What is a Kelowna RCMP 'watch support officer'?

Support officers, explained

The Kelowna RCMP is highlighting the support staff that work behind the scenes.

One of the newest positions created by the City of Kelowna to address a need for rising call volume is the watch support officer, or WSO, according to a release from the RCMP.

Kelowna now has a total of four of these staff carrying peace officer status who handle issues that don’t necessarily require a frontline officer response.

A WSO is eligible to receive calls from the public, assess the call and then determine an appropriate action. They can also retrieve and process exhibits, video surveillance, manage curfew checks and DNA.

"The WSOs have been become an integral component of our detachment’s frontline policing duties, as they have allowed our officers more time to focus on priorities such as community safety initiatives, property crime and proactive enforcement,” says watch commander Brad Swecera.

WSOs are trained to take calls that are less serious in nature when danger to a person is not imminent. The Kelowna Detachment receives several calls centred around lost property, particularly in the summer months when tourists are vacationing. When calls of this nature are received and frontline officers are actively engaged in other priority calls, the WSO works with the patrol supervisors to determine if additional police action is required.

The early engagement of the WSOs allow for more timely response to these types of files and facilitates collaboration and strategic deployment of resources to ensure the best support to the entire community.

The WSO program has been prioritizing the handling and collection of Closed-Circuit TV footage that supports the gathering of evidence and identification of suspects. They can seize, or receive the footage, view it and assist with identification of the suspects within the video. In turn the WSO’s are watching an incredible amount of video footage and by doing so have been able to identify suspects and their criminal trends and/or similarities. The efficiency of the team has aided in the identification of repeat offenders and groups of individuals working together to commit property crimes.

WSOs are hired by the City of Kelowna with each watch assigned one to work alongside the general duty officers and work closely with the watch commanders.


Crows Rugby tournament this weekend supports Mamas for Mamas

Rugby supports Mamas

The Kelowna Crows Rugby Football Club will be back on the pitch this weekend for their first-ever Alumni Day on Saturday.

This season, the Kelowna Crows have fielded two Senior Men's teams, and for the first time since 2019, a Senior Women's team.

"We invite our alumni to join us this Saturday in celebration of the great game of rugby, an opportunity to enjoy our final triple-header at home this season and a great chance to reconnect with former teammates, friends, and your rugby family," said Richard Brewer, president and coach of the Kelowna Crows. "With our inaugural alumni day, we hope to connect our alumni of the past 53 years with our current day players."

The tournament will also act as a fundraiser for the Kelowna charity Mamas for Mamas.

"One of the fundamentals of the sport of rugby is community, and that means supporting not just the rugby community itself but the community in which we play," says Brewer. "We're proud to do our part to help a charity like Mamas for Mamas, which provides incredible services in Kelowna."

A donation bin will be set up for anyone wishing to drop off a donation. Some of the most needed items right now include shampoo, body wash, dental care items, Enfamil and Good Start formula, diapers (sizes 3, 4, 5), Pullups (sizes 3t-4t/4t-5t), baby wipes, baby shampoo, pads and tampons, and kids' school snacks.

The action gets underway at 11:15 a.m. on Saturday, March 25, with the Kelowna Crows women playing against Simon Fraser on the P10 Field at Parkinson Recreation Centre at 1800 Parkinson Way. Overflow parking is available at the Apple Bowl, located at 1555 Burtch Road.

The Kelowna Crows are celebrating their 53rd year in operation as the Central Okanagan's only rugby club, attracting players from Vernon to Penticton who want to play at the highest levels in the province.

For more information on the Kelowna Crows and their programs including those for youth U6-U18, click here.

Big White gives search and rescue money for rope rescue training

COSAR gets training boost

Central Okanagan Search and Rescue has received a $2,500 donation from Big White Ski Resort.

The money will go towards the Central Okanagan rope rescue event being held in Kelowna, April 14 to 16.

