A number of Inside professionals on various BC Resort Affiliation board – Kelowna Information

Photo: Contributed

The Thompson Okanagan region is well represented on the BC Hotel Association’s new board of directors, which is the most diverse one yet.

The organization gathered in Vancouver last week for its annual general meeting, and three Thompson Okanagan hotel industry professionals ended up on the board.

Bryan Pilbeam of Kamloops, who works at Delta by Marriott Hotels, remains on the board as past chairman and governance boss. Kelowna’s Tanya Stroinig, of Prestige Hotels and Resorts, will serve as vice-chairperson, while Jessica Dolan of Ramada Penticton is on the board as a director.

The board overall has fulfilled its commitment to the Canadian government’s 50-30 Challenge, which calls for gender parity (50% women and/or non-binary people) and 30% representation of visible minorities, people with disabilities, sexually diverse individuals and Indigenous people.

“Diversity in leadership not only creates an opportunity for the next generation of leaders but also fosters understanding and innovation as we are pushed to look at things from different perspectives,” Pilbeam said in a press release. “We are delighted to have met our 50-30 Challenge goal ahead of schedule and to welcome a group of exceptional leaders that more accurately reflect the make-up of our industry.

“We also share our thanks to the former board members who selflessly volunteered to step down from their positions for this goal to be met.”


Madison Erhardt

It’s a sure sign the holiday season is here.

The Rutland community and beyond, sipped hot chocolate, took photos with Santa and shopped at holiday vendors Sunday afternoon at the annual Rutland Winter Light Up.

The light-up took place from 12 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Rutland Centennial Park.

“We got snow last night so it very much feels like a winter wonderland. It is great. We are seeing lots of people coming down. We have way more vendors this year than we did last year, so people are out and they’re starting to shop. It is a great opportunity to pick up some stuff for your holiday shopping list,” said Christina Ferreira, owner of Impact Events and Brand Management.

The tree lit up at 4:30 p.m.

The free afternoon included live entertainment, carolling, crafting, food trucks and more.

“It is great for the community to be within the community of Rutland. It helps small businesses. All of these vendors that are here are small owner-operators that operate out of their homes,” Ferreira added.

Photo: Contributed

City of Kelowna staff will put its support behind a Bernard Avenue six-storey development when council meets on Monday afternoon.

Staff will recommend supporting official community plan and rezoning amendments that will make the building, which is located at 1575 Bernard Ave., apartment rental-housing only.

The Monkey’s Playhouse Daycare was previously located on the site but it closed in 2012. It has been vacant since and there had been no formal development applications for the property until Westpoint Projects submitted its proposal in June.

“The development is committed to offering a quality, long term, affordable housing solution to Kelowna residents,” Westpoint wrote in its original proposal in June.

“Being in direct proximity to the newly planned Kelowna community campus, the Landmark District and situated between downtown and UBC makes this use ideal for the vacant property.”

The building would consist of 150 units with a mix of both townhomes and apartments. A landscaped rooftop amenity courtyard, a pet recreation area, sitting/relaxation spaces, walking pathways and communal barbecues are also in the plans.


Photo: Facebook

While the Willowstone Academy’s current location has been purchased by Kelowna Christian School, a group of parents are fighting to keep the private, Christian-based school alive.

Last week, Kelowna Christian School announced it has purchased the First Lutheran Church and Willowstone Academy property at 4091 Lakeshore Road, and the current Willowstone location would become the third campus of Kelowna Christian School.

As part of the agreement, Willowstone will cease its operations at its current location after June 2023. First Lutheran Church will continue to operate in its existing location.

But while KCS said it will provide “priority admission” to former Willowstone students, a group of parents are hoping to move Willowstone to a new location.

“When we got the news of the school potentially closing, there were a group of parents who said what if there could be a different solution?” said Alexandra Krieger, one of the Willowstone parents working to save the school.

Krieger says the group has received the blessing from Willowstone’s board to explore finding a new location for the school.

