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Luring reminder issued

Following three recent incidents of child luring in the Central Okanagan, administrators at Shannon Lake Elementary School have issued another reminder urging caution among parents and students.

A message sent to parents Thursday reads:

"Dear Shannon Lake families,

"As a follow up to the memorandum that was distributed to all Westside elementary and middle school communities earlier this week, we would urge you to review the information in the document with your children. The letter, along with street-proofing safety tips from the B.C. RCMP can also be found on our school website – www.sle.sd23.bc.ca.

"Some important points when considering child safety are:

  • Have a plan an stick to it
  • Decide on a meeting spot
  • Walk home in groups

"Thank you for reviewing your family’s routines for safety with your child(ren)."

 

The RCMP's tips include:

Know your home address and home phone number and how to contact your parents on their cellphones or at work.

Know how and when to call 911 in an emergency situation: at home, from a cell, and from a public telephone.

Travel and play in groups, regardless of your age. The popular 'buddy system' works best.

If you become separated or lost, tell someone with a nametag (e.g. a cashier or security guard) right away; if there is no one with a nametag, preferably tell a female.

Be polite, but avoid long conversation with strangers. If someone you don’t know asks you a lot of personal questions, like where you live, Do Not Answer, just run away.

Don’t be afraid to say NO to adults who ask you to do something for them, like find a lost pet, join them in an activity, or give them directions.

Never accept a ride or gifts from strangers, or even someone you may know, without checking with your parents first. Keep a safe distance (two arm lengths) from strangers and cars that approach you.

Establish a secret word or phrase for your family. This should be used in emergencies to identify a 'safe person' other than their parent or child giver.

If a person tries to grab you, scream loudly, make a lot of noise, and create a disturbance (e.g. knock things over, scatter belongings, kick wildly). Shout Help, this person is not my parent!

Do not wear headphones or use portable electronic devices that can distract you from your surroundings when you are walking in the neighbourhood.

If you are taking a public bus home, sit near the front of the bus, near the driver. 14. Play 'what if' games with younger children to reinforce these safety messages. 





3rd child-luring incident

The RCMP has issued more warnings after a third instance of child luring in the Central Okanagan.

This latest incident occurred just before noon Tuesday on Westlake Road, near Stevens Road.

RCMP Const. Kris Clark says two 15-year-olds were walking in the area when an unknown male in a red pickup offered them a ride.

"The boys declined and kept walking, but the man drove around the traffic circle, returned and told them to get in," says Clark.

"The boys ignored him and continued on their way. No vehicle plate was obtained, and the man's description is limited, but the vehicle is somewhat unique."

Police want to speak with the driver, who is described as:

  • A Caucasian male
  • 50-60 years old
  • Short grey hair

The vehicle is described as a red pickup with a white stripe from the front to rear wheel wells.

This is the second such incident in West Kelowna and third recently in the Central Okanagan.

On Feb. 13, a 10-year-old West Kelowna boy was walking in the area of Westlake Road and West Kelowna Road when a man in an older black, boxy car, offered him a ride. The boy declined and the man drove away.

The description of the man is limited, however, he was seen wearing a fedora-style hat and a large chain around his neck.

A third incident in the Springvalley area last week was also reported to police.

That incident occurred about 2:30 p.m. Feb. 26 when a 10-year-old boy was approached while riding his scooter near Gramiak Road and Mary Court, just a few blocks from Springvalley School.

The man asked the boy if he wanted to talk, and stated his house was just down the street. The boy ignored him, but then the man asked if they could meet later.

Clark says police have no information suggesting any connection between the three incidents.

Parents are reminded to discuss the importance of safety with their children to ensure they have the tools necessary to protect themselves.

Here are some safety tips for children to keep in mind when they are not in the care of their parents or trusted adults/guardians:

  • Travel and play in groups, regardless of your age. The buddy system works best.
  • Never accept a ride or gifts from strangers, or even someone you may know, without checking with your parents first. Keep a safe distance from strangers and cars that approach you.
  • If a person tries to grab you, scream loudly, make a lot of noise, and create a disturbance (e.g. knock things over, scatter belongings, kick wildly). Shout: Help, this person is not my parent! 
  • Do not wear headphones or use portable electronic devices that can distract you from your surroundings when you are walking in the neighbourhood.

