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West Kelowna  

Family without a home

Madison Erhardt

A family of eight in West Kelowna will soon be without a home. 

Debbie Hook and her family received a note from their landlord a few months ago to vacate the property as he is moving back into the home on June 1.  

Hook says her family is falling through the cracks. Not poor enough to receive government aid, not wealthy enough to afford to live in separate homes or buy property.

And because her adult children moved back in to help share costs, no one wants to rent to the large group.

"We have applied for a mortgage, applied for rent to own, and applied to get land, and we have been turned down," said Hook.

"We unfortunately fall into the area where we make the money, we have maintained the mortgage, but nobody will give us a chance because according to the stress test we don't have at least $100,000 combined family income, or $80,000 down, she added." 

The family was interested in renting a six-bedroom house, but was denied because the owner said they were only looking for a couple.  

The family was also told they couldn't rent a home because of their children. "We were told young ones are very disruptive. They asked us if we could send our younger ones off with other families. If we complied, then they may have let us rent with the three older ones," Hook said.

"We are just trying to put a roof over our heads. We are not asking for a handout, we are asking for a hand up," she added.



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North Westside flood watch

There has been some localized flooding reported in areas of the rural North Westside.

Flooding has been contained to the Valley of the Sun subdivision.

As creeks and streams continue to rise from rain and a melting snowpack, members of North Westside Fire Rescue continue to monitor the situation.

Property owners are reminded it is their responsibility to take the necessary steps – and have the proper equipment in place – to deal with flooding.

Sandbags and sand are available at the firehall in Killiney Beach for residents concerned about flooding on their property.

Residents in the North Westside Fire Protection Area wishing to report new flooding should contact 911 and ask for North Westside Fire Rescue.



Duties hit Gorman hard

New softwood lumber duties announced by the United States late Monday will hit West Kelowna's Gorman Bros. hard.

Provincial Forests Minister Steve Thomson says on top of a 19.88 per cent duty rate assessed by the U.S., a finding of critical circumstances was also levied against all but four lumber exporters.

That means penalties are retroactive for 90 days, to include all softwood lumber shipments since Jan. 31.

"That will require them to put cash on deposits as the investigation continues, so it is going to cause some additional stresses and impact on the company," said Thomson.

Those cash deposits would be held  in trust by U.S. Customs until all avenues for appeal are exhausted.

"It (additional penalty) has been applied without investigation and without evidence. We just don't understand it, and feel it has no basis in logic, so we will need to work with our industry."

Thomson met with the premier and other members of Cabinet Tuesday morning in Vancouver to discuss what steps the province would take in order to assist the lumber industry.

"We are taking a number of steps to combat these punitive measures which we believe are unfounded and unwarranted," Thomson said. "It was that way in the past and we believe it's still the case."

Those measures include:

  • Pre-purchasing B.C. softwood lumber for use in BC Housing projects
  • Immediately following the election, initiate additional trade missions to India, Japan, China and other countries, building on the great work we have done in diversifying markets
  • Contributing additional money to the Forest Innovation Investments to help build those markets.
  • Accelerating the elimination of the provincial sales tax on electricity for the industry
  • Maintaining our commitment to freeze the carbon tax

This is the fifth time the U.S. has slapped countervailing duties on softwood lumber imported from Canada. The previous four occasions, courts have ruled in Canada's favour.

Calls to Gorman Bros. for comment have not been returned.



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Guilty in US drug smuggling

A Surrey man pleaded guilty to drug smuggling charges in the United States Tuesday, nine months after a key witness in the trial was shot eight times in West Kelowna in a brazen drive-by bicycle shooting

Kevin Kerfoot, 53, pleaded guilty in a Seattle court on Tuesday to organizing a plot to smuggle cocaine into Canada in 2005, according to U.S. Attorney Annette Hayes.

Kerfoot had fought extradition from Canada to the U.S. for several years, but the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed his case last December. 

Police stopped a car on a Washington State highway in October 2005 after noticing it was driving erratically. A police dog discovered 41 kilograms of cocaine in the vehicle. 

Several members of a smuggling ring were arrested, and Kerfoot was identified as the head of the operation. 

On Aug. 2, 2016, Reginald Purdom was shot eight times in his chest, leg and hand by a man riding a bicycle, while driving near Highway 97 and Hudson Road. He survived the shooting. 

Purdom, who pleaded guilty in 2006 in Washington state to conspiracy to distribute cocaine and ecstasy, was listed as a key witness for the U.S. government in Kerfoot's smuggling case. 

Purdom had identified Kerfoot as the head of the smuggling operation to investigators after he was caught bringing 24,000 ecstasy pills across the Canada-U.S. border by boat, to trade for the 41 kg of cocaine.

He served 54 months in jail after pleading guilty in 2006. 

The West Kelowna shooting took place two weeks after Kerfoot lost his B.C. Court of Appeal bid to halt his extradition. 

