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Winter wine fest returns

The Sun Peaks Winter Okanagan Wine Festival is back with an expanded roster of delectable events.

Now in its 18th year, the festival has built on two of the province’s best assets -- winter recreation and British Columbia wine, to become one of Canada’s premier winter events. It runs from Jan. 14-24.

“Each year it redefines the experience and expectation of traditional wine festivals,” said Christopher Nicolson, president of Tourism Sun Peaks. “From its modest beginnings of a weekend icewine event, the festival has progressed into a fantastic 10-day experience that is truly one of our premier winter celebrations."

It showcases the unique combination of B.C.’s best wines and the adventure of Canada’s alpine village."

Blair Baldwin, general manager of the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society said the festival is a testament to the “phenomenal regional wine culture in the province, which has now surpassed $1 billion in wine sales annually” with B.C. wine comprising the largest market share of any region’s wines sold in the province.

“With 50 British Columbia wineries and a number of unique Canadiana-inspired wine and culinary events like Coureur Des Bois Repas, which celebrates the famous ‘runners of the woods’ and the superb Comforts of Grilled Cheese and Wine, we offer an inspired pairing of the best of British Columbia for those that enjoy fine wine, skiing, food and riding in a spectacular mountainside setting,” said Baldwin.

This year, the festival is introducing six new events to its schedule: the Sun Peaks Wine Crawl, Coureur Des Bois Repas, Welcome to the Kamloops Wine Trail, Dessert Wines and Aromatic Cheeses, the Breadth of British Columbia Riesling and the Spirited Apres.

One of the largest winter gatherings of B.C. wineries, the festival is showing strong 2016 ticket sales with three events already sold out. Tickets range from $39 to $90, with packages, including accommodation starting at $259 per person for the weekend.
For complete event listings go to this website. Tickets can be purchased through Tourism Sun Peaks’ central reservations at 1-877-212-7107.


Arrest in 6-year-old assault

An arrest has been made in a six-year-old Kamloops’ sexual assault case, thanks to the National DNA Database.

A Canada-wide warrant was put out for Taylor James Howard Matchett, 27, on Nov. 25 after a matching DNA profile was identified through the national database. He was arrested in Edmonton on Thursday.

On Nov. 11, 2009, the RCMP received a report of a 25-year-old female who was sexually assaulted after a man picked her up from Tranquille Road and offered her a ride home.

The man then allegedly drove her to MacArthur Island Park, where he sexually assaulted her at gunpoint.

The investigation into the assault failed to turn up a suspect at the time.

Matchett was previously arrested in St. Albert, Alta. in 2014 in connection to a string of break-and-enters, ranging from December 2013 to March 2014. 

Matchett remains in custody and will be returned to Kamloops for trial.

He is charged with sexual assault with a weapon and use of an imitation firearm in commission of an offence.

WorkSafe probes fall

Kamloops RCMP and industrial investigators remain on the scene of a job site accident that occurred Wednesday afternoon when a construction worker fell six metres from a scissor lift to a concrete floor.

However, police say they expect to turn the investigation over to WorkSafe BC after finding “no obvious signs of criminality.”

A Kamloops man, 45, is being treated at Royal Inland Hospital for critical injuries.

The accident took place at a building site on the 1800 block of Highway 5A, north of Kamloops, while the victim was operating the scissor lift.


How to ski for cheap

Sun Peaks Resort has launched a new lift ticket pricing model that rewards advance purchasers.

Dynamic, online sales begin today for pre-purchased, date-specific tickets at discounted rates on the resort website, www.sunpeaksresort.com.

“This is an innovative new way to save money on lift tickets, and we wanted an option to reward our guests for planning in advance,” says Aidan Kelly, the resort's director of sales and marketing.

The platform will adjust pricing and quantities in real time throughout the season.

Following the dynamic pricing model, ticket prices will fluctuate based on time of season and consumer demand. Tickets through the online store will be date specific and typically priced significantly below the regular window rate to offer incentives for guests to make the advance purchase.

A limited number of tickets will be available at each price point, creating added motivation for guests to purchase early.

