Friday, July 3rd18.6°C

Affordable housing unveiled

A new affordable housing unit will open up 86 rental apartments for lower-income Kelowna residents.

The four-storey building will be constructed at 1745 Chapman Place, behind Boston Pizza, in an area known as Central Green. Construction should be complete by summer 2016.

The project is a partnership between BC Housing, the City of Kelowna and the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society. The province is putting $15.6 million into the project, while the city provided the land, valued at $1 million.

"Today, we are one step closer to the completion of the community's vision for Central Green, ensuring that those in need remain integral and valued members of the community through increased access to affordable housing," said Norm Letnick, MLA for Kelowna-Lake Country.

The Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society will manage the building once it opens.

While the society is a non-profit organization that works primarily with First Nations people, this housing project will be available to anyone who can show they have need. The society and BC Housing will develop the criteria for who is eligible.

“It will continue to help build the good relationships that we have in B.C. between First Nations and non-First Nations when they actually get to live together and experience common housing,” said Letnick.

The lot was once the home of Kelowna Secondary School, but was bought by the city in 2002. 

Letnick said roughly 15 per cent of the Central Green area will be dedicated to affordable housing. The remainder has been sold to developer Al Stober, who is building a “complete community,” according to Mayor Colin Basran.

“It’ll be mixed use, it’ll be park, further residential housing and commercial components,” Basran said.

Basran said Stober is looking to get the first phase of his construction underway later this year.

Edna Terbasket, executive director of the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society, said the rental unit project is classified as affordable housing and not social housing, so rental units will be offered at a percentage of fair market value instead of charging rents as a percentage of one's income. Exact pricing has not yet been determined, but Cam Martin, administration team leader, said it would be “about 75 per cent of market rate.”

“It has to be self-sustaining, there’s no operating funding for this,” Martin said.


Celestial treat in the sky

For the last month, Jupiter and Venus have been dancing in the sky, getting closer and closer together until they were seemingly on top of each other Wednesday night.

The planets are so bright and large in the sky, they show up before it is even entirely dark and may have had some thinking the objects were extraterrestrial in nature.

This rare alignment event was especially noticeable this week in Kelowna as clear skies on Canada Day created perfect viewing opportunities.

“It is rare because the two line up from our perspective,” says Guy Mackie, director at the Okanagan Observatory who adds that although the two planets appear to be close together, in reality, they are millions of miles apart.

“We can train our telescopes on them and we can see the moons of jupiter and the cloud bands of jupiter and we can see that Venus is a crescent in the telescope.”

Because the planets are so relatively bright, they show up in the sky before the sun sets, and then seem to suddenly disappear when the stars come out and they slip below the horizon.

Some believe this special alignment, where Venus and Jupiter appear to be approximately one-third of a degree apart from one another, is a recurrence of the “Star Of Bethlehem."

According to Sky and Telescope, during the timeframe when Christ was born, the same conjunction was going on with the planets.

"To the eye they'll look like a double star," Sky & Telescope editor Kelly Beatty said on the magazine's website.

The planets were the closest together they will get Wednesday evening, but Mackie says there is still a special opportunity to see Jupiter, Venus and Saturn's rings this Friday evening.

"This Friday we are planning to have one more night with all three planets displayed in the sky,” says Mackie. “This week the big hitter up there is Saturn – Right now at your local observatory the rings of Saturn!”

While the planets will appear to draw near one another again this August and October, the next event to rival this week's won't happen until 2023.

To find out if they are open and which programs are running that night, call the Observatory sky phone at 250-300-8SKY (8759) or check out their website here

Tax deadline for some

If you're a property owner in B.C. and haven't paid your taxes - time is running out.

Municipal property taxes are due today or tomorrow in most communities.

There are a few exceptions such as Penticton, which has a deadline of the last working day in July, this year, that's July 31.

In Kelowna, property taxes are due by midnight tonight. City Hall closes at 4 p.m. but you have options if you are unable to get to City Hall before it closes.

Lynn Walter, Kelowna financial accounting manager said people who can't make it by 4 p.m. should be careful to fill out their forms completely and make sure they are signed where requested.

"It's a legal document. We have to make sure this all gets done for the province," said Walter.

"We have a drop box at the exit of the City Hall parking lot and right at the front doors on Water Street. If they are paying they should fill in the cheque, put their roll number in the field and make sure to sign the cheque."

The cheque should be made payable to the City of Kelowna.

Walter said forms not filled out correctly or not signed could be subject to a late filing penalty.

In Kelowna, those who do not pay their taxes on time are assessed a 5% penalty. An additional 5% is added if taxes are still not paid by Aug. 4.

According to Walter, about 95% of property owners pay their taxes on time.

Other communities throughout the Okanagan have different tax filing days and penalties. These include:

  • Penticton - Due July 31. 10% late penalty
  • Summerland - Due 4 p.m. July 3. 10% late penalty
  • Peachland - 4 p.m. July 2. 10% late penalty
  • West Kelowna - 4:30 p.m. July 3. 10% late penalty
  • Lake Country - 6 p.m. July 2. 10% late penalty
  • Vernon - July 2. 10 % late penalty

For more information on the payment of taxes in your community, check your municipal website.

Ex-cop's porn trial

A former Vernon Mountie facing child pornography charges is in court in Kelowna this week, before his trial begins next month.

