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Murder suspect in custody

Bill Everitt

UPDATE 7 P.M. - The man wanted in connection with Thursday's murder of a 55-year-old man aboard a Kelowna Transit bus is now in custody.

Kelowna RCMP made the announcement early Friday evening.

His name cannot be released until charges have been laid. 

RCMP say the investigation remains a priority and it is ongoing. 


Kelowna RCMP said they are "very certain" they know who the suspect is in Thursday night's fatal stabbing on a city bus in Kelowna.

The stabbing occurred around 6:30 p.m. Thursday night on the 8 University bus while it was stopped behind Dilworth Shopping Centre on Baron Road. A 55-year-old Kelowna man was fatally injured and died at the scene.

Supt. Nick Romanchuk said RCMP know where the suspect is located but have not yet arrested or charged the man. The suspect is known to police and is believed to still be in the Okanagan. 

RCMP would not comment on what the weapon is or where it was located.

Romanchuk said they believe the attack to be random. The victim was not known to police and it is unknown whether the victim knew his attacker.

RCMP said the investigation has also identified several other persons of interest. 

The identity of the victim and suspect are being kept secret at this time. RCMP are also not revealing a description of the suspect or a photograph, citing safety and security procedures enacted since the attack last night. 

They also would not give details on the safety plan but said that residents of Kelowna should not be overly concerned by Thursday night's homicide. 

 

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Ground broken at tech centre

Premier Christy Clark dug the first hole at the Okanagan Centre for Innovation construction site Friday morning. 

Clark was joined by local technology entrepreneurs to mark the beginning of construction on the leading edge technology centre.

"Whether they are already a big player like Club Penguin, or a promising startup like Bananatag, successful entrepreneurs are crucial to a strong economy," said Clark. "That's why we are investing in this project - so local innovators get a head start in growing their business, creating jobs, and solidifying Kelowna as a leader in technological development and investment."

With the site fenced and excavated, shovels have officially hit the ground. The foundation for the six-storey, 9,850 square-metre (106,000 square-foot) centre is scheduled to be laid in mid-November and construction completed by early 2016, creating about 500 construction jobs in the process.

The centre will provide low-cost, flexible space for local students, entrepreneurs and technology startups, who will also gain benefits from the convenience of being housed in one space to network, share ideas and pass on experience - not to mention gaining mentoring and support from in-house neighbours like Accelerate Okanagan.

"Kelowna has a diverse and thriving tech community, which has set the stage for this development," said Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens' Services Andrew Wilkinson. "The new Okanagan Centre for Innovation will allow Kelowna to build on that success by providing entrepreneurs with the skills, guidance and workspace they need to prosper."

The project is the result of a collaborative group with a shared vision, including community members, private industry partners and academic leaders from Okanagan College, University of British Columbia, Accelerate Okanagan, and the Central Okanagan Development Commission.

They all have a common goal of seeing Kelowna's entrepreneurs advance as national and international leaders in technology.

The centre is being built on city-owned land valued at more than $2 million and under long-term lease from the City of Kelowna. The city will also receive ownership of a portion of the building that will be leased back to the Okanagan Centre for Innovation to provide non-profit space.

Once completed, this new centre will be third-largest dedicated technology building of its kind in BC.

"I believe we'll look back on the start of this project as one of the sparks that made Kelowna a hotspot for technology development in Canada and around the world," said Kelowna Mayor Walter Gray. "Great partnerships among levels of government, centres of learning and business development groups will continue to expand our sustainable, knowledge-based economy."

The BC government will own 1,860 square metres (20,000 square feet) of space in the building, which will provide low-cost, flexible space for start-ups at a venture stage.

 



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Permit problems at CrocTalk

Castanet Staff

Earlier this week, the power was cut and the lights went out on CrocTalk after the non-profit conservation facility found itself unable to pay mounting bills from FortisBC.

But thanks to some crowd funding and a few generous donations, CrocTalk is back in session... sort of. Money woes have plagued the crocodilian rescue centre for years, but their most recent financial troubles may be compounded by the recent loss of their Controlled Alien Species (CAS) zoo permit, which does not allow them to display their animals to the public.

This concerns the SPCA, who rightly assume that without the ability to showcase their animals, CrocTalk profits may dwindle even further and could even result in the inability to feed the animals.

“It’s very concerning, he currently does not meet the criteria that the government has set out for zoos,” says Dr. Sara Dubois, Chief Scientific Officer with the SPCA.

