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Kelowna council highlights

The following are highlights from the Kelowna City Council meeting held Monday, July 28, 2014.

Second Quarter Report

Council received an update on City activities during the second quarter of 2014. Highlights include the highest construction value since 2010, surpassing 20,000 e-Subscribers to City updates, launch of the Strong Neighbourhoods project, Wibit opening in City Park and the official opening of Bernard Avenue.

Fascieux Creek habitat restoration

Council approved providing in-kind assistance to the Green Parent team volunteers and School District No. 23 for the restoration of a portion of Fascieux Creek at KLO Middle School. The restoration will help bring the creek back to its predevelopment state and the right-of-way along the creek channel will protect the public from flood risks. Completion of the first phase is expected this fall.

Housing ownership agreements

Council completed first three readings of a bylaw to rescind all existing housing ownership agreements. In 2012, Council decided there would be no new ownership agreements. Since then, the market has shifted so it is easier to find re-sale stratified dwellings at or below the City’s starter home price of $209,902, eliminating the need for this kind of agreement.

Expanded Allied Health agreement

Council received information about the collaboration between the City and Allied Health (Interior Health Authority) that will help bridge the connection between health care and community programming. The expanded collaboration focuses on the development of five types of health programs and providing a liaison physiotherapist situated at Parkinson Recreation Centre to connect individuals with City programs and services.

Ben Lee Park improvements

Council supported the proposed improvements to the Ben Lee playground to make it more accessible. Staff were directed to apply for the 2014 Enabling Accessibility in Communities grant.

Ellis Street Corridor Plan

Council endorsed the Ellis Street Corridor Plan, which will guide development of the area. Highlights of the plan include one vehicle and one bike lane in each direction, left turn lanes at various locations, new sidewalks, Urban Braille, mid-block crosswalks, trees and street furniture.



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City, CUPE break off talks

Contract talks between the City of Kelowna and its unionized CUPE workers have broken off.

A note posted on the union's website says talks broke off after five days of mediation, earlier this month, failed to end with an agreement.

"Talks were progressing but both sides were unable to agree on several key issues," the union says in the statement.

"CUPE Local 338 Kelowna Civic Worker's bargaining committee will be meeting to strategize on how to proceed with bargaining and will look to continue negotiations with the City of Kelowna shortly thereafter. There are no immediate plans for job action at this time."

Back on May 21, union members voted 94 per cent in favour of strike action to back contract demands.

Neither side is stating publicly what issues remain outstanding or how far apart they are on those issues.

CUPE workers have been without a contract since December 31 of last year.

That agreement gave workers a 1.25% pay hike in 2010 and 2011 and a 1.5% boost in 2012 and 2013.

It took more than a year to reach that agreement.

Contracts were recently announced between CUPE workers and the City of Langley and the Powell River Regional District.

Workers in those communities received 6.75% pay increases over four years and 8.5% over five years respectively.



Snowbirds

Jennifer Zielinski


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Sh*t Parkers of Kelowna

Sh*t Parkers of Kelowna and YLW's Worst Parking are part of a new trend in social media, outing the worst parkers around and shaming them into parking appropriately.

The accounts are following trends in other cities to show just how bad parking can be in our city,

Sh*t Parkers of Kelowna created their Facebook page on May 21, 2014 and it already has over 1,800 likes. The page creator, who asked to be called Dom as he must remain anonymous for professional and personal reasons, says they are getting so many submissions that they can't keep up.

Sh*t Parkers of Vernon is also gaining steam with 139 likes and Dom says Sh*t Parkers of Kamloops is in the works with the possibility of Sh*t Parkers of Penticton close behind.

“We have had a few posts in the last little while in Kelowna that have gone pretty wild. The latest one happened this morning of a radio stations vehicle that is a reoccurring visitor on our site and they are getting hammered now. I almost feel bad for them, but if you park in a handicap spot, you are free game,” says Dom.

The Facebook page started with only 100 likes and now has over 1,800, expecting to break 2,000 by the end of the day

Dom's friend started Sh*t Parkers of Victoria and at first it didn't take off, but with the addition of Sh*t Parkers of Greater Vancouver, Kelowna and Vernon the concept is gaining a lot of traction. In fact, Sh*t Parkers of Victoria now has over 13,000 likes and shows no signs of slowing down.

