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Valley film industry heating up

Business is booming in the Okanagan film industry, and another film will begin shooting in the Valley next week.

Unseen is an indie feature that has been shooting in Vancouver. The production will move up to West Kelowna and the North Westside for seven days, says Okanagan Film Commissioner Jon Summerland.

The film stars Aden Young (Rectify, Killer Elite, I Frankenstein); Julia Sarah Stone (Wet Bum, Vampire Dog, Sunday’s Child); Ben Cotton (Lawrence & Holloman, Battle Star Galactica: Blood & Chrome); Camille Sullivan (Shattered, Voodoo, TheTraveler); and Alison Araya (X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Watchman, Earthlickers).

Summerland says filming will take place at Gorman's Mill, a Westside gravel pit and gas station, along Westside Road and on Okanagan Indian Band land farther north on the Westside.

He described the film as an effects-based suspense-thriller in which the main protagonist slowly disappears, not unlike the 1930s cult classic The Invisible Man.

Unseen's executive producer is Ian Hay (Arctic Air, Daydream Nation, The Delicate Art of Parking), with producers Hans Dayal (I, Robot, TRON: Legacy, Watchman) and Katie Weekly (Dark Angel, Supernatural). 

Heaven's Door Pictures is the B.C.-based production company.

“The year is off to a good start," says Summerland. "We've been very, very busy and continue to be. We could be even busier if we could supply enough qualified labour."

Summerland says another full production is slated to come to the Valley Feb. 16, but he's not yet at liberty to reveal its name.

"They need snow on the higher elevation lakes for filming ... it could be at Beaver or Bear Lake, perhaps Echo Lake near Lumby."

Summerland says hiring has already begun for that production.

"I had 10 location link (scouting) requests in one day last week. Normally, I might get that many in a month. It's a good sign."

The Valley's film industry has gained some high-profile attention during the past year or so, with megastars George Clooney and Sir Anthony Hopkins filming in the North Okanagan.

Clooney's Tomorrowland and Hopkins' Go With Me, which also stars Julia Stiles, are both set for release in theatres this year.



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Suspect sought in stabbing

Police are searching for a suspect after a 62-year-old West Kelowna man was stabbed shortly before 3:30 p.m. last Sunday.
 
RCMP say they were called to a report of a stabbing at Sidney's Swap & Shop located at 2474 Main Street.

A lone, masked male suspect entered the shop and asked for change before demanding money.

Despite the suspect being given an undisclosed amount of cash, it is alleged that he produced a knife and stabbed a 62-year-old West Kelowna man.

The male suspect fled the scene on a bicycle and could not be located.
 
Although the suspect was wearing a mask, he is believed to be known to the staff as a homeless man living in the area. He is described as:

  • Caucasian male
  • 30-35 years
  • 5 ft 9 in (175 cm)
  • 154 lbs (70 kg)
  • Slim build
  • Last seen wearing a green hooded jacket

Anyone with any information regarding the identity of the suspect or his whereabouts is asked to contact the West Kelowna RCMP, Cpl. Podmoroff at 250-768-2880.

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.



West K wants input on booze policy

The community is being asked to weigh in on new rules that are in the works for events at District of West Kelowna properties and facilities where alcohol is served.

The Municipal Alcohol Policy (MAP) Survey is open until February 5 and can be found online.

Public input is a key piece of the policy, which has already been reviewed by stakeholders including facility user groups.

The District of West Kelowna is partnering with BC Healthy Communities to create a MAP that will promote responsible alcohol consumption at public and private events sanctioned by the District or held on District property. The policy will set out requirements and responsibilities for event organizers including:

  • Ensuring servers are at least 19 years old and have Serving It Right training
  • Creating a Safe Ride Home plan for guests and ensuring options are posted throughout the event venue
  • Refusing service to guests who’ve had too much to drink
  • Preventing minors from being served alcohol at events.

The policy’s rules will be applied to facilities and properties such as Royal LePage Place and Jim Lind Arena, Lakeview Heights Community Hall, Boucherie ball fields and Kinsmen and Memorial parks.

Community feedback will be used to gauge public sentiment regarding the draft policy. Any necessary tweaks will be made based on public input before the policy is presented to Mayor and Council in the spring for their feedback and consideration of adoption.



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Senior struck on Hwy 97

UPDATE 3:20 P.M. 

A elderly Williams Lake man suffered serious but non-life threatening injuries after he was struck Wednesday afternoon.

According to West Kelowna RCMP, on Jan. 21 at 3:24 p.m., officers responded to a pedestrian collision on Highway 97 at Daimler Road.

“According to witnesses, a 90-year-old man was attempting to cross the highway against a red light when he was struck by a southbound Hyundai, driven by a 50-year-old West Kelowna woman,” explains Const. Kris Clark. “The investigation suggests that the driver was proceeding on a green light in the right-hand lane when the collision occurred and was unable to see the man until it was too late.”

Clark says the elderly man suffered significant and serious non-life threatening injuries in the crash and was taken to hospital in stable condition.

No charges have been laid against the driver, nor are any anticipated and alcohol is not believed to be a factor in the crash.

Clark says pedestrians are reminded to always obey crosswalk signals for their own safety.


ORIGINAL 

Emergency personnel are at the scene of a collision between a pedestrian and a vehicle in West Kelowna this afternoon.

The incident occurred at Highway 97 and Daimler Road across from Constable Neil Bruce Middle School.

Witnesses who tended to the injured pedestrian say it was an elderly man who was struck.

One witness who tended to the man says he was struck on his right hip and thrown several feet, landing on his left side.

He was conscious when paramedics arrived.

The incident caused a long traffic snarl for commuters on the Westside.

Send pics, video to [email protected]



Lions Hall opens its doors

After more than a year behind construction fences, the Westbank Lions Hall is once again open to the public.

The iconic building on West Kelowna's Main Street was torched in September of 2013.

Kerry Robert Cooper was sentenced to 39 months in prison and ordered to pay $5,500 in restitution after he pled guilty to arson. He was sentenced in July.

Damage to the 85-year-old building was pegged at more than $1 million.

The hall sat empty for 15 months while contractors rebuilt what the fire destroyed.

Insurance paid for the basic renovations, however, other improvements to modernize the building and "enhance the building for public use" were also undertaken.

Some of those improvements included:

  • Replacement of flooring on main floor
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors throughout the building
  • Replace all main floor lights
  • New and improved washrooms on the main floor
  • Security system including cameras
  • Automated access ramp doors
  • Replacement of front-facing windows to give a constant appearance to the building
  • New computer for billboard sign on Main Street

The new Westbank Lions Hall has already hosted a few events, but will host its official grand reopening Feb. 21.

The evening will also serve as a fundraiser to help pay for some of those extra improvements not covered through insurance.

The evening includes dinner, music, a live auction, silent auction and special guests.

Tickets are $50 per person, which includes a $25 tax receipt. They are available at Home Hardware and from any Lions Club member.

The Lions Hall has hosted everything from weddings and concerts to dances and meetings.

The facility also served as West Kelowna's first municipal hall until renovations were complete to the current hall in the former Mount Boucherie Hall.



Hunters to rally at premier's office

Hunters will march to Premier Christy Clark’s West Kelowna office Jan. 31 to protest the reallocation of hunting permits in the province. 

They say the changes give a larger share of permits to guides and outfitters, and fewer permits to regular citizens.

The march and rally is organized by the Kelowna and District Fish and Game Club and Oceola Fish and Game Club. It's scheduled from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. It will start on Main Street at Old Okanagan Highway.

The clubs say in a press release that on Dec. 14, the “government gave foreign hunters, who are represented by guide-outfitters, 20-40 per cent of allocated wildlife. This decision is unprecedented in North America and is not good for British Columbians, resident hunters or wildlife. In most jurisdictions in North America, foreign hunters are allocated 5-10 per cent of harvestable wildlife. This means fewer opportunities for resident hunters.”

They would like Kelowna-Mission MLA Steve Thomson’s Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations to reconsider the changes. 

Organizers are asking march participants to hand deliver a letter to Clark’s MLA office, located at 2429 Dobbin Rd. There will also be a petition for hunters to sign, urging the new policy be reversed.



New exec for board of trade

The Greater Westside Board of Trade has installed a new board of directors.

Leading the business group for 2015 is chairman Norm LeCavalier of Silver Fox Business Strategies.
Vice-chair is Chris Cruz of AMC Tours & Delicious Donuts. The vice-president's role will be filled by Noreen Redman, finance and corporate services manager at Kelowna International Airport.
Gary Schlenker of Grant Thornton accountants is treasurer. Marek Buryska of Valley First Credit Union is past co-chair.

Directors at large include: Jesse Bernhardt of Pushor Mitchell, Aaron Dodsworth of White Kennedy, Holly Plante of Unveil Shuttles, Bill Raine of Coldwell Banker Horizon Realty, Elfriede Schmoll of Best Western Wine Country Hotel & Suites, Gene Stafford of Appleton Waste Services and Coun. Mic Werstuik of the Westbank First Nation. 

"We have an ambitious program again this year with our focus on tourism and transportation," says LeCavalier.

"It has become apparent that building relationships with communities outside of the Okanagan including Fort McMurray, Whitehorse, Cranbrook and most recently Trail, with the recent establishment of direct flights to these cities, is critical to increasing economic activity here in the Okanagan. The directors ... believe taking a leadership role and making the right connections with key people from these locations will drive our local economy forward and faster."

LeCavalier says 2014 tourism statistics for the Westside were very encouraging.

"There is room to grow, and it's time to take advantage of the rising American dollar," adds Cruz.



Grant funds Telemark accessibility

West Kelowna’s Telemark Nordic Club is on its way to becoming the only fully accessible Nordic skiing facility in the B.C. Interior.

The club has been awarded a $7,370 federal grant to help fund an upgrade to its lodge to bring it up to current accessibility standards. When complete, the entire facility will be wheelchair and sit-ski/sled accessible.

“We sometimes take for granted our good fortune to enjoy the Telemark facility and pursue our love of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing” said Ron Earle, the club’s general manager.

“We have such a beautiful facility. But the problem really struck home last February. We successfully hosted the B.C. championships, which became the largest cross-country ski race ever staged in Western Canada…  We were embarrassed when we realized the visiting para-Nordic athletes had to warm up and change in our machine shed because it was so difficult to access the upper lodge.”

RBC and the Kelowna Kiwanis Club have pledged financial and in-kind support for the balance of the $10,495 project.  

CRIS Adaptive Adventures helped prepare the grant proposal and will become regular users of the facility upgrades. 

“Many of the people we support would otherwise never be able to experience the great outdoors without grants that support programs like this at Telemark.  This is much more than a snowshoe or cross-country ski opportunity – it means improved overall health and improved quality of life for people with disabilities,” said Dawn Widdifield, executive director of CRIS. 

The facility upgrades will be completed by June.  Interim provisions are already in place to accommodate handicapped access for this season.



Chain-reaction slows commute

A four-vehicle crash slowed traffic this morning on Highway 97.

The crash occurred near Boucherie Road and Friends Pub, and saw traffic bound for Kelowna backed up as far as Bartley Road.

Police on scene say three people were taken to hospital with what are believed to be minor injuries.

An inattentive driver is being blamed for rear-ending a vehicle, which led to the chain-reaction crash.

The incident closed one northbound lane, but the other is still open to traffic. 

Tow trucks have now begun to move the damaged vehicles.



Changing from district to city

West Kelowna has begun the process of changing its designation from district to city.

Council Tuesday agreed to begin the process of seeking provincial government approval by first getting the go-ahead from its own citizens.

That will come in the form of an Alternative Approval Process request.

A question will be crafted and presented to council. Once the question is approved it would be posed to the electorate who would have 30 days in which to register a negative response to the question.

If less than 10 per cent of eligible voters disagree with the notion of becoming a city the district would then contact the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development with their request.

The entire process could take up to nine months to complete if the voters say yes.

The idea first came to light in September of last year when Minister Coralee Oakes indicated the province would be willing to consider the reclassification.

Voters on the westside initially voted yes to become a stand-alone municipality in June of 2007.

The province gave the community the name Westside District Municipality a month later before the electorate voted for West Kelowna a year later.

 

 



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