Thursday, July 24th16.3°C

Industrial zone flooded

Workers in Kelowna's north end industrial zone were shocked to discover a lake surrounding their businesses Thursday morning. Heavy rain Wednesday caused localized flooding along Gordon Drive prompting action from city crews to get the pooling water under control.

Paul Takken arrived at Glenmore Milwork at 7 a.m. to find city vactor trucks hard at work trying to contain the water.

“It was just a lake, a lot of water,” Takken says describing the scene. “It keeps on coming down the road but I don’t know where it is coming from.”

Takken says some doors were damaged inside the Glenmore Milwork storage building but otherwise the business didn’t suffer much damage.

Wednesday’s downpour caused Brant’s Creek to rise, which in turn caused the storm drains to over flow, explains the City’s Utility Services Manager Kevin Van Vliet.

“It filled Brant’s Creek which is where all of our storm drains here (off Gordon Drive) lead to and so Brant’s Creek really wasn’t able to keep up with the storm pipes that were draining to it, so some of the storm pipes surcharged and we had some local flooding.”

According to several workers in the area localized flooding has happened before and this isn’t the first time they have had water rushing toward their business.

“We’ve been here three and a half years and I believe it’s three times it has happened similar to this,” says Bob Wall of Wall to Wall Kitchen and Bath. “I think this may be the worst.”

Van Vliet says the city hasn’t been informed directly about flooding of a business or about requiring assistance with water damaged property.

However Castanet discovered one building that housed a legal grow operation under the former Health Canada licensing program did sustain some damage.

Kelowna City Clerk Steve Fleming says the business is in the process of applying for a new license, but wasn’t sure what would become of the grow operation if they sustained serious damage.

The city will be reassessing the storm drains and how the north end industrial zone is effected by rain water. Some business owners questioned the possibility of widening Brant's Creek to accommodate run off, but Van Vliet says it would be a timely and expense process.

There were no other reports of localized flooding to the City of Kelowna.



Water St roundabout opening

One more traffic detour will be eliminated from downtown Kelowna later today (Thursday).

The Queensway and Water street roundabout will be officially opening to motorists beginning at 6 p.m. this evening.

Eastbound traffic on Queensway Avenue between Water and Pandosy streets will be open to pedestrians and one-way traffic only with angle parking on the south side.

The north side of Queensway will remain closed between Water and Pandosy streets as work continues until the end of August.

A roundabout was implemented for increased safety for the high interaction of pedestrians, cyclists, transit and motorists at this location.

The Queensway transit exchange is temporarily located to the west side of Ellis Street between Doyle and Bernard avenues and to the northwest corner of Doyle Avenue.

The $5.6M transit and road improvement project is part of Phase two and three of BC Transit's RapidBus program.

Construction is expected to be complete by the end of August.

The City of Kelowna thanks residents, businesses and commuters for their patience.

Big White gets Aussie love

According to readers of the Australian magazine 'Out & About With Kids,' Big White is right up there with Disneyland, Sea World and the Australian Gold Coast.

Big White was named best international family ski resort by readers of the magazine.

According to magazine publisher, Richard Bunting, thousands voted over a six month period from October 2013 to April of 2014.

"It gives parents and gives people sitting on the fence the confidence we know what we're doing," says Big White Senior Vice-President, Michael J. Ballingal.

He says Big White is a family run company that pays attention to guests at the ski hill - they're very hands on.

"When your family comes here, the guy you saw at the consumer show in Sydney is the person walking through the restaurant saying hi to you to make sure everything is okay," says Ballingal.

"We're very hands on and we're fighting with the big players. You saw who we beat Aspen, Vail, Whistler, Switzerland, Austria."

Ballingal says while other resorts are more corporate based, Big White is about having fun.

"It's a business for some of them, they sit in their office and they're owned by conglomerates and big companies who want to know about their share prices.

We want to know about how much fun you had today and when a family is having fun they're spending money. When they're not having fun they're thinking about what they can do to get out of there."

The rest of the top eight provided by the magazine include:

  • Vail, Colorado, USA
  • Aspen, Colorado, USA
  • Banff, Canada
  • Niseko, Japan
  • Switzerland
  • Sun Peaks, Canada
  • Innsbruck, Austria

The magazine hit newsstands earlier this week.


Man falls to death

Update July 24

The 67-year-old Cawston man has been identified as Rodolph Joseph Ernest Legault.



Update July 14

A 67-year-old Cawston man has been identified as the person who died near Big White after falling down a cliff Sunday afternoon.

His name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin, but the Kelowna RCMP say the man was with several friends at the time of his death.

“The man's Jeep was parked on a narrow roadway when it started to roll towards a cliff," says RCMP spokesperson Kris Clark.

"When the man attempted to stop his vehicle from going over the embankment, he fell approximately 50 metres while the Jeep continued for 30 more. The man suffered fatal injuries and his body was recovered by Big White Fire Department personnel.”

No one else was injured in the incident.

The Kelowna RCMP continues to assist the BC Coroners Service in the investigation.

Original Story July 13

A man fell to his death off a forest service road near Big White Sunday afternoon.