“It’s no secret that costs have risen in the ski industry over the years, it’s the nature of the business.... We are really trying to strike a balance between managing these costs while at the same time offering great value,” says Kelly.

Fall sends man to hospital

A 45-year-old Kamloops man is in the hospital Wednesday evening with critical injuries after falling six metres from a scissor lift to a concrete floor.

The man was working in a construction area in the 1800 block of Highway 5A, north of Kamloops.

He was taken to Royal Inland Hospital and is currently undergoing surgery. The nature of his injuries has not been disclosed.

The RCMP and Work Safe BC are investigating the cause of the incident. 

Petition is about time

Bob Dieno may have inadvertently started a revolution over time.

Last month, the Kamloops business man launched an online petition calling for an end to the fall time change and for B.C. to remain on daylight savings time all year long.

Since the petition began in mid October, it has collected an impressive 24,000 names.

Petitions have also popped up in Alberta and Ontario.

“They literally copied ours word for word. It started something,” said Dieno, who operates NuTech Fire and Safety.

“There are five states looking at it right now as well.”

Along with the petition, Dieno also started a Facebook page that has more than 3,300 likes.

Earlier this month, Dieno met with Provincial Health Minister Terry Lake and Transportation Minister Todd Stone to discuss the petition and the obvious momentum it has gained.

“They have asked us to get 30,000 names on petition which we are not that far from,” he said, adding the ministers also asked if he could gain support from B.C. communities.

“We are going to try and talk to the UBCM (Union of BC Municipalities) to try and get support.”

Lake and Stone told Dieno they also want more statistics on the hazards of the time change and said they will have their staff look in to it.

Dieno said statistics show the likelihood of a serious workplace accident within the first week of the time change increases by 10 per cent. The odds of an accident in the home jumps by 30 per cent over the same week and the risk of a car accident increases by 10 per cent in the first 48 hours after the change.

“We are going to meet again shortly after the new year,” he said. “With the response we have gotten so quickly, they are taking this very seriously. They were very impressed with the effort we put forward and the way we did it. They were amazed at the results.

“We figured it would take four four months to reach 10,000 signatures. We got that in a week. People are going out on their own and asking people to sign the petition. People really want this to disappear.”

Dieno is not the first person to try to stop the time change, but he may be the last.

“Someone needed to challenge it is what it comes down to,” he said. “I think there is definitely a reason to be encouraged that this could happen. I couldn't say that before we started this, but after the response and the fact the ministers are willing to meet and discuss it, there is certainly a chance it could happen. On average, around 90 per cent of people said they would like to stop changing the time.”

Local band grabs $50K

A Kamloops band took home $50,000 Thursday night at the Peak Performance Project in Vancouver.

Van Damsel performed at the Commodore Ballroom along with the other top three bands in the contest, Bed of Stars and JP Maurice, at the project's finale.

“Playing the Commodore was awesome because it’s like a dream venue to play and has been since I first saw shows there,” said Sebastien Ste Marie, lead vocalist in the band.

Van Damsel took home third place, while Abbotsford’s Bed of Stars won the top prize, taking home $102,000.

"The outcome wasn't ideal," Ste Marie said. "We would have liked to get first, preferably, or second, but we still get 50 grand out of it.

Van Damsel has been playing together for six years and the four members still in live in Kamloops, despite the pressure to join the larger music community in Vancouver.

“The Kamloops music scene isn’t exactly a hot bed, but it’s supportive and it’s quiet enough to the extent that there are no distractions,” said Ste Marie. “We’ve been able to hone in on and put the time into creating and writing and rehearsing without the distraction of constant shows.”

Rather than moving to the big city, Ste Marie said they would rather just hit the road.

“Rather than pay really high rent in Vancouver, there’s a bit more of an appeal to be on the road and not have to worry about that,” he said.

And the recent winnings at the Peak Performance Project will help make that goal a reality.

“We do plan on touring next year, so fuelling our bus, paying for accommodation,” he said. “It’ll go fast.”

The Peak Performance Project was launched in 2009 by the Peak FM, a Vancouver radio station, and looks to promote local British Columbia talent.

