Construction can now begin on expansion of the terminal at YLW

Expansion of YLW to begin

Construction should begin soon on the large terminal expansion at Kelowna International Airport.

The city this week issued a $70 million building permit for the airport project.

The terminal expansion at YLW is part of a $108 million expansion project which was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The expansion, expected to be complete by 2026 will increase the airport's security screening area and expand the departures lounge, while increasing food and beverage options.

About 5,590 square-metres will be added to the terminal building, while 1,200 square-metres of existing space will be renovated.

Passengers will see changes to parking in long-term Lot A and restricted access into the terminal building from the south end of the building, while demolition work will start in the security screening area.


Kelowna adventure racer headed to World Championship with two teammates he’s never met

Worldwide adventure seeker

Cindy White

A Kelowna adventure racer is hoping to reach the pinnacle of his sport.

Curtis Johnson Morrison is training to compete in the Adventure Racing World Championship in South Africa on October 19. He’s part of a four person team that includes a husband and wife team from South Africa (Di and Neil Steenkamp) whom he’s never met in person.

He says each team member has their strengths that will help them complete the gruelling course.

“My partner from Victoria (Riley De Blonde), he’s a really good kayaker for example. The couple that we’ve met up with, the husband and wife combo, they’re also really world-class paddlers.

“I grew up on a mountain bike on the trails up behind Crawford, so I’ve got a base in that,” says Johnson Morrison, who says that’s what he enjoys about being part of a team sport.

“When one guy is sort of struggling, having a tough go, the others can cheer him on and help him go.”

He’s inspired by and wants to represent Kelowna athletes who he sees out on the trails and the lake everyday. His motto has always been ‘do cool stuff and get outside’.

“I think it really helps with people’s mental health being physical and that hits close to home for me,” adds Johnson Morrison.

His team, named the Springbok Zambonis in tribute to their Canadian and South African roots, will traverse the course with little to no sleep and without the aid of GPS. The event is a combination of orienteering, trekking, mountain biking, paddling and mountaineering.

He hopes they will be able to complete the 700+ kilometre race in 6 to 7 days. You can follow their progress here.

Okanagan film and TV industry to hold second forum this year

Spotlight on movies & TV

The Okanagan TV and film industry is holding its second industry forum in October.

Damon Gregory of EMC Studios says the event follows up the "big success" of the first forum in February.

The local industry plans on making the forum a twice-annual event, said Gregory.

"Attendees will have the opportunity to hear directly from, and connect with long-time industry leaders, hear the engaging career journeys of these leaders and gain insights, advice and guidance from those who have successfully navigated this dynamic industry," Gregory said.

Film and TV production in the Okanagan has been on the rise and industry experts are hoping to capitalize on the growth by attracting and training new recruits.

The event takes place October 14, from noon to 5 p.m. at the Kelowna Film Studios, 100-1516 Keehn Road.

"Forum number two is shaping up to be an unmissable gathering of visionaries, storytellers and creative minds. With a star-studded panel of industry experts already confirmed to attend, prepare yourself to be immersed in riveting discussions and groundbreaking insights. This event will be an unparalleled networking opportunity as we unite to further shape the future of the Okanagan television and film industry," says Gregory.

Tickets for the event are $25.

"The forum promises to be an invaluable event for professionals, talent, students and anyone passionate about this industry and our community," Gregory continued.

"It is also an excellent opportunity for local business owners to understand the economic impact and what support services are needed as the industry grows locally."

Kelowna, Vernon, the Shuswap added to the BC Bird Trail

Joining the BC Bird Trail

Parts of the Okanagan and Shuswap are now on the BC Bird Trail.

Launched in September 2020, the BC Bird Trail is a source of information on attractions, activities, and accommodations related to birdwatching in the province for both novice and experienced birds.

The new birdwatching trails being launched this season include individual outposts in Kelowna, Vernon, and the Shuswap.

“Birding is a fast-growing tourism experience in BC, and we have some of the best locations, trail systems, and rare bird species to offer,” says Caitlin Thompson with the Salmon Arm Economic Development Society, which collaborated with Shuswap Tourism and the District of Sicamous Development Corp. on the Shuswap Outpost.

