West Kelowna  

Westside power restored

Power has been restored to more than 550 BC Hydro customers in West Kelowna.

Power in a small area of the city was knocked out at about 3:30 Friday afternoon.

It was restored about 5:15.

The area affected included customers west of Westside Road, east of McDougall Road, south of Pettman Road and north of Horizon Drive.

According to BC Hydro's website, a voltage problem or overload was the cause.

Stanley Cup in town

The Stanley Cup was hoisted in West Kelowna on Thursday and greeted by an enthusiastic crowd.

West Kelowna native and Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguin defenceman Justin Schultz brought the cup to town. Each member of the cup-winning team gets one day with the trophy.

“This is the least I could do,” said Schultz. “I grew up here, I played minor hockey here, so it is good to be back. It is pretty fun to bring this big trophy back here.”

With more than 1,000 people lining up for a chance to see the cup and meet Schultz, the NHLer was humbled.

“It is amazing, I really didn't expect this many people to show up,” said Schultz. “It shows how tight this community is, and I am pretty proud to be from here.”

Schultz's parents, who still reside in West Kelowna, beamed with pride.

“This is huge,” said his mom, Kim Schultz. “I am really happy he could bring it back to the community, where he grew up. Seeing the smiles on everybody's faces and these kids, that is what it is all about to me.”

Kim said she tries to keep it all in perspective and keep Justin and the family grounded.

“It is a game, after all, and he just has a different job,” she said. “That is how I look at it, as his mom.”

She took a moment to describe what it felt like when the Penguins won the cup.

“It was surreal, we didn't know what to do,” said Kim. “We were all excited of course, so we just went on to the ice and hugged him, and it was really exciting.”

West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater said he's proud to have a champion back on home ice.

“We have a Stanley Cup winner that graduated out of our Westside Minor Hockey program and went through the Warriors on to college and now on to two different professional teams with the NHL,” said Finlater. “It is a good time to celebrate our hockey heritage in West Kelowna. I am really pleased to have Justin here with the cup.”

West Kelowna is producing world-class athletes, he noted.

“We have an olympic swimmer this year heading to Rio, and we have had notable NFL players come through here. We are pleased our programs appear to be working and when someone reaches that world-class level they can bring recognition to the programs here and our community.”

Schultz hung out at Royal LePage Place for several hours Thursday afternoon, signing autographs, posing for photos and celebrating his win.

Daddy Biebs hits West K

Jeremy Bieber is part of a star-studded lineup teeing it up for charity in the Okanagan today.

Bieber, the father of pop superstar Justin Bieber, is at Two Eagles Golf Course today for a celebrity golf tournament to aid the Breakfast Club of Canada.

Several other celebrities are taking part, including NHL stars Carey Price and Jordin Tootoo.

The Breakfast Club of Canada assists the more than one million Canadian children at risk of getting nothing to eat before they go to school each day. The numbers, they say, are staggering. One-in-five children are at risk of starting the school day on an empty stomach.

The ratio is one-in-two in aboriginal communities, while the risk for immigrants and newcomers is two-and-a-half times greater than the general population.

The Breakfast Club of Canada currently operates two programs in Kelowna.

Twenty-one schools are on the wait-list in the Central Okanagan.


Fugitive on the lam

Police are searching for a man with outstanding warrants who fled from an officer Tuesday night in West Kelowna.

Const. Jesse O’Donaghey says an officer was patrolling the area of Stevens Road when he saw Devin Thomas James Myra standing on the corner of McDougall Road.

“When the officer stopped and called to the man by name, he took off on foot towards Westlake Road,” said O’Donaghey.

A police dog was called to the area to assist with a search, however Myra was not found.

Myra is wanted on warrants for failing to comply with a probation order.

If you spot Myra, police warn not to approach him, and to call the RCMP.

Survey: clean, fix my roads

Once again, issues surrounding roads topped the list of services not meeting expectations in West Kelowna.

According to the city's annual resident survey, road maintenance, snow clearing, and roads and sidewalks in general were at the top of the list. Those same four issues also hit the top of the charts in 2015.

