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Crime rate falls 13 per cent

Kelowna is no longer the crime capital of Canada.

Figures released by Statistics Canada Wednesday morning show the crime rate in Kelowna fell 13 per cent in 2013 to 7,680 police reported crimes per 100,000 population.

The crime severity index, which assigns weighted values based on the severity of each crime, also fell 12 per cent in the Kelowna metropolitan area, to 92.6.

The metropolitan stretches from Peachland to Oyama.

A year ago, Kelowna had the number one crime rate in Canada with many crime categories showing a major upward trend while nationally and in most metropolitan areas, the rate fell, in many areas, significantly.

Regina and Saskatoon finished one/two in Canada in both crime rate and crime severity index.

The lowest crime rate in Canada can be found in Toronto with just 2,41 crimes reported per 100,000 population, nearly 5,000 fewer than in Kelowna.

Nationally, the crime rate fell eight per cent to 5,190 reported crimes per 100,000 people while the crime severity index fell nine per cent to 68.7.

BC is third in the country with 7,454 crimes reported per 100,000 people (down six per cent) and a crime severity index of 89.2 (also down six per cent).

Only Saskatchewan, Manitoba and the three territories have higher crime rates than BC.

Metropolitan Kelowna has by far the highest crime rate and crime severity index in BC.

The city reported nearly 800 more crimes per 100,000 people than Vancouver and nearly 1,600 more than Abbotsford/Mission.

One year ago, incoming RCMP Supt. Nick Romanchuk was about to take over a detachment with the number one crime rate in Canada.

At the time Romanchuk has stated his goal was to ensure the greater Kelowna area was never again mentioned in a StatsCan report on crime unless it was for being recognized for significant improvements.



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Scooter crashes into light post

A woman is in hospital after crashing her scooter at the intersection of Richter and Doyle Wednesday morning.

The incident happened just before 9 a.m., after the woman, who was headed north on Richter, tried to make a left turn onto Doyle.

Her kickstand, which was down on the scooter, caught the pavement and sent the rider into a light post.

Cst. Brydon says the victim, a 50-year-old Kelowna woman, complained of back pain and a hurt ankle.

No other vehicles were involved.



Kelowna teen missing

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

Jasmine Jobin was last seen July 15th, 2014.

Since her disappearance, police have followed up on several leads and possible sightings, however she remains missing.

Jobin is described as:

  • First Nations female
  • 14 years
  • 5 ft 3 in (160 cm)
  • 110 lbs (50 kg)
  • Slender build
  • Long brown hair
  • Brown eyes

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Jasmine Jobin is urged to contact their local police, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).



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Balcony fire spreads to attic

Update -- 7:30 p.m.

Kelowna fire crews say they saw black smoke billowing out of the townhouse upon arriving at the scene on Mills Road. 

The fire had begun to extend into the eaves, but was quickly knocked down and all smoke damage was contained to a single unit in the 8-plex.

There were no injuries and no pets were caught up in the fire. All other residents were allowed to return to the building except for one person who lived in the unit affected by the blaze. 

KFD responded with 2 Engines, Ladder truck, 1 Rescue truck, and a command vehicle. 14 personnel in total responded to the scene with assistance from BCAS, RCMP, and Fortis Electrical.

The fire does not appear to be suspicious and the cause of the fire is unknown at this time. Kelowna Fire department fire investigators are on the scene to determine the cause of fire.


Original story -- 5:15 p.m.

A unit on the top floor of a two-story apartment building on Mills Road caught fire Tuesday afternoon.

Kelowna fire crews managed to get on the scene quickly and attack the blaze from the outside with a hose.

“Engine three came in and hit the fire quickly with the hose. They were able to knock it down enough for the ground attack team to go in and ensure it did not spread further,” say Fire Captain Eric Simpson, who adds the fire is contained to the one top floor unit.

Simpson says as far as they can tell, the fire started on the balcony and spread into the attic.  At this time they do not know what started the fire on the balcony but say no one was home and no pets or animals were inside.

As for fire damage, Simpson says it is not too extensive.

“The ceiling was ripped out for at least 10-feet as it did spread into the attic but the damage should not be too bad.”

Fire investigators are on their way to determine a cause.



Stolen truck recovered

A 37-year-old Grand Prairie, AB man is facing an auto theft charge after police recovered a stolen vehicle while investigating a report of a possible impaired driver overnight.
 
Shortly before 1 a.m., Kelowna RCMP received a report of a possible impaired driver leaving the area of Eldorado Road.

According to witnesses, the driver had difficulty starting the Dodge pickup before leaving the scene.

Police located the truck on Lexington Drive at Gordon Drive where they initiated a traffic stop.

The driver was found to be sober but he was taken into custody as police were quick to discover that the vehicle had been stolen from a Biggar Road home on July 5.
 
