'Hey, bear!'

A Kelowna resident walking behind homes near Clifton Road and Magic Drive had an interesting wildlife encounter on Friday.

A small bear was spotted in the hills where the man was walking. He captured the interaction on camera, and can be heard yelling, "Hey, bear."

However, the bear wants nothing to do with him and quickly runs away.

Send your wildlife videos to [email protected]


Geezer tests his limits

Geezer might be ready before his time, but this downhill dummy won’t be headed to an early grave thanks to his creators who’ve tested his limits.

The dummy downhill doesn’t take place until next year at Big White, but inventor Trent James is taking the race seriously.

James gathered his friends at City Park on Thursday to test out his dummy on grass.

“I saw the downhill dummy race this year and I thought I could build a dummy, so I took the last two months building him,” said James. “I thought we need to test him somehow, so instead of going on snow I’ll test him on grass.”

Aptly named Geezer, after the team who built him, the wooden stick figure sits atop a saw horse on skis.

“Some of the people in our group call us geezers, we don’t really call ourselves that, but he looks like a geezer like the people he skis with,” said James.

The ski group consists of 13 members between the ages of 66 and 80 years old who are avid winter enthusiasts.

Jeff Higa helped design and test Geezer. He says the dummy is easy to turn thanks to a remote that controls Geezer’s movements.

“You have to plan ahead and kind of swing out. You can’t just make a sudden movement,” Higa explained. “He is quite hard (to pull), well maybe if you’re a better runner, but for a 200-yard course it’s quite hard.”

James and his pals designed a course in the park and took the 40-pound Geezer on several test runs.

Now Geezer’s inventor must just wait until the snow falls again so the real race can begin and for anyone else thinking of entering next year’s dummy downhill they better be prepared.

$145K boat recovered

Recovered undamaged, the boat stolen from Banner Recreation on Monday is on its way back to the Okanagan.

RCMP recovered the $145,000 boat and trailer from the Abbotsford area.

Cpl. Jeff Carroll says the Kelowna RCMP Prolific Offender Suppression Team (POST), which is part of the Street Enforcement Unit, hit the streets, worked extensively to develop leads and spent countless man hours on this investigation, which spanned multiple jurisdictions.

“As a result of contacts with several known prolific offenders in the Kelowna area and throughout the Southeast District, POST successfully tracked the stolen vessel to the Lower Mainland.”

Carrol explains the boat appears not to be damaged or altered.

"It was seized by the RCMP and turned over to a company affiliated with Banner Recreation in the Lower Mainland for arrangements to be made for its eventual return to Kelowna."

The boat was taken from Banner Recreation about 9:30 a.m. on June 20. Video surveillance of the theft captured a suspect tow the boat and trailer away from the business.


7 years for bus murder

UPDATED: 1 p.m.

The brother of Caesar Rosales says his entire family has been let down by the Canadian justice system, after his brother’s killer was given a seven-year sentence Friday for the unprovoked slaying.

Ceasar Rosales, 55, was stabbed in the neck from behind by Tyler Newton on a Kelowna bus behind the Dilworth Shopping Centre on Oct. 30, 2014.

Rosales bled out on the bus, dying before paramedics could arrive.

After the attack, Newton fled the bus, threw his knife in some bushes and ran to his girlfriend’s house on Hein Road in Rutland. He was arrested at the home the following evening.

Justice Heather Holmes gave Newton a seven-year sentence for the attack, after Newton pleaded guilty to manslaughter on Wednesday.

Newton, dressed in a red prison-issued sweatshirt, kept his head down, staring at the floor for most of the proceedings, only looking up briefly when addressed by the judge.

Newton’s parents, who live in Alberta, and brother were in the courtroom Friday.

During sentencing, Holmes said Newton's sentence must be severe enough to discourage others from committing similar crimes, but she didn’t agree with the Crown that Newton’s crime was among the more “morally blame worthy” as other so-called  “near-murder” manslaughter cases.

“While Mr. Newton’s offence involved shocking violence, the violence was not prolonged or the very extreme, brutal type,” Holmes said.

