Kevin Hoffart and his partner Debra Hamilton own Wing Creek Resort

Kevin Hoffart and his partner Debra Hamilton own Wing Creek Resort

Kootenay couple thriving in paradise

As I delve into the business beat, I’ve found the enthusiasm among entrepreneurs in the community contagious.

As I delve into the business beat, I’ve found the enthusiasm among entrepreneurs in the community contagious. Seeing folks inspired by their vocation is motivating as I re-enter the workforce after 10 years at home with my young children. For some, work is drudgery. For others, it seems to fulfill their need to make the best of themselves.

I came across a quote online the other day: “Some people dream of great accomplishments, while others stay awake and do them.” Despite being a somewhat cheesy line (aren’t all inspirational quotes a little cheesy?) from Walmart founder Sam Walton, I found it fitting as I met Kevin Hoffart and his partner Debra Hamilton this week.

Hoffart and Hamilton own Wing Creek Resort, a unique 20-acre resort on the shores of Kootenay Lake just north of Kaslo. The couple was recently selected one of the top five best small businesses in BC for their commitment to energy and sustainability through leadership and positive actions.

Wing Creek Resort features thoughtfully designed timber frame cottages, natural forest trails, a private undeveloped beach, an orchard, gardens, outdoor living spaces and the Falling Water Spa.

“We are located in the heart of an environmentally-friendly natural paradise. It makes sense to us to be committed to environmental preservation on every level,” says Hoffart.

He says they’re continually evaluating new options to further reduce their impact on the environment as they plan to expand. Partnering with local builder Hamill Creek Timber Homes, all new construction will be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified. And they plan to use more solar lighting and solar heating, water-driven offset and backup power sources, and state-of-the-art, LEED certified wastewater treatment facility.

“We will continue our focus on keeping Wing Creek Resort a green retreat as it expands into a green community,” says Hoffart.

Hamilton is active in the business community in the Kaslo area. She’s immediate past president of the Chamber of Commerce and she’s worked with Tourism BC to establish a Tourism Plan for Kaslo and Destination Marketing Organization for the area among many other things.

“We believe that tourism, which is one of the greenest industries in the world, is the key to future economic development and sustainability in this area,” says Hoffart.

“This is why we take a very active role in maintaining the business community’s focus on environmental responsibility in our many community roles.”

Wing Creek Resort is competing to receive the Best Green Business Award as part of the annual Successful You Awards Contest. The winners will be announced at the ceremony, a business-networking event open to the public on February 28 in Vancouver. This year 172 businesses were nominated. You can check them out at


I was surprised to hear that the world’s largest Caterpillar equipment dealer, operating in seven countries including Canada, South America and the UK, had its roots in Nelson.

Finning, a company with a long history in British Columbia is celebrating its 80th anniversary. Started by Earl B. Finning in January 1933, in 1937, the first branch opened in Nelson. This was the start of a broad network of facilities which would spring-up around the province including Cranbrook in 1940, Vernon in 1944 and Prince George in 1949.

This small BC-based company grew to become a powerful global player with 15,400 employees worldwide and revenues of $5.9 billion in 2011.


Back to the here-and-now, it’s Kootenay Time. If ever there was a restaurant capitalizing on character, the shop on the corner of Kootenay and Victoria hit the mark.

Owner Michael Chesney has decided to take the Kootenay Time brand in new directions and has closed the doors to his coffee shop.

“We started the Kootenay Times magazine to support the restaurant, see brand extension, and in the end, the restaurant was so much work, that we decided that lifestyle was more important,” he says.

Chesney will now make it the headquarters for their media venture — Nelson TV where he hopes “to capture the magic of Nelson on video.”

“We are grateful to all the people who enjoyed their time at Kootenay Time,” he says. “We are merely morphing, trading food for mood.”


The Karen Pryor Academy (KPA) renowned dog trainer program has produced over 500 graduates varying from general animal trainers, dog trainers, veterinarians, veterinary technicians, groomers and also owners of doggy daycare centers, pet boarders and dog walkers. Currently in its seventh year, KPA graduates are recognized internationally as being some of the best trainers in their respective fields of work.

In March, KPA will be offered for the first time in Slocan Park, due to overwhelming interest. Jeanne Shaw, owner of Love 2 Play Dog Training, also a graduate of KPA, encouraged a number of her students to enroll in the program, but applications have come in from all over the province. Shaw played an instrumental role in convincing KPA that the rural area in the Kootenays would be a viable location for the program.

“KPA graduates work with animals of all kinds, not just dogs. I have colleagues who work with marine animals, reptiles, zoo animals, movie animals, bears, horses, birds, cats, and fish,” says Shaw.

Karen Pryor Academy for Animal Training and Behavior is a six-month program which combines online learning with peer collaboration and hands-on teaching. A KPA facility member will be flown in to teach the four weekend-long workshops.

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