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Kelowna lacks job prospects

It may not be a surprise to many locals to hear that Kelowna is one of the hardest places in the entire country to find employment right now.

Our city fell 31 spots in BMO’s February labour market report card — landing in spot 32 out of 33 spots altogether.

Kelowna has dropped from one of the best cities in the country to find a job, to second worst.

Kelowna’s unemployment rate jumped to 7.6 per cent in January, up from three per cent a year earlier.

According to BMO, Kelowna's population grew 1.7 per cent over the last year, but the number of jobs fell 2.2 per cent.

Joining Kelowna in the bottom five are Sudbury, Ont., Windsor, Ont., Saint John, N.B., and Thunder Bay, Ont.

Whereas the top five cities in the country to find work were Guelph, Ont., Regina, Sask., Vancouver, B.C., Quebec City, Que. And Edmonton, Alta.

According to BMO senior economist Robert Kavcic, Canadian employment fell by 5,700 in January, giving back some of the prior month’s solid gain.

The unemployment rate also edged up a tick to 7.2 per cent nationally. 

Interestingly, the two provinces that saw the biggest gains, B.C. and Ontario, are also home to four of the five worst cities to find employment.

“B.C. churned out a modest 1,200 jobs in the month, but the 2.1 per cent year-over-year growth is head and shoulders above the rest of Canada,” writes Kavcic.

He says that both B.C. and Ontario have seen their jobless rates rise in the past year despite firmer job growth, which he says is due to the fact more people are entering the work force.

He says economists have witnessed a stark turnaround in migration flows between B.C. and Alberta in response to better relative job prospects.

“In other words, don’t let the sticky jobless rates fool you—these are the two strongest markets in Canada, and it’s not really even close,” says Kavcic.

All in all the report indicates job prospects in B.C. are good, but not currently in Kelowna.

You can read the full report here.


Teen struck from behind

A local teen is suffering from minor injuries after she was struck from behind and robbed.

The 18-year-old Kelowna woman had just stepped off a transit bus in the Baron Road and Durnin Road area on Sunday at 7:12 p.m. when she was hit from behind.

“She was approached from behind by an unknown suspect and struck over the back of her head, he grabbed a hold of her purse,” explains Const. Jesse O’Donaghey.

“She pleaded with the suspect, saying “Please,” and the suspect threatened further violence. The victim then let go of her purse and the suspect fled on foot with her purse towards Orchard Park Mall.”

“There were no weapons presented or used, it was just physical force from the suspect on to the female victim. She suffered minor injuries and is fully cooperating with police.”

O’Donaghey says the only description they have for the man was that he was Caucasian and wearing a dark-hooded sweatshirt.

“His last known direction of travel was towards the mall on Baron.

O’Donaghey says there is no indication the man was on the bus with her before the attack.

“If you saw anything suspicious in that area at that time, you are urged to contact Kelowna RCMP.”

If you were a witness and have not yet spoken with police, you are asked to contact the Kelowna RCMP at 250-762-3300. Remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477, leaving a tip online at www.crimestoppers.net or by texting your tip to CRIMES (274637) ktown.

O’Donaghey adds that police would like to use this incident to remind the public to 'Be Street Smart' by using the following tips:

  • Keep your head up, stay alert and be aware of your surroundings;
  • Take note of people, businesses and other sources of assistance in the area;
  • Avoid a person or situation which does not feel safe;
  • Plan your route and avoid isolated areas;
  • If a criminal is after your purse or other personal belongings, throw them one way while you run the other way;
  • If you are robbed or assaulted, try your best to take note of what the suspect looks like, what they were wearing, their direction of travel and call police as soon as it’s safe to do so. 

For additional tips visit the BC RCMP website. 

Pantless pervert arrested

For the second time in a matter of weeks, a man has exposed himself to a woman in Kelowna – and police believe the incidents may be related.

Early Sunday morning at 4:11 a.m., a woman was walking in the 1900 block of Pandosy Street when a man wearing no pants approached her.

“Police have learned that a man had walked up to a woman without any pants on, that he touched himself inappropriately and then invited the woman to touch him as well,” explains Const. Jesse O’Donaghey.

