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Kelowna  

Grade 5 class published

More than 30 Grade 5 students in Rutland became published authors this week.

On Saturday, Suzan Miles's Grade 5 class at South Rutland Elementary held a book signing for their recently published collection of short stories, Animal Tales.

Ms. Miles' class has been working on the book since September, and the grand reveal and book signing was held at the Rutland Library in Plaza 33 Saturday afternoon.

The class had a great turnout and sold dozens of copies.

“Usually as a teacher when you ask your kids, 'it's time to do some writing,' you have to give them some prompts,” Ms. Miles said. “This project, because they knew what the end result was going to be ... they couldn't get writing fast enough, they couldn't wait to get started on their stories.”

The book was published by Big Heart Publishing, a local publishing company, through their Dynamite Book Project.

Animal Tales is Big Heart's seventh published book, and their first project with a class.

And by all accounts, it was a huge success.

“I've written like, a million stories, but this is the first time it's being published,” said Skyler Roberts, one of Ms. Miles' students, while on a brief break from signing copies.

Summer Routly, another student, says she plans on writing another story soon.

“Being a published author, it's so cool for the kids to actually be able to say,” Ms. Miles said. “Years from now they'll look back at the book and say, those were the kids I hung out with in Grade 5, and they're all together in one book, so it's super exciting.”

The kids were able to choose from 60 pictures of different animals, and base their story on that animal.

“They learned a little bit about where that animal lives, a little bit about it, becasue we wanted it to be as correct as they could be,” Ms. Miles said. “They had to do their research and find out about the animal and then create the story around that.”

Those wanting a copy of the book can contact Ms. Miles at South Rutland Elementary or find it at Big Heart Publishing's website.

While 70 copies were originally printed, Ms. Miles said she expects more will be made, given the demand Saturday.  



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Debris slows bridge traffic

Motorists on the William R. Bennett bridge were urged to be cautious Saturday morning after a large piece of debris blocked a lane.

What appeared to be some type of small shed was blocking the centre lane of westbound traffic over the busy road at 10:30 a.m.

A driver said the the piece of debris was disrupting traffic on the bridge.  



Snow set to fall

While December has been relatively dry in the Okanagan this year, that may change soon, with snow in the forecast throughout the valley.

Flurries are expected to begin falling Saturday night in Kelowna, Vernon and Penticton, carrying through Sunday and into next week.

Two centimetres of snow is expected to fall across the valley Saturday night, with another five set to fall in Kelowna and Vernon Sunday.

Penticton can expect a bit less, with flurries through the weekend.

While temperatures sit at about -4 C Saturday morning in Kelowna, conditions are expected to slightly warm to the freezing level through the afternoon and into Sunday.

Snow is forecast to fall through Tuesday, followed by sun through the rest of the week.

With sun expected through Dec. 22, it may still be a little too early to tell if there'll be a white Christmas in the valley.



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Dig into Christmas dinner

Madison Erhardt

After weeks of preparation and with over 50 volunteers, Kelowna’s Gospel Mission is ready to serve its annual Christmas Dinner.

The meal is open to anyone in the community and is available, at no cost, from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday.

Kelowna’s Gospel Mission expects to serve close to 700 festive meals.

The traditional Christmas meal will feature turkey with stuffing, ham, mashed potatoes, vegetables, cranberry sauce, rolls and pie topped with whipped cream.

“The holidays can be a tough time for people who are without a home.  They are missing their families.  They often suffer with intense feelings of sadness and loneliness.  This meal surrounds our guests with people who care deeply.  We meet together with friends, have a great meal, laughter and, even if just for a few hours, forget our worries and have fellowship and belonging", said Randy Benson, Executive Director of Kelowna’s Gospel Mission.

"The generous people of Kelowna make this special meal possible,” Benson added.



Bikeshare a reality?

Is Kelowna big enough to support bikeshare?

The city's active transportation co-ordinator thinks so.

Co-ordinator Matt Worona hopes to have a pilot project in place by the spring.

The transportation alternative is popular in Europe and Asia, and is becoming more frequent in Canada and North America.

Five Canadian cities including Vancouver, Ottawa, Hamilton, Toronto and Montreal currently offer a form of bikeshare.

