Saturday, September 20th22.5°C

New Sockeye hatchery

The k] cpә’lk’ stim’ salmon hatchery, part of the Okanagan Nation Alliance sockeye reintroduction program, broke ground today.

The hatchery is on Penticton Indian Band reserve lands at 155 Enowkin Trail, Penticton.

“The return of Okanagan Sockeye to our fishing grounds used to be only a dream”, says Grand Chief Stewart Phillip. "In the summer of 2010 we witnessed the salmon come back in the numbers not seen for 100 years. The work of supporting the sockeye is ongoing and continues with this new hatchery, another aspect of our collective assertion to have a rightful place in the ongoing stewardship of our lands and resources.”

This hatchery is crucial to the Syilx people to realize their dream of restoring the n’titxw (Salmon), one of the 'Four Food Chiefs,' to their original habitat and rightful place in Syilx territory. 

Penticton Indian Band Chief John Kruger said the PIB is proud to have the hatchery on their lands.

"This place is so special because we have an excellent facility and laboratory. We're looking beyond Sockeye Salmon, looking at Chinook, maybe some Coho, there are even ideas of doing small projects with local sturgeon," he said. "I'm really proud of the hard work of the Okanagan Nation, this is a huge success story for all of us."

The hatchery facility is part of a long-term program to restore the historical range of Sockeye in the upper Okanagan watershed, Okanagan Lake, and Skaha Lake systems, a region of the Columbia River Basin. This facility is funded primarily by the Grant and Chelan Public Utility Districts, Washington, USA.

The 25,000 square foot salmon hatchery will have the capacity to rear up to eight million eggs, but is currently equipped to handle all fish culture aspects required for five million eggs from brood stock management until fry release.

Sockeye salmon eggs will be released annually as fry into the Okanagan system. Sizing the facility for eight million eggs allows for flexibility in the future or to allow for changes in the fish culture activities.

The hatchery includes all buildings, equipment, and infrastructure required to collect, incubate, rear and release fish for the sole intent of outplanting sockeye fry for reintroduction and range extension to Skaha and Okanagan Lake.

Fish culture also includes all laboratories and associated activities for fish condition and aging, plankton and mysid biometrics, and virology, necessary for the Sockeye Reintroduction Program.

During the entire course the hatchery mimics the natural temperatures of the river and no anti-fungal treatments or chemicals are used. 

The ONA and its subsidiary company, Okanagan Nation Aquatic Enterprises (OAE) Ltd., have worked in close collaboration with the Colville Confederation Tribes of Washington, Grant and Chelan Public Utility Districts in Washington State, the Penticton Indian Band, and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, Greyback Construction, among others, to bring this project to reality.

The ONA Chiefs Executive Council acknowledges everyone and everything that helped make this dream a reality; to the water in our streams and the air we breathe, to our Elders and Leaders of yesterday and today, our staff, our technical teams and partners and through the years our Nation members who have kept the prayers and ceremonies alive, we say, "Lim limpt!"


Social media thwarts shoplifter

A Penticton storeowner has again turned to social media to identify a shoplifter.

Leigh Follestad, the owner of Smart Shopper in the downtown, put video of a recent theft on Facebook, and the person was quickly identified.

"I will continue to do this, because I am fed up with my store being targeted," he said.

It was last Monday that the storeowner realized he was missing at least $100 worth of meat and cheese.

By Wednesday he had narrowed down the video of when the product was lost and put it on the Facebook site, Penticton Shoplifters and Thieves Exposed.

Within five minutes of putting it up, he received a phone call. A few hours later more tips came his way.

Then ironically, according to Follestad, he was on the phone with another news reporter, when the guy from the video again showed up at his store.

"It was the same guy trying to steal more meats and cheeses," he said.

The man tried to leave the store, but Follestad followed him, calling the police as he went. The storeowner couldn't legally detain him and the man left the scene.

Through information received on Facebook, the shoplifter has since been identified as a man named Al. Al is someone who is down on his luck and known in the downtown.

Follestad didn't know if he has yet been apprehended.

It was only a few months ago, in April, that the storeowner turned to Facebook to get the word out about another theft at his store. Those two shoplifters were also found.

"I feel the only way I can get across to these people to stop doing this is to put it on Facebook, to show the community who these people are," he said. 

Biz. welcomes return to school

Like parents and teachers, Penticton business owners are looking forward to school starting up again in the near future.

Several say business has been slow during the ongoing labour dispute and it will be good to see it pick up.

"We count on them, (students), to come in and spend money during the school day, usually we have line ups of kids at lunch,"  said Lorie Michaels, an employee at the 24/7 Convenience Store near Penticton Secondary School. "So I am happy they are coming back. I miss them."

