Friday, September 4th17.2°C

Cop shop breaks ground

A groundbreaking ceremony will be held next week to begin work on Kelowna's new police services building.

Mayor Colin Basran, members of city council, and RCMP Supt. Nick Romanchuk will officially break ground to mark the start of construction on the $39-million project.

The ceremony will take place at 11 a.m., Wednesday, at the construction site on Clement Avenue, between St. Paul and Richter streets.

Bird Design-Build Construction Inc. of Surrey will construct the $39-million building.

Completion of the project is scheduled for the spring of 2017.

Party launches park plan

The District of Lake Country is throwing a party to kick off its Parks and Recreation Master Plan.

The "Party in the Park" is scheduled for Sept. 19, from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. at Beasley Park.

It's designed to kick off the public engagement phase for the community's new parks plan.

"Rather than your typical open house to get public input, we'd like to invite the community to come play and have some fun in one of the destination parks in Lake Country," said Greg Bucholtz, director of infrastructure services.

"Come play is the theme for the Parks and Recreation Master Plan, so we'd like there to be some fun and recreational activities for everyone of all ages to get involved in during the public engagement process."

Mayor James Baker said input provided by residents on everything from parks and recreation spaces to facilities, trails and programs, will help the municipality make important decisions on future investment.

Baker said he hopes people will come out to the event and tell the municipality what it values about parks and recreation.

"The master plan will guide planning and decision making related to parks and recreation for the next 20 years," he said.

Activities include a gladiator obstacle challenge, face painting, Ogopogo crawlzone, crafts, cribbage,
seniors activity info and demonstrations and music in the park.

Input stations will also be set up around the park, giving residents the opportunity to share ideas in a number of ways.

Click here to compete the online survey.

UBC ready for move-in day

More than 1,200 students are expected to move into residence at UBC's Okanagan campus this weekend.

It’s the first day of their new lives as university students. And it can be complex, emotional, and a lot of fun.

Student move-in day is set for Sunday. Unlike previous years, when only first-year students moved into residences on the first Sunday of September, this year all students living in residence, regardless of year, will be moving in. 

Shannon Dunn, director of business operations at UBCO, says more than 1,200 students are expected to move in that day in well-choreographed event.

“It’s a busy but well-orchestrated day we look forward to every year,” says Dunn. “It can be an emotional day for both the student and parents, and we strive to make them feel immediately comfortable.”

Upper-year student volunteers, UBCO Heat athletes and orientation leaders will offer support and help lug boxes into rooms.  

From there, students attend floor meetings in their residence, and there is a parent conference at 2:15 p.m. in the gym.

Ian Cull, associate vice-president of students, says parents of students who will commute to campus are also invited to attend the parent conference.

“At this event, parents will have the chance to learn more about our campus and get to know some of the people who have an important impact on every student’s experience here,” says Cull. “Parents will learn about the many campus supports that are available to their child, from health and wellness resources to academic and learning assistance, as well as some helpful strategies for supporting any new-to-UBC student.”

After the initial welcome, information sessions with topics ranging from financial information, student well-being, campus life and academic expectations are open for the parents to attend. The day wraps up with a family picnic for parents and students in the courtyard.


Grits would reopen office

Kelowna-Lake Country Liberal candidate Stephen Fuhr says his party will reopen the closed Veterans Affairs office in Kelowna, if elected.

The office was closed following cuts in the 2012 federal budget.

“The Kelowna Veterans Affairs office offered important support and services to the women and men in our community who served this country so bravely,” said Fuhr. “The closure of the Kelowna office has left us without a valuable resource, and meant longer travel and worse service for those who need it.”

He said service men and women feel disrespected and abandoned by the Conservative government.

Fuhr said the Liberal party has committed to reopening nine closed Veterans Affairs offices across the country.

"No veteran will have to fight the government for the support and compensation they have earned," he said in a press release issued Friday morning.

He claimed Prime Minister Stephen Harper has "betrayed the men and women who fought for (the Canadian flag)."

Couple lives on $1/day

A former Okanagan couple gave up their life in Canada to start anew in Nepal and now they are sharing their life, living on only $1/day, with the world online.

They hope to inspire others to travel and more importantly show that a $1/day lifestyle is possible – and enjoyable.

Nathan and Danica Reid, 27 and 26 respectively, met in the Okanagan and got married in 2010. Nathan was born and raised here and graduated from Mount Boucherie Secondary School. They moved to Nepal in 2014. 

As children, neither traveled much but when both were old enough they, independently, began exploring the world outside of Canada.

“Our first taste of living abroad as teenagers sparked in us a real desire to explore new cultures, new languages, and new ways of life,” says Danica.

“By moving to Asia, we’ve just done something that many have wanted to do, but just haven’t done it,” adds Nathan. “We've always tried to keep our life uncomplicated, and that's benefited us to be able to make a goal and work towards it. Indian and Nepali culture appeals to us for its vitality, and it's stark contrast to Canadian culture.”

