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Mad about gas? You're to blame

Drivers in the South Okanagan might be wondering why gas is more expensive for them compared to other areas of the valley. It turns out, it could be their own fault.

On Friday, gas prices ranged from a low of 124.9 per litre for regular fuel in Kelowna, to a high of 135.9 in Osoyoos, and that has some citizens disgruntled.

"In Penticton, gasoline has been 133.9 for the last 3 weeks, while in Kelowna it was 126.9 and then was reduced to 124.9," said one caller to Castanet. "It seems very unfair that we're treated as second class citizens in Penticton."

According to Ross Hickey, assistant professor of economics at UBCO, there are a lot of variables at play when it comes to gas prices, but studies have shown them to be competitive.

"If the price of gas was the same everywhere you went in the Okanagan, the price of candy bars inside would be different," he said. "With gasoline retailers, even though the prices are varying, the market price that they pay differs depending on which kind of station they are and what arrangement they have with their supplier." 

Other variables include the relative wealth of a particular community. Hickey said in one course he taught at UBCO, he had students go buy common breakfast cereal from different stores around Kelowna. 

What they found is that a box of Fruit Loops cost more in the Mission area of Kelowna than it did in Rutland. The point is that retailers know they can charge more to certain groups and consumers reflect that by continuing to shop at that location, Hickey explained.

In Penticton, higher gas prices could reflect a more captive market, where residents may not travel up and down the valley as much. For example, if drivers were willing to go to West Kelowna for gas, they could get it for nearly 10 cents cheaper per litre.

Hickey argues that if drivers regularly did so, prices in Penticton might come down as retailers saw they were losing business. 

As long as people keep buying the product, the prices won't change.

To find your cheapest local gas source, check out Castanet's page here.




Festival time is here again

It’s that time of year again, where wine makers hunker down in their cellars to harvest this vintage’s fruit, and for the rest of us -- it’s festival season.

During the 34th annual Fall Okanagan Wine Festival, over 10,000 visitors will come to the region to take part in more than 125 events during the 10-day event, which kick's off Oct. 1.

Last year the grape harvest for BC’s 217 wineries was a record, at just over 31,000 tones, from approximately 10,000 acres of vineyards.  The vintage, for 2014, could be even more successful with 234 wine grape wineries now operating in the Okanagan.

According to Miles Prodan, President & CEO of the BC Wine Institute, sales of BC VQA wines are also at a record high, reaching 20.3 per cent this summer with growth outpacing overall wine sales growth and all other alcohol categories.

"The tremendous growth in BC VQA wine market share is attributed to winery direct sales - primarily tasting room purchases. That now represents the single largest channel for BC VQA dollar wine sales in British Columbia.”

New this year for the Fall Festival, the Valley First Grand Finale Consumer Tastings on October 10 and 11 in Penticton will  focus on what many consider to be one the best suited varietals for the Valley, Pinot. 

There will be a special Pinot Bar featuring Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc along with a new interactive sensory station staffed with instructors from Okanagan College’s Viticulture and Wine Studies program.

The largest festival event in the valley, the Grand Finale, will showcase over 80 wineries, two bands, gourmet Canadian cheeses, and two free fun and educational seminars – Wine 101 and Canadian cheese and wine pairings.
The festivities kick off with the Annual B.C. Wine Awards Reception on October 1 and wrap up on Thanksgiving, Monday October 13. Event and ticket information is available at

Movie extras wanted

Have you ever wanted to find yourself in front of the camera?

Here's your chance.

Vancouver based Sepia Films, in Kelowna filming the fourth installment of the Nightmare series, "A Wife's Nightmare," is looking for extras.

Scenes will be shot Monday.

Producers of the film are looking for about 100 students for scenes to be shot Monday morning in West Kelowna and about 35 people of any age for scenes on Bernard Avenue in Kelowna Monday evening.

If you are interested, email [email protected]

A Wives Nightmare stars Jennifer Beals (Flashdance), Spencer List, Katherine McNamera and Lola Tash.

The film is being produced by Tina Pehme and Kim Roberts while Vic Sarin is again directing.

Canadians can watch the nightmare movies on Movie Central at various times.


Square dance awareness week

Dancers in the Westsyde Squares -- the Central Okanagan’s only square and round dance club -- have been busy spreading the word.

