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Penticton reacts to shooting

Penticton politicians, veterans and residents described the shootings in Ottawa as shocking and disturbing, as they went about their business on Wednesday.

Suzanne Moccia, a Penticton resident who works for an Ottawa company, said it is super unsettling.

"That part of Ottawa is generally a really safe area, a place that is familiar that I walked through for three years of my life," she said. "And then to see the images of the police and everybody being blocked off and hearing from my co-workers they are in lockdown is totally troubling."

A reservist, who has since been identified as Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, was shot and killed at the War Memorial in Ottawa Wednesday morning. Witnesses say he was shot point blank by a masked, rifle-wielding gunman, who then moved up the street to launch an attack on nearby Parliament Hill, in which at least two people were injured.

The gunman killed inside Parliament is said to be Michael Zehaf-Bibeau.

Mayor Garry Litke said he was made of aware of what happened Wednesday and that they may have to consider the level of security at City Hall.

"We will be looking at that," he said.

MLA Dan Ashton is at the BC Legislature in Victoria, and could not comment on what is happening there. Of the incident itself, he said, "It's a terrible atrocity, and our hearts go out to the family of the soldier who was killed."

Dick Knorr, Ashton's constituency assistant, said they already have security measures in place if anything was to happen at the MLA's office in Penticton, so there was no need to step up the security today.

Murray Grandy, president of the Penticton branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, said he too thought it was terrible.

"This country needs to get its defences ready for more of this kind of thing," he said. "Because more is going to happen."

Penticton resident and Royal Canadian Air Force Veteran Alan Kidd, said everyone was very emotional right now about what has taken place.

"Things have changed for Canada, we are no longer an innocent nation and we are no longer able to say we are not involved," he said. "This is not an accident, it took place in Ottawa at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and in the heart of our parliament. It was a well planned event and did not happen off the cuff."

Penticton RCMP Sgt. Rick Dellebuur reported there are no plans to step up RCMP patrols in the city at this time.

The flag at City Hall is also flying at half-mast to mark the events in Ottawa.



Council says no to rental property

Penticton council has again rejected plans to build a multi family housing development on Scott Avenue.

Following a packed and lengthy public hearing Monday, the council voted 3-3 on the matter, sparking a round of applause from those in attendance.

"I don't believe it all has to be on the same street. I strongly believe Scott Avenue has reached saturation point," said Councillor Katie Robinson. "Let's put the neighbourhood out of its misery."

This is the third public hearing on the proposed development at 273 Scott Ave., which would be three storeys and have 13 units.

Although it has been scaled down from a former proposal of four storeys and 17 units, several residents spoke at the meeting about their concerns about the neighbourhood already being congested.

Mayor Garry Litke, who voted against it, shared that sentiment. 

He said it, (the development), doesn't really fit in our zoning requirements, and that there is already too much traffic and congestion on the street from other developments.

"We should try to retain the residential flavour of that neighbourhood and stay within the zoning requirements and the OCP," he said.

Also at the second public hearing, he added, council gave specific instructions to the developer to stay within the zoning requirements. They made some significant change, but it is still not within the parameters outlined at the second hearing.

Councillors who supported the development, stressed the need for affordable housing in the city.

"Right now, around election time, so many people are asking what am I going to do about affordable housing in Penticton," said Councillor Helena Konanz. "One thing everybody agrees to make housing less expensive is to increase density, and this is an example of a developer working to increase density and make it more affordable."

Apartment laundry rooms targeted

Penticton RCMP has responded to an increasing number of break ins in the last few days, especially in regards to apartment laundry rooms and storage lockers.

On Monday, officers responded to eight break ins that had occurred between Friday, Oct. 17 and Monday, Oct. 20.

Six of these break ins and thefts were related to apartment complexes in Penticton.

Coin operated laundry machines were broke into and damaged at apartment complexes on Birch Avenue, Fairview Road, and Scott Avenue, while storage lockers were broken into at complexes on Wade Avenue (various clothing taken),Winnipeg Street (unknown if anything taken) and Van Horne Street (small quantity of liquor taken).

Penticton RCMP feel that these incidents are related and investigation has revealed a possible suspect that police are following up on.

It would appear that the suspect(s) are gaining entry into apartment complexes by continuing to ring tenants until someone lets them in. The RCMP is asking apartment residents to ensure they know who it is that they are allowing into their building.

The remaining two break ins reported involved an attempt at M&M Meats on Skaha Lake Road that occurred overnight, but no entry was gained. However entry was gained into a nearby business, Bright Smile Teeth, where a quantity of teeth whitening product was taken.

Anyone with further information regarding any of these incidents is asked to contact Penticton RCMP or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.


Hiker struck by falling rock

A woman was rescued near Princeton Monday after being struck by a falling rock while hiking.

Princeton Search and Rescue responded late Monday afternoon shortly after a report of an injured female hiker in her early 20’s on Johnny’s Hat Mountain near Princeton. 

The female hiker was part of a larger group on the Mountain when she was struck by a falling rock.

Upon being notified by BC ambulance service, Princeton SAR responded after 4 p.m. with nine personnel and located the victim on the mountain in serious condition.

