West Kelowna  

Drug ring shut down

A large drug ring, allegedly operating out of West Kelowna, has been shut down by RCMP.

Following what police call a "significant" two-month investigation, RCMP say they gained enough information on the West Kelowna operation to indicate it had been supplying drug dealers and drug houses, primarily in Kelowna.

On Nov. 30, police raided two homes on Smid Road and Old Ferry Wharf Road. Six men and one woman, believed to be linked to the ring, were arrested.

Police also made the following seizures:

  • 1.32 kilograms of suspected fentanyl-laced heroin; 2.1 kilograms of suspected methamphetamine; 10 ounces of suspected cocaine; and other additional suspected drugs
  • In excess of $100,000 in Canadian currency
  • Unrestricted firearms
  • Thousands of dollars in suspected stolen property.

"RCMP have gathered intelligence which suggests that a significant amount of the illicit drugs that were being sold on the downtown streets of Kelowna, were being supplied directly by the West Kelowna drug operation," said Sgt. Alex Lynch, head of the Kelowna RCMP Street Enforcement Unit.

"It was the dedicated work by many of our officers, who utilized a number of investigative techniques available to them to bring this investigation to a successful conclusion."

Cpl. Jesse O'Donaghey says police believe the arrests will have a "notable effect" on the immediate availability of illicit drugs in the Central Okanagan.

"Police believe that this seizure represents at least 342,000 individual doses on the street."

Terry Weninger, 44, and Robert Colbon, 59, of West Kelowna, along with Darcy Lenko, 52, of Penticton, each appeared in court and have since been remanded into custody. Each has been formally charged with multiple counts of possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking.

Lance Wust, 42, of Kelowna has been charged with possession of a controlled substance. He was later released by the courts on strict conditions.

The remaining individuals arrested, a 52-year-old West Kelowna man, a 22-year-old Vernon man and an 18-year-old Kelowna woman were released from police custody. Each face potential charges and are expected to appear in court at a later date.

Green light for emergency

Fire departments throughout the Central Okanagan again have the ability to control traffic signal at intersections.

The emergency traffic pre-emption system was disabled earlier this year by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to fix a malfunction.

The system allows emergency vehicles to activate the system as they approach intersection, giving them a continuous green light as they head to emergencies.

“We are extremely pleased with the Ministry’s attention to see this important emergency response system fixed,” said West Kelowna Fire Chief Jason Brolund.

“Our vehicles can travel much faster with it in place and our emergency responders and the public are safer with the assurance that a green light will await us at intersections.”

The system was initially installed in 2007.

Lessons in false alarm

Firefighters in West Kelowna were up and at 'em early Thursday morning for a report of a fire.

They didn't find any sign of smoke or flames, but they did come away with some advice for others.

West Kelowna Fire Rescue was called out at about 5:20 a.m. for a report of a possible house fire on Old Okanagan Highway.

"The residents had been awakened by working smoke alarms, that had detected a very light smoke accumulation in the home," said WKFR assistant fire Chief Darren Lee.

"WKFR crews checked the home with thermal imaging cameras and four-gas detectors, to ensure that there was no hidden fire or other issues," he said.

"The source of the light smoke is believed to be an accumulation of dust in the home's forced-air natural gas furnace, that caused a malfunction."

Lee said the homeowner will have the furnace serviced and the assistant chief is asking others to do the same.

"With local temperatures dipping well below freezing, WKFR is reminding our customers to ensure that their heating appliances have been maintained in good working order by a professional HVAC contractor," he said.

He's also warning people that space heaters aren't designed to replace permanently installed heating appliances, citing a report that shows heating equipment fires accounted for 16 per cent of all reported home fires in 2009-2013 and 19 per cent of home fire deaths.

"Space heaters are the type of heating equipment most often involved in home heating fires," he said.


2 arrested in shooting

Two men remain in custody following a shooting incident in Glenrosa last Friday.

Police have not released the names of those involved, saying only they are 33 and 59 years old and both reside in West Kelowna.

Both remain in custody facing potential charges.

Police say they were called to a house on Granada Crescent during the noon hour last Friday for reports of a physical altercation involving a weapon. A man had been shot inside the home.

The victim was rushed from the scene to the BC Ambulance station in West Kelowna, then transported by ambulance to KGH.

After the incident, police raided the home with two search warrants.

They were able to retrieve evidence related to the shooting, along with evidence suggesting the home was being used in the trafficking of illicit drugs, possibly cocaine and GHB.

Deer causes hwy rollover

A driver swerving to avoid a deer on Highway 97 rolled his vehicle Tuesday.

Kelowna RCMP Cpl. Jesse O'Donaghey said the single-vehicle rollover happened at 4:30 p.m. near Hawkes Street in Peachland.

Traffic along the highway was disrupted as emergency crews dealt with the crash.

"Police have learned that the driver of the blue Buick Century swerved to avoid colliding with a deer, when he suddenly lost control, left the roadway and rolled onto its roof in the ditch," says O'Donaghey.  

