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Help the planet, help people

Last month, for the first time in a decade, electricity use in B.C. went up instead of down during the World Wildlife Fund’s Earth Hour.

Participation in the campaign, which encourages people around the world to turn off their lights to help raise awareness about climate change, has been declining for five years.

But with Earth Day now just around the corner, The Salvation Army in the Central Okanagan is reminding people about the importance of looking out for the planet.

“It's the responsibilities of everyone to take care of the Earth,” says the Salvation Army’s Donna Thibideau. “It should be the mandate of every organization because taking care of the Earth is just another way of taking care of people.”

That is why Thibideau says the Salvation Army has been recycling for more than 100 years, which is primarily seen through its thrift store operations.

“We strive to look for ways to repurpose things to keep them out of the landfill,” Thibideau says.

That, combined with promotions that give customers discounts on their purchase if they bring their own bag, have helped the organization’s thrift stores repurpose a ton of waste.

According to Marion Boef, the Donation Welcome Centre manager, the organization kept 311.3 tonnes of textiles, shoes, and purses from the dump in 2017 alone---in addition to selling 489,929 products.

Boef adds that, at the warehouse, they “try everything we can to keep as much as possible out of the garbage.”

Boef says that, through careful sorting of donated goods, staff takes constant steps to ensure any and all unsalable items get diverted to recycling initiatives.

Right now they recycle all kinds of items, including clothing, shoes, accessories, books, cardboard, metals, plastic bags, plastic, electronics, and many others.

Planet Earth Recycling, in partnership with the Central Okanagan Salvation Army, says it collected 195 metric tonnes of recyclables in 2017. In 2011, it also received the City of Kelowna Mayor’s Environmental Achievement Award for the group most dedicated to protecting the environment.

But for Thibideau, the Salvation Army’s recycling is about more than just protecting the environment: it’s about protecting people, too.

“It’s not just about recycling, it’s about how the sale of those donated items allows us to provide support for those in need in our community," says Thibideau.

Not only are we helping to keep those items out of the landfill, the proceeds from the sale of those items support our community. We also provide clothing and household items free of charge to those in need," she adds.

Thibideau says the Salvation Army is able to offer food support, life skills training, emergency disaster services, and other community supports "all because people donated to, and shopped at a Salvation Army thrift store," where 100 per cent of proceeds support local program.

By helping the planet, she says, her organization is able to help people throughout the community.

She welcomed anyone interested in contributing to their cause to donate at their donation welcome centre, located at 2330 Hunter Rd., or visit one of their thrift stores and buy something.

More information about the Salvation Army in the Central Okanagan is available online.


Experience NEO living

A Kelowna developer is taking sustainable home development in the Okanagan to new levels, with a 48-condo project in West Kelowna it says will set the standard for BUILT GREEN projects in the region.

NEO is the latest project from Highstreet Ventures and will be built to a set of energy-efficient standards few other developers can match.

As Highstreet’s VP of development and sales, Christina Wilson, explains, NEO will have a system of photovoltaic solar panels installed on the roof that will help lower dependency on grid energy and power all the development’s common spaces with renewable electricity.

The project will be built with a higher standard of energy efficiency to surpass the building code by 53 per cent.

Along with triple-pane windows and high-efficiency mechanical systems, it will also feature LED lighting in common areas and exterior LED lighting.

These features, along with many others, will allow the project to be certified through Built Green Canada. Developers with the certification take a holistic approach to sustainability, taking into consideration things like indoor air quality, ventilation, waste management, water conservation, and overall business practices.

“Owners will enjoy a home with a lower environmental impact that comes with the added benefit of reduction in monthly operating costs,” Wilson says.

Jenifer Christenson, the chief executive director of Built Green Canada says Built Green projects like NEO are “at the intersection of affordability and sustainability,” offering “sustainable features that reduce utility costs and further increase the value of the inherent affordability.”

Recently ranked one of Canada’s fastest-growing companies by MacLean’s magazine’s PROFIT 500, and named the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce’s small business of the year in 2016, Highstreet Ventures continues to set a precedent for sustainable development.

Throughout its 13-year history, Highstreet has remained passionate about developing smarter real estate that “makes a real impact” in the communities it's built in.

“We recently set our vision at owning and operating $200 million of net-zero real estate by 2024,” says Wilson.

“Investing in top-rated soundproofing, quality finishes, and environmental sustainability enables Highstreet’s properties to stand alone in the marketplace,” Wilson says.

