Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen pondering deadline on relevant public submitting feedback on development variances

Deadline on permit disputes

The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen is pondering a change to development variance permit application timelines that would see relevant members of the public have an earlier deadline for providing feedback.

As it stands, the RDOS has noticed an issue with property owners or tenants filing comments on proposed development permits "up to and during board meetings," according to staff, expecting that voting board members will have time to read their submissions before making a decision.

Staff now recommend the board initiate a process to amend the Development Procedure Bylaw to clarify the input timeline.

"The current practice of accepting representations up to and including the day of the board meeting at which a permit will be considered is misleading to the public and unfair to board members," reads the staff analysis which the board will consider Thursday.

"It sets no parameters as to when submissions must be received to leave sufficient time for the board to review the contents of a representation."

Staff recommend a deadline of seven days before the board meeting at which a development permit is due to be discussed for any citizen representation on the matter.

"This proposed change will, however, increase the processing times for [development variance permit] and [temporary use permit] applications. This is due to postal delivery times for notifications, and the need to ensure that property owners and tenants receive letters well in advance of the proposed deadline," the staff report reads.

"At present, the mailing of notifications occurs 10 working days (two weeks) prior to a board meeting. Consideration should be given to expand this timeline to 20 working days (four weeks)."

The board will discuss the matter and vote on Thursday.

Fundraiser for women and children fleeing abuse smashes records in Penticton

'Time to give people hope'

"This year, with COVID, with what I knew about what's happening in relationships that are poisoned by abuse and violence, I just felt it was a good time to give people hope."

Longtime South Okanagan Women in Need Society volunteer Diane Fru didn't know what the public response would be to the charity's annual "Walk to End Abuse" in the midst of a pandemic, but she knew she had to try and raise as much money as possible.

As it turned out, the community was eager to help.

The walk, which was virtual this year, has already shattered records, raising over $55,000 to date. The donation period is being kept open through the rest of the week, due to an especially high need for SOWINS' services during the pandemic.

Fru was the top individual fundraiser this year, raising over $2,300. She has a personal connection to the services for women and children leaving abusive relationships that SOWINS offers.

"I spent 13 years of my life in relationships, dating back to when I was 22, that were physically and emotionally abusive," Fru said.

Now 75, Fru recalls how 50 years ago, SOWINS did not exist, nor anything like it, to help a single mother get away from violence.

Fru escaped and eventually found a happy, healthy marriage. After her children were grown and she was heading towards retirement, Fru started looking for ways to give back to the community through volunteering, and found SOWINS in 2015 after both a close friend and her son suggested it.

Since then, she has been an avid volunteer, starting out knitting eight-inch wool squares to add to afghans that would be handed out to women who came in to SOWINS, and now helping as a fundraising committee member.

The "Walk to End Abuse" is an especially important success story to Fru. It started as "Walk in Her Shoes" in 2013, raising only around $2,000, then was re-branded in 2018 so that participants and donors would understand better what was being supported.

Historically, the event has been launched through a fundraising event at a local restaurant. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, that was impossible this year, and yet the funds have poured in and surpassed past years nonetheless.

"I think people are recognizing that this is a bad year for abuse. You know, normally people would be off working or working out of the home or whatever, but this is quite different. People are not working or they're working from home or whatever, which means that you don't get a reprieve, when you're in that kind of relationship," Fru said.

"It spreads nothing but hope for someone like that, to see that the community is so interested in having them succeed. I think that's a very powerful message."

Funds raised from the Walk to End Abuse will go towards SOWINS' ongoing work helping women and children rebuild their lives after escaping abuse. Find their fundraising page here, still open to contributions.

Fru has a message of hope for anyone going through domestic abuse.

"You're not alone. And I can tell you, if I can get through, and still maintain my sanity and my dignity and my respect to myself, and have someone like the husband that I have now that supports me in that way, you can," Fru said.

"Don't give up hope. You're not alone."

Reach SOWINS and find out about their services here.

South Okanagan Tim Hortons restaurants raise over $4K for residential school survivors through orange donut fundraiser

$4K in donuts for survivors

In early June, locally-owned South Okanagan Tim Hortons restaurants launched an orange donut fundraiser for residential school survivors last week, and the results have blown them away.

