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Conservatives elect Penticton man

Conservative party members in the South Okanagan elected a candidate to run in the new South Okanagan West Kootenay riding.

Marshall Neufeld expressed his sincere appreciation to Conservative Party members in the new riding of South Okanagan West Kootenay, who turned out by the hundreds and elected him by a margin of 88% as their candidate in the next federal election.

“I knew there was strong support. I was confident," said Neufeld. "Our team worked hard right from day one. However, I am overwhelmed by the tremendous turn out and by the final results.”

A total of 649 party members voted in nomination meetings held in Castlegar, Grand Forks, Osoyoos and Penticton.

“I am honoured and humbled to receive such a strong mandate from the party membership,” said Neufeld. “It gives me great confidence moving forward toward the next federal election.”

In his speech to the membership prior to the vote, Neufeld noted that this new riding of SOWK is winnable for the Conservative Party...“If there is a high enough voter turnout.” He appealed to the membership to not become apathetic and that, with their help, we can win this seat together.

“Now the real work begins,” concluded Neufeld.





Feds help fund Penticton bridge

The federal government has kicked in an additional $2.4 million to help build a bridge across the southern part of the Okanagan River channel.

The Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, Bernard Valcourt today announced a federal government investment in support of the Penticton Indian Band and the construction of a new bridge over the Okanagan River Channel in British Columbia.

The Satikw Crossing will provide access from Highway 97 to the Channel Lands and is part of a long term economic strategy that will create up to $2 million in annual revenue for the Band and over 600 jobs in the next 10 years.

“Our Government’s investment in the Satikw Crossing is an important economic asset that will benefit the entire community and is a clear demonstration of our commitment to working with First Nations to create the conditions for stronger, healthier, more self-sufficient communities," said Valcourt.

The strategy also includes future development plans of retail space, 270,000 square feet of business/light commercial space, and a 150 room hotel.

The project is expected to be tendered by November 2014. Penticton Indian Band Chief Jonathan Kruger could not comment on how much the PIB has contributed to the project before it is put to tender.

"It means a lot. We've been talking about making a bridge for years and it's finally coming to reality," said Kruger. "A lot of traffic is going to West Kelowna and Kelowna because we don't have a lot of that shopping."

Expanding opportunities for First Nations to fully participate in the economy is a priority for the Government of Canada. The federal government will contribute $2.4 million to support construction of the bridge through its Community Opportunity Readiness Program. 

"This is a really good day and to get some funding from Canada towards the bridge project is certainly good news." he said. "Penticton is the hub of the South Okanagan and we need to work together to create that capital for the South Okanagan."

The Government previously contributed $500,000 to support engineering and design work for the bridge.



Merritt to receive power plant

Merritt is to be the site of a new 40 megawatt, biomass-fired power plant for BC Hydro.

Merritt Green Energy Limited Partnership announced Friday that it has closed on its financing for the Merritt Green Energy Project, a $235 million investment.

An Environmental Appeal Board document indicates the plant will be built "on land at the intersection of Houston Street and Midday Valley Road in Merritt," adjacent to the Tolko Industries yard.

The project will sell power under a 30-year electricity purchase agreement to BC Hydro and, with financing in place, has now moved into its construction phase with commercial operation expected in October 2016.

BC Hydro put the project to tender several years ago and have since been upgrading the power grid in Merritt to be able to connect to the new facility.

Merritt Green Energy Project’s developers and equity investors are Fengate Capital Management Ltd.(Fengate) and Dalkia Canada Inc.

Project debt financing of $180 million was sourced from five leading project finance banks: Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ (Coordinating Bank), Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, National Bank of Canada (Administrative Agent), Natixis and Rabobank. 

The Merritt Green Energy Project will consume approximately 200,000 tonnes (dry) of biomass fuel – mostly sawmill waste – annually to generate more than 285,000 MWh of renewable electricity. 

That's enough to power more than 40,000 homes for a year.

Fuel will be sourced mainly from local saw mill waste, but could also come from "roadside debris" which is defined as slash piles in logging areas. 

Vice president and head of western operations for Dalkia Canada Fadi Oubari said roadside debris would be a fuel source of last resort. 

The plant will use state-of-the-art emissions reduction equipment. 

