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Kelowna  

Family rentals in demand

Larger, family-friendly rental accommodations are in short supply in Kelowna.

According to a report outlining the city's rental housing inventory, three bedroom or larger apartment units make up just three per cent of the available market rentals.

That works out to approximately 200 of the 6,667 purpose-built rental units available market rentals. More than 200 of the 1,423 subsidized rentals, or about 16 per cent are also three bedroom or larger.

The report, which council will review Monday, is part of the city's Healthy Housing Strategy, which is trying to address the most pressing housing issues, including rental housing.

"Between 2011 and 2016, 73 per cent of new households in Kelowna were renter households. This compares to 32 per cent in the previous five years," the report states.

"This robust demand for rental is clear, with very low vacancy rates, 0.6 in 2016, to a slight increase to 1.9 in 2018."

The rental inventory indicates there are nearly 8,100 purpose-built rentals, including market and subsidized rentals within 165 buildings across the city.

These do not include secondary suites or carriage houses.

More than three-quarters of all rentals are within the city's core area.

While more than half of the rental buildings are more than 40 years old, the report suggests most property owners do see the need to maintain their buildings, however, energy efficient and accessibility upgrades do not appear to be top priorities.

"Traditionally, the most affordable rental stock is the stock that exists today. The theory here is that new stock, subject to new construction and land prices, will be more expensive to rent than older, existing stock.

"Protecting this stock from redevelopment becomes even more important if we are going to ensure that adequate rental housing is available at a wide range of price points."

Staff say they will work with senior levels of government, and explore other opportunities to both protect the current rental stock and encourage new construction.



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Mom, kids stuck in Croatia

A B.C. family is struggling to bring a Kelowna woman home after falling on hard times in Croatia.

Sue Gauvin has been living outside of Canada with her family for over 10 years, but recent events have put her in an impossible situation, family members say.  

A GoFundMe campaign launched by her family says Gauvin's husband "has lost his business due to events beyond his control; they are about to lose their home, and the stress of the situation has made it impossible for her and her children to stay there with her soon to be estranged husband." 

The former Kelowna resident is said to be on the brink of homelessness.

The family hopes to raise enough money to bring Gauvin and her two children back to Canada.

"Our sister, daughter and cousin, Sue Gauvin, is currently stranded in Croatia with no means of getting back home to Canada. She needs and wants to get back to Canada with her two children so they can reunite with family and get enrolled in school," the GoFundMe page says.

Gauvin was unable to get citizenship due to a requirement to speak Croatian and cannot get any help from the embassy or the government to get home, the family says.

"We are desperate to help her and her children get back home with family and re-establish herself and her family in Canada."

As of Saturday morning, the campaign had raised $3,125 raised of its $14,100 goal.

Money raised will pay for three one-way tickets back to Canada, rent, food and clothing for the first month, until she is able to get employment, the family says.



Protest to greet meat eaters

Climate protesters will greet RibFest attendees today and Sunday at Kelowna City Park.

Members of Kelowna Climate Save will be drawing public awareness to the association of animal agriculture to climate change. 

They plan to show the life of a sow with a pig gestation crate demonstration and will use "chalktivism" to write their message on the sidewalk at the entrance to the park, where hungry festival-goers will pass.

"Our house is on fire," the group says.

Various demonstrations will be held throughout the day.

“We need diet change to reduce climate change," the group says.

Organizers cite a recent Oxford University report that stated avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on the Earth.

"Considering that animal agriculture is responsible for up to 91% of deforestation of the Amazon rainforest, we all need to pay attention," the group said in a press release.



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RibFest is back!

The fourth annual Interior Savings Sunrise Rotary RibFest has kicked off in Kelowna at City Park, and will continue through the weekend.

"Today we have five prize winning ribbers that are here to offer fantastic rib meals," said Chris Murphy, RibFest chair.

In addition to a variety of rib meals, there are food trucks with gluten and vegan friendly options to help accommodate all types of diets.

With a beer garden and live entertainment as well as a family fun zone, the 2019 RibFest provides fun for everyone.

Raffle tickets are also available for the chance to win $5,200 of groceries for a year, from Save on Foods.

"Because it's a rotary event, we take all of our money for great causes mostly local, we're supporting JoeAnna's House," said Murphy.

Entry to RibFest is free of charge with gates opening on Saturday from 12:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m., and Sunday from 12:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m.

 



That's one really big spider

This is a warning to all my fellow arachnophobes out there that there are spiders as large a man's hand living in the Okanagan.

And Justice Barker has the proof.

“I found a spider today that is the size of the back of my hand and I don’t know what kind of spider it is but it was on a day lily in Kelowna,” Barker told Castanet.

To prove the size of the spider was not a fish tale, Barker was brave enough to put his hand next to the gigantic black and orange beast to show its size.

