Rotary Centre goes digital

The Rotary Centre for the Arts has received city approval to replace its current static sign with a digital sign.

While there has been some hesitation to approve digital signs, staff recommended the sign at the Rotary Centre be approved.

"In this case, the sign does not face a residential area, it is not located on the highway and it's a fascia sign, as opposed to a free-standing sign. These are all contributing factors to mitigating the digital sign's impact," said planner Adam Cseke.

"Further conditions limit the brightness and dimness at night, and how quickly the sign is permitted to change."

The restrictions were taken from the city's draft bylaw.

At the present time, council reviews, and determines whether digital signs will be allowed in certain locations.

Council has said no to digital signs along Harvey Avenue, citing concerns signs with continuously moving and changing messages would be distracting to motorists.

A similar application for a fascia sign at Prospera Place is expected to come before council in the near future.


Fat bikes, fun times

Fat bikers have a place to call their own.

No, not overweight cyclists, downhill shredders who are into the latest biking craze.

Big White Ski Resort has designated two trails to fat biking, the trend in which riders pedal mountain bikes with extra-wide tires to handle snow and all kinds of terrain.

Fat biking will run on the Trapping Meadows and Tile Field Loop at Big White, trails that are easily accessible from Happy Valley Adventure Park or from the Black Forest car park. 

“With the opening of mountain biking at Big White Ski Resort this summer, we are excited to give fat bikers their own place in our winter community as well,” said resort vice-president Michael J. Ballingall.

Fat bikers are reminded to yield to other user groups on the Nordic trails to ensure safety. 

Beware of rental scam

Renters beware. A new rental scam has reached the Okanagan.

According to the Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board, there have been at least four instances where people have gathered pictures and information from other sites, and used them to post fake property rentals.

These are occurring on sites such as Craigslist and Kijiji.

“The way it works is that when someone calls about the rental, they are sent the tenancy agreement
and asked to forward a deposit and pick up the keys from the previous renter on a particular date,”
explains OMREB spokesman Paul Cowhig.

“Since there’s no rental property, the potential renter is out the amount of the deposit and out of a potential rental that they may have been counting on.”

Local realtors will be checking online advertising to ensure none of their properties have been scammed.

People with active private listings are being advised to do the same.

Anyone looking for accommodations are advised not to forward funds without first conducting an in-person verification of both the property and the landlord.

Police have also been notified.

Evening update: Live at 5

Castanet's Evening Update for Monday, Jan. 16, with reporter Wayne Moore.

Expect water hazards

UPDATE: 4 p.m.

With temperatures forecast to rise above zero, the city is working to limit water hazards created by melting snow.

But it's warning it may not be able to prevent them all.

City of Kelowna crews are clearing ice and snow blocking drainage where large puddles would impede crosswalks or pose traffic hazards, said Mike Murrell, the city's utilities network maintenance supervisor.

The city is also asking for your help in a couple of ways.

"The public can assist both our crews and themselves by clearing snow and windrows from the snowplows around catch-basins adjacent to their properties, provided they do not put themselves in harm’s way of traffic," he said.

If you notice that catch-basins are not draining or water is accumulating across sidewalks, crosswalks or out into traffic significantly, you can either submit an online service request on the City of Kelowna’s website or call 250-469-8600.

"Our crews will respond by priority of protecting public and pedestrian safety, structures from flooding, and traffic hazards," he said.

"For the motoring public, they should slow down and drive with caution through the puddles so as not to lose control of their vehicle or spray water over pedestrians, bus stops, parked cars or properties."

ORIGINAL: 12:05 p.m.

Have you had enough of the constant cold?

Here's some good news to start off your Monday and the week ahead. 

The weather is warming up throughout the Okanagan. Today and tomorrow will see the coldest temperatures at -3 C and then it should stay above zero all week. Thursday should be the high of the week at 4 C.

Environment Canada is calling for heavy snowfall and rapidly warming temperatures, starting tonight through the week.

The Central Okanagan Regional District says it doesn't expect flooding to be a problem, despite the snow melt.

A travel advisory is in effect for Highway 1 in both directions due to expected slushy conditions.

"Travellers should adjust their plans accordingly and allow additional time to reach their destinations," said DriveBC.

Blue Monday isn't so bad

You would think today would be the worst day of the year as Okanagan residents are now receiving their holiday credit card bills, but it doesn't have to be. 

There is no doubt that debt can make for a stressful time of year, but insolvency trustee Darrin Surminsky explains there are ways to overcome dreaded debt.