On Thursday, 86 per cent of teachers voted yes to accept the tentative deal from the province. In total, 31,741 teachers voted, 27,275 voted yes and 4,392 voted no.

Patti Bacchus, chair of the Vancouver School Board, tweeted that school boards still have to ratify the deal for it to be final.

The most recent information regarding School District 67 Okanagan Skaha is available in a letter to parents on the district website.

Byron Smith, owner of Penticton Pizza and Subs, says it impacts his business, located near Penticton Secondary, when school kids aren't there for lunch or after school.

"We depend on the school kids, so we are happy this has been resolved and things can get back to normal," he said. "And that's from a parent's standpoint as well."

The owner at Sushi Genki, across the street from the high school, said business has been a little down but not a big problem.

"We are very happy the kids will be back at school," he said. "We will be busy at lunch again."

Some business owners, however, said they haven't noticed a difference one way or the other.

The owner of the Cleopatra Cafe near Queen's Park Elementary School said it was business as usual.

An employee at Foodland grocery store near the school said it was no different than any other September.

"We always get more kids during the summer, but it hasn't felt any different. It feels like the kids have been in school," she said.

A manager at the Blenz Coffee in downtown Penticton said it has been normal for this time of year.

"It hasn't had much of an effect on business," she said.

The owner of the Cupcake Lady Cafe, also downtown, said business was wonderful this summer.

"I didn't notice anything out of the ordinary, except for something wonderful, the economy picked up," she said. "Also when times are difficult, such as during a labour dispute, people still come for comfort food and a treat."








Hwy. 97 reopens after crash

8:15 P.M. UPDATE

DriveBC says the highway has been reopened.

The extent and nature of the injuries suffered by the five occupants are still unknown. 

Heavy trucks were not able to take the detour due to the tight turns and weight restrictions on the wood bridges along the route. 

At one point, traffic exiting Penticton was backed up to at least Railway Street. 

Highway 97 is closed in both directions at Burnaby Ave. in Penticton because of a two car accident.

Both vehicles were headed south when the accident occurred, both vehicles rolled over.

All five occupants, four in one vehicle and one in the other, were taken to hospital with non life threatening injuries.

Emergency crews hope to have the road open before 8 p.m., an assessment is in progress.

The accident happened just after 5 p.m., RCMP say drugs and alcohol do not appear to be the cause of the incident.

A detour is available at Sage Mesa and West Bench Road.

Send photos and video to [email protected]

City bucks up for UBCM

The Penticton mayor and council members, with the exception of Councillor John Vassilaki, will attend the Union of British Columbia Muncipalities, UBCM, in Whistler next week.

Although the council received flak last year for sending a big contingent and the associated costs,  Deputy Mayor Judy Sentes said Friday it is important to have good representation.

"This annual UBCM week is professional development for those of us in municipal government," she said. "For us to truly do service, we need to be knowledgable and current, and the way to do that is to attend the annual conference."

The convention which gives a voice to local government in BC, is Sept. 22 to 26 in Whistler. Last September, at the Vancouver UBCM, the total amount spent by Penticton was $15,450, which was more than Kelowna at $11,000 plus. Vernon's bill was only $7,400.

Vasillaki, who did not attend last year either, said the cost is just too high.

If he is elected mayor, he will suggest that the mayor or deputy mayor and two councillors go. One of his goals if elected is to appoint a full time deputy mayor.

"It's just too costly for that many people to go," he said. "I also wished they had announced they were running for the election before they went."

Sentes insists, however, there is much to be done, with many meetings set up with ministers.

Among the issues of most importance to the city are the hiring process for the new correctional centre in Oliver to ensure every opportunity is given to the community of Penticton for hiring.

They also want to keep the hospital patient care tower on the radar and make sure it is always a point of conversation, said Sentes.

Another big thing is water leases at the city's beaches, she explained.

"For development purposes we want to have influence and control of the development," she said. "We already have a process underway to develop on Skaha Lake and the intent is always to be aware of opportunities for Okanagan Lake as well."

A cycling precinct from Kamloops to the border, or at least Kelowna to the border will be discussed, as well as making it easier when the city holds big events.

"We are hoping to create a mechanism when we have a big event, that would be one authority for the promoter to go to," said Sentes. "It's complicated at this point, they have to go to various authorities which is almost overwhelming, so we want to streamline the process."

It was the recent Boonstock festival that brought this forward, but the issue has been going on for years, she added.

"Boonstock was a reminder of how complicated the process is now," she said. "The idea is to work with the promoter to resolve issues, rather than build obstacles."

The council, who will be joined by the city manager on the trip, will pay attention to expenses, she added. With councillors planning to carpool to start. 

"It is really appropriate that as many go as can, because it is truly a learning experience," she said. "You can't learn it all right at the job, you need to go to other opportunities for learning."

