Saturday, October 25th8.6°C

Who can help owl sanctuary

At four inches high and weighing under three ounces little ‘Tiny’ the Northern Pygmy Owl is in need of help.

The South Okanagan Rehabilitation Centre for Owls (SORCO) has been looking after the bird named ‘Tiny’ along with several of his extended Raptor family members (Hawks, Eagles, Osprey and Falcons).

Ray Putnam, of SORCO, says this year has seen a dramatic increase in injured birds coming to the rehab centre for treatment.

“This has created a significant increase in medical care and food costs,” he explains. “It takes about one dollar a day per bird for these two items alone. So, for an average 3 month stay, they cost about $100.”

Putnam jokes the birds cannot pay for their room and board but the issue of funding for the centre is no laughing matter.

“SORCO is a  non-profit organization, run by volunteers, and we rely on public donations to operate.”

Those donations often come in via the internet but recently someone hacked the SORCO website and it had to be shut down and completely rebuilt.

A costly expense to the centre.

“It means another expensive project and no funds are coming in.”

For Tiny to be released back into the wild SORCO is putting out a plea to the public, asking for donations.

If you would like to help Tiny and his family please mail a cheque to:

Box 1166
Oliver BC
V0H 1T0
or call  Ray Putnam (250-763-4480 or [email protected]) to make a donation via cash, cheque, Visa or MasterCard.

Peach City Radio needs support

On the heels of three major announcements from the Peach City Community Radio Society comes word that their recently submitted application for license  has been granted a hearing with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, (CRTC).

Peach City Radio, at their recent media event, announced that an application has been submitted to the CRTC for the group to obtain a license to operate a low-power English language FM community radio station in Penticton.

This announcement was made in conjunction with news that a studio would be located within the newly renovated Valley First Community Arts Centre, formerly the Penmar Theatre. The group also announced the beginning of their Raise the Radio campaign, which will see them raise $30,000 in order to properly equip a new studio.

"The scheduling of a CRTC hearing is the next step in the process of licensing," said Dave Del Rizzo, president of the society. "During the next month, we'd like to encourage members of our community to take a look at our application and participate in the CRTC's consultation process."

Between Oct. 21 and Nov. 20, the CRTC has opened a period of consultation where members of the public may submit comments regarding this application.

"All comments received during that period will be considered prior to a decision being made on our license," said Del Rizzo. "It's crucial to our progress at this stage that the community get involved by telling the CRTC why community radio is important to Penticton."

To submit comments and letters of support, or to acquire more information regarding the Peach City Radio license application, visit their website at

Comments may be made online, by fax or regular mail, and can be written by individuals who would like to see community radio thrive in the city, or by organizations, businesses or other groups who are willing to show their support for this local initiative.

Peach City Radio currently streams an online signal from their website.

The public is also invited to attend their annual general meeting at 6:30 p.m., Nov. 4 at the Shatford Centre, 760 Main Street in Penticton.

Street of broken promises

Since Garry Gratton moved to Corry Place in Penticton 15 years ago, he has been to city hall every year to get improvements made to the street's infrastructure.

Now it does appear something may finally get done, after council discussed the matter at this week's meeting.

But Gratton, who is running for council, said neighbours are still worried they may have to pay some of the costs.

"They essentially agreed the cost of infrastructure improvements, new pavement, curbs, gutters and a proper drainage system, would all be paid for by the City at no additional cost  to residents," he said. "However, the one big item, the electrical system, would go in underground, and the City is still asking us to pay 20 per cent of that."

To understand why Gratton and other neighbours are upset, it helps to look at the history of the street, he said.

The oldest house on the street was built by a Mr. and Mrs. Corry, who were pioneers. Then the area was orchards and considered to be on the outskirts of the city.

In 1960, a brand new subdivision known as Corry Place was created. Since then, however, the street has never been properly paved, and a proper storm drainage system never went in.

"As a result some of the homes have been flooded, many affected by water pooling in driveways and yards for many days after rainfall," said Gratton. 

In his visits to City Hall regarding the problems, over those 15 years he has lived there, Gratton said he has received the same answer, as did other neighbours before him.

"We get, 'yes we have it on the books, scheduled to be improved in the next couple of years,' and it has never happened," he said. "It is 20 years of broken promises."

Finally, this year, city staff met with residents on Sept. 29 and presented them with three concepts for infrastructure improvement.

It was then the cost issue first came up, with residents being asked to pay 20 per cent or more for the improvements, leading Gratton to go with others to Monday's council meeting.

"We expressed the same concerns, just more firmly," said Gratton. "I told the mayor and councillors we have paid an estimated cost of between $2 and $3 million in property taxes over 54 years, and we have never enjoyed the benefits of proper infrastructure."

Following Gratton's presentation, council debated the cost, agreeing that the city would pay for the whole street.

But that they, (residents), would still have to pay the 20 percent for the underground power.

City staff is now going to go back to the neighbourhood to discuss the matter some more. It will also be part of 2015 budget deliberations.

At this point, according to Mayor Garry Litke, putting all the wiring in underground is an option residents can choose if they want to.

Councillor Judy Sentes said she is in sympathy with residents and the issue of cost has to be resolved.

While Councillor John Vassilaki said he hopes other neighbourhoods in similar situations come forward to get their neighbourhoods fixed as well.

"We have neglected our infrastructure for a long time," he said.

Meanwhile, Gratton wants the city to be more reasonable in getting it all done, including the underground work, at the same time, without an extra cost to residents.


WestJet Penticton flight, Sunday

There will be plenty of excitement in the air this Sunday, when the inaugural WestJet Encore flight from Calgary to Penticton lands at the airport.

On board, will be WestJet representatives, as well as Penticton MLA Dan Ashton. They will be greeted by local government representatives, including Mayor Garry Litke.

"I am totally excited," said Litke. "Just that flight alone will be a huge economic generator for the entire South Okanagan region."

WestJet Encore announced back in April that the new non-stop flight would begin in October.

Litke said at the time the most important step in getting it was community involvement.

A flash mob was initially held on the tarmac at the airport a few years ago, and he, as well as city staff kept up the pressure to make this happen.

Penticton Regional Airport was ultimately selected by the Calgary-based airline as part of its regional carrier expansion program. The non-stop service will be on Bombardier Q400 NextGen planes.

Chris Bower, the executive director for Tourism Penticton, which is now taking the lead in promoting air service at the airport, said this is something that was needed to service the Albertans who come to visit  and Penticton residents.

"It's a great convenience for local residents who are looking to travel east," he said. "It opens up better travel options for us here in the Okanagan."

The inaugural flight is expected to arrive at the airport at 2:26 p.m., Sunday.

Mayor in theft scandal



6:48 p.m. Oct. 23, 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 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.

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

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.

Read more Penticton / S. Okanagan News

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