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Jail time for high speed crash

A Kelowna, B.C., man has been sentenced to 15 months in jail, one year probation and banned from driving for two years for causing a fatal crash in West Kelowna.

Jordan Garvin was travelling almost 160 kilometres an hour when he tried to run a yellow light in March 2012, and T-boned a left-turning vehicle, instantly killing 46-year-old Cindy Thomas, a West Kelowna mother of two.

Her fiancee was seriously injured.

Garvin was convicted of dangerous driving causing death and dangerous driving causing bodily harm, following a three day trial in B.C. Supreme Court in Kelowna.

The 24-year-old sobbed heavily in court as he apologized and expressed his deepest condolences to his victims and their families, calling the crash a haunting tragedy that he must live with for the rest of his life.

In handing down the jail term, Justice Alison Beames said nothing will seem high enough to recognize the tragic consequences of Garvin's driving and nothing will seem lenient enough to recognize his genuinely good character and enormous remorse. 

The Canadian Press




Downtown hotel, what's in a name

Ten years after it was vacated and eight years after its demolition, a hotel will once again rise up on the site of the old Willow Inn.

Westcorp Inc. jumped its final hurdle Tuesday when City Council unanimously voted to issue a development permit for construction of a 24-storey hotel on the site.

The Willow Inn was a fixture at the corner of Mill Street and Queensway Avenue near Kelowna's waterfront, since it was constructed in 1928.

It was purchased by Phil Milroy and Westcorp in the mid 2000's, shut down in September of 2007 and demolished in February of 2009.

Next up for the company is receipt of a building permit which is expected sometime next year, and construction is expected to be concluded sometime in the spring or fall of 2017.

While the company works at producing detailed plans, company vice-president Gail Temple says they will also be hard at work coming up with a name for the new hotel.

Will that name pay homage to the former hotel?

"It absolutely is. That's what it has been since 1928 so you never know," says Temple, when asked if the name Willow is still on the table.

"History is always a really great part of the story and even if we don't have anything in the name that harkens back to its history, we will absolutely be recognizing its history in various places inside the hotel."

Temple says the company looks forward to moving into that phase of naming the hotel and believes it will have a name by the time a building permit is issued.

As for whether the public will have a chance for input, Temple says she's not sure, but believes it would make for an interesting exercise.

"Just the same way people were so emotionally invested in that site because of where it is in our city and where it is on the waterfront, that would be a really interesting thing to involve the public with," says Temple.

While the name may not reflect the past, Temple reiterated there are opportunities within the new hotel to pay tribute to the former name.

During its time, the Willow Inn was as well know as a meeting place at its barber shop and coffee shop, and as a drinking establishment at its strip bar, as it was as a hotel.



102nd birthday boat cruise


When asked what she wanted to do for her 102nd birthday, Pearl Lynn didn’t have to think twice.

The Hawthorn Park resident couldn’t wait to get out onto the waters of Okanagan Lake with her friends and family.

“I thought it would be a very good idea, it would be different,” says an excited Pearl.

Thanks to Therapeutic Lake Cruise Society, Pearl’s birthday wish was made a reality. The senior arrived at Shelter Bay, on Wednesday, and was wheeled aboard a 24' Princecraft pontoon boat, by captain Pierre Caouette.

“A lot of seniors want to go on the lake, you know Kelowna’s summer doesn’t have to only be for tourists,” jokes Caouette.

Started by two local women back in 2009 the Therapeutic Lake Cruise (TLC) society takes seniors, disabled and special needs groups from the community out several times a week on a one hour boat ride.

“It’s all (ran) by volunteers, no one is making a penny,” explains Caouette. “The price we charge, we charge the minimum so they can afford to come out on the lake, it just pays for the gas and the maintenance.”

For Pearl an afternoon on the lake with family and friends was more than she could have asked for, well other than the mocha birthday cake she kindly ordered.

“We are really excited to have an opportunity to have our seniors out onto the water,” says Kristin Reed, Recreation Coordinator at Orchard Manor.

Reed says a lot of seniors who ask to come out on the cruise are usually former members of the Navy, or like to reminisce about being on a boat as a child with their family.

