Get To Know Travis Erdely

Have you ever dreamed of building your own home? Have you ever wondered why anyone would become a builder? We had the distinct pleasure of sitting down with Travis Erdely of Destination Custom Homes – winner of Tommie and Okanagan Housing Awards of Excellence, and learned more about how they became one of the five Preferred Homebuilders at Lakestone – Lake Country’s Hidden Gem.

Are you a local? Since 1987 when my family moved to the Okanagan from Athabasca, Alberta (an hour north of Edmonton).

Have you won any awards? We won best show home under $500,000 at The Lakes, and for Lakestone, best home over $1,000,000 and best home under $1,000,000 – just to mention a couple. We have other homebuilding awards and are proud to say much of this is the result of strong teamwork over the years.

Do you think awards are important? Awards can mean a lot. They can provide assurance to a customer they’re working with a legitimate and reputable builder. Homeowners put a lot of trust in the homebuilding process, and we find awards can help put their minds more at ease. Our current show home at Lakestone has been very well received and is currently the most popular show home we have ever built. It’s a very practical and functional plan which is very important to us. We’ve had a lot of people come by and comment how much they love the design…so we really appreciate people coming by, and taking a look, as feedback is so important in designing and building homes.

How many homes do you build a year? We average between 8 to 10 homes which is a manageable amount for us to properly and personally look after of our clients. We take real pride in our work, and reputation is everything to us. We’re extremely thankful, and fortunate, that 25% of our business is from unsolicited referrals

What do you like about it? The whole process of making a vision a reality. Every client is so different and has unique ideas and needs so the visons are always different. And we are fortunate to have an amazing group of trades who works with us on every home, which makes the process really enjoyable.

How did you become a builder? I started working summers for a local roofing company, and for my Dad, doing general cleanup duties and helping out. I have a lot of sweet memories from all those crawl spaces I cleaned. Did I say memories? I meant nightmares. (laughing)

Early on in high school I really enjoyed woodworking. I signed up for both the woodworking and boatbuilding class as those were the only 2 woodworking classes offered at the time. They were both great! I have always been good with my hands, so this became a passion for me. I made a plan, around that time, to pursue homebuilding after graduation. It was a pretty easy decision, as I had lots of encouragement at home from my Dad. I completed and received my interprovincial red seal carpentry ticket in 2002. I worked for other contractors doing multiple things during my apprenticeship before moving over to Destination Homes. I stuck with one company for most of that time, and got the best experience a guy could possibly ask for, doing a mix of different jobs like concrete work, framing, millwork (building custom cabinets and installing them), finishing, drywall, painting, flooring, siding, laying brick and more. I also worked for a contractor building tilt-up concrete buildings here and out of province. In 2004 I started project managing for Destination Homes, building homes from the bottom up, and kept project managing for them until I branched off and started my own company in 2012.

What’s on trend these days? West Coast Contemporary design is very popular these days – especially in Lakestone.

What about energy efficiency? I’m a big believer in high energy efficient homes and building a better tomorrow. Energy Efficient Homes are the future and with the new step code in place we now have a long-term plan to cut this down substantially. 45% of greenhouse gas emissions are from housing so by cutting these emissions down, we’ll make a huge impact on the environment, and will help build a better tomorrow. When building a custom home, we work very closely with a Certified Energy Advisor to help determine what energy performance pathway the client would like to go.

Advice to anyone planning to build? Making an appointment or stopping by to see Charlotte and me would be the first piece of advice. If you want your homebuilding experience to be a very positive one, it’s critical to find a builder you trust – and connect with! Choosing a builder with a good track record is a definite must and we have that! There is a right and wrong way to build a home, and a lot of people don’t follow the correct process because they have a hard time committing to a builder right away. We feel speaking with an experienced, preferred builder before you even finalize on a lot is the first best step. Our advice is free at this stage and choosing the correct lot for your needs can start your entire process off in the right direction.

Buy or build? Build – depending on the economy, it’s usually cheaper, because you’re not paying for someone else’s time, money, and effort to get it market-ready and where you’ll typically pay top dollar. Most builders are cost plus (versus fixed/flat price or monthly management fee), and at the end of the day, we just want to be fair.

How long does it take to build? For us, in Lakestone, it will typically take between 6 to 11 months depending on a variety of factors. We’re loyal to our trades that stay competitive, and whom are loyal to us. Some trades have been working for Destination Homes as long as we’ve been in business, through thick and thin. When the market crashes, I keep them busy working, and when we’re hit by trade shortages, they’re always there for us.

