Think Local  

Plenty of investments over the summer at Kelowna ski resort

Big White provides big value

Big White Ski Resort was recently ranked in the top 15 of value destination ski resorts in North America.

“Big White has always been great value when you look at the ski-in, ski-out convenience, the size of resort and amenities combined with the second largest lift system in Canada,” Big White senior vice-president Michael J. Ballingall says. “It’s wonderful to be recognized for that value. What Okanagan residents may not know is that Big White’s commitment to locals never needing to pay full price would put Big White in the number two spot for value in North America.

“We know people residing in the Okanagan live here for the incredible lifestyle it offers. We’re proud that Big White Ski Resort plays such a big role.”

In addition to the tremendous value Big White offers, there are also a number of upgrades in store for visitors to the mountain this season:

1. Gem Lake Return Trail ($354,000)
For those who love traversing the boundary edge on Kalina’s Rainbow, gliding through the powder in Sun Rype Bowl or whizzing through the trees in the Sapphire Glades, you’ll be able to do so weeks earlier in the season thanks to an enhanced return trail from Gem Lake. Big White crews have been working tirelessly over the summer and fall to finish off the new Village Way Return. This way, skiers and snowboarders can shred their favourite Gem Lake runs with a snow base of 30 to 40 centimetres less than what Big White normally needs to open Westridge. The Gem Lake chair doesn’t usually start spinning near Christmas time, but with this upgrade, plan for early December.

2. Two New Groomers ($940,000)
Big White knows the people of the Okanagan love a good corduroy, and that’s why, for the 2019-20 season, the resort has added two new groomers to its already extensive fleet. The resort grooms all of its green runs, around 50 per cent of its blues and a handful of blacks—depending on conditions. These new groomers offer the most modern alpine technology for precise grooming work, meaning crews will be able to keep your favourite runs in tip-top shape all season long.

3. Magic Carpet 2.0 & Beginner Area Expansion ($315,000)
Big White has always been committed to introducing the sports of skiing and snowboarding to as many newbies as it possibly can, and now this mission is made easier with the brand new Magic Carpet 2.0 in Happy Valley. The new carpet is located right below the Ice Climbing Tower, offering up another swath of Okanagan Champagne Powder for first-timers and beginners to practise their pizzas and french fries on.

4. Phase 1 of New Central Reservations Building ($1.2 million)
Big White’s Central Reservations team members are some of the busiest people on the mountain, fielding 33,208 phone calls and organizing airport transfers for 21,043 people during the 2018-19 season. That’s why Big White is building them a brand new centre to call their own. The first phase of this $5.5 million project is complete and will feature more guest parking for easy check-in and check-out, a large and open front desk, high ceilings, and the addition of a guest lounge with showers and bathrooms for those wanting to ski on the day of their check-out. The new building will also house a larger reservation office and owner relations office, a board room, a meeting space and a maintenance shop.

5. Forest Fuel Mitigation ($660,000)
Thanks to a grant from the Forest Enhancement Society of British Columbia, Big White has been able to thin out the forested areas around the resort’s recreational boundary to slow down the threat of potential wildfires in the area. This summer focused on machinery work, and come next spring and summer crews will finish off the rest by hand, raking and cleaning up forest debris.

Inaugural Penticton Beer Week begins Saturday with Oktoberfest

Craft beer rules in Penticton


Penticton was making craft beer well before it was cool to drink craft beer.

It was 1995 when Tin Whistle opened its doors, and the taps have not turned off since. There are soon going to be seven craft breweries in the South Okanagan city, which next year will celebrate the 25th annual Okanagan Fest of Ale. In the meantime, you can celebrate all things barley and hops during the inaugural Penticton Beer Week, which starts Saturday.

“It was pretty cool to be on the forefront of something that’s grown into something so popular in B.C., across Canada, and, really, around the world,” Cannery Brewing marketing director Kim Lawton says. “Craft beer is such a special phenomenon, and it just keeps gets bigger and better.

“Penticton seriously out-ranks the number of breweries per capita versus a lot of towns. We punch way above our weight.”

There are no punches involved when it comes to Penticton’s craft breweries, however, as all seven work together to shine the spotlight on one another. That will be the case once again during Penticton Beer Week, as the breweries came together to create one special brew—called Community Common—that will raise money for Penticton and Area Cycling Association.

