Saturday, August 1st21.7°C

Boil-water notice

Update: July, 31

The boil-water notice for customers on the Beaver Lake water system has been downgraded to a water quality advisory.

According to Interior Health, recent testing and monitoring has shown water quality has improved and disinfection (chlorine) levels have recovered.

Interior Health recommends that children, the elderly, people with weakened immune systems and anyone seeking additional protection drink boiled water or a safe alternative until further notice.

Turbidity (water clarity) fluctuates on the Beaver Lake source and times may exceed 1 NTU.

A boil-water notice has been issued in Lake Country for customers on the Beaver Lake water system.

The District of Lake Country and Interior Health issued the notice due to a malfunction on the automatic chlorination system. This has resulted in a loss of disinfection.

It is recommended that all customers in the affected area drink boiled water or a safe alternative. 

Until further notice, water intended for the following uses should be boiled for one minute:

  • drinking
  • washing fruits and vegetables
  • making beverages or ice
  • brushing teeth

Boiled water should then be refrigerated in a clean, covered container.  Customers could also choose to use bottled or distilled water.

Crews are flushing the system and collecting additional water samples to verify water quality. A notification will be issued when water quality has improved, utility Supt. Mike Mitchell said in a media release.

If you have questions, contact the municipality at 250-766-6677 or, or Interior Health at 250-549-5714 or


Topless sunbathing OK?

The story of a young woman told to cover up by RCMP after she was sunbathing topless on a local beach touched a nerve with many Castanet viewers.

More than 100 people commented on the story "Going topless not a crime" – with some heated debate both for and against woman baring it all on Okanagan beaches.

While there is no municipal bylaw in Kelowna against going topless, police claim they may ask women to cover up as a courtesy to families if people feel uncomfortable.

In a recent poll by Castanet, just over 62 per cent of more than 3,500 viewers voted to "live and let live" when it comes to topless sunbathing.

Castanet hit the beach to find out what those who were enjoying the sun and sand thought.

Watch here.

Fortis rates rise again

Electricity will cost more for Okanagan customers of FortisBC, starting Saturday.

Fortis has completed its annual rate review with the B.C. Utilities Commission and received approval for an increase of 1.6 per cent.

Fortis said in a statement the increase is necessary to allow upgrades and improvements to the electrical system, and to purchase added capacity.

“Since 2004, FortisBC has invested over $1 billion in safety and reliability upgrades, so this is a continuation of that,” said Michael Allison, manager of corporate communications for the utility. “It’s essentially infrastructure, capacity purchase agreements and things to ensure, long term, our customers’ service integrity is maintained.”

The additional capacity is needed to accommodate peak usage in winter, according to Allison.

He said the infrastructure the increase pays for does not include smart meters.

“Advanced meters are actually going to pay for themselves,” he said.

Allison said the $51-million program will pay for itself by eliminating the need for employees to go door to door to check meters, and by helping to locate outages quickly and easily.

In addition to the new increase, a 3.5 per cent interim increase from Jan. 1 was made permanent.

Having the two increases within one year is unusual, but Allison said that's because Fortis and the BCUC recently changed their rate-making structure.

“Typically, we would be able to wrap up all the rates in the fall of 2014 and have that ready for Jan. 1,” Allison said. “Since we were working with the B.C. Utilities Commission on this regulatory structure, that was delayed and so an interim rate change was put in.”


Returning creek to nature

The federal government will kick in up to $249,000 toward restoration of Mission Creek to a more natural flow.

Kelowna-Lake Country MP Ron Cannan made the announcement on the Mission Creek Greenway Friday morning. It was the latest in a series of funding announcements by Cannan this week ahead of an anticipated election call on the weekend.

The federal funding was made possible through the Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnerships Program.

The city will receive funds on a matching basis, however, it must raise a similar amount first, through private, non-government means.

Agriculture and environment manager Todd Cashin said the city has already raised more than half the $249,000.

The federal grant was applied for by the Central Okanagan Land Trust.

