Monday, April 27th18.9°C
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Oath replaces prayer

Kelowna city council will reaffirm its oath of office rather than pray before Tuesday night meetings.

That solution was reached Monday as a way of appeasing a recent Supreme Count of Canada ruling banning the practice of prayer at council meetings.

Mayor Colin Basran announced the decision following Monday's regular meeting.

"Council still believes it to be important to have a moment of reflection before starting our regular meetings on Tuesday nights. So, today, we have decided to reaffirm our oath of office at the start of public meetings," said Basran.

"We all, myself included, will take turns reaffirming our oath of office as a reminder that the decisions we make are often difficult and we are all here doing our best to guide our city to the best of our abilities."

Basran provided an example of what that oath might sound like.

"We gather here this evening to perform the duties of council. May we act faithfully and with integrity. May we abide by the statutes, bylaws and policies that govern the city. May we promote openness, accountability and responsible leadership. May we provide good stewardship of public assets and programs and, finally, may we always consider the well being and interests of the community as a whole leading to the development of a safe, vibrant and sustainable city."

While the city has yet to run the idea past its legal team, Basran believes they are on safe legal ground.

"We take the oath of office after we are elected, and that wasn't subject to the court ruling. This was specifically a prayer in council chambers, which this is clearly not."

Council did mull over a number of options, including a moment of silence, but Basran said council felt something needed to be said.

"Something that was significant but still allowed us an opportunity to reflect. We felt this does exactly that."

Basran said he expects to hear from the public concerning council's decision.

"This is something everybody has an opinion on, one way or the other," said Basran.

"This is one of those decisions where we know we are not going to please everybody, but we believe this is the best way to move forward."

The new oath will be read beginning on Tuesday night.



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Local aid for Nepal

Kelowna resident Kevin Edgecombe was set to travel to Nepal in May to finish building a women’s vocational centre, but now he and a group of volunteers will be helping to rebuild a country.

After Saturday’s devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake, Edgecombe realized he would have to put the build on hold and help out the friends he has grown close to over the last five years.

Edgecombe and his wife travelled to Nepal in 2009. They discovered what he called "brutal school facilities."

Since then, he has built several classrooms through his Kelowna charity, Intercultural Woman’s Education Network, which increases awareness and access to education for marginalized females by funding education programs in Nepal, Canada and elsewhere.

Edgecombe has returned to Nepal every year and says it has become a significant part of his life.

“I spoke with our country director for IWEN, who said they just got their power back on in their area of Kathmandu this morning. They had been out of water, which makes it very difficult for food and sanitation,” he said.

“They are all sleeping outside, under tarps because of the numerous aftershocks. People are scared to go back in their homes.”

Everyone directly involved with IWEN is accounted for, and all are safe.

“There is one friend who I haven’t heard from, and he is believed to be at the basecamp of Everest, so hopefully he is safe," said Edgecombe.

With plans set in motion, he and 19 volunteers are hoping to fly to Kathmandu on May 16 and assist in whatever ways they are needed.

“Our volunteer team seems to be willing to do whatever it takes, whether that be clean up, humanitarian work, setting up and bringing tents.

“If we bring two tents each in our luggage, then distribute them, there will be a need for that.”

He has been told many roads are out of service, leaving those in villages north of Kathmandu stranded.

“I expect the death toll to continue to rise, as many of the villages aren’t even accessible unless by a helicopter."

Through IWEN, Edgecombe hopes to raise funds that will go 100 per cent to aid and relief in Nepal. This Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., volunteers will hold a bottle drive at Western Star Trucks for earthquake relief.

To find out how you can get involved, check out IWENCanada. com or on Facebook.



Water plan made clear

Customers serviced through the South East Kelowna Irrigation District (SEKID) are asked to attend an open house this Thursday.

The open house is designed to provide details of improvements being made to the water system and their related costs.

A week ago, the water utility announced plans to add a water-quality levy of $20 per month to Phase 1 properties, starting July 1.

The levy is being implemented to facilitate a $23.7-million improvement project to bring the area's drinking water up to mandatory provincial water quality standards. 

The open house is scheduled for East Kelowna Hall from 4 to 8 p.m.

Trustees and staff will be able to provide the project schedule and related costs.

In a newsletter send to all customers, SEKID said it is still actively pursuing other sources of funding. Should government grants become available, they will be used to accelerate the project and could help reduce rates.

