Filling the boot for charity

Members of Coldstream Fire Rescue will be giving motorists the boot today.

Volunteers with department will be conducting the annual Boot Drive from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Firefighters will be collecting donations at Kalamalka Road and College Way, and on Middleton Way near the District’s boundary.

They will be manning a 'road block' – which is actually just volunteers standing in the middle of the road holding out a firefighter's boot that people can put their donations in.

In previous years, money raised would go toward the fire department's Halloween fireworks show, but this year the money is destined for those impacted by the summer's wildfires.

Fire Chief Dave Sturgeon said the money will go to people in the 150 Mile House area, where some of the Coldstream firefighters served in recent weeks.

“We got to know the volunteers from that area. Some of them lost their homes while volunteering to help feed firefighters,” said Sturgeon.

Normally, the firefighters would be collecting donations in early October for the fireworks, but the Kalamalka Lake Pier on Kal Beach was damaged by the spring flood waters, and last month the District of Coldstream announced it would not re-open this year.

Sturgeon said the fire department could have made adjustments and held the fireworks show in a different location, but given the devastation so many people faced in the Cariboo region, it was decided to raise money for fire relief.


Train vs. car

UPDATE 7:45 p.m.

The train is moving and no longer blocking the roadway, according to a Castanet reader at the scene.

ORIGINAL 7:20 p.m.

A CN Rail train and passenger vehicle collided in Vernon on Friday evening.

A witness says the collision occurred around 6:10 p.m. at the 37 Ave. rail crossing. The now stopped train will be blocking the 37 Ave. and 39 Ave. until CN engineers can assess the damage.

The three occupants of the grey Ontario BMW were unharmed, said the witness.

Castanet News will update with more information as it becomes available.

Liberal MP pays a visit

The chairperson of the federal Liberal Party's Women's Caucus will be in Vernon next week.

Ottawa West-Nepean MP Anita Vandenbeld will be at Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery, Sunday, Aug. 27 from 5-6:30 p.m.

Vandenbeld is an international expert on democracy and human rights, who has spent more than 10 years upholding the democratic values of freedom, diversity and social equality, focused on parliamentary development, political parties and women’s political participation.

She will share her story and meet with attendees.

Although it is a free event, a $20 contribution is encouraged to help cover expenses.

For more information about this event or to RSVP, contact Monica Kriese at 250-833-6100 or email [email protected]


Needle found on beach

Crews taking down the Gabion wall along Sandy Beach made an unsettling discovery this week.

The boxes full of sand were placed along the Okanagan Lake shoreline on Okanagan Indian Band land as a flood prevention measure this spring.

But while crews were dismantling the wall they discovered a used hypodermic needle.

According to the OKIB, the needle was found “in the recreational area” of the beach and people are urged “to take necessary precautions” while in the area.

Work on removing the wall is expected to wrap up today.

Easing their stress

With the City of Vernon enacting a bylaw limiting the amount of time people can camp in Polson Park, there has been a lot of concern among the city's homeless.

One of those concerns is what will they do with all their possessions. To help ease their concerns, the Upper Room Mission has built several storage lockers where people can store their possessions.

“People who are living outside can access these sheds during the day to store all of their belongings,” said Lisa Anderson, co-executive director of the URM.

“We're trying to alleviate some stress for some people.”

Anderson said there has been a lot of concern among the homeless community about how the bylaw will impact them.

Homeless are allowed to camp in area parks from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m. City officials said the bylaw will be phased in and fines for violators will not be immediately issued.

“People's stress levels are high, cleaning out their belongings in the park and organizing their things, so this week has been a little bit challenging for everybody,” said Anderson, adding the sheds will be available during the URM's hours or operation.

The URM got the idea for the sheds from the Kelowna Gospel Mission. Originally, the idea was people could store their belongings if they had to go to an appointment or for other reasons, but with the new bylaw, the URM is making them available for day-long storage.

Going to the dogs

Polson Park may be going to the dogs, but that's a good thing.

City officials are looking into allowing leashed dogs in the downtown park.

And that is welcome news to dog owners who have spoken out on Facebook about allowing the four-legged friends into the city's main park.

There are dog parks in the North Okanagan, but those heading to Polson Park need to leave the pooch at home - for now anyway.

“Polson Park may be open to leashed dogs soon on a trial basis. Staff presented council with a number of options to attract people and increase the safety factor, and allowing leashed dogs on a trial basis was one of them,” Coun. Scott Anderson said.

“Council asked staff to further investigate the idea and bring back a more complete idea of what that would look like in the near future. I can't speak for the rest of council, but I am in favour of it and I suspect most of council is at least open to the idea.”

The possibility of allowing dogs into the park has sparked a lengthy online public debate.

One man posted he had just been kicked out of Polson Park with his dog, a post that stared the ongoing discussion.

“This is ridiculous, really! There was a 'no dogs' sign on the tennis court. Didn't see any signs for no dogs in the park...this needs to get changed,” he said.

One person posted, “When I moved to Vernon I was shocked at how unfriendly the town is towards dogs. In the Lower Mainland, you can bring dogs pretty much everywhere as long as they're on a leash. I don't understand why leashed dogs can't be walked in Polson Park.”

The other side of the debate has people decrying hounds in the park. Comments about people not cleaning up after their dog and concerns over unfriendly dogs were common.

“If people were more responsible with their dogs, ie. having them under control, leashed and not bringing aggressive dogs into a public area and picking up after them, this would never be an issue. As usual, a few stupid people ruin it for all,” said one person.

Mayor Akbal Mund said he is not concerned so much about dogs in the park as he is irresponsible owners.

“For some reason many owners feel it is not their responsibility to clean up after their dog,” said Mund, a dog owner himself. “We are hoping people will police themselves.”

Mund admits people not cleaning up after their dog and having Polson Park littered with dog poop is the main concern.

The other concern is people letting their dogs run free. If dogs are allowed in the park, they would have to be on a leash at all times.

And the city will take steps to enforce the rules of dogs are allowed.

“There will be extra bylaw (officers) in the park,” said Mund. “There will be enforcement. If your dog is off leash, you will be ticketed.”

All about pickleball

Pickleball is growing in popularity by leaps and bounds, and on Saturday people can learn everything they ever wanted to know about it.

The racquet sport combines elements of badminton, tennis and table tennis. Players use solid paddles to hit a perforated ball over the net.

Don Friesen of the Vernon Pickleball Association says the club is inviting everyone to an open house at Marshall Fields on Aug. 19, from 3 to 6 p.m.

The day will include music, activities, games, food, vendors, a silent auction, 50/50 draw, an exhibition game and more. Money raised from the event will be used to build more courts.

The club is looking to build 12 courts at Marshall Fields.

“It's a partnership between us and the city,” said Friesen. “It took us a couple of years to get an agreement.”

The city and the club will be splitting the $600,000 cost.

Currently, the pickleball club is sharing courts with tennis players, but neither side is thrilled with the arrangement, so dedicated pickleball courts are needed.

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