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Tree removal causes flap

The removal of several large oak trees in the parking lot of Orchard Plaza has caused a bit of a stir.

The trees, planted some 20 years ago have been removed as part of an overall renovation of the Kelowna mall's parking lot.

Castanet received several emails over the weekend and a forum thread popped up protesting their removal.

"We started a parking lot renovation prior to the Target opening last year and this is just a continuation of that particular renovation," says Orchard Plaza Chief Operating Officer, Randy Lowe.

"What was happening with those trees, and we like trees too, is they were getting too large for our parking lot. The roots were pulling up a lot of our curbing."

He says it was becoming a challenge.

"The second thing is that they take in a lot of water so we are going to a more drought tolerant type of landscaping that is more in keeping with the Okanagan."

Lowe says there will be completely new landscaping and new asphalt overlay throughout the parking lot.

He says the oak trees will be replaced with a Honey Locust tree.

"You will notice in the Target section there has been trees planted pretty much where the other trees were. These new trees are not going to be quite as large.

The other ones were there for 20 years and probably if they were to do it all again they wouldn't have put in the large oak trees because they kind of took over."

Lowe says the new trees won't get quite as big but should still provide some shade.





Teacher strike

For the second time in three years teachers across BC will take part in job action to back demands for a new contract.

The current agreement between the BC Teachers' Federation and the province expired in June of last year.

According to federation president, Jim Iker, phase one of job action, scheduled to begin Wednesday, will not affect what goes on inside the classroom.

Teachers will cease supervising students before and after school and during recess.

Report cards will still be prepared and teachers will continue to meet with parents.

Teachers will also continue to take part in extracurricular activities such as sports, music and drama.

In School District 23, district management staff outside the BCTF, principals and vice-principals will handle before and after school supervision beginning on Wednesday.

SD23 Superintendent, Hugh Gloster, says the challenge revolves around afternoon recess at elementary schools in the district.

Gloster says recess will be supervised for the balance of the week but adds a letter will go home to parents tomorrow indicating that, as of next Monday, recess will be cancelled for the duration of the job action and the school day will end 15 minutes early.

He says this will give parents a chance to adjust their schedules or that of after school care givers.

"The same will be true for middle and secondary schools in order to get our bus fleet on the same schedule," says Gloster.

"We will ask our middle and secondary schools to adjust their schedules so they can end 15 minutes earlier. That will typically be done by shortening up the lunch break and/or the break between classes."

Those changes come into effect next Monday.

The BCTF issued 72 hour strike notice last Friday.

Other districts around the Okanagan are also preparing their own strike action plans. For information on your school district see below.

 

 



Month old ticket wins $1M

The winning ticket sat in his wallet for over a month and it wasn't until Tuesday morning that a Kelowna resident found out he was a newly minted millionaire.

“I can’t believe I carried one million dollars in my wallet for a month,” laughed Steve Woloshyn. “I’m an accountant for goodness sake. I should know where my money is!”

Woloshyn moved to Kelowna last August with his wife and two children aged six and two, for the lifestyle.

While driving back to Kelowna from Vancouver in March, he stopped at the Chevron in Hope and grabbed a Lotto 6/49 ticket, put it in his wallet and forgot all about.

“This morning I was just buying some milk and opened up my wallet and decided to check my ticket and realized it was a winner,” said Woloshyn. “But I had no idea it was a million dollar winner.”

Woloshyn was in Vancouver Tuesday morning for a quick visit and was able to go to the BCLC office and pick up the cheque right away.

“I came down for a few days and just out of irony I checked the lotto ticket and it worked out really well,” said Woloshyn.

He won one of the $1 million Guaranteed Prizes from the March 22 Lotto 6/49 draw.

Woloshyn’s first phone call was to his wife at home in Kelowna. She thought he was joking until he sent through a picture of the winning ticket.

“I am still in shock, I am still in shock now, I won't believe it until I see the cheque in the bank,” laughs Woloshyn. “I called my wife and she didn't believe it either, she will be in shock until she sees the cheque too. It is just so surreal but it is happening.”

His first big purchase will be paying off his mortgage, and after that he will definitely enjoy the summer with his family.



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Be a recycling superhero

Update -- April 22

It was another successful Electronics Disposal and Paper Shredding event, according to Yoree Grozenok from 1-800-Got-Junk.

He says they managed to collect over 8,000 pounds of electronics and shred 3,000 pounds of paper on Saturday, as part of their Earth Day activities.

They also collected 300 pounds of donations for the Food Bank and $300 in cast donations too.


1-800-GOT-JUNK is calling on all Okanagan SOUPerheroes to do your part this weekend for Earth Day!

You can drop by and recycle any and all of your electronics for free! Just bring a donation for the Kelowna Food Bank

They will be on location and accepting your electronics on Saturday April 19, from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Okanagan College at 1000 KLO Rd, Lot 6

They will accept all of the following;

  • TVs
  • Computers and their components
  • Printers
  • Video game systems
  • Cables
  • Small kitchen appliances (mixers, coffee makers, microwave ovens, coffee grinders, electric grills, toasters, etc.)
  • Batteries (including car batteries)
  • …and almost anything with a cable!

The will be collecting donations of non-perishables as well – just drop them off in the blue and green junk trucks.

On-site shredding of confidential documents will also be available, provided by Okanagan Paper Shredding ($5/banker box).

Last year, during the same event they recycled 7 tonnes of electronics, collected 260 pounds of food and over $300 in cash for the food bank, as well as shredding 2 tonnes of paper.

This year they hope to do even more! 

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Kelowna Mountain opens

After ten years Kelowna Mountain is officially open to the public.

