Betty's 100th birthday

Madison Erhardt

Kelowna's Betty McKenzie has made it to triple digits.

McKenzie turned 100 on Monday. When asked what her secret is to living such a long and happy life, she said: "I keep well, and I'm healthy. I've got friends here, and the people that serve me are friends. I have got a good family and they have helped me along the way."

McKenzie has been blessed with nine grandchildren. 

"She has been very, very active. I think that has helped her a lot as she has gotten older. She has good friends, a lot of faith, and good genes," Valerie McKenzie, her daughter-in-law said.

Betty will be partying all week.

"We plan on celebrating by going out to dinner, and then on Saturday a number of her relatives will be getting together to do some more partying," said Valerie. 

"She has told all her kids to simply live an honest life, a motto she holds near and dear to her heart," she added. 


Perimeter road is a go

A controversial road project in Kelowna's Mission district has got the go-ahead.

The city revealed the results, Tuesday, of the alternative approval process for the South Perimeter Road and Gordon Drive extension.

The number of petitioners opposed to the project was 120, or about 0.62 per cent of electors. Ten per cent opposition (10,909 residents) was required to defeat the development cost charge agreement, prior to March 16.

This makes way for the accelerated construction of the roadworks.

City council will review an authorization bylaw on March 26.

Funding is limited to a maximum of $10.763 million.

Spring is upon us

Madison Erhardt

Tuesday marks the official first day of spring, but the Okangan will see temperatures below seasonal averages for most of the week.

Today should reach a high of 10 C with a mix of sun and cloud and a 30 per cent chance of showers later this afternoon.

Tuesday through Friday, Environment Canada forecasts highs of 7 to 8 C, with cloudy skies and showers.

The weekend is looking spring-like, however.

Saturday and Sunday should see highs of 11 C and a mix of sun and cloud.

With spring rains and melting snow, potential flooding is top of mind for many.

Meteorologist Armel Castlellan describes the best-case scenario Mother Nature could give.

"Best-case scenario is although there is a higher than normal snowpack, the hope is that it gets melted in a sequential way without having strong rain on snow events," Castlellan said.

A gradually warming spring would also prevent the chance for significant flooding.

"The ripening of the snowpack happens gradually, as opposed to all at once in May or June," he added.


Cops busy with drunks

Kelowna RCMP issued dozens of tickets and removed 14 alleged impaired drivers and two prohibited drivers from the streets overnight on St. Patrick's Day.

At a check stop in Rutland early Sunday, an "officer detected an odour of liquor" on the breath of the driver of a blue GMC van "and noted additional signs and symptoms, which led him to believe that the driver’s ability to safely operate his motor vehicle may be affected by alcohol,” said Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey.

The driver failed a roadside breathalyzer test.

“The officer then provided the driver with another demand and transported him to the local detachment where he provided samples of his breath in excess of the legal limit,” said O’Donaghey.

A further investigation showed the alleged impaired driver was a prohibited driver, stemming from a previous impaired driving incident.

A 24-year-old Kelowna man was issued an additional driving prohibition and faces potential criminal charges.

He is expected to appear in court on June 6.

Wild ride, wild takedown

UPDATE: 12:50 p.m.

An off-duty police officer took a suspect into custody Monday morning, following a wild string of crashes that began with a stolen truck in Armstrong.

Police say the white Ford F-150 was involved in a string of hit-and-run collisions between Lake Country and Kelowna before the arrest was made in Rutland.

About 6:30 a.m., Kelowna RCMP began to receive numerous reports about an erratic and dangerous driver who fled the scene of a rollover collision on Highway 97, near Beaver Lake Road.

As calls poured in, an off duty officer witnessed the driver commit another offence.

The suspect fled from the truck on the 400 block of Gerstmar Road, and got into a physical struggle with the officer.

Police have confirmed the truck was reported stolen from Armstrong.

Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey says police are interviewing a dozen witnesses and victims.

Officers have yet to positively identify the young adult male in custody, who could face several charges. 

Any additional witnesses are asked to call Kelowna RCMP at 250-762-3300.

UPDATE: 10 a.m.

