Friday, December 19th1.2°C

$27K raised for women's shelter

The Kelowna Women’s Shelter just received their largest single donation of the year.

Almost $27,000 was raised by eight Shopper’s Drug Mart locations in the Kelowna area through their Tree of Life fundraising campaign.

The campaign itself provides funding to 450 women’s health and wellness organization across Canada, and stores in the Okanagan Valley decided to raise their funds for the women’s shelter this year.

The Rutland store alone raised over $9,500 which was good enough for number three in the province, and number 17 in Canada.

“We couldn’t serve women and their children who have experienced domestic violence without the generous support of organizations like Shopper’s Drug Mart, along with their enthusiastic staff and customers,” says Kelowna Women’s Shelter executive director Karen Mason.

“This is the largest single donation we’ve received this year, and we are overwhelmed by the support.”

The Kelowna Women’s Shelter provides emergency transitional housing, counseling and other support and education programs for women and their children who have experienced abuse. The Shelter also operates a Thrift Store where Shelter clients can shop free.

Donations can be made online, or you can text SHELTER to 20222 to donate $10.

University dispute now court bound

A Christian university embroiled in a debate about religious freedoms and same-sex equality rights will challenge in court a Law Society of British Columbia decision not to accredit graduates from its proposed law school.

In contention is a community covenant at Trinity Western University in Langley, B.C., that prohibits sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman.

The society accredited the proposed law school last April but reversed that decision in October.

Earlier this month, the government announced that it was also revoking its support.

University spokesman Guy Saffold said the judicial review will ask the B.C. Supreme Court to overturn the society's decision because it acted improperly under its own procedural guidelines and Canadian law.

"The Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the freedom of religion, the freedom of religious communities to express their identity and we feel that the decision the law society has made violates those very important freedoms of our Canadian society," said Saffold.

A similar judicial review is already underway in Nova Scotia. There, the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society has decided not to allow graduates of the proposed law school to enrol in the bar admission program unless the university dropped a requirement that students sign a pledge to abstain from sex outside heterosexual marriage.

The Law Society of B.C. said in an email that it will defend its decision and respond to the university's petition within the time provided under the court's rules.

"As the matter is now before the courts, we will not be commenting further on the issues involved in the litigation," said spokesman Ryan-Sang Lee.

Barbara findlay, who describes herself as a lesbian lawyer, said she is not surprised by TWU's decision to challenge the law society.

"They have been going to court in every province whose law society has refused them accreditation, hoping for a different outcome," said findlay, who doesn't use capitals in her name. "Ultimately, it will be for the courts to decide."

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association, which supported accreditation, said in an email it will gather the necessary materials to evaluate the case before determining whether it will apply as an intervener.

The university went through a similar tumult in 2001, when it opened a school of education. That issue ultimately ended up before the Supreme Court of Canada, which ruled in 2001 in favour of Trinity Western over the B.C. College of Teachers.

Saffold said the university hopes the court will rule likewise, citing the 2005 federal Civil Marriage Act.

Part of the university's argument is that the law recognizing same-sex marriages in Canada also protects the rights of those who oppose those unions, said Saffold.

In fact, in 2005, then-Liberal justice minister Irwin Cotler stressed religious officials opposed to same-sex marriages wouldn't be forced to recognize such unions under the federal act.

"The civil marriage act of 2005 made same-sex marriage legal in Canada but it also included a provision in the very same act that people who had a religious view of marriage would not be disadvantaged because it was different," said Saffold.

"So what's changed is that same-sex marriage has been legalized and the Parliament at the same time declared that no disadvantage should be imposed on people who have another view.

"We think that the law is stronger today in favour of Trinity Western being able to offer its legal program than it use to be."

Saffold said the courts must balance conflicting rights as best as they can to maintain a diverse and tolerant society, and the university argues they have done that by recognizing the rights of same-sex couples to marry and the rights of religious communities to express their own identities differently.

The Canadian Press

Water bans lifted

All water bans issued after the Copper Mountain Mine spill last week have been lifted.

The bans were put in place when a tailings line overflowed and spilled into Wolfe Creek. 

The mine acted quickly by putting silt screens in place and testing since then has shown that contamination did not spread. 