With daylight failing, Princeton SAR Manger Randy Rorvik requested the assistance of other nearby SAR teams and the Canadian Armed Forces.

With the victim in serious condition and in a very difficult area to access, the initial strategy to have the victim extracted by helicopter, however the Armed Forces Cormorant Helicopter was not able to make its way to the rescue site.

By 8 p.m. 19 members of Penticton’s Search and Rescue team along with 2 Oliver Osoyoos SAR members arrived and began to prepare for a difficult rescue operation. 

Over the next 8 hours rescue teams hauled personnel and equipment up the mountain over extremely difficult and dangerous terrain in order to set up a series of rope stations in which to lower the victim to the Valley bottom.

Although the Cormorant Rescue Helicopter was unable to attend, CFB Comox 442’s Buffalo Search Aircraft took up station overhead and for over three hours dropped flares down over the mountainside to assist rescuers as they ascended the mountain. 

The search flares not only aided the rescuers in providing much needed light, but it was a boost to the teams’ morale. 

While the main priority of the rescuers was to preparing the evacuation of the victim, the Rescue team still had to escort four of the other hikers down the mountain to safety, which they did without incident.

By 2 a.m. the rope rescue teams had all of their plans in place and thus began the long and dangerous journey down the mountainside where the victim was finally transferred to BC Ambulance Service shortly after 4 a.m. The victim was transported to Penticton General Hospital where she is recovering.

"This was an extremely difficult area to access and extricate a victim from," said Penticton SAR president Dale Jorgenson. "We had so many factors to consider with the terrain being so steep, an unstable slope with lots of falling rock and then you add the darkness."

"Our rope team leaders had their work cut out for them and they performed exceptionally well.  Overall I was extremely pleased how everyone handled themselves, from the SAR Teams, BCAS and the support from our Air Force – we got the job done and we wish our best for the young lady to have a speedy recovery."

Truck thief quickly nabbed

The Penticton RCMP was advised at 3:58 a.m. on Oct. 21 that a red 1993 Ford F150 with a red Yamaha Big Bear ATV in the back was just taken from a residence on Wade Avenue.

The owner was awakened by the noise and when he looked outside saw that his truck and ATV were gone.

At 4:09 a.m., an officer observed a southbound truck on the Channel Parkway making a right hand turn onto Skaha Lake Road. The member caught up to the truck and confirmed that it was the stolen pickup and ATV.

The officer proceeded to pull the truck over, but the truck continued on and suddenly  turned right onto Old Airport Road, missing the turn and hitting a hill on the west side of the road. The truck then reversed and rammed the front of the police vehicle.

The driver and lone occupant was eventually apprehended by the member and returned to detachment cells. A 33-year-old male, a resident of Osoyoos, has been remanded into custody until Oct. 29, with charges of theft of motor vehicle, evading a police officer, dangerous operation of motor vehicle, assault police officer with a weapon, possessing break in instruments and driving while prohibited.


Bobbitt hearing adjourned

The David Bobbitt dangerous offender/sentencing hearing has been adjourned to Nov. 10 to fix continuation dates.

Those dates will be for submissions on the dangerous offender hearing and for possible testimony from a woman who claims she was sexually assaulted by Bobbitt in February of 2007.

The testimony expected to be heard from the woman is in regards to another incident three weeks later, involving her ex-boyfriend. In that case both the woman and the man made complaints against each other.

The reason this testimony is important is because it reflects her credibility, an important element of the hearing.

Testimony from the woman regarding the alleged assault in 2007 has already been heard in the hearing.

So far the hearing has been held in portions in the early summer, September and now this week.

No charges were laid from that 2007 incident. Bobbitt was charged with a violent assault on a young woman at Dave's Second Hand Store in Penticton in 2011. Her toddler was found unharmed nearby.

The victim in that assault has not testified during the hearing.

Bobbitt pleaded guilty to the counts he was facing from the 2011 assault, in April of 2013.



Investing in firefighters

Penticton plans to add a fire training officer position to oversee best practices in fire protection service training.

The officer will be responsible for creating, implementing and coordinating the department training program for all staff, as well as serving the technical training advisor internally and externally

Mayor Garry Litke said creating this position will raise the bar for the fire department,

"Skills development is critical to customer service and innovation and these investments will ensure the department is providing top-level fire protection to the community and beyond," he said.

The officer will assist the management team with operations and programs at the Emergency Training Centre at Fire Hall No. 2. The centre envisions serving the needs of the local department and South Okanagan region for live fire training, rather than sending career and auxiliary members out of the community for needed instruction, saving approximately 70 per cent in training costs.

A proposed expansion of fire protection service areas precipitates additional investment in the department.

A letter of intent between the city and Penticton Indian Band has been signed to facilitate fire protection services for new development and residential areas, non native leasehold arrangements, east of the Penticton Channel: Skaha Hills, Riva Ridge, Barefoot Beach Resort, Wright's Beach Campground and Red Wing. This includes the addition of first responder services and fire safety inspections.

Due to the expanded area of fire protection, two firefighter positions will be added to the city budget in 2015.

"These investments will go a long way to ensure the department is well-trained and equipped to meet the needs of the growing community and safety of responders and residents," said  Fire Chief Wayne Williams.

Read more Penticton / S. Okanagan News


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