Additionally, Holmes said that none of Newton’s prior 50 convictions were violent.

A psychologist’s report of Newton found that he had committed the attack on Rosales while in a state of psychosis caused by a long period of heavy drug use, including heroin use on the day of the murder.

“He had grand hallucinations and paranoid, grandiose delusions,” Holmes’ said, reading the doctor’s report during sentencing.

Holmes stressed the fact that Newton was still very much responsible for his actions while under a self-induced intoxicated state.

Darwin Rosales, Caesar’s brother, is skeptical of Newton’s psychosis, and believes his brother was targeted by Newton.

“The window of opportunity for escape is very short and could only be carried out with nerves of steel in military-like style movements, that require full mental consciousness, not by temporary mental disorder,” Darwin said after sentencing.

“He didn’t want a square settlement outside the bus … that’s how we settle things in my country. He simply wanted a far superior advantage.”

While Newton had apologized to Darwin Thursday, Darwin, who had travelled from the Philippines for his brother’s trial, wasn’t buying it.

“When the convicted killer asked for forgiveness he did not maintain eye contact to who he was asking forgiveness to,” Darwin said. “Besides, he stressed the fact that he just wanted to get his life back. My brother cannot be put back to life.

Newton has served 602 days in jail since he was arrested, but was given credit for time and a half. He was therefore given credit for 903 days served, and will serve another 4.5 years behind bars.

 ORIGINAL: 11:16 a.m.

A B.C. Supreme Court judge has sentenced Tyler Jack Newton, 26, to seven years in prison for the manslaughter of a Kelowna bus passenger who was minding his own business.

The sentence was handed down in a Kelowna courtroom on Friday, just days after Newton pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of 55-year-old Caesar Rosales – who was stabbed while taking the No. 8 bus home from work on Oct. 30, 2014. Rosales bled to death.

Newton had pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder.

Due to time already served, Newton has approximately 4.5 years left to serve.

Castanet will have further details from the sentencing hearing as they become available.

$2.5M for research

Twelve researchers at UBC's Okanagan campus will benefit from millions of dollars in federal research grants.

Biologists, engineers, statisticians, chemists and a number of grad students have been granted a total of $2.5 million from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

The awards are part of $465 million handed out Thursday, mostly for research discovery programs.

“We are very pleased with the success of our faculty in this latest round of funding,” said Phil Barker, vice-principal of research at UBCO. “This reflects outstanding work from our researchers and the strong upward trajectory of research on this campus."

The UBCO researchers come from both the School of Engineering and the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences.

As well, Kyle Larson, an assistant professor who teaches Earth and Environmental Sciences and Physical Geography, was awarded a prestigious three-year Discovery Accelerator grant, which will assist in his structural geological research focused on plate tectonics.

Canada Graduate scholarships totaling more than $733,000 were also handed out.

The Discovery grants support ongoing research projects with long-term goals, said research council president B. Mario Pinto.

“Discoveries build the necessary foundation for an innovative, prosperous and sustainable society,” said Pinto. “A diversified and high-quality research base requires us to provide equality of opportunity across gender and culture. Bringing together multiple points of view strengthens our science, technology and innovation ecosystem and extends its many benefits more equally.”

Lots of ways to give time

For those looking for volunteer opportunities this summer, Kelowna is the place to be.

Outdoor events abound in Kelowna, and range from athletic events to food fairs to cultural celebrations.

Volinspire, a new online platform used to organize volunteer positions, lists many of these opportunities in Kelowna.

“The first year that my husband and I volunteered at the Apple Triathlon, we were struck by how appreciative the athletes were to the volunteers for making the event possible,” said Kate Ormond. “Athletes were thanking us all weekend, some even as they were running their race! It really hit us how vital volunteers are to successful events.”

Events needing volunteer positions this summer include Canada Day celebrations on July 1, Arts on the Avenue on July 28 and the Apple Triathlon from Aug. 19-21.

Mayor in drag for ball

Kelowna’s mayor will be hitting the stage as his drag alter-ego, Mayor Sugarplum, at the inaugural Sugarplum Ball in July.

