West Kelowna  

Multiple homes robbed

Alanna Kelly

UPDATE: 3:40 p.m.

A suspect wanted Canada-wide was nabbed in West Kelowna, Monday.

Police were called to a home on the 2800 block of Scharf Road for a break and enter in progress just before 9:30 a.m. The suspect is believed to have committed additional break-ins in the area.

Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey says calls from the public led officers to their suspect.

“When confronted, the suspect fled from police on foot. After a long trek through difficult terrain, he was taken into police custody by general duty officers with the support of Kelowna RCMP Police Dog Services.”

The 31-year-old West Kelowna man was also wanted on Canada-wide warrants. He remains in custody. 

ORIGINAL: 1:50 p.m.

Multiple homes in the Glenrosa area of West Kelowna were broken into Monday.

Residents quickly spread the news on two community Facebook pages, Glenrosa Community Shop, & Talk! and Westbank Shop N’ Swap.

It appears a man dressed in a hoodie and black hat broke into at least three homes about 1 p.m.

One person posted that the man stole a six-inch knife from his home and believed the suspect was armed.

“Just reported him to 911, he was sitting in my neighbour's yard just minutes ago,” said one person about 1 p.m.

RCMP have yet to comment on the incidents, but there are reports a man was arrested from the area with the aide of a dog team.

Castanet is heading to the scene and will update with more information.


Layoffs hit Gorman's mill

A lagging supply has led West Kelowna’s Gorman Bros. Lumber to lay off at least 20 employees.

Nick Arkle, Gorman’s co-CEO, says the mill has cut down its third shift over the past few weeks as it adjusts to a dwindling supply of logs left over from the mountain pine beetle’s massacre of B.C. forests.

Lumber mills have been gobbling up dead pine beetle trees for years, but Arkle says mills are adjusting as they begin to work through all the extra inventory.

At Gorman's, those adjustments have meant significant layoffs to the standby shift.

For more on the layoffs, including why Arkle says it would be "unfair" to keep the employees around, check out the full story on Castanet's sister business news website, Okanagan Edge.

Flatdeck, car collide

Drivers are urged to beware slippery conditions this morning.

A sedan collided with a commercial flatdeck truck in West Kelowna at the intersection of Ross Road and Applegreen Court/Hewl Road.

Firefighters attended the scene, but luckily there were no injuries.

The smaller vehicle sustained heavy front-end damage in the collision.


Swapping pucks for rings

The West Kelowna Warriors will ditch their curved sticks and puck for straight sticks and a ring.

The BCHL hockey team will get a chance to show off its ringette skills in the annual Battle of the Blades Sunday afternoon at Royal LePage Place.

They will face off against a Kelowna Ringette all-star team of women 18 and over.

The friendly game first began in 2013, however, the stakes were raised a year later when the Shutout Sports Cup was introduced.

Admission is $2 with all proceeds going to the SPCA.

Face off is at 3 p.m.

Water repairs completed

UPDATE: 4:45 p.m.

Repairs have been completed on a water pressure reducing station in the Casa Loma Area of West Kelowna.

Lakeview Heights and Casa Loma Residents may experience discolouration in their water for the next few hours due to the pressure changes that have occurred within the system throughout the day.

In the meantime, residents should run the cold tap until it runs clear.

ORIGINAL: 1 p.m.

Emergency water system repairs are underway in the Casa Loma area of West Kelowna.

City crews are repairing a mechanical failure impacting a water pressure reducing station.

Residents on public water service may have experienced high water pressure, but crews have been able to control the pressure to an appropriate level.

This mechanical failure does not affect users of the private water system in the Casa Loma area.

The work is expected to be complete today.

Biggest development ever

West Kelowna city council took tentative first steps this week toward approving what would be the biggest development the city has ever seen.

With Couns. Rosalind Neis and Bryden Winsby absent from the Tuesday meeting, city council gave first reading to a bylaw that would rezone a portion of agricultural land to tourist/commercial.

