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Castanet's week in review

Castanet's week in review with Jen Zielinski.

Jennifer Zielinski
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Tickled pink to stop bullying

Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs urge residents to stand up to bullying on Pink Shirt Day, Feb. 25.

The growing phenomenon originated in Nova Scotia, where two young men stood up to bullying in their high school. A new student was harassed when he showed up at school wearing a pink T-shirt. In support, the two went to a discount store, purchased 50 pink T-shirts and enlisted fellow students to wear them.

Pink Shirt Day has since made its way across Canada, and thousands of people wore pink as they made their way to school or their workplace.

More than 60,000 shirts will be sold in support of Pink Shirt Day and organizations like the Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs, which provide a safe, secure place for children, youth and their families. 

This year, the local Boys and Girls Clubs and will host their first Pink Shirt Day breakfast fundraiser with guest speaker Alvin Law, who will share his message about bullying and rising above adversity. 

The event takes place 7:30-9:30 a.m. at the Laurel Packinghouse on Feb. 25. Tickets must be purchased in advance and are $30 per person or $250 for a table of 10. For more information, contact Richelle Leckey at [email protected] or 250-762-3914.



Business expo returns to college

More than 55 businesses will participate in the eighth annual Business Expo and Employment Fair at Okanagan College on Feb. 4.

The good news is many of those businesses will be looking for new employees.

The event is sponsored by Okanagan College’s School of Business and the Student, Graduate and Co-op Employment Centre. It will take place at the Kelowna campus, in the atrium of the Centre of Learning from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Students and job-seekers can network directly with employers regarding career opportunities.

Organizer Jamie Morrow says a number of regional and national companies will be taking part, and they are looking for staff across Canada.

“There are three national banks recruiting at this event as well as a number of multinational organizations ... there are opportunities for people across the region,” says Morrow. 

“By bringing industry experts together with those seeking jobs and careers, we are able to offer a direct line of communication and networking for job seekers,” he adds.

Employers will be on site with information booths set up to support job seekers. Pattison Sign Group, Natural Factors, Justice Institute of British Columbia, The City of Kelowna, Tolko Industries, Valley First Credit Union and Schlumberger are just a few of those participating. 

Go to www.okanagan.bc.ca/businessexpo for a full list of participating employers.



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Gas prices head back up

After several weeks of tumbling gas prices, the price at the pump has inched upward.

Kelowna stations are now charging 99.9 cents for a litre of unleaded gasoline.

The price had been as low as 95.9 cents just a day ago.

Gas prices have been steadily declining as the price for a barrel of oil did the same.

However, the price for a barrel of oil jumped eight per cent Friday closing at $48.24 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

It was the largest one-day percentage increase in more than two and a half years.

Petro Canada's daily wholesale price for a litre of gas was pegged at nearly 53 cents Friday. It was as low as the mid 40s a week ago.

Filling up at the Chevron station at Highway 97 and Pandosy, Curtis Dodd of Kelowna griped about Okanagan prices in comparison to the Lower Mainland, where drivers pay a hefty TransLink tax on their fuel.

"I'm heading down there now, so I checked the price."

Gasbuddy.com showed the lowest price in B.C. at the Abbotsford and Prince George Costco outlets – 85.9 cents a litre. The lowest price in Vancouver was 101.9 just before 5 p.m.



ART attack blends art, health

Hearts and creativity are bound together this February during a first-time event.

Eight Okanagan artists partnered with the Kelowna office of the Heart and Stroke Foundation for the the inaugural ART Attack.

Each artist will have one hour to complete their piece, and attendees will be able to purchase the original artwork during a live auction that same night.


Organizer of the event Jessica Samuels says the event is also meant to showcase the local artist community.

“We have artists like Alex Fong, Randy Crick and Leanne Spanza who have donated their time and materials, not to mention the money we receive for these pieces, so I wanted to do something for them in return. Each artist will bring selected pieces from their portfolio, which will also be for sale, with the money from these pieces going back to the artist themselves.”

