Last week Castanet reported the cost of parking was going up to $1.25 in downtown Kelowna.
The City of Kelowna says the current $.50 cent an hour rate is the best deal around, even cheaper than our next door neighbours in Vernon who charge $1 an hour and far less than Vancouver at $6 per hour.
The City states it is the first increase in 20 years.
In our recent Castanet Poll of the 827 votes cast, 643 responders or 78 per cent said the increase would stop them from shopping and enjoying activities in the downtown core.
In general, Kelownians tell us that yes it is only $1.25 an hour, but it is a 150 per cent increase and it is too much all at once.
“I’m sorry, but the City of Kelowna just paid thousands in Revitalizing Downtown Kelowna, to encourage people to shop and visit…do you honestly think people will want to go downtown when parking is free at the mall?”, points out Brenda Nourry.
Raegan Hall, Owner of downtown boutique ‘Blonde’, says the numbers don’t lie, her books show the changes have hurt her business and the City just doesn’t get it.
“They are not running a business, so they have no idea how it is affecting the numbers. If they would like me to supply them some numbers to compare this year to last year and the year before, I am sure they would very shocked,” said Hall.
She adds that the parking has totally changed her business model and she can no longer rely on local clientele.
“My clientele is Albertans. It is definitely tourists that use my store . . . because with this parking situation the locals just don’t want to bother.”
Michael Neill is co-owner of Mosaic Books in downtown Kelowna and isn’t sure how it will affect his bottom line but has already heard complaints.
“I’ve had a few people saying that they unfortunately love our store, but figure they will be visiting us less.”
And the end of the day Neill feels it will hurt those businesses that rely on local traffic.
“The significant reduction in parking that has been happening along Bernard Ave. has got to have some negative impact for sure and then of course adding to the cost is of course another deterrent to shopping downtown.”
A Kelownian named Mike that we spoke to wants to support small businesses like Mosaic and Blonde but feels changes like this will turn him away.
“This is so frustrating. I would rather support the smaller shops and restaurants downtown, but paying for parking is definitely a deterrent and makes going for a cup of coffee a lot more expensive.”
“This is just one of the many reasons I avoid downtown at all cost. I feel bad for business owner’s downtown,” added Calvin.
Others we spoke to were a little more level headed feeling the first increase in 20-years is necessary for growth.
“Come on people, realize prices have to go up to support infrastructure as incomes, fuel, utilities etc. all increase. I can’t believe they are still as low as they are in Kelowna and should have been increased years ago,” said Ann.
And Terrance P. wanted to remind Kelowna how relatively cheap parking still is.
“Do people in Kelowna understand the outside world? Those rates are still very cheap.”
But the Kelowna Downtown Business Association does not feel it will hurt small businesses.
Executive Director Peggy Athans says they recognize a raise is not what businesses owners want to see, but say the changes will not deter shoppers from heading downtown.
“We don’t like seeing fees rise but if we want to plan for the future and have our parking needs met in the future we have to be able to cover the costs,” said Athans.
She told Castanet the change in parking availability and parking rates will not hurt local businesses and is entirely reasonable considering what other cities charge.
“I mean we are the third largest city in British Columbia and other cities of our size do not have paid parking? I mean look at what we pay compared to Vancouver or Vernon, Penticton, Calgary, we were extremely low,” added Athans.
Here is a look at how the parking rates will be affected, for more information click here to read our article outlining the changes.
The new base rates for off-street parking lots are suggested as follows:
|Parking Type||Today||Recommended Base|
|Hourly||$0.50 to $1.00||$1.00|
|Daily||$3.00 to $5.25||$5.00|
|Monthly||$35.72 to $65.00||$53.00 to $66.00|
|Reserved||$83.02 to $88.00||$99.00|
1 a.m. update Wednesday: Fire officials say at least one unit in the condo complex in the 100 block of Hartman Rd. was smoke damaged. The people who lived there will not be able to stay in it until it is cleaned up. They are being looked after by emergency services personnel. Other residents who live next to the damaged condo should be able to return to their homes.
As of 1 a.m. there were still four fire engines, a fire support truck, four police vehicles, two FortisBC vehicles and an ambulance on scene.