Due to a change in legislation CrocTalk lost their permit earlier this year (after a grace period), but were granted a personal possession permit, which still allowed them to possess the animals, but prohibited any public viewing or breeding.

“He was one of the very few facilities that was allowed to have a displayed zoo permit without actually meeting all of the criteria, because they wanted to give him the ability to try and meet that criteria,” says Dubois.

To meet this criteria, CrocTalk must be apart of the Canadian Accredited Zoos and Aquariums or CAZA, which they are currently not. Massimo Bergamini, Executive Director of Canada's Accredited Zoos and Aquariums, says they have yet to receive a request for accreditation, however, institutions have until March 1 to submit their application for consideration in 2015.

But Illman says it has made no sense applying to CAZA, because the current location of CrocTalk isn’t permanent and he wants to move to a different location before applying, which leaves his application process at a stand still with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

“We just want to get out of this facility and into a bigger location, so we can attract more guests, schools, tourists who come here,” he says. “You would be surprised the number of tourists that come to Kelowna, just because of CrocTalk.”

A new location that Illman is looking into is located in Lake Country and currently has a building on site, but this croc lover admits it could cost up to $2.5 million to get the structure and land open and up to code, and he is hoping a local philanthropist will step up to help.

But the SPCA is also concerned over the amount of time it would take to get the building up to code, plus the duration of time it would take to process a CAZA application, and how the animals would fare in the meantime. 

This leaves Dubois to wonder what will become of the animals as CrocTalk is again asking the public for financial help to cover expenses.

“So basically he is asking you (the public) to pay for his pet food,” says Dubois. “That to us makes us very nervous, because if you can’t afford to feed the animals in you have in your care and your asking members of the public to help you do that, that is concerning.”

Illman counters this claim by asking how it is any different than the SPCA and their continuous fundraising to house, feed and rehabilitate their animals.

He also admits knowing since 2010 about changes to the animal permits, but says he had been waiting on a merger with the BC Wildlife Park in Kamloops -- which would have been a permanent location -- but that fell through this summer.

“The President of the Kamloops Wildlife Society decided that they wanted to stay (with) indigenous animals and if I wanted to merge I would have to do all the fundraising myself, build the building myself, donate it all to them, donate my animals, no guarantee of an income for me or my employees and it just wasn’t going to work out.”

CrocTalk hopes to have a permanent location by the end of this year, where either his new facility in Lake Country becomes a reality, or he is forced to move to the Calgary area where an unnamed donor has offered up an opportunity.

“Moving to Lake Country is still a funding issue; this is where we could use some of those local philanthropists (to help us),” says Illman.

All of the animals in Illman’s care have recently been checked over by conservation, as well as the SPCA, and were given a clean bill of health. Croc Talk is still open to the public however all crocodilian-related animals must be covered up. To donate please click here.

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Fatal stabbing on city bus

Bill Everitt

10:47 A.M. UPDATE: 

Police in Kelowna, B.C., are in the early stages of their investigation after a passenger was stabbed to death aboard a bus and the suspect fled the scene.

RCMP Const. Kris Clark says the incident occurred early Thursday evening and that he couldn't say if the male victim died on the bus or after he was rushed to hospital.

A witness told Castanet that the man appeared to die on the scene, before he was rushed to hospital. 

Details regarding the suspect or their description have not yet been released. 

Les Milton, president of the Kelowna local of the Amalgamated Transit Workers union, says it was a rough night for passengers and the bus driver who looked on in horror.

Milton says the passenger is believed to have been stabbed in the neck when the bus pulled over at a regular stop.

 


9:20 p.m. Update:

A witness has come forward and given more details about the incident to Castanet.

The witness, who wanted to remain anonymous, was two feet away from the victim when he was attacked. She says their eyes met and he looked at her with disbelief that he had been stabbed. He was holding his hand over the bleeding neck wound he'd just received in an apparent random act of violence. 

She helped another male passenger try to save the victim's life, she compressed an article of her clothing against the man's wound to try and stop him from losing more blood.

The witness says there did not appear to be an altercation on the bus before the man was fatally wounded by another passenger.

"He just got on the bus and before he got off he stabbed him in the neck," she says. "The driver had already stopped the bus when the guy stabbed him and ran off."

"By the time the cops got there, the guy was already dead, I could tell by his eyes."

She says the victim looked to be in his 50s and she said she had noticed him on the bus before. 