A Castanet reader is providing more detail on a scary road rage incident this morning.

The eyewitness who has requested anonymity out of fear the driver may come looking for him, says he saw the beginning of the incident, just before 6:30 a.m., at the border of Kelowna and Lake Country.

A newer, white Ford pickup apparently "plowed through cars at the intersection of Beaver Lake Road and Highway 97 and then used the left-turn lane to pass everyone and run through the red light."

The witness says farther down the road, there was a line of smashed cars along with a trailer with a side-by-side quad flipped over in the middle of the highway.

"Not sure how it started, but that white Ford was doing everything it could to make his getaway," he said, "dragging car parts down the road, and his passenger side door was almost ripped right off."

This incident was also witnessed by multiple Castanet readers. If you witnessed the event you are also asked to contact the RCMP.

ORIGINAL: 8:12 a.m.

An incident of road rage looks like it ended in a break down near Leathead and Hollywood roads in Kelowna this morning.

Emergency crews responded to a hit and run incident that allegedly happened just before 8 a.m.

After a collision in which one driver sped off, the other vehicle tried to follow and get a licence plate number, but wound up breaking down near Leathead and Hollywood.

Crews are on scene, eastbound traffic is slow by Ben Lee park as of 8:11 a.m.

Overdoses most in men

The opiate crisis in the Okanagan has been front and centre of late. 

From used syringes showing up in public spaces to an increase of unconfirmed overdoses in Vernon, the issue is touching everyone's lives regardless of socioeconomic background. 

The latest numbers released from Interior Health provide a glimpse of what is happening in our communities. 

Surveillance data is put together by nurses and paramedics and is based on overdoses reported to the Medical Health Officer and do not represent all overdoses that occur in the community.

From March 1, 2017 to February 28, 2018 there were 845 overdoses reported.

The vast majority of reported overdoses were reported in Kelowna (274) Vernon (184) and Penticton (126). The next closest region was Kamloops (82).

While not 100 per cent accurate, the interior health numbers reported seem to support what the B.C. Coroners Service reported earlier in the year — 65 per cent of overdoses reported are occurring in men (550). 

The events reported were broken down to further:

Self Reported Use at Time of Overdose-Using Alone 

  • Alone 258 — 31 per cent
  • Not alone 402 — 48 per cent 
  • Unknown 125 — 15 per cent 
  • Not Answered 60 — 7 per cent 

Self-Reported Drug Use History

  • Daily 270 — 32 per cent 
  • Weekly 103 — 12 per cent 
  • Occasional/Infrequent 174 — 21 per cent 
  • Unknown 238 — 28 per cent 
  • Not Answered 60 — 7 per cent 

Self-Reported Substances Used at Time of OD

  • Heroin 353 — 42 per cent  
  • Illicit Stimulants 168 — 20 per cent

Emergency departments report known or suspected opioid overdoses to the Medical Health Officer.  

An exact count of illicit drug overdoses is not possible from this data; hence, these measures should be considered only an estimate. 

A hair-raising experience

An eight year old Kelowna boy grew his luscious locks for 18 months before cutting his hair for charity.

Chae Turner said it wasn’t easy growing his hair long, but the decision inspired many, including his grandmother, Janet Otto.

The two are donating their hair to Wigs for Kids BC, and Chae's efforts have raised more than $1,390.

The youngster had a big smile across this face after getting his hair cut at First Choice Haircutters on Sunday.

“Now that I have cut my hair, I feel great,” he said. “I'm proud that I didn't quit and I am donating it.”

Otto said she's glad she can help a child battling cancer in this way.

"I'm really happy that I am able to donate my hair to support BC Wigs for Kids with Chae,” she said.

If you want to support the cause, you can do so by visiting this link.

More jobs as tourists loom

The Canadian economy added 15,400 net new jobs last month, bringing the unemployment rate across the nation down to 5.8 per cent.

In the B.C, the jobless rate shrank to 4.7 per cent,  facilitated in part by tourism-industry operators beginning to hire for the busy summer season.

In the Okanagan, tourism operators hungry for qualified help scooped up some of their summer employees at a pair of major job fairs earlier this month.