From June 4 to 6, $4,049 worth of the donuts were sold around the community, 100 per cent of which will be going to the Every Child Matters movement.

Owner Nicole MacMillan was so inspired, she decided to match it.

"Our family [the Stawarz family] personally decided what better way to show our local First Nations community the support they deserve than to match the donations brought in," MacMillan said.

"So another $4,049 was donated in trust for the survivors."

The money will go to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society, which provides a wide range of services to survivors in British Columbia and their family suffering from intergenerational traumas.

MacMillan met with Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel at the local memorial of the residential school survivors to pay their respects and present the donation.

"Thank you once again to our community for showing their support," MacMillan said.


Jann Arden coming to Penticton in 2022

Jann Arden at SOEC

Beloved Canadian musician Jann Arden is bringing her talents to the South Okanagan Events Centre next summer.

Arden announced her rescheduled dates for her Live! tour that will see her in Penticton on June 13, 2022.

The songstress, actor and author was recently inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame at the 50th Annual Juno Awards. Arden has 19 top singles, eight Juno Awards, 10 SOCAN awards and more under her belt.

In addition to singing, Arden stars in the comedy series "Jann," based on her life, hosts a weekly podcast "The Jann Arden Podcast" and has written four books.

Find tickets to Jann Arden in Penticton at livenation.com or ticketmaster.ca.

Penticton hairstylist overcame obstacles to start new business

Stylist overcame obstacles

"Okanagan Inspired" is a weekly series of articles offering a peek into the stories and inspirations of Pentictonites who hold creative roles in the community.

In what seems to be quite a rarity these days, local hair stylist Kat Hohmann is an actual born-and-raised Pentictonite.

“I am a true local. I only left Penticton briefly in 2007. I moved to a small town in Northern Alberta called Bonnyville where I met my daughter's father but he left when I was six months pregnant with my second child,” explains Hohmann.

“I moved back to Penticton and both of my girls were born here and I have raised them by myself since. I lived in low income housing for nine years. While I was there, I continued building my skillset and plan my future business. When my daughters were at the age that they could attend school, I started to really work at my business and build our futures."

“I love Penticton because I enjoy the people and I love this community. They really rally and do good things, and I’ve loved seeing people turning themselves into entrepreneurs and becoming what they wanted to become. I also love the beach, the beaches here are pretty solid."

But when she arrived back in Penticton, Hohmann struggled to find her place.

“I have suffered from severe depression before, so when I was in a dark place, I really didn’t want to get up and get ready each morning so I began looking for online courses that would force me to get up and look put together. I thought about taking an esthetician course, but I saw them touching feet and remember thinking ‘I don’t think I can do this.’ But I really was drawn to the other side of the room where they were doing hair. They all looked happy and like they were having fun. The fashion and creativity aspect of hairstyling really appealed to me,” explains Hohmann.

She is grateful for the resources that helped her find her feet in town.

“There are so many great resources for people who need help in Penticton," she says.

The Single Parent Initiative through Work BC helped pay for Hohmann’s tuition and she thrived in hairstyling school.

“After I finished school, I worked for about four years in other salons, and I applied for a teaching position for L'Oréal. I trained in Vancouver and worked for the company as an artistic educator teaching students in Kelowna and I still do a bit of teaching,"

Hohmann took a huge step last year with the help of business planning with Community Futures, and opened her own salon, Pump, on Main Street, beside Long Gallery and TD Bank.

It cam with a lot of hard work, help from her dad, family, friend Amanda and even her 10 and eight-year-old daughters.

“I opened Pump on January 20th of 2020. I was only able to be open for eight weeks before COVID hit, and I was forced to close for 12 weeks, Hohmann says.

However, upon reopening, Hohmann has hit the ground running and had huge successes since.

“I specialize in making hair look very natural. What I do, it's called balayage or foilayage. I do really beautiful natural looking hair because natural hair will always be in style. My hair colouring will last 6-8 months so I'll only get to see my clients once or twice a year because their hair grows in so beautifully. I really make sure people only get services they need and educate them on better ways to save their money while doing their hair,” explains Hohmann.

