Group of conservationists using video to expand their campaign reach for Sickle Point

Still fighting for Sickle Point

Casey Richardson

The fight from a local conservation group continuing to try to save the last intact wetland near Skaha Lake in Kaleden against development isn’t over yet.

The Save Sickle Point Committee, a community grassroots group, joined up with the Tempest Theatre and Film Society to create a short video featuring MP Richard Cannings, author Don Gayton, and several Kaleden residents who shared their love for the spot.

“We were very pleased when Ronan and Kate of the Tempest Theatre and Film Society agreed to do the video. It was by far a more professional outfit than even I think I was looking for, so I was thrilled,” Evelyn Kansy, fundraising co-ordinator for the Save Sickle Point Committee said, adding that the response back from viewers has been incredibly positive as well.

Local taxpayers rejected the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen's plans to purchase it back in February, leaving the committee to raise the funds themselves.

“You know, they voted against paying for it with their property taxes, so now we have to raise the complete $2.5 million. So obviously it’s going to be a bit more challenging,” Kansy added.

“But a lot of people who publicly stated they were against the property tax, also stated they were in favour of protecting the ecosystem at sickle point. So we’re trying to say this is your turn now to get on board now and help us raise the funds.”

The 4.8-acre property in total will cost $2.5 million, with the committee needing to raise at least $1.5 million by June 1 of this year, as a portion of the overall purchase price that has been previously agreed upon for the land which is currently in foreclosure.

“We're still going to be a million short if we’re successful with the crowd funding. And we’re hoping that the other funds will come from the government, corporate sponsorship and grants that we’ve applied for.”

So far, $307,535 has been raised on the Wayblaze funding site for the purchase.

Wayblaze is the same platform that residents of Naramata recently used to successfully raise $1 million to purchase the Centre Beach property for public use.

The committee also had a letter writing campaign to the government, with over 130 letters sent out to the Forest, Lands and Natural Resources department.

“We're finding it's challenging to raise the funds during the pandemic, to get the word out,” Kansy said. The group had planned to host monthly fundraising events to bolster donations, but COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings continue to put that on hold.

A drive-through event was hosted in March, handing out green ribbons to those in the community who have made pledges to their campaign to be hung on gates, fences and front doors to show their support.

“We have that time sense of stress of trying to get the money and it’s no easy task.”

The group is racing against the clock and possible interested parties in the area, as it is currently up for sale.

To learn more about Sickle Point or make a pledge to secure the land for conservation, click here. To sign their petition to the provincial government, visit their page here.

The Times of London features Okanagan wine culture in travel feature

Okanagan gets UK love

The Okanagan got some ink in England's venerable The Times of London newspaper this past weekend.

In an article headlined 'British Columbia has what it takes to rival Napa Valley,' author Fiona Sims praises the valley during a visit hosted by Destination BC.

The Times describes the Okanagan as "Canada's up-and-coming wine region where vineyards are part of the scenery."

"You might not have heard of or tasted wine from the Okanagan Valley. Canadians, wisely, drink pretty much all of it themselves, exporting only five per cent, but it deserves to be more widely enjoyed," writes Sims, who visited B.C. pre-pandemic.

En route from Vancouver, Merritt's Brambles Bakery gets a shout out, where the party stopped for coffee and cinnamon buns.

Descending from the Coquihalla, "we got our first glimpse of the Okanagan Valley and its glittering string of lakes" writes Sims, whose final destination was Osoyoos.

Following a visit 20 years ago, Sims notes "fundamental changes had occurred since my previous visit ... Back then it was a sedate kind of place. These days it’s populated by hipsters. Add a number of artisanal coffee shops, a serious chocolatier (Karat), a gin distillery (Okanagan Spirits) and more than seven craft breweries, and you get the picture."

Sims praises Kelowna's Waterfront Wines and gives shout-outs to Quails’ Gate, Summerhill, 50th Parallel and Mission Hill wineries.

The author also cycled the dramatic Myra Canyon section of the Kettle Valley Railway, and visited Okanagan Crush Pad in Summerland before heading south to Time winery in downtown Penticton.

Other South Okanagan stops included Culmina and Tinhorn Creek wineries before reaching Osoyoos' Nk’Mp Desert Cultural Centre and Spirit Ridge Vineyard Resort & Spa.

Returning to Vancouver for the flight home, the author took the Hope-Princeton Highway home through the Similkameen, "which everyone says will be the next big thing."

"This pocket of small-town charm follows a namesake river and is the country’s organic farming capital."

South Okanagan-Similkameen Volunteer Centre celebrates National Volunteer Week

Recognition for volunteers

The South Okanagan-Similkameen Volunteer Centre is celebrating National Volunteer Week (April 18 to 24), recognizing and thanking volunteers in the community.