“There’s still steps involved for them to give us a final blessing in a formal way, the legal steps involved, obviously,” Kreiger said. “That still needs to be worked through but they have given us the blessing to explore the opportunity right now and come back with the plan. And this is all moving extremely fast.

“We want to make sure we respect the process. And we also respect any concerns [the board] have. So we have a chance to work through all that at the moment.”

The school offers Christian-based education from infant/toddler ages through to Grade 9, and about 230 students are currently enrolled there.

Last month, Willowstone chair of the Board Ross Langford announced the school was in “an unsustainable and grim financial position,” due to increasing rental and operational costs, along with reduced enrolment.

Krieger says while they can’t yet announce any details about their plans yet, they’ll be looking to reimagine Willowstone Academy to make it more financially sustainable.

“There is a different path forward and that is partially where that path forward of Willowstone being on their own,” Krieger says.

“With the understanding that there will always be a friendship … we want to always honour the legacy of what First Lutheran Church has given us by starting the school in the first place. We never want that history to get lost.”

Krieger is hoping to host a townhall meeting to update Willowstone parents on their work in the next couple weeks.

“Registration typically starts around January, February, for the September [2023] school year,” she said. “So we want to make sure by the time we hit that date, we can at least be further ahead than we are right now by providing a little bit of clarity for parents, to say come on the journey with us.”

She said their top priority is to have Willowstone open for the 2023/24 school year.

“Willowstone is a very special school community,” she said. “I love the school because my daughter Catherine loves the school.

“When the news broke of this potential sale to KCS, that night there were a lot of tears in our house. But that night, [Catherine] asked me, ‘Isn’t there a possibility to have Willowstone somewhere else?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I think so.’”

Photo: Contributed

Parking fees are set to reach new heights at Kelowna International Airport.

Kelowna city council on Monday will discuss a recommendation from YLW that parking fees increase in January.

The airport is asking for a 25-cent increase for each hour after the first hour—from $3 to $3.25—and a 24-hour maximum of $24.25, which would be up from the current price of $23.

As for the long-term parking lot, YLW is also asking for a 25-cent jump for each hour after the first hour—from $3 to $3.25—and a 24-hour maximum of $15.75. The current daily maximum in the long-term lot is $15.

The weekly long-term rate would undergo a $3.75 increase, from $75 to $78.75.

The fee for UBCO students and staff to use the airport parking lot for a semester would also be on the rise, jumping from $360 to $377.75.

The annual increase would be equal to B.C.’s all items consumer price index for the 12 months that ended on June 30.

If approved, the parking fee increase would take effect on Tuesday, Jan. 3.

The last YLW parking fee increase occurred in January 2022.

Photo: Contributed

Forty-four townhomes have been proposed for the McKinley Beach neighbourhood in northern Kelowna.

North American Group and Bluegreen Architecture recently submitted a form and character development permit application to the City of Kelowna for the project, which would be located at 3425 Hilltown Dr., just north of the Hilltown Drive-McKinley Beach Drive intersection.

Each townhome would be three storeys tall and made from wood-frame construction. The development would be known as The Pines.

“North American Group and Bluegreen Architecture’s design team feel that the combination of a modern design esthetic coupled with pedestrian friendly landscape features and contemporary building materials will provide a very functional and highly desirable residential neighbourhood project,” according to the application.

North American Group also has plans for a community amenity building on the site that would feature a gym, washroom/changerooms, an indoor pool, an outdoor hot tub, an outdoor firepit and natural gas barbecue pit for common use.

Photo: Contributed

A Kelowna piano teacher accused of sexually assaulting a child over an eight-month period is scheduled to face trial next March.

Neil Wong was charged in April of this year with sexual assault and sexual interference, for allegedly sexually assaulting a young student of his over an eight-month period in 2021.

The incidents are alleged to have occurred when the child was taking piano lessons at the teacher’s home.

Following a brief pre-trial conference in Kelowna court Friday, Wong will next appear in court for his two-day trial on March 16 and 17, 2023.

Wong was arrested back on Feb. 18, 2022, a day after police first became aware of child abuse claims against him.

He was released from custody on conditions that included no contact with anyone under the age of 16, and charges were then laid on April 22. He’s since remained out of custody.