Cashin said the city will use the funds to begin work on altering the flow of the lower sections of Mission Creek.

Mayor Colin Basran said the city hopes to begin work in the fall.

"Work will include setting back the dykes to widen the creek, re-establishing the flood plain, restoring the creek bank and planting riparian vegetation, creating habitat for species at risk, improving drainage for agricultural land," said Basran.

"We will continue to work with stakeholders to secure funding, acquire property, relocate and upgrade the dyke along Mission Creek."

Back in the 1950s, sections of the creek were channelized and diked to prevent flooding. It resulted in a loss of 80 per cent of its spawning habitat and more than 25 per cent of its length.

At one time, between Okanagan Lake and Casorso Bridge, Mission Creek was 60 to 80 metres wide and about 30 kilometres long.

The creek now averages 31 metres in width and is about 11 kilometres in length.

Grill thrills await

Tree Brewing was taken over by chefs Thursday afternoon to hype the upcoming the Ktown Showdown barbecue competition.

The competition takes place Aug. 22 and pits 10 local chefs against each other for barbecue bragging rights. All chefs will have to use the same cut of meat, which was revealed Thursday as pulled-pork. Now, they can get to work on their recipes.

Last year’s champion, Justin Best, represents the new BNA Brewing Co. & Eatery, after winning with Hotel Eldorado last year. He demo'd his own take on a Chinese barbecue pork pastry on Thursday, but said he would be switching it up for the actual competition.

Best said the chef community in Kelowna is close, and, after working all over Canada, he has no plans to leave.

Chef Beth Ross represented the Delta Grand Okanagan Resort. She's lived in Kelowna for nine months and thinks events like the Ktown Showdown are great to bring local chefs together.

“We’ll chit-chat with the other chefs and build connections that way – and build friendships and talk about the business,” Ross said. “It’s good to kind of know who’s out there, because there’s always new restaurants opening up.”

The competition takes place at the Kelowna Curling Club. Each chef’s dish will be paired with a craft beer from B.C. There will also be a car show and live music.

Parking lot shaming

Poor parker beware. Kelowna residents aren't above a little parking lot shaming.

The Facebook group Sh*t Parkers of Kelowna, which posts submitted pictures of bad and inconsiderate parking jobs, has seen increased activity so far this summer. There were 21 posts in July and 31 in June, compared to the mid-teens in spring.

One Castanet reader sent in a picture of a lime green Dodge Challenger double-parked in the Home Depot parking lot on Wednesday.

“Is this how people park in Kelowna? Really?” he wrote.

Another Kelowna resident posted a picture to Facebook on Thursday of a vehicle parked outside his apartment building. The picture shows a red pickup that parked within a hair's breadth of the photographer's Mustang. He had some choice words for the driver of the pickup on the post that can’t be repeated here.

Meanwhile, the Facebook page has 5,796 likes as of July 30. Comments on the page range from hostile to humourous.

“I wish every parking lot had a guy with a forklift to deal with cars like this and keep the lot neat and tidy,” one group member wrote.

Pet owners still don't get it

While police, SPCA and regional district held a press conference on the importance of not leaving pets in hot vehicles, five complaints about dogs left in cars were received at the Kelowna shelter.

One was potentially serious, as two dogs were left in a small bus in a downtown parking lot for more than 2 1/2 hours. Although the windows were open, temperatures soared to more than 30 C, prompting dog control to issue a ticket and the SPCA to issue an order.

In the Central Okanagan, fines of $150 can be implemented against dog owners for leaving pets inside a hot vehicle. Since the bylaw was adopted last year, 10 tickets have been issued.

Kathy Woodward with the SPCA says it can take as little as 10 minutes for temperatures to reach a point that can seriously harm or kill a pet.

“Dogs have no sweat glands, so they cool themselves by panting and by releasing heat through their paws. On summer days, the hot air and upholstery in a vehicle can make it impossible for pets to cool themselves,” she explains. “Dogs can withstand high temperatures for only a short period of time.”