Mayor Colin Basran publicly accepted his nomination to dress in drag at the event at the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce’s annual Top 40 Under 40 Wrap-Up party Thursday night.

Earlier this month, Basran took to Facebook to explain the event’s name.

“When city council made the right decision to paint rainbow crosswalks downtown, an intolerant resident of our community took to online forums and would refer to me as 'Mayor Sugarplum,’” he wrote. “Little did this person know that while they thought they were insulting me, I actually found it quite humorous and I was kind of flattered! My friends from the Okanagan Pride Society thought we could have some fun with it, and with that, the Sugarplum Ball was born!”

The event’ theme, "We are one," shows unity with the recent mass shooting at a gay bar in Orlando.

“As our community and it's allies come together to show unity, support and love, we promise to not let those lives be lost in vain." said Sydney Lawson, Okanagan Pride Society president. "We will continue to work towards education, tolerance, acceptance and equality. We will celebrate and honour all lives regardless of their sexual orientation, gender, race or religion because all lives matter." 

The ball takes place at the Rotary Centre for the Arts on July 9, starting at 8 p.m. Tickets for the event can be found here, and all proceeds go to the Okanagan Pride Society.

Hotel to affordable housing

In an effort to combat homelessness in Kelowna, the province, along with the federal government, has bought the old Kelowna Econo Lodge and will turn it into affordable housing.

The governments invested a combined $5 million to buy and renovate the property, which will create 44 self-contained units for people with low income.

"We welcome this addition to the City of Kelowna's spectrum of housing options for people who don't have a permanent place to live, or are at  risk of being homeless,” said Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran. “It's another great example of governments working together to fund solutions for new affordable housing options in Kelowna."

The units, located at 1780 Gordon Drive, will be owned by the province and operated by BC Housing.

Onsite staff will help tenants find service providers and other support.

The building is expected to be ready for tenants by next fall. 

Driving good 'carma'

The Carma Project will be roaring to new heights this year with three vehicles to give away.

For the first time, The Carma Project has the opportunity to help two families and one individual.

The cars will be given away Monday, June 27, at 1 p.m. at Integra Tire, 2160 Enterprise Way. (The corner of Dilworth and Enterprise.)

Bruce Stranaghan, of Integra Tire, said it is a thrill to be able to benefit someone in such a way and he would “do it every day if I could.”

The three cars to be given away Monday will bring to 12 the number that have been donated since the Carma Project began in 2010.

Stranaghan said he and his wife, Penny, wanted to give back to the community and giving away cars seemed like the perfect fit for their business.

Information on how to donate a car can be found on the Carma Project website.

Stranaghan said Integra Tire technicians go over each vehicle that is donated to ensure they are in good running order before they are given away.

Lordco often provides any needed parts at a substantial discount and the day before the cars are given away, Bubbles Car Wash details the vehicles.

“We put quite a bit of time and money into them,” he said.

Prior to being handed the keys, the recipients are taken to a salon to have their hair and makeup done before a limo takes them to Integra Tire where they will receive a variety of gifts and their car.

Stranaghan said organizers work with a variety of local charitable organizations to determine who will receive a vehicle.

“They just need a little bit of help,” he said.

Friends rally around biker

Dozens of one man’s friends have rallied around him after he sustained serious injuries in a motorcycle accident last Saturday.

James, a 30-year-old Lake Country man, was travelling south on Highway 97 in Lake Country on a black Honda motorcycle when he lost control and was ejected from the bike over an embankment.

He was found unconscious at the scene.

Several bystanders, including an off-duty nurse, performed CPR on him, until he was taken to the hospital in critical condition.

As of Monday, he remained in the intensive care unit.

A GoFundMe page has raised over $3,600 in just two days for James. The page states he will be off work indefinitely as he recovers and he will face financial concerns. 

“With tremendous strength and surrounded by love, James is still with us,” reads the GoFundMe page. “Emotions have shifted from heart wrenching despair to hope and concern for the future. Recovery will be a long and challenging road. Among the challenges are financial concerns.”

Thirty-two people had donated to James’ cause by Thursday evening. 

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