John Thomson  

John Thomson's I Didn't Know That!

It was a good week for rumours and things because everyone I talked to had a story regarding something new or something that was going to change. Some I can’t use quite yet, but I will.

A new craft brewery is coming to Penticton and what is surprising about this project is that it is going to be built on native land. The natives own something like 44,000 acres and not much has been done to develop it. They of course would like to develop their holding just like Chief Louie in the south and Chief Clarence of the Osoyoos Indian band have done.

The builders of the Craft beer brewery are expected to get underway in the spring. The developers are excited about the prospects and happy with the working relationship.


It’s NHL hockey season and it has started with a bang. All kinds of injuries and especially to the head. Rules don’t seem to matter nor did they ever really. Now it's an aim to the head and it is deliberate.

The crowds are back although not completely - the ticket prices are equivalent to groceries for a week.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are the most financially rewarded for their play. The Maple Leafs are own by Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment who also own The Raptor’s, The Marlboro's American League team, Toronto Football (Soccer), Air Canada Centre, bars and restaurants, programs, souvenirs, popcorn and anything else that sells inside.

In a book I read recently the author dug into the operations and came a way with a surprising total of twenty cents profit on every dollar put in the till.


It’s on the table again.  The eight owners of Apex Mountain Resort, located just a bit west of Penticton, has a $5 million price tag on the property.

The eight owners are not in a hurry.  They have had two great years and have received all their investment back.


Greyback Developments Ltd., in partnership with the Penticton Indian Band Development Corporation, officially announced details on their newest project, Skaha Hills, a $250 million mixed residential/commercial community overlooking Skaha Lake and minutes from Penticton, British Columbia.
Skaha Hills is a master-planned community above the shores of Skaha Lake, situated on a spectacular 550-acre site on South Okanagan hillsides and bench lands.
“The elevated site on the south end of Penticton is one of the finest parcels of land for development in Penticton because of its views, natural setting and proximity to amenities and Highway 97, the main artery through the Okanagan,” says Curt Jansen, Skaha Hills director of real estate. “Skaha Hills offers unparalleled views and broad vistas of the Penticton area, spanning from Okanagan Lake, over Skaha Lake to Okanagan Falls.”
Skaha Hills will develop in seven phases attracting multi-generational markets integrated into a spectacular setting. At full build-out, Skaha Hill will consist of 600 homes with protected lands surrounding the community, guaranteeing uninterrupted views.
Proposed amenities include golf, beachfront access, exceptional hiking trails throughout the resort community, pools, clubhouse and sports courts. The entrance will feature a rock waterfall accented with indigenous “peach rock” found in abundance in a hidden quarry. Gently sloped hills planted with vineyards leading up to the community, serve as a powerful sense of arrival to the controlled-access community.

Larry Kenyon, president of Greyback Developments Ltd. says, “Greyback has completed projects up and down the Okanagan Valley and without question this is an outstanding development site.  The lack of good developable land has stagnated Penticton’s growth in the past and we believe there is a pent-up demand for a nice master planned community offering some resort style amenities.”

The land, owned by the Penticton Indian Band, was recently released for development to their new partners, Greyback Developments Ltd and fully secured by a Crown Lease with Canada.  The development site is the first of its kind to be designated for a 150-year term.  The new residential community is just minutes from golf courses, wineries, Skaha Lake beaches and Apex Mountain ski hill.

Penticton is rapidly becoming the “go-to” destination of the Okanagan. Huffington Post recently named Penticton as one of the Top 10 destinations in the world, the only Canadian city on the list. A new hospital tower adding 300 new beds, revitalization of Okanagan and Skaha lakes’ beachfront, commercial and light industrial development and increased direct flights to Penticton are all on the radar for Penticton’s surging economy.
“Home owners in Skaha Hills will be part of an evolving community in an incredible setting,” says Jansen, “The natural surroundings set the stage for an enviable lifestyle, combined with everything the South Okanagan has to offer: Wine, golf, water and a wide variety of homes that offer some amazing views of the lake and valley.”


A judge has approved a class-action lawsuit against an Alberta company involved in the largest meat recall in Canada’s history.

