Nicola Valley senior adventures, activities, and events enjoyed in and around the City of Merritt, British Columbia, Canada.

Nicola Valley Parks and Playgrounds for Families 

Hiking, biking, horseback riding, mountain biking trails in Merritt

Parks in Merritt BC Canada – One of the most important things we look for when relocating to a different community in Canada besides a house, retail, safety,  are family parks. Merritt B.C. has much to offer when it comes to out-door enthusiasts. Moreover if you are thinking of moving to Merritt B.C. rest assured our community holds a certain standard to providing a wide variety of parks for all ages. Furthermore one can walk a short distance to most parks.  Truly there is a lot to experience in the Nicola Valley when considering play time in the outdoors in Merritt B.C. Canada. 

Parks in Merritt BC Canada with Experience Nicola Valley blogger Tania Stewart

Path through Rotary Park. Photo credit Tania Stewart.

Rotary Bike Park – Parks in Merritt BC Canada

The Rotary Bike Park is one of the most visited parks in Merritt B.C. Canada for mountain biking.  The community park has a bike park, skate board park, playground park, also includes a walking trail. Rotary Bike Park was originally built in 2006 while receiving upgrades in 2018. Therefore with the introduction of this bike park, the sport of mountain biking in Merritt BC got a boost.  

Rotary Bike Park

Rotary Bike Park and Skateboard Park in Merritt BC Canada

“Ride As Much Or As Little Or As Long Or As Short As You Feel, But Ride!” – Eddy Merckx

Mountain Biking Parks in Merritt B.C.

Place to meet friends. Bike Park. Photo by Tania Stewart.

Mountain biking in the Nicola Valley BC

Adrenalin jumpstart! Photo Credit Tania Stewart.

Thinking of moving to Merritt B.C.

Watch me, I will get this jump! Photo Credit Tania Stewart.

Merritt Skate Board Park

Adjacent to the bike park is a well maintained skate board park. It is for all ages, being safe, and has a community friendliness about the park. Personally I have brought my son there since he was 7yrs old. What made me love our community even more were the older kids who were always on hand to teach new tricks or help dust my son off when he bit it. Social interaction is so important for children’s development and self-confidence.  

Thinking of moving to Merritt B.C.

Helmet is key! Photo credit: Tania Stewart

Moving to Merritt B.C.

Skate Boarding for all ages. Photo credit Tania Stewart.

“Children will learn coordination, movement control and confidence at the skateboard park” Tania Stewart.

Merritt Skateboard Park

Learning the ropes at the Merritt Skateboard Park. Photo credit Tania Stewart.

Children’s Playground Park

Within this area is a playground park. It was built as part of a community and not affiliated with a school at all. The equipment is soft padded to help prevent injuries. There is a slide, swing, merry go round and more.  See… lots of activity and playground parks in Merritt BC Canada. And we are just getting started. 

Merritt bc playground park

Surrounded by “Nature!” Photo credit Tania Stewart

Nicola Valley Parks

Playground fun. Photo credit Tania Stewart.

Valley Kitchen 

Hungry? We have that covered too. Located beside the Rotary Bike Park you can feed your hunger with a great burger at Valley Kitchen. With a kid’s menu as well as drinks, ice-cream, coffee, and one of the best burgers I have ever had. One of my blogger cohorts had an opportunity to sit down and have a chat with these young entrepreneurs. Below is the short interview.  

“Playing promotes social interaction without biases while developing imagination.”  Tania Stewart

Parks in Merritt BC Canada Have Health Benefits

Albeit exercise is key for our children! Therefore, it is safe to say, being exposed to sunlight and fresh air provides a healthy dose of the “sunshine vitamin D” when playing in our parks in Merritt BC Canada.  Who would’ve of thought that swings can help provide children with physical development. Some of the skills research shows swings have include grasping, balance, landing, pushing, while getting into a rhythm of the swing. Moreover the memories that are gained at the playground are priceless as there is no limit to a child’s imagination. Moreover this is one of the few places a child has control of play with little adult interference. 

Playground in Merritt bc

Bench School Playground. Photo by Tania Stewart.

Nicola Valley park and playground

Super slides. Photo credit: Tania Stewart.

Merritt Bench Elementary School

Located at Bench Elementary School are 2 playgrounds. One for younger aged children interested in playing hop-scotch, , and a second one for intermediate aged ones interested in playing basketball hoops within a forest setting.  Although I do believe there is no age requirement to take part in the adventure and fun enjoyed on playgrounds. 

Bench Elementary School

Bench Elementary School. Pic by Tania Stewart.

Child Development Is Supported by Parks and Playgrounds

Moreover playgrounds and parks can help stimulate our child’s cognitive development while helping with problem solving skills. Going across the monkey bars truly takes thought, with space, distance with a lot of bravery. Making it across that first time gave me the confidence to tackle everything at the playground. 

 

Merritt school playgrounds.

Playground team ship. Pic by Tania Stewart.

Smith Pioneer Park  Lower Nicola

Parks in Merritt BC Canada includes Smith Pioneer Park, which is really a Thompson-Nicola Regional District community park, located in the heart of Lower Nicola.  Let me assure you that this is an amazing recreational park for all.  Firstly, the equipment will surely  keep them interested and invigorated for hours.  Secondly, adjacent to the park is a arena for horse lovers who may want to train in a safe arena.

Horse riding arena next to parks in Merritt BC

Horse riding arena. Picture by Tania Stewart.

Playground Amenities

Many of our parks in Merritt B.C. offer a person a chance to cool down or have a family picnic while enjoying the beautiful scenery.  Moreover, many recreation areas are suited for parents who would like sit in the shade, relax while your children play. All is good when one knows their children are having fun, exercising while being where they should be “outside.” Truly because of the many benefits children gain playing outside only makes the need for playgrounds that more important when looking to relocate. The  “Annual Garlic Festival” is hosted in Smith Pioneer Park in late September. 

Thinking of moving to Merritt B.C.

Playtime is paramount for a child’s imagination. Pic by Tania Stewart.

Lower Nicola Park.

