Friday, July 25th22.4°C

Orchardists busy after rainfall

The owners of 30 acres of cherry trees in the Naramata area were hard at work Thursday, making sure the fruit didn't split. 

Late in the afternoon a helicopter arrived at the Van Westen orchard to blow water off the trees after the recent rainfall.

"Once they are split, they are ruined," said Jake Van Westen. "So we brought in the helicopter to go over the rows of cherries. The downdraft then blows the water off."

Getting rainfall like this in July is not typical, he added. It is usually June when the rain falls.

At this point in the growing season, it is the later varieties they are most worried about.

The family also has apple trees, but said they did not see any noticeable damage from Wednesday's hail.

Other orchardists along Naramata Road said they had picked their cherries already, but were keeping an eye on their apples.

Glen Lucas, general manager at the BC Fruit Growers' Association, said as of Thursday morning, he had not heard of widespread damage to crops in the south Okanagan, but he doesn't always get information right away.

"With the rain, I would expect some damage to cherry crops in terms of splitting," he said. "But the consumer doesn't see split cherries, they are culled out. It's more that the rain is a headache for the growers. It's an extra cost and extra management."

The worst thing for the cherries is rain followed by intense heat, but fortunately that did not happen on Thursday.

"It causes even more splitting if it gets hot, right after it rains." he said.

Lucas said apricots could also have been impacted by Wednesday's hail. 

"It would cause marks or bruising on the fruit," he said. "But again consumers don't see that damage. It is the grower who has to sort out the damaged fruit."

The Van Westen family takes it all in stride.

"There is always something. We just hope for the best," said Jake Van Westen.

Deborah Pfeiffer




Home hit by lightning

A Penticton couple spent most of Thursday dealing with the aftermath of a lightning strike to their home.

The strike hit the house on Victoria Drive during Wednesday's storm.

Debra Lawton said she was downstairs in the home around 7:30 p.m., when she heard a really loud bang.

"All the power went out, and I could hear the sound of water running down the inside of the living room wall, because a pipe had burst in the upstairs bathroom," she said. "We think the lightning hit above it on the roof."

Lawton then ran and turned the water off and called the fire department, who were quick to respond.

The firefighters took a sensor around the older house to see if there were any hot spots and found some shingles from the roof, lying on the ground outside.

There was no fire from the lightning, just the broken water pipe, said Lawton.

It wasn't until power came back on that they found the damage to walls in the bathroom and an upstairs bedroom.

"It was all a little scary, because I didn't know why the water was running down the middle of the house," said Lawton. "I'm just thankful no one was upstairs when the lightning hit."

Lawton's husband, Doug, said they feel lucky no one was injured.

In total, the Penticton Fire Department responded to 19 calls on Wednesday, including the lightning strike on the house.

There was a report of a frame and pontoon float adrift on Okanagan Lake, which was towed in, as well as several transformer calls and downed power lines.

There were temporary power interruptions due to the storm in some isolated areas in Penticton, according to Deputy Fire Chief Dave Spalding.

Spalding said they did not hear of any flooding.





Alerts rescinded in RDOS

The RDOS has announced the evacuation alerts for both the Apex Mountain and Jura fires have been rescinded, thanks to the tireless efforts of firefighting crews on the ground and more favourable weather conditions over the past few days.

The previously identified properties are:

Apex Mountain Fire

146, 108, 22, 26, 18, 20 Apex Mountain Road, and 1992, 1940, 1918, 1995, 1925, 1907 and Burlington Ranch (Lot 5,Plan KAP70897 DL 1799 SDYD) on Green Mountain Road and ,

Jura Fire

115 to 131 Augur Road, 112 Bankeir Place, 105 to 136 Country Lane, 120 to 145 Jellico Road, 4067 to 4131 Lakesyde Road, 150 to 223 Lakeview Road, 113 to 117 Lee CK PL, 102 to 272 Link Lake Road, 4088 to 4116 Meadow Cres, 114 to 126 Muskoka Road, 131 and 143 Osprey Place, 110 to 231 Pinewood Drive, 143 Jellicoe Road, 1556 to 4600 Princeton-Summerland Road, 1364 to 1862 Shinish Creek Road , 118 to 149 Tee Pee Lakes Place and 186 Trout Main FSR Road

For further updates and information on these fires and the Boot Hill Fire please go to:

Area residences will continue to see fire suppression activities (ground crews and aircraft) in the above identified fire locations as the forestry crews continue mopping up these fires.

Information is also available at


Council nixes Boonstock support

The Boonstock Music and Arts Festival was again under discussion at Monday's Penticton council meeting.

This time around they were considering a letter asking them to endorse the festival, submitted by the Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber fully supports the festival, even holding a well-attended forum, where people could ask questions of organizers, on July 8.

