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Tax notices in the mail

They're not due for a month, but that hasn't stopped the District of West Kelowna from mailing out tax notices.

More than 14,000 notices are being mailed out this week to property owners within the municipality.

Property owners are reminded to claim the home owner grant and pay their taxes by the deadline of 4:30 p.m. Friday, July 3.

Payments can be made a number of ways, including:

  • Online or in person through most financial institutions
  • By mail to District of West Kelowna, 2760 Cameron Rd., West Kelowna, B.C. V1Z 2T6
  • In person, using cash, debit, cheque or money order (credit cards are not accepted) at Municipal Hall, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday, excluding holidays.

If paying in person, time saving tips include:

  • Ensuring the home owner grant application, found on the property tax notice, is completed in full and signed; or, claiming the grant in advance through online services at www.districtofwestkelowna.ca
  • If paying by cheque, fill it out in advance and make it payable to the District of West Kelowna, writing the roll number in the memo line
  • If paying by debit, ensuring in advance that the daily withdrawal limit on the bank account is enough to cover the amount owing.

Those who are unable to get to Municipal Hall during business hours may use the drop box located to the right of the main entrance. Non-cash payments should be stapled to completed forms and placed in a sealed envelope before being put in the drop box.

Taxes that are not paid by the close of business on July 3, including any unclaimed home owner grant amounts, are subject to a 10 per cent penalty.

Those unable to pay taxes in full can reduce the penalty by paying as much as possible and by claiming the home owner grant by July 3. Postmarks are not accepted as a proof of payment date.



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Water, sewer fees rising

West Kelowna homeowners will notice a significant increase to their water and sewer fees this year.

Council gave first two readings to its fees and charges amendment bylaw this week. As a result of significant cost pressures, fees will increase as follows:

  • lncrease of 20 per cent ($13.20 annually for a single-family home) to DWK sanitary sewer user fees effective as of April 1, 2015
  • lncrease of five per cent ($14.92 annually for a single-family home) to RDCO sanitary sewer user fees effective as of April 1, 2015
  • lncrease of 15 per cent to DWK water, consumption and maintenance fees effective July 1, 2015.

The Increase in cost to a resident in a single-family home is estimated as follows for each water system:

  • $70 in Westbank water system
  • $45 in Pritchard/West Kelowna Estates/Sunnyside water system
  • $52 in Lakeview water system

Combining the sewer and water rate increases, an average homeowner will see an annual increase of between $73 and $98 to their utility bill.

Sewer rates are recommended to be effective immediately. Water rates are recommended to take effect on July 1 to allow users to adjust consumption.

A comprehensive water rate study will be completed this fall that will present more specific recommendations to water rate increases in the future with some variations between water systems to reflect varying infrastructure requirements.

However, staff identified that an increase in user fees for both water and sewer utilities is required to deal with immediate cost pressures. The district’s water utility master plan and sanitary sewer utility master plan each identify significant capital requirements in coming years.



Fire meets ice, for fun

West Kelowna firefighters will trade hoses for hockey sticks on Saturday.

Firefighters will lace up the skates as they face off against West Kelowna Warriors alumni in the Shutout Sports Challenge Cup.

They'll play for bragging rights – and the community.

“It’s great fun to come out and watch former players take on our local firefighting heroes, but the game is also an important fundraiser for the food bank,” says Warriors director of business operations Alex Draper.

Admission to the game is by donation, and fans are asked to bring a donation for the food bank.

The game starts at 6 p.m. at Royal LePage Place, with family events outside the arena beginning at 3 p.m.

“We want this to be a great family outing. This year, we have a bouncy house in the courtyard and other activities for the kids. We’ll also have former Warriors alumnus and current Edmonton Oiler, Justin Schultz signing autographs by donation, from 4 to 5 p.m.,” adds Draper.

The fun game is part of a the Warriors' alumni weekend, which includes an alumni golf tournament at Two Eagles Golf Club on Friday.



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Assault now a murder

A West Kelowna man is facing a murder charge after the man he allegedly stabbed died from his wounds.

Originally charged with aggravated assault, charges against 50-year-old Jose Amestica have now been upgraded to second-degree murder.

The stabbing victim, 44-year-old Kevin McNally, died in hospital May 2 following the attack on Solar Road in West Kelowna on April 29.

Amestica's next court appearance is June 2.

RCMP Cpl. Joe Duncan says the investigation into the stabbing remains active.

Police urge anyone who may have witnessed the altercation between the two men to call West Kelowna RCMP at 250-768-2880.

Remain anonymous by calling CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477, leaving a tip online at www.crimestoppers.net or by texting your tip to CRIMES (274637) ktown.



Grass fire closes highway

A small grass fire on Drought Hill, between West Kelowna and Peachland, shut down Highway 97 Friday night.

Firefighters from both communities responded to the fire, about 9:45 p.m.

Motorists who were stuck in the lineup tell Castanet they were held up for about 45 minutes while RCMP closed the highway so fire crews could douse the flames, which were reportedly on both sides of the highway.