The woman did not see what the attacker looked like; others reported the man was wearing a grey hoodie.

The stabbing occurred behind Safeway on Baron Road on the 6:21 p.m. University 8 bus. There were about 20 people on the bus at the time of the incident.

RCMP say the suspect is still at large.

An earlier version of this story mistakenly said the incident occurred before 6 p.m. It occurred around 6:30 p.m.

Were you on the bus? If you've already talked to the RCMP, please send your story to [email protected]


A man was fatally stabbed on a Kelowna city bus just before 6 p.m. Thursday. 

The suspect is still at large and RCMP have cordoned off several areas on Leckie Road behind the Staples building. 

The witness told Castanet that just before 6 p.m. there was some altercation on the bus which resulted in a stabbing.

"The Kelowna RCMP were called to a report of a disturbance on a city transit bus on Baron Road behind Dilworth Centre, located at 2339 Highway 97," media relations officer Cst Kris Clark said in a release. "An unknown male passenger was rushed to hospital but he succumbed to his injuries. Efforts are underway to apprehend the suspect at this time."

There were other passengers on the bus at the time. They are currently being interviewed by the RCMP and will be transferred to another bus to complete their journeys. 

RCMP also have an area near a dumpster at 2035 Quail Place taped off. It was overheard that the suspect may have dropped something in the area, although it's currently unclear what the item might be. 

The road is blocked behind the Staples building West of Leckie and Baron. 

Anyone with any information who has yet to speak with police are asked to call the Kelowna RCMP at 250-762-3300.

Remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477, leaving a tip online at www.crimestoppers.net or by texting your tip to CRIMES (274637) ktown.
 

Were you on the bus? If you've already talked to the RCMP, please send your story to [email protected]

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Roller derby contest winner

UPDATE:

The winner of two tickets to the annual Roller Derby Halloween party is ..... Landon Bradshaw!

He came up with the hilarious caption, "And you thought traffic around the mall could get bad ..."

Honourable mentions include "We said "roller" not "roll her!!" by Chelsey Edwards and "This ain't yer daddy's hockey game" by James Hull. 

Thank you to everyone who sent in your creative entries!

If you would still like to join the derby gals at their fourth annual Halloween party, check out their Facebook page for all the details on where you can snag some last minute tickets. 


ORIGINAL:

The Okanagan Roller Derby Association is giving two lucky readers a chance to join them at one the best Halloween parties in Kelowna!

If you are over 19 and want to party with the derby gals, send your best 'caption' for the photo above to [email protected] for your chance to win the tickets. 

Friday morning we will announce the winner and the tickets will be waiting for you at the Castanet office that afternoon. 

The fourth annual party rocks the Laurel Packinghouse Saturday evening and promises...

- DJ (lots of dancing!)
- costume contest
- candy station
- Tree Brewing 
- Squeezed Wines

For more info on the event check out their Facebook event page here. 

 



Power restored in Dilworth

Update -- 7:40 a.m.

Power has now been restored to all 400 customers, according to FortisBC. They are still investigating the cause of the outage.


A number of homes and businesses in the Dilworth area of Kelowna are without power this morning.

FortisBC announced on Twitter around 6 a.m. that approximately 400 customers were without power near Dilworth and Enterprise, and the company was in the process of locating the outage.

They have recently updated their message to say about half of those people have now had their power restored.

The issue has also affected a large swath of businesses along the northside of Harvey Avenue, from Dillworth Drive to Hardy Street.

Traffic lights at Cooper Road are also out, with police on scene to direct morning commuters.



City Park: walk, bike this way

A new City Park Concept Plan calls for a more extensive pathway system and a concentrated activity area.

The plan, which will be presented to City Council Monday, looks at nearly two dozen specific features for the park including an enhanced pathway system, separate pedestrian and bicyclist waterfront pathways, activity zone, reconstruction of Jubilee Bowl and enhanced Abbott Street frontage.