The creation will be revealed next week during Penticton Beer Week festivities. The craft beer industry is a collaborative industry to begin with, but the Penticton brewing community takes it to another level. Tin Whistle, Barley Mill, Cannery, Bad Tattoo, Highway 97, Slackwater and Neighbourhood Brewing, which will be opening soon, all work together and go the extra mile to promote the Penticton Ale Trail, which is one of 18 ale trails across the province.

“We are competitors, but at the end of the day our view is really that the more that we work together, all boats rise with the tide,” Lawton says.

“We know if you live in Vancouver you’re not going to drive to Penticton to visit one brewery. But if you’re into the craft beer scene, you might drive to Penticton for the opportunity to do the Penticton Beer Run and visit seven breweries and climb Skaha Bluffs, and spend some time at the lake and float the channel.”

Another way the award-winning breweries attract attention is to take the beer to potential new customers.The Penticton Ale Trail has done tap takeovers in Vancouver and Kamloops to showcase the South Okanagan’s finest.

“It’s like we’re picking up Penticton’s craft beer scene and taking it to another place and giving people a taste of it,” Lawton says.

The inaugural Penticton Beer Week will kick off with Saturday’s 10th annual Oktoberfest, and the rest of the week will include the following smorgasbord of events:

Saturday, Oct. 19 - Penticton Oktoberfest
Sunday, Oct. 20 - Neighbourhood Brewing industry kick-off at The Nest & Nectar
Tuesday, Oct. 22 - The Highway 97 Big Bar Takeover at The Barking Parrot Bar
Wednesday, Oct. 23 - Brewers’ Showdown at Cannery Brewing
Thursday, Oct. 24 - Neighbourhood beer-paired dinner at Brodo
Thursday, Oct. 24 - Work Boots, Beer and Bacon at the Barley Mill Brew Pub
Friday, Oct. 25 - Bustin’ the Barrel at Slackwater Brewing
Saturday, Oct. 26 - Laughs and Draughts with Tin Whistle at Craft Corner Kitchen

More information and details about hotel packages during Penticton Beer Week can be found here.

Spiritleaf Vernon owner makes successful plunge into cannabis

Ballantyne blazes trail

Sarah Ballantyne spent 15 years working for Alberta Health Services, which meant she had it made in the shade when it came to job security.

So what did she do?

She decided to jump into the abyss with both feet into the unknown, opening a Spiritleaf recreational cannabis store in Vernon with her husband. No one knew how the industry was going to do, but Ballantyne says it has been absolutely fantastic so far.

“It’s been doing really well, sales are great, and our customers are loving it,” Ballantyne says with a smile you can hear over the phone. “So I think we made the right choice.”

Ballantyne got a head start against all the other cannabis stores in the Okanagan—most of which have not yet received provincial approval—because Spiritleaf was the first legal location to crack open its doors in the valley. That happened on July 1, and Ballantyne believes it has been a factor in their success.

“It definitely helped,” she says. “It definitely gave us a lot of media coverage and with the restrictions on advertising, so we actually thought that was a big help to get the name out there right away.”


Spiritleaf, which is located at 102-2500 53rd Ave. in Vernon, features between 50 and 75 cannabis strains that are sold in all forms. Ballantyne added that “90 per cent” of her customer base is interested in edibles that will soon be legal in Canada.

The one-year anniversary of legalization, which is Thursday, is also a significant date as it pertains to those phase II products, which include food-grade edibles, topicals, vape cartridges and something that will truly stand out: beverages. Spiritleaf will be carrying all of these products the moment they become available.

Ballantyne feels particular joy when hearing from seniors who say the store’s products have helped improve their qualities of life. She says her location has a “huge” customer base of seniors.

The clientele as a whole is wide and varied, and Ballantyne says there has been a steady flow coming in the door since opening day. She has even heard from customers who have left their black market dealer due to the “convenience, knowledgeable staff and friendly environment” at Spiritleaf.

“We’re still getting first-timers every day,” she says. “We’re getting new customers every day still, and we’ve been open for over three months. And then we’re getting more curious customers, too, who want to try something new every time they come in.”

