May 23, 2013 / 6:00 am
I vowed when I started this column twenty-five years ago that I wasn’t going to write about politics and I have held the line until today but this item is really about questions.
I looked back over the last four weeks in Ottawa and the boys and girls have had quite a time of bungling just about everything.
Four weeks ago, word came from the Auditor General Michael Ferguson that $3 billion was missing.
It’s important for there to be a way for people to understand how this money was spent,” Mr. Ferguson told reporters after the report was tabled in Parliament. “And that summary reporting was not done.”
The Auditor-General said departments and agencies are required to report to the Treasury Board Secretariat on how the money was spent. But when the auditor’s officials asked to see the reports, they were told they had not been prepared.
Three weeks ago, Senator Mike Duffy got into a jam in Ottawa with his alleged phony expense account and having been a reporter most of his adult life, he simply didn’t tell the reporters anything they could use. He was quite cocky about the situation.
This brings us to our fourth week. The PMO chief of staff Nigel Wright puts his hand in his pocket and pulls out a $90,000 cheque for the Dufster to pay off the government and stop looking deeper into his expense problems. That didn’t go very far with anybody. We haven’t heard the last of this one. Then with one day left in the week Pamela Wallin, ex-broadcaster and also a senator stepped away from the Conservative caucus. Both senators are now seated as independents and certainly don’t want to lose any paydays.
There was one day left and low and behold there was another announcement from Ottawa. Nigel Wright, the PMO’s Chief of Staff resigns. Now surely the boss in Ottawa knew that .
This scandal is not going to go away anytime soon.
Dennis Gablehouse was presented with an award at the B.C. Broadcasters Association annual convention this past month in Penticton. He was chosen “Broadcaster of the Year”. Quite an honour for the retired GM of CHBC-TV in Kelowna. Dennis retired from the Global outlet just before Christmas
Gabelhouse was chosen for the award as someone who works behind the scenes in the BC broadcasting business and has set a high standard of excellence in the industry.
Kevin O’Leary the longtime member of The Dragon’s on CBC-TV was in town to talk to some of his shareholders in the O’Leary Fund. Everything went well I believe.
There was another award from the BCB in Penticton. John Tietzen, the former owner of the Wendy’s franchises in the Interior is the man who founded the Dream Lift Days at his restaurants and raised over $1 million to send over 400 kids with physical disabilities or life threatening illnesses to Disneyland for their day. Tietzen was awarded the “Friend of the Industry award”.
Lloyd Robertson, CTV’s ex-newsman of sixty years was the guest speaker.
As Chief Anchor and Senior Editor of CTV News, Lloyd Robertson was the leader of the country's most-watched national newscast, CTV National News with Lloyd Robertson.
It was a big week for Target Canada as they opened twenty-two more stores in Western Canada from Manitoba to B.C. As I started to put this information together I thought to myself how many semi trailer trucks were traveling on the roads bringing the goods so these stores could have their soft opening. We have three daughters so I asked them to go to the stores when they had a chance and give me a report. Dianne in Edmonton waited to visit the new store in the West Edmonton Mall. The first thing she said was that the new store had bare shelves in many departments. This is a two storey store and she was impressed with the new escalator because you can clip on your grocery cart in someway and it carries your cart to the top. The food floor is on the second floor. It was busy. In Calgary, Cathy went to the new Target at the Chinook Mall and she also said it was full of shoppers and the shelves were also empty in many parts of the store. Meanwhile in Langley, Brenda found the same problems with the shelves being cleaned out by the shoppers who seemed to want to buy everything they could. This kind of an opening gives the retailer an opportunity to make whatever changes are necessary to make everything run smoothly. Target is very good at what they do. The company’s fleet of vehicles will be on the road around the clock with merchandise for these stores.
The U.S. merchant had thirty thousand credit cards in Canada before they opened - I wonder how big that number is now with forty-six stores open.
The Target schedule for Kelowna hasn’t changed much with the company taking over the store in Orchard Plaza from the contractors this week. The store is still set for a July opening.
Target is aiming to have 124 former Zellers stores remodeled and open before the end of this year.
