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Archer takes aim at bylaw

A Penticton resident with a passion for archery would like to see more events focused on the sport in the city.

Rick Hamilton gave a presentation to council asking that draw bows be withdrawn from a bylaw that prohibits the discharge of firearms in the city.

"Archery is an Olympic sport and it's in the Canada Winter Games and B.C. Winter Games," he said. "But Penticton has this in their bylaw."

Hamilton, whose family competes in archery, says he's not promoting anyone just walking out and shooting a bow. Instead, he would like to see events held in a designated, controlled environment.

"It needs to be on private property where no one can be put at harm," he said. "What it allows for is for Penticton to host archery events, which is important with the B.C. Winter Games coming here, with a whole bunch of archers coming."

Hamilton, who says he has the backing of a lot of people in the community, believes such events will have a big economic impact.

"When you have 150 archers come to town, they are all going to stay in hotels, eat in restaurants and buy gas," he said. "Let's say you do a few of those a year ... there is an economic impact."

Other Okanagan communities already hold competitions, with Oliver recently having a championship that attracted 160 archers.This weekend, Hamilton is going to one in Kelowna.

After the presentation, council asked staff to investigate options to make some changes to the bylaw, suggested by Hamilton.

Over the next 30 days, the matter will come back to council, said Mayor Andrew Jakubeit.

"As long as safety concerns are addressed by user groups, I don't see why it couldn't be a permitted use in the city," he said.


Park vote needs a 'Yes'

Okanagan Falls and Heritage Hills residents are being asked to say yes on April 25 to allow the purchase of parkland in two communities.

“We have a unique opportunity to acquire a valuable piece of lakefront property for community use in Okanagan Falls and add a park property in Heritage Hills,” explained Commission chair Don Clark. 

“But we have to act now — especially in Okanagan Falls. If this property is sold to a private purchaser, we’ll likely lose this chance forever.”

The purchase of the Okanagan Falls property — located at 605 Willow Street, northeast of Christie Memorial Park — would provide for unbroken access along the Skaha Lake shoreline from Lion’s Park to Main Street.

"We want to have a walkway that takes you all the way along the waterfront, from our current park to the boat launch," said Clark. 

In Heritage Hills, the addition of $200,000 in funding would complement an existing $250,000 in dedicated parkland funds and the generous donation of property by local developer Johnny Aangtes.

“Heritage Hills has been without a park space for far too long. You just need a place to walk your pet or maybe you just want to take the kids to throw a ball and an open space where it's green and it's pleasant,” said Clark. “We can remedy that situation with a positive outcome on April 25."

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen is asking voters living within the Okanagan Falls & District Recreation Service Area to approve the borrowing of $950,000 to secure both properties. With the amount to be paid back over 20 years, that would cost the average homeowner about $32 a year — or less than $3 a month.

“We believe this is in the best interest of those living in the community today and for those living in the community 20 and 30 years from now,” Clark said. "I certainly expect it to be successful, I'm not hearing very many negative comments, but there's always going to be people that oppose anything you would do."

“We’re encouraging all voters living in the service area to vote yes on Saturday.”

Voting will be held Saturday, April 25, between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. at Okanagan Falls Elementary School, located at 1141 Cedar Street.

If the vote does not pass, the agreement to purchase the land will be negated and the property will be on the open market again. 

Voters looking for more information can visit and select the Parks Purchase link.

Ogopogo: the legend

Recent rumblings of the Ogopogo lurking Okanagan Lake may have many wondering where the legend of the lake monster came from.

Castanet searched out a knowledge keeper from the Penticton Indian Band to learn its origins. 

The life's work of Richard Armstrong has been to carry on the traditional knowledge of his people.

Armstrong has worked at the En'owkin Centre in Penticton since the 1960s and shared some of that wisdom on Thursday. 

"Ogopogo is not from our language. I'm not even sure where that came from," he said.

The traditional word, as close as English can come to spelling it, is Nha-ha-it-kw.

The first part of the word, 'Nha-ha,' is a reference to a creature that is as close as possible to being referred to as sacred. The last part, 'it-kw,' refers to that creature being 'of the water.'

Armstrong said the creature is sacred in the sense it is recognized as "very special" in First Nations culture, brought into existence by the Creator to let people know how great He is. 

"He can create anything He wants to, like that. And we recognize the power of that kind of thing," said Armstrong.

In form, the creature of legend is said to take two shapes. 

"It depends on the people who see it and what the creature is doing. When it's hunting or feeding, it has a different shape than when it's just travelling," said Armstrong. "Our people have always recognized a serpent-like 50 to 60 footer as one of the shapes.