Pipeline company should pay

A Vancouver-area city is asking the National Energy Board to hand Kinder Morgan a bill that could be worth more than $2 million for policing and cleanup costs after pipeline work was targeted by protesters last month.

Environmental activists set up a makeshift encampment in a conservation area on Burnaby Mountain, east of Vancouver, in an attempt to block crews from conducting drilling and survey work related to its proposal to expand the Trans Mountain pipeline.

The company obtained a court injunction ordering protesters to clear two drilling sites. Dozens of officers with the RCMP and other police agencies were on the scene for over a week, arresting more than 100 people by the time the work was finished.

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan, who has been a vocal opponent of the planned pipeline expansion, has publicly said the company, not taxpayers, should be on the hook for policing costs.

The city wrote the National Energy Board a letter earlier this month, indicating it plans to seek an order from the board forcing Kinder Morgan to pay for the entire police bill — which it estimates to be between $1 million and $2 million — as well as any work required to restore the conservation area where the work occurred.

"When Trans Mountain went to B.C. Supreme Court for an injunction against the public, and sought and received authority to engage a police presence in the conservation area ... it did so knowing the likely consequences," says the city's letter, dated Dec. 5.

"The presence of many police officers ... has resulted in further damage to the conservation area at great public expense, much of which will be paid by Burnaby. Large areas of the conservation area were fenced off, and the public road was fully closed. More areas of the park were trampled."

The letter says the company was required by the energy board to do "as little damage as possible" during its work. The city, however, says there was extensive damage that went "well beyond" what the company had initially promised.

The city's letter does not include a final tally of the cleanup costs.

The Canadian Press

Virus infects BC government

A computer virus has forced the British Columbia government to shut down its email system, cutting off the information flow for much of the day.

A statement from the Ministry of Technology, Innovation and Citizens' Services says a computer virus caused by a malicious file attachment infected the government's email servers Thursday morning.

Ministry information officer Bette-Jo Hughes says in a statement that out of precaution government email servers are temporarily disabled while work is done to resolve the issue.

She says protection of government data and networks are a top priority and immediate action was taken to reduce exposure to the government network and prevent loss of information.

The statement — which was hand delivered to the media in the legislature's press gallery — doesn't provide information about the identity of the malicious file attachment.

Hughes says they're working to restore the service as quickly as possible.

The Canadian Press

Arrest made in fatal hit-and-run

Police in the Comox Valley have made an arrest in the hit-and-run crash that claimed the life of a popular teacher.

Paul Bally, 48, was cycling near Fanny Bay Monday night when he was struck by a truck and left for dead. After failing to return home after his ride, his wife Evelyn went looking and found him in a ditch, covered in mud and unresponsive. He was pronounced dead in hospital.

On Tuesday, Mounties urged the driver to do the right thing and come forward.

“The family is experiencing a tremendous loss,” Sgt. Mark Whitworth said. “It only makes it worse when the driver remains hidden.”

Bally was wearing proper reflective clothing and had bike lights, according to police.

Evelyn made a heart-wrenching plea on Wednesday for the driver responsible to come forward, saying her husband may still be alive if they had have stopped to help.

“What if you had stopped when it happened? What if you had have just called emergency? He might still be here,” she said.

“Instead you left him in the ditch for me to find, in the mud. For hours and hours.”

She described Bally as a very strong and healthy man who was a guiding force in their family. He leaves behind two small children.

“Who will teach my son to be a man? Who will walk my daughter down the aisle? Who is going to help me raise my children? He was my rock,” said Bally.

Paul Bally taught French at Lake Trail Middle School where he worked for the past 17 years, and was also a volunteer firefighter.

RCMP say an arrest was made around 8 p.m. Wednesday night, after receiving a tip from the public.

Comox Valley members went to an area property and found a 2003 Ford F350 truck matching the suspect description. That vehicle was seized for further examination.

A 55-year-old man was taken into custody. He is expected to make his first court appearance today on charges related to failing to remain at the scene of an accident.

His name will not be released until charges are formally laid.

“Our team remains committed to completing a thorough investigation of all the circumstances surrounding this collision, bringing much needed answers to Paul’s grieving family,” Tim Walton of the Comox Valley RCMP said.

Police look for stolen sled

Tis the season of stolen sleds.

