Spend Family Day on your skates

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The Town of Osoyoos is offering a free family skate at the Sun Bowl Arena February 8.

Lace up your skates between noon and 2 p.m. Family Day, and enjoy a few laps of the rink, prizes and music supplied by a DJ.

Hot Dogs and pop will also be available.

For more information, contact Recreation staff at 250-495-6562.

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Spirit Ridge at Nk’MIP Resort headed in fresh direction

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Spirit Ridge at NK’MIP is under new management — it’s own.

A decision by the Spirit Ridge Owner Association’s 450-plus members last May to end a management services relationship with Calgary-based Bellstar Hotels and Resorts took full effect on January 28.

The 226-condominium style resort located on Osoyoos’s east bench has also rebranded itself, doing away with the Spirit Ridge Vineyard Resort and Spa moniker and adopting the vision of “Community, Unity, Prosperity.”

But the decision to transition to an executive self-management model encompasses a much larger philosophical change as well.

“Before this, money spent by the resort in various departments was deployed by a group based outside of the South Okanagan,” explained Mike Campol, the new Director of Operations.

“One could argue that (Bellstar’s) collective buying power saved a few pennies. This, however, is not our business model. We need to support our destination marketing organizations, local operators, and community, and create job growth opportunities right outside our doorstep.”

The new Sprit Ridge at Nk’MIP model will embrace, among other things, a unified community leadership approach,” explained Mr. Campol.

“The management is engaging suppliers, contractors, and staff in the local community, with priority in aligning with aboriginally-owned products and experiences.”

Mr. Campol has added a number of familiar local faces to the effort, recruiting former Destination Osoyoos Executive Director Jo Knight to fill the role of Brand Ambassador; Brianne Hearle — until recently Director of Marketing at Destination Osoyoos — to direct sales and marketing; and former Nk’MIP Cellars Guest Services Manager Jennifer Busmann to act as Resort Leader.

Also joining Mr. Campol’s “dream team” are Mykaela Coty-Scholl (Resort Administrator) and Del Hunter (Owner Ambassador).

Mr. Campol is also excited to be working side-by-side with industry veterans Executive Director Leon Algadzis, and Marketing Team Leader Angelique Silberman as they carry out their roles providing Executive Management Services to support all efforts for the team’s and owners association’s new vision.

Mr. Campol himself is a familiar local face and leader, serving as a Town of Osoyoos councilor and spearheading the Spirit of the Games Society, a local charity that supports youth participation in sports.

“We are so excited as a Board to see the new changes coming into effect,” said Mr. Campol. “This is such a breath of fresh air and I can’t wait for the transition to fully develop.

“We are overjoyed that finally we can showcase Spirit Ridge’s distinctive and uniquely Canadian presence as the premier resort embracing First Nations experiences.”

Spirit Ridge at NK’MIP is part of the Osoyoos Indian Band-owned NK’MIP community, which also includes the NK’MIP Desert Cultural Centre, NK’MIP Cellars, NK’MIP Corner and Petro Canada and the NK’MIP Canyon Golf Course.

Bellstar managed the Spirit Vineyard Resort and Spa from 2006.

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Rise and Shine — It’s Friday, February 5, 2016

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Good morning, Osoyoos. It’s Friday, February 5. Here’s what you need to know to get started with your day.

  • It’s going to be mushy today, folks. Scattered flurries, wet snow and rain are expected throughout the South Okanagan. In Osoyoos, we’ll reach a high of 2.
  • The South Okanagan-Similkameen School District has released a slide presentation it will use next Tuesday evening to explain to Osoyoos parents and students why it needs to close one of their schools. Watch for feedback later this morning.
  • The outgoing executive director of Destination Osoyoos expects this summer will be a good one for the community’s tourism industry. Canada’s low dollar should keep more Canadians in Canada, says Gail Scott.
  • Our Coyotes are on the ice tonight in Summerland; tomorrow they’re home to host the Princeton Posse. Winning both games gives Osoyoos at least a share of the KIJHL’s Okanagan Division title.
  • It looks like BC Hydro really wants to build the Site C dam. It is promising, in a legally binding agreement-in-principle no less, to build 50 housing units, make a $30,000 donation to local charities and provide funding for an airport shuttle and an additional police officer. And it will give the northern B.C. town $1 million every year, for as many years it will take to construct the $9 billion dam.
  • Another progressive move by Pope Francis: the Vatican has announced the Pope and the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church will meet in Cuba next week in a historic step to heal a 1,000-year-old schism.
  • How’s this for a corporate wrinkle: controlling big business through not-for-profit ownership? Apparently it’s working in Denmark.
  • And finally, Maurice White, the founder of Earth, Wind and Fire, has died. He was 74. The group will be honored with a lifetime achievement award later this month at the Grammys.

