City to supply SEKID water

The City of Kelowna plans to integrate the water supply for Southeast Kelowna into the City's water supply.

Council will consider a budget amendment Monday that will see the beginning of a $63.7 million multi-year project to integrate the South East Kelowna Irrigation District and the South Okanagan Mission Irrigation District into the City Water Utility.

“Integration of SEKID into the City Utility offers greater long-term supply and consistency of clean potable water to residents, a stable rate-structure and a separate supply for agricultural irrigation,” said Ron Westlake, special projects manager with the City of Kelowna. “The City of Kelowna drinking water consistently meets Canadian Drinking Water Guidelines and has not had a water quality advisory in over 20 years.”

A boil water notice was issued for the South East Kelowna Irrigation District in early April.

The integrated water plan will see agricultural and domestic systems in Southeast Kelowna separated. Domestic water will come from a new transmission line connecting the the City's water from Okanagan Lake, while agricultural water will continue to come from Hydraulic Creek.

Construction on the new infrastructure is expected to begin in the Spring of 2018 and “official integration” is expected to begin in January 2020.


New scanner at KGH

Kelowna General Hospital has a new $1.9-million toy. 

A shiny, new CT scanner, that is.

"We are celebrating thanks to the four hospital auxiliaries that come under the KGH Foundation," said Nancy Wells, foundation business manager, at the unveiling Thursday. "The Kelowna Hospital Auxiliary, Peachland Auxiliary, Rutland Hospital Auxiliary Thrift Store and Winfield Hospital Auxiliary have all helped us buy this fantastic new CT scanner."

KGH is one of the few B.C. hospitals with three such scanners. The new equipment takes approximately five seconds to scan the body. 

"It has software that allows us to do some pretty incredible things (with) soft tissue, bone, and reconstruction," said Pam Hoeschle, manager of medical imaging at KGH. "It blows my mind." 

The scanner is set up in the Emergency Room, allowing for quick and easy access during critical situations. 

"It used to be a two-minute walk to get a scan, and now it takes five seconds," Hoeschle said. 

The addition of the third machine will increase screening significantly. Between the two scanners that were already there, 110 scans are done each day. 

After a training period, the new scanner is expected to be ready for full use by the end of July. 

Taxpayers get a break

Kelowna taxpayers will be getting a break, albeit a miniscule one.

City council Monday is expected to give final approval to the city's 2017 budget which carries with it a 3.84 per cent tax increase.

That's a slight decrease over the provisional budget set in mid December with a 3.86 per cent hike.

Taxation requirements were adjusted based on new information, including:

  • Revised roll totals, which represent final assessment information from BC Assessment, subsequent to the Court of Revision and incorporating final new construction information
  • Council approval of the 2017 Tax Distribution Policy.
  • Additional requests from operating departments resulting from analysis of final 2016 operating results and additional projects identified since Provisional Budget.

The increase means the owner of a single-family home with an average assessed value of $556,000 will pay $1,932 as the municipal portion of their tax bill.

Overall assessments this year 2017 came in at an increase of 10.96 per cent over 2016 assessments.

There was a 10.08 per cent increase in overall market values and a 2.27 per cent increase in new construction assessments.

Property tax bills, which are due at the beginning of July, will also include other user fees such as curbside collection and levies for other taxing authorities such as the school district, Regional District of Central Okanagan, library, hospital and BC Assessment Authority.


Candidates on transportati

Castanet News reached out to candidates running in the ridings encompassing the Central Okanagan. These include Kelowna-Lake Country, Kelowna-Mission and Kelowna West. Each candidate was given the same six questions, and asked to respond by Monday, April 24.

Here are the answers to question three from those who replied. 

Question 4: Transportation has been a hot-button topic in the Central Okanagan. How do you propose the transportation crunch be alleviated?

Shelley Cook, BC NDP - Kelowna West  -  Our transportation system cannot come at the cost of what we love about where we live, and our way of life. Reducing congestion is about moving people, not cars. As municipalities move towards designing more livable, walkable cities, our transportation system needs to reflect communities of the future, while still meeting the needs of today.  