Ryan Phillip Lessoway has been charged with Theft of Motor Vehicle and is expected to appear in Court sometime today.



Gangsters told to beat it

No longer on August long weekend, Kelowna’s biggest music festival is still expected to draw a large crowd from families, to teens, to unsavoury characters.

Gang members are presumed to arrive in the city this week in anticipation for Centre of Gravity (COG) and RCMP announced Monday that they will be out in full force looking for those who may be criminally involved.

“Gangsters are not wanted in Kelowna,” Cst. Kris Clark says.

The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of BC (CFSEU-BC) is the largest integrated policing agency in the province, and their sole focus is to target those who commit gang violence in communities. The CFSEU-BC alongside Kelowna RCMP will be at COG to enhance public safety initiatives during the upcoming weekend.

Sgt. Lindsey Houghton, with CFSEU-BC, says his team will join RCMP on the waters of Okanagan lake to enforce boating safety rules.

“We will be on the water to ensure those gangsters and their associates who may look to be avoiding police scrutiny and doing their dirty business on the water, will not do that. We will be there and we will  be watching you,” says Houghton.

While no gang violence is anticipated during the COG weekend, CFSEU-BC will be in town and will make their presence known according to Houghton.

Clark says while this weekend will be different than years past due to the change in date of the festival, he anticipates there will be the same issues as last year with gang members.

“We will have a zero tolerance for criminal activity,” explains Clark. “Our specialized units together with Combined Forces members will (work) to readily identify and target essentially gang members who come to Kelowna.”

Both Clark and Houghton recognize that gang members come from all over BC and Alberta to vacation in Kelowna, and during last year’s festival Clark says there was a proliferation of drug trafficking in the city.

“We have had a great relationship with the organizer (of COG), although you can’t stop every gang member from coming into a special event like that, you can put certain restrictions on them, in the searches that are being conducted to displaying of gang paraphernalia,” says Clark.

According to police most of the drug trafficking during the festival weekend happens outside the COG grounds.

Gang members who are expected to arrive in the city are known to CFSEU-BC by name, and gangsters know the officers names. However, police wouldn’t comment on which gangs members or how many will be present over the weekend, Houghton says it is just assumed gangsters will be in town.

“We use every single law, whether it is federal, provincial or common law duties at our disposal to let them know they are not welcome here,” explains Houghton.

The CFSEU-BC member goes on to say that it was only a few years ago in 2011, that one of the most violent gang related murders and attempted murders in BC’s history happened in Kelowna at the Delta Grand Hotel.

“I don’t think anyone here would have thought that the Grand Hotel in Kelowna would have been where the murder of Jonathan Bacon would have happened, but it did,” Houghton says. “We are here to not only prevent something like that from happening again but serve notice to gang members who might think to come to a place like Kelowna, that they better think twice - we are waiting for you.”

Houghton and Clark want the public to know they are prepared for the weekend and that if gang members so much as jay walk they will be stopped.

CFSEU-BC will also be present during Penticton’s Boonstock festival on the August long weekend, and will employ the same tactics used at the COG event alongside local RCMP members.

 

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Interior Health website back

UPDATE 4:30 P.M. 

The Interior Health website is back up and running after a weekend power surge caused damage to their systems. 

According to Interior Health they are still dealing with some computer program issues and technicians remain on site working on the problem. Communications Officer Grace Kucey says they hope to have all their systems fully functional as soon as possible this evening. 


ORIGINAL:

The Interior Health website and computer programs are down across the board Monday morning after a weekend power surge caused problems.

“We experienced power surges over the weekend at the main data centre in Kelowna which resulted in electrical damage,” explains Communications Officer Grace Kucey.

She says all their computer systems are impacted, including their main website and some telephone systems. They are aware of the problem and have their technical crews working on fixing the issue.

Health services are still being provided.

As it stands they do not know or have an estimate on when the systems will be fully restored.



Sun Rype revamped

There is something new pouring at Sun Rype.

It is something a little healthier, with less sugar but no compromise on taste which is exactly what consumers are looking for, according to Marketing Manager of Food, Barb Broder.

“Some of the new products we are working on are a new brand called Frullo, and this is great for everyone in the family,” says Broder. “It’s 50 per cent less calories, and less sugar and it’s sweetened with a natural sweetener called Stevia.”

Another recently launched brand is Slim, Sun Rype’s answer to a super low calorie beverage at 10 calories per serving.

Enhanced nutrition and eating for better health has been an area of exploration for Sun Rype, explains Broder.

“We’ve launched a new brand called FruitActiv, and it has a range of snack bars as well as juices in that brand,” she says. “We have a brand that has Lutein in it which is called ‘bright eyes’. Lutein is beneficial in helping your eyes and eye health as you age.”

Sun Rype is also diving into the energy bar sector, with a new product, called Okanagan Energy. It is made with pea protein, a plant based protein that is easy to digest without some of the allergen issues associated with other proteins.