See you Monday.

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School District releases consultation presentation

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The South Okanagan-Similkameen School District (SD53) has released a 39-slide presentation it will deliver February 9 at school closing consultation meetings in Osoyoos.

The presentation outlines the School District’s financial, declining enrolment and facility challenges and details measures the District has undertaken in previous years to respond to budget pressures. It also details opportunities and challenges for 2016/17.

It concludes with a review of two proposed recommendations:

  1. Moving forward with the closing of Osoyoos Secondary School and the transfer of students to South Okanagan Secondary School in Oliver, possibly as early as June 30, 2016; and,
  2. Moving forward with the closing of Osoyoos Elementary School, renovating Osoyoos Secondary to a K-9 school and transferring Grade 10 to 12 students to South Okanagan Secondary School. Osoyoos Elementary School would not be closed until renovations were completed at Osoyoos Secondary School.

The presentation suggests $387,300 in operational savings would be realized by closing Osoyoos Secondary School. Closing the school would also negate the need for up to $4.765 million in facility upgrades over the next five years.

Closing Osoyoos Elementary School would result in $397,800 in operational savings but require $600,000 in renovation costs and $74,000 to move playground equipment. The District would also save $1.83 million in facility upgrades.

Osoyoos Elementary is owned by the School District, meaning any proceeds realized from its lease of sale would flow to the District. Osoyoos Secondary, however, would be returned to the provincial government for disposal.

Among other presentation highlights:

  • Revenue and expense projections include an estimated shortfall of $1.4 million by 2017/18;
  • Salaries and Benefits account for 85 percent of operating expenses. Services, supplies, utilities and other expenses account for just 15 percent;
  • Reductions in staffing, transportation, administration and school supplies have resulted in $1 million in savings since 2009;
  • Ongoing cost pressures include updating aging technology, future wage increases for excluded staff, increased utility costs, inflation, investment in staff development and initiatives for student success and increased expectation to provide support for diverse student learning needs;
  • The District is projecting continued enrolment decline for the next six years;
  • Enrolment has declined to 2,158 in 2015 from from 2,809 in 2005;
  • Except for Osoyoos Elementary, which has a facility condition index of average, other SD53 schools are rated as in poor or very poor condition. No rating is provided for South Okanagan Secondary School;

Board members and senior administration are scheduled to meet with Osoyoos school staffs at 3 p.m. A meeting with Town of Osoyoos Mayor and Council is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.

Osoyoos parents and other residents will see the presentation at 7 p.m.

All meetings are scheduled for Osoyoos Secondary School.

Additional public meetings are scheduled for Osoyoos Elementary School on Tuesday, March 8 and at Osoyoos Secondary School on Wednesday, April 6.

The meetings will begin with a review of the information contained in the Powerpoint and will be followed with an opportunity for feedback and questions.

A PDF copy of the slide presentation is available here. It will also be available for download from the District’s website.

 

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Glimpel named Player of the Month for January

Rainer Glimpel’s seven goal-nine assist performance in 11 games has earned him Kootenay International Junior Hockey League’s Okanagan/Shuswap Conference Player of the Month honors for January.

14_r_glimpel_new_8x10Glimpel, the 20-year-old Coyote captain, is the league’s leading scorer with 24 goals, 45 assists and 69 points. Three of his seven goals in January were game winners.

Coyote netminder Stephen Heslop was an honorable mention. He registered two shutouts and .951 save percentage in the eight games he backstopped the Coyotes.

Braden Fuller of the Beaver Valley Nitehawks was named the Player of the Month in the Kootenay Conference. Fuller scored 10 goals and eight assists over 10 games.

 

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DO expects good summer with low Canadian dollar

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Destination Osoyoos is expecting increased activity around the lake as the low Canadian dollar keeps vacationers in Canada.

If an influx of snowbirds into the community this winter is any indication, Osoyoos can expect a great summer season, says Gail Scott, executive director of Destination Osoyoos.

