Friday, October 9th17.9°C

Police check winter tires

RCMP were stopping motorists along Highway 97C, Thursday, to check if their vehicles were properly equipped for winter driving conditions.

As of Oct. 1 all vehicles travelling on specific B.C. highways must have winter tires.

Const. Steve Holmes says police are hoping to educate the public about using proper winter tires and driving to the conditions as the snow begins to fall.

“They must have tires that are sufficient, and that would be tires with the snowflake and mountain symbol or the M and S on the sidewall,” he explains. “They must also have a minimum tread depth of 3.5 mm across the surface of the tire.”

While the RCMP’s primary goal is to educate drivers, those who may not have the proper winter tires or bald tires could face penalties.

“There is a fine for a defective vehicle or a vehicle not properly equipped which means it does not have what we are looking for and what has been legislated, so that can be a $109 fine,” says Holmes.

For drivers wanting to check the tread depth on their vehicles, Tim Hildebrand, a tire technician at Kal Tire, has a simple test that can be done.

“If you stack four dimes together that would be about the depth of the tread and that would be a good indicator that they should not be used for another winter,” says Hildebrand.

If the tread is worn down, the tire will not be able to displace the snow, slush or water effectively enough to keep the vehicle's grip on the roadway during winter conditions.

He goes on to explain there are four different winter tires that are considered acceptable.

“We recommend a true winter tire and that is a tire that has the severe service emblem, the mountain snowflake symbol,” he says. "There is a studded winter tire, a stud-less winter tire and an all weather tire, and all three of those tires are going to have the mountain snowflake; and then there is an all-season tire or an M and S tire."

Although the snow has yet to fall in the valley, both Holmes and Hildebrand have the same message for drivers, ‘don’t wait until the snow falls or it’s too late to get your winter tires on your vehicle’.


Car crashes into Bulk Barn

UPDATE 3:30 P.M.

West Kelowna Fire Rescue reports there were no serious injuries in the collision, but that the store suffered damage to a large window on the front side of the building, as well as some damage to merchandise.


A 70-year-old man was trapped in his vehicle after crashing into the Bulk Barn in West Kelowna.

According to RCMP, the man crashed his red sedan into the front of the store shortly before 2 p.m.

Emergency crews took some time figuring out a safe way to remove the car and the man from the store as there was a risk of glass collapsing on the vehicle and the driver.

The man was reportedly extricated from his vehicle and appeared to not be suffering from any life-threatening injuries.

The car was also removed from the store.

While the identity of the man is not yet known, the car does have Alberta plates.

We will have more details as soon as they are available.  

Navigating the system

The Canadian Mental Health Association is putting on a special event to help parents and their children connect with local mental health resources.

“When my child rages I cannot calm him. He struggles with extreme anxiety that turns into explosive behaviour. I can’t tell you how difficult it has been to find the help that he needs.”

This is a common sentence mental health professionals hear in Canada according to the CMHA.

Even though mental health problems are not rare, 20 per cent of Canadians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime, parents are often met with barriers when trying to access services for their children.

As part of Mental Illness Awareness Week from Oct. 4 to 10, the Canadian Mental Health Association, Kelowna and District Branch and The FORCE Society for Kids Mental Health want to help families find the support that they need to help children and youth struggling with mental health issues.

On Thursday Oct. 8 from 2 to 6 p.m., parents and caregivers are invited to attend Supporting Our Families: Navigating the System to find out the first steps for getting children and youth the help they need.

The CMHA Kelowna reports that parents often share their frustration finding the help they need in a hard to navigate system.

“CMHA Kelowna and The FORCE Society for Kids Mental Health are trying to change this,” writes CMHA Kelowna.

By attending this event, parents and caregivers can expect to be connected directly with service providers and family supports, including Interior Health Mental Health, Substance Use Service, Child and Youth Mental Health Services and many others.

“Families can often feel very alone on this journey and by hosting a free event that helps families learn more and connect with mental health services and resources, we want to show that you are not alone,” says Melody Brewer, parent and family navigator with CMHA Kelowna.

The event is being at the West Kelowna Lions Hall at 2466 Main Street.

Families are welcome to drop in anytime between 2 and 6 p.m. or at specific times to attend the following scheduled presentations:

  • 2 p.m. – Stepping In, Instead of Stepping Away: Kids Need, and Want, Caring Adults in Their Lives
  • 4 p.m. – Guest speaker Harry Holman will share his experiences with mental health issues as a young man and how he has found a path of self-discovery, recovery, and happiness.
  • 5 p.m. – Dr. Kate Aubrey, Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, will present a brief discussion on anxiety and what parents can do to help children and youth. This presentation will be followed by a question and answer session.

