Saturday, November 22nd0.6°C

Road network up for discussion

Residents are invited to drop by an open house at the Capital News Centre on Wednesday, Nov. 26 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. to learn more about the possible reprioritization of road network plans in the Okanagan Mission area.

“The City has received a developer proposal to accelerate the construction of South Perimeter Road from Gordon Drive to Stewart Road West approximately 10 years ahead of schedule,” says director of business ventures, John Vos.

“Council has asked staff to engage the community to hear firsthand if this is acceptable.”

This additional access to the Okanagan Mission could be in place as early as 2015 to facilitate the establishment of the Pond’s commercial village centre linking the communities of Crawford and the Ponds.

“The schedule could bump other projects for an additional three to six years, affecting the more notable road improvements on Casorso Road from Benvoulin to Bedford and Lakeshore Road from DeHart to Old Meadows. The exception of this of course is the Lakeshore Road adjacent to Anne McClymont Elementary School, which is already approved and is scheduled for 2015 pending land acquisitions,” adds Vos.

Display panels will also be available online at projects under South Perimeter Road and comments can be directed to [email protected] until Dec. 7, 2014, or dropped off at City Hall at 1435 Water St.

The South Perimeter Road has been in the Official Community Plan and 20 Year Financial Strategy as part of the Southwest Okanagan Mission Sector Plan since 1995 and is currently scheduled for construction in approximately 10 years.

Collision slows traffic

A head-on collision stopped traffic at the intersection of Leckie Road and Enterprise Way Saturday afternoon.

The call for the crash came in around 3:50 p.m. Saturday.

No injuries were reported but traffic is backing up on both routes and the road is currently blocked. 


Don't toss it, repair it!

It turns out she only had to do a little dusting. 

After the headphone jack on Melanie Marcotte's stereo boombox started giving her trouble, she was faced with either the expense of buying a new stereo or trying to have it repaired. 

After learning about Kelowna's first ever Repair Cafe through her friend Jill Labbe, Marcotte brought her troublesome electronic to Okanagan College Saturday morning. 

"Cleaning it was the big fix, the main fix to maintain it," Labbe said. "It's also hard to find a CD and cassette player these days. Boombox, ghetto blaster, not many people these days know what that means."

Regional Waste Reduction Office facilitator Cynthia Coates said the movement started in the Netherlands in 2009. After seeing the success of similar programs in Vernon, the RWRO decided to try it in Kelowna. 

"At the waste reduction office our goal is to divert from the landfill and this fits really nicely," Coates said. "Recycling is always great, but if we can move people further up the chain and think reduce, reuse, repair, that's what we're trying to do here."  

Coates said many items they see thrown into landfills only require a simple fix to stay functional.

"The other idea is to get people comfortable with taking things apart on their own," she said. "We encourage the repairers to hand over the screwdriver and have the person who brought in the item take off the back of the toaster, see the workings themselves.

"We also encourage our experts to help the person troubleshoot it, what to look for, try to pass on some knowledge as well because that knowledge is going away. These people that know how to repair things, that demographic is getting smaller." 

Anita Zittlau, who works at the College, owns a lamp that's had a loose arm for more than 30 years.  

"I got the email and thought, 'well it's probably time to get it seen to,'" she said.

When Zittlau bought the lamp it already had a arm that moved more than it should have. It turns out the lamp, which was used when Zittlau bought it, had a factory defect and was missing a nut on one arm. A simple fix that could extend the life of the lamp by another 50 years.

Al Stewart, a retired power engineer was working on the lamp Saturday morning. He said this is one of the easier fixes a person can do themselves.

"I retired from industry, all my friends always bring everything to me, so I thought 'this sounds like a fun thing to do,'" he said. "I also find fixing stuff like this therapeutic, so it was a good deal."

About 50 people took advantage of the Repair Cafe Saturday which brought out more than 20 volunteers with varying levels and areas of expertise. 

Coates said they would like to have the events at least once per year, depending on budget and community response. 


Lakeshore bridge almost done

Business owners met outgoing mayor Walter Gray to reveal the banners for the Lakeshore Road corridor Friday afternoon.

Construction began on the Lakeshore Road and bridge improvements in May and it is almost ready to open. 

Paving is weather dependant and due to the cold weather the final layer of asphalt will be done in spring. However, the road will be operational again by the end of the month.

