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Mistaken target in coma

Almost two months after a couple was mistakenly targeted in a violent home invasion, one of the victims still remains in hospital.

Const. Jesse O'Donaghey confirmed the male victim continues to be in care at Kelowna General Hospital.

The man and his wife were beaten in their West Kelowna home in the early hours of Dec. 13.

At the time, police said an unidentified suspect or suspects broke into the couple’s home and savagely beat them. While both were injured and rushed to hospital, only the man currently remains in care.

It is believed he is in a coma.

A neighbour previously told Castanet the occupant of the home next door, which was broken into the following day, was the intended target.





Granny jailed for arson

A West Kelowna grandmother was sentenced, Tuesday, for setting fire to her own vehicle in an underground parking garage after a night of drinking.

Jeanine Bastien, 52, sat in B.C. Supreme Court in Kelowna with her father by her side as Justice Alison Beames sentenced her to eight months of jail, followed by two years probation.

A jury found Bastien guilty of intentionally causing damage by fire to her own vehicle and of mischief related to the fire.

The jury found that Bastien, after a night of drinking at her friend’s house, came back to her apartment building, of which she was also the building manager, in the early hours of Oct. 13, 2013.

Bastien had bought a 2008 Dodge pickup that summer. Crown said “money was tight” for Bastien, and she set fire to the truck for the insurance payout.  

Gasoline was found on Bastien's clothing, and gasoline footprints, matching her shoes, were found walking away from the truck.

Despite the conviction, Bastien maintains her innocence.

She said she passed a polygraph test in Vancouver, administered by an ex-RCMP officer, but the results could not be submitted as evidence.

Bastien says she knows what happened, and who did it.

"I did good things for this person and didn’t realize he was a bad person," she said.

Crown was pushing for a jail sentence of 18 to 24 months, due, in part, to her lack of remorse.

Defence lawyer Wade Jensen asked Beames to consider Bastien’s lack of a criminal record.

“Jail, I submit, is not the place for her,” he said.

Beames said had it not been for a recent parliamentary amendment, she would have given Bastien a conditional sentence, served outside of jail under a number of conditions.

Conditional sentencing for crimes that carry a maximum sentence of 14 years was eliminated by Parliament in 2012. 

Jensen asked Beames to consider a suspended sentence, but Beames said that would “amount to a disregard of the will of Parliament.”

Beames wished Bastien luck as she passed sentence.

“I completely accept that you’ve been a fine, upstanding and contributing member of society to the point that this incident happened, and since,” she said. “I have every confidence that you will continue to be that person, and I wish you the best of luck in your future.”



Rear ender stalls commute

Commuters heading into Kelowna from the Westside were brought to a crawl Tuesday morning, following a rear-end collision.

The two-vehicle crash happened about 8:20 a.m. in the centre lane of Highway 97 northbound, at Westlake Road.

Traffic was backed up on Highway 97 and up Westlake Road for blocks.

Commuters tell Castanet traffic was crawling through the area till well past 9 a.m.

There are no reports on whether any injuries were sustained in the crash.  



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A glimpse into the past

A Peachland man has stumbled upon a literal goldmine in the hills behind his house and surrounding area. In fact, he's found 14.

Ron Barkwill first became interested in the old mines by reading a book on the history of Peachland in the library. He continued his research on the internet and found there were dozens of mines in the area, dating back to the 1800s.

While the mines contain very little valuable materials these days, Barkwill has spent the last year hunting down the old mines, and cataloging them in a large notebook.

His book includes pictures, notes, government records and any other information he can find on the abandoned mines. He plans to compile his notes into a published book sometime in the next couple of years, after he has cataloged them all.

While he's found just under half of the 34 mines so far, he's determined to find them all.

Barkwill has also been in talks with the Okanagan Film Commission. He hopes to turn his mine hunting adventures into an educational reality show, where he can show the public the history of mining in the Okanagan and the remnants of the past that are still around today.

Barkwill is quick to explain the many safety precautions he takes before heading out on his adventures. He has several GPS devices he maps all his travels on, and brings plenty of medical supplies, extra snacks and water along in case of an emergency. 

Barkwill took the author out to one of the mines behind his house. Check out the trip in the video below.



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.



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