Self-guided travel itineraries for visitors and locals include key birding-related information like a list of birds you might spot in the area in any given season and some of the avian hotspots. Each trail and outpost also includes transportation information, bookable outdoors experiences like golf courses, bike rentals, and helitours, and top picks for shopping, dining, and accommodations.

Some of the recommended hotspots to visit in Kelowna are Rotary Marsh Park and Munson Pond, while the Vernon Outpost includes Swan Lake Nature Reserve and Cools Pond, among others.

Fall is a great time to birdwatch because many species are migrating this time of year. You might spot trumpeter swans, warblers, harlequin ducks or even turkey vultures.

Visit bcbirdtrail.ca for an up-to-date list of birds you can expect to see along each trail and outpost.

Funding for the BC Bird Trail is provided by Destination BC, with support from Birds Canada, Indigenous Tourism BC and more than a dozen additional tourism partners throughout the province.

Ki-Low-Na Friendship Centre was packed for National Day for Truth and Reconciliation event

'We must never forget'

The Ki-Low-Na Friendship Centre was packed with orange shirts Saturday afternoon, as people from the community came out to recognize National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

The event kicked off at 2 p.m. at the Leon Avenue location in downtown Kelowna, with drumming performances from both the local women's group and men's groups. The space was full of people of all ages, from the very young to elders, and those of all ages joined in on the drumming.

Lynette Granger, with the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Centre, spoke about Canada's history of residential schools and the Government of Canada's attempt to eliminate Indigenous culture.

“Here we are today to first of all recognize and admit that this happened, that these atrocities, these terrible awful things that happened to families, torn apart, their culture tromped on ... and treated less than human. We must never forget. We are here first of all to remember and pay tribute to those who didn't make it,” Granger said.

“And also to pay tribute to the survivors who had to carry on and whose families had to carry on with the damage and to help people repair.

“This day is about, yes, remembering some very tragic things, but it's also remembering 'I need to also honour my ancestors by healing.'”

The speakers spoke against a backdrop of photos and paper cut-out red dresses, with the names of missing and murdered Indigenous women – a powerful reminder of the generational pain and trauma Indigenous people deal with.

Kelowna Mayor Tom Dyas and city councillor Loyal Woolridge also spoke at the event.

“My good friend [Ki-Low-Na Friendship Centre executive director] Edna [Terbasket] always says, the first step is acknowledging and learning the truths,” Woolridge said.

“Before we can talk about reconciliation, it's that process of not understanding, because we can't, but acknowledging those truths so we can walk together on this path of reconciliation.”

The Ki-Low-Na Friendship Centre is open to the public until 4 p.m. Saturday.

KF Centre For Excellence takes top building prize

Awards keep coming for KF

KF Centre For Excellence won big at the 2023 Thompson Okanagan Commercial Building Awards ceremony Thursday night at the Coast Capri Hotel in Kelowna.

Out of 40 projects competing for top honours, KF Centre For Excellence was the Judge's Choice Best Overall entry winner in the 12th annual event.

The awards are designed to honour the best of the best in commercial, industrial and revenue-producing properties from Kamloops to Osoyoos completed between Jan.1 and Dec. 31, 2022.

Sawchuk Developments Ltd. was the General Contractor for the KF Centre for Excellence at 5800 Lapointe Drive near Kelowna Airport and Meiklejohn Architects Inc. was the architect and designer. The centre was also named the Award of Excellence winner in the Tourism & Hospitality category, and Meiklejohn Architects of Penticton was also named the Architect of the Year at the awards.

The Construction Company of the Year award was given to Stretch Construction of Kelowna and the Company Safety Award went to Traine Construction & Development of Kamloops.