Why Destination Custom Homes? We’re a family-run, husband and wife team that have a great track record. Our clients are always able to reach at least one of us on any given day of the week. Good communication is important. Charlotte is available in the Lakestone show home on weekends, and I’m available all week so there’s always someone to talk to. We also have a carpenter on payroll who helps with anything extra you might need, like putting together furniture on move-in day or even hanging pictures etc.

Tell us about how you give back to the community? We make multiple donations throughout the year towards various initiatives, but one I feel really passionate about is COBSS (Central Okanagan Bursary Scholarship Society). It stands out because it’s a non-profit society of volunteers who are dedicated to providing financial assistance to high school graduates to further their post-secondary education. There are a lot of families that can’t afford to put their children through post-secondary education, so these bursaries are very important to them. Some families have shared very emotional stories about how these donations changed their lives, and that’s such a rewarding feeling.

Best advice? Keep your cool, and I like Jim Jefferies’s quote, “We can all do better”.

What makes a home a “home”? Home is where you make it. The people inside it, make it a home.


What It Feels Like To Come Home to the Lake

Have you ever dreamt of coming home to a place where the summers are long, the majestic lake view is as long as you can stretch your neck from side-to-side, and the atmosphere is calm and relaxing? If that is your heart’s desire, it is time to take a closer look at the benefits of living by the lake and why Lakestone is one of the Okanagan’s fastest growing lakeside communities. What better opportunity to get the feel of lakeside living than to actually walk through Lakestone’s beautiful show homes. Located within the Benchlands neighbourhood, these show homes offer a glimpse into some of the finest lake view homes and the possibilities that exist at Lakestone!


Meet the Dickies

Riverside, Manitoba, now referred to as the rural municipality of Prairie Lakes, isn’t just a romantic hotspot for pelicans, it’s also a popular central North American Snow Goose flyway, that was home to two Lakestone lovebirds, Eric and Simonne Dickie. Eric was raised in Ninette on Pelican Lake, a popular recreational cottaging area vibrant with boating, sailing, fishing, hunting, and snowmobiling, while Simonne was from Dunrea, now famous for its mascot, Cabrea, a 1200 pound Snow Goose (and two mysteriously laid golden eggs).

They graciously shared their story with us recently, and we’re delighted to share it with you.

They attended high school in Killarney, another rural community about 20 minutes away in southwest Manitoba. On weekends, Eric would drive 6 minutes west to pick Simonne up, for a double date to meet their respective dates (not each other). They did try dating a couple times before life lead them elsewhere, then fate introduced them again at Brandon University. They dated and after working a year for Children’s Aid, Simonne married Eric on May 8, 1971. Shortly after, Calgary came knocking with a job offer for Eric, and a chance for them to start exploring the world on their terms. They built a house on the outskirts of Calgary (now downtown) while Eric worked in construction, but it didn’t feel like home. Missing the lakes they grew up on, and having itchy feet, they stumbled upon the Okanagan two years later in 1973, and bought property, sight unseen, in Oyama near Kaloya Park (now part of Lake Country). The natural, healthy lifestyle, with access to so much water, fresh fruit and vegetables was very healing and inviting so it became their home away from home. After tasting all the summer sunshine, they decided to make it permanent, only it was difficult to find work as few hired out of province. Throwing caution to the wind, they decided to sell their Calgary home anyway and go for it. Convention would have you working in a job, having and living in a house, and some might have thought they were throwing it all away…but they weren’t…they just ‘traded’ and were following a dream…one that could last and feel good. With papers in carpentry/industrial/technical/automotive education, Eric returned to teaching and taught at George Elliot Secondary School for 28 years. Simonne found fulfilling work at Mara House in Vernon, a family-oriented, residential facility providing intensive 24/7 support for challenged children. Coming to the Okanagan felt like John Denver’s Rocky Mountain High “coming home to a place we’d never been before”.

So, what happened next? We had our Oyama lot, but we wanted to be on the lake, so we put an ad in the paper looking for lakeshore. We got two responses – one for property across the lake, and the other at Whiskey Cove in Carr’s Landing (now part of Lake Country). We basically mortgaged our souls, tore down and salvaged two houses, one of them a beautiful, mature estate home, to build our Whiskey Cove home. It was a lot of work, and the most tenting we’d ever done…6 months of sleeping in a tiny tent. By November, we realized the Okanagan isn’t exactly semi-arid and were able to live in the basement of our new home which we covered in poly to keep the rain out, at least theoretically.

