Penticton Farmers Market opened for the season with vendors and shoppers happy to be back

Farmers' market begins

Casey Richardson

It’s that time of the year again where downtown streets are filled with local vendors selling baked goods, fresh produce and artisan crafts.

The Penticton farmers market opened up on Saturday with over 35 vendors and expects to see more join them throughout the season.

"So far the feedback we’ve gotten today is that people have been dying to get out in the sunshine and get some fresh local produce and local crafts,” Rick Hatch, the president for the market said.

“We’re very happy to be back and happy to enjoy this beautiful weather today."

COVID-19 safety protocols are in place throughout the market again to help keep everyone safe, and Hatch said it’s a bit easier this year to have them in place.

“I feel like everyone knows the expectation and we all know the routine now. People are a lot more comfortable...we just know how it’s supposed to work.”

All vendors are wearing masks and are following the COVID-19 Pandemic Plan which has been approved by the City of Penticton and Interior Health, according to the Market. Rules are posted to practice social distancing, wear masks and use hand sanitizer.

A limited amount of customers are allowed through the market at a time. Everyone enters through the Lakeshore Drive side and heads down in one direction to exit at Westminster Ave.

Hatch said that while the first few weekends are a little slow as farmers wait for their crops to be ready, at the peak the market will host over 60 vendors.

“We’re happy to be offering a lot of the same products that they’ve come to know and love and a lot of new things as well.”

The market runs every Saturday until Oct. 30 from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.


Overnight house fire on Penticton's Woodlands Place

Crews douse house fire

A house caught fire on Penticton's Woodlands Place overnight.

Penticton Fire Rescue responded to the house fire just after midnight, near Woodlands Place and Woodlands Drive.

Photos from the scene show large flames coming from the building, as fire crews respond.

It's unclear at this time if anyone was injured in the fire, or the extent of the damage to the home itself.

It was a busy night for firefighters in the Okanagan, as crews responded to another large house fire in West Kelowna as well.

Penticton manufacturing production grows as more people spend time in backyards

Boom in backyard building

Casey Richardson

“Community Cornerstones,” is a series highlighting different longstanding local businesses in Penticton.

A Penticton manufacturing company that has been around for over 12 years prides itself on its easy-to-build and quality cedar backyard kits, constructing everything from sheds to garden boxes to pergolas and gazebos.

Outdoor Living Manufacturing became a member of the Waldun Group, which was established in 1974, soon after.

“The company has grown quite dramatically in the past couple of years. We grew at a fairly steady basis for the first five years, at about a 10-15 power cent annual growth rate,” Grant Daum, the GM for Outdoor Living Manufacturing said.

The last couple years, that growth really took off for the company.

“We’ve grown from about 2 million in garden sheds to about $20 or $25 million in garden sheds in the last ten years.”

Outdoor living has 65 employees in Penticton and 6 acres of space, including 80,000 square feet of operating and lumber processing facilities.

“I think that the general community in Penticton probably doesn't have much of an idea we operate down in this part of penticton. I still meet people who are quite astonished at the size of our company and what we are doing here,” Daum explained. Their office in Vancouver holds 15 other employees.

“Some of that's to do with a lot of sales not being targeted to the Penticton area.”

But the company is glad to be apart of the community and hopes to continue operating in Penticton for years to come.

The COVID-19 pandemic gave a boost for orders and interest for the company too, seeing huge growth sales in backyard projects with people staying put.

Daum said that while there’s been challenges with running operations needing to comply with the new safety protocols and social distancing, “Overall COVID has been something that's been really advantageous to us.”

The company is constantly innovating new technology on their own time too, to make the wood manufacturing process faster.

“We produce a really good quality where we constantly get great feedback on...Because of the type of the things we produce, people seem to enjoy it in their backyard and have a long lasting effect on their life which is exciting to be a part of.”

For more information on Outdoor Living and its products, visit their website here.


RDOS board members reluctant to support Penticton mayor in ongoing fight against paramountcy invoked by provincial government

Mayor blasts RDOS board

Penticton Mayor John Vassilaki did not mince words at Thursday's Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen meeting, blasting some of his colleagues for opposing his request that the RDOS support the city's ongoing tussle with the province.

