Saturday, August 1st23.1°C
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Naramata grass fire

The Naramata Fire Department responded to a grass fire on Wiseman Place around 5:45 p.m., Saturday afternoon.

The fire on a hillside behind a home was quickly extinguished before it could spread to any houses in the area.

There are a number of homes on the street where the fire started.

The cause of the blaze is believed to be someone in the neighbourhood target shooting.

The cause has not been confirmed by the fire department. Castanet will provide more details as they come available.



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Highway 1 to be expanded

The provincial government announced today that Highway 1, east of Revelstoke will be upgraded and expanded.

The $35 million project will widen 2.5 kilometres of the highway, to four lanes. It will also expand the Illecillewaet brake check station to double its capacity.

The highway sees many accidents, especially in the winter time. David Wilks, member of parliament for Kootenay – Columbia, said this expansion will make the road safer.

“We are proud to invest in this transportation project,” Wilks said. “It will increase commuter safety and improve the flow of traffic to and from Revelstoke along Highway 1.”

The expansion of the brake check area will also provide an area to store vehicles when the highway is closed for avalanche control operations in the winter.



Bus crash victims released

All 57 people who were rushed to hospital after a tour bus crash in British Columbia's Interior have been released.

Interior Health spokesman Karl Hardt says 56 people were released from Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops late Friday night.

Twenty of those people 20 suffered minor injuries and 36 were not injured.

Hardt says one person was held overnight for observation and left today.

The crash happened Friday afternoon on a dangerous stretch of Highway 1 known as Hoffman's Bluff just south of the community of Chase.

RCMP say a small car travelling westbound crossed over the centre line and collided with an eastbound charter bus with 57 people on board including the driver.

The man driving the car died at the scene, while the bus driver suffered serious but non life-threatening injuries.

The Canadian Press


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Drones disrupt fire efforts

Crews have been forced to halt air operations on a wildfire burning near West Kelowna, B.C., due to multiple drones flying overhead.

The B.C. Wildfire Service says a helicopter supporting ground crews and involved in water delivery in the Westside Road fire has now been grounded.

The service says all wildfires are flight-restricted under the Canadian Air Regulations and the operation of any aircraft not related to fire suppression efforts is illegal.

It says drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles, pose a significant safety risk to crews, especially when low-flying firefighting aircraft are present.

The RCMP is working with the service in relation to the incident.

The fire danger rating throughout the Kamloops Fire Centre is high to extreme and officials are urging everyone to use caution in the backcountry.

The Canadian Press


Coal train derails

A Canadian Pacific Railway freight train carrying coal has derailed near the southeastern British Columbia community of Sparwood.

Eighteen cars went off the tracks in the accident at about 3:30 p.m. Friday.

CP spokeswoman Salem Woodrow says there were no injuries to the crew and no public safety issues.

She says the railway's emergency protocols were immediately enacted and all safety precautions and measures are being taken as crews respond to the situation.

She says all necessary resources have been deployed and the incident will receive a full investigation.

Woodrow says there has been no impact to CP operations but it is not yet clear when the line will reopen.

The Canadian Press


Cardboard boat race is back

People will test their skills in boats made from cardboard and duct tape at Manitou Park on Sunday.

It's all part of the Cardboard Boat Race returning for a third year to Naramata.

There are around 16 entries, similar to the past two years.

Among the boat names are Moon unit Zappa and the Naramartians, Despirit Housewives Dragon boat Team (a team that lost last year and has sworn revenge as they are all dragon boaters), the SS Teletubbies, Ninja Boat and Fruit Loops.

As in past years there will be a trophy for the fastest boat, along with prizes for best costume, best decorated boat, the boat that stays afloat the longest and the Titanic Award for most spectacular sinking.

There is a parade starting from Naramata School at 10 a.m., followed by the race at 11 a.m. at the park.

The day includes a BBQ concession by the Naramata Church Women's Group and a book sale by the library group, as well as the ice cream van.

People can still enter, by emailing [email protected], and either emailing her the registration form or giving it to her on Sunday. 



