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Casino move gets green light

Against the wishes of city staff and a lone councillor, Kamloops will be getting a new, stand-alone casino.

Council voted 7-1 during a public hearing Tuesday to grant Gateway Casino's OCP and rezoning application for a new, stand alone building in the former Rona location on Versatile Drive.

The company's current Lake City Casino is located downtown inside the Hotel 540.

Staff did not support the application due in part to the fact both KAMPLAN and the City Centre Plan encourage cultural, entertainment, performing arts, convention and restaurant facilities within the city centre.

Council, with the exception of Councillor Donovan Cavers, disagreed.

Cavers described the new, 60,000 square foot, stand alone facility as a Walmart approach which he doesn't see as beneficial to the community as a whole.

"It's an 'all under the same roof' type approach contrary to the mom and pop model of business," says Cavers.

"I think there is a stronger likelihood that funding that goes into the facility won't recirculate as much in the community as it would with a small business that owned and employs all local people."

Casino operators must still go through the process of obtaining a development permit so, while the final plans are not complete, company officials expect the finished product to include a new, vibrant gaming facility along with up to four different styles of restaurants.

Cavers says that model bothered him.

"Downtown businesses have more of a collaborative approach to business that I think is a lot more beneficial to their customers and to all the businesses as a whole."

Gateway Casinos director of public relations, Tanya Gabara, says the company is pleased with the decision of council and will now work toward getting a development permit.

If all goes well, Gabara expects renovations to the existing building to begin in October with completion expected in about 12 months.



Shot putter finally gets medal

After a long wait, Canadian shot putter Dylan Armstrong is finally going to receive an Olympic bronze medal for his third-place effort at the 2008 Beijing Games, CTV Vancouver reports

Armstrong originally finished fourth but he moves up to third as a result of the lifetime ban given to Belarusian shot putter Andrei Mikhnevich.

The Canadian Olympic Committee today confirmed that the International Olympic Committee has decided to award Armstrong the bronze.

A conference call has been scheduled for Thursday with Armstrong for the official announcement.

Bus, car collide

No serious injuries after a city bus collided with a vehicle in Kamloops Wednesday morning.

The incident occurred shortly after 8 a.m. at the intersection of Hugh Allen and Copperhead drives.

According to police the female driver of a Volkswagon Jetta failed to yield to the bus while attempting to make a left turn from Copperhead Drive onto Hugh Allan Drive.

RCMP say the woman was receiving medical treatment from BC Ambulance Paramedics when they arrived.

She was transported to Royal Inland Hospital with what were believed to be minor injuries.

No one on the bus was injured.

Charges are not being contemplated at this time against the driver of the Jetta.

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Busy day for search and rescue

Members of Kamloops Search and Rescue had their work cut out for them Monday, responding to three calls for service.

Early in the afternoon they found a missing man whose vehicle had plunged down a steep embankment; later on they were called out for two other search operations.

The most serious of which took place outside of Kamloops, just west of Tranquille Farm.

“The report that came in was that we had four 20-year-olds that were stranded on a cliff and hanging by their fingertips,” says Search Manager Alan Hobler.

Fortunately the rope rescue teams were just finishing up near Adams Lake and a helicopter was able to move the teams quickly to the next rescue site.

Hobler says when they arrived, no one was hanging by their fingertips, but three girls were stranded on a tiny ledge with two men situated above.

“Basically they lost their nerve; they couldn’t go up, they couldn’t go down, and they were quite edgy,” he says.

“We were still performing the rope rescue long after dark. We did what we call a top down rescue, so we access them from above and then lowered them down.”

The rescue operation itself lasted about three hours.

No one was seriously injured, but one girl is said to have possibly suffered a fractured hand or sprained wrist.

The other rescue involved four overdue campers who were reported missing when they failed to show up to work Monday.

The group had not spoken of a specific destination, so the search area was roughly 100 square kilometres.

Hobler says it turns out the group had decided to camp another night and eventually made their way out on their own.

Unfortunately this cost the search and rescue team about 15 hours in wasted man-hours, according to Hobler.

Barriere man found dead

A Barriere man is dead after his vehicle was found down a cliff off a forest service road near Kamloops.

The man, said to be in his 60’s, was last seen Saturday night around midnight.

According to Alan Hobler with Kamloops Search and Rescue, the man and his brother had been driving from Chase to Barriere, along the Adams Lake forest service road.

“The passenger was quite concerned about the driver's driving, to the point where he insisted the driver drop him off,” says Hobler.

That was the last time he was seen alive. Once his brother returned home, he notified police.

“We searched all the high probability areas where a vehicle could have gone off the road, and sure enough, eventually we did find a vehicle.”

Hobler says the driver was found deceased inside his vehicle at the bottom of a 150 foot embankment.

Early reports indicate the driver was speeding and failed to negotiate a curve in the road.

The vehicle was discovered around 1 p.m. Monday.

A high angle rope recovery operation was used to remove the body. Teams from Shuswap and Barriere search and rescue also assisted at the scene.

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