Picnic in shade. Photo credit Tania Stewart.

Lower Nicola Merritt B.C.

Adventure time! Photo by Tania Stewart.

“Defending castles and slaying dragons were my playground adventures.” Tania Stewart.

Moving to Nicola Valley.

Arena for horse riders. Pic by Tania Stewart.

Fun for hours. Pic by Tania Stewart.

Rotary Water Park

So when all is said and done. A great way to cool down in those hot summer days is Merritt’s only water spray park, Rotary Park.  Located within walking distance from downtown is our only water park. Truly a place for children to cool down while parents can rest assure that this is a safe child zone. Furthermore, this park has been visited by the Easter Bunny, with an annual egg hunt, host to “Aboriginal Day”, “Canada Day Festivities” as well as “Music in the Park”. Along with having an amazing bandshell for live entertainment this park gives a unique venue for a family park.  

Merritt bc spray park - water park playground

With a children’s playground there is a small rose garden dedicated to Princess Diana.

Rotary Park Playground

Adjacent to the water park is a playground full of adventure for every age. Proving slides, swings, jungle time apparatus and more. Safely built with a child’s imagination in mind. Providing tons of fun with a short hop to the water park to cool off. 

Rotary Park. Pic by Tania Stewart.

Parks in Merritt BC slides and swings

Fun n play. Photo credit Tania Stewart.

Parks in Merritt BC

Also beside the Rotary Park flows the Nicola River.  With safety and adult supervision a world of nature can be explored. Spotting some ducks, tadpoles, occasional frogs, chipmunk or a beaver swimming by is not unusual. More than often my son and I have come across a sleeping deer. What could be better than this, nature at your fingertips.

chipmunk in merritt bc - wildlife sighting

Spot a chipmunk. Photo by Tania Stewart.

wildlife sighting and self guided tour in merritt bc

Spot a sleeping deer. Pic by Tania Stewart.

 

Catching frogs. Photo by Tania Stewart.

In Conclusion

Knowing that one of the most important things we look for when relocating to a new community are family parks and child playgrounds.  The Nicola Valley  offers everything from a water park to skate boarders, bike park, and countless playgrounds. Ideal for all out-door enthusiasts.    With a wide range of different parks that provide unique experiences in the community of Merritt enables families to enjoy the outdoors.  

Parks in Merritt BC sunsets

Merritt B.C. sunset. Photo by Tania Stewart.

Parks in Merritt BC Canada

Moving to Merritt BC for Parks 

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Merritt Summer River Camping – Outdoor Adventures

Places to Camp Riverside Around Merritt B.C

Staycation Summer River Campgrounds Merritt BC

Merritt Summer River Camping : As a result of Covid19 many families in Canada have rediscovered the outdoors. Furthermore, many have reignited their love of “Camping” with a dash of adventure.  But where does a person start? Knowledge about out-door activities starts with Experience Nicola Valley and Experience Merritt.  A great resource for planning a trip to the Nicola Valley.

Merritt Summer River Camping or Lakes

Surely when thinking of camping we often picture lakes. While a lake is great, river camping can be just as enjoyable. Do you prefer full amenities while camping or rustic adventures? Or full amenities vs outback river camping? All are available here in the Nicola Valley! 

Merritt Summer River Camping

Looking for Gold! Photo Credit:  Tania Stewart.

camping moon shadows campground

Camping on the river. Photo Credit:  Tania Stewart.

Benefits of Summer River Camping in Merritt 

  1. Stress reduction:  No alarm clocks, just the sound of nature.
  2. Fresh air:  Sleeping well may be your new experience.  
  3. Relationship building: One of the best and most important aspects of camping is how it helps you and your family gain hands-on outdoor experiences.
  4. Physical fitness: Time spent camping is physical time. You set up a tent, gather firewood, go for a swim, hike, boating, kayaking not to mention meal time. Cooking and preparing meals without a microwave can be exhausting. 
  5. Wildlife: Although seeing wildlife is great. Respecting while observing from a distance. 
  6. Confidence building: Teaching your children along with yourself becoming more confident learning new things while respecting the outdoors. 
Summer river camping

Swing rope. Pic by Tania Stewart.

Coldwater River. Photo Credit:  Tania Stewart.

Selecting A River Site

River camping during summer months in the Nicola Valley provides a few options to choose from. Here are five of my favorite places to camp riverside around Merritt BC. 

MOON SHADOWS RV PARK & CAMPGROUND

Located south of Merritt, BC, Canada along the Coldwater River, the Moon Shadows RV Park and Campground offers great camping all year-round. With competitive weekly, monthly, and off-season rates, Moon Shadows is a great option for your extended camping stay. RV and tenting sites are set back in the trees and offer spectacular scenery to enjoy. Moon Shadows facilities include laundry, heated washrooms with showers, a gorgeous gazebo by the river, and a small convenience store.

Merritt Summer River Camping

Camping under the Moon shadows. Photo Credit:  Tania Stewart.

 

When you go camping with friends or family, you get a chance to talk and visit without distraction into the night. Grandma T.

 

CLAYBANKS RV PARK & CAMPGROUND

The Claybanks RV Park and Campground offers spacious, well-maintained sites along the Coldwater River.  The nicely treed property is located close to downtown Merritt and many of the great activities offered in the area. Enjoy golfing, fishing, swimming, or just take in the beautiful flowers as you walk along the river. Whether tenting or RVing, Claybanks has you covered with 44 full-serviced RV sites and 20 tenting sites. This pet-friendly campground is open year-round with  heated washrooms, showers, a snack shop, and horseshoe pits.

Merritt Summer River Camping

Kids just love the river. Photo by Tania Stewart.

Merritt  River Camping

Walking distance to downtown Merritt. Photo Credit:  Tania Stewart.

Camping can revitalize families while being away from all the distractions at home.

 

NOOAITCH CAMPING 

Truly experience rustic camping here amongst scenic mountains’ and a historical railway bridge. Can not get any better than this. With only a few spots to camp,  no overcrowding. Moreover you can swim or pan for false gold on the riverbanks. I can guarantee this is my favorite spot in BC. Along with it’s scenic beauty, it is a bit hotter than in Merritt. While only being 15min out of town. 

