Thursday, March 5th2.7°C

YLW planes on fewer paths

Imagine if all those pink flightpaths on the left were reduced down to the few white ones on the right.

That is the plan set in place for Kelowna International Airport this year, one of the first airports in Canada to introduce new satellite-based Required Navigation Performance (RNP) approaches.

According to the airport, the RNP approach promises additional options for aircraft arrivals, improved arrival efficiency, noise reduction and reduced emissions coupled with lower fuel consumption.

“For Kelowna, our message is that it is really a good change,” said Greg Dansereau, Manager of ACC Operations in Vancouver for Nav Canada. “With the new technology, the aircraft are quieter, the routes are more contained, so it is a good news story for Kelowna, I would say.”

This past weekend representatives from Nav Canada, WestJet and YLW were on hand to speak with residents about how the changes might impact them.

Dansereau said residents were invited to speak with his team about how the route would look in relation to their homes. He also had the opportunity to speak with several local pilots who were concerned about it hampering their flying routes.

“We want to involve the community in any changes we are making and talk about the impact of implementing new technology on the people who live in the area,” added Dansereau.

The RNP procedures, according to Nav Canada, give aircraft the ability to navigate safely and efficiently in all weather conditions and in mountainous terrain with limited visibility.

The experts say RNP will be of great benefit at YLW because of the surrounding mountainous terrain that can present challenges, especially during inclement weather. RNP equipment provides navigation capability that allows crews to fly aircraft along a flight path with exceptional precision.

RNP also reduces the need for multiple step-down and non-precision circling approaches, saving time and fuel and reducing noise.

In fact, WestJet developed its own RNP approaches more than a decade ago and has been using them in Kelowna the entire time.

In 2013, WestJet estimates its Kelowna RNP operations saved 310,000 litres of fuel and reduced CO2 emissions by 396,000 cubic metres.

“The airlines want to fly this way because it means fewer greenhouse gas emissions and quieter operations. It is really an environmental effort,” said Dansereau.

By late fall, the new RNP procedures will be in place, enabling other operators to use them as they upgrade aircraft capabilities and technologies.

Once in place, any pilot, commercial or general aviation, who has aircraft performance instrumentation, will be able to use the RNP procedures into YLW. 

For more information on the RNP approach or to send your questions to the airport, click here. 

Dragon's Den auditions

Roughly 35 people showed up at Okanagan College Wednesday with the hopes of pitching their idea to producers for the TV show Dragon’s Den.

Open auditions are being held all across Canada, with producers expecting approximately 2,000 applicants for the show.

“For Kelowna we do really well, considering the size of the city,” says Nicole MacKay, an associate producer with the show.

“It’s actually comparable to our Vancouver and Calgary auditions, and Toronto will see about 70. You guys have some good entrepreneurs here and a lot of good ideas.”

Every city tends to bring out different types of ventures depending on the local market. In Kelowna, producers say there have been lots of outdoor activities like golf and boating.

Based on the number of Kelowna applicants, MacKay estimates that around 10 people may go through to the filming process, but that doesn’t mean they will make it on TV.

“We basically ask about 200 people to come and film, and then of those 200, we actually get about 100 that make it to air. And that’s from all across Canada,” she adds.

In the end, it all comes down to an individual’s passion and their ideas, and how enthusiastic they are during the pitch.

“There’s never one thing in particular we’re looking for. Obviously we like to get a good amount of really established businesses, ones we know the dragons are going to be fighting over,” she says.

“We’re always looking for a few really high-end businesses … that being said, having it at the prototype stage is equally as great, and any stage of business is great, as long as you have the personality to carry that business.”

Some of the Kelowna hopefuls include Donnie Ungaro from Culinary Ink. He pitched his electric food bike and came away confidant that he will move on to the next step. It’s a full kitchen on two wheels, with the company partnering with charities to start micro-social ventures.

Others were Rob Debuc and his Photo Burns flipcards of funny quotes or comments that can be placed in the background of photos, Kevin James Anderson and his rubber cane that acts as an assisted mobility aid, and the Boned broth company who hope to sell people on the many health benefits and nutrients that are found in soup bones.

Local Liberal calls on Harper

The Liberal MP candidate for Kelowna-Lake Country is adding his voice to the chorus asking Stephen Harper to pick up the phone and bring a journalist home.

Major Stephen Fuhr, a retired Royal Canadian Air Force pilot, said more needs to be done to bring Mohamed Fahmy back to Canada.