But you moved to Lakestone? When at the Cove, people would look out our picture windows and ask, “how long was it before you stopped appreciating all this?”, but there was never a day where we didn’t appreciate all of it…the view changes, it’s not like a painting, it changes every day, just like the stunning sunset last night…we love being outside, eating outside…and even though the wind was blowing fairly hard, we love it. It’s easy to become complacent, so we’re very grateful we had a spectacular acre of land at Whiskey Cove, with lots of privacy, gorgeous beachfront, a big garden and fruit trees, berries and herbs, but found a happy medium at Lakestone. We’ve been in Lake Country 45 years now, and getting here was a journey, so we didn’t want to leave – it’s home. Our kids are very close, and Mom is at Glenmore Lodge. We’re still very close to the lake, with lower property taxes, low maintenance and lots of amenities. Adapting to our new surroundings was easier than we thought, with people being very friendly, welcoming, and respecting a neighbour’s privacy. Sometimes, we sit out on the street or courtyard, and it feels like an easy, breezy, porch party. We’ve even had progressive dinners. We love it here.

What do you love best about Lake Country? (Simonne) The lifestyle, four seasons playground, strong sense of community, and our children (Michelle, Rejeanne, and Chantelle) were all born here. We also live in wine country, with incredible vineyards and orchards. There’s a variety of great restaurants including Pizza, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Chaos Bistro. The wineries along the Scenic Sip are all good, and we recently enjoyed Ex Nihilo Vineyards, Arrowleaf Cellars, Intrigue Wines, and O’Rourke’s Peak Cellars which are close by. We love spending time at Silver Star, too, with its 105 kilometres of Nordic trails, along with Sovereign Lake, that make up the largest daily groomed cross-country trail network in Canada. I loved being a snowshoe guide and now enjoy parking the car, and snowshoeing wherever whenever possible. If the weather’s not quite right for downhill, I can snowshoe because I’m always sheltered from the wind and snow under big trees…it’s beautiful.

What do you do for fun? (Simonne) We’re always busy and going in different directions. I start my day with foam rolling and yoga. Eric loves being on the water, enjoying the ever-changing vistas, hot tubbing daily, and reminiscing about all the water-skiing he’s done. He also likes taking the boat out to read in the middle of the lake, or we’ll kayak, stand up paddle, go swimming, or jump off lower level rocks with our grandkids at Lakestone Beach Park, which is also a lovely picnic spot with a great public dock. We’ve walked and biked Carr’s Landing Road, Okanagan Centre Road West, and Glenmore Road a fair bit. We live a fit and healthy lifestyle, and visit the Farmer’s Market at Swalwell Park on Fridays for the best farm-fresh vegetables and fruit. Though we don’t eat sourdough bread, we’ve heard Arne’s on Cemetery Road makes the most unbelievable sourdough and pesto focaccia bread. There’s a lot of great artists and artisans here too.

Have you retired then? (Eric) Simonne retired from her position as an instructional designer and online teacher a year and a half ago, but I’m still working and consider myself semi-retired. I do some teaching in the energy exchange world. I was mainly rooted in the geothermal world, expanding to energy management – mainly distribution, consulting, training, and now more dealer network-related, selling heat pumps (i.e. residential to commercial hospitals). It’s a great network, closely interacting with positive, forward-thinking people, making our tiny difference in the world; educating others to not burn fossil fuel. We encourage more energy efficiency – to that end, we’ve practiced what we’ve preached. Our home has a tight building envelope, is geothermal of course, solar-based, and an inexpensive home to run with a smaller environmental footprint, burning less gas. It has 1-foot thick walls and windowsills, and the heat pumps for domestic hot water consume $1.50/month gas (for outdoor use, barbeque, and firepit). The heat pump is significantly more efficient than others (air compared to water – uses the heat pump to heat water for in-floor style of water heating). The evenness of in-floor heat is a draw, so you can set the temperature and keep the room temperature lower because the feet are warmer with it. Our utility bills are approximately $50/month. It’s just something I’m mindful of as I’ve taught hundreds over the years through the Canadian Geoexchange Coalition (CGC).