Petit Bridge

Camping by the bridge. Pic by Tania Stewart.

Merritt river camping in the summer

Scenic Nicola Valley views. Photo Tania Stewart.

“Rivers may not accommodate a speed boat, yet your steps away from the water.” Tania Stewart.

 

N’KWALA CAMPGROUND

N’kwala campground is located beside the Nicola River. This is a popular camping location providing opportunities for canoeists and kayakers to enjoy the pace of the river. Albeit during the summer hot spells when the river levels are low, the site is still an ideal location for camping. Furthermore providing a refreshing dip in the river to cool off. With a mix of Yellow Pine and shady fir trees, along many sunny sites which can accommodate any size of camping units. Boasting 20 camping sites and located only 15 minutes from Merritt BC. 

Merritt Summer River Camping

Exploring river banks. Pic by Tania Stewart.

River Camping in Nicola Valley

Floating peacefully. Photo by TS.

Summer River Camping outside Merritt

Scenic drive through Brookmere. Photo Credit:  Tania Stewart.

Merritt Summer River Camping

Tenting or trailer is perfect. Photo Credit:  Tania Stewart.

Pet Friendly! 

Assuredly we all want to bring our pets with us on our summer adventures. All of the campgrounds mentioned are truly “Pet Friendly”

Summer River Camping Merritt Tips

  • In short pack extra clothing. After all, the weather around Nicola Valley is generally warm & dry. Sometimes it may rain or get a little cool at night. So make sure to pack clothes for all types of weather. 
  • Take advantage of outdoor attractions. During your stay, make sure to set time aside to explore all that your campsite has to offer. 
  • Overall protect yourself. It’s extremely important to protect yourself from all that Mother Nature provides, so make sure to pack sunscreen and bug spray! 
  • Cleanup. Overall packing up is the worst. Leaving paradise is hard, but making sure to leave nothing behind is crucial.  
  • Make sure your fire is completely out. 
River camping during summer months

Kids just love camping! Picture courtesy of Tania Stewart.

Exploring and adventure on the river. Photo by Tania Stewart.

Staycation Summer River Campgrounds Merritt BC

Merritt Summer River Camping can be your next vacation. River camping during summer months in the Nicola Valley provides a few options to choose from. Most important the soothing sounds of the nearby river will lull you to sleep under the stars every night. 

Take Me To The River

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Okanagan Circle Tours from Merritt BC

Similkimeen Okanagan Road Tripping – Part Two

One of many tours starting from the Nicola Valley

 

Okanagan Circle Tours – In my last blog I was talking about circle tours from Merritt, BC, in particular from Merritt to Princeton and then onto the Okanagan. The first part of the journey was from Merritt, BC to Princeton, BC, Canada.  While this trip is fun any time of the year the best period would be early to mid August.

On the Road Again – Okanagan Circle Tours From Merritt, BC

When you leave Princeton you want to head out on Highway 3 going east towards Penticton.  This is a gorgeous part of the trip as you follow the beautiful Similkimeen River.  While there are many points of interest along this route I will be only mentioning a few since this is only a two day tour.  

 

Our first point of interest is Hedley, BC, home of the Mascot Gold Mine.   The mine was closed in the mid twentieth century but was turned into a tourist attraction by the Province and the local first nations people.  Unfortunately the tours ended in 2018.  Despite not being able to take tours  anymore it is still impressive to see the structures that were put in place to mine the side of a mountain.

Mascot Gold Mine

Mascot Gold Mine

Stop #2-Circle Tours From Merritt, BC

While there are many choices to stop for lunch, one of my favourites is Bromley Rock Provincial Park.  This is a perfect spot for a picnic.  As well as  a great lunch venue you could also take a dip in the river.

Bromley Rock Provincial Park

Bromley Provincial Park

Keremeos-The Fruit Stand Capital of Canada.

Keremeos is the last stop in the Similkimeen Valley on our Okanagan Circle Tour from Merritt, BC.  Most of the fruit stands in Keremeos  are the traditional type where the stands are selling fruit from their own farms which is not always the case in other areas of the Province. For example, in August you can get the best peaches because they come from the orchards behind the fruit stands.

 

keremeos fruit stand

Keremeos Fruit Stand

While fruit is the main claim to fame for Keremeos, the Cathedral Lake Lodge is a must see.  Unfortunately you won’t have time on this trip but do book mark it for another time.  The alpine hiking is inspiring.  As well there is plenty of time to do simpler things like reading your book in a comfy chair by the lake.

Cathedral Lakes reading spot

Cathedral Lakes reading spot

Penticton is next on our circle tour from Merritt, BC

Hopefully y0u have timed your trip so that you leave Keremeos by 4:30 or 5:00 so that you can make Penticton by early evening.  You will need to book a hotel for one night.  The more expensive ones are on Okanagan lake while more reasonable accommodation can be had near Skaha Lake.  

After you settle in you will want a bite to eat.  While they have all the fast food choices the Hooded Merganser is a spectacular place to eat.  While it is on the pricier side of things its location on the lake cannot be beat.  Otherwise you may want to try a winery on the Naramata Bench.  We’ve actually eaten at the Hillside Winery where we had an experience we will never forget.

Hillside Winery

Hillside Winery

When we arrived it was a beautiful evening.  However, the wind started to pick up and the clouds began rolling in.  At this point many of the diners left the patio to go inside, but not us.  The temperature was dropping and the waiters brought us blankets. The rain began in earnest but we were protected by a roof. We became the only patrons left on the rooftop patio.  As if the wind and rain weren’t enough along came thunder and lightening.  It was truly spectacular.  By the way, the meal was great.

Day 2 starts in Penticton.

You’ll want to be up early because this will be another fun filled day.  There are so many fun things to do from having a lazy beach day, winery tours, shopping and my favourite, tubing the canal.

For wineries the Naramata Bench provides 19 wineries in very close proximity to each other.  For shopping you will want to take in the mom and pop shops on Main Street. As well you will want to visit the funky galleries on Front Street.

