Penticton and South Okanagan
Dec 10, 2013 / 5:00 am
The Sensible BC campaign did not end the way they hoped, but Penticton canvassers say they see no reason why they can't try it again.
Amanda Stewart, electoral riding coordinator for the Penticton and Boundary Similkamen districts, is particularly encouraged by the way the campaign was received here.
"I feel great that our region got what it was supposed to. but I couldn't control what happened in the other 83 ridings, " she said "We also had the advantage of good weather, whereas places like Prince George are cold."
The goal of the campaign, which started Sept. 9, was to have a referendum on the Sensible Policing Act, which would decriminalize cannabis possession in BC and start the province on the path to a legally regulated system.
The deadline was Dec. 9 to collect the signatures of 10 per cent of registered voters in each of the provinces's 85 ridings, but the effort came up short.
On Monday, Sensible BC Director Dana Larsen said he expected to hand over just over 200,000 signatures to Elections BC.
Still, he said, Sensible BC will continue the push for decriminalization and another signature drive is possible in the future.
Stewart, who worked hard along with others to help Penticton get 5,000 signatures, said although it didn't work out this time, it was still a good learning experience.
One thing they did discover was that a lot of people are not registered voters.
"They are disenfranchised from the government process and then something like this comes up and they are not eligible to vote," she said.
They also understand more about organizing volunteers, how to get people to sign and what businesses are responsive to the effort.
Kim Wall, a canvasser who works at LockWorks in Penticton, said it was definitely disappointing that the rest of the province didn't reach their targets, but she too believes they will be better prepared the next time around.
"I was happy to see Penticton and Boundary Similkameen meet out targets, but it was also disappointing to see how many people distrust the government, so much that they wouldn't sign fearing they wouldn't be allowed across the border or be put on a government black list," she said.
Overall, her experiences as a canvasser were extremely positive, allowing her to meet a lot of great people up and down the valley.
She plans to keep her ears open as to what Larsen plans next and is looking forward to doing it again.
Stewart said she is proud of the fact this was the largest marijuana law reform initiative in Canadian history. And she reminded people it took Washington two times to get to where it's at.
"We realized it was a reach for the stars from the beginning," she said. "I think we will do it again and be successful the second time."
She also has a sense of accomplishment from better educating people about marijuana itself.
"It's not really embittering, because we educated so many people that it's a very powerful medicinal herb that can improve the quality of someone's life when used properly," she said.
Dec 9, 2013 / 5:28 pm
A rental house in Cawston went up in flames around midnight Sunday night.
Keremeos Fire Chief Jordy Bosscha said when the first firefighter arrived at the scene on Ferko Road, over half the roof was on fire.
Two people who were home at the time got out, but they lost all their possessions.
The home was completely gutted in the blaze, according to Bosscha.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
A relative of the renters Sarah Stanley has come forward to Castanet with a fundraiser page for the family.
"We don't know yet whether anything will be salvageable, but in all likelihood their kids' Christmas presents have all been destroyed.
Needless to say, this is going to be a very hard Christmas," says Stanley.
They have set up a trust account for donations to help the family out.
People can go to any branch of the Valley First Credit Union and donate to the J & J Sanderson Family or can donate online at www.indiegogo.com/projects/sanderson-family-housefire
Send photos and video to [email protected]
--With files from Carmen Weld
Dec 9, 2013 / 3:00 pm
Around 35 Gallagher Lake residents and business people packed the pub in the small community Monday to address several concerns.
The main reason for the meeting at the Ye Olde Welcome Inn was that they currently see no light at the end of the tunnel related to safety and other issues they face, say organizers.
"We want to form a group of concerned citizens to make this a safer place," said organizer Scot Hutchinson of Route 97 Motorcycle Tours and Sales. "And this meeting is for us to come up with a plan of attack."
The issues that worry them most are the design of the new passing lanes on Highway 97 (north of the small community), lack of signage, disruption to businesses during construction on Gallagher Lake Frontage Road, septic systems vs sewer system and removal of some access to the frontage road
Highway safety is high on the list, in the community north of Oliver, because there is currently no safe crossing for the people who live there and tourists.
No lights, pedestrian controlled crosswalk and speed limit also present a danger, with a woman dying trying to cross the highway at Gallagher Lake's one intersection in February.
Currently the expanded lanes north of the bridge make for higher speeds coming in from the north to the restriction of the bridge, after which speed increases.
"The safety of residents who live in this area is number one," said Hutchinson. "How do you get across a highway where they have increased the speed."
Several business owners in attendance said they were extremely upset with the way construction work on the frontage road was handled in September.
"They gave no one any indication they were going to rip up the frontage road, which started in September and went on for two months," said Hutchinson. "Every business was affected during construction. We watched them rip up two entrances and put a deep ditch in the area."
There is now only one access point to the frontage road lined with businesses, which is difficult for larger and emergency vehicles to get into, say residents.
Particularly hit hard during construction was the Pine Bluff Motel, with fewer people staying due to the construction. and the pub.
"Had I known how bad it was going to be, I would have shut down during that period and paid my staff," said owner Dale Hyworon.
RDOS rural Oliver director Allan Patton has met previously with the residents.
He said last week all of their concerns are valid and that he will assist them in contacting MLA Linda Larson and the government when the Official Community Plan is done for the area.
And ultimately the work on the frontage road will be to the advantage of residents and businesses, he said.