As it turns out, Sun Rype isn’t only revamping it’s health benefits it has also undergone a face lift, and revealed a new look.

Dave McAnerney, President and CEO of Sun Rype, says after two years of compiling consumer research the old tetra paks have been revamped into a better Elopak.

“We are excited because it is really the first of its kind in North America, it has improved functionality over the previous pak that we ran, it has a larger opening and it is resealable. Consumers were telling us ‘we like the package, it has environmental benefits but it would be nice if it was resealable’.”

Taking Okanagan fruit on a bit of twist, Sun Rype is also releasing a type of adult alternative juice, Rider Cider.

Launched one month ago by Sun Rype in collaboration with Big Surf brewing, McAnerney says the partnership is a great marriage of different skill sets.

“We saw a significant growth in the cider business, as a major apple processer in both Washington state and Canada, we got a whole lot of requests for apple juice from cider companies so we thought this might be a great opportunity for Sun Rype to do more with Okanagan fruit.”

Sun Rype has been working on these new products for over 18 months to improve their growth strategy which is taking place right here in Kelowna.

“We have made a recent investment of seven million dollars to put in a new juice filling line,” says McAnerney. “I think it really shows our commitment and for anyone who wonders where we are operating, it is a strong reminder that we are still right here in Kelowna. We haven’t moved to Toronto or Vancouver like rumours ‘suggest’.”

Sun Rype has been in operation for 68 years and employes over 300 workers locally. 

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Tattoo show draws thousands

The 2014 Okanagan Tattoo show brought thousands of people of all ages to the Parkinson Recreation Centre this past weekend. 

Organizers say the second annual event is all about breaking down stereotypes and showcasing art and artists.

Danielle Crowe of Don't Look Down Tattoo organizes the event. She said it's important to her because she wanted to bring all the artists from the Okanagan together. 

"I wanted to bring all the artists to Kelowna because I wanted to showcase how beautiful the Okanagan is," she said. "We want to show people about the culture of tattooing. There's a lot more than just doing tattoos, it's about breaking down cultural barriers."

Art Szabo, who ran media for the show, said they've stepped up everything at the show compared to last year. 

"It's a learning process and it's a growing event," he said. Last year they brought in around 3,000 people. 

This year, not including web sales, Saturday alone saw at least 700 tickets sold. And it wasn't only the heavily tattooed and pierced people in attendance.

"We want to break down the social stereotypes around tattooing and make people realize it can be a family friendly thing," said Szabo. "Obviously you're going to get the tattoo afficionados, but you're also going to get people that have thought about it and now are taking the plunge." 

Sunday was a kid-oriented day -- the Okanagan Boys and Girls club set up a bouncy castle, there was also kids (fake) tattoo stations, face painting, caricature drawings, sidewalk chalk, animal balloons, twister, tae-kwon-do and break dancers.

Artists attending the show came from the Okanagan and Vancouver Island, but also from as far away as Winnipeg, Tahiti and Germany.

Terence Smith who ran the production of the event said tattooing is about self expression. 

"The old stigma of it being only for outlaw bikers is not a thing anymore. First and foremost it's a form of self-expression," he said. "My question to people is: 'do you have art on your walls?' if they say yes, that's what tattoos are for me."

Bobby Tripp from Black & Blue tattoo in Nanaimo was halfway through a tattoo when the power went out Saturday night. 

"We were part way through and the power went out," he said. "Thankfully I was able to track him down (the client) when it came back on." 

Rob Noseworthy is the owner of Black & Blue tattoo and this is his second year at the Okanagan show. He comes to the event because he has a lot of friends in the area and says it's a well run show. 

"You don't see many shows that are all about tattooing and don't have a bunch of vendors in here at the same time," he said. "I like that about it."



Power restored in Kelowna

Fortis just said power is being restored to some customers in Kelowna. 

A reader said power has been restored by the Verve residences.


There is a widespread power outage in Kelowna. 

Saturday's windy conditions brought trees down on power lines in West Kelowna and in Kelowna as well. Fortis confirmed winds caused a tree to contact a power line and bring several areas offline.

Fortis said they have a crew en route to Central Kelowna and are working on bringing people back online.

BC Hydro said their issue is around Parkinson Recreation Centre, which is hosting the Okanagan Tattoo show this weekend. 

BC Hydro said an estimated 200 customers are out of power. However, Castanet has heard that outages spread from downtown, up Glenmore and into the Dilworth area. 

Twitter user @SilentOps70 said "a transformer blew near Powick rd & Hwy 97. Crews aware.”

More to come.

If you are experiencing the outage or have pictures of wind damage send them to [email protected]

This is an unconfirmed video of trees hitting a power line near the Audi dealership on Highway 97 in Kelowna.

Contributed Jen Fairholm
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