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.”

MOVIE SHOOT IN OKANAGAN

Okanagan Film Commissioner, Jon Summerland tells Castanet the Okanagan film business has so far survived COVID-19.

“There are four Lifetime movies being shot in the Okanagan right now and through July and August,” says Summerland.

Summerland says an unnamed Hollywood film is also set to begin shooting in mid to late July and one of the reasons they can go ahead is because of the availability of Canadian crews.

“We’ve got skilled people here in B.C. and particularly in the Okanagan, that has allowed us to basically quarantine crews together to shoot these movies.”

Summerland says every production in the Okanagan now has a Health and Safety Officer on set daily to ensure protocols are adhered to.

“We have a dedicated space where everyone has their temperature checked daily and we make sure everything is cleaned and that everyone gets individual hand sanitizers.”

Until recently all of the shoots have been either on location at The Cove on the road or in an open space, “now that things have loosened up a bit we are starting to use different locations like the one on Doyle Ave the other day.”

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RDCO continues mosquito control program as we get into peak season

Mosquitoes usually peak between mid-June and the end of July, so it’s a good thing the Regional District of Central Okanagan has been trying to reduce mosquito hatches since early April.

RDCO communications officer Bruce Smith says residents can help in the mosquito efforts as well by taking the following steps:

  • Remove any standing water sources and unused items that collect water such as old tires – just a few millimetres of water is all that’s needed for mosquito larvae to survive and hatch.
  • Cover rain barrels with a screen so that mosquitoes can’t lay their eggs in the water.
  • At least twice a week drain standing water from containers under plant pots or in garbage cans and change the water in birdbaths, wading pools and pet bowls.
  • Remove any water that sits in unused swimming pools and on swimming pool covers.
  • Aerate water in ponds or add fish that will feed on mosquito larvae.

Duka Environmental Ltd. provides all mosquito control within the participating funding areas and the company’s president Curtis Fediuk says it’s about controlling nuisance mosquitoes, not eliminating them.

Our field staff regularly sample and treat about 230 known larval habitats and accessible areas,” he explains.

“When developing mosquito larvae are found, a bio-rational, bacterial larvicide called VectoBac 200G is applied to destroy the larvae before they hatch into biting adults.”

He adds that it’s now a good time of wear to start using the appropriate repellents, wearing loose fitting light coloured clothing and minimizing activity near bushy areas at dusk and dawn.

Those are all ways to avoid getting preyed on by adult mosquitoes.

During July and August, program staff monitors, and if necessary treats, around 11,000 roadside catch basins to combat mosquito larvae.

New daycare proposed

The YMCA of the Okanagan and Central Okanagan School District have partnered to seek funding to build a new child care centre in Lake Country.

SD23 board chair Moyra Baxter says there is a significant need for child care in the area.

“Both the school district and the YMCA are committed to providing the best possible services to children, and by working together we can offer more support to families who desperately need to find child care in a safe, caring environment,” says Baxter.

The centre aims to ease the struggle of families who’ve been waiting for child care spaces locally.

“The demand for child care in Lake Country is growing,” reports Danielle Miranda, child care general manager for the YMCA of Okanagan. “A significant need has been identified in the community over the coming years and this new centre will provide families an option for affordable, quality care for their children. We are looking forward to working in collaboration with Central Okanagan Public Schools on this community-minded project.”

If provincial funding is approved, the centre will be located on the grounds of George Elliot High School and will serve families with newborns to 12 years of age.

Construction would begin in early 2021 with the centre expected to open in Spring of 2022.Galleries

Okanagan real estate sales plummet 58% in the month of April

As expected, sales numbers for Okanagan real estate took a beating in April due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board is reporting that sales in April were down 58% compared to the same time period last year.

Following that trend was new residential listings, which declined 41% compared to new listings in March.

However, that correlation between a drop in sales as well as listings means real estate prices have generally remained stable.

“Market activity for this time of year is usually quite healthy,” said OMREB President Kim Heizmann.

“The economy has taken a big shock to the system due to the pandemic and, no surprise, so has the real estate market.”