I hear you’re involved with the Lakestone Community Amenities Association as President? I help keep things on an even keel, particularly with the Lake Club, with a long-term plan and approach that serves everyone as well as possible, and we’re looking forward to when Centre Club in Benchlands opens. The amenity fees right now are $86.51/month and we don’t see the fees increasing much as the economies of scale improve with more homeowners.

What do you like best about living at Lakestone? Looking outside today, it’s so beautiful and you can’t help but feel grateful immediately. This morning we both went to HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) in the pool and did a few laps, and we’ll take the ravine trail from Benchlands back home to Waterside. Everything is so accessible, and we can walk to our appointments in the town centre. It’s a good healthy walk to the dentist, doctor, hairdresser, and church, which we don’t mind…or a 5-minute drive.

Our neighbours are amazing, wanting to build a community, going out of their way…so neighbourly. Everyone is relatively new, so no cliques have formed, so people are out and about, and feels just the way you hope a great community would. For example, there’s a potluck at the Lake Club on Fridays. Everyone here knows that…it’s easy going, not organized, come as you are, bring whatever, and can mingle anytime between 6-9:30 pm…usually, 12-30 people of all ages show up. And “WWW” (Women’s Wine Wednesdays) is the last Wednesday of each month, and a chance to meet others…it’s very casual, and ladies gather at the Lake Club rooftop terrace around the fireplace while lounging outside. There’s always great company to be had, and we look forward to more of the same…more happiness, in the community and within ourselves. We laugh a lot, and our HIIT class is just as social as it is intense…like life, it is what you make it….so we might even do a little dance, but no matter what, we always laugh.

What would you say to anyone making a move to Lakestone? Welcome! Just do it…it sounds trite, but it is a good spot! If you want to be welcomed, you’ll be welcomed. The developers, Macdonald Communities Limited, practice what they preach, and are first-rate; they’ve provided so many amenities like the linear path, and more, and it grows as a result. MCL fosters community and has provided amenities for the District of Lake Country too, welcoming the public; the pickleball courts are always busy, people are playing basketball, and families play tennis with their kids. Now the new public dock is in, and getting used daily. Lakestone Beach Park has a safe zone, with no motorized boats allowed in the area and it is safe enough that one man was able to let his daughter (who needed assistance) out on a kayak, while tied to him, so she could experience being on the water by herself. We wish all developers were as thoughtful and did the same thing.

What brings you the most joy? (Simonne) Anything that makes me laugh, brings joyful tears to my eyes, like a smile from my grandchildren, our kids, or Eric feeling good about himself. And, even when things seem bad, knowing good comes out of bad, you can always say “and the good thing is…”. (Eric) Gratefulness – focusing on the positives, and there are lots of them. We’ve been super lucky; partially due to decisions we made and when we made them…to some degree, you make your luck.

Something no one knows about you? (Simonne) I was a clown, named McGee! I taught dance for 21 years; started improvising, beginning with kids, doing things for their birthday parties – dressing up as a clown, lots of makeup, juggling with scarves, and once was even hired to be a clown at a friend’s husband’s surprise birthday party – she was so shocked to see me when I showed up at her door a week early!

(Eric) As we were getting ready to move out here, I was offered a two-year position in Saint Lucia, but we’d adopted a dog named Minou (Slang for “Kitty” in French) and were advised Minou would have to be quarantined for 6 months when leaving Canada, and 6 months upon return. We decided not to go to the Caribbean, and sometimes I wonder how things might have been different. Minou changed our destiny, though it would be unfair to say it was inconvenient because she was our baby. When we adopt a pet, we take on a big responsibility for their life. My parents had a cat named Dog, so there was a bit of a play on Minou’s name. I visited Simonne’s Dad, a mechanic/welder, in this French town once, and suddenly saw Minou uncharacteristically running down the road by herself, so I started running after her yelling “Minou, Minou…” only to find out later Minou had been with Simonne the whole time.

Life lessons learned? (Eric) It’s untrue to say life is “one big easy”…it’s that rollercoaster thing…always making it a learning experience; there’s always good around you, so ask yourself, “What can I do to enhance myself and those around me?”…because life is good.

Your Biggest Aha? (Eric) Making a career change – teaching was really good, but a shift to a completely different career, and was a fresh start. I had lots of support from Simonne, as we were stepping into the unknown. (Simonne with a deep sigh) Our daughter was quite ill – children are your heart! – and she beat this…we decided to go uphill with her. She’s very strong. So many great times, and some days I come home after visiting my grandchildren and my jaw hurts because they make me laugh and smile so hard…they’re an abundant source of happiness!