1) Tackle holiday bills before they snowball

Don't ignore your bills because they won't just go away. Tackle them as soon as they arrive. 

2) Focus on paying down the principal

Calculate interest as it will help you pay down debts.

3) Create a financial plan for 2017 

Surminsky suggests making a New Year's resolution to control how much you spend and making sure you stick to a budget. 

4) Seek help from debt experts 

Many people wait to seek help after it's too late. When people take action early they have more options to restructure their debt. 

Looking for break in attack

More than a year after a senior was shot and another assaulted in a home invasion, Lake Country RCMP are appealing for information.

Two suspects busted into a home on Tyndall Road on Oct. 4, 2015, shot a 65-year-old man and confined a 61-year-old woman. No arrests have yet been made in the 11:30 p.m. attack.

The woman managed to free herself and call police – but not before the suspects fled, said Kelowna RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey.

"We believe that there is someone in the community who may have the missing piece to help solve this investigation," said O’Donaghey. "What seems inconsequential to you, may in fact be a very important piece."

Anyone with information can call the Lake Country RCMP at 250-766-2288 or remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477, visiting crimestoppers.net or texting CRIMES (274637) ktown.

Trudeau in Kelowna?

Will he visit – or not?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is on a cross-Canada tour, meeting with Canadians in town-hall events as well as in coffee shops and restaurants, "answering your questions and listening to your ideas on how we can build a better Canada."

So far, he's visited small towns in Ontario and is currently making his way through Atlantic Canada. He'll soon sweep through Western Canada.

It's unclear whether Trudeau will visit Kelowna, where Liberal MP Stephen Fuhr won a surprise victory in the last federal election.

Trudeau's B.C. schedule has not been released – and the PM's staff have not returned inquiries from Castanet about whether Trudeau will be in the Okanagan.

The last time Trudeau was in town, it was a hush-hush affair for a personal visit. He stayed at a private residence on a local winery property last summer.

Trudeau's tour has come under fire, labelled as a distraction for controversies that have been dogging him, including his vacation with the Aga Khan and his cash-for-access events.

Missing man located

UPDATE: 7:40 p.m. 

RCMP have confirmed that 69-year-old, Leo Dickenson was located last night safe and sound. 

UPDATE: 5:45 a.m.

Unofficial sources tell Castanet Dickenson has been found.

Castanet is seeking confirmation through the RCMP.

ORIGINAL: 5:15 p.m.

Kelowna RCMP is looking for the public's help to find a missing Kelowna man.

Leo Dickenson, 69, was last seen on Jan. 12 by family who reported him as missing on Jan. 15.

Police say there's no indication of foul play at this time, but they are concerned for his health and well-being, as he suffers from a medical condition which requires daily medications.

It is out of character for Dickenson to be out of contact for this long, according to family.

Dickenson is described as a caucasian man, five feet eight inches (172 centimetres), 180 pounds (82 kilograms), grey hair and blue eyes.

He was last seen wearing blue jeans, a brown leather jacket, black leather shoes and glasses.

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Dickenson is asked to contact their local police, or remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477, leaving a tip online at www.crimestoppers.net or by texting your tip to CRIMES (274637).

No slouch in the kitchen

The Canadian Culinary Championships return to Kelowna Feb. 3-4.

Eleven of the best chefs from across the country have competed to represent their regions in Kelowna.

The Gold Medal Plates grand finale will take place at the Delta Grand Hotel, with the crowning of the national champion.

Proceeds from the event benefit the Canadian Olympic Foundation. 

Castanet is featuring an exclusive series of bios on the competing chefs leading up the event.

Eric Hanson – Prairie Noodle Shop, Edmonton 

Born and raised in Edmonton, but with an itch to see the world, it's no surprise Eric Hanson's influences in the kitchen come from the 40-plus countries he's eaten and cooked in across the globe.

A former head chef on a five-star game reserve in South Africa, Hanson has been cooking professionally for 16 years and is making his first appearance at Gold Medal Plates. Aside from serving ramen in his restaurant, he owns a small company that offers catering, consulting, menu writing, and staffing assistance to a number of restaurants in Edmonton.

Hanson most recently helped open Get Cooking, North 53 and Prairie Noodle Shop. Before that, he was at Niche, and has also been seen on City TV, Global and CTV cooking segments.

Perhaps best known his ability to successfully cook for guests with severe allergies, Hanson knows from experience how to navigate the tricky waters of allergies in the kitchen. 

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