ArtWalk celebrates 25 Years

For two days every September, the Lake Country Community Complex becomes a showcase for the Okanagan’s creative talent.

Celebrating an outstanding 25 years of supporting the arts, the Lake Country ArtWalk, which will be held Sept. 8-9, will feature more than 200 visual and performing artists from the Okanagan.

The two-day festival entitled Art of our Times: Celebrating 25 Years of ArtWalk will also have children's activities, live artist demonstrations, workshops, a live art auction and some great food and beverages.

I’ve enjoyed attending this event in the past and have had the privilege of purchasing some of the work of our talented artists.

Our cultural sector is not only an important economic generator, but an important way to share with each other and the world our unique Canadian perspective and our immense and vibrant diversity.

That is why the government continues to support local events like ArtWalk, and our local art galleries and museums in both Lake Country and Kelowna. 

It is also the reason that our government has committed more than $3.2 billion of new funding to arts and culture and why it will continue to work with creators and artists to find new ways to strengthen this important component of our economy and our identity.

I encourage everyone in our community to attend this outstanding annual event and discover the great creative talent we have here in the Okanagan. 

More information can be found at  .

Visiting ministers and Pacific Caucus

Last week, a number of cabinet ministers and my Pacific Caucus colleagues took the time to pay our riding a visit.

A number of productive meetings took place with organizations and individuals including:

  • City of Kelowna
  • District of Lake Country
  • City of West Kelowna
  • Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission
  • Kelowna International Airport, the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce
  • BC Wine Institute,
  • Agents of Discovery,
  • Okanagan College
  • University of British Columbia-Okanagan
  • Thompson Okanagan Tourism.

Some of the more notable highlights included:

  • an announcement with Lawrence MacAulay, mnister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Sukhpaul Bal, president of the BC Cherry Association that the government of Canada has secured market access in Japan for B.C. fresh cherries.
  • positive comments by Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton, who told us that our government’s federal investment in strategic infrastructure has yielded more than a legacy of buildings and the jobs that went into constructing them. The funding has helped to provide a great return on investment by allowing the college to expand programming that focuses on sustainability and leverage associated research initiatives.

There is always more to be done and as we near our return to Ottawa later in September, I look forward to pursuing our Kelowna-Lake Country priorities with the support of my colleagues. 

I wish to thank everyone who took the time to meet with my colleagues and assure you there will be more opportunities in the coming months. 

Likewise, if any local organizations are planning to travel to Ottawa, I encourage you to reach out to my office at [email protected] so we can help facilitate meetings with our government. 


Kelowna is doing just fine

Recent rumours of a fall snap election were dispelled pretty quickly by the Prime Minister last week. 

Nevertheless, local potential candidates are actively out in the community preparing for the next election. 

Unfortunately, for some, it means peddling the idea that the constituents of Kelowna-Lake Country are being ignored by the federal government or that they are not being well represented. 

Nothing couldn’t be further from the truth.

Just in the past few months, we’ve been able to highlight more than $5.5 million in important federal investments that directly benefit our Okanagan communities including:

  • $500,000 investment in research, education and outreach  to help prevent invasive mussels from reaching local waterways
  • $1.3 million for the Rails to Trails project
  • $3 million contribution which helped build the new state-of-the-art Okanagan College Trades Training facilities in both Kelowna and Vernon
  • $675,000 for the Canada Summer Jobs program in Kelowna-Lake Country.

Last week and this coming week, our riding will be visited by no fewer than six federal cabinet ministers, all of whom will be meeting with local organizations and individuals to seek their input on where our government can continue to help.  

Aug. 23-24th, our riding will once again host Pacific Caucus, which it did earlier in our government’s mandate in 2016. 

Here again, a number of stakeholder meetings are being arranged so that my B.C. colleagues can better understand our local priorities and help me advocate for them in national caucus.

Many will remember that national caucus, including the Prime Minister and the cabinet, visited our riding last summer. To say they left energized by the innovation and progress in Kelowna-Lake Country would be an understatement. 

Good economic news is welcome by governments and our communities are delivering it in spades as evidenced by the latest report from the Regional District of Central Okanagan’s Economic Development Commission (COEDC): 

  • median individual and household incomes have risen faster than provincial rates
  • our tourism, aerospace, tech, health and film sectors continue to generate thousands of jobs and deliver billions of dollars in revenue generation and economic impact
  • our post-secondary sector is educating more than 16,000 full time and part time students ensuring a skilled workforce is in place. 

Additionally, Kelowna was named the best city in B.C. to open a small business by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business in 2018.

Our federal government is actively working together with the other levels of government to make our communities better, safer and prosperous and it has infused millions of dollars in federal support to Kelowna-Lake Country and throughout the Okanagan.  

It may be fair game in politics to be constantly critical of government, but, in reality, it’s the kind of negativity that undermines all the good work that is driving local economic growth and making our communities some of the finest places to work and live in the country.

2019 will come soon enough. Until then, I’m focused on delivering for our community.

