Farm to Flight

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Sam Samaddar launches the Farm to Flight program at Kelowna International Airport July 6, 2016

Those looking to take a taste of the Okanagan abroad will now have the opportunity to take in-season fruit on flights leaving from Kelowna International airport.

YLW’s Farm to Flight program allows Kelowna residents to show off the agricultural pride of the Okanagan to those across Canada, and lets tourists visiting the bountiful valley take their favourite tastes home with them.

The program was launched Wednesday in the departure lounge gift shop at the airport, where travellers can now purchase Okanagan cherries to take on their flight.

“Not only will Farm to Flight bring new opportunity and national reach for local farmers but it’ll bring awareness of Kelowna to tourist hubs all over the country,” said Kelowna city councillor Mohini Singh.

While cherries are the only fruit currently offered, peaches, nectarines, apples and pears will be offered as they come into season.

The fruit is supplied by De Simone Farms Ltd., a fruit grower and packer in Kelowna.

Pierre De Simone says while he doesn’t expect to see a huge bump in sales right off the bat, he has high hopes for the program's future.

“It’s going to take the passenger coming back a second time, and knowing that it was there,” he said. “It’s going to take a cycle of people coming through and telling their friends.

“I think it’s going to step up significantly as we go along.”

Two pound boxes of cherries are being sold for $9.95, while smaller cups are going for $3.95.

Prices have yet to be set for the other fruits, as it will largely be determined by agricultural conditions, but Ed Wong, general manager of Skyway at YLW, says there could be a premium on the price to ensure food safety when crossing provincial borders.

“There’s a certain food safe issue that I have to make sure that the customers get, which is ensuring the food goes through a processor,” Wong said. “Once the food goes through a processor it’s sanitized and safe and it goes by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency standards.”

The larger fruit will be sold in special briefcase-style boxes that fit underneath a plane’s seat, while protecting easily-bruised fruit. (Exerpt from Castanet News)

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Bike to Work and School Week - 2016

Its Bike to Work and School week again - and the sun is shining! Kicking off the event at Landmark square in Kelowna is L-R: Mayor Colin Basran, Councillor Tracy Gray; Councillor Ryan Donn; and Councillor Luke Stack. Looking over my shoulder you will see our team leader at City Hall Jan Johnston. She is the organizer of our team "the Peddle Pushers." Thanks Jan!! (She rides her bike to work every day and inspires us all) 

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Hybrids continue to get a brake on parking

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Ogopogo Saved

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Chamber of Commerce Lunch with the Minister of National Defence

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Harjit Singh Sajjan has served Canada and his community as both a soldier and a police officer. He continues his service to Canada as the Member of Parliament for Vancouver South and as Minister of National Defence. I had the honor of having lunch with the Minister when he was in Kelowna to attend a Chamber of Commerce meeting.

Harjit is a retired Lieutenant-Colonel in the Canadian Armed Forces and a combat veteran. He was deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina and served three separate deployments to Kandahar, Afghanistan. Harjit has received numerous recognitions for his service, including the Meritorious Service Medal for reducing the Taliban’s influence in Kandahar Province. He is also a recipient of the Order of Military Merit, one of the military’s highest recognitions. Harjit also served as an Aide-de-Camp to the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia.

Harjit was a police officer with the Vancouver Police Department for 11 years. He completed his last assignment as a Detective-Constable with the Gang Crime Unit specializing in organized crime. He proudly tackled gang violence and drug crimes in Vancouver. Harjit is also a human security specialist, and has lectured to a wide audience in both Canada and the United States.

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Honouring Ben Lee

Hundreds gathered in Ben Lee Park in Rutland on Saturday March 26th to celebrate the life of Ben Lee. Ben had a full career teaching highschool as well as he served as a Kelowna City Councillor for 23 years. He had a quiet, friendly way of doing his work. He also founded the Multicultural Society and served as its President. He brought us all closer together and helped us learn to appreciate each culture's unique characteristics. Simply put, Ben was an effective leader. Personally, I am pleased we will always have Ben Lee Park to remember his great contribution to our City. Condolences to his family for their loss.  This picture was taken at Ben Lee Park during the farewell celebration of Ben's Life. 

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Council Endorses New Civic Precinct Plan

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Future vision for Kelowna's Civic Block area endorsed by council

Kelowna Capital News

By Alistair Waters

March 15, 2016

Kelowna's new plan for the possible future development of what it calls its Civic Block—an area of downtown bordered by Queensway, Clement, Ellis and Okanagan Lake—says the land currently housing the soon-to-be replaced RCMP detachment should be redeveloped with mixed use housing in a building as tall as 13 storeys high.

The recommendation is just one of a series in the proposed future land-use vision endorsed by city council Monday.

