Longer hours, bigger beers — Nelson Brewing Company owners Kate and Matt Walker celebrated a big step for the long time brewery allure this spring. The Latimer Street venue now serves full pints, instead of just smaller flights. Photo: Darren Davidson

Longer hours, bigger beers — Nelson Brewing Company owners Kate and Matt Walker celebrated a big step for the long time brewery allure this spring. The Latimer Street venue now serves full pints, instead of just smaller flights. Photo: Darren Davidson

BUSINESS BUZZ: N2 gets province’s attention, Mountain Sky moves on, Vacuum sucks it up

Business news from Nelson with columnist Darren Davidson

by Darren Davidson

The efforts of downtown Nelson residents and business owners who’ve banded together in an effort to address the city’s heartbreaking homelessness and addictions issue appear to be having an effect on the continent-wide crisis in our hometown.

After a few months of informal meetings, The Neighbourhood Network — dubbed N2 for short — wants better management of Interior Health’s Clubhouse facility at the corner of Vernon and Cedar, literally the northern corner of the downtown business district. The old home has provided mental health support for the city’s homeless population or others in dire need, but things went downhill for nearby businesses and residents after the pandemic, when crowds of Clubhouse visitors became bigger and rowdier to the point where property owners opted to mobilize. IH’s plan for a safe inhalation site was a tipping point.

Thanks in part to their work, and the attention of the province’s Solicitor General and the Minister for Public Safety Mike Farnworth, who was here late last month, IH has taken action. A security guard placed on patrol made a major difference for nearby residents. And word this week is that Interior Health is eyeing a new location for the services the Clubhouse provides.

Within a knot of poly-crisis, the homelessness issue facing cities throughout North America is one of poverty, drugs and mental health. It’s being driven by the drug fentanyl — there’s never been an illegal drug so addictive, cheap to make and easy to cut with other dangerous additives, thereby improving criminal margins.

And then there’s the very-real housing shortage. And rocketing costs of rents and living in general. The still lingering crush of COVID. The province’s three-year decriminalized drug experiment. And stigma driven by incorrect information.

Reps from the Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce recently toured Kelowna’s OS4 Project, the booming Okanagan city’s fourth overnight shelter effort, which is home to a few hundred homeless folks. Despite Conservative leader Pierre Pollivere’s recent decision to politicize the Kelowna project as an example of failed Liberal public safety policies, the OS4 site, funded in part with $100K though BC’s Building Back Better program, is in fact considered one of BC’s best-practice overnight shelters. Is there a solution there that would fit Nelson — something long term, not short? Stay tuned.

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It’s the end of an era for a veritable Kootenay heritage brand.

Nina George and Raynald Losier, the owners and founders of Mountain Sky Soap for over 20 years, have sold their business to buyers in Quebec. The Mountain Sky project has been a family affair for the Slocan Valley folks. We’ll have more details on the business’s incredible success story, and the new owners, in next month’s column.

Same goes for the new faces at not one, but two, coffee shops. Ashley Postnikoff, who purchased the Railway Coffeehouse in 2019, has sold. A.M Radio Cafe owner Jenny Cowan has passed the torch too. The shop is now L&C French Bakery, which for a long time whipped up baked goods for the café and other venues, in the A.M kitchen.

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A quick congrats to Shoes for the Soul and their 25th anniversary — family owned and operated since 1998.

There’s a new realtor in town.

Cat and truck buyers will know Jericho Judson from his stint at Nelson Toyota. He’s also a part time strength and condition coach at Maverick Fitness. The transplanted Calgarian’s been in the neighbourhood for the last three years.

“After a few years of success at the dealership and solidifying my roots in the Kootenays, I decided to try my hand at real estate,” says Judson. Click on www.jerichorealestate.ca for the details.

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With clients ranging from Fitbit to the National Film Board to ESPN Videogames, a branding and advertising agency with roots in the West Kootenay is closing its door after 20 years in business.

Nate Smith formed The Vacuum here in town, before moving the business North Vancouver.

“The decision was made a few months ago,” said Smith in a farewell e-mail, “funnily enough not long after we had our best year ever in 2022. It feels good to be going out on a bit of a high note.”

The Vacuum’s parent company is Fig Leaf Group, which owns creative media, content developers and publishers in North America, New Zealand and the UK.

Smith’s plan now?

“First things first, I’m gonna do my darndest to take a step back, hang with my family, and go rock climbing.”

Speaking of adventure sport, check out the photos of the new Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce board on the chamber website. Visitor Centre manager Val Yowek’s action shot takes the cake. Worth a last note: Of the 60 policies up for discussion and debate at the BC Chamber’s AGM in Whistler last week, our own chamber introduced a motion aimed at levelling the playing field for small businesses that need to recycle. They’re currently excluded from the same drop-off or curbside services available to households, leaving them with a big ol’ heap of junk in the trunk.