South Okanagan bird rescue inviting public to witness two baby great horned owls return to wild


2 baby owls to be released

The South Okanagan’s only bird-of-prey rescue centre is finally able to welcome the public again to a release of two rehabilitated baby owls, after 16 months of restrictions due to the pandemic.

SORCO says the public is welcome on July 10 at Stag’s Hollow Winery in Oliver July 10 at 2 p.m. to watch the babies fly to freedom.

SORCO manger Dale Belvedere said the pair are about three months old and are 100 per cent ready to go, after being found in a destroyed nest in Penticton and receiving care at their facilities ever since.

“They’re flying extremely well, they’re in the exterior flight pens, they know how to hunt,” Belvedere said.

The non-profit organization provides rehabilitation services for all birds of prey in the region, and the pandemic has been hard, due to having to cancel their annual open house two years in a row. That event is typically the source of most of their donations.

Belvedere is happy that, with restrictions lifting, the public will once again be able to experience the work SORCO does.

“It’s Stag Hollow’s 25th anniversary, and they are big supporters of us. We released a couple owls there a few years ago too,” Belvedere said.

The release event is free to attend, but SORCO volunteers will also be on hand should anyone wish to inquire about how to further support their work.

Find out more about SORCO and donate here.

West Kelowna breaks ground on new skatepark, first step towards new city hall


Ground broken on skatepark

The City of West Kelowna has broken ground on its new skatepark, the first step in the new city hall project.

The ceremony on June 15, which was closed to the public and media,

took place at the site of the $18 million project at the corner of Old Okanagan Highway and Dobbin Road.

The current skatepark next to the Johnson Bentley pool needs to be removed to make space for the new city hall building. The 51,500 square foot, four-floor building will feature an Okanagan Regional Library on its ground floor.

The new skatepark is expected to open early fall 2021.

“We’re making history together with the Okanagan Regional Library and Westbank First Nation in providing recreation, community services, culture and learning for everyone to enjoy,” says Mayor Gord Milsom. “Breaking ground for the enhanced skatepark couldn’t have been achieved without the valuable design input of our skateboard community and the public, and we remain grateful for their participation.”

“The skatepark is the beginning of construction on the site where our City Hall/Library Building is located, and we’re so very pleased to have the Okanagan Regional Library as an equity partner. We’re also deeply honoured to partner with Westbank First Nation to incorporate Indigenous art, language and culture that can be celebrated for generations to come,” says Milsom.

Westbank First Nation Chief Christopher Derickson congratulated the city on the project.

“We are honoured and excited to be a partner in this project not only with the City of West Kelowna, but with the Okanagan Regional Library as well on their new location in the civic centre. For centuries, my people, the Syilx people and Indigenous people across this country, have gone unrecognized by the greater Canadian public. In fact, if you drive along the highways in the province of BC, you very rarely see any indications that you are coming up to a Reserve or First Nation community. However, in this community, residents of the City of West Kelowna and those who come through this building, will be able to tell whose land they’re on, where they’re located, and learn something about the Indigenous people, the Syilx people, and the Westbank First Nation community as they enter their civic hall.“

As construction progresses, the existing skatepark will remain in operation until the new skatepark is complete this fall. Once built, the existing skatepark will be decommissioned in preparation for City Hall/Library Building construction.

The municipality is seeking feedback on the design on the city hall building through to June 27 here.

Music in the Park returns to West Kelowna this summer with a new look and a new location


Return of Music in the Park

The City of West Kelowna is using the province’s gradual reopening to bring back one of the city’s most popular summer attractions.

Music in the Park, which was cancelled last year due to COVID-19 restrictions, will return this summer with a bit of a different look and in a new location.

Day-long performances will take place over four days, Thursday, July 1 and three Saturdays; July 31, Aug. 28 and Sept. 4.

The venue has also been moved this year from Memorial Park to Kinsmen Park on Shannon Lake Road, which is better suited to handle restrictions still in place.

Music in the Park will feature four one-hour performances with a maximum of 50 people allowed per performance and six people per group, in keeping with the latest provincial health office guidelines.

The accomplished and in-demand Sean Bray, Kinga Hemming and Bernie Addington Trio take the stage at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. to kick off the series on July 1.

Awarding winning songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Lindsay May and the Mayhem play at 3:30 and 5:30 p.m. performing originals and covers of the greats such as The Beatles and Queen.

In order to take in one of the shows, you must pre-register by calling 778-797-8800.

Those attending shows are asked to bring their own drinks, snacks, chairs or blankets.

The remainder of Kinsmen Park will remain open so, in order to limit crowd size, fencing will be in place.

Interior Health taking imobile immunization clinic to Parkinson Recreation Centre


Mobile clinic in Kelowna

If you still haven’t had your first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, here’s another opportunity.