What can’t you imagine life without? (Eric) One with Simonne…we’ve had so many years…and have always been together. (Simonne) Our “secret” since 71 has been knowing it won’t be perfect, accepting, being committed…choosing commitment. You have to nurture that relationship…it doesn’t just happen…you have to nurture anything you want in life…whether it’s being fit…being healthy (both emotional and physical)…you have to will it…and as Eric says, sometimes you have to make your luck. It’s important to have something to feed…to take risks…we’re not saying jump off a cliff (which we’ve done) but be willing to take chances.

What’s on the menu tonight? Chicken and lemon tagine over white basmati rice (for Eric) and wild & other rice (for Simonne) with salad, and always dessert (usually something easy like ice cream, yogurt with fruit…but tonight it’s chocolate cake)…which brings us back to the Okanagan – it’s always a bit sad saying goodbye to Spring, and Summer, and the bountiful local fruit and veggies…nothing like fresh off the farm…so full of life, and goodness.

Parting words of wisdom? Carpe Diem (seize the day), choose to be happy, keep well & do good!

Lastly, your playlist? (Eric) I came home today and didn’t hear any music, and told Simonne, “I’m surprised the music isn’t on!”. The music is always on. I love John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High”…it’s a song that helps you discover home is in your heart…no matter where you go if your heart is there and in it, you can make home any place…people are keen to have a sense of belonging. Otherwise, no drum machines…we like all live drums, no synthesizer (and light on the 80’s music). One band resonates because of its history; we had the forerunner ‘Chad Allen & Expressions’ with “Shakin’ All Over” at Highschool in Manitoba, and they became ‘The Guess Who’ from Winnipeg.  You know the song “These Eyes”. Simonne was the social director at University, and she often brought in The Guess Who.

(Simonne) – I like the feeling in Enya’s music (Only Time) and enjoy early rock or music that makes you dance, like Johnny Reid (A Woman Like You, Dance With Me, Darlin’)…it’s dancey, music you can two-step, or jive to. I also enjoy Yanni (Three Words), Bob Seger (We’ve Got Tonight). We got to see Zac Brown Band on a cruise (Chicken Fried), and they even flew in Blue Rodeo (Lost Together). We recently saw Jim Cuddy again at Ex Nihilo Try. Of course, we like Tom Cochrane (Life Is A Highway), Jim Byrnes (Just A Pilgrim), and enjoy folk festivals, recently seeing Arlo Guthrie (I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You). We recently saw Royal Wood perform in a more exclusive concert in Vernon and loved his music (Forever and Ever).

Moral of the story if there is one? Back to Cabrea’s mysterious golden eggs in Dunrea, and a story about “The Goose That Laid The Golden Eggs”. In laying two golden eggs, Cabrea has mysteriously done not only the miraculous, laying two eggs thus saving her own life, but teaching us to be content with what we have. It’s truly a fable about gratitude, something that is very present in the Dickies’ lives, and something which has kept them flying together, and on course. And we’re grateful they shared with us. Hope to see you at the lake soon!

Poker Run at Lakestone

In addition to our regular Passport to Lakestone Program, we are excited to be partnering with a couple of our resale listing partners this weekend for the “LAKESTONE POKER RUN”! Simply visit each of the following Lakestone Show Homes and resale listings this weekend and at each home, you will receive a card.

  • 1712 Slateview
  • 9443 Ledgestone
  • 9734 Centrestone
  • 9740 Centrestone
  • 1656 Lakestone Drive
  • 1785 Lakestone Drive

Once you’ve visited all of the homes, make the best hand you can and submit it at the Lakestone Information Centre (9678 Benchland Drive) – did we mention we’ll also have wine and cheese on-hand there? The best hand will be chosen at 2 pm and the 1st place winner will receive a Lakestone Swag Bag and gift basket valued at over $150. Additional prizes will also be awarded including various bottles of local wine.

See you then!

Have you met Marc?


Marc Leger relocated to the Okanagan with his wife Sylvia and son Connor in 2012 and has never looked back since.  Aside from work and family, Marc is heavily involved in hockey as a level 3 referee with Hockey Canada and officiates in 4 different leagues throughout the winter.


  • What does a Community Relationship Manager do? As a direct representative of the Developer, I’d say that my main role is to create a cohesive communication channel with all of our stakeholders including residents, lot owners, builders, tradespeople, vendors, council members, neighbours, the municipality and the public at large to deal with the variety of items that come up day-to-day in our development.