Several bikeshare models are used worldwide, but Worona believes a dockless system, which utilizes internal locking and GPS locating technology, would work best in Kelowna.

"Because of the lack of docking infrastructure and the style of bikes offered, dockless systems tend to be very inexpensive to implement and rent," said Worona.

"In turn this has, for the most part, eliminated the need for a government subsidy for these systems, with regards to both capital and operational costs.

"Dockless systems are typically owned and operated by private bikeshare companies and may or may
not have agreements in place with their host municipalities for their operation."

Worona says Kelowna is already a bike-friendly city, with infrastructure in place to support it.

A bikeshare system that allows residents and visitors to access affordable and convenient bikes for short
trips would provide a number of community benefits that support the city’s transportation, carbon reduction and economic development goals.

The city is in talks with several companies that provide the service.

Worano expects to update council early in the new year.



Christmas lights displays

Residents across the Central Okanagan are stepping up their Christmas lights game this December, with tens of thousands of lights on display across the region. 

With the Parade of Lights bus tour all but sold out, those interested in taking a self-guided tour can use the map above to find the closest displays. 



Real estate peak?

He doesn’t know exactly when it will happen, but Helmut Pastrick says there’s a very good chance the Central Okanagan housing market will end its considerable climb with a sizable crash.

Speaking to members of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce Dec. 15, the chief economist for Central 1 Credit Union said there was a 70 per cent chance a recession will send the region’s housing market into freefall.

The corresponding hit to house prices will depend on how much they rose in the preceding upswing, but Pastrick said it will likely mean a 20-30 per cent price drop in the Central Okanagan.

A second, less likely option is a "soft landing," which would only see prices fall by 10 per cent or less.

For more on why Pastrick says the long-term outlook for the region is much different, including his insight into the dramatic shift in the number of homeowners in the region, check out the full story on Castanet's sister business news website, Okanagan Edge.



Smile, city's watching you

The City of Kelowna says a system where they will monitor city-owned closed circuit cameras 24-7 is not the edge of a slippery slope.

The city could begin permanently monitoring their network of about 300 closed circuit security cameras as early as the first week of January.

This after city council approved a $30,000 budget item for the project Thursday.

But, building services manager Martin Johansen says the public need not worry that this is the first step in a campaign to monitor the movements of residents.

Johansen says the city was required to "go through hoops" with the Privacy Commission to be able to run the program.

He says those approvals are in place.

Only those working for the city will be allowed to monitor the feeds. They will only be shared if requested by the RCMP for a criminal matter.

The cameras that will be monitored are those at city-owned facilities such as arenas, parks, parkades, city hall, the city works yard and problem areas like the Queensway bus loop.

"Parkades are our biggest problem areas," said Johansen.

During a pilot project in July and August, he says monitoring had a "significant impact" on the city's three parkades.

That pilot project resulted in 425 coordinated responses to emerging situations involving criminal activity, mischief, loitering, and vandalism.

The monitoring system, says Johansen, will allow the city to make the best use of its security force, allowing them to respond to problem situations immediately.



Castanet Kid Report

This week's Castanet Kid Report with pint-sized correspondent Ariella Amato.



UBCO joins forces

A partnership between three Interior universities signed Friday is being described as a “game changer” for education in the region.

The Interior University Research Coalition, between Kelowna's UBC Okanagan, Kamloops' Thompson Rivers University and Prince George's University of Northern BC, was announced Friday after more than two years of collaboration.

“Universities have a special role to play in partnership with the communities they serve,” said Deborah Buszard, UBC Okanagan deputy vice-chancellor and principal. “By collaborating more closely with our colleagues across the region, we can be drivers of discovery, understanding, and innovation for positive social and economic development.”

The partnership will see the three universities collaborate on research, with the goal of developing innovation in the region and strengthening new industries.

“The agreement will facilitate mobility and academic opportunities for students and faculty, enhance research partnerships and enable greater overall co-ordination among the institutions,” UBC Okanagan announced Friday.

Dr. Daniel Weeks, president of UNBC, says the three universities each have their own research strengths, and the collaboration will bring greater opportunities for grad students.



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