The event will see search and rescue rope rescue techs from around the province travel to Kelowna to take part in special training that will improve their skills.

"A huge thank you to Loose Moose and the rest of the team from Big White Ski Resort who stopped by to provide a generous donation to COSAR! Thank you Big White! You are an awesome partner," says a social media post.

COSAR is a non-profit organization that relies heavily on donations and all members are volunteers. Money raised through donations and sponsorships goes towards the maintenance of COSAR vehicles and equipment, restocking medical supplies, and the purchase of essential pieces of search and rescue equipment.

"If you are in a position to support COSAR, please hit the donation button on our website."

Central Okanagan Search and Rescue is also raising funds and looking to replace its current headquarters located near the Kelowna International Airport on Old Vernon Rd.


Kelowna in top 10 of Canadian cities rated the best for surviving a ‘zombie apocalypse’

Kelowna vs zombies?

How would the people of Kelowna survive in the event of a zombie apocalypse?

Pretty well, according to a tongue-in-cheek report for rental housing platform rentola.ca

Kelowna came in 7th of 35 metropolitan areas in Canada based on five criteria: Hideouts, Supplies, Safety, Mobility and Vulnerability.

Edmonton finished number one in the report, followed by Saskatoon, Guelph, Calgary and Regina. Kelowna was the highest ranked BC city. The only other city from this province in the top 10 was Abbotsford.

Victoria was the tenth worst place to survive a zombie apocalypse. St. John, New Brunswick was the worst, followed by Belleville, Ontario and Trois Rivières, Quebec.

Being on the shores of Okanagan Lake was seen as a positive, along with the number of residents who cycle, run and garden. Kelowna ranked high, with an 8.68 out of 10, for Mobility.

“It may be that you will have to travel a lot in search of survivors, provisions, or a better fate. Therefore, it is important that transport is your friend, and mobility is your best ally,” wrote the report’s authors.

Kelowna didn’t score as well on some criteria, including Hideouts, where we only got a 4.51, and safety, with a rating of 5.53.

“Apocalypse isn't just about astronauts flying on a heroic mission to destroy an asteroid heading toward Earth, it's often a game of hide and seek. Therefore, it is important to find the best, most protected, or remote place to save your life and grow potatoes. This index shows how many hiding places there are in the region,” says the rentola.ca report.

The safety criteria analyzed the crime rate per 100,000 population, the number of available weapons in a city and the proximity to a military base.

As for supplies, Kelowna got points for having lots of gardens to grow vegetables and the lake and creeks being an easy source of fish for food.

The researchers used Statistics Canada data and indexed the information to convert it to a value between 1-10. This means the higher a score an area achieved, the better is was relative to the others.

Kelowna MP's proposed changes to addictions treatment in federal prisons voted down

MP's bill voted down

Kelowna-Lake Country MP Tracy Gray’s private members bill proposing changes in how addictions treatment is delivered in federal prisons has been defeated.

Bill C-283 sought changes to the Criminal Code and Corrections and Conditional Release Act but was voted down Wednesday by the Liberals and NDP.

The vote fell mostly down party lines, with the Conservatives and Bloc voting in support.

“Canadians are suffering, and everything feels broken,” said Gray in a news release Wednesday.

“Conservatives brought forward a solution that would offer an important tool to help reduce recidivism, address our mental health and addiction crisis, provide hope for those struggling with addiction, and improve the public safety of our communities.”

Private member bills like Gray’s rarely become law and the federal Liberals announced last year that they would not support the bill.

The bill proposed to take substance use treatments from existing integrated corrections services and move them to designated treatment facilities where offenders could serve their terms. It would provide a wider range of sentencing options for the justice system.

Pam Damoff, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety, said in October last year in the House of Commons that isolating treatment services “could create negative outcomes for offenders.”

“People living with substance use disorders are not necessarily ready for active treatment. A spectrum of supports, which is not limited to active addiction treatment, must be explored and available to offenders living with substance use disorders,” Damoff said, noting that the facilities proposed by Gray don’t currently exist in Canada.

