Thursday, October 30th8.3°C

Humanitarian passes away

Kelowna lost a great giver over the weekend.

Al Hromek, a former gas station owner, realtor and missionary, passed away over the weekend at the age of 79.

Many will remember Hromek's incredible tale of survival, when he and his wife Ev were trapped under their concrete home, after it was destroyed in the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

They had been in Haiti for about three months teaching Bible, business and English to 60 Haitian pastors and lay pastors.

Upon returning to the Okanagan for medical attention, their first wish was to return to Haiti.

Along with his wife of 55 years, the Hromek’s have travelled to 27 countries in as many years, selflessly giving time, investing and connecting with people.

Al was happy to share his passions of the Vancouver Canucks and BC Lion's with whomever sat on his couch, or hopped in his fishing boat and headed to one of the local lakes with him, especially his grandkids.

And if you knew Al, you know that his number one passion was connecting those ready and open to learn about God in a personal way through Jesus.

His six children and 22 grand children invite you to Al Hromek’s celebration of life is this Saturday Nov 1 at New Life Church at 1 p.m..

The family is asking in lieu of flowers to continue Al's legacy in Haiti and the Philippines through Living Faith Miracle Centre

A roller derby Halloween contest

The Okanagan Roller Derby Association is giving two lucky readers a chance to join them at one the best Halloween parties in Kelowna!

If you are over 19 and want to party with the derby gals, send your best 'caption' for the photo above to [email protected] for your chance to win the tickets. 

Friday morning we will announce the winner and the tickets will be waiting for you at the Castanet office that afternoon. 

The fourth annual party rocks the Laurel Packinghouse Saturday evening and promises...

- DJ (lots of dancing!)
- costume contest
- candy station
- Tree Brewing 
- Squeezed Wines

For more info on the event check out their Facebook event page here. 


Rec Centre pool reopens

UPDATE 2:50 P.M. OCT 29

The Parkinson Recreation Centre main pool has now re-opened.

A reduction in water clarity was caused by a mechanical malfunction that affected the pool’s filtration system. The issue has been resolved and City staff will continue to monitor the equipment. The closure was necessary to maintain a clean and safe facility.

Some swim lessons and aquatic fitness classes are still cancelled for today until the pool temperature regulates. City staff will contact those customers affected. The pool schedule can be viewed on the City website. 

The City of Kelowna is temporarily closing the Parkinson Recreation Centre’s main pool for maintenance due to water clarity.

This closure will only affect the main pool.

The children’s pool, whirlpool and steam room will remain open.

Swim lessons and aquatic fitness classes are cancelled at this time and those customers affected will be contacted by Parkinson Recreation Centre staff.

Staff is working on the issue and will resolve it as soon as possible. Updates will be provided on the City website.

Christmas display goes up on ...

The very popular Christmas light display will be returning to Kerry Park this holiday season.

Rotary Clubs of Kelowna have announced the display, called the Festival of Lights will be turned on Saturday, Dec. 6 following a program sponsored by the Downtown Kelowna Association.

The light display will remain lit until Jan. 1, 2015.

The Lights will be staffed daily from dusk to 11 p.m. by Rotarians with some special programs on stage on chosen nights to be announced later.

The Festival of Lights is made possible by local business who are sponsoring specific displays. 

These include Telus Corp. Flightcraft, Kelowna Rockets, FortisBC & Argus Properties.

Sponsorship is still available for various other displays.

The city of Kelowna is assisting with more electrical upgrades and other expenses incurred by the Rotary Clubs this year.

Residents who may want to assist with display setup, supervision or takedown are asked to contact supervising Rotary member, Lockie at 250-869-5432.

Last year was the first year for the display in Kerry Park.

The display was donated to the Rotary clubs by West Kelowna resident, Jerry Budnick.

Kelowna teen missing

Kelowna RCMP are requesting the public’s assistance in locating a missing Kelowna resident.

Jaiden Barber-Schrader was last seen Oct. 19. There is nothing to indicate foul play at this time.

