Crashes keep crews busy

Emergency crews were kept busy Saturday evening.

A car slammed into a post at Dilworth and Enterprise at about 8:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, two people were injured after a motorcycle crashed at High Road and Clifton in the Glenmore area.


Wheelchair friendly beach

The City of Kelowna has taken measures to make two local beaches wheelchair friendly.

Both Gyro and Rotary beaches have been equipped with beach wheelchairs.

The specially designed wheelchairs will be available at Okanagan Beach Rentals, on site at both beaches, at no charge.

"Our waterfront is a spectacular asset and we want to make sure that everyone can access and enjoy the lake,” said park manager Ian Wilson.

“The beach wheelchairs are much easier to navigate through sand than regular wheelchairs, allowing users to get right on the beach and even roll into the water.”
These wheelchairs will be available from 9:30 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. daily, weather permitting.

Only one chair is available at each beach.

“This is exciting news,” said Louise Abbott, executive director of the Kelowna & District Society for People in Motion.

“The society already has two beach wheelchairs that are lent out regularly and they have proved to be a very popular item. Individuals who need adaptive equipment will be delighted to know the additional beach chairs will provide further accessibility to two beaches in Kelowna.”

Benjamin Moore assisted with the purchase of the special wheelchairs through their Main Street Matters campaign.

Parents think kids will move

Most British Columbians remain proud of their province, but fewer are convinced that their children will continue to reside here, a new Insights West poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative provincial sample, more than three quarters of British Columbians (78 per cent) believe they will stay in this province for the rest of their lives. The finding represents a six-point drop from a similar Insights West survey conducted in 2014.

When asked about their offspring, 56 per cent said they believe their children will reside in BC — a 10-point drop in two years.

Almost two thirds of British Columbians (63 per cent) think the views of B.C.’s residents are different from the rest of the country, and 87 per cent say they are proud of the province that they live in.

“British Columbians remain proud of what the province is and represents,” said Mario Canseco, vice-president, public affairs at Insights West. “However, the most significant shift in this tracking survey relates to their children, at a time when housing, homelessness and poverty has become the most important issue facing the province.”  

Message of persecution

A group of Falun Gong practitioners is touring the B.C. Interior, spreading awareness of followers' persecution in China.

The group, comprised mostly of Metro Vancouver residents but joined by Joy Wong of Penticton, was in Kelowna Friday and will have a booth set up at City Park on Sunday and Monday of the long weekend.

Their message is that Falun Gong, or Falun Dafa as it is sometimes called, is a peaceful spiritual discipline in the tradition of Buddha. Its key values are truthfulness, compassion and tolerance.

Despite this, followers are persecuted in their native China, made to be prisoners of conscience, and, the group alleges, are victims of state-led mass killings.

The Chinese government denies any wrongdoing, but openly opposes the movement.

The group's big concern for Canadians is the growing practice of "transplant tourism." It alleges incarcerated Falun Gong practitioners are "murdered" to harvest the organs for the growing medical tourism industry.

The Falun Gong have been "under attack" in China since 1999, and it is estimated that since then 1.5 million followers have been killed.

The United Nations and several western governments have condemned the abuses.

The Falun Gong are taking their tour through the Okanagan and into the Kootenays. They also are urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau bring up the issue during a state visit to China this fall.

The group is also handing out postcards you can sign, addressed to the Prime Minister's Office, which call for action on the subject and an end to the violence.

Wildfire near UBCO out

UPDATE 8:15 P.M.

Firefighters with the Kelowna Fire Department have doused a wildfire in the area of UBC Okanagan.

The blaze was called in shortly before 5:30 p.m. Friday in the area of Academy Way and John Hindle Drive. Smoke could be seen from around the Ellison and Rutland areas.

The fire grew to about 200 feet by 80 feet before crews were able to bring it under control, Crews are now installing a fire guard around the perimeter.

Two engines, two bush trucks, a water tender, a command unit and the KFD ATV Gator responded to the scene.

The cause of the fire is unknown at this time.


UPDATE 6:15 P.M.

Kelowna fire crews are on the scene of what is now being described as a smoldering ground fire below some student housing near UBC Okanagan.

The fire broke out shortly after 5 p.m. Friday.

Platoon Captain Tim Light said the fire is approximately 150 feet by 150 feet.

"It's in a fairly wooded area," said Light.

"We do have a constant northbound breeze, so we are trying to get this contained as quick as we can, because the breeze is going to come up during the evening."

Seven units plus the fire department's ATV are working the fire.

Light said access has been a bit of a challenge.

"We've used one of the farmer's fields here to get in and get below the fire.

"There was a small walking path to the north of it so we are trying to see if we can access it."

The fire is currently burning below some student housing and other townhouses currently under construction.

Castanet content manager Jon Manchester said the fire was about 100 yards below those buildings.

While no cause has yet been determined, Light said it did start near the walking trail.

"With the walking path being near it, you can only wonder what happened."

He stopped short of blaming a carelessly discarded cigarette.

Forestry has been alerted to the situation and remain on stand-by in case they are required. They have not been called in.

Fire crews are on the scene of a large grass fire near the campus of UBC Okanagan.

The fire is burning in an area below a housing development.

Local firefighters are working the fire.

More details when they become available.

Send photos, video to [email protected]

Fishing for boozy boaters

Finally the Okanagan heat has arrived and just in time for the long weekend.