The percentage was similar to 2015 as well.

Illegal dumping and cleanup and economic development are also performing below expectations in the eyes of residents.

Topping the list of those areas exceeding expectations is recreational trails at 70 per cent. The public library, arenas, sport fields and the city's website were also cited as exceeding expectations.

Of the 1,000 surveys sent to West Kelowna residents, 360 were returned. Another 19 were completed voluntarily online.

Sixty-eight per cent of those who completed the survey were over 55, while no surveys were returned from those age 19 to 24.

West Kelowna CEO Jim Zaffino said they will look at ways to better engage those under 25. Currently, surveys are only sent to homeowners and, Zaffino noted, not many under 25 own homes.

Other highlights of the survey include:

  • 85 per cent of respondents indicate their quality of life in West Kelowna is good or very good.
  • 50 per cent of respondents indicate the performance of their elected officials as good or very good, down from 56 per cent in 2015. 38 per cent indicate performance is average.
  • 59 per cent of respondents indicated the preferred choice of keeping taxes the same with the
    same or less level of service

There was some concern raised by council around transit usage results.

Coun. Carol Zanon noted 84 per cent of people responded they never used transit and 45 per cent of those said they wouldn't use it if it were offered.

On top of that, she said nearly 84 per cent stated they own two or more vehicles.

"The inordinate amount of time this council spends on transit issues for the use of 15 per cent, or less, of the population, I really want us to think about that in our future planning endeavours and strategic planning," said Zanon.

"Just how much of our valuable staff time, and our council time, should we be spending on this?"

Mayor Doug Findlater defended the transit issue stating it's an older demographic that takes the survey and that demographic is usually the one that is anti-transit.

"I think if you got a fully valid, representative population survey, the percentage of people using transit would go up," said Findlater.

"It's people my age that don't want to have anything to do with it ... for all kinds of reasons."

Findlater said people do use transit, pointing specifically to students.

"That's an area (of the survey) I am a little suspicious of."

Farm to Fork dinner

The Ocean Wise executive chef for the Vancouver Aquarium is heading to the Okanagan for a special "Farm to Fork" event next month.

Chef Ned Bell will partner up with Bacaro Restaurant's executive chef Mike Wilkins to showcase locally sourced, sustainably grown and ethically harvested cuisine.

Bell’s cooking philosophy is globally inspired and locally created. He has experience working in some of the country’s top kitchens and was, most recently, executive chef of Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver and YEW seafood + bar, an Ocean Wise partner.

While the foodie experience does not come cheap at $185 per ticket, organizers promise a delicious five-course family-style long-table dinner paired with award-winning wines by the Hatch Winery, and entertainment by DJ Wolfe.

The ticket price also includes shuttle service to and from Kelowna and West Kelowna, with pick-up locations to be announced.

The dinner takes place on Aug. 19 at 7 p.m. at the Hatch Winery.

For more information, click here.

Rats now a council concern

There's nothing like seeing a problem lay at your own front door to get your attention.

After telling residents whose property had been infested with rats that it was not a municipal problem, the city may end up looking into the matter after all.

This comes as West Kelowna is forced to spend $35,000 to make emergency repairs to one of its portables after the stench of dead rats in the walls forced finance department employees to evacuate the premises.

During a debate as to whether to repair the portable or buy a new one, Coun. Rusty Ensign wondered if it was time the municipality tried to do something.

"If the rats are starting, can we still stop them is the question? I think it's a debate that we should have," said Ensign.

"We could just ignore it and let them get worse, but here we are, affected by it ourselves."

Ensign said it may be akin to closing the gate after the horse has left the barn, but suggested municipalities in the Okanagan should get together to at least discuss it.

"I wonder if it should go to SILGA next year, or discuss it at strategic priorities."

Staff was asked to make a note of the topic and include it as part of council's strategic priorities discussion in November.

Meanwhile, council agreed to spend $35,000 to repair the infested portable.

The portable, which is nearly 40 years old, was purchased from the regional district in 2008 for $50,000. It houses seven employees within the city's finance department.

