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Kelowna  

Dangerous driving caught on video on Highway 33 near Black Mountain

Wrong way on Hwy 33

A scary incident on Highway 33 was captured by a driver Thursday night.

A video posted to Reddit shows a blue vehicle travelling east from Kelowna towards Joe Rich on the wrong side of a solid double line. The vehicle doesn’t immediately return to the right side of the highway, instead continuing on in the wrong lane.

The end of the video shows the driver going back into the proper lane at the last possible second, narrowly avoiding a collision with another vehicle that was in the passing lane heading towards Kelowna.

The incident was reported to RCMP, which tells Castanet the Dodge Charger was travelling at a high rate of speed and passed on a solid double line.

"The vehicle was last seen heading towards Big White but police were unable to locate it,” said RCMP spokesperson Const. Mike Della-Paolera.

RCMP say a driver caught driving in this fashion could face several charges under the Motor Vehicle Act.

Warning this video contains explicit language.



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'I'm not interested': Kelowna MP Tracy Gray slams former Premier Christy Clark

Gray fires salvo at Clark

Kelowna-Lake Country MP Tracy Gray doesn’t care what former Premier Christy Clark thinks about the federal Conservative party.

On Thursday, Clark endorsed Jean Charest in the party’s leadership race while declaring the Conservative Party of Canada is racing “for the extremes to play to the very edges of the political divide.”

Gray, along most other MPs in the party, have lined up behind apparent frontrunner Pierre Poilievre.

“Those of us from BC remember Clark for supporting Canada's first carbon tax, crushing small business, making car insurance among the most expensive in Canada and calling people dinosaurs who disagreed with her,” Gray tweeted on Friday.

“Forgive me if I'm not interested in her views on Conservative politics.”

Gray, like Poilievre, was a supporter of the protest convoy that took over downtown Ottawa earlier this year. She is serving at the co-chair for Poilievre’s campaign in B.C.

The B.C. Liberal Party, which Clark led from 2011 to 2017, has no affiliation to the federal Liberal party and occupies the right opposing the NDP in provincial politics.



Kelowna's newest brewery opens its doors along rail trail

Railside Brewing now open

Kelowna’s newest brewery has opened for business.

Railside Brewing, a new pit-stop along the rail trail, offers eight of their own handcrafted beers along with many others. The brewery has been two years in the making.

"Probably eight years ago, I came up with the idea with my wife. We were at a brewery and she said you should do this," said co-owner Rob Leinemann on Thursday.

"Luckily, our family has this building and we were able to move in, so we’ve been open for five days now."

Having brewed their first batch together back in 1992, Leinemann and business partner Matt Grieve have been focusing on creating a smooth and easy drinking beer. They say the reception from customers has been great so far.

“Our best-selling beer right now is our summer ale, and that was actually a recipe, I’ve been a home brewer for the last three years, it was my favourite beer to brew at home. We’ve scaled it up to 1,000 litre batches. It’s our number one seller by far. Just a light, easy drinking ale and people are loving it," smiled Leinemann.

With Leinemann’s mother arriving in Kelowna on the railway back in 1950, and with his father having originally built the building where Railside Brewing exists today, the location means a lot to the owners. They wanted to make sure it serves the community the right way.

“We basically just want to integrate ourselves into this part of the community. We are right on the rail trail, so we want to be rail trail supporters. We’ve got bike racks for a number of bikes and we’ve got an event permit to close down the parking lot for 10 events a year and we hope to do a couple rail trail fundraisers each year, so we just want to be part of that experience – bike down the trail and enjoy some quality craft beer,” said Grieve.

Located on High Road near Gordon Drive and Clement Avenue, Railside Brewing is now open six days a week, Tuesday through Sunday.



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Environment Canada issues Special air quality statement

Smoky skies bulletin ends

UPDATE 12:49 p.m.

Environment Canada has ended the special air quality statement for the Thompson-Okanagan.

