Reduction in what it costs to fund the Greater Vernon Parks, Recreation and Culture

Tax break on parks and rec

There is going to be a reduction in what it costs to fund the Greater Vernon Parks, Recreation and Culture.

Two huge debts have been paid off and that means a 4.8 per cent reduction in funding costs.

Steven Banmen, Regional District of North Okanagan (RDNO) general manager of finance, said the $14 million Kal Tire Place and $7 million for the Performing Arts Centre have matured.

“Each of them had four separate debt issues and the largest debt issue matured Dec. 1, 2020,” said Banmen, adding for the performing arts centre, $9 million was borrowed and $7 million of which has matured.

The Greater Vernon Advisory Committee had a budget meeting last week and there will be a tax decrease of 4.8 per cent in 2021 for Greater Vernon recreation and culture expenses.

Banmen said there is also a conditional budget for the new cultural centre.

“It is grant dependent and fundraising dependent,” said Banmen.

There is also funds in the budget for trail development in the region including the first phase of connecting Predator Ridge to the Okanagan Rail Trail.

Other budget items included upgrades to the Greater Vernon Athletics Park and a variety of maintenance things like a new roof for the Vernon Community Arts Centre.

The budget covers Greater Vernon trails and open spaces, recreation facilities and programming, culture and performance the performing arts centre and Kal Tire Place North and South.

Affordable housing project meets with opposition in Armstrong

Neighbours oppose project

A proposed affordable housing project in Armstrong has been met with considerable opposition.

The agenda package for Monday evening's public hearing on the matter reveals the city has received dozens of letters opposing the project, which would see city-owned green space rezoned to multi-unit residential.

The property in question is located at 3455 Adair St., adjacent to Norval Arena and across the street from the Interior Provincial Exhibition grounds.

The proposed development, which has been recommended for approval by city staff, would include up to 80 units in four storeys.

Neighbours against the project are opposed to the city giving up land zoned for parks, and also cite concerns over its density and the "low-rent" nature of the development.

Those in support say Armstrong needs more rental units.

Council gave second reading to the Official Community Plan bylaw amendment at its Jan. 11 meeting.

Pending consideration of public feedback, staff recommend the change from from park to multiple unit residential (medium density), be read a third time and adopted.

A report to council says the city is "seeking to support an affordable rental housing project ... (that) would consist of two 40-unit buildings consisting of a total of 80 dwelling units."

Planning staff note the site is currently not used as a part of either Memorial Park or the arena site, and is therefore "surplus to the city’s needs."

"The site is in close proximity to excellent city recreational facilities and transport networks, and therefore is the ideal location for a housing development."

A recent housing assessment identified that Armstrong is in need of 205 units of affordable housing.

The public hearing is scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday and will be accessible via Zoom.

Good Samaritan Heron Grove has one resident test positive for COVID-19

Virus case at Heron Grove

The Good Samaritan Heron Grove retirement facility in Vernon has had one resident test positive for COVID-19.

While Interior Health has not declared an outbreak at the facility, Heron Grove posted a letter to their website on Jan. 13, informing the public of the positive case.

Employees will continue to monitor residents and themselves while following strict infection control practices, this includes regular temperature checks before shifts.

“We are kindly asking all residents, including those in independent living, to minimize their movement around the care home whenever possible," reads the letter.

"Contact droplet precautions have been put in place for the resident who is positive, and that means employees are wearing full personal protective equipment when providing care and services to them, and then discarding it afterwards before providing care and services to anyone else.”

The resident who is positive for the coronavirus is in the assisted living area.

Contact tracing is being conducted and anyone who may have been in close contact with the resident who tested positive has already been contacted by Interior Health.

Vernon wood workers help food society with gardening need

Have tools, will help

When the Food Action Society in wanted some raised garden beds, the Men's Shed Vernon came running - tools in hand.

The Food Action Society is a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to raising awareness and addressing issues surrounding food security in the North Okanagan.

According to their website, they have a mission to “improve individual and community food security by cultivating a healthy, sustainable regional food system via education, community action, programming, policy development and partnerships.”

The Men's Shed Vernon is a collecting of mostly retired gentlemen who get together several times a week to build a variety of wood products.

So when the Food Action Society needed some wooden raised garden beds, who better to call.