In the meantime the owners of Orchard Plaza are having their parking lot and all the landscaping redone. The plaza is 22-years old this year and has always had one of the best landscaped properties in the valley.
For months I have been holding back on the story of Lowe’s building a new store in Kelowna. At first Lowe’s were ready to follow through when two things happened - the American retailer put $1.8 billion on the table to buy out the Canadian home improvement chain. The companies were started in Quebec and still maintain their headquarters there. The newly elected Premier stated she did not want Americans buying out the Quebec Company. Then Rona was quoted as saying they were ready to get serious about selling their thirty big box stores because some of them didn’t make much profit for the chain. Then word spread that this was maybe the deal Lowe’s wanted anyway. But that all changed this week when the Rona board said they were going to keep all their stores and shut down some of the non-profitable units.
I don’t know what this does to any progress regarding Kelowna stores in the near future.
May 16, 2013 / 5:00 am
I do a lot of thinking about everything to do with my column which is now twenty-five years old, and as I get older I think of so many things from the past that were good. Like the Cuban Lunch chocolate bar. It was made by Paulin’s in Winnipeg and was mostly a Western Canadian thing. They were a bakery making things like soup crackers. They came up with the chocolate bar idea. It was difficult to buy because the store keepers would put the box out and they would be gone very soon. I always bought them by the box, the family liked that better. These were difficult to ship in summer time.
Or, new stuff like both McDonalds and Tim Horton’s remodelling their stores across the country. Tims has 3400 stores and the Big Mac people have 1400 stores. The designs look terrific and I showed them to the Mrs. and her first thought was that they want people to stay longer.
When we moved here thirty-five years ago I had to put a deposit down for $12.50 to get our power hooked up by West Kootenay Power. I wonder what happened to that money?
Do you remember your first trip to Las Vegas? I sure do. I was in California on business and the Mrs. was with me and we scooted over to Vegas for a look-see. We only had a couple of days. We stayed at Bugsy Segal’s Flamingo. That has to be the nicest hotel room I have ever stayed in even though we were never in it for much time.
A shout out to contractor CGL Contracting of Vernon. They are the company that is doing a wonderful job of remaking the downtown of Kelowna. It is amazing how this group are on schedule and have done a superb job with just weeks to go before the entire downtown proper opens for business with a new face and excitement. It has amazed this writer how organized they have been and under control. They are good at what they do.
Did the big rise in gasoline prices throw you off? Is it because it was going to be a warm weekend and the gasoline giants in Calgary just said let's go ten cents? It occurred at the same time oil was going down in price!
Here is another good food item from years ago. The Bun’s Master bakery moved into town and they were the first bakery to make Kaiser buns and Bagels the right way and I am not sure people knew exactly what to do with them. Coming from Toronto those two items were part of our menu. Bagels and cream cheese and Kaisers for the barbeque. Whatever happened to that bakery? They always seemed to be so busy when I was in there.
Colin, a member of the Krieg family at Re/Max Kelowna, sends us this information every month:
Kelowna and Area Single Family Dwellings Activity
Sales in the Single Family Dwellings reached 216 in April which is 20% above April 2012 and just below our 21 year average, of 220 sales. The number of active listings is 1,587 virtually the same as last year. Year-To-Date the total listings taken is 3.5% lower than the same period last year.
Percentage of Listings vs. Sales
We are still in a buyer’s market with 13.6% of the listing inventory selling last month, which is the highest since 2008. March was the lowest since 2009.
Average Price is down
The average price here in Kelowna was $460,351 last month which is still below last year’s April by 4.5%. Year-to-Date, we are at $441,182, slightly lower by 2.5% than 2012.
Million $ Plus
The MLS system shows that 9 residential properties sold in April over $1 Million. These were: 3 Acreages, 1 Lakefront home, 1 Large Lot and 4 Single Family Dwellings.
Our average price bounced back up since we had more activity in the upper price range. Sales are up and the percentage of sales to listing ratio is climbing. This is very encouraging, but at the same time, we have to be careful, as one month does not indicate a trend.
People just want to live here. That’s for sure.
