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Postie says they'll still work

Patrick Ward, president of the Kelowna chapter of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, says the union was forced to issue a 72-hour strike notice Thursday after its 60-day strike mandate was set to expire.

“(The Ministry of Labour) requested a 24-hour extension of the strike mandate to allow them to get this mediator in place and negotiate a longer-term situation to try to resolve this without either party locking out or going on strike,” Ward said. “The union agreed, Canada Post refused, so we had to give our strike notice yesterday, under the law.”

Ward says if the union had let its strike mandate expire, it would have had to spend 30 days and up to $500,000 to redo a vote.

While the strike will take effect Sunday night at 11:59 p.m., Ward assures customers they will not see any disruption of service.

“The only action we're taking is a rotating ban on overtime, one province per day across the country,” Ward said.

“We will be at work, we will be working our scheduled hours, we will be working overtime as the corporation seems to use it as a staffing tool and waste money exponentially, the only thing they will be aware of is they will not be able to have us work overtime one day basically every two weeks.”

Ward does not expect the union to increase any strike action in the future “unless Canada Post comes back and does stuff to make it so we have no choice.”



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2 months until Ellis decision

Final submissions were given by the Crown and defence in the dangerous offender hearing for Michael Ellis, Friday morning. But a decision won't be made for another two months.

Ellis was found guilty of 17 of the 22 charges he faced in February 2015 for his part in a dramatic Westside Road police shootout and chase in 2012.

Shawn Wysynski, who testified he forced Ellis to flee from police at gunpoint during the incident, is serving a nine-year sentence for his part, while Ashley Collins received an 18-month suspended sentence for knowingly being in a vehicle with illegal firearms.

Ellis is the last of the three to be sentenced.

The Crown has been seeking a dangerous offender designation for Ellis since May, which would allow for an indeterminate detention period. The judge could also give Ellis a long-term offender status, which would allow for federal supervision for up to 10 years after he is released from jail.

The offender status must be dealt with before Ellis can face sentencing, but a decision on his status will not be made until Nov. 4.

Throughout the hearing, the Crown argued Ellis has shown a pattern of criminal behaviour that constitutes a threat to others.

At 42-years-old, Ellis has 52 convictions for a wide variety of offences and has spent much of his life in jail.

In June, forensic psychologist Dr. Will Reimer testified Ellis is a high risk to reoffend.

Ellis's defence counsel argued that while he has a lengthy criminal record, his role in the Westside Road incident was an abnormality in its severity.

Ellis was found guilty of robbery using a prohibited weapon during the Westside Road chase and stealing multiple cars at gunpoint. His previous robberies involved robbing banks using a note, with no weapons present.

The defence maintains there is not a pattern to his criminal behaviour, so he should not be labelled a dangerous or long-term offender.

Ellis remains in custody as awaits sentencing, which will come after his offender status has been determined in November.



Appeal to give blood

Blood is in short supply as the calendar slowly inches toward Labour Day long weekend.

New and returning blood donors are needed to help fill blood banks. There is currently a gap of 32,000 units that will be needed by Labour Day, according to Canadian Blood Services.

"We’ve recorded fewer blood donations again this summer, and we are urging people to join the community of selfless Canadians who give life by donating blood,” said David Patterson, director of donor relations for B.C. and the Yukon. 

In Kelowna, people can donate blood at Kelowna Blood Donor Clinic, 103-1865 Dilworth Dr. The clinic is open holiday Monday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and alternating Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Sept. 3).

“We are calling on more Canadians to become new and regular blood donors now to meet Canada’s current and future blood needs. In 2016, we will need about 100,000 new blood donors to give life, replace the aging donor base and maintain the national blood supply,” Patterson added.

To book an appointment, download the GiveBlood app or visit blood.ca. Donors can sign up to receive an SMS text message to remind them of their upcoming appointment. Walk-in appointments are also available at all clinics.



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Found, one pontoon boat

Are you missing a pontoon boat?

If so, it may have washed up on a beach in Kelowna's Mission district.

The boat washed ashore sometime overnight or this morning at a beach access on Hobson Road, next to the Central Okanagan Sailing Association.

RCMP were called, who in turn contacted city bylaw officials.

They are hoping the owner of the boat will come forward and remove it.

Bylaws indicate the city could have the vessel moved, however, that would require getting a company in from the Shuswap to move the large boat.

Of course, that cost would be passed on to the boat owner.



