Penticton local taking in food waste to build a compost pile and garden to feed those in need

Using food scraps to garden

A Penticton resident has spent the last eight months diverting over four tons of waste from the landfill to start a food forest in her yard.

Katie O'Kell, who was a city council candidate this year and is the winemaker for Serendipity Winery, shared her story on the efforts she's made in building a large-scale residential compost pile in preparation for the 2023 growing season.

Food waste was brought from local restaurants, including Honey Toast and the Serendipity Winery Bistro, to start a large compost.

O'Kell said she also collected over 50 pumpkins after Halloween from locals to add to the mixture. The vessels themselves are made from wire fencing she found while picking trash up from the Channel, and burlap sacks from the fire department.

The grape stems from the winery, which would normally be destined for the landfill, are used as a drainage system for the raised garden beds.

O'Kell is planning a 250-square-foot garden for 2023, with hopes of expanding it each year.

In order to keep organic farming and water conservation as priorities, O'Kell said she will need more compost and an irrigation system to expand.

"The goal is to provide fresh homegrown fruits and vegetables for locals who need it, with no questions asked."

Any restaurants that wish to contribute their food scraps to this project can contact O'Kell at [email protected]


Dedicated group of volunteers collect bottles every Saturday in support of South Okanagan charities for more than a decade

Using empties to help others

Casey Richardson

A small but mighty group of Penticton volunteers spend every single Saturday—aside from this Christmas and New Year’s—at the local IGA parking lot, collecting bottles for donations to local charities.

It started over 11 years ago, thanks to Pat Wand and her team of volunteers, and gives them all a cause to be proud of.

Volunteer Irene Ramsey joined a few years ago when she moved into town and has been helping out at the Penticton and Summerland drive.

“Here in Penticton we have five charities that we send the money to, and in Summerland, there's a charity bottle drop off at the IGA there as well, and [it goes] to charities in Summerland. So basically the money stays in the city,” she said.

Despite the biting wind on Saturday, the volunteers were bundled up and working their usual collection.

“We just dress for it. Sometimes we have to work a little slower because it's too hot or we work a little faster because it's too cold,” Ramsey said with a laugh.

So far no weather has stopped them from coming out.

Each week the drive manages to raise between $400-$500.

“It's plenty enough that I don't feel that I'm wasting my time. We're busy, so that means we're making money to hand out.”

Ramsey said that it’s also a simple way for the community to give back and help out the environment too.

“It doesn't go to waste. It doesn't go in people's blue bins or in the garbage, because going to the bottle depot can be a bit of a pain. Here, it's easy.”

Lately, the group has been getting so many donations that they sometimes store the ones they can’t get to for another day before it's hauled off to the depot by Wand.

The group accepts bottle donations every Saturday from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. outside the Penticton and Summerland IGA stores.

Share a Smile Telethon up and running Saturday at Penticton's Cherry Lane Shopping Centre

Telethon kicks off

Contributed OSNS Child and Youth Development Centre

The 43rd annual Share a Smile Telethon kicked off to crowds on Saturday afternoon in Penticton, to support kids with developmental challenges in the South Okanagan.

The telethon is one of the OSNS Child and Youth Development Centre's most important fundraising events of the year.

This year, they returned to their usual spot in Cherry Lane Shopping Centre on Saturday, from 12:30 to 5 p.m., hoping to raise as much money as possible for OSNS' critical work with children in the community.

Stop by in person or watch the fun live on Shaw Spotlight Cable 11 or Blue Curve Channel 105. There will be live performances from local dancers, musicians, choir groups and a DJ, plus some of the OSNS staff will share their experiences and the impact the centre makes in the region.

The event's online auction is live and bidding runs until 6 p.m. on Saturday, after the conclusion of the telethon. The auction can be found online here.


Andrew Allen playing Christmas show in Penticton

Xmas show by Andrew Allen

Vernon-born pop artist Andrew Allen will be coming to Penticton this December as part of the Route97 Culture Road Trip Series to play a special Christmas show.

The multi-platinum singer-songwriter will be performing a mix of originals, holiday classics, and his own top 10 hits in a special performance accompanied by students from the Penticton Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts and Penticton Secondary.

Allen holds five Top 10 hits in Canada, 2009′s “I Wanna Be Your Christmas,” and 2010’s “Loving You Tonight,” which was lodged in the upper reaches of the charts for more than 22 weeks. 2011's "I Want You,” 2015’s “What You Wanted,” and 2016’s “Favourite Christmas Song.”