Council, however, has maintained more of a neutral stance. With some councillors more outspoken on the event than others.

"We certainly wish the organizers success," said Councillor Wes Hopkin. "More people are asking us to endorse the event, but it's not in our jurisdiction."

Council ultimately accepted to just receive the letter for now.

Councillor Helena Konanz also made a motion that the council support and welcome everyone coming into town for Boonstock.

"I think there will be thousands of people in town, and we should welcome them," she said.

This spurred a response from Councillor Katie Robinson, who has been very concerned about security issues at the festival.

"To me we're getting beyond the pale here, when we have to say that we're going to welcome people to our city," she said. "I would think that would go without saying."

Konanz has stated several times that if this first concert is a success, it could be an economic boon for Penticton, so everyone should be supportive of it.

Boonstock is being held on Penticton Indian Band locatee land on the August long weekend. More information on the event is available on its Facebook page.

Liquor coming to market

Visitors to the Downtown Community Market in Penticton can expect to see wine vendors at the location this Saturday.

Following Monday's public hearing, council adopted zoning changes that will include liquor tastings and sales within the outdoor market use.

"We need to really promote the farmers and products in this area, and to do that we need to promote our wineries," says Councillor Helena Konanz.

The government of BC recently made changes to the regulations around the service and sale of liquor within the province, including permitting liquor at farmers markets.

Market organizers must still adhere to Liquor Control and Licensing Branch rules in order to maintain their license. This zoning change ensures organizers have the flexibility to offer wine tastings in the market, provided they meet all provincial regulations.

Kerri Milton with the Downtown Penticton Association, which runs the Downtown Community Market, said this is exciting to see.

"We have been on the edge of our seat since January waiting for the new regulations to come through," she says.

According to Milton, there are a few wineries already approved by the liquor inspector, and they will be in the 400 block of Main Street this Saturday.



Graffiti partnership considered

Penticton council has directed staff to support a partnership with the Downtown Penticton Association to investigate professional graffiti removal options.

The move came after a presentation by Kerri Milton with the DPA and Tina Siebert, the bylaw services supervisor, at Monday's meeting.

"It's a different idea and so far nothing has worked," says Councillor Helena Konanz. "I'm really sick of it, and I think trying something new is a good idea."

Included in the presentation was that successful approaches to graffiti include the 3 E's, education, enforcement and eradication.

The enforcement can be a challenge because files can take up to six months to investigate, are difficult to successfully prosecute and sentences range from small fines for adults or restorative justice for youth offenders.

Effective and thorough recording of tags and incidents does help with successful enforcement.

Education is considered a component to help business owners understand the importance of removal, while the best practices with eradication include 24 hour removal of graffiti to discourage additional graffiti and keep areas inviting to the public.

Milton, who says the problem is more of a tagging than graffiti issue, says she was very happy with the direction of council to bring in the professional removal service.

"It will take care of the problem, seven days a week, 365 days a year," she says. "We will be able to maintain it and stay on top of it."

The tagging had been an ongoing problem in the city, with different strategies used to combat it.

There has been a spate of it in 2014, with several businesses hit hard in recent months. On July 15, a hired graffiti artist painted the construction site at the Valley First Community Arts Centre, the former Penmar Theatre. That night, it was tagged.

"It's just time," says Milton. "This was just another example that we need to take care of the tagging issue."


BC tankers assist US fire

The BC government has come to the aid of firefighting efforts in Washington State.

Five bombers were sent to the border yesterday, (Monday) to help with a wildfire burning near the town of Tonasket.

The fire, which was detected Monday afternoon east of the town has grown to about 1,000 acres (404 hectares) in size.

One home has been destroyed.

"We have the Northwest Contract which allows for the mutual sharing of firefighting resources across jurisdictions," says Navi Saini with the Provincial Wildfire Branch out of Victoria.

"It's an agreement between the western provinces, territories, the northwest states and Alaska. The cost for those missions were covered by the receiving jurisdiction (Washington State).

Saini says the bombers do not physically land in the US meaning they fill up with retardant in BC, drop it around the fire, fly back to pick up more and head back for another run.

She was not sure how many missions each of the five planes flew on Monday.

"It was about 125,000 litres of retardant that was dropped yesterday."

As for the availability of the tankers when so many fires continue to burn in BC, Saini says people need to remember that, while important to fighting a fire, it doesn't make sense to continue using air tankers on a fire.

"Once the retardant lines are in place it's really the hard work of the crews on the ground that actually put that fire out. People like to keep seeing tankers on a fire but that's not cost effective or efficient," says Saini.

She adds retardant only helps slow down the progress of a fire - it's not a substance that will put out a fire like water can.

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