Cohorts for the past 12 years, Esprit de la Femme founder Cheryl Coté and co-owner Jody Deverney are celebrating the grand opening of their additional space Saturday, Nov. 27. “After all these years we’ve created so many memories and have gone through so much,” says Coté. “We’re stuck together!” Photo: Darren Davidson

Cohorts for the past 12 years, Esprit de la Femme founder Cheryl Coté and co-owner Jody Deverney are celebrating the grand opening of their additional space Saturday, Nov. 27. “After all these years we’ve created so many memories and have gone through so much,” says Coté. “We’re stuck together!” Photo: Darren Davidson

BUSINESS BUZZ: Kutenai Landing parcel in play, B.C. business is optimistic

Darren Davidson on all the latest in Nelson’s business news

The Buzz starts out this month with a literal sign of the times.

With City of Nelson development permits eclipsing record numbers, Kelowna-based residential and commercial builder Culos Developments has hung its sign on the former Kutenai Landing parcel.

At nearly three hectares the storied site is prime real estate, located right beside Walmart and across Lakeside Drive from the West Arm.

Veteran Okanagan developer Mike Culos completed Nelson’s 43-unit Hall Street Place this year. In 2012 he built the 33-suite Anderson Gardens project on Nelson Avenue.

In the early 2000s, the waterfront site was the scene of a legendary politicized battle to spare it from development as a stand-alone Walmart. The uproar, which included a sizeable demonstration outside City Hall, contributed to the end of Nelson Mayor Gary Exner’s run, and led to a consortium including businessmen and then-city councillor Dave Elliott and Brooke Leatherman, who raised enough capitol to purchase the parcel. The ambitious plan was to develop a Granville Island-type project called Kutenai Landing. Elliott would in fact go on to win the mayor’s seat thanks in part to his opposition of original Walmart proposal.

But the consortium’s plan fell through and they sold the land to developer Mike Rink. The property sold again in 2015 for $1.9 million to Sun 3 Holdings.

The city has yet to receive a permit application from Culos Developments, which has built dozens of subdivisions and multi-family projects throughout Kamloops, Vernon and Kelowna.

***

On a truly positive note. A sweeping survey from the BC Chamber of Commerce tells a tale of optimism and resilience.

Last week, BC Chamber boss Fiona Famuluk and star pollster Bruce Anderson shared the findings of the Collective Perspective survey, which ran from Oct. 14 to Nov. 4.

The survey is used by the the chamber to develop advocacy aims and policy positions on the provincial governments spending priorities.

While confidence in B.C. business has dropped from 94 per cent to 82 since 2019, Anderson says that number is still high.

Of the 1,300 business owners who shared their thoughts, 24 per cent of them say sales have returned to normal. A further 28 per cent expect they’ll be back to normal by spring or summer. Asked about government efforts they see as key to improving their bottom-lines, the pandemic appears to have changed priorities. Beyond cutting red tape and regulations, and well in front of lowering taxes, many more businesses want government to spend money on mental health, housing and child care — far more societal asks than 10 years ago. Which government has the most impact on their businesses? Half of B.C. businesses say: municipal.

***

The labour shortage. Despite more job-searchers knocking on doors now that COVID benefits are beginning to ebb, it’s a real problem. Remember, we were told before the pandemic that the country was facing a labour shortfall for a variety of reasons. We’re in it. How can the Nelson Chamber advocate for labour market improvements and help you find workers? It needs to know. There’s a new survey out that will help the Chamber help you. Please take 10 minutes to fill it out, at surveymonkey.com/r/BDT5J68 or click on discovernelson.com/recovery.

***

Quick Chamber bits: Thanks to a bit of lobbying, the City of Nelson has given the go-ahead on temporary patio licences for the spring and summer. That’ll be a huge help for the food and beverage sector. … Following the BC Chamber’s warning that the province’s surprising old growth logging moratorium proposal will cost as many as 18,000 forestry jobs and close up to 14 mills, the Nelson and District Chamber has asked the province to get all stakeholders back to the table for more than a scant 30 days of consideration. The proposal is the tip of a very complicated iceberg. We’ll have more on that next column.

***

Whether you’re running a skidder, snowmobile or snowcat, southeastern B.C.’s beautiful backcountry is all but overflowing. That’s the takeaway from veteran outdoor writer Jayme Moye’s investigative piece in the 20th anniversary issue of Kootenay Mountain Culture magazine. Speaking on Kootenay Co-op Radio last week, Moye reported that the Columbia Basin, from Valemount to the U.S. border, now has 199 commercial tenures, mostly for winter recreation operations, cloaking 2.4 million hectares. That doesn’t include economically vital resource industry tenures. Overlap is commonplace. So too is conflict, and inevitably, compromise, cutbacks and closures. As veteran Kootenay backcountry guide David Lussier told Moye: “The bathtub is full.”

***

Veterans of the West Kootenay legal community will remember Judge Ron Fabbro from his many years on the region’s provincial court circuit.

After building his law firm down the road in Trail, from 1969 to 1986, Fabbro went on to one of the longest provincial court careers in B.C.’s history. He presided over trials for three decades, before hanging up his gavel in 2016 — but not before evidently passing on formidable judiciary genes to his daughter, Stephanie.

The downtown Vancouver law firm that she and partner Lisa Hamilton, Q.C. opened in 2008 — Hamilton Fabbro — has received a noteworthy nod from the nation’s legal community, named by The Globe and Mail as one of Canada’s best 18 family law firms. Lawyers and legal professionals from across the country, 2,500 of them, provided The Globe with input on their top picks across 28 practice areas.

Hamilton Fabbro has an all-female team of nine lawyers. Hamilton has in fact been tapped to be the next president of the Law Society of BC.

***

Nearly 20 years after opening their first location, local lingerie shop Esprit de la Femme has taken the wraps off an additional retail, office and shipping/receiving space connected to the venue’s busy Baker and Ward locale.

Founder Cheryl Coté and longtime partner Jody Deverney say EDLF’s growth in-store and via their eCom site was driven in big part by pandemic buying trends — namely, increased demand for extended sizes and styles in bras, swimsuits and especially loungewear, a skew the pair say has seen a huge surge in popularity due to COVID. The shop will be carrying post-surgical and mastectomy bras and prosthetics starting in 2022.

***

There’s promising news for local cannabis growers who haven’t got the funds or know-how to get their products to market.

A group of legacy market cannabis veterans has teamed up on plans to open a regional processing facility at the Slocan Valley junction. Antidote Processing Inc. principals Che LeBlanc, Kevin McBride, Gary Krempl and Shannon Ross expect to be processing, packaging and marketing by spring of 2022, on a recently built industrial site. Ross was one of Community Futures’ two Cannabis Business Transition Advisors. Growers interested in getting on Antidote’s waitlist can contact Ross at shannonross.bc@gmail.com

See you all in December!