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West Kelowna  

Bye bye, West Kelowna

After 18 years operating in West Kelowna, the Quality Greens Farm Market will close its doors for good.

The local grocery chain is known for its freshly made sandwiches and upscale selection of food and Okanagan products. 

Chris Holmes and Lisa Taylor-Holmes are the proprietors of the chain’s West Kelowna location. In a recent message to their customers, they said choosing to close was “very difficult” but ultimately the “right decision.”

The pair hinted at several reasons why they are closing, including in consideration of the “Quality Greens family and the overall health of the group of stores.”

While the chain's West Kelowna location will shut down April 27, the T-Bone's Meat Market attached to it will remain open. The four other Quality Greens locations will also remain operating "business as usual."

For more information on the closure, including the role the owners say government taxes are playing, check out the full story on Castanet's sister business news website, Okanagan Edge.





Fatal rollover on Connector

A single vehicle rollover on the Okanagan Connector Saturday morning has claimed a life. 

About 6:50 a.m., paramedics and RCMP responded from West Kelowna to the crash near Pennask Summit.

Police say the driver of the grey Toyota 4-Runner was eastbound when he lost control, left the roadway and  rolled the vehicle onto its roof.

“The driver of the Toyota SUV, a 63-year-old White Rock man, was fatally injured in the crash and was sadly pronounced deceased at the scene,” says RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey.

He was the only person in the vehicle. 

“Icy road conditions may have played a role in this crash,” O’Donaghey added.

If you witnessed the crash, contact West Kelowna RCMP at 250-768-2880.



Let there be light!

Let there be light ... and there was. And baseball players proclaimed, it was good.

New lights were officially turned on at the Lower Boucherie and Rosewood Sports Fields on Saturday night.

Canada 150 funding and City of West Kelowna funding paid for the $1-million project. The federal funding paid for about one-third of the project.

Minor baseball, football and soccer clubs in West Kelowna had been requesting the addition of lights to fields for several years. 

MP Dan Albas and Mayor Doug Findlater counted down to the illumination at the start of a West Kelowna Diamondbacks minor baseball game.

West Kelowna "had been saving for the improvements, but without the Government of Canada’s investment, several more years could have easily passed by before the city ... could have come up with the funding to install the lights," said Findlater.





Local history hits big screen

One of the Okanagan's most interesting stories is hitting the big screen. 

If Eddy Haymour had gotten his way, Rattlesnake Island, located across Okanagan Lake from Peachland, would be a Middle Eastern theme park today, complete with a giant camel ice-cream parlour, a large pyramid, submarine rides, mini golf and pony rides.

Instead, the pyramid's foundation and remnants of the mini golf course serve as the only remnants of Haymour's dream, and the island is now part of Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park.

Haymour, who had emigrated from Lebanon in 1955, purchased the island in 1971, and got to work building his dream.

Despite there being no regulations governing construction on the private island, Haymour came upon opposition to his plans from Okanagan residents, which culminated in the province “improperly using its power to stop the development,” according to a BC Supreme Court decision in Haymour's favour that came many years later.

Before his court win, which saw him awarded more than $100,000, his 15-year battle with the government led to the break-up of his marriage, a court-ordered stay at Riverview mental health facility, a return to Lebanon where he held the Canadian embassy hostage for several hours in protest, and finally, his return to Canada where he built a castle in Peachland.

There's enough twists and turns in the Haymour story for a very compelling documentary, and that's what Artaban Productions' Greg Crompton and Tony Cerciello, director and producer of the film respectively, intend to do.

Crompton grew up in Kelowna, and his father actually visited Rattlesnake Island with Haymour in the 1970s.

Vancouver-based Artaban Productions produced a short documentary about the Haymour story a little over a year ago as part of their Vancouver Was Awesome series.

“The story's so much bigger than the five minutes we did,” Crompton said. “Eddy's been trying to get it told a lot, but for a variety of reasons it hasn't happened."

Artaban received funding from Telus Optik last summer, kicking the production “into high gear.”

Crompton and Cerciello have since interviewed the 87-year-old Haymour, who now lives in Edmonton.

“We've gone out there to interview with him, we've brought him out to B.C., we took him to Rattlesnake Island for the first time he's been there since the seventies,” Cerciello said.

“He was excited but then he said himself that it was sad because it was something that was taken from him unfairly.”

Crompton and Cerciello are now looking for old footage for their film.

“We're on the hunt for as much sort of news coverage or any sort of video footage that people might still have related to the events,” Cerciello said.

“We'd love coverage of when he took the Canadian embassy hostage in Lebanon and some of the coverage of when he returned and potentially coverage of his court case.”

Anyone who has old footage of Haymour can reach out to Cerciello by email at [email protected]

The pair hope to screen their completed film at several major festivals, including Vancouver International Film Festival, Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival and Sundance Film Festival.



Rollover on the Connector

Despite warm and sunny weather at the Valley bottom, icy conditions persist on the surrounding mountain passes.

Emergency crews responded to a single-vehicle rollover on the Okanagan Connector Saturday morning, where temperatures are hovering around 0 C. 

A silver Toyota 4Runner ended up on its roof on the mountain highway, but it's unclear what caused the crash.

The West Kelowna Fire Department responded to the crash, along with the RCMP.

The condition of the person or people inside the 4Runner is unknown at this time.



Relocating transfer station

The City of West Kelowna will ask the regional district for some guidance in finding a new home for its regional transfer station.