On Thursday, May 23rd, CAFE Okanagan will celebrate the founding of the chapter and the visionaries who brought the not-for-profit to our city. The dinner will be hosted at the historic Hotel Eldorado, located in the heart of the Mission, on the sunny shores of Okanagan Lake. They are pleased to welcome Nick Arkle, Chief Forester of Gorman Bros. Lumber, as the Keynote Speaker.
CAFE, as a result, is the voice of family business in Canada. For more information, visit cafecanada.ca.
The Canadian Association of Family Enterprise (CAFE) is Canada’s only national not-for-profit that celebrates and supports family business. Founded in 1983, it has grown to include 14 chapters from Vancouver Island to Nova Scotia. The organization facilitates peer interaction, allowing family business members to share experiences and learn from each other. CAFE also creates a community of families and professionals who can provide technical solutions and expertise to help families in business succeed.
I sent Dominic Ramponi an email asking about his new home in Saskatchewan where the family has a number of Budget Blind stores. His family live in Yorkton and he is always really involved in the community.
The job situation is something out here. On a website called saskjobs.ca there are 12,000 unfilled jobs in the province of Saskatchewan. One farm equipment dealer in Yorkton is offering a $5000 signing bonus for a mechanic. If not for people from the Philippines, India and Mexico some of the fast food places would have to close.
A 2000 sq.ft. house brand new is selling for around the $500,000.00 mark and some of the old people cannot believe it. Things are going well here. With diamonds, potash, oil and uranium what else does a person want?
A Hutterite colony from Alberta just bought 20,000 acres about an hour from here. Chinese investment companies are also buying up farm land and a lot of the hotels in Sask. are owned by Korean investment companies.
It is truly refreshing when I attend any function with the Premier of Sask., MLA., MP, or the Mayor of Yorkton. The first things out of their mouths is something about Agriculture. The elected officials in BC should take a lesson from the counterparts out here.
No food, no life. Why do people move to the Okanagan? It is because of the orchards, vineyards, fresh produce and grand open spaces on our land and our hillsides.
When you where talking about bacon, if you ever get a chance try Harvest meats bacon from Yorkton. The best bacon ever! A bit expensive but worth it - so are their wieners. A huge operation.
A company called T & A Foods is exporting flax oil to China and around the world. A good success story.
Note: We have been eating Harvest bacon and wieners for years. Coopers brought them into the marketplace.
May 9, 2013 / 5:00 am
It has been quite an up and down two weeks for the executive at Loblaws as the chairman of the board Galen Weston and his board members tried to figure the next move in the never ending public relations drama that has gripped the company. When the news hit the wires two weeks ago they became front and center in the story from Bangladesh were hundreds of people were killed in a clothing factory that wasn’t built to the code and was three stories higher than the city approved.
The factory according to all reports was a garment producer for many brands in the world and about thirty major companies were buying from them. Only one hit the fan, Joe Fresh, the Canadian brand owned by Loblaws.
Unfortunately for them the media just clamped on that association and used their name in every story that was written while the other retailers stayed hidden in the background. Loblaws took the brunt of the negative stories but they were also first to come forward with ideas on how they could help the families that were suffering the losses.
There is no question it was heart breaking story with everything that happened in Bangladesh and yet we know these agents that sell this service to world retailers can’t be trusted. Yet we deal with them in most cases because of the price, delivery and the quality of goods they can produce. Look in your closet, there is likely something there that is produced in that country and it probably carries name brand identification because of the way we shop - always looking for the best deal. Over the years we have had a tremendous rag trade right here in cities like Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal which couldn’t compete anymore and closed shop. This was a big industry in this country.
Unfortunately for the Canadian chain Loblaws most of the news stories written about the terrible tragedy in Bangladesh were probably written by young reporters with little or no background and taking a shot at the big giant felt good. This is a solid Canadian company who have never had to face this type of crisis in the past and don’t want it to ever happen again. They mean what they say and will go in and help these families as best as they can. It is first and foremost on their agenda.