Man attacked outside mall

Burnaby Mounties are investigating after a man in his thirties was jumped by a group of men outside Metrotown shopping centre early Saturday morning.

The victim suffered serious head injuries and was rushed to hospital after the attack just outside The Bay before 2 a.m.

RCMP Staff Sgt. Curtis Burks says police received multiple calls about the incident but by the time officers arrived all the suspects except for one had fled.

The male suspect was taken into custody and charges of assault causing bodily harm are likely to be recommended.

Burks says police don't know the motive behind the attack, whether a weapon was involved or what the man was doing there so early in the morning.

He says says witnesses were interviewed at the scene and forensic identification workers are processing the crime scene and obtaining any surveillance video.

The Canadian Press


One dead in bus crash

UPDATE: 6 a.m.

One man was killed in a collision between a tour bus carrying dozens of people and a car on a notorious stretch of Highway 1 south of Chase, say police and firefighters.

The RCMP said the accident happened about 4 p.m. Friday, at the start of a holiday long-weekend, and involved a bus carrying 57 people, including the driver. The passengers on the bus were tourists from Korea.

Lt. David Sakaki of Kamloops Fire Rescue said when he arrived on scene, members of Chase Fire Rescue were already responding and a B.C. Ambulance helicopter had just landed.

"Unfortunately, there was one fatality," he said. "The driver of the vehicle, the lone driver of the vehicle was killed in the incident."

Chase RCMP Const. Brian Blaikie said that a small black car, identified as a Chevrolet Cavalier, was travelling westbound toward Kamloops when, for as yet unknown reasons, it veered into the oncoming lane and hit the private charter bus head-on.

He said first responders extracted the deceased man from the vehicle.

"The vehicle spun from the impact and the bus went off-road," said Blaikie.

Alyshia Higgins with the B.C. Ambulance Service said one air ambulance and six ground ambulances responded to the accident.

Michaela Swann, a spokeswoman for Interior Health authority, said the 57 people from the bus had arrived at Royal Inland Hospital, one in serious condition, 20 with non-life-threatening injuries, and 36 who were not injured.

The RCMP said in a release issued early Saturday that it was the bus driver who had suffered the serious, but non life-threatening injury.

The RCMP's Central Interior Traffic Services and the B.C. Coroners Service are both investigating the cause of the collision. Police say alcohol is not considered a factor.

The crash, which is the third to involve a tour bus in B.C.'s Interior in a year, closed the highway for several hours before the wreckage was cleared and both lanes were reopened late Friday.

The accident happened in the area known as Hoffman's Bluff, a two-lane stretch of road the provincial government announced earlier this year would be upgraded to four lanes to improve safety.

Rick Berrigan, mayor of Chase, said the stretch is a winding, rock-faced strip of highway with no residents in the area.

"Hoffman's Bluff has always been a big concern to the travellers on Highway 1," he said.

The government is in the process of widening the highway.

Pictures of the scene appear to show the accident happened in an area that is being widened. The nose of the bus is off the side of the road and into the soft gravel being prepared for new asphalt.

Berrigan said that stretch of highway is extremely busy, especially during summer.

"It's obviously a very tragic situation. We need that four laning done quick."

Blaikie said Hoffman's Bluff is a well-known location in Chase with a number of collisions every year.


UPDATE: 10 p.m. 

The vehicle incident 11 km west of Chase is now clear, in both directions. 


UPDATE: 9:20 p.m. 

Highway 1 is reduced to single lane alternating traffic. Expect delays do to congestion.


UPDATE 7:15 p.m.

One man now is confirmed dead in the collision between a passenger bus carrying dozens of people and a car on a notorious stretch of Highway 1 south of Chase, say police and firefighters.

Lt. David Sakaki of Kamloops Fire Rescue said when he arrived on scene members of Chase Fire Rescue were already responding and a BC Ambulance helicopter had just landed.

"Unfortunately, there was one fatality," he said. "The driver of the vehicle, the lone driver of the vehicle was killed in the incident."

