West Kelowna  

Crash closes Connector

UPDATE: 10:25 p.m.

The Okanagan Connector remains closed in the eastbound direction, but the westbound lanes have now reopened following a vehicle crash. 

ORIGINAL: 9:55 p.m.

A vehicle crash has closed the Okanagan Connector in both directions Thursday night.

The crash occurred at about 9:30 p.m., two kilometres west of the Elkhart Road exit on Highway 97C.

DriveBC has no estimated time of reopening at this time.

The cause of the crash and extent of any injuries is unknown at this time.  


Too wet for fish even

The popular 'Go Fish' fish stocking program at Shannon Lake has been postponed due to “unprecedented” high water levels.

While the stocking of about 500 young rainbow trout at the West Kelowna lake was planned for this Sunday, the water level has forced the event to be postponed by a week.

“We’ve never seen Shannon Lake so high, and as a result, the net that’s used to keep fish in for the youth fishery, isn’t long or deep enough to do the job this year,” said Bruce Smith, communications officer with the Regional District of Central Okanagan. “Our Peachland Sportsmen’s Association volunteers are busy making modifications and plan to put the net in soon.”

While the Shannon Lake event has been postponed, the RDCO says the Hall Road fishing pond in Mission Creek Regional Park will still be stocked on April 30.

The stocking will continue every weekend until June 18.

Kids can view the hundreds of fish being dumped into the lake, and those under 15 years can try their hand at catching one 25-30 centimetre long rainbow trout per day, without a fishing licence.

This Sunday's Go Fish event at Hall Road fishing pond will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Power line down

A power line was knocked down on Wednesday.

Firefighters arrived on scene just at about 6 p.m. to Douglas Road, between Boucherie Road and Thacker Road.

It was not clear what caused the lines to be knocked down.

Hydro crews were on scene investigating.


Family without a home

Madison Erhardt

A family of eight in West Kelowna will soon be without a home. 

Debbie Hook and her family received a note from their landlord a few months ago to vacate the property as he is moving back into the home on June 1.  

Hook says her family is falling through the cracks. Not poor enough to receive government aid, not wealthy enough to afford to live in separate homes or buy property.

And because her adult children moved back in to help share costs, no one wants to rent to the large group.

"We have applied for a mortgage, applied for rent to own, and applied to get land, and we have been turned down," said Hook.

"We unfortunately fall into the area where we make the money, we have maintained the mortgage, but nobody will give us a chance because according to the stress test we don't have at least $100,000 combined family income, or $80,000 down, she added." 

The family was interested in renting a six-bedroom house, but was denied because the owner said they were only looking for a couple.  

The family was also told they couldn't rent a home because of their children. "We were told young ones are very disruptive. They asked us if we could send our younger ones off with other families. If we complied, then they may have let us rent with the three older ones," Hook said.

"We are just trying to put a roof over our heads. We are not asking for a handout, we are asking for a hand up," she added.

North Westside flood watch

There has been some localized flooding reported in areas of the rural North Westside.

Flooding has been contained to the Valley of the Sun subdivision.

As creeks and streams continue to rise from rain and a melting snowpack, members of North Westside Fire Rescue continue to monitor the situation.

Property owners are reminded it is their responsibility to take the necessary steps – and have the proper equipment in place – to deal with flooding.

Sandbags and sand are available at the firehall in Killiney Beach for residents concerned about flooding on their property.

Residents in the North Westside Fire Protection Area wishing to report new flooding should contact 911 and ask for North Westside Fire Rescue.

Duties hit Gorman hard

New softwood lumber duties announced by the United States late Monday will hit West Kelowna's Gorman Bros. hard.

Provincial Forests Minister Steve Thomson says on top of a 19.88 per cent duty rate assessed by the U.S., a finding of critical circumstances was also levied against all but four lumber exporters.

That means penalties are retroactive for 90 days, to include all softwood lumber shipments since Jan. 31.

"That will require them to put cash on deposits as the investigation continues, so it is going to cause some additional stresses and impact on the company," said Thomson.

Those cash deposits would be held  in trust by U.S. Customs until all avenues for appeal are exhausted.

"It (additional penalty) has been applied without investigation and without evidence. We just don't understand it, and feel it has no basis in logic, so we will need to work with our industry."

Thomson met with the premier and other members of Cabinet Tuesday morning in Vancouver to discuss what steps the province would take in order to assist the lumber industry.

