Saturday, December 20th1.4°C

Diving santas go deep for SPCA

A group of SCUBA divers dressed as santa hit the water Saturday to raise funds for the SPCA.

Kelowna Divers and MAB Construction hosted the santa splash and were selling SPCA merchandise, goodie bags and turkey sandwiches by donation.

Kelowna Divers is a relatively new dive school operated by Tim and Becky Butt. Tim said after 23 years in the British military, he's happy to be teaching his favourite water sport in Kelowna.

About 10 divers dressed up for the event. They were joined by volunteers from the SPCA, friends and family as well as at least four dogs who gathered in the pouring rain to show support.

There was also a raffle and prizes.

Jed Forrest and Lexy Parks are Okanagan College students and were doing the final dive of their open water diver certification Saturday. 

They were a bit surprised when they learned their final dive would be dressed as Saint Nick.

"We had no idea," Forrest said. "Tim and Becky are just fantastic instructors, they're super patient."



$33k for huge stamp collection

A huge stamp collection from the estate of a respected Canadian doctor sold at auction Thursday night for a surprising $33,000.00.

Estimated to sell for $10.000.00 - local auction house Western Star had interest from all over the province. The huge collection was sold as a lot and sold in 15 minutes for $33,000.

“We had lots of buyers that travelled here to bid,” said Michael Odenbach auctioneer and proprietor of Western Star Auctions.

The collection included multiple albums and large totes all from one private collector that spanned his lifetime approx. 80 years. It contained many rare and early stamps and likely many oddities and errors issues. It was rumoured to be valued at $100,000.

One man from Saskatchewan had his daughter bidding for him through Facetime. He was in tears when he did not win. Stamp collectors can be very serious people with their collections.

You never know,” says Odenbach. “Every week the auction brings hidden treasures, some can be very valuable.”

“The collector’s came from all over, some far away, they came early and viewed the entire lot and saw something they liked, there was lots of bidding and it sold quick and for good value. The buyer is very pleased and we are pleased for the seller to realize good value for their property and have their Dad’s collection in the hands of another advanced collector that will appreciate its contents.  It’s a win, win situation for everybody”

Western Star Auction, on Stremel Rd, Kelowna holds weekly auctions every Thursday at 6 p.m. 

Items are posted on their website prior at and viewing in person is welcome Thursday all day prior to auction time.

900 to be served Xmas dinner

Kelowna's Gospel Mission is preparing to serve nearly 900 meals at their annual Christmas dinner Saturday.

The meal is open to anyone in the community and is available from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.

After weeks of preparation and with over 50 volunteers ready, the Mission will serve over double the number of meals it serves daily at the Christmas banquet.  

"People from all over the Central Okanagan will come to enjoy our traditional Christmas meal of turkey with stuffing, ham, mashed potatoes, vegetables, cranberry sauce, rolls and pie," development officer Sonja Menyes said in a release. "We serve not just the homeless but anyone in need, including seniors and children."

Several familiar faces will be at the Mission dishing up food Saturday including Kelowna-Lake Country MP Ron Cannan, MLA Norm Letnick, MLA Steve Thomson as well as, councillors Mohini Singh and Gail Given.

“As we celebrate the birth of Christ with our families, there are many in the community who are homeless or unable to afford a great Christmas dinner; the Gospel Mission is here to serve those in need and help them to celebrate Christmas through a great meal and fellowship,” said Kelowna Gospel Mission executive director Randy Benson.

Kelowna’s Gospel Mission’s needs extend beyond Christmas and any help is greatly appreciated.  Please contact the Gospel Mission to donate, volunteer or give an in-kind gift.


Castanet's Week in Review

Castanet's week in review with Carmen Weld.


Papal coins recovered at mall

Kelowna RCMP are looking for the rightful owner of a series of gold coins discovered earlier this week.

The set of coins, commemorating the 1984 Papal visit of Pope John Paul II, were turned in to police Wednesday.

Wednesday morning at 10 a.m., Kelowna RCMP received a report of found property at the Capri Centre Mall.

A leather case, which contained a letter of authenticity and a collection of gold coins, had been found abandoned behind the mall and was subsequently turned in to mall security.

The coins are limited edition, struck in gold-plated nickel by the Royal Canadian Mint, and were presented by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops to mark the pastoral pilgrimage of Pope John Paul II to Canada in September of 1984.
Also contained inside the case is a photo of obvious personal significance with an inscription on the back.
The coins themselves appear to be of significant monetary and historical value, and police suspect that they were likely stolen in a break and enter or theft from vehicle.
Efforts to locate the rightful owner have not yet been successful and investigators are seeking public assistance in returning this valuable collection.

If you believe you are the owner of these medallions, please contact the Kelowna RCMP, Cst Coutney, at 250-762-3300 with the necessary information to confirm ownership.

Kelowna: We're number 17

A recent analysis has pegged Kelowna as the 17th best city to work in BC.

BC Business magazine laid out seven pieces of criteria used to evaluate which communities are best to work in.

Fort St John came in first, Kelowna landed in 17th and Prince Rupert came in last out of the top 36 communities for work in BC.

The seven economic indicators are: five-year income growth, average household income, five-year population growth, unemployment, labour participation, people with degrees and people taking transit.

Kelowna's five-year income growth came in at almost 15 per cent higher today than in 2009 for an average household income of $83,949.

The five-year population growth was 7.05 per cent and unemployment was at 8 per cent.

The rest of the numbers follow: 

  • Labour participation: 64.24 per cent 
  • People with degrees: 16.58 per cent
  • People taking transit: 3.40 per cent
  • Score: 49.62

Ken Carmichael, vice president of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce said the evaluation was too narrow.