Few details are available on the fire at this time, or a cause of the fire.

We'll have more details as they become available.

Were you held up at the scene? Email your photos to [email protected]



Calming South Boucherie

Work on traffic calming measures for the South Boucherie area of West Kelowna is expected to begin in the next few weeks.

The project will include the installation of line markings, signage and decorative medians at key locations.

The construction project is the result of a 2013 traffic calming study for the South Boucherie area that involved the collection of speed and traffic data and public engagement.

Part of the project includes installation of decorative medians along portions of Gregory Road and Mission Hill Road. All roads are expected to remain open throughout construction, however motorists may experience temporary delays and detours.

Motorists are reminded to obey all traffic control signage and personnel during the construction.

The project was awarded to Arterra Construction at a cost of $88,972. It is expected to be complete by the end of June.



Truck strikes hydrant

UPDATE 10:50 A.M.

A BC Hydro worker on site says she heard a loud bang about 8 a.m. and when she looked out the window she saw water gushing into the air.

The District of West Kelowna was called in to shut off the water, while BC Hydro assisted with traffic as a portion of Stevens Road was reduced to alternating lanes.

Water did not appear to cause any damage to the BC Hydro office and the employee on site says she did not believe water leaked into the building.

Several cars in the BC Hydro parking lot were surrounded by ankle deep water as crews worked to disperse the water into a nearby ditch.


A truck and trailer sheared off a fire hydrant in West Kelowna Thursday morning, causing water to gush 20 feet in the air.

The accident occurred about 8 a.m. at the intersection of Stevens Road and Juliann Road, near the BC Hydro building.

The truck remained half in the quickly filling ditch, while crews worked to turn off the water.

The entire area and parking lot was flooded by the time the geyser was turned off, after 8:30 a.m.

The cause of the accident is unknown at this time however, witnesses on scene say the truck was cut off. Fire and police are on the scene.

Stevens Road was closed in both directions.

More details to come. 



Westside shooter in court

A man found guilty of taking part in an infamous 2012 police chase and shooting on Westside Road is now facing a dangerous offender assessment.

In February, Michael Edward Ellis, 41, was found guilty of 17 of 22 charges related to the incident, including pointing a firearm, committing a robbery using a restricted/prohibited firearm, knowingly possessing a firearm without a licence and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle.

He was found not guilty on five attempted murder charges.

Crown counsel wants Ellis labelled a dangerous offender.  If he is designated as such, he will spend an undetermined amount of time behind bars.

According to Crown spokesman Neil MacKenzie, Justice Ian Josephson put through the first step of the process on Tuesday by approving a court-ordered psychiatric assessment.

The in-custody assessment will be completed by a court-appointed psychiatrist to determine if Ellis is a danger to society.

If the recommendations is made, the case will go to a hearing and Ellis could remain in prison indefinitely.

He is expected back in court Aug 10, 2015. 

For more Castanet stories on this case, click here. 



Hospitalized in rollover

The Jaws of Life had to be used to free the driver from a car wreck on the Westside, late Tuesday.

The single-vehicle rollover occurred on the 2000 block of Campbell Road, near Casa Rio Road, about 10:20 p.m.

The car rolled into the ditch, and the male driver was taken to Kelowna General Hospital with undetermined injuries.

Fire, police, B.C. Ambulance and a tow truck responded to the incident.

Campbell Road was closed in both directions for about an hour while the scene was cleared.



Thieves go after food bank

Thieves made not one, but two attempts to gain entry into the West Kelowna Community Food Bank over the long weekend.

Food bank executive director Lenetta Parry, said she got a call about 8 p.m. Saturday night from the alarm company about a potential break in.

"I went to the food bank and police were already on scene. They notified me that there had been an attempted break and enter on the premises," said Parry.

"We worked with police to make sure no entry had been made and made sure the windows were secure. The premises were secured and I left about 9:30."

It appears the would be thieves had attempted to jimmy the door with no success.

Sometime later that evening or Sunday morning, they returned and tried again.

"I arrived at the food bank Sunday morning to find there had been further damage to the door. It appears the thieves tried to make their way back in a desperate attempt to get into the food bank.

"They didn't get in. Two attempts but no entry."

Parry said a possible motive for the attempted break in is not clear. She said the food bank doesn't keep cash or valuables on site.

"We do have a freezer on the side of the building which we keep stocked with bread and buns and muffins and sandwiches. We fill it daily," said Parry.

"There was an emergency phone number on the door so if people needed food over the long weekend they could simply call."

Parry said it's hard to know if this was a case of people wanting food or if it was just a random act of vandalism.

The attempted break in will set the food bank back about $1,000. Parry said a company was prepared to donate the work however, they were not able to do the work until the weekend.

Vandals also were able to get into the Salvation Army Thrift Store drop off site in West Kelowna and caused some damage.

Cause of that damage, if any, is not known.



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