Vassilaki, in his capacity as an RDOS board member, introduced a motion that the board send a letter to the provincial government opposing its decision to invoke paramountcy laws to keep the Victory Church emergency homeless shelter open against the wishes of Penticton city council — but that request was firmly opposed by some regional directors, who balked at getting involved in municipal matters.

Vassilaki pitched the proposed letter as a way of standing up for the rights of all local municipalities.

"Today it’s happening to Penticton, tomorrow it could happen to Oliver, Osoyoos, Keremeos,” Vassilaki said.

But some on the board felt this was not a fight the RDOS should wade into, saying involving the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM), which Penticton has already done, is the better path.

"I think that is the correct way to proceed with this,” Osoyoos mayor Sue McKortoff said. "I totally understand the concerns, and I absolutely have sympathy for that. But I just think it’s the matter of how we proceed with this.”

"This is not the right place, the right way to proceed," added Okanagan Falls director Ron Obirek.

"We are a product of the province. It does feel like being put in a difficult situation here. UBCM would be a good forum," board chair Karla Kozakevich said.

Directors George Bush of Cawston and Spencer Coyne of Princeton echoed those feelings.

Vassilaki did not hold back in slamming his colleagues who had spoken against his request.

"Shame on you. I just don’t understand where you people are coming from, and how you can sleep at night,” Vassilaki said.

“I don’t sugarcoat anything. I say it how it is, and you should be ashamed of yourselves.”

Ultimately, despite the dissent, the motion passed, with nine opposing votes.

Wildfire crews attend pair of South Okanagan fires Friday

Crews at scene of brush fire

B.C. Wildfire Service crews are at the scene of a small bushfire near Okanagan Falls.

Witnesses say the blaze started on Allendale Lake Road at roughly 6:30 p.m.

The provincial government’s wildfire map says the fire is about a half a hectare in size. Photos sent to Castanet from the scene show fire crews arriving when the fire was still relatively small.

The cause of the fire is unknown at this point.

Elsewhere in the South Okanagan, the Oliver Fire Department and BCWS attended a small wildfire on Oliver Mountain. The blaze briefly put up a plume of smoke visible from the community prior to it being brought under control.

Oliver and Osoyoos wade into feasibility study with contract and appoint members

Next steps on local pool

A community swimming pool in the South Okanagan is getting closer to fruition, as the Towns of Osoyoos and Oliver and Osoyoos Indian Band dive into a feasibility study for the South Okanagan Regional Aquatic Centre Advisory Committee.

The contract for the feasibility study was awarded to Sierra Management and Planning. Appointed members of the respective councils will work along with staff and members at large.

The Town of Oliver is still recruiting a member from the public to join the team, since Sierra Management and Planning submitted a proposal that indicated comprehensive experience with a business and financial planning background.

In addition to the Council and Band representatives (elected and public members), the Band Chief and Mayors of Osoyoos and Oliver are ex-officio members of the committee.

Opportunities for public engagement will come later on, after baseline data and information has been compiled. The terms of reference for the Committee can be found here.

The Town of Osoyoos appointed Councillor Jim King and Councillor Myers Bennett. Gerald Davis, Director of Community Services will be the staff representative. Council also appointed Barry Romanko as the member at large. Romanko is the former CAO of Osoyoos and was initially involved in the infancy of this project.

The Osoyoos Indian Band Chief and Council appointed Sammy Louie and Sonya Jensen as members of council and Mike Campol, Chief Operating Officer as the member at large.

“This is an important opportunity. Should the outcome of this study chart a path forward, this level of collaboration could become a model for rural communities throughout the province. What better way to show that when local leaders come together, the residents of multiple communities will reap the benefits,” Campol said in a press release.

The Town of Oliver has appointed Councillor Petra Veintimilla and Councillor David Mattes as members of the committee. The Town’s CAO and Recreation Manager, Carol Sheridan were appointed as support staff.

Collaboration is key here for the work to build on projects such as the aquatic centre, which would be “unattainable for one government independently,” according to the release.

The next steps will hold a series of meetings with the consultant and the committee.

A final report is expected to be completed by the end of October.

“This is an exciting opportunity for the region and we are anticipating a strong response from all communities.”

Local Penticton man who is dedicated to fundraising for the SPCA still at it, despite pandemic restrictions

Donation to local SPCA

Committed South Okanagan BC SPCA fundraiser Barry Zarudenec is at it again, helping facilitate a fundraiser through Waycon Manufacturing that saw a $1,020 cheque sent to the branch.