Judge accepts officer's version

A man facing charges that stem from an impaired driving incident in Oliver in 2012 was found guilty on four counts in a Penticton courtroom on Thursday.

Anthony Chester Bryant was convicted of impaired driving, obstructing a police officer, failing to stop and refusing to take a breath sample -- he was found not guilty of flight from police.

Judge Gregory Koturbash further dismissed Bryant's application to have the charges dismissed due to an infringement of his charter rights, arising from excessive force used by the constable making the arrest.

Koturbash stated he was satisfied that the crown established, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Cst. MacNeil did not use excessive force.

"I rejected Bryant's evidence and the evidence of his witnesses and accept the evidence of constables MacNeil and Stermscheg," he said. "Although Cst. MacNeil was mistaken as to the reason for Bryant reaching under the dash, it was reasonable for him to believe that he might be reaching for a weapon and to forcibly remove him from the vehicle and place him under arrest."

The judge further stated that he accepted Bryant did sustain some minor bruising during the arrest, but the bruising was not the result of excessive or unreasonable force.

MacNeil was the first witness to testify during the trial, regarding the June 11, 2012 incident.

On that day he observed a truck pulling a utility trailer, travelling on Sawmill Road near Oliver, swerve to the very edge of the right shoulder and back across the centre line.

He activated his emergency lights but the vehicle did not stop or slow down. He contacted another officer for  assistance and activated his siren.

Bryant eventually pulled into his driveway and came to a stop. MacNeil, believing the situation to be high risk, then ran to the driver's door with his handgun drawn and trained on Bryant, while the other officer went to the passenger door.

When MacNeil approached he noticed Bryant's face was red and he could smell an odour of liquor from inside the cab.

Bryant told the officer he needed to shut the truck off and MacNeil responded by saying to turn it off and get out.

For Bryant to turn off the vehicle he needed to reach below the dash, leading MacNeil to believe he was reaching under the seat and potentially grabbing a weapon. MacNeil then reacted quickly by pulling Bryant  from his truck and forcing him to the ground.

Bryant's version of events differed from the officer.The reason the officer observed the vehicle swerving was because the steering box on his truck was worn, causing it to wander to the left or right depending on the grade. He also stated he hadn't been drinking that day, but had drank heavily the night before.

After pulling into his driveway, Bryant said the officer came to his door, pointed the gun at him and told him to get the f*** out.

He said when he then reached under the dashboard to turn off his truck, the constable grabbed his ponytail and began striking him in the face with his fist. Once out of the truck, he landed face down and that is when the constable started kicking him, he said.

Testimony was also given by the other officer who attended to the incident, the passenger in Bryant's vehicle and a woman who lived next door, who said she could see a kicking motion.

In making his analysis, Koturbash said he found both officers to be credible and reliable and that their description of the events were internally and externally consistent.

Although he found the neighbour to be credible. He did not find her evidence reliable.

Nor did he find the passenger in the vehicle to be a credible witness, saying he was a good friend of Bryant's.

He further rejected Bryant's evidence, stating it defies common sense that a person so concerned about finding a safe place to park, would not be concerned about driving a vehicle that steered so poorly.

In terms of the testimony that Bryant was kicked multiple times, the next day Bryant took photographs of the injuries and those injuries are not consistent with the type of beating described, said the judge.

However, they are consistent with the events described by MacNeil.

The matter has gone over to the JCM to fix a date for sentencing.

SS Sicamous master plan

Penticton council was provided with an update on the master plan for the SS Sicamous area at Tuesday's meeting.

Highlights of the presentation given by consultant Ed Grifone were public consultation to date, the best liked options and efforts to bring all stakeholders on board.

"A part of council's strategic priorities is the waterfront and this is part of that," said the City's communications officer Simone Blais.

By way of background, the city identified in the 2014 budget that continuing the new walkway along past the SS Sicamous might not be the best plan. Ideas were bandied about by the public and SS Sicamous Society and staff proposed to do the master plan.

The work from that is now coming forward.

Four elements very consistent in terms of what people wanted are:

  1. some type of celebration of First Nations culture like a cultural centre or facility.
  2. A plaza or entryway, so that people can explore more
  3. enhance the rock outlook
  4. pathways and connections to make it easier for pedestrians to get around

According to Blais that was deemed important from a heritage perspective.

"It was an important area for base camp fishing, so the public felt there was an important heritage element," she said.

There have been presentations so far to council and the Penticton Indian Band chief and council with others slated in the near future.

The public will have the opportunity to provide more feedback at the Farmers' Market on Saturday, Sept. 27.

Additional next steps are refinement based on feedback to one concept, costing and phasing, funding and finalizing and presenting the plan.

Read more Penticton / S. Okanagan News


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