Monday, October 20th9.8°C

Rutland park vote redux

The Rutland Park Society has agreed to sell Centennial Park to the City of Kelowna.

As part of a deal negotiated with the society board, the city will take over ownership of the park and receive a road extension.

The roadway would extend Shepherd Road through to Rutland Road North, utilizing what is now the driveway into Centennial Park.

People against the sale pointed to the negative impact of a transit and and vehicle route running through the park and in front of the community hall.

In exchange, the city will immediately sink $800,000 into refurbishing aging Centennial Hall and, once the 2015 budget is approved, provide another $400,000 to upgrade the park itself.

On Aug 14, 62 per cent of society members voted in favour of the sale, however, because the motion constituted a special resolution, a 75 per cent majority was required to approve the sale.

The question was changed and brought back for a vote Monday at the society's Annual General meeting.

Because it was part of the AGM, a majority of 50 per cent plus one was necessary to pass approve the sale.

In the end, 71 per cent of those in attendance (155 to 63) voted yes.

"I'm not surprised by the numbers. It makes common sense and when I looked through the naysayers...they were based on their own needs for the flea market and not looking at the overall community needs," says society president, Todd Sanderson.

Other naysayers fear the city will eventually flip the park to a developer.

Sanderson told those in attendance Centennial Park would remain a park in perpetuity as part of the agreement.

"It will also remain a park. There will not be condos, there will not development. They won't be halving off any part of it for a development.

It will remain a park, it will remain true to what the residents who formed the park wanted it to be."

Another concern surrounded Rutland May Days which has been held at the park the past 55 years.

Sanderson admitted the carnival rides, which have traditional been housed on the field would have to move, but says the city has agreed to allow those rides to be located in the Roxby parking lot.

He also quelled fears the Rutland Flea Market would be a casualty of the sale.

Sanderson says the flea market is taking the winter off to regroup and develop a new business plan.

He says it will return in its new location in the Roxby parking lot in the spring and expects the market to again run year round.

Sanderson says he hopes the sale is complete before the current council leaves office Nov 15.

"I know city staff are expecting a call from me tomorrow then it's just a matter of letting the lawyers do their final touches then hopefully we'll have a cheque cut before the next council come in."

Sanderson told the assembled membership the deal was the only way to save the park and Centennial Hall.

He says the building has only about 10 years of life left in its current state and admits a good chunk of that $800,000 will go to bringing the building up to code..

"As a society our work is not done. In addition to doing that we are still going to have to fundraise. May Days is still going to have to be an integral part of what we do."

Sanderson adds the extra $400,000 will go to refurbishing the park itself.

In order to turn it into something more than a grass field, Sanderson believes the city will need to invest in the neighbourhood of $2M.

Some of those who opposed the sale were visibly upset. There are those who have vowed to keep up the fight, believing the vote to be against the Society's Act.

Sanderson says the society received legal advice before holding the vote with a simple majority requirement and believe they are on the right side of the legal issue.


Dinner raises more than $15k

Over 350 people packed the house at the 14th annual Deepak Binning dinner Saturday evening.

The fundraising event was held at the Rutland Centennial Hall.

The organizers expect to raise between $15,000 and $20,000. The money will go partly to help abandoned children suffering from serious medical disorders in Kolkata, West Bengal, India through a Kelowna group East Meets West Orphans Foundation. 

The rest will go to fund two medical students from UBC-O gain valuable global experience.

The students will be financially supported by the Deepak Binning Foundation to go to Kolkata to work with the children supported by East Meets West.

"It was heart warming to see so many people attend the event. I am very grateful for all the support," organizer Mohini Singh said.

Weed oil fire burns two

Two men are in hospital with burn injuries after starting a fire while trying to cook weed oil.

Kelowna Fire Department was called to 3049 Gordon Drive for a minor structure fire around 4:30 p.m. 

"Upon arrival the first Engine company found the fire to be extinguished by the occupants," said platoon captain Tim Light with Kelowna Fire Department. 

The fire had been largely contained to a garbage can in the basement suite of the single family home.

There were three people in the suite at the time.

After further investigation it was found that the fire was started due to the production of a weed oil substance.

Two occupants were sent to Kelowna General Hospital with burn injuries. Their condition is unknown at this time.

RCMP were called to investigate the illegal activities in the residence. 

They could not be immediately reached for comment.

Fire crews ventilated the residence and assisted Emergency Health Services with the two patients.

Kelowna Fire Department would like to remind the public to have a serviced fire extinguisher in their home as well as a working smoke detector.


Local named Team BC capt.

A Kelowna-based Olympian has been named honourary Team BC captain for the 2015 Canada Winter Games in Prince George.

Team BC alumna Kelsey Serwa was a member of Team BC at the 2007 Canada Winter Games in Whitehorse, Serwa won gold in alpine skiing. 

She transitioned to the emerging sport of ski cross in 2009, quickly leading her to the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver. 

In 2011, she won both the X Games and World Championship and then battled back from injuries to achieve an Olympic silver medal at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.  

