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Pedestrian hit on Harvey

A pedestrian was taken to hospital after he was struck by a vehicle at Abbott Street and Harvey Avenue Friday night.

RCMP say the man appeared to try and cross Harvey, while traffic was moving, from the City Park side to the south side of the highway. The traffic had the right of way.

A black pick-up narrowly missed the man, but he was hit by a small vehicle coming beside the pick-up. The incident happened around 11:20.

An RCMP officer at the scene said the man suffered a serious head injury.

The incident is under investigation.




Dinner to support the disabled

Supporting adults with disabilities is as simple as going out for dinner this Wednesday.

Pathways Abilities Society and Kelowna Community Development Society present the second Annual Dine for Diversabilities fundraising event in celebration of Community Living Month.

"Participating in this great event can’t be easier! Simply go out for a meal at a participating restaurant on Wednesday, October 29, 2014, and the restaurant will make a donation to support adults with diversabilities in our community!" Karen Waldal, home share coordinator at the KCDS said in a release.

The participating restaurants are:

  • Café Soleil – 553 Bernard Avenue – breakfast and lunch
  • The Grateful Fed – 509 Bernard Avenue – lunch
  • Casa Sasso Italian Foodbar – 426 Bernard Avenue – dinner
  • Memphis Blues BBQ House – 289 Bernard Avenue – lunch and dinner

Pathways Abilities Society and Kelowna Community Development Society have a combined history of providing services to individuals with diversabilities and their families in our community for more than 90 years.   

"By offering a combination of Community Inclusion, Social Recreation and Activity services; Integrated Career Opportunities and Social Ventures; and Residential and Home Sharing services we work collectively to empower individuals with diversabilities to live fully inclusive lives where their quality of life is improved," Waldal said. 

“We are so pleased to partner with Kelowna Community Development Society on this great event," Pathways Executive Director Charisse Daley says. "It allows us to reach more people about the importance of fostering a truly inclusive community, and provides much needed financial resources to allow us to continue our work.  

"We’re grateful to the restaurants who have signed up to participate in this event, as it demonstrates their commitment to being philanthropic corporate citizens who really care about our community. We hope people will go out and enjoy a meal at on October 29 and support DIVERSABILITIES in our community!”


Designated driver only 14

A son making sure his intoxicated dad got home safely has received his first traffic ticket following a vehicle stop Wednesday evening.

Turns out the son was just 14-years-old.

Members of the Kelowna Integrated Road Safety Unit, stopped the Chevy Impala on Bartley Road near Capri Road shortly before 11 p.m. Wednesday evening.

The car, which had been observed leaving a liquor store nearby, was found to be a rental vehicle and had two occupants.

The 14-year-old West Kelowna boy was apparently acting as chauffeur and designated driver for his 47-year-old father, who happened to be under the influence of alcohol.

The boy was unlicenced to drive because one cannot obtain a British Columbia Learner's Licence until they are at least 16 years of age.

The rental car agreement showed the father listed as the only approved operator and the car was subsequently removed from the roadway for retrieval by the rental company.

The boy received a Violation Ticket for No Driver's Licence while his father was issued a Violation Ticket for Allowing an Unlicenced Minor To Drive.


Two sentenced in shoot out

Two of the three accused Westside Shooters were sentenced in Kelowna on Friday. They were involved in a chase and exchange of gun fire with police in July of 2012.

The chase stretched from West Kelowna to Vernon along Westside Road and involved numerous carjackings. It eventually culminated with the arrest of three suspects near the Swan Lake exchange; Ashley Collins, Shawn Wysynski and Michael Ellis.

Ellis is still on trial after pleading not guilty to 22 charges. 

Shawn Wysynski pleaded guilty to one charge of armed robbery and one charge of attempted armed robbery early in the trial proceedings.

Justice Peter Rogers sentenced him to nine years in a federal institution, minus 39 months credit for his 26 months served in a remand centre. He also received a lifetime firearms ban and is required to give a DNA sample. 

Wysynski will be eligible for parole after serving one year. 