Barber-Schrader is described as:

  • Caucasian female
  • 15 years
  • 5 ft 3 in (160 cm)
  • 104 lbs (47 kg)
  • blonde hair
  • blue eyes

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Jaiden Barber-Schrader is urged to contact their local police.

Remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477, leaving a tip online at or by texting your tip to CRIMES (274637) ktown.

Centennial Park sale official

The sale of Centennial Park to the City of Kelowna in exchange for an extension of Shepherd Road was made official Monday afternoon.

The sale was made possible earlier this month when the membership of the Rutland Park Society voted 71 per cent in favour of the deal.

As part of the sale the City will take over ownership of the dilapidated park and make an immediate infusion of $800,000 which will go towards revitalizing the 47-year-old Centennial Hall.

A further $400,000 will be spent by the City to improve the park in the short term.

"As you know this is a very important park in the core of Rutland which is need of some attention, TLC and some investment," says Land Development Manager, Graeme Hood.

"The City's parks department is again working through the plan for that initial capital investment but believe these funds can greatly improve the condition of the park in the short term."

Hood says the agreement between the City and the society states Centennial Park will remain a park in perpetuity.

Work on the park in expected to begin in the spring of next year.

Hood says a further $50,000 will be required for yearly maintenance of the park with construction of additional amenities such as soccer fields, community garden, playground and other features being undertaken as funds become available.

In exchange for the park the City gets the roadway extension it sought in order to extend Shepherd Road through to Rutland Road.

Hood estimates the cost of that extension at about $2.1M with the timing of construction dependent on funding.

Councillor Colin Basran, who along with Councillor Gerry Zimmermann, helped spearhead the sale, says it is a great deal for the Rutland community.

Basran believes this deal, the Roxby Market project and the new transit exchange on Shepherd Road will bring immediate improvement to the Rutland Town Centre.

"What I think is most important is this agreement will help put people back in the park which is the most important part of this entire exercise," says Basran.

"Now, outside of a couple of days of the year, this park is not used at all. I'm just excited to see people are going to be using this park and I think we all look forward to attending future Rutland May Days' festivities and other great events in the park that we can all be proud of."

CUPE, City reach deal

After months of negotiations, talk breakdowns and little movement, CUPE Local 338 and the City of Kelowna have ratified a five-year collective agreement.

“This historic five-year agreement provides fair compensation for employees while enhancing service and operational flexibility,” says Stu Leatherdale, Director of Human Resource & Corporate Performance.

“The annual increases are in line with collective agreements of similar length reached by other smaller Okanagan municipalities and will help to ensure the City of Kelowna can attract and retain the diverse and skilled work force we’ll need over the next five years.”

The agreement will take effect January 1, 2014 and ends December 31, 2018.

“The new agreement balances the needs of CUPE Local 338 and the City of Kelowna,” says Lee Mossman, CUPE 338 President.

“Our members’ vote of 95 per cent is a strong endorsement of an extended agreement that allows our members to continue take pride in delivering high quality municipal services that contribute to an excellent quality of life for our citizens.”

The new deal will see an increase of two per cent in 2014, 1.5 per cent in 2015, 1.5 per cent in 2016, two per cent in 2017 and 1.5 per cent in 2018 for a total of 8.5 per cent over the five-year period.

CUPE 338 consists of approximately 650 members representing about 75 per cent of the City of Kelowna’s workforce.

CUPE members are responsible for delivering a number of services to citizens requiring expertise ranging from financial analysts to information technology to water quality to urban planning.

Keloha gone, is COG far behind?

One of Kelowna's two big summer music festivals is going by the wayside.

Wet Ape owner, Scott Emslie confirmed today the Keloha Music Festival will not be returning in 2015.

Emslie says his company has asked the mid-July weekend be left open for a new event.

"We are working on bringing an event back on that weekend but it will be a different concept. We are at the brainstorming stage at this point," says Emslie.

"There is definitely nothing concrete...we would just like to find something that will work financially on that weekend. We ran Keloha for three years and it lost money each year."

Emslie says, with the current market conditions, Keloha is not financially viable in Kelowna.