More farm-use conflicts

Kelowna council is being asked to turn down an application for non-farm use on ALR land.

The latest proposal coming forth is for a property at 3740 Casorso Rd.

The applicant is seeking approval for retail sales of a non-farm product in an area 490 square metres in size and operation of a landscape and irrigation construction business.

According to a city staff report, non-farm product sales, when combined with retail sales of farm products, cannot exceed 150 square metres, while operation of a landscaping and irrigation construction company is not permitted on ALR land.

In the report, staff say Neway Landscape and Irrigation Ltd. has leased the property since 2003.

Since that time, it has operated with a valid business licence.

However, staff contend the business expanded, creating non-conforming uses on the property, which include the retail sale of imported non-farm product (topsoil, mulch, gravels) as well as landscape construction equipment storage and granular material stockpiling.

The report states Neway was informed last year it was exceeding its original business licence, and should either terminate operations or seek to legalize the operation through a non-farm-use application.

Both staff and the city's Agricultural Advisory Committee have recommended the application be denied.

Council will review the application Monday.



Cyclist injured by car

A 16-year-old cyclist suffered minor injuries after being hit by a car in Rutland, Thursday night.

At 9:10 p.m., the Kelowna youth was crossing McCurdy Road at Hollywood Road North when the driver of a Mazda 6 collided with the youth.

The cyclist was in at a marked crosswalk equipped with flashing lights, but the lights had not been activated.

Police say the cyclist “reportedly appeared out of nowhere,” and the driver was unable to stop in time.

The 36-year-old Albertan driver remained at the scene and helped the injured rider.

The youth was taken to Kelowna General Hospital by ambulance with minor, non-life-threatening injuries.

“RCMP wish to remind cyclists to always walk their bikes across busy intersections using the crosswalk and while following traffic signals,” said Const. Jesse O’Donaghey. “A bicycle is the smallest vehicle on the road, therefore it is imperative that all cyclists be visible, ride predictably, know how traffic works and communicate with other road users.”

Police are not recommending charges at this time, but ask anyone who saw the incident to call Const. Katherine Bizier at 250-762-3300.



A 'pawsitive' experience

They care for pets both at home and away.

A local holistic veterinary clinic is returning to Mexico to help spay and neuter dogs after a successful trip in 2014.

The team at Pawsitive Veterinary Care says their visit to Cancun was very fulfilling and it was clear their help was needed.

“Too many unwanted dogs and cats either are left abandoned to reproduce yet more unwanted pets or are abused beyond belief. We were able to make a big difference for two different volunteer rescue organizations there,” states a press release.

Now one veterinarian, two animal health technicians and two support staff will be travelling this November to Puerto Penasco to help the animals.

They are looking to raise funds for the trip and will be holding a special ‘pet lover’s market’ to gather donations.

Pet Together in the Barking Lot will take place Sunday Sept. 25 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 1551 Sutherland Avenue.

In 2014 the team collected bottles and cans, and volunteered toenail trims for donations to fund the trip.

“We left a sizeable chunk of cash with the volunteers in Cancun along with a bunch of much needed drugs and supplies,” they said.

Pawsitive Veterinary Care also helps animals locally by fundraising for the Okanagan Humane Society and discounting those less fortunate who need procedures for their pets.

A GoFundMe page is also set up to help raise money for the 2016 excursion. Currently just over $1,000 of the $8,000 has been raised.



Raid and Conquer

If pillage and plunder is the name of your game then Raid and Conquer is designed for you.

The unique deck building game is the latest endeavour from the Kelowna company High Roller Games. Based off of the TV program Vikings, the strategic game allows players to battle each other or work together and travel to newly discovered lands to raid and pillage.

High Roller Games CEO Derek Hodgins says his team pitched the idea for the game about a year ago.

“They liked the idea, so we got right to work, play testing hundreds of hours with local gamers and fans of the show,” Hodgins said.

He says the game plays and feels just like the show.

“You choose one of five characters at the start of the game, so you have Floki, Rollo, Lagertha and Ragnar,” he explained. “Basically you pillage and plunder your way into France and Spain and attack other vikings.”

The point of the game is to collect legend points with treasure and raid cards and whoever has the most legend points wins.

“You can go on a lone raid where you get all the treasure to yourself,” said Hodgins. “You can attack another character, so that is where it has this real poker-like feel in the game. You can betray people, you can align with someone one round and then go after them the next round.”