In order to reduce congestion, we have to give people options that work. My focus will be to work with municipalities and BC Transit to improve access to public transportation, and finding practical ways to reduce driving behaviour. This will include finding ways to get people to central lines in order to access existing transit, which may involve utilizing other forms of transportation including taxi and ride sharing services.

I will work with municipalities to improve bike lanes, build sidewalks, and other means of passage outside motor vehicles, and enhance HandyDART services for seniors and people with disabilities. In the end, it will be faster and much cheaper to improve public transit than investing in major infrastructure projects that cost hundreds of millions of dollars and jeopardize our parks and water.

Building provincially funded housing close to transit will also enhance people people’s access to, and willingness, to use public transportation. We will make much-needed investments in capital projects locally, and buses to support transit in our region. The valley would seem to be well suited for a light rail system, which is something I would be committed to investigating.

Chuck Hardy, BC Conservatives - Kelowna-Mission  -  Ring road, new bridges, bypass. Money from  hole in ground. Let's make them accountable.

Harwinder Sandhu, BC NDP - Kelowna-Mission  - I will support and work with our Mayor and stakeholders to explore the options to this complicated problem. I am committed to listening to the people of Kelowna to find solutions that are focused on responding to local input. Many options are currently being studied and explored. These include discussions around a second crossing, and improvements to public transit.

We will properly fund and improve Handy Dart Services.

Steve Thomson, BC Liberals - Kelowna Mission  -  Our government has made millions of dollars in investments in the Central Okanagan transportation corridor including $36 million expansion of the second phase of Highway 97 to six lanes through Kelowna; connecting Glenmore to Highway 97 along John Hindle Drive; $8 million invested in the rails for trails and bike paths to get people out of their cars and support alternative commuting, and $12.7 million in increased BC transit funding including an additional 2,000 HandyDart service hours.

I will continue to work with our community and local governments to continue to explore and move forward on all options to alleviate transportation pressures, including public transit, corridor management and bike path opportunities.

Rainer Wilkins, Green Party - Kelowna-Mission  - 

As we grow, we need a comprehensive strategy that will make B.C. affordable and liveable for all British Columbians. Creating a plan and investing in transit is key to ensuring that British Columbians can continue to enjoy a high quality of life, that we are limiting our emissions in order to protect our air and our environment, that we are prepared for how we will move goods in the emerging economy, and that life is affordable for everyone.

Transportation planners in B.C. face several challenges, including urban sprawl, geography, and fragmented planning mandates. And they must address multiple objectives, such as congestion reduction, energy conservation and emissions reduction, improving the livability of communities, solving parking problems, traffic safety and public health, inter-city travel, and the movement of goods.   The B.C. Green Party’s transportation policy has three primary goals:

  1. Affordability: To increase affordable and accessible transportation options.
  2. Sustainability: To decarbonize the transportation sector.
  3. Efficiency: To transport people and goods in a cost-effective manner.

Norm Letnick, BC Liberals - Kelowna-Lake Country  - 
Over the past eight years, in partnership with colleagues, we've expanded Highway 33 to four lanes from Rutland to Black Mountain, including a passing lane up Walker's Hill, improved safety on Hwy 33 to Big White, built a new highway from Winfield to Oyama and soon will hand over the old highway to the people of Lake Country.

We are currently expanding Highway 97 to six lanes from Hwy 33 to Edwards Road in addition to improving Sexsmith and other intersections along the way. We've added concrete medians for safety purposes between Kelowna and Vernon and his spring, construction will begin on John Hindle Drive connecting Glenmore with Hwy 97.

All these road projects are in addition to the thousands of more conventional bus service and HandyDart hours to get cars off the road. We’ve also invested millions to help purchase the rail trail and improve bike paths in our region.

Moving forward, I commit to continue advocating for more transit hours, to work with the District of Lake Country to fix the bottleneck at Beaver Lake Road, secure more funds for bike path infrastructure and work with Kelowna on a $50 million project to extend the Clement Avenue Expressway from Glenmore Road to Hwy 33. This initiative, with fewer intersections, will take more traffic off Hwy 97 and help all highway users; especially those travelling between Rutland and downtown.

Alison Shaw, Green Party, Kelowna-Lake Country  -  Central Okanagan residents should be concerned about transportation here. Lake Country is the fastest growing municipality in the province, and Kelowna is
near the top of the list at No. 6. The commute is only going to get more frustrating.

