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No need for smoke worries

For those concerned about the smoke northwest of West Kelowna, fear not, fire season is still several months away.

The Regional District of Central Okanagan is conducting controlled burns in the southern portion of Glen Canyon Regional Park Saturday. 

Fire crews are disposing of fire hazard debris collected from over 15 hectares of the park. 

This reduction of fuel helps limit the possibility of larger wildfires during the summers.

The RDCO has proper permits from West Kelowna Fire and Rescue and has consulted with the BC Wildfire Service, which has predicted good venting weather conditions at the site.


A biathlon birthday present

A West Kelowna woman gave herself a nice birthday present Friday as she skied and shot her way to a 19th place finish against the best biathlon competitors in the world.

Julia Ransom turned 23-years-old on Feb.4, but kept the festivities under control, as the biggest race of her life was the next morning. 

Biathlon combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. Ransom's discipline, the sprint, is a 7.5 kilometre race that includes a total of ten rifle shots. For every missed shot, a penalty of 150 metres must be skied.

Her top-twenty finish was a respectable placing amongst the 90 competitors from all over the world. 

Ukraine's Olena Pidhrushna took the top spot in the race with a time of 19 minutes, 56 seconds. Ransom finished 1 minute 19 seconds behind Pidhrushna for the top Canadian spot in the race.

The World Cup continues until Sunday in Canmore, capped off by the mixed relay race at 2 p.m. local time.

Referendum on city hall?

West Kelowna council will decide Tuesday how to engage the public on construction of a new city hall.

Council will determine whether to go with a full referendum or use the alternative approval process.

Taxpayers will be asked whether the city can borrow up to $10.5 million for the project

A maximum of $14.8 million will also be set for capital expenditures and non-construction costs.

According to West Kelowna CAO Jim Zaffino, the amount being recommended is within the current 2016-2025 financial plan, with no additional tax increase required.

The 32,000-square-foot civic centre on Elliot Road would be constructed, if approved, by Strategic BC Investments.

It would house city hall and an office building owned by the developer. Interior Health has committed to moving some of its services into the office building.

Two residential buildings are also proposed to be built on the site. These will be contingent on the economy and pre-sales.

Under the provisions of an alternative approval process, 10 per cent of eligible voters would have to vote no to defeat the request for borrowing.

The AAP would cost the city about $10,000, while a full referendum would cost approximately $48,000.


Woman dies following crash

A crash that sent two people to hospital, in Peachland on Wednesday, has claimed the life of a 47-year-old Summerland woman.

The woman was rushed from the scene after an off-duty paramedic found her gravely injured and treated her until emergency crews arrived.

Police obtained footage of the incident from a passing vehicle's digital dash camera, which captured the collision as it happened.

In the video, a northbound black Toyota 4 Runner loses control and veers into the oncoming lane, where it collided head on with a southbound red BMW Mini Cooper, driven by the woman from Summerland.

The Toyota then hit a blue Honda Civic that had been following the Mini.

According to Const. Jesse O’Donaghey, the driver of the Toyota 4Runner, a 47-year-old Kelowna woman, sustained serious non-life-threatening injuries. She was taken to Kelowna General Hospital in stable condition.

“The driver of the Honda Civic sustained non-overt injuries in the crash,” he said.

Traffic was affected on Highway 97 in Peachland, as the road was closed for approximately 2.5 hours to allow a collision reconstructionist to analyze the scene. Investigators have since ruled out alcohol as a contributing factor in this crash, and continue their investigation to determine whether or not charges will be laid.

Crash slows Hwy. 97

A two-vehicle collision on Highway 97 in West Kelowna slowed down traffic in the northbound direction Thursday afternoon.

The crash occurred just before 3 p.m. north of the Glenrosa overpass and required a tow truck to remove the vehicles involved.

There were reportedly no injuries in the collision.

Acting fire chief steps in

A new acting fire chief has been named to serve residents in the North Westside area.

Starting Feb. 29, Jason Satterthwaite will take over the chief’s duties on an interim basis for the paid on-call department serving communities within the North Westside Fire Protection Area.

Satterthwaite has been the deputy chief since 2014

The Regional District of Central Okanagan says the interim appointment is required due to the resignation of chief Doug Gardiner, who is leaving to pursue an opportunity with the Fraser Valley Regional District.

Gardiner had been chief of the North Westside department since August 2013.

“Jason’s interim appointment as acting chief will ensure that there’s consistency in leadership and training for those paid-on-call fire department members who are committed to serving their community,” says Regional District Fire and Inspection Services manager Dan Wildeman.

“He played a major role last summer in the department’s response and assistance to Wilson’s Landing fire during the Shelter Cove/Westside Road wildfire. North Westside residents can rest assured that dedicated and trained members of the fire department will continue responding to calls for medical first response and fire emergencies from their neighbours.”

Wildeman says they also wish former chief Gardiner well on his next endeavour.

