Top skiers compete at Apex

Apex Mountain Resort is welcoming some of the world's elite freestyle skiers to the hill for four days, beginning Thursday. 

The Toyo Tires Canadian Selection mogul event runs from Thursday to Sunday, with training taking place for the first two days training and competition for the final two.

The top 70 mogul skiers in Canada will take part in the event, as well as 15 skiers from Japan.

"The best freestyle skiers that are not on the World Cup tour are going to be competing for spots, basically. And a chance to prove themselves for the season," Apex general manager James Shalman said in advance of the event.

The athletes will be judged on their speed, air and turns during aerial maneuvers. 

The competition will be held on Kristi's Run — a run where World Cup mogul events have previously been held, in 2006 and 2007.

"We have had numerous coaches comment to us since then that this course is the best course they have seen on the World Cup circuit," Shalman said.

"There was a lot of work that went in to building the course, blasting rock and re-contouring the terrain to make it perfect." 

He said this week's four-day event will be free to the public to watch.

"It’s an easy 5 minute walk from the village... It is not often you will get to see such talent up close."


Crash snarls Main St.

A two-vehicle crash on Main St. at Duncan Ave. briefly blocked traffic Wednesday evening. 

Emergency crews were called to the scene shortly after 5 p.m., stopping traffic in one direction while they cleared the scene.

It does not appear anyone was injured in the accident.

Jaw shattered on dance floor

The family of a born-and-raised Penticton man that was brutally assaulted in a nightclub last week says he has a long road to recovery.

Police announced Tuesday an investigation into an assault on Cody MacKay, 30, who was found beaten unconscious on the dance floor of the Mule Nightclub early Sunday morning.

“His jaw is broken in three different places and he has had 26 stitches,” said Valerie Fehling, MacKay’s godmother. “Two of his back teeth were completely knocked out and he has severe concussions — he was unconscious for over five hours.”

Fehling has created a Go Fund Me page to support MacKay’s recovery.

“He just found out, in addition to everything else, when the time comes he has to pay for all of his own plastic surgery to reconstruct his face,” she said.

MacKay has worked at the Structurlam South Okanagan plant for years and was attending his staff Christmas party Saturday night, before he and his friends decided to head to the club.

“We certainly do not condone that kind of behaviour,” said Mule Nightclub GM Miriam Sklar, referring to the assault. “I didn’t actually see it, I saw it on video.”

“I would prefer not to comment on it, just because I would rather leave it in the police’s hands.”

Video surveillance of the incident has been shared with Penticton RCMP.

“Once we know who actually did it, that person will have a ban on them,” Sklar said. “Then they can’t cause problems in our club or other clubs.”

“We scan people at the door, so we know who they are when they come in.”

MacKay has undergone more than nine hours of surgery and will likely not be heading back to work anytime soon, added Fehling.

“He doesn’t know the person [who attacked him],” Fehling said. “From what I understand there was a little bit of ‘beaking’ off before from the assailant.”

“From what witnesses are saying, it started with a sucker punch.”

After MacKay’s unconscious body was removed from the dance floor, he was taken to Penticton hospital and eventually Kelowna General.

“He is a very modest guy who works hard,” Fehling said. “He is the kind of guy who has his life together and has never caused trouble here.”

The incident occurred at about 1:30 a.m. on Dec. 10.

Any witnesses of the assault are asked to contact Penticton RCMP at 250-492-4300 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477


Council table could grow

The number of council members in the Town of Osoyoos could be increased from five to seven next year.

On Thursday during a budget meeting, council will discuss the option of increasing the amount of councillors and what the implications would be.

The town's current representation of a mayor and four councillors is what is required for all towns and villages in the province, as a report from Osoyoos staff said.

That number could be changed, however, if a council procedure bylaw was amended. 

Mayor Sue McKortoff said the discussion has come about because, at times, council has made decisions with the minimum of three members when others have been away.

"It has been brought up before. There are some communities our size that have five on council, and many that we know of that have seven," she said.

McKortoff said Coun. Carol Youngberg has been away more than any other member this year to help her sister deal with medical issues.

"That was kind of what sparked it I think. If we have less people than five, does that give a true feeling of what we're deciding on?... We don't know until we look at all of the issues that are in the budget."

A report from town staff said the stipend for councillors is currently $16,543.08, plus benefits of $1,371.36.

Adding two councillors would cost between $42,000 and $50,000, staff estimated, with stipends, benefits and expenses considered.

Parking tickets for homeless

Your bad parking habits in Penticton could do some good over the next two weeks.

The city is teaming up with 100 Homes Penticton, and will allow motorists to donate their parking violation fines to the local nonprofit between Dec. 12 and 31.

100 Homes Penticton is a local campaign trying to provide housing and support to 100 people by July 2018.

“Effective solutions to our region’s homeless challenges are an ongoing concern regardless of the time of year” said Penticton Mayor, Andrew Jakubeit.

During this 20 day period, any parking or traffic ticket issued by bylaw officers will be changed to a warning if motorists donate the fine amount to 100 Homes Penticton.

“We know Penticton is generous and people want to help those in need.” said Tanya Behardien, chair of the 100 Homes Penticton partnership. “Our projects offer much-needed access to housing for individuals in very vulnerable situations. Somewhere to live is that first step in people feeling they can keep moving forward.”