In addition to redeveloping the RCMP detachment site—being replaced by a larger, new police services building on Clement Avenue in the city's North End—other projects envisioned in the short-term (five to 10 years) include:

• Extending the existing Art Walk that runs between Cawston Avenue and the Library Parkade all the way to Queensway.

• Creating a civic Plaza on the walkway at the end of Smith Avenue.

• Refreshing the Bennett Clock Memorial on Queensway.

• Enhancing pedestrian and cycle access throughout the area.

Longer term possibilities (10-25 years) include:

• A new performing arts centre to replace the existing Kelowna Community Theatre.

• Multi-storey mixed-use development on parts of the Prospera Place parking lot.

• Redevelopment of the Memorial Arena for community use, possibly as the new home for the Kelowna Heritage Museum.

• Redevelopment of the existing museum site at Ellis and Queensway.

• Mixed-use development on the site of the existing health unit on Ellis Street.

• Infill development on Cawston Avenue.

• A new civic building on the existing city hall parking lot.

The plan envisions up to 230 affordable housing units, 550 other housing units, an additional 75,000-square feet of commercial space and another 5.5 hectares of land for future civic use.

It would also give new mixed-use developments in the area a break on parking requirements. However, no new parkades would be built in the area, which already has the soon-to-be expanded library parkade and the new parkade beside Memorial Arena that is currently under construction.

For the most part, council members liked what they saw in the plan. Council voted to endorse it 5-2, with Couns. Brad Sieben and Charlie Hodge voting against. Couns. Tracy Gray and Gail Given were not at the meeting.

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Kelowna's Rental Challenge

 

City HomesRental housing construction is on the upswing in Kelowna.

(JOHN MCDONALD /InfoTel Multimedia)

December 02, 2015 - 10:30 AM

KELOWNA - The city has done a lot to encourge development of rental housing and there’s not too much more that can be done, except to let the incentives do their work and keep on pushing for more.

That’s the opinion of Luke Stack, a city councillor and also executive director of the Society of Hope, a non-profit dedicated to developing social housing in Kelowna.

“The position I take is that we should do everything we can to increase the rental housing supply, whether there is a good or bad market,” Stack says. “This is a popular place to live and there is going to be ongoing pressure."

Kelowna has been flirting with a near-crisis level of rental housing supply, a landlord’s market with a vacancy rate of one per cent last year. That has ticked up a bit to 1.5 per cent, according to the Canadian Mortage and Housing Corporation, but is still not in the two to four per cent range Stack considers optimal.

“Once you get in there, positive things start to happen, at least for renters,” Stack says. “Landlords start renovating their properties and they drop the rents to attract tenants.”

Tick up too high, though, and landlords will start losing money because of too many vacancies, driving some of them out of the market and reducing supply.

A balanced rental market, on the other hand, offers stability to landlords and has the added effect of addressing affordability, another area where Kelowna has problems, Stack adds.

The B.C. Non-Profit Housing Association’s rental housing index ranks Kelowna as being in crisis because of high rents that are forcing some tenants to spend as much as 50 per cent of their income on housing.

The city saw plans for more than 300 new purpose-built rental units begin development this year, the first time it has reached the goal council set in the 2012 housing strategy.

That stacks up to the 489 rental units constructed in the city between 2010 and 2014, just a third of the desired number despite a raft of incentives.

Developers of purpose built rental properties in Kelowna can apply for direct rental housing grants — the city gave out $286,000 worth of them for 2016 — as well 10-year property tax exemptions when the vacancy rate slips below three per cent.

In addition, developers of so-called micro-suites — suites less than 29 square metres — are eligible for developement cost charge exemptions.

Long range policy planner James Moore says the jump in rental housing construction is a sign that developers are finally returning to the multi-family housing market, after getting burned during the 2008 downturn.

“It takes more than just incentives. It takes a lot of time for confidence to build back up and I think we are seeing developers cautiously putting their feet back into the market,” Moore says.

While development didn’t stop during the intervening years, the focus was more on single-family residential and townhouses, Moore adds, in part because there is less risk in financing and building them as compared to large multi-family developments.

What’s also helping, Moore says, is that some bigger developers have jumped into the market, including Al Stober Construction, with a micro-suite development on Dickinson Avenue.

“We’re certainly hoping leaders of the industry will perceive the need and take the leap. Others will soon follow."

What remains to be seen is if the numbers hold up.

“It’s encouraging. It’s looking healthier than it has been in the recent past,” Moore says of early indications drawn from developer enquiries.

About the only thing the city hasn’t done is become a landlord itself. Both Stack and Moore say the city creating its own housing authority isn’t on the radar.

“That issue has been explored years ago by the housing committee. The consensus was not to pursue that as a role for the city,” Stack says. 

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Water is this Council's #1 Priority

Ron Seymour's editorial pretty much says it all....