Finally I do recommend the tubing.  If you didn’t bring one you can rent one at Coyote Cruises which opens at 11:00 AM.  Allow three hours for the trip and 1/2 bus trip back.

Floating the canal

Floating the canal

Next stop on our circle tour from Merritt, BC is Summerland.

Summerland is split by Highway 97 with the commercial section on the west side of the road and the beach area down the hill on the other side of the street.  One of the main attractions is the steam train.  You have to be careful though because you might get robbed by bandits on horse back!  You need reservations and you may not get on board if you arrive too late from Penticton.

Steam Train

Steam Train

However not all is lost as downtown Summerland has some great unique stores in downtown.

Our Final Stop on our tour- Peachland

You have to plan your arrival in Peachland at dinner time because you will want to have the best dining experience in the whole Okanagan at the Gasthaus on the Lake Restaurant.

Whether you choose to sit on the beautiful patio with its flowers and trees or in the Bavarian style of the restaurant you will be impressed.  The food and service is also great.  As the last thing to do on this trip you will want to take in an Okanagan sunset,  Peachland has a stunning walk way that travels from one end of the village to the other.  Also there are many scenic spots to stop and take in the surroundings.  All in all this is a great way to end your trip as you prepare to head back to Merritt, BC

 

Peachland waterfront

Peachland waterfront

This Tour Ends

While this tour ended it is obvious that Merritt is a great place to use as a base camp for circle tours.  After all there are eight roads leading into and out of Merritt.

Okanagan Circle Tours from Merritt BC

Similkimeen Okanagan-Part Two

 

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“Santa Claus” and Christmas in Merritt BC

A Nicola Valley Christmas with Santa from the North Pole

“Twas the Night Before Christmas and all through Merritt …”

Christmas in Merritt BC Canada is coming up and Santa Claus is busy looking over his naughty & nice list in preparation for the big night. It has truly proven to be a very difficult year for keeping off the Naughty List too. Therefore Santa is checking it twice to find out who has been naughty or nice. In doing so, Santa was very pleased with the children of the Nicola Valley, as well as, the Experience Nicola Valley Bloggers in their efforts of bringing good cheer into the homes of Merrittonians throughout the year.  

Christmas in Merritt BC

Santa checking the Naughty and Nice List twice from Santa’s Village in the North Pole

Mrs. Claus started Christmas in Merritt BC 

Christmas in Merritt BC started with Mrs. Claus accompanied by some poking and prodding from the Elves. One night talking with Santa, Mrs Claus was sharing some of the things she was reading about in the letters from Nicola Valley children. Meanwhile, the snickering Elves nearby hanging the Reindeer stockings were encouraging Mrs. Claus to take a Nicola Valley vacation. So she looked it up on ExperienceMerritt.com to learn more. She was hooked. 

Mrs. Claus Pays It Forward 

Mrs. Claus wanted to get a positive feel for Christmas in Merritt BC Canada. So she visited  the “Walk of Stars”, the Downtown Shops and some of the children, who are now adults, operating small businesses in Merritt during Covid 19. On her list was Blacks’ Pharmacy, Miss Vicki’s Petal and Plants, Planet Hair and Spa, Community Futures Nicola Valley and the City of Merritt Mayor, Linda Brown. 

Christmas in Merritt BC Must Go On

The Elves, the reindeer, Santa and Mrs. Claus all realize first hand how the children miss meeting with Santa Claus due to Covid19. Because of the pandemic Santa could not do his annual rounds visiting all the children throughout the world. Santa decided, based on the feedback from Mrs. Claus’ visit to the Nicola Valley, that Christmas in Merritt BC must go on!

christmas in merritt

Santa and Mrs. Claus discussing Christmas in Merritt BC

Interview with Santa and Mrs. Claus

Santa and Mrs. Claus agreed to provide Experience Nicola Valley a 1/2 hour interview on our community talk show called Nicola Valley Talk. Lucky me! I, Tania Stewart, was the host of that episode on Nicola Valley Talk which had Santa and Mrs. Claus as a special guest! They shared so many things during our interview about Santa’s Village, the North Pole, the reindeer, the mischievous Elves and Xmas Eve. Watch the interview below. 

Letters from Nicola Valley Children

After much consideration Mrs. Claus and Santa, along with their 90 thousand elves, decided to grant the Nicola Valley Talk Show an additional episode so they could answer the letters from Nicola Valley children live online. In addition, they would invite a few children online to talk and chat with Santa on a video call live from the North Pole in Northern Canada. We received letters and some video submissions too, making for great stories and answers.

We all know that  Mrs.. Claus runs the show in the North Pole. Without her,  Santa would truly be lost. Of course Mrs. Claus did all her research on the ExperienceNicolaValley.com and ExperienceMerritt.com websites! Notably she searched Merritt BC  Things To Do on Google and the Experience Nicola Valley and Experience Merritt websites came up 3 times on the first page! 

“They must be the community experts Experience Nicola Valley Bloggers. And I was right!” Mrs. Claus.

Meanwhile back at the North Pole 

Then there are the Elves who are dedicated and work tirelessly to make sure Christmas is special. In our discussions, we met the two head Elves, Alex and Daniel.  These two had it all together. Therefore they were in charge of feeding the Reindeer, building toys, and assisting Mrs. Claus with the banking so to provide Santa with his cookies.  

christmas in merritt bc elves

The Head Elves, Alex and Daniel, helping out at the North Pole.

“In the light of  all the work that Santa’s Elves do throughout the year. They are just so jolly and full of spunk.” Melvina White

To point out these are the 5 most asked questions from children as well as adult’s to Santa Claus. 

  1.  -“Do you remember when Santa and you got me a XXXXX when I was 6?”
  2. – “Is Xmas cancelled because of COVID?”
  3. – “Can the reindeer really fly?”
  4. – “How does Santa get down the chimney?”
  5. – “Are there really such things as Elves?”

Santa in 2021

We sure do hope to have Santa back next year on the show to answer and chat live with Nicola Valley children. 

