West Kelowna  

Smoke at care home

Emergency crews in West Kelowna responded Friday night to Brookhaven Care Centre after reports there was smoke in a room.

The call came in at about 10:30 p.m.

Numerous police, ambulance and fire crews arrived at the Interior Health facility on Shannon Lake Road.

IH did not respond Saturday morning to requests for comment.

Castanet will update if more details become available.

Repairs begin on landslide

Madison Erhardt

Neighbours are happy to see that work has begun on repairs to a landslide that took out half a residential street in Peachland.

But, some say the slide could have been avoided. 

Laurel Watt says: "It has run down the side of the road since last summer, and as far as we know, nobody had any plans to look at it. I think that could have saved a lot of money and time if they had made some plans." 

The landslide happened Jan 6., when tons of debris came down from Renfrew Road, covering part of Highway 97 and collapsing part of the road above.

Construction workers have begun gathering large rocks along the highway to shore up the slope.

Watt says she is happy to see work starting, but says it needs to happen as soon as possible. 

"It's nice that they are working on it. What really bothers us is our poor neighbours are pretty much stuck, and they have been stuck ever since it happened. This is a neighbourhood of older people, and if somebody had an emergency, could they get them? It poses a serious danger, and I don't think it's done falling yet," she said.

The District of Peachland has estimated the cost to repair the slope and Renfrew Road at about $1 million.

It should take five weeks to fix. 

Medical building approved

West Kelowna council has given approval for a new downtown medical complex.

The three-storey building is situated at the corner of Dobbin Road and Old Okanagan Highway.

Five dilapidated buildings were recently removed from the property to make way for the development.

The development is expected to consist of general retail on the lower level, a pharmacy and medical clinic of the ground floor and six office spaces on the second floor.

Although the property fronts onto Old Okanagan Highway and Dobbin Road, the site will be accessed via development of the public laneway to the immediate south of the property.

Multiple-vehicle collision

No injuries were reported after a multiple-vehicle collision on Wednesday.

Police arrived on scene at Highway 97 and Daimler Drive around 5:30 p.m.

Roads are expected to re-open shortly and there is a detour route to Daimler Drive.

Warriors denied recognition

City of West Kelowna vehicles will not be emblazoned with stickers recognizing the West Kelowna Warriors RBC Cup championship.

The request, made by local business people hoping to keep the team in the city, was shot down 3-2 by council Tuesday.

"I actually really wrestled with this, because I like the Westside (sic) Warriors, and I don't want to see them leave town... but for me, it came down to our legal opinion and advertising," said Coun. Rick de Jong.

"The report kind of shoots itself in the foot in that it's saying this private business wants to do this in an effort to increase their fan base, a.k.a. sell more tickets. That to me is advertising... so, unfortunately, I can't support it."

De Jong said he is in favour of other creative ways of trying to keep the team in West Kelowna, but feels if they do it for one business, they have to do it for others.

"There's a fine line between expressing pride and advertising. This is a business," said Coun. Carol Zanon.

Mayor Doug Findlater said he recently met with people trying to keep the team in the city. He said they are developing a new business plan and said the signage would help add community spirit to attract new fans.

He added the group estimates the economic impact of the team on the city is about $4 million.

The city has already spent about $1,200 commemorating the championship run on each of the Welcome to West Kelowna signs, and Coun. Rosalind Neis felt another $2,000 was money the city didn't need to spend.

Warriors owner Mark Cheyne has an offer to sell the team to a businessman in Delta. The team would be moved to the Sungod Arena in North Delta.

The Warriors have lost in the neighbourhood of $300,000 over each of the past several years.

Seeking help to evict rats

West Kelowna council is fed up with the rat problem in the city.

And, they are looking for help from the provincial government.

Council passed a resolution Tuesday which will go before the Southern Interior Local Government Association.

The resolution reads:

WHEREAS in recent years, the Province of BC has seen an increase in the population and distribution of rats for which no provincial strategy exists;

AND WHEREAS rat infestations lead to damage to buildings, electrical wiring and stored food supplies and rats carry diseases that could be transmitted to humans;

THEREFORE BE lT RESOLVED that the Union of BC Municipalities lobby the Ministry of Environment to develop and fund a strategy to reduce and/or control the rat population in B.C.

The idea of bringing a resolution to SILGA was first brought last July when the city was forced to spend $35,000 on emergency repairs in one of its portables, after the stench of dead rats in the walls forced finance department employees to evacuate the premises.

The rat population in the Okanagan exploded about five years ago.

Municipalities have continuously said rat problems on private property are the responsibility of the property owner, not the municipality.

Seeds of pot discussion

West Kelowna council has given first reading to a zoning bylaw amendment that it hopes will begin a discussion around marijuana production in the community.