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Kelowna Fire Department Fund Raiser

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The Kelowna Fire Department annual fundraising event raised $3,500 for burn victims. I was part of a "high-angle" rescue demonstrating the skill of the Fire Department in rescuing people from high angles. Councillor Tracy Gray was also rescued from a truck demonstrating the "Jaws of Life." It was a really interesting day and I was pleased to support the Fire Department and the Victims of burns.  

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Community Gardens Grow

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Community gardens get big green thumbs up in Kelowna

Infotel        By John McDonald                                               June 2, 2015

KELOWNA - Better support for community gardens, both public and private, can happen if there is a better understanding of what food security means for the community.

City staff hope to provide a better understanding by amending the food security policy in the official community plan and the zoning bylaw.

“This is turning a landscape buffer into functional, useable outdoor space — creating productivity,” Coun. Luke Stack says, praising the social function the 11 public community gardens in Kelowna provide.

Eight of these gardens are located on city-owned land and all are managed by the Central Okanagan Community Garden Society. The society says there is a waiting list of more than 200 people for garden plots.

There are also eight private gardens located in multi-family residential complexes and another three at local extended care facilities.

“Most of these people go to meet their neighbours, create friendships. The reality is it's a community that comes out of these gardens,” Stack says.

Urban planning manager Ryan Smith told council staff are recommending developers be allowed to swap 10 per cent of private amenity space (such as balconies or rooftop patios) in multi-residential projects for a shared garden space. As well, a one-metre strip of the current three-metre rear yard setback can be exchanged for garden space.

The current definition of food security looks to ensure all community residents have access to sufficient, safe, healthy and culturally acceptable foods produced in a manner that promotes health, protects the environment and adds economic and social value to communities. Council quickly passed first reading of all the related official community plan and zoning bylaw amendments.

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Rutland Maydays Parade

What a perfect day for a parade! Mayor and Council delivered roses to the ladies along the parade route. There were lots of people inattendance and lots of smiles. L-R Councillors Maxine Dehart (in golf cart) Luke Stack; Ryan Donn, Gail Given, Brad Sieban; Tracy Gray and Mayor Colin. Basran. 

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To kick off the event the "Political Possee" played a few tunes as well. Lots of fun by all.

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Okanagan Mission Secondary School Partnership

OKM School Theatre

Standing on the amazing rigging above the OKM theatre. The ceiling of this theatre is wire mesh. It allows students the ability to set lighting and sound for plays in a safe and secure mannor. Its like walking on a trampoline. What a great idea!

The City partnership with OKM School provided the opportunity to build a second gymnasium at the school using the "Neighborhoods of Learning" program. This beautiful new gymnasium is 3 meters higher than the existing gym allowing for vollyball. This Partnerhship allows the City to program indoor recreational activities at OKM to support the community needs in the Mission. A win for the school and the citizen's of Kelowna. The new classroom areas are also wonderful. They feature break-out study areas, open airy hallways and natural light throughout. Congratulations to SD#23 on the successful completion of this major addition to OKM. It is great to see the City and the School District working in partnership. 

 

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Pleasantvale Sod Turning

2014 Pleasantvale Sod Turning Dec 15

Dec 15, 2014 was a grand sunny winter day to celebrate the sod turning of Pleasantvale. This new development replaces 50 units of senior's housing and adds 20 new family town homes to the north-end of Kelowna. It is a beautiful location at the foot of Knox Mountain. There are many partners in this project. Dignitaries included Premier Clark representing the Province of BC and the staff of BC Housing; Mayor Basran representing the fine work of the staff of the City of Kelowna; MP Ron Cannan representing the Federal Government; Catherine Comden representing the Rotary and the Pleasantvale Homes Society and President Lorne Gerber representing the Society of Hope (Hope is the developer of the new site and future operator.) The project is now fully underway with a target completion date of February 2016. Thanks to all for the dedication to bring this project forward. It took 5 years of hard work, deal making and problem solving to reach this Sod Turning event.  

 

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City of Kelowna Says a Heart-Filled Goodbye at Last Council Meeting

Local News posted November 10, 2014 by  Cassandra Jeffery

Friendships were solidified, tears were shed, and memories were created at the final City of Kelowna Council Meeting for this council term.

Recounting moments of significant pride and rendering nostalgia from the last three years, the eight councillors and mayor Walter Gray took some time at the end of Monday's council meeting to comment on the success and woes of council and to provide some helpful advice for the council term to come.

“More than anything, I will take away the friendships I have with all of you. I've learned so much from all of you, and regardless of what happens on Saturday we are lifelong friends and will always be bonded as a result of this amazing experience. It's been an honour to serve with you and I will cherish this. If this is the only three years I get on council, I'm so proud of what we've accomplished,” said councillor Colin Basran.

Words of wisdom were shared by retiring council members and much praise was given to mayor Gray for his leadership and poise throughout his four terms as mayor and two terms as a councillor.

