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Gov't cash for orchardists

The BC government is investing $8.4 million for a tree-fruit replanting program.

The program supports producers’ efforts to meet consumer demands for high-value and high-quality B.C. fruit.

Growers will be able to apply for grants beginning April 1, 2015 through to the 2021 season.

An estimated 1,500 acres of orchards will be replanted over the length of the program, providing an estimated 2,600 jobs each year in the Okanagan.

“The B.C. Fruit growers are the heart of the South Okanagan economy and one of the founding sectors of our region,” said Dan Ashton, MLA for Penticton. “This program extension ensure that growers will be able to continue to produce a wide-variety of fruits from cherries, stone fruits and unique B.C. apple varieties which are known around the world for their quality and exceptional taste. I encourage all local growers interested in the program to apply.”

“Our government and local growers worked hard together to ensure this program remains in place so B.C. fruit growers can implement long-term and sustainable tree fruit operations on their lands,” said Linda Larson, MLA for Boundary-Similkameen. “B.C. fruit production is a major economic driver in our region, with products grown right here in the South Okanagan, Boundary and Similkameen exported to markets in Asia, Europe and across North America. I am pleased to see this program extended.”

The new program builds on the recent success of growers who replanted low-value orchards with high-demand and high-quality varieties like Ambrosia apples and late-season cherries. 

B.C. growers produced Canada’s second largest tree fruit crop in 2013, generating almost $103 million in farm cash receipts.

Program applications and criteria will soon be available on the BC Fruit Growers Association website.



Mayor-elect lays out goals

Penticton Mayor-elect Andrew Jakubeit plans to hit the ground running in the weeks ahead.

His first order of business will be to just sit down with the new council and talk about current strategic priorities.

"I want to ensure that the downtown and waterfront revitalization are still key priorities for them, as well as any new ones they want to address," he said.

Jakubeit along with councillors Judy Sentes and Helena Konanz are the only incumbents returning to the council. The rest, Andre Martin, Tarik Sayeed, Max Picton and Campbell Watt, are newcomers.

The Mayor-elect talked about a mayor's select task force during his campaign, and hopes to see that come to fruition now.

"I want to have each councillor champion a cause, that they move forward on, on behalf of the council," he said. "And I want us as a council to implement what we talked about during the campaign, so it actually happens, and doesn't just get talked about again four years down the road."

Those primary causes would be creating more jobs and economic growth around the region, making the area more affordable and getting groups to work collaboratively together rather than individually.

On the Wednesday after the council is sworn in, Dec. 1, they will also go to each department and find out what they do, said Jakubeit.

At that time, they will be given budget binders.

But being that the council is mostly new, Jakubeit is not eager to rush the budget process that typically starts in December.

"I don't want to handcuff myself by saying put it off to January," he said. "I just don't want to be rushed through it, primarily because it's a new council, and I want to make sure they understand it. I want them to feel comfortable with what is being proposed."

He added they are starting off the budget process with a $500,000 deficit, less than in years past, so staff has already done a good job of sharpening pencils.

Jakubeit is looking forward to the process of rebuilding relationships between staff and council and council and the community, as well.

"I am excited with the group we have and truly think we can make things happen for Penticton," he said. "And I want to build that excitement into momentum."

Boonstock police bill not paid

Boonstock organizers have yet to pay the large policing bill that was issued in September, following the Penticton festival.

According to the Ministry of Justice, the province invoiced the promoter on Sept. 5 for $176,901.10, and no payment has been received yet.

"The province has been in contact with the promoters urging payment. The $250,000 that the RCMP have cited represents the total costs at 100 per cent; however, the province can only invoice for the costs it incurs at the 70 per cent provincial cost share ($176,901.10), and it is up to the federal government to invoice the remaining 30 per cent," said Perry Clark, executive director, policing and security branch, Ministry of Justice, in a statement. 

In September, the Penticton RCMP compiled their stats and completed a cost analysis of police operations directly related to the festival held over the August long weekend.

At the time they stated that not only did the policing role change due to security concerns, but so did the policing resources.

Initially estimated to cost around $200,000, the final two days required more officers in the event grounds to compensate for identified deficiencies, with the new policing cost evaluation just over $250,000. It is incumbent upon the promoter to reimburse the provincial government for these special event policing costs so that they do not become a burden to taxpayers, the statement further reads.

Boonstock organizers could not be immediately reached for comment on Friday. 

In September, they issued a statement on Facebook, regarding the RCMP bill:

"In response to the RCMP press release from Sept. 10, we would like to assure the taxpayers of Penticton, and of the province of British Columbia, that Boonstock Productions Inc. is responsible to pay for reasonable RCMP enforcement costs for the 2014 event.

We have a nine year track record of paying our RCMP service agreements in full.

On Sept. 5, the Ministry Of Justice, Police Services Division, delivered an invoice to us with a total owing of $176,901.10 and those amounts are due within 30 days of the date of the invoice.

We are in the process of requesting a resources breakdown of the RCMP services provided to Boonstock Productions Inc., including receipts and additional details of costs incurred."

The statement in its entirety is on the Boonstock Facebook page.




Loader burns in Princeton

The Princeton Fire Department kept a close eye on a business on Old Hedley Road, Thursday, after a loader fire earlier in the day.

Fire Chief Eric Gregson said a 930 cat loader burned at around noon, prompting the fire watch at the Princeton Co-Gen Corp-Pellet Plant.

"We were just keeping a watch on the whole building after that, because of the contents," he said.