It was the first step towards making possible a major development on a seven-hectare Campbell Road property in the city’s Casa Loma neighbourhood.

Although the project is nowhere near final approval, developers have at this stage proposed a “comprehensively designed lakeside community” that would include approximately 216 apartments, 85 townhomes, 10 agri-tourism accommodations, a 180-room hotel, 241-slip boat launch, and the possibility of a 425-square-metre winery and restaurant.

The developers propose building as high as eight storeys to make that happen. Should they get their wish, it would be the tallest development in West Kelowna to date.

However, both council and city staff expressed significant concerns with the project, and it appears likely to go through significant changes before it's finished.

In a presentation to council, city staff said there is a “significant amount of work” that would have to be done before they are satisfied.

Because density on this scale was never envisioned for the Casa Loma neighbourhood the city’s Official Community Plan doesn’t really support it. Staff also raised concerns that the development “really ties” itself with agriculture lands, putting pressure on the city’s base of arable land.

Staff said that, while the development “has a lot going for it,” they would like to see its scale and height reduced to better fit the neighbourhood.

For more on the developer's side of the story and the mayor's first impressions, check out the full story on Castanet's sister business news website, Okanagan Edge.


Stewart ready to work

Less than a day after being returned to the legislature by voters in Kelowna West, Ben Stewart says he's ready to get to work.

Stewart reclaimed the seat for the BC Liberals Wednesday night, a seat left vacant after former premier Christy Clark stepped down in August.

He finished with better than 56 per cent of the vote, more than double that of runner-up Shelley Cook of the NDP.

Stewart now has to wait until the results are verified and made official by Elections BC, likely by Monday, before taking his seat in the legislature.

If the time line works, Stewart says he would be sworn in Tuesday morning and assume his seat in the legislature in time for the unveiling of the budget Tuesday afternoon.

Stewart says his first order of business, after getting settled in, is get to know his new caucus. He says he's met most of them, but has never worked with them.

He says they may know of him by reputation, but don't know him either.

Stewart previously represented the riding from 2009 and 2013, where he held four different ministerial portfolios. However, this will be the first time he has sat in opposition.

"(Party) renewal is an opportunity, but it could be a threat as well, as we saw with Bill Vander Zalm, who basically tore the Social Credit Party apart," said Stewart.

"I think it does feel like something new, because we get to reset the agenda. While we've done a lot of good things, I think we need to modernize and make certain we're relevant to British Columbians."

Stewart believes the NDP's throne speech earlier in the week includes some very expensive promises, but to pay for those, he says you need to balance it with a strong economy.

"I would say our government was always trying to do that, but maybe sometimes we needed to err more on the social side or infrastructure."

Voters elect Stewart

Alanna Kelly

UPDATE: 11:15 p.m.

Liberal Ben Stewart is now the MLA of Kelowna West, again.

Quails' Gate Estate Winery was packed with supporters and friends of Stewart who applauded and congratulated him on Wednesday night.

Stewart said he is humbled by the voters.

“I didn’t believe that we would have as strong of a showing as it is starting to indicating, I am thrilled by that and humbled by the voters and people who got out.”

He won Kelowna West with 7,692 votes, or just under 57 per cent of the ballots cast.

Stewart resigned his from his previous seat in 2013 after winning and allowing Clark to step in.

“I want to make sure there is more access to affordable housing,” said Stewart to the crowd. “if 9,000 new jobs are created then where are all these people going to live and stay?”

Stewart, who is also the founder of Quails' Gate Estate Winery, spoke how the government and Premier John Horgan has made B.C. an island.

“I think the premier really has to look serious at if he wants to be a trading province or be an island on its own,” he said. “We have to have free trade in Canada. That is one of the things I am working for.”

Preliminary numbers shows Stewart winning 7,692 votes. NDP’s Shelley Cook had 1,505, Green’s Robert Stupka with 826, BC Conservative’s Mark Thompson with 435 and Libertarian’s Kyle Geronazzo with 55.

