Monday, August 31st16.8°C

Don't be a target

A new campaign to keep you and your valuables safe is being launched by the City of Kelowna and the RCMP.

Don’t be an easy target, is about increasing public awareness to help reduce theft from motor vehicles.

Crime prevention co-ordinator Colleen Cornock says theft from vehicles is a crime of opportunity, and one quarter of of vehicle theft comes from unlocked vehicles.

“This actually came about from 2014 stats, and we wanted to target the issue this year into the fall. We want to raise awareness as well as get the public involved in reducing theft from vehicles."

Tips to avoid being an easy target are:

  • Always lock your vehicle, even if it is parked at home or when you only plan to be away from the  vehicle for a short period of time. Thieves look for an easy target.
  • Remove any packages or personal property from  your vehicle.This includes personal identification in  your car. Theft of identification can be associated to future crimes involving  fraud.
  • Watch for individuals looking in vehicles, trying door handles and suspicious people wandering parking lots or loitering, and report it.

The hardest hit months for theft from vehicles are June, July, August and September.

Cornock says thieves who steal from vehicles are rarely caught because the act usually happens at night and happens very quickly.

“People are just leaving in plain view, purses, wallets, keys and they are leaving their vehicles unlocked,” she says.

While the downtown core was the hardest hit with thefts from cars, the residential area of Rutland also saw a spike in crime.

To help promote the campaign ‘Don’t be a target’ the City of Kelowna and the Crime Prevention Office will be canvasing the community handing out special gum packages that advocate for keeping your vehicle safe.
There are also campaign vinyl stickers being placed on the back of parking pay-stations in the downtown core.

Statistics for theft from motor vehicles, broken down by yearly and monthly comparisons.

Year to date COMPARISON (JAN 01 - AUG 30)

  • 2015 = 1350 (calls for service)
  • 2014 = 1280
  • 2013 = 1286


  • 2015 = 208 (calls for service)
  • 2014 = 204
  • 2013 = 216

Campfires allowed again

The campfire ban in the Kamloops and Southeast Fire Centres has been lifted.

The ban was rescinded due to recent widespread precipitation, which resulted in a decreased risk of wildfires.

The fire danger rating for the Kamloops region, which includes the Okanagan, is now primarily low to moderate.

The following activities are now allowed:

  • Campfires no larger than a half-metre wide by a half-metre high.
  • An open fire in an outdoor stove.

Anyone who lights a campfire must have a hand tool (such as a shovel) or at least eight litres of water available to fully extinguish it.

Small backyard burning piles (Category 2 open fires) remain prohibited within the both fire centres.

As well, Category 3 open fires are prohibited. These are any open fire that burns material in piles larger than two metres high and three metres wide, windrows, or grass over an area larger than 2,000 square metres.

Anyone found in contravention of an open burning prohibition may be issued a ticket for $345, required to pay an administrative penalty of $10,000 or, if convicted in court, fined up to $100,000 and/or sentenced to one year in jail.

If the contravention causes or contributes to a wildfire, the person responsible may be ordered to pay all firefighting and associated costs.

The Southeast Fire Centre covers the area extending from the U.S. border in the south to Mica Dam in the north and from the Okanagan Highlands and Monashee Mountains in the west to the B.C.-Alberta border in the east. It includes the Selkirk Forest District and the Rocky Mountain Forest District.

Work starts on new hotel

Site work has started on Kelowna’s new downtown hotel, with test-pile related activity at the former Willow Inn parking lot.

The parking lot was fenced off on Friday for site preparation and drilling equipment installation. The area will remain fenced off until the Labour Day weekend, when a small portion will be opened for parking stalls.

According to Gail Temple with developer Westcorp, the company is working with with Keller Foundations on the test piles to confirm the most appropriate foundation system for the planned downtown hotel.

"Westcorp and Keller Foundations have collaboratively worked through the objectives for the project and have selected drilled displacement steel piles as the preferred system in response to a number of sensitivities present at the location,” she explains.

The pilings are drilled into the ground rather than driven, and do not rely on vibratory techniques, nor do they carry the impact noise of a traditional driven pile.

“The objective of the development team is to keep construction noise and vibration to an absolute minimum in order to lessen the impact on heritage structures and businesses in the vicinity.”

The parking lot is expected to be fully operational again by the third week of September. 

While timelines for construction will be dependent on the test-pile results, it is expected the piling program will begin in early 2016.

Crews mop up two fires

Firefighting crews are mopping up and patrolling the Little White Mountain blaze, which is now 100 per cent contained.

Kayla Pepper with the B.C. Wildfire Service, says the fire received a lot of rain over the weekend and crews were able to release heavy equipment working the site.

“Right now, they are working to see if there are any outstanding hotspots as well as cold trailing, where they look to see if there is any heat coming up from the ground.”

The fire has burned 194 hectares of forest.

According to Pepper, officials consider the nearby Myra-Bellevue fire to be a single firefighting operation with the Little White fire as they are so close in proximity.

Crews continue to mop up the Myra-Bellevue fire, which reached six hectares in size.

Both blazes are suspected to be human caused and remain under investigation.

Pepper says only one fire was reported on Sunday in the Kamloops Fire Centre, which was a spot-sized blaze near Sicamous.