The theme is 'The Value of One, The Power of Many.' The organization recognizes the ‘awe-inspiring acts of kindness by millions of individuals and the magic that happens when we work together towards a common purpose.’

Caring and compassion were prominent within the volunteers, organizations, and sectors working together.

Wendy Weisner, executive director of the South Okanagan-Similkameen Volunteer Centre, said in a press release when one volunteer gives their time, skills and knowledge, this is extremely valuable.

“The power of many results from a local volunteer centre’s efforts in helping thousands of volunteers find engaging work. This has never been more the case as in a pandemic,” Weisner said.

“The local volunteer centre has ensured volunteering continues to play a vital role in the region. The recent publication ”Healthy Volunteers Mean Healthy Communities” shows us how staying Healthy as an individual volunteer has the power to produce healthy strong and vibrant communities.”

Next week is an important time to set aside to appreciate the work of volunteers. Volunteers ensure our region’s most vulnerable are not left behind and increase our region’s capacity in hospitals, shelters, food banks, schools, festivals, and sport, among others. If paid, that work would exceed more than $150 million every year.

“I look forward to this space in time each year to draw attention to the wonderful volunteers and their contributions that every single South Okanagan Resident benefits from,” Weisner added..

Leading up to National Volunteer Week, and during it, follow and keep an eye on the volunteer centre’s social media on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.


Penticton will have a large item collection during April 19 – 23

Large item pickup coming

Have a couple hefty items that need to be hauled off to the dump?

Penticton residents receiving curbside garbage collection services will be able to place for pick-up and disposal two large items during the week of April 19 to 23.

On your regular garbage day, items are asked to be left at the usual collection point by 7 a.m. Leave a minimum of one meter/three feet of space between your carts and large items, as a separate collection truck collects the oversized items.

Common accepted items include: furniture, appliances (such as refrigerators, stoves), exercise equipment, and mattresses. The maximum allowable weight per item is 90kg/200lbs.

Items that are not accepted are objects with gas motors, televisions, hot water tanks, and renovation waste such as toilets, plumbing fixtures, and doors.

Small appliances and electronics will not be collected, but they can be dropped off for free at J&C Bottle Depot at 200 Rosetown Avenue, or at Campbell Mountain Landfill at 1765 Reservoir Road.

“The large item collection event helps residents get their unwanted furniture or broken appliance to the landfill for disposal or recycling," David Kassian, Community Sustainability Coordinator said in a news release. “On your regular garbage day, place the items at your usual collection point and we will make sure it gets disposed of properly.”

Multifamily buildings are not eligible to participate in the large item collection.

For more information, please visit www.penticton.ca/garbage, call the Public Works Yards at 250-490-2500, or email [email protected] Interested in getting an automated reminder the night before your garbage day? Visit www.penticton.ca/garbagereminder for more information.

Summerland council approves $1.36M replacement plan for the water main pipe running through Canyon View Road

Over $1M for water pipe fix

The District of Summerland has approved an upgrade of the water main through Canyon View Road, located along the Trout Creek community’s perpetual slide area.

The high density polyethylene (HDPE) pipe will replacing 1,000 metres of existing AC water main and was established as the most suitable for replacement. The current AC water main pipe has seen repeated damage and is unable to accommodate any differential settlement, according to staff.

The current pipe has seen 12 breaks over the last nine years.

There is a risk with the HDPE pipe option, as it fail from continual or major movement. Tension in the HDPE pipe could cause a failure at a fitting and repairs will be required.

However, in comparison to a complete relocation of the water main, replacing the pipe is the cheapest option and least disruptive to other private properties.

The total cost for the project is estimated to be $1,364,000.

Summerland council rejects idea to convert SADI building to transitional housing

Housing plan quickly axed

The District of Summerland has voted to shoot down a grant application for transitional housing at the former SADI building after much discussion in their meeting Monday afternoon.

In an effort to help with unsheltered homeless populations in the community, staff recommended applying for the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) “Strengthening Communities’ Services Program,” which would provide temporary resources to local governments.

“The need for housing for the homeless is exasperated compared to previous years,” said Brad Dollevoet, director of development services for the district.

Dollevoet outlined plans from the Summerland Food Bank and Resource Centre (SFBRC) to update and run the former youth centre, located at 9117 Prairie Valley Road, as well as staff’s investigation into the application.

“The idea from the food bank is that this would be only a flexible temporary arrangement, not long term housing solutions,” he explained.