"We are taking a number of steps to combat these punitive measures which we believe are unfounded and unwarranted," Thomson said. "It was that way in the past and we believe it's still the case."

Those measures include:

  • Pre-purchasing B.C. softwood lumber for use in BC Housing projects
  • Immediately following the election, initiate additional trade missions to India, Japan, China and other countries, building on the great work we have done in diversifying markets
  • Contributing additional money to the Forest Innovation Investments to help build those markets.
  • Accelerating the elimination of the provincial sales tax on electricity for the industry
  • Maintaining our commitment to freeze the carbon tax

This is the fifth time the U.S. has slapped countervailing duties on softwood lumber imported from Canada. The previous four occasions, courts have ruled in Canada's favour.

Calls to Gorman Bros. for comment have not been returned.

Guilty in US drug smuggling

A Surrey man pleaded guilty to drug smuggling charges in the United States Tuesday, nine months after a key witness in the trial was shot eight times in West Kelowna in a brazen drive-by bicycle shooting

Kevin Kerfoot, 53, pleaded guilty in a Seattle court on Tuesday to organizing a plot to smuggle cocaine into Canada in 2005, according to U.S. Attorney Annette Hayes.

Kerfoot had fought extradition from Canada to the U.S. for several years, but the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed his case last December. 

Police stopped a car on a Washington State highway in October 2005 after noticing it was driving erratically. A police dog discovered 41 kilograms of cocaine in the vehicle. 

Several members of a smuggling ring were arrested, and Kerfoot was identified as the head of the operation. 

On Aug. 2, 2016, Reginald Purdom was shot eight times in his chest, leg and hand by a man riding a bicycle, while driving near Highway 97 and Hudson Road. He survived the shooting. 

Purdom, who pleaded guilty in 2006 in Washington state to conspiracy to distribute cocaine and ecstasy, was listed as a key witness for the U.S. government in Kerfoot's smuggling case. 

Purdom had identified Kerfoot as the head of the smuggling operation to investigators after he was caught bringing 24,000 ecstasy pills across the Canada-U.S. border by boat, to trade for the 41 kg of cocaine.

He served 54 months in jail after pleading guilty in 2006. 

The West Kelowna shooting took place two weeks after Kerfoot lost his B.C. Court of Appeal bid to halt his extradition. 

Tyrone McGee, 29, faces several charges from the shooting, including attempted murder. A three-day preliminary inquiry for McGee is scheduled to begin on June 19 in Kelowna court.

Kerfoot, meanwhile, faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison for his role in the cocaine smuggling plot.

Other members of the smuggling ring were handed sentences between three and six and a half years. All have been released since serving their sentences.

- With files from The Canadian Press and The Vancouver Sun

Abandoned no more

A prominent building that has for years been decaying on the outskirts of Peachland is finally getting a facelift.

The building's new tenant, Peachland's Dragon Lotus Restaurant, is moving in this October.

The owners plan to make some major changes.

For more on what the upgrade will look like, as well as what will happen to the famous Dragon Lotus ice cream stall, check out the full story on Castanet's business news website, Okanagan Edge.

Smoke over Rose Valley

Residents of Rose Valley may be seeing smoke in the hills.

A concerned resident said she called 911 to report fire burning in Rose Valley Regional Park, across from Peak Point Drive, just off Westlake Road. 

Jan Newmarch says she can see smoke billowing from the bush, about 300 metres from the road.

The B.C. Wildfire Service is conducting a controlled debris burn in the park today, but it is listed as being above Bear Creek Road, off Bowes and Pettman Roads in West Kelowna. 

They are burning in a 10-hectare section of the park, so that is the likely source of the smoke, though that has not yet been confirmed.

Another controlled burn is underway in Black Mountain Regional Park. The park is closed to the public during the fuel management work.

Fire guts Peachland home

Alanna Kelly

A portion of a Peachland home was gutted in a structure fire on Vernon Ave. Sunday afternoon.

It’s not clear at this point how the fire started, but firefighters on scene say no humans were injured in the fire. However, a pet is still unaccounted for.

The right side of the house has been severely damaged in the blaze, which, at one point, appeared to be fully involved.

The roof of the house has shown signs of collapsing, as firefighters wrap up extinguishing the fire.

Castanet will provide more details as they become available.

–with files from Alanna Kelly

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