Zarudenec, a local carpenter, has been running fundraisers for the SPCA for years, racking up tens of thousands in donations over that time.

This time, Waycon got involved, donating $780 as a company, and its staff added $240. Zarudenec usually likes to plan large event fundraisers, but COVID-19 has put a damper on that for the past year. Still, he said, these smaller fundraising events add up and "I'll keep doing what I can to raise money for the animals."

The South Okanagan BC SPCA branch is thrilled to have both Zarudenec and Waycon's support.

The Waycon team got together for a photo with their cheque, including all of the furry members of the Waycon team, one of whom is an alumni of the BC SPCA.

Vote for your favourite Penticton restaurant and help them win a free advertising package

Best Penticton restaurant?

We all know that COVID-19 restrictions have been tough on Penticton's beloved local restaurants, so Castanet is holding a contest to recognize the wonderful eateries that make the Peach City so tasty.

From now until May 15, cast your vote for your favourite local spot to grab some grub, and you could win a $50 restaurant gift certificate.

The establishment that gets the most votes by the contest deadline will receive a free $750 marketing campaign package from Castanet to help boost that business.

Participants can submit one entry per day, so don't forget to click back and keep on boosting your favourite spot! The gift certificate winner will be drawn after the contest closes.

Find the contest here.

200 block breezeway in Penticton closed as City installs new security gates

Breezeway getting gates

City council decided back in February to install the secure gates in the walkway so that they can be closed overnight after seeing issues in the area, including a defacement of the public art murals.

A previous staff report found "loitering and vandalism have been a constant nuisance in the breezeway – including, graffiti, persons congregating and sleeping in the breezeway, panhandling, litter, drug use and other undesirable activity."

The breezeway connects Main Street to the Ellis Street parking areas in Penticton’s downtown and the intent is to secure the space during hours when the majority of downtown businesses are closed.

The cost to install gates was estimated at $20,000 for full design, custom manufacture and installation when staff presented the project to council for approval.

According to construction crews, installation will be taking place on Monday and access will be restricted throughout the day.

The decision to close the space hopes to remove opportunities for unwanted activity (graffiti, litter, camping, etc.) during hours when most stores are closed and allow the breezeway to remain clean and tidy when it reopens in the morning.

However, there is a concern about pushing the vandalism to another street now instead, and plans are unclear whether there will be a similar gate installed the 300 block breezeway. A city representative was not immediately available for comment.

The opening and closing of the gates will be managed by Bylaw Services, with hours adjusted for seasonal differences, but the gates are expected to generally be open when businesses are open downtown.

Penticton safety and security advisory committee to discuss official guidelines for where to put homeless shelters, supportive housing

Where to put shelters?

The City of Penticton is holding a special Safety and Security Advisory Committee meeting Monday, in order to discuss location selection guidelines for homeless shelters and supportive housing units.

On Monday morning, the committee will vote on whether to forward their draft siting guidelines to city council at its next meeting.

The committee has outlined the guidelines as follows:

  • Must be a minimum of 150 metres away from K-12 private and public schools.
  • Must be a minimum of 150 metres away from Marina Way Beach, Okanagan Beach, Skaha Beach, Gyro Park, Lakawanna Park, Marina Way Park, Okanagan Lake Park, Rose Garden, Skaha Lake Park, and SS Sicamous.
  • The property must not front any of the following highways: Lakeshore Drive, Main Street (100-700 blocks), Martin Street (100-300 blocks), Riverside Drive, Skaha Lake Road, and Westminster Avenue.
  • And it should consider, where possible, not to be near businesses that rely on foot traffic, and residences/homes for older adults/seniors, and should be near health/medical services.

These guidelines would further render the current Victory Church shelter on Winnipeg untenable, a location which is already contentious and the subject of a battle between the city and province to keep it open, and exclude a proposed 62-unit supportive housing complex at 3240 Skaha Lake Road, the lot for which has already been purchased by BC Housing.

The committee will vote Monday on finalizing the location selection guidelines and forward those to council for consideration and potential adoption.

Find the meeting's full agenda and information on how to watch it virtually at 10:30 a.m. Monday can be found here.

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