One saw at least 30 industry operators come together to woo potential employees, while the other aimed to bring at least 100 employees on at a major resort.

Countless companies still in need of help are turning to other avenues.

One of their major outlets is online job postings, especially those that target locals. Castanet’s classified section, for example, currently lists more than 1,400 job openings.

While the positions are spread across a wide breadth of job categories, there are close to 250 hospitality listings.

StatsCan also found average hourly wage growth, which has been scrutinized by the Bank of Canada ahead of interest-rate decisions, stayed solid at 3.1 per cent.

Needles near daycare

Alanna Kelly

UPDATE: 10 a.m.

Numerous people have contacted Castanet expressing concern after numerous needles are being found across the city as snow melts.

One reader said they found needles on the beach in front of the washrooms at City Park on Sunday.

“My son was digging around and it wasn’t far from him,” she said.

Another reader who reached out said they have seen an alarming amount of needles at parks, beaches and outside he daughter’s school in Rutland.

"The needles are showing up everywhere and the kids forget they should not pick up things they see on the ground,” they said. “It’s horrible that people are just throwing these needles away and in places such as beside schools and daycares.”

ORIGINAL: 5 a.m.

A Kelowna resident often finds children toys thrown over the fence of a daycare centre off Lawrence Avenue. He normally tosses them back over so the children can continue to play with them.

Sunday afternoon he saw something in the very spot he would find toys that shocked him.

“I found a syringe and this shell casing from a rifle cartridge within three feet of it, just outside of arm's reach of the fence on the hill side,” he said.

The man who did not want to be identified says he lives in the neighbourhood and fears what would happen if a child could have grabbed the drug paraphernalia.

“Don’t leave it around to hurt innocent people who don’t need to tolerate this,” he said.

He said he believes a child could have used a toy to grab the needles that he picked up and placed in a bag.

“It’s bad enough people have to be using this … but what kind of life are they going to have if they get sick from this and have AIDS at the age of three,” he said.

If you find a needle in the downtown area contact the Downtown Kelowna Association at 250-470-9058 or City of Kelowna Parks if found in parks or public property at 250-469-8503.

Grounded again at YLW

UPDATE: 8:12 p.m.

Passengers stuck at Kelowna International Airport are being told that Flair Airlines is working on a recovery flight, one passenger told Castanet.

"We should have been back in YEG (Edmonton) by 5:30 p.m. After having to turn back a second time they finally announced that they would be 'trying' to get a second plane here ( by 9:30 p.m.) This flight should have stopped in Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, a lot of upset patrons."

The Flair Airlines flight 310 was originally scheduled to depart from YLW at 1:35 p.m. but turned around due to an issue with its landing gear. 

The flight attempted takeoff again a few hours later only to turn around again because of the same landing gear issue.

—with files from Alanna Kelly

UPDATE: 7:32 p.m.

The passengers of a Flair Airlines flight were again deplaned following another issue with the aircraft, a Boeing 737-400. 

Earlier in the afternoon, Flight 310 to Vancouver, took off from YLW before turning around because of an issue with its landing gear.

The plane landed safely. 

After a few hours, the plane was re-boarded and took off, only to have the same issue and quickly landed back at YLW, again. 

Frustrated passengers took to Twitter shortly after the second issue.

@Bingerella Tweeted: 

@FlairAirlines so just landed in #ylw again for THE SECOND TIME. I hope the company is figuring a way for me to get back to #Yeg"

"Depart from #ylw airport heading back to #yeg. Had to do an emergency turn around for mechanical problem. After two hour “diagnostic” we are clear to depart . Only to turn around again for the SAME  PROBLEM."

A YLW spokesperson said the airport is directing questions about the flight to Flair Airlines. 

ORIGINAL 3:14 p.m.


A Flair Airlines Boeing 737-400 landed safely in Kelowna after some tense moments, Sunday.

Flight 310 to Vancouver took off from YLW at 1:35 p.m. and had difficulty retracting its landing gear.

The aircraft circled the valley to burn off fuel while emergency response crews stood by.

The flight landed safely at 2:19 p.m.

Flair Airlines passengers are being re-accommodated by Flair Airlines.

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