The facility will be operated by Dalkia under a long-term operations and maintenance agreement. Fuel will be provided by local partners, including Tolko Industries, under a long-term fuel supply agreement.

Don Hanson, communications manager for Tolko said "We're really a small partner in that whole Dalkia project. But it will represent a significant amount of our waste."

Tolko's waste already goes to co-generation plants in Armstrong and Kelowna he said, but could not comment on how much the supply agreement is worth to Tolko Industries.

This project will also create around 250 jobs during the construction phase and 80 new direct and indirect jobs during the plant’s 30-year operation.

In addition, Merritt Green Energy Limited Partnership has signed an Impact Benefits Agreement with the Lower Nicola Indian Band, which will provide employment and investment opportunities. 

“B.C.’s economic future is bright and will require additional power, and we are excited to be part of the province’s burgeoning green energy sector,” said Oubari. “We look forward to working with the community of Merritt, our supply partners and First Nations on building this plant and generating green energy for British Columbians."

The Merritt Green Energy Project is the second biomass plant project being developed in British Columbia by Dalkia and Fengate. In November 2013, they announced the financial close on the $235 million, 40 MW Fort St. James Green Energy Project, which is expected to begin operations in July 2016. 

Oubari said the two projects are really one for Dalkia Canada. "We are using the same equipment, the same design, the same builder - there were lots of synergies on these projects that help reduce maintenance and replacement costs."

Dalkia and Fengate have now invested $470 million in the province on green energy projects.

“The potential for generating green energy from wood waste is significant in British Columbia, which is why we are investing in this sector,” says George Theodoropoulos, Managing Director of Fengate Capital Management. “Both the Merritt and Fort St. James Green Energy Projects will provide reliable green energy to BC Hydro and create employment opportunities in both regions.”

Oubari said Dalkia Canada is looking at other energy related projects, but said that "none are as imminent as these two."





Gaza rally in Penticton

A rally for Gaza and West Bank to end the killing and occupation took place on Friday in Penticton.

The gathering at the corner of Main Street and Nanaimo Avenue was organized by resident Carolyn Kidd.

"My intention is this is the first of many rallies or gatherings to show support for the end of conflict in Palestine," she said."I fully support a self determination and statehood for Palestine as per the International Court of Justice."

The rally comes on the same day that the U.N. chief and the U.S. Secretary of State made a new attempt to nail down a temporary truce between Israel and Hamas, as Israel's 18-day military occupation on the Gaza Strip fueled new unrest in the West Bank, where five Palestinians were killed during protests.

Kidd said she has been following the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for many years, reading about it and listening to what journalists who are there are saying.

It was the recent conflict that triggered her taking public action, she said.

"There weren't any rallies or gatherings, so I decided this Monday to do something on Friday," she said. "I made posters and spread them around town, posted information on Facebook and talked to as many people as I could."

On Friday she was joined by friends and supporters, carrying signs with such messages as "no more killing, no more Israeli occupation," and "end the siege,' and said she was receiving positive feedback from passerbys.

"People are being encouraging and thanking me for being here," she said.

To learn more about Israel and Palestine, she urges people to watch Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein and Chris Hedges on You Tube and go to independent news sites such as democracy now.org. 

She further asks that people contact MP Dan Albas at (250) 770-4480, to let him know where they stand on the occupation.



Market welcomes liquor vendors

The Penticton Farmers' Market will make room for two liquor vendors beginning Saturday, July 26.

Marketing Manager Erin Trainer says because of space, only two vendors will be allowed at the market each week.

Cannery Brewing and Tyler Harlton Wines have been granted spots Saturday.

Space is being made available on a rotating basis with preference given to those who first applied.

Trainer says they have already filled up spaces for the next month.

In response to a City Council bylaw amendment allowing liquor tastings at outdoor markets, the Penticton Farmers' Market sent out a brief media release Friday updating the process.