“He’s helped to raise the department’s membership ranks and expand training opportunities for members of the paid-on-call department and is leaving it in a very good position for the future.”

A formal process to select a new chief within the North Westside Fire Department will begin soon.

Pickup, SUV collide

A pickup and SUV collided on snow-slicked roads overnight in West Kelowna.

A pickup going north on Ross Road appeared to have turned right, colliding with the SUV at the corner of Cameron Road, about 8:45 p.m.

The roads were unsanded or plowed at the time.

Injuries and damage to the vehicles appeared to be minor in nature.

Firefighters, RCMP and ambulance paramedics attended the scene.

Crash closes highway

UPDATED: 6:30 P.M.

Highway 97 is now reopened in both directions north of Peachland. 

UPDATE: 4:30 P.M.

Highway 97 has been closed in both directions due to the accident near the bottom of Drought Hill.

DriveBC has suggested using Buchanan Road as a detour around the incident and does not have a suggested time the highway may reopen. 


A multiple vehicle accident on snowy roads in Peachland has sent two people to hospital and slowed traffic in the southbound lane of Highway 97. 

The incident, involving a Mini Cooper and an SUV, occurred just after 3 p.m. on Wednesday, near the bottom of Drought Hill, by Buchanan Road. 

It was reportedly a head-on collision.

A 30-year-old female involved in the accident was taken to Kelowna General Hospital with head injuries. She was unconscious at the scene. 

A second person was taken to the hospital as well with undisclosed injuries. 

Raw video from scene.

Moose on the loose

Two moose are 'on the loose' in Glenrosa.

Wes Diack sent the above photo in Wednesday morning of two moose on the loose in a backyard on Lower Glenrosa Road, about 100 feet from Highway 97.

“We were out and about and came across them,” says Diack. “We were pretty alarmed, we don't really see them that often.”

He says he and his coworker spend a decent amount of time in the wilderness and rarely see them in or out of the bush.

“It was pretty fun to see. We were trying to guess where they came from and we are thinking they came down Glen Canyon and then walked up the pavement.”

The moose were doing no harm as they enjoyed their morning stroll through the westside neighbourhood.

Sgt. Jim Beck with B.C. Conservation says officers weren't called and typically do not interfere with wildlife "on the loose."

He says officers will only attend if the animal is injured, cornered or threatening a human.

While these moose don't appear to be a threat, Beck reminds residents to steer clear of wild animals.

“Wildlife is unpredictable,” says Beck. “Respect it. Give it some space to move on. Don't try to approach it as it may feel threatened and either run, which could cause a motor-vehicle incident, or they could actually be aggressive.”

Ensign guilty of conflict

Coun. Rusty Ensign has been found to have been in conflict of interest over a West Kelowna development project.

City council made the determination during a special meeting, Monday.

Council voted unanimously to censure Ensign, then took the steps to impose two sanctions on the first-term councillor.

It was unanimously decided to ask Ensign to pay half the legal costs incurred by the city relating to the censure process and to ask for a formal, written apology. 

Ensign voted in favour of all three motions.

While he is not required by law to abide by either request, Ensign said he would do both.

"Absolutely, I plan on doing them. As a first-time councillor, on one hand I should have known better. But it's a learning curve for me," Ensign said following the meeting.

"I made a mistake, I admitted it, and I'll be happy to write the letter and want to make it right by paying half the legal bills."

The legal bills amounted to a little more than $2,400 by the middle of January. Those costs do not include the cost of flying the lawyer up from Vancouver or his hourly rate, for Monday's meeting.

The issue came to light late last year when the city received an action plan from the developer of West Bay. The plan, which was submitted after council gave third reading of OCP and rezoning bylaws, indicated Ensign's company had been hired to provide demolition services for the project.

It turned out, the assertion was incorrect. However, it was determined Ensign had contacted the owner of the property a week later inquiring about the bidding process and asking his company be considered.

"I'm not disputing the fact I was in a conflict of interest," said Ensign, who apologized to council for putting it in this situation.

"Once there was an ongoing conflict, I declared a conflict and removed myself from the discussions. I never did breach conflict of interest rules. If you do that, then you can be disqualified from office."

Ensign said he never broke the law. He said at no time did he vote on the project after making contact with the developer.

During the hearing process, Ensign provided emails and documentation showing a time line that contradicted what the city presented in its report. He took issue with portions of the city report, calling it less than impartial.

One item that he asked to be removed was the line: "However, it was also noted, per the attached letter as Schedule 3 that Coun. Ensign did discuss the contract with the current owner but still decided to participate in the discussion related to the OCP and zoning bylaws."

He vehemently denied the allegation.

"This concludes I was in a conflict. This is a public document ... I don't think it was neutral," said Ensign.

"It's almost like the judge saying you're guilty before the hearing, and I needed to stand up for myself."

There is no time frame for Ensign to make good with the requests made of him.

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