Leader of BC Liberals Andrew Wilkinson FaceTimed Stewart to congratulate him during the evening. 

Premier John Horgan issued a statement, saying he knows Stewart "will represent the people of Kelowna West with integrity and compassion."

Horgan also congratulated Cook for running what he called a stellar campaign.

"Given Kelowna West is historically a BC Liberal seat, we knew we were facing an uphill battle," he said.

"I will be in there like the rest of the MLAs making certain that we hold them accountable for every dollar they are promising to spend," he said.

The victory means the Liberals now have 42 seats, one more than the governing New Democrats.

Stewart will be on air with Okanagan Oldies 103.9 Thursday morning. Tune in here.

– with files from The Canadian Press & Jon Manchester

UPDATE: 10:18 p.m.

Ben Stewart has won the Kelowna West byelection.

Preliminary numbers now all polling stations have reported.

Ben Stewart (BC Liberal): 7,692

Shelley Cook (NDP): 3,197

Robert Stupka (Green): 1,727

Mark Thompson (BC Conservative): 898

Kyle Geronazzo (Libertarian): 110

UPDATE: 9:59 p.m.

Ben Stewart has won the Kelowna West byelection.

With 104 of 111 polling station results in, Stewart has retained the riding for the BC Liberals.

Ben Stewart (BC Liberal): 6,537

Shelley Cook (NDP): 2,801

Robert Stupka (Green): 1,580

Mark Thompson (BC Conservative): 792

Kyle Geronazzo (Libertarian): 100

UPDATE: 9:53 p.m.

Ben Stewart has won the Kelowna West byelection.

With 97 of 111 polling station results in, Stewart has retained the riding for the BC Liberals following the resignation of Christy Clark last summer.

Ben Stewart (BC Liberal): 5,690

Shelley Cook (NDP): 2,514

Robert Stupka (Green): 1,437

Mark Thompson (BC Conservative): 709

Kyle Geronazzo (Libertarian): 95

UPDATE: 9:48 p.m.

Ben Stewart has won the Kelowna West byelection.

With 93 of 111 polling station results in, Stewart has retained the riding for the BC Liberals following the resignation of Christy Clark last summer.

Ben Stewart (BC Liberal): 5,177

Shelley Cook (NDP): 2,356

Robert Stupka (Green): 1,362

Mark Thompson (BC Conservative): 659

Kyle Geronazzo (Libertarian): 88

UPDATE: 9:44 p.m.

Ben Stewart has built an insurmountable lead for the BC Liberals in the Kelowna West byelection.

With the latest results from 87 of 111 polling stations, Stewart has retained the riding for the BC Liberals following the resignation of Christy Clark last summer.

Ben Stewart (BC Liberal): 4,852

Shelley Cook (NDP): 2,231

Robert Stupka (Green): 1,273

Mark Thompson (BC Conservative): 631

Kyle Geronazzo (Libertarian): 83

UPDATE: 9:38 p.m.

Ben Stewart has won the Kelowna West by-election for the BC Liberals.

With the latest results from 78 polling stations, the result was not unexpected.

Ben Stewart (BC Liberal): 4,481

Shelley Cook (NDP): 2,044

Robert Stupka (Green): 1,100

Mark Thompson (BC Conservative): 598

Kyle Geronazzo (Libertarian): 72

UPDATE: 9:34 p.m.

Ben Stewart has built an insurmountable lead for the BC Liberals in Kelowna West.

With the latest results from 69 polling stations, Stewart is all but officially the riding's new MLA.

Ben Stewart (BC Liberal): 4,024

Shelley Cook (NDP): 1,835

Robert Stupka (Green): 982

Mark Thompson (BC Conservative): 543

Kyle Geronazzo (Libertarian): 69

UPDATE: 9:30 p.m.

Results from 59 polling stations are now in, and BC Liberal Ben Stewart is heading to victory in Kelowna West.

