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UN activist in town

A well known indigenous activist and expert on human rights will be in the Central Okanagan next week.

Victoria Tauli-Corpuz represents the United Nations, and is the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples.

She will be visiting with the Westbank First Nation March 31 to examine ways and means of overcoming existing obstacles to the full and effective protection of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people.

That evening she will be speaking at the Mary Irvin Theatre on some of the priorities and challenges within her position and will then be giving the same talk at UBCO the following morning.

Both talks are presented by UBCO’s Indigenous Studies Program and the Schools of Arts and Sciences, with support from the International Distinguished Visitor Fund.

Tauli-Corpuz is from the Kankanaey Igorot people of the Cordillera Region in the Philippines. She has previously been a social development consultant, indigenous activist, civic leader, human rights expert, public servant and advocate of women’s rights in the Philippines.

The daytime talk will take place between 12-6:30 p.m. at the Sensisyusten Gymnasium, located at 1920 Quail Lane. She will then move over to the Mary Irwin Theatre for 7 p.m.

Her talk at UBCO takes place at the University Centre Ballroom at 9:30 a.m. and all events are free and open to the public.





Fined for illegal offroading

Conservation officers are warning the public not to damage the environment in unauthorized areas after a man was heavily fined for mud bogging, Thursday.

About 2 p.m. Thursday, biologists with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources were taking a helicopter to do a bighorn sheep inventory. 

As they were en route to the location, they noticed a black pickup mud bogging near the Bear Creek Main forest service road near West Kelowna.

"(The team) observed a vehicle that was essentially creating their own trail," said Conservation officer David Cox. "We were notified, and we attended and found the individual mud bogging in the area."

Cox said the lone male was on Crown land and the area is not necessarily protected. However, it is popular and important for many forms of wildlife.

"It's wintering habitat for a lot of ungulates like moose, bighorn sheep and mule deer," Cox said. "They rely on grasslands and use that area, especially in the spring, it's one of the first areas that greens up."

Cox said mud bogging is not an issue if people stick to designated trails and areas that permit that type of activity. Unfortunately, this person did not.

The man was served a $575 ticket under section 46 of the Forest and Range Practices Act.

Section 46 reads: A person must not carry out a forest practice, a range practice or another activity that results in damage to the environment, unless in doing a person is acting in accordance with a plan, authorization or permit under this Act.

The maximum penalty for the offence could be fines up to $1 million, or imprisonment for not more than three years, or both.

"We don't take this type of activity very lightly. The damage and effect to the environment can be very serious and altering," said Cox. "Everything from aquatic species, to carnivores and ungulates can be affected.

"People need to respect the environment – we can't afford to have people out there causing this type of destruction, there is zero tolerance."



Robbery suspect sought

Police are asking for the public's help to identify the man responsible for an armed robbery in West Kelowna early this morning.

According to West Kelowna RCMP, a lone man with a black T-shirt covering his face, produced a weapon and demanded money at the Super 8 motel on Westgate Road, just before 3 a.m.

“The suspect fled the scene with an undisclosed amount of cash. A police service dog attended, but the suspect could not be located,” says Cpl. Joe Duncan.

The suspect is described as:

  • Male
  • six feet tall or just under
  • 170 pounds
  • White baseball cap
  • Blue or grey hoodie
  • Black pants

Anyone with any information is asked to contact West Kelowna RCMP Const. McCall at 250-768-2880.

You can also remain anonymous by calling CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477, leaving a tip online at www.crimestoppers.net or by texting your tip to CRIMES (274637) ktown.





Electoral change name only

It would appear any change to electoral boundaries in the Central Okanagan will come in name only.

A report by the B.C. Electoral Boundaries Commission has proposed changing the name of Westside-Kelowna to Kelowna West.

The riding includes all of West Kelowna and Westbank First Nation lands from the Okanagan Connector, north past Killiney Beach, and stretches across Okanagan Lake into Kelowna to include the downtown and much of the North End of the city, ending at Spall Road.

According to the commission, some submissions requested significant changes to the boundaries, including the addition of a fourth riding within the Central Okanagan or creation of electoral districts that did not cross the lake. Others suggested Westside-Kelowna should include more of downtown Kelowna.

The commission chose not to make any boundary changes, suggesting the populations of the three ridings (including Kelowna-Lake Country and Kelowna-Mission) have similar populations.

"We were not convinced change would achieve more effective representation," the report states.



Tractor-trailer stolen

A West Kelowna man is worried about his livelihood after his 85-foot tractor-trailer was stolen from his locked compound this morning (Friday).

Scott Horovatin with J&T Holdings Ltd. says the truck was stolen shortly before 3 a.m., and the thief must have known what they were doing.

“You would have to know how to drive a truck, and you could tell they obviously knew what they were doing,” says Horovatin. “The way they pulled out of our yard, they knew how to take a big corner, so they knew what they were doing.”

Horovatin says the thief broke the lock on the gate of their compound in West Kelowna, and then broke into the truck.

He says as a logging contractor, this truck is crucial to his work.

“This is our livelihood, this is how we move all of our equipment around, how we get from job site to job site. That truck is also used to transport logs. It is a very important piece of our company.”

The truck and trailer are nearly brand new and in excellent condition according to Horovatin.

The truck (pictured above and below) is described as a white 2014 Kenworth, with a tan coloured 2008 Peerless lowbed trailer.

Cst. Goodwin with the West Kelowna RCMP is investigating and asks anyone who may have seen the truck, or have information on the theft, to call him at 250-768-2880.

You can also remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477, leaving a tip online at www.crimestoppers.net or by texting your tip to CRIMES (274637) ktown.