“It has been fairly quiet over the weekend, although there were three smaller fires started on Friday.”

All of the blazes sparked on the weekend were not considered fires of note, and have since been brought under control.

Back-to-school backpacks

Some 820 people attended the 12th annual Back To School Bash sponsored by Victory Life Fellowship on Saturday at the Parkinson Recreation Centre.

The event helps less fortunate get ready for school by providing free backpacks and other items to school-age children.

“Reaching people, touching lives, making a difference is what motivates our church," says Pastor Diana Tripke. “Everything was free at the event. Hundreds of families were helped with their back-to-school budgets.”

For the first time in the history of the Back to School Bash, all 647 backpacks were given out. For the other 11 years of the event some backpacks were left at the end of the event and Victory Life donated them to schools that had need.

Fires 100% contained

Saturday's rains have significantly improved the wildfire situation in the Central Okanagan.

Fire information officer Melissa Klassen with the B.C. Wildfire Service says both the Myra-Bellevue fire and Little White fires are now 100 per cent contained and in mop-up.

"The rain made a very significant impact over the last 24 hours," Klassen said Sunday morning.

The soaking has lowered the fire danger rating in the region to low to moderate.

She said crews are now patrolling both sites, which are in close proximity east of Kelowna and are considered by the Wildfire Service as a single fire operation.

"Crews are looking for hot spots and cold trailing," said Klassen.

Cold trailing is when firefighters form a line and walk the area, feeling with their hands for heat coming up out of the ground and looking for signs of continued burning that could be underground.

Twenty personnel remain on site between the two fires.

The Little White fire has burned an area of 194 hectares, and the Myra-Bellevue fire six hectares.

Klassen said there were a few lightning strikes associated with the weather system passing through. These were reported in the Vernon and Salmon Arm fire zones, but no new fires resulted.

Dragon boats make a splash

Dragon boaters are gathered at Tugboat Bay this weekend for the 10th annual Kelowna Dragon Boat Festival.

Races began Saturday and continue today, with teams from as far away as Lethbridge, Alta.

The sport has long had a connection to breast cancer awareness, and today's events include a ceremony at 11:30 a.m., followed by 500-metre races beginning at noon. 

The Kelowna Dragon Boat Club Paddling Society invites the public to try their hand at the sport, Saturday, with free try-outs.


The non-profit society was formed in 1999.

The sport peaked in the Okanagan in the early 2000s, drawing more than 100 teams to the festival some years ago. Interest has waned somewhat since then, but organizers are aiming to rebuild participation.

To learn more about dragon boating in the Central Okanagan, visit


Civic block going up?

Should areas of what is known as Kelowna's Civic Block be built up?

That's a question City Hall is posing to residents as staff get ready to make a preliminary presentation to council.

Residents are being asked to look at two options that would add market use to the area.

The Civic Block is an area in transition, stretching from Queensway to Clement avenues and Water to Ellis streets.

Four development projects are either underway or will be shortly, including redevelopment of the library parkade, construction of the Innovation Centre and new Interior Health building. Construction of the new Memorial parkade is expected to begin soon.

The RCMP building on Doyle Avenue will be vacant once the new detachment is ready in a few years, while both Memorial Arena and Kelowna Community Theatre are near the end of their life expectancy.

The current Kelowna Health Centre on Ellis will also be vacated once the new IH building is complete. However, that building is owned by the province.

Residents and stakeholders alike have been asked to offer up their opinions on the two options.

Option 1A includes more single-use options and lower-density developments, while Option 1B includes more mixed-use options and higher-density developments.

Option 1B includes towers on three properties, the community theatre, RCMP detachment and Kelowna Museum site. These towers could range in height from 10 to 13 storeys depending on location, which would surpass heights proposed by the Downtown Plan.

These have come out of a series of public consultations.

"When people understand that there are trade-offs, and being able to fund some of the amenities that are part of this plan ... they understand the financial reality," said policy and planning manager Danielle Noble-Brandt.

Some of the additional amenities being proposed include extending the Art Walk to Queensway, creating a new Civic Plaza at the intersection of Smith Avenue and the Art Walk, amenities to support the Cultural District and some additional streetscaping.

Noble-Brandt said residential towers are one way the city could pay for the proposed amenities.

She did caution the city is looking at a build-out of about 20 years. For instance, any tower on the current museum site likely wouldn't happen until the end of that period.

That could be done in conjunction with a consolidation of all museum properties into one location, possibly the current Memorial Arena site.

Castanet's week in review

Castanet's week in review with Jen Zielinski.

Crews brace for wind

The Little White Mountain fire, east of Kelowna, had no significant growth Friday night, but is currently at 194 hectares in size.

Fire crews worked with heavy equipment overnight to establish a guard line, and the fire is now 100 per cent surrounded by machine guards. This does not mean the fire is contained though.

“In regards to containment numbers, it’s too early to put a containment percentage to this just because with the winds that are forecasted today, our guards are going to be challenged,” said Melissa Klassen, fire information officer.

Those winds are expected to gust upwards of 40 km/h today, and Klassen said fire crews are already seeing wind near the fire this morning.

The wind that was expected Friday night never came, and the fire actually saw some rain, which helped with establishing those machine guards.

There are 35 firefighters working on the blaze today.

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