Industry experts are hopeful the market will begin to emerge from that shock in the coming weeks and months as businesses reopen and consumers resume their normal lives.

The average number of days on market for April clocked in at 89, down 6%.

Although, it should be noted that the OMREB region stretching from Revelstoke to Peachland, that number varies greatly depending on sub-region.

Virtual Events and Online Field Trips

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VIRTUAL STORYTIMES


MUSEUM + GALLERY TOURS


VISIT ANIMALS


VIRTUAL ART LESSONS


REMOTE TRAVEL + TOURISM


YOGA + MINDFULNESS


MUSIC + PERFORMANCES


HOMESCHOOLING


VIRTUAL PLAY

Okanagan writers support local charities with Virtual Reading Series

Okanagan-based writers will be giving virtual readings of their work during the COVID-19 pandemic with proceeds going to non-profits in the Okanagan. (Contributed)

Look out movie streaming sites, Read Local Okanagan is set to bring talented and local writers directly into Okanagan homes with its new virtual reading series.

Eleven artists will host interactive reading experiences starting March 31 which hope to supply new ways of reading and experiencing art during the COVID-19 pandemic.“Readings, and art in general, can be such a balm during tough times,” said Real Local Okanagan founder Natalie Appleton.“So we thought hosting a literary reading series online would be a way we could help uplift and connect our community in the only way we can right now. We’re so excited about the lineup of writers and the chance to support arts organizations that support us as writers.”

The webinar-type series will allow viewers an interactive way to communicate with the writers with questions, comments and reviews.Registration to all four dates, which includes 11 speakers reading and reviewing their work, is $10 with portions of the proceeds to be donated to various Okanagan non-profits including Kelowna Friends of the Library, Caetani Cultural Centre and others.

The series has a different theme each date and starts March 31 with the ‘survival’ theme and writers Alix Hawley, Shelly Wood, and Francie Greenslade. The three other dates are April 2, 7 and 9.

For registration and more detail, visit the website.

Farms to visit in Springtime

They may have hooves or paws; and speak in “Bleat”, “Neigh” or “Tweet”, but these guys make fantastic new friends! Here is a list of all places you can hang out with some critters.

ARMSTRONG + NORTH

Turtle Valley Donkey Refuge

This farm is located in Chase which is about 1 hour from Vernon (it’s part of the Shuswap not the Okanagan, however it is a pretty neat place to visit if you’re up for the drive). Come visit with the donkeys on a working farm.

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Noble Wellness Studio

A holistic studio featuring all sorts of events including… GOAT YOGA!

+ Details:


VERNON

Camelot Haven Alpacas

Meet and observe alpacas in their natural environment. Learn more about them and their amazing fiber through a guided educational tour. This is not a petting zoo, however you may touch them if they come to you.

+ Details:

  • 6841 Raven Road VERNON (see map below yellow duck)
  • SEASON: all year
  • OPEN: appointment only
  • -CONTACT-

O’Keefe Ranch

Historical ranch with with all the original buildings to tour and learn about. Restaurant onsite, corn maze in Fall, and a barnyard with all sort of farm animals to visit.

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Our Review: Our favourite time of year to visit the O’keefe Ranch is in Fall for the corn maze! There is a mini-food truck village and pumpkin cannon. Overall this is a great place to visit with the kiddos and have a meal in the restaurant.

Davison Orchards Country Village

Family-run farm village and orchard featuring a bakery, cafe, country market, fresh produce, farm animals, playground and activities for kids, as well as seasonal events including apple picking, pumpkin patch and hay rides.

+ Details:

OUR REVIEW: We love Davidson’s! This funky and picturesque farm is perfect for all ages, and includes the use of several huge farm-themed playgrounds, as well as visits with animals. You may also want to purchase a ticket for their tractor train ride. It’s a fun place to have lunch, buy produce and baking, and spend the afternoon.

FYI:

  • Admission is free
  • Bring quarters if you want to feed the animals (pellets are in bubble gum machines)
  • Gets busy on weekends, but the staff is great at making sure you find parking, and keeping lines moving.