A news release from the provincial government and Interior Health states, “the Smoky Skies Bulletin that was last updated on August 11, 2022, has ended. Wildfire smoke concentrations have reduced over the past 24 hours.”

The initial bulletin was issued on Wednesday for the South Okanagan and Kootenays and was expanded to include the South, Central and North Okanagan and Kamloops.

Weather conditions have now improved enough that the bulletin and advisory has been cancelled.


ORIGINAL 8:40 a.m.

Residents in the Southern Interior of British Columbia can expect more smoke in the skies.

Environment Canada’s special air quality statement remains in effect for the Thompson-Okanagan.

The South, Central and northern parts of the Interior will be impacted by wildfire smoke over the next 24 to 48 hours.

“The Southern Interior continues to be impacted by widespread smoke. Thunderstorms and convection today may clear the smoke, but may also lead to new fire activity,” states Environment Canada.

Much of the Southern Interior has been under a smoky skies bulletin since Wednesday and the area was expanded on Thursday. The website Firesmoke.ca tracks smoke from wildfires as it moves across the continent.

“People with pre-existing health conditions, respiratory infections such as COVID-19, older adults, pregnant women and infants, children, and sensitive individuals are more likely to experience health effects from smoke exposure,” the bulletin states.

Unstable weather conditions across the Interior this week are expected to keep the smoke from nearby wildfires relatively light in the Okanagan, but a ridge of high pressure is forecast to return to B.C. next week. High-pressure ridges can trap smoke in the valley bottom.



Good Samaritans honoured for saving woman after boat crash

RCMP honour lifesavers

A group of Good Samaritans have been recognized and honoured for their selfless acts of bravery.

Kelowna RCMP says they received a report of a boat striking a dock at the Green Bay Bible Camp, sending a woman in the boat soaring into the water.

“Upon arrival, officers learned that an off-duty lifeguard from the Green Bay Bible Camp, Aiden Godwin took control of the chaotic scene and immediately swam towards the unconscious female through debris and leaking fuel,” said RCMP spokesperson Const. Mike Della-Paolera.

Godwin found the woman floating unconscious and he managed to get her to shore while making sure she could breathe by supporting her head and neck.

Once the pair reached the shore, a group of Good Samaritans, including an emergency medical technician in training rallied to assist. The woman received life-saving first aid until an ambulance arrived on the scene and transported the patient to hospital.

Kelowna RCMP regional detachment officer in charge, superintendent Kara Triance, took time to personally congratulate the Good Samaritans at a small lakeside ceremony.

Godwin was presented with a plaque recognizing his efforts to save the woman's life.

“Our community is fortunate to have people like Aiden who rise above the crowds with their courage and valor. On behalf of the Kelowna Regional Royal Canadian Mounted Police and your community, we thank you Aiden,” said superintendent Kara Triance.

Five other lifeguards and the EMT in training, who is on staff at the camp, were also recognized for their actions in assisting once the injured party was brought to shore.



More lightning is expected across the Okanagan and Similkameen Friday

Severe thunderstorm watch

More lightning is expected to rumble through much of the Southern Interior Friday.

A severe thunderstorm watch has again been issued by Environment Canada for the Okanagan Valley, Similkameen, Kootenays, Boundary and Arrow Lakes regions.

"Conditions are favourable for the development of severe thunderstorms that may be capable of producing strong wind gusts, large hail and heavy rain," the bulletin from Environment Canada states.

"Severe thunderstorms are likely to develop late this afternoon and are expected to continue through the evening."

Thunderstorms produced about 1,000 lightning strikes within the Kamloops Fire Centre Wednesday and another 2,617 last night.

Residents in some regions of the Central Okanagan reported large hail falling during the storm.

"Severe thunderstorm watches are issued when atmospheric conditions are favourable for the development of thunderstorms that could produce one or more of the following:

  • Large Hail
  • Damaging winds
  • Torrential rainfall


More than 2,500 lightning strikes touched down in the Kamloops Fire Centre last night

Thousands of lightning hits

The BC Wildfire Service will be busy keeping an eye out for potential new wildfires following Thursday's spectacular electrical storm across the Southern Interior.

