South Okanagan-Similkameen Crime Stoppers group looking for volunteers for board of directors

Want to fight back at crime?

The South Okanagan-Similkameen division of Crime Stoppers is seeking volunteers to serve on their board of directors.

The community-based crime prevention program, which works with RCMP and facilitates gathering anonymous information from the general public about crime, needs two to three more people to help fill those seats.

"If you have business experience, policing and/or board experience and want to help assist us making our communities safer, we want to talk to you!" reads a post from the group shared to social media in early December.

Anyone interested in getting involved on the board can submit a resume and brief cover letter to [email protected], explaining the reasoning for your interest and why your skills would help the group.

Follow the group on Facebook here.


Penticton Elvis Festival announces celebrity VIP attendees

Celeb names at Elvis Fest

Penticton Elvis Festival is thrilled to announce some special VIPs who will be joining the event this coming summer.

The King of Rock and Roll's former girlfriend Linda Thompson, who is also well known for her songwriting, and her brother and Elvis' former bodyguard Sam Thompson will both be speaking at the festival.

Elvis enthusiasts will hear stories from Linda and Sam about their time being some of the closest people to him.

Linda went on to become a prolific songwriter, working with big names in the business like Barbara Streisand, Whitney Houston, Josh Groban, Stevie Nicks and many, many more.

She wrote a New York Times-bestselling memoir in 2015 titled " A Little Thing Called Life," in which forgiveness and acceptance are overriding themes.

Her brother Sam was Elvis' bodyguard and close friend during that last five years of his life. Sam went on to graduate law school and become a judge in Memphis, and has since been active in the music industry and a frequent public speaker about his time with Elvis.

Both Linda and Sam will be in Penticton for the "Aloha from Hawaii" 50th anniversary Penticton Elvis Festival from June 22-25, 2023.

Tickets are now on sale, which organizers say are the perfect stocking stuffer for a rock enthusiast.

Find tickets online here or enter to win a pair through a Castanet contest online here.

Penticton city staff propose increase to utility rates

Utility rate hikes proposed

Pentictonites could see a hike in their electrical rates next year, after several years of the municipality swallowing increased Fortis BC bulk rates to allow citizens a break during the pandemic.

City staff is proposing an increase of five per cent in 2023, which a report states will cost the average residential user just under $6 per year.

"Fortis BC bulk rates, which make up almost 90 per cent of the Electrical Utility budget, have increased by almost nine per cent over the past five years,” says Kristen Dixon, the city’s general manager of infrastructure.

“The city has recognized the financial pressures that many residents and businesses are facing, and over the same time frame, reduced rates by three per cent to try to offset this pressure. However, Fortis is proposing a further four per cent increase for 2023, and we have reached a point where we must increase our rates by modest amounts in order to provide a sustainable and reliable service for years to come.”

A staff report that will be submitted to council at Tuesday's meeting notes that inflationary pressures and supply chain issues are impacting the city's cost of capital works, as well as Fortis BC's.

The sewer utility is proposed to increase four per cent this year, and water just 0.6 per cent.

"Adding in the changes to the storm water rate, which is designed to continue maintaining and improving capital works along key roads to prevent pooling and flooding, the total household impact of all the changes amounts to $8.72 [monthly]," explained city staff in a news release Friday.

Council will receive the report for information Tuesday, and the formal review of the utility rates is expected to get underway in January.

"In addition to a general review of revenues and expenditures, the review will also do a more detailed analysis of the electrical dividend and how it is determined, how expenses are split between the basic and variable elements of the rates and the potential implementation of a variable rate structure for treated water to support conservation goals," the city states.

"Information about how to participate in the review will be shared early next year."


Grab early bird tickets to Penticton's Fest of Ale at discounted price

Fest of Ale tix now on sale

Early bird tickets are now on sale for the popular Okanagan Fest of Ale in Penticton next year.

