Swimming at Kal Beach in Coldstream still discouraged due to algae bloom


Stay out of the water at Kal

Swimmers are still being urged to stay out of the water at Kal Beach.

The District of Coldstream, Regional District of North Okanagan and Interior Health have received reports of an algae bloom on the north end of Kalamalka Lake.

IH is currently classifying the bloom as active.

A post on Coldstream’s website states it has “not been able to verify these reports through water testing and visual inspections; however, since algae can be harmful to humans and animals, we are posting this information out of an abundance of caution.”

The District of Coldstream issued an advisory Aug. 12 that people not swim at the beach.

Interior Health is advising residents and visitors of the north end of Kalamalka Lake to:

  • Avoid all direct contact with the bloom. If contact is made, rinse your body with clean water.
  • Do not drink or allow pets to drink water directly from the lake.
  • Recreational activities, such as swimming, are discouraged.

Greater Vernon Water has a drinking water intake on Kalamalka Lake and is closely monitoring the situation.

GVW has increased water sampling, specifically looking at algae levels, and is conducting regular visual inspections of the lake. As of Aug. 20, GVW has no concerns about the safety of drinking water.

GVW will continue with increased sampling and will notify customers if there is a change in water quality.

36 per cent of non-emergency calls to Vernon RCMP are not a police matter


Make the right call

With the surge in demand for emergency services, Vernon North Okanagan RCMP wants to remind the public to ‘make the right call’ during the busy summer months.

Const. Chris Terleski said E-Comm, the agency responsible for handling the majority of emergency calls in the province, reports up to 36 per cent of police non-emergency calls do not belong on these lines and need to be directed to other more appropriate resources.

“Our detachment is supported by E-Comm and the Southeast District RCMP Operational Communication Centre (OCC), which is one of the largest and busiest RCMP 911 police dispatch centres in Canada,” said Terleski. “Often, calls to police non-emergency lines are not police matters and should be referred to another agency such as ICBC, the BC Residential Tenancy Branch, or municipal bylaw services. Any time we can direct these calls to a more appropriate resource, not only does it save time, but it eases the strain on E-Comm and our OCC and ensures essential communication lines remain free for emergency and police matters.
Anyone experiencing a life-threatening emergency, is urged to call 911, but if the call is of a non-urgent nature, people are asked to:

  • check online to see if you should call your local police non-emergency line;
  • report the incident using our online crime-reporting tool at https://ocre-sielc.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/bc/en;
  • or reach out to an alternate resource.

A full list of links to online crime reporting and non-emergency phone numbers is available through E-Comm.

April is Wine Month in B.C. and people are encouraged to have a glass of BC vino


It’s wine time in B.C.

Don’t whine about COVID restrictions – wine with them.

April is Wine Month in B.C. and the Wine Growers British Columbia (WGBC) are welcoming the annual event by saluting winemakers and grape growers throughout the province.

For the fourth year, the B.C. government has proclaimed April as the official province-wide wine month, inviting all British Columbians to enjoy B.C. wines farmed in their own province.

With 929 vineyards across the province – many of which are in the Okanagan – B.C.’s wine industry is doing what it can to protect the more than 12,000 jobs B.C. wineries support

“Many of our local wineries and vineyards are family-run businesses that have chosen farming and winemaking as their passion and their profession. This is a well-deserved recognition of the hard work and dedication of B.C.’s winemakers and grapegrowers,” said Miles Prodan, WGBC president and CEO. “It’s also an important recognition of the more than 280 licensed grape wineries and more than 400 independent grape growers which enhance the vibrancy and sustainability of B.C.’s vineyards and agricultural communities.”

Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries said throughout the pandemic, the B.C. wine industry “has shown resiliency and strength to help pivot sales, welcome local visitors to wineries and serve their customers. From shifting to online sales, creating seating bubbles and more outdoor seating and offering door-to-door delivery, the industry has put its customers first to ensure they always felt safe and welcome.”

In celebration of Wine Month, the WGBC has launched a multi-pronged marketing campaign titled “A Year in the Life,” aimed at celebrating B.C.’s winemakers and farmers.

“The goal of this campaign is to form a connection between the consumer and our province’s wine farmers,” said Kim Barnes, WGBC marketing director. “To put a face to the bottle and show consumers the passion and spirit that goes into a bottle of B.C. wine, not just during the spring or summer, but all year round. We want to ensure consumers see more than the bottle on the shelf, but also the vineyard it came from and the families who created it.”