The banners will go on the poles leading up to and after the bridge.

According to the city, the banners are designed to complement the graphic details already being incorporated into the bridge and will have a colourful riparian theme.

"The city has been good at capitalizing on themes and constructing things to be people friendly and inviting," said Gray. "This bridge is no different, it will be adorned with banners and subtleties that will remind us that it is a riparian area, it's a waterway that goes all the way to Okanagan Lake and eventually the greenway itself will go all the way to Okanagan Lake."

Owner of Mission Meats, Sharon Gray said she remains supportive of the project even though it has reduced access to her business.

"We've weathered very well but our customers were very supportive," she said. "It's been a little difficult with the roundabout going in, but you know even with that said, it's been great we're very happy with the look and feel of this neighbourhood once its going to be done." 

The outgoing mayor said this bridge will be the last major crossing of Mission Creek and was designed with the future in mind. 

"It keeps in mind, of course, the city's long term goal to get people out of their cars and on bicycles and walking, you can see by the design thats very much in mind." 


No jail time for killing mom

As the murder trial of Conor Grossmith came to a close after five days of testimony, everyone was in agreement. The man accused of second-degree murder in the death of his mother has been found not criminally responsible due to mental disorder.

Justice Alison Beames rendered her decision Friday after brief closing submissions from Crown Counsel Frank Dubenski and Grossmith's lawyer Joe Gordon. Both men agreed that the accused's mental state factored into the death of Kathleen Gilchrist, and although Grossmith was found to be extremely intoxicated, it was his bi-polar disorder that was at the root of his vicious attack on Sept. 13, 2012.

Kathleen Gilchrist was hit multiple times in the head with a claw hammer while she lay in bed, and never regained consciousness, dying in hospital nine days later.

The court heard testimony from three psychiatrists who have evaluated Grossmith. Each told the court, in some form or another, that Conor suffered from a mental disorder that was only exacerbated by the yearly "cycling up" of his manic moods that typically ramped up in September.

This mental disorder had been chronicled since at least 2009, when a previous incident involving Conor included both cocaine and marijuana.

The court heard that self-medication with alcohol or drugs is a common occurrence among those suffering from these types of illnesses and that Conor typically drank excessive amounts during times he would drink alcohol.

Conor’s blood alcohol level was between four and five times the legal limit when he bludgeoned his mother to death. He has admitted to the killing, but following his arrest later than night, showed erratic behavior at the Kelowna RCMP detachment. He paced around his cell, intentionally banged his head against the wall, and even began licking the blood off his fingers.

When asked about the attack, he showed little emotion and no recollection of the incident or why he did it.

In the courts decision, Beames agreed that Grossmith suffered from a major mental disorder or a disease of the brain. And that this ailment was present at the time and a major contributing factor in the attack on his mother.

She also found that he was incapable of knowing the act of killing his mother was wrong, and although the attack was intensified by the amount of alcohol in his system, Beames decided that it wouldn’t have happened if not for his illness.

Throughout the course of the five-day trial Grossmith showed little emotion, and provided no reaction upon learning of his sentence.

Beames then spoke directly to Conor and told him it was fortunate he still had the love and support of his family, and then wished him the best of luck in controlling and managing his illness.

Outside the courtroom Conor’s father, Harry, read a statement that in part contained the following:

“Kate Gilchrist, my wife and my children’s mother, anchored our lives with love, compassion and wisdom. My family, extended family, and her many friends feel her absence deeply.

How does one summarize the pain and sorrow my family, including my son, have experienced? How does one encapsulate this loss in a rational way? I can’t, so I won’t.

My family is satisfied with the verdict the court has rendered; it is my fervent hope, that with appropriate counseling and time, my son will find his way to lead a productive and useful life.”

Grossmith is expected to be sent to a psychiatric facility in the Lower Mainland.

Charity valet at the mall

The cold weather shuffle, armed with multiple gift bags in hand, is a familiar story to Christmas shoppers. But this season might be a little easier with some Okanagan residents helping out around the holidays.

Ben Calder is teaming up with Saxx entrepreneur Trent Kitsch, his wife Ria and the Orchard Park Shopping Centre to provide a charity valet parking service during busy mall hours over the Christmas season.

Starting this Friday, Nov. 21, from 4 to 9 p.m., the team will be located in front of the Shoppers Drug Mart entrance facing Highway 97, and they will have a special area sectioned off to park vehicles.

