West Kelowna  

Life-threatening injuries

UPDATE 10:10 a.m.

Two men are in hospital following a serious crash in downtown Westbank in the early hours of Friday morning. 

At about 1:25 a.m., an RCMP officer inside the West Kelowna RCMP detachment heard a loud explosion across Dobbin Road. 

"The officer rushed outside to investigate and discovered a large blaze along the highway which led over an embankment to a severely damaged older red Honda Civic in the field below," said Cpl. Jesse O'Donaghey.

A 26-year-old Vancouver man, believed to be the driver of the car, was ejected 15 metres in the crash, while the 32-year-old passenger from West Kelowna was extracted from the car using the Jaws of Life. 

Both men remain in hospital with what police believe are life-threatening injuries. 

The highway was closed through the morning, reopening at 8 a.m.

The crash also knocked out power in the area, but power has since been restored. 

Police have yet to talk to anyone who witnessed the crash. They are urging anyone who did see the crash to come forward. 

"Early indications might be that speed may have played a role in this and we continue to determine whether or not alcohol may have been a factor," said O'Donaghey.

UPDATE 8:01 a.m.

Highway 97 has reopened in the northbound direction.

The road reopened three kilometres north of the junction with Highway 97C, just before 8 a.m. Friday morning.

UPDATE 6:27 a.m.

A serious crash has closed the northbound lanes of Highway 97 approximately three kilometres north of the junction with the Connector, close to downtown Westbank.

A Castanet reader says the incident occurred between Old Okanagan Road and Gellatly Road on Highway 97. Expect delays as that part of the highway is one-way.

The incident occurred around 1:30 Friday morning. Emergency crews have been working to restore power and a detour has been set up. You're advised to look for an alternate route using Old Okanagan Highway and Gosset Road.

Residents in West Kelowna have been without power since the incident. As many as 2400 BC Hydro customers in West Kelowna were without power much of the night, there are still almost a thousand households without power.

BC Hydro has indicated they are working to restore power by 9:30 a.m.


Did you know?

A professional truck driver received over $500 in fines for something he does everyday.

Glenn Vancoughnett pulled in to the Husky in West Kelowna to park his truck for the night. He removed his cellphone from his upper pocket and placed it on the ground beside him, while his vehicle was in park.

He does this to put his phone out of reach when driving.

“Everyday, I do it everyday. I do not use my phone. I do not text. I have a very expensive headset I use to send messages,” said Vancoughnett.

The second he put the truck in drive and started to move forward, a police officer pulled him over.

He was handed a $368 ticket for use of electronic device and four demerit points for $176.

The incident took place back in February 2016 and he went to fight the ticket on Wednesday but quickly found out he was in the wrong.

“I thought for sure this was bull because I was on private property, it’s owned by Husky but it turns out when the judge explained it to me… if there is not a fence going all the way around with a gate it is considered public domain,” he said.

"If I did everything I did and was sitting around a fence and gate I wouldn’t have gotten a ticket."

The judge told Vancoughnett to personally spread the word because many people don’t know this and that the same ticket could be applied to a driver parked in a shopping mall parking lot.

“It was my intent to fight it, I never used my phone. I moved it from my body to the floor but you’re not allowed to touch it and you can’t do it in public domain,” he said.

Vancoughnett said he could understand if he was using his phone but all he did was put it out of reach while in park, before driving away.

“I do this for a living. I am a professional driver. I need my licence,” he said.

“If I would have known even just sitting there you are not allowed to have your vehicle running and move your phone… I wouldn’t have done it.”

Vancoughnett puts over 20,000 kilometres on his truck a month and said he sees people texting and driving all the time.

“I see it all the time, would I partake in it. Not a chance on your life.”

He said the only thing he is complaining about is that he didn’t know it and asked "did you know?"

Councillor admonishes staff

West Kelowna staff were tasked to take over a proposed soccer dome in the city.

Coun. Duane Ophus provided much of the tongue-lashing over the pace of negotiations, of lack therein, with the Westside Youth Soccer Association.

The proposal to build an inflatable, indoor soccer dome similar to one near the Capital News Complex in Kelowna, has been on the books for a year.

"I thought council made it quite clear months ago that we were really keen on this project and nothing has happened. From my perspective this project better be given some urgent attention," said Ophus.

He questioned staff on the progress of an agreement between the city and the association, and was told one had not been hammered out because the association was waiting for a site to be secured.

"We asked for the draft months ago,. How are we supposed to get to the point where we have something to work with when we don't do the basics of our job.