More information on Highstreet Ventures is available online. For a closer look at the company’s groundbreaking NEO development, click here.

NEO show suites will open at the end of April, and sales will launch in May. New buyers will be able to move in as early as the end of this year.


Flooding: are you covered?

Temperatures are finally starting to rise in the Okanagan and, with the snowpack in the region sitting at more than 140 per cent above its normal levels, the possibility of major flooding is top of many Kelowna residents’ minds.

But as property owners begin prepping pumps and filling sandbags, one man is worried not everyone is aware of their options.

Brett Innis of Kelowna Valley Insurance says there’s still a lot of confusion out there about homeowners insurance and flooding, and he’s worried misconceptions could end up costing people this season.

He points out that, traditionally, a homeowner's insurance policy didn't cover flooding from rising bodies of water like lakes, rivers, or streams. Even heavy rainfall wasn't covered.

As of a few years ago, most insurers changed their policies so they don't even cover sewer backups if they happened within 72 hours of overland flooding.

Today, water claims damage has eclipsed claims for fire and is now the number one cause of personal property claims in Canada.

In 2017 the insurance market changed, as many insurance companies began to offer new, optional "overland water coverage" for owner-occupied residences.

"Now you may be able to acquire coverage against damage from runoff from heavy rains or an overflow of a body of water, including the resulting sewer backup," Innis says.

How much you have to pay for that add-on, or whether you can even get it, will depend heavily on where your property is located.

The policies also cover additional living expenses based on a percentage of what the house is insured for, but the policyholder must have that specific peril insured against.

Previously, the only relief was what was available from government disaster assistance.

Innis points out that the province's disaster fund states "an applicant who could reasonably and readily have purchased overland flood insurance would NOT be eligible for DFA."

"It all depends on risk," he says, encouraging people to check with their broker if they can acquire coverage for above-ground water damage. Depending on your location, availability and pricing will vary.

"Like any insurance, overland flood insurance is only available for events that are unforeseen and accidental, before disaster strikes," he adds.

Innis invited anyone who wants to learn more about their risk from flooding, and whether or not they should consider overland water coverage, to give him a call, or visit Kelowna Valley Insurance online


Okanagan Eats returns!

After a massively successful inaugural year, the Okanagan Eats Food Show is coming back to Kelowna, tastier and more exciting than ever.

Festival organizers have doubled down on everything that made last year’s show great, amping up the live stage with head-to-head chef competitions and some serious special-guest star power.

They’ve also expanded the amount of hot food and local liquor on offer for attendees and secured some of the most unique and hard-to-find products to sate shoppers’ appetites.

New this year will also be a licensed area right next to the stage, where attendees can relax, have a few drinks, and take in the top-notch entertainment on display.

Festival organizer Rhonda Tannahill says this year they’ve brought back popular celebrity guests to anchor the live entertainment, along with all your favourite local chefs, who will be duking it out head-to-head in black box competitions.

Pack in instructional classes, live demos, and the opportunity for audience members to taste everything prepared on-stage, and Tannahill says the entertainment promises to be “spectacular.”

And that’s before you even get to the food.

Last year, the festival’s food was so popular they ran out both days. Tannahill says this year they’ve doubled the number of both food and liquor vendors, and the festival will be bursting with scrumptious options.

Local restaurants will be on hand serving up samples of their favourite dishes, which Tannahill says will be portioned out in healthy sizes that are satisfying enough to fill your craving, but not so bloated you get full before you can try everything.

Once you’ve taken in the live demos and filled your belly, the Okanagan Eats Food Show still has more to offer, through an array of carefully selected shopping options.

Popular products like Mojo Jojo Pickles, Black Sheep Vegan Cheeze, and West Coast Gourmet Snacks will all be on offer, joined by everything from hand-crafted growlers to artisan teas and even an option to rent your own chicken.

“These are the kinds of unique products you can’t really find anywhere else, so anyone looking to get their hands on some unique, high-quality food products needs to be here,” Tannahill says.

Tannahill points out that with all the options available the Okanagan Eats Food Show is the perfect place to spend the day—shopping, eating, and being entertained.

“Come, fill your bellies, have a couple of drinks, and stay for the day,” she says, “you won’t be disappointed.”

She said the festival is great for both a family outing or for groups of friends looking for a top-notch food festival right here at home.

The Okanagan Eats Food Show takes place April 20-21, at the Kelowna Curling Club. Tickets will be available at the door, or in advance online.

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