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Revite taking shape

With paving and intersections complete at Nanaimo Avenue and Westminster Avenue, the downtown revitalization of Penticton's Main Street is taking shape.

Crews are installing paving bricks around each of the intersection corners, and this week a grass plaza by Starbucks should near completion.

This week should see new street lights become operational, installation of signs, hanging baskets and line painting on the 200 block.

“We should be able to give a more definitive timeline later this week as to when cars can access the 200 block. The contractors have done a great job staying ahead of schedule," said Mayor Andrew Jakubeit. 

Crews have also worked to reduce the impact on accessibility and business interruption, he said.

"It is always difficult to have an ongoing construction project in the middle of downtown without causing some disruptions to people's routines. We want to thank everyone for their patience and support.”

An official ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the project's completion is slated for 10 a.m. June 18.

More information on the project can be found here.

Joy of beekeeping

A passion for beekeeping runs deep in Janelle Dunn's family.

Her father has been a beekeeper for years and she is carrying on the tradition, here in Penticton.

"You're always learning and there are so many important things to discover about the bees and the natural landscape, " said Dunn.

Her father Bill Parchomchuk started beekeeping whe he was 14 at the Vernon 4-H club and has been a beekeeper on and off his whole life.

Dunn realized it was what she wanted to do when she came back to the Okanagan, after attending university in Victoria. 

"I realized I had an opportunity to take part in agriculture in a way that develops a relationship with the land and the people," she said. "So I followed my dad into it."

These days she and her husband Kevin Dunn operate Okanagan Wildbrush Honey.

They bring honey bees into orchards and sell honey and other beehive products like pollen, beeswax and propolis.  

Beekeeping is especially important in this day and age with one/third of the food people eat relying directly on insect pollination.

"Our cherry and apple industry in the Okanagan is completely reliant on honey bee pollination," said Dunn. "And I believe it is important to build a sustainable food economy here."

Dunn can be found at the Community Market in Penticton every Saturday.

In February she will teach a course on beekeeping at Okanagan College in Penticton.


Good times at Half Corked

There were plenty of good times to be had at the Half Corked Marathon in Oliver on Saturday.

About 1,000 people ran the 18km, stopping at 15 Oliver Osoyoos Winery Association member winery stations along the way.

The finish line party then offered another 24 winery stations.

Best costumes included the cast from Alice in Wonderland, Beetlejuice and Indiana Jones and the rolling boulder.

"We are thrilled to see the community come together for this fantastic annual event, which sees 1000 runners, many in amazing costumes, weave through the vineyards of Oliver Osoyoos Wine Country," said Tony Munday, executive director of the association. "A big thank you to our runners, sponsors and volunteers for making it happen."

Rock out for Fort Mac

A big fundraiser for those impacted by the wildfire in Fort McMurray is happening in early June in Penticton.

Okanagan Experiential Tourism Events, Barefoot Beach Resort and the Skaha Beach Club Pub and Grill are presenting Rockin The Beach, a classic rock tribute night.

The event will feature Forever Young, (Neil Young Tribute), and Breakdown, (Tom Petty Tribute).

Others are Sarah McLachlan, (Niki Martinus of Who's Your Daddy), Jimi Hendrix, (Billy Walker), Ann Wilson, Heart, (Jill Fai of Timbre Wolves), Bon Scott AC/DC, (Doug Cunningham), Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie, Fleetwood Mac, (Michelle LaFrance and Susan Parenteau of Campfire Junkies) and Jim Morrison and Plant/Page, (Mason Burns of Cosmic Brew).

A donation will be made to the Red Cross from the fundraiser, slated to take place on the Skaha Beach Stage at Barefoot Beach Resort.

Advance tickets are available at Yaki's Pizza in Summerland, Bad Tattoo Brewery in Penticton or online at experiential tourism.ca/tribute. 

The event starts at 7 p.m. on June 10.


Financing for hospital

The green bond issued to finance Penticton Regional Hospital’s new patient care tower and parkade is one of only two issuance to date for B.C. public-private partnership projects.

Finance Minister Michael de Jong announced, Thursday, this issuance builds on the success of the North Island Hospitals Project in 2014, which was the first time a green bond funded a public-private partnership in North America and the first time a green bond financed public infrastructure in Canada.

Green bonds are similar to traditional bonds, but the proceeds are used exclusively for projects with environmental benefits.

"B.C. is a recognized leader in innovative public infrastructure delivery through partnerships with the private sector," said de Jong. "Using a green bond to fund the new patient-care tower and parkade at Penticton Regional Hospital adds another dimension of social and environmental responsibility."

The 32.2 year bond was issued by EllisDon Infrastructure and raised approximately $130 million toward construction of the new tower.

Based on the EllisDon bid, the capital budget for the project is now $312.5 million.

The Okanagan-Similkameen Regional Hospital District is providing $117 million, the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation is contributing $20 million, while Interior Health is providing $14.4 million and the provincial portion is $161.1 million.

The bond issue was entirely subscribed by one Canadian life insurance company that was attracted by B.C.’s triple-A credit rating, leadership in green building and innovative approach to public-private partnerships.

EllisDon Infrastructure was selected by Interior Health as the preferred proponent for the partnership.

They began site work in May, with major construction on the tower expected to begin in August 2016.

The tower is scheduled to open for patients in spring 2019.


Caught with gun, drugs

A Penticton man is facing a number of charges after being pulled over by police, Wednesday morning.

Members of the newly formed Penticton Targeted Enforcement Unit became suspicious after observing the man driving a vehicle with wrong plates.

Officers stopped the 26-year-old in the 1400 block of Penticton Avenue.

There, police seized a loaded sawed off shot gun and drugs along with drug selling paraphernalia.

The man was identified as Warren Taylor Johannesen-Quail, who is known to Penticton RCMP.

He now faces a number of charges from the motor vehicle act, criminal code and controlled drugs and substances act.

Johannesen-Quail remains in custody following the incident.

"It's always great to get a prolific offender, a dangerous weapon and drugs off of our streets" said Cpl. Scott Vanevery of the TEU.

His next court appearance is scheduled for June 1, in Penticton.

Building cycling awareness

The Penticton mayor joined Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen representatives, RCMP officers and local cyclists on a bike ride in the city, Friday.

The awareness ride took place before the upcoming Bike to Work Week Penticton.

"It's just to let drivers know there are going to be a lot more cyclists on the streets of Penticton next week," said Karina Chambers, coordinator of the Penticton week.

She added as it will be Bike to School Week, people should be aware there will be children out riding bikes, as well.

On Friday, the cheerful participants, led by Penticton and Area Cycling Association president Laura Harp, started out at Penticton Secondary School and followed bike routes going down Government Street and South Main Street.

They then looped around behind Walmart, back to the bike routes to finish where they started.

Louise Blais, organizer of She Rides Penticton and member of the Transportation Advisory Committee, said she was there because she and others on the committee take cycling safety very seriously.

"I teach women who are just starting out cycling how to be comfortable on the road," she said. "So we want to increase awareness of cycling for both the community and recreational cyclists."

RCMP Cpl. Ted Manchulenko said when officers have the time and resources they enjoy getting out to promote bike safety.

Mayor Andrew Jakubeit described the ride as a good way to kick off Bike to Work Week.

"We want to encourage people to cycle to work, school or play even if they do it just for one day a week," he said. "A healthy active mind, equals a productive mind."

For more information on Bike to Work Week in Penticton, May 30 to June 5, go here.

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