Ben Stewart (BC Liberal): 3,119

Shelley Cook (NDP): 1,505

Robert Stupka (Green): 826

Mark Thompson (BC Conservative): 435

Kyle Geronazzo (Libertarian): 55

UPDATE: 9:23 p.m.

With 52 of 111 polling stations are now in, Ben Stewart is heading to victory in Kelowna West.

Ben Stewart (BC Liberal): 2,805

Shelley Cook (NDP): 1,359

Robert Stupka (Green): 726

Mark Thompson (BC Conservative): 387

Kyle Geronazzo (Libertarian): 49

UPDATE: 9:18 p.m.

With 45 of 111 polling stations are now in, Ben Stewart is heading for what looks like another BC Liberal victory in Kelowna West.

Ben Stewart (BC Liberal): 2,220

Shelley Cook (NDP): 997

Robert Stupka (Green): 559

Mark Thompson (BC Conservative): 296

Kyle Geronazzo (Libertarian): 43

UPDATE: 9:14 p.m.

Thirty-six polling stations are now in, and Ben Stewart is heading for what looks like another BC Liberal victory in Kelowna West.

Ben Stewart (BC Liberal): 1,759

Shelley Cook (NDP): 804

Robert Stupka (Green): 444

Mark Thompson (BC Conservative): 231

Kyle Geronazzo (Libertarian): 30

UPDATE: 9:08 p.m.

With 29 polls in, BC Liberal Ben Stewart is maintaining a strong lead.

Ben Stewart (BC Liberal): 1,398

Shelley Cook (NDP): 679

Robert Stupka (Green): 358

Mark Thompson (BC Conservative): 194

Kyle Geronazzo (Libertarian): 27

UPDATE: 9 p.m.

BC Liberal Ben Stewart is maintaining about 55 per cent of the vote as results from 27 polling stations are now in.

Ben Stewart (BC Liberal): 1,205

Shelley Cook (NDP): 543

Robert Stupka (Green): 295

Mark Thompson (BC Conservative): 157

Kyle Geronazzo (Libertarian): 22

UPDATE: 8:58 p.m.

With 17 of 111 polling stations in, BC Liberal Ben Stewart is maintaining a healthy lead in the Kelowna West byelection.

Ben Stewart (BC Liberal): 700

Shelley Cook (NDP): 291

Robert Stupka (Green): 173

Mark Thompson (BC Conservative): 93

Kyle Geronazzo (Libertarian): 13

UPDATE: 8:55 p.m.

With 13 polling stations in, the BC Liberals' Ben Stewart has extended his lead.

Ben Stewart (BC Liberal): 500

Shelley Cook (NDP): 185

Robert Stupka (Green): 188

Mark Thompson (BC Conservative): 61

Kyle Geronazzo (Libertarian): 8

UPDATE: 8:50 p.m.

Ben Stewart has taken the early lead in the Kelowna West byelection.

With results in from six polls, Stewart has 56 per cent of the vote, to NDP challenger Shelley Cook's 21 per cent.

Ben Stewart (BC Liberal): 279

Shelley Cook (NDP): 105

Robert Stupka (Green): 85

Mark Thompson (BC Conservative): 25

Kyle Geronazzo (Libertarian): 4

ORIGINAL: 8:30 p.m.

A crowd is starting to build at Ben Stewart's Liberal headquarters as they await results in the Kelowna West by-election.

Stewart's election night headquarters is at his Quails' Gate Winery in West Kelowna.

About 20 people are hovering around waiting for numbers to roll in. Polls closed at 8 p.m.

Castanet's Alanna Kelly reports the mood in the room is calm and collected.

Stewart entered the room briefly, but did not speak to media and went back upstairs.

Supporters are sipping wine, awaiting word from the anticipated front-runner and former MLA.

Castanet will have more as results come in.

– with files from Alanna Kelly

Greens get 13% of vote

UPDATE 11:15 p.m.