It will cost five dollars cash (there is a service fee for those who use credit/debit) to have your vehicle valet parked, with part of the proceeds going to the Central Okanagan Hospice Association for this Friday’s event, and various different charities for the rest of the holiday season.

Kitsch pitched the idea to Calder, who is an Okanagan College business student, with the hopes Calder would take the reins and make the ‘Charity Valet’ a reality.

“He really wanted to give an opportunity to a young entrepreneur who he trusts to help him with this project,” explains Calder. “He is also hoping to employ other Okanagan College or UBCO students this holiday season to help with the valet.”

Charity Valet kicks off this Friday, but won’t really get underway until November 28 -- also known as Black Friday.

Dates for Charity Valet are:

  • November 28, 4-9 p.m.
  • November 29-30, 1- 9 p.m.

The team hopes to finalize a lengthier schedule as the holiday season progresses and they will soon have a Facebook and Twitter feed under Kelowna Charity Valet.

“We will also have a waiting area inside between Shoppers Drug Mart and Chapters, so when you’re ready to pick up your vehicle you don’t have to wait in the cold,” says Calder.

If you’re interested in becoming a valet driver this holiday season and help raise funds for Okanagan charities please contact Calder at: [email protected]

RCMP pug rescue

A beloved family pet has been reunited with its owners after a savvy RCMP officer sensed something was amiss. 

The missing 13-year-old female pug was returned to her very grateful owner earlier this month after the dog was seen in a vehicle during a traffic stop and the officer became suspicious of its origins.

Cst. Kris Clark says Cst. Brad Smith of the Kelowna Integrated Road Safety Unit was patrolling on Guisichan Road when he stopped a Chevy pickup truck, Oct. 22 at 11:30 p.m.

“While speaking with the occupants he noticed a beautiful pug sitting in the back seat,”says Clark. “The conversation turned toward the dog and Cst. Smith found out that the pug had been "found" wandering around the Pandosy area.”

Suspicious that the dog might be lost or stolen, Cst. Smith then dug a little deeper.

“Over the next few weeks, he was able to determine that a 13-year-old female pug named "Anastasia" had been reported missing from the Pandosy area in mid-October,” explains Clark. “In photos, Anastasia looked strikingly similar to the pug he had seen during the traffic stop.”

Cst. Smith then took on the task to reunite dog with owner and tracked down the driver from that night. He was able to confirm they had the same dog that was reported missing.

“By "looking beyond the traffic stop," Cst. Smith was able to return a beloved pet to an overjoyed owner,” adds Clark.

Anastasia is now back safe and sound with her owners.

Balding for bucks

Eight-year-old Beatrice Evans bravely sits in front of her entire school, preparing for her head to be shaved bald.

It’s not the easiest task for a young girl with long blonde hair to under take, but it is something she has wanted to do for sometime, for a cause that means a lot to her and her family.

“My sister Abby, she had Leukaemia, which is a type of cancer,” explains Beatrice, which meant her sister lost all of her hair during Chemotherapy.

Beatrice’s mother Emma says someone had donated their hair to make a wig for her daughter Abby, when she had no hair of her own.

“Beatrice has, for a long time, wanted to do the same for other children. We still have quite a few people that have children that are going through Cancer treatment,” says Emma.

Teachers and staff at Black Mountain Elementary didn’t want Beatrice to be frightened when she came to school the following day with a shaved head, worried some students might not understand. So, an assembly was held just for Beatrice, to have every student watch her courageous act, as well as take the opportunity to talk to the children about cancer.

Each student was also encouraged to bring a donation and to wear their hair in a crazy way, so when Beatrice when bald she wouldn’t be the only child with a different look.

“Donations are coming in and the school has raised over $800 to date, just in children bringing in donations and coming with crazy hair,” explains Emma.

In the weeks before the event word quickly spread that Beatrice would be losing her locks and two more students stepped up to join her team. Six-year-old best friends Teagyn and Madison wouldn’t be buzzing their heads but instead would snip off their pony tails.

Madison’s mother Linette says she told her daughter absolutely, when Madison explained she wanted to cut off her hair and donated it to Wigs for Kids BC.

“How could we say no to that,” asks Linette. “It’s hair, it will grow back, and what a great big heart we are so proud of her.”

