March 2021 quarterly WFN business e-newsletter. 
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March officially marks one year since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. We are fortunate and grateful for the dedicated WFN teams who have been able to support many individuals including providing hundreds of COVID tests since March 2020, in conjunction with Interior Health, as well as preventing spread within the community. Our many departments have been critical, working around the clock to address situations as they arise, and working preventatively to ensure the safety of all, especially our most vulnerable. We extend our gratitude to Simon Melanson, WFN’s new CAO/Director of Operations who has provided crucial leadership since arriving in December.
During these difficult times, it is imperative that we look after our mental health including eating healthy, exercising regularly, getting plenty of sleep, and connecting with others. We encourage everyone to look out for family, friends, and neighbours. If we continue following the restrictions in place, we will get through this and be able to come together once again.

COEDC Releases Q4 2020 Economic Indicators Report

While navigating the impacts of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, the Central Okanagan region saw a slight labour force decrease of 1.4% in 2020 and finished the year with a 4.7% unemployment rate (a significant decrease from the 9.6% unemployment rate posted in May 2020) and an average unemployment rate of 7.2% for 2020. The region also saw a 4.7% increase in business licenses for 2020, and CMHC saw a 19.4% decrease in housing starts with focus remaining on multi-family units. The median price for a new single/semi-detached home in the region sits at $877,500, a 7.7% price decrease from 2020. New job postings also decreased 28.7% compared to 2019.  Meanwhile, job seekers (ie. individuals who created a profile in job portals) increased by 12.7%. More info.

2021 BC Economic Summit

The BC Economic Development Association will be hosting its annual BC Economic Summit, Economic Revival: Charting a Path Forward for BC Communities, Mar 8 - 11. The conference will bring together Indigenous, local, provincial and federal governments representatives along with economic developers and others working to strengthen local economies. It will include numerous virtual keynote presentations, breakout sessions, online networking opportunities, panel discussions and discussion forums on economic development. For info and registration (closes Mar 5), click here.

Key Business Award Winners

Congratulations to the 2020 Key Business Award winners (awarded Nov 26 ’21), including the following WFN businesses:

  • Syilx Trail Gallery ("Indigenous Business")
  • Okanagan Indigenous Music/Arts Society ("Arts and Entertainment") – congrats EDC Commissioner Jenny Money!
  • Big Bear Software ("Technology Business")

$10K Prize for Indigenous artist to create Kelowna mural

The Okanagan Indigenous Music and Arts Society has launched the “Honouring our Stories”, Artistic Mural and Beautification Project, in partnership with Kelowna’s Gospel Mission and Sncewips Heritage Museum. It is part of a larger project that launched Jan. 15 and will continue until April 1, 2021, which includes weekly virtual presentations, “Stories with Sncəwips Heritage Museum,” based on Syilx captikʷł (stories). The mural will be created on the rear side of the Kelowna Gospel Mission, which is located in the city’s downtown core. Artist registration opened Feb 1, with the finalist being chosen by March 5 and the winner being announced March 29.

WFN extends rental increase freezes to July 1

In recognition of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, WFN has further extended its rental increase freeze to July 1, 2021. The current pandemic situation is regularly monitored as it relates to tenancy matters, and tenants and landlords are encouraged to contact WFN’s Residential Premises Administrator to support greater understanding of these changes at Additional info.

Status Tax Exemptions

WFN will continue to promote greater awareness and assurance that all businesses operating on Westbank lands are adhering to acceptance of status cards for point of sale purchases. Staff continue to monitor businesses, and when necessary, use appropriate follow up measures to ensure concerns are addressed. To provide feedback on businesses on WFN lands not honouring status tax exemptions, click here.

WFN construction students complete energy-efficient shed

Read the full story at Global News.

Business Supports

Supports to Launch Businesses Online
B.C.’s new Launch Online Grant program is designed to help businesses adapt to changes in consumer behaviour and pivot to marketing products online, providing a platform to increase sales revenues, become more competitive and grow.  Also, Accelerate Okanagan has recently launched the Digital Economy: Rapid Response + Resiliency (DER3)  program designed to support businesses looking to expand online by leveraging local expertise and digital service providers. Have a small business ready to go digital? Book a no-cost, no-obligation, DER3 business assessment.

Supports to Launch Exporting
Export Navigator provides free one-to-one guidance to help businesses move along the export pathway. Utilizing specialized training and tools, the program is funded by the Government of B.C. in partnership with Western Economic Diversification Canada and delivered through Small Business BC and Community Futures.

BC Chamber of Commerce Training Program
Developed in partnership with the University of Victoria and Gustavson School of Business, the BC Chamber of Commerce is offering a “Building Resilience to Thrive” training program to provide relief to businesses and help mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 by teaching how to adapt business models, re-engage customers and adjust workplace cultures. Join March 22nd - April 28th at 11am (first two session on a Monday, following sessions on a Wednesday, 11am to 12pm, PST). Registration for Cohort 4 closes March 12, 2021 at 4pm

Tourism Resiliency and Recovery Supports
The Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association has launched a Tourism Resiliency Program, and the Province has launched a BC Indigenous Tourism Recovery Fund (deadline to apply is March 31 for up to $45,000).