“I was in Glenmore around Yates Road when I saw it. I do landscaping and my boss says he sees them around town, but this is the first ever time I’ve seen this kind of spider,” said Barker.

Once again dear reader, we need your help to identify this monster.

If you know what it is – other than terrifying – please send me an email.



Crane, crane, go away

A massive tower crane that has operated next to the Ella development in downtown Kelowna for more than a year is coming down.

The crane was set up in June last year, then raised above the 20-storey expanse of the building in the spring.

In order to make way for the dismantling and removal of the crane, Ellis Street between Lawrence and Bernard avenues will be closed for three days, beginning Monday morning.

The crane removal marks another milestone for the project, which broke ground early last year.

Ella is expected to open in early 2020.

Businesses in the area will remain open during the closure, with parking available on nearby downtown streets and within the Chapman Parkade on Lawrence Avenue.

Parkade parking is available at no charge during weekday evenings after 6 p.m. and all day Saturday and Sunday, except during special events.



Local sues RCMP, gov't

A former provincial and mayoral candidate in Kelowna is suing the RCMP and the B.C. government over a land dispute near 100 Mile House.

In a notice of civil claim filed Tuesday, Charles (Chuck) Hardy alleges he has been “intimidated and harassed” by RCMP and employees of the Ministry of Transportation over the past three years, since buying a property just west of 100 Mile House.

Shortly after purchasing the property in October 2015, Hardy, who still lives primarily in Kelowna, installed fences and a gate where an unmaintained road enters and exits his property, but he soon found they had been removed.

Hardy says he contacted 100 Mile House RCMP, but an officer told him he wasn't allowed to restrict access to the property.

“The RCMP told Mr. Hardy that any locks and chains would be cut and the gates removed as the road was a highway going through the property,” the notice of civil claim states.

“Further, the Staff Sergeant even asserted that members of the public had the right to hunt on the property, and he himself had already done so.”

Hardy claims the RCMP provided no evidence to support the claims, and the officer threatened to throw him in jail if he put the gates and fences back up.

Despite this, Hardy says he put the gates back up and contacted the ministry, which told him the RCMP were correct, and the road was an “MTI right-of-way,” registered as a public highway.

“Over approximately two years of communication, the MTI never produced any documentation supporting their position,” Hardy's suit claims. “In dealing with both the RCMP and the MTI, Mr. Hardy has been bullied, intimidated and had his property rights violated.”

Hardy says the ministry has had his gates and fences removed on several occasions, while other members of the public have cut through his fencing. He says he has driven out to the property from Kelowna every week to fix the damage.

Hardy claims he received a letter from the ministry in March 2018, stating it would “no longer be pursuing the matter of the road being public.”

Despite this, Hardy says he's suffered “significant damage” as a result of the dispute, to the tune of $28,110 for property damage, labour, travel to and from the property and general damages for “stress, anxiety and concern regarding government interference and threats.”

None of Hardy's claims has been tested in court.

In an emailed statement, the ministry says it is “proceeding through the claims process,” but cannot comment on the case. Neither the ministry nor the RCMP has filed a response to the claim at this time.

Hardy unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Kelowna in 2014, followed by a failed bid for MLA of Kelowna-Mission in 2017 under the BC Conservative banner.



Apartment block evacuated

Residents of a Kelowna apartment building were evacuated Friday afternoon after a small fire.

The fire apparently started in a garbage can at Sutherland Court apartments and extended to a chair, which was thrown from a fourth-floor balcony.

It's not believed anyone was injured in the incident, but dozens of residents milled about outside after fire alarms went off in the building at 1431 Sutherland Ave.

 



O'Donaghey moving on

The Kelowna RCMP detachment is looking for a new media relations officer.

Cpl. Jesse O'Donaghey, who took on the job three years ago, announced Friday he is moving on to the Southeast District headquarters as the next media relations officer advisory NCO.

Friday was his last day.

The detachment is looking for a full-time replacement.



Kelowna on NYT radar

The New York Times is recommending readers visit the Okanagan if they're looking for a budget-friendly holiday, thanks to the strong US dollar.

Travel writer Elaine Glusac says in her article "Canada has a wealth of attractions apart from offering value, including plenty of places to escape the crowds."

She says if readers like Napa Valley, then they will enjoy the Okanagan, adding the valley holds its own "scenic appeal and quality quaffs."

Glusac recommends flying into Kelowna and taking in lunch at Quails' Gate Winery, then checking out the rustic decor at The Hatch, before spending a night at the lively Hotel Zed.

Noting that Okanagan wine is largely unavailable in the U.S. market, she adds that wine connoisseurs will need to plan a trip to the region to experience our award-winning wines.

For more on this story, visit Okanagan Edge



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