The transfer station, which accepts standard household garbage, some recyclables and select yard waste, is located at the site of the former city dump on Asquith Road, surrounded by several residential neighbourhoods.

At last week's council meeting, Coun. Rick deJong put forth a notice of motion concerning moving the transfer station away from its current location.

The motion, requesting the Regional District of Central Okanagan to undertake a business case to investigate moving the transfer station to the industrial area of West Kelowna, was tabled Tuesday evening.

It was supported unanimously.

"It would be my hope the regional district would look at this," said deJong.

Everything at the transfer station is eventually trucked to the City of Kelowna, and deJong says moving the facility to the industrial area could afford the city the opportunity for limited process of glass or bottles, potentially reducing the cost of transporting.

Coun. Duane Ophus was more straightforward in his desire for a "better, and more convenient location."

"We made a commitment to move this transfer station out of a residential neighbourhood at the earliest date possible," he said.

"It's been years and year and years. We need to get on with it. The study should be on how we accomplish relocation of the transfer station to the industrial area or a better location."

He said a better location needs to be found as soon as possible.

Coun. Rosalind Neis suggested the gravel pit on Westlake Road, however, Mayor Doug Findlater reminded council the City of Kelowna, which uses the gravel pit, pays West Kelowna about $70,000 a year in property taxes for that site.

The West Kelowna landfill was converted to a transfer station in 2010.



Flood prep on Gellatly Rd

Flood preparations are underway in earnest in West Kelowna.

The city has begun installing bladder dams along the west side of Gellatly Road, between the Cove Lakeside Resort and the bridge crossing Powers Creek.

The bladder dam is a temporary measure, but will remain in place until the threat of creek flooding has passed.

Powers Creek has a history of flooding in that area. It was one of the first areas hit during last spring's floods.

Gellatly Road will remain open during installation, however, motorists may experience some delays. It's expected to take about two days to install the dam.

The city says the measure is one of several in place along Gellatly Road.

Rotary Trails Park is closed, and has been set up as a staging area for creek flood response equipment.

With conditions expected to be similar to last year, and record snowpacks on surrounding mountains, West Kelowna is monitoring the flood threat constantly.

Homeowners living along creeks can pick up sand and sandbags from the following locations:

  • Kinsmen Works Yard – 3170 Shannon Lake Road
  • Across the street from the Glenrosa Fire Station on Gates Road
  • Across the street from the Rose Valley Fire Station on Westlake Road
  • 4081 Hitchner Road – road end
  • Kinsmen Works Yard driveway
  • West Kelowna Yacht Club – 4111 Gellatly Road

Lakefront property owners are not being advised to put protective measures in place on their properties at this time.



Starting with clean pot slate

The City of West Kelowna is tightening its bylaws around the illegal sale of cannabis.

Council endorsed several bylaws Tuesday in an effort to start with a "clean slate" once federal legislation to legalize the production, sale and use of recreational cannabis is entered into law sometime in late summer or early fall.

The new bylaws, once they are given final reading, would prohibit the use of dispensaries to sell marijuana in West Kelowna, unless in the form of a "full-service pharmacy" under the Pharmacy Operations and Drug Scheduling Act.

"I read this as the intent is to start with a clean slate when legalization comes in," said Mayor Doug Findlater.

"Basically, this is to clean up the anomalies in zoning and business licensing, then at some point, open up the opportunity based on what council decides for both private enterprise and the provincial government to provide, presumably recreational marijuana."

City planner Nancy Henderson says the measures are just temporary.

Once more information comes down from the federal and provincial governments, she says staff will come back to council with several recommendations as to how to proceed.

She says council can then decide where retail sales can occur.

"Once this is all cleaned up and we have a clean slate to work with, I would like to see the availability on a very limited basis, of both recreational and medical marijuana in West Kelowna," added Findlater.

A public hearing on the latest changes will now be set up.



Prepping for the worst

Video taken May, 2017.

The City of West Kelowna will be installing bladder dams along Gellatly Road between the Cove Lakeside Resort and the bridge over Powers Creek.

The stretch of road is notorious for flooding. It was one of the first areas to experience severe flooding last spring.

Installation of the bladder dam will necessitate closing the road for about two days.

While it's a temporary installation, the dam will be in place until the threat of creek flooding has passed.

Rotary Trails Park has been designated a staging area for flood response equipment, and remains closed.

The city asks the public to stay away from all flood protection installations.

With similar conditions to a year ago and a larger-than-normal snowpack, the city is conducting flood prevention work and monitoring of the flood threat throughout the entire community.



Pharmacies only for pot?

The City of West Kelowna is looking to tighten its bylaws around the sale of marijuana.

A series of bylaw amendments will come before council today in anticipation of marijuana's legalization across the country later this year.

The new bylaws, if endorsed, would prohibit the use of dispensaries to sell marijuana in West Kelowna, unless in the form of a "full-service pharmacy" under the Pharmacy Operations and Drug Scheduling Act.

City staff indicated in a report that compassion clubs would also be prohibited "due to the tendencies for these operations to turn into full-fledged dispensaries over time."

One of the other changes would change the wording from marijuana to cannabis to reflect new federal language in the Cannabis Act.

The direction West Kelowna is taking is vastly different from that of Kelowna, where it is expected storefront dispensaries will be allowed to operate, with the possible exception of on Bernard Avenue and along South Pandosy.



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