For additional business resources and supports, visit OkWeGotThis, COEDC, GWBOT, or WFN.

WFN shows strong growth, says new report

Tradespeople are currently being hired at a building site on WFN land (photo), and a new report projects 3,622 new homes and more than 94,000 sq. m. commercial properties being built on WFN land between 2018 and 2038. Read the full story at Kelowna Daily Courier.

For Canada’s small museums, the pandemic ‘opens minds’ and forces a shift

The pandemic has been a challenge for hundreds of cultural institutions that rely on revenue from admissions, volunteer labour and are crucial links to local communities across Canada. Check out this Global News story that shows us how the country's small museums have responded to that challenge, and be sure to give Sncəwips Heritage Museum a follow on Instagram, Facebook, & Twitter!

New WFN EDC Members, Lisa Pastro & Domenic Rampone

WFN would like to welcome the newest members of the EDC, Lisa Pastro and Domenic Rampone. Lisa is a WFN Member and has served as WFN’s Business Process and Governance Analyst since 2018 and Domenic works for West Manufacturing on WFN lands and holds a non-member seat on the EDC. Welcome Lisa and Domenic! 

WFN would also like to thank James Carmichael and Lori Ann Swite for their time served on the Commission and the valuable insight they continue to provide. Lim lemt, James and Lori Ann!

The COEDC welcomes to the 2021 Advisory Council:

  • Ryan Malcolm, CEO of WFN’s Ntityix Development Corp., representing Construction & Development (photo above)
  • Jill White, President of Waterplay Solutions Corp., representing Manufacturing

The 45 member Advisory Council serves as a conduit of information and insight for the COEDC and is made up of industry leaders, elected officials, local government staff and community organizations representing a cross section of industries. For a full listing of Advisory Council and Executive members, click here.

B.C.'s Business Recovery Grant

The Business Recovery Grant program provides fully funded grants of $10,000 to $30,000 to small and medium sized B.C. businesses impacted by COVID-19. An additional $5,000 to $15,000 grant is available to eligible tourism-related businesses. The program runs until March 31, 2021 or until the funds are fully allocated. Not-for-profit organizations are not eligible. Business will need to complete an online application and upload financial documents.

B.C.'s Immunization Plans

The COVID-19 immunizations will happen in four phases, starting with those most vulnerable, then by age. Learn more or Book a Vaccine Appt for Seniors (opens Mar 8).

WorkSafeBC Industry Guidelines

WorkSafeBC provides COVID-19 information and resources for businesses, including updated Public Health Orders. Click here.

Canada's Business Support Programs

The Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) covers up to 75% of an employee’s wages for qualifying eligible employers, with this subsidy rate in effect until March 13, 2021, and available until June 2021. The wage subsidy supports businesses to keep and re-hire employees, while avoiding layoffs. To learn more about CEWS or other financial supports, loans/ access to credit, support for self employed individuals, Indigenous businesses, or business sectors, click here.

2021 Census

The next census of population will take place in May 2021. Census information is used to make informed decisions about our communities, provinces, and the country as a whole. For job opportunities or info, click here.

Aerospace Opportunities

B.C. has one of the largest aerospace sectors in Canada (170 firms), with 18% of BC's aerospace companies located in the Central Okanagan. For more on the Okanagan’s Aerospace Industry, visit COEDC. Looking for a career in aviation? Alpine Aerotech on Industrial Rd in West Kelowna is offering technical training, apprentice program sponsorships, and other exciting opportunities!

WFN Honours Jim Hamilton

For his efforts to support the access of Indigenous students to higher learning and Indigenization of the post-secondary system, as well as strengthening ties between WFN and the College, Chief and Council surprised Hamilton with a traditional blanket wrapping ceremony, Dec 10, with his family, colleagues and WFN community viturally by his side. Hamilton is set to retire as president of Okanagan College, April 1, 2021, with Neil Fassina, current Athabasca University president to become the new president. Full story.

Child Advocacy Centre partners with WFN

Full story at West K News

WFN Directory

Main Reception
250 769 4999

Employment Coordinator
250 768 8281

Health & Wellness
250 768 0227

Youth & Education
250 768 4838

250 768 7337

250 707 3332

Public Works
250 707 0493

Law Enforcement
250 717 6147

778 755 2787
Full Directory
WFN Economic Development Commission (EDC)

Kelsey McLeod, Chairperson
Angie Derrickson, Vice Chair
Jennifer Money
Lisa Pastro
Brianna Wilson
Domenic Rampone

View Commissioner profiles >

WFN EDC Mission: Assist & facilitate Chief & Council, and the WFN business community, to create a healthy, environmentally sustainable & dynamic economy based on values of self-reliance. 
Copyright © 2020, Westbank First Nation, all rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
301 - 515 Hwy 97S, Kelowna, BC V1Z 3J2

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Westbank First Nation · 515 Highway 97 South · Kelowna, BC V1Z 3J2 · Canada

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