Estimates for renovations and upgrading the SADI building would be roughly around $510,000 to allow for occupancy, not including other costs from a fully invasive inspection and constructing habitable rooms, or upgrading the kitchen or bathroom facilities.

District staff would need to complete an invasive inspection before finalizing the costs.

Dollevoet added that staff see the value of using this grant application and that it would meet a clear community need. But the short timeline for the application to be submitted restricts the ability to gather all the information.

Numerous questions from council showcased the uncertainty with using the former youth centre for the application and the lack of time to discuss it.

The grant application would need to be completed by Friday.

Coun. Marty Van Alphen said that the decision to apply for a grant feels like a major one without even knowing if the costly renovation would be possible or worth it.

“I'm not against transitional housing but I definitely don’t like to have this short timeline,”

Mayor Toni Boot pointed out the council isn't making a decision now on whether or not the transitional housing would be there.

“This might not ever happen, it's just a possibility to apply for this funding,” Boot said, explaining Dollevoet's point that the building may not get approved for the funding anyway because the renovation cost could be too great.

Council also pointed out that they haven't been able to hear the community's input on this either.

However, if funding was received and the building was chosen, it would need to be rezoned or a temporary use permit would be needed, which includes public hearings.

Most councillors felt like it was a bigger decision than just applying for a grant now.

Coun. Erin Carlson suggested looking into using ATCO trailers in the future for temporary transitional housing solutions, adding it’s not uncommon to find them on farmland in the Okanagan.

For now, council decided to drop the application and look into other options to help support the homeless community. The SADI building will be left where it was before, slated for demolition.

Two residents displaced after fire at Penticton apartment building

Apartment room fire doused

Multiple residents were spotted wrapped in blankets outside of a Penticton three-storey apartment on Government Street on Saturday night, as fire crews evacuated the building to tackle a small fire.

Nine firefighters responded to an apartment fire at 11:19 p.m., not leaving until 1:30 a.m., according to Rob Trupp, assistant fire chief with the Penticton Fire Department.

"When the guys arrived, they had some light smoke coming from the basement window. Upon investigation, there was a fire in one unit and they managed to extinguish the fire and keep it contained to one unit."

Two units sustained smoke damage and one saw fire damage.

The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.

ESS is currently taking care of the two displaced residents.

Motorcycle crashes off Eastside Road into Skaha Lake on Sunday

Motorcycle crashes into lake

A motorcyclist ended up in Skaha Lake on Sunday morning, after hitting a rough patch of gravel on Eastside Road between Penticton and Okanagan Falls.

A call came in for a single-vehicle motor vehicle accident, with a motorcycle involved, at around 11:45 a.m., according to Okanagan Falls fire chief Fred Dobransky.

“Luckily there were some good samaritans that pulled over and actually called in the accident. There were two bystanders that were with the patient in the lake when we arrived on the scene and had the first aid kit out.”

The cyclist appeared to be heading southbound on Eastside Road.

“It sounds like the one cyclist hit some gravel on Eastside Road and he went into the lake with his motorcycle,” Dobransky explained.

“His bike was in the water, he was kinda leaning up on the shore lines. He didn't go very far into the lake, maybe roughly two feet. The water's pretty shallow there.”

Emergency Health Services and RCMP arrived on scene shortly after.

“Got the patient out of the water and onto a stretcher, responded back to Penticton.”

The motorcyclist appeared to have facial injuries, although the extent of his full injuries is unknown.

Poplar Grove Cheese: Penticton cheesemaker shares her creative process

Creativity behind cheese

"Okanagan Inspired" is a new weekly series of articles offering a peek into the stories and inspirations of Pentictonites who hold creative roles in the community.

Poplar Grove Cheese originated along the Naramata bench, almost 15 years ago in 2007, however it is a relatively new venture to new owner and cheesemaker, Jennifer Robinson.

Robinson and her husband purchased the shop in July 2020, understanding the challenges they would face but so far, the journey has been worth it.

Originally from Chilliwack, Robinson spent several years living in Saskatchewan before moving to Penticton six years ago. Her and her husband had taken a trip backpacking in Mexico for 6 months and upon returning to Regina, decided they wanted a change.

They stumbled upon Penticton quite randomly during a visit and decided to move out jobless and to an apartment they had never seen.

“I really love the community here first and foremost,” she explains. “We originally moved in the winter and we felt a little unsure originally with how quiet it was. But now we’ve been here longer and I’ve really learned to appreciate all of the seasons here. I love the summer bustle and the winters are so quiet and beautiful.”

She loves being so close to the mountains and spends plenty of time biking and kayaking.

As for becoming a cheesemaker? She fell into it accidentally. She had worked at Guerard’s Fine Furniture as an interior decorator but felt ready for a change.