"When it's not travelling, it's scrunched up and it's not 50 to 60 feet long, but maybe 20 or 30 feet long. It's like, I don't want to say a turtle, but it scrunches up its body so it's not streamlined to swim fast, like when it needs to."

Armstrong said the head is always described as looking like a horse or a dog with a square nose; not like a snake or a dragon.  

"As far as its reality, our people to this day still know that it always existed. It was always there, we knew about it," Armstrong said. "Our people have always, since time immemorial, fed that beast." 

Every year, certain people take a boat out and drop meat into the lake. 

"It's not a spectator sport. It's been happening for hundreds and thousands of years – and it still happens to this day," he said. "That kind of information is something the public is not aware of, because we mostly get a sense of ridicule when we tell people that."

Armstrong said that according to the elders, the creature is not confined to Okanagan Lake. 

"It's not always in the lake, it can be different places – it can be any place," he said. "It can be in Vancouver or out on the ocean or one of the other lakes anywhere. 

"We've heard of other places that other people have talked about sightings of something like the Ogopogo in other lakes, and our people have always said there's nothing strange about that. That's normal because they can go anywhere they want." 

The story harkens back to legend times for First Nations people. 

"Our legends tell us that these lakes are connected with an underground conduit of sorts. They can go from this country, to any country, Peru, or China, underground. 

"To understand that, the analogy is that these conduits are like blood vessels. These conduits flow through the Earth like that." 

In response to people saying the Ogopogo is a giant sturgeon or other beast of some sort, Armstrong says that is the result of cultural limitations.

"There's been many different people trying to explain it away, simply because people don't want to believe that there's something like that. Their culture doesn't allow them to have that knowledge, and they have to try and explain it with things they know of, which are sturgeon or a pack of otters or something like that."

The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources says it does "not have any evidence on record of sturgeon in Okanagan Lake – only anecdotal reports."

A 2003 report titled Okanagan Region Fish Species at Risk similarly did not note any sturgeon in Okanagan Lake. 

Kyle Girgan of the Summerland Trout Hatchery says: "None have ever been documented, but it depends on who you talk to.”

"But our people just know of its existence, and we're not trying to explain it away. We don't have to explain it away, because we know it exists," Armstrong said. 

Armstrong said there is a vast amount of knowledge archived at the En'owkin Centre, but it is protected for First Nations people. 

"Whether it's family stories, historical knowledge, we have that agreement, that it can be kept in that archive. But you have to have ancestry to this land, to this people."


Celebrating Kaylee's life

A celebration of life for a Penticton teen who touched many lives as she fought a rare form of cancer will be held this weekend.

The service will take place at 1 p.m. on Saturday at the Penticton Lakeside ballroom.

Tammy Kozari, the mother of Kaylee Kozari-Bowland, said her daughter died at 12:45 a.m. Monday in her Penticton home.

A few days after the loss, Kozari told Castanet her priority was dealing with her daughter's memorial service and making it as beautiful as possible.

"All I ever wanted was to see my daughter get married and have children," she said. "So I want a memorial service that is as beautiful as she would have wanted it."

Kaylee's cancer fight started last summer.

On July 9, 2014, she started having trouble walking. After three weeks and five trips to the hospital she was taken to BC Children's Hospital where she was diagnosed with an undifferentiated metastatic sarcoma.

By this time she was completely paralyzed from the chest down.

Since the surgery to remove the cancer from her spine, she has received intensive chemotherapy, radiation and physiotherapy.

Her fight continued as new tumours were found.

During her struggle there was an outpouring of support, with fundraisers held by fellow students, hockey teams, local musicians and many more.

The funds raised were to allow Kaylee to have access to alternative treatments, research trial studies for undifferentiated metastatic sarcoma and consultation with leading doctors in the top of their field.

Kozari said the family did go to Texas and there were a couple of clinical trials they were going to get Kaylee on, however when they returned home Kaylee took a turn for the worse.

"They did scans at the hospital which showed the disease was spreading very fast," she said. "We were still hoping to do the clinical trials but the time ran out."

Kaylee would have been in grade 11 at Penticton Secondary School this year, and students and staff are feeling the pain of her loss.

"We followed her progress with the highs and lows, so there is an awful lot of sorrow and sadness attached to her passing," said Principal Alan Stel. "But there is also an element of catharsis from all the fund raising that went on."

Stel said a student organized tribute to Kaylee will take place at 6:30 p.m., Friday, April 24 at Okanagan Lake Park.

Students will release 300 organic helium balloons and there will be a couple of speeches from her friends at that time. 