Good news for families

Two years ago, our government launched the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) to help families with the cost of raising kids.  

Simpler, tax free and more generous than previous child benefit programs, the CCB has resulted in an overall reduction of the cost of living for the average Canadian family and has played a vital role in reducing child poverty across Canada.

In Kelowna-Lake Country, as of January 2018, more than 17,000 children were being supported by the CCB.

The good news for local families is that, as of July 20, the CCB will be increased to keep up with the cost of living, a change that comes two years ahead of scheduled indexing by the government.

This means that the CCB will now have a maximum annual benefit of $6,496 per child under age six and $5,481 per child age six through 17.

For a single parent earning $35,000 with two children, the accelerated indexation of the CCB will mean an additional $560 in the 2019–20 benefit year.

In fact, the CCB provides significant financial support to lower and middle income families without discriminating between single-parent or dual-parent families. 

As noted by Carleton University professor Andrew Jackson, family income splitting for income tax purposes, introduced in 2014 by the last government, was designed to provide the maximum benefit to traditional families with a stay at home spouse despite the fact that the majority of families with children have both parents working.

The more progressive Canada Child Benefit, which has been credited as being “highly stimulative” to the economy by Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz, ensures the majority of families with children receive a benefit with the maximum going to those who need it the most.

As the economy continues to fire on all cylinders, with record job creation, income growth and stock markets at an all-time high, it’s important that as many Canadians as possible have the ability to participate.   

Programs such as CCB, and our government’s willingness to work with First Nations, provincial, territorial and municipal partners to address affordable housing, education, healthcare and an improved Canada Pension Plan, reflect our commitment to social and economic policies that are focused on areas where they are needed most.

More information on the Canada Child Benefit, including a benefit calculator, can be found at


2 women make their mark

Two of this year’s Order of Canada recipients are from the Okanagan
From the fields of science, community activism, literature, politics and sports, this year’s Order of Canada recipients were announced on June 29 on behalf of Governor General Julie Payette.

It gives me great pleasure to share with you that  two of the recipients are remarkable women with strong links to the Central Okanagan.
Bev Busson, from the North Okanagan region, is appointed to Member of the Order of Canada for “her lifelong commitment to public safety and for her dedicated service to Canadians through her involvement in multiple national and regional safety and justice initiatives.”
Bev was one of the first females to join the RCMP when they opened their ranks to women in the early 1970s. By then, Bev had graduated from UBC Law School and subsequently went on to become the Commanding Officer for Saskatchewan and the first woman to lead the RCMP, becoming the 21st commissioner in December 2006.

Bev retired to the Shuswap and became an important member of the Okanagan College Foundation Board for many years.
Deanna Hamilton, from Westbank First Nation, is appointed Officer of the Order of Canada for her “visionary contributions to First Nations fiscal management and governance, which have led to greater independence for Indigenous communities across Canada.”  
Returning to her community in the 1970s, Deanna realized that without proper funding, most aboriginal communities, hers included, would never be able to provide the infrastructure that most non-native communities take for granted – sewers, water, sidewalks and streetlights.

Deanna joined the band council, developed the Westbank First Nation property tax system, and then sought out a model that could be adapted to enable First Nations to raise funds to create the essential on-reserve infrastructure so essential to their progress and development.

With Deanna’s remarkable tenacity, leadership, and guidance, the First Nations Finance Authority sold its first Moody’s rated bond issue in 2014.     
Created in 1967, the Order of Canada, one of our country’s highest civilian honours, recognizes outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation and those who have taken to heart the motto of the Order: DESIDERANTES MELIOREM PATRIAM (“They desire a better country”). 
Appointments are made by the governor general on the recommendation of the Advisory Council for the Order of Canada in the name of all Canadians.
Appointees are awarded one of three levels under the Order:

  • Member (C.M.), which recognizes outstanding contributions at the local or regional level or in a special field of activity
  • Officer (O.C.), which recognizes national service or achievement;
  • Companion (C.C.), the highest honour, which recognizes national pre-eminence or international service or achievement.

Any person or group is welcome to nominate a deserving individual as a possible candidate for appointment to the Order of Canada. More information on the nomination process, and on this year’s recipients, can be found at the website of the governor general at
On behalf of our community and those throughout the Okanagan who have benefited from Bev and Deanna’s commitment and contribution to our nation, I offer our sincere appreciation and congratulations.

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About the Author

Stephen Fuhr was born in Edmonton, AB and grew up in Kamloops, BC. He is a former CF-18 fighter pilot with the Canadian Air Force.

After serving with distinction for 20 years, Stephen retired from the Canadian Forces in 2009 with the rank of Major. He joined his family’s Kelowna-based company, SkyTrac Systems, which develops aviation communication and tracking equipment. As CEO and Director of Business Development, he led the company to financial success in a challenging economic climate.

In 2012, Stephen left the company to pursue his first love of flying.

With growing interest in politics and a desire to serve his country again, Stephen ran for office in the 2015 election.

Today, he proudly serves as the Member of Parliament for the Kelowna-Lake Country riding. 

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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