“I am thrilled to be part of Team BC again. It was a real eye-opener for me to attend the Canada Games in 2007 and I remember the pride I felt representing my province. I am looking forward to sharing my experiences with the 2015 athletes and cheering on Team BC to a fantastic performance!”

Serwa is a proud British Columbian athlete. She started skiing almost as soon as she could walk at Big White, the resort that her grandfather co-founded near Kelowna. 

Her first multi-sport Games experience was the 2002 BC Winter Games in Williams Lake and from there she was a member of BC Alpine Provincial Teams and the Alpine Canada National Development Team.

“It gives me great pleasure to congratulate Kelsey Serwa on being named Honourary Team BC Captain. What a fitting tribute for someone who is such a tremendous ambassador for our province and our youth,” said Coralee Oakes, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development.

Serwa knows first-hand what the athletes will be experiencing as they prepare for this important multisport games on home soil.  

“Many of Canada’s greatest athletes have started on their path to success as a part of Team BC,” said Rob Needham, Chef de Mission for Team BC.  “Having an accomplished athlete like Kelsey as part of our team will inspire and motivate our Team BC athletes and coaches at the 2015 Games.”

Serwa will be involved with Team BC leading up to and during the Games and will share her journey and experiences with the athletes to help motivate them to have their best performances at the 2015 Canada Winter Games.


Prepare for power outage

Upgrades to the electrical system will put take parts of Kelowna offline in the early hours of Monday morning.

FortisBC expects the scheduled outage to run from 1:30 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. It will affect about 300 customers in the downtown area from Cawston Avenue to Doyle Avenue and Ellis Street to Bertram Street.

It will also include some customers on Gaston Avenue and Cannery lane. 

Tips for planned power outages:

  • Protect your electronics, such as TVs, PVRs and computers, by using surge-protecting power bars.
  • Conserve cell phone batteries.
  • If you have an electric garage door opener, locate the manual release lever and learn how to operate it.

To find out more information, visit or call 1-866-436-7847.


Searching for Disney

A Kelowna couple are appealing to the public for help finding their lost memories, stored on a JVC video camera they lost in Mission Creek Park on Tuesday.

The Nix family just moved to Kelowna from Fort McMurray last week. 

Amid the craziness of moving, they took a break at Mission Creek Park Tuesday and put their video camera down to get their toddlers, nearly one- and nearly three-years-old, into the swings. 

"We left it on the bench with the baby carrier, put the kids in the swings and forgot about it," Tanya Nix said. "We didn't realize until the next day that we didn't have the baby carrier and went back right away. It wasn't there."

They just bought the video camera in September for a trip to Disneyworld with their extended family. 

"We just went to Disney in September and all of our video and lots of pictures are on there," she said. "Our whole extended family was with us and we took all the video."

Nix said they have filed a police report and called the pawn shops, which so far turned up nothing. 

This most recent loss is on top of losing their Macbook Pro in their move from Fort McMurray. Due to that, the couple had not downloaded any of their pictures or video to a computer. 

Nix said losing the camera and baby carrier in the first week has put a damper on things.

Since then Nix has put up posters in the park and ads in classifieds looking for their lost items.

"We are hoping that someone honest has found these items and are trying to find us," Nix said. "We are hoping that some honest people will make this town shine." 

They are offering a $350 reward for the return of the video camera or at least the memory card. 

Tanya can be reached at 780-880-9884 or [email protected]

Homeless man takes flight

He’s about to depart on his first flight ever, but an airplane ride isn’t James Tarrant’s only journey.

A couple of years ago Tarrant had nowhere to call home, struggling with mental health issues he was forced to live on the streets.

But all that changed after Tarrant joined a street soccer team, organized by Tom Maxwell. For the last three years Tarrant has been a member of the Kelowna Kodiaks and his dedication has paid off, not only does he have adequate housing, but he was just chosen to play for team Canada in the homeless soccer world cup in Chile.

Although Tarrant now has a roof over his head and a support team, he still qualifies for the Homeless World Cup says Maxwell.

“Because of the background he has had in the last three years, he qualifies,” explains the coach. “In the time he has significantly improved and the combination of his efforts is (why he was) selected.”

To qualify for the Homeless World Cup, a player must have been homeless in the last 18 months (in accordance with the national definition of homelessness), an asylum seeker (with or without a positive asylum status) or currently in drug or alcohol rehabilitation and homeless at some point in the last two years.

“It clears out my head, I deal with a lot of mental health concerns and it helps clear out my head,” says Tarrant when asked why he plays the game.

The Kelowna Kodiaks play as a rec team, their aim is to improve the lives of those in need by providing an athletic outlet to develop skills that can be transferred into everyday life.

“I can run (now), I have housing, I’m stable, I’m on medications, I am doing a lot better,” Tarrant says of his progress.

In the five years the Kodiaks have been together, they’ve sent others to the world cup.

Assistant Coach Ashley Shean says a couple of years ago they sent their first player Bill to Paris for the tournament.

