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Kelowna's will experts

Even today, Tricia still thanks her lucky stars she met Katy Williams.

Her mother had passed away, and things were getting messy with her estate. Lawyers had been brought into the mix, and none of them were particularly kind or helpful.

But then Tricia turned to Katy Williams, of Wills and Estate Law Group, and everything changed.

“Once Katy got involved there was a totally different tone,” Tricia recalls. Suddenly, other lawyers were much more accommodating, and things began to smooth out.

Tricia says Williams’ compassion and intelligence helped her get through a very tough time, so when the estate was settled she returned to Williams to get her will looked after too.

Through Wills and Estates Law Group, Williams brings her impressive skills to bear helping individuals and families set up their wills simply and easily, in a relaxed and comfortable environment.

Tricia says she was so happy with how Williams handled her estate and will planning she even convinced her kids to go.

Tricia’s children are still fairly young, but Williams points out that it’s still incredibly important for young families to get their wills and estates in order.

Williams says she’s more than busy enough looking after her own young kids, “so to think about meeting with a lawyer to get paperwork done is kind of the bottom of the list a lot of the time.”

However, it’s precisely because of her boys that she has made sure her affairs are all in order.

One of the things you specify in a will is guardianship, and she says she finds peace of mind knowing the exact person she wants caring for her kids is clearly laid out.

Likewise, she knows it’s incredibly important to lay out exactly how her assets will be divvied up should tragedy strike, to make sure her children are provided for.

Tricia says she felt so much better after talking to Williams, not only because she was “an incredibly sincere person who really listened to me,” but also because Williams was so good at helping her untangle the very best way to ensure her kids and grandkids are best supported once she’s gone.

“I feel like I was very fortunate that I found Katy,” Tricia says. “Her customers are damn lucky, and certainly I am so thankful.”

Williams says part of the reason Tricia and her other clients have had such positive experiences is because she does everything she can to make the wills and estates process as simple and stress-free as possible.

She meets with clients to go over exactly what their assets and liabilities are, and guide them through the best way to organize those assets in a will.

She jokes there’s always a little “homework,” but that she keeps her clients’ extra legwork to the absolute minimum.

She even offers a basic estate planning package, where she helps clients get all the documents they need “to get things done right” squared away at once.

“The process of getting your will and estate plan in place is not really a hard thing to do.  In fact, we are focused on making sure it is a straightforward process for clients.  But you do need to make sure you get that expert advice so it’s done correctly,” she says.

Having a professional like her take the reigns, she says, can cut down significantly on after-death taxes and process time, “so your assets can get to the people you want faster, and with fewer legal costs.”

For more information, visit Wills and Estates Law Group online.


Feeling royal on the river

Admittedly, “Boutique” isn’t a word you would normally use to describe a river cruise experience. But Kelowna’s Travel Time Inc. is doing its best to shift that perception, with Uniworld’s Boutique River Cruise Collection.

“This is a completely different kind of river cruise experience, and many travellers are taking notice of it,” says Brenda Sbrozzi, Travel Time’s business development manager.

River cruises are great for travellers who enjoy experiencing the heart of multiple cities, but prefer to unpack once. And for travellers who prefer staying at “boutique hotels,” Uniworld provides a similar experience on the rivers.

A sister company to the Red Carnation Hotel Group, each Uniworld ship is a work of art, designed to be as unique and inspiring as their destinations, often likened to castles rather than ships.

Once onboard, Uniworld’s passionate, dedicated and personalized service exceeds guest expectations. Combined with included airport transfers, gratuities, meals, unlimited beverages, carefully curated shore excursions and much more, Uniworld offers the most all-inclusive river cruise experience.

Their culinary experiences are rich, varied and interesting too. Working with the highest quality local ingredients, Uniworld chefs bring their “farm-to- table” philosophy to life, and when paired with local wines, guests are treated to mouth-watering epicurean journeys.

Uniworld’s river cruises also double as social clubs, providing dazzling environments for like-minded travellers. Recently, some new programs have joined Uniworld’s Themed Cruise options.

U by Uniworld is a fresh approach to cruising for ages 21- 45. Whether you’re a culture buff, adventurer, solo flyer or romantic, U by Uniworld provides new options for those with a passion for exploring and authentic adventures.

For families, the Generations program provides boatloads of fun including onboard activities, special family excursions and amenities designed to keep the whole family entertained.

Adventure-seekers looking for active and immersive adventures are the perfect candidates for Let’s Go programs. Offering exclusive excursions like golf, kayaking, guided hikes, bike rides and more, it’s a uniquely Uniworld way to explore new destinations.

Sbrozzi admits that there are many things to consider when selecting a river cruise, and encourages travellers to contact a Travel Time advisor for assistance with their next river cruise adventure.

