Half Corked Marathon celebrates 15th consecutive year Saturday

Party at the finish line

The 15th Half Corked Marathon kicks off this weekend with 1,100 runners taking on a 20km route through the lush vineyards around Oliver.

Now in its 15th consecutive year (even through the pandemic) this year carries a theme of "Back to the Future" to mark the anniversary.

The unique event sees runners, joggers and walkers weaving through the iconic grape growing areas of Black Sage Road and the Golden Mile as well as the lush valley floor coursed by the Okanagan River.

A total of 13 wine stations are spread out along the route for participants to have a quick tasting tipple before getting back on trail.

Everyone is welcome at the Party at the Finish Line (at the Oliver Community Park) to watch participants complete the run in their creative and sometimes outrageous costumes.

"We just really want to celebrate with our participants, our community and all our partners in this achievement," Jennifer Busmann, Executive Director at Oliver Osoyoos Winery Association said speaking of the anniversary.

The finish line party is free to join and will feature live music by Rebel Luv, a photo wall, artisan's market, food trucks and wine tasting (commemorative glass and tasting tokens available for purchase). Thirteen member wineries will be hosting the tasting stations in the park.

"We're hoping people can join us at the finish line, it's gonna' be tons of fun!" she says.

"We just really want to have people come down and have some fun and celebrate and enjoy the outdoors and cheer on the racers in their costumes at the finish line."

The first runners are expected to begin crossing the finish line around 11 a.m. with the bulk coming in a bit later from about noon to 3 p.m.

Once all the runners have arrived prizes will be awarded on stage for the best individual costume, best team and best skit.

"We've encouraged our participating wineries to come to the table with a theme, picking whichever century or decade they want from the Back to the Future movie.

"And we know a lot of our participants that are registered for the race and the costume contest - given the names of their teams - they've picked different snippets from the movie. It's going to fun!" Busmann adds.

Busman is happy with the registration numbers, saying that given all the post-pandemic challenges of staffing and logistics issues the 1,100 figure was their target number.

"Working with all our stakeholders, our local businesses and all our contractors, 1,100 was really the number that made sense just because there are so many challenges with businesses and staffing and those kind of things."

The biggest hurdle she says, was simply trying to learn how to adjust to putting on the event according to their partner's staffing issues as well as volunteers.

At just a little over 20 km in length this year's Half Corked is a bit shorter than last year. This was largely a reflection of feedback from participants, many of whom felt last year's was too long. This involved working with both the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure along with BC Athletics.

The largest Half Corked to date was in 2019 when 1,600 participants took part.

Osoyoos Fire Rescue responded to possible boiler or electrical fire

Crews called to possible fire

Osoyoos Fire Rescue was on scene with three fire engines and a command car at a residence located on Willow Crescent Friday afternoon.

The emergency involved a possible boiler and/or electrical fire which residents attacked with multiple fire extinguishers before the firefighters arrived. Five occupants of the house escaped unharmed.

Castanet has reached out to the fire department for more information and will update when possible.

Oliver council gives thumbs up to cost-saving repaving of cracked portion of Tucelnuit Drive

Tucelnuit repaving green lit

Oliver town council has voted to take a local contractor up on their offer to get a discount for much-needed repaving on Tucelnuit Drive.

At their meeting on May 23, council heard that Peters Brothers Construction had reached out to town staff about work they were doing in the Tucelnuit Drive area, adjacent to the municipal border. They offered to apply a two-inch layer of asphalt overlay on the section of Tucelnuit within the town, between Vineyard Road and Bulrush Road.

Peters Brothers quoted $55,000 for the job, which town staff noted is far less than a typical project of that size, at $70-75,000.

Approval of the expenditure needed an amendment to the 2023 capital budget. Staff noted that the Road Capital Reserve, which had a balance as of the end of 2022 of $128,000, was the ideal option for accessing the funds.

Coun. David Mattes voiced his support.

“I think it’s a good opportunity to demonstrate that budgets are flexible. When opportunity comes along [to save money] then we should be willing to move forward,” Mattes said.

“As to which pot the money comes from, it’s all the same pot at the end of the day.”

Mayor Martin Johansen said he though the project was “past its time,” and that damage to the road is “really noticeable” in the area.

Council voted unanimously to move forward with the staff recommendation.

Osoyoos is inviting applications for below market housing

Near-market housing offered

Osoyoos is inviting moderate-income working families to apply under the Near Market Housing (NMH) Program to purchase a house in Phase 2 of the Southeast Meadowlark Plan Area.

Under the program two duplexes (four units) and one single family home within Phase 2 - which are undergoing final finishing - will be offered at 15 per cent below market value.

