Friday, October 24th2.7°C
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Mayor, wife in theft scandal

 

 

6:48 p.m. update:

Osoyoos Mayor Stu Wells issued this statement late Thursday afternoon.

There will not be a press conference tomorrow, Friday.  My final statement is my apology. It is unfortunate that Mr. Betz could not accept it.

  • There was a time frame – a year and a half ago.
  • There was an action – mine.
  • There was a process – law and legal.
  • There was closure.

12:44 p.m. original story:

Osoyoos Mayor, Stu Wells, who abruptly dropped his re-election campaign at the last minute, has found himself in the middle of a theft scandal.

Wells and his wife, Dr. Martha Collins, have admitted to stealing signs from the property of Oliver Betz on June 24 of last year.

The theft involving Wells, Collins and an employee of Osoyoos Mountain Estates, was caught on video surveillance.

Betz erected the signs on his property as part of a protest warning potential purchasers at the development of issues he had after purchasing property from Regal Ridge in 2006.

He claims the purchase was to include provisions for power and phone, however, says the developer admitted to him in 2011 those services would not be provided.

Betz painted a sign on his driveway which stated in large letters, "Regal Ridge 5th Year No Phone, No Power, Why?"

When that was mostly painted over, Betz says he erected the signs and the surveillance camera.

In an email sent to several media outlets, including Castanet, Betz says the surveillance video shows the three entering his property and stealing the signs.

Betz filed a formal complaint with the RCMP and, while he says the three accepted criminal responsibility, no formal charges were ever laid.

"Unfortunately, it did happen and what we are experiencing is how people react to different situations," Wells said in an interview Thursday.

Wells admitted his guilt in an email sent to Betz and his partner, Marg Coulson, earlier this year.

Ms. Marg Coulson & Mr. Oliver Betz

I wish to offer my sincere and profound apology for my actions on the evening of June 24, 2013. The removal of your protest sign from your fence post was an act of immense stupidity on my behalf. The physical act was obvious but more significant was the infringement on your rights and freedoms under Canadian accepted values.

My actions were committed without any thought as to what you have been through in dealing with the physical deficiencies in your property purchase. To have purchased your dream property and not be able to build on the lot is both unfathomable by me and unconscionable by the developer. This was exacerbated by my callous disregard for your rights and freedoms. I understand that there has also been an element of harassment by the developers and the sales force. My actions on that evening certainly added to your stress and anguish.

I have reviewed the whole incident and have certainly had to re-visit my attitude and inner psyche as to my core values. I am working at making sure that empathy is one of my primary emotions. I am very embarrassed by my out of character actions that took place that evening. My more usual role is one of enabling not demoralizing. I am so in tune with helping people solve problems.
I have a tremendous amount of remorse for this unacceptable and embarrassing act. I sincerely ask for your forgiveness and ask you to accept my apology.

Warmest regards,

Stu Wells





Bully for the Opera

The world premiere performance of Stickboy, a new opera exploring the subject of bullying, will open this evening at the Vancouver Playhouse.

Written by Penticton spoken-word artist Shane Koyczan, with music by composer Neil Weisensel, Stickboy is produced by Vancouver Opera. The autobiographical story focuses on a youth’s struggles against the harmful impacts of bullying.

“The excitement that we at Vancouver Opera are feeling on the day of the world premiere of a new opera is almost beyond expressing. Through the brave eloquence of Shane Koyczan’s words and the beautiful power of Neil Weisensel’s music, we present to the world and to our community a work that we know will make a lasting contribution to the discussion of how we treat those among us who are different, and how we live together in community," said James W. Wright, general director, Vancouver Opera. 

“We are grateful to the Government of British Columbia for demonstrating, through this generous support, its belief in the power of opera to connect with everyone on such an important subject.”

Stickboy is showing 12 times between Oct. 23 and Nov. 7, 2014. For details, visit here.

The Government of British Columbia provided a $500,000 grant to Vancouver Opera to support the production and presentation of Stickboy.

A national leader in bullying prevention, British Columbia is the first province in Canada to develop a comprehensive strategic approach.

Launched in June, 2012, BC's ERASE Bullying Strategy has attracted attention from jurisdictions across Canada.

For more information on ERASE, go here.



No shirt, no shoes, no freedom

Despite attempts to hide in the surrounding bush, a 20-year-old man from Nanaimo is in custody thanks to Tig the police dog.

Around 12 p.m. on Thursday Oct. 23, Osoyoos RCMP attended a home on Gravenstein Drive in an attempt to arrest Dillan Cote on outstanding warrants.

When police arrived, they found Cote who fled, shirtless and shoeless, from the home.

The warrants included charges of Possession of Stolen Property and Obstruction in connection with separate incidents in Penticton, BC and Edmonton, Alberta. 

Additional resources from the Oliver RCMP, Keremeos RCMP, Regional General Investigation Section and Penticton Police Dog Services made their way to the area to assist with the search.

Police service dog "Tig" immediately established a track and was able to safely locate Cote hiding in the bushes nearby.

Cote remains in custody on the strength of the outstanding warrants. He could face additional charges as the investigation continues.



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Random Act of Kindness Day

A presentation on passing on kindness has been well-received by Penticton Council.