Christmas in Merritt BC Canada

Nicola Valley Bloggers

 

Merritt British Columbia Canada Top Travel & Adventure Guides

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Arts in Merritt on the Move

New Location for the Nicola Valley Community Arts Council

The Arts Will Grow

After 15 years at the Old Courthouse Gallery on Nicola Ave (Hwy8), the Nicola Valley Community Arts Council and the Old Court House Gallery have the arts on the move in Merritt, BC.  In 2005 the Old Courthouse was purchased by a local doctor  with the idea of  turning it into a cultural space,  which would provide a home to the Nicola Valley Community Arts Council, a music society and a dance studio.  However the Council has decided it is time to move on.

Old Courthouse Gallery

Old Courthouse Gallery – Bev Veale Painting

The Old Court House Gallery

The Old Court House was a major step forward for the Arts Council because for many years they had no permanent home.  At this time,  their major project was the Performing Arts Series which brought many great musical concerts to town. The visual arts were handled by the Nicola Valley Visual Artists where Community art displays were generally relegated to their annual Art Show which was held at the Merritt Civic Centre. It was therefore, not necessary to have a permanent home Fortunately the Courthouse allowed the Community Arts Council to have a bigger presence in the community.  For example, the current Arts Gallery Director, Jano Howarth gives a summary of the many activities carried out at this venue.

Arts in Merritt BC on the Move

The Courthouse building was sold and so that made the future use of the building uncertain. Consequently the Arts Council determined that the time was right to investigate a new location. Ultimately they were looking for a space that had high visibility, in the downtown core and large enough to provide gallery space, program space and an artisan shop.  As a result their search led them to the Jackson Building (for the old timers, the Post building for us newbies) at the corner of Voght and Nicola. 

Arts in Merritt BC

Arts on the Move – New Home of Nicola Valley Community Arts Council

The New Home Fits the Bill for Arts in Merritt

Location was one of the primary considerations in the move.  As such this makes  the building on the corner of the main

entrance to downtown at the corner of Voght and Nicola, the perfect location.

Gallery Space, Program Space and an Artisan Shop

The New Gallery

The new gallery is bright and airy and therefore is a great space for showing  off the Artists’ work.

The New Gallery for arts in merritt bc

The new Gallery

 

Program Space

Space for programs was important as this is an area that the Council wants to expand on.  Currently the picture shows the size of the room that will be used for programs but does not reflect the current condition of the space as this was taken before the move was complete.  However,  you can see that there is ample space.

New Activity Room

New Activity Room

Artisan Shop

The Artisan Shop has benefited from the new location.  While in the Old Courthouse it was tucked away in a back room and was out of site, in the new space it is front and centre and therefore, has more space to display the contributions of over 20 Nicola Valley artisans and crafters.

Artisan Shop for arts in merritt bc

Artisan Shop

Therefore the new location looks like it will be a great success for the community at large and in particular our local network of artists.

Arts on the Move – The First Show

Consequently, the opening show in the new space features Jean Kiegerl and Twin Willows Glass Arts.

Meet Jean Kiegerl

Jean Kiegerl

Because of  her leadership and with a strong group of volunteers the Arts Council has flourished. Currently, her legacy is  being carried on by the new Arts Council president, Mischelle Pierce.

 Jean is also a family friend, as  my wife and her spend many hours together painting and collaborating.  As a result, I like her work so much I have one of her originals hanging in my hall.

Quiilchena Falls-Jean Kiegerl Painting

Quilchena Falls – Jean Kiegerl Painting

 

Jean has produced work in water colours, acrylics and now oils which she prefers.

“I love the vibrant colours you can get with oil paints”—Jean Kiegerl

Clearly this can be seen in her painting of the red sports car that is on the poster for the show.

Red Car

Red Car-Jean Kiegerl Painting

Twin Willows Glass Arts

Glen and Susan Parkinson are the creative minds behind Twin Willows Glass Arts. They have been producing great work out of their studio for more than eight years.  Incidentally they work in a variety of styles which includes, leaded stained glass, fractured glass on glass mosaics and fused glass.

Panda-Twin Willows Glass Arts

Panda-Twin Willows Glass Arts

Arts on the Move in Merritt, BC will be a Success!

Lastly, with this new location, a heightened enthusiasm by the volunteers and with a high visibility location the future looks bright.

Old Courthouse Gallery Contact Info

Nicola Valley Arts Gallery

2051 Voght St, Merritt, BC

New Hours Wednesday to Saturday

12 noon to 6 pm

Sunday 12-4pm

(beginning Oct 21st)

nicolavaleyartsgallery@gmail.com

Phone 250-315-3437

Or text 250-315-3437

 

Arts in Merritt BC

Nicola Valley Art Gallery is Born

 

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Estate Planning in Merritt BC

A Holistic View on Estate & Insurance Planning in Merritt – Kamloops -Logan Lake 

The Second Pillar of Financial Planning

Estate Planning in Merritt, BC – Life is full of unexpected turns and twists. Because of that, we need to have a plan in place. Here we focus on developing comprehensive strategies that protect, preserve and provide for those that we care about. What is in place to protect our income and wealth? On our passing, is there enough liquidity in our estate? Is our will up to date? Is the executor and power of attorney we selected up to the task? If we could no longer work and were not an ideal retirement age, how would our retirement look?

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Great care needs to be taken to ensure the needs are all protected and fulfilled.

A Quick Disclaimer…

Some of the strategies that I will discuss are not to be taken as advice for your unique needs. I strongly suggest that you speak to a qualified professional.  These are complicated issues and not to be taken lightly. Being dually licensed in Mutual Funds and Insurance, I look at the big picture when it comes to making recommendations. 

Some Basic Assumptions to Begin Financial Planning

To begin, every financial plan looks at a couple main points. We start with a desired retirement date and a projected date of passing. For some, this number may be larger than others. Family history and current health are indicators of potential life expectancies. For the most part, I look at tables and project that way. A truth we must face, some of us will live to be 90 and even 100 years old.