Clerk assaulted in robbery

West Kelowna RCMP are searching for a suspect in a liquor store robbery Monday night. 

About 9:45 p.m., West Kelowna RCMP responded to a robbery in progress at the Liquor Depot on Gosset Road.

Three men had entered the store in an attempt to steal alcohol.

Aided by an unknown patron, a staff member apprehended two of the men, while the third was able to flee with two bottles of liquor.

During the altercation with the suspects, a 19-year-old man punched the store employee several times in an attempt to get away. The employee was treated by first aid attendants on scene.

A 19-year-old man is being held in custody on several charges. The second male was released without charge, and police are still attempting to identify the third.  

Anyone with information is asked to contact West Kelowna RCMP Const. Hall 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 your tip to CRIMES (274637) ktown.



Breast is best, council told

Several dozen mothers, fathers and supporters of breastfeeding in public descended upon West Kelowna Council chambers Tuesday evening to support a woman's right to do so.

Billed as the 'West Kelowna Feed In,' supporters were protesting a lack of action by councillors on the Baby Friendly Initiative.

Women with children filled up council chambers, the hallway outside chambers and an adjoining room.

Council was asked to support the initiative by allowing for the placement of stickers in municipal buildings, supporting mothers who choose to breastfeed in public.

The initiative would also include an educational campaign on a woman's right to feed her baby in public spaces.

Moms from as far away as Penticton and Lake Country also showed up to lend their support to the cause.

"It is a problem, and it's a problem everywhere," said event organizer Lisa Ford with the Kelowna Breastfeeding Cafe.

"We just recently saw a mother harassed on an airplane, and that was in the news, so it's a problem."

Ford said her organization is trying to use the controversy to educate the public and women about breastfeeding.

"This is an education campaign. It really was a simple request just to educate the community, including women, to understand what their rights are," said Ford.

"It's definitely nice to get more education out there... it's needed. (Council's) response illustrated that it's needed.

"It was stated by one councillor that long-term breastfeeding was dangerous, and that is absolutely incorrect. Unfortunately, we have very low breastfeeding rates here in the Okanagan. At six months, only about 30 per cent of babies are exclusively breastfed. The World Health Organization recommends that number be at least 50 per cent. Part of the reason is that women receive misinformation and that they are uncomfortable breastfeeding in public."

She said the notion that breastfeeding in public is not normal is not right.

"Breasts are normal, breastfeeding is normal. We see breasts everywhere we look. You can walk through the mall and see posters of breasts, the beach. Breastfeeding is normal."

Darrell Eason attended with his wife and child.

He said he came to support women who don't want to feel uncomfortable breastfeeding wherever they need to do it.

"I see this as a no-brainer of support. It's the most natural thing in the world," said Eason.

"North America generally has a lower breastfeeding rate due to pressure from selling formula. There's such a corporate culture that puts pressure on women to have convenience and go back to work."

Coun. Rosalind Neis was one of those who spoke up with some reservations when the issue first came before council.

She said she showed up to support those constituents who elected her to council, but added that she has heard from both sides on the issue.

"This is an emotionally charged issue. It's motherhood. Women that can't breastfeed ... and trust me, I think they'd all love to if they could," said Neis. "But, if they can't, that is an emotionally difficult issue for them to deal with. And I've had women tell me this. I don't know that putting up a poster is really the be-all-end-all to accepting breastfeeding."

With the extra eyes looking on, Mayor Doug Findlater brought forth a notice of motion to direct staff to report on the cost, if any, and implications of implementing a baby friendly policy for the District of West Kelowna.

That report is scheduled to be presented to council April 14.



Biosolid hauling costs more

A protest over the dumping of biosolids in Merritt could cost Central Okanagan taxpayers more than $350,000.

The Regional District of Central Okanagan approved the additional expense Monday for the transport and disposal of biosolids from the Westside sewage treatment plant.

Because of the ongoing protest, the regional district has been prevented from delivering biosolids to a contractor's approved composting site, west of Merritt. 

It's estimated that hauling the materials farther for disposal to an approved location previously used in the rural area outside Clinton could potentially cost $356,000 more than initially budgeted. 

The draft budget was based on cost savings achieved through contracted composting at the Nicola Valley site. 

In light of the situation, the budget increase is similar to the higher rate approved last year by the board to cover hauling costs for biosolids to Clinton.

In September of last year, the RDCO awarded a contract for removal of biosolid materials to BioCentral, a company located in the Fraser Valley.

The five-year contract was worth slightly more than $1.15 million.



Car into power pole

Castanet is receiving reports that a car has gone into a power pole on Louie Drive at Old Okanagan Highway.

The incident took place around 7:30 p.m., today, Sunday.

There were live power lines and a woman got out of her open window at the scene.

She was checked out in an ambulance. Louie is currently closed.

Castanet will provide updates as they come available.

 



Newcome back in court

An infamous West Kelowna man was back before the courts Friday, on trial for new charges.

John Edward Newcome, former owner of alleged chop shop Cycle Logic, faced a judge on charges of assault and breaching conditions.

The one-day trial concluded with Newcome being found guilty of an assault Crown counsel says took place at 3 a.m. on July 26, 2014, at the home of his ex-girlfriend in Peachland.

The same assault put him in breach of his conditions, including a curfew, following his previous conviction last February.

On Feb, 20, 2014, Newcome pleaded guilty and was convicted on 19 counts ranging from possession of stolen property to trafficking in stolen property.

He was handed an 18-month conditional sentence at that time to be served in the community, with the first nine months under house arrest and the second nine under curfew conditions. Conditions he was found guilty of violating. 

The judge determined he was guilty of the additional charges and was sentenced to a new two-year probation order to be served in the community.



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