While it was decided to make the repairs rather than spend an estimated $250,000 for a new portable, Coun. Rosalind Neis questioned the figures, and wondered why a cheaper alternative wasn't presented to council.

"I don't believe we can't buy a new trailer, get rid of that piece of junk, and give our staff a new ... working environment for $25,000," said Neis.

"I don't feel staff were directed enough to delve into this. I know it's an emergency, but I can't understand throwing good money after bad."

Neis said in just two minutes, she was able to find cheaper options online.

"This is a temporary fix. It will last as long as we do need it. The desks are there. The office spaces are there," said CAO Jim Zaffino.

"I did get emails that you could buy this for $50,000 or $60,000, but you have to hook up to sewer and water, then you need to have a carpenter build the offices."

2nd no for Fintry Queen

A last ditch effort to find a landing spot for the Fintry Queen in West Kelowna has mostly fallen on deaf ears.

Andy Schwab, who was then the principal owner of the vessel, wrote the city earlier this month, asking that council again consider allowing the vessel to be moored next to the CN Wharf.

The idea was studied, and voted down, back in 2013.

"My opinion hasn't changed in three years," said Coun. Rick de Jong.

"At this point in time, I see a venture that is struggling financially and not something I want to put more staff time and tax dollars into."

Fintry Queen ownership did get some support from two councillors who were not on council during the time of the original investigation and discussion.

Coun. Rosalind Neis asked that the city not dismiss the idea out of hand, but instead, keep the door open, with the understanding the city would put no money into any venture.

She received support from Coun. Rusty Ensign, who said he would be happy to look at any proposal they came up with.

"The Gellatly Bay Master Plan does have a commercial component to it. I could see the Fintry Queen taking the place of the restaurant complex shown on this plan. If it was to work, there is an economic benefit," said Ensign.

"If they can come up with the services and they want to make the investment. The only real obstacle is parking. Without parking, it isn't going to happen anyway."

The idea was voted down.

Lions relinquish hall to city

Once the red tape clears, the City of West Kelowna will take ownership of the iconic Lions Community Hall on downtown Main Street.

Membership of Westbank Lions Club recently voted 86 per cent to transfer ownership of the hall to the city.

Club president David Knowles said the Canada Revenue Agency is holding up transfer of title of the building from the club to the city.

"They (CRA) are saying there is a chance they will charge capital gains, if you can believe that, between a registered charity such as ourselves and the municipality," said Knowles.

"The city would pay it, but it is just ludicrous."

Knowles said the transfer is on hold until a resolution comes down from the CRA.

The hall was originally built in 1928 through the sweat equity of the community at the time.

It has gone through several renovations, the latest of which was just three years ago when fire destroyed a portion of the hall.

Kerry Robert Cooper was found guilty of arson. He was sentenced to 39 months in jail, and ordered to pay $5,500 in restitution.

The hall reopened in February of last year.

Knowles said membership in the Lions Club has been rapidly declining. They have lost about 20 members over the last five years.

"The people who are left are just not capable of doing the hard work that is needed. Looking after the hall, repairing it and cleaning it."

He called it a great day for the club, not a bittersweet one. 

One he said will allow the Lions to do the work they are supposed to be doing – getting out and raising money, giving to charity and looking after people who are in need.

"The energy, which has been reducing, has been directed to just keeping the hall up and running and problem solving. It takes a huge amount of time."

As for the future of the hall itself as a community centre and gathering place, Knowles said the agreement between the club and the city is quite specific.

And, he said, that does not include a city hall.

"If the city wants to redevelop, go ahead and do that, as long as the hall remains the centrepiece," said Knowles.

"So, if you want to redevelop and put some density, the same principle as the Civic Centre, that makes a lot of sense to the Lions. They could see that and they really look forward to that happening."

Rollovers on Connector

Beware of the Coquihalla Connector.

There are several reports of rollover crashes on the highway Tuesday afternoon due to hazardous weather.

The storm rolling into the Valley dumped heavy rain and hail on to drivers, causing at least two vehicles to lose control and roll.

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