Phot Credit: Amatjit Lalli20141110 Last picture

Retiring councillor Robert Hobson shared his final words to council, reminding those who will serve next that it's important to remain true to their convictions and represent the entire City of Kelowna.

“Remember to take the long view, and pledge like the ancient councillors of Athens, to leave your city more beautifully than you found it. Always making decisions not with your head alone, but with your heart also,” added Hobson.

Walter Gray concluded the council meeting with his bitter-sweet “swan song,” congratulating the accomplishments council has made in this past term and offering council with his recommendations for the future council as he graciously bows out of office.

“An effective and deserving council is not just about bricks, water, and pavement, pathways, and bridges, but its also about promoting efficiency at city hall and knowing how to do business, giving value to every tax dollar spent,” added Gray.

Mayor Walter Gray encourages council to keep the social well-being of citizens at the heart of decision making. Gray holds the future of Kelowna with high regard and he is confident in the future council's capacity to propel the City of Kelowna into the future.

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Rails With Trails - Phase II Opens

Rails With Trails - Phase II Opens

Rails with Trails Phase II officially opened on June 7, 2014. Hon. Steve Thomson, Mayor Walter Gray, Senator Nancy Greene Raine, and Rhona Martin (UBCM) did the honors of cutting the ribbon. A good crowd was on hand to walk and ride the new section of trail. Phase II connects Spall Road to Dilworth Road. The budget was $4.5 million dollars. This cost was shared equally by the Federal Government, the Provincial Government (Gas tax,) and the City of Kelowna. Kelowna is clearly making headway in becoming more pedestrian and bicycle friendly. There is now 19.2 Kilometers of off-road bike trails in the City of Kelowna. Progress!

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Glenmore Footprint Days 2014

2014 Glenmore Footprint
A record 180 walkers participated in the the 6th annual Glenmore Elementary's Footprint days on May 6th. The brainchild of Nicole Kleemaier - she conceived the idea of teaching children safe ways to walk to school. These organized walks build community spirit for families that attend the School. Mayor Gray and I participated in this first walk of the week. Personally, I loved walking to school as a boy in Calgary. Walking to school is great excercise and helps children socialize. Thanks to Vice-Principle Tamalee Middleton for her leadership and support of this unique event.  

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"The Hub of the Okanagan"

"The Hub of the Okanagan" Continues to Grow Above the National Average Rate


To residents of Kelowna,  it is no secret how much the city has grown and changed over the years. From 2006 to 2011, Kelowna (and area) grew by 10.8%. This placed it 4th in Canada for population growth in metropolitan areas after Calgary, Edmonton and Saskatoon.

According to the City of Kelowna's Official Community Plan, Kelowna is projected to grow an average of 1.51% annually over the course of the 20 years that the plan encompasses. While this would make the estimated population for 2013 to be 120,890, an official at the city said that with yearly fluctuations a closer estimate is 119,445. This represents growth above the national average of 1.2%.

When asked about Kelowna's tremendous growth City Councillor Luke Stack called Kelowna the “Hub of the Okanagan”, saying that those who get a taste of the city are often the ones who end up moving here.

“Kelowna continues to experience above average growth because it is a destination city in Canada. Canadians typically discover Kelowna on a summer vacation. Once they see the natural beauty of the Okanagan Lake and valley; the vineyards and  orchards they short list the City as a place they would love to live one day. Further investigation finds an expanding international airport, a well established University (UBC), the Kelowna General hospital which is the hub of regional healthcare in the Interior of BC.

“Finally, The City provides a full complement of modern shops and services, theatres and restaurants. The economic sector is growing, particularly in the high-tech sector.  There is a very vibrant small business entrepreneurial spirit in the region.”



Stack added that those reasons influenced his decision to move here with his family in 1981 and it was “an excellent decision”.
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Okanagan Car Share Co-op hits the raod

Many dignitaries and volunteers were on hand to celebrate the launch of Okanagan's Car share Co-op. This new Co-op allows drivers to only use an automobile when they need it. Pay as you OGO. Special thanks to the OGO Directors and volunteers who have worked so hard in getting this started. Well done! Thanks also to M.P Ron Cannan, Mayor Gray and the City of Kelowna, The Interior Savings Credit Union and Urban Systems for playing an important supportive role. Individual and Corporate memberships are available. The more of us that join, the better the program will be. Go Okanagnan. 
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University of Fukui Students Visit City Hall

Fukui University - Okanagan College with Coun. Stack

The City of Kelowna has a 31 year Sister City relationship with Kasugai Japan. Each year many people travel back and forth to learn of each other's cultures. Pictured here are a group of International students from the Univeristy of Fukui, Japan. They are learning english as a second language at Okanagan College. These students will study and live in Kelowna for three months. I had the great pleasure of providing a tour of City Hall to our international guests, and of course, taking pictures is part of the fun! 
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