For more information on the event, check the CMHA Kelowna website here. 


Booze behind Jeep crash?

A West Kelowna man is facing charges after allegedly driving drunk and rolling his Jeep.

According to RCMP, the 27-year-old man was driving a Jeep Wrangler along Webber Road when he lost control at the curve of Coventry Crescent about 9:20 p.m.

The Jeep rolled and landed on the grass at the corner of Last Mountain Park.

Both the driver and passenger sustained non-life-threatening injuries.

RCMP suspect alcohol was involved in the crash, but the driver refused to provide a breath sample.

The Jeep was towed from the scene, and the driver is facing charges including failure to provide a breath sample. 

Pot bust closes street

RCMP closed off Thomas Road in West Kelowna Tuesday afternoon, after discovering a potentially explosive marijuana grow operation.

Police, fire crews and an ambulance responded to the area about 12:15 p.m. Tuesday after receiving a tip that marijuana was being grown in the house.

After obtaining a search warrant, police discovered four rooms of pot plants, along with a tank of butane.

RCMP Cpl. Joe Duncan said the butane is used for producing "shatter," a type of marijuana concentrate.

“They use butane, which is highly flammable, so that’s why the fire department is here,” Duncan said. “They’re just in the process of taking some photos, and then they’re going to unhook this butane tank and extract it. Then it’ll be safe.”

Duncan said there were people living in the home, and he believed one man had been arrested. 

U-Haul hijacking a bust

A West Kelowna family's relocation to the coast hit a snag when thieves tried to make off with their fully loaded moving van.

The Eason family packed up all their belongings into a 35-foot U-Haul, with a car on the tow jack, and prepared to move to Vancouver Island on Saturday morning.

Darrell Eason said the moving truck was left overnight in the driveway, packed and ready to go for their journey the next day. However, thieves broke into the U-Haul overnight, jammed a screwdriver into the steering column and tried to start the truck.

Luckily, they were unsuccessful and were unable to gain access to the storage area of the vehicle.

In the morning, Eason was unable to start the truck due to damage caused by the would-be thieves. He called police as well as U-Haul.

"Uhaul did everything they could to figure out the best option, so we did not have to unpack the entire truck, unpacking wasn’t an option,” said Eason. “So, we began exploring how to make this truck driveable.”

While the family waited at a neighbour's, a U-Haul mechanic showed up with another steering column and spent the next several hours installing it.  

Darrell’s wife, Lindsay, said she wasn’t comfortable driving the family car to the ferry without knowing when the truck would follow.
The mechanic was able to get the truck up and running by 7:30 Saturday night.

"Darrell set off for the ferry terminal to get on the earliest ferry possible to try to stick to our moving schedule, while the rest of the us caught up on the next ferry, Sunday morning,” said Lindsay. 

While the culprits have not been found, police did find one strange piece of evidence at the scene.

"A boomerang from Australia on the ground near the front wheel of the U-Haul,” said Darrell. “We are going to keep the boomerang as a reminder of our perseverance.”

Bloomin' beautiful

West Kelowna and Westbank First Nation are blooming lovely – and they've got the award to prove it.

The two are award winners in the Communities In Bloom 20,001 – 50,000 population category for 2015.

The communities received a rating of five blooms, or bronze, and a special mention for Westbank First Nation's Boucherie Road beach improvement during the 2015 national symposium and awards ceremonies in Kamloops. The District of West Kelowna and Westbank First Nation competed against Dieppe, N.B., and Mission, B.C.

Over the summer, trained volunteer judges travelled to participating communities to evaluate the overall contributions of municipal council and departments, industry, businesses and the private sector – including volunteer efforts – in regard to: tidiness, environmental action, heritage conservation, urban forestry, landscape and floral displays.

Following their evaluation, volunteer judges Peter Crawshaw and Lucie Gagné wrote: “The commitment of the Westbank First Nation to the community as a whole is demonstrated in many ways and one of the most dramatic is the improvement of the waterfront area along Boucherie Road. The multi-year project has included the creation of a walkway and beach access, complete with an attractive park, an efficient irrigation system, and a diverse variety of trees, shrubs, perennials and grasses, to give the site a four season interest. The project also includes work on the infrastructure of Boucherie Road, by installing curb and gutter, sidewalks, new lighting to night sky standards, off road parking and attractive fencing."