They’ve been bringing attention to the B.C. Government’s proclamation and declaration of “Square and Round Dance Awareness Week,” September 14 to 20.

New dancer sessions are starting now throughout B.C.; so the timing is perfect for the provincial government to encourage newcomers to square and round dancing. Many square and round dance clubs are presenting free introductory nights to try it out, including those in Penticton, Vernon and Kamloops.

The Westsyde Squares, serving the area from Lake Country to Peachland, will open the regular dance season at 7 p.m. Wednesday, October 1 in the hall at the Westbank United Church. The sessions will be for those dancers accomplished in the “Mainstream Program” of modern square dancing and “Phases 1 to 3” in round dancing.

The government's proclamation endorses the many benefits of the social recreation. “In brief,” says Brian Elmer of West Kelowna, the club publicity volunteer, “the dance forms deliver fun, fitness and friendship for a great experience.” He says that today’s style of square dancing is done to popular music in casual attire.

The week of awareness not only identifies today’s style of square dancing, enjoyed by interactive teams of eight moving to modern music, but it also introduces round dancing which is choreographed ballroom dancing guided throughout by live “cues.”

The proclamation elaborates to read, in part:

“Whereas square and round dancing is a relaxing and enjoyable form of exercise to improve the physical and mental health of young and old alike, and…

Whereas square and round dancing takes place in many cities across British Columbia and Canada and helps relieve stress, develop flexibility, strength and coordination, and…

Whereas square and round dancing allows dancers to meet and enjoy the company of people from all walks of life;

Now Know Ye That We do by these presents proclaim and declare that September 14 to 20, 2014, shall be known as ‘Square and Round Dance Awareness Week’ in the Province of British Columbia.”

Affixed to the proclamation are the signatures of The Honourable Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of B.C. and the province’s Attorney General, The Honourable Suzanne Anton.

Letter to parents

From SD23:

Dear Parents and Guardians:    

Thank you for the patience that you have shown as we have waited for a resolve to the provincial labour dispute. It now appears that we are very close to being able to open our schools. The purpose of this letter is to give you details to help you plan for the immediate future.

As has been reported in the media, the membership of the BC Teachers' Federation will be reviewing the terms of the tentative agreement and holding a ratification vote on Thursday, September 18th. All sixty Boards of Education have been given until 3 p.m. on Friday, September 19th to go through the same process.

If the parties vote in favor of ratifying the terms of the agreement, then we will be opening our schools on Monday, September 22nd. The first day of the school year will follow the normal opening day procedures with students attending for a half day. (Please note that Kelowna Secondary School will be operating for a full day on the first day of the year, and will be scheduling their half day on Wednesday, September 24th.) This will give schools the opportunity to conduct enrolment counts and to adjust classes and staffing levels.

Schools will post their opening day start and end times on their websites by the end of this week. Buses will be operating on Monday, September 22nd to align with the adjusted bell schedules. For information about bus routes, please refer to the School Bus Transportation link on the District's website.

The Ministry of Education confirmed the following information with Superintendents today:

  1. There are no plans to extend or add instructional days this year. It is their expectation that school districts will be able to deliver their educational programs and meet all learning outcomes in the curriculum within the remaining school calendar timeframe.
  2. For secondary courses operating on a semester system, school districts have the option to equalize the length of the semesters and the Ministry of Education will provide a second set of provincial examination dates at the beginning of February to accommodate this option. The remainder of the 2014/2015 provincial exam schedule will stay the same.

The impact of these Ministry decisions for the Central Okanagan School District includes:

  • The District Calendar that was approved at the end of February, 2014 and is posted on our website, remains in effect for the balance of the year. No changes are being made to holiday periods or other days when schools will not be in session.
  • Many schools may wish to make adjustments to their individual school calendars that were published at the end of March, 2014. It is anticipated that there may need to be changes made to the dates for each term, as well as to the dates for report cards and parent-teacher interviews. If this is the case, school administrators will consult with their parents, staff and community regarding proposed changes.
  • Elementary schools will be contacting the parents of their Kindergarten students with information about the plan for the 'gradual entry' of these students.
  • Secondary schools will be adjusting the dates for the end of the first and the beginning of the second semesters to balance instructional time and to align with the new examination dates in February, 2015.

Further updates will be provided as new information is available. In the interim, please continue to consult the District's website, as well as the appropriate school websites. 

Parents will also be getting Robo-Calls with the information.

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