Planet Bee

Step into the amazing world of the honeybee, learn all about them and watch them live and in action. Check out the honey and mead tastings. And shop the onsite store featuring a variety of honey and wax products!

+ Details:

  • 5011 Bella Vista Road VERNON (see map below yellow bug)
  • SEASON: all year (daily presentations July & August)
  • OPEN: every day
  • -HOURS + MORE INFORMATION-

Our Review: Awesome place to purchase honey and learn how it’s made.


LAKE COUNTRY

Kangaroo Creek Farm

Want to hold a baby kangaroo? Me too! This family-friendly farm is home to kangaroos, wallaroos and wallabies, as well as emus, peacocks, fancy chickens, goats, parrots, potbellied pigs, and a capybara. And yes, you can snuggle the joeys!

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OUR REVIEW: We love this place! You get to walk right into the pens and pet the animals. It’s a little jungle oasis that has a you feeling like you’ve landed in Austrailia.

FYI: They accept cash only. Parking is out on the street, so you may be walking a little ways to the entrance (the earlier you arrive, the better the parking). Also, there is a steep hill at the entrance so for those with mobility challenges, you may want to plan for some assistance.

Prairie Folk Farmery

An orchard-playground experience! Adventure-activities include a massive inflatable pillow to jump on, pedal gokart track, & mini zip line… all appropriate for kids walking to about 10ish years old. Plus there are chickens to visit, artisan shaved ice, produce for sale and picnic baskets full of lunchables!

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Our Review: Such a gem! The giant jump-pillow is super cool! It’s a great spot to spend 1-2 hours letting your kiddos burn off some energy. This ia family owned and run with the most lovely owners.

Okanagan Stables

Go ride a horse! These guys offer a variety of rides from an introduction to horseback, to a full-day cattle drive!

+ Details:

  • 12862 Talbolt Road LAKE COUNTRY (see map below blue horse)
  • SEASON: May – late Fall
  • OPEN: by appointment
  • -CONTACT-

KELOWNA

Arion Therapeutic Farm

Volunteer-run farm where the animals are friends not food. Featuring a vegan cafe and programs on organic farming, animal care, plant-based cooking and more! Come visit the sheep, goats, cows, pigs, alpacas and several other critters! Hours and pricing.

+ Details:

  • 2457 Saucier Road KELOWNA (see map below orange horse)
  • SEASON: all year
  • OPEN: every day

Caldwell Heritage Farm

Commune with the cows and chickens, gather eggs, pick veggies, tour the antique farm-equipment collection and visit the farm distillery tasting room!

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Carmelis Goat Cheese

Boutique goat-milk farm featuring a variety of cheeses and 24(ish) flavours of gelato! Come hang out with the the goats.

+ Details:

  • 170 Timberline Road KELOWNA (see map below green goat)
  • SEASON: March – October
  • OPEN: every day (March is weekends only)
  • -HOURS + MORE INFORMATION-

Don-O-Ray Farm Adventure

Hold the ducks, chickens, bunnies and baby chicks. Feed the ponies and goats. Run through the hedge maze, check out the farm market and ice cream parlour, and get a free airbrush tattoo in the farm tattoo shop!

+ Details:

Janzen Garlic Acres

Family-owned garlic farm where you can feed the barnyard animals and take tractor-wagon rides!

+ Details:

Kelowna Stables @ Myra Canyon Ranch

Horse back riding for any level (starting at age 3) plus frisbee golf and adventure park with arial treetop courses!

+ Details:

  • 4675 June Spring Road KELOWNA (see map below teal horse)
  • SEASON: all year
  • OPEN: by appointment
  • -CONTACT-

McMillan Farms

A Fall farm with a corn maze, hayrides and barnyard animals.

+ Details:

Okanagan Lavender and Herb Farm

Lavender products made onsite, gardens, and Pollinators! Alright, the critters have wings instead of legs but they are pretty amazing too.

+ Details:


WEST KELOWNA + PEACHLAND

Parrot Island

Sanctuary for abandoned and abused exotic birds.