Cst Justin Walton with the Kelowna RCMP said they were called to the scene around 2 p.m.

"A vehicle had gone over a cliffside and rolled down an embankment," he said.

A 67-year-old man was out for a recreational drive with friends when they stopped to take in the scenery.

The man parked too close to the edge and it appeared there may have been a partial failure with the parking brake in his Jeep. The vehicle began to slip and when he jumped back in to save the vehicle, fell 80 metres with it down the embankment. 

He was alone in the vehicle and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Drugs and alcohol were not considered to be a factor and there is no suspicion of criminal wrongdoing.

The Big White Fire Department spent several hours extracting the man from the vehicle which came to rest on a steep grade. 

Walton said, "they did fantastic work."

Crime #'s please top cop

Kelowna's top cop is pleased to see Kelowna is no longer the crime capital of Canada.

Numbers released by Statistics Canada Wednesday show crime in the Kelowna metropolitan area has fallen 13 per cent to 7,680 police reported crimes per 100,000 population.

That put the metro area (Peachland to Oyama) third behind Regina and Saskatoon.

Romanchuk, who took over the Kelowna detachment a year ago faced the Kelowna media for the first time when last year's crime numbers were released.

"It was my goal that we would never be mentioned in a Stats Canada report as having the highest crime rate again. We feel very satisfied we have dropped to number three," says Romanchuk.

"That may not seem like a huge decrease but considering there are only 33 census metropolitan areas and others have shown fairly significant decreases - we're quite proud of those results."

Romanchuk further stated Kelowna proper is 41st in Canada, below the national average of 5,190 reported crimes per 100,000 population.

While the crime rate may seem high, Romanchuk says high crime numbers in certain categories can be positive rather than negative.

One of those is court ordered breaches.

"When somebody is bound by a court ordered condition and they breach those conditions we need to be there and we need to arrest them and take them out of the community before they have an opportunity to commit more crimes," says Romanchuk.

"I like to see drug charges go up too because that means we are charging those people that tend to cause harm to our community in terms of increasing crime rate."

He says when those two numbers go up, other crimes such as robbery and break and enter tend to go down.

As for 2014, Romanchuk says after a rough start crime numbers are again trending down.

"I'm not too concerned about it but it's something we are aware of and something we are working hard to address."

He adds the mandate at the Kelowna detachment is to work smarter, not harder.

Some changes have been made to help facilitate that philosophy.

"We have changed our crime reduction strategy somewhat over the last year. It's more research based, it's intelligence driven and there is a very big accountability factor as well."

He says people are expected to produce in the areas where the best results can be achieved.



Kelowna teen found safe

UPDATE 8:00 P.M.

The Kelowna teen reported missing on July 16 has been located safe and sound. 


The Kelowna RCMP is requesting the public’s assistance in locating a missing Kelowna resident.

Jasmine Jobin was last seen July 15th, 2014.

Since her disappearance, police have followed up on several leads and possible sightings, however she remains missing.

Jobin is described as:

  • First Nations female
  • 14 years
  • 5 ft 3 in (160 cm)
  • 110 lbs (50 kg)
  • Slender build
  • Long brown hair
  • Brown eyes

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Jasmine Jobin is urged to contact their local police, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).

Wind knocks tree onto home

A Kelowna homeowner will be coming home to unwelcome sight after a tree struck their house.

Just after 3 p.m. Wednesday as a violent storm hit Kelowna, the tree was ripped out of the ground in the neighbour's backyard by heavy winds and landed on the empty home.

The owner of the tree, who asked to not be identified, was home with his children when the tree fell.

He told Castanet he is incredibly grateful his neighbour was not home at the time and no one was hurt, including his children.

The dad, father of a 5 and a 13-year-old was sitting in the front room of the home when he heard a loud noise. He looked out the front window and noticed in the reflection the large tree at the back of the house starting to fall.

He says he yelled at his children to move away from the back of the house and by the time he got to them, a few seconds later, he heard the tree strike his neighbour's home.

According to the man, the neighbour, who was not home at the time, is on his way back to Kelowna today.

The tree struck the balcony above the garage that opens from the master bedroom. The roof and balcony sustained significant damage.

The tree was in good health and was literally ripped up from the roots in their Dunvegan Court backyard, as seen in the pictures above.

The tree owners now have a call into their insurance company to ensure their neighbour's home can be fully repaired.

They feel incredibly lucky that more damage was not done. 

Arnie dancing with angels

Arnie Davis, the 'two steppin' cowboy' has passed away.

Davis, a fixture at Kelowna's OK Corral the past 20 years, died Tuesday at Kelowna Hospice House.

He was the subject of a 12-minute documentary, "Arnie: A Local Legend," which was released last September.

"I have Thursday night and Saturday night to look forward to - go dancing. If it wasn't for the Corral I wouldn't have anything to do. The Corral's been good to me and I think I've been good for them," Davis said in the documentary.

The OK Corral posted the news on its Facebook page Wednesday.

The reaction was overwhelming and heartfelt.

Alyssa Watt Thank you for making all us ladies look spectacular on the dance floor. You were so generous Arnie to make us feel included and beautiful. I know there is a line up in heaven waiting to dance with you just like you had here on earth. Will miss you.