The changes further regulate and provide clarity for commercial medical marijuana facilities, ensuring the commercial production, processing, storage and distribution falls within a single definition.

Amendments exclude the growing of marijuana in greenhouses and nurseries, and require air filtration and security measures for commercial production facilities.

Proposed changes will now be circulated among many agencies within the city, including the RCMP, Interior Health and the Board of Trade before coming back for second reading and a public hearing.

"I recognize the need and the place for medical marijuana and support that, but I believe it is important as a municipality that we follow the provincial and federal legislation in this regard," said Coun. Rick de Jong.

"I'm hesitant to get too carried away with what the new federal legislation might, or might not look like. We'll know in due course."

As for public discussion, Mayor Doug Findlater is pleased that will be part of the process.

"I think we will get varied points of view just as there are some various points of view on our council," said Findlater.

"I think we have to come to grips with the current problem, and it may change, but right now, we've had a very clear statement from the RCMP. It's illegal. There is no tolerance, and we're tolerating it. I'm pleased to work with the RCMP on this."

While council waits for the bylaw to return to the table, Coun. Duane Ophus has a message for the federal government: show some leadership.

"This issue is costing our municipality, and probably every other municipality across Canada, a lot of money – a very significant amount of money.

"Our friends in the federal government, and their lack of leadership on this whole subject is really disconcerting. I think we need to hear from everybody... get your act together and decide how to proceed and show some leadership on this subject."

The feds are expected to announce measures soon that would legalize marijuana.

Bus driver 'cold-cocked'

UPDATE: 9:45 a.m.

A driver who was attacked while behind the wheel of a BC Transit bus acted heroically, says the local union president.

"I'm stunned," said Scott Lovell, president the the Amalgamated Transit Union 1722.

He said the Highway 97 Express bus was moving when the female driver was "cold-cocked" in the head. The passenger then climbed over her and out the window.

"I'm so proud of the operator that she was able to safely pull the bus over after she got punched in the head. Can you imagine if she had been knocked out and that 20-ton bus went flying into another vehicle – can you imagine what would have happened?"

He said the attack happened because the bus driver tried to ensure the passenger had a valid pass or transfer. Lovell said a bus shield would have prevented the assault from happening.

Instead, surveillance cameras have been installed on transit buses, which Lovell said is not a deterrent.

"We still don't have any bus shields. We were promised that back in September," he said.

The assault is particularly upsetting, coming in the wake of the fatal stabbing of a bus driver by a passenger in Winnipeg this week.

ORIGINAL: 9:20 a.m.

A transit driver was sucker punched in the head by an angry passenger on Family Day.

"The bus operator did not require any medical treatment at the scene for the injuries she sustained, which are considered to be relatively minor in nature," says RCMP Cpl. Jesse O'Donaghey.  

Police say the assault happened at about at about 12:30 p.m while the bus was stopped at the Highway 97 South and Hudson Road bus exchange.

"Investigators will be conducting a review of the bus' on board video surveillance cameras for any evidence to further their ongoing investigation," said Cpl. Jesse O'Donaghey. 

Police say the suspect is described as a young aboriginal male, with dark hair and poor complexion. He was wearing a dark hoodie, shorts and white runners. He was carrying a large backpack.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the West Kelowna RCMP at 250-768-2800 or remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

Coyotes killing dogs

A West Kelowna woman says coyotes have been attacking and killing dogs in her neighbourhood at an alarming rate during the past few weeks.

Dawn, who lives in the Bayview area behind the Walmart in West Kelowna, says she's heard coyotes taking dogs in her neighbourhood the past few weeks.

Early Tuesday, she was walking her dog at 2 a.m when she says she heard what sounded like two dogs being killed within five minutes of each other.

“It was absolutely horrific,” she said.

She first heard what sounded like a dog being killed a few weeks ago, also in the morning.

Then, last week, a neighbour heard barking outside.

“She went outside and looked, and (a coyote) was carrying away a dog,” Dawn said.

She says the woman managed to scare off the coyotes, but the dog died on the way to the vet.

Dawn is warning those in the area to keep their animals inside.

“If we stop their food source, hopefully they'll stop coming in,” she said.

The Conservation Officer Service was unable to comment on the issue by publication.

Majestic Canadian sight

Elizabeth Shepherd recently came across a majestic Canadian sight.

And she captured it on camera.

She was at the Telemark snowshoe trail, located up Glenrosa Road in West Kelowna, when she saw a moose and its calf meandering through the quiet, pristine ponderosa and cedar forests.

Moose call the Okanagan home, but they are not as common in the Valley as they are in other parts of B.C., according to the provincial environment ministry.

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