The group is planning a bigger meeting for 11 a.m. next Monday at the same location with representatives from the RDOS, the Ministry of Transportation and the RCMP.
"They are making it worse for us, so we want to do this as soon as possible," said Hutchinson.
Dec 7, 2013 / 7:19 am
Don Czerniak was just driving up to the intersection at Channel Parkway and Skaha Lake Road in Penticton Wednesday night, when he witnessed an unexpected sight.
He was about 300 feet away, near the bridge, when he saw a truck travelling at full speed go right through the intersection.
"It was one of those things that happen, where you question did that really happen," he said.
The next thing he saw was the vehicle going through a metal gate, getting airborne and hitting the water in Skaha Lake.
The Penticton contractor stopped and called 911, and as he was talking to them, he went to help the woman who was in the vehicle get out of the water.
"It was so dark, you couldn't see anything, but I could hear the woman's voice close to the shore," he said.
He helped the completely soaked woman out of the water and at this point could hear the man who was in the truck asking for help.
The woman told him the man couldn't swim, so Czerniak went to help.
"I could see the red tail lights floating in the water, and I tried to coax him to come in closer to the shore," he said. "Once I saw him, I grabbed his hand and helped him up the bank."
There were other vehicles stopped by this time, and a woman driver came down with blankets to wrap around the pair.
Czerniak did not see any signs of injury, but the pair were cold and shocked, and he recalled the man saying, "he didn't know what happened, all of a sudden he was in the water."
Once the police and other emergency personnel arrived on scene, he left. The last thing he observed was the pair being cared for in an ambulance.
Czerniak admits he just did what anyone would have done.
"I knew I needed to get over and help them get out of the channel," he said. "It is shallow there, but there is a really strong current."
He said other vehicles have gone into the lake at that location, but he's never witnessed it before.
According to the Penticton RCMP, the 2009 Dodge Ram, with a male driver, age 33, and female passenger, 49, went into the lake just after 8 p.m.
Sgt. Rick Dellebuur said the couple were not impaired, but it is believed the vehicle was going too fast and driver inattention could be a factor.
Earlier in the week, he said the investigation was ongoing. The RCMP could not be reached Friday to confirm whether or not there will be charges.
Dec 6, 2013 / 7:37 pm
The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen in consultation with the Interior Health Authority has rescinded the Boil Water Notice for the Sage Mesa water system, including the Westwood and Husula areas.
All water quality results have met provincial quality standards over the past two weeks.
The original Boil Water Notice was issued Nov. 21 when routine water samples showed the presence of E. coli in the system.
Dec 6, 2013 / 7:16 pm
Residents and business owners in Gallagher Lake, near Oliver, are invited to attend a special meeting on Monday.
The meeting at the Ye Olde Welcome Inn will focus on issues ranging from the design of the new passing lanes on Highway 97, north of Gallagher Lake, to speeding vehicles, lack of signage and safety.
One issue of major concern, organizers say, is the need for a crosswalk at the intersection there.
In February, a woman died when she was hit by a car at the location.
Organizers further stated this is a pre-meeting prior to a bigger meeting with government officials and the RCMP.
RDOS rural Oliver director Allan Patton said he has heard their concerns before and they are all valid.
"It's all great stuff, but it's not my jurisdiction, it's the provincial government," he said. "But I will assist them in contacting MLA Linda Larson and the government when we do the Official Community Plan for that area."
The meeting is at 11 a.m., Monday, Dec. 9 at the Ye Olde Welcome Inn in Gallagher Lake.
Dec 6, 2013 / 1:38 pm
A blanket drive to help the less fortunate fend off the cold is underway in Penticton.
People are invited to drop off new or gently used items at Greg Litwin's notary public office on Main Street until Dec. 13, it's the fourth year of the drive.
"In the community, there are a lot of people struggling with making a choice between feeding themselves or paying for electricity," said Litwin. "So we are here to help."
Litwin decided to start the drive known as Cover With Kindness after seeing a similar effort underway in the Downtown Eastside in Vancouver.
He and his wife printed up flyers saying they were looking for donations, which were delivered to realtors, bankers and others in the community.
What happened next was an outpouring that continues to this day.
"There was really a snowball effect, so I extended the campaign to schools, churches and government offices, and the response I received was overwhelming," he said.
Community members typically bring in blankets, sleeping bags, winter coats, scarves, gloves and mittens.
This year, a 94-year-old man, who is partially blind, knitted colourful toques to warm the heads and brighten the days of those in need.
The toques were given out Friday at the Soupateria, ahead of the scheduled giveaway for the items, because of the cold weekend ahead.
Donations are also picked up at the homes of those who can't get out to drop them off.
"I run into people who say they don't have the Christmas spirit, so I say come volunteer with me," said Litwin.
The official Cover With Kindness giveaway is set for Dec. 16, 17 and 18, from noon to 2 p.m., at the Soupateria and the free store in Saint Saviour's Anglican Church, next door.
Those involved consider it an early Christmas present to the people they serve daily and all those in need. The soup kitchen also expects to feed 150 people or more on Christmas.
Litwin's office is located at 699 Main Street, or people can call (250) 770-8888.
Read more Penticton / S. Okanagan News
City of Penticton
Penticton Discussion Forum
Penticton & Wine Country Chamber
Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen
District of Summerland
Summerland Chamber & Tourism
Town of Oliver
Town of Osoyoos
Town of Keremeos
School District 67 - Okanagan Skaha
School District 53 - Okanagan Similkameen
Okanagan Regional Library
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