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BUSINESS BUZZ: Valhalla asking $8 million, patios to be fine-tuned, Chamber biz awards are back

News from Nelson’s business world with columnist Darren Davidson
Kasloian Chords — A unique full-production studio with accommodations and multiple performance venues has opened in Kaslo. The building’s got great great bones, and tones. General manager Chyvonne Lynch says the Propel Studios property has held performances by Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy, three-time Juno Award nominee Jill Barber, legendary kids’ entertainer Fred Penner plus big-time Kootenay acts like Shred Kelly, Moontricks and Lost Ledge. Photo: Submitted

by Darren Davidson

The Buzz starts out this month with blockbuster news from the commercial realty front. One of the city’s largest apartments is for sale, with an asking price of $8 million — amongst the highest asking prices for any commercial property in Nelson’s history.

The four-story, 50-year-old Valhalla Apartment building has 61 suites. That works out to $132,000 per suite. No word on whether the suites are available for strata or just rent. There may in fact be a pending offer. The building is listed out of Maple Ridge with realtor Kelly Fry from the Keller Williams brokerage.

The sale has lead to some concern over the future of an important source of local affordable accommodation — concerns that were shared with Nelson City Council earlier this month.

Speaking of the city, the food and beverage sector will be keeping an eye on the city’s plan for the incredibly popular outdoor patio scene.

In hopes of getting back to a more level playing field, the city’s development services department wants to return to pre-COVID-19 requirements for patios. There were a number of popular outdoor spaces built over the pandemic in order to make safe room for diners and drinkers who couldn’t all fit or sit inside. But some were only supposed to be temporary. With concern over the puzzle of patios now built on pavement, in amenity areas and in neighbours’ parking stalls, the city wants to find some consistency for the program.

From patios to pot

With big national cannabis players in an on-going free fall, Kootenay Rockies Tourism and Selkirk College recently held a research event with cannabis tourism entrepreneurs from around North America — folks who are making headway in a sector Kootenay growers and sellers are hoping materializes in our neck of the weeds soon.

Ymir’s Velvet Kavanagh, owner of Phenologic Consulting, was among the participants. She reports that speakers included a rep for California’s Cali Canna Tourism Association, in the legendary “emerald triangle” of Humbolt and Medicino counties, and the owner of the cannabis-themed Mary Jane Manor boutique hotel in the farming community of Mossleigh, Alta.

The research event found that cannabis tourism attracts consumers who enjoy outdoor sports, food and culture. Forty-four per cent are in the age range of 20-to-40 years old, and they spend more than average tourists.

Things aren’t as irie for the corporates. reports that Canopy Growth has laid of 800 workers, nearly 60 per cent of their labour force, and closed their flagship cultivation facility in Smith Falls, Ont., after posting a $267-million loss in the third quarter of 2022, putting them $2.6 billion in the red. Alberta’s Sundial laid off 85 people.

Help for forestry, new building rules

There’s $180 million up for grabs through a new provincial fund aimed at helping manufacturing companies in communities hurting from economic slow downs, particularly those in lumber mill and logging towns.

The BC Manufacturing Jobs Fund (MJF) will help manufacturers modernize and innovate by providing funding for capital projects. Proposals will be accepted starting on Feb. 28 and stay open two years, or until the fund runs dry. There’ll be a particular focus on helping the forestry sector retrofit and develop new, sustainable value-added business lines that reduce dependency on old-growth logging and make innovative use of biomaterials.

On the construction and development front, the RDCK is aiming to spruce up its building department policies. The move comes not long after developers in the region noted numerous concerns over the regional district’s permitting and policy stick handling in one of the Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce’s State of the Sector reports released last summer. RDCK manager of building development John Southam says current practices by building inspectors don’t always line up with recent changes to provincial or regional regulations. Some policies are outdated, lack transparency, and can create a lot of extra work for staff.

Chamber concerns and awards

Speaking of the Chamber, a grassroots retail round table was held this month. The take-aways included concerns over the impending Baker Street revitalization/infrastructure tear-up, the need for a detailed downtown parking map, the possibility of more late night Friday and Sunday shopping and the necessity of a downtown alley clean up.

The Business Excellence Awards — off the radar for the past three pandemic years — are back. They’ll be held along with the Chamber AGM Thursday, March 30 at the Prestige conference room. Business nominations will start later this month, with two businesses in each category.

Still in chamber news, there’ll be a few spots on the chamber board available soon. Terms are over for venerable board members Paul Weist, Karen Bennett, Paul Cowan, Tanya Finley, Stephen Harris and Amanda Verigin.

That’s it for this month. Next month we’ll have details on eXp Realty’s Demian Whitley, Jessica Horie and Kim Horrocks, Krestova’s Craig Luke and his new motorcycle tourism website, and Bruce Burgener’s remarkable foray into the cross-Canada grocery business with his product Enercheez.