Wine and Beyond is officially open in Kelowna


One-of-a-kind liquor store


Wine and Beyond is a liquor store like you’ve never seen before and it’s officially open in Kelowna.

The private wine and spirits shop is the largest of its kind in B.C.

“We are 16 plus thousand square feet. We have 3,000 wines, 1,900 odd spirits and about 1,900 beers, coolers and ciders. The focus is on international and local. We are just trying to offer the best selection at the best price possible,” said Larry Moskal, director of marketing of Wine and Beyond.

The store has department experts that lead customers through the experience. “We have chosen international wine, starting with champagne, sparkling wine, France, Italy, Spain Portugal. We are trying to capture every wine-producing country in the world,” said Barb Wild wine manager.

There is also 600 bottles of B.C. wine.

“We have the discovery centre which will be a place where we can teach, share, taste and learn about wine. The key is helping people develop their sensory skills.”

Beer manager Josh Dobson says he is excited to share his passion and education with others.

“I have gone to school for brewing. It has been in my family for almost 30 years. My uncle was a beer master. It is my passion and what I love and so that is really what we try to bring with the rest of the team.”

Wine and Beyond is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. in the Dilworth Shopping Centre.

Kelowna cigar shop seeks a liquor license to sell high-end scotch and cognac


Liquor sales for cigar store?

The owner of a downtown Kelowna cigar store hopes to add high-end alcohol to his menu.

Cubanos, located in The District on Bernard, is seeking city council’s support for a liquor license to allow for liquor tastings on the premises.

The application would limit occupancy to six patrons while also maintaining existing hours in line with those of the mall.

In a report for council, staff note Cubanos offers an “experience and expertise in cigars, humidors, apparel and accessories.”

The current operation includes a coffee bar, but the applicant is looking to expand and introduce liquor tastings to allow the consumption of high-end scotch, cognac and other spirits,” staff note.

Cubanos owner Chico Dhuga says liquor sales will be limited only to select liquors to be paired with cigars.

City staff are in support of the application, saying it falls in line with licenses approved for other small businesses such as barbershops, salons, bookstores and galleries.

If council gives its support Tuesday night, the application would be forwarded to the province’s Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch for final approval.

Former NHLer adjusting to coaching at hockey camp in Kelowna


Hockey camp full circle

The R1 RINKS hockey camp in Kelowna is working towards getting players to the next level, and for former NHLer Byron Ritchie, having the opportunity to coach at the camp has been a full circle experience.

“You know there’s a big difference between coaching and playing, so it was an adjustment at the beginning, and I’ve been at it for probably five years now since I retired, and it’s something that I really enjoy,” said Ritchie.”It’s trying to have a positive influence on the players here and their development in helping them get to where they want to be, and leaning back on past experiences and things that I’ve been through to try and help them along.”

The camp, which is partially owned by three-time Stanley Cup champion Mike Keane, focuses on giving the players a competitive edge when they immerse back into hockey season. They do so by skating three times a week and training in the gym five days a week.

Jack Finley was drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2020, and he says the camp has been a big help before he heads off to his second pro camp.

“I’m just looking forward to playing. It’s obviously been a weird past year or two for everybody, and especially sports players, so you know I’m just excited to get in there and play some games, and this camp has been really beneficial to me,” said Finley.

Entering his fourth season with the Kelowna Rockets, Alex Swetlikoff says having so many competitive players in the camp is what he feels will be the biggest help heading into next season.

“There’s a lot of players looking to up their game and everyone wants to get better so it’s very competitive, and just our schedule too. Being on the ice mostly every day and then the gym, that’s a lot on your body so that makes it hard as well,” said Swetlikoff. We’re working hard and it’s gonna put us in good shape for next season.”

The camp began on July 5 and will run until August 20. Coach Ritchie says all players at the camp have been a joy to work with, and that they have all been very receptive to coaching.

Kelowna will be home to economic development satellite location


City scores PacifiCan office

City and regional officials are jumping for joy after the federal government chose Kelowna as one of the branch locations for the newly announced Pacific Economic Development Agency, also known as PacifiCan.

Mélanie Joly, who serves as the national minister of economic development and official languages, introduced PacifiCan on Thursday morning in Surrey. She also announced the creation of Prairies Economic Development Canada, which will help with business in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

It marks the first time in more than 30 years that the federal government has enhanced its economic development presence and services in Western Canada.

In addition to Kelowna, PacifiCan will have service locations in Victoria, Surrey, Campbell River, Prince Rupert, Fort St. John, Prince George and Cranbrook. It will build on Western Economic Diversification Canada, which has been around for 34 years, working closely with B.C. businesses, innovators, and communities; promoting connections and investments to foster economic growth; and helping organizations navigate federal programs and policies.

“As Canada’s most entrepreneurial region and a leader in economic recovery, Kelowna and the Central Okanagan is a natural fit for a branch office of PacifiCan,” Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran said in a press release.