Damoff said the Liberals were also concerned the changes “could have a number of unintended negative consequences, including for overrepresented populations in the federal correctional system, such as indigenous and Black offenders.”

Gray, meanwhile, says the opposition to her ideas shows that the Liberals and NDP are committed to “failed approach that leaves addicts trapped in their addictions and our streets less safe.”

Lynx Air expands services from Kelowna

Lynx Air adds YLW flights

Budget airline Lynx Air is adding more flights to and from Toronto and Kelowna this summer.

The so-called "through flights" will start April 13 between Toronto's Pearson International Airport and Kelowna International Airport. The flights will stop in Calgary but will provide a service with a single boarding pass and the ability to check bags through to the final destination.

Tickets go on sale Wednesday with fares starting from $85 one way between Toronto and Kelowna, including taxes and fees.

Lynx is also launching a limited-time seat sale with up to 50 per cent off base fares on all Hamilton and Kelowna routes. The sale will run from March 23, 2023, ending at 11:59 p.m. EDT on March 25, 2023, and can be accessed with the promo code: FLYSUMMER.

“As Canadians look to book their Summer vacation, we are excited to offer more ultra-affordable links between the communities of Kelowna, Toronto, Hamilton and Vancouver,” said Merren McArthur, CEO of Lynx.

“We know the airline industry has had some challenges over the last 12 months and we want to assure Canadians that they can book with confidence on Lynx. I am proud to say that since our launch in April 2022, Lynx has had the lowest cancellation rate in Canada. Whether you are flying to visit loved ones or for a well-earned vacation, Lynx Air will provide a great flying experience at an ultra-affordable price.”

Lynx Air is also adding flights between Hamilton and Vancouver.

April marks the one-year anniversary of having Lynx operating at Kelowna's airport.

YLW airport director Sam Samaddar says he's "happy" to see the service expansion.

Kelowna council endorses bed and breakfast for the rich and famous

Approval for luxury B&B

Is it a luxury hotel or a high-end bed and breakfast for the rich and famous?

It depends on your perspective.

Regardless, the luxurious mansion on Lochview Road overlooking Okanagan Lake dubbed Chateau Okanagan will be able to operate as a high-end bed and breakfast to the stars if an amendment to the city's bed and breakfast bylaws are given final adoption by council.

The amendment, which would increase the number of allowable guests from eight to 16 and allow additional uses such as banquet and beverage service, meeting rooms, tennis court, pool and spa, was given second and third reading by council following Tuesday's public hearing.

Council unanimously supported the move.

The original application brought forward two year ago sought to turn the property into a boutique hotel, however planner Dean Strachan indicated such a change would require significant upgrades to the property.

"The original application was to go to a full hotel but that would have required redesignation to commercial, commercial upgrade to the property as well as a number of other components, so we began to have a conversation about looking at a bed and breakfast operation for now and maybe in the future pursue that," said Strachan.

"Starting as a bed and breakfast seemed like a transition way to do that and allow them to operate and begin to demonstrate this works well in the community."

Planning director Ryan Smith added changing the property to a commercial zone could open it up to land uses the city may not want to see including other business potential with traffic implications.

Keeping the zone as it is makes the use more predictable, he said.

Francois Theriault, a direct neighbour to the property, was the lone voice to speak against the amendment.

He suggested the city was giving away several thousands of dollars in tax revenue by not going to a commercial zone for what he said is obviously a hotel operation.

He complained the owner was not residing on the property contravening the bed-and-breakfast bylaws and had issues with a movie production on the property last summer that brought with it dozens of vehicles and drunken trespassers.

Birte Decloux, of Urban Options Planning who represented the applicant, apologized for that event saying it was not a pleasant experience and vowed it would "never happen again."

Theriault went on to call the venture a luxury resort for the 0.1 percenters.

He claims it has been running without a business license or a food premises permit.