"If we're 17 in the list of places to work, I put us right at the top for best places to live and work," he said. "Everyone could probably get a crazy job somewhere else, but I want to live here and raise my family here." 

BC Business said they only considered cities with more than 10,000 permanent residents. Bedroom communities such as West Vancouver, Port Moody and White Rock, which have high incomes but small job markets were excluded.

In their explanation, BC Business said they used a Toronto-based analytics firm which takes data from Statistics Canada. 

"And what we found was a pattern: the cities with higher incomes also tended to have the lowest unemployment. They tended to have growing populations. In short, no matter how we sliced the data, our ranking remained relatively unchanged. Metro Vancouver dominated the top of the list alongside boom towns Fort St. John and Dawson Creek. On the other end: cities like Prince Rupert and Terrace, whose fishing and forestry industries have lumbered through a decade of decline. Yet even there, at the centre of a hoped-for LNG boom, the fortunes of those northwestern cities—and their positions on our list—could shift dramatically in the years to come."

Here are the numbers for Prince Rupert and Fort St John:

36. Prince Rupert
Income growth: 9.92 per cent 
Average household income: $75,617 
Population growth: -1.06 per cent 
Unemployment: 14.58 per cent 
Labour participation: 67.24 per cent 
People with degrees: 14.81 per cent 
People taking transit: 4.00 per cent
Score: 32.42 

1. Fort St. John
Income growth: 18.20 per cent 
Average household income: $109,748 
Population growth: 6.34 per cent 
Unemployment: 5.89 per cent 
Labour participation: 81.18 per cent 
People with degrees: 9.84 per cent 
People taking transit: 0.32 per cent
Score: 60.67

The full account can be found here.

Cast-A-Light Christmas skate

Castanet will be hosting a community skate at Prospera Place on Sunday, and everyone is invited!

It’s in support of the Kelowna Community Food Bank and admission is by donation.

Santa will be on hand, and there will be a BBQ with coffee and hot chocolate, and free parking at the arena.

They’re asking for cash donations, new unwrapped toys or non-perishable food items.

This is the seventh year that Castanet has partnered up with the Food Bank for Cast-A-Light. In years past we have shared stories from Food Bank clients, but this year we’ve decided to change things up with a skate.

"We take much pride in the Cast-A-Light fundraiser as well as working with the Kelowna Food Bank,” says Castanet general manager Chris Kearney.

“Castanet is a locally owned and operated company and it's very important to us to do our part to help our community."

The campaign typically raises $25,000 to $30,000 each year and donations can also be made online.

The Food Bank’s wish list includes canned fruit, canned soup, peanut butter, pasta, tomato sauce and baby formula.

TD bank robbed

Update -- Dec 19

The 31-year-old suspect in Tuesday's bank robbery has turned himself in to police. 

Original story -- Dec 17

The TD Canada Trust on Ellis Street was robbed Tuesday evening.

Kelowna police are looking for a 31-year-old man, who is also wanted on an unrelated Canada-wide warrant.

According to witnesses, police say a lone male entered the bank around 5:30 p.m. and approached a teller, demanding money.

The suspect then fled northbound on Ellis with an undisclosed amount of cash.

He has been identified as Rory Richard Feeney, who is currently wanted for breaching his parole.

Feeney is described as:

  • Caucasian male;
  • 31 years;
  • approximately 6'2";
  • approximately 200 lb;
  • Short brown hair, balding;
  • Green eyes

No weapon was produced during the robbery and no one was injured.

Pedestrians struck

Update -- Dec. 19

Two young men were injured Thursday night after being struck by a truck in downtown Kelowna.

RCMP Cst. Steve Holmes says the men ran in front of the truck, in the intersection of Bernard and Richter, just after 5 p.m.

According to witnesses, police say three men had crossed Bernard on foot heading northbound, when two of them turned around and bolted back across the intersection.

A red Dodge pickup was travelling eastbound on Bernard with a green light, and the driver didn’t see them until it was too late.

“The 10-metre skid marks clearly prove to me that the driver tried desperately to stop but he was too close and the wet pavement didn't help," says Holmes.

"The outcome could have been a lot worse if the driver hadn't tried to brake. He was extremely shaken up by the incident".

The injured men – aged 17 and 18 – are local residents. One suffered serious, but non-life threatening injuries and the other only minor injuries.

No charges are being considered for either the driver or the pedestrians and there was no evidence of speeding on the part of the pickup.

Police warn motorists and pedestrians to be cautious during the holidays. 

Original story -- Dec. 18

A red pick-up truck struck two pedestrians at the intersection of Bernard Ave. and Richter St. at approximately 5:20 p.m. on Thursday.

RCMP report that the pedestrians were both conscious at the scene and have been transported to Kelowna General Hospital. Their condition is unknown.

Rash of break-ins

There have been a rash of residential break-ins throughout the Kelowna area over the last week.

Since Castanet brought you the story of Elizabeth Shayev whose home was broken into Sunday morning, we have heard from two other people who have been victims of similar crimes.

The three break ins all occurred in the morning after the occupant had left and, in all three instances, only jewellery and small electronics were taken.

Larger items such as computers and TVs were left behind.

These break-ins took place:

  • Glenmore Wednesday, Dec. 10 between 10 a.m. and noon
  • Winfield Thursday, Dec. 11 between 8:30 a.m. and 10 a.m.
  • Brookside Ave Kelowna Sunday, Dec. 14 between 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

RCMP Cst. Kris Clark, says in many instances of home break-ins, thieves are looking for smaller items when are easily sold for cash.

Larger items such as flat screen TVs can be harder to move and harder to sell.

Break ins are not uncommon and Clark reminds people to ensure their door are locked and windows shut when they leave the house, even for a short period of time.

Police have not indicated whether these three break-ins are related.


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