The TLC society is currently in need of more volunteer captains and they will assist you in obtaining your captain license if need be.

“We need more people to come on the lake, if we had more captains we would be on the lake four or five days a week,” Caouette explains.

To get involved and help put a smile on someone’s face like the one that came across Pearl’s on her 102 birthday contact tlcsociety.ca

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Fundraising effort with a twist

A group of guys who love Kelowna, love beer, love moustaches and love tackling cancer are back this summer, aiming to raise $10,000 for the cause.

“Family Photos Kelowna” is a small group of 30 guys in their 20's, living across western Canada, who typically meet at the end of every November, in Kelowna, for a big cancer tackling event. This year they are taking cancer on in November and at a special end of August event. 

“We have a shared passion to help the community, also a shared hatred for cancer. We pride our selves on being the most unique fundraiser out there,” explains founder Jeff Roberts.

“Instead of your typical middle aged financially well off donaters, we are all young and struggling to make it in the world individuals. We pride ourselves on being one of the only young, fun loving, but community minded fundraisers around.”

Annually the group gets together for a one of a kind photo shoot where all the men dress up in a theme and show off their best Movember stash.

“We hire a photographer to take these silly photos of us all in the theme as a kind of family portrait. We do a really silly photo shoot as a family of brothers.”

To be a part of this photo shoot you have to donate to the cause and spread awareness.

“Last year, for our third annual photo shoot we raised just over $3,600 for prostate cancer research,” says Roberts. “It was 100 per cent personal donations from people in the photos and their friends and family.”

As per tradition, the group will all be back in Kelowna again for a November shoot and fundraiser for the BC Cancer Foundation.

But, special this year, they are also taking part in a new August fundraiser event that has already raised over $8,000 of it's $10,000 goal.

This event is in dedication to one of their 'brothers', Angelo Gaurini's, who celebrating his third year cancer free. As a special nod to Guarini and as a pull for the event, Roberts is shaving his head.

Now, a guy shaving his head is nothing new or seemingly exciting, but Roberts has had long hair since he was 12-years-old and his dreadlocks are currently down to his waist. Added incentive, the person who donates the most gets to be the one to shave his head.

“I have had dreadlocks for nine years now and tomorrow I will be shaving my head, on stage at the Habitat, and it will be the first time I have had short hair since I was 12-years-old."

Everyone in the 'family' is coming for this event as well, and all the brothers are dressing up in a fancy-suit theme. 

This $10,000 summer fundraising campaign will be combined with the money they raise in their annual campaign in November and then both amounts will be delivered by a very large cheque will be presented to the BC Cancer Foundation.

“The funds will go towards a ground-breaking prostate cancer research project at the Sindi Ahluwalia Hawkins Cancer Centre in Kelowna,” adds Roberts.

The event is taking place this Friday night, Aug. 29, and the Habitat in Kelowna starting at 7:20 p.m. 

On top of the beer specials and event favours, for every $20 donated before 10 p.m. on Friday, a raffle ticket will be handed out with a chance to win several prizes including the grand prize, which is a free all-inclusive week at the Surf Ranch Action Sports Resort in San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua. A resort founded by two Kelowna brothers.

If you want to back this band of brothers, learn more about the event or donate visit their website here. Roberts also says everyone is welcome to the 'Family's' Friday night event.

The members of this “Family” all share one common goal: raising as much money as possible to help find a cure for cancer.



Royalty coming to the Okanagan

Royalty is set to arrive in British Columbia in September before visits to Saskatchewan and Ontario.

The Queen's youngest son, Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex, and his wife, the Countess of Wessex, Sophie Rhys-Jones, are scheduled to tour B.C. between Sept. 12 and 16.

They will participate in various activities in Victoria, Vancouver and Kelowna, as well as visit the Ditidaht and 'Namgis First Nations on Vancouver Island.

Highlights of the visit include presentation of the Duke of Edinburgh gold awards in Victoria and Kelowna, and a walk on a portion of the Trans-Canada Trail through North Vancouver.

The royal couple will also open a new library on the Ditidaht First Nation near Duncan, and travel to the 'Namgis First Nation in Alert Bay for a range of community events.