For the Weston family this is a crisis like no other. All the PR people in the world can’t help in a situation like this but their company itself has to follow the rules that they have made for themselves as an outstanding contributor to Canada all these years. Tell the truth about it and get something done to help.
It is difficult to adjust to this story because of those involved with Canada’s dairy producers, manufacturers and large pizza chains that make our fresh pies everyday. For certain I haven’t seen this happen before but the pizza folks took the dairy men and ladies to court to get permission to take advantage of the price of mozzarella cheese on the world market. The pizza argument was that they could buy pizza sealed packets with enough real cheese and pepperoni to make one pizza for over thirty percent less than they could from their suppliers in Canada, and they won.
You know all about the marketing board for dairy and cheese and how they have controlled the price of these products on the shelf of your grocery store. The best example was going across the border at Langley and arriving at the first dairy on the American side and the prices of the products were half of what we are paying every day.
The Quebec led marketing board for the dairy industry in this country is very powerful and controls the flow of raw milk from every milk producer in this country. It can be costly is you don’t follow the rules. It can also be a very rewarding business to be in. There is no real competition in the milk industry.
This Mozzarella purchased from the world market should lower the prices of the packaged pizza from companies like McCain’s. Major pizza makers like Pizza Pizza out of Toronto expect to reap the benefits. I don’t know how far down the line those new prices will go.
I did hear that Harry McWaters, one of the people who made this wine industry in B.C. work like it has for all these years, is going back into the business of wine making. He is one of the most respected men in the industry which has grown to a major industry in this province. It will be good news for the industry like everything else Harry has done over the years.
Across Western Canada, Target opened 21 stores from Manitoba to B.C. Basically the stores were ready to open so out went the order. The store in Vernon also opened - it is what they call a soft opening. This where they work out all the bugs for a few days. The actual official opening of the stores will be May 24.
We are still working on a July date for the store in Kelowna at Orchard Plaza for its opening. The contractors are to turn the finished store over to the Target people on the 25th of the month. Then the store needs a thorough cleaning and the islands set in place etc. After that the crew moves in to load the shelves. I was thinking as I was writing that there must be a lot of eighteen wheelers with Target merchandise on them for delivery to all these stores in the west. With the experience they have had in the East these stores will go through the same circumstances as these new Canadian customers clean off the shelves and in come the shelf loaders to stock the shelves again.
I didn’t realize that one of the stores opening this week, the store in Coquitlam is the biggest store in Canada for Target with 120,000 sq. ft. Most of the stores will be in the 114,000 sq. ft. range.
Targets plans for Canada are that 124 stores will be completed this year. The American retailer, one of the giants of retail in the U.S., expects to have 200 stores in Canada over the next decade.
A typical Canadian store will employ 150 to 200 workers. Targets will employ over 27,000 people by the end of the year.
You can’t miss this show “One Hit Wonders” at the Creekside Theatre in Lake Country this Saturday. I really have liked watching this show perform all that music for the 60s and 70s. The band is a swinging group of pro musicians who like what they have put together as a show and you can tell from the first number. Their leader Rann Berry was in a horrific car accident earlier in the year and he is back and ready to go. It’s amazing.
You will enjoy everything about this show from start to finish. Call the box-office at 250-868-7680.
I received an e-mail from my friend on the flight from Vancouver to Kelowna last weekend. It simply said, “Traveling to Kelowna with the amazing Race Canada crew.” They did indeed come to Kelowna for a day of filming for the show. The show opens on CTV July 15.
May 2, 2013 / 5:00 am
It has been quite a week. I got a new computer; I think it is the third one I have owned. I remember when I had my first one and my granddaughter, she was twelve at the time, taught me how to use it. This time our IT guy Gary Scott, of Scottek Computer Services built this one. After having looked after us for a number of years he made it work for me. I realized as he installed the machine and moved programs around that I am really dumb when it comes to computers. These people connected to the business have a language of their own. I am not part of that world although I have tried to be more and more. My oldest daughter in Edmonton said, “Dad, you just have to learn all the new things and you’ll be okay.”