February is Heart Month, and thousands of events are taking place across the country to help the organization raise money.

ART Attack – Feb. 4, 2015

heART School ~ 1546 Pandosy St. Kelowna. Doors open at 7, event begins 7:15 p.m.

Tickets $20 on eventbrite, at the HSF Office: 4 - 1551 Sutherland Ave., or at the door.



Griffiths to head EDC

The Regional District of Central Okanagan has appointed a new manager for its Economic Development Commission.

Corie Griffiths has accepted the position to replace the EDC’s Robert Fine, who is moving in March to become director of business and entrepreneurial development with the City of Kelowna.

Griffiths is well versed in the work of the Economic Development Commission. Since 2007, she’s been the EDC’s business development co-ordinator.

Griffiths says, “I’m excited to take on the challenges of leading the Economic Development Commission. We’ve got a talented and dedicated team and advisory board representing a wide variety of business acumen and expertise. We’re looking forward to continuing to work collectively to grow the region’s existing base of advanced and leading edge sectors, as well as facilitating opportunities so the region is known as an epicentre of cross-sector innovation.”

Griffiths adds, “It’s been great working alongside Robert in the EDC for the past eight years. He’s been a significant mentor and will be missed. The community is fortunate that he’s going to remain in the Central Okanagan.”



Council approves 3.13% tax hike

The District of Lake Country has settled on a tax increase just north of three per cent.

Council concluded budget deliberations Thursday evening, settling on a 3.13 per cent tax hike for residents.

Staff had originally proposed an increase of 2.76 per cent.

The increase amounts to $50.66 on an average single-family home assessed at $492,000.

Lake Country's total operating budget is pegged at $19.3 million, while total capital spending comes in at $9.5 million.

The top capital projects approved include:

  • Universal metering Phase 2 ($1,500,000)
  • Arena ice sheet replacement ($1,500,000)
  • Bond and Pow road improvement ($350,000)
  • Parks and recreation master plan ($150,000)
  • Fire department bush truck replacement ($125,000)

The operating budget also includes $164,000 for the first year of debt servicing if the district is successful in its bid to purchase the CN Rail corridor through the municipality. If that bid is not successful, it would be taken out of the budget.

Mayor James Baker says a few items not originally included in the proposed budget were added Thursday.

These include $25,000 to fix irrigation problems at Jack Seaton Park and $10,000 for paving work in front of the Oyama firehall.

A proposed $25 per household reduction in garbage and recycling fees was not approved.

While the garbage and recycling contract is costing the municipality less through the new program instituted by Multi-Material BC, Baker says the municipality is being prudent in waiting to see how the cost savings shake out before making any decisions on lowering fees.

"If we don't get the returns they say we are going to get over the next five years, then we'll be in the hole or have to raise the rates again," says Baker.

"We'd rather take a wait-and-see (approach) and make sure at it is as good as they say they can do."

Council now has to sell the budget to the citizens of Lake Country. Baker says he's confident the electorate will buy in.

"People want the services, and they know we don't make frivolous decisions. We do try to look at everything we need to do in terms of water safety, road safety and keep facilities maintained. That's what our main operations are."



Plan to ease Landmark traffic

A proposed 90-unit housing development in Kelowna's Landmark district will have an impact on traffic.

That's the conclusion reached by city staff after the developer conducted a traffic analysis.

A full traffic impact study was not required because the development did not meet the 100-unit threshold.

Earlier this month, city council gave first reading for the development at Dickson and Bedford avenues, but did not forward the application to public hearing, pending a traffic report.

The report, which council will review Monday, states lane capacity of roads in the immediate vicinity is satisfactory. However, the intersection at Burtch Road and Dickson Avenue is experiencing heavy traffic volumes during peak hours.

Two recommendations were made to improve traffic:

  • A right-in/right-out/left-in channelization at the intersection of Dickson and Burtch to prevent westbound left turn exits onto Burtch Road. This will require a raised median on Burtch and a corner island on Dickson.
  • Traffic affected by the left-turn restriction will result in additional travel southbound on Dayton Street and the use of Springfield Road to access Burtch. To accommodate this, a separate southbound right-turn lane is needed at the Springfield/Dayton intersection. Development fees from previous construction in the area will help pay for the work.

