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Parks take native names

Two provincial parks in the South Okanagan are undergoing name changes.

Haynes Point and Okanagan Falls provincial parks are being renamed to their traditional First Nation nsyilxcen (Okanagan) place names.

The announcement was made Friday by Environment Minister Mary Polak and Osoyoos Indian Band Chief Clarence Louie.

The name changes are part of an agreement made between the province and the Osoyoos Indian Band that also sees the band managing the two parks, and will see McIntyre Bluff officially renamed as well.

“This agreement between the province and the Osoyoos Indian Band ensures visitors from around the world can continue to enjoy these parks and, at the same time, the protection of important archaeological sites and areas of significant cultural values,” said Polak.

“Thank you to Chief Louie and the Osoyoos Indian Band for working with us to develop this agreement,
strengthening our government-to-government relationship.”

Haynes Point Park is now officially known as “sw̓iw̓s park.” sw̓iw̓s (swee-yous) means place where it is shallow or narrow in the middle of the lake.

The place name explains how the Okanagan ancestors of the Osoyoos Indian Band used the area as a very important crossing point from one side of Osoyoos Lake to another.

The official name for Okanagan Falls Park is now “sx̌ʷəx̌ʷnitkʷ park.” sx̌ʷəx̌ʷnitkʷ (s-wuh-wuneet-kw) means little falls and signifies a connection to Kettle Falls, which is known as big falls in the nsyilxcen language. These two falls were the most important fishing sites in the Okanagan Nation’s territory.

sx̌ʷəx̌ʷnitkʷ park was also once part of the Osoyoos Indian Band’s reserve lands. The reserve was allotted to the Band for fishing purposes, but was cut off by the McKenna-McBride Royal Commission in 1913.

The place name for McIntyre Bluff is nʕaylintn (Ny-lin-tn). The process to officially restore this place name is underway with the provincial government.

“Language and place names are of utmost importance to the historical and cultural identity of people from any region or country,” said Chief Louie.

"The early English and French settlers knew this - some of their first actions were to rename and map the countries they settled. sw̓iw̓s, sx̌ʷəx̌ʷnitkʷ and nʕaylintn are important Okanagan Nation place names that represent our culture and our tribal territory. These are historic names that have stood for thousands of years. First Nation language and place names deserve the same respect as their English names - not just in an historical context, but in a contemporary context as well."

Chief Louie said he is proud to know that these names will now be formally recognized and acknowledged as part of the political, social and cultural future of this province.

Both parks are open, and campers can expect the same recreational opportunities enjoyed previously.

During the transition to the nsyilxcen names, the English names for both parks will be included in local signage.



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Arrest made in assault

One man is in custody following a brutal assault Thursday in Penticton.

The incident occurred about 8:30 a.m. on Shingle Creek Road.

RCMP say they were called to the three-kilometre mark of the road, which is off Green Mountain Road, shortly after 8:30 a.m., where they encountered a man who had been badly assaulted and left on the side of the road.

The victim was taken to hospital for treatment of what police said appeared to be serious but non-life-threatening injuries.

Following an investigation by general-duty members, GIS officers, the forensic unit and a police service dog, a 32-year-old Penticton man was arrested.

Police are searching for other suspects.

RCMP have indicated they believe the individuals involved know each other and there is no risk to the public.



Paver auction helps PRH

Penticton residents' summer backyard projects could benefit local health care.

Paving stones salvaged from the Rotary Park walkway project will be sold to the highest bidders in a two-week silent auction, and funds raised will support the fundraising campaign for the Penticton Regional Hospital patient care tower.

“Salvaging and selling (the) paving stones means the project’s ripple effects will continue throughout Penticton,” said Mayor Andrew Jakubeit. “The paver sale is an affordable opportunity for residents to revitalize their own backyards, and funds will go to a great cause.”

Between May 25 and June 5, people can stop in at the city yards office (616 Okanagan Ave. East) and submit a bid on a variety of paver packages, ranging from one to five pallets.

There are 103 pallets of paving stones available, with about 280 bricks per pallet, or approximately 75 square feet. The reserve bid per pallet is $75. 

“We truly appreciate the city’s support for our fundraising campaign – the most ambitious in our history,” said Janice Perrino, executive director of the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation. “The foundation must raise $20 million to cover the cost of all of the medical equipment in the new tower.”

Construction of the $325-million PRH project is expected to begin in the early spring of 2016 and be completed by late 2019.

The new tower will include 84 new single-bed rooms, new ambulatory care clinics, more operating rooms and the UBC Faculty of Medicine program. The existing emergency department will be expanded by almost four times its current size.



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Major marina makeover

Plans were unveiled this week for a revitalized Skaha Lake Marina.

Trio Marine Group has proposed an expanded 100-slip marina that features seasonal rentals, day rentals and recreational pleasure craft like paddleboards and kayaks.

"It's an exciting project ... to not only create a destination and marina enhancement, but cultivate a revenue model that brings added benefit to the community," said Mayor Andrew Jakubeit.

Dock upgrades are called for, and the bulk of the construction can be done locally, with installation the only work to occur on the water.

The marina building will also be revitalized to include a restaurant, with seating for 100.

The second phase, anticipated in 2017, would be a waterpark intended to be a destination for the Okanagan. It would feature waterslides and play areas.

Parking will be preserved as much as possible, if not expanded. Beach access to Skaha Lake will be maintained, and the boat launch will still be available for lake users.