It is a new world with the smart phone manufacturers ready with a new product it seems every month. It doesn’t seem to matter what the price is, these people who line up and look like they couldn’t afford a good dinner have whatever it takes to be new and in style all the time. Money seems to be the least of their problems. This is a different world.
I know at my age I will never be any different and I’ll keep plugging along living the good life as I see it.
Did you watch the Juno Awards last week? I like to catch the first hour if I can. There was a huge crowd and some very good staging. Michael Buble wrote the script for the show and you could tell. It was bad and he should never think he can become a comedian.
It just doesn’t work for him and the very same thing happens when he does an interview and he tries to be funny. He is a good entertainer and I enjoy the albums I have. However, I am not sure about this new one.
The real problem was with the CTV network that opened the show from Regina. There were sound difficulties so we couldn’t hear the first five minutes because the sound was all goofy and that’s unusual for big productions like that.
I hope Michael doesn’t screw up a brilliant career like Diana Krall did. She came from doing her jazz albums to working with her husband. He wrote some new jazz tunes and I didn’t buy the album. I have six of her albums going back a few years to the beginning. I like her husband and watched his TV show religiously. He is not in the same category as his wife.
Anyway, back to Michael. You have everything going for you, have sold millions and millions of albums, sold out shows and world tours. Everyone in that business wants to grow you have got lots of time.
Neither one of them has booked dates in Kelowna for their new tours.
As I travel around the desk I find all kinds of story ideas on pieces of yellow note paper...
I talked about this a couple of years ago and I just wanted to inform you again of the Kaibigan Restaurant at Gordon and KLO in the Mission. Nice people and the food is good. Romeo the father is the chef and he cooks both Asian and Filipino menus and I like the food as he watches the salt for me. Mongolian Beef and Mushrooms is to die for.
Like any family starting a new business they all work hard, persevere and are happy to be here. Nice people, good food.
While I am watching the news in my office during the day and on what else but CNN, I have figured out that it really doesn’t take much to be a spy. None of this James Bond stuff - simply a comfortable chair, two or three TVs and a couple of coolers. Watch the news. Have a beer, some chips and keep up with what’s going on. CNN promised that whatever is happening in the world they will have experts on the job in ten minutes. It doesn’t seem to matter what the problem may be, CNN has them locked in a room waiting for Wolf to call.
Burger King sold its Canadian division, including 94 company owned restaurants. An investment firm in Quebec, as part of the agreement, will implement a new restaurant opening program and an aggressive restaurant remodeling strategy.
Founded in 1954, Burger King is the world's second-largest, fast-food hamburger chain with more than 12,900 locations in 86 countries and territories.
In addition to the 94 corporate stores in Canada, the chain has about 200 franchise locations across the country.
I believe the restaurant in Orchard Plaza has been there over thirty years.
My sources in Phoenix, AZ now tell me there are fewer foreclosures. Canadians can still find deals but the window is slowly closing. Canadians have taken advantage of the opportunity and hundreds of people from this valley now have a second home in Phoenix . One real estate agent who has dealt with Canadians for years on property there has said that the supply of homes for sale is down considerably where as it was high three or four months ago.
The pork producers must be singing a happy song as the fast food restaurants and even those that are not in that group are using bacon like never before. Wendy’s started it all with their Banconater. The first time I saw my grandson eat one of those monsters I couldn’t believe it.
Just when salty bacon is off my list of things to eat and I love bacon crispy! It got me thinking about the way my grandmother would make crispy toast in the frying pan with bread and the bacon grease that was already there. It was terrific. Who new anything about health in those days? Let me say it was delicious.
Now some genius’ have decided that things like cupcakes and ice cream taste better with bacon. Good grief.
This is going to be a difficult allergy season. Let me put that another way, it is already a hard allergy season. It sure has hit me and the sneezing and coughing is steady. The start of tree pollination varies across the province with these cold spells. The experts tell me there is more pollen that last year. I certainly agree with that.
Read more John Thomson articles
- John Thomson's I Didn't Know That! Apr 25
- John Thomson's I Didn't Know That! Apr 18
- John Thomson's I Didn't Know That! Apr 10
- John Thomson's I Didn't Know That! Apr 4
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