“We noticed we have some extremely bad parking here, and it is not just bad, the behaviour of most motorists nowadays is so blase in regards to other people you just cannot believe it!”

Initially, Dom says they drove around and snapped photos for the page's gallery, including the cover photo which is still one of his favourites. 

“I mean it just floored me, it was a our starting picture because I couldn't believe how bad that parking job was. I mean wrong side of the street, not angle parking its parallel parking, it is not a handicap vehicle, you have got to be joking!!”

Now in Kelowna they are getting 30-40 photo submissions a day, with 5-6 received daily in Vernon, meaning Dom is very busy trying to post them all.

He says one unexpected side of creating the Kelowna site was the cries for help from those most affected.

“That is one of those things that threw me for a loop. A Kelowna mother with a disabled child could not park in the disabled stall because someone was parked across two stalls. She asked for help and I said don't you worry Sh*t Parking Karma coming up and I'll tell you, that post got mass attraction.”

He also heard from a woman who was 8-months pregnant with twins and was yelled at by a man parked in the 'parent expecting stall' because he felt he should be parked closer to the store. He ended up seeing himself on the page and apparently had second thoughts on his decision, according to Dom.

“We see it mostly for disabled parking and it is so sad. You see that blue square with the wheelchair on it, that is for someone that is worse off than you.”

Another common thread, according to Dom, is those with very expensive cars who, according to him, feel the rules don't apply to them.

“They have no regard for anyone else,” says Dom. “They say I have an expensive car why should I care, or I have a Lamborghini and the deductible is $10,000. Well you bought a car like that and should expect to pay that once in awhile, it is just one of those things.

Just because you drive a million dollar car doesn’t mean you can be a million dollar ass,” says Dom.

They have had some concerns and worries over the page encouraging or inciting vandalism or retribution, and anyone spouting those sort of comments will be blocked. However, Dom says there is a group coining themselves the Sh*t Parker Avengers that make him laugh.

“They park their car as close as they possibly can to the driver at faults passenger door. It is a harmless revenge, which makes me happy because we are adamant against any form of vandalism.”

The 'Sh*t Parkers' company is now branching out with plans to release cards to place on car windshields reminding certain drivers of proper parking etiquette.

The cards will be available on sh*tparkers.com in the next 24-48 hours where you can download 'Sh*t Parking Tickets' that people can either print themselves or get printed.

“Some will be a little friendlier, like please park better next time or you can leave one as rude as you want,” laughs Dom who says they are trying to give people a harmless outlet to vent their frustrations.  

YLW's Worst Parking twitter account, created by an Edmonton man who also created a very popular Edmonton account, has 100 followers.

Creator Brian LeBelle says once they realized how popular the twitter accounts were in Edmonton and Calgary they decided to go country wide, including Vancouver and Kelowna.

“Hopefully it gives people an opportunity to vent and not do anything stupid to peoples vehicles,” says LeBelle. “Bad parking is a sense of entitlement that pisses people off and people like seeing it outed I think.

Unlike Dom, LeBelle has publicized his name but he says he is not too worried about it.

“I have got some nasty messages on Facebook but that is probably as far as it is going to go,” says LeBelle.

The public is invited to send pictures to the Sh*t Parkers Facebook page and tweets to YLW twitter account to 'out' bad parkers in our area.



Snowbirds ready for hot show

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds arrived in Kelowna Tuesday in preparation for today's (Wednesday) performance over the waters of Okanagan Lake.

The show begins at 5 p.m. and runs about 35 minutes.

The performance will be centered across from the island stage in Waterfront Park meaning the best vantage point will be anywhere between Waterfront Park and City Park.

Anyone hoping to watch the show from Knox Mountain is reminded Knox Mountain Road will be closed to incoming traffic from 3 p.m. to approximately 6 p.m., however, vehicles will be able to exit during that time period.

Pedestrian access will be maintained.

Snowbirds public affairs officer, Captain Thomas Edelson, says people will be in for a good show.

Edelson says the clear skies means good high show conditions.

