COSAR rescues six UTV riders from gully above Peachland

COSAR rescues 6 from gully

Medical concerns elevated the urgency during a Central Okanagan Search and Rescue operation Sunday night.

COSAR was called to get six people to safety from the hills above Peachland. The group’s three side-by-side UTVs had gotten stuck at the bottom of a gully.

After hours of trying to get themselves out, the stranded people called 9-1-1. COSAR was dispatched, sending in an initial snowmobile team to assess the situation.

Once the medical concerns about the stranded party came to light the tracked UTV was also sent in. All six people were brought to the staging area on Brenda Mines Road.

Sunday’s rescue was COSAR’s fifth task in a week-and-a-half and the 18th so far this year.


Peachland puts on hold possible request to join short-term rental restrictions

Short-term motion on hold

A request to include Peachland to provincial regulations restricting short-term rental units has been put on hold.

Council was slated to vote Tuesday on a motion to be added to the new provincial regulations.

Proposed legislation will essentially restricts short-term rentals in the province to an owner’s principal residence – or a secondary suite or carriage-style home on the property.

As a municipality with a population under 10,000, Peachland would be exempted from the new rules.

Some smaller and rural jurisdictions are concerned they may become too much of a hotspot for short-term rentals if they’re excluded while the bans go ahead in neighbouring jurisdictions.

Mayor Patrick Van Minsel said on Tuesday more consultation is needed before a motion is voted on.

“We still need more information coming down from the province,” he told council.

Council will host a town barbecue in June, where public input can be sought, Van Minsel said.

He added that the provincial residency requirement is already included in Peachland’s bylaws.

The motion likely won’t come back to council until fall.

District of Peachland to launch civic newsletter

District to launch newsletter

Launching a monthly newsletter and conducting a citizen survey will add $16,500 to Peachland’s 2024 budget.

Councillors approved the additions unanimously on Tuesday.

The additional spending will increase taxes by 0.33 per cent, council heard. Mayor Patrick Van Minsel said the municipality will look for other ways besides taxation to fund the projects.

In December, council approved a preliminary budget with a 7.74 per cent tax increase.

The newsletter and survey are part of a new communications plan, approved by council last month.

A citizen survey will ask Peachlanders for their views on services offered by the municipality, Kirsten Jones, the municipality’s new communications co-ordinator, told council in January.

Peachland has an e-notification service with 566 subscribers, council heard in January. The newsletter
will also go out by mail.

The City of Kelowna has also started a regular newsletter.


Peachland residents want large Ogopogo sculpture installed in community

Residents want Ogopogo

An enthusiastic group of Peachlanders has come up with plans to carve a large Ogopogo sculpture and donate it to the municipality.

“We would create the project, we would raise the funds for it, so there would be no cost to the city, other than we would need a spot to put it, Lee Etherington told council on Tuesday.

A wood carver has already been lined up for the project, the group told council.

Etherington, Bruce Klippenstein and local Ace Hardware store owner Tim Stubbert came up with the idea.

Stubbert had thought about putting a large Ogopogo sculpture on the roof of his store, Etherington explained to council. When that couldn’t be done, he put one in a window. The popularity of that got the trio thinking about doing something bigger.

The carving would be 8-10 feet high and 25 feet long. The group would seek the funding for the project themselves. The municipality would only need to provide a spot for it.

Etherington said his group envisions the statue being in a place where tourists could take photos with Rattlesnake Island, the alleged home of the giant lake creature, in the background.

The group hopes to work with the Westbank First Nation on the project, Klippenstein told council.

“They are thinking about it,” he said.

Klippenstein is a familiar public figure who attends many local events as a town crier.

In local Indigenous legends, Ogopogo is known as N’ha-a-itk, a not-so-benevolent lake creature.

Waving a piece of paper, Klippenstein said he owns the trademarks to Ogopogo, so he’s able to do this.