  • Separate pedestrian/bicyclist pathway - The pedestrian portion of the walkway would run along the side nearest the water. Other users would be encouraged to use the bicycle portion of the pathway.
  • Enhanced pathway system - At present, there are few designated pedestrian routes within the interior of the park. An extended all-weather pathway system would provide opportunities for individuals, particularly those with mobility restrictions that preclude movement along the grass, to experience more of the interior areas of the park.
  • Activity Zone - The majority of infrastructure intended for active recreation would be concentrated in the northeast quadrant of the park, freeing the remainder of the park for preservation of green space. The children's playground would be relocated to this area while the skateboard park and spray park would remain in the same general area. Infrastructure for adult outdoor exercise and ball hockey would also be considered.
  • Enhanced Abbott Street frontage - Several improvements are proposed including continuation of the Bernard streetscape to the Abbott/Bernard intersection, better identification of the Leon Avenue entrance, upgrading of the Rose Garden and upgrades to the north entrance to be coordinated with upgrades to Kerry Park.
  • Reconstruction of Jubilee Bowl - The facility is in poor condition and will need replacing in the foreseeable future. It is proposed that locker and shower facilities be added under the stands at such time as the structure is rebuilt. Discussions with Active Living and Culture staff recommend that the stands be re-oriented more towards the lake to take advantage of the scenic backdrop.

The report also stated that, while it is the goal of the city to save the existing trees within the park, "it might not be possible to implement some of the proposed changes without removing trees on a selective basis."

"All means would be used to preclude tree removal or other negative impacts," the report stated.

It was also suggested a number of features within the park are aging and may need to be upgraded within the next 10 years including the spray park, skateboard park, playground, basketball courts and the waterfront walkway.

The Concept Plan remains just that until such time as a budget is approved for detailed design work and construction.

Council will be asked Monday to endorse the plan as a guide to investment over the next 10 years and, pending consideration by council, staff be directed to complete an assessment of current facilities in conjunction with the next update to the 10-year Capital Plan.



Halloween safety tips

Halloween is one of the most exciting holidays for young children and adults alike, as costumes are selected and treats are consumed in bulk.

But as people go trick or treating, basic safety tips are sometimes overlooked.

RCMP in the province suggest people follow these tips:

Children:

  • Halloween is more fun when shared with friends; never go alone
  • Can you see? Are you being seen?
  • Wear reflective, bright coloured costumes and avoid masks that restrict your vision
  • Only trick or treat at houses with lights turned on
  • Never eat treats until an adult has inspected them
  • Don’t criss-cross streets or run out from between parked vehicles
  • Walk on sides of roads or sidewalks and when approaching homes, be respectful by not cutting across lawns

Motorists:

  • Slowdown; expect kids to pop out at any time
  • Be prepared to react and stay alert

Homeowners:

  • If you are participating in Halloween, keep your lights on and porch or walkway clear of debris and potential items easily tripped on

It should also be noted that fireworks are not allowed to be sold or set off in the Central Okanagan, unless authorized by local fire departments. Penalties vary depending on the local jurisdiction, but fireworks also pose a safety hazard and the potential for serious burns or injury.

Pet owners are also asked to keep their animals inside while trick or treaters are out and about. 



Haunted Kelowna

It's a headless horseman kind of week.

Halloween is only a few days away and there are several spooky spectacles for kids and adults to experience in and around Kelowna.

Cam Lowther has set up a display in his yard and a ghost-pirate themed maze in his garage as a way to collect food and money for the Kelowna Food bank, all while terrifying those who dare enter.

Sysco foods donated chocolate bars for the kids and hot dogs which are available by donation. 

"Our Country Roads neighbourhood always did a food drive around Halloween for the past six years," Lowther said. "[Last year] I decided I like Halloween so why don't I do a big set up and try to do even more.

That worked out and this year we're trying to do it bigger."

He is located at 12 - 6100 Old Vernon Road and will be open on Friday night. All the proceeds will be donated to the Kelowna Food bank. 

There are also a couple of terrifying corn mazes to get lost in.

The Kelowna Corn Maze is located at 575 Valley Road near Glenmore. This is the fourth year the maze has been scaring people senseless and will run from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. everyday until Oct. 31.

If you're in East Kelowna, McMillan Farms also has a creepy corn maze at #1 - 3690 Berard Rd. 

Their hours are: 

  • Sunday to Tuesday - 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Wednesday to Saturday - 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Another haunted insane asylum and yard will be set up at 990 Graf Rd., located at the top of Hartman Hill. 

Be prepared to be scared, Halloween night only from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. 

Also in the Glenmore area is the annual Kerr Rd Haunted House of Terror.

  • Located at 1812 Kerr Rd in North Glenmore
  • SPCA donation appreciated
  • Not recommended for small children
  • Turn off Glenmore/Union/Snowcell/Henkel/Kathler/Kerr
     

Have a haunted house of your own? Email [email protected] with pics and info and we will add you to the story.

 



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