Decloux called the venture a private guest estate for visitors expecting a certain class of accommodation and services. An exclusive type of accommodation not yet available in the Okanagan.

She said guests would arrive together and be shuttled to the estate and when their stay was complete, shuttled out together.

She indicated the operator of the property would live there full time.

New Sole project proposed for Kelowna's Bernard Avenue

Sole looks at sixth project

A sixth iteration of Live Edge Builders Sole development is being planned for Bernard Avenue.

Five previous projects under the Sole brand have either been constructed or are in the process including two on St. Paul Street, as well as buildings on Cawston Avenue, KLO and Rutland Road.

The latest proposal would see the consolidation of properties at 1660 and 1670 Bernard across from the Apple Bowl and just east of a six-storey apartment approved by council at the corner of Bernard and Noble Court.

The new proposal put forward this week is for a six-storey wood frame multi-family development.

The application before the planning department calls for approximately 102 for sale residential units including 39 one bedroom and a mix of 42 two-bedroom suites.

Two levels of underground parking would accommodate 107 residents parking spaces with another 15 visitor stalls at grade.

Another 85 long-term bicycle spaces would also be provided as well as a transit bus turnout on Bernard.

The developer is seeking to have the property rezoned from duplex housing to the apartment housing zone.

City of Kelowna asks public to stay off sports fields until they officially open

Sports fields not open yet

The City of Kelowna is set to reopen its sports fields next month.

While sports players may be eager for the return to play, the City of Kelowna is asking people to wait until they officially open.

Kelowna's parks and beaches supervisor Dave Gatzke says it's important for the overall health of the grass, and to ensure the highest quality of play.

"It seems like no big deal to use the fields when they're free, but the grass on these fields needs to be fully dried out and actively growing before the spring season begins to ensure quality turf and to avoid divots and holes that lead to player injuries," said Gatzke.

"We really appreciate the community's help in getting our fields ready for an exciting season of sports for all ages."

Spring teams looking for a place to practice or play before the start of the season can call 250-469-8800 or fill out a rental enquiry webform to book space on artificial turf.

Weather permitted, ball diamonds are expected to open April 7, with all other fields set to open on April 14.

Person in 'grave' condition, 3 others hurt, in Highway 33 crash

'Grave' condition after crash

UPDATE 11:40 a.m.

BC Highway Patrol says a person reported as deceased by police on Tuesday evening in a crash on Highway 33 east of Kelowna is not in fact dead.

"All four occupants were transported to Kelowna hospital with serious injuries. It was previously reported that one person had succumbed to their injuries, however they remain in grave condition in hospital," said police in an update.

Healthcare sources say the person is being held on life support to allow for organ donation.

BC Transplant says in 2022 there was a record of 159 deceased organ donors in the province.

Those deceased organ donors saved the lives of 465 British Columbians.

You can register to become an organ donor here.

UPDATE: 6:12 a.m.

A head-on crash east of Kelowna Tuesday evening on Highway 33 claimed the life of one person and has left three others with serious injuries.

BC Highway Patrol Const. James Ward says a westbound Ford Escape SUV crossed the centre line about 6:15 p.m. and struck an oncoming Dodge Ram pickup on the 6600 block of the highway, between Cardinal Creek Road and Goudie Road.

There were two occupants in each vehicle.

All four were rushed to Kelowna General Hospital, where the passenger in the Ford succumbed to their injuries.

Police continue to investigate the collision and are seeking witnesses and any dashcam footage of the incident and road conditions at the time of the incident.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Ward at [email protected].

DriveBC reports the scene was cleared and highway reopened as of 3 a.m.

ORIGINAL: 9 p.m.

Highway 33 has been closed in both directions just east of Kelowna after a vehicle incident.

DriveBC said the crash happened about three kilometres from the city, between Cardinal Creek Road and Goudie Road.

A detour is in effect via Sunvalley Road.

DriveBC advised drivers to expect delays and use caution.

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