Manager Richard White said the main concern was there could be a secondary fire because there is sawdust and shavings packed in the yard.

He describes the loss of the loader as an unfortunate incident.

It is also somewhat of a hardship.

"It will be expensive to replace but not the end of the world," he said.

The fire chief said the blaze was not suspicious and the cause remains under investigation.

Scary night at fiery apartment

Some tenants of the apartment building where a unit burned Thursday in Penticton remained displaced Friday, while others returned last night.

The female occupant of the unit where the fire started was also in hospital overnight. Her condition was not immediately available.

"The tenants of seven units were displaced and those tenants went to the Sandman," said Deputy Fire Chief Dave Spalding. "While most of the building was evacuated, some stayed in their units because they were not in any danger."

The tenants of the apartments at 803 Fairview Road are mostly seniors, he added.

The fire broke out around 4:13 p.m. in a fourth floor apartment in the building. It was mostly contained to that unit, but there was some smoke damage to the apartments below it and on either side.

The Penticton Fire Department, RCMP and BC ambulance responded to the scene, and the woman was taken from the scene by ambulance to hospital.

Residents who left the building were helped out in a staging area at the auditorium in the Penticton Library across the street.

"The staff kept looking outside and seeing people who looked cold," said Heather Buzzell, the chief librarian. "So we opened up the auditorium for the whole evening."

People were provided with social service assistance as well as given tea, coffee and cookies.

Many were badly shaken by the experience.

A tenant named Emil, who lives at the location with his wife Anne, said she heard the alarm, looked out the window and saw the fire coming out of the unit, one floor above and to the side.

"She went downstairs, and I started gathering items together and went down later," he said. "To her, my wife, it was scary, because she didn't know the extent of the fire."

Del Matos, caretaker for the apartments, said it was scary, because it is mostly seniors who live there and some had to get down in their wheelchairs.

Other than the people who went to the Sandman, the majority of the tenants were back home on Thursday night, he said.

This is the only time there has been a fire at the location, to the best of his knowledge.

"We've never had a fire here before," he said. "It's just a good thing it was earlier and not in the middle of the night."

Fire investigators and a restoration crew were at the scene on Friday morning. The cause of the blaze remains under investigation.

The most expensive wine in BC

One Faith Vineyards - A First Growth from the Okanagan Valley from Olaf Strassner on Vimeo.

If you love wine and money is not an issue, you now have a chance to be the first to own and drink BC's most expensive wine.

The Okanagan's first First Growth – a Grand Vin can be purchased in very limited supply for $495 per box of three bottles, which works out to $165 per bottle.

The One Faith Vineyards says they aimed to grow on the success the Okanagan has already had in producing first-rate Bordeaux varietals.

With that in mind the One Faith Vineyards team has crafted what they are calling the Okanagan's first First Growth - a Grand Vin ever made in British Columbia.

The man behind the vision is Bill Lui, a first-generation Canadian based in Vancouver, who built a successful medical supply business which allowed him to pursue his lifelong passion for wine.

"The singular goal at One Faith is to produce Canada's first First Growth, an exceptional wine of unparalleled quality,” says Lui who adds no expense was spared in the creation of One Faith.

Napa Valley-based winemaker Anne Vawter was hired to handcraft the premier release and Viticulturist Richard Cleave planted and has managed the site of the One Faith Vineyard on the Black Sage bench in the Southern Okanagan since 1992.

"I believe that they've not only accomplished but also exceeded their goal in producing Canada's finest wine. Of all my years in the wine business in BC, this is without a doubt, the most complex, well-balanced wine I've ever tasted from British Columbia, and for that matter, probably from all of Canada. It's elegant; it's got great finesse, depth of colour and depth of character. This is a solid gold,” says Harry McWatters, founder of TIME Estate Winery.

The winery says that One Faith is made entirely by hand and is extremely labour intensive. Each varietal lot, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, is fermented in premium first-use French oak barrels that deliver integrated notes.

"One Faith is the most aggressive winemaking project in the Okanagan Valley when it comes to sacrificing everything for quality. Bill is willing to do something that hasn't been done before. This is the Okanagan being pushed to its upper limits,” adds Anne Vawter, winemaker.

The 2012 One Faith Vineyards wine offers a complex depth of aromatics, with flavours suggesting chocolate, espresso, cassis, plum, vanilla and cedar. The palate is defined by a balance of fruit and spice, featuring layers of flavour, a supple texture and an exceptionally luxurious length.

The winery has produced just 144 cases of the 2012 One Faith, which is why the winery has limited sales to just three bottles per person.

The three bottle 'case' comes in a custom-milled bamboo, numbered-edition three-bottle-box.

If you are interested in purchasing the wine, check out their website.

Apartment fire


One is in hospital after a fire broke out on the fourth floor of an apartment building at 803 Fairview Rd. 

The lone occupant of the unit went to the hospital, but their condition is unknown.

"They were met by BC Ambulance on the street and taken to the hospital," said Deputy fire chief Dave Spalding.

"Crews showed up with two engines, made entry to the building and got the fire under control right away." 

The fire investigation will happen tomorrow to determine what started the fire, where it started and whether the alarm system was functional.

A fire broke out on the balcony of an apartment in Penticton Thursday afternoon.

Fire dispatch got the call for a fire at 803 Fairview Road around 4:15 p.m. Thursday.

Four fire vehicles are on scene fighting the blaze.

It is currently unknown if anyone was injured. 

More details to come.


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