“This new agency and branch will build on existing momentum in our economy and ultimately create more meaningful engagement between regional businesses and the federal government.”

The Regional District of Central Okanagan Economic Recovery Task Force, Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission, UBC Okanagan, Accelerate Okanagan and area chambers of commerce have spent the last year pushing for a Central Okanagan office branch location.

“We are thrilled by today’s announcement of a PacifiCan office in the Central Okanagan,” RDCO chair Gail Given said. “The regional economic recovery task force has encouraged the federal government to recognize the Central Okanagan’s economic strength by establishing a branch of the new agency in the region.

“We’re gratified that Minister (Mélanie) Joly has supported our request as demonstrated by today’s announcement.”

The feds announced their regional development plan in this year’s budget, when they pledged $553.1 million over five years for PacifiCan, starting in 2021-22, and $110.6 million ongoing.

The service locations in Kelowna and other B.C. communities will be launched over a period of months.

“British Columbia’s economy is growing and diversifying more each day, requiring a tailored approach that considers its needs and seizes its opportunities,” Joly said. “We are proud to be investing in the economic future of innovators, businesses, and communities across British Columbia with the creation of PacifiCan.

“For more than 30 years WD has done tremendous work in the West, and this is the beginning of an exciting new chapter.”

Kelowna hospitality industry hit by cancellations due to smoke and recent COVID-19 outbreak


Smoke/COVID double hit

It’s like being kicked while you’re down.

Kelowna’s hospitality industry was looking forward to bouncing back this summer after suffering through pandemic restrictions, but now they’re dealing with cancellations and a drop off in visitors because of the wildfire smoke.

The smoke and fire threat has not just left a haze over the valley, it has closed highways and cancelled flights. On top of that, several restaurants in downtown Kelowna had to shut down through the BC Day long weekend and beyond because of staff testing positive or being exposed to COVID-19, during the current outbreak in the city.

“Obviously this is discouraging for many that were hoping this would be a summer that we gain a lot more than we lost over the past 16 months,” said Dan Rogers, Executive Director, Kelowna Chamber of Commerce.

Hotel Zed on Abbott St. confirms to Castanet News, smoke, airport disruptions and increased COVID-19 have been the root cause of most of their cancellations.

Mark Burley, Executive Director at Downtown Kelowna Association was asked for his assessment of the summer so far.

“I don’t know how to feel about it because it started out super hot. I mean we were up in the 40s and we were setting up Meet Me on Bernard at that time and it was insanely hot, but it was also super busy down here. Then the fires started, and then the smoke moved in and it was still hot, but we still seemed to have a fair amount of traffic.”

Rogers, though, said some sectors are struggling and the recovery is going to take a bit longer than anticipated.

“We’ve reinforced that to government, that the supports, particularly for those hard-hit sectors like the hospitality sector, need to continue. I appreciate the federal government has extended some of those to late October, but we’ll continue to monitor and government needs to be there to help particularly those that are hardest hit right through to the fall.”

Penticton’s Bad Tattoo Brewing opens new Kelowna location

If you’re looking for a new spot to try this weekend, Bad Tattoo Brewing’s Kelowna location is now open at Clement Avenue just east of Richter Street.

Bad Tattoo Brewing has been an Okanagan staple, starting Penticton and now expanding into Kelowna’s new north-end brewery district, with a 1,000-square-foot patio.

The Brewer has been open for a few days as they work the kinks out and get their new staff and systems sorted.

Bad Tattoo is well known for its thin-crust forno pizza and unique brands of beer, they’ve been on a so-called “soft opening’ for the past few days but are now officially ready to welcome you.

“We look at Kelowna as one of our largest beer markets at the moment. It just seemed like the natural place to expand, with how fast Kelowna is growing we were really lucky to find an ideal location,” said Bad Tattoo owner Lee Agur.

Bad Tattoo Brewing opened its Penticton location at 169 Estabrook Ave in 2014 and quickly became one of the most popular restaurants in the city.

Agur says the Kelowna location will follow the themes of their Penticton flagship, with the simple but unbeatable combination of craft beer and rock-oven pizza on the menu.

First-ever Event Strategy in the works for Kelowna


Have your say on events

The city wants your input on when and where big events should be taking place in Kelowna.

Residents are being encouraged to contribute to the first-ever Event Strategy.

“Our goal is to foster an eventful city, not just a city full of events,” said Chris Babcock, Event Development Supervisor. “We’re engaging with our event industry partners and residents to ensure that future events hosted in our city help to bolster our community pride as we strive for a vibrant and inclusive event culture here in Kelowna.”

As part of the strategy, Get Eventive Days will take over the waterfront promenade for two weekends this summer; July 24 & 25 and August 21 & 22, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

It will feature local art, sports demonstrations, music, food trucks and more.