Robinson wanted to start her own business, preferably something artistic and creative. When she learned that Gitta, the founder of Poplar Grove Cheese, was looking for an assistant cheesemaker, she went for it.

She learned that Gitta was planning on selling the business and even though she felt a bit unsure, it came down at the end of the day to either owning a house or owning a business. She decided that owning a small piece of the iconic Naramata bench was an opportunity she didn’t want to miss out on and she went for it.

At Poplar Grove Cheese, she currently makes four different styles of soft cheeses, including an Okanagan Double Cream Camembert, Harvest Moon Washed Rind, Naramata Bench Blue and their most popular and well known cheese, the Tiger Blue.

"For each style the process is very different and very specific,” Robinson explains. “Each batch is different. No two are ever the same. The one consistent thing is that they are all made with love and care though. The Harvest Moon and Camembert are somewhat similar, but the Harvest Moon is quite soft and can be temperamental, the Camembert is easier. Tiger Blue is a labour of love. A LOT goes into it.”

Even if you aren’t a blue cheese person typically, the Tiger Blue is a must try. “Most blue cheese is very dry. The Tiger Blue is creamier and a bit saltier” she says.

In addition, Poplar Grove Cheese is currently collaborating with Tickleberries. They have worked together to create a new ice cream flavour featuring a vanilla base, pear puree, walnuts and Tiger Blue cheese.

Robinson’s personal favourite cheese is Tiger Blue because “I see how it is made and how much love and work goes into it. Each batch has been a bit of a challenge really. It is very sensitive but has given me a great lesson in patience, and it inspires me to continue trying to improve. It is hard work, but it is work that is worth it. A year ago, I didn’t have the patience for it. It’s something I’ve learned and improved on.”

Although their operation is quite small, in the fall, she hopes to be able to try her hand at making some fresh cheeses to serve in local restaurants, like Mozzarella, Ricotta and Cream cheese.

Buying a business during a pandemic created a challenge for them and she says “getting through the last year was a feat for sure, but I feel really proud of being able to learn about the cheese we make, and for learning so much about the business. The art of cheesemaking is very artful and difficult, but the art of the process and taking the time to learn makes me feel very accomplished.”

Robinsons future goals are to continue trying to make Poplar Grove Cheese the best it can be.

“Our motto going forward is to try to promote and work together as a community and to collaborate and support each other. I don’t want to expand, but there are ways to be creative and think outside the box,” she says. She hopes to bring some amazing new product to the shop to support fellow local and Canadian businesses.

For people who may want to learn more or get involved in the cheese industry, Robinson recommends following the same advice her uncle gave her before passing away from Huntington's disease.

“Just go for it! If you are interested, I think that advice works for everything. Cheesemaking is a tight knit community with fewer classes and ways to learn due to Covid, but just start slowly and reach out to the community. The doors are open in the world, so just go for it.”

She also mentions, “I'd be happy to help anyone that would want to reach out. Guidance is a big factor.”

While cheesemaking, they listen to all kinds of music, however, when they are finished, the music doesn’t stop. “We actually leave music on for the cheese. Sometimes country, sometimes classical or rock. I read an article about a man in Italy who has amazing cheese and always plays music for it too and decided to try," she says, laughing.

“I think the cheese likes Bitter Sweet Symphony by The Verve. It’s one of my favourites and I think the cheese would like the instrumentals.”

Poplar Grove Cheese is currently open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday, and will be open seven

days a week in May to try some of Robinson's delicious and unique creations.

Penticton has plenty of outdoor activity options this spring

Spring means get outside

"Four seasons of fun" is new a collaboration between Castanet and Travel Penticton showcasing what Penticton has to offer all year round. Watch for it every Monday morning.

With temperatures expected to reach over 20° this upcoming week, it's time to put away the winter coats and pull out the sunscreen. Wild flowers have been blooming all over the Okanagan Valley and with the beautiful weather, it is a great time to head outside and do some exploring.

With countless wide open spaces around Penticton and the Okanagan, it really isn’t hard to find a park, beach, trail or pathway to socially distance and enjoy some time outdoors.

To help you discover a plethora of scenic hiking trails just minutes from Penticton, try out the AllTrails App. It showcases local trails, their length, ratings and difficulty so you can find the perfect trail to suit the type of adventure you’re looking to have.

If you like to live a bit more of a fast paced life, the Trailforks App is great for biking enthusiasts and will point you in the right direction to fantastic nearby mountain biking trails.

The Bench, which is perfectly located just off the KVR trail offers fantastic coffee and homemade snacks to either begin your adventure the right way or refuel during your journey.