Fahmy and two colleagues — Australian Peter Greste and Egyptian Baher Mohamed — were arrested on Dec. 29, 2013, and accused of supporting the banned Islamist Muslim Brotherhood group of ousted Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi.

They were sentenced, but the charges were dropped and Fahmy was released on bail Feb. 12 pending a new trial.

According to the Canadian Press, the Australian journalist, Peter Greste, has been released and deported back to Australia following presidential "approval."

Fuhr, in Egypt working as a corporate pilot, says there are big differences between what Australia and Canada has done for their respective journalists. 

"Abbott, the Prime Minster of Australia, has been personally involved in getting Greste released," he said. "The media is reporting that Abbott has called (Egyptian president Abdul Fattah) Sisi at least three times.

"The best evidence we have is the Prime Minster of Canada hasn't called . . . the PMO has 'been in touch with the president of Egypt,' but the reality is emails and letters just aren't cutting the mustard. There's been no meaningful contact."

Fuhr's comments come at a time that people across Canada are criticizing the Harper government on its inaction in helping Fahmy. 

Amnesty International penned an open letter to Stephen Harper asking for a "clear and direct request" for Fahmy's release.

Another letter written by 250 "notable Canadians" — including comedian Rick Mercer, filmmaker Atom Egoyan, author Michael Ondaatje and diplomat Stephen Lewis — urged Harper to press his Egyptian counterpart on Mohamed Fahmy's case.

The Prime Minister's office did not immediately return calls or emails on Wednesday.


Science projects a blast

More than 300 students in elementary and secondary school gathered at UBC Okanagan for the annual district science fair.

The students hope to impress judges with their inventions and move on to the regional science fair in Summerland or even have the opportunity to win $400,000 in prizes and scholarships.   

Castanet stopped in at the district science fair to check out some of the projects the students were showcasing. Watch the video below to see what happened.

Let's talk innovation

Three Okanagan experts will explore what Canadians need to do to become more innovative during a public discussion next week.

Making Sense of Innovation, on March 12, is the latest in the Okanagan Institute Express series.

"Despite a decade or so of innovation agendas and prosperity reports, Canada remains near the bottom of its peer group on innovation, ranking 13th among the 16 peer countries," the Conference Board of Canada reports. "Countries that are more innovative are passing Canada on measures such as income per capita, productivity, and the quality of social programs."

The three speakers are Pilar Portela, CEO of Accelerate Okanagan, Dr. Kenneth Carlaw, an associate professor of economics at UBC, and Dr. Douglas MacLeod, chair of the RAIC Centre for Architecture at Athabasca University.

Portela will contrast disruptive vs. sustaining innovations and the need for distinction in Okanagan businesses. Carlaw will focus on the power of general purpose technologies in the past and present, and will report his observations about the beginnings of settled agriculture. He also hopes to speculate about future technologies.

The discussion will take place at 5 p.m. at the Bohemian Cafe. Visit for more information or to register to attend the event.

Racers do well at nats

Meg Cumming, Simon Bernard, and Ryan Moffat of the Big White Racers team competed at the event at Nakiska Mountain Resort. The event included super G, giant slalom, and slalom races.

"I'm really happy with the skiing of all our group," head coach Derek Trussler said. "All three showed good speed and competitive results against an extremely fast field."

On the first day of the race, Moffat started in 93rd position, but climbed the leader board to finish 22nd overall. The three competitors were unable to finish the first super G race the following day.

"It's reassuring to know that (Ryan) continues to be among the fastest for his age in the country," Trussler said.

Moffat finished 14th overall out of 84 racers on the third day of competition, despite falling on one of his runs. Cumming and Bernard did not finish the race.

On the final day, Cumming finished in ninth place in the women's slalom, while Moffat finished eighth in the men's slalom.

All three will be competing for the Keurig Cup at Red Mountain in Rossland next week.

Student skills comp. Friday

Hundreds of people will be at Okanagan College Friday to take in the 2015 Skills BC competition. 

The competition, one of 13 taking place across the province, gives students from Grade 6 to 12 a platform to show off their talents in trades and technologies. There will be more than 14 skill categories including 3D computer animation, culinary arts, cabinet making, welding, computer assisted design and fashion.

The Industry Training Authority has provided Skills BC with $200,000 to assist with this year’s regional and provincial competitions.

“These competitions celebrate and reward students for the excellence they’ve shown in skilled trades and technology,” says Premier Christy Clark. “They also get young people excited about the numerous career possibilities in the trades, and train them for those jobs of tomorrow.”