Following the B.C. program, the earl visits Saskatchewan between Sept. 17 and 19, while the countess travels to northern Ontario.

The Canadian Press


Ministry takes children


They had held out hope for so long, but now all hope is gone.

For two long years the Koesters have dreaded this day, the day when the Ministry of Children and Family Development came knocking at their door to take away the two foster children Klemens and Eva had raised as their own.

Castanet brought you their story back in June. Klemens and his mother were battling with the Ministry to keep two mentally and physically disabled children in their care.

They even went through an appeal process, but the Ministry had made the decision to move the boys, stating it was in the best interest of the children.

“During the (first) review, we were told this would be the result, they are taking the kids,” explains Klemens. “At the same time (the Ministry) did ask us, ‘why didn’t you apply for adoption’.  I thought, what is this about?”

“If we were able to adopt them, why even consider taking them away. We would have been good enough for adoption (adoptive parents), but not to remain their caretakers?” says a distraught Klemens.

Then in July the Koesters thought they had gained some ground -- that one of the boy’s biological family members may have succeeded in receiving an external review of the Ministry’s decision.

“That was a false hope,” says Nancy Ross, the youngest boy’s great Aunt. “It wasn’t really an external review, it was just an extended review from within the Ministry and their decision was already made.”

Against the recommendations of the boy’s physician, the Ministry decided they would place the boys in their care, which according to Klemens would be a more clinical environment.

Very slowly, over the past few weeks, the boys have been transitioning to the new home, spending afternoons with their new care aids in an attempt to ease them into the move.

“It’s not a home, it’s presented as their home, but there are no pictures on the walls, there is no loving environment,” says Ross. “Staff has already changed immensely from the beginning of all of this, the rotation is crazy.”

“I find the part of it that they are losing the family they had all along since babies, I find it, well it’s a sad moment,” says Klemens. “It’s experimenting with children’s lives, that is kind of what I think.”

Family and friends gathered at the Koester’s home Wednesday to say goodbye to the two boys, and to give support to Klemens and Eva. They’ve lost this battle, but the fight is not over.

“We’ve been fighting this fight for over two years, I don’t think there are any resources left for us. So we are going to fight to create new resources, and hopefully we’ll be able to get some changes made within the industry,” Ross explains.

While Klemens stands firm that there cannot be, “just one sole power having the right to make all of those decisions.”

The Ministry would not come to collect the children while media were present on the Koester’s property, another delay in an already drawn out, stressful process. Castanet left the Koester’s farm, so that the family could say good-bye.

When asked if the children would understand the move and why it happened, Ross replied, ‘definitely not’.

“Will they understand it by the time they go to bed, I believe so because their whole world has just been turned upside down.”

Due to privacy laws, the Ministry would not comment on the matter, but it’s understood the Koesters along with the biological family of the youngest child will be able to visit the boys in the future.

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Canada Post evacuated

UPDATE 9:50 A.M. - Employees with Canada Post have been allowed to return to work.

As it turns out the suspicious substance was Bio Kleen chlorine free oxy bleach, according to Kelowna Fire Platoon Cpt. Tim Light.

"Which is a company that deals in health food, natural products, and stuff like that," he says.

"The fellow it was sent to let us know what he was expecting from this company, so he gave us a bit of a heads up for our Hazmat entry team."

The household bleach came in a powdered form, and Light speculated that the package could have broken during transit, releasing the powder from its container.

It's unclear how many employees were evacuated from the building, but eight people were secluded for their own safety, as to not cross contaminate anyone else.


An unknown amount of white powder found at the Canada Post building on Baillie Avenue has forced an evacuation this morning.

Authorities say eight employees were potentially exposed to the substance and have been secluded from other workers outside the building.

Hazmat crews responded to the scene and the RCMP has cordoned off the area.

The person who the package was addressed to has been contacted and reportedly says he was expecting a shipment of vitamins and some other health products.

This isn’t the first time that a questionable substance has been discovered at the Kelowna postal outlet, in fact it's the third time this year that Hazmat has been called for the same precautions.

