West Kelowna has sent tenders to potential contractors for Rose Valley Water Treatment Plant

Tenders out for water plant

The City of West Kelowna hopes to know early in 2021 who will be in charge of constructing the Rose Valley Water Treatment Plant.

The city has sent tender packages out to four contractors who were pre-qualified through an earlier bid process.

Those companies will have the better part of seven weeks to prepare final bids before the tender closes in mid-January.

The city will select the winning contractor shortly thereafter.

The municipality is also sending out packages for the pre-purchase of equipment needed during construction.

The tie-in of a 750mm main connecting the Lakeview-Rose Valley system to the new water treatment plant has also been complete.

The city hopes to have the $75 million water treatment plant up and running by the spring of 2022.

Oliver museum thrilled with donated solar panels that will be a gift that keeps on giving

Solar powered heritage

The Oliver and District Museum heritage building has gotten a 21st century upgrade thanks to generous local donors.

Built in 1924 as the town’s first police station, the building is now partially powered by a pole-mounted solar panel array.

The solar array was installed in the Museum’s Heritage Garden on Nov. 12 by Swiss Solar Tech, and was completely funded by donations.

In 2019, the Oliver and District Heritage Society noticed that solar panels installed on the archives building helped greatly with utility bills. The non-profit wanted a similar solution at the museum, but the cost was prohibitive.

But this year, local benefactors stepped up and raised the $11,000 necessary for the solar panel. Since the rooftop of the museum is unsuitable for panel installation, the pole-mount model was chosen instead.

The panels catch sunlight both from above and reflected from below off the ground.

ODHS president Vance Potter described the panels as a “a very nice early Christmas present,” a bright spot in a year of difficulty with reduced revenue during the pandemic.

And it’s a gift that will keep on giving.

“The panels will offset our costs for the next 25 years, allowing us to put more of our funds towards exhibits and collections,” executive director Julianna Weisgarber said. “We couldn’t be more grateful.”

Light a Bulb campaign introduces new elf to fundraising fold

‘Elfish’ for Vernon Jubilee

Everyone, say hello to Lars.

Lars the elf is the face of the Vernon Jubilee Hospital Foundation’s holiday campaign, and in keeping the times, the mascot sports a mask in support of the foundation’s Light a Bulb campaign.

The foundation is inviting kids – and kids at heart – to dig out their colouring tools and have fun getting creative.

To enter the colouring contest, post a picture to the VJH Foundation Instagram or Facebook page and tag #LightaBulb2020. Or send your entry to Vernon Jubilee Hospital Foundation 2101 32nd Street, Vernon, BC, V1T 5L2.

Download the image to be coloured from the foundation website.

The contest closes Dec. 21, with one winner being randomly selected and announced on Dec. 22.

The winner will receive a $50 gift card to a local store of their choice.

Donations can be made online at www.vjhfoundation.org/donate, via phone at 250-558-1362, or mailed to the address above.

The campaign aims to raise $275,000 for critical equipment at VJH.

This year, all funds raised through Light a Bulb will help purchase an additional echo cardiogram ultrasound in the medical imaging department of the cardiology unit.

The machine takes moving pictures of a patient’s heart.

The images can help find the source of unexpected chest pain, pressure or shortness of breath. In addition, they can indicate signs of heart disease, determine how well a heart is pumping blood, and can assess how well heart valves are working.

New Commercial Rent Assistance Program

CERS is intended to be used by organizations that have experienced a loss of revenue due to COVID-19. CERS will subsidize up to 65 per cent of rent or commercial mortgage interest on a sliding scale based on decline in revenues. The program also provides an additional top-up subsidy of 25 per cent for eligible organizations temporarily shut down by a mandatory public health order. CERS is available retroactively from September 27, meaning that it doesn’t help businesses that had to shut down in the spring.

The periods for which organizations can apply mirror the periods used for the ongoing Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program. Currently, organizations can apply for periods until December 19, 2020. After that time, the federal government will adapt and target the program as needed. The program is set to continue until June 2021.

CERS incorporates both of BCREA’s recommendations to improve CECRA:

  1. The subsidy will provide payments directly to the affected organizations, without requiring landlords to apply.
  2. CERS also has no minimum revenue drop required to qualify.

BC is facing the most challenging time of this pandemic, with increased case counts resulting in the introduction of more strict public health orders. CERS can provide relief to many commercial tenants, including REALTORS®, as we all adapt to continuously shifting market conditions.

To learn more about the eligibility requirements, visit the CERS website.

Public art ‘Flower’ installed outside of Interior Health celebrates healthcare professionals

Kelowna’s newest art piece

A new piece of public art, ‘Flower,’ has been installed outside of Kelowna’s Interior Health building to celebrate healthcare workers.