“Okanagan College is the perfect host for this exhibition of student talents,” says Norm Letnick, MLA for Kelowna-Lake Country. “With work underway on a new $33 million dollar trades training complex, local students will be able to keep sharpening those skills and exploring the career paths open to them.”

Students in secondary schools compete in a diverse range of skills competitions, while those in the lower grades compete in series of junior skills competitions, designed specifically for their skill level.

Gold, silver and bronze medals are awarded to the winners, with the majority of gold medal winners qualifying to compete in the annual provincial competition, being held this year in Abbotsford on April 15. 

“The skills competitions are an important part of Skills BC programming; showcasing the skills of the province’s future workforce in safe, engaging and hands-on environments,” says Amber Papou, executive director at Skills Canada BC.

Lake swim top 15 in world

Quite a coup for Kelowna's annual Interior Savings Across The Lake Swim.

The event has been recognized as one of the world's top open water swims.

The top 100 list of open water swims was compiled by Open Water Source, a corporation that manages a comprehensive online guide to the sport of open water swimming.

The Across The Lake Swim was ranked 15th in the world for open water swim events.

It's the first time the event has been rated in the top 100.

The event, held for the first time in 1949 will celebrate its 67th consecutive race on July 18.

It's Canada's oldest and largest open water swim event in Canada.

It began as a component of Kelowna's annual Regatta celebration.

Steven Munatones, founder of the World Open Water Swimming Association and Open Water Source, offered the Across The Lake Swim Society President Mark Fromberg his personal congratulations since this is the first time that the swim has made this prestigious list.

“We now have world recognition” says Mark Fromberg. “Our team has worked very hard to build a safe, fun, family event and it feels great to be recognized by Openwaterpedia as one of the top open water swims in the world.”

The World Top 100 Open Water Swims is an esteemed group of events covering every continent, in both fresh and salt water, and includes a wide variety of distances, from half a mile to ultra-marathon distances, such as the 28.5 mile circumnavigation known as the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim. 

Criteria to make the list include: history, uniqueness, popularity, difficulty, attention to safety, and geographic distribution.

The Across The Lake Swim is one of two Canadian events to crack the top 15. The Traversée Internationale du lac St-Jean came in at number 9.

The top open water swim in the world is run out of South Africa.

Megathon a mega-hit

Saturday's Megathon at the H2O Centre was a fundraising hit for the Kelowna Family Y.

About 250 people participated in fun fitness challenges, bringing in more than $19,000 for the YMCA Strong Kids Campaign. The effort gives local children in financial need the opportunity to access Y programs like child care, swim lessons and camps.   

Bob Hansen was motivated to walk five miles after double-bypass heart surgery last September.

“Exercise almost becomes an addiction,” says Hansen. “I thought ‘hey, I am going to Megathon today…’ I was excited about it.” 

A participant named Jason learned to swim for last year’s Megathon event, and successfully completed the triathlon challenge. Dressed in his Y Guy hero costume, Y staff member Sang ran with Jason for the last nine laps, encouraging him on.

New brewery ready to rise

Starkhund Brewing Company could be in full operation in Kelowna sometime in 2016.

The Kelowna company cleared the final hurdle in its plan to construct the new 5,387 square-metre (58,000 square-foot) brewery when it received final approval from city council.

At Tuesday's public hearing, council unanimously approved the issuing of both a development permit and development variance permit.

These were the final two documents required before construction could begin.

The brewery, which will also include a brew pub and tasting room, will be situated on the old B.C. Fruit Packers Co-operative Fruit Market and warehouse site on the north side of Clement Avenue.

Construction is expected to begin sometime later this spring, with completion set for mid-2016.

Starkhund Brewing is the first of what the city believes will be three development lots on the former packinghouse site, which stretches between Richter and Ethel streets and Clement and Vaughan avenues.

All three will be developed comprehensively and will be known as Urban Square.

The entire area is zoned I2 (general industrial) and I4 (central industrial).

City subdivision manager Ryan Smith believes the area could be ripe for other similar business types, such as breweries, cideries or wineries.

There was a plan in place to relocate the Kelowna Farmers' and Crafters' Market to the property, however, that appears to have fallen through.

Gary Tebbutt, who put forth the development application, was also involved in the potential farmers' market move.

Smith says he has now removed himself from that application.

Currently, there are two breweries in Kelowna, Tree and Big Surf.

Another small brewery has been approved for the area adjacent to Flashbacks Nite Club on Ellis Street.

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