Over a 32-day period, a Nepali month, the couple lived on just $1 US per day, not including the cost of rent and the cost of their visa to stay in the country.

They documented the entire process with a goal to show how it can be done.

“It has always been our goal to lead a simple life, and to try to adapt to new circumstances,” says Danica. “We wanted to be able to have a lifestyle where we worked enough to get by, and spent the rest of our time actually living our life doing the things that we love. Rather than spending so much time working and only trying to "live" on the weekend.”

Though living in Canada for $1 US/day would be next to impossible, it is a reality for them there and they aim to show viewers exactly how they did it in their completed documentary coming soon.

“For us it was a challenge, but still possible, considering over a billion people do it everyday,” says Danica. “We're always trying to learn how to get by on less and it was a really good experience that we want to try again. We really had no idea what our spending was like until we documented it.”

While the goal was to spend one dollar per day, Nathan says the duo averaged about 70 cents per day or the value of one Canadian dollar right now.

“A dollar covered all our meals, toiletries, phone bills, laundry soap, fuel, and motorbike and bicycle maintenance,” says Nathan. “We even managed to travel a bit and eat out! Doesn’t sound so bad does it?”

They are currently editing the entire documentary and hope to release it on their YouTube page within the next month.

“The documentary series shows, on a dollar a day, what kind of foods we were able eat, how we managed to eat meat, what we found to do for fun, and even how we managed to stay in a hotel without going over budget. If you subscribe to The Ticket to Travel, you won’t miss it!" says Nathan.

While the couple recognizes that many see living on such little income a sad reality for those most impoverished in the world, they hope to show they live, full happy lives regardless of their income levels.

“We wanted to make people aware of what it’s like from both sides, as in, yes, this is a very poor country, and people survive on very little, but many of the people here are happy and have a better quality of life because they have good relationships with people,” says Danica. “They appreciate the earth that they live on.”

The couple moved to Nepal in September 2014 and now enjoy their new home and life in Hetauda, Nepal.

“It's in the last valley between the Himalayas and the flatlands leading to India,” explains Nathan. “It is not a tourist attraction, and we hardly ever see foreigners, so we are able to enjoy the fullness of the Nepali culture. The only thing we’re known for here is wild rhinos sometimes charging through town.”

He says the couple stands out for both their skin colour and his height (He is six-foot-four) in the town that is almost exclusivity Nepali.

“There's just not a lot of Caucasians that come through here. I'd stare too, although in the culture here, it's not frowned upon to stare, so you can do it unashamedly. In fact a lot of things are done here unashamedly,” says Nathan.

The Reid's are sharing their life with the world via the internet, which also provides a sources of minimal income to pay their minimal bills. In fact, outside of their $1/day challenge this past month, the couple comfortably lives on an average of $2 US/day plus $80 for rent.

Their income comes through reimbursement they get through views on their website and YouTube page called The Ticket to Travel.

“The Ticket to Travel is geared to show viewers our life, the humour, the challenges. It also shows what Nepal is like, how to make an income from anywhere, how to travel on a budget, and what to bring with you,” explains Danica.

The couple says their adventures are successful and enjoyable because of their love to adapt and embrace the entire human race.

“From being in different countries and spending our time with locals, we have learned the important lesson that there is not always a right and wrong way to do things, but just more than one way to do things,” adds Danica.

“Our YouTube channel is designed to share with others what this involves for us and how they can do it themselves.”

As for their future, the couple intends to stay in Nepal as long as the government will allow them. They love the country, the people and the way of life.

“I find a lot of humour in how many things are different here, and how different they really are. Like how you need to provide your grandfather’s name and your fingerprints just to get a SIM card for your phone, but you can put five people on a motorbike as long as the driver is wearing a helmet,” says Danica.

“We prefer to live in Nepal and vacation in Canada, not the other way around,” adds Nathan.

You can check out the Reid's adventure all along the way by visiting their website here.

Bloody challenge issued

Canadian Blood Services needs you to roll up your sleeve.

Donating blood may have escaped many people’s minds as smoke filled the valley for much of the summer. But, those who kept us safe are literally giving their blood, sweat and tears.

First responders are joining up with Canadian Blood Services for the Sirens for Life campaign to encourage blood donors this fall.

“It was a great tie in, especially here in the Okanagan, when we have such challenging fires in our summers and lots of different emergencies," says Gayle Voyer, with the Canadian Blood Donor Clinic in Kelowna. "So it is a great way for us to say thank you to those emergency services people.”

West Kelowna Fire Chief Jason Brolund says his team donates blood regularly and takes pride in being able to give back.

“It is amazing to see the number of donations that some of our people have had – it is pretty inspiring.”

To spark even more donations, the various emergency services are challenged to see who can bring in the most support.

“Each week in our clinics, we are going to do a fun little tally that basically gives the public ... a way to say who they are going to vote for or who their donation is going to count towards. We just do a manual tally and each week we will post the results,” says Voyer.