We do not have any reports of injuries.
Send video, photos and information to [email protected]
12:15 a.m. Wednesday: The Kelowna fire department responded to a fire at 126 Hartman Rd. in Rutland late Tuesday night.
The fire started at around 11:15 p.m. and by midnight crews had the fire knocked down.
Witnesses report seeing flames from several blocks away, they say the fire started in the garage.
Several people from the apartment complex were forced out into the cold as their homes were being threatened by the flames.
We will have more details as they become available.
Send photos, video and information to [email protected]
A young woman is lucky to have not been seriously injured after she lost control and found herself upside down in a ditch alongside Byrns Road Tuesday afternoon.
Crews on the scene say it appears she was heading west towards Burtch Road when she veered to the right, dipped her tires into the shoulder, tried to correct herself back onto the road but struck a driveway access to a nearby orchard.
This sent her sailing into the air as the vehicle flipped, landing in the ditch on its roof, on the opposite side of the driveway.
The ditches that run alongside Byrns Road are roughly 10-feet deep and had approximately one foot of water. Her newer model Mercedes was partially submerged before it was finally towed out.
Fire crews on the scene say the driver was able to remove herself from the vehicle by exiting through the rear passenger door.
Witnesses say she received some minor injures, but was able to walk around the scene. She looked visibly upset when her car was removed from the ditch.
The cause of the accident is unknown at this time, but officers did not rule out distracted driving. It is still under investigation.
Send photos and video to [email protected]
–With files from Ragnar Haagen
Is Kelowna the happiest place in the world? A group of locals wants to convince the world that Kelowna is just that, all smiles, all the time. To back it up they have produced this digital movie.
Lucy Lauretta, co-owner Giobean Espresso on Water St. is the mastermind behind the film, and she is out to prove to the world that Kelowna is the happiest city in Canada.
She was inspired to do the project while in Europe when she heard Pharrell Williamʼs song, Happy, from the movie Despicable Me for the first time.
Once Lauretta discovered the uplifting piece of music, her research turned up one YouTube video after another of communities around the world doing their own version of the “Happy video”.
Now, with some help from family, friends, happy dancers, yoga enthusiasts, Mark Jennings-Bates, and a production team, Kelowna’s Happy digital short is ready for viewing.
“It has been a totally time consuming project” said Lauretta,
“We have met so many lovely people who have been willing to help and be a part of the video. When you travel the world now and then, you realize just what an amazing place Kelowna really is. We wanted to show it off a little”
The team brought together some dancing talent and mixed them up with a group of happy Kelowna people putting together the highlights of our area along with some fabulous smiling faces.
Other community ‘happy videos’ on YouTube have garnered almost half a million views in a matter of weeks so Lauretta is now hoping Kelowna’s will get that same kind of traction and exposure.
Watch the video above and share it with family and friends.
Tell us what you think! Is Kelowna the happiest city in Canada? Let us know in the comments section below.
Everyone noticed the change once they stepped outside Monday morning. Something was different in the air; it felt much colder than anything we had experienced in January, and it’s here to stay for the next few days.
“It is going to be cold for a while,” says Doug Lundquist, a meteorologist with Environment Canada.
He says a ridge of pressure from the Pacific brought an Arctic front though the Okanagan last week and it should last right through to the weekend.
“There could be some sun, but it’s pretty cloudy and there is a lot of moisture in the lake so I’d say it’s going to be a mix (sun and cloud) this week,” says Lundquist.
“The morning hours might see low cloud and we might see sun in the afternoon hours.”
Right now, Kelowna is averaging lows in the -15 or -16 degree range at the airport, something not uncommon for February. That could change this weekend as snow is expected next week, but could possibly come even sooner.
The deadline to submit nominations for the 39th Annual City of Kelowna Civic and Community Awards is fast approaching.
Know an outstanding Kelowna citizen, volunteer, athlete, artist or business? Nominate them today. The awards honour individuals and organizations for outstanding contributions and achievements in 2013 that directly benefited the Kelowna community.