On April 14 and 15, the 19+ festival will return to the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre, featuring beer, cider, food and live entertainment. More than 150 beverages will be there to try.

The festival has been held outdoors in recent years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and organizers are excited that the 26th edition will be back at the PTCC where it belongs.

"With the positive response from our attendees at the outdoor event last May, we are planning a hybrid model, where we will utilize both indoor and outdoor spaces offered at the PTCC and plan to expand our usual outdoor space” said Simon St Laurent, president of the Okanagan Fest of Ale Society.

Tickets are now on sale. Early bird prices are $35 plus fees and taxes or $50 for the whole weekend.

Early bird prices end Feb. 28. Proceeds from ticket sales always go to local charities and non-profit organizations, with more than $750,000 raised to date.

“We are realigning with one of the pillars of our mission statement, in having a festival in the shoulder season to encourage patrons to experience the renowned Okanagan hospitality. Our not-for-profit beer festival has always been well received and we are proud of the reputation it has gathered over the past quarter of a century," St Laurent said.

Find tickets online here.

Boil water notice extended through weekend for 200 Penticton homes

Boil water through weekend

A boil water notice for more than 200 homes in Penticton after a water main break Wednesday will remain in place over the weekend as additional tests are conducted.

The homes are south of Brantford Avenue. An update from the municipality will be provided on Monday.

“While water main breaks are not abnormal this time of year as things begin to freeze, it is extremely rare within the City of Penticton to have to issue a boil water notice. We did so out of an abundance of caution and in consultation with Interior Health,” said Len Robson, public works manager.

“Although the water main was fixed the same day, it does take some time for the water quality testing process, which is critical to ensure the water is safe to drink. We hope to have some good news for the affected residents soon.”

Residents must bring their water to a rolling boil for at least one minute before using if for such domestic purposes as drinking, making infant formula or juices, cooking, brushing teeth, washing raw foods, and making ice.

Homes impacted are:

  • Lakeside Road – all residents south of Skaha Marina to City limits
  • Brantford Avenue – all residents
  • Finnerty Road – all residents
  • Derenzy Place – all residents
  • Lakeside Court – all residents
  • Smythe Drive – all residents

Penticton to play host to Harlem Globetrotters this winter

Globetrotters on the way

Basketball's most outrageous and fun event is coming to Penticton this winter.

The Harlem Globetrotters will take over the South Okanagan Events Centre on Wednesday, Jan. 25, showing off their incredible skills and non-stop laughs in the goofiest, most impressive game you'll ever see.

They will go head-to-head against the Washtington Generals, battling it out for supremacy on the court.

Tickets range from $20-$95.

Fans can get tickets for the Penticton experience starting at 10 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 5, online here

Summerland filmmaker launches series of episodes profiling the unique characters of the community

Local stories in new series

Contributed Storyboard Productions

A collection of local stories that make Summerland magical and unique are now featured in a six-episode TV series, after local production company won a $10,000 grant.

Storyboard Productions learned they had won a Telus Storyhive "Voices" grant last winter, to produce their series vision based on real people in Summerland.

After a year of work collecting stories, shooting and editing, "A Magical Place Called Summerland" launched last week on YouTube on the Storyhive channel.

Stephanie Seaton, producer and videographer, follows a different locals in each of the 15-minute episodes, from orchardists to artists, chefs to First Nations fisheries experts, and even train robbers.

Seaton has a passion for shooting and sharing interesting local stories, and hopes the series captures everything strange and wonderful about Summerland today. She now has another film project in the works, with details coming soon.

Find the whole series online here, available for free, or by searching "A Magical Place Called Summerland" on YouTube.

Oliver Fire Department hosting drive-thru breakfast to raise donations for local causes

Fire crews host drive-thru

Come by the Oliver Fire Department on Saturday morning to grab a piping-hot breakfast made fresh by the team.

Fire crews will be manning the grills and handing out breakfast bags while people drive-thru their fire hall, a tradition that's continued over the past five years.