Donors will be able to give blood for teams such as police, fire, search and rescue or paramedics; and at the end, it will be a fun way to see which first responder team brought in the most donations.

“It's not difficult for me to encourage them to say come in and let's get some marks near the fire department’s box here. We don’t want to be shown up by the police or the ambulance or search and rescue, so that makes it fun and it makes it easy.”

Teresa Oyer, a search and rescue volunteer, kicked off the campaign with a blood donation on Thursday.

The Sirens for Life campaign runs Sept. 1 to Oct. 31 in clinics across B.C.

Beware of hungry bears

Bears are on the prowl, looking to pack on the pounds for the impending winter season.

The Regional Waste Reduction Office is warning Okanagan residents about leaving their garbage out as the temperatures drops and bears become more desperate for food.

“Now that fall is almost here, many animals are preparing for their long winter sleep, and they’re hungry and on the prowl for food,” said Rae Stewart, waste reduction facilitator with the RWRO, in a statement. “The best advice if you live in an area susceptible to wildlife visitors is to reduce the risk of conflict by taking responsibility for your trash.”

Stewart reminds people not to put their garbage, recycling, or yard waste bins out on the street until the morning of collection day. In addition, meat waste should be frozen and not put in the trash until collection day, to avoid the interest of curious critters.

“If they find your waste, not only can they make a real mess, but they can pose a risk to you and your family, your pets, or to themselves by attracting the totally preventable attention of conservation officers,” Stewart said.

This warning comes as residents around the Okanagan are seeing bears in and around their properties.

Danielle Harshenin had a black bear cub rummaging through her yard in Lake Country Thursday morning, snacking on her plum tree.

Harvey Tebb had two cubs and mother bear hanging out in his backyard Tuesday evening.

Tebb said a number of garbage cans were knocked over and rummaged through on Monday, their garbage collection day.

Murder suspect in court

The man accused of killing a Kelowna resident in his home in June will spend several more weeks behind bars before a bail hearing is set.

Daniel Ruff, 62, appeared via video in Kelowna court, Thursday. He's charged with second-degree murder in the death of Warren Welters, 51.

Welters's daughter sat alone in the courtroom, crying through the short court appearance.

Ruff was arrested June 29 after Welters' body was found in their shared home on Bernard Avenue, June 14.

Ruff appeared in an orange jumpsuit and said little as lawyers discussed next steps in the case.

He will be back in court Sept. 24 when both the Crown and defence hope to set a day for the bail hearing and determine how many days will be required for a preliminary inquiry. 

For past stories on this case, click here. 

Knox Mountain reopens

Knox Mountain Drive reopens to vehicles on Friday – up to the first lookout.

The upper portion of will remain closed to vehicle traffic until it has been re-evaluated in the coming weeks. The road was closed earlier this summer due to high fire risk.

“The rain and cooler weather may not appeal to everyone, but we can all agree that our parks and natural areas needed it,” said Andrew Hunsberger, urban forest technician with the City of Kelowna. “Even though the risk of fire has decreased, we still ask that park visitors continue to use caution.”

While the campfire ban has been lifted for provincial parks and Crown lands, open burning is still prohibited in the city. Residents and visitors are reminded that smoking is prohibited in all parks and natural areas as well.

Park users and neighbours are asked to be vigilant. Anyone noticing smoke or fire in any park should immediately call 911 for the local fire department or 1-800-663-5555 (*5555 on cellphone) for the B.C. Wildfire Service. 

For more information on city parks, visit

Enrolment rising

School District 23 expects to see more students in the classroom when the new school year opens on Tuesday.

How many more won't be known until near the end of the month.

Outgoing Supt. Hugh Gloster said initial counts at the end of last school year indicated an increase of less than 50 students. However, continued growth in the Central Okanagan, specifically in Lake Country and Upper Mission, could drive those numbers higher.

"Significant," was the term Gloster used in describing what the district is seeing through online registration.

The increase could be a couple of hundred, or more.

"The problem we have is, until we open those doors and see the whites of their eyes, we really don't know how many we've lost," said Gloster.

The Central Okanagan School District ended 2014 with an enrolment of 21,269 students. Those are students residing in the area.

When you factor in those who pay tuition – international students or those enrolled in private sports academies that place students in the public system – that number comes closer to 22,000.

The numbers are driven by pockets of growth.

One of those is Davidson Road Elementary in Lake Country, which has experienced significant growth in its catchment area.

The district is in the process of revising its catchment areas because of the growth.

"At Davidson Road Elementary, we established the absolute number of kids they can shoehorn in there, and by the time we broke up for summer break, they were already 25 over that number. Over the summer, they added another 19 registrations to that, so they are 44 over the total number they can get into the school," said Gloster.

"The overflow will go to places like Peter Greer across the highway, although their registration numbers went up significantly this summer. Some may end up going to Oyama Traditional School as well."

The Upper Mission is another challenging area, with more overflow coming from Chute Lake Elementary.

The excess will be redirected to either Anne McClymont or Dorothea Walker elementary schools.

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