Gina MacKay, Director of Planning and Development says that price tag has not yet been determined.

She added that once the applications have been received the town will provide more information on pricing.

Under phase three, which is only beginning to be developed, two duplexes (four units) with level entry will also be offered at below market value but will be aimed at those with mobility challenges. A single family house will also be on offer.

The Town of Osoyoos' NMH Program is designed to help address community housing needs by providing a variety of housing forms and tenures. It aims to deliver lower cost affordable homes below comparable market housing for purchase by qualified applicants.

A covenant specifies that when the property is sold to the new owner the owner must enter into a housing agreement stipulating the length of time the owner must retain the property prior to selling.

Development of the Southeast Meadowlark Area required approval from the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) for excluding lands over time from the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). This approval in principal has been obtained with specific conditions, the town said.

The agreement with the ALC specifies that 15 per cent of the units must be sold or rented at 15 per cent below market rates. Preference for these units will be given to:

1. Younger working families especially those with school-age children.
2. Household income below or near the median household level in Osoyoos.
3. Does not currently own or being a party to any real estate property ownership.
4. Verification of approved mortgage from financial institution.
5. Canadian citizenship.

Depending upon the number of applicants a waiting list may be generated, the town said.

The need for such housing has been repeatedly identified by the town. According to the affordability threshold set by the Canada Housing and Mortgage Corporation (CMHC), total shelter costs for home purchasers and renters should ideally not exceed 30 per cent of their gross household income.

But in data collected for the Town’s 2010 Affordable Housing Strategy shows that even median-income local households will have difficulties staying within this affordability threshold.

Given the severe economic disruption both during the pandemic and continuing through today, this assessment would likely be far worse. MacKay noted that the price of both land and construction costs have risen dramatically since Phase 1 which will directly impact pricing of Phase 3.

For more information or to apply, visit the town's near market house page here.

Annual car show pumps nearly $1.5 million into local economy

Cactus Jalopies returns

All signs are pointing to the biggest and best Cactus Jalopies car event yet, with 600 vehicles and at least 1,200 accompanying humans along with another 10,000 spectators all expected to descend on Osoyoos in early June.

The last event was held just prior to the pandemic in 2019 and it went very well with over 500 cars says Francine Launier, Promotional Coordinator for Cactus Jalopies and of course JF Launier’s mom.

“This year we’re already over 500 cars in the pre-registration so we anticipate there’ll be about 600.” More and more people do the registration online now, she adds and that means that even with barely a week to go registrations are still filing in.

All told the event brings in an estimated $1.5 million to the local economy she says.

Registrations are coming in from around BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan, and quite a number from Washington State, she says.

And oddly enough, she’s also seeing quite a lot from Osoyoos. “I’m surprised every time I see another one from Osoyoos. Where are all these cars? I never see them,” she laughs.

She says they could well be what’s known as “trailer queens”, cars that go to and from car shows via trailer and never actually drive anywhere.

The Cactus Jalopies car show was the brain-child 20 years or so ago of JF Launier, well known locally and far, far beyond as a sort of car guru. With his extensive facility near the airport in Osoyoos he turns cars into million dollar works of mechanical art.

It all started with one 1951 pick up truck when he was 14 years old that he and his father fixed up. He still has that truck and it looks amazing says his mom.

With his love of cars already under his skin he began attending regional car shows eventually deciding with a friend that Osoyoos needed one. The first one saw 300 cars registered - a huge success for the inaugural event - and the rest as they say, is history (still in the making).

Francine says the event has just naturally evolved from that first event which was held at the old Westridge Motor Inn across from Destination Osoyoos, to Kinsmen Park across from Rattlesnake Canyon, to the present Gyro Park location.

This year will see cars stretch from the bridge along the beachfront all the way to the Osoyoos Sailing Club.

This year will feature the Rust Valley Restorers, the motorcycle stunt riders and of course Chip Foose, the American automobile designer, artist, and star of Velocity’s reality television series Overhaulin’.

The fun kicks off on Thursday June 1 from 2-10 p.m. at the Royal Canadian Legion with a Show ‘n Shine welcome and registration featuring a beer garden and barbecue by the Legion. That night will also feature a Sunset Winemaker Dinner at Nostalgia Wines.

Friday will see a Garage Tour around the area culminating in Cawston at a well known farm that, as Francine puts it, “appears to grow cars!” This popular event is limited to 75 people and is already full.

Between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. a wine tour to seven wineries (organized by Nostalgia Wines) will take place. The welcome party also continues, this time at Gyro Beach Park with Rotary putting on the beer garden and barbecue this time from 4-9 p.m.