  • What inspires you most? There would be several things tied for first. A beautiful sunrise. An equally beautiful sunset. Being the first person on a lake. Reffing a wild and crazy hockey game!   


  • How is it that you landed at Lakestone – was public relations always a passion of yours, and just how did the stars align? I was looking for a departure from the corporate rat race and working in a busy downtown office setting. After I met the MCL team for my first interview and had a chance to visit the development for the first time, I was hooked.  The idea of coming to this beautiful setting every day and being part of this project was extremely appealing to me at this stage in my career.  While I’ve never had a title that included the words “public” and “relations”, I’ve been trying to help people be successful, have great outcomes, arrive at solutions and resolve issues all of my professional life.  My job at Lakestone is really no different. So far, most of my interactions have been great and I haven’t had to pull out my whistle and toss anyone in the penalty box just yet LOL


  • What’s on your playlist? I actually don’t have a playlist. I enjoy listening to whatever is playing around me or on the radio. Apart from songs that scream at me, I like all kinds of tunes.


  • Favorite book and why?I don’t really do much “pleasure reading” anymore, I’ve taken to listening to podcasts and news radio instead.  On long solo drives, I’ll listen to an audio book or two.


  • Why did you move to the Okanagan?My wife had a unique opportunity to transfer here for her job. Being the supportive husband I am, I said SURE let’s move there.  Sight unseen I might add!


  • What’s a perfect day look like to you?Getting up early for a game of golf or some tennis. Brunch with my friends. A cold beer in the afternoon. Cooking dinner for my guests. Finishing the day on my deck admiring the view and nodding off in my comfy deck chair.


  • If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why? I spent a combined 5 years living and working in Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia in my mid 20’s.  I’d love to retrace my steps and go back to see how these places have changed and progressed.  


  • What is the one thing most people would find most surprising about you?  Something most people don’t know about you? I think people who don’t know me well would describe me as quite serious and calculated. I can be that but I also love to joke around and have a laugh and take people along for the ride.  I can be sarcastic (especially as a referee), I can dish it out and I can take it too which is a must.


  • Favorite sports, interests, past-times, hobbies? Hockey through and through.  I’ve played for 30 years now, coached competitively for 17 years and typically referee 10 games a week during the season.  In the summer months I love being at the cabin or the trailer, enjoying the climate and  lifestyle we’re all here to take advantage of.


  • What do you like most about Lakestone? I really enjoy the people I’ve met here so far.  Whether it’s my colleagues, our builders or our residents and future residents, everyone involved with Lakestone seems genuinely interested in creating something really special here and that’s incredibly motivating for me.


  • Any words of advice? Don’t take yourself too seriously and remember that the power of humor should never be underestimated. It can be a great tool in making people feel at ease, in building trust and in getting people through a challenging situation or time. 


Meet the Hefkeys

We were fortunate to sit down and hear from Dan and Maryann Hefkey on the August long weekend to hear their story of how they came to build a home to live in at Lakestone, as well as their take on this very special community. We’re sure you will agree that it’s people like the Hefkeys that help make Lakestone what it is today and for the many years to come.


Hefkeys: Our kids were out west in Whistler, so we explored all options on-line from Osoyoos to Vernon. Osoyoos was interesting because it’s a warm climate and has lots of wineries, but as many businesses and activities tend to shut down in the winter, we started looking towards Penticton, Summerland, Peachland, and as far north as Vernon – we looked at absolutely everything. Initially we weren’t looking to build, but after considering all available options, building a home just made sense. We spent one month renting in West Kelowna to really get to know the area. We had a realtor, and on our first day here, he brought us to Lakestone Waterside (to Travertine). We were immediately impressed and started building our home in 2015 and officially moved into our home at Lakestone in 2016. We were one of the first here, and, because it’s a new community, we realized there wasn’t an established social network for people new to the area, so we created a Facebook group, and organized community potlucks at “the Hub” (The Lake Club) every 2nd week to introduce new neighbours – some who come from all across Canada – that want to mingle and get to know each other. Before the new neighbours move in, we welcome them to the Lakestone Facebook group, so they can get plugged in and learn everything about their community. It’s easy making friends at Lakestone. Everyone blends well, and there’s lots of opportunity to get involved. The Lake Club has become the hub of the community where all are welcome.  Others have initiated Women’s Wine Wednesdays, and the ever so popular High Intensity Interval Training in the pool.  Both are well attended.  Some of our other activities include rowing or swimming across to Lake Okanagan Resort, with others who kayak or paddle along with us. The Lake Club is our true community hub. Neighbourhood kids put on an annual July long weekend talent show as part of the potluck now…singing, violin, ukulele, magic card tricks, dancing, ballet, and more. One grandfather even played guitar as his two granddaughters sang a song they co-wrote.