"His criminal record can lead one to no conclusion other than, Mr Wysynski simply has no attachment to normal society," Justice Rogers said. "I'm not optimistic that whatever programs may be available to him in custody will have a rehabilitative effect, but, as they say 'never say never,' and who knows, Mr Wysynski might eventually surprise us all." 

Collins pleaded guilty to knowingly being in a vehicle where there were illegal firearms. She was given a suspended sentence of 18 months and 18 months of probation.

She is also prohibited from possessing firearms for the next five years.

Collins said she was "pretty relieved," regarding the sentence.

During the chase, Collins suffered a gunshot wound to her abdomen during the melee. She was laying in the back of a black truck being driven by Wysynski and Ellis when she was wounded. The police bullet resulted in the loss of a kidney and a miscarriage for Collins. 

Despite these injuries, defence counsel Grant Gray said it was a "miracle" that no others were injured in the proceedings. 

Collins' significantly lighter sentence was based on her being 18-years-old at the time of the crime and the likelihood that her judgment was impaired by drug and alcohol use.

Gray submitted that Collins had given up the use of drugs and alcohol since the incident and had detoxified during her recovery in hospital. 

Collins apparently told her probation officer that the day she was shot was her worst day and also her best day - she now has a job, quit drugs and her employers have given good reviews of her behaviour.

Justice Rogers said he thought there was a good chance of her rehabilitation. 




Lights out, crocodile

1:45 p.m. update:

FortisBC contacted Castanet to say that they have been working with Croc Talk for more than five years in attempts to reduce their outstanding balance and find a timeframe for repayment that worked for both parties. 

This is contrary to Illman's claim that his power was disconnected without notice.

"We've been talking with the customer almost daily leading up to the disconnection of their power," Fortis spokesperson David Wylie said. "It hit a point where we did have to make that really hard decision. We have an obligation to our other customers to collect on overdue accounts."

Wylie said Fortis tried to make a decision that would be best for the survival of the animals. Getting the power back on at Croc Talk would require some cash, and a strong commitment on how and when Croc Talk would pay their outstanding balance.

Some exotic fish and reptiles are at risk of dying and a local business is being threatened after Fortis cut the power off at Croc Talk in Kelowna Thursday.

Croc Talk has been in Kelowna for more than 20 years but this year has been particularly difficult for owner Doug Illman.

Permitting issues with the city stopped them from doing business at the beginning of the summer, and now that the tourists have left, missing that early business has made it difficult to make ends meet.

"The reality is, the power is off and I can't get my generator started," Illman said. "Animals will perish very soon."

Illman said he didn't receive any notices from Fortis warning that power would be cut off. What he did receive was a bill for $6,400 which he says he cannot afford to pay. 

"All of our ponds are thermostatically controlled, we regulate water and air temperature so this is a really bad time for Fortis to shut me down over $6,400," he said. "The crocodillians are probably OK in here, but within a couple of hours all my fish are going to die. Fish need air, I'm really feeling guilty."

Illman said he doesn't have any ill-will towards Fortis, but the payments he has been making were not enough to keep the lights on. 

"We are a non-profit organization, but it's hard to raise money for reptiles when people care more about raising money for cuddly animals."

Croc Talk was incorporated as a non-profit last March.

Croc Talk's location at 4493A Stewart Road East in Kelowna has always made business difficult; they're way off the highway and in an agricultural zone, not an industrial one. But raising the money to get into a permanent location has been the struggle. 

"We've been on this property for nine years, and people have been supportive of that," Illman said. "But this has always been a temporary location, which is a problem. With the real estate situation as it is in this community, it's overwhelming."

Illman said other than the kangaroo farm in Winfield, Croc Talk is the only remaining business that's really geared towards educating and entertaining children in Kelowna.

In a worst case scenario, Illman said he has had a very generous offer from a zoo in Alberta, although he would not mention which. However, Illman doesn't want to leave.

"There's no reason Croc Talk can't succeed in Kelowna without a little help. We have things here you can't see anywhere else in North America," he said. "Kelowna is my home, I love Kelowna, love the environment, why should I have to leave? 




