Tuesday, September 30th13.7°C

Snow day in September

Own a ski like no one else. 

That is the promise of a new company in Penticton called Snoday. Their method of operation? Hand-building customized skis and snowboards tailor-made from the core materials to the wooden veneers on top. 

Founder John Hromyk and production manager Len Stebner rolled up the bay doors of their workshop at Winnipeg and Westminster (behind Dogtown Coffee) in July and after some renovations, have been crafting custom planks ever since. 

For Stebner, a cabinet maker by trade, it's all about quality craftsmanship at every step of the process.

"We're making sure all our lumber is FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified; all tested with a moisture meter. We are selecting everything by hand. We put no finger joints in our cores - just making sure it's a good, sound, solid product," he said. "Quality will be the highest it can be."

The wood they use comes from all over Canada, with some coming from the US. 

The veneers Stebner uses for a top sheet can be sourced from a variety of types of wood and made into a custom design for each person or company.

"You get options for getting different exotic (wood) but again, we're not buying anything that people had to die to harvest. Everything is certified."

It takes some time to develop a pair of skis and it involves what Hromyk describes as a "fairly lengthy" consultation with the individual. 

At the end of the day, a pair of skis will cost between $895 and $1195 and a snowboard is closer to $600 to $800, depending on the level of customization. 

"It's the same price as a performance ski off the rack, but with Len's beautiful inlay work, the term 'functional art' comes to mind. That's what this is," Hromyk said. "It's not in everybody's price range, we get that and there are options that provide the exact same ski, just without this next level of finishing."

Last year they were invited to testing for the 2015 Ski Canada Magazine buyer's guide. They were the only boutique manufacturer competing against industry giants like Head and Atomic. 

"It was amazing being out there with those guys and we held our own," Stebner said. "Having ski testers come back with smiles on their faces with our skis on was amazing."

Hromyk said there's a real competitive heritage that goes into all their products.

"We'd love to have the best in the world work on our designs," he said. 

The company recently signed a development deal with Chris Atkinson, a skier on the Canadian national half-pipe team and a two-time X-Games competitor. Hromyk said Atkinson's eyes are on the Olympics in three years, and it could be on Snoday skis.  

"Over the summertime we put together a development program where we could use his insights and build his prototype pipe skis, and he's in New Zealand right now testing his prototypes," Hromyk said. "Every morning it's exciting because he sends back information as to how they're going and we already have things to tweak for his next pair."

The company got its start in Cochrane, Alberta a few years ago but was having trouble breaking into the BC market. They maintain a boutique shop there, but their production facility is now in Penticton.  

"We were getting great response from the Alberta market and little niches around the world, but for whatever reason, BC hadn't awoken to us," Hromyk said. 

Now situated near Apex, Big White, Silverstar, Sun Peaks and a short distance from Whistler, they're anchored in the local market. 


Fifth annual Culture Days

A book reading by a local author will kick off the fifth annual Culture Days in Penticton Friday night.

Culture Days is a national celebration of arts and culture which began in 2009. It was inspired by the success and impact of Journees de la Culture, held in Quebec since 1997.

Penticton's celebration will feature an anti-bullying workshop and book reading by local author Yam Cooper at the Leir House. 

His new book 'The Story of Bill and his House on the Hill' was inspired with the author's experiences with war and bullying when he grew up. 

"This story has many layers. With each reading, depending on their age, life skills and experience, the reader can discover the one that opens their mind or sparks an important lesson for life," says Cooper. "The book touches on many topics in a fun and engaging way. I hope to reach children before they become bullied or bullies, as Bill's story can positively influence their direction in life."

Culture Days raises the awareness, accessibility, participation and engagement of Canadians in the arts and cultural life of their communities.

With the support of volunteer groups at the national, provincial and local levels, hundreds of thousands of artists, cultural workers, organizations and groups, mobilize to host free participatory public activities that take place in hundreds of cities and towns throughout the country.

The event runs from Sept 26 to 28. 

Ski swap raises cash for patrol

Now is the time to get some new gear for the upcoming ski and snowboard season.

The Canadian Ski Patrol swap meet is back, raising money for the Apex ski patrollers.

Swap manager Tom Rahkola said local vendors had brought more discounted gear than ever before with booths from Pentagon, Freeride, the Bike Barn and the Apex Ski Shop set up. A portion of their proceeds are also being donated to the patrol.

Apex zone president Ian Bowen said the meet could bring in up to $20,000 for ski patrol operating costs. 

Also available at the swap are Apex season passes, which are in the final two weeks of early bird pricing. Early bird pricing ends Oct. 5.  

The swap meet is being held at the Penticton curling club beside the South Okanagan Events Centre at 505 Railway Street. 

It runs all weekend.

  • Friday      9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Saturday  9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Sunday    9 a.m. to 1 p.m.


ICBC asked to buck-up

Penticton council may have saved local taxpayers some money this week as a resolution was passed urging ICBC to restore full coverage for damages to City property.

The resolution to "urge the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to direct ICBC to reimburse the full costs of damages caused by their insured drivers," was passed on Wednesday's session of the Union of BC Municipalities conference. 

Sometime in 2013 ICBC decided it was no longer going to cover the full cost of repairing municipal structures damaged in vehicular incidents. Now they are only paying a reduced portion of wages, materials and equipment costs.