It’s evident that Hohmann has a deep appreciation of her clientele.

“I think that the best part about hairdressing is when someone comes in not thrilled with their appearance and they leave with a big smile. I get to help build people’s confidence and that makes me feel very lucky,” she says.

For those interested in pursuing hairstyling, Hohmann gives this advice: “I would tell them that it's not easy work but if you stay focused and do what you love, you will get a clientele base who really love you. It takes a while, but don't give up. I’m on my feet for over eight hours a day and I never really get a chance to sit down, so you have to be determined, but it's driven by our amazing clientele. At Pump I have massage chairs for when their colour is processing, we move you out of the stylist chair for a nice 30- 45 minute massage and give you a nice break.”

Although her favourite song is "Hello Time Bomb" by Matthew Good Band, she and her friend Amanda, who rents a chair from her, are quite frequently caught dancing to the song "Pump."

“You’ve gotta Pump it up!” says Hohmann, laughing.

Check out her work at @pumphairsalon on Instagram and Facebook, and at www.pumphairsalon.com.

Wedding season is back, and Penticton has plenty of local gift options for the happy couples in your calendar

Local gifts for wedding time

"Four seasons of fun" is a collaboration between Castanet and Travel Penticton showcasing what Penticton has to offer all year round. Watch for it every Monday morning.

After many postponed nuptials, wedding season is back on in full force! June is a popular time for weddings and when you’re looking for wedding presents for the happy couples, be sure and look local.

Penticton businesses offer a wide array of perfect celebratory gifts like bottles of wine, gift cards for romantic dining experience or relaxing massages.

Villa Rosa Ristorante is a fantastic place to send the newlyweds with a gift card for an exceptional dining experience. Featuring a large selection of classic Italian dishes, regional wines and top tier service, Villa Rosa is a beautiful and delicious experience for newlyweds to unwind after their wedding or to save and use for a special occasion.

“A great gift is both a gift card and our cookbook,” says Tyler Gable, owner of Villa Rosa.

“Another popular option is our 'Dinner Crates' which is a prepackaged meal for two. They are all fresh and you compile it and cook it at home together."

Villa Rosa is currently celebrating their 25th anniversary and is offering special deals to celebrate.

“We are featuring our cookbook for only $25, and during happy hour from 4-5, we are offering $25 bottles of wine,” says Gable.

Villa Rosa is also a quaint location for smaller weddings, receptions or rehearsal dinners. With several already booked and COVID restrictions lifting up, Gable expects them to have a busy summer wedding season.

Melt Mineral Spa is also a wonderful stay-cation getaway for the couple that can’t quite yet go on a honeymoon abroad. With services including facials, manicures and pedicures, hot stone massages and body wraps, Melt Spa is a memorable gift for any couple to melt away the stress of planning a wedding.

Melt Spa also offers an extensive line of body care and skin care products like masks, lotions and mineral based sunscreen to make an opulent gift basket that they can enjoy at home.

If you can’t decide which kinds of luxurious treatments or skin or body care products will best suit the couple, Melt Spa also offers gift cards that allows the newlyweds to choose what they would enjoy most.

The Hooded Merganser offers a stunning location with delicious food that ensures a fun date night for a newly married couple. With a convenient location downtown, right on the water, they offer delicious and unique farm to table menu items in a brand new menu.

They also have a wide selection of local wines, craft beer and cider, and fantastic cocktail options. Gift cards from the Hooded Merganser are available at any denomination and are a fun way to give a couple a memorable and romantic dining experience.

The BC VQA Wine Centre is a fantastic one-stop-shop for wedding gifts.

“This place is perfect,” says Ellen Huot, a wine ambassador with the Wine Centre.

"We have a rotating selection of BC wines, with around 150 wineries represented and well over 500 wines. We also have wonderful gift baskets filled with wines and local Okanagan items."

With an ever-rotating selection of brilliant gift baskets displayed, they also offer a vast array of local artisanal gifts.

“We have all kinds of wine accessories and glassware too, but we also have textiles, all kinds of wonderful culinary gifts, jewelry made by fantastic local artists, pottery and artwork,” says Huot.