Mark Greenhalgh of Penticton’s Misty Mountain Productions, one of the co-creators behind the series, said he Allen's show is the perfect way to cap things off as the final performance in the 2022 edition of the Route97 Culture Road Trip Series.

"His All Hearts Come Home Annual Holiday Show sells out quickly for our friends at The Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre. I'm really excited to bring this to The Cleland as an annual tradition. Our overall vision is not just about our series. We are striving to build the region as a viable touring option and a venue “ladder” where artists, both emerging and nationally recognized, can find routing and opportunities for incredible shows in unusual venue settings. To have a nationally recognized artist round off the series and spread some holiday cheer will be fantastic," he said in a press release.

Allen's holiday show will hit the stage at Penticton's Cleland Community Theatre on Friday, Dec. 16, at 7 p.m.

Tickets for Allen's show are now on sale. More information about the Route97 Culture Road Trip Series and tickets for Allen’s upcoming show are online here.

Penticton high school student running winter clothing drive to help keep everyone warm

Warm winter clothing need

A Grade 12 student at Penticton's Princess Margaret Secondary School chose to run the Winter Clothing drive after seeing an increased need to help the community.

Maleah Laflamme is working with an individual who does outreach directly to those being affected by homelessness from Penticton to Kelowna.

This is the third year that a member of the leadership team at Princess Margaret has done this initiative, showing the students' commitment to providing warm winter clothing.

"Since I've moved here, I've seen how big the homelessness is here and how a lot of people just disregard it and don't really take into consideration what's really going on. So I just thought it was something that I should step up and do," Laflamme said.

"I'm just hoping that people will see this and feel the same way I do to try and help our community one step at a time."

Laflamme set up three donation bins locations around the school last week and will be collecting donations up until Dec. 16.

"If you have anything it doesn't matter how much, just even a hat, a scarf, a coat, anything will help and just really trying to get people to bring stuff in because I know it makes a big difference."

So far Laflamme has been able to collect a full bag of donations which she has taken home and washed, before delivering it to the outreach worker who brings them directly to those in need.

Coats and blankets are the most needed item.

The donation bins are located in the front office of Princess Margaret, upstairs in the library and in the counsellor's room.

Proposed South Okanagan national park negotiations still ongoing, with little new information

Few updates on nat'l park

An annual update on a proposed national park reserve in the South Okanagan-Similkameen has little new information to offer.

On Friday, Parks Canada sent out a three-page newsletter electronically media, stakeholders as well as members of the public who had registered to the email distribution list, providing the latest on the contentious project.

Residents living within or adjacent to the proposed boundary who are not signed up for email updates will get a physical copy in the mail.

The newsletter contains indicates negotiations continue, and Parks Canada is collecting scientific information. It is much the same situation the proposed national park has been in since a Memorandum of Understanding was signed in July 2019 in Osoyoos between the Government of Canada, Government of British Columbia and the syilx/Okanagan Nation, kicking off a period of negotiations between the three parties.

The COVID-19 pandemic slowed the process considerably.

But in 2020, Parks Canada committed to providing regular updates on the national park process. Update letters are now released at least once per year, or when new information is available.

The November 2022 letter explains tripartite negotiations are still ongoing, but they have resumed in person after working mostly remotely during the pandemic.

The national park reserve working boundary has been unchanged since 2019 public consultations, covering a 270-square kilometre plot of land that incapsulates Mt. Kobau, Spotted Lake and Kipoola in the South Okanagan-Similkameen.

Parks Canada states its goal as protecting a rare ecosystem, strengthening biodiversity and encouraging recover of species at risk, as well as allowing syilx/Okanagan Nation cultural practices to continue and prompting options for sustainable tourism and local jobs.

Vocal opponents in the region have long raised concerns about how the park will impact water rights, ranching and grazing, how the park will interact with the Agricultural Land Reserve, law enforcement and more.

Parks Canada has stated existing private land titles within the park boundaries will not be touched unless on a willing-seller, willing-buyer basis.

Penticton's 100 Men Who Care and 100 Women Who Care organizations having final 2022 meetings, would love to welcome newcomers

Join 100 Men, Women

The 100 Men and 100 Women Who Care groups are back next week in the South Okanagan for their final meet-up of the calendar year, gathering charitable-minded individuals for a night of sociability and giving back.

Four times a year, the two separate groups meet at a different sponsored location, hearing presentations from local non-profit organizations. At every meeting, attendees pay $100 and then hear from three charities, voting at the end how to split the pot of money between them.

Over the years, both groups have each donated well north of $100,000 to various charities throughout the South Okanagan-Similkameen.