"For a donation, you get a breakfast sandwich; an egg, ham and cheese, along with a hash brown, coffee or juice and an apple," fire chief Bob Graham said.

"Give whatever you can donate. If you can't donate, well, come through for breakfast anyway."

This year's proceeds will be going towards Food for Thought and Giovanni's Crusade against Cancer.

"Well, usually we donate to a local charity or charitable organization. They requested this year for the high school's nutritious snack program. High school kids don't want to do the starfish backpack program that elementary schools do where kids really needed nutritious meals provided to them," Graham said.

"High school kids don't really like to do that. So we've picked an organization that has provided nutritious snacks, muffins and fruit that are available for high school kids."

"The other was someone that approached us that needed assistance with a serious medical issue."

In the past, the department has given donations to the local women's shelter, the food bank and the Starfish Program.

One hundred per cent of the donations go to charity. All of the food has either been donated or purchased by the Fire Department Society.

The breakfast runs from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and drivers are asked to enter at the back of the fire hall.

Lawsuit blaming City of Penticton for cracked windshield rejected

No city cash for crack

The City of Penticton won't be forking out the funds to fix a crack in a windshield, despite an attempted lawsuit.

B.C.’s Civil Resolution Tribunal has dismissed a dispute filed against the City of Penticton for a damaged windshield, where the driver claimed the municipality failed to adequately clean a city road and was responsible for the repairs.

According to the Nov. 30 decision, on March 7, 2022, Christine Gooch’s vehicle was parked on the street on Duncan Avenue West in Penticton, when a rock was kicked up by a passing vehicle and cracked the vehicle’s windshield.

Gooch’s claim stated that Penticton was responsible for the damage for failing to adequately clean the streets of debris and sought $300 which they say is the deductible their insurance company is charging them to repair the windshield.

The city responded by saying it followed its street cleaning policy and is not responsible for the damage.

The city also pointed out that Gooch initially asked for $200, then raised the ask to $300 in this dispute, "without explanation," as noted by the tribunal findings.

The tribunal decision stated that the issue in the applicant’s claim is that they provided "no evidence" of the repair costs, such as a quote, an insurance policy, or any documentation from their insurance company indicating any costs to be paid by the applicant.

The windshield, at the date of the tribunal ruling, had still not been repaired.

Without any evidence supporting any claim for damages, the applicant’s damages are considered unproven and were dismissed by the tribunal.

Mayor says it's 'disappointing' Penticton was not included in new Interior Health crisis response team roll-out

Left out of crisis response

Mayor Julius Bloomfield is disappointed that Penticton is not included in a newly-announced expansion of Interior Health response teams available for mental health calls in Kelowna and Kamloops, but has high hopes for collaboration in future.

IH announced the news Thursday, confirming a team comprised of an RCMP officer and medical health professional will be able to respond to mental health related calls from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. daily.

It is the type of program, known as "Car 40," that Penticton politicians and police alike have been pressing for.

“While it is disappointing Penticton is not included in this expansion, I met with the head of Interior Health earlier today and came away from those discussions with Susan Brown encouraged and confident they are fully aware of the needs of our community," Bloomfield said in an official statement released to media Thursday afternoon.

“We have been clear on the need for a Car 40-type program in the past and reinforced that in the meeting with Interior Health. The expansion of services in larger communities underscores the effectiveness of these resources. Now the focus must turn to mid-size communities like Penticton and Interior Health says it is committed to working with us to identify additional resources and we look forward to working closely with them on our project."

The mayor said the establishment of a Car 40 program locally, to provide support to locals in crisis and those responding, will be top of mind when the newly-elected council establishes its strategic priorities for the coming term.

“This was my first chance to discuss the issue directly with the head of Interior Health and I believe this is a positive start of the momentum towards Penticton finally getting the support that both the city and the marginalized population need and deserve.”

More Penticton News