West Kelowna News
A bird contacting the wires has knocked out power in West Kelowna.
According to the BC Hydro website, the outage affects more than 300 customers East of Gellatly Road and South of Ingram Road.
The power went out around 8:30 p.m. and the estimated time of reconnection is 11 p.m.
A couple dozen supporters, aboriginal and non-aboriginal, lined the highway outside the office showing their unwavering support for the Nicola Valley Chief's protest.
The four chiefs have now slept on the floor of Premier Clark's office for three nights, and as they look towards the fourth night of restless sleep, their patience is wavering.
If they do not hear from the government soon, they promise an escalation of the unrest.
First Nations leaders of the Nicola Valley have been working with Friends of the Nicola Valley in the fight to stop the trucking of sewage sludge from the Central Okanagan to land near Merritt.
Friends of the Nicola Valley spokesperson, Georgia Clement, says it is time the government stepped up to the plate and sat down with them.
She says people can't even drive past the biosolids dumping area, near her home in Merritt, without the stench being unbearable and their throat and eyes burning.
The provincial government did not agree to the protestors' original request of an immediate moratorium on the importation of biosolids to their region.
They also refused to meet the First Nation's leaders for their suggested mediation process.
This has left the protesting group frustrated and ready to increase their action. They say if they do not hear from Minister of Environment Mary Polak by Monday, they will act.
They released the following statement today;
“We, the Friends of the Nicola Valley, in Unity with First Nations are requesting Minister of Environment Mary Polak contact us and begin discussions regarding the current Bio Solids Protest in the Nicola Valley.
These discussions can be without demands from either side ,with the ultimate goal of a resolution to the current unrest in the Nicola Valley.
There is immediate concern, if this issue of Bio solids is not resolved, there will be a significant escalation of this unrest.”
A warning today for all members of the Greater Westside Board of Trade.
Their system has been hacked and they are asking you not to open any attachments or zip files sent from the Board of Trade.
"We are currently trying to rectify this matter. Our sincere apologies for this grave inconvenience."
Native chiefs continue their sit-in at Premier Christy Clark's West Kelowna office – and say they're prepared to stay put through the weekend.
The four chiefs and elders from Nicola Valley First Nations are protesting the shipment of sewage sludge from the Central Okanagan and elsewhere in B.C. to a composting facility near Merritt.
Their occupation of Clark's constituency office began on Wednesday.
Chief Aaron Sam of the Lower Nicola Indian Band said Friday morning that "not much has happened."
"We're still here," he said. "We slept here again last night. There's been no more communication, but we're hoping to resolve the matter today."
Sam said RCMP officers and a member of the premier's staff have been staying in the office with the protesters, but the situation is not tense.
"The atmosphere is good. The police are very respectful," he said.
Kelowna RCMP spokesman Cpl. Joe Duncan said the officers are just there to keep the peace, and there is no intention to force anyone to leave the office.
Sam said the group is prepared to stay through the weekend and into next week, if necessary, to provoke some action from the provincial government.
"Trucking thousands of tons of sewage treatment waste to be spread onto our farms, ranches and forests is not healthy for our lands. We stand together to safeguard the environment for future generations. The traditional practices of harvesting from our lands and waterways, has been jeopardized by this risky practice," the group said in a press release issued on the first day of the sit-in.
The group is demanding a moratorium on the importation of biosolids to the region.
The chiefs had suggested mediation as a solution on Thursday, but that was rejected by the province.
Sam said their next steps are uncertain.
"But we are always open to having discussions and are committed to the issue and to having our voices heard. For now, we are going moment by moment."
Aboriginal leaders remain steadfast in their fight to stop biosolids from entering the Nicola Valley, as their occupation Christy Clark's West Kelowna office continues.
Chief Aaron Sam says he, and others, stayed true to their word and spent the night in the premier's constituency office.
“We are still here at the office,” says Sam. “We had phone discussions with the province until late last night and we weren't able to resolve the issue. So, we are here at the premier's office, and we intend to stay here until we can find a resolution.”
He says during discussions with the province, his group suggested mediation to find an agreed solution.
“We feel that is the right path to go down to address the biosolids issue, but the province hasn't been amendable to it,” says Sam. “We hope to have further discussions later today on ways we can work together.”
He says they had not yet heard from the province Thursday morning, but hope to hear more later today.
“They didn't agree to our mediation, so I don't know where we are going to be going from here,” says Sam.
Five Nicola Valley chiefs, elders and supporters began the occupation of Clark's office Wednesday afternoon.
"We have been trying to find positive solutions for months without success – we continue to be committed to finding those solutions,” adds Sam.
Their protest has received support from the Chiefs’ Executive Council of the Syilx (Okanagan) Nation.
“We stand with and beside our relations in their fight to protect their lands, resources and communities in the Nicola Valley, and really for all of us," stated Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, chair of the Okanagan Nation Alliance.
“The message we share with the five Nicola Valley Chiefs, as we know, is commonly understood throughout our lands and that the province of British Columbia is obligated to consult and accommodate the aboriginal title, rights and collective interests of First Nations. Premier Clark, act now!”
A West Kelowna resident is concerned about a nature trail in his backyard, after noticing someone had attempted to disrupt traffic.
The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, says a portion of the trail has been vandalized in Rose Valley Regional Park, near West Kelowna Road.
“I understand if someone doesn’t like people on a footpath near their house, but I’m not sure if setting up hazards is appropriate,” the man says.
“I’m discouraged. I don’t think there should be individuals that are interfering with the public’s ability to use a regional park.”
