Shifting to glide — Eric Riddington has taken off with a cool carbon-neutral business. Kokanee Soaring Adventures offers glider tours of the mountains ‘round these parts and beyond. Photo: Adrian Wagner

Shifting to glide — Eric Riddington has taken off with a cool carbon-neutral business. Kokanee Soaring Adventures offers glider tours of the mountains ‘round these parts and beyond. Photo: Adrian Wagner

BUSINESS BUZZ: Help for pandemic pain, a Tesla train, and an all-star for old growth

Darren Davidson has all the latest on local business

By Darren Davidson

The Buzz starts out for this month with timely details of some very helpful options for business owners, managers and staff who are feeling down and all-but-out after these loooong last 13 months. There’s been financial and informational help out there from a variety of government levels and chambers of commerce for a while now. The good news — with the new and somewhat unexpected health orders and travel restrictions now in place until May 25 — those programs are still in place, and then some.

Monday afternoon, the provincial government announced they are adding $75 million to the Circuit Breaker Business Relief Grant, bringing the amount available for hard-hit B.C. businesses to over $125 million.

The grant remains open to bars, pubs, restaurants, breweries, wineries, gyms, and fitness facilities. It’s also open to hotels, motels, and other short-term accommodations.

With the increased funding eligible businesses will receive up to $20,000 — double the original grant amount — to help with expenses like employee wages, rent, maintenance, and utilities.

If you’ve already applied for Circuit Breaker assistance, you don’t need to re-apply. If you haven’t applied before, get on it. It’s first come first served until June 4. Click on for all the details.


And there’s more.

If you want a keen capable addition to your team, and who doesn’t at this moment, look to our greatest asset for today and tomorrow — youth. Lots of people are noticing the resilience of teens and young adults through the pandemic. Now’s the time to give them a shot, provide short-term jobs and help build the region’s workforce.

In three weeks, the Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce, along with Selkirk College and the Talent Forward project, is hosting the Boost Your Business with New Talent webinar and employer panel. It’ll highlight how West Kootenay-based businesses can prosper by using student talent to innovate, drive sales and increase capacity. Bosses will also learn about the types of diverse work-integrated-learning (WIL) programs available at Selkirk. The webinar is free and open to any West Kootenay organization. It’s Thursday, May 20, 11:30 a.m. ’til 1 p.m. But you need to register at

It’s no secret, and it doesn’t need to be. The pandemic is driving a lot of business people and workers from all sectors into bumpy roads on the mental health front. If you’re turning to the bottle, drugs or whatever other vice to beat the blues, there’s help. The Chamber’s group insurance plan provides access to counselling, online. Look into your own group benefits, too.


The downtown patio parade continues. And after the pandemic is done, the city’s hospitality scene will likely be better for it. A few weeks ago, Nelson City Council approved a permanent patio on the sidewalk outside Mike’s Place Pub. Red Dog Construction is tackling a new outdoor beer and burger bunker at Jackson’s Hole.

Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison has a meeting with Elon Musk’s Tesla juggernaut this week. The call will focus on Morrison’s interest in getting an East/West Kootenay railway service back on track. Originally spearheaded by Castlegar and District Economic Development to move commuters and tourists along the tracks from Trail to Cranbrook, the plan has been sent to Catherine McKenna, federal minister of infrastructure and communities.

The train would be electric — Tesla has railway technology already in place — with smaller cars and zero emissions. Musk has already floated the Hyperloop train system to global industry and government leaders. Something the world’s richest fella calls “a cross between a Concorde, a railgun, and an air hockey table.” It travels at over 1,100 km/h. You’re gonna have to get off in Yahk in a heck of a hurry. Safe to say Morrison is looking at a slightly less speedy version.

While we’re dropping names, check out the recent Globe and Mail article on old growth forest conservation. Conservation-minded budget pundits are raising hell after there was no mention of ways to save B.C.’s last sliver of forest giants in Premier John Horgan’s latest financial plan. Amongst those wondering what-the-heck? — Hockey Hall of Famer, two-time Olympian, four-time Stanley Cup champion and Kootenay-born conservationist Scott Niedermayer. The superstar, who had a holiday place on the East Shore for years, notes less than three per cent of the province’s forested land is still made up of big-tree, old-growth forests. Old growth management falls under the portfolio of highly regarded Kootenay-West MLA Katrine Conroy.


Speaking of reaching for the sky.

Eric Riddington of Kokanee Soaring has taken off with a cool carbon-neutral business. Kokanee Soaring Adventures (KSA) offers glider tours of the mountains round these parts and beyond. His Diamond HK 36 TTC self-launch glider — with over 900 of them manufactured thus far — has unmatched visibility from inside a bubble canopy, uses minimal fuel to climb, and within a few weeks will be entirely COVID friendly thanks to new masks Riddington is having made. He’s taking bookings for sightseers and prospective glider pilots.

There’s also a high-thinking headquarters on Hall Street and Vernon.

Focused Life-Force Energy has opened up shop in the former home of Nelson Florist and Event Rentals, at 619-621 Vernon Street. After a renovation overseen by Ramm Construction, co-founders Jeffrey Stegman and Clayten Stedmann have opened up the new venue as a home for the business they started in 2008. It now employs 22 staff. What does FLFE do? Well, if you’re looking to expand your consciousness, sleep and mediate more deeply, boost your body’s natural healing ability, increase focus, concentration and creativity or even energize your living/work space — give ‘em a shout. Stegman and Stedmann have developed a technology used in over 60 countries that activates a high-consciousness field in an environment or around an object.


Local foodies are stoked. The Nelson Farmers Market at Cottonwood Falls Park is starting again in a few weeks — May 19 to be exact. Wednesday operating hours are noon to 6 p.m. There’ll be an amazing line-up of vendors. COVID rules protocols will of course be in place.

Tourism stakeholders, mark this on your calendars. Nelson Kootenay Lake Tourism’s AGM is Wednesday, June 23, at 7 p.m. NKL is looking for three elected positions for two years. And two appointed members from Balfour and Kaslo. Get your name in the hat by June 9.

How’s your pipes?

Pulpit Plumbing is preparing to flush ‘er up, starting May 1. The business is owned by John Le Bleu and John Westnedge, the son of long time realtor Lorne Westnedge. The Pulpit boys are experts in small jobs. Dave has 10-plus years experience in the field, John has 25 years in hospitality. The duo says their combined business knowledge and plumbing expertise make them the perfect partnership.

That’s it for The Buzz this month. Drop a line any time —

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