A Shocking Canadian Statistic

Protecting Our Income and Our Wealth

Play along with me for a moment. Imagine yourself 45 years old. You are in the prime earning years of your life.  With possibly 20 years to go until retirement, many things are on your mind. Funding our children’s future education goals, paying off that mortgage and investing for retirement most likely top that list. You receive a call, letting you know your spouse was in a serious car accident. They unfortunately will not survive their injuries. I know this may seem grim, however, this is a part of life for some. This event was one of two things, planned or unplanned. Having a policy in place to protect against such an event will make all the difference for that surviving spouse and those children. 

Estate Liquidity Needs

When an individual passes, expenses come up out of no where that need to be covered by someone. Assets like a primary residence or an investment account will not be available right away to help cover some of these expenses. If there is no will in place, your loved ones may have to cover your expenses for months to come before the courts will actually grant someone the ability to simply act as your administrator. With accounts frozen, these expenses will have to be paid out of pocket by someone else. Not exactly the lasting memory we wish to leave behind. However, a simple beneficiary designation in the correct direction or a life policy could change this whole story.

Estate Planning in Merritt and Trust Advisory (Wills/POA)

Your last will and testament is an important thing to have in place. However, just as important is who you name to carry out your last wishes. Is this executor or executrix up to the task? With your passing, could you see them being mentally and physically able to carry out this task? Not exactly something we want to take lightly. Trusts are a complicated topic as well and the situation needs to warrant having something like this in place. Split families and second marriages bring a level of complexity to the estate planning process also. The wording needs to be very accurate to ensure your wishes take place. 

Living Benefits (Disability/Critical Illness/Long Term Care)

What would happen to our family if we were injured before retirement? This can have a massive impact on an individual or a family. What happens when one no longer has the ability to meet our current expenses, possibly even having expenses increase? What if a medical diagnosis or disease left us unable to earn a living for ourselves? There are so many situations that can be planned for. Ensuring we have proper coverage at different parts of our life is vitally important. Would our significant other be able to live comfortably if we needed long term care?

Ensure Your Plan Prepares You For The Unexpected

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Estate Planning in Merritt BC

 

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Gardening in Merritt BC

Butchart Gardens Lookout!

Prepare for the Spring

Gardening in Merritt, BC, Canada can be very rewarding as you take a boring property to the heights of beauty. While the Butchart Gardens, just outside of Victoria, BC may be the gold standard for gardens you can make your property a thing to behold as well.  All it takes is some planning and you can be on your way.

Planning is Essential

I have to admit I have no formal training in gardening but as a homeowner for nearly fifty years I have learned a few things.  Besides, my wife has a gift for remembering plants, what they look like, when they bloom and how big they get,  all important aspects of planning a garden.

The best place to start is with a plan of your yard.  On a large sheet of graph paper lay out the dimensions of your yard and place the outline of your house on the sheet.  You then have to determine where you want your gardens beds to be.  I personally prefer garden beds that have some shape to them rather than just a rectangle.

 You also have to figure out where your hardscapes will go.  Is your lot sloped?  Do you need retaining walls or terraces?  What kind of walkways will you need to connect various spaces?  Place all these ideas on your plan.

Examples of Terraced Gardens

Terrace garden with logs

Terrace Garden-Tom Reynolds Photo

Terrace Concrete bloc

Terrace-Concrete Block Tom Reynolds Photo

Rock Wall

Rock Wall-Tom Reynolds Photo

Examples of Pathways

The following path connects the driveway to the front door.  You will notice that it is curved to add interest.

Pathway

Curved Path-Tom Reynolds Photo

When Gardening in Merritt BC What Plants Can You Use?

The first thing that you need to know is what gardening zone is appropriate for Merritt. According to the BC Interactive Plant Hardiness Zone Merritt is in Zone 5b.  This means that plants that are rated for this zone will be more successful than zones that are different.  You also need to know their drought tolerance as Merritt is considered semi arid.

Once you determined what plants will be suitable for your garden you need to make other considerations.  If you are renovating your current landscape you will probably have a good supply of plants already.  For example, you may already have trees that are well established and therefore you want to work with their current locations unless the tree is not healthy.  Trees provide shade and are a dramatic feature.  

Flowering Tree

Flowering Tree-Tom Reynolds Photo

Flowering shrubs are also great additions to any garden.  I particularly like a mock orange blossom shrub.  This is one of those cross over plants that could also be considered a tree. It grows quite large and provides a great privacy barrier and wind break.

Mock Orange

Mock Orange=Tom Reynolds Photo

Colour should be Your Goal when Gardening in Merritt BC

Perrenials Garden

Perennial Garden-Tom Reynolds photo

Perennial plants should be a part of everyone’s garden.  They are called perennials because they self propagate in place so you don’t have to renew them every year.  The downside is that they generally bloom for a short period during the growing season.  The good thing is that not all perennials bloom at the same time so with a littlie planning you can keep colour in your garden by selecting plants that bloom at different times.

Annuals have to be replaced every year but they have the advantage of  blooming all season long.  I think placing them between the perennials  provides constant colour.

Annuals

Annuals-Tom Reynolds photo

Colour can also be created by using different types of shrubs and perennials.  Some shrubs, like barberry come in many different colours.

Barberry Shrub

Barberry Shrub-Tom Reynolds Photo

“Colour in my garden is so up lifting”-Shirley Reynolds

Hostas are also a plant that comes in many different colourings.

Hostas

Hostas – Tom Reynolds Photo

Gardening in Merritt, BC doesn’t have to be all plants 

Plants aren’t the only things that you can use to make your garden interesting.  My wife likes things such as old chairs or head boards, while I  like things more on the tacky side such as garden gnomes and whirly-gigs’

Chair

Chair-Tom Reynolds photo

Rock Wall

Roc Wall-Tom Reynolds Photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Joy of Gardening Never Ends

If you take in these tips you can start your journey to a beautiful yard and a great hobby.  Have fun!

Gardening in Merritt BC

Plants for the Soul

 

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Managing Cash Flow Merritt – The First Pillar of Financial Planning

“If we arrange our retirement income correctly we can lower the tax we pay over our retirement and, eventually, lower the amount of taxes due at our passing on.”