Let me be as clear as I possible can. I don't believe it was not possible to come up with an agreement with the soccer association in the last year, conditional on identification and approval of a site. We have been dragging our feet, and I want it to end."

He said either a deal gets done, or the city needs to move on.

"We have an organization that wants to give the community $650,000 and we can't make this happen. What is wrong with this picture," he concluded.

The city was finally able to secure a site in November next to the Rosewood Sports Field.

The soccer association has secured nearly $1 million for the project, which was initially estimated to cost about $1 million.

However, that cost has more than doubled to $2.5 million, something which concerns Mayor Doug Findlater.

The city has already committed to paying one-third of the original cost.

A decision on how to pay for the project, it is able to go ahead, will be made during budget deliberations in January.

Three options will be on the table, asking the association to cover the remaining $2.2 million, asking the association to commit to $200,000 a year over five years, or having the city pick up the additional cost themselves.


Taken to hospital after crash

One person has been taken to hospital after a two vehicle collision in West Kelowna.

Paramedics, firefighters and police arrived on scene at about 5:40 p.m. to Boucherie and Gellatly roads.

The driver of an SUV was taken to hospital but the extent of the injuries is not clear.

A single lane was open for alternating traffic.

Canada Post investigating

After dozens of packages have been stolen from mailboxes that were broken into across the Okanagan, Canada Post said they are investigating the incidents. 

Mailboxes in West Kelowna and Peachland were ransacked Friday early morning and it appears the thieves are still at it.

A mailbox on Shannon Place in West Kelowna was found opened on Wednesday afternoon with nothing inside.

“We take the security of the mail very seriously and do everything possible to keep it safe,” said Phil Legault, spokesperson for Canada Post. “Our efforts involve everything from equipment, to monitoring, to working closely with police.”

West Kelowna RCMP said they received a report of a suspicious male and vehicle observed on Friday that they believe was involved with breaking into community mailboxes in the area of Paramount Drive and Ryser Place.

A resident told police they saw a man near the mailboxes early Friday morning with a key.

Police said the male is believed to be in his 40s and was travelling a light blue 2000’s Volkswagen Passat.

When the man was spotted he reportedly “jumped into his vehicle and sped away from the area without his driving lights activated,” said Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey.

RCMP examined the mailboxes and found them undamaged with no signs of forced entry.

Investigators have canvassed the homes in the area for video surveillance.

On the same day, RCMP were contacted about another theft from mailboxes in the Trepanier Road area.

O’Donaghey added that on Tuesday evening a concerned resident reported a suspicious vehicle full of parcels near a mailbox in the Shannon Woods Drive area.

“RCMP conducted queries of the vehicle and were able to confirm with Canada Post that the registered owner of the vehicle was a sub contractor delivering packages in the area,” said O’Donaghey.

Legault said Canada Post cannot comment on specific incidents as they are currently in the middle of an investigation but asked that anyone who witnessed suspicious activity contact 1-800-267-1177.

Canada post also advises that customers can sign up for Flex Delivery, which allows people to pick up their parcels at post offices.

RCMP said they are continuing to investigate.

Wine trail roundabouts a go

It took a little hand-wringing from city council, but West Kelowna will move ahead with Phase 2 of its wine trail--roundabouts and all.

Council voted to put a tender out for the entire second phase of the project, which would see the trail extended about 1.5 kilometres along Boucherie Road, from Stuart Road to Ogden Road.

Along with upgrades like sidewalks, light poles and bike lanes, the trail brings with it a slew of road and infrastructure upgrades, including more than a kilometre of storm sewers and water mains, new fire hydrants, and a newly paved road.

Business owners have been singing the praises of the first phase of the project, but some residents have expressed their concern with the roundabouts that will come with Phase 2. The cost of the next phase has also gone up considerably since it was first planned.

For more on what's behind the $2 million price increase, as well as why some members of council voted against the project, check out the full story on Castanet's sister business news website, Okanagan Edge.

Vehicle slams building

No one was injured after a vehicle smashed through a vacant building on the Westside Wednesday morning.

An older woman was behind the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz SUV when it slammed through the front of the building at the Okanagan Lake Shopping Centre just off Highway 97 near Westside Road.

The vehicle crashed through the front doors before coming to rest inside.

The building is vacant, but there is a Valley First Credit Union sign inside.

The driver of the vehicle was shaken after the incident.

The exact cause of the crash is not known.