The upcoming 100 Men Who Care event is Nov. 29 from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at Cannery Brewing, with the location and provided appetizers sponsored by member Blake Crocker of Royal LePage.

Everyone is welcome, from first-timers to longtime regulars. A one-time membership fee of $100 lasts a lifetime, then every meeting attended costs a further $100 to go to that evening's charitable giving. Members can also choose to support all four quarterly events by paying $400 up front, whether or not they are able to physically attend.

The more men who participate, the greater the pot of money will be that goes to the charities attending. For more information, click here.

The final 100 Women Who Care event of 2022 is Nov. 30 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Bufflehead at the Penticton Lakeside Resort.

It is the groups annual "Little Black Dress" event, a chance to dress up and celebrate the work the group has done over the year.

Special for this event, members are allowed to bring guests free of charge who may be interested in the group and want to see how it all works. Past members who have not re-joined in recent years are also welcome to come as guests.

There will be appetizers provided and drinks for purchase. For more information or to RSVP for this upcoming event click here.

Thousands of people packed downtown Summerland for annual Christmas light up

Bright return for light up

Casey Richardson

It is Summerland’s biggest and brightest night of the year when thousands of people flood into the few streets of downtown for the Festival of Lights.

The festival often draws well over 10,000 people to the community for live musical acts, food vendors, fireworks and a “light up” of downtown businesses. The event was full-on cancelled in 2020 and greatly scaled down in 2021.

New mayor Doug Holmes kicked off the countdown to the light up alongside local elected officials on Friday night to an eager crowd.

The Main Street area of Summerland was completely filled up in the early evening leading up to the official light-up, with businesses welcoming in attendees and the main stage featuring live music all evening.

The Summerland Fire Department attended, gathering donations for Toys & Toonies for Tots & Teens, Summerland’s annual toy drive while showing kids their fire trucks.

The Festival of Lights was launched more than three decades ago by four Summerland businessmen and continues to be a favourite in the community.

The next light-up series event begins on Saturday, with Summerland’s lighting up the vines, along Bottleneck Drive.

Annual ALERT fundraiser bake sale returns to Penticton

'Cookie walk' returns

When residents are evacuated from their properties in the Okanagan due to wildfires or floods, members of the Animal Lifeline Emergency Response Team (ALERT) head in to help get any animals out.

ALERT is welcoming back their Annual Cookie Walk Fundraiser for its 18th year. This fundraiser had to be put on hold the previous two years and is back to bring goodies in for a good cause.

Over 50 Bakers from across the Okanagan and beyond will be preparing holiday baking for the public to purchase in support of ALERT.

Attendees are invited to bring their own containers and mix and match as many of the delectables as they wish for $10.00 a pound.

The fundraiser starts at 10 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 4 at the Penticton Lakeside Resort. This event will continue to run while quantities last.

ALERT is a not-for-profit dedicated to animal welfare through the preparation for and the actual rescue and shelter of domestic animals and livestock in a disaster.

Summerland businesses team up to raise funds for Toys & Toonies for Tots & Teens

Charity chili sale at winery

It's that time of year to join together to help raise funds for those in need, and two Summerland businesses are stepping up. Back Door Winery and Granny's Cafe & Bakery have partnered to raise funds for Toys & Toonies for Tots & Teens, Summerland’s annual toy drive.

On Saturday, Nov. 25, from 5-7 p.m., Mike Boersma from Granny’s, will be at Back Door Winery serving chili and Mac & Cheese by donation.

The winery will be donating its tasting fee that day to Toys & Toonies for Tots & Teens. Granny’s will also be making gingerbread cookies to go with mulled wine.

All proceeds will be going to the 35th annual Toys & Toonies for Tots & Teens.

Back Door Winery owner Jesse Gill says they wanted to partner with a local business to do something meaningful in the community.

“Mike and Adrienne share the same commitment to the community as we do, so it was a no-brainer for us to work together,” Gill added. “We hope to see many people come out so we can make a generous donation to Toys & Toonies for Tots & Teens.”

Granny’s has serving up their homemade chili and mac & cheese as a fundraiser for either the Summerland Food Bank or Toys & Toonies for Tots & Teens since 2019.

They expect to make up to 40 litres of chili and will have a veggie option as well.

Granny's partnership won't be a one-time deal either, as their food program kicks off with the winery next spring

“Partnering with Back Door Winery is a win-win,” said Boersma. “Providing food service during the summer months will allow wine by the glass on their beautiful patio.”

Back Door Winery will also be open late next week on Thursday, Friday and Saturday 12-7 p.m. with case lot specials and will be serving mulled wine.

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