FortisBC urging people to prevent heat loss, use less energy

Temps down, energy up

It’s cold outside and expected to get colder, so FortisBC is encouraging people to pay attention to energy usage.

Typically, January is the coldest part of the year and with many people spending more time at home as a result of COVID-19, more energy will be used during those cold days and weeks.

“Because the majority of energy used in B.C. at this time of year is for heating, our customers tend to experience their highest energy bills after periods of colder winter temperatures,” said Michelle Carman, director, customer service, FortisBC.

“That means any heat loss is an opportunity for energy savings, so steps taken to detect and reduce heat loss could help you stay more comfortable while also saving some money on your energy bill.”

FortisBC’s records show last winter’s peak use for both its natural gas and electricity services occurred on Jan. 14.

According to Environment Canada, temperatures dropped below -10 C in the Lower Mainland, and lower than -30 C in places like Prince George. As a result, natural gas use was up more than 75 per cent across the province as compared to an average January day.

Electric use was also up by four per cent over the coldest week from the previous year.

FortisBC historically sees demand for natural gas, the most commonly used energy for space heating, triple in the winter compared to the summer months. On average, customers who use electricity for home heating increase their use by approximately 80 per cent in the winter months.

There are a number of low cost and no cost ways to lower energy use in homes, including:

  • sealing gaps and cracks around windows and doors to prevent heat loss,
  • turning down the heat in unused rooms can also save on space heating,
  • cleaning furnace filters and vacuuming out baseboard heaters to help ensure the heating system is working as efficiently as possible, and
  • installing a programmable thermostat.

To learn more about how seasonal weather can affect bills and ways to reduce energy consumption, click here.

Absolutely appalling

MP, chamber blast Liberals for not supporting local businesses in sanitizer production

North Okanagan MP Mel Arnold is outraged over the federal government ignoring local companies while spending millions with foreign corporations.

The Conservative MP is blasting the Liberals for spending $375 million on hand sanitizer from international companies while passing over Canadian companies that have stepped up to produce as much sanitizer as they can with out federal aid.

Throughout the COVID pandemic, Okanagan Spirits has donated thousands of litres of hand sanitizer at a cost to the company of $480,000.

“I want to commend distilleries like Okanagan Spirits and others who stepped up. We owe them a debt of gratitude for their service, but to hear the government is sending hundreds of millions of dollars overseas to Chinese firms and ignoring small businesses is absolutely appalling.”

Arnold says it is part of a pattern by the ruling Liberals to favour foreign corporations over Canadian businesses.

The Conservatives have challenged the Liberals on the matter and plan to keep pressure on the Trudeau government.

“This is a place where this government failed to support Canadian businesses by going overseas with their purchases,” said Arnold.

The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce has also chimed in on the snub.

The chamber has written to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier John Horgan about the need to support craft distilleries, which in many cases, donated the sanitizer to frontline workers.

“Sanitizer was in significant demand, and, in most cases, distillers provided it for free to those on the frontlines of the pandemic – health care professionals, medical outreach workers, educators, care home workers and postal and retail staff,” said Krystin Kempton, Greater Vernon chamber president.

“Distillers answered the call from government to do what they could to support Canadians during this unprecedented crisis.”

Kempton said the chamber is “extremely disappointed” to learn the federal government paid $375 million to offshore sources for sanitizer.

“As the federal government proceeds with providing Canadians with additional health and safety resources and as the nation moves towards economic recovery, we would request that future contracts for sanitizer be directed towards domestic producers and particularly craft distilleries across Canada. These distilleries create significant direct employment, but they also support local suppliers and farmers,” said Kempton.

Vernon business to appear on Dragon’s Den next week

Vernon firm faces dragons

A Vernon business will attempt to slay the dragons next week.

Bottle None will be on the popular CBC business-pitch show Dragon’s Den Dec. 17 at 9 p.m.

Dragon’s Den is a place where aspiring entrepreneurs can pitch their business concepts and products to a panel of Canadian business moguls in the hope of gaining investors.

Bottle None began operating last November and is now listed in more than 100 stores across Canada and the U.S.

The company produces products such as shampoo, conditioner, deodorant and other products without the use of plastic bottles.

“We have even landed deals with distributors and are proud that our bars will be in all of the Whole Foods Canada locations in March of 2021,” said Jaye Siegmuller, who started the company with her sister, Ali.

“We produce our bars right here in Vernon. Each bar replaces two to three plastic bottles. The bars are salon grade, PH balanced and are free from parabens, SLS and SCS.