Kamloops Fire Centre fire information officer Taylor Colman, says there were 2,617 lightning strikes prior to midnight Thursday across the region.

At this point, she is unable to say how many new fires may have sparked as a result of last night's storm.

Colman did indicate 13 new lightning-caused fires had sparked as of 8:30 a.m. Thursday, however most of those were likely caused by Wednesday's storm. Only eight of those remain active.

The good news is lightning was accompanied by rain in some regions last night.

BCWS will be monitoring the region looking for new strikes.

"We do sometimes conduct fixed wing patrols, so we can work with either the other fire centres around us and patrol both centres or if there is a particular area of interest we can send them there as well," said Colman.

"We do have fire wardens that can patrol the back country but, of course the public is still our biggest protection source."

If you see smoke, call 1-800-663-5555 or *5555 on a cell.

Friday's forecast calls for a risk of more thunderstorm activity and a 40 per cent chance of showers across much of the Southern Interior.



Thunderclouds and fire smoke dance to create spectacular Kelowna sunset

Photos: Lightning in sunset

It was one of those sunsets so dramatic, entire neighbourhoods stepped outside for a few minutes to bask in its glory.

A blazing-red sunset lit up the Okanagan on Thursday night while thunderclouds and smoke from the Keremeos Creek wildfire drifted north.

Wildfire smoke and thunderstorms, each of their own, are known to produce spectacular red sunsets — on Thursday both were in play.

Particles from wildfire smoke are larger than air molecules and better at scattering yellow to red wavelengths of sunlight. Those fiery colours are visible when the sun is near the horizon and its rays have to travel a greater distance through the smoke.

At the same time, thunderstorms often leave behind mid and high level clouds — creating an ideal canvas for the sun’s rays.

These are some of the most dramatic reader photos of Thursday night’s sunset. A few particularly lucky photographers managed to capture lightning bolts within the sunset.

You can send your photos and videos to [email protected]



Kelowna man fined for urban poaching of deer

Hunter fined for poaching

A lifelong outdoor enthusiast has been fined $7,000 and banned from hunting for six years after admitting to shooting a mule deer in a residential neighbourhood on Lakeshore Road in Kelowna 18 months ago.

Andre Comeau pled guilty Thursday to two counts of hunting without consideration and hunting, taking, trapping, wounding or killing of wildlife out of season under the Wildlife Act.

A third charge of failure to retrieve wildlife was dropped as a result of the plea deal.

Crown prosecutor Dan Blumenkrans told the court Comeau and two other men tracked deer through private residential property on Lakeshore Road on February 11 of last year.

Comeau eventually admitted to shooting the deer with a crossbow and leaving it to die.

The animal was injured and "staggered through numerous properties" before dying in a flower garden on one of the properties.

Blumenkrans produced pictures and statements from four families impacted by the events of the day.

In a joint sentencing recommendation, Blumenkrans asked for fines totalling $7,001, a six year hunting ban and a requirement that Comeau retake the CORE Hunter Education course before applying to be able to hunt again.

The mandatory hunting ban is three years, however Crown believed the transgression was severe enough to require a stiffer prohibition.

Of the fines imposed, $4,500 will go directly to the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, which provides funding for conservation projects and education programs.

Justice Lisa Wyatt agreed with the penalties, but also added a provision requiring Comeau to write letters of apology to those families impacted by the event.

"The incident, not surprisingly caused great concern and upset to the residents in the area. The idea of a man tracking and shooting a deer with a crossbow in their yards caused residents to fear for their safety and for the safety of their children and grandchildren," Justice Lisa Wyatt stated in handing down sentencing.

"Not only were they concerned for their own safety, but a dead deer in their garden was distressing to these people, including a seven-year-old child.