Police in Sicamous are looking for a stolen ski-doo that was taken from the Owl Head Forest Service Road yesterday.

The machine apparently broke down and had to be left there for several hours, as its owner arranged for transport.

When he returned, the sled was no longer there.

It’s described as:

  • 2013 Ski-doo Summit
  • Rotax 800cc engine
  • Black and yellow
  • 163 in track
  • M10 suspension

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Sicamous RCMP.

Lotto audit shows problems

A failed voluntary-retirement program that cost British Columbia's Lottery Corporation $25 million is a "shining" example of why business-and-management improvements are needed at the Crown corporation, says Finance Minister Mike de Jong.

De Jong said in a Wednesday news conference in Kamloops that a lottery corporation restructuring exercise in March designed to cut operating costs by $20 million ended up costing $25 million.

He said the corporation's managers offered early retirement and severance packages to employees 50 years and older to reduce terminations, but instead of eliminating 68 positions, 142 people took advantage of the offer.

The package offered 18 months severance for some employees, regardless of their length of service.

"Not a particularly shining example of effective execution," said de Jong. "All in all the report reveals and confirms that there were some important failings within the HR management section of the corporation."

The review included 25 recommendations for the lottery corporation, including several aimed at strengthening business and management planning and saving money.

De Jong said the lottery corporation is implementing the recommendations and he's confident the message about sharpening business practices has been received.

"The public should take great comfort, as I do, in the fact that the lottery corporation has already, by its actions, signalled the seriousness with which it takes the recommendations," he said.

But Opposition New Democrat gaming critic David Eby said de Jong sugar-coated a report that raises serious concerns about the lottery corporation.

He said the report includes details of lavish spending on employees and managers, lack of adequate enforcement and few internal controls. Eby also questioned the vigilance of money-laundering enforcement at BC casinos since funding was cut in 2009 for a dedicated RCMP money-laundering squad.

Eby said the failed retirement plan offered senior executives 18 months' severance regardless of their length of service, and as many as 40 per cent of retailers who were tested sold tickets to minors.

He said the report reveals that bid documents for a major project were destroyed.

"The audit was put in the kindest of terms possible, but what it shows is a government agency that is significantly out of control," said Eby.

The report said the lottery corporation generates revenues of $2.1 billion annually after paying out prizes to winners. About half of the earnings support health care, education and social programs.

Lottery board chairman Bud Smith said the corporation accepts the 25 recommendations and is in the process of implementing them.

"The execution has not been good at all," he said.

Smith said the corporation is set to deliver record revenues this year and is the third-most profitable company in BC.

The review also comes after a $125,000 severance package given to former lottery boss Michael Graydon sparked intense debate in the legislature earlier this year.

The evaluation wasn't set off by Graydon's departure, de Jong said it was simply part of the government's commitment to review operations of all of its Crown corporations.

A government review on the severance package found that Graydon was in a conflict of interest while he was negotiating to take on the new job. Graydon later paid back $55,000 in wages he collected.

The Canadian Press

Lake Country looks for $2.6M

The District of Lake Country Council has taken the first step in trying to secure funds to pay for its portion of the CN Rail purchase.

The municipality Tuesday gave first three reading to a Loan Authorization Bylaw which, if passed, will trigger an Alternative Approval Process.

The bylaw seeks authorization to borrow up to $2.6 million to fund the purchase of 50 per cent of the discontinued CN Rail line within District of Lake Country’s jurisdiction.

“Many funding options for purchasing the discontinued CN Rail corridor have been explored, including partnerships, grants, municipal reserves and/or borrowing,” says Michael Mercer, Director of Engineering & Environmental Services.

“Each of the local governments involved are making every effort to minimize the current tax impact while securing a land asset that will be valued for generations.”

While the original asking price of the corridor was $50 million, the negotiated cost of the corridor is a combination of $22 million and land donation.

If the AAP is successful, the average residential dwelling valued at $475,000 would see an equivalent value property tax increase of approximately $27 per year.

“If fewer than 10 per cent of electors object, funds will be borrowed through the Municipal Finance Authority and will be paid back over a 20-year term,” said Reyna Seabrook, Corporate Services Manager.