On June 30, you can get a drop-in COVID-19 vaccination at Kelowna’s Parkinson Recreation Centre, at 1700 Parkinson Way. No advance appointments are needed if you live or work in Kelowna. You can just walk-up, register and get your shot.

The mobile clinic will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. for those who were born in 2009 or earlier, and have not received their first dose yet.

This is only for first doses. For second doses, you need to book an appointment through the provincial registration system.

Bathroom Design Ideas: What’s Your Style?

It may be a small space, but you can really pack a lot of style into a bathroom. It’s the one room where people tend to get a little daring with bold prints or beautiful tile. But when you’re working with a small space, that also means you have to have a good plan to ensure everything looks cohesive.

The secret to getting your bathroom remodel or redesign to look just as you imagine it is to find your style. If you’re not sure about your style and need some bathroom design ideas, we’ve got you covered! From vintage to modern, here’s the low-down on six popular bathroom styles to help you determine your best bathroom look.

Casual Coastal

If your idea of relaxing is spending a day at the beach, why not create your own private seaside escape? Capture that beachy feeling in your bathroom with natural wood elements, plenty of natural light and some touches of watery blue. Choose a light-colored flooring and add some super-soft bathmats to remind you of soft, sandy beaches. Finish it off with a striped shower curtain and lots of texture. Shells, rope, and chipped paint all add texture and a coastal vibe without being overly kitschy.

Modern Minimalist

For some, the bathroom is where you clear your mind and get a fresh start for the day. Create a minimalist space where less is more with a modern floating vanity and low-profile sink. Skip the cabinet hardware altogether in favor of clean-faced cabinets. Choose large tiles for the floor and shower to minimize grout lines and create a less cluttered look. Stick to a neutral color palette with a mix of dark and light elements to create contrast and keep the space from falling flat.  Instead of decor, use plants to add color and texture and to help soften the space.

Glitz and Glamour

Are you dreaming of a long, hot soak in a bathroom fit for a king (or queen)? If you love the glam life, then you need a glamourous bathroom to pamper yourself in. Start with a fabulous soaker tub and surround it with beautiful marble tile. Swap out your faucets and hardware for shiny brass or gold options and replace your standard mirror with one with an ornate frame. Top it all off with a stunning chandelier and you’ll feel like royalty every time you take a soak.

Zen Retreat

After a long hard day, a little self-care can be a welcome relief. Turn your bathroom into a tranquil Zen-like retreat to give yourself the perfect spot to get away from it all. Introduce as many natural elements as possible to help create a connection to nature. Choose wood and natural stone for walls and floors and use soft lighting to create a soothing ambiance. Position the tub to take advantage of natural light or a great view.

French Country

Get whisked away to a romantic chateau in the French countryside with an elegant, old-world bathroom. Imagine whiling away the hours in a classic claw-foot tub perched on beautiful artisan tile next to an antique dressing table converted to a vanity. Add some floral wallpaper, an elegant runner and a gilded mirror for those extra romantic touches. Vintage wall sconces and a dreamy chandelier will help create a room full of French country charm.

Go Bold

If you’re dying to do something a little more daring, the bathroom is the perfect place to test out a dramatic new look.  Choose a boldly patterned wallpaper or a powerful tile and let it be the star of the show. You want to avoid dueling focal points, though. Pick one really stand-out feature and choose the rest of your fixtures and finishes to complement but not compete with that one element.

No matter what your style, one of these six bathroom design ideas will help give your bathroom a fresh new look you’ll love.


Buying vs. Renting — How the 5% Rule Can Help You Decide


Buying a home is often seen as a step forward in the game of life. But choosing the right time can be tricky. If you’re trying to figure out whether you should continue to rent or get your foot on the property ladder, it’s worth having a look at the 5% rule.

What Is the 5% Rule?

The 5% rule was coined by Canadian investment portfolio manager Ben Felix. It stems from the general consensus among potential homebuyers that if you can afford to make mortgage payments that are equal or less than what you’re paying in rent, then buying is a better alternative. However, the 5% rule puts the buying vs. renting dilemma in a different light by factoring in the unrecoverable costs that occur in both cases.

What are unrecoverable costs? If you’re renting, they’re self-explanatory: your monthly rent is an unrecoverable cost. The money spent does provide you with a place to live, but it won’t help you own an asset as homeownership does. Also, the cases in which it can be used to improve your credit score are still rare, and they largely depend on whether your landlord will report those payments to a credit bureau.

In the case of homeownership, unrecoverable costs do not consist of mortgage payments. This is where the 5% rule comes in, highlighting three types of costs and their estimates, as follows:

  • Property tax, estimated at 1% of the home value;
  • Yearly maintenance costs, also estimated at 1% of the property value;
  • Cost of capital, or the mortgage interest rate, estimated at 3%.