While the game is basically designed and ready to go, High Roller Games has decided to launch a Kickstarter campaign to allow fans to help build a premium edition.

Mark Tompkins of BUZZ Internet Solutions is working with Hodgins on the project and says they have the game at about 95 per cent.

“Now we go onto Kickstarter, we ask the fans what the game is going to look like and get some input from them,” explained Tompkins. “What they do is they back our project on Kickstarter and it allows us to make a more premium project.”

The company has a goal to raise $64,000 in the next 30 days. For more information contact Tompkins at  [email protected]



Dangerous offender or not?

Crown counsel argued in B.C. Supreme Court Thursday that Michael Ellis deserves to be designated a dangerous offender.

Ellis was found guilty in February 2015 of 17 of 22 charges in an infamous 2012 police chase and shootout along Westside Road.

Three people led police on an hour-long pursuit from West Kelowna to Vernon, carjacking several vehicles during the chase.

Ashley Collins, Shawn Wysynski and Michael Ellis were eventually arrested near the Swan Lake junction near Vernon.

Wysynski testified in December 2014 he had forced Ellis at gunpoint to flee from police. Wysynski is currently serving a nine-year sentence for his part in the pursuit.

Collins, who was pregnant at the time, pleaded guilty to knowingly being in a vehicle with illegal firearms and was given an 18-month suspended sentence and 18 months probation. She had suffered a gunshot wound in the abdomen during the shootout, resulting in a miscarriage.

Ellis is the last of the three to be sentenced.

While he pleaded guilty a year and a half ago, the Crown is seeking an additional dangerous or long-term offender designation that would allow for either an indeterminate sentence or federal supervision of Ellis for up to 10 years after his release from jail.

“If your lordship declines in finding Ellis a dangerous offender, the Crown is submitting that the court treat this application as a long-term offender application,” said Crown prosecutor Murray Kaay.

While Ellis's defence counsel, John Gustafson, argued earlier this week that Crown lacks evidence with substance, Kaay said Ellis meets the criteria to be deemed a dangerous offender.

“The Crown's position is that Mr. Ellis ought to be declared a dangerous offender as he constitutes a threat to the life, safety or physical and mental well being of others,” Kaay said.

“He is now 42 years old, he has a total of 56 convictions, he spent much of his adult life in jail. He has been incarcerated in both federal and provincial jails. His record is lengthy, it is serious and it compasses a wide spectrum of offences.”

Kaay said Ellis now has “the dubious distinction” of having been convicted of 20 offences that fall under the dangerous or long-term offender application.

“The Crown contends the evidence does show patterns of repetitive behaviours, and persistently aggressive behaviour.”

Forensic psychologist, Dr. Will Reimer, testified in June 2016 that Ellis is a high risk to reoffend.

A decision on a possible dangerous or long-term offender designation will be heard at a later date.

 – Click here for more Castanet stories on this case



Buy a burger to beat MS

While vehicles line the drive thru, classic cars line the parking lot at Capri Centre for the eighth-annual A&W Canada Burgers to Beat MS Day.

“August 25 is MS Day. All across Canada today, $1 from every teen burger sold will be donated to help end multiple sclerosis. All the proceeds go towards MS research and trying to help beat the disease,” said Graham Mann, area manager.

“Today at Capri Centre we will be having two car show events, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and again from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.”

Mann says everyone is invited down to have a root beer float, enjoy a teen burger for a good cause and enjoy the car show.

“We have classic cars, we have a couple jet boats, we have modified new cars. It is all kinds of cars. All kinds of things that go fast,” said Mann. “Anything flashy, lots of colour, anything to bring people down and raise awareness.”

Last year Canadians helped raise $1.6 million to help beat MS, a number A&W hopes to top this year.

“It's a big success every year,” said Mann. “Every year it gets a little bit better, more and more awareness goes out every year and it just gets a little bit better and better. Donations go up, awareness goes up and hopefully one day we will be able to beat this thing.”

Mann says MS is an important cause.

“MS is a tough disease to have to deal with. I personally know people that have been touched by it,” he said.

“Come down, buy a float, check out the car show, come in and buy some teen burgers and help a great cause.”

Canada has the highest rate of multiple sclerosis in the world, with one in 280 individuals living with MS, making it Canada’s disease.

MS is one of the most common neurological diseases among young adults in the country, attacking the central nervous system, and affecting vision, hearing, memory, balance and mobility.



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