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Spring Gillard
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The Family Compound

I have been harping on my brother, an Okanagan developer, for a couple decades now about building green. I am sure it has very little to do with my harping, but in his latest development, Sedona Heights, several of the “southwest-style” homes, including his, will have geothermal heating. He is weighing the pros and cons of solar street lamps and there is the potential for rainwater collection in on-site cisterns. And although he is still pining for palm trees, he has finally agreed to a more native landscape in keeping with the semi-desert region. A Western Mountain Ash will stand in for the palm.

Sedona Heights is on a hillside in Summerland overlooking Okanagan Lake and a stone’s throw from a couple of renowned vineyards. For those who don’t know, the Okanagan Valley is the Napa of BC. The small but vibrant community is tucked in between Penticton and Kelowna. It is the perfect blend of rural and urban. You definitely feel like you’re in the country when you’re at home, in the midst of rambling orchards and lush vineyards, but you are 10 minutes from the cute little Tudor town with assorted shops, delis, restaurants, artist studios and galleries. Summerland Sweets is there, they make those delicious syrups and have their own orchard and factory. And the  Summerland Research Station, aside from doing agricultural research has a beautiful xeriscaped  ornamental garden.

There are several nearby schools including Glenfir, a private school, an excellent community centre with fitness area and pool. Oh and plenty of golf courses. I’m not a golfer. I think because I was forced into it as a kid. I carted around my little pink golf bag for years.

Penticton has even more amenities. And Kelowna, well, it’s a bit of a strip mall, I call it Little Richmond, but it has everything you could ever want or need, including all the big box boys. Both towns also have airports.

The Okanagan is famous for its skiing, downhill and cross country: Crystal Mountain,  Apex, Big White, Silver Star. In the summer, it’s a boater’s paradise – you’re five minutes from boat launches and beaches. My favourite, activity is floating down the river channel in an inner tube, a big ol’ bus picks you up at the end of the line and takes you back to the starting point. I love to do this especially when the athletes are sweating it out during the Penticton Ironman in August.

Now let’s talk food. There are farmers’ markets galore including my personal favourite in Penticton. There’s now a Feast of Fields celebration held at the Valentine Farm in Summerland! And there are some superb restaurants to eat at – including many on vineyards. My favourite restaurant is the Gasthaus in Peachland with its beautiful lakeside patio and authentic German fare. I get the sauerkraut spaetzel every time. The pear and gorgonzola salad at the Hooded Merganser lakeside in Penticton is well worth a try. And there’s the Cabana Grille in Kelowna with chef Ned Bell who is known for his creative use of local. For coffee lovers, there’s a Caffe Artigiano in Westbank.

I am not a big fan of gated communities and have said more than once that I would never live in one. At one point I was calling Sedona Heights the family compound, because my brother lived there. My dad had a house there (which he has since sold). And my other brother and his wife were thinking about building a house there. But I spent a lot of time in the Okanagan in the past year, and had a fresh look at my childhood home. I have to say I love the feel of this place. I like the slower rhythm of life there. And the real estate is still very affordable. Check it out if you’re in the neighbourhood.

After years of preaching, I have learned that people come around in their own time and in their own way. As I often find myself eating my own words, chances are I’ll be living in the family compound soon.  Beautiful work Todd, on the development and on my conversion. Oh and Happy Birthday!

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