On the corner of Ellis St. and Doyle Ave., Flower is a collaboration between City of Kelowna, Interior Health and funding partner Bentall Green Oak.

“To wish someone good health, we often give them flowers,” says Brad Hindson, part of the team of artists behind the artwork.

“But a flower is only a single part of a living plant system. The health of the flower is like the health of a human being; dependent on all its systems. This representation of a Mariposa Lily, an Indigenous flower of the Okanagan, is presented with its roots at the top of the sculpture, symbolizing a contemporary approach to healthcare, a celebration of the people who underpin our healthcare system.”

Mayor Colin Basran believes Flower is a great addition to the city’s collection of public art.

“Flower is a piece for our time,” says Mayor Basran. “Animating our public spaces has never felt more important. Not only does it add vibrancy and character to the downtown, it serves as a symbol for both our healthcare workers and anyone accessing services at Interior Health during these challenging times.”

In partnership with Bentall Green Oak, Flower cost $75,000.

Click here to learn more from the artists of Flower.

Mission Hill’s Festival of Trees fundraiser adapts to the pandemic

Festival of Trees adapts

Mission Hill’s annual Festival of Trees has changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however there are still ways people can enjoy the experience.

The Festival of Trees is a holiday fundraiser that takes place across B.C. to raise funds for the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation.

Between Nov. 30 and Jan. 3, Mission Hill’s Terrace restaurant will transform into a forest of holiday decorated trees. Small groups of up to six will follow one of the winery’s master sommeliers while exploring the winery grounds and tasting festive treats such as roasted chestnuts and mulled wine.

Mission Hill will feature a different library vintage wine from the Legacy Collection each week within the tour’s tastings.

Tickets are $65 per person with $5 from each tour going towards the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation.

West Kelowna sets out parameters for licensing short-term rentals

City moving on rentals

The City of West Kelowna will go to the public next week with a series of proposed regulations around legalizing short-term rentals.

Director of development services Mark Koch outlined a series of licensing, rezoning and enforcement regulations to council Tuesday which could form the basis of a new bylaw regulating short-term rentals within the city.

Council endorsed those unanimously.

The guidelines, Koch says, were taken from a number of regulations currently in place in a number of Okanagan communities such as Kelowna, Lake Country and Penticton, as well as other resort communities around the province including Pemberton, Squamish and Tofino.

Included within the proposed regulations:

  • Short-term operators must have a business license
  • Operators must reside within the home
  • Short-terms rentals would be restricted to single detached homes, and would not be permitted in homes with secondary suites or carriage homes
  • Maximum of six guests and three bedrooms
  • Off-street parking consisting of one space for two bedrooms rented and two spaces for three bedrooms

The city would also step up enforcement of any new bylaws with fines ranging from $100 to $1,000. Koch says those would be incremental for repeat offenders, and would be applied each day a property was not in compliance with the bylaws.

As of July, there were more than 400 illegal short-term rentals advertised within West Kelowna. Once licensing is required, Koch says that number could drop to about 100 based on the drop off Kelowna experienced once it required short-term properties to get a license two years ago.

Some councillors voiced concern over the perceived lack of a level playing field between short term rentals and bed and breakfasts in the community, noting that B & B’s allow for eight occupants and up to four bedrooms.

There was also agreement that enforcement will have to be a key component of any new bylaw regulating the industry.

Following public and stakeholder consultation, a refined set of regulations will be presented to council for endorsement sometime in February.

The city hopes to have its new regulations in place in time for the start of the rental season in early spring.

UBCO hosts webinar to discuss science and systemic racism

Science and systemic racism

A panel of leaders from a top science publication will join other scientific experts to discuss science and systemic racism at a webinar hosted by UBC Okanagan.

The webinar is dubbed, “Science and Systemic Racism” and will be hosted by Ian Foulds, the principal’s research chair in Indigenous reconciliation in engineering at UBC Okanagan; Magdalena Skipper, editor-in-chief of the scientific journal Nature; and Alejandro Adem, president of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

“I want to explore how are we doing with the commitments, what we are hearing and how universities and institutions work together for a more inclusive science,” explains Mukherjee Reed.

She also points to the need to foster allyship. “It is not easy to build allyship, but we cannot stand still,” says Mukherjee Reed, who was recently appointed one of UBC’s co-executive leads for anti-racism. “We must proceed as best we can and be prepared to learn as we move forward.”

The webinars begin on Thursday, November 26, and are part of an ongoing speaker series on systemic racism organized by the university.

The first three events focused on the experiences of anti-Black racism from students and faculty. This next discussion features a panel of leaders from a top science publication, a major Canadian scientific funding body, and an expert on Indigenous reconciliation will explore how science can be more inclusive.