Chase RCMP Const. Brian Blaikie said that a small black car travelling westbound toward Kamloops went into the oncoming lane and hit a private charter bus head-on.

He said first responders are working to extract the deceased man from the vehicle.

"The vehicle spun from the impact and the bus went off-road," said Blaikie.

He said the cause of the crash is not yet known.

Alyshia Higgins with the B.C. Ambulance Service said three people were in serious condition and 20 patients with non-life-threatening injuries were rushed to Royal Inland Hospital.

One air ambulance and six ground ambulances responded, she said.

Michaela Swann, a spokeswoman for Interior Health authority, said they expected as many as 57 people to the hospital, whose injuries range from serious to minor.

The accident happened in the area known as Hoffman's Bluff, a two-lane stretch of road that the provincial government announced earlier this year would be upgraded to four lanes to improve safety through the area.

Rick Berrigan, mayor of Chase, said the stretch is a winding, rock-faced piece of the highway with no residents in the area.

"Hoffman's Bluff has always been a big concern to the travellers on Highway 1," he said.

The government is in the process of widening the highway, but Berrigan didn't know if the crash was in the same spot as the construction.

Berrigan said the highway is extremely busy, especially during the summer.

"It's obviously a very tragic situation. We need that four laning done quick."

Blaikie said Hoffman's Bluff is a well-known location in Chase with a number of collisions every year."

-The Canadian Press


UPDATE: 6:50 p.m.

DriveBC is recommending a detour around Highway 1, which remains closed, via Highway 97 to Highway 97A.

An assessment is in progress although there is no estimated time of reopening the road.


UPDATE: 6 p.m.

A passenger bus carrying dozens of people has been involved in a crash on Highway 1 south of Chase.

The accident between the bus and a car happened about 4 p.m. Friday, at the start of a holiday long-weekend.

Alyshia Higgins with the B.C. Ambulance Service says there are 60 patients, with one in critical condition, and six ambulances and one air ambulance are responding to the scene.

A spokeswoman for Interior Health, Michaela Swann, says Royal Inland Hospital is on alert to receive patients but they haven't initiated what they call a "code orange" yet.

The crash, which is the third to involve a tour bus in B.C.'s Interior in a year, has closed the highway in both directions.

The accident is reported to have happened in the area known as Hoffman's Bluff, a two-lane stretch of road that the provincial government announced earlier this year would be upgraded to four lanes to improve safety through the area.

                                                                    – The Canadian Press


UPDATE: 5:25 p.m.

A spokeswoman with the B.C. Ambulance service says first responders are dealing with 60 patients at the scene of a tour bus crash near Chase.

One person is in critical condition.

Witnesses say a medevac helicopter landed at the scene.

Six ambulances and one air ambulance have responded or are en route to the crash scene.

The Ministry of Transportation says the highway is closed in both directions.

– The Canadian Press


ORIGINAL

The Trans Canada Highway is closed in both directions about 11 kilometres west of Chase, DriveBC reports.

A Castanet reader tells us a tour bus crash is the cause of the closure.

"There has been a serious bus accident between Pritchard and Shuswap Lake. Our son and his family are 20 cars back, and there is a bus across the road. Ambulances and police cars are there," said the source.

Unconfirmed reports have up to 55 people injured in the incident.

No further details are available at this time.

It's not known when the highway will reopen.

Send pictures or video to news@ castanet.net



Stop Abbotsford

A judge may not be able to solve homelessness, but he could use his powers to bar officials in Abbotsford, from prohibiting camps that provide the necessities of life, a lawyer has argued.

B.C. Supreme Court heard Friday that there's ample evidence that dozens of people living in makeshift tent communities have been subjected to "systemic forced evictions" in the Fraser Valley city.

City officials have dumped chicken manure on campsites, said David Wotherspoon, a lawyer with Pivot Legal Society.

Police have pepper sprayed people's belongings, cut up tents and laid down tree trunks in a series of "displacement tactics," he added.

"We're not asking court to order that housing be provided," Wotherspoon told the judge.

