent to a larger packing facility in the valley.

Uncertainty about arrival time in Summerland caused the Carlsons to cancel eight of the 17 Mexican workers they had last year.

Other differences in the labour force are the lack of backpackers from Germany, Belgium and France and the increase in number of applications from BC residents especially from Penticton and Summerland.

“They’re people of all ages whose other jobs have fallen through,” said Carlson.

According to Ron Forrest, labour orientation and safety manager for the BC Tree Fruit Growers Association, farms in the South Okanagan are usually smaller than in the Central Okanagan and employ fewer foreign workers.

Summerland orchardist Katie Sardinha said this makes small farms less vulnerable to disruptions such as covid-19.

Sardinha and family members along with two long time local employees operate 10-acres of apples.

Delay in obtaining official organic certification is the only pandemic-related concern for Sardinha.

Each year Joe and Trish Ciaramella, owners of CC Orchards on Naramata Road, hire up to 30 Canadians to harvest 3.5 acres of cherries.

Previously the Ciaramellas have employed young people from both Quebec and B.C.

“We’ve had more contacts than usual from people wanting employment, including more local kids,” Joe said.

He has hired two people in their 30s from Vancouver who lost their jobs with Air Canada.

“I have to trust the workers are COVID-free. Quebec workers must isolate in that province and require a letter to leave but they could possibly be exposed on the trip west,” Joe said.

Workers camp on-farm and are provided with washrooms, showers, and Wi-Fi

Workers will be doing shifts in the cookhouse because they cannot congregate in groups larger than five.

The challenges for Arlene and Dave Sloan, owners of Matheson Creek Farm on East Side Road in Okanagan Falls, are mainly associated with planning in this uncertain time and increased costs of packaging materials, and sourcing plexiglass and hand sanitizer.

The Sloans sell only the fruits and vegetables they grow themselves at their on-farm produce stand and at the Penticton Farmers Market, which reopens Saturday.

Referring to the increase in regulations, Arlene said, “I just hope they doesn’t take the fun out of farming.”

240 new apartments planned for Penticton

285 Westminster Ave.
Artistic rendering of six-storey, 75-unit apartment building at 285 Westminster Avenu.

Proposals for two new apartment buildings that would offer a total of 240 units at either end of Penticton will be presented to council Tuesday, along with a possible solution to a local company’s concerns about Ellis Creek’s future restoration.

The biggest of the proposed residential developments is a six-storey, 165-unit building slated to go in at 3352 Hemlock Street at the south end of Penticton on an empty lot beside the Alysen Place condominiums.

The new building would be about 200 metres west of the Skaha Towers project.

 Council will be asked to issue a development permit, plus a development variance permit for a minor amendment to amenity space for the developer, the name of which is not revealed in agenda documents.

“The intent of this development permit area is to create sensitive transitions in scale and density by addressing issues such as privacy, landscape retention and neighbourliness,” city planner Nicole Capewell writes in her report to council.

“The proposed development demonstrates a strong conformance with the applicable development permit guidelines.”

The other major apartment project on council’s agenda is a five-storey, 75-unit development proposed for 285 Westminster Avenue.

The subject property, which is a paved, empty lot at the corner of Brunswick Street, has seen a variety of uses and rezonings in recent years. It last operated as a car dealership several years ago.

Kelowna-based Mission Group is seeking a development variance permit to increase the maximum number of off-street small-car parking spaces from 25% to 44%.

Capewell says in her report that such a variance is “reasonable.”

In its letter to council, Mission Group says the ground floor will be commercial space, with four storeys of rental apartments above.

“The building is designed to be ‘timeless,’ using traditional architectural details with modern forms. The intention is to meld with the character of Westminster and Brunswick streets, while extending the new context of modern industrial breweries and shops that have recently emerged in the area,” says Mission Group.

Meanwhile, the thorny issue of Ellis Creek restoration appears to have been sorted out for now.

Cantex approached council in March to warn that plans for flood mitigation and restoration through its 64-acre property at the east end of Okanagan Avenue would gobble up land, undermining the economics of a planned 30-lot industrial park and 43-lot residential area.

The proposal going to council Tuesday calls for adoption of the Ellis Creek Master Plan, but with a few built-in caveats for Cantex.

Terms of the arrangement call for the company to have a pair of reports completed that will help determine required setbacks from the creek. Both documents would be submitted to the city and B.C. government for approval.

Then, if Cantex does go ahead with the subdivision, the city will spend $165,000 for new predesign work to address the company’s concerns as best as possible.

“The predesign will allow the city to work with Cantex and regulators to determine how to best address the flood protection and environmental enhancement work on Ellis Creek and the Cantex subdivision,” Mitch Moroziuk, the city’s general manager of infrastructure, writes in his report to council.

Council heard in October that restoring a five-kilometre section of Ellis Creek starting in the Cantex area and running downstream to the Okanagan River will cost at least $30 million and take decades to complete.

The creek took a beating during the floods of 2017 and 2018, leaving the banks unstable in places, sediment piles in some spots and erosion in others.

Fearing future flooding would do even more damage, and unsure how to proceed, the city hired consulting firm Stantec to draw up a master plan for restoration. There is no funding earmarked for the work.

Other items on council’s agenda include approval of various COVID-19 relief measures decided during a special meeting in late April.

The meeting starts at 1 p.m. and will be conducted via videoconference, which can be viewed at www.penticton.ca.

A unique market opening soon in Penticton.

Thomas Tumbach

A unique low-waste, low-health- risk market supplying locally-grown, high-quality groceries will be opening soon in Penticton.