Other Category winners were:

  • Affordable Housing: The Village At Okanagan Landing of Vernon.
  • Community Institutional: Coldstream Community Centre and Child Care Facility of Coldstream.
  • Industrial: Ace Plumbing and Harmony Homes of Kelowna.
  • Mixed Use: Apollo 1 of West Kelowna.
  • Multi-Family Condominium: Fairway 10 of Kamloops.
  • Multi-Family Town Home: Ledge On Lakeshore of Kelowna.
  • Office: Oliver Dental Care of Oliver.
  • Purpose Built Rental: The View – Hillside of Kamloops.
  • Retail: Kelowna Toyota of Kelowna.
  • Awards of Merit (runners-up) went to:
  • Affordable Housing: Powley Court of West Kelowna.
  • Community Institutional: Lake Country Fire Hall of Lake Country and Thompson Rivers University Early Childhood Education Centre of Kamloops.
  • Industrial: Adams Road Industrial of Kelowna.
  • Multi-Family Condominium: Vita Vernon.
  • Office: Westridge of Spallumcheen.
  • Purpose Built Rental: Evangel Family Manor of Kelowna.

Fifth annual Rotary Club Lobster Crawl returns in mid-October

Lobsters come rolling in

Organizers of the annual Lake Country Rotary Club drive-thru lobster dinner are preparing to fly in 300 lobsters from the East Coast next month.

The fifth annual Rotary lobster crawl, supported by Save-On-Foods, Lake Country Liquor Store, Intrigue Wines, Ex Nihilo Winery and Castanet, takes place Oct. 13 at 4:30 p.m.

Anyone interested in taking part can reserve their lobster and a place in line at the parking lot at Beasley Park off Woodsdale Road in Lake Country.

For those who can't make it but want to participate, they are encouraged to order an extra dinner, which will be given to Lake Country’s firefighters and police as a thank you for their heroic efforts during this summer’s forest fires.

"You sign up for a fresh, steaming hot, lobster dinner. You drive up to the parking lot at Beasley Park, pick-up slots begin at 4:30 p.m. The lobsters themselves arrive by air earlier that same day. The system has been refined and polished over four previous lobster dinner events," says one of the organizers, Monika Speitelsbach.

The Lake Country Rotary Club hopes to make about $6,000 from the event, which will be donated to local community projects, like hiking trails, student bursaries and the food bank.

Rotary’s special project this year is to set up a new flexible learning environment for the library at George Elliot Secondary School.

Each dinner costs $75. For more information click here.

Elderly woman struck by truck Friday afternoon, condition unknown

Elderly woman hit by truck

Police are seeking witnesses after an elderly woman was struck by a vehicle near Kelowna's Capri Mall Friday, but details around the incident remain sparse.

At about 3:35 p.m., an elderly woman was struck by a red Dodge Ram on Sutherland Ave. between Capri St and Gordon Dr.

Sutherland was closed for several hours, into the evening, as officers investigated.

In a press release issued Saturday morning, Const. Mike Della-Paolera said police are looking for any additional witnesses in the crash.

“Kelowna RCMP officers interviewed witnesses at the scene. However, there is still a possibility that there are additional witnesses who have yet to come forward,” Const. Della-Paolera said.

Police have still not provided any details about the woman's condition or whether the driver of the Dodge remained at the scene and co-operated with police.

An extended road closure after a crash typically suggests very serious injuries or a fatality.

Police are asking any witnesses who've yet to speak to police or who may have dashcam recordings of the incident to contact the Kelowna RCMP at (250) 762-3300 and reference file number 2023-58406.

Central Okanagan students paddle for truth and reconciliation

Paddle for reconciliation

Students of Constable Neil Bruce Middle School joined forces with the RCMP on Friday to canoe from Kelowna’s City Park to Westbank in advance of Truth and Reconciliation Day.

After a ceremony was held in Kelowna, the canoes were welcomed onto Westbank First Nation Land across the water, trading gifts, stories, and joining Indigenous elders in singing the Okanagan song.

“We had the youths with the smudging and the songs and the water ceremony. It’s a year-long project for us where we take these youths from the school and we teach them traditional stuff that will eventually end up in the Truth and Reconciliation day, which is today,” said Const. Rohel Williams of the West Kelowna RCMP Indigenous Police Services.

“Half of our kids here, you can notice there are some Indigenous and non-Indigenous kids, we don’t turn them away. The RCMP and some of our elders here are teaching the kids together and they learn to understand what truth and reconciliation is all about, and it makes them work together. I think that’s the best thing that can happen.”