Banned driver pinched in vehicle

A 46-year-old Kelowna man is facing a number of possible charges after police located a stolen vehicle outside a problem residence Wednesday night.
Shortly before midnight Wednesday a member of the Kelowna RCMP was conducting patrols near a residence in the 700 block of Bernard Avenue when he located a stolen vehicle behind the building.

The driver was arrested without incident for possession of stolen property.

Police searched the man for weapons and found a spring-loaded knife, often referred to as a switchblade.

The suspect was identified and police records indicated that he was prohibited from driving a motor vehicle.
The 46-year-old Kelowna man faces potential charges of Possession of Stolen Property, Possession of a Prohibited Weapon, and Driving While Prohibited.


Students wear red in solidarity

A UBCO student is asking his peers to come together in solidarity and show support of those affected by the tragedy that took place in Ottawa on Wednesday.

Tom Macauley, returned home from a trip to the U.S. yesterday and as he arrived back in Canada he was accosted by the news of an attack on his home soil.

“Like a lot of people I was scared of what happened,” Macauley explains. “So I got to thinking  about it and I just had this great sense of how lucky I am to live in a country where this thing is a rare occurrence, but it definitely brings us together.”

He hopes to bring everyone together at UBCO by asking them to wear red on Friday in support of Canada and in remembrance of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo.

“Just seeing how they (the media and officials) have been reporting the story and how carefully they have been treating people who have been involved with it, it makes me proud to be Canadian,” says Macauley. “So on my way to school today I thought we should do something about it and wearing red is a simple way to do it.”  

UBCOSU President Rocky Kim was just in Ottawa last week, and says it was scary to think how close he was to this tragedy.

“People usually feel so disconnected by events like this because they think it will never affect ‘myself’, next thing you know I will be like ‘oh it happened in Ottawa I don’t live in Ottawa but I was in Ottawa last week,” explains Kim.

Kim also says he has friends who work on Parliament Hill and who were inside when the incident occurred.

“It hit very close to home, but I think the correct reaction is the Canadian reaction which is to say ‘let's come together and let's show the world how a country properly reacts.”

The two students hope others around the Okanagan will join them in their Movement to Wear Red on Friday and show solidarity for those affected by the tragedy in Ottawa.

Check out their Facebook page here.


COG searches for answers

The success or failure of Center of Gravity over the past two years depends on which side of the fence you are sitting on.

The 2013 festival on the August long weekend was a financial success for organizer Wet Ape Productions but, for residents, businesses and emergency personnel - not so much.

In 2014, while a new plan which included a date prior to the August long weekend had a positive effect for the community, for Wet Ape Productions - not so much.

Council will review a report Monday which concludes the new, multi-faceted plan put in place in 2014 had a positive effect on both the Center of Gravity weekend itself and the August long weekend.

In part, the report states downtown businesses reported record sales on the August long weekend and fewer issues on the COG weekend one week prior while residents commented it was nice to be able to use the park during the long weekend.

It further states:

  • Changing music genre, implementing conditions of decibel levels and revising the entertainment schedule resulted in a somewhat older audience and few noise complaints
  • Enhanced on-site security plans resulted in less security related on site issues and smaller line-ups
  • Parking restrictions and bylaw patrols south of the bridge resulted in a significant improvement in the experience of those residents
  • The off-site security plan, including additional RCMP resources and road closures on Abbott, Leon and Lawrence avenues was effective
  • Wet Ape's improved shuttle service to the COG House, hotels and UBCO residences worked as planned, helping reduce congestion downtown.

The report also stated there were fewer gang related incidents than the previous year.

The additional enforcement outlined in the 2014 plan came with a steep price, an additional $26,000 for event organizers.

However, Event Development Supervisor, Mariko Siggers says COG is not without its challenges.

She pointed specifically to illicit drugs on site with a number of patients being transported to KGH for treatment for drugs or alcohol.

"RCMP, BC Ambulance and the security team were all busy managing crowds and dealing with drug and alcohol related incidents," says Siggers in her report.

"While overall RCMP files were lower in 2014, crime is still a concern with this event."

She adds that, while organizers were happy with the changes, COG was not a financial success in 2014.