"I am doing this because these were not just adults, but children were impacted and an important part of the deterrent is a recognition of the impact and that an apology be made to the families."

Defence attorney James Macdonnell, appearing by phone, told the court his client is a lifelong hunter, conservationist and outdoor enthusiast who understands the consequences of his actions and has agreed to the settlement laid out by the Crown.

"He is deeply remorseful for his actions and conduct which has led up to this point which, in his words is the absolute lowest point in his life, not only for himself but for his family," said Macdonnell.

"He recognizes that a bad decision has cost him the pursuit of engaging in the only thing that he is truly passionate about, which is hunting."

Conservation officer Ken Owens said the court sent a strong message to the hunting community in its sentencing of Comeau.

"I think this sends a very important message to people in the community that poaching is unacceptable, especially when you poach within a highly urban area," Owens told Castanet News outside the courtroom.

"You jeopardize the lives and safety of people and their property. That is just unacceptable.

"I think the courts here sent a very strong message in a monetary deterrent. To hunt is a privilege and not right, and here the court imposed a six year hunting prohibition."

While the instances of urban poaching is rare, Owens says regrettably this is not the worst case he has seen.

He hopes this ruling will cause hunters to think twice before poaching wildlife out of season and within urban neighbourhoods.



Advocate: Air-conditioning should be standard in BC Interior care homes

Sweltering in care homes

The issue of air conditioning in long-term care homes in the Southern Interior is on the radar of B.C.’s seniors advocate.

Isobel Mackenzie was surprised to learn that additional air conditioners had to be brought in to cool residents’ rooms at Glenmore Lodge in Kelowna earlier this week. The facility, with 118 units, 100 which are publicly funded, opened in 2017.

Castanet was contacted by someone who said the air-conditioning at Glenmore Lodge stopped working on August 7, and claimed that the temperature in some rooms was as high as 30 C.

The operators of the care home, Sienna Seniors Living, responded to our enquiries with this statement.

“Glenmore Lodge has AC throughout common areas of the building. With the unseasonably high temperatures, the team has also deployed additional AC units to ensure a comfortable temperature is maintained in resident rooms. The health and safety of residents and team members are our highest priority. We take daily temperature checks inside the home, and staff monitor residents to ensure they are always comfortable.”

That raises some serious questions for Mackenzie.

“Air conditioning needs to be in the individual units, not just the common areas. And if their way of dealing with it is we’re going to have portable air conditioners, okay, but then you need, you know, 118 portable air conditioners. They’ve got 118 units,” she said.

The seniors advocate also wonders if Interior Health made it a requirement to have air conditioning in each room when it issued the request for proposal for Glenmore Lodge prior to its construction.

She notes there are often different standards for facilities built and operated by health authorities and those built and operated by private contractors.

“This is part of this bigger question. Why is the contracted sector allowed these lower standards?

“They have an HVAC system. Next question is, is it in every room?

“Because I am surprised that a building built in 2017 in the Interior doesn’t have an air cooling mechanism in each room. That is surprising,” said Mackenzie.

Last summer during the heat dome we were contacted about the lack of air conditioning in the rooms of residents at David Lloyd Jones long-term care home in Kelowna.

Staff said they were exhausted and frustrated with having to work in sweltering conditions. The facility only has air conditioning in common areas. Fans were used in patient rooms, and doors to hallways were left open to try to keep them cool.

That building opened in 1979 and Mackenzie hopes when Interior Health looks at replacing it, the changing climate will be top of mind.

Mackenzie sat on the panel that reviewed the 619 heat-related deaths during last summer’s heat dome across southern B.C.

She notes that in the Interior, summer temperatures well above 30 C can linger for several days, and it doesn’t seem reasonable to move care home residents into common areas every time that happens.

“I will be following up on that as well because there is a focus…whether it’s a refurbishment or a new build, we’ve got to accommodate this air conditioning.”

Interior Health did not respond to a request for comment.



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