Hefkeys: We had to have a view, or we weren’t leaving our home in Ontario. Wherever we moved, it had to be better than what we were leaving, which was a lovely home on the golf course near a ski hill, with great neighbours in Ontario. You have to make a checklist and be clear on your wants and needs. We checked out many mountain and lake view properties, but nothing compared to the views at Lakestone. We were uncompromising on having a spectacular lake view.  Aside from that, proximity to an airport was paramount, and next, we had to do a bike test, to see if we could go cycling here. We can literally leave our back door and bike for 60 kms and not be on a busy highway, fighting for road space. (Cyclists in Ontario often have to drive 1.5 hours outside Toronto just to find a safe place to ride).  We ride down the road from our house toward Pebble Beach in Okanagan Centre, up Oceola Road, across Highway 97 and up Oyama Road, and around Oyama to Pelmewash Way, and along the rail trails as far north as Vernon, or throughout Kelowna. The rail trails are great and enjoyed by all kinds of outdoors enthusiasts including families, cyclists, hikers, joggers, dog-walking, dog park, boaters…people trekking from all over the Okanagan.


Hefkeys: We love how Macdonald Communities (MCL) integrated the recreational aspects like The Lake Club and The Centre Club from the beginning, including a gorgeous hiking trail between Waterside and the Benchlands, which is frequented by families, children and their pets. If you’re an avid pickle baller, you will love it here, and they even added tennis and basketball courts – the latter of which is also suitable for ball hockey. The amenities are incredible, and you don’t have to wait for them to be built like some other communities. They are here now.  With the connection of Tyndall Rd to Camp Road, there’s a handy alternative to cycle, or walk the long widely-paved sidewalks, and we’re within walking distance of some of the best Okanagan wineries. There’s always something to do, whether it’s the arts and crafts events at the wineries, Creekside Theatre plays and musical performances, “Live in Lake Country” – a free weekly summer open-air music event for all of the community to enjoy, the Arts Tour in August, or the Art Walk in the Fall. As a former Strata council member and Director on the Amenities Association, Dan worked closely with the ownership team of MCL, and appreciated how much they were willing to listen to the wants and needs of the community. 


Hefkeys: We’re really looking forward to The Centre Club opening. Once the Benchlands community is at 85% occupancy, the existing Centre Club building will be to ready to open up with a large gym, yoga and Pilates studio, community room, pool and hot tubs, men’s and ladies’ changerooms, and a possible coffee/wine bar. It’s also great having a Community Relations Manager here also, as there’s lots of communication, and we know things are being looked after whenever they’re brought to the developer’s attention.


Hefkeys: There is so much to discover. No word of a lie, every morning we wake up, raise the blinds, look out on Lake Okanagan, and might even spot an osprey or an eagle and say “Oh my God…we live here!” We’ll look at each other and ask, “What are we going to do today?” Today, after this interview, we’re going for a four-hour hike, then we are going to do some paddle boarding, prepare supper, have a nice glass of wine on the deck and relax. We feel so blessed to live in such a wonderful community with such great people. We plan on staying here forever. We’re not leaving!


Hefkeys: We just celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary in Lake Louise. We met just before doing volunteer work in Africa for two years. One year in we were engaged, then married. Adventure has always been the common denominator, and we definitely find that excitement living here at Lakestone.


Hefkeys: Lake Country has so much to offer. We can walk or zip down the hill on our bikes for a great cup of coffee at the Salty Caramel or the Museum, or head over to The Coffee House on Bottom Woodlake Road. Even though we have gyms here, if we want classes, we can work out at any of the local gyms like Crave Fitness with its many classes, Bodyz in Motion, Invati Yoga, or 24-Hour Fitness. We’ve found other hidden gems too like the many hiking trails including Spion Kopj, and if you have an ebike you can easily ride, pretty effortlessly, all the way to Kelowna for coffee. If you want to explore north, we’ve found great places like Friesen’s in Lavington, the Vernon Farmer’s market, and love Pane Vino Pizzeria at Gatzke’s Fruit Stand in Oyama. Fresh fruit and vegetables are in abundant supply at various farm gates like the 3lbs of asparagus we bought for $7.50, and the peaches at Wendel’s. Grocery stores and other shops are about 5 minutes away. We looked at other neighbourhoods with nice views, but after talking to people in their communities, we weren’t excited about dealing with 30 or 40 minutes of traffic to get to a store.