If you are needing to stock up on some hiking, camping, backpacking or climbing gear make sure to visit Eskala on Front Street. Eskala (which means go climb in Spanish) opened in September of 2019 and owner Claudia Reyes Nunez says, “it’s been a challenge, a bit of a rollercoaster. We were closed from March to May of last year due to Covid 19, and in the fall when there is great conditions for climbing, there were fires in the Skaha bluffs.”

However, in spite of those troubles, she has noticed an increase of people looking for activities to participate in and greater enthusiasm in people looking to get outside.

“If you are looking to try something different, there are some amazing overnight hiking trails in the area with great campsites along the way,” she recommends, and adds “you can also ride your bike over the Kettle Valley Railway for several days. You can make it all the way down to the Kootenays.”

Eskala sells all kinds of packable gear for your adventures and Reyes Nunez is a fantastic resource for advice on climbing spots, hikes and beautiful hidden areas to escape to.

As for must need supplies she recommends Voss UV Protection Apparel which protects you for any activities you participate in or are just great for day to day use and says “no matter what, merino wool always makes the best birthday or Christmas gift for someone.”

If you’re new to the area or a bit weary to go out on your own, Sagebrush Tours offers amazing opportunities to explore the outdoors with an experienced guide who can teach you about the region, give you safety tips and show you some unique incredible spots.

They offer anything from Bat Tours where you are led on a guided walk through Peachland and Birding adventures around Vaseaux Lake to more lengthy and challenging tours up Okanagan Mountain in Kelowna or a Desert Tour in Osoyoos.

For 28 years Skaha Rock Adventures has been offering local climbing tours. Led by guides with the highest standard of certification, all are welcome and encouraged to learn.

“We teach a lot of families, even ones with young children, and there is no maximum age,” says Russ Turner, owner of Skaha Rock Adventures. “In fact we are encouraging seniors over 55 to come out this year with a special we’re calling Freedom 55+.”

The climbing season typically runs from mid-March to mid-October and all skillsets are welcome.

“We will teach everyone, from first time climbers to advanced climbers looking to upgrade their skill sets,” says Turner.

If you don’t have equipment, you’re still in luck. All you need to bring is a lunch, water and your running shoes. They’ll provide all the gear you need. They are offering a 15 per cent discount for anyone booking in a group over three throughout the season and 20 per cent off for midweek groups booking three or more for April and May.

With over 2,000 guided excursions throughout the typical season and over 55,000 clients since their opening, Skaha Rock Adventures is a great way to learn to climb in one of Canada’s top climbing regions.

The South Okanagan/ Similkameen region is an amazing birding location and home to over 250 species of birds with more species arriving daily throughout their spring migration. The area also has a diverse array of spectacular wildlife to see and the best way to see them is with Mountain Bluebird Tours.

They offer guided walking or hiking bird watching tours where you can see rare and beautiful birds like the very rare Sage Thrasher, and wildlife photography tours where you can get up close with the region’s most spectacular animals like California bighorn sheep, black bears, coyotes, mountain goats, deer and several species of snakes.

Although their most popular tour is a half day birding tour between Penticton and OK Falls, “my favourite tours are full day tours where we can go to rarer, more special locations, even down to Osoyoos” says Eric Newton, owner and guide for Mountain Bluebird Tours.

“All tours are completely customizable. We know areas that people don’t know about, the hidden gems. We are always out and up to date on where to find a specific species and can educate you on ecosystems and habitats. Spring is a fantastic time to explore nature, it is so rejuvenating and rewarding,” he adds.

Mountain Bluebird Tours offer tours year round and specialize in Covid safe, guided tours with individuals or small groups. Springtime is a great time to see some of the Okanagan’s rarest birds and the amphibians are calling out already!

Starting in May, Epic Cycling offers high end biking tours in the region and will newly begin offering walking tours. If you enjoy exploring in style, any one of their tours is a fun way to experience the wine region with knowledgeable and athletic guides.

Throughout the ride, stop for wine tastings and enjoy a catered picnic lunch with local farm to table ingredients, in a lovely vineyard setting. Bike rides, hikes and e-bike tours are available to explore Penticton's many nearby wineries.

“All tours include pre-booked wine tastings for your group and a support vehicle for your wine purchases so you can enjoy the experience without worrying about a thing,” says Tamara Paul, owner of Epic Cycling.

Even if you are local and familiar with the area, these luxurious and carefree tours are a fun way to get outside and enjoy nature.

When you’ve worked up an appetite from enjoying nature and the beautiful spring weather, reward yourself with some drinks and delicious food at some of the fantastic patio spots in town.

Learn more at www.visitpenticton.com and on social @visitpenticton

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