The big day will be Saturday with the Show ‘n Shine from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (entrance is free).

Awards will be presented at 2 p.m. and this year’s event is being held in memory of Carole Johanson, a close friend of the Launier’s and big supporter of the show who died last year.

This year also features a special section for those aged 25 and younger who will get their registration fee reimbursed in an effort to attract more young people to the hobby.

Although not part of the Cactus Jalopies, the Wine Country Racing Association will feature Drag Racing at the Osoyoos Airport on Sunday (June 4). Entrance is $5 per person.

Oliver's Finance Department awarded for 11th year in a row

Town bags finance award

The Finance Department at the Town of Oliver has once again been awarded for the quality of its financial reporting, an award it has won consecutively since 2012.

The Canadian Award for Financial Reporting has been awarded to Town of Oliver by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) for its annual financial report.

The award was established to encourage municipal governments throughout Canada to publish high-quality financial reports and to provide peer recognition and technical guidance for officials preparing these reports.

"It's a standard that municipalities try to strive for, just going a little bit beyond what the minimum requirements are for generally accepted accounting principles for statements," said Wayne Anderson, Chief Financial Officer for the Town of Oliver.

The award was presented to Anderson and Connie Magoffin, Deputy Finance Officer on behalf of the entire Finance Department at the May 23, 2023 Committee of the Whole Meeting.

Speaking to the Times Chronicle, Anderson laughed that because this is his first year in the role he's actually accepting it on behalf of the previous CFO, who was only in the position for 10 months and as such had accepted an award on behalf of the CFO before him.

The annual financial report has been judged by impartial Canadian Review Committee members to meet the high standards of the program. This includes demonstrating a constructive “spirit of full disclosure” designed to clearly communicate the municipality’s financial story and to motivate potential users and user groups to read the report.

On a more practical level Anderson says the award "makes people feel comfortable I think, that the information that was communicated was clear and understandable, not just a bunch of accounting jargon." That is a key part of the award criteria he notes.

It's made up of "meaningful information, with charts and graphs and we try to build a picture so people can more relate it to their personal finances."

The Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) advances excellence in government finance by providing best practices, professional development, resources, and practical research for more than 21,000 members and the communities they serve.

Spring into the Oliver nest and experience local art

Spring hatching local artists

May is a time for blossoming flowers, birds chirping, warmer weather, and local artists hatching out of their winter hibernations to showcase their creations for all to see.

The Oliver Quail’s Nest Arts Centre is hosting their second annual open house on May 28, where visitors can expect to discover art exhibits, sales, demonstrations, live music, children’s art activities, and door prizes.

Admission is free, although there will be opportunities for purchasing wares, and visitors will be able to learn from information booths introducing them to many local artists, upcoming art events, and paths to become more active in the local art community.

“Art is interactive and wide-ranging,” explains JoAnn Turner, Oliver Community Arts Council president, “and we’re always trying to capture that variety.”

At this event, it is certain that artists will hatch artistic eggs of all colours and sizes, as there will be writers, fiber artists, painters, quilters, jewelers, and multi-media artists who will all be showcasing their creativity in this dance of local artists.

All the artists in attendance will be members of the Oliver Community Arts Council, the organizers behind this event. During the event the arts council will also be promoting their own programs such as CreateAbility, Music in the Park, and the Fall Art Show and Sale.

Some of the local artists will be well known, but there will be newcomers as well. Turner said, “we will see not only some favourites, but some soon-to-be favourites.”

Some of the newcomers Turner is excited to welcome are, the Wine Country Writers Festival, a Mexican handcrafter, and an Indigenous society selling merchandise in support of reconciliation and mental health.

In addition, “SOSS Art Club students will partner with the RipOffs this year, and have impressive art on display.” The Desert Sage Spinners and Weavers, Kreutopia encaustic art, GNR Alpaca Boutique will all be demonstrating their skills at the event.

The Ukraine Nightingale Project will also be raffling a quilt and will have other items for sale to support the refugee crisis.

Anyone who is interested in the shopping side of the event, can purchase art cards, handcrafted jewelry, pine needle baskets, clothing and souvenirs. There will also be many children’s activities, such as quail-themed crafts, colouring pages, quirky quail dress-up opportunities at the photo booth.

The Quail’s Nest Open House will take place on Sunday May 28 between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. at 5840 Airport Street, Oliver. Public parking is available on the north side of the big blue building. For more information you can visit OliverArtsCouncil.org.

Oliver council rejects potential trail-blazing expedition in changing official terminology around fossil fuels

To blaze or not to blaze?