Aaron McRann, executive director of the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan, provided information about what's in store for Random Act of Kindness Day at Monday's meeting.

Community foundations across the valley and BC Interior are encouraging each of their communities to take part. 

McRann encouraged the city to participate and challenge other organizations on the day, to be held on Nov. 7.

He encouraged Bylaw Services to place Random Act of Kindness cards on vehicles instead of parking tickets, requiring residents to pass on the kindness within a given timeframe.



Cannery Brewing on the move

Craft beer flowed and there were plenty of toasts at the groundbreaking ceremony for a well known Penticton brewery on Wednesday.

Cannery Brewing is moving from its longtime location at the Cannery Trade Centre to a a new site on Ellis Street in the city's downtown.

"Today marks an important milestone for us as we celebrate the groundbreaking of our new brewery," said Patt Dyck, who owns the business with her husband Ron.

Dyck told those in attendance that they started their journey in 2000, brewing their first batch of beer on April Fools Day, 2001.

They have come a long way in the 14 years since, brewing their 1,555th batch of beer this week.

"We have grown and expanded and as much as we adore our current location in the Cannery Trade Centre, we've simply outgrown our space there," she said. "We are building a new brewery that will be larger and better suited to our needs. And we are thrilled to be moving downtown."

Another thing that will not change is they will continue to feature beers that celebrate features of the city, such as: Lakeboat Lager, which pays tribute to the S.S. Sicamous, or Paddles Up Pale Ale, which honours the Dragon Boat Festival. In addition, there is Naramata Nut Brown Ale, which gives a nod to the village of Naramata.

Mayor Garry Litke congratulated the brewery owners for their great addition to the downtown.

"We have a vision for Ellis Street that involves theatres, art galleries and breweries," he said. "So this fits into the longterm plan."

The owners hope to be in and brewing in the new facility at 198 Ellis Street early in the new year.



Penticton reacts to shooting

Penticton politicians, veterans and residents described the shootings in Ottawa as shocking and disturbing, as they went about their business on Wednesday.

Suzanne Moccia, a Penticton resident who works for an Ottawa company, said it is super unsettling.

"That part of Ottawa is generally a really safe area, a place that is familiar that I walked through for three years of my life," she said. "And then to see the images of the police and everybody being blocked off and hearing from my co-workers they are in lockdown is totally troubling."

A reservist, who has since been identified as Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, was shot and killed at the War Memorial in Ottawa Wednesday morning. Witnesses say he was shot point blank by a masked, rifle-wielding gunman, who then moved up the street to launch an attack on nearby Parliament Hill, in which at least two people were injured.

The gunman killed inside Parliament is said to be Michael Zehaf-Bibeau.

Mayor Garry Litke said he was made of aware of what happened Wednesday and that they may have to consider the level of security at City Hall.

"We will be looking at that," he said.

MLA Dan Ashton is at the BC Legislature in Victoria, and could not comment on what is happening there. Of the incident itself, he said, "It's a terrible atrocity, and our hearts go out to the family of the soldier who was killed."

Dick Knorr, Ashton's constituency assistant, said they already have security measures in place if anything was to happen at the MLA's office in Penticton, so there was no need to step up the security today.

Murray Grandy, president of the Penticton branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, said he too thought it was terrible.

"This country needs to get its defences ready for more of this kind of thing," he said. "Because more is going to happen."

Penticton resident and Royal Canadian Air Force Veteran Alan Kidd, said everyone was very emotional right now about what has taken place.

"Things have changed for Canada, we are no longer an innocent nation and we are no longer able to say we are not involved," he said. "This is not an accident, it took place in Ottawa at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and in the heart of our parliament. It was a well planned event and did not happen off the cuff."

Penticton RCMP Sgt. Rick Dellebuur reported there are no plans to step up RCMP patrols in the city at this time.

The flag at City Hall is also flying at half-mast to mark the events in Ottawa.

 



Council says no to rental property

Penticton council has again rejected plans to build a multi family housing development on Scott Avenue.

Following a packed and lengthy public hearing Monday, the council voted 3-3 on the matter, sparking a round of applause from those in attendance.

"I don't believe it all has to be on the same street. I strongly believe Scott Avenue has reached saturation point," said Councillor Katie Robinson. "Let's put the neighbourhood out of its misery."

This is the third public hearing on the proposed development at 273 Scott Ave., which would be three storeys and have 13 units.

Although it has been scaled down from a former proposal of four storeys and 17 units, several residents spoke at the meeting about their concerns about the neighbourhood already being congested.

Mayor Garry Litke, who voted against it, shared that sentiment. 

He said it, (the development), doesn't really fit in our zoning requirements, and that there is already too much traffic and congestion on the street from other developments.

"We should try to retain the residential flavour of that neighbourhood and stay within the zoning requirements and the OCP," he said.

Also at the second public hearing, he added, council gave specific instructions to the developer to stay within the zoning requirements. They made some significant change, but it is still not within the parameters outlined at the second hearing.

Councillors who supported the development, stressed the need for affordable housing in the city.

"Right now, around election time, so many people are asking what am I going to do about affordable housing in Penticton," said Councillor Helena Konanz. "One thing everybody agrees to make housing less expensive is to increase density, and this is an example of a developer working to increase density and make it more affordable."



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