 

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Garneau talks to veterans

Mark Garneau, the MP for Westmount-Ville-Marie and the first Canadian in space, discussed veterans issues at a town hall meeting in Kelowna on Thursday.

Garneau described the meeting, attended by around 70 people, including veterans, as an opportunity to talk about the challenges facing them.

"We the Liberal government believe the government has dropped the ball on veterans," he said. "They've talked the talk but haven't backed it up with proper actions."

Garneau said he was mostly talking about those who came back with post traumatic stress disorder, who require mental health support.

Of great concern, he said, is the closing of veterans' centres across Canada.

"Veterans feel let down by the government, and the government has not honoured their side of the bargain," he said. "The closing of the centres means they are no longer able to speak to someone behind a desk."

They have to go to a Service Canada Centre or call a 1-800 number and this is clearly, not acceptable, he added.

The MP further mentioned the Veterans' Charter needs to be brought up to date. He also talked about the economy, the Fair Elections Act, Senate reform and jobs.

His Okanagan visit included a stop at the Okanagan Science Centre in Vernon to discuss the theme of space exploration and a public meeting on science and technology issues at the Hotel Eldorado in Kelowna.

 



Castanet's week in review

Castanet's week in review with Jen Zielinski.

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Market president steps down

The brewing controversy over a possible move by the Kelowna Farmers' and Crafters' Market has its first casualty.

Market society president, Wolf Wesle, stepped down during a heated meeting Thursday night.

"Basically I was trying to keep the peace. Whether that works or not I don't know," said Wesle of his decision.

"It's a very unruly group - I'm sure you've heard about that. There was too much controversy."

That controversy stems from a decision by the board several weeks ago to relocate the popular market from its current location across from Orchard Park to a new development on Clement.

The proposed development, which has not yet received the go-ahead from the city, is on a large parcel of land which currently houses the BC Fruit Packers Co-operative Fruit Market and warehouse.

At the time of the announcement March 28, Wesle said the new location would have room for more vendors (185 to 195) and more parking (600 vehicles).

They would receive a guaranteed 15-year lease while costs per vendor could actually decrease.

Opponents of the move say the market has been successful for 18 years because of the location believing a market should, and always will be, in the centre of the city.

Society members voted against a move before the board decided, in a 9-1 vote, to approve a move.

Wesle says Thursday's meeting brought all those emotions to a head.

"I call the meeting farce. It was a shouting match right from the start," said Wesle.

"Anyone that was there would say it was...I don't know a good word for it....gong show maybe."

Wesle says he decided to step down before a motion was put forward to have the entire board removed.

According to society bylaws a vote of 75 per cent is needed to move a board.

The motion only garnered 65 per cent support.

"My resignation may have helped the rest of the board to stay in place. It might have helped defeat the motion."

Because of the controversy over the move Wesle says the board previously decided to hold off on a final decision until the society's AGM in February in order to gather more information.

Vice-president, Rachelle Zelaney, has taken over the president's chair.



A warm Easter serving

It was a hub of activity at Kelowna’s Gospel Mission Saturday afternoon, as 700 Easter dinners were plated for hungry guests.

It takes just under three weeks and 150 volunteers to prepare for the event, says Ami Catriona with Kelowna’s Gospel Mission.

“It's a big event for our staff and volunteers. Kelowna’s Gospel Mission is preparing 40 turkeys, 16 hams, 100 lbs of mixed vegetables, 500 lbs of potatoes and approximately 50L of gravy.”

Catriona says regular guests of the Gospel Mission will line up starting at noon, where families and seniors gather for lunch later in the day.

“Easter Dinner is a family event for us, we know that a simple meal on any day can be a life changing event for a client in need.”

Local politicians from MLA Norm Letnick to City Councillors Mohini Singh helped to serve and tidy up at the event, along side 50 dedicated volunteers.

Anyone in need of a hot meal was welcome.

A former guest says they are thankful the Gospel Mission is available to assist them in their time of need.

“A bad roommate situation forced me to leave my place mid-month while I was battling pneumonia.  The Mission was very good at helping me physically, mentally, and spiritually.," he said.

"During my time at the Mission I had my share of situations that weren’t always good.  Despite the outcome, staff members did not judge me.   Instead, they offered me encouragement.  Over the course of my stay, I have become involved with a variety of duties in volunteering which kept me focused and feeling like a productive person. “



A splash of colour, a dash of fun

Jennifer Zielinski

A splash of colour and a dash around Kelowna’s waterfront made for a fun morning on Saturday. 

Over 1,000 participants dashed in the inaugural Splash of Colour Family Fun Run organized by Easter Seals.

The event kicked off with a Zumba class before the ribbon was cut and runners filed out of City Park.

Young and old left the the park in white t-shirts only to be doused with colour at several splash locations around the downtown core, miking for a very vibrant crossing of the finish line. 

Funds raised will help send kids with disabilities to attend the Easter Seals Camp in Winfield this summer.

The family fun run was also held in Vernon and, Stephen Miller, president and CEO Easter Seals BC/Yukon says it was a good turn out.

“It was great to see so many smiling colourful faces and costumes at our inaugural events in both cities.”

Miller wasn’t able to confirm the funds raised as of yet but did say the charity received donations from Century21 of $20,500 in Kelowna and $20,602 in Vernon.

“As a not-for-profit organization we rely on the generous support of corporate sponsors, local media, donors, event participants and volunteers to help make our events successful. Like many not-for-profits, stretching every dollar as far as possible has become a way of life, and without the funds raised through events like Splash of Colour, we would not be able to continue to operate our three specialized camps and our Easter Seals House in Vancouver. "

Prizes were given away at the end of the race for such categories as most funds raised, most creative team, most outrageous costume and most colourful.  Winners of the event will be announced soon.

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