The offer only applies to motorists who choose to pay their fine at city hall when speaking to the cashier or bylaw staff.

Local ran child-porn forums

Crown prosecutors are aiming to lock up a Penticton man for six to eight years for launching and administering a pair of child-porn websites on the darkweb.

Tyler Walker, 21, pleaded guilty to importing and distrubuting child pornography in connection to an investigation conducted by the RCMP, US Homeland Security and Toronto Police.

Walker was instrumental in the launch of two child-porn sites, called “Child’s Play” and “Hurt Meh” on the darkweb — an anonymous part of the internet accessible only with special software, Penticton court heard Wednesday.

He initially posted, shared and commented on videos of girls as young as two being sexually abused by older men on the “Gift Box Exchange” in 2015 — another child-porn site — before collaborating with users to launch “Child’s Play” in 2016.

To join “Child’s Play,” users were required to submit a photo of their child with a sign containing the website name, date and desired username.

Within two weeks of launch, more than 2,500 users had registered and were swapping child pornography.

“This is how child pornography gets created and distributed in large numbers,” Crown counsel Andrew Vandersluys said, adding such websites often operate for a short period of time, but grow very rapidly.

As an administrator for Child’s Play, Walker deleted a video from the platform on one occasion, labelling it as “hurtcore” — child porn displaying significant violence or distress of the child.

Shortly afterwards, however, Walker was seen online discussing the development of a darkweb site dedicated entirely to hurtcore, eventually dubbed "Hurt Meh."

“They saw a real market for this level of violent child pornography, that they didn’t want exchanged on Child’s Play,” Vandersluys said.

Walker was arrested at his Penticton home  on March 15, 2017 where he was living with his single mother, who was completely unaware what her son was doing.

When police entered Walker’s bedroom, the Child’s Play website was open on his computer. He was one of several people arrested as a part of the international investigation.

His mother was seated in the courtroom, breaking down into tears several times throughout the proceedings.

Vandersluys argued that Walker’s websites enabled the sexual abuse of children, adding that his offences should be viewed far more severe than a typical “street-level” consumer of child porn. He asked for a six to eight year sentence.

Defence lawyer Norm Yates asked that his client be sentenced to a time that would keep him in the provincial system; less than two years.

“It’s not been easy for Tyler since he’s been at OCC (Okanagan Correctional Centre),” he said, referring to a severe beating Walker took two weeks after being incarcerated from other inmates who found out what he was in jail for.

Walker has spent most of his time in segregation for his own protection, but has found god and accepted responsibility for his actions behind bars, Yates added.

“I don’t know where to start, I don’t know what to say,” Walker said, via videolink from OCC. “I have a future ahead of me, a lot of life ahead of me. I don’t expect sympathy from anyone for what I’ve done.”

He reiterated that he would receive the best treatment in the provincial system, specifically Ford Mountain prison in Chilliwack.

Justice Gale Sinclair reserved sentencing for a later date, saying he’s got to “think about this for a bit.”

Walker has already spent 274 days in prison, good for 411 days of pretrial credit.

Neighbours kill rehab centre

Plans to open a rehab centre at a Penticton home on Juniper Drive on Dec. 16 have fallen through.

Three neighbours of the home are reportedly closing a deal to purchase the home for $1.8M on Wednesday, negating the plan that Michelle Jansen had for it as a six-bed rehab facility.

The home is gated but shares a common driveway with two other residences. 

Neighbours Jesse and Ashley Duncan, who are one of three households involved in the purchase, said they were largely concerned about the safety for children.

"It's not a great situation... we didn't buy it as an investment," Jesse said.

They added that no neighbours were consulted about the plans for the home, and they found out from articles in the media.

"We've had friends who have been to these facilities, and it's not a matter of need, of course we need them... But there needs to be regulations for proper locations for them," Ashley said.

Jansen is based in Coquitlam and runs the Brandon Jansen Foundation in memory of her son, Brandon, who passed away at age 20 from a fentanyl overdose while staying at a rehab centre.

She claimed it was up to the neighbours to reach out to her if they had concerns, something that she said never happened.

"I'm based in the Lower Mainland, it's not like I'm in Penticton and I can just leisurely walk around and have these discussions. I'm a business owner in Coquitlam and would've been happy to have those discussions, but not one neighbour opted to reach out to me."

The City of Penticton's director of developmental services, Anthony Haddad, said the province's Community Care and Assisted Living Act overruled municipal zoning bylaws in this case.

"A residence of not more than 10 persons, not more of six of whom are in care, are exempt from any (zoning) provisions," he said.

"Within our zoning bylaw, we don't allow this in a residential zone. However, the provincial legislation supersedes the local government regulations on this issue. So our role in this issue was to review the business license application."

He noted that the business license application was pulled by Jansen two weeks ago.

Jansen said her deal fell through because of "enormous deficiencies" in the home following an inspection, but criticized the neighbours deeply, saying they were "driven by stigma." 

The Duncans said that one of the neighbours involved in the purchase, Mike Collins, originally built the home years ago. 

Jesse said that Collins sold the home, and he and his wife became friends with the owner when they moved in more than three years ago.

"He ended up moving out east, and he's had it for sale ever since," Jesse said.

He added that there are no deficiencies from the tours they've had of home, saying "we've toured it five times."

Jansen said she is continuing to search for a property in Penticton or Kelowna to eventually open a rehab centre in her son's name.

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