2015 marked the final year of the seven-year project, a program that has invested $5-million into the B.C. music community. It has been funded by the Jim Pattison Broadcast Group.

Previous years winners include Kelowna’s We Are the City, Victoria’s Current Swell, North Vancouver’s Kyprios and Vancouver’s Dear Rouge.

For the bands involved, the value of the program goes beyond just a cash prize.

“It’s a full package,” said Ste Marie. “They really teach you the business aspect, from marketing to your branding to entertainment law, how to deal with record labels, how to deal with radio.”

At the end of August, the top 12 bands participated in a weeklong ‘boot camp’ where they are taught the ins and outs of the music business.

“They basically give you a week of training on what being a professional musician is,” Ste Marie said. 

With 2015 being the last year of the project, Ste Marie said it will be missed in British Columbia’s music community.

“It really is a great educational development program, we owe a lot of what we’ve done to it,” he said. “It’s going to leave a hole all right, especially for younger bands. … I don’t know if something’s going to come in and fill the void but it’s definitely going to leave a hole.”

Crash sends 3 to hospital

A late-night crash in Kamloops has sent three people to hospital, one with life-threateneing injuries.

Just before 2 a.m. this morning, RCMP, Kamloops Fire Rescue, and B.C. Ambulance paramedics responded to the intersection of Hillside Drive and Notre Dame Drive for a serious single-vehicle collision.
The driver of a northbound vehicle lost control on Hillside Drive, striking a light standard and causing extensive damage to the passenger side of the vehicle.
Firefighters extricated the three occupants. The driver was transported to Royal Inland Hospital with life-threatening injuries. Two passengers also were taken to hospital. 
A traffic analyst is still on scene as the investigation continues. Hillside Drive has been shut down, with traffic being diverted at Notre Dame and Hillside Way.

No bombs found at TCC

UPDATE: 9:19 A.M.

Police searched the Tournament Capital Centre with a bomb-sniffing dog Thursday after a bomb threat was made, but no explosives were found. 

Both the TCC and the Open Learning building have been opened for regular business Friday morning.

The Kamloops RCMP Serious Crime Unit are currently investigating the origin of the threatening phone call.

UPDATE: 5:15 P.M.

Currently, the TCC and the Open Learning building remain closed to the public until the police bomb dog arrives from Kelowna to conduct a search.

Cpl. Cheryl Bus said at this point in time no suspicious items have been located 

"However, these threats must be treated seriously until determined otherwise, to ensure everyone’s safety," she said.

The threat, which came in at 2:20 p.m., was specific to the TCC building. 

The Thompson Rivers University Open Learning building was evacuated due to its close proximity to the TCC.

RCMP assisted with the evacuation and then closed off the surrounding areas to traffic and pedestrians.

UPDATED: 4:33 P.M.

The entire Tournament Capital Centre as well as Thompson Rivers University's B.C. Centre for Open Learning has been fully evacuated due to a bomb threat. 

A bomb-sniffing dog is coming from Kelowna to assist in the incident. 

The City has said the TCC will reopen Friday morning with RCMP approval. 


The Tournament Capital Centre in Kamloops has been evacuated after the RCMP received a bomb threat Thursday afternoon.

Thompson Rivers University, where the centre is located, has not been evacuated, but the Canada Games Pool has. 

Dalhousie Drive and McGill Road have reportedly been closed. 

This story will be updated once more information becomes available. 

Tanker fire closes hwy.

UPDATED: 8:32 A.M.

Highway 1 has now been reopened in both directions following an early morning tanker truck fire. 


Highway 1 is closed in Kamloops this morning after a tanker truck was rear-ended by a pickup truck, catching fire.

The highway is closed in both directions from exit 369, Columbia Street, to exit 374, the Highway 5 junction.

The accident occurred just after 5:30 a.m.

There are serious injuries in the crash, according to RCMP, and two people were taken to the hospital.

Emergency crews began evacuating nearby homes due to fear of a large explosion, but the fire has now been put out. 

Police are still investigating the cause of the crash.

DriveBC has no estimated time of opening for the highway.

- With files from The Canadian Press

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