“The 36-year-old Peachland woman was not harmed during the encounter and quickly called police.”

O’Donaghey says she provided officers a detailed description of the suspect who was last seen walking north on Pandosy Street near Park Avenue.

“Police attended the area and located a man matching the suspect’s description who was observed with dishevelled clothing,” says O’Donaghey. “Police positively identified and arrested the 32-year-old Kelowna man.”

That man, who is not known to police, now faces potential charges of committing an indecent act.

O’Donaghey says police are investigating whether the man's actions can be linked to mental health or drug-abuse issues.

The man was later released from custody and is expected to appear in court on April 11.

This is the second incident this month of this kind of attack and police are investigating whether the two are related.

“I am aware of a previous incident where a male had exposed himself to a female and there is definitely a possibility these two incidents are related – and we are investigating both and making those determinations,” says O’Donaghey.

O’Donaghey says policed were also concerned the woman was travelling alone at that time and urges residents of Kelowna to always be 'street smart'.

“If you have to be out that early in the morning plan your route and be aware of your surroundings.”

To help police investigate both incidents they are asking anyone who witnessed this or any other incident, was a victim to this sort of incident or has information for police to contact the Kelowna RCMP at 250-762-3300.

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


Bomb threat a false alarm

UPDATE: 11:45 a.m.

While no one was at risk and no bomb was found, police are trying to determine who is responsible for calling a bomb threat in to the Accent Inn early this morning.

According to police, the short, but threatening, call came into the hotel desk at 1:12 a.m.

Police determined that an employee from the hotel took a call from an unknown person who stated that there was a bomb in the building.

“Police treated the non-specific threat as serious and responded to the hotel immediately,” says Const. Jesse O'Donaghey.

“With the assistance of the Kelowna Fire Department and the BC Ambulance Service on standby, we evacuated the hotel as a precaution.”

O'Donaghey says approximately 30 occupied rooms of the hotel were evacuated and the guests were all sent across Harvey Avenue to the Capri Hotel, where they could stay warm and wait for police to finish their search.

“We brought in two police service dogs, Ice and Frag, they are both trained in the detection of explosive materials and devices,” says O'Donaghey. “The teams performed a systematic and thorough search of the hotel and nothing of interest or concern was found inside.”

Police then conducted background searches and investigations on all the hotel guests and staff.

“We were able to determine that this was a false report,” says O'Donaghey.

“A prank call is a possibility. We are going to continue to investigate and follow up on any leads.”

At this time O'Donaghey says investigators have not identified the suspect responsible for making the false call to the hotel, and continue to investigate.

“We believe the caller may have been a male, but we are relying the information provided to us by the hotel employee.”

If you have any information you are asked to contact the Kelowna RCMP at 250-762-3300.

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

UPDATE: 8:45 a.m.

Kelowna RCMP have confirmed a threat made to the Accent Inn has been proved false.

A press conference is planned for 11 a.m., at which time further details of the incident will be released.


Guests at Kelowna's Accent Inn were evacuated and police cordoned off the area, early this morning.

Brendan Prough was staying at the hotel with his family and reports an apparent threat to the business caused the evacuation. People staying at the hotel were escorted to the nearby Coast Capri Hotel.

The incident occurred about 4 a.m., and police still had Gordon Drive taped off more than an hour later, northbound, beside the Starbucks coffee shop, and a perimeter was set up around the entire block.

Several police vehicles were seen on Gordon Drive and in the parking lot of Accent Inn. A fire truck also responded and was nearby, at the entrance to Starbucks, said photographer Steve Wraith.

Castanet will have more details as they become available.

Send your news, photos and video to [email protected]

Big White sales boom

Real estate is booming at Big White.

The ski resort just had its best real estate month in 10 years.

According to realtor Gary Turner, there were 19 sales on the mountain in January, the best month on record since November 2007, which saw 21 sales.

"We had a Chateau Big White unit sell at $76,400, and at the other end we had a $1.3-million mountain residence sell on an exclusive listing," said Turner. "That is the highest sale that I am aware of. That improved the season-long average of 91 per cent."