The one thing that has made Ballantyne’s career turn unique is the fact that she can’t do what all other Canadian businesses can do. That’s because the laws surrounding recreational cannabis in Canada prevent businesses from advertising and offering sales. There are also rules that prevent employees from offering any kind of medical advice to people looking for relief.

What Ballantyne can do, however, is purchase product from her own store like any of her clientele and then relay how it made her feel to someone looking to purchase some cannabis of their own.

“We like to do some research ourselves,” Ballantyne says. “That way we can provide good feedback for our customers.”

Salvation Army more than just Thrift Stores, bell ringing and aid

The Army is always there

When people think of The Salvation Army, many think about Thrift Stores, the ringing of bells at a Christmas Kettle and helping those in need. While those are large components of what The Salvation Army does here in Kelowna, there is a whole lot more as well.

The Salvation Army has been a part of the fabric of Kelowna for the past 100 years. Since 1919, it has been providing help and hope to the residents of this community. Did you know that, first and foremost, The Salvation Army is a Christian church? In Kelowna, the church is located at 1480 Sutherland Ave., and each Sunday there is a service at 10:30 a.m. that the community is welcome to attend. There are weekly programs for children, youth, adults and seniors.

During a study conducted in 2016 by Dr. Mike Daly of the Halo Project, it was assessed that based on the programs and services offered by The Salvation Army in Kelowna, that there was a $5.6-million-dollar economic impact on the larger community, which is in addition to the emotional and spiritual support provided to local residents.

As an extension of the ministry of the church, the Community Life Centre (CLC) provides a place where practical support is given to residents daily. Food, clothing, furniture and household goods are provided free of charge to those in need by way of the local Salvation Army Thrift Stores. While these are typically the catalyst reasons for people to walk in the doors of the CLC, there is much more that takes place as guests meet with staff.

“The CLC is a place of hope,” community ministries co-ordinator Sonia Withers says. “As people meet with a case worker, what we often discover is that there are significant underlying concerns that need to be addressed. Loneliness is having a significant impact on people’s lives. While we feel ‘connected’ through social media, more and more individuals feel that they simply do not have people in their lives with whom they can be real, with whom they feel connected.”

Isolation, addiction, grief and financial concerns—these are all issues that case workers assist guests with on a daily basis. There are many individuals who come into the CLC regularly because they know it is a safe place where they will be accepted and loved—without discrimination. All services are provided based on The Salvation Army resources and capacity to help regardless of age, gender, religion or sexual orientation.

Also housed at the CLC is the Community Response Unit. This mobile kitchen is part of The Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Services. During times of disaster, whether it be the fires of 2003 to 2018, when there have been evacuations both in our community and around our province, the floods of 2017 as well as other provincial and national disasters, the Kelowna Salvation Army has been there to provide support. A trained team of volunteers support both evacuees at reception centres as well as provide meal support to first responders on scene at disasters.

Our Thrift Stores provide low-cost goods to the community as well as employment for many local residents. All proceeds from the Thrift Stores go directly back into local Salvation Army programs and services. When you donate to and shop at a Salvation Army Thrift Store, you are providing food to a family whose cupboards are bare; a winter coat to the child heading out to school; a bed for those who have been sleeping on the floor; a backpack filled with supplies to a child starting that first day of a new school year; a safe space for those who are walking a journey of grief to come and find support … and SO much more.

“We are so deeply grateful for how this community continues to step-up to care for its most vulnerable citizens” says Capt. Darryl Burry, the lead pastor and executive director. “From financial donations to the donation of time through volunteer service, we could not do what we do without the support of this community.”

As the Christmas season approaches, The Salvation Army is once again putting out the call for volunteers.

“We need people who are willing to take a two-hour shift to ‘ring bells’ at a Christmas Kettle,” Burry said. “We would like to throw out a challenge to organizations and businesses to ‘Adopt a Kettle’ for a day to raise funds for families in need. But we also need people to volunteer year-round to support our food reclamation program, our emergency disaster services and to assist in our Thrift Stores. There really is something for everyone.”

To learn more about The Salvation Army in Kelowna, to get involved or to donate, visit their website at www.kelownasalvationarmy.ca.

More Think Local articles

Recent Trending