Friday, August 29th12.1°C

Fire ban rescinded

The City of Penticton has rescinded its temporary fire ban, due to a change in the fire danger rating within the Kamloops Fire Centre.

The ban, issued on July 16, was lifted as of noon, Wednesday, Aug. 27, for all areas of the city.

Fire pits will be re-installed on Okanagan Lake and Skaha Lake Beaches Thursday.

The public is encouraged to continue to restrict their campfire to be no larger than half-metre by half-metre in size and have hand tools like shovels, and large quantities of water available nearby to extinguish it.

People are further advised to never leave a campfire unattended and make sure ashes are completely cold to the touch before leaving the area.

Anyone who causes a wildfire through arson or recklessness may be fined up to $1 million, spend up to three years in prison and be held accountable for associated firefighting costs.

For more information, contact the Penticton Fire Department at (250) 490-2300.


Dad testifies in sexual assault trial

The father of an alleged sexual assault victim told a Penticton courtroom on Wednesday that his son became extremely closed off, during his friendship with an older man.

The testimony was given during the ongoing trial of Tyrone Borba, of Oliver, who is facing charges including sexual interference of a person under 16, invitation to sexual touching under 16 and sexual assault.

The charges are connected to incidents that allegedly took place from June of 2011 to  August of 2012.

The father, who is not identified because of a publication ban on anything that would identify the child, said it was from January to August of 2012 that he noticed the real changes in his son.

The boy went from being an open extrovert to being a complete shelled off introvert, at his place, his ex-wife's place and at school, he said.

The child didn't want to do anything, he didn't want to go out and became extremely fearful, his father explained.

"He wouldn't even go out in the back yard and play, and I have a big backyard," he said.

His attitude changed as well, the father testified, going from being polite to having the whatever attitude and being abusive toward a sibling and rude with his mother and grandmother.

"He just didn't care if he got into trouble," he said.

This behaviour was going on while the boy was in a relationship with Borba, according to the witness.

Earlier in his testimony, he explained the two became really good buddies in June of 2011.

The dad didn't encourage the relationship it just happened and he thought it was a good idea they get close, because of things going on in their lives at the time.

Initially, they became close in a brotherly manner, and the dad didn't see anything out of the ordinary.

It was during a Christmas visit to Vancouver Island that he observed that they seemed very, very close, more than just brotherly hanging out, with Borba needing to be as close as he could be to his son.

It reached the point, where the dad and his mother spoke to Borba about the child not being his son and to give him his own space.

But every time Borba was spoken to, he pouted.

There were also some sleepovers at the dad's house, where the boy was supposed to sleep on a mattress on the floor, while Borba slept on the couch. The dad said when he got up in the night, he observed that Borba had moved on to the mattress and was spooning his son.

The dad then moved the sleeping boy on to the couch.

Then for a time he explained his weekends seemed to disappear, as his son spent more time with Borba.

When the visits starting up again, Borba showed up unannounced and uninvited and the dad told him he was not part of the family and not to come back.

Following an incident in Oliver, involving Borba, another family member and the RCMP, the dad decided his son was not to be around Borba or anyone else in his family.

After that, the witness said, he saw a change in his son. There was relief and he actually appeared to be standing straight rather than slouched over, he explained.

"He had an aura of relief, content, he doesn't have to be or do," he said. "He started to want to do things, come to my shop, be a part of what I was doing. He was overly affectionate, like making up for lost time."

The boy still blamed himself for a lot of things, added the dad. It was on a trip to Vancouver Island in March of 2013 that they had a conversation about what went on between him and Borba.

That same day, the witness said he contacted the Nanaimo RCMP.

The boy testified earlier in the trial about his relationship with Borba, that included the Oliver man having him sit on his lap at the movies, watching porn together and dry humping.

Defence lawyer Michael Welsh asked the witness how he learned words like sexual assault and dry humping during his questioning and about looking things up on his iPod out of curiosity dealing with sex.