When the Kelowna RCMP announced the charges in May, they said there could be additional victims, due to his access to other young people through his piano lessons. But at this time, no further charges have been laid.

Wong was formerly a licensed public school teacher in the Central Okanagan, teaching music at Kelowna Secondary School.

But these recent allegations aren’t the first time Wong has faced criminal charges involving a minor.

Online court records show Wong was charged in 2013 with a count of voyeurism involving a minor. In 2014, he received an 18-month conditional discharge.

A conditional discharge means an accused person avoids a permanent criminal conviction and record if they abide by probation conditions.

The details of the voyeurism case are covered by a publication ban to protect the identity of the female victim, who was 15 at the time.

An unnamed consent resolution summary from the B.C. Commissioner of Teacher Regulation that matches the timeframe and case details related to Wong’s voyeurism charge reveals even more allegations.

In 2012, he used a school-issued laptop on two occasions to access sexually explicit material during school hours while he was working. He had also previously been issued a “letter of direction” after hugging female students in a way that made them uncomfortable.

The teacher regulation file says Wong was suspended from the school district in 2013 and formally resigned his employment in 2015. In 2016, his teaching certificate was cancelled.

– with files from Colin Dacre

Photo: Kirk Penton

One of 2021’s 113 crashes at Dilworth and Harvey.

Vehicle crashes at Kelowna’s most dangerous intersections rose substantially in 2021 compared to the year prior, showing the significant impact the pandemic had on vehicle crashes in the region.

According to recently released ICBC data, the intersection of Dilworth Drive and Harvey Avenue was the most dangerous intersection in the city in 2021 for the second year in a row, with 113 crashes throughout the year. Of these, 43 crashes involved injuries or fatalities.

While the same intersection topped the list of most crashes in the city in 2020 as well, just 79 crashes occurred there that year. This reduction in crashes in 2020 is likely at least partially related to the COVID-19 pandemic, as more people were staying at home to slow the spread of the virus.

The top 10 most dangerous intersections in Kelowna saw 717 crashes in 2021, compared to just 570 in 2020. In 2019, prior to any COVID restrictions or precautions, there were 721 crashes among Kelowna’s top 10 most dangerous intersections.

It will be no surprise to Kelowna drivers that the top five most dangerous intersections are located along Harvey Avenue/Highway 97.

Last year, the Spall Road and Harvey Avenue intersection has the second most crashes, at 83, while Cooper Road and Harvey Avenue had 79. Gordon Drive and Harvey Avenue had 78 crashes in 2021 while Banks Road and Highway 97 saw 71.

All of these intersections saw reductions in crashes from 2020 to 2021, except for the Banks-Highway 97, which saw four more crashes in 2020.

A full list of the top 10 dangerous intersections in Kelowna from 2019 to 2021 can be found below:

2021 Crashes Casualty crashes
Dilworth/Harvey 113 43
Spall/Harvey 83 26
Cooper/Harvey 79 37
Gordon/Harvey 78 36
Banks/Hwy 97 71 32
Hwy 33/Hwy 97 67 31
Leckie/Hwy 97 67 31
Mills/Hwy 33 60 29
Bennett Bridge 51 26
Burtch/Harvey 48 22
2020 Crashes Casualty crashes
Dilworth/Harvey 79 35
Spall/Harvey 78 40
Banks/Hwy 97 75 32
Gordon/Harvey 60 35
Mills/Hwy 33 49 31
Leckie/Hwy 97 48 30
Cooper/Harvey 47 26
Pandosy/Harvey 47 22
Benvoulin/Dilworth 44 23
Benvoulin/K.L.O. 43 18
2019 Crashes Casualty crashes
Spall/Harvey 100 41
Dilworth/Harvey 88 48
Benvoulin/Dilworth 84 46
Hwy 33/Hwy 97 75 34
Banks/Hwy 97 68 35
Benvoulin/K.L.O. 63 31
Leckie/Hwy 97 63 28
Burtch/Harvey 61 29
Cooper/Harvey 60 28
Gordon/Harvey 59 39

Madison Erhardt

Nothing is better than Santa and supercars.