For more street-proofing tips, visit the BC RCMP website.
 
Anyone with information is asked to contact West Kelowna RCMP at 250-768-2880. Remain anonymous by calling CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477, leaving a tip online at www.crimestoppers.net or by texting CRIMES (274637) ktown.



Truck smashes light standard

A single vehicle crash slowed traffic in West Kelowna late Tuesday evening.

It’s unclear if anyone was injured when a white pickup truck smashed into a light standard on Highway 97 at Ross Road.

The incident happened at about 7:30 p.m. and closed Ross Road in both directions. One southbound lane of the highway was also closed to traffic for about one hour.

A witness at the scene tells Castanet News the crash scattered a large debris field, made up of both the traffic light and pieces of the truck.

We’ll have more information when it becomes available.



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Friends rally for couple

Friends and neighbours are rallying behind a Westside couple who have been forced out of their home.

Ed Schneider and Ross Arnot have until the end of the month to either move their mobile home at the Jubilee Mobile Home Park or vacate the home.

They have lived at the park since 2007.

Now, friends have organized a community yard sale with proceeds going to help Ed and Ross with their moving expenses.

The yard sale will be held Friday, Saturday and Sunday, March 6 to 8 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day at Jubilee Mobile Home Park, 2005 Boucherie Rd.

If you have items you would like to donate to the sale, you can contact Sheilah at 250-769-1930.

The couple were issued an eviction notice late last year after disputing the mobile home park's decision to take their garage as a "maintenance building," without any sort of compensation.

Despite a public outcry, the park owners have not broken any laws and were apparently within their rights to take the garage.

A Facebook page supporting the Ed and Ross has also been set up.



2nd child luring incident

UPDATE:

School District 23 officials have clarified the alleged incident in Rose Valley occurred on Friday, Feb. 13. According to the district the child reported the incident to his parents who, in turn, contacted RCMP.

The district reminds students to report any incident such as these to school officials immediately.


A second incident of possible child luring has come to light.

This involved a student at Rose Valley Elementary School in West Kelowna last Friday.

According to a parent at the school an email was sent to parents of children at Rose Valley Elementary after the incident came to light.

The email read:

"Hi everyone, We had a stranger in a black car approach one of our students last Friday morning on the way to school along West Kelowna Rd.

The man tried to convince the student to get into his car for a ride to school. Our concern is that the student told some friends at school about it and they laughed it off as no big deal and the student didn’t report it to the office or teacher.

If anything like this happens again, the student should notify the school right away so that we can report it to the RCMP.

Also, when asked, “When is it OK to get a ride with someone?” the student answered, “When you know the person.” This is not the right answer.

The right answer is, “When your parents know about it.” We’ve included a “Street Proofing” document from the RCMP to help discuss this with your child (in particular, points 5, 7, 8 and 9). Thanks for your help."

On Monday, RCMP warned of a similar incident near Springvalley School.



Snowmobiler rescued

A snowmobiler is recovering today after being rescued Friday night.

According to Central Okanagan Search and Rescue, they received a call just before midnight to assist BC Ambulance in the rescue of an injured snowmobiler in the Headwaters area of Peachland.

With the help of Penticton Search and Rescue, both crews headed out to find the man.

Fortunately the snowmobiler was not alone and his friend stuck by him until crews arrived. COSAR says he had the quick thinking to call for help, start a fire to keep them both warm and stay put.

“His companion made a big difference. By being prepared and staying with him and keeping him warm, he delayed hypothermia and shock. Both are very dangerous conditions that could have made the situation considerably worse,” says COSAR search manager David Crawford.

According to the rescue team the injured man somehow fell off his snowmobile. He was suffering from what appeared to be a serious back injury as well as some minor cuts and bruises to other parts of his body.