Klippenstein said the carving would be a huge tourist attraction.

“The tourist potential is amazing,” he said, referring to other towns that draw tourists with their statues. “You can carve your place in the tourism world by approving this carving,” he said.

“I admire the passion,” responded Mayor Patrick Van Minsel.

Council voted to have municipal staff work with the group to come up with a plan that can be presented at a future council meeting.

As for Klippenstein’s claim to hold the Ogopogo trademark, he explained it in response to a blog post in 2022 by Hugh Stephens, who examined reports the City of Vernon had transferred the copyright for Ogopogo to the Okanagan Nation Alliance.

Klippenstein wrote on Stephens’ site: “I registered 3 related Trademarks for Ogopogo, OgopogoLand and N’ha-a-itk. It took 3 years, to 2021, for them to be approved by CIPO (the Canadian Intellectual Property Office.)

“These trademarks were specifically crafted to include any form of advertising or promotion, ie tourism potential.

“I then donated the Trademark for N’ha-a-itk to WFN ... I still own the TMs for Ogopogo and OgopogoLand.”

Both trademarks are indeed registered to Klippenstein on the CIPO website.

Power outage impacts over 1,000 homes in Peachland area

Peachland power restored

UPDATE 7 p.m.

Power has again been restored to more than 1,100 customers in Peachland, Trepanier and West Kelowna.

Power originally went out just before 3:30 Monday.

BC Hydro has not announced the cause of the outage.

ORIGINAL: 4:30 p.m.

A total of 1,122 homes in Peachland are in the dark.

The power outage occurred just before 3:30 p.m., north of Lake Avenue.

The cause is under investigation.

BC Hydro says crews are on their way and are estimated to arrive at 4:40 p.m.

District of Peachland planning new website

Peachland plans new site

A new website and a citizen survey are two features of a new Peachland communications plan presented to council last week.

Kirsten Jones, hired last year to be Peachland’s communications person and grant writer, also said a monthly citizen newsletter, increasing the number of e-subscribers and brushing up the town logo are in the plans.

Peachland doesn’t need a new logo, but needs a larger master file of the logo it has, she said.

“We do not have an original large file, so we’ll have to get a graphic designer in and spruce it up a bit,” Jones said.

Plans are to roll out the new municipal website in September.

“It’s not easy to use,” said Jones of the current site. A survey will ask Peachlanders what they use the website for.

A citizen survey will ask Peachlanders for their views on services offered by the municipality, Jones said.

Peachland’s e-notification service has 566 subscribers, a report said, up from 220 a year ago. News releases and other notices are sent out by email to subscribers. About half of the subscribers are from outside the municipality, Jones said.

Jones’s two-year communications plan is a “quite work of art,” Coun. Terry Condon said.

Condon said Peachland had a rebranding plan about seven years ago that was an “unmitigated failure.”

“Yes, I saw that,” replied Jones.

New Peachland bylaw bans planting of trees, bushes near structures

Tree removal rules now law

New rules about cutting down trees are now the law in Peachland.

Council on Tuesday gave final approval to a series of bylaws on tree removal. Councillors had nothing to add to the debate after hashing out the issue in a December meeting.

At that time, fire Chief Dennis Craig explained Peachland hadn’t updated its tree removal bylaw since the mid-1990s.

“The main change is to add a FireSmart component to it,” Craig told council then.

The bylaw states no replacement trees shall be planted within a 1.5-metre radius of any building or structure.

“No tree removal permit is required if doing work in that 1.5-metre area around a structure," Craig said.

“(The bylaw) also regulates what can be planted in replacement,” Craig said. “It is a tree protection bylaw, so if you remove trees, the bylaw does say you have to replace those trees,” Craig said.

“In the old bylaw there were no requirements,” said Craig. “This bylaw now basically regulates that, saying if you’re replacing trees, you cannot replace them within that 1.5-metre non-combustible zone. If you’re within the immediate zone, you cannot replace them with coniferous trees.”

