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Pool finally reopens

After months of repairs, the Penticton Community Centre's leisure pool is finally back in action.

The pool was reopened today after being closed in July for annual maintenance and a tile replacement project.

The work began because the new tiles were too slippery, and pool users were slipping and falling. That led to the discovery the pool's water level had fallen mysteriously. Cracked pipes were found beneath the pool.

Work to rectify the problem was extended several times.

“We know how much the community values the Penticton Community Centre services, especially those for children, and we want to thank everyone for their patience as these necessary repairs were completed,” said Mayor Andrew Jakubeit. 

For more information about programs and hours of operation, visit www.penticton.ca/recreation.

Conservation in focus

The public can have their say on the creation of a nature conservation fund and environmentally sensitive development permits in the South Okanagan.

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen is holding a series of public information meetings to outline the changes.

The RDOS created a biodiversity strategy in 2013, in partnership with the South Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Program. The strategy refines information on sensitive areas in the RDOS and makes recommendations for conservation and stewardship.

“Based on the updated information ... we wanted to refine and improve the science-based ESDPs for clarity and consistency,” said Christopher Garrish, RDOS planning supervisor. “We were delighted to work with the SOSCP on this very important strategy for the long-term health and sustainability of this region.”

The meetings will provide information on ESPDs and where they are used.

A second initiative that came out of the strategy is the need for increased financing to protect important environmental areas through establishment of a local conservation fund.

“Without a doubt, we live in one of the most spectacularly beautiful regions in the world,” said Bryn White, SOSCP program manager. “Our natural environment contributes greatly to our enjoyment and quality of life, including essential resources and services. A healthy environment ensures clean air and water, rich soils, pest control, fire prevention and pollination, among many other benefits. These natural assets are at risk of being lost forever, and along with them, the benefits they provide to our economy and our communities.”

The public information sessions will be held:

  • Dec. 2, 6 to 8 p.m. at West Bench Elementary School.
  • Dec. 8, 5 to 7 p.m., the community centre in Okanagan Falls.
  • Dec. 14, 5 to 7 p.m., Sonora Centre, Osoyoos
  • Jan. 11, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Old Age Pensioners Hall, Naramata.

Free parking downtown

In the spirit of the season, the city of Penticton will provide free parking downtown for all Saturdays in December.

Following up on the Downtown Penticton Association’s “I Heart Penticton” campaign, the free parking is set to encourage people to shop local.

Free parking will be available on the following dates:

Saturday, Dec. 5, Saturday, Dec. 12, Saturday, Dec. 19 and Saturday Dec. 26.

This only applies to city owned/controlled stalls and parking lots in the downtown; private parking lot rules remain in effect.

Pay parking in public stalls and lots will continue to be in effect Monday to Friday during this period, and the pay parking system on Saturdays will resume on January 2, 2016.

For questions or more information, please contact City of Penticton Bylaw Services at 250-490-2440. 


Lunch with Santa

Children made crafts and people of all ages lined up to have their pictures taken with Santa at a special event in Penticton, Saturday.

The festivities were part of the Lunch with Santa, held by Sprott Shaw College Penticton campus, at the Seniors' Drop-In Centre.

"We do this event every year for a different charity, and it's just our chance to give back to the community for the support they show to our students with practicums and guest speakers," said Zola Goebel, director of the Penticton campus.

Other highlights of the well-attended event were counting candies in a jar, hidden bears around the venue and raffle baskets.

The charity at the receiving end this year is the Penticton Centre for Exceptional Learning.

The centre is dedicated to teaching children, K to 12, with autism.

"This is a fabulous event, and we are honoured to be chosen," said Carrie Ferguson, with the centre. "It's great to see all the smiles on the children's faces and be in the same building with Mr. Claus."


Warmth for the homeless

A Penticton nursing student's effort to help homeless people stay warm this winter is picking up momentum.

Mike Forster, who created the Keep the Cold off Penticton Facebook page, to collect donations of warm clothing, said more in the community are getting involved.

"I completely never expected this, but I love it," he said. "It's like it's got a life of its own."

He now has a logo on his SUV that says Keep the Cold Off Penticton, created by Jennifer Taylor with Taylormade Ideas, and a donation box has been set up at Parkers Chrysler.

Anyone who donates to the drop box in the showroom gets an ice scraper.

The South Okanagan Women in Need Society is supportive and Forster is also working with the harm reduction nurse at Interior Health and God's Kitchen.

With everything going so well, Forster says his next goal is to register as a charity.

In addition to Keep the Cold Off Penticton, the Cover with Kindness blanket drive continues in the city.

Residents can drop blankets, sleeping bags, toques, scarves, sleeping bags and more off at Greg Litwin's office at 699 Main Street.

This is the sixth annual blanket drive held by Litwin, the director of the Soupateria Society.

The items will be given to the homeless and others in need on Dec. 14 and 15 at St. Saviour's Church, adjacent to the soup kitchen.

People without a roof over their head in the cold weather, can find shelter at Compass House, 123 Nanaimo Avenue East, in Penticton.

The extreme weather shelter opens when the temperature drops to -5 C. It is open from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. and provides 10 beds to men and women.


Skating at the Lakeside

A Penticton hotel manager's desire to offer an outdoor skating rink in the winter months is now a reality.

The rink opened by Okanagan Lake at the Penticton Lakeside Resort in mid-November.

"General Manager David Prystay was aware of the public's desire for an outdoor ice rink a couple of years ago," said Brannigan Boyd, director of marketing. "Last winter he tested the rink at his house. It was a hit with his family so he decided to bring it to the resort."

The rink is now open to the public from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week.

People need to contact the front desk at the hotel to book a free public skate.

Because of the size there can only be 10 participants at once at any given time, and there is a maximum of 60 minutes allowed on the ice if other guests are waiting.

Children 12 and under need to have adult supervision and participants are encourage to wear safety helmets.

Hockey teams are also making use of the space, according to Boyd.

"With the high volume of hockey tournaments Penticton hosts, we've been able to offer it to our in-house out of town teams," she said." It's a great opportunity for them to bond before or even after a game.

The kids and coaches can warm up while the parents have the opportunity to relax and connect. It's received a ton of positive feedback and the guests are particularly fond of the fact the beach is licensed so they can order food and drinks."

The rink will be open until March, weather permitting.

More information is available at the hotel, including rules posted at the side of the rink.



Jamming in the city

On the last Saturday of every month, musicians gather at Penticton's Orchard House for a lively jam session.

The jams known as The House is a-Rockin' are hosted by the Yard Katz, a local band, and musicians are invited to bring their guitars, their sticks and bands.

The hosts have everything else.

"We do this for the love of music, and it shows how much there is a need for places where you can see or play live music," said Bob Farmer with the Yard Katz.

The jams started about a year and a half ago and have been well received at the venue on Orchard Avenue.

They get anywhere from 100 to 150 people in the audience, and different individuals and bands playing.

"We advertise it as a blues jam, but all kinds of people come," said Farmer. "We have had a 75-year-old woman come and play violin and 14-year-olds come up and perform."

The Yard Katz typically open the day, and then bands come up and perform.

They play on their own, or members of the Yard Katz will back them up if needed.

Most will play two or three songs, so that everyone interested gets a chance to jam.

"We are seeing a real music community here in Penticton, and we have a great venue here with a lovely sound system," said Farmer.

The doors are open from 1 to 5 p.m., the last Saturday of the month for the jams, with the next slated for Boxing Day.

Cost is $5 per person for the afternoon.

Refreshments are served, and money raised from tips goes to the South Okanagan Similkameen Volunteer Centre.


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