The Civic & Community Awards is the City’s premier awards event dedicated to recognizing volunteers, artists, athletes and business leaders through nine categories and 13 awards including:
- Bob Giordano Memorial Award
- Bryan Couling Memorial – Athletic Team of the Year
- Male & Female Athlete of the Year
- Young Male & Female Volunteer of the Year
- Teen Honour in the Arts
- Honour in the Arts
- Corporate Community of the Year (small/medium and large)
- Man & Woman of the Year
- Central Okanagan Foundation Volunteer Organization of the Year
- Champion of the Environment (individual and business)
Nominations will be accepted until noon on Friday, Feb. 14.
Nomination forms are available on-line, at City Hall, and the Parkinson Recreation Centre. Completed forms can be dropped off at the Parkinson Recreation Centre (1800 Parkinson Way) to the attention of Amber Gilbert, or submitted online from our website.
Individuals with questions regarding the nomination form are asked to contact Amber Gilbert at 250-469-8967 or [email protected]
Finalists and award recipients will be honoured at a Gala Awards Show on Thursday, May 1 at the Kelowna Community Theatre. Tickets are available by calling 250-469-8811.
Producers with the hit Canadian TV show Dragon’s Den will be back in Kelowna later this month looking for the brightest business ideas in the Okanagan.
Open auditions will be held at Kelowna Campus of the Okanagan School of Business on KLO Road Wednesday, Feb 19 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The nationwide audition tour invites participants of all ages.
Aspiring entrepreneurs should be prepared to pitch their concept to the Dragon’s Den producers in five minutes or less.
Prospective entrepreneurs that show they have the chops to land financial backing for their business venture could be invited into the ‘Den’ to brave the Dragons.
Business pitchers are encouraged to apply online and bring a completed application form to the audition.
Several Okanagan entrepreneurs have made their pitch on Dragon’s Den with mixed success.
This past season Mark Hanson from Armstrong got a $150,000 investor for the BinPak Compactor and Frank Deiter of Vernon received a $300,000 investment for his Mobile Juice Factory.
In previous years, Darrell and Colleen Bachmann from Penticton got $1M for Kick Spike, a golf shoe with retractable metal spikes while Caleb and Lars Krohn were recipients of $50,000 for their Liquid Hot Chocolate.
Rutland residents and businesses are invited to share $100,000 worth of ideas they want invested in the Rutland Town Centre.
The City of Kelowna and partner organizations are asking for suggestions to turn ideas into $100,000 in investments that enhance Rutland’s already strong sense of community.
In partnership with The Rutland Unified Stakeholders Team (TRUST), Uptown Rutland Business Association (URBA) and the Rutland Residents Association, funds will be available for Our Rutland projects – either one large project or several smaller projects to be realized by the fall.
These ideas can include infrastructure, beautification or programming initiatives:
- Arts, culture, agricultural and recreational initiatives, such as pop-up parks, farmer’s market or wall murals
- Public space improvements/enhancements, such as street furniture, benches or lighting
- Existing community asset improvements – improved signage, for example
- Community programs that might not be available today but would be welcomed in the future
Rutland has a right to be proud – it has more parks than any other community in the city, it’s a major hub for sports and recreation activities and has a diverse community of citizens with strong local roots.
It has also seen some significant changes during the past decade. In the last two years alone, with construction of new transit facilities, community parks, sidewalks/landscaping, improvements to recreation facilities, Rutland has seen $25 million in capital investments.
With its mixture of urban and rural areas located on the doorstep of UBC Okanagan, Rutland will continue to evolve as one of Kelowna’s uniquely attractive communities.
Click here to join the online conversation or drop by one of the information sessions planned throughout the community:
- URBA Uptown After Hours Event (Feb. 5, 5 to 7 p.m. at Army, Navy Airforce Vets Club)
- Plaza 33 (Feb. 6 from noon – 2:30 p.m.)
- Willow Park Plaza (Feb. 6 from 3 to 5:30 p.m.)
- Rutland Centennial Hall Flea Market (Feb. 9 & 16 from 9 a.m. to noon)
- Rutland Activities Centre (Feb. 11 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.)
- YMCA (Feb. 11 from 4 to 6 p.m.)
- Or drop off ideas at Uptown Rutland Office, 148 Valleyview Rd.
