Big crowd at car show

Thousands of people packed Penticton's Lakeshore Drive Saturday for the annual Peach City Beach Cruise.

Car enthusiasts, young and old, filled the street by Okanagan Lake to take in the event billed as more than just a car show.

"The weekend is an incredible success," said Wayne Wood, president of the Peach City Beach Cruise. "The comments we get back from out-of-towners are they are just ecstatic. They've even booked rooms for next year and are bringing their friends."

The event is in its 17th year and has seen continual growth since it started up. 

This summer is the first time in its history that registration for cars sold out, with 776 classic cars and hot rods  on display at last count.

It kicked off Friday with the well-attended Beach to Peach parade down Main Street, entertainment, a beverage garden and more.  

Saturday's highlights were the car show on Lakeshore Drive and at Rotary and Lakawana parks and the beverage garden, entertainment and vendors at Gyro Park.

Victor Day, at the show with the Wenatchee Valley Cruisers, said they were having a great time.

"This is the third year we've come and it's just awesome," he said. "It's such a beautiful place to spend the weekend."

Estelle Sankey of Penticton, who has brought her 1966 Volkswagen Beetle to the event since 2012, said she loves every minute of it.

"I'm a car girl and I love all the different automobiles," she said. "And  there are lots of enthusiastic people from all walks of life."

She added she loves hearing people sharing memories about beetles.

"Everyone can relate to them in some way. They are an icon," she said.

While Bruce Charles of Abbotsford, at the show with a 1970 black Chevrolet Nova SS, a winner in its class in past years, described it as the most prestigious car show on the West Coast.

"If your car wins its class at this car show, it's pretty good bragging rights," he said.

The fun continues on Sunday. For more information, go here.






Wildlife activist dies

UPDATE: 2:55 p.m.

Gwen Barlee grew up in Penticton, and was the daughter of the late Bill Barlee, former NDP cabinet minister and MLA for the Okanagan-Boundary riding from 1988 to 1996.

ORIGINAL: 1:30 p.m.

A defender of wild animals and advocate for better endangered species legislation in British Columbia has died.

The Wilderness Committee says Gwen Barlee, their former national policy director, died yesterday at the age of 54.

The committee said in a statement that Barlee's research and commitment to enhancing government accountability set her apart as an advocate for the environment.

National campaign director Joe Foy says Barlee was instrumental in convincing the B.C. government to protect forest lands to preserve the habitat of the northern spotted owl, one of Canada's most endangered species.

Barlee lobbied tirelessly for the establishment of more provincial and national parks, and once they were created, she ensured they were protected from industrial and private resort activities.

Foy says while colleagues were aware Barlee was fighting cancer, news of her death came as a shock.

Crash shears off hydrant

A late-night crash in Penticton sheared off a fire hydrant, flooding streets.

Emergency crews were called to the scene at Fairview Road and Scott Avenue about 11:20 p.m.

An SUV had crashed into a fire hydrant, shearing it off and sending huge amounts of water in all directions.

Water was heading towards homes on Scott Avenue, so firefighters sprang into action, helping divert it away from homes.

The SUV had also struck a stop sign before hitting the hydrant.

A heavy RCMP presence was also on scene.

City works crews shut off the water flow at 11:55 p.m.


New fire boat a marvel

The wait is over for the Penticton Fire Department, who now has its hands on a badly needed new rescue boat.

The $200,000 modern machine was delivered last weekend, with crews spending the weekend training on Skaha Lake. The boat will be stationed at the Penticton Yacht Club, ready to go for rescues 12 months of the year.

“It's so great to know that the citizens of Penticton, our residents and visitors, are going to have a much safer waterfront,” Fire Chief Larry Watkinson said.

“And when people are in distress or in trouble on the lake, our firefighters feel confident to be able to out on that very big lake, when it gets very rough and crazy out there, they have a machine and vessel that’s going to take care of them,” he added.

The boat was funded in large part by the community and local organizations, including $15,000 from the Penticton Yacht Club, and $10,000 from the Lakeside Resort.

“It’s just incredible to see the outpouring,” Watkinson said.

The department isn’t quite sure what it is going to do with its old 1988 Zodiac, which has been falling apart in recent years.

Ribfest is back next week

Penticton Ribfest is returning to Okanagan Lake Park this summer.

The event, organized by the Penticton Rotary Club, will offer a rib cook-off between four champion barbecue teams from across Canada, music throughout the entire event, entertainment and activities for children and youth as well as a beverage garden and loads of vendors.

"It's lots of great family fun and it's a great fund-raiser with funds going to the YES Youth Resource Centre," said Barb Hoolaeff, with the rotary club.

Highlights will be watching the fireworks on Saturday from the beverage garden and Canadian country musician Jaydee Bixby performing on Sunday night.

Last year's event drew in 35,000 people to the park.

Over the 2016 weekend, Rotary raised funds for ongoing community projects for Penticton residents.

This year's Ribfest takes place from June 30 to July 2 at the park.

For more information, go here.

Who cleans up the lake?

While beach cleanups of Okanagan Lake are well underway, the cleanup of the debris floating in the lake is still a work in progress.

Steve Sweeney, emergency operations centre director for the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen, said the three regional districts on the lake are in the middle of developing a plan.

"The two big pieces of work we have to accomplish are the sandbag and the debris removal," he said.

There are two categories of debris, according to Sweeney.

The first is naturally occurring, which happens every year, like tree branches. These get cleaned up by communities as a part of regular maintenance.

The other includes man made objects like docks, lumber and plastic barrels.

While the artificial debris clean up will be a coordinated effort of the three regional districts, it will be covered  under provincial expenses, said Sweeney.

According to Emergency Management BC, in recognition of the scope and scale of this event, they will be providing financial support to local governments.

This coverage extends to items that are not traditionally considered a response cost and applications for reimbursement will be considered through September 2017.

The province is not covering natural debris floating in the middle of the lake, but nearly everything else, including beached debris, sandbags and unregistered boats, docks and household garbage.

Good bike week for RDOS

With participants new and old, Penticton area residents again met the challenge, cycling over 7,500 kilometres  and preventing 1,625 kilograms of greenhouse gases from entering the environment during the recent bike to work week.

Those numbers do not include people who chose to walk or carpool to work that week.

This year,as in past years, the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen staff engaged in a friendly challenge with the employees at the City of Penticton competing for highest staff participation levels during the week.

"Although this was a difficult year, with record high lake levels, flooding, evacuations and the Emergency Operations Centre running at full steam, I am proud to say the RDOS still managed to produce an average participation rate of 42.40 per cent and I congratulate all of those who took part," said RDOS chair Karla Kozakevich.

The RDOS applauds all the businesses and agencies across Penticton and surrounding area who entered teams and encouraged their employees to get active during the week.  

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