The proposal was developed through a two-part public competitive bid process, resulting in a 29-year lease (with options to renew for two five-year periods) at market rate.

Revenue sharing is part of the agreement, which will go back to the taxpayers of Penticton in the form of a fund for parkland acquisition or waterfront enhancement.

Trio Marine Group has also committed to a public engagement campaign to create community awareness, with more details to come.

Public input will be sought by council at a June 29 meeting, prior to council’s final decision on the agreement.



Mussel fight given boost

Efforts to keep quagga and zebra mussels out of Okanagan lakes received a financial boost Thursday.

The RBC Blue Water Project donated $100,000 to the Okanagan Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Program. 

“We’re very excited to see RBC support such an important prevention program,” said RDOS engineering technologist Candace Pilling. 

Zoe Kirk, public works projects co-ordinator with the RDOS, said the presentation was timely, with a boat infested with mussels intercepted at Sylvan Lake, Alta., on the May long weekend during a mandatory border inspection.

Although the mussels have yet to make it to B.C., they have had a devastating effect in the United States and eastern Canada.

As they reproduce, the mussels degrade aquatic ecosystems to the point of collapse, cover infrastructure, infest beaches, affecting tourism, and coat boats, propellers and plug bilges.

"The environmental and economical impact of these mussels were they ever to arrive would be devastating," said Lisa Scott, program manager of the Okanagan and Similkameen Invasive Species Society. "So we need to do as much as we can now to educate the public about what we can do collectively to prevent their arrival."



Prison on time, on budget

A new jail being built on Osoyoos Indian Band land is going up quickly in the South Okanagan.

Media were invited to tour the Okanagan Correctional Centre, near Oliver, on Thursday.

"It is looking very impressive," said MLA Laurie Throness, parliamentary secretary for corrections, during the tour. "It is on time and on budget, and will benefit First Nations and the local community with jobs."

Construction on the $200 million project is scheduled to wrap up by the fall of 2016, with inmates expected to move in by early 2017. It is believed the new facility will relieve pressure on Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre.

So far, more that 100,000 hours have been logged on the site and more than 375 people have worked on the construction, with about 1,000 direct and indirect jobs expected to support the build by its completion.

In addition, almost 800 people have attended information sessions on employment at the correctional centre, with more sessions to follow this fall.

Les Krusel, construction manager for PCL Construction, said the company has focused on hiring locally, but has people working on site from all over B.C.

"It is about 45 per cent local hires, mostly B.C. workers and some First Nations, with more finishing trades to come on," he said.

A warden has already been appointed and is beginning to recruit senior staff.

It is believed there will be 300 permanent jobs at the site, with 240 correctional officers and 60 other staff.

Once completed, the high-security facility will have 378 cells. Thursday's tour revealed there will be two bunks, a desk, sink, a toilet and accommodation for TVs in each cell.

The project is the first partnership of its kind in Canada to build a provincial correctional centre on First Nation land and is considered a landmark agreement between B.C. Corrections and the OIB.

Chief Clarence Louie described it as not just a huge project for the Indian band, but for the entire South Okanagan.

"There aren't many $200 million projects in Oliver and Osoyoos, not many," he said. "They happen once in a decade, if that."

The impact of jobs and contract opportunities will carry on for generations, he added.



Young stars back at SOEC

Okanagan hockey fans may get a chance to see highly touted Connor McDavid up close and personal this summer in Penticton.

The Vancouver Canucks have announced the Young Stars Classic will return to the South Okanagan Events Centre for a fifth year, Sept. 11-14.

The four-team tournament will feature prospects from the Canucks, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets.

McDavid would likely be in Penticton as part of the Oilers prospect squad if, as expected, he is selected by the Oilers first overall in the June NHL entry draft.

“We have great fans all over B.C., and we’re excited to once again host the Young Stars Classic in beautiful Penticton,” said Trevor Linden, Canucks president of hockey operations.

“This is an excellent event for fans in the Okanagan and gives us a platform to further develop and assess our prospects in competitive games.”

Tournament ticket packages include six games for $60 on sale July 10. VIP ticket packages are available for $90 and $260. Click here for information and details on what the packages include.

“This is high-level hockey – fast, very skilled, hard-hitting and intense. It really is a must-see event for hockey fans looking to take in NHL-calibre hockey,” said event chair and Mayor Andrew Jakubeit.

“This signature festival generates significant economic activity for Penticton and neighbouring communities, as well as the energy and exposure that four Canadian NHL teams bring to our doorstep.”

This year the festivities will include a Canucks Town Hall Breakfast as well as Minor Hockey Day, which will include a Party on the Plaza event with games, food, music and entertainment as well as skills and development camps for B.C. minor hockey players.  

Young Stars Classic Schedule*

  • Game 1             Calgary vs. Winnipeg                Sept. 11            4 p.m.
  • Game 2             Vancouver vs. Edmonton          Sept. 11            7:30 p.m.
  • Game 3             Calgary vs. Edmonton              Sept. 12            7:30 p.m.
  • Game 4             Vancouver vs. Winnipeg           Sept. 13            2 p.m.
  • Game 5             Edmonton vs. Winnipeg            Sept. 14           11:30 a.m.
  • Game 6             Vancouver vs. Calgary              Sept. 14            3:30 p.m.   

*Game dates, times and opponents subject to change.     



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