Tyrone McGee, 29, faces several charges from the shooting, including attempted murder. A three-day preliminary inquiry for McGee is scheduled to begin on June 19 in Kelowna court.

Kerfoot, meanwhile, faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison for his role in the cocaine smuggling plot.

Other members of the smuggling ring were handed sentences between three and six and a half years. All have been released since serving their sentences.

- With files from The Canadian Press and The Vancouver Sun



Abandoned no more

A prominent building that has for years been decaying on the outskirts of Peachland is finally getting a facelift.

The building's new tenant, Peachland's Dragon Lotus Restaurant, is moving in this October.

The owners plan to make some major changes.

For more on what the upgrade will look like, as well as what will happen to the famous Dragon Lotus ice cream stall, check out the full story on Castanet's business news website, Okanagan Edge.



Smoke over Rose Valley

Residents of Rose Valley may be seeing smoke in the hills.

A concerned resident said she called 911 to report fire burning in Rose Valley Regional Park, across from Peak Point Drive, just off Westlake Road. 

Jan Newmarch says she can see smoke billowing from the bush, about 300 metres from the road.

The B.C. Wildfire Service is conducting a controlled debris burn in the park today, but it is listed as being above Bear Creek Road, off Bowes and Pettman Roads in West Kelowna. 

They are burning in a 10-hectare section of the park, so that is the likely source of the smoke, though that has not yet been confirmed.

Another controlled burn is underway in Black Mountain Regional Park. The park is closed to the public during the fuel management work.



Fire guts Peachland home

Alanna Kelly

A portion of a Peachland home was gutted in a structure fire on Vernon Ave. Sunday afternoon.

It’s not clear at this point how the fire started, but firefighters on scene say no humans were injured in the fire. However, a pet is still unaccounted for.

The right side of the house has been severely damaged in the blaze, which, at one point, appeared to be fully involved.

The roof of the house has shown signs of collapsing, as firefighters wrap up extinguishing the fire.

Castanet will provide more details as they become available.

–with files from Alanna Kelly



Dirt bike victim mourned

The young man killed in a dirt bike accident above Bear Creek last week is being remembered as a man who loved the great outdoors.

The body of Dylan James Gordon Smith, 23, a native of Regina, was discovered last Thursday about seven kilometres into the bush by two other dirt bikers.

Smith is being described as a man who "fell in love with the outdoors at a young age."

"His favourite activities were mountain biking, dirt biking, travelling the world, and sleeping under the stars in his 'Hennessy Hammock.'

"His truck, 'Earl' took him anywhere he wanted to go. This allowed Dylan to spend his time building and fixing trails to ride, and allow other riders to enjoy. His salt of the earth attitude and genuine demeanour was appreciated by anyone that met him."

His obituary says his greatest wish for his grieving family and friends would be to find solace in nature wherever, and whenever you can.

Dylan Smith was found lying face up by himself in a mud bog with a creek running through it. His bike had him pinned to the ground.

The family expressed their appreciation for the assistance of first responders, the West Kelowna RCMP and volunteers and operators of the Central Okanagan Search and Rescue, who respectfully and painstakingly recovered Dylan.



Trash ruining scenic drive

A West Kelowna resident is disgusted over the garbage that has been left along Glenrosa Road.

Doreen Zyderveld-Hagel was travelling on what used to be a scenic drive but the mess she saw was worse than anything she’s seen.

“I saw a car seat thrown into the ditch to my left, and a roof rack to my right, along with trees deliberately cut down,” she said.

“The vandals left an empty Tim Horton's cup nearby.  Further up the road, near the Water Shed, NW of the abandoned Crystal Mountain Resort, I found some wooden fencing torn apart, along with a vandalized hunting shack.”

The garbage was just past the Telemark Cross Country Ski Resort according to Zyderveld-Hagel.

Just a few months ago she found beer cans and an extinguished camp fire with a gas can in it.

Zyderveld-Hagel said she's been eager to explore the backwoods near her home on Upper Glenrosa but the deplorable state the once lovely forest is in is ruining it for her.

She suggested placing a video surveillance camera to try to find who is creating the mess.

But in the meantime, said she will clean up the mess.

“I am willing to clean up the mess with some help of other volunteers,” she said. “If anyone would be willing to help that would be great.”

 



Better signs welcome all

West Kelowna Coun. Bryden Winsby didn't go so far as to say I told you so.

But, the West Kelowna councillor said he was happy the city decided not to go the cheap way again in replacing its two entrance signs.

The current signs, erected in 2010, have begun to fall apart and need replacing.

They were originally supposed to be made of wood, however, to save money, they were built out of aluminum with vinyl graphics.

"We went the cheap route. We've come full circle, and I'm so happy," said Winsby when council voted to replace the signs with cedar.

The new signs will also include vandal-proof solar lighting.

"We didn't realize how sought after it was by the criminal element. We have had all of our components in one nature or another stolen over time," park supervisor Stacey Harding told council.

"In one case, they cut the entire pole down."

The city will produce the signs themselves.



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