"The driver, and lone occupant of the vehicle, was relatively uninjured. The vehicle sustained significant damage."

Arrest in stabbing case

One man is in custody following an alleged stabbing in Kelowna Sunday night.

RCMP confirm they responded to a stabbing incident believed to be in retaliation for an assault on a woman earlier that evening.

A resident of the area around Highway 97 and Elliott Road tells Castanet there was a large police presence in his back alley late Sunday.

The man said he went outside between 9 p.m. and 9:30 to get pellets for his wood stove when he heard someone jump over his fence and saw police in the alley.

They returned this morning and were searching the area.

He was told only that "a violent incident" had taken place.

The father said he fears for the safety of his children in what he called "not the greatest neighbourhood," with an abandoned strip mall and closed down gas station.

RCMP confirm one man is in custody. No charges have been approved at this time. Police do not believe there is any risk to the public.

Heroism among tragedy

North Westside fire crews fought to save three dogs trapped in a burning house on Sunday.

Firefighters tackled the fully-involved house blaze on Lester Road after a call came in around 6:30 a.m. yesterday.

“The first crew to arrive saw flames shooting out of the back of the house. They attacked the fire on the exterior,” said North Westside Fire Chief Jason Satterthwaite.

But when the two residents told arriving crews the family's pets were inside the house, the firefighters switched their tactics, concentrating on the interior of the house in an effort to save the animals.

“The search team was able to find all three dogs and bring them out,” Satterthwaite said. “There were two pugs and a mastiff.”

Two of the dogs were not breathing.

“We attempted CPR on the two but were not able to revive them.”

However, there were signs of life from one of the pugs.

“First responders actually gave her oxygen and we got her to a vet in West Kelowna,” Satterthwaite said. “She is doing quite well.”

The 15 firefighters were able to save the structure but it suffered serious damage and will likely be a write off, Satterthwaite said.

The fire chief praised his crews for their heroism in the face of a dangerous fire.

Valley restaurant in top 100

An Okanagan restaurant has made a list of the top 100 places to dine in Canada.

Online restaurant reservation company OpenTable has announced the 100 Best Restaurants in Canada for 2016 – as reflected in "the combined opinions of more than 480,000 restaurant reviews."

"It's clear that an elevated atmosphere, exceptional service, and most of all – delicious food, define the best restaurants in Canada," said OpenTable's Ziv Schierau.

The Old Vines Restaurant at Quails’ Gate in West Kelowna was listed among 24 B.C. restaurants that made the cut.

“We are extremely proud that our guests have rated us as one of Canada’s top restaurants once again,” said Quails’ Gate’s culinary director and winery chef Roger Sleiman. 

“Our team strives to provide exceptional food and wine experiences and are thrilled that our commitment to quality and service keeps them coming back again and again.” 

Chimney fire sparks warning

An early morning chimney fire has the West Kelowna Fire Department trying to smoke out safety issues.

The department sent 15 firefighters Monday morning to Cordova Way, off Boucherie Road, sparking a statement on winter safety.

"West Kelowna Fire Rescue is urging everyone to keep fire safety in mind as the temperatures turn colder," said the statement. 

"We often see more home fires during the winter months due to heating equipment and appliances. People need to pay close attention to potential fire hazards such as fireplaces, furnaces, chimneys and vents, and space heaters."

The fire department provided list of tips for homeowners.

  • Have all fuel-burning appliances inspected annually by a registered fuel contractor
  • Keep chimneys and intake/exhaust vents for furnaces and heating appliances free of debris, ice and snow accumulations to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide build-up from inefficient combustion.
  • Burn dry, well-seasoned wood in fireplaces and woodstoves to reduce the risk of excessive creosote build-up in chimneys.
  • Clean your wood burning chimneys prior to first use and when required. 
  • Keep space heaters at least one metre away from anything that can burn, including curtains, upholstery and clothing.
  • Replace worn or damaged electrical wires and connections on vehicles and extension cords and use the proper gauge extension cord for vehicle block heaters.
  • Ensure there is a working smoke alarm on every storey and outside all sleeping areas of your home.
  • Install CO alarms to alert you to the presence of this deadly gas.

Firefighters pitch in

West Kelowna firefighters will be going door to door this week to collect food items for this year's food drive.

The Okanagan Community Food Bank says holidays are a time of great need, and the thousands of non-perishable items collected by the West Kelowna Fire Rescue during the season can keep the shelves full through winter.

Firefighters will be collecting donations on the following two days:

Tuesday, December 6th, 6-9 pm

Wednesday, December 7th, 6-9 pm

People are being reminded to watch for firefighters in the neighbourhood collecting donations. Donations can also be dropped off at Fire Station #31 at 3651 Old Okanagan Highway or Fire Station 32 at 2708 Olalla Road at any time.

Last year's food drive brought in 12,000 pounds of food to help those in need.

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