Managing Cash Flow in Merritt, BC – Last edition we looked from a high level overview at the 6 pillars of financial planning. This edition will focus a little more in depth into the financial pillar of managing cash flow. 

managing cash flow merritt

Budgets are just guides. We are in control of how they flow.

 

Managing Cash Flow Begins With A Cash Flow Analysis

Managing cash flow in Merritt, or anywhere else, varies over our pre-retirement and retirement years. No matter the season of life, the process remains the same.

First, we need to determine all the sources of income that we have entering our picture. Then we need to determine our current and future expenses. This can be tricky as future expenses will increase due to inflation and the loss of purchasing power takes place on our retirement nest egg.

 

managing cash flow merritt logan lake

To coffee, or not to coffee…that is the question…

 

Managing Our Income In Our Pre-retirement Years

In our pre-retirement years, income will come in different ways. We will earn employment income, rental income or income from being self-employed. If incorporated the income may come through dividends. We could even receive capital gains from our investments. These are all taxed differently and the goal is to bring them “into our picture” in the most tax efficient manner. For the most part, if planned properly, we are in control of how we receive these and even when.

 

How We Determine Our Retirement Paycheque

In retirement we could still receive any of the incomes listed above. There are a few additional benefits that become available in our sixties. Firstly, between the ages of 60 and 70 we can begin receiving CPP or Canada Pension Plan benefits. If you receive the benefit before age 65, you will receive a penalty of 0.6% per month that it is taken early. Alternatively, each month after 65 that you delay receiving CPP you are paid a 0.7% bonus for life.

Secondly, between age 65 and age 70 we can begin receiving OAS or Old Age Security. Thirdly, the year we turn 71, it is mandatory that by December 31st of that year any RRSP’s, or Registered Retirement Saving Plan’s, are converted into RRIF’s, or Registered Retirement Income Funds. The government determines the mandatory minimum amount that must be withdrawn on an annual basis. Confusing? You bet it is! Fourthly, there is even a GIS, or Guaranteed Income Supplement, available in the mid to late sixties to those who can qualify for it. 

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Always just a phone call away.

 

“Why Would I Wait To Receive Government Benefits?”

A common question I am asked. It is uniquely situational. Each individual or couple has different things that are available at different times in their life. Some are struggling  to make ends meet when they reach 60 years old and just take the CPP benefit early. Others may be receiving payouts upon their retirement and delaying additional income a year may be beneficial. Most answers are based on tax strategies when it comes to planning in this area. There is no cut and dry best time to take it for everyone. It must be something that is analyzed and planned for. 

Some Things To Have In Place Before Retirement

Most of us will be at the height of our earning years before retirement. If planned for, we could see ourselves entering retirement mortgage free. There is no better time to have a line of credit or credit solution in place “just in case” we may need it in retirement. Credit solutions always look at what you own and what you earn. However, if you wait until you are already retired it will reduce the credit you have available. 

Tax-efficiency Is Key In Retirement Income Planning

There are many strategies for income planning in retirement. Again, all are uniquely situational. Similar to questions raised above like, “When do I start collecting CPP or OAS?” These are big picture questions.  It is all tied in together. Taxes are the single largest expense of our lifetime. If we arrange our retirement income correctly we can lower the tax we pay over our retirement and, eventually, lower the amount of taxes due at our passing on.

These Decisions Have Lasting Effects,

Seek Professional Help To Get It Right!

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Managing Cash Flow – Nicola Valley

 

Financial Planning Near Merritt, BC

Managing your cash flow Merritt

Nicola Valley BC Canada

 

Nicola Valley Financial Planning in and around Merritt British Columbia, Canada

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Hiking Merritt, BC

Kentucky-Alleyne Provincial Park

A Walk in the Park

 

I have talked about hiking near Merritt, BC before but focused on the trail network within the City of Merritt. Therefore this time I want to take you further afield to Kentucky-Alleyne Provincial Park.  Our park destination is a mere 20 to 30 minute drive from downtown depending on traffic. (Just kidding, there is no traffic in Merritt).  Kentucky-Alleyne Provincial Park is located off highway 5A just passed Aspen Grove.

Kentucky-Alleyne Provincial Park

Colours of Kentucky Lake-Tom Reynolds Photo

Kentucky Lake-Hiking Trail near Merritt, BC  

I have chosen this trail because it is relatively easy.  However, those who are looking for a greater challenge you can check out a book by local author, Murphy Shewchuk,  Coquihalla Trips and Trails.

For this 4 kilometre hike near Merritt, BC you can choose which way you wish to hike around Kentucky Lake.   You can take the trail from the parking lot which will take you clockwise around the lake.

South East Trail Head

Trail Head for Clockwise Travel-Tom Reynolds Photo

However if you wish to go the other way – counter clockwise – you have to walk into the campground and head over to the boat launch where there is another trail head.

 

Trail Head South West

Trail Head South West-Tom Reynolds Photo

This hiking Trail near Merritt, BC is for the whole family

The hike is generally considered fairly easy as it follows along the lake shore and there are not many hills.  However, the recent windstorms this Spring knocked down a lot of trees that are covering the trail.  We noticed that the Parks crew have been working hard and have removed most of the fallen trees from the trail.  Having said that, there are still one or two that require circumventing.  As long as you have decent foot wear you should be OK.

 

Tree Across Trail

Tree Across Trail-Tom Reynolds Photo

sky through forest

Sky through Forest-Tom Reynolds Photo

 

In some sections of the trail there is a rainforest like feel as the trees are much larger than in other areas of the trail. Take the opportunity to do some sky gazing and look up during your hike and take notice of just how tall some of the tress are.   