"However, Wet Ape has informed the city that, despite the financial challenges of the 2014 COG event, they are working on solutions to continue COG in Kelowna in 2015."

Siggers does say the Outdoor Events Committee will not endorse a move back to the August long weekend as one of those solutions.

She says the committee recognizes Wet Ape as an excellent organization and is committed to working with them to find viable solutions to continue COG in 2015.

Criminal check for trustees

School District 23 trustees will have to undergo criminal background checks.

The current board made that decision at its meeting Wednesday night.

"In the past we've said it was up to trustees if they felt they were going to be in a situation where they might be one-on-one with students...whether that's volunteering in a certain program or just driving students home," says board chair, Moyra Baxter.

"We decided really the best things is at the beginning of each term of office to ask trustees to have the check. Then when they are going into schools there is no problem with people worrying if they've had that check."

Baxter says all volunteers within the school district are expected to undergo the same criminal background checks if they are dealing with students.

The district will pick up the cost of the criminal checks.

"The district has an agreement because we have so many people undergoing checks...all our staff members have to undergo criminal record checks. That's a term for employment and so do all the volunteers in our schools," says Baxter.

"Adding the seven trustees is not a huge issue."

Meantime, the board continues to look at the possibility of adding a West Kelowna middle school to the French Immersion program.

Staff are engaged in reviewing that possibility.

"As you know we only have one middle school that provides French Immersion in our school district and that's KLO Middle School and it's totally overcrowded," says Baxter.

"So, we have to come to some decision and there's some options the board could consider. One would be to go with a French Immersion only school which the board has said is not something we support...we prefer the dual track program."

She says the preferable option would be to provide French Immersion on the westside and perhaps later on in another part of the district.

She says Glenrosa Middle School is an option because they do have the space available.

French Immersion is currently being offered at George Pringle Elementary but Baxter says some parents are reluctant to send their children by themselves into Kelowna to continue with the French Immersion program.

Baxter says it's too early to know whether a program could be offered on the westside in time for the 2015-2016 school year.

Stober buys old KSS site

The City of Kelowna has finalized a deal for more than $6 million with Al Stober Construction Limited to purchase the remaining five parcels at the Central Green site.

Development of the former KSS site is expected to start as early as 2015.

“The City and the community worked together from 2008 to 2011 to create a comprehensive plan for Central Green that would guide its development,” says Mayor Walter Gray.

“The properties have been for sale since 2012, but we now have the right market conditions and a local developer that came to the table with an offer that will see the community’s vision for the site unfold.”

Located minutes from downtown and across from Kelowna Central School, the site is bordered by Harvey Avenue, Richter Street and Rowcliffe Avenue.

It is made up of nine parcels and was once the home of Kelowna Senior Secondary School. As part of the community planning process, it was established that the site would be a LEED certified neighbourhood using fewer resources, including water and energy.

It was also decided that 15 per cent of the site would be dedicated to affordable housing.

The parcels set aside for housing wrap around a two-hectare parcel dedicated for Rowcliffe Community Park. The park is scheduled for construction in 2017.

Al Stober Construction purchased the parcels known in the comprehensive development zone (CD22) as Areas A, B, C, D and G.

The company will begin the development permitting process in the coming months with the intention of constructing rental housing. This purpose-built rental housing meets an identified need for affordable housing and will help to fulfil a shortage of rental homes in the city.

“We are very excited at the opportunity to deliver a top quality residential development for this great location adjacent to Kelowna’s downtown,” says Steve Kumpf, General Manager for Al Stober Construction Limited.

“Our pedestrian-oriented development plan for Central Green creates a vibrant and livable neighborhood that includes a large community park and is a quick walk to the beach or downtown’s dining, shopping and central business district.”  

The City of Kelowna also sold Areas E and F to Davara Holding for $800,000 in 2013 to build a support centre for the Karis Support Society.

The project is currently under development and will include 30 units. Area H was provided to BC Housing and will be operated by the Ki-Lo-Na Friendship Society as an affordable housing development with 86 units. Area I will be developed as Rowcliffe Community Park.

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