When you add them up, these unrecoverable costs can add 5% of your home value to your yearly expenses.

Admittedly, maintenance can be considered a recoverable cost, as it can increase your home value through renovations and upgrades. However, renters looking to buy should factor in the cost of property tax and interest rates into their budget, as they can easily bulk up expenses by thousands of dollars each year.

How Can It Help You Decide?

The easiest way to look at the practical applications of the 5% rule is by using this simple formula: multiply the value of a property by 5%, then divide the number by 12. The result is a monthly break-even point, which could help you decide which is a better financial choice: buying or renting.

Let’s assume that you’re looking to buy a home in Canada, and the average price you’re looking at is around $680,000. Using the 5% rule, your break-even point is at $2,833 each month. This means that if you can find a rental that charges less than that, renting would make more sense. But if you’re paying more than $2,833 on rent, you might be better off buying a home instead.

One thing worth keeping in mind is that the yearly 1% set aside for maintenance is a bit ambitious. True, it is advisable to have that money set aside in case of emergency repairs. Yet, it’s unlikely that you will spend thousands of dollars on renovations and upgrades each year. So you can drop that 1% if you need to negotiate a bit of wiggle room in your budget.

Although the 5% rule can be seen as an oversimplification, it is helpful in giving you a wider perspective over the buying vs. renting conundrum. It is easy to base your decision just on finding a mortgage that’s cheaper than your current rent. The caveat is that this excludes not just hidden costs but also non-recoverable costs, which do not help you build equity.

Can You Use the 5% Rule on the U.S. Market?

It’s best to note that the 5% rule was formulated with the Canadian real estate market in mind. However, the figures are largely similar, especially when it comes to property taxes and mortgage interest rates. So, in theory, the rule can be applied to the U.S. market as well.

Like any mortgage calculator, the 5% rule cannot predict fluctuations in interest rates, taxes or property value. What it can do is give you a sense of perspective when it comes to the financial feasibility of homeownership. Depending on where you live, the 5% rule might even reveal that renting is cheaper than buying.

And speaking of the magical number 5, don’t forget about ‘the 5-year rule’. In most cases, it is advised that you should live in your home or use it as a primary residence for five years before selling it. The longer you live in your home, the more time you have to cushion your initial investment.

As helpful as the 5% rule is when it comes to helping you decide whether to rent or buy, your long-term plans should have just as big an impact on your decision

This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be deemed as legal, financial or investment advice or solicitation of any kind. Before purchasing real estate or insurance, always consult with a licensed attorney, financial advisor, insurance agent and real estate broker.


Penticton businesses report boom in tourism bookings after some restrictions lifted this week


Boom in tourism bookings


Casey Richardson

Hotels, restaurants and wineries saw a large jump up in bookings after BC moved into stage two of its reopening plan this week, welcoming recreational travel for the province and ending restrictions between health regions.

The provincial government announced on Monday that BC was transitioning to the next phase, effective Tuesday — the earliest date possible in.

“Since the COVID restrictions for the 16 of June have been lifted, we have experienced a lot of phone calls, which is exciting for us and the staff. We expect to be between 90 and 100 per cent full for all of July and August. We’re excited to see what’s going to be happening after the post COVID-era of the last 14 to 16 months for sure,” Billy Coles, co-owner and GM of Hotel Penticton said.

“We saw an immediate boost in bookings, the phone has been running off the hook for, I think a couple of days now. And it’s been really clear to the staff as well, we went from like, second gear to fifth gear, and literally in one day. So for the rest of the weekend, in fact, we have over 100 bookings, every service, so it’s busy,”Michael Ziff, the food and beverage manager for Poplar Grove said.

For Hillside Winery, bookings in their restaurant and wine tasting room have been coming in ‘fast and furious,’ according to the Director of food and beverage, Lisa Henderson.

“Both are looking very busy. Reservations are definitely recommended…We actually have had a few bigger groups that we just don’t have the room for. So lots of groups are out and about. And we’re kind of limiting how many we’re actually taking. So we have had to juggle a little bit, but we can usually get you in on a different evening,” she explained.

Businesses are having to turn people away due to being fully booked.

“I think Penticton has become a little bit of the palm springs of Canada, so many people are calling, especially on the weekends and the long weekends, looking for rooms. And unfortunately, we’re not even able to send them to other hotels because a lot of folks are just booked on those weekends,” Coles added.

And while some businesses are struggling with getting staff hired now that tourism season is back, others are prepped and ready to go.

“This is my ninth season here at Hillside. We have a very dedicated crew that’s actually knocking on my door in spring going, ‘When are we open?’ So it’s fantastic, they are ready…And it’s really, really nice to have those same faces come back every year,” Henderson said.