SEKID further stated Phase 1 customers will pay the additional $20 per month levy until 2024, at which time the levy will drop to $10 until the project is complete.

The Phase 2 levy would be applied when Phase 1 is complete, at a reduced rate of $10 per unit until that unit is on the new water system. Once Phase-2 properties receive new water, they will pay the same levy as Phase 1 properties until the project is complete.

Any Phase-2 properties that have not received new water by 2024 will have the levy reduced to $8 per month until they receive new water.

A second open house will be held May 21 at East Kelowna Hall, from 4 to 6:30 p.m.



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College gets trades boost

Trades training at Okanagan College has received a shot in the arm with funding to create 152 more students spaces.

The province has provided $766,560 to reduce wait times for students entering in-demand trades.

The funding will go toward the following programs:  

  • Welding: 16 Foundation seats
  • Carpentry: 32 Foundation seats
  • Electrical: 36 Foundation seats
  • Heavy Mechanical Trades: 18 Foundation seats
  • Professional Cook: 18 Level 1 seats
  • Welding: 32 Level B seats

“There are one million jobs opening up in B.C. by 2022, and 44 per cent of those will be in the trades alone – that’s more than four times the total population of Kelowna,” said Premier Christy Clark, MLA for Westside-Kelowna. “More trades training seats at Okanagan College means more students getting the skills to be first in line for those jobs here at home.”  

“Okanagan College is an exceptional facility, and these additional seats will help train even more local students,” added Kelowna-Mission MLA Steve Thomson. “In making more critical trades seats available, we’re helping to meet the needs of industry and create good, family-supporting jobs in our community.”  

The support is part of a $6.1-million initiative to fund 1,429 additional critical trade seats this year in 14 public post-secondary institutions throughout the province.

Foundation training programs provide students with the basic knowledge and skills needed for entry into a particular occupation. Students receive credit for the first level of apprenticeship training in a specific field by the Industry Training Authority upon completion.

By 2022, the province estimates ore than 78 per cent of jobs will require some form of post-secondary education, and 44 per cent will be in skilled trades and technical occupations.



Business Walk sets pace

Manufacturing will be the focus of the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission's "Business Walk" this week.

The in-person survey will look at the human resources needs of manufacturers in the region.   

About 50 companies will be asked about their workforce issues during pre-scheduled interviews throughout the week. Subjects will include questions about specific jobs they have difficulty filling, succession planning and what assistance would help attract and retain the employees they need.

The information gained will be shared with organizations that may be able to provide assistance in training/certification, recruitment and other areas. It will also be communicated to the provincial and federal governments as industry intelligence for consideration in policy and program development.

The Business Walk idea was inspired by the 2014 study: Growing in the Okanagan – 2020 Labour Market Outlook – the largest study of its kind in the region. 

The need to retain and attract skilled workers was identified as a major factor in growing the Central Okanagan economy. 

"Local employers will be facing ever increasing human resource pressures associated with an aging workforce, retirements and the need to develop proactive attraction, recruitment and retention strategies. At the same time, the majority of employers do not have a human resources plan or a succession plan" the commission said in a press release. 

The Business Walk program is a partnership between the EDC, business improvement associations, Westbank First Nation and chambers of commerce in the region.

The annual non-sector specific Central Okanagan Business Walk will be held on Oct. 1 and is expected to touch base with 400 businesses.  A tourism/hospitality Business Walk is planned for November.



First crop of new doctors

The first medical students to be fully educated and trained in the B.C. Interior are set to graduate from the University of British Columbia this spring.

UBC Okanagan welcomed the inaugural class of the Southern Medical Program in September 2011. Now, as part of the largest medical class in UBC history, these new doctors are preparing to enter residency training in family medicine or various specialties for the next two to five years.

“The past four years have been a great journey for both our students and our program,” says Regional Associate Dean Dr. Allan Jones. “We are incredibly proud of these students who pioneered this program, and proud of the many players — instructors, staff, nurses and many others — who, by enabling their success, are supporting the health-care needs of Interior communities.”

Students in the Southern Medical Program did most of their academic work — lectures, labs and small-group workshops — at UBC Okanagan, and received their clinical training at various hospitals and clinics throughout the Interior.

More than half of the graduates will pursue training in primary care — family medicine, internal medicine or pediatrics. One of them, Alexandra Bond, who grew up in Surrey, will head to Vancouver to begin a five-year residency in internal medicine at UBC.