A total of 10 members from both groups were on scene to evacuate the subject to a waiting ambulance, and the unidentified man was transported to Kelowna General Hospital.



Guilty in Westside shootout

Michael Edward Ellis was found guilty Friday of taking part in an infamous 2012 police chase and shooting on Westside Road.

Ellis, 41, faced 22 charges related to the incident, ranging from several counts of pointing a firearm, to fleeing a peace officer and five counts of attempted murder.

Those charges stem from the incident in July 2012, when three people led police on an hour-long chase along nearly 80 kilometres of Westside Road.

According to Kelowna Court Registry, Ellis was found guilty of 17 of the 22 charges, excluding the five attempted murder charges, for which he was found not guilty.

The charges he was found guilty of range from pointing a firearm to committing a robbery using a restricted/prohibited firearm, knowingly possessing a firearm without a licence and dangerous operation of motor vehicle.

Ellis had previously pleaded not guilty to all 22 counts.

In January, closing arguments were heard in his case when his lawyer, John Gustafson, said Ellis was an innocent party, forced at gunpoint to co-operate with a violent and threatening Shawn Wysynski. 

In December 2014, Wysynski testified that Ellis was clear of any wrongdoing.

Wysynski is currently serving a nine-year sentence for his participation in the police shootout and subsequent chase.

The case is now adjourned until a sentencing date can be set by the courts.  

For more Castanet stories on this case, click here. 



Land swap over 700 acres

The land-swap agreement reached last week between the provincial government and Westbank First Nation offers even more land than West Kelowna residents balked at in 2011.

The initial agreement offered 698 acres of Crown land around the Rose Valley reservoir in exchange for eight acres of WFN land required for construction of the Westside Road interchange.

The municipality and residents of West Kelowna raised an uproar that eventually killed that deal. But last week's revised agreement puts together a package of land and cash included approximately 670 acres of Crown land plus 65 acres of private land.

Two of the properties are within the Agricultural Land Reserve.

According to the province, the total value of the package is $6 million and includes $1.5 million in cash from the government.

Once the sale is complete, exact locations of the properties will be released, but the province has said the Crown land is located along McCulloch Road, between WFN reserves at Medicine Creek and Medicine Hill. The two ALR private properties are within the City of Kelowna on Spiers Road and Hereron Road.

A third piece of private land is located on the eastern shores of Lower Arrow Lake, near Fauquier, on Starlite Road.



Deal reached with firefighters

The District of West Kelowna and its professional firefighters have come to an agreement on a new contract.

West Kelowna council ratified the six-year agreement with Local 4457 of the International Association of Fire Fighters Tuesday.

The agreement was negotiated between the municipality and the firefighters’ union which includes a 2.5 per cent increase annually for 2013 to 2019.

The deal had been reached with the local union representing 28 firefighters and two fire prevention personnel with West Kelowna Fire Rescue.

In a news release issued Tuesday afternoon, the district says the two parties were able to negotiate a longer term contract and salary increases without having to refer negotiations to arbitration.

It further stated both sides made significant concessions and negotiated fairly to reach this contract.

The new contract is retroactive to 2013, when the last contract expired.

The negotiated increases may mean an additional 0.2 per cent tax increase in the 2015 financial plan, which will be reviewed before final adoption slated for April.

This contract brings West Kelowna Fire Rescue roughly into parity with other fire departments in the province.



Explosion at industrial park

Police and ambulance paramedics responded to reports of an explosion in West Kelowna about 1 p.m. today.

One man was taken to Kelowna General Hospital with serious injuries and is said to be in stable condition.

The explosion happened at Dead Metal Recycling, in the Westbank Industrial Park, at 2555 Auburn Rd.

The blast apparently happened outdoors, and police at the scene had an area taped off that included what appeared to be propane or some other sort of pressurized gas cylinders.

The man was apparently working on his own at the time.

Police said WorksafeBC would be investigating the incident.

— with files from Ragnar Haagen



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