As tourists and locals gear up for sunshine and head out onto the water, police and ICBC have a stern reminder about boating safety

Const. Jesse O’Donaghey says officers will continue to step up CounterAttack road checks throughout Kelowna and the Central Okanagan over the August long weekend, and this will include the Interior’s waterways.

“We are actively searching for impaired boaters and we are looking at the boat launches and making sure that those who are loading their vessels and travelling out of the area that they are not operating their vehicles under the influence.”

However, it’s not just boaters on the water who have ICBC's attention, as the co-operation focuses in on those who leave the lake and get into their vehicles.

Christine Kirby, ICBC road safety co-ordinator, says this weekend RCMP volunteers will be handing out keychains to those getting on the water with a reminder to stay safe when their day comes to an end and they may have to drive home.

“On average, 78 people die every year in crashes involving impaired driving in B.C.,” she explained. “While 46 per cent of impaired driving deaths occur in the summer months in B.C., which is the connection we are making with boats.”

Of the impaired offences, 59 per cent occur on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

This weekend, the RCMP expects they will have officers out on three different vessels stopping boaters on Okanagan Lake.

Crashes kickoff weekend

Emergency crews were kept busy with a couple of multi-vehicle crashes at either end of the Central Okanagan Friday afternoon.

Kelowna crews were sent to the scene of a multi-vehicle collision on Highway 97 near the on-ramp to UBC Okanagan.

In West Kelowna, fire and ambulance crews were sent to the scene of a two-vehicle crash on Butt Road near the entrance to Canadian Tire.

No serious injuries were reported in either incident.

With hot temperatures and many vacationers on the road, emergency personnel are bracing themselves for what could be a busy August long weekend.

One-bag challenge spreads

The one-bag challenge is spreading far and wide.

It started in Kelowna with Mayor Colin Basran dropping off a bag of groceries at the Okanagan Community Food Bank and challenging five others.

During the past 10 days, the challenge has begun to break out of the Okanagan and spread across Canada.

Jim Belshaw, with the Kelowna Sunrise Rotary Club, says the club has challenged the 300 Rotary clubs across Canada to fill a grocery bag for every member and drop it off at their local food bank.

Belshaw took the lead and dropped off a van full of food Friday at the Kelowna food bank.

"We support the Kelowna food bank year round, but sometimes they need a push," said Belshaw.

He said he'll soon be in touch with Rotary clubs in Ottawa to issue the challenge.  

"Hopefully, it will just fill in from coast to coast."

Central Okanagan Community Food Bank executive director Lenetta Parry said she's already seen the campaign spread through social media to Prince George, the Fraser Valley, Castelgar, Red Deer, Alta., and even parts of Saskatchewan.

"We're so grateful to the community for embracing this campaign," she said.

In 10 days, about 24,000 pounds of food has been collected. However, Parry says the food bank distributes 7,000 pounds of food each day.

Meanwhile, if it's feast at the Okanagan Community Food Bank, it's famine at the Salvation Army.

The Sally Ann says donations at its Kelowna food bank are at an all time low.

“The downtown food bank is the first place to go for help, we are the next stop when that food just doesn’t quite make it. We often support the same individuals and families,” said Sonia Withers, community outreach co-ordinator.

There has been a significant increase in people using the Salvation Army’s resources due to rising food prices, cost of living and job challenges, she added. 

“We are all seeing an increase in need, hence all agencies' supplies are running out faster.”

The biggest needs are for basic staples: cereals, pastas, canned goods, canned proteins, beans, bottled drinks, cases of water, toilet paper, and feminine products.

Donations can be made to the Salvation Army Central Okanagan online or in person at 1480 Sutherland Ave.

Gear problem diverts flight

A WestJet flight out of Kelowna this week had to divert to Vancouver after declaring a hydraulic system malfunction.

The WestJet Encore De Havilland Dash 8-400 departed YLW on Tuesday, en route to Victoria, with 25 people on board.

According to aviation website Aeroinside.com, as the aircraft was climbing out of Kelowna and the landing gear was retracted, the gear did not uplock and the gear doors remained open.

The crew diverted to Vancouver, where they performed an alternate gear extension and landed safely.

A replacement Dash 8-400 was used to continue the flight to Victoria, delaying passengers by about 80 minutes.

WestJet spokesperson Lauren Stewart said the plane's right landing gear door failed to close, causing the aircraft to vibrate.

No emergency was declared, she added.

"Out of an abundance of caution, the crew did ask for firetrucks to be on hand for arrival. The flight landed without incident in Vancouver, and the guests were re-accommodated to Victoria a couple of hours later. At no time was there a danger to guests, our crew or the aircraft." 

The Transportation Safety Board reported that maintenance crews found air in the hydraulic system. 

Aeroinside's report contains information from the Civil Aviation Daily Occurrence Report System.

Transport Canada endeavours to ensure the accuracy and integrity of the data contained within CADORS, however, the information within should be treated as preliminary, unsubstantiated and subject to change

No shots fired

Update: 1 p.m.

After an investigation police say a report of a gunshot on Hein Road seems to be an unfounded report.

It is believed the noise was fireworks.

Residents on Hein Road are in shock after a gunshot rang out just before 11 a.m.

A Castanet viewer says he was at home when he heard one loud distinct shot. He ran outside and saw his neighbours looking around in panic.

The man called police, who he says quickly converged on the scene.

At least four police cruisers along with two unmarked cars searched the 400 block of Hein Road.

According to reports this is same area police seized a prohibited firearm and ammunition from a home back in May.

It's unclear if anyone was hurt.

Castanet will have more information as it becomes available.

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