At the regular town council meeting on May 8, 2023 the correspondence report addressed a request from Edgar Dearden of GNAR Inc, suggesting that the town update its style guide to replace the term “natural gas” with “fossil gas” when referring to the gas supplied to consumers.

The report by Rochelle Lougheed, corporate officer for the Town of Oliver, explained that the changes intend to “clarify that the subject is fossil fuel”.

This motion put forward by Dearden noted that the term “natural gas” may lead to confusion about its nature as a fossil fuel, and therefore in the spirit of promoting the urgency in addressing climate change, the town should replace the term with “fossil gas”.

Coun. David Mattes responded by saying, “I guess it’s a question of bottom-up or top-down: bottom-up meaning council starting first and trying to sway the whole province and industry to change their terminology, or top-down being the people in the industry and provincial and federal government changing their terminology and us following suit. I would prefer the second choice.”

Council agreed with Mattes’ reasoning and did not move the motion.

Local South Okanagan poet speaks to the seasons of change in new book

Book launch for local poet

Everyone navigates the seasons of physical and mental change, but it does not have to be done alone, that is what Chiara Mason expresses through her first published book of poetry: Blooming: Poetry For the Seasons of Change whose launch is set for this weekend.

Mason is from Oliver, in her younger years attending Oliver Elementary School and South Okanagan Secondary School.

She now lives in Toronto working at the University of Toronto in student recruitment, but she wants people to know although she is in Toronto, “I still consider the Okanagan home. All my family is here in the Okanagan so I do come back quite frequently.”

Mason explains that the book is “divided into the four physical seasons: summer, fall, winter, spring. So it’s those literal seasons throughout the year and then kind of those emotional seasons of change as well.”

The book’s form ties itself to this larger metaphor and Mason explains that the book is broken up in that way. She wants readers to progress through the seasons expressed in the book, and hopes that readers will see a correlation with “transitioning through the journey of life.”

A large focus of her book is on the mental health challenges that come with the changing of the mental seasons, and people’s journey “working through those more challenging times, and then getting to the more hopeful seasons of spring.

“I think that one of my biggest hopes for the book is that people won’t feel like they are alone with whatever they might be struggling with or going through.”

This focus on mental health, and how it plays into the narrative of the seasons is close to home for Mason and comes from a deep personal place.

“I have definitely had my own mental health challenges. Part of the reason why I really wanted to lean into the metaphor of the seasons is because they don’t just end when you get to spring, they obviously repeat themselves year after year, so I am hoping that is a larger metaphor that seasons are always going to come our way and we can get through that with the right support.”

Not only the focus on mental health challenges, but also the more general focus on change in itself comes from a personal place as well. Mason explained that, “for me, I have been through a lot of different changes in my life. I have also been the first in my family to do a lot of things. So I was the first person to go to university, the first person to go overseas with my exchange, I was the first person to publish a book, and so it’s been a theme in my own life just lots of things I have faced.”

Mason explained that she does think that there is a timeliness to the book. “I think there is a lot of people that are in, if you want to call it the “post pandemic”, trying to navigate all the changes that has come from that, especially on the emotional side of things, and so I think there are a lot of people that hopefully can relate to it in that sense.”

For Mason poetry and writing is very therapeutic in getting emotions out. She describes her style of poetry as “free form, it’s not like rhyming poetry per say or any typical conventions, it’s more free form, free flowing, it just kind of comes out of me I guess, I am not necessarily following any particular structures or conventions, its however I feel like it needs to come out and be expressed”.

Mason is having a book signing on Friday May 26 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Orchard Park Mall Indigo in Kelowna.

On Saturday May 27 Mason will be having an official book launch at Black Sheep Coffee Bar on Bernard Avenue in Kelowna from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Town of Oliver loses top bureaucrat to other pursuits

Town needs a new CAO

The Town of Oliver will soon be getting a new chief administrative officer after the town informed the public that Ed Chow has left the organization to pursue other interests.

“The town appreciates Ed’s work within the town over the last two years. We wish him all the best in his future endeavours,” commented Mayor Martin Johansen when the town released the information to the public on May 24.

Wayne Anderson, the town’s current chief financial officer, has been appointed the acting chief administrative officer while the town begins the process of recruiting another CAO.

Ed Chow took over from Cathy Cowan who retired in 2021. Chow came to Oliver from Alberta where he held two CAO roles over the previous 10 years. Prior to that, he began his local government career with the City of Nelson.

Chow also spent time furthering his education prior to his role in Oliver and holds a master's degree in public administration, and a national advanced certificate in local authority administration.

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