Other social media channels include Facebook or Twitter using #OurRutland.
Does your community support the Okanagan Symphony?
If not, Kelowna Mayor, Walter Gray thinks they should.
During a discussion centered around professional arts operating grants, Gray wondered where the government support was coming from for a symphony he says was envisioned to be for the entire Okanagan Valley.
"In the current year both the Regional District of North Okanagan and the City of Penticton are providing a total of $19,000 in additional support," says Sandra Kochan, Kelowna’s Cultural Services Manager.
"I am aware the organization continues to have conversations with other jurisdictions in the Okanagan. In some years there may be more communities contributing – it kind of ebbs and flows."
Monday, the City of Kelowna approved a Professional Arts Operating grant of $55,000 which Kochan says is about five per cent of the Okanagan Symphony’s operating budget.
"That’s progress," Gray commented responding to the news Penticton and NORD were providing funds.
"I suppose what bothers me most…where are the people from West Kelowna, where are the people from Lake Country, where are the people from Peachland. They are a half hour drive or less to get to a symphony concert."
Gray says he encourages the symphony to ‘expand their support from local government’ by going to more of them and getting a yes answer.
The city also approved a $25,000 operating grant for the Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art run out of the Rotary Centre for the Arts.
Kochan says a $30,000 grant request for Ballet Kelowna will come back to council within a few weeks.
She says while Ballet Kelowna’s financial projects for the current fiscal year are positive, financial information for the 2014/2015 fiscal year need to be reviewed in order to provide funding recommendations.
Kochan expects that information to be available later this month.
Meantime, council also approved more than $150,000 in non-professional operating and project grants for arts, culture and heritage organizations.
These included $102,300 in operating grants disbursed among 15 organizations and $51,550 in project grants spread among 10 organizations.
Kochan says $175,000 was available for groups to apply for, the first time all funds available were not spoken for.
"The value of applications always exceeds the amount we have available but this year…we have $21,000 left unallocated," says Kochan.
"What we were able to identify was that on the operating side we did have fewer applications this year. Last year we had 22 applications and only 17 this year."
She says there were several new applicants in 2013, some of whom were declined. She says they did not re-apply this year.
There was also a decrease in applications on the project side from 13 a year ago to 10.
"However, of the 10 projects approved, seven of them received 100 per cent of their request. The remaining three received about 70 per cent."
As expected, the BC Supreme Court has appointed Ernst & Young Inc. as receiver for the Sopa Square development in Kelowna, following a 30-day period as interim receiver.
The professional services firm has now released their first report into the project, outlining plans for development and touching on issues that had previously knocked it off course.
According to court documents submitted and signed by Senior Vice President Kevin Brennan, the main goal of Ernst & Young is to complete Phase 1 of the project as soon as possible. This first phase encompasses the office and retail components of the development, including the underground parkade.
The document states they are nearing ‘substantial completion’ and anticipate phase 1 will take nine more weeks at a cost of $1,260,000. They also owe $674,000 to trades and critical suppliers for the month of December.
Over the next three months they hope to complete phase 1, find more retail tenants (Silent Noise jewellery opened its store in December and TRU Frozen Yogurt is expected to open in February), suspend all non-critical activities related to phase 2, and other various tasks.
Ernst & Young estimates it will need to come up with $2.5 million in funding during that time, and have requested an increase on their authorized borrowing limit to reflect that figure.
An appraisal report for the SOPA Square project conducted in April 2013 pegged the developments value at approximately $28 million. That number was based on the assumption that the buyer/developer would incur the costs to complete phase 1, bring the retail component to full occupancy and prepare the office component for sale.
Since that time, Ernst & Young has not performed an independent valuation.
The full plans call for 40,000 square feet of ground level retail space, almost 19,000 square feet of second floor office space and 100 residential townhome and condo units.
At one point the development had entered into pre-sale agreements for approximately 35 per cent of the residential units and 90 per cent of the office components, but the venture ran into liquidity and financial issues.
These problems were blamed on the downturn in the Kelowna property market following the financial crisis of 2008, inaccurate financial reporting, management and technical challenges, and the excessive construction costs associated with the underground parking area.