"We'll have nine aircraft flying about a 35 minute jet team demonstration," says Edelson.

"There will be nine plane formations, three plane, five plane, seven plane. A bit of smoke and mirrors. It looks a little bit magical. It's meant to look a little bit dangerous but it's obviously flown with the highest degrees of safety."

He says it's an exciting and interesting performance made even more unique by the fact it's over water.

Edelson says there are challenges to flying over water and land.

"Normally, the air over water is a little bit cooler and a lit bit smoother. Once you hit land you feel a bit of a speed bump as you run back into hot air and turbulence.

Kelowna is a unique kind of show site because the terrain is quite challenging. Obviously there is rising terrain to the west and there is a little bit of rising terrain behind the city as well so that all has to be taken into account."

The water also presents challenges in that boats and personal water craft are asked to stay out of the no go zone.

Edelson says most people are aware and obey the no go zone but urges people to observe it for the benefit of everyone watching the show.

"If some yahoo in a jet ski or a boat decides to not play by the rules and they start going through the box because the want to be right under the show, the show gets cancelled or gets paused until the police can remove that person from the show site," says Edelson.

"Once the team is in the air we're just burning gas and it will just make the show shorter for the people."

He says the restricted area is for the safety of both the pilots and the people below.

"When the guys are flying in formation you are concentrating so heavily on the planes in front of you and beside you, your points of reference, that you really don't want to be distracted," says Edelson.

"You are flying just a few feet from another plane in bumpy air. If you have something that catches your eye, even for second, if you see a little flash out of the corner of your eye you are probably going to look at it and that means you are not looking at the person beside you."

Kelowna RCMP will also be out in force Wednesday.

Cst. Kris Clark says police will be on the water patrolling the restricted area as well as the William R Bennett Bridge.

Clark says police will be on the bridge to ensure people keep moving. He says some people want to stop on the bridge and watch the show.

Wednesday's show is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Kelowna.

Spokesman Peter Schultz says about 60 volunteers will be going through the crowd asking for donations.

Schultz says proceeds will go towards the cost of bringing the Snowbirds to Kelowna.

Additional funds will assist the Rotary Club Foundation, Boys and Girls Clubs and youth programs at the new Paddle Club.

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No use for new taxi charge?

Last week the province’s Passenger Transportation Board approved a new fee for anyone soiling or damaging the interior of taxis, but companies in Kelowna say the idea of drunken people vomiting during a ride home is more of a big city problem.

Castanet called multiple taxi companies and limousine services who all said, by varying degrees, that it's not often their drivers must clean up after a passenger ruins the interior.

“And a lot of the people don’t mind if it does happen. I’ve been here six months and it happened once, and (the driver) had no issue,” says Craissa Buchner of Kelowna Cabs.

But she agrees the new $75 fee that can now be charged -- in addition to the fare -- is a good idea.

“Because the driver does end up having to go and clean it, so he’s missing some of his trips, he’s missing some of his work, so this will cover it.”

Okanagan Limousine general manager, Laura Major, says all of their clients sign contracts and provide credit card numbers up front.

“Not only if they get sick, but if they break things or damage the vehicle, their credit card is already pre-authorized for a cleanup fee. It’s in the contract,” she says.

That’s why this is not a serious problem according to Major, who notes her company doesn’t cater to the bar crowd and if anyone does get sick in her limos, it's usually an accident.

But she wonders how these fines can be enforced and what if the passenger doesn’t have any additional money to pay.

Shane Bassi of A1 Limousine also says it is not often that passengers become ill or damage the interior, but he likes the idea of a pre-set fine.

“It should be approved. If people make a mess, they should be more responsible,” he says.

“It’s a very good idea. We want to keep it clean, it happened with people puking in my limousine one time, after that, no more.”

And Sam with Apple Cabs also says it’s a great idea, but that it doesn’t happen very often in Kelowna.

Taxis in Calgary are able to charge $100 to vomiting passengers, while those in Toronto can only charge a $25 fee.



Snowbirds hit town

If you look to the skies over Kelowna today you may catch a glimpse of the Canadian Forces' Snowbirds.

The CT-114 Tutors Demonstration team began arriving in Kelowna today in advance of Wednesday's show over Okanagan Lake.