“We have been making natural products under another brand (Bare Nature) for the past eight years, and after opening the Okanagan’s first zero-waste shop, we hit the lab to create a Canadian made bottle-less hair care line.”

Jaye says the average person uses 10 plastic shampoo and conditioner bottles a year, and only 15 per cent of plastics typically get recycled.

“That means over three billion plastic hair-care bottles hit the landfill every year,” she said.

Jaye could not comment on how their TV appearance went, but said it was exciting to be on the program.

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.


The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce is urging officials to get moving on a new cultural centre for the city.

The chamber sent a letter to the Regional District of North Okanagan urging officials to expedite the planning process for the centre that was approved in a referendum in 2018.

Residents of Vernon, Coldstream, and electoral areas B and C voted in favour of borrowing $25 million for the facility.

“Our concern is that the process is taking some time and the public momentum before and after the referendum has been negatively impacted by this delay,” chamber president Krystin Kempton said in the letter. “That said, we believe now is the time to reinvigorate the initiative as the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic downturn will likely result in senior governments placing significant dollars into infrastructure and stimulus projects. Greater Vernon needs to have a plan that is shovel-ready for when funding applications are launched.”

The chamber also expressed some concern about a possible change in the proposed location of the centre. The referendum identified the former Coldstream Hotel property on 31st Avenue, but “there is a concern that going in a new direction with sites now will further delay the project.”

The chamber said a downtown location is important to maximize benefits the centre would generate.

“We understand that RDNO is reviewing the square footage of the facility as a way of reducing overall costs, and while easing the financial burden on taxpayers should always be a priority, we would hope that the long-term needs of a growing community will be considered,” the chamber stated.

The cultural centre will house the Vernon Public Art Gallery, which has experienced numerous instances of flooding over the past few years, and the Vernon Museum.

Vernon Salvation Army store to reopen after COVID-19 shutdown

Sally Ann to open thrift store

The Salvation Army thrift store in the Anderson Subdivision will soon reopen for business.

After being closed for weeks due to COVID-19, the store, at 5400 24th St., will open its doors to the public again June 22.

Lt. Stefan Reid said the opening will be in full compliance with the guidelines and requirements set by the Canadian government and B.C. Health Authority.

The store will resume operations with several safety measures in place to ensure staff and customers are safe while visiting.

“We are excited to get back to business,” said Reid. “At the same time, we want to ensure we are doing our part to keep our staff and the community safe. So things may look a bit different in terms of the service delivery, but the same open and hospitable experience will be made available to all.”

Precautionary measures are being taken at all levels to protect donors, customers and employees in their interactions with one another and with donations.

They include:

  • enhanced daily cleaning procedures
  • increased sanitization of commonly touched surfaces
  • installation of hand sanitizer stations
  • protective equipment for staff
  • Hours of Shopping Operation Monday-Saturday 10am-6pm
  • Donations accepted Monday-Thursday 930 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed Friday and open again on Saturday 930 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“As a result of the pandemic, the need for affordable clothing and household items will be very high in the days, weeks and months ahead,” said Reid. “During these scary and unpredictable times, we’ve remained committed to helping individuals and families in our community and we hope people will return to our store so we can continue that work.”

Books, books, books

Thousands of books will be available Saturday during the COVID-19-modified Vernon Friends of the Library annual book sale.

The event is normally held in May at the curling rink, but coronavirus concerns scuttled the event. Organizers initially moved the sale to September, but now even that date seems unlikely, so organizers are taking the event outdoors.

The sale will be held this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., weather permitting, in the parking lot at 9908 Kalamalka Rd., near the Coldstream Elementary School. It’s a cash-only event.

Everyone will need to follow COVID-19 guidelines for physical distancing and hand sanitizing, and only 25 people will be allowed in at a time.

“We still have a warehouse full of good books,” said Linda Wills, spokesperson for the non-profit society, “So we have decided to have an outdoor book sale in our warehouse parking lot.

“I’m certain that readers will appreciate the opportunity to refresh their book selection. The library closure combined with isolation will have resulted in a lack of choice in reading material for all of us.”

This sale will include adult fiction and mystery, children’s and junior books as well as non-fiction like gardening, cooking, history and biography.

“Our fingers are crossed for good weather,” said Wills, “It’s going to be a great opportunity to stock up on your favourite reading material. We hope to see a really good response.”

The Vernon Friends of the Library has fundraised for the library for more than 30 years.

Proceeds go towards non-budget items such as children’s and adult programming, special shelving and cases, plants, and decorations for the children’s department.

A recent donation will pay for the much-anticipated Inspiration Lab.