The loan authorization bylaw will be provided to Lake Country Council on Jan. 6 to be considered for final approval. 

Elector response forms will be available online and at Municipal Hall and may be submitted by eligible voters in Lake Country who oppose the borrowing for 30 days. Exact dates for the AAP and availability of response forms will be discussed at the Jan. 6 meeting.

The District says it is committed to ensuring the process is transparent and informative to all citizens. Information will be provided through a variety of channels including the website, social media and public open houses for in-person interaction.

Bomb threat shuts school

Update -- 3 p.m.

The RCMP have given the “all clear” sign for classes to resume at Shuswap Middle School on Thursday.

Police searched the school and determined there was no threat from a bomb.

Anyone with information is asked to talk to school administrators.

Original story -- 12 p.m.

Students at Shuswap Middle School in Salmon Arm are being sent home for the day following a bomb threat.

Officials with School District 83 say the threat came in sometime around 10 a.m.

Students have been evacuated to South Broadview Elementary.

Parents are being asked to pick up their children from South Broadview. Those that cannot be picked up will be bused home.

All students and staff are said to be safe.

RCMP are currently at Shuswap Middle School, and say the threat was found written in a bathroom.

A dog team from Kelowna is en route to search the school. 

Man breaks-in, eats & falls asleep

Mounties say they arrested a man who decided to take a nap after breaking into a North Vancouver apartment.

RCMP say the 24-year-old Surrey man broke into the home and helped himself to food and personal items.

Police say the man put some items in a backpack and fell asleep on the couch.

Cpl. Richard De Jong says the homeowner arrived to find a strange man snoozing away and wearing his T-shirt.

He says the man was "certainly surprised" to wake up and see police.

The man accused of break and enter will remain in custody until he makes a court appearance.

The Canadian Press

$180k of BS bought online

A popular card game played a Black Friday shopping trick on 30,000 customers in an apparent effort to mock consumer culture.

Cards Against Humanity, which bills itself as "a card game for horrible people," removed the game from the online store on Nov. 28. 

Instead, the website said "To help you experience the ultimate savings on Cards Against Humanity this Black Friday, we’ve removed the game from our store, making it impossible to purchase."

The game which typically retails for $25 was replaced by 30,000 boxes of bovine excrement flogged at $6 per unit to Black Friday shoppers.

As those packages have been delivered, hilarity has ensued on Twitter and on the company's Tumblr blog.

Time magazine quoted co-creator Max Temkin as saying “We all really hate Black Friday, it’s just kind of a horrible day. It comes after this day where you’re supposed to be thankful for what you have, and then it’s just this whole huge media spectacle of people fighting each other to save $50 on a TV.”

Some shoppers have since turned to Ebay to try and flog their feces at a profit.

The best part is that consumers have no one to blame but themselves. The website clearly stated that the game was not available for purchase and that each of those 30,000 people would be purchasing bull crap. 

The 30,000 units apparently sold out in hours.

One Twitter user summed it up perfectly: 

Crash traps driver

An accident Tuesday morning in Blind Bay, just east of Sorrento, left a car on its roof and a driver trapped inside.

Salmon Arm RCMP say they responded to a single vehicle accident on Cedar Drive around 10:30 a.m.

A 55-year-old female driver from Blind Bay had driven off the road and struck a culvert. The vehicle came to rest on its roof, causing the driver to be trapped for approximately 30 minutes.

She was taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries and the cause of the collision remains under investigation.

Hells Angel convicted of extortion

An alleged full-patch member of the Hells Angels has been convicted in BC Supreme Court of extortion and theft over $5,000.

Neil MacKenzie of BC's Criminal Justice Branch says the case against Robert Widdifield went to trial in the fall and a decision was handed down in Nanaimo  on Tuesday.

He says Widdifield is expected to appear back in court on Jan. 12, 2015 to set a date for sentencing.

A BC Supreme Court judge had stayed the charges when it ruled in June 2013 that Widdifield's charter rights were violated because the case took too long to get to trial.

The Crown appealed the decision and it was overturned by the court of appeal, which said the Crown was responsible for only part of the delay.

Widdifield was charged with extortion, theft and possession of stolen property in what the Crown said was an attempt to get someone to repay a claimed debt.

The Canadian Press

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