According to Kelowna shelter manager Suzanne Pugh, across B.C., the organization responded to more than 1,100 calls for animals left in hot vehicles last year.

So far, this summer, there have been more than 850. “In Kelowna ... we have already had staff out to 80 calls.”

Responding to the calls takes staff away from caring for animals at the shelter.

“Every year, throughout the summer, I am faced with making the decision to close the shelter doors because our team has to be out on the road responding emergency situations with animals left in hot vehicles. It is a really difficult choice to make. We have to respond to the emergency situation, but it also prevents homeless animals being adopted if we are closed.”

During the press conference, RCMP Const. Steve Holmes placed a stuffed dog inside a vehicle parked in the shade. After only 10 minutes, temperatures climbed from 26 C to 34 C.  A car parked in direct sunlight had an inside temperature of 45 C.

“If there is enough evidence during an investigation, that person can be charged under the criminal charge for neglect or cause of suffering to an animal,” says Holmes.

If you see a pet in distress in a hot vehicle, call the Kelowna SPCA at 250-861-7722, dog control at 250-469-6284, or the RCMP.

Holmes says police don’t advocate the public take matters into their own hands and smash a window. Instead, he asks the public to educate themselves on the symptoms of distress.

Fed cash for Munson Pond

Yet another federal government funding announcement, as the possibility of an election campaign lies just days away.

Thursday's announcement by Kelowna-Lake Country MP Ron Cannan concerns Munson Pond.

The feds have handed over slightly more than $75,000 to support conservation efforts of the pond.

The riparian area will be expanded by eradicating noxious weeds and re-introducing native plants and trees.

Beyond the riparian area, upland forest will be re-established to create a fully functioning ecosystem supporting a variety of wildlife species including reptiles, amphibians and small mammals.

Approximately 9.8 hectares of habitat will be protected, 10,000 native plants and trees will be planted and 10 wildlife structures will be installed. 

The money will be used primarily for materials and supplies and other funders for the project will be contributing 60% of the total project value.

Other funders include local schools, naturalist clubs and the City of Kelowna. This project supports the National Conservation Plan by conserving and restoring land and connects Canadian families to their natural spaces in the Okanagan region.

Art takes over Bernard Ave.

Bernard Avenue lacked vehicles but was buzzing with art lovers on Thursday under the hot, Kelowna sun.

Festivals Kelowna hosted their first ever Arts on the Avenue festival, which provided a space for local visual artists to show off and sell their pieces.

The event shut down Bernard Avenue between Water Street and Pandosy Street starting at approximately 1 p.m. The event ran from 5 p.m. until 10 p.m.

“We’re trying to mirror some of the really cool events we're seeing happen around other communities, like the Richmond Night Market for example,” said Renata Mills, executive director of Festivals Kelowna. “It’s just kind of fun to shut down a street and walk where cars usually are.”

Dozens of artists were set up along Bernard Avenue, staying out of the sun under canopies.

Vivian Dere, an artist at the event, said it was very hot while setting up her display, but once the canopies were up it was bearable. She said she hopes to see the festival become an annual event

“If this could be a yearly thing, I think it could be quite a good thing for the whole Okanagan Valley artists,” Dere said. “It’s an opportunity for people to see who’s out there.”

Dere said events like this bring people together, and allow artists to see what others are up to.

“Artists are inherently not that social, so this is great for artists to meet other artists,” she said. “There are some very creative people, especially out here.”

The location of the festival brings art to people that might not go out of their way to find local art.

“It’s in such a public space, being right downtown, people can see your work that might not normally go to an arts festival,” said Natasha Harvey, another artist on Bernard Avenue. She said she normally sells her work out of her studio.

Mills hopes to see the festival become an annual event.

“As a first year, it’s a bit of a trial, we start small,” she said. “We try to perfect them and then you grow them.

“We’ve had a waiting list of artists for at least three weeks, so I think there’s definitely an opportunity to expand to another block next year.”

Mills said one man already sold a $3,000 piece before he had even finished setting up.

“I'm delighted to look around and see people buying things," Mills said. “It was worth his time."