“The Men’s Shed Vernon places other not-for-profit groups at the top of their priority list,” said Ray Verlage, with the group.

“With over 40 members, the Men’s Shed Vernon guys had a great time working shoulder-to-shoulder to complete more than 35 projects for local organizations in the last three years.”

To help the Food Action Society, the group of wood workers sourced cedar lumber from Mar-Dan Lumber, built a prototype and created a quote for the society.

“The first five boxes were delivered to site this week. The Food Action Society will now be able to welcome new families to their community garden,” said Verlage.

Family makes it out of Vernon backcountry safely after getting stuck

Family gets UTV stuck

A family made it out of the Vernon backcountry safely Saturday afternoon after they had gotten their side-by-side UTV stuck in the snow.

The group of two adults and three children activated their SOS beacon at about 3 p.m. when their UTV became stuck in the deep snow while on the Silverstar snowmobile trails.

Vernon Search and Rescue quickly established an incident command post at the Silverstar Snowmobile trails parking lot near Sovereign Lake, and began preparing for a rescue.

“While setting up the sled teams we were informed the subjects had 'unstuck' themselves and were on their way to the parking lot,” Vernon SAR said in a Facebook post.

“Soon they arrived, the kids smiling and still interested in playing in the snow.”

Vernon SAR praised the family for being well prepared in case of an emergency.

“This situation was the best we could have hoped for: the subjects were well-prepared for the cold weather and very capable, they kept calm and methodically tried to dig themselves out. They stayed together with their vehicle and didn’t try to walk out alone,” Vernon SAR said.

“Once they realized they could be facing a night alone in the mountains, and considering the potential danger to the children, they wisely activated their SOS beacon, which in turn led to mobilizing our team.”

Vernon SAR says it's important to call for help early in similar situations.

“The longer you wait, the higher the potential risk to the subjects and to our SAR team,” Vernon SAR said. “Remember, Search and Rescue is free and our volunteers train hard to be able to respond any time of the day or night.”

Coldstream farmer warned about trying to sell eggs on Facebook

Egg-stremely dangerous item

A local farmer has run afoul of Facebook.

His crime?

Trying to sell farm-fresh eggs on Marketplace.

Simon Snobelen said he has received notifications from the social media giant warning him it is not permitted to sell animals, or animal parts, on Facebook.

The Coldstream farmer has sold eggs on Marketplace in the past. Sometimes they are denied the first time they are advertised, but Snobelen said when he appeals, he is given the green light.

However, this time around, he has been turned down several times.

When Snobelen advertised the eggs, he was sent a notification stating “Selling animals goes against our rules. We confirmed (your product) does not follow our commerce policies on animals.”

Facebook also provided a lengthy list of what cannot be sold including leather, skin, hide, wool or hair from cats dogs or endangered animals. The list also states animals parts including bones, teeth, tusks, organs, limbs or secretions are also not allowed.

The message does specifically mention chicken eggs.

“We had a few extra eggs this week so I thought I would just throw an ad on Marketplace,” said Snobelen. “Over the last couple of days it has been rejected three or four times.”

Snobelen said Facebook even put the eggs in the classification of prohibited items like weapons and dangerous goods.

“Who knew that they were dangerous. I just thought they were breakfast,” he said with a laugh.

“It's a little silly. I understand the rules are for like trying to prevent rhino tusks being sold and leopard skins and stuff like that, but these are just farm-fresh, free-range eggs.”

Kalamalka Hotel was the place to be in the early days of Vernon

Hotel was mild and wild

The Vernon Winter Carnival is beginning in just over two-and-a-half weeks, and for those of us who have been starved for a change to our repetitive lockdown lives, it can't come too soon.

This year’s carnival theme of 'Wild West' fits in quite well with our mandate here at the Greater Vernon Museum and Archives, since Vernon began as a small, sleepy cow town, many of the stories preserved within our walls tell of life back in its frontier days.

The hub of social activity in Vernon during this time was none other than the Kal Hotel. This impressive piece of architecture was built in 1892 by the Land and Development Company for a cost of $19,000.

The new hotel was named in honour of local indigenous chief Kalamalka (this being the anglicized spelling and pronunciation, of course). The hotel’s interior was complete with a billiard room, bar and ladies parlour, while the exterior boasted tennis courts and a vegetable garden.

