The Township of Spallumcheen has approved $12,000 in COVID-19 Restart Grant funds to support the reopening and operation of the Historic O’Keefe Ranch March 1, 2021. (O’Keefe Ranch photo)

The Township of Spallumcheen has approved $12,000 in COVID-19 Restart Grant funds to support the reopening and operation of the Historic O’Keefe Ranch March 1, 2021. (O’Keefe Ranch photo)

O’Keefe Ranch secures COVID-19 Restart funds

The historic Spallumcheen ranch has suffered significant losses due to restrictions on travel and gatherings

If one were to create a Venn diagram of activities that have been shut down by COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., and the activities on offer at the Historic O’Keefe Ranch, it would come out looking more or less like a circle.

And now, the ranch with more than 150 years of history is applying for COVID-19 Safe Restart Grant funding through the Township of Spallumcheen, with support for their bid from the Interior Heritage Society.

Spallumcheen council approved $12,000 in Restart funds for the ranch.

B.C.’s Safe Restart Grant program has earmarked more than $13 million for local governments in the North Okanagan, including $1.6 million for Spallumcheen and $741,000 for the Regional District of North Okanagan. The funds can be used flexibly to address revenue shortfalls, reopen facilities, support operational costs and boost emergency responses to the pandemic.

The ranch had significant revenue losses over the past year due to services that couldn’t run given the risk of spreading the novel coronavirus.

“No special events could be held because of the restriction to 50 people, most weddings were cancelled due to the number restriction and travel restrictions significantly reduced our visitor attendance from outside the region and totally from outside the country,” reads a request for delegation to Spallumcheen council by Bruce Cummings, chairperson of the O’Keefe Ranch board of directors.

READ MORE: Historic Spallumcheen ranch cancels Christmas light show, closes restaurant

In order to stay financially viable, the ranch reduced its staff last summer to provide for only essential security, maintenance and bookkeeping. From October 2020 to February 2021, the ranch’s board members took on tasks that would normally be carried out by paid staff.

“During this time the grounds have been kept open on a donation basis for community members to have safe and interesting spaces to walk and get outside as an individual or family cluster,” Cummings’ letter states.

The funds would be used to cover reopening and operating costs, as well as emergency planning and response costs. The ranch recently received a report on what actions are needed to prevent flooding from Deep Creek, which runs through the ranch property, and an estimate of $40,500 has been determined to cover the necessary work, which doesn’t include plans to repair or replace its traffic and foot bridges.

The ranch’s board of directors has a few projects lined up for 2021, most of which rely on grant funding. A project to rebuild the old mansion porch has been funded by a Kal Rotary donation and a City of Vernon grant; a project to build rain gardens around some of the main buildings on the ranch has been funded by the Okanagan Basin Water Board; and washroom upgrades in the administration building have received funding from a BC Gaming Commission grant.

Potential 2021 projects that currently lack funding include rehabilitation and flood mitigation for Deep Creek, a pedestrian bridge replacement and water system and playground upgrades.

READ MORE: New beginnings for longtime North Okanagan restaurateur


Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
Follow us: Facebook | Twitter

CoronavirusHeritagehistory

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. wineries are open for indoor tasting despite new provincial health regulations. Photo- 
50th Parallel Winery, Instagram.
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

Mainly clear and sunny skies are expected for the Okanagan-Shuswap region this week. (Maxpixels photo)
Warm, sunny week ahead in Okanagan-Shuswap

Daytime highs will reach the low 20s with mainly clear skies this week

File photo
Trip for cigarettes costs Princeton man $500 and a lecture

You’ve got to start obeying the rules of the road, says judge

The health authority will occupy the building until October 31, 2021. File Photo
Health authority pays town $7.4K monthly to lease Riverside Centre

Facility is being rented for COVID vaccinations

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s mass vaccination program will be delivered to Princeton residents from a clinic set up at the Riverside Community Centre. (Darryl Dyck/CP photo)
COVID vaccinations bookings began for local residents last week

Riverside serves as Princeton’s appointment centre

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

The Red Pill Rapper performs to the crowd gathered for the Rally For Food Security at Blackburn Park on Saturday, April 10, 2021. (Kristal Burgess Photography)
The Red Pill Rapper performs to the crowd gathered for the Rally For Food Security at Blackburn Park on Saturday, April 10, 2021. (Kristal Burgess Photography)
Suspicion of ‘fake news media’ makes rally uncomfortable for Salmon Arm event photographer

More than 300 people counted at city park for ‘Rally For Food Security’

A lady wears a sticker given out after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count slows after last week’s peak

3,219 new cases since Friday, 18 additional deaths

North Cowichan councillor Tek Manhas did not violate the municipality’s code of conduct by posting a sexist meme on Facebook, council concludes. (File photo)
B.C. municipality to take no action against councillor who posted sexist meme

Tek Manhas’s meme doesn’t violate North Cowichan council’s code of conduct, municipality concludes

The former Summerland Asset Development Initiative building on Prairie Valley Road in Summerland was suggested as the site for a temporary transitional housing facility for the community. However, Summerland council has rejected this proposal. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Summerland council rejects transitional housing facility

Concerns raised about short timeline and condition of municipally-owned building

Shayla, an 8-pound black and grey Havanese, was stolen from outside a store on Banks Road on Saturday. (Contributed)
Stolen pup located, Kelowna RCMP confirms

Mounties said on April 12 that Shayla, the 8-pound, black and grey Havanese dog, has been located safe and sound

Penticton Vees continue their winning streak carrying a 5-0 win title as of Sunday night's hockey action. (Cherie Morgan/Cherie Morgan Photography)
Penticton Vees continue winning streak

Sunday night’s 6-1 win has them with five in a row since the start of the season

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians says that includes attempts to steal Canadian research on COVID-19 and vaccines, and sow misinformation. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
Intelligence committee warns China, Russia targeting Canadian COVID-19 research

Committee also found that the terrorist threat to Canada has shifted since its last such assessment

Most Read