Walking in Forest

Walking in Forest-Tom Reynolds Photo

This is a great example of how easy the trail is.  While coats and hats were needed on this day because it was cool.  Normally summer temperatures are more conducive to shorts and T-shirts

End of Trail

This is the end of the trail-Tom Reynolds Photo

This is the trail that takes you back to the parking lot.  In other words, this is the end of the hike

What to look out for when hiking near Merritt, BC

When you are walking the trail around Kentucky Lake you will not find flowers as prolific as those in the alpine meadows but there is still beauty in what you will see such as mushrooms, saskatoon bushes, Arnica and Indian Pint Brush to name a few.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms Tom Reynolds Photo

Saskatoon Bush

Saskatoon Bush-Tom Reynolds

Arnica

Arnica-Tom Reynolds Photo

Indian Paint Brush

Indian Paint Brush-Tom Reynolds P

Besides hiking near Merritt, BC you can do these things

One of the favourite things to do is fish.

fishing at the lake

Fishing at the lake–Tom Reynolds photo

 

These people are enjoying fishing from an outcrop.  The colour of the lake is spectacular. The kids have their own lake for fishing.  This little lake is close to the campground.

 

Kids Fishing hole

Kids fishing hole-Tom Reynolds Photo

Camper Van

Camper Van-Tom Reynolds Photo

 

This camper van is situated close to the lake trail. Most of the sites are typical provincial sites with lots of room and trees.

 

Kids Playing

Kids Playing–Tom Reynolds Photo

 

Not all the fun is on the lake.  As you can see these kids are having a great time going through the culvert.  This is not a great activity for spring time.  Guess why?

Hiking near Merritt is unlimited.  I will be providing more hikes in the near future.  Kentucky-Alleyne Provincial Park is the home of this hike. You can check out the website and see that the park offers other activities besides hiking.  For example, you can swim , fish, canoe, kayak or check out the natural environment.  Whatever you choose you are sure to have fun day.

Hiking Near Merritt, BC

Kentucky-Alleyne Provincial Park

Nicola Valley BC Canada

 

Merritt BC Summer Activities in the Nicola Valley

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Financial Planning In Logan Lake British Columbia

Holistic Financial Plans uniquely designed for each individual family 

“I am a firm believer in saying “yes” to something and figuring it out afterwards. I am now performing webinars that can be viewed online because being elderly or having poor health shouldn’t stop people from learning.” 

Financial Planning in Logan Lake – I generally spent 2-3 days per week working from home and creating financial plans for families and businesses here in Logan Lake, BC.  The other 2-3 days per week I spent meeting with people face to face, updating or creating plans with families and businesses in the surrounding areas. An average week I would find myself in Kamloops, Merritt, Cache Creek or Ashcroft meeting with people who desire advice and guidance on how to grow, preserve or protect their net worth. 

Financial Planning in Logan Lake - we come to you

Warm weather is here! Time to stretch the legs!

Social Distancing for Financial Safety

However, social or physical distancing is the “new norm” for the moment. Meeting face to face with families and business owners right now to perform financial planning is difficult in some situations, but not for all. Going from home to home in Logan Lake, BC at this time is challenging. With some of my clients being elderly and/or immune compromised, I’ve been focusing more on phone calls and video meetings. I’m not worried too much about my own health, I don’t believe I would be at risk of it affecting me that greatly. I find myself more worried about unintentionally spreading a sickness to someone else. I’ve been taking precautions to ensure I stay distanced from my clients, whether they are new or existing clients. I use my pen, you use yours. Interestingly enough, pens aren’t used a whole lot these days. They might be making a come back. 

Change Came Quickly to Ensure Safety for All 

I quickly learned I needed to adapt to this ever changing landscape. Soon, I found myself in the middle of March. However, due to COVID 19, I stopped meeting face to face in the beginning of March as things began to change. Before COVID19 I had never hosted a meeting on Zoom before. I had attended multiple meetings but that was it. My wife, Jennifer and I have a busy home with 7 children ruling the roost. Creating financial plans in an office at my parents house in Logan Lake, BC was a normal thing to do.  However, my 89 year old grandfather lives with them as well. Because I could not risk somehow transmitting COVID19 to him, I had to make a change to my own process. 

financial planning logan lake

Home office in a hurry, I sometimes have little visitors.

Financial Planning from Home in a Hurry

Rumors and discussions with my co workers in Kamloops, BC were leading to the temporary closing of our office. With this out of the picture I had to improvise. I did some quick measurements of our bedroom and re-arranged our furniture to make my new home office. I purchased a desk from Staples and comfortable chair from Jysk in Kamloops, BC. Now I could continue working from home performing financial planning in Logan Lake, BC. 

Digital Meetings for the First Time

Knowing I had to figure this out, and quickly, I performed a Zoom meeting with my parents just to test it out. We needed to connect anyways to review their financial plan and ensure that their retirement was still solid. Because this market volatility that was happening throughout the global economy, we needed to confirm the planning was still on target. Learning how to create and schedule a Zoom meeting, inviting people to that meeting and running a meeting was a neat learning experience. Over the past few weeks, I’ve held multiple meetings now with my clients and with some new clients also through utilizing this valuable communication tool. 

Seminars On Hold, Moving On To Webinars

With restrictions on how many people can now come together, I cancelled all the seminars I had planned. However, I still wished to explain the benefits of financial planning to my community and far beyond. Over the past few months I had worked with Community Futures – Nicola Valley and the Logan Lake WHY (Wellness – Health – Youth). With my new found wisdom, I jumped immediately into Zoom webinars. I am a firm believer in saying “yes” to something and figuring it out afterwards. I am now performing webinars that can be viewed online because being elderly or having poor health shouldn’t stop people from learning. Those that are willing to learn more about financial planning can do so from the comfort of their own home. 

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A walk in the woods, and some fresh air between meetings.

Financial Planning in Logan Lake, or British Columbia, Has Not Changed

What I do for families and businesses, as well as, financial planning in Logan Lake, Merritt, Kamloops, Cache Creek, Ashcroft, has not changed. The process remains the same. No adventure begins by only entering the starting point into our GPS. First, it’s important to get an accurate picture of where we are now. Second, it is important to know exactly what your life and business goals are. In conclusion, we must ask yourselves, “is something as important as our financial well being worth taking a wrong turn?”

Comprehensive Financial Planning in Logan Lake British Columbia

“A Goal Based Approach to Financial Life”

Merritt, British Columbia, Canada


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