"But what the court can do is tell the City of Abbotsford that if those necessities are not being provided in some other way, they cannot interfere with an individual's efforts to obtain them themselves."

Wotherspoon's assertion comes at the culmination of a five-week trial launched by the Drug War Survivors, who are challenging city bylaws that make it illegal to set up shelters in public spaces.

The group representing the area's homeless contends the city has been consistently violating their charter rights.

A favourable decision would establish a right to public space for homeless people and be a crucial step toward recognizing a right to housing in Canada, according to Pivot, the legal advocacy organization helping the homeless group.

Court heard there were at least 151 homeless in Abbotsford in 2014, people who have been consistently chased from site to site rather than be offered genuine living assistance.

They have been criminalized to the point where there's no place where they won't be breaching the law, Wotherspoon said in his closing arguments.

The city's lawyers have stated multiple facilities are available, but Wotherspoon called the claim a "red herring." Only 25 true beds can be counted, he said.

Some of the city's so-called shelters are actually treatment centres that have a high threshold for admittance, he countered.

"What Abbotsford's goal has really been is to move people out of Abbotsford," he said.

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson told the lawyer there are legal restrictions and other considerations confronting him in the case.

"I have some very serious concerns about perpetuating a situation where there are hundreds of hypodermic needles, human feces, rotting garbage. It's an unhealthy environment," he added from the bench.

"If your clients … aren't able to avoid those kind of problems, giving them carte blanch to stay as long as they like in a location doesn't seem to be an effective answer."

Outside court, a former homeless man of 15 years described his struggles on the street and said he hopes the judge allocates land for people to inhabit.

"I've lived out there. I've been freezing cold where my hands were so numb I had to warm my hands over a candle," said Harvey Clause, 54, who testified at the trial.

"I think we have a chance to do something for people. We do, if the judge is willing to give us a chance."

The trial is scheduled to conclude next week.

The Canadian Press


Mill deaths accidental

A coroner's jury has ruled the deaths of two mill workers caught in a fiery explosion in Burns Lake, more than three years ago were accidental.

Robert Luggi, 45, and Carl Charlie, 42, were working at Babine Forest Products in the community 225 kilometres west of Prince George when the explosion occurred Jan. 20, 2012.

A coroner's jury heard from nearly 50 witnesses over the 13-day inquest held in Burns Lake.

The jury deliberated for two days and made 33 recommendations, while the coroner made an additional eight recommendations.

They suggested that the company install a fire-pumping system at its mill, have a stand-alone first aid facility, that the company ensure compliance with the National Fire Code and that a combustible gas monitor be used when workers report gas odours.

"Testimony showed major gaps in fire code knowledge and inspection requirements," the report read.

The jury also recommended that WorkSafeBC ensure officers have relevant and current training to carry out inspections at wood product manufacturing facilities, and that the agency develop a video or visual presentation to show workers the health and safety hazards of combustible wood dust.

A WorkSafeBC investigation concluded an accumulation of wood dust was a major factor in the blast.

The presiding coroner suggested B.C.'s ministry of justice make sure the fire commissioner's office has the resources needed to inspect industrial facilities across the province on a regular basis and that the Fire Services Act be amended to require fire inspections on unincorporated First Nations land.

Shirley Bond, the minister responsible for labour, released a statement thanking the jury for their recommendations.

"(The jury) recommendations received today will be reviewed and inform the efforts already underway across government to ensure worker safety," she said.

"Government intends to report back in writing to the coroner on the work being done on all of the recommendations."

Lucy Campbell, Charlie's sister, said on the opening day of the inquest that her brother was known for his "incredible smile, great big hugs, handshakes and waves."

She said he had worked at Babine Forest Products for more than 18 years.

Maureen Luggi, the wife of Robert Luggi, described her husband and the father of four as a happy, hard-working guy with a sense of humour.

She said her husband worked at the mill for more than 22 years, had been transferred to a new shift at the start of that year and was training to become a lead hand.

In May, a separate coroner's jury into the April 23, 2012, explosion at Lakeland Mills in Prince George, issued 33 recommendations and also found the deaths of 46-year-old Glenn Roche and 43-year-old Alan Little were accidents.