“In addition to our event strategy, we’re also seeking ideas as to what Kelowna’s signature event could be,” said Babcock. “We invite our residents to be creative, tell us their ideas, and help us develop an event that reflects who we are and who we want to be.”

You can visit the Event Strategy project site until September 7 to make suggestions, vote on other residents’ ideas and fill out a city survey.

GetintheLoop now friends with BenefitHub, accesses US market


GetintheLoop gets into US

A Kelowna business success story has now made its way into the U.S. market.

GetintheLoop, which is Canada’s largest shop local platform, has partnered with BenefitHub, which bills itself as the largest employee lifestyle benefits company.

BenefitHub, which has 17 million members worldwide, will offer GetintheLoop content to its businesses, which will then pass on the local deals to its employees. The partnership will start in Nevada and Arizona.

“Our partner employers have long requested more local deals around their campuses and neighbourhoods where their employees live,” BenefitHub founder and CEO Seif Saghri said in a press release. “This partnership will give us a stronger and growing local offering.”

More than 5,000 businesses in Canada are customers of GetintheLoop, which has thrived in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The restrictions accelerated the need for local businesses to use digital tools to connect with consumers, and now the company will be able to do just that south of the border.

“We’re excited to jump-start the launch of GetintheLoop into the U.S. with a consumer audience of 10 million people and an amazing aligned partner in BenefitHub,” GetintheLoop founder and CEO Matt Crowell said.

Big changes are afoot in Kelowna’s north end


Planning a new north end?

Kelowna’s north end is going to undergo a major redevelopment in the coming years.

What form that redevelopment takes will be the subject of a proposed four-step north end planning process to be laid out for city council Monday.

The plan is being spurred on by the impending development of the nearly 40 acre former Tolko mill site and the adjacent 3.95 acre BC Tree Fruits site which hit the market in April with an asking price of $20 million.

It’s believed Tolko is planning to develop the former mill itself rather than sell it to another developer.

A north end redevelopment plan would not only include the future of those two sites, but the overall neighbourhood between Knox Mountain Park and Clement Avenue.

As the city has changed over the years, a staff report suggest so to has the north end, transitioning from brick making, tobacco processing and fruit packing to a mix of major industrial production, small-scale business and residential development.

“Today, the north end neighbourhood contains over 800 homes with more than 1,500 residents, 226 active businesses with a mix of commercial and industrial operations,” the report states.

“A north end plan will provide the opportunity to clarify the community’s vision for the neighbourhood, answering some of the big, outstanding questions, such as:

  • What is the future of industrial in the North End?
  • What is the role of multi-unit residential development?
  • Can industrial uses co-exist with residential and commercial?
  • Is there an opportunity to expand housing options in the area?

“A neighbourhood planning process will also provide the opportunity to identify the public spaces, infrastructure networks, and amenities needed to support the evolution of this area. Without a proactive neighbourhood plan in place, planning and development will instead be reactive.”

The neighbourhood is already in transition.

Closure of the railway has made way for a busy active transportation corridor, the north end of downtown has developed into some of the highest density residential in the city, Clement has been transformed with hundreds of new apartment units replacing residential homes, while the area has become a burgeoning brewery district.

It’s expected development of a north end plan and an area redevelopment plan for the Tolko site would take place parallel to each other, although staff say the north end plan would take the planning lead.

“Given the urgent nature of the timeline for the NEP and the limited resources available, staff are recommending that the applicants for the mill site ARP be required to provide financial support that will allow the city to add dedicated resources to complete the work in a timely manner.”

Staff expect to begin work on the north end plan later this month, concluding within 18 months. It’s estimated to cost about $465,000 to complete.

Voices are lining up in opposition to a proposed development on Manhattan Drive


Pushback on development

Residents in Kelowna’s north end are mounting opposition to a proposed apartment complex on Manhattan Drive.

The application to alter the zoning and future land use for the property at 955 Manhattan Drive has been the subject of neighbourhood opposition.

City clerk Stephen Fleming says council has received numerous pieces of correspondence with concerns over the project, with 26 more official responses in opposition ahead of Tuesday’s public hearing.

Council will only be asked to approve a change in land use from single, two unit residential and a zoning change to RM3, which allows for a maximum height of three storeys, or 10 metres.

During initial consideration June 14, planner Jocelyn Black told council the RM3 zone is considered one of the city’s low density zones.

“Multiple dwelling housing under this zone would be low density and lower profile,” said Black.

“Due to the size of the property (2,000 square metres), staff feel there is an opportunity for development to occur on the site that is respectful of the neighbourhood, and fits in nicely with the existing context.”

However, plans submitted to the city show a five storey, 10-unit apartment. A move to five storeys would have to be approved through a variance permit application at a later date.

Black told council the height variance would not be deemed acceptable.

Many on council agreed.

Potential height is not on the table for Tuesday’s discussion.