+ Details:

Husky puppies up for adoption at Okanagan SPCA

Two of the puppies that will likely soon find new homes. (SPCA)

Husky in SPCA custody gives birth, more puppies become available for adoption

In December, 17 husky puppies and their parents were rescued from sordid conditions on a property in B.C.’s interior, and brought into custody of the Okanagan SPCA.

READ MORE: 17 surrendered husky puppies available for adoption from Okanagan BC SPCA

The dogs were all adopted in less than a week after the SPCA received over 1,200 online applications.

If you applied to adopt the puppies but were unsuccessful you may be in luck.

The SPCA today announced that they had rescued additional adult huskies, and that one of them was pregnant.

What’s more; the pregnant dog recently gave birth and those puppies are now also up for adoption. The SPCA won’t be accepting any new applicants as they plan on following up with the previous applicants.

Ride-hailing approved for Okanagan

Ride-hailing is coming to the Okanagan, but it will not be with Uber or Lyft.

On Friday, the B.C. Passenger Transportation Board announced Richmond-based Kabu Ride has been approved to operate in most of the province, including the Okanagan.

“If everything goes well, we could be operating in the Okanagan by summer, which is the busy season,” said Kabu director of communications Martin van den Hemel.

“We need to get 50 to 100 drivers in place in the Okanagan before we can launch. It’s important to have drivers in place for the heavy demand we expect in the Okanagan.”

For most people, ride-hailing is synonymous with Uber and Lyft, the two dominant players globally.

However, Uber and Lyft have not applied to operate in the Okanagan.

Last month, Uber and Lyft were approved to start up in Metro Vancouver and Whistler.

It was a long-awaited decision as B.C. is one of the last major jurisdictions in the world to allow ride-hailing.

Part of the holdup has been B.C.’s requirement that drivers working for ride-hailing companies have a Class 4 commercial driver’s licence, the same licence needed for taxi drivers and drivers of buses with a capacity of up to 25 passengers.

In other jurisdictions, a regular driver’s licence is all that’s needed to be a ride-hailing driver.

To get a commercial licence, drivers have to have a clean record with a regular licence for at least three years, take an additional road test and medical exam and pay for the test, licence fee and medical processing fee.

The extra requirements and expense means there will likely be fewer ride-hailing drivers in B.C. compared to other regions and the cost of service is likely to be more in B.C.

The big advantages of ride-hailing is threefold.

It’s app-based with credit card registration, so you ride and your credit card is seamlessly charged for the trip, meaning no cash has to change hands and no tip has to be fretted over.

From the time from requesting a ride on your smartphone and the car arriving is usually quick because so many drivers are on the road.

And, ride-hailing is generally faster and cheaper than ordering a taxi.

Kabu has an app, so Okanagan riders will have that convenience.

But the commercial licence requirement and expense may reduce the number of drivers and drive up the cost, possibly making ride-hailing in the Okanagan not particularly faster or cheaper than hiring a cab.

Kabu started three years ago in Vancouver as a Chinese-language, app-based, ride-hailing service. It started operating in the so-called grey market, before B.C. officially passed ride-hailing legislation in September.

In fact, Kabu grew to have hundreds of drivers and healthy revenues.

It halted operations in the fall as legislation approved ride-hailing and the approval process was turned over to the Passenger Transportation Board.

With approval for most of the province now, Kabu will first concentrate on re-launching in Metro Vancouver and then Victoria and then the Okanagan.

“We’re a Canadian company who will be doing ride-hailing differently,” said van den Hemel.

“Most of our drivers can make a living wage of $25 an hour, so we expect to attract a lot of drivers who will work close to full-time. We’ll offer subsidized benefits and expect to attract some long-distance drivers, who already have commercial licences, who want to drive, but stay local.”

In Friday’s round of announcements, the Passenger Transportation Board also approved Apt Rides to operate in the the Lower Mainland and Whistler.

It turned down the applications of three other potential ride-hailing operators.

Tappcar wanted to offer ride-hailing in the Okanagan, Lower Mainland, Whistler, Vancouver Island, Kootenays and Cariboo.

Inorbis wanted to operate in most of the province and Transroad wanted permission for the Lower Mainland and Whistler.