In his book 'Valley of Youth,' colourful local historian and photographer C.W. Holliday describes the Kal Hotel as the local social centre of Vernon, saying “here one might meet celebrities and interesting people from all over the world.”

One of the favourite places for locals and visitors alike to relax was the hotel’s cozy lounge, where they could gather around a large, open fireplace and enjoy a favourite drink carried over from the bar on cold winter nights.

Despite the tendency for the hotel to be considered the go-to spot for “festive and convivial gatherings,” the wife of the hotel’s first manager, Mrs. Meaken, ran a tight ship. If she felt the evening’s proceedings were becoming too disorderly, she had the disturbing habit of appearing in the doorway of the billiard room dressed in her nightgown.

“Gentlemen,” she would say sternly, “it is time to go to bed.”

A gloomy silence would then descend over the room, as the men packed up and shuffled home. No one, it seems, ever refused her orders.

Another story recalls Mr. Meaken, who, unlike his wife, was said to be meek and mild, took full advantage of the Missus being out of town and had a little too much to drink. While under the influence, he had the brilliant idea of bringing a horse in from outside and riding it around the billiard table.

One can only imagine what Mrs. Meaken would have thought if she had seen this spectacle.

Holliday is careful to add that, although these stand-out moment’s in the hotel’s career naturally stick in his memory, most of the time the gatherings were quiet and composed, and this Wild Western hotel was exactly what it claimed to be — a comfortable family venue.

Gwyneth Evans is community engagement co-ordinator with the Greater Vernon Museum and Archives.

Ribbons of Green Society compiles list of best places to snowshoe in the North Okanagan

List for ribbons of white

The Ribbons of Green Society is going white.

The group of outdoor enthusiasts have compiled a list of snowshoe trails in the North Okanagan so hikers can get out and enjoy all the region has to offer.

The list can be found on the society's website.

Popular local snowshoeing areas include:

“In addition to exploring great trails in the snow, this low-impact aerobic activity offers numerous health benefits: cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, balance, stability, coordination, and improved mental health. Snowshoeing burns more calories than walking at the same pace,” said Ingrid Neumann, Ribbons of Green Trail Society director.

“An activity for all ages and abilities, this low-cost outdoor winter sport is easy to learn. If you don’t own snowshoes, try renting a pair from a local sport store.”

Webinar will help businesses improve workplace inclusion

Being more inclusive

A local organization wants to help businesses improve workplace diversity and inclusion

Free online webinars and a workshop are being offered to employers by the Social Planning Council for the North Okanagan.

Funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, the webinars will be held Jan. 22 and 26, with an optional follow-up workshop on Feb. 19.

“Equity, inclusion and systemic inequality can be challenging topics, but these sessions are a safe space for employers to learn more. Businesses and non-profits can explore these key topics and have access to helpful tools and resources,” says Annette Sharkey, executive director of the Social Planning Council.

Participants in the Jan. 22 or 26 'Working Across Differences' webinars will engage in an introductory session exploring some key elements that lead to barriers in the workplace and will develop a toolkit on how to improve the inclusiveness of their organization.

The follow up workshop on Feb.19, 'From Cognitive Bias to Inclusive Workplaces,' will engage participants in a deeper, more interactive conversation on how to develop intentionally inclusive workplaces, using the EDIfy Inclusion Matrix as a roadmap.

The sessions will be facilitated by Shereen Samuels who has more than 20 years experience facilitating. She also designed a practical framework for increasing meaningful workplace inclusion for her Master’s degree in 2013.

Shereen is a co-founder of EDIfy and is committed to working collaboratively and creatively across boundaries and differences in order to strengthen organizations.

Register on Eventbrite or Facebook through the Social Planning Council Vernon pages.

Hello Okanagan takes a winter wine tour with Cheers Okanagan Tours

Take a winter wine tour

Peter Kaz and David Scarlatescu are back with the latest episode of Hello Okanagan.

This week, they take a winter wine tour with Cheers Okanagan Tours.

Each week, Kaz and Scarlatescu talk with Okanagan business leaders, debate issues facing the region, and promote the Valley as a whole.

The videos will be aired each Saturday, and you can see them here on Castanet.

If you any questions or suggestions, contact them via the Hello Okanagan Facebook page.

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