The defence questioning of the father is expected to continue on Thursday.

The boy has been given support during the trial by the Urban Bulldogs Against Kids Abuse. Bikers from the Edmonton chapter have joined others at the courthouse to show the child he is not alone and help take the fear away.

Day camp options

The Penticton Community Centre will have day camps for school children, ages 6 to 12 years, available starting Tuesday, Sept. 2, should customers require them next week and beyond.

Registration is available now for camps offered Sept. 2 to 5 and 8 to 12 with additional weeks added as needed. Customers will be reimbursed for any unused camps/registration costs when school starts.

The camps run weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with full day activities including swimming, games, crafts and sports.

The cost is $27 per child, per day. Before and after camp care will also be provided for parents needing flexible schedules. Before Camp Keeners, 8 to 9 a.m., and After Camp Keeners, 4 to 5 p.m., are each available for $5 per session.

There are also activity options for teens, aged 13 to 18, with half the gymnasium available weekdays for drop in gym time from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. and noon to 2:30 p.m., for $4 per person.

Public swimming is another option, starting Sept. 8 after the annual pool maintenance closure, with the pools open all day from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. and all water features available Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Regular admission rates apply, $4 per child and $5 per youth.

Children under the age of 7 and any child aged 7 to 11, unable to swim the length of the leisure pool, must be accompanied in the water by, and within arm's reach of, a responsible individual, 16 years or older.

There is limited space available for the camps and people are advised to register as soon as possible.

To do so, residents can visit the community centre on Power Street, go online at or call (250) 490-2426.



Delays in boating death case

There continue to be delays in the court case tied to a boating death in Osoyoos in August of 2011.

Lawyers said this week in a Penticton courtroom that they were having problems setting dates in the Ryan Symington case.

Symington, of Alberta, is facing charges of impaired driving causing death, dangerous driving causing death, failure to stop at an accident causing bodily harm, care or control of vehicle/vessel with over .08 and attempt to pervert/defeat obstruct justice.

The charges, laid this year, are in connection to a boating incident on Aug. 16, 2011 that claimed the life of Marco Corbin, 18.

Corbin, of Mission, was tubing on Osoyoos Lake when he was struck and killed by a motorboat.

Crown Counsel wants to get the case underway because of the number of years since the actual offence and the recollection of witnesses.

But Symington's lawyer indicated by phone in the courtroom, he would prefer next year for a preliminary hearing.

The judge said the information is now in the system and to schedule a hearing that far down the road is not acceptable.

The matter is now set over to Sept. 10, to see if an earlier date can be arranged.

Bear sightings in Naramata

Hungry bears are again making their presence known in the Naramata village and surrounding areas.

Recent sightings include a mature bear helping itself to the contents of a fridge on a deck/patio in the 3200 block of First Street and a mature black bear moving through neighbourhoods and yards on Upper Debeck Road. The bear on Upper Debeck has even been spotted during the day.

"With the recent sightings it is very important that we manage our own garbage attractants, speak to our neighbours and lead by example," said Zoe Kirk, RDOS WildSafe BC community coordinator.

Kirk said it is not unusual to see bears in the late summer or early fall because they return to the lowlands, after gorging on berries higher up during the summer months.

Their main objective is to fish for spawning Kokanee, but the rich vegetation available at this time of year is also appealing.

"It is basically their last bit of fattening up before denning," said Kirk.

To avoid encounters with the large animals, Kirk recommends the following:

  • Locking up garbage or freezing the smelly bits until day of pick up. At this time of year, when people are canning, she also advises freezing peelings and pits and then burying them in the compost. The freezing helps remove the smell.
  • No bird feeders or feeding of ground birds.
  • Pet or domestic livestock food secured and off the porch.
  • Having a spray bottle of mixed bleach or ammonia spritzed on garbage bags and cans to deter animals from getting into the garbage, when placing the garbage out on the morning of pick up.
  • Watching dogs more closely at dawn and dusk.
  • Talking to neighbours and spreading the cautionary word.
  • Further advice is to make it uncomfortable for the bears to get close to homes, by banging pots, blowing air horns and alerting neighbours.
  • People are further advised to call the conservation officer if a bear become habituated to a backyard or neighbourhood.