Wildlife alert near school

Parents in Rose Valley are concerned after a wildlife sighting near Mar Jok Elementary School this morning.

A Grade 6 student walking to school alone about 8:30 a.m. believes he saw a cougar digging through garbage in the Westlake area.

Conservation officer Jeff Hanratty attended the school after receiving a call from the principal. He says he spoke with the child, who described what could have been a cougar or a coyote.

“The animal was spotted digging in a trash can, which is not typical cougar behaviour and more likely that of a coyote," said Hanratty.

The student believes the animal was three to four feet long, had possible stripes and was displaying cat-like behaviour. Hanratty says the description appears to be that of a larger coyote or a smaller cougar.

“This animal also had a smaller animal with it, like a cub, which could be typical for either a coyote or a cougar.”

Coyotes pose a low risk to the public, but are a concern for smaller pets or unattended infants, said Hanratty.

Students at Mar Jok were notified of a wildlife sighting in the area and were told to stay on the upper field during recess.

“It is always possible a cougar will come into town, especially if there are deer around,” Hanratty said.

He canvassed the neighbourhood after speaking with the boy, and no other residents appeared to have seen the animal.

"The couple whose garbage was ripped into by the animal believes a bear did it last night, but the mother of the student believes it may have been a cougar this morning, although she says her son had really no idea what he saw," said Hanratty, adding there have been several calls to Conservation regarding bears in Rose Valley.

Hanratty believes the boy saw a coyote, not a cougar, as they are common in the area.

"We are dealing with coyote calls here in Rose Valley, in Shannon Lake, and have had two calls for coyotes at Hudson Road Elementary School."

Apparently, coyotes took a puppy from a home on Hudson, but dropped it after the dog's owner yelled at the animals. Another coyote reportedly tried to take a dog on a leash in the Shannon Lake area.

Conservation only attends calls for coyotes if the animals are displaying aggressive behaviour towards humans.

If you spotted wildlife in the Rose Valley area Monday morning, contact Castanet at [email protected]

Car fire ignites hedge

West Kelowna fire crews made quick work of an aggressive car fire Saturday evening, saving a nearby home.

Crews were called to the report of a car fire at 9:10 p.m. on the 1100 block of Hudson Road.

When crews arrived, they found the car fully engulfed and saw flames had spread to a nearby bush.

“Crews found the car fully involved in the driveway of the home,” says West Kelowna Fire Chief Jason Brolund. “The car fire had spread to a cedar hedge, which made the fire quite spectacular as those hedges burn very, very hot.”

Witnesses tell Castanet the flames shot 30 feet into the air.

“They were able to knock the hedge fire down very quickly first,” explains Brolund. “Their concern was that the hedge led up to the house, and they definitely wanted to keep the fire away from the house.”

The car was destroyed by the fire and Hudson Road was closed for more than an hour while crews dealt with the incident.

Fire crews remained on scene until just after 11 p.m. and determined the fire is not suspicious in nature.

Investigators believe the fire started from a mechanical issue in the car, but the exact cause is still under investigation

Country 'Klicks' for Ben

A West Kelowna musician is looking to make it big with the release of his second EP and an album release party at Okanagan College.

Ben Klick, a country musician and Okanagan College audio engineering and music production alumni, released his EP on Sept. 15.

Within two days, it hit number 37 on the iTunes top country albums downloaded chart.

“To be up there with Keith Urban and Brad Paisley, the big names who are all over the radio, and my personal idols in country music, was extremely humbling,” said Klick.

He's holding a release party Oct. 10 for fans, family and friends, where Klick will play his new songs. The party will take place at Kelowna’s Okanagan College campus at 7:30 p.m.

“The instructors and staff at the college have taught me a lot, given me a lot. I wanted to give back to the college in some way,” said Klick.

His passion for country music was first sparked at age four, after being mesmerized by the guitar player at a Shania Twain concert.

Following his graduation from Okanagan College, Klick travelled south to Nashville, where he recorded his EP.

“Because of the skills I learned at the college, I could go in the studio and give direction, using proper terminology,” Klick said. “I understood the technology, and that helped make the creation of this EP something I had a big hand in.”

Klick is nominated for five B.C. Country Music Association Awards this year, including a guitar player of the year award. The awards take place on Oct. 25 in Coquitlam.

Tickets for the release party are $5 at the door, and copies of his EP will be available for $10. 

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