Some small trees will be exempt from the tree-replacement rules. Pruning is acceptable, but people who prune their trees to death may be ordered to replace them, Craig said.

'Our authority has simply disappeared': Peachland council grapples with provincial housing initiatives

Shocked at pace of change

New provincial regulations designed to spur housing growth are limiting municipalities’ abilities to control properties in their jurisdictions, a pair of Peachland councillors said on Tuesday.

Coun. Terry Condon and Mayor Patrick Van Minsel made their comments following the presentation of a Peachland development report to council.

“Some of the changes that the provincial government is introducing significantly changes the authority of the local municipality to manage its own properties,” said Condon. “Some of our authority has simply disappeared.”

“It’s a downloading from the province as has never been seen before,” said Van Minsel. “I’ve never seen so many changes in one year coming down to us.

“We pretty much have to abide by the new rules and regulations. They take away all of our ability, authority to make decisions.” the mayor said.

The public needs to be made aware that these changes are coming from the province, said Van Minsel.

“The provincial government has made more changes in the last nine months than I have seen in my 15 years sitting on this council,” Condon concluded.

In the latest in a series of housing announcements, the province announced in November it was bringing in legislation that would allow more secondary suites and carriage houses.

As well, more single-family-zoned lots would be opened up for multiple dwellings.

Measures to speed up the approvals and reduce opportunities to block new developments were also announced. Public hearings will no longer be required when projects are already compatible with the official community plans, for example.

The planning report showed Peachland has 38 development applications in the works and 20 were approved in 2023.

In 2023, 107 building permits were issued – 20 more than in 2022 and 40 more than in 2020. Thirty building permits were issued for residential units.

Ninety-five per cent of permits were issued within two weeks of receiving the application.

Seventeen bylaw tickets were issued in 2023.

Fifty-seven business licences were issued – up by eight from 2022.

A total of 272 business licences were renewed, up 15 from the previous year.

Plans for new Peachland car show 'up and running'

Car show 'up and running'

Peachland’s new May long weekend car show will be known as the Peachland Classic Car Show, Coun. David Collins informed council on Tuesday.

“They are up and running and ready to go,” said Collins.

The May 19 show is being organized by the Peachland Chamber of Commerce with council’s support.

Plans for the new show were announced shortly after organizers of the long-running World of Wheels show revealed they were moving their event to West Kelowna.

The World of Wheels drew thousands of people and hundreds of vehicles to Beach Avenue every year, but the municipality and the organizers apparently couldn’t come to terms over parking and safety concerns. The West Kelowna show will also take place May 19.

The new committee “includes many of the original founding members that started the car show 25 years ago,” said Collins.

“So it’s up and running, it will happen. We will have a car show on the May long weekend.”

Peachland may opt into provincial restrictions on short-term rentals

Should Peachland opt in?

Peachland may ask to be included in new provincial legislation that will put a cap on short-term rental units.

Council will debate a motion at its Feb. 13 meeting that asks the province to include the municipality in the new law.

The legislation restricts short-term rentals to an owner’s principal residence – or a secondary suite or carriage-style home on the property.

Fines and reporting requirements from the short-term rental platforms will be increased. A provincial enforcement branch will be created.

The rules will apply to most municipalities with populations of 10,000 or more, but smaller municipalities like Peachland, which has about 6,000 people, won’t be included.

In a news release, the province said B.C.’s short-term rental market is at an all-time high, which diverts thousands of long-term rental homes onto the short-term market.

“Currently, there are approximately 28,000 daily active short-term rental listings in B.C., an increase of 20% from a year ago. Data indicates that more than 16,000 entire homes are being listed as short-term rentals for the majority of a calendar year,” the release said.

Coun. Terry Condon said the Peachland motion should have some input from the planning department. Mayor Patrick Van Minsel replied that Condon’s idea could be discussed at the next meeting.

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