“On behalf of the Interior Health board as well as our physicians and staff, congratulations to the Southern Medical Program’s first graduating class,” says Interior Health Board Chair Erwin Malzer. “We are proud to play an important role in the future of tomorrow’s doctors, and we look forward to building upon our successful partnership with UBC.”

Bolstered by the Southern Medical Program, UBC will be graduating 292 MD students — its largest class ever — on May 20 at UBC’s Vancouver campus. UBC’s medical education program is now the fifth-largest in North America.


UBC Okanagan will celebrate its first-ever graduating class of medical students today.

Thirty brand-new doctors will begin residency programs across the country as they move on from UBC’s Southern Medical Program in Kelowna.

The graduates will be recognized in a ceremony at the Clinical Academic Campus lecture theatre at Kelowna General Hospital, at 1 p.m.

Regional Associate Dean Dr. Allan Jones and Interior Health board chair Erin Malzer will send them off.

The 30 students, who started their medical training at UBC’s Okanagan campus in September 2011, will now begin two- to five-year residency programs.

The Southern Medical Program admits up to 32 students annually and now, four years into the program, more than 800 Interior-based health professionals are involved in teaching medical students and residents in 30 different communities.

This July, a new family medicine residency site will open at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital in Trail, and training sites in Kamloops and Kelowna will welcome their second round of residents.

The medical program is delivered in partnership with Interior Health. 



Body found in Ben Lee Park

A body has been recovered from a popular Rutland park.

A woman and her daughter on their way to play basketball at Ben Lee Park came across the body of a 45-year-old man, Sunday evening.

Police were called to 900 Houghton Road about 6:30 p.m., where they discovered a deceased Kelowna man in the multi-purpose court at the park.

RCMP spokesman Cpl. Joe Duncan says foul play is not suspected at this time.

“An autopsy has been scheduled, and the B.C. Coroners Service is now investigating and will release a name in the coming days,” said Duncan.

Based on evidence at the scene and information given to police, foul play was ruled out in the cause of death.



4 things you need to know

AM Update with Jen Zielinski for Monday, April 27.



A good reason to visit

Tourist season is warming up, and two key guides for visitors have just been released by Tourism Kelowna.

The annual Wine Trails and Farm to Table guides have been published, and are available at participating wineries, farms, and restaurants, and throughout the Okanagan at Visitor Centres and hotels. 

They are also being distributed to specialty wine stores in Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.

A total of 200,000 wine guides and 95,000 Farm to Table guides were printed.

"These are among the hero experiences, expressions of the essence of what it means to vacation in Kelowna and its neighbouring communities," says Tourism Kelowna. 

“We are proud of both of these guides, and how they have been received by area visitors and our program participants,” says Nancy Cameron, president and CEO of Tourism Kelowna. “They have both been used as marketing tools for our local tourism operators, and make winery and farm touring approachable and convenient for the traveller. In a sense, they are like a private concierge service that provides background information while encouraging visitors to go to more of the participating attractions.”

More information on Kelowna Wine Trails and Farm to Table experiences can be found online at http://www.tourismkelowna.com/do/wine/all-wineries/ and http://www.tourismkelowna.com/do/farm-to-table/ respectively.

The free guides can be picked up at the Visitor Info Centre at 544 Harvey Ave.



Students help out at park

Students from Rutland Senior Secondary School's forestry program will help clear debris and improve fire safety and security this week in Mission Creek Regional Park.

Starting Tuesday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., they’ll be clearing shrubs and ground plants from a densely vegetated 1.8-hectare section of the park between the irrigation channel to the Leckie Road parking lot and Springfield Road. 

While the work is underway, half the parking lot will be closed for debris disposal.  Please stay out of this area while the supervised students are at work. The project is expected to wrap up by May 1.

“The RSS forestry students worked in this area of the park in the fall of 2013. We’re pleased that they’re able to return, cleaning up the vegetation that’s grown back over the past two years," said regional district spokesman Bruce Smith.

"This particular project provides them with some in-field experience while helping improve the overall safety and experience for visitors.” 

The work uses one of the important principles of crime prevention through environmental design: increasing visibility by removing cover vegetation. The area off the parking lot has been the scene of occasional inappropriate and illegal activities.

Some of the many trails that run though the area may be temporarily closed as a result of the work.



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April 20, 2015 @ 1:30 pm
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