“We’re actually quite good for staff. I know it’s not easy, in lots of places. I’ve talked to a lot of colleagues in the industry, whether it be in the tasting room or restaurants and some people have been having some issues staffing up. Luckily, I did it in advance. I’m tight, but I’m there. If I had any less, it would be problematic,” Ziff explained.

The outlook for tourism is strong throughout the summer months, and even extending into fall.

“I joked with my wife today that I’ll probably see her in October. So I’m guessing it’s going to be right through till harvest too,” Ziff said.

Henderson added that everyone coming in is in a positive mood,

“I think everybody is really happy. The energy of everybody is almost that little bit of relief. And it’s kinda like getting back to normal. I think it feels good.”

Okanagan wineries taking pandemic seriously: WorkSafeBC


Wineries get thumbs up

WorkSafeBC is giving BC Interior wineries the thumbs up for their COVID-19 safety plans.

The provincial government agency conducted an on-site inspection blitz between May 10 and June 4.

The inspections and consultations confirmed that up-to-date COVID-19 safety plans were in place and implemented effectively, and controls are implemented to protect workers from COVID-19 transmission.

Officers were deployed to conduct on-site inspections, and occupational health and safety consultants contacted additional employers by phone to review employers’ obligations and COVID-19 safety plans. The focus was on key measures including occupancy limits, ensuring worker health checks designed to prevent sick workers entering workplaces are implemented, enforcing social distancing practices, and using barriers and masks where required.

The inspections focused on wineries, cideries, and craft breweries with tasting rooms:

  • Two prevention officers participated in the initiative
  • 48 inspections were conducted
  • 32 consultations were conducted
  • 100% of the inspections were conducted on-site
  • All inspections and consultations were conducted in the interior health region
  • 2% of inspections resulted in orders – two total orders were issued

Kelowna business taking plastics from the public to recycle into new products


A new way to recycle

The Rogerie has grown by rescuing plastics directly from landfills and transforming them into 100 per cent renewable products.

But starting Monday, the local business will start accepting clean household plastics from the public. Things like HTP (high technology plastic) or PETG (Polyethylene terephthalate glycol, a food-safe plastic) will be accepted and turned into new products. All you have to do is bring your washed plastics to their location at 103-460 Doyle Avenue, and they’ll do the rest.

“We’ll take it, wash it a second time to make sure it’s really clean, and then we’ll grind it up and use it in our injection molding machine,” said Angela Rogers, the co-founder of The Rogerie.

Currently Angela and her husband Brady sell products such as various planter pots, cups, stemless wine glasses, mugs and teapots and kitchen composters. Angela says the idea to start this business all came to fruition after their wedding.

“We knew we wanted to do something creative, and it was actually after our wedding that we saw how much plastic we had accumulated from gifts and moving so we knew we wanted to do something with it all. We got a little 3D printer that Brady had, and he designed a little planter and we took it to the farmers market. We received a ton of positive reactions and it kind of just grew from there,” said Angela.

The Rogerie previously operated a pop-up location at Orchard Park for six weeks last year, but have now found a permanent home at the downtown Innovation Centre.

Angela mentioned that they have several products in the works that they are putting the final touches on, and to keep an eye out for them this summer. You can see the 3D printers in action starting next week at the store when they add a dozen machines.

Slower or reduced service likely due to worker shortages this summer


Summer of self-serve

Housekeeping only on arrival and departure at hotels, more self-serve options at restaurants, and smaller menus.

These are some of the impacts visitors to Kelowna and other tourism destinations in the Thompson-Okanagan should brace for this summer.

“Businesses will be struggling to give you the service they want to give you,” said Ellen Walker-Matthews, Acting President and CEO of Thompson-Okanagan Tourism Association. “Just relax and enjoy the moment and understand it might be a little bit of a slower service than you expected in the past.”

“I think there’s been a fair amount of anxiety, especially in the last couple of weeks”, said Arun Subramanian of go2HR. The company helps recruit employees for the tourism industry in the Okanagan. “There’s a huge pent-up demand out there, so they’re going to start seeing visitors coming probably in droves, as the expectation goes, especially in some of the resorts.”

To attract workers, businesses are going to have to get creative.

“Are you offering flexibility for your workforce? You often create work schedules that are beneficial to the business or the employer, but are you creating work schedules that can be a little more beneficial to your employees?” asked Subramanian. “Sometimes it may mean using two employees for one job because it will help you attract people who can work a certain number of hours.”

He also suggests restaurants consider more self-serve options and reducing their menus to take pressure off the kitchen.

Walker-Matthews advises people to be prepared for reduced service. “You might not get housekeeping every day when you’re travelling this year, because it just might not be possible.

The shortages are right across the board. “It’s front-desk, housekeeping, cooks, all the back-of-the-house jobs,” she said. “As well as when we talk to our wine industry, they’re having difficulty in the wine centres getting people to do tasting rooms.”