The City apparently found out about the change when they sent in a claim in Sept. 2013.

ICBC responded Feb. 3, 2014 with the new information, noting the changes were effective immediately and sent an adjusted invoice.

The issue was brought to council Feb. 17 and the resolution was endorsed by the Southern Interior Local Government Association. Later, the UBCM Resolutions Committee recommended support for the resolution to its membership and it was passed on Wednesday morning's session.

"ICBC is increasing our spending and we're saying that's inappropriate," Mayor Garry Litke said in an interview. "Local property gets damaged, a driver takes out a light pole, lights come down and that should be covered by insurance.

"We have to pay overtime for a guy to come out in the middle of the night to fix things, and ICBC just pays what they think it's worth and it's not enough." 

Litke said the city's budget did not include extra space for ICBC to change the rules. Now, making up the shortfall is costing taxpayers extra.

"In 2013 we invoiced ICBC $26,982.26 for property damage as a result of an ICBC-insured claim," said Simone Blais, communications officer with the City of Penticton. "They only paid $20,885.98 – reducing wages by 46 per cent as well as equipment and material costs."

Claims vary year-to-year depending on the nature of the accident and how many incidents are recorded.

"A quick investigation of previous years show that damages can vary between $20,000 and $100,000 – and many happen in evenings and during weekends, when overtime naturally occurs," Blais said.

Litke said it's unclear whether Minister Todd Stone will do anything about it. 

"Last year we passed a resolution on speed cameras in school zones and within 45 minutes the Premier made a statement saying it would never happen," he said. 

"Stone has made no comment on this one yet."

ICBC spokesperson Michelle Hargrave said ICBC has not made any changes to what they pay for in a claim, including claims made by municipalities.

"Any driver who causes damage to property is legally responsible for certain costs and, as their auto insurer, we will pay for those legally-obligated costs," she said in an email. "At the same time, we are always prepared to look at any individual claim where a municipality feels they haven’t been properly paid."



Gift of gab comes to market

The Penticton Toastmaster's club is holding a one-time-only event at the Farmer's Market on Saturday.

The Toastmaster's club is a non-profit worldwide organization that promotes communication and leadership through support and positive feedback. Saturday they will be challenging members of the public to speak in front of the crowd.

"Primarily the motivation was to help the public become aware of who we are and what we do," says club president Sean Wurz. "Toastmasters is known for public speaking, but I call it a personal and professional development program. You work on public speaking, listening skills, reaction skills, and leadership skills."

Wurz said he expects 10 to 12 members to be at the booth Saturday.

Speeches will begiven by members at 10 a.m., 11a.m. and 12 p.m. 

Members of the public will be dared to an impromptu speaking challenge on the half-hours. 

"We will be inviting members of the public to participate in that, we thought that would be fun."

Wurz said he joined Toastmaster's because BC billionaire Jimmy Pattison was an advocate of the program.
"I figured if it could help Jimmy Pattison, it could help me," he said. "And, I think it has."

The booth will be on the 200 block of Main Street near Nanaimo Avenue. 

Councillor chips in cycling plan

Cycling could be the new golf in the South Okanagan if one councillor's plan gains traction from the province.

This was the second year Penticton council brought the idea of designating the South Okanagan an official cycling destination to the UBCM conference.

Coun. Andrew Jakubeit said they're making more progress after each meeting.

"Part of last year's success was getting the Ministry of Transport to meet and designate common routes that cyclists use," he said.

Now council is at the next stage with the ministry, pushing for funding for way-finding signage, improved route maintenance and branding. 

"We wanted to move it forward from being a self-proclaimed destination, to a provincially recognized area and that's why we met with tourism and other stakeholders like Destination BC to help us with branding. It would be like the wine route signs already out there."

With designated routes and proper signage, Jakubeit said they could further develop those routes and increase rider safety. 

Jakubeit said Penticton should be capitalizing on sport tourism which works together with unique features of the local environment.

"There are not that many regions in BC that are like us: beautiful lake views, scenic vineyards, country roads and a car culture that is used to people out there training," he said. "People could come ride their bike in the morning and then go shopping or wine touring - it's adding to diversity."

Another part of encouraging sport tourism is to look into developing a provincial traffic management plan for sporting events. The goal would be to reduce costs for larger events, which might be discouraged by having to spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars devising their own plan.

"Cycling is the new golf and people are jumping on that bandwagon. There's huge potential here and we have an opportunity of leveraging it better than many other local communities."  

Broker steps up for council

A Penticton business leader has announced his intention to run for Penticton city council.

Campbell Watt is a mortgage broker with Dominion Lending. He is also the president of the Downtown Penticton Association and the Penticton and Wine Country Chamber of Commerce. He was voted Business Leader of the Year in 2013. 

Watt said the timing felt right to help with the leadership of the city.

"In another four years when I'm a touch older and my daughter is a touch older, I may have missed my window of opportunity," he said. 

"The reason I'm running is that through the Chamber and the DPA, I've seen, as an individual, I can make a difference. I believe that I will bring positive change to city council and I really look forward to trying to do that." 

He said one of his goals is to make it easier for businesses to open in Penticton. 

The municipal election will be held Nov 15.

Read more Penticton / S. Okanagan News


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