The trial of Ryan Hampton, 37, is set to begin July 13 at B.C. Supreme Court in Kelowna.

Hampton faces one count of possession of child pornography, one count of accessing child pornography, one count of attempting to pervert/defeat/obstruct justice and six counts of breaching conditions.

A 10-day trial by judge alone has been booked for Hampton.

This week, Hampton is before a judge for a pretrial conference.

After his charges were initially announced, Hampton made headlines again when he was pulled over and charged for allegedly driving drunk and possessing stolen property, including a police siren and light bar.

Hampton was taken off duty as a Vernon RCMP officer in June 2013, following his arrest. He has since resigned from the force.

For past stories on this case, click here. 

Power back on in Kelowna

Power was out for a number of Kelowna residents this morning around the Pandosy and Richter street areas near the hospital.

Power went out to homes at about 5:45 a.m. and was restored before 7 a.m. for most. Many were waking up to blinking clocks that needed resetting.

"Crews have restored power to the majority of customers in the Richter Street area of #Kelowna this morning," writes FortisBC on Twitter.

A cause has yet to be determined, but crews are on scene investigating.

FortisBC is asking customers still without power to contact them at 1-866-436-7847. 

Hoping for good Karma

The Kelowna BCSPCA is appealing to animal lovers to help a badly injured dog. 

Karma, a two-year-old female blue brindle Cane Corso is now safe at the shelter after she was hurt in a traffic accident and didn't receive medical treatment.

For several months, the dog lived with a fractured hip, which led to degenerative changes and muscle wastage due to a lack of mobility. 

Kelowna branch manager Suzanne Pugh says Karma is a gentle soul, who is calm and trusting despite living with serious injuries for so long. 

“She’s doing really well after undergoing two surgeries.”

Karma came to the shelter as a result of a cruelty investigation, Pugh notes, as she did not receive medical treatment after the accident. Eventually, Karma was given to a new guardian, who immediately contacted a vet clinic and the BC SPCA for help.

“I can’t imagine what kind of pain she was living with, for so long,” Pugh says. “Karma is so mild-mannered and smart. We just want her to have the chance to live a pain-free, active life in a loving forever home.”

The dog's medical costs are expected to exceed $4,000. 

Currently in foster care, Karma is expected to take up to 12 weeks to recover, estimates Pugh. 

Visit or drop off donations in person, at 3785 Casorso Rd.

Politeness reigns in Prospera

The arena was packed with people rubbing shoulders and bumping into each other, but in classic Canadian fashion, the crowds and tight spaces upset no one, and there were plenty of sorrys tossed around.

After the elected officials gave speeches to the large crowd about what makes Canada special, they came down into the crowd to cut the giant birthday cake, and began to dish out slices to the crowd.

Again, despite the hundreds of people clamouring for their slice and the handful of people handing them out, there was minimal pushing or shoving, and everyone stayed smiling throughout - a testament to Canadian politeness.

In addition to the ceremonies in Prospera Place, hundreds of people downtown took advantage of the activities going on and enjoyed the many live bands playing on multiple stages.

The mini sailboat regatta kicked off the festivities at 10 a.m. at Tugboat Beach and the Kelowna City Band played to dozens of spectators outside Prospera Place before noon.

Live music will continue into the night, ending with DJ Code: E at Jim Stuart Park. 

City grass is different

It would seem some people don't like the impression of a double standard when it comes to watering a lawn.

Parks and sports field supervisor Ted Sophonow said the city has received calls from residents concerned the city waters its sport fields during daytime hours.

It's a practice the city and water purveyors frown upon.

Sophonow said city sports fields require different care that a standard lawn to keep them in good shape and reduce the risk of injury.

He said they are mowed lower and watered more frequently than parks or your home lawn.

"While watering generally takes place overnight the irrigation is sometimes tested during the day," said Sophonow.

"These tests take place for a short period of time under the supervision of staff. Staff will also run short irrigation programs during hot weather to cool the surface temperature of turf to keep it healthy."

Fields under maintenance closures also require additional water to promote seed germination, according to Sophonow.

The City reminds the public to stay off the fields during these closures to allow the grass time to grow. 

Signage will be placed on site to inform the public of the closure.

The City continues to focus on using water wisely through water conservation efforts in its parks. This includes a central irrigation control system where water is adjusted according to weather conditions.

Send us a letter. Got an opinion on this story? Email letters to the editor to [email protected]

Canada Day in Kelowna

There's plenty to do in Kelowna today with Canada Day events throughout downtown. 

Festivals Kelowna is hosting activities around Waterfront Park and Prospera Place. Events include a mini sailboat regatta, a Taste of Canada Food Fair, an apple bin paint-in, plenty of live musical performances and a cake cutting ceremony in Prospera Place at 12:30 p.m. Fireworks will cap off the celebration at 10:30 p.m.

For a full list of Festival Kelowna activities today, follow this link. A map of the area with specific stages can be found here.

For even more events around Kelowna and the wider Okanagan, check out our events page here.

Proud to be Canadian

Canada is celebrating its 148th Birthday, and Castanet wants to know what do the residents of Kelowna think about our country. 

What makes them proud? What makes our country unique?

So, we hit the streets to find out. 

Let us know what you did to celebrate Canada Day and send us a note to [email protected]

Read more Kelowna News


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