He first noticed the barriers about two weeks ago, and is worried that things are escalating. He's noticed sticks, large branches and rocks placed across the trail and now holes dug in the ground.
“I didn’t make this trail, and I know I’m not the only person using it,” he says.
“I’m concerned that it’s escalating and I’m concerned that if I was injured, or someone was injured, it wouldn’t be through fault of our own, we’d be injured because someone had been making this an unsafe path to walk on.”
The trail itself isn’t heavily used, but is well worn from local residents and students accessing Rose Valley Elementary.
The Regional District of Central Okanagan’s parks department has confirmed it is aware of the situation.
West Kelowna firefighters were forced to use portable tanks to douse a fire a the base of Glen Canyon Park today.
The fire was reported in the tinder dry forest about 4 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon.
Thirteen firefighters were called to the fire which burned a couple of stumps, some grass and brush in the vicinity.
The fire grew to about 100 feet by 100 feet before it was finally doused. It erupted in an area at the bottom of the canyon where ceremonies were held Tuesday marking the 50th anniversary of the death of RCMP Const. Neil Bruce.
Firefighters used water from Powers Creek to fill their tanks and put the fire out.
The area is popular for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts.
Aboriginal leaders and community members are occupying the premier's West Kelowna office to protest the trucking of sewage sludge from the Central Okanagan to land near Merritt.
The group is demanding an immediate moratorium on the importation of biosolids to their region.
Chief Harvey McLeod of the Upper Nicola Indian Band, Chief Marcel Shackelly of the Nooaitch Indian Band, Chief Lee Spahan of the Coldwater Indian Band and Chief Aaron Sam of the Lower Nicola Indian Band were joined by more than a dozen others – and two RCMP officers – crowding the front of Christy Clark's MLA office.
“We will stay here as long as it takes until we hear from the government, and until they agree to stop bringing bio-wastes into the Valley,” said Chief Sam. “The First Nations were not informed of any of the biosolids being disposed of in our territory, and the government has an obligation to do that.”
Sam says the Nicola Valley Indian Bands are frustrated by the lack of communication and are concerned about the affects biosolids have.
“The affect on the land, on the water, and on the wildlife which our people are reliant on for traditional food. We rely on a healthy environment,” said Sam. “There are concerns about the stench and the terrible smell of the biosolids, and there are also concerns about the effects of putting the biosolids onto open fields and it going into the water."
The group arrived Wednesday afternoon and do not plan on leaving until they hear from the province.
“We are going hour-by-hour, day-by-day,” said Sam.
“I anticipate we will hopefully hear from them soon, so that we can have some discussions and they will agree to a moratorium. After a moratorium is in place, we are willing to sit down with government to find a solution to the issue all parties can live with.”
RCMP on the scene said because the protest is occupying Clark's office, they will stay on site to ensure the peace. They would not comment on whether protesters would eventually be asked to leave.
While no one would commit as to whether the protest would last through the night and into the days ahead, Chief Sam was adamant they would not leave until they heard from the provincial government.
Premier Clark told reporters in Victoria that it was a complex issue and three levels of government are involved in finding a solution to the complaint.
Timbro Contracting has a contract to truck biosolids from to the Nicola Valley.
– With files from the Canadian Press
Nicola Valley First Nation chiefs are occupying Premier Christy Clark's West Kelowna constituency office in protest over the trucking of sewage sludge from the Central Okanagan to land near Merritt.
The five chiefs represent the Upper Nicola, Nooaitch, Lower Nicola, Shackan and Coldwater Indian bands.
They are Chief Harvey McLeod, Chief Marcel Shackelly, Chief Aaron Sam, Chief Percy Joe and Chief Lee Spahan, and are joined by members of the group Friends of the Nicola Valley.
They say inaction by the province on the issue of importing sewer sludge into the Nicola Valley led them to take action.
“The Nicola Valley First Nations hold and exercise aboriginal title and rights over areas where biowaste operations are currently being carried out, and where future biowaste operations have been proposed," group says in a press release.
"The biowaste operations affect our aboriginal title and rights. The province of British Columbia is obligated to consult and accommodate us in relation to the impacts of biowaste operations on our rights and title,” said Chief Sam.
"We are unified in our mission to stop this toxic waste coming into the Nicola Valley area. We take care of our own sewage and expect other municipalities to do the same.
"Trucking thousands of tons of sewage treatment waste to be spread onto our farms, ranches and forests is not healthy for our lands. We stand together to safeguard the environment for future generations. The traditional practices of harvesting from our lands and waterways, has been jeopardized by this risky practice."
The group is demanding an immediate moratorium on the importation of biosolids to their region.
Castanet has a reporter on the scene, and we will have more details shortly.
Two West Kelowna men appeared in Kelowna court today (Tuesday) accused in yesterday's robbery at the CIBC branch in West Kelowna.
Shortly before 3 p.m. Monday police say a man walked into the bank, threatened the teller and demanded cash.
He fled in a vehicle with an undisclosed amount of cash.
RCMP were able to locate the vehicle a short time later in the Mission area of Kelowna.
"The driver of the vehicle initially attempted to evade police. Once the vehicle was stopped the driver was arrested without incident," said Cpl. Joe Duncan.
Duncan said the passenger fled on foot.
"Police tracked the male to a business in the 3100 block of Lakeshore Road. A citizen flagged police down and directed them to the location of the suspect passenger," said Duncan.
He said the suspect locked himself in the bathroom and was eventually arrested with the assistance of a police services dog.
The two men face charges of robbery with a firearm.
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