Edmonton lawyer Richard Mallett says about 200 people who got sick from eating E-coli tainted beef in Canada, as well as in the United States, have so far joined the suit against XL Foods.

During the outbreak last fall, health officials confirmed 18 people tested positive for the specific strain of bacteria linked to meat from the company’s plant in Brooks.

Mallett says other people also got sick but, for various reasons, didn’t get tested.

He says the suit further represents other people who purchased some of the millions of kilograms of recalled beef and lost money when they had to throw it away.

The statement of claim - which contains allegations not proven in court - claims XL Foods knew it had poor quality control systems and put its profits above the safety of consumers.


Walmart Canada has started selling some dry grocery products online and the company is considering getting into fresh as well.

Walmart’s online food range, available as of this month, includes Halloween candy, gluten-free cereals and other fare according to a report in the Globe and Mail.

A spokesperson for the retailer said Walmart is looking at selling frozen and perishable goods in Canada as well.

“We are talking to our customers to understand what they need, beyond non-refrigerated packaged goods," Susan Shutta told the media.


The energy was building as ten bartenders from ten restaurants prepared to compete in the Okanagan Spirits Winetender’s Mixoff. Showcasing and presenting their creations to not only the judges but also the 200 people who attended the event.

The Judges Choice was awarded to Alex Roth from Ric’s Grill with his ‘Apples to Oranges’. Votes then were tallied for the People’s Choice, where Harry Dosanj from Poppadoms was announced the winner for his ‘Harry Berry Sour’!  "The inclusion of local wines, made these cocktails unique and delicious,” said one of the judges of Okanagan Wine Festivals Society, Blair Baldwin.

Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery, with a portfolio over 25 different types of alcohol made from 100% BC fruit and grain, has over 50 World Spirits awards to their name, and is now Canada's only Master Class Distillery, North America's only World Class Distillery, and this year’s World Spirits Awards Distillery of the Year. “We were excited to see the bartender’s creativity and originality in coming up with these fantastic cocktails and proud to present the awards to the deserving winners!” says Okanagan Spirits Sales & Marketing Manager, Rodney Goodchild.


Every month the Krieg family, Julie, Colin and Wolf of ReMax Kelowna, put these numbers together for me. They do a great job in helping me out.



Sales of Single Family Dwellings (SFD) reached 187 this September which is 61% above September 2012 and was again like the last 5 months over our 22 year average of sales.

The highest number of sales in any September of Single Family Dwellings since 1991 was in 2005 with 231 homes changing hands.


The number of active listings is 1,347 which is 16.7% lower than September 2012. YTD the total listings taken is 6% lower than the same period last year.

Percentage of Listings vs. Sales

13.9% of the listing inventory sold in September, which is similar to the previous month. We are just under a balanced market. Between 15% and 25% of the listings selling is considered a balanced market.

Average Price is stable

The average price here in Kelowna was $465,966 last month, this is lower than the last 3 months as well as September 2012. Year to Date, we are at $460,751 which is slightly lower than 2012, by 1.8%.

Million $ Plus

The MLS system shows that a total of 14 properties sold in September over $1 Million (two reached over $2 Million).

These were: 5 Lakefront Homes, 6 Single Family Dwellings, 1 Penthouse and 2 Commercial Properties.


This is the fifth month in a row since April that we are above the average number of sales from the last 22 years (since 1991). On well priced homes, we experience multiple offers and yet we see others with next to no activity. The buyers are there, but they are very educated and extremely selective. They prefer nice, clean, well maintained homes. Over 90% of the transactions are still under $800,000.


Statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, John Thomson.  While we are sure that every care has been taken in the compilation of this information and every attempt made to present up-to-date and accurate information, we cannot guarantee that inaccuracies will not occur.

Castanet will not be held responsible for any claims, loss, damage or inconvenience caused as a result of any information within this article.

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About the Author

John Thomson is the Okanagan's pre-eminent business columnist writing his column, Rumours and Things, for over 24 years. Plugged in to the valley's who's who, John keeps his readers coming back for more with his straight talk and optimistic perspective on where we are headed next.

When John is not writing his column, he runs a sixteen year old think tank called the Executive Roundtable and holds his popular "Thomson Presents" quarterly business speaker seminars.

Have a comment, question, or tip for John? 

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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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