Cars and Toys, now in its seventh year, will be held at Kelowna’s August Motorcars, and includes photos with Santa, holiday treats, and activities for the whole family, all in the auto dealers’ showroom surrounded by supercars.

Admission to the event is one unwrapped gift for a child.

This year, the toys will go to deserving kids through the Ronald McDonald House BC and Yukon and Kelowna’s Mamas for Mamas.

Families will also be able to walk through a supercar winter wonderland.

“We get to see a lot of our co-pilots from the Dream Rally which is nice and a lot of people who are a part of Dream Rally come and take part of this as well. It is a neat time to come and see the kids before Christmas and before Christmas holidays. We have donated tens of thousands of toys since we have been doing this,” said August Motorcars owner Matt August said.

Cars and Toys will run on Sunday, Dec. 4th from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at 3510, Spectrum Court, Kelowna.

August says the event impacts a number of families locally.

“These are times when your family is travelling from Kelowna and the Okanagan to Vancouver for treatment and we go there to do the Christmas Light Up and it is pretty crazy to see how many families actually send Christmas in the hospital,” he said.

“To have time to go Christmas shopping is something you don’t even think about. To have this where they don’t even have to think about it…. it is very special.”

Photo: Facebook

A company that was incorporated in 1967 was the big winner last week during the 35th annual Kelowna Chamber Business Excellence Awards.

Northside Industries topped BDO and Valley First Credit Union in the Large Business of the Year category at the gala, which was held at Delta Hotels by Marriott Grand Okanagan Resort in front of a crowd of more than 450.

“I am very excited for not only what our team has done over the last couple of years but what the future looks like for our organization,” Northside President Mark Burleigh said.

Modern PURAIR captured the Mid-size Business of the Year honour, while Strut Footwear & Apparel won the Small Business of the Year award.

Fortune Creek was named the Rising Star Business of the Year, while First Nations Finance Authority took home the Indigenous Business of the Year award.

“All the finalists embraced the challenges of the past couple of years, displaying unparalleled passion and resiliency,” presenting sponsor Petraroia Langford LLP partner Aaron Dow said. “We were impressed by how focused everyone was throughout the evening and delighted to be a part of this remarkable annual event.”

The winners are:

Rising Star Business of the Year
Fortune Creek
Sponsored by Argus Properties

Arts and Entertainment Excellence
Snc?wips Heritage Museum
Sponsored by Hergott Law

Indigenous Business of the Year
First Nations Finance Authority
Sponsored by Pushor Mitchell LLP

Social Leadership
Haven Sleep Products Limited
Sponsored by Rogers

Ethics in Business
Okanagan Restoration Services Ltd
Sponsored by Better Business Bureau

Technology Innovator of the Year
Innovative Aerospace Services Ltd.
Sponsored by UBC Okanagan

Young Entrepreneur of the Year
Dr. Harmony Mir – Harmony Chiropractic Clinic
Sponsored by Futurpreneur Canada

Inclusive Workplace
Tranq Sleep Care
Sponsored by Acres Enterprises

Excellence in Tourism
Oyama Zipline Adventure Park
Sponsored by Tourism Kelowna

Excellence in Agriculture
AgriForest Bio-Technologies Ltd.
Sponsored by Chamber of Commerce Group Insurance

Environmental Impact
Meadow Vista Honey Wines
Sponsored by PARC Retirement Living

Small Business of the Year
Strut Footwear & Apparel
Sponsored by Prospera Credit Union

Mid-Size Business of the Year
Sponsored by Canadian Western Bank

Large Business of the Year
Northside Industries Inc.
Sponsored by Grant Thornton

Marketing Campaign of the Year
Kelowna General Hospital (KGH) Foundation
Sponsored by Untold Branding

Not for Profit Excellence
Mamas for Mamas
Sponsored by Kelowna International Airport & Edmonton International Airport

Business Leader of the Year
Brea Lake, CEO, Accelerate Okanagan
Sponsored by MNP

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