Record sockeye run

There are between 250,000 and 300,000 sockeye salmon in Osoyoos Lake right now and by the end of fishing season in September, some 50,000 of them will have been caught by commercial, recreational and native food fishers.

In the largest return since records began in 1938, over 600,000 of the prized food fish have moved from the Pacific Ocean into the Columbia River system to begin their spawning cycle.

According to Howie Wright, fisheries program manager for the Okanagan Nations Alliance (ONA), as many as 300,000 are waiting in the deep pools of Osoyoos Lake, waiting to head up the Okanagan River.

Such is the size of the bounty that the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) recently raised the daily catch limit for recreational fishers from three to four. As well, DFO extended the recreational season to September 2.

For the town of Osoyoos, “It is definitely having an impact on economic development,” said Destination Osoyoos managing director Gail Scott.

“I drive every day from Oliver and the number of (fishing) boats on the lake is amazing,” she said.

Recreational fisherman Ron Peterson, interviewed as he pulled his boat out of the water after a moderately successful morning of fishing, said he drives down from Naramata four or five days a week to fish for sockeye.

ONA’s Wright estimated that the total recreational catch will likely end up at between 5,000 and 8,000.

Wright, who spent much of Tuesday on the lake trolling for fish, said the first nations commercial fishery is an economic boon for area bands. “There are about 15 people working in the fishery,” he said.

The commercial fishery employs one and sometimes two seiners, which net fish in the deep holes where they hang out before heading up-river. Since the season began on July 31, the seiners have hauled in about 20,000 fish, said Wright.

There is also a native food fishery, which supplies fish to first nations in the Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys. About 8,000 fish have been taken, with gill nets and trolling, for food.

By season’s end, Wright estimated, between 40,000 and 50,000 sockeye will have been harvested in the commercial, food and recreational fisheries.

Once the fish leave the lake, they will head north up the Okanagan River. The bulk of them will spawn in the river just north of Oliver.

Thanks to recent developments of fish passages over the dams on the Okanagan River, as many as 15,000 will find their way into Skaha Lake. From there most will head up into the Penticton Channel, where efforts by the ONA have been going on since 2003 to enhance the spawning environment. 

New operators for Challenge

Two men with significant experience in the triathlon community are now the operators of Challenge Penticton Canada.

The announcement that Kevin Cutjar and Michael Brown are the new leaders was made Tuesday morning by Mayor Garry Litke, who was accompanied by Cutjar.

"I'm very pleased with this. They do have a reputation in the triathlon community and we do want the race to grow, because of the economic spinoff," said Litke. "In 2013, that amount was almost $6 million."

According to Litke, the running of the race was previously assigned to a nonprofit board and their responsibility was to run it on behalf of the city for the last two years.

It soon became obvious, however, that this is a million dollar business that requires the attention of a full time business operator, he said.

"The city was absorbing a deficit on the operation of the race, and as a result chose to assign the license to a private operator who would then be responsible for all finances related to the race," he said.

Last spring it went to an RFP process to look for expressions of interest and there was a number of people interested.

Cutjar and Brown were primarily selected because they were offering the city $300,000 for the license and again because of their extensive experience.

As of Monday, Aug. 25, they officially took the reins, with a five year contract.

Cutjar said they plan to build on the work that has already been done, as well as having a vision for the event.

"We want and need athletes to sign up for this race, next year and beyond, and to make the race a success," he said. "As part of that, we are really promoting this community, and the town, the location, this venue for training and racing, as being a major attraction to the event itself. Our main goal is to have people think Penticton again."

The city will continue to provide support, such as road closures, on the triathlon day, according to Litke.


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