Whole lotta shakin' goin' on

Hundreds of belly dancers from across Canada and the U.S. will take part in BellyFest this weekend in Penticton.

Get Bent, Western Canada’s largest belly dance school, created the event to celebrate the art and to connect, educate and inspire. 

"It's so exciting to have the most prominent teachers in the industry all gathering in Penticton," said director Wendy Goudie. "This is going to be an outstanding event."

"The three main events will be the conference, festival marketplace and the performers showcase, with the conference featuring some of the most highly regarded performers and instructors, including master teacher Yasmina Ramzy of Toronto.

Running alongside the conference, the performance festival and market is a family friendly two-day show, featuring performers from Western Canada's top belly dance groups.

The public is invited and attendance is free, Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3: 30 p.m. both days at Opus Cafe Bistro in The Cannery Trade Centre, as well as the marketplace, which will offer a wide selection of belly dancing costumes, accessories, music,  jewelry, etc.

Visitors can also expect to be wowed by BellyFest's lineup of presenters, Saturday, 7 p.m. at the Orchard House Theatre. They include Yasmina Ramzy, Luciterra, Rahel, Nicci Marsh, Wendy Goudie, Tonje Olson, Kristine Jennes, Tamara Dewar and Halawa.

Tickets for this event are $25 and can be purchased at Get Bent.

For full details, visit:

NDP call for national park

The provincial NDP used Earth Day as a platform to urge the Liberal government to reconsider a national park in the Okanagan Similkameen region.

The NDP say the region is home to more than 60 federally listed endangered species and is a unique landscape that is not protected by any national park in Canada.

“There is tremendous local support for the jobs and opportunities that a national park would bring to the region. It’s time for the B.C. Liberal government to stop throwing up barriers to this economic development opportunity," said NDP environment spokesperson said Chandra Herbert.

“The Okanagan Similkameen is a globally significant ecosystem that is home to many of Canada’s most endangered species. Protecting this area is key to maintaining British Columbia’s incredible biodiversity, while growing our economy.”

During question period Wednesday, Herbert noted that support for a national park in the region cuts across party lines, with the all-party finance committee recommending talks be reopened.

“When you have almost 70 per cent of people in a region saying they want to explore an opportunity to both protect the environment and create jobs in their local communities, Christy Clark needs to stop throwing up barriers and get back to the table to re-start discussions,” he said.

Herbert has visited the region and spoken with ranchers, tourism operators, vintners, First Nations and local government, who all support re-starting talks. 

BMX park concerns

Opposition is growing to a BMX park proposed for Munson Mountain land in Penticton.

The Friends of Munson Mountain, who have a Facebook page, was just formed two weeks ago to increase public awareness.

"I don't think this is the place for a BMX park," said member Lauren Calancie. "I think a small group of people will use it and the environmental impact will be too much."

Representatives from the Penticton BMX Club gave a presentation to the city in January about expanding beyond Lions Park, which it says is too small to hold provincial and national-scale events.

The club has indicated it has funds, donors and suppliers available to make the project a reality.

Since then, council has passed first reading of OCP and zoning changes for the location at 630 Munson Mountain Road, but the matter must go to public hearing before council will vote to support it.

There will not be a public hearing until the city hears back from the Agricultural Land Commission on the matter.

The parcel under consideration is one of three that had been proposed for a big baseball complex 10 years ago, according to Mayor Andrew Jakubeit.

It went out for public input, but wasn't wanted, so it didn't move ahead.

Two of those parcels have since been sold and it is the last piece of property being looked at for the park. 

Among the concerns being raised by Friends of Munson Mountain is the impact on the Agricultural Land Reserve parcel, nearby vineyards and orchards, plant and animal life in the area and an increased traffic flow.

Residents, some of whom live in the area, say the project is steamrolling ahead in spite of the fact that no environmental impact studies have been done, no neighbours have been notified and no farmers who grow crops nearby have been notified.

They also say there has been a playing down of the project. 

Member Sally Kilburg says her main concerns are degradation of the environment and that this just sprung up.

"We are not against the BMX, it's the lack of planning, just opening it up with few real controls," she said.

She and others say the area might be better as a multi-use park and that there are other locations in the city better suited to a BMX park.

But Jakubeit says this is just a moving of dirt, with no permanent structures going in. Furthermore, that piece of property may be used for cemetery expansion, 30 or 40 years down the road.

"This property proposed is in the northwest corner, away from the five houses we own and cherry orchards and would have a very minimal impact," he said. "What we are doing is looking at under utilized pieces of land to see if we could leverage greater community impact and usage."

The houses in the area would not be affected and furthermore BMX only has sanctioned events two days a week, he added.

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