Average days on market shrunk to 134 days, compared to 152 last month, according to Turner. 

"We are only 18 sales away from last year's best year since the recession," he said. 

Angelic record falls short

Guinness World Record attempt at Big White

Here's the aerial footage from our Guinness World Record attempt at Big White this morning. We had hundreds of people making snow angels, all in an effort for our wonderful Canadian Ski Patrollers! #bigwhite #CanadianSkiPatrolDay

Posted by Big White Ski Resort on Saturday, February 6, 2016


Hundreds of people flopped onto the snow and flailed their arms and legs in an attempt to set a world record on the weekend, but at the end of the day it was not to be.

Big White attempted to break the world record the most people making snow angels at the same time, but fell short of their target.

A post on Big White's Facebook page said “Despite having the highest number of people at our record attempt, the record remains unbroken... what a shame! We'll just have to try again next year.”

The attempt, took place on Feb. 6, Canadian Ski Patrol Day, and was a joint effort of thousands of people on 50 ski hills across Canada.

The existing record for most snow angels made simultaneously in multiple locations was set in 2004 by the London District Catholic School Board in Ontario. Their attempt brought together 15,851 people.

“We wanted to do something huge to celebrate Canadian Ski Patrol’s 75th anniversary this year,” said Colin Saravanamuttoo, Canadian Ski Patrol president and chief executive officer. “Canada’s ski patrollers are Canada’s guardians on the snow. Helping to break the record for most snow angels seemed a fitting way for the skiing community to celebrate the people who look over them on the snow.”

Ottawa wins chefs title

Marc Lepine of Ottawa took the Canadian Culinary Championships Saturday night after three days of serious competition. 

Lepine finished the competition with a smoked steelhead and a pork belly dish at the grand finale event at the Delta Grand Hotel.

His performance in the mystery wine pairing on Friday and blackbox competition Saturday morning contributed to his win.

Matt Batey of Calgary took silver in the competition and Alex Chen of Vancouver took bronze.

The competition was fierce as 11 of Canada’s best chefs competed for top honours.
Lepine, of the restaurant Atelier, won gold for the second time, making Canadian Culinary Championships history with his smoked steelhead trout with miso-molasses glaze, cured pork belly, barley and corn porridge, corn cob broth paired with Les Clos Jordanne Vineyard 2012 Chardonnay Twenty Mile Bench from the Niagara Peninsula.

“I am truly speechless, and still in shock. The competition was fierce, and I was only able to do this with my team," he said.
Chen, of Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar, took the bronze with his truffle scented chicken, celeriac fondant, foie gras stuffed celery, “umami” consomme, paired with Foxtrot Vineyards, 2009 Pinot Noir from Naramata. Batey, from The Nash Restaurant & Off Cut Bar in Calgary, earned silver for his alder smoked sablefish, Pacific octopus compression, northern divine caviar, Yukon gold potato, sabayon paired with Road 13, 2011 Sparkling Chenin Blanc from Oliver.   
Lepine won not only the finale, but also the mystery wine pairing and black box competitions.
The finale was attended by 600 wine and food enthusiasts, with music by Barney Bentall, along with John Mann, Geoffrey Kelly and Matthew Harder from Spirit of the West.

The events were also a fundraiser for Canada's Olympic athletes. Those in attendance included: cyclist Curt Harnett, hockey player Gillian Apps, curler Sandra Jenkins, snowboarder Kevin Hill, swimmer Curtis Myden, skeleton slider Jeff Pain, and freestyle skier Kristi Richards.

FN's open for business

Calvin Helin is First Nations and he is also a part of a proposal to build a pipeline in the same place the rejected Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline was proposed.

The son of a Tsimshian Nation Chief, an author and public speaker, Helin is also the president of Eagle Spirit Energy, a First Nation’s backed company.

Helin was in Kelowna on Thursday for a public speaking session at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon alongside a representative from Vancouver’s Aquilini Investment Group Inc., who has financially endorsed Eagle Spirit’s proposed pipeline.

During Helin’s presentation he noted it was the first time he had delivered this speech to an audience that was not primarily First Nations.

He started off the presentation talking about change and First Nation’s people’s history of adaptation to change. He said there is a wide misconception that companies can not do business with First Nation’s people, but Aquilini's partnership with Eagle Spirit proves otherwise. 

He said the economy is changing in Canada and the way big projects were done in the past in Northern B.C. were to push through with the government’s consent, but not to include those living in the area who would be impacted. Helin emphasized several times that when the Eagle Spirit pipeline was proposed, every First Nations community along its route was to be addressed and their concerns considered.

He stated the main issue was the environment and what effects the pipeline would have to the region. According to Helin, Eagle Spirit’s proposal has a first class environmental model as well as the support of every First Nation chief along the route of its own proposed oil pipeline through northern B.C.

Helin addressed issues from the port the pipeline would use, to bitumen, to shipping, to the the U.S. use of oil.

First Nations, according to Helin, recognize the importance of alternative oil export markets to the national economy and that northern B.C. is the best place for a pipeline to reach the Asian market.

The pipeline being proposed runs between Fort McMurray, Alta. and Prince Rupert, and has an estimated cost of $14 billion. Helin said he could see the completion date for the project being four years.

He ended his presentation with the statement that First Nations are open for business but companies must take time to talk to people, and not just First Nations but all people who live in northern B.C. who would be impacted by the outcome of a pipeline.

The former lawyer’s presentation was only 30 minutes long, but was well received by those in attendance.

Wear pink to stop bullying

Okanagan residents are being asked to show support for the movement to end bullying by wearing pink on Feb. 24.

A major event will be the second annual Telus Pink Shirt Day breakfast which kicks off the Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs’ anti-bullying campaign.

Mayor Colin Basran will be on hand to proclaim the day as Pink Shirt Day-Kindness Day and the event will feature special guest speaker Leah Goldstein who will share her- "Living a Life with No Limits –Overcoming Bullying" message.

Leah, world champion kick boxer, ultra endurance cyclist and Israeli undercover police officer will share her story full of tragedies and triumphs, crashes and podiums.

The breakfast is being held at the Laurel Packinghouse, prepared by Okanagan College's culinary arts department.

If you are interested in attending the breakfast, check out the event page here.

Laughing at depression

For Kevin Breel, depression is a laughing matter.

But it is also something the 22-year-old comedian takes seriously and the Victoria native will be at Kelowna Community Theatre, 1435 Water St., March 15 to talk about mental illness.

Breel will present Confessions of a Depressed Comic starting at 6:30 p.m. The event is free, but those wanting to attend are asked to RSVP online.

UBCO's student union has partnered with Third Space Foundation, Student Care Insurance, the Canadian Mental Health Association and Class Media to bring the comedian and mental health activist to the Okanagan.

"Kevin's presentation is hands down one of the most influential experiences I have ever been a part of. He tells his story in a way that will make you happy, sad, confused and mad all at the same time. By offering this as a free event, we are able to remove any barriers that may prevent someone from being able to attend, as every single person in our community will eventually play a role in destroying the stigma around mental health,” said Layne Richardson UBCSUO vice-president.

As a writer, Breel has contributed to The Huffington Post and become one of the youngest Canadians ever to sign a book deal with a major publisher.

His debut memoir ‘Boy Meets Depression’ was published by Random House and has achieved critical acclaim. Forbes Magazine called it “a small book well worth reading” and NPR dubbed it “honest and compelling."
As a comedian, Breel began touring as a teenager and has presented at venues including the Colosseum in Vegas, Rogers Arena and the House of Blues.

As an activist for mental health, he’s spoken all over the world at different colleges and charity events. His TED talk, Confessions of a Depressed Comic became one of the most viral videos of all time with more than a million views in a matter of weeks.

Now, with more than three million views, it stands as one of the most watched TED talks ever; alongside the likes of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Sir Ken Robinson.

He is also one of the national spokespeople for the Bell Let's Talk Campaign; an initiative started by Bell Media which has raised over $70 million for mental health services and has been dubbed “the most influential social media campaign of all time.”

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