  • All of the stalls for the 2014 season were assigned to members of the Penticton Farmers' Market earlier this year. When members choose not to come on any given weekend, vendors are rotated into the market from the list of casual vendors (fill-ins). The market had previously stated that liquor vendors could apply as casual vendors in the “farmer” category. They are now welcome to apply under the “prepared food” category, which opens the door for more liquor vendors. To apply, liquor vendors must fill out the “casual vendor application form” on the Penticton Farmers' Market website. All applications are forwarded to the board for careful consideration.
  • Given the limited space and membership, the market is able to host two liquor vendors per week. This number will likely increase as more space becomes available. Depending on demand, liquor vendors will be rotated into the market based on order of application and appropriateness.
  • The Penticton Farmers' Market only operates in the 100 Block of Main St. The Community Market is in the 200, 300 and 400 Blocks of Main St. and along Front St. This is a separate market operated by the Downtown Penticton Association.
  • The primary focus of the Penticton Farmers' Market is to serve small-scale farmers. 2014 is a trial year for liquor vendors, and the market appreciates everyone's patience.

Because of the new regulations Trainer says the market is looking to fast track expansion plans.

She says meetings are scheduled with City Hall next week to discuss expansion options.



No booze for Boonstock

According to a statement issued Friday by Ray Tetzel, Assistant Deputy General Manager, Compliance and Enforcement Division, Liquor Control and Licensing Branch, Boonstock is not getting its liquor license.

“After working with the RCMP and festival organizers, and reviewing the event’s safety and security plan, the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch is not confident that potential safety concerns identified with the Boonstock festival have been sufficiently addressed. As such, we will not be approving its liquor application.

Public safety is of paramount importance for any large-scale public events and the LCLB will not consider a licence application when security cannot be planned or communicated adequately.

This is a new event to the region and that’s why public safety officials worked hard to try and assist Boonstock organizers, providing them with guidance on what gaps needed to be filled to ensure that any potential risks were addressed. Unfortunately these risks remain outstanding.”

Mark Ziebarth, chair of the Boonstock Entertainment and Arts Society, said in response: "Boonstock Productions has posted a statement on Facebook saying, in effect, we have been thrown another bureaucratic curveball which we'll address and resolve. The show is on next week.

The RCMP and Penticton Indian Band have approved the security plan that liquor bureaucrats find fault with. We remain confident that Boonstock will deliver a fantastic and safe experience to our festival-goers next week."

The festival is slated to be held on the August long weekend in Penticton. On Friday, work was underway preparing the site for the festival.

 

 



Wine awards given out

BC Lt. Gov. Judith Guichon paid a visit to the Howling Bluff Estate Winery in Penticton on Friday to present an award of excellence.

The award was given to owner Luke Smith and his son Daniel for their 2013 Summa Quies Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Semillon.

Smith, who has won twice before for his Pinot Noir, was thrilled to get the recognition.

"The exciting thing about this is my flagship red has won and now my flagship white has won," said Smith, who was joined at the event by several family members.

The morning visit included a brief speech by Guichon, who was quick to praise the Smith family.

"It's a family business," she said. "The family is mentoring the next generation and passing on a love of the land. It's special to see people who are following their passion. He, (Smith), had the courage to drop everything he was doing and start fresh."

Twelve wines in all were chosen for the 2014 Lieutenant Governor's Awards for Excellence in British Columbia Wines.

This year was the largest competition in the 12-year history of the awards, with 436 wines submitted from 119 wineries across the province.

Guichon is visiting the winning wineries this week to present the awards. 

They include:

  • Hester Creek Estate Winery in Oliver for its Block 2 Reserve Merlot 2011
  • Bonamici Cellars in Okanagan Falls for its Merlot Cabernet Franc 2012
  • Kraze Legz Vineyards and Winery in Kaleden for its Skaha Vineyard Unoaked Chardonnay 2013
  • Pentage Winery in Penticton for its Syrah Reserve 2010
  • Ruby Blues Winery in Penticton for its Viognier 2013
  • Laughing Stock Vineyards in Penticton for its Portfolio 2011
  • 8th Generation Vineyard in Summerland for its Riesling 2012
  • Okanagan Crush Pad Winery in Summerland for its Haywire Canyonview Pinot Noir 2011
  • Wayne Gretzky Okanagan in Kelowna for its The Great Red 2011
  • Quail's Gate Winery in West Kelowna for its Stewart Family Reserve Chardonnay 2012
  • Fort Berens Estate Winery in Lillooet for its Riesling 2012

"The outstanding qualities of wines in British Columbia impresses our wine judges each year and makes the selection increasingly difficult," said Guichon. "This year's winners represent the best of the exceptional wines from our province."



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