Petition for new dog beach

Kelowna dog lovers and their water-loving pooches have been fighting for a second dog beach in the city for years – now, a new petition is gaining traction and getting noticed by the city.

The online and print petition has gained more than 1,000 signatures from dog owners who are fed up with having only one beach in town as an option.

The petition asks the City of Kelowna to turn Sutherland Park on Ellis Street, beside the Tolko mill, into a new fenced-off off-leash dog park.

Currently, dog owners can only get lake access in Kelowna at the Cedar Creek Dog Park on Lakeshore Road. It is the only dog-friendly beach in the city and one that requires a decent drive and access to a vehicle.

From downtown Kelowna, it takes at least 25 minutes to get to the Cedar Creek park, not taking into account the Lakeshore construction. From Rutland, the park is a 30-minute drive and from Glenmore, dog owners are looking at least 35 minutes.

Bernice Leduc started the petition.

She points out that while there are several off-leash dog parks around the city, access to water and/or shade is vital during Okanagan summers.

“It would be really nice to have a place to take our dogs to swim, a place that is safe and accessible,” writes Leduc. “There is plenty of room down here (Sutherland) to accommodate dogs and humans.”

She feels it is a shame the best dog beaches in the area are on the Westside and in Summerland. 

Those who have signed the petition seem to agree with the proposed park location.

“The dog beach out on Lakeshore is a long way for me to take my dog swimming,” writes Frank Chute.

“The Sutherland park is perfect for a dog beach as nobody swims there anyway because of all the geese droppings. If we turned it into a dog beach, that would eliminate the geese problem. Also, the park is already fenced; all that would have to be done is install a few gates.”

Bonny Puglia also points out the beach is not used or liked by swimmers because of its proximity to the sawmill.

“We need more fenced off-leash dog parks, especially with access to water,” adds Puglia.

City parks planning manager Terry Barton is aware of the petition and says petitioners and dog owners are on the right track.

Barton says the park has been considered by staff in the past, and it was an off-leash dog park in the late 1990s. But, it wasn't properly fenced or located, and neighbours were not fans.

“It proved not to be popular, so it was removed after a short time. It aggravated the local neighbourhood too much,” says Barton. “ So, if we were to go forward with the same or similar location, we would obviously want to do it in a more responsible way and address some of these neighbourhood concerns.”

While it may appear fairly easy to put a dog beach in that location, Barton says it is not as easy and throwing up a fence and putting in some gates.

“City staff would have to look at some of the tactical considerations,” explains Barton. “We would have to see how we could fit it in, how much cost it would be, how parking could be accommodated, would it trigger the need for washrooms, how could that be accommodated – there is a lot to consider. It is more than whether simply a location is somewhere you might think is a good location or not.”

Barton says city staff are aware the Cedar Creek dog park is out of the way for many dog owners and says they have been trying for years to find a solution.

“There has been an overall high-arching objective of trying to find another off-leash dog park along the lake for a number of years, and you can imagine that is very difficult to find one,” says Barton.

“There is one in the south that serves that community very well, but the need is really in the central area, in and around the downtown. So, that is the location people really want see it. But, having said that, it is difficult to find the right location that is not going to cause problems.”

Barton says about five years ago city officials attempted a proposal for a off-leash dog-friendly park at Kinsmen Beach Park, but it was met with resistance from neighbours and naturalists and the proposal failed.

“We have simply been waiting for the right opportunity. It is not exactly clear where that right opportunity is,” says Barton. “It has got to be done in a responsible fashion and there is just not a location that pops out as an ideal location.”

Barton says they are looking at a possible linear location north of Sutherland Park that would keep the dogs farther from neighbours, but all current ideas are just that and would need further study and evaluation.

The petition closes July 31 and will be delivered to City Hall.

“We are not against it, we would take it under consideration and study its impacts. If this was an easy location, we would have brought it forth many years ago,” adds Barton. “There are definitely trade-offs and issues that we need to resolve somehow.”

You can get to the online petition by clicking here.

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