If you are unsure of the couple's taste, they also offer gift cards where you can purchase anything from the wine, to the artwork. The BC VQA Wine Centre is conveniently open every day from 9-6 and 9-5 on Sundays.

“We currently have a wonderful display of chilled rosé and sparkling wines and we also offer local ciders. We have lots of gift ideas for wine and culinary fans,” adds Huot.

No matter who the couple is that is getting married, local establishments offer something unique and special for everyone.

Learn more at www.visitpenticton.com and on social @visitpenticton

Farm Gate Winery aims to please taste buds with fruit, grape and hybrid wines

Specializing in fruit wines

“Behind the Wine” is a new summer series taking you behind the scenes of the South Okanagan’s iconic wine industry.

Conveniently located south out of Penticton, just off of Highway 97, Farm Gate Winery is a fantastic one stop shop for all types of unique fruit wines and traditional grape wines.

“Across the street from the winery, there used to be a game farm with all kinds of exotic animals on display that you could visit,” explains Chris Batt, Assistant Winemaker for Farm Gate Winery. “The gate is still there, right across the highway from us, so they decided to name the winery after that.”

This is now Farm Gate’s third season of production and they have quite an impressive line up of fruit and grape wines to sample, and a fun and well stocked fruit stand to pop in and shop.

Batt is a new addition to the Farm Gate production crew, having joined the team last August. “I have known Peter Smits, the Owner and Winemaker for 17 years now,” Batt explains. “Pieter came to me one day and asked me to help out. He said there was plenty of work to do and he needed a hand. I came out from Edmonton, where I was living at the time to help out, and I just never went back.”

Now with almost a full year under his belt, Batt is excited to have experienced the majority of the wine making process.

“It’s been fabulous. Just a really great journey. I’ve gotten to see the whole process from crush to bottling, and now I’m loving getting to see people enjoy it. We’re still bottling the 2020 season wines but the first ones have been really exciting,” says Batt.

Farm Gate specializes in fruit wines, but also explores grape wines and has just recently launched a line of hybrid wines. Varieties include a mix of Pinot Gris grapes and either peaches, apricots or pears and then the grapes and fruit are fermented together.

“We use a lot of fruit that is grown in our own orchards right here,” Batt explains. “A favourite is our cherry wines, which we have all kinds of variations of.”

“I really enjoy making the hybrid wine. I enjoy the challenge of finding the perfect mix of the grapes and fruit while ensuring it is balanced well. We like a nice wine flavour with a hint of fruit to compliment it."

One of Batt’s favourites is the Rainier Cherry Wine, which is similar to a white wine, ‘but with a great hint of cherry.’

What sets Farm Gate Wines apart is the abundance of fruit wine varieties, and their unique execution.

“Our fruit wines aren’t overly sweet or syrupy,” explains Batt. “We make them to be quite similar to traditional wines and try to please as many palates as possible.”

They also have a unique aesthetic, featuring an array of elephants in honour of the owner and winemaker, Pieter Smits mother, who loves elephants. Farm Gate wines also showcase a fun collection of labels which are decorated with exotic animals, like tigers, zebras and giraffes, that used to live at the game farm across the highway, and the customer's favourite, cow labels.

Located in Kaleden, Farm Gate Winery, which is just five minutes south of Penticton, has a convenient roadside location that makes stopping in for a tasting nice and easy.

In addition, their exceptional deals on case lots make stocking up a great and tasty idea.

“We sell affordable $88 mixed cases. Each case comes with 12 different full sized bottles of wine, so you can try one of *mostly* everything,” Batt says.

Farm Gate is open seven days a week and has a fruit stand to buy some fresh, local fruit and snacks during your visit. If visiting isn’t an option, Farm Gate offers shipping across all of Canada.

With new 2020 wines still being bottled, ensure to follow Farm Gate Winery on Facebook and Instagram or check out their website for new and exciting offerings that are sure to please all palates!

The Critteraid Animal Sanctuary in Summerland is looking for pasture volunteers to help care for their farm family

Help look after farm animals

Casey Richardson

The Critteraid Animal Sanctuary in Summerland is hoping to find people who love early mornings and caring for sweet farm animals.