– with files from Nich Johansen

Mail ransacked, gifts gone

Alanna Kelly

Several Canada Post mailboxes across the Okanagan have been broken into and dozens of Christmas presents stolen.

Inside one of those mailboxes was a handmade stocking for a one-year-old’s first Christmas.

Tiera Bellerive, a West Kelowna resident, said the stocking was delivered last Thursday morning, but when she went to retrieve it, the mailbox in Tallus Ridge was completely empty.

She then found out that many other residents in the area were also missing their packages.

“I left for school to drive my kids that morning and I saw a bunch of garbage on the end of the driveway, so I went to go check it out,” said Thalia Dacosta, also a Tallus Ridge resident.

But what she found wasn’t garbage.

“I found 10 different people’s ripped-open mail packages,” she said.

A neighbour told Dacosta he saw people at the mailboxes with a key on Friday at 3 a.m. and when he approached them, they fled the scene.

“We are assuming it is a stolen key because they were able to take more than one person’s mail,” said Dacosta.

Packages stolen from Tallus Ridge ended up in front of a Peachland mailbox that was also broken into on Trepanier Road the same morning.

“There were packages everywhere,” said Leath Strench, a Peachland resident.

“There were Toyota car parts, a package from granny ripped open, homemade Christmas ornaments, cards, pictures and if there were any gift cards or any other valuable gifts…they are gone.”

Strench grabbed all the wreckage and took it to the Peachland Canada Post office when she realized the parcels were from West Kelowna.

“They must have broken into them there, and then someone is rifling through those packages as they are driving to the next spot,” she said. “There is nothing here from our addresses so I don’t know where our stuff has ended up.”

Canada Post had not commented on the incident by press time. 

RCMP said they are asking the public to remain vigilant  and pay extra attention to suspicious activities when it comes to community mailboxes, especially at this time of year.

“I know there were a lot of special gifts that were being delivered and now they are gone and it is very sad,” said Dacosta. 

B&E suspect named

West Kelowna RCMP have named a man they believe responsible for a brazen daytime break and enter at a residence in the Glenrosa neighbourhood which was interrupted by a local person.

On Dec. 4, shortly before 2:50 p.m., officers responded to a report of an interrupted residential break and enter at a home on the 3400 block of Turnbull Road in West Kelowna.

Police learned that the break and enter suspect produced a weapon when confronted by a local area resident. The suspect, who did not physically injure the man, fled the area on foot.

“Police have now positively identified their suspect as 32-year-old Dale Christopher MacPherson of Peachland,” said Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey, Kelowna Regional RCMP spokesperson.

Several warrants have been issued for MacPherson on possible charges of robbery, break and enter, assault with a weapon, pointing a firearm and use of a firearm to commit an indictable offence.

“Dale MacPherson is believed to be operating a white 2006 Mazda 3 hatchback with a dark grey coloured hood,” said O’Donaghey. “If spotted, the public is cautioned not to approach him and urged to contact their local police immediately, as MacPherson has a history of violence and should be considered as potentially armed and dangerous.”

Anyone with any information on the current whereabouts of MacPherson is asked to contact their local police or the West Kelowna RCMP at 250-768-2880. To remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477, leave a tip online at www.crimestoppers.net or by text your tip to CRIMES (274637) ktown.

More charges for standoff

The man accused of running over a woman and repeatedly hitting her in the face is facing four more weapons-related charges in connection with a stolen gun he had at the time.

Michael Grant was arrested in West Kelowna on Nov. 5 after a standoff at the Barona Beach Resort.

Upon his arrest, he was found with a .38 Special handgun, which police determined was one of 30 guns stolen from a collector in Saskatchewan.

At the time of his arrest, Grant was under two separate firearms prohibitions, stemming from convictions in 2008 and 2012.

The Crown has recently laid four more charges against Grant in connection to the weapon: possession of a prohibited handgun, possession of a firearm without a licence, possession of a firearm obtained through an offence and possession of a weapon for a purpose dangerous to the public peace.

These charges are in addition to the three charges originally laid against Grant stemming from the night before his arrest.

Grant allegedly drove his truck into a woman outside a West Kelowna home and proceeded to punch her in the head repeatedly as she lay on the ground.

The woman's nose was fractured as a result.

The identity of the woman is protected under a publication ban.

Grant faces charges of assault with a weapon, aggravated assault and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, in addition to the new weapons charges.

Grant remains in custody and will next appear in court on Dec. 21 to elect a jury or judge-alone trial. 

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