"If we do another event in Kelowna in 2015 it won't compete with Center of Gravity. It won't be a music festival like we had with Keloha. That other event would have a different format," says Emslie.

As for Center of Gravity, Emslie says he will make an official announcement later this week on its immediate future.

"At this point my statement is fairly generic, I'm just saying we're optimistic Center of Gravity will return to Kelowna and it will likely be on the same weekend as it was last year," says Emslie.

"We are still finalizing a few things right now so I'm not at the point where I can officially state whether it is coming back or not."

Center of Gravity lost money in 2014 due mainly to changes centering around security and its move off the August long weekend.

The event did not sell out for the first time, prompting suggestions Center of Gravity would not be back without a return to the long weekend.

Emslie says he has a very strong plan for 2015 and is confident the festival will get back on its feet if they are able to finalize everything with the city.

That, according to Emslie, includes keeping some costs in check.

"It is very expensive to put on these events so one of the things we are working on with the city right now is keeping the costs manageable.

A lot of the bills from the city and from the RCMP have been going up each year. We need to make sure we keep those in check and we keep them at a manageable level. We are not asking not to pay an RCMP bill, we just want to make sure that bill is at a manageable level for us."

He adds a return to the August long weekend is not part of that plan.

Airport takedown

A 35-year-old Alberta man, currently residing in Summerland, faces several charges after the Kelowna International Airport received a threat to an outgoing domestic flight on Saturday afternoon.
On October 25 at 12:24 p.m., the Kelowna RCMP received a report of a possible threat specific to an outbound WestJet flight set to depart from Kelowna International Airport later that afternoon. The aircraft was inbound at the time of the report.

As a precaution it was diverted to a secure location away from the terminal for the ongoing safety of the public, airport personnel, and the facility. The luggage of the outbound flight was also isolated away from the terminal building. Both the luggage and passengers were searched but nothing of concern was located.
An inbound flight, also a WestJet plane, that was not the subject of the threat was also directed away from the terminal. Police believed the WestJet aircraft and the passengers of that flight were never in danger.

The RCMP say, "It was out of an abundance of caution, and for the purposes of the investigation, that the flight was isolated and the passengers and their luggage searched."

Passengers were held in the plane and then on busses for two hours while a police dog searched their luggage Saturday afternoon.

In the press release the RCMP say they would like to thank the affected passengers for their patience and cooperation during the situation.
Through the course of the investigation, a person of interest was identified and taken into custody.
Michael Joseph Howells has since been charged with Uttering Threats, Public Mischief, Possession of a Controlled Substance, Endangering Aircraft by False Information and Mischief.

Howells has an extensive criminal record, he faced the airport charges in court on Monday (Oct. 27). He is due back in court on Dec. 14. 

Witnesses say prior to his arrest Howells was acting suspiciously as he stood in line at Tim Hortons in the airport terminal Saturday afternoon. People heard him yelling at staff and creating a scene.



Foerster returns to court

Lawyers for Matthew Foerster were back in court Monday on two outstanding matters facing the man already convicted of first degree murder.

In April of this year, Foerster was sentenced to life in prison with no eligibility of parole in the Oct. 31 murder of 18-year-old Taylor Van Diest.

He is currently appealing that conviction.

Monday, lawyers were in Supreme Court in Kelowna to fix a date on charges stemming from two other incidents Foerster is alleged to have taken part in a decade ago.

Foerster is charged with Break and Enter, Assault and Unlawful Confinement relating to a home invasion in Cherryville in Oct. of 2004 and Sexual Assault and Unlawful Confinement from an incident inside the Garden of Eden on Lawrence Avenue in Kelowna in April of 2005.

According to Crown Prosecutor, Iain Currie, Foerster has re-elected to have the case heard in Provincial Court rather than Supreme Court.

A date for that appearance is now scheduled to be set on Friday.

Outside the courtroom, Currie says he expects a half day hearing to take place sometime in December or January.

Currie wouldn't comment on the nature of the hearing other than to say the ball is in Mr. Foerster's hands.

He says Foerster could elect to plead guilty at that time or have the cases held over for trial.

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