WorkSafeBC fined Lakeland Mills Ltd. over $700,000 in penalties.

The Crown declined to approve charges in both cases, in part over concerns that evidence collected by WorkSafeBC would not be admissible in court.

The Canadian Press


Charged with murder

A 22-year-old man from northeastern B.C. has been charged with second-degree murder.

RCMP Cpl. Dave Tyreman says in a news release that police were called to a residence in Fort Nelson Wednesday for reports of a serious assault.

He says the 30-year-old victim was rushed to hospital but died of injuries.

Joshua Dillion has been charged with second-degree murder, remains in custody and is scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 9.

Tyreman says police can't release further details, including the gender of the victim, because of a publication ban.

About 4,000 people live in the community about 950 kilometres southeast of Whitehorse, Yukon.

The Canadian Press


River closures expanded

Drought conditions are forcing the provincial government to ban fishing and impose water restrictions for farms in parts of southern British Columbia in a bid to help fish stocks through a hot, dry summer.

The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations is suspending fishing in streams for most of Vancouver Island because of low flows and high water temperatures.

Beginning on Aug. 4, the only rivers or streams where people will be allowed to fish are the Campbell, Qualicum and Quinsam rivers.

The ministry has also restricted water use on farms in B.C.'s Interior in a bid to help salmon that are expected to begin spawning soon on the Coldwater River south of Merrit, where water levels are low because of dry weather.

Farms drawing water from the river and its tributaries have been told they must restrict their water use between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. until Aug. 11, when they will be prohibited from drawing any water until Sept. 30.

The ministry says the order covers the holders of 50 water licences who use the river for irrigation.

The Fish Protection Act allows the minister to issue orders to temporarily regulate water users if fish populations are threatened.

The provincial government has designated that much of southern B.C. as Drought Level 4, or extremely dry.

The Canadian Press


Heavy metal heist

Mounties in northern B.C. are attempting to dredge up suspects in the theft of a bulldozer, excavator and other equipment worth an estimated $500,000.

Police were called out to a site down a forest service road near Tumbler Ridge on July 15.

RCMP say a drilling company left the equipment at the site last September when it put its operations in the area on hold.

Cpl. Dave Tyreman says the theft happened sometime over those 10 months.

Along with the excavation equipment, two trailers, water pumps and an unknown amount of tools also went missing.

The Catepillar has an estimated value of $232,000, while the Volvo excavator is worth about $200,000.

The Canadian Press


Money for job training

The Splatsin First Nation in the North Okanagan is the latest group to benefit from the Conservative gravy train that has been rolling through the Valley recently.

The latest funding announcement by Okanagan-Shuswap MP Colin Mayes, who will not be running in the fall election, has the Splatsin First Nation receiving a Canada Job Grant to train 37 employees in business management and leadership.

“Training for jobs is critical to the health and well-being of our families and children of Splatsin,” Chief Wayne Christian said.

More than 7,300 workers in British Columbia are receiving training through the Canada Job Grant, and more than 1,400 employers have been approved for funding.

The Canada Job Grant is an employer-driven approach to help Canadians gain the skills and training they need to fill available jobs. It is designed to be flexible to meet the needs of businesses of all sizes, in all industries and regions. By requiring employers to invest in training costs, the grants result in training that leads to guaranteed employment.

Up to two-thirds of the grant is contributed by the government to a maximum of $10,000, with the remaining portion contributed by the employer. The grant covers tuition/training fees, mandatory student fees, textbooks, software and other required training materials, as well as examination fees.

Earlier this week, Mayes announced the Cedar Heights Community Association is getting $10,000 through the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program to replace exterior signage.

The Cherryville Community Club will receive just over $3,000 to replace the playground at Hansen Park, and the Eagle Valley Snowmobile Club will receive $2,000 to improve avalanche condition signage near Sicamous.

The Tories also gave $25,000 to the Salmon Arm Curling Club for water system work, while the Vernon Curling Club was handed $23,000 to replace its roof.





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