Ms. Scott says the low Canadian dollar — now trading at less than 70 cents U.S. — should keep more Canadians in Canada this May through September and likely will bring more Americans north of the border as well.

That, she added, will mean more traffic to Canada’s resort communities — including Osoyoos.

“With the Canadian dollar as low as it is, we should see more people stay in and around the area,” Ms. Scott said. “The dollar will have people staying closer to home.”

She is expecting an influx of visitors from across British Columbia and Alberta, but also from other Western provinces.

“We’re expecting it to be equally as good as last year, if not better. As always, we will do very well around the lake.

The feel-good outlook is echoed by Ingrid Jarrett, General Manager at the Watermark beach Resort.

“The US dollar is certainly keeping Canadians travelling more at home – we are seeing Albertans for the same reason – and the outlook for B.C. is to lead the country from an economic perspective,” Ms. Jarrett said.

“Our biggest challenge is finding people to work.”

That “tourism economy” has already manifested itself this year. Osoyoos hotels and resorts are reporting higher than normal occupancy rates as snowbirds — seniors with homes in cold-weather communities — flock to the South Okanagan for the winter.

“Snowbirds this year are making a huge difference up and down Main Street,” Ms. Scott said.

“Many are here because of the principle of it,” said Ms. Scott. “They could afford to travel to the U.S. but say they’re not prepared to waste their money paying for something they can get for less closer to home.”

Yesterday, the Vancouver Province reported that a growing number of Canadian snowbirds are selling their U.S. sunbelt properties, taking profits as a rising U.S. dollar boosts their Canadian-dollar value.

Although Destination Osoyoos is expecting an increase in Canadian traffic, it also has plans to work with destination marketers south of the border, especially along Washington state’s Hwy. 97.

“(Washington-state tourism operators) are hurting because of that dollar exchange,” Ms. Scott said. “Last year it was bad for them, but this year it could be huge.”

Destination Osoyoos will host a February 26 “cross-border meeting” with tourism support organizations to discuss joint marketing and event programs that would build tourism on both sides of the line.

“Our focus is bring people into the North Okanogan on the U.S. side but also into the Osoyoos area,” Ms. Scott said.

 

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Rise and shine — It’s Thursday, February 4, 2016

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A snow-coated morning to you, Osoyoos. It’s Thursday, February 4, 2016. Here’s what you need to know as you start your day.

  • Expect just a little more snow early this a.m. (while it’s still dark) and then a mix of sun and clouds through the remainder of the day. A high of 1 is expected by mid-afternoon. More snow is expected overnight and into Friday morning.
  • If you’re wondering if spring is on the way, The Weather Network is predicting temperatures to gradually climb to 8 degrees by next Thursday. And then (sigh) it gets cooler again.
  • The South Okanagan-Similkameen School District (SD53) is today scheduled to release a copy of the presentation it will make to Osoyoos parents February 9 as it ponders a school closure in the community. As soon as the presentation is posted, we’ll make it available on OsoyoosDailyNews.
  • We asked Osoyoos readers yesterday about concerns related to a potential school closing in the community. Almost half said they were most concerned about the impact a school closing would have on families living in or thinking about moving to Osoyoos. Just under 30 percent said they were concerned about the concentration of provincial services in Oliver. Here’s why we need to get past that.
  • Nice work, if you can get it. According to CBC News, taxpayers paid out more than $284,000 in per diem compensation to three successive board chairmen of a little known Crown corporation called the Canadian Commercial Corporation. Their part-time job was to broker large contracts between foreign governments and Canadian corporations and included such arduous tasks as attending a reception in Washington, an air show in Paris and a golf outing in Montreal.
  • Speaking of jobs, you know all those big tractor-trailer units that pass through our community each day? Apparently life as a trucker is about as bad as it gets. According to one report, long-haul truckers have higher rates of obesity, diabetes, anxiety, depression, cardiovascular disease, divorce, and drug use. And on-the-job fatality rates are a ridiculous 11 times higher than average.
  • A mystery patron has nominated U.S. presidential hopeful Donald Trump for a Nobel Peace Prize. Seriously?
  • We may not have playoff hockey this spring — at least not in any Canadian cities — but we do have the Jays. With spring training just around the corner, Topps has announced Jose Batista’s infamous bat-flip will be commemorated on one of its trading cards.
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