“Our academic community has expressed a desire to hear from institutional leaders about accountability, responsibility and strategies for change,” says Ananya Mukherjee Reed, provost and vice-president academic at UBC Okanagan. “This is a critically important topic and I plan to continue the conversation with more voices in the research and scientific community over the coming months.”

This event is the first of three that will examine racism in science specifically. The next two—planned for the new year—will feature the perspectives of Indigenous and Black scientists.

The Oliver Fire department will be running their firehall siren at 6:30 p.m. on Friday for everyone to turn on their holiday lights

Listen for siren to light up

If you hear an air raid horn Friday night in Oliver, don’t be alarmed. It’s just the Town kicking off its holiday light event.

The Town is getting creative with their Christmas Light Up this year, encouraging residents to turn on their lights at 6:30 pm. this Friday, Nov. 27 all together, since gathering in person won’t be allowed.

The Oliver Fire Department will be sounding their firehall siren at that time as a signal to everyone in town to flip the switch.

“Maybe we will start a new tradition! Keep your ears open on Friday,” reads the Fire Department’s post on social media.

One resident will also be using his drone to film the light up, according to another social media post.

The usual light up event in Oliver was cancelled this year due to COVID-19 safety protocols and residents are still asked in the post to not gather anywhere “as we are still under strict social distancing order.”

Locals are hoping to spread the world to friends and family, working to get everyone to join in.

14 Common Home Problems Buyers Should Look For

common home problemsWhen looking for a home to buy, it pays to be aware of common problems found in many homes. Once you make the purchase, you take over responsibility for all of the existing issues in the home. Keep an eye out for these issues so you can adjust your offer accordingly, or move on to another property that is relatively problem-free.

If you are a perspective home seller reading this please make mental note of these common home sale issues so you can be well prepared to identify and address them before you put your home up for sale. You will be glad you did!

1. Roof Problems

The roof is one of the most important components of the home. A damaged or poorly maintained roof can lead to serious problems, including water damage. Major roof repairs can be expensive, and should definitely be factored into the price of the home if they exist. The roof is an area that most buyers will not compromise on. Keep in mind however that when you have a home inspection and your inspector tells you that there are only a few years of expected life in the roof, you shouldn’t expect the seller to replace it. Most sellers are not going to replace a roof when there are years of life left before issues arise.

2. Old Appliances

Appliances are built to last only so long, especially if they are not regularly maintained. The cost of replacing appliances can be substantial and should be considered. Granted, higher quality appliances last longer. It is worthwhile to do some research on the year, brand and model of the major appliances in a property to get a clear picture of what you are purchasing.

3. Handrails

This may seem minor, but functional handrails are necessary on staircases and along balconies for safety. Test all of the handrails in a home, and ensure that all appropriate areas have handrails before buying. One of the common trouble spots is on decks. This becomes especially important when the deck is elevated off of the ground where someone could get seriously hurt if falling from a greater height.

4. Storm Damage

Each area of the country experiences extreme weather – weather that can do serious damage to a home. From hurricanes to hail storms, these weather events can damage roofs, siding and even foundations in the event of flooding. Hail storms can be very destructive without a home owner even realizing it. A few years ago in Hopkinton Massachusetts, over a third of the homes in town received new roofs because of a vicious hail storm.

This is something that most good homeowners insurance policies will cover. Unfortunately there were also a number of people in Hopkinton who did not even think to check that they had hail damage. Upon selling their home, the buyer would get a home inspection and that’s when they found out they had damage. For many of these home sellers it was too late to file a claim. The tough part of hail damage is that it is not often visible to the naked eye. A good home inspector will be able to spot hail damage by getting up on the roof or possibly by using high-powered binoculars.

5. Rotten Wood

Even modern, pressure-treated wood will break down under the elements eventually. Look for rotten wood around the base of the home, along the roof and anywhere else where moisture may have been an issue. Some of the most common areas you will find wood rot on a home are on the window sills.

While rotted window sills can be found on any age home, there has been a prevalence of it in homes that were built in the 80’s and 90’s due to lesser-quality, finger-jointed woodwork. Finger-jointed materials, if not constantly painted, will rot a lot more quickly due to water penetration and just an overall lack of quality.

6. Cooling or Heating Systems

Temperature control systems wear out over time, and they can be expensive to replace. Check on the age, integrity and maintenance schedule of any heating or cooling system present in the home. Newer models are notably more efficient, making them a much better deal in the long run.

One of the most important things you can do as a home buyer is to check the current owners’ upkeep of these items. It is certainly possible a well-maintained boiler can last thirty years or more. It is just as easy for that same boiler to last half as long if not maintained yearly with regular servicing.

