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Funding for water projects

Water related projects have been given a boost thanks to funding from the Okanagan Basin Water Board, OBWB.

The Regional District of North Okanagan, RDNO, has received $45,700 in funding for four projects that will help improve water quality and promote water conservation in the North Okanagan. Funding was approved by OBWB directors on April 1, 2014, and the projects will commence later this year.

The largest portion of the funding will go to improving water quality in Kalamalka Lake, an important drinking water source, and a recreational and economical resource for the Greater Vernon area.

This project will build on previous work which identified storm water outfalls that have the potential to contaminate the lake.

Funding allows for the necessary improvements to reduce harmful substances from entering the lake.

Kalamalka will also benefit from OBWB funding for a preliminary water quality monitoring program to start in the Cosens Bay area.

This study will determine whether or not septic systems are having an impact on the lake. If an impact is detected, the RDNO will be in a position to identify possible next steps and solutions to further protect the lake.

Water quality, sustainability and conservation are among the topics to be included in the development of youth educational programming, another project receiving funds from the OBWB.

RDNO plans to partner with an educational organization to produce this program, which will be provided to teachers in the North Okanagan.

"The aim is to inspire students to learn about their watersheds and take action in water sustainability," said Renee Clark, water quality manager at the RDNO.

Lastly, funding will also go to hiring and training two water ambassadors who will promote water sustainability this summer.

These staff will communicate and promote water stewardship in Greater Vernon by participating in Farmers' Markets, community events and public demonstrations. They will also continue to encourage education on efficient watering practices to residential, commercial and agricultural customers.

"All four projects will improve water quality and promote water education in our community," stated Clark. "Whether directly, through testing lake samples, or indirectly through youth outreach, these projects will promote and protect our water in the North Okanagan, and we want to thank OBWB for that opportunity."



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Vernon parking fees drop

In a reversal of the norm, parking in downtown Vernon just got cheaper, if you don't mind walking a bit further that is.

Two weeks ago, Councillor Brian Quiring told council that he felt fees should be dropped across the board regardless of the loss of revenue, saying the higher fees cause more harm than good.

This prompted Council to ask staff to look into various options for variable parking rates throughout the downtown core.

City staff returned to council with seven options to consider, all with different fare reduction options and all with different revenue losses.

In the end, council chose to take 25 cents off the 75 cent hourly rates in the Parkade (reducing it to 50 cents per hour). As well as adding a 50 cent per hour option at the parking lot on 29th Street.

Street parking in the downtown core will remain at $1.00 per hour.

“What I was looking for was some options for people that the higher parking fee is an issue for, which this does,” said Councillor Juliette Cunningham.

“It doesn't have that much of an impact on our budget and it does identify alternatives for those who need and want parking at a lesser cost,” said Councillor Mary-Jo O'Keefe in support.

This option will require the city invest about $7,000 for signage and a ticket dispenser for the 29 Street parking lot, which previously only offered monthly parking.



Thieves target local businesses

RCMP are warning local merchants to be aware of a group of people who appear to be targeting local businesses with stolen credit cards.

According to RCMP spokesperson Gord Molendyk, a group of men made purchases, Tuesday afternoon, at a Vernon Save on Foods.

“Two men were able to purchase a large amount of prepaid gift cards. When the third tried to buy more, his credit card was rejected and they all left quickly.”

Police are looking for two main suspects, an African American man described as wearing a dark blue hoodie, jeans about 6’ tall and a Caucasian man.

Molendyk says after police attended the store they believe there was actually four people involved.

“Three appeared to have extremely dark skin and one was a Caucasian man, all appeared to be in their 30’s.”

The Vernon/North Okanagan Detachment would like to alert all business in the Okanagan about this type of activity and advise merchants to contact the nearest police department if they experience this type of activity.



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Motorcycle victims ID'd

The BC Coroners Service has released the identity of a Vernon couple killed on Westside Road Sunday evening.

Carol Joyce Thor, 61 and her husband Brian Thor, 57 died when their motorcycle was involved in a head-on collision with an SUV.

The crash occurred about 9 p.m.

Police confirm the motorcycle was heading north along Westside Road in Vernon when the crash occurred.

Early investigation indicates the SUV was travelling in the motorcycle's lane at the time of the crash.

Both victims died at the scene.

Both the coroners office and the RCMP are investigating.

 



Friday night market delayed

There will be a slight delay in the city's plans to hold a weekly Friday night summer market in downtown Vernon.

City Council was set to approve the necessary road closures off 30th Avenue on Fridays from 3 to 8 p.m., but some members of council decided to stall saying they need to ensure it is really what downtown shopkeepers want.

"I've talked to a few businesses down there and they don't support it," said Councillor Bob Spiers.

To ensure business owner approval, council has asked the Downtown Vernon Association to come back in two weeks with written approval from the businesses in the area, something Executive Director Lara Konkin says will not be an issue.

“I am disappointed but we will go and get the written survey from the merchants on 30th avenue. Something we have previously done, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to compile that information for them,” said Konkin.

She says it is an unfortunate delay, especially for some of the vendors whose livelihoods rely on signing up for markets like this, but that it wont be a problem to get the signatures.

“We have spoke to every business that we could on and off 30th Avenue, we had representation for all those businesses and without a doubt I am convinced we have the support of those businesses.”

Council will revisit the proposal with the report from the DVA in hand at its next meeting on April 28.



Snow pack levels

Greater Vernon Water (GVW) is tracking the latest climate information to help predict water supply levels for the coming year.

Snow pack plays an important role in supplying water to fill reservoirs in the Okanagan during spring melt.

Readings taken by GVW March 26, 2014 at three monitoring stations near the Duteau Creek Water Reservoirs show snow water equivalent, or water content of the snow, at 137% of average for this time of year. Water storage levels are currently above average.

According to the BC River Forecast Centre, March snow basin indices are at 97% of normal for the Okanagan-Kettle Basin, which includes our Kalamalka Lake water source.

The South Thompson Basin, which includes the Duteau Creek water reservoirs, is at 105% of normal.

The combined readings from GVW and the BC River Forecast Centre show a close to average year for snow pack and reservoir levels.

The BC River Forecast Centre predicts near normal stream run-off and precipitation in the Okanagan for spring and summer.

The Centre predicts a modest chance of above normal temperatures during the period of April to June 2014.

GVW will continue to monitor climate trends and water supplies. Updates will be reported as they are received via information bulletins, in local newspapers, and also online at www.rdno.ca.



Bookworms to flood library

The Vernon branch of the Okanagan Regional Library will be fully reopened on April 23, more than two months after a flood severely damaged the building’s main floor.

An insulated water pipe burst on Feb. 10, causing a rush of water through the main floor of the library. It damaged the carpets, walls, furniture and even some books.

Stutters Disaster Kleenup helped take care of the mess, allowing the library to partially reopen on Feb. 23. And following the annual Easter weekend closure that will give staff a chance to restock the shelves, the library will be back in business next Wednesday.

Families can celebrate the library’s reopening by attending Unplug & Play events: 

  • "Elephant’s Child" (April 25 at 3:30 p.m.)
  • "Mashenka and the Bear" (April 26 at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.)
  • Origami Workshop (April 29 at 3:30 p.m.)
  • Free Comic Book Day (May 3 all day).

Lego club and Toddlertime won’t be back until September.

However, Wednesday Storytimes and after school board games will resume until May 17th when they take a break, in order to get ready for the Summer Reading Club. 



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