The team raised almost $3,000 dollars in total and while emotions were high all three girls knew their efforts would make another child very happy.

“I was bit…. very nervous,” says a bald teary eyed Beatrice, who explains she didn’t know why she was crying but it was an emotional time.

As for Beatrice’s sister Abby, she is now cancer free and Beatrice is Black Mountain Elementary’s new hero.

“I thought it was a brave thing to do,” says Teagyn, who also donated her hair.


Family donates $600K to UBCO

A local family with deep roots in the Okanagan recently made a substantial donation to UBCO.

Ken and Jean Finch have committed $600,000 to establish the Finch Family Undergraduate Award and the Finch Family Graduate Award.

These awards will recognize students who have demonstrated great academic focus and success, while also contributing to quality of life in the region, explains Ken Finch.

“The lives of our family have been enriched by the lifestyle of the Okanagan, and we consider ourselves very fortunate to be able to combine a great place to live with the ability to grow a business,” he says. “We would like to do our part in enhancing the opportunities for young people by investing in education as a way of supporting clean, sustainable growth in our region.”

The first Finch Family Graduate Award was presented to Christopher Collier, a PhD candidate studying electrical engineering in the School of Engineering, carrying a prize of $14,000. The Finch Family Undergraduate Award was presented to Zachary Holland, a computer sciences student in the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences. This award carries a prize of $7,000, over the third and fourth years of study.

“I am honoured to be awarded the Finch Family Graduate Award,” says Collier. “This funding helps to alleviate the financial burden of graduate studies as I continue my doctoral research. Thank you to the Finch family for supporting me through this scholarship.”

For Holland, having some of the financial pressure taken off his final two years of undergraduate studies has motivated him to push himself even harder.

“Receiving this award has relieved much of the financial stress associated with pursuing my education, and will enable me to remain more focused on my studies and other projects,” says Holland. “The award has also motivated me to keep working hard to be the best that I can be both academically and personally.”

Christmas Hampers available

With the holiday season right around the corner, the Salvation Army is hard at work to ensure they will have enough items to provide gifts to children, and a traditional meal to families in need this year.

The Salvation Army is currently booking registration appointments for Christmas Hampers, which are intended for low income families with children aged 18 and under.

Community Ministries Director Geri Grainger says people need to contact the organization to ensure they receive help, and can do so by calling the Community Life Centre at 250-765-3450 Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. till 4 p.m. to book an appointment.

“We expect to assist approximately 450 families this year which would mean making Christmas brighter for over 900 children,” she says.

Grainer says the Salvation Army couldn’t provide a bright Christmas to families if it wasn’t for the generous help of the community.

“Our Christmas Campaign supports not only our Christmas programs, but allow us to provide much needed assistance throughout the entire year,” she explains. “Financial donations can be made in person at any of our locations including our church, community life centre and our thrift stores, or easily online at

There are a variety of ways to help out:

  • The annual Christmas Kettle Campaign will begin Friday and run through to Christmas Eve. 
  • Bell Ringers: People can sign up for 2 hour shifts to ring the bells - they can register online or by calling the kettle coordinator Beverly at 250 860-2329 ext. 335.
  • Christmas Hamper sponsor family program.
  • The Angel Tree: Toy donation program started last week at various retailers throughout Kelowna and Westbank where people can purchase and donate a new gift for a child or teen.
  • The Annual Sandalwood Scrooge breakfast: December 3 - buy a gift card for a teen
  • Tiny Tim breakfast: December 4 at the Coast Capri Hotel. People who bring a new unwrapped present or make a financial contribution get a hot buffet breakfast while being entertained.
  • Santa Shuffle which is 5K run or 1k walk on December 6 at Prospera Place; sign up at 
  • Fill the Van for Sally Ann: A food drive to help fill the shelves of the Foodbank; taking place at the Save-On Foods and Cooper Foods locations both in Kelowna and West Kelowna. Bags will be in the Capital News starting December 2nd
  • Santa Bus: December 8-13, Collecting toys, food and donations for kettles.  
  • ScotiaBank Matching Day: December 13, all donations made to the Kettles at Kelowna Superstore, Orchard Park Liquor and Mission Park Liquor and in West Kelowna at Westbank Liquor Store and online at

The Salvation Army is always looking for assistance as it took 1,000 volunteers to man the 5,000 hours of shifts last year.

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