Hefkeys: We’re going to Kilimanjaro in October with Mike and Lori Wright, another adventurous Lakestone Waterside couple, so we have been working our way through a trail book and have discovered other great trails like Ellison Park (toward Predator Ridge), Enderby Cliffs, Black Knight (east of Black Mountain), McCurdy Rim (near Shannon Lake/Rose Valley Rim). We’ve been doing a lot of biking and hiking to get ready, and appreciate all the advice provided by neighbours.


Hefkeys: In making a decision to move, you have to be very settled in your mind on what you’re looking for. For us, #1 was the view – it had to be spectacular, and #2 was deciding whether we were comfortable building or not. Envision a check list, similar to planning our trip to Kilimanjaro. Ask yourself, what’s available here/there? Know what you want and need, and make sure it checks all your boxes. Be willing to spend some time in that community to see if you like it and talk to people who live there. That’s how we ended up here, and not in Osoyoos or Penticton. People tend to spend more time researching shoes and cars more than a home, and some even buy sight unseen. If you want the buzz of a city, Kelowna’s not that far away, but it’s more about quality of life at Lakestone, it’s the lifestyle, we wanted out of the city, and these days anything you want that you’d find in a mall, can be ordered on-line. We like winters and the sun, and really knew what we wanted as part of our lifestyle. We’d never even heard of Lake Country, let alone Kelowna, or the Okanagan, but it has everything we needed, including a great doctor and dentist, and some of the best medical infrastructure anywhere. If you want a senior’s community, it’s not that. There’s just the right cross section of people here, where everyone is valued and feels at home in the community. There’s mutual respect amongst all ages and the whole community feels cohesive.


Hefkeys: For some, this is an opportunity to leave the big city, and live the Okanagan dream, or be mortgage free. There’s no speculation tax in Lake Country, which is a big plus. The community appeals to younger families and retirees. Residents are as diverse as Lakestone itself; there’s so much variety. As one example, we have neighbours from Fort McMurray who have made this their primary residence.

People here love to contribute and look out for their neighbours. If you need anything, someone is bound to have exactly what you’re looking for or knows someone who does. It’s hard for us to walk down the street, without someone saying hello, or inviting us in for a glass of wine. Everyone is so interesting and contributes in their own way. Whether it’s giving someone a ride to the airport or even taking you out on their boat…you don’t have to own a boat and Kicking Back’s boat rental service is handy here in the community. There are so many people from different places, with diverse backgrounds, and incredible resources and lifetimes of experience.  For example, someone who can maintain a pool, or teach someone’s child about science.

While Lakestone isn’t a gated community, it feels very safe, so you don’t worry about going for a walk in the neighbourhood. The roads are wider, and people drive responsibly.

Probably 30% of residents currently have Lakestone as their summer home, and 80% of residents are probably from somewhere besides the Okanagan Valley. Approximately 50% are retired. There’s a diverse mix of people at Lakestone and on any given day, you’ll find 20 couples doing something interesting. There’s lots to do if you want to be active. You can pick and choose, whether it’s wineries, golf, boating on the lake, sitting by the pool, or taking your dog for a hike; people love the proximity and access to the lake, trails, great roadways, and proximity to ski hills –  half way between Silver Star or Big White – some of the best skiing you’ll find anywhere. Though there are some multi-generational households, it’s important to note that short term rentals, like AirBnB’s or suites are not supported here – and that’s a good thing. There’s less traffic here and Lakestone is a joy to come home to. This is the perfect place! We don’t regret the decision we made.


Hefkeys: The five best things we’ve ever done 1) meeting each other 2) retiring when and early as we did 3) career choices as an adult-ed teacher and after a career with the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) becoming the Commissioner of Community Safety; responsible for policing services, fire, and emergency management including animal welfare for the province…and ironically moved to OPP Opal Peak Place at Lakestone 4) having our children Kyle and Jordan, and 5) moving here to Lakestone.