Vernon culture comes alive

The sweet aroma of maple syrup warning on a stack of buttery pancakes; the mesmerizing swirl of native dancers; the groovy notes of a home-grown soul band sliding through the air.

Vernon will come alive later this month, as RespectFEST takes over the town, showcasing some of the most exciting food, music, art and cultural performances the city has to offer.

The week of events, activities and performances will run from Sept. 18-24, lighting up venues across the city.

Generously funded by the Government of Canada, the festival is a “celebration of respect and diversity” that will open the beautiful, exciting and absurd cultures of the world up to the North Okanagan.

Opportunities to learn about, and interact with, people from cultures, races, religions and background from around the globe will abound—and everything is free.

The week of events will include blistering live performances from local musicians, art and history walks that will change the way you think about the city, as well as a host of environmental and educational opportunities.

However, the real party will take place Sept. 23, when Civic Plaza and Spirit Square will play host to a massive performance and party, bringing together a superstar collection of cultural performances.

Everyone from the likes of Autrey Bell, an award-winning native dancer originally from the Enderby Splatsin Reserve, to Vernon’s own soul project Chipko Jones will showcase their art.

They will be joined by Barefoot Caravan, who will offer a percussion workshop where participants will learn the root of hand drumming; Jessica Yue, from the City Contemporary Dance Company and Hong Kong Traditional Chinese Dancing University, who will share her craft of traditional Chinese fan dancing; and more.

The show will draw thousands of participants of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to the city. They will have a chance to celebrate the cultural diversity of the community, and have a blast doing it.

"The Downtown Vernon Association and RespectFEST partners are so excited to bring this unique festival to Vernon,” says RespectFest Coordinator Lauren Gilley. “We're fortunate to have such rich history and unique diversity in the North Okanagan, and September 23 will be a day to celebrate that."

To check out a complete schedule of RespectFEST events, or learn more about the festival, visit RespectFest online.

The North Okanagan RespectFEST is funded in part by the Government of Canada. Ce projet est financé en partie par le gouvernement du Canada.

Biz shines under new lights

Judy Banfield never imagined something as simple as switching light bulbs would have such a significant impact on her business.

But when she swapped the lights in her store from old-school CFL bulbs to more energy-efficient LEDs, things changed at Mountain Baby.

Banfield got the upgrades thanks to a FortisBC program created to help small and medium-sized businesses save energy and money through energy-efficient upgrades.

The recently launched Business Direct Install Program hooks businesses up with a local contractor that helps them suss out how they could save more energy.

Once they have a plan, the contractor will then provide on-the-spot rebates of up to 50 per cent on the cost of eligible upgrades they install.

Banfield says taking advantage of the program last year allowed her to save heaps of money operating Mountain Baby, spend less time worrying about maintenance, and make the store more welcoming to customers.

“I have a lot of lights in my store. And probably at least once a week, my staff and I were up there on a big tall ladder changing light bulbs. It was frustrating, dangerous, expensive and time-consuming, and I was just never able to get the lighting that I wanted,” she explains.

Banfield says the contractor FortisBC connected her with showed up promptly and spent significant time with her figuring out exactly what would work best for her business.

“It was very helpful having someone come in and say, ‘I know how to fix that dead spot; I know how we can get it lit up,’” she says.

Now, her store looks brighter, the displays “pop out” in ways they never did before, and she often gets comments from her customers about how nice and bright the store is.

And she said her electricity costs have gone down “significantly.”

According to FortisBC, Banfield’s total rebates through the Business Direct Install Program were worth about $1,500, and have allowed her to save 18,950 kWh of electricity a year.

That’s roughly the equivalent of four window air conditioners running for ten hours a day throughout the entire year.

FortisBC spokesperson Nicole Bogdanovic points out that energy costs are some of the most controllable expenses for businesses, so having an experienced local contractor come in and beef up energy efficiency can mean big savings.

The quotes that contractors hired through the Business Direct Install Program give are calculated to each FortisBC customer’s projected energy savings.

Rebates will vary depending on the project and energy savings, but could be as much as $10,000 per facility.

Upgrades range from high-efficiency lighting and controls, to refrigeration, cooking equipment and water-efficient fixtures.

“We’re here to help. Being aware of energy use and using it efficiently is a sound business practice that can help improve profitability,” Bogdanovic says. “Along with lowering costs while helping preserve natural resources, it also helps keep rates as low as possible by lessening the need for new infrastructure. That’s why we work hard to make sure our programs are effective in helping commercial customers conserve and manage energy use.”

For more information, or to sign up for the Business Direct Install Program, visit FortisBC online.

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