7. Environmental Issues

gassett home problemsEnvironmental regulations become increasingly strict as time goes on. This is good for buyers of new homes, but it does not necessarily protect you if you are purchasing an older home. Radon, lead-based paint, mold and asbestos are all health concerns.

Be aware of the dangers of these materials and verify whether they are present in each property. If the home is serviced by a well (as opposed to public water), it is also a good idea to get that tested too. Often times standard well tests will only do a limited screening for such things as iron, copper, manganese, etc. You will want to make sure you also test for more dangerous compounds such as arsenic, mercury and lead.

8. Poor Drainage

Water damage is a risk in areas with poor drainage. Verify that each home you consider has adequate drainage to deal with area rainfall. Because water damage can lead to expensive repair work and mold infestation, you need to ensure that drainage is sufficient on any property you purchase. This is one issue as a home seller not to mess with. There is nothing that will kill a real estate sale quicker than a water issue. Buyers do not want to even think about having a water problem with their home

9. Electrical Safety Concerns

Older homes may not have electrical systems up to current codes. Things like ground fault breaker outlets in bathrooms and kitchens, as well as grounded outlets throughout the house are necessary for a safe living environment, especially when you consider the current electrical load people put on their homes with new appliances and electronics. In older homes look out for knob and tube wiring.

Most lenders will not provide a loan and most insurance companies will not ensure a home with knob and tube wiring. Eliminating a huge chunk of the buyer pool is not going to help you get top dollar for your home. This is an issue you would want to address before listing your home for sale.

10. Roof Water Control

Gassett roof waterGutters may seem like a minor part of a home, but they do a very important job in keeping your house free from water intrusion. Clogged or poorly maintained gutters can leave your home exposed to water and the mold that comes along with it. Sellers that have plants growing in their gutters bring negative attention to their homes. It looks like you could care less about the upkeep of your property and makes buyers look more closely at other potential problems.

11. Plumbing Problems

Plumbing may be hidden from site in homes, but it is a large part of what makes the modern home livable and comfortable. Older homes with older pipes can present problems, though. Make sure your potential home has plumbing that works, and no serious plumbing issues right around the corner. Things like tree root growth can quickly stop up your plumbing and may be a problem with older pipes.

12. Bad Insulation

Modern insulation is excellent at keeping the temperature in your home comfortable. However, some home builders, especially in older homes, did not always insulate adequately. If you view a home in summer, you may be surprised come winter when the house will just not hold heat. Have someone who knows verify that the home has good insulation before you buy. It is common for older homes to not have nearly the same energy efficiency due to lack of insulation in walls and sometimes in the attic as well.

13. Poor Ventilation

A home that does not allow airflow is at risk of developing mold problems, a nightmare for any homeowner. Verify that the home you are looking at allows airflow throughout the house, including the attic. It may be impossible to achieve perfect airflow in every room, especially basements, but the home should allow airflow through most rooms of the house.

One of the most notable home imperfections is a bathroom vent dumping into the attic and not out through the roof. While a bathroom being vented through the roof is now code in most states, this was not the case until recently. It is very common to see homes that have venting leading into the attic, creating the perfect environment for moisture and mold growth.

14. Foreclosed Homes

common home problemsForeclosures may initially present an excelent deal, but they also present certain risks. Sometimes earlier owners will do serious damage to such homes before exiting the property. This can include anything from stripping copper piping to tearing out cabinets or other valuable fixtures.

Always look over the property before getting your hopes up, because sometimes you do get what you pay for. When real estate deals seem to good to be true they usually are! Keep in mind when you purchase a foreclosed home the lender who now owns the home generally will know very little about the previous owners’ upkeep and maintenance.

The Help of Someone Who Knows

If these 14 things seem like a lot to keep track of, it is because they are. This is why the help of an experienced professional real estate agent can prove so valuable. They look for such things as a matter of course. However, if you choose to go it alone, make sure to download a home viewing checklist to make sure you cover all of your bases before making an offer.

These are all common items that can certainly be discovered at a home inspection by a qualified home inspector. As a buyer, you should be making mental notes of these items before hand so you can make an offer and budget accordingly. When you are mentally prepared for these types of issues when purchasing real estate, there will be a lot less stress involved with your transaction should one or more of these problems crop up. Don’t lose your cool when you find a problem. Take it slow and do the necessary research to resolve the problem by speaking with a few reputable contractors and getting necessary estimates for repair.

About Bill Gassett
Bill Gassett is a nationally recognized real estate leader who has been helping people move in and out of the Metrowest Massachusetts area for the past twenty six plus years. He has been one of the top RE/MAX REALTORS® in New England for the past decade. In 2012 he was the #1 RE/MAX agent in all of New England. Connect with him on Google