The LocalMotive Low Waste Market is slated to welcome its first customers on May 5 in the Apple Plaza at 1848 Main Street in Penticton.

“Our vision is to operate a market with unique fresh produce, bulk foods and home and personal hygiene supplies with minimal or no-single-use plastic packaging,” Thomas Tumbach said.

In response to the increasing plastic pollution of our planet, the Low-Waste Market will implement food sales that reduce or eliminate single-use plastic packaging by over 90% on a wide range of products and encourage and provide options for reusing containers in store.

“We’ll also inform customers on alternative ways to package and store food and on waste reducing techniques,” Tumbach said.

Tumbach and his wife Celina established LocalMotive, an Okanagan-based organic home delivery service in 2005.

The Low Waste Market is a new venture of LocalMotive.

Customer services planned before the COVID-19 pandemic have become especially important in reducing risk of acquiring the virus.

“There will be curbside pick up for pre-ordered items and a focus on sanitary protocols in the store,” Tumbach said.

The numerous bulk food items will be on display behind a service counter and a staff member will fill the customer’s order thus reducing the number of people accessing the items.

“We started thinking about a retail outlet about six months ago when we reached what we thought was the peak for our online home delivery business,” Tumbach said.

The COVID-19 pandemic increased the need for a store and accelerated the pace of its development.

“The pandemic maxed out our home delivery capacity. Our business has more than doubled in the last month and there is now a waiting list,” Tumbach said.

A retail store is appealing to many customers because they want to select their own food items rather than receive a box of items picked out by LocalMotive staff.

Some customers prefer shopping at a store which allows more flexibility than receiving produce through a pre-set monthly delivery service.

The store promises to be a big win for local farmers especially during the current pandemic.

With the restrictions on farmers’ markets and the closure of restaurants, farmers welcome the opportunity the Low Waste Market provides to sell their products.

At present five farms have signed up to supply the market.

“They have crops ready to sell now,” Tumbach said, who welcomes inquiries from other farmers.

He wants to keep prices as low as possible by selling in large volumes.

The Low Waste Market will offer case-lot sales for in-season produce, so get ready to can, freeze or dry the store’s wide selection of produce.

City of Kelowna apparently hiding biking route

Freelancer JP Squire supplied this map of the Grand Kelowna Triangle.

If you need the Sheriff to “tell you where to go,” he will (with a smile).

Central Okanagan cyclists, walkers, hikers, strollers and roller bladers have regularly used the Okanagan Rail Trail, Mission Creek Greenway and Waterfront Promenade in Kelowna, but only a few riders have put them all together in one outing.

Many years ago, the Sheriff found the accompanying overview map on the City of Kelowna website, kelowna.ca. It was apparently designed to show how many people living within one kilometre — 36,787 in 35.5 square kilometres — would use such a 20.6-kilometre trail. (When the website was upgraded and improved several years ago, it disappeared.)

It was basically a combination of the Mission Creek Greenway, Rails With Trails parallel to Clement Avenue, Abbott Street Recreation Corridor and several multi-use pathways (MUP).

The Sheriff loved the concept and nicknamed it the Grand Kelowna Triangle since it includes the Waterfront Promenade past The Grand Okanagan hotel and is indeed a ‘grand’ three-sided trail.

It’s grand for a number of reasons: it includes this city’s best trails — Greenway, rail trail and waterfront paths; beautiful homes in a heritage area (Abbott Street); one of the oldest and most popular green spaces — City Park; the newer distinctive Waterfront Park with its lagoons and surrounding big-city housing; the natural wild beauty of Rotary Marsh Park; and numerous public parks with grand beaches.

However, the route of the Sheriff’s Grand Kelowna Triangle is different than the map’s.

In the Mission, the Greenway which ends at Lakeshore Road (new parking lot) now connects to the Lakeshore Road Multi-Use Pathway so you don’t have to use Gordon Drive (bottom of map).

In the North End, the rail trail parallel to Clement Avenue is still called Rails With Trails phase 1 and 2. It was built by the city when trains were still using the original rail bed. (The city is considering changing its signs to Okanagan Rail Trail.)

The separate 49-kilometre Okanagan Rail Trail was purchased on June 1, 2015 for $22 million by the local governments between Kelowna and Coldstream.

The ORT Initiative then raised $7.8 million to build it. That included the newest ORT section in Kelowna’s North End, paved last fall, to connect Gordon Drive to Manhattan Drive (parallel to Weddell Place and then along Recreation Avenue).

A wide gravel-and-dirt path through Sunset Drive Park takes you to Rotary Marsh Park and to Waterfront Park.

The 2012 map has the wonderful Cawston Avenue MUP in the North End, but you miss the best waterfront marsh in the city, a great place to stop to view an elevated osprey nest and waterfowl in the marsh.

Two areas of caution:

— Leaving the Lakeshore Road MUP, you wind through back streets to connect to Abbott Street Recreation Corridor (via Watt Road and Walnut Street) where there are no signs indicating the correct route.

— The connection between the Okanagan Rail Trail and Greenway is via ultra-busy Dilworth Drive and Springfield Road to Mission Creek Regional Park. Both streets have bike paths but watch for vehicles making right turns (a friend was hit), use pedestrian-activated buttons and even walk your bike across intersections like a pedestrian.

One final note: the Grand Kelowna Triangle route can be busy on weekends. Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran has threatened to close the Waterfront Promenade and Knox Mountain Park if the public doesn’t practise social distancing. (The Apex Trail is already one-way uphill and Knox Mountain Drive one-way downhill to stop too-close walking.)

In the coming weeks, the Sheriff plans similar Okanagan trail outlines on other popular walking, hiking, jogging and cycling routes. Stay tuned.