We need to take a 21st century approach to addressing transportation in the region. Modern transportation planning is about providing efficient and cost effective ways of moving people. It requires integrated thinking about how we plan our communities.

The Green Transportation plan is about working with municipal leaders, planners, provincial transit authorities and other stakeholders to take a proactive approach that builds connectivity between our communities, ensures effective and affordable public transit down our main corridors, while also encouraging foot traffic to our businesses - the engine of our economy.

Residents are rightly concerned that highways and bridges could kill their community while not solving the root cause of congestion and emissions. We support ride-sharing, providing predictable funding for effective public transit and other strategic infrastructure investments. This relieves congestion from roads and provides other options to individuals and families interested in saving money.

Floating finery on display

Are you a boating enthusiast, water sport junkie or just want a day on the water?

Then you might want to head to the 22nd annual Kelowna Yacht Club Boat Show this weekend.

Set on Okanagan Lake, the show is expected to attract more than 10,000 people and features more than 50 exhibitors and 150 boats.

“Kelowna Yacht Club has been chosen as one of the locations within Kelowna to fly the commemorative Canada 150 flag,” said Sally Howard, general manager.

A special flag-raising ceremony will be held at 9:45 a.m. on Saturday, with bagpipes and a cannon salute.

“It’s a great honour to have been chosen, and the ceremony is a fantastic way to start the weekend.”

The show will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Entry to the show is by donation.

For more information, visit the Kelowna Yacht Club’s website.

If you could turn back time

A UBC researcher has created a way to time travel. Maybe.

Ben Tippett, a math and physics instructor at UBC Okanagan, created a mathematic model for the feasibility of time travel.

“People think of time travel as something fictional,” said Tippett. “And we tend to think it’s not possible because we don’t actually do it. But, mathematically, it is possible.”

Tippett says four dimensions should be imagined with different directions as a space-time continuum.

He adds that using Einstein’s theory about gravitational waves generated by colliding black holes billions of light years away, the curvature of space-time accounts for the curved orbits of the planets.

“The time direction of the space-time surface also shows curvature. There is evidence showing the closer to a black hole we get, time moves slower,” said Tippett.

“My model of a time machine uses the curved space-time — to bend time into a circle for the passengers, not in a straight line. That circle takes us back in time.”

Even though he can explain this method, he doubts that anyone will be able to build an actual machine to make it happen.

“Experts in my field have been exploring the possibility of mathematical time machines since 1949. And my research presents a new method for doing it.”

5 B&Es, 2 months, 1 man

Police are investigating a series of five break-ins they believe are linked.

Officers received reports of a break-and-enter at a business on Harvey Avenue on March 27. It is believed a rock was thrown through the front window and the suspect took thousands of dollars worth of sports jerseys.

On March 29, police responded to a break-and-enter on Enterprise Way and said a rock was used to break the window and once inside the suspect made off with computers, cash, jerseys and a signed baseball cap.

Police responded to another break-and-enter on Cooper Road on April 3. A rock was used again to break the window and soccer team jackets, winter jackets, track pants, hoodies and footwear were stolen.

The most recent incident took place on Wednesday when police responded to a business on Harvey Avenue and found more jerseys stolen.

Anyone with information is being asked to contact police.

Evening Update April 27

Castanet's Evening Update for Thursday, April 27, with reporter Wayne Moore.

No room for kids

Parents in Kettle Valley are devastated to find out their children won’t be accepted into the school they moved to the neighbourhood for.

Three mothers all said they followed the school's instructions to get their children accepted at Chute Lake Elementary, but were told on Monday that no new families would have their kids entering.

“We moved here for the sense of community and for the school,” said Laura Myles. "We moved here so our kids could go to the school.”

The thought of having her three children separated at multiple schools terrifies her.

“There has been a kids wait list every single year," she said. "There are 27 kids on that wait list just for kindergarten that will be sent to neighbouring schools.”

According to the parents, another 33 are wait-listed in other grades. Only students who have siblings at the school were accepted.

“Communities across our district are growing rapidly – in many cases, much faster than the schools that serve them,” the school district said in a press release.

The district said