Each of the previous calls have been false alarms.

We’ll have more details when they become available.



Parents running out of options

Facilities around Kelowna are scrambling to accommodate the expected influx of children needing daycare, as the ongoing teacher strike is not expected to be resolved by the time school starts on Sept 2.

The Kelowna Child Care Society says changes are being made within the existing childcare program, with executive director Michelle Dickie noting there has been a 10-20 per cent increase in calls from parents.

She goes on to say that licensed daycare spots are quickly evaporating and now some parents are banding together to care for each other’s children.

“People have been really supporting each other in regards to sharing child minding,” Dickie says, but warns parents to review regulations concerning how many children can be cared for at one time.

She has also fielded numerous complaints from parents frustrated by the government’s announcement of a $40 per day allowance.

“A lot of parents will budget for summer care, and then having to come up with money to pay for child care, and they were looking towards that $40 per day,” she says.

“However, my understanding is that’s not actually going to come back to parents until the labour dispute is resolved.”

Another issue arises when parents can’t find childcare and are forced to consider day camps, where costs can sometimes be more than the government’s daily allowance.

“The $40 per day will help, but they’re not going to get it until the labour dispute ends, so it’s really putting some pressure on parents that didn’t budget for care in September, October, or didn’t need childcare (during the summer)."

Other options for parents include Parkinson Rec Centre and the YMCA.

The City is offering a Fall sports and activity camp beginning Sept. 2 that will run from 7:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m.  It will include a variety of sports, games, and fun activities for children between the ages six to twelve years old.

And the YMCA of the Okanagan will also offer child care programming during the week from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. This camp will also offer an opportunity for kids to spend time at the H2O Adventure and Fitness Centre -- campers at the H2O centre will have activities run until 4:30 p.m.

Those camps will include games, nature hikes, themed crafts, team challenges, and swimming.

Parents in need can either contact Parkinson, the YMCA, or the Kelowna Child Care Society to review any available options.



Fall in creek leads to DUI

RCMP ended up finding more and less than they were looking for when responding to a call of a car in Mission Creek.

The call came in around 3:00 p.m. of a car and driver stranded in Mission Creek on East Kelowna Road just past Hollywood Road South.

When police arrived there was no car in the creek but they did find a woman who had fallen in the creek. RCMP on the scene say she needed a hand out but was not injured and did not require paramedics.

However, while police were wrapping up the call they found something else, a man drove past and this driving caught their attention.

The man just happened to be driving past the police on East Kelowna Road when they suspected he was 'driving while impaired.'

RCMP say the man was allegedly intoxicated and issued him a 24-hour suspension.

RCMP searched the man's vehicle and waited for a tow truck to come get his vehicle.



Police look for bank robber

UPDATE 3 P.M. AUG 27:

Kelowna RCMP continue to search for a man responsible for robbing the ScotiaBank branch on Dilworth Drive Tuesday afternoon.

The man is described as:

  • Tanned complexion
  • Approximately 6 ft (183 cm)
  • 200 lbs
  • Medium build
  • Wearing a grey hoodie, black balaclava and black gloves

Police say the suspect entered the bank with his face covered and demanded money before deploying bear spray inside the building.

The suspect then fled the scene with an undisclosed amount of cash. Police searched the area but the suspect could not be located.

Anyone with any information who has yet to speak with police is asked contact the Kelowna RCMP, Cst Hamilton at 250-470-6302. 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.


The Scotiabank branch at Highway 97 and Dilworth has been evacuated.

Employees and customers were hustled out of the bank around 3:15 p.m. Tuesday,  after someone used pepper spray during a robbery.

RCMP have confirmed a lone male suspect entered the bank, got an undisclosed amount of cash then deployed pepper spray before fleeing.

RCMP members and dog patrols are on the scene looking for the suspect.

The suspect remains at large.

The front entrance to the bank has been marked off with yellow police tape as has an area behind the bank.

RCMP have been interviewing witnesses who were inside the bank along with one employee from the adjacent gas station/car wash.

BC Ambulance and Kelowna Fire Department personnel treated those affected by the spray at the scene.

No one required trip to hospital.



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