Kin H. Woo The dance hasn't stop. It's just been moved to a bigger dance floor up above us all. Dance away kind Sir!

Jessica Davidson Arnie was an amazing dancer who brought many ladies to the floor! But what I will remember him the most for was watching him work with horses! This man's gentle spirit was amazing and he will be greatly missed not only by us but by those animals he loved so dearly!



Guilty plea in home invasion

One of the men involved in a violent home invasion on Halloween night two years ago will be going to jail, the only question that remains is the length of his sentence.

Matthew Scott Stewart, 31, pleaded guilty earlier this week to break and enter and using an imitation firearm in the 2012 robbery.

In a joint submission put forth by Crown Counsel Patty O’Neil and Stewart’s defence lawyer Andrew Vandersluys, the pair asked for a sentence of three years in jail, to be followed by probation and a firearms prohibition.

It stated that Stewart and another man, Kevin Graham, who has since had charges against him stayed by the prosecution, forced their way into a home on Belaire Avenue during the early morning hours of Nov 1.

One man was armed with a pistol and the other man carried a shotgun, although neither weapon was ever recovered, and prosecutors are unsure whether the weapons were real or imitation.

Amelie Normandeao was the only person home at the time. The court heard that she was a university student from out of province who was back in Kelowna to visit her boyfriend; he was not at home when the men forced themselves inside.

It’s alleged that Stewart and Graham, who lived on the same street, were having a Halloween party earlier that night where alcohol and cocaine was present, and the decision was made to break into a home where they believed a grow op was located.

When Normandeao answered a knock on the side door of her boyfriend’s house, the pair, who were unknown to her, barged in and pointed their weapons.

At the time of the home invasion, Normandeao was on the phone with her mother, and she told police the men ordered her to hang up the phone, get onto the ground, and then threatened to kill her.

The man holding the pistol, later identified by Normandeao in court as Matthew Stewart, searched the home while the other man held a shotgun to her head.

Stewart then returned and asked for the key to the basement. When Normandeao replied she didn’t know, he again threatened her.

That’s when Normandeao led them to the front door, where she had gotten a key stuck earlier in the day. While they attempted to extract the key, she ran down the street and hid in some bushes, only to see the pair of men come down the street and enter a home nearby.

After contacting police, and pointing out the home where the men ran, a police dog team was brought in who also tracked the suspects to the same address.

Graham was one of four people taken from the home, but could not be identified by Normandeao, while Stewart was arrested in Surrey a few months later. He has been in custody since that time.

A search of the suspect’s residence found rifles and ammunition, but none of the guns were used in the commission of the home invasion. In addition, no forensic evidence was ever found at the scene, nor was there a grow op in the basement.

Other witnesses at the house party were uncooperative with police by either failing to show up for court, retracting their evidence and feigning forgetfulness of the entire incident, which made Normandeao’s identification of Stewart the most crucial piece of the Crown’s case.

Her victim impact statement was also read in court, where she lists both emotional and financial hardships since the event, including lost wages and expensive counseling sessions.

In defence of his client, Vandersluys pointed out to the court that Stewart eventually pleaded guilty to some of the charges, and while he has a prior criminal record that includes three convictions, none of them were for violent crimes.

With credit for time served, both counsels have agreed on a suggested sentence of 14.5 months in jail.

Justice G. Weatherill is expected to make his decision in the next few days. 

Crime rate falls 13 per cent


Kelowna is no longer the crime capital of Canada.

Figures released by Statistics Canada Wednesday morning show the crime rate in Kelowna fell 13 per cent in 2013 to 7,680 police reported crimes per 100,000 population.

The crime severity index, which assigns weighted values based on the severity of each crime, also fell 12 per cent in the Kelowna metropolitan area, to 92.6.

The metropolitan stretches from Peachland to Oyama.

A year ago, Kelowna had the number one crime rate in Canada with many crime categories showing a major upward trend while nationally and in most metropolitan areas, the rate fell, in many areas, significantly.

Regina and Saskatoon finished one/two in Canada in both crime rate and crime severity index.

The lowest crime rate in Canada can be found in Toronto with just 2,941 crimes reported per 100,000 population, nearly 5,000 fewer than in Kelowna.

Nationally, the crime rate fell eight per cent to 5,190 reported crimes per 100,000 people while the crime severity index fell nine per cent to 68.7.

BC is third in the country with 7,454 crimes reported per 100,000 people (down six per cent) and a crime severity index of 89.2 (also down six per cent).

Only Saskatchewan, Manitoba and the three territories have higher crime rates than BC.

Metropolitan Kelowna has by far the highest crime rate and crime severity index in BC.

The city reported nearly 800 more crimes per 100,000 people than Vancouver and nearly 1,600 more than Abbotsford/Mission.

One year ago, incoming RCMP Supt. Nick Romanchuk was about to take over a detachment with the number one crime rate in Canada.

At the time Romanchuk has stated his goal was to ensure the greater Kelowna area was never again mentioned in a StatsCan report on crime unless it was for being recognized for significant improvements.


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