Const. Michael Della-Paolera joined the paddle across Okanagan Lake for the second straight year, feeling very honoured to be given the opportunity.

"I’m very proud of the RCMP’s efforts to work with Indigenous people across the country, to deal with the truth and reconciliation issues that we have, and to move that forward to put us in a better place,” said Della-Paolera.

“I grew up in the Yukon territory working with the Tlingit First Nation, and most of my friends when I was a child were taken away and put into residential homes during the winter months, whether their parents weren’t on the land, and I didn’t understand any of that kind of stuff — so this is everyday learning about our past and working towards a positive future.”

After canoeing back to Kelowna, the students along with the RCMP, returned to WFN land to serve food and to eat with Indigenous elders.

Saturday marks the first official statutory holiday for Truth and Reconciliation in B.C.

Contract issues put up barriers for some to hospice care in Kelowna

Barriers to hospice care

Contract issues at the Central Okanagan Hospice House means some patients will be unable to enter the facility, and will instead have to spend their final days in an overcrowded hospital.

Since June 30, a group of family physicians in Kelowna who supported the palliative care needs of doctorless patients entering the hospice has been without a contract. As a result, those doctors are no longer doing that work.

A dying patient is not allowed to enter the hospice without being attached to a general practitioner. Some family physicians, for a variety of reasons, choose to not follow their patients into hospice, while others are not allowed to.

That means those “unattached” or “orphan” patients that were previously cared for by the Palliative Care Family Physician Group can no longer enter hospice and must die in the far-less-comfortable hospital.

“Everyone deserves the best quality of care until the end of life,” said Dr. Joshua Nordine, a family practitioner at Rutland Medical Associates.

“While I appreciate the care and dedication patients receive in hospital, I believe the availability of staff to provide hands-on comfort care and patient support at a community hospice facility is superior.”

Dr. Nordine, due to not being vaccinated for COVID-19, is not allowed to follow patients into the hospice, as it’s an Interior Health facility.

“We should allow unvaccinated physicians like myself back in to work Interior Health run facilities so I can care for my own patients instead of trying to find an alternate accepting physician,” he said.

While Dr. Nordine is willing to provide hospice care, he says there are plenty of family doctors who choose not to. Those who follow their patients into hospice typically do it on compassionate grounds after building up a relationship with a patient over years.

“They trust you, they're the most vulnerable, and you’ll be the one there holding their hand, in their time of need,” Dr. Nordine said. “It's a service that we do for our patients, honestly. It's a sort of a bit of a community service. It's not a dollar thing.”

But many overworked general practitioners simply don’t have the capacity for that community service.

“It's just too disruptive for your practice, or you don't have the time to commit,” Dr. Nordine said. “It's getting harder and harder to commit to outside-of-your-clinic care.”

In a statement to Castanet, Interior Health says they are seeing high numbers of unattached patients across the Central Okanagan, both in palliative and non-palliative patient groups.

“IH is actively working with physicians and the Division of Family Practice to identify options to support smoother transitions in care and access to hospice,” Interior Health said.

The Central Okanagan Division of Family Practice deferred comment on the operations of hospice house to Interior Health, but confirmed in a statement that the Palliative Care Family Physician Group is no longer providing care to unattached patients at the hospice.

Exactly why the group of doctors is now without a contract is not known. IH's statement did not acknowledge the contract situation, and the Division of Family Practice would only confirm that the contract has now expired.

IH says it has added additional nursing leadership and support at hospice to support care and admissions seven days a week, in addition to other resources.

IH noted Kelowna General Hospital has four palliative care beds where end-of-life care can be provided. KGH was operating at 120% capacity on Sept. 21.

Dr. Nordine, meanwhile, says the hospital is not a substitute for the hospice.

“You'll still get the care in the hospital, but it's not the right place for a lot of these patients,” he said, calling the Central Okanagan Hospice House an “amazing, calm, peaceful facility filled with genuinely caring, compassionate staff providing hands-on, end-of-life comfort and support.”

“We need to ensure any barriers to admission to community hospice facilities are immediately remedied and that timely access to Hospice House isn't a luxury for those with a primary care physician.”

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