The staff report recommends the intersection improvements be required as a condition of rezoning and a full traffic impact study be delayed until the next significant rezoning comes forward in the area.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure also expressed concern with the intersection at Burtch and Sutherland. To improve efficiency of the intersection, staff will work with the ministry on signal timing.



Fire chief's daughter dies in crash

UPDATE 9:45 A.M. JAN 30:

Joe Rich Fire Chief Curtis Nyuli says his daughter had been overtired prior to a single vehicle crash which claimed her life.

Alexandra Paulina Nyuli, 21, was the victim of the crash on Highway 33 on a foggy stretch of road late Wednesday afternoon.

A distraught Nyuli says he believes his daughter may have fallen asleep when her vehicle went off the road and down a 100 metre embankment toward Mission Creek.

No exact cause has been determined. The BC Coroners Service and RCMP Traffic Services continue to investigate this death.


The young Kelowna woman who lost her life Wednesday night in a car accident on Highway 33 has been identified as Alexandra Paulina Nyuli.

She is reported to be the daughter of Joe Rich Fire Chief Curtis Nyuli, who was a first responder at the scene of her accident. 

The Joe Rich Fire Department is not issuing any comment on the death, but staff manning the telephones were clearly emotional on the phone Thursday.

According to the B.C. Coroner's Service, Alexandra was the driver and sole occupant of a car that left Highway 33 for unknown reasons and rolled more than 100 metres down an embankment.

She was deceased at the scene. Road conditions at the time included limited visibility due to fog.

The Coroner's Service and RCMP Traffic Services continue to investigate the death. 



Let's talk about mental health

A record 122,150,772 tweets, texts, calls and shares were made across the country to open the dialogue on mental healthThis week, as part of Bell's Lets Talk day.

That's a sign of growing change in the social treatment and acceptance of mental health issues that has Kelowna experts optimistic for our future.

“We have made great progress in the last few years,” says Candace Giesbrecht with the Canadian Mental Health Association Kelowna Branch. “We are so hopeful and optimistic about the amount of conversation that we hear. Last year, we received over 21,000 calls into our front desk, a 40 per cent increase over the year before.”

The statistics are staggering to those who don't understand how prevalent mental health issues are.

According to Giesbrecht, one in five Canadians will experience a mental illness serious enough to require treatment, and less than half of those will seek out the help they need, due to stigma.

“So, if we do the math and look at the population in Kelowna, that is 36,000 people this year in our community that will experience a mental illness serious enough to require treatment,” explains Giesbrecht.

“If this was a strain of flu or a bacteria in water that was going to affect 36,000 people in our city, oh my gosh, the cavalry would be called in. We would just stop, drop and roll to try to help our community. But, yet we don't see those kinds of responses. There isn’t that sense of urgency around trying to get the word out and raise awareness, so that people can know the early signs and symptoms and get they help that they need.”

But, she believes positive change is being made.

“When people displayed signs of a mental illness, we used to lock them up and throw away the key,” notes Giesbrecht.

“This is part of our recent experience, so who of us wants to be whispered about, who of us wants to be the talk of the family or worse the secret of the family? It is an invisible illness for the most part, and a lot of people are walking around and dying inside because they are not getting the help they need.”

Part of the problem is the lack of funding. Something Bell's Let's Talk Day hopes to counteract, donating more than $6.1 million for mental health initiatives during Wednesday's event.

Giesbrecht says it is estimated the cost to the health-care system due to mental health concerns is 15 per cent of the total, and yet only six per cent of funding goes to mental illness.

“The consequence of that is that our most expensive systems end up kicking in. So we use our RCMP, we use our emergency departments. These are expensive systems, and it is all because community support services aren't in place for that early intervention.”

For more information on CMHA Kelowna and the services it offers, check out their website here.  

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