"We are looking for our pasture crew, these are people who want to come to help out and clean the stalls, wash out the barn floors and muck up in the pasture," Jess Byer, Critteraid Animal Director said.

Join the goats, Timon, Tiny Tim, Tickles, Taya, Tawny and Tabby for a breakfast hangout. Enjoy the fresh farm air with the alpacas or waddle along with the best little duck family.

"The shift starts bright and early, so we are definitely looking for people and anyone who really just wants to learn more about what pasture care looks like," Byer added. "[Come] spend time with all of our amazing little friends."

Interested parties can find out more by emailing [email protected] or checking out Critteraid’s website.

Five-storey building proposed for Penticton’s Front Street trying again for council approval with new designs

Front St. build trying again

A five-storey building proposal for Front Street is coming back before Penticton city council with new designs on Tuesday.

When the building was first proposed in February of 2019, council heard voices of disapproval from attendees at the public hearing, believing the development would not fit the character of Front Street, both in design and size.

Council voted against the Official Community Plan amendment, and denied the Development Variance Permit.

Now that a new OCP has been adopted, the applicants for 24 Front Street have revised their plans based on the comments heard in 2019 to be aligned with the new guidelines. Building plans included materials which are considered 'more in line' with the buildings along Front Street, such as brick and stone cladding, rather than more industrial-style materials.

The site proposal plans are for a mixed-use commercial and residential building of five storeys, with one commercial unit on the main floor and four dwelling units on the second, third and fourth floor, as well as a guest bedroom on the fifth floor level accessed through the fourth floor unit.

The property is currently vacant and being used as a parking lot. The adjacent buildings are two to three storeys, and if approved, the five-storey building will actually not be the tallest on the street.

Staff are recommending for council to consider the development variance permit, subject to adoption of an OCP amendment, including a permit to increase the maximum permitted building height.

If council gives the green light, the amendment will go to a public hearing on July 19, before returning to council for a final decision on the variance. Then the final design of the building would come back to the city along with a request for a development permit.

Town of Osoyoos receives upgraded used oil recycling infrastructure at their landfill

Town receives oil recycling

The Town of Osoyoos Sanitary Landfill has received a grant from BC Used Oil Management Association (BCUOMA) to provide them with a 20-foot modified sea container and a 2,200-litre tank.

Residents of Osoyoos and the surrounding areas will be able to access this upgraded public recycling centre as an easy, free and eco-friendly system to return their used oil and antifreeze materials.

The landfill is located at 17250 146 Ave in Osoyoos.

“The Town of Osoyoos Sanitary Landfill recently received a 2020 Long Time Service Award for being a dedicated BCUOMA member since 2003. With the installation of this new infrastructure they show their continued commitment to ensuring residents have access to a safe and environmentally friendly facility where they can return their used oil and antifreeze products,” David Lawes, CEO, BC Used Oil Management Association said in a press release.

“In addition, there are many part-time summer residents who work on their recreational vehicles and boats, and change their oil themselves. Having a convenient and free public recycling centre makes it easy for everyone to return their used oil products.”

The organization continues to look for opportunities to upgrade and improve recycling facility locations across the province to help BC residents with reasonable access to convenient and free used oil recycling centres.

BCUOMA’s infrastructure grant program is available for municipalities, private businesses, nonprofit organizations, and other sectors to apply, and does require responsible environmental handling, collection, transportation, storage, processing and recycling of used oil and antifreeze material using economic, efficient and environmentally acceptable options.

Those interested in a BCUOMA infrastructure grant can find out more information online here.

Used oil once recycled at one of BCUOMA’s dedicated public recycling centres can be recovered and re-used. From there, the oil can be re-refined into new lubricating oil or sold as raw material inputs for manufacturing or energy products.

Additionally, used oil filters contain metal, which is recycled into metal products like rebar, nails and wire. Used oil and antifreeze containers are recycled and used to manufacture new oil containers, drainage tiles, and parking curbs. Used antifreeze is refined and reused as a new automotive antifreeze.

BCUOMA would like to acknowledge that the Town of Osoyoos Sanitary Landfill’s used oil recycling facility is located on the traditional territory of the Okanagan First Nation.

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