According to Public Affairs Officer, Cpt Thomas Edelson, the first two planes arrived earlier this morning with the remaining nine planes scheduled to touch down at Kelowna International Airport about 11:30 a.m.

Cpt Edelson says the team will do some fly-overs of the site during the day today.

Wednesday's show, sponsored by the Kelowna Rotary Club, is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

The show is expected to last about 35 minutes.

The best vantage point is along the shoreline between Waterfront Park and City Park.

If you can't make it, make sure you are near a computer; Castanet will stream the entire performance live.

Send pics, video of the Snowbirds to [email protected]



Cash bog at COG

Despite the great weather and the best sports and entertainment lineup the festival has ever had, Center of Gravity likely lost money this year.

Scott Emslie, the event founder and producer, says it will be a few weeks before he knows for sure, but he expects the festival will be in the red.

"Our revenues were lower this year and our expenses were higher. Financially, the festival is probably in a loss," says Emslie.

"In the next two weeks we'll have a better idea on the numbers. We're in a bit of a tough situation because we've kind of put the bar at a certain level for this festival and our expenses keep rising."

Several changes were made to the festival at the request of the City's Outdoor Events Committee including a move away from the August long weekend, a beefed up, on and off site, security plan, more live music and a marketing campaign focused more on the sporting activities and away from the entertainment.

Emslie says while he believes the changes were successful the weekend change had a direct impact on ticket sales which he says were down about 10 per cent.

Center of Gravity has sold out well in advance the past couple of years.

"Kelowna is a destination town and we have had a lot of people in the past travel in from the Lower Mainland, Calgary and Edmonton," says Emslie.

"Our numbers were a lot lower for ticket sales in those cities and I think the biggest reason was not being on the long weekend."

He adds there is also a lot more competition for the festival dollar, especially here in BC with mega festivals in both Squamish and Pemberton.

"Both those festivals are spending over $10M on the festival so we're now competing with some pretty big budget festivals."

Emslie believes in order to keep the festival financially sustainable, a move back to the August long weekend is imperative.

And, he believes the changes made to the festival this year, especially on the security end, will work on the long weekend.

"I think because of the positive impact of the changes we made with our security plan, I think we can move back onto the August long weekend. But, we still need to de-brief with the City of Kelowna and all of our staff."

As for whether moving back to the long weekend is a deal breaker for Center of Gravity, Emslie says he's not at that point yet.

"The City of Kelowna and the Outdoor Events Committee have been really great to work with and I'm sure once we have all of the stats from the weekend and let them know where we're at including the financial side of the festival...I'm pretty confident they will be willing to meet with us and work with us," says Emslie.

"I don't think we're at a point where we have to move back or we're moving to another city, but for the festival to continue it has to be financially sustainable. This was a much more difficult year for the festival than the last couple of years."

As for the event itself, Emslie says he couldn't be happier.

He says the weather was great the sports festival featured some very good athletes while the music side featured the biggest production the festival has put on to date.

RCMP also reported few problems.



Kelowna teen missing

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

Angeline Lepine was last seen on Tuesday, July 22nd.

Lepine is described as:

  • Caucasian female
  • 14 years
  • 5 ft 5 in (165 cm)
  • 120 lbs (54 kg)
  • Slender build
  • long brown hair
  • brown eyes

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



Car wrecks motorcycle

A motorcyclist escaped unscathed following a crash with a car at the intersection of Bernard Avenue and Ethel Street Monday afternoon.

Cort Zacharias says he was travelling southbound on Ethel through a green light, when a blue Acura with a decal for a ‘New’ driver turned in front of him.

“I hit the front of the car. And he was turning so that sort of sent the bike that way (motions to his right) and I kept going this way (motions to his left).

“I rolled over the back here and landed on my feet.”

Zacharias says he feels lucky to be alive, noting this was the first motorcycle accident he’s been involved in.

Unfortunately his bike didn’t fare so well, which he values at around $20,000.

The front tire was completely detached from the frame, but he hopes to salvage what he can from the $10,000 motor.

RCMP at the scene were unsure if any tickets would be issued.



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July 14, 2014 @ 1:30 pm
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