“We had a female Amanda go to Mexico, which I went with her, that was in 2012,” she explains.

With only eight players selected each year to represent team Canada, the Kelowna Kodiaks consider themselves key contenders in the realm of homeless soccer.

“The Kelowna Kodiaks are a tight knit group of people, they are a community within itself. They are out to help each other and that is why we are so successful at these tournaments, we become a family,” says Maxwell.

Since its inception over 10 years ago, the Homeless World Cup has seen more than 250,000 players compete in the annual tournament, and has since grown to over 100,000 regular participants across the 70 partner organizations around the world. This year the event will last seven days and take place in Santiago.


Majestic birds released

A Coopers Hawk and a Great Horned Owl were released into the wild this week after recent rehabilitation at the South Okanagan Rehab Center for owls (SORCO).

BCSPCA Kelowna and SORCO were the two groups involved in the rescuing and rehabilitation of the birds.

Kelowna’s branch manager Suzanne Pugh says the SPCA received calls about both injured birds just over three weeks ago. Working together with SORCO, they were able to coordinate the intake and initial health assessment. 

“It’s critical for wildlife to receive a speedy assessment, and in most cases we are able to assess and triage all wildlife on arrival but in the case of the hawk, he was surprisingly feisty and I felt it was beneficial to transfer him immediately to SORCO,” she says. “The more expertise the better when dealing with wildlife and, so I hopped in the truck and drove it south where manager Lauren Meads and I jointly assessed for injury".

Fortunately neither bird had life threatening injuries but did require an extended stay at SORCO before being  released. 

 "We were able to release the Hawk just off Gellatly Road in West Kelowna and once that was complete we drove out to Ellison and met with the Thiessen family who had called in the distressed owl". 

Jeff and Theresa Thiessen were thrilled that the owl had made a full recovery and had offered to have the owl released back on their property in the owls original habitat. 

The Thiessen family attended the release, as well Animal Care Supervisor, Kaylyn Robinson, SORCO members Ray Putnam and Dave and Dale Whitton were on hand to watch the majestic bird take flight. 

To report wildlife or any animal in distress the public can call the BCSPCA hotline 1 855 622 7722.



Deepak Binning fundraiser

The 14th annual Deepak Binning dinner is being held this Saturday to raise money for the East Meets West Orphans Foundation.

To date the dinner has raised and donated $ 420,462.25 for various projects in Kelowna.

This year the money will be going to the East Meets west Orphans Foundation and to financially support two UBC-O Medical students who are going into pediatrics.

The money will be used to send them to work at the infirmary at the orphanage in Kolkata, West Bengal, India that East Meets West supports. The medical students will be working with an Indian pediatrician and will be taking care of the children when they are in hospital as well.

"This is a great opportunity for our Canadian medical students and a wonderful opportunity for the children who need the medical care and attention," said Coun. Mohini Singh, who organized the event. "It is our global responsibility to look after those in need.”

"The theme is Indian music, awesome Indian food, Indian classical dance performance and open dancing afterwards," Singh said.

The dinner has donated the following amounts in the past 14 years.

  • $250,000 to UBC-O for a community building scholarship.
  • $136,250.00 to the BC Cancer Agency Sindi Ahluwalia Hawkins centre for the southern interior
  • $30,000 thousand to UBC-O medical school
  • $17,812.25 East Meets West Orphans foundation

The event takes place Saturday, Oct. 17 at the Rutland Centennial Hall. It begins at 6 p.m.

Tickets cost $75.00 (tax receipt for $50.00)

For tickets call Mohini 250-575-1453

Chanchal 250-878-8980

Andy 250-317-1656

Sewa 250-317-4447

Council gets a passing grade

As Kelowna's current council gets ready to leave office, it will get a chance to see how much of a dent was made in its three year priority list.

A report card outlining the progress of council's top nine priorities, struck after it was elected in 2012, shows all nine have either been complete or are in the process of being complete.

Of those nine priorities, three are complete while significant progress has been made on three others.

These include:

  • Mobile Service Requests - Complete
  • Pandosy Waterfront Plan - Complete
  • Technology Centre - Complete
  • Waterfront development - Significant
  • Increased focus on economic development activities - Significant
  • Rutland Town Centre revitalization (Our Rutland) - Significant
  • New park strategy - In progress
  • Tourism Centre - In progress
  • One stop community services - Preliminary

Several priorities set out for 2014 have also been complete, including:

  • Bernard Avenue Revitalization - Complete
  • John Hindle Drive design - Complete
  • Phase 1 of Gordon Drive Frequent Transit Network - Complete
  • Downtown Interior Health Authority building - Complete
  • City-wide Parking Management Strategy - Complete
  • Police Services Building project - Significant
  • Protect the Canadian National Railway corridor - Significant
  • Central Green land sale - Significant
  • Cycling & Pedestrian Master Plan - public consultation - In progress

Much of the effort in this term focused on building on momentum created through previous Councils, completing progressive and well-considered plans for the future and beginning the process of establishing
the foundation for major projects to be completed in future years.

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