Developer Wayne Woodward (left) and Grayback Construction superintendent Jon Schneider are aiming to complete the 514 Victoria St. condominium project by August 2022. The five-storey building will offer commercial spaces and 46 residential units. Twenty four have already been sold. Photo: Darren Davidson

Developer Wayne Woodward (left) and Grayback Construction superintendent Jon Schneider are aiming to complete the 514 Victoria St. condominium project by August 2022. The five-storey building will offer commercial spaces and 46 residential units. Twenty four have already been sold. Photo: Darren Davidson

BUSINESS BUZZ: Part 1 of the Buzz’s annual A-to-Z year in review

Darren Davidson covers off A-F in this edition

by Darren Davidson

Hey everyone… It’s that time of year — The Buzz is back with its annual A-to-Z year in review/ preview. Let’s get to it, with part one and check back next issue for part two.

A — Stands for A-3 Plumbing, and other businesses with new owners, locations or shingles to hang. Congrats to Dave Vesterback who bought A-3 from long time owner Werner Mann, an A-3 founder from back in the late ‘70s. … Father/daughter team John Mirko and Katie Blair took over the reigns at the Salmo Hotel in August from longtime owner Marion Gora. … Master bike mechanic and instructor Jeff Bryson set up shop in Kaslo, moving from North Vancouver, quite a while back and we’ve been meaning to mention that. Bryson’s mechanic school is super popular amongst the peddlin’ populous. … RBC Dominion Securities has set up shop Tim Pearke’s Deane Terrace building. … Ciraj Premanantham and his staff have done a great job getting KTK Rosemont Market back up and running.

B — Is for Business As Unusual. For the first time in 20 months, local business owners and Chamber of Commerce folks got together for their monthly Business After Business event. The last one was held at Michelle Rudell’s Nelson Olive Oil company on a warm summer afternoon in 2019.

What a celebratory night. The Chamber rolled out its new brand, courtesy the team at Janneke Guenther’s Kiki Creative and Tamarack Media, run by Addison and Chase Rickaby. And then there were a few beers, and tears. Former Chamber president Tanya Finley gave a very emotional address to the crowd and Hume Hotel general manager Ryan Martin reflected on our trials over the harrowing last couple years.

Mayor John Dooley had some inspirational words worth sharing. The mayor passed on the advice his own father once gave him. Consider the elder Dooley had lived through the Second World War and likely worse due to its proximity, Northern Ireland’s horrific Troubles, right out the Dooley’s doorstep in County Armagh, which was literally split in two by the Catholic versus Protestant civil war.

“My father said that after hand grenades and bullets, other problems were easier to overcome,” Dooley told the crowd of 75 or so gathered at The Hume’s SpiritBar. “And the last few years have seen our own hand grenades and bullets, of a different sort.”

C — Culos, and CERB. Veteran Okanagan developer Mike Culos will have a heap of expectation to meet now that he’s secured arguably the most high profile property in the city — the former Kutenai Landing parcel.

In the early 2000s, the waterfront site was the scene of a political battle to spare it from development as a stand-alone Walmart. Residents liked the idea of a tasteful mix of residential, retail and commercial — think micro-Granville Island. Culos has built Hall Street Place and Anderson Gardens along with dozens of other projects in Interior BC. Here’s hoping the third time’s a charm.

And on the pandemic assistance front, how much did the Canada Emergency Response Benefit help Columbia Basin folks and their families? Selkirk College’s research and innovation division, Selkirk Innovates, has released a study that shines a bit of light on CERB stats.

Entitled How The Funds Flowed: CERB Supports Throughout The Region, the study found that 39,000 Basin residents received CERB — about 23 per cent of the population. Thirty per cent of Nelson resident received CERB cheques, followed by 28 per cent in the Valley, 27 per cent on the East Shore, and 26 per cent in Kaslo. Towns that rely on tourism had higher numbers of recipients, while those with industrial employers were lower. Which age group was most likely to receive CERB? Those workers aged 25 and 34. Click on stateofthebasin.ca for more.

D — Development. There’s a story in the storeys. In the past year the Queen City’s skyline has seen king-sized construction. Six new buildings have either opened or will open next year, adding a whopping 24 floors of new real estate to the market in the way of affordable housing, high end condos, retail and light commercial/industrial space. Unreal. That doesn’t include the proposed four-storey seniors housing project planned for Vernon Street.

City of Nelson development services boss Sebastian Arcand, who took over the reigns from veteran planner Pam Mierau in October, suggests that while development is indeed storming along at an unprecedented pace, it’s important to keep things in perspective.

This year looked extremely busy given that a number of major developments have gone up. Consider that there was $18.5 million in new construction approved in 2017, but $46M in 2019, with 200 dwelling units approved — way up from the average of 40 or so residential permits usually approved each year as of late. Those numbers were due to the big projects that came online.

Next year, 2022, will see roughly $35M in development permits. There have been no major projects approved for 2022 as of yet.

Despite the noticeable hike in traffic and construction sites, Arcand says there are no plans for a city boundary expansion yet. After tallying all the land still left to build on in town, Arcand says there’s actually quite a lot, especially for infills. The city welcomes those. Taxpayers should too. Densification means less expenditures on new sewer, water, roads and power — and prompts folks to hop the bus, walk or ride their bikes.

E — As in 18 per cent. That’s the percentage of Nelson residents who live at or below the poverty line according to groups like Nelson At Its Best. The provincial average is 8.9 per cent.

That’s 2,114 people. And isn’t just the homeless population. Over 700 of those folks do indeed have jobs, but the jobs don’t pay enough to get them above the poverty line. Another stat: Over 800 people included in that 18 per cent are single parent families, three quarters of which are led by women. And of those 800 people, 470 are kids.

F — Frontlines. Nurses, doctors, teachers, police, paramedics, psychologists and counsellors, all your administrative staff, city workers, those in the grocery business, gas stations and transportation sectors. There really isn’t anything any of us can say, other than to offer a deeply heartfelt, thank you. It’s been a heck of a haul for you all.

And on that note, there’ll be a new face on the force soon. Rajnish (Raj) Saini will be the new Deputy Chief at the Nelson Police Department in January. Raj, who speaks English, Punjabi and Hindi, grew up in Toronto and for 23 years served with the Brantford Police Service as an Incident Commander, homicide unit shooting and project-level drug investigator.

Part two of our A-to-Z year in review/preview will be out in next week’s issue of the Star.