Robert Stupka believes in the message the Green Party is delivering. He just doesn't feel enough people bothered to listen.

Stupka, making his first leap into the political ring, said voter apathy was the most disappointing part of the campaign for him.

"Last night (Tuesday) as I was canvassing still there were many people who were unclear of who they were voting for, and said they were going to do their research the night before," said Stupka.

"It was evident they not engaged with the campaign and what we were putting out there. That is really troubling to me in terms of our democracy, and the future of this region to be honest."

Only 13,624 votes were cast in the byelection, about half the votes cast in last May's provincial election.

"We joined this campaign to show Kelowna what leadership could look like for this riding. We tried to inspire them as much as we could, and we did everything we could to provide an alternative voice, which we feel is right for the times. "

Stupka said he is not a career politician, but said he would consider running again if the system were changed to a proportional representation system.

While the Green Party remained at about 13 per cent support, the small gathering at the party's campaign headquarters vowed to keep up the fight.

It was suggested the area apply to establish a riding association for Kelowna West, and consider working closely together with the other two Kelowna ridings in future election campaigns.

UPDATE: 10:18 p.m.

The BC Greens' Robert Stupka earned about 13 per cent of votes cast in Wednesday's Kelowna West byelection.

Preliminary numbers now all polling stations have reported.

Ben Stewart (BC Liberal): 7,692

Shelley Cook (NDP): 3,197

Robert Stupka (Green): 1,727

Mark Thompson (BC Conservative): 898

Kyle Geronazzo (Libertarian): 110

ORIGINAL: 8:10 p.m.

Green Party candidate Robert Stupka is cautiously optimistic as the polls close in Kelowna West.

Stupka said as of yesterday he'd heard there were a number of people who had not yet made a decision as to whom they would vote for.

He did indicate several traditional Liberal supporters have come over to the Green Party.

Stupka believes if the NDP can hold about 20 per cent of the vote and the Conservatives can attain another 10 per cent, the Greens can steal the seat away from the BC Liberals

NDP a distant second

UPDATE: 11 p.m.


That's how Kelowna West NDP riding association president Karen Abramsen described the results of Wednesday's byelection.

NDP candidate Shelley Cook ran a distant second to Liberal Ben Stewart, achieving less than 24 per cent of the total votes cast, a smaller percentage than last year's general election.

Many supporters at a post-election event at Riley's Pub believed the party would be able to do better than the 25 per cent from last May, and perhaps get close to the 30 per cent of popular vote during elections in 2009 and 2013.

"We thought we would do better because we're in government, but, we always live in the world of optimism in elections here in Kelowna," said Abramsen.

"We put up a hell of a good fight and Shelley was a tremendous candidate."

Abramsen said she was surprised the party's vote total did remain flat given the fact the party is now in power in the legislature.

However, she believes factoring in the Green Party votes did make a difference.

"The Green Party had a good campaign too. The difference is we both had excellent candidates, so, that's just the nature of the beast.

"That's why I think we have to look mat proportional representation. This first-past-the-post stuff just doesn't work."

UPDATE: 10:18 p.m.

The NDP's Shelley Cook garnered about 24 per cent of voters in Wednesday's Kelowna West byelection.

Preliminary numbers now all polling stations have reported.

Ben Stewart (BC Liberal): 7,692

Shelley Cook (NDP): 3,197

Robert Stupka (Green): 1,727

Mark Thompson (BC Conservative): 898

Kyle Geronazzo (Libertarian): 110

ORIGINAL: 8:40 p.m.

A small group of supporters is awaiting byelection results in Kelowna West at Shelley Cook's NDP camp.

Cook has yet to arrive at Riley's Pub.

There is cautious optimism in the room.

Supporters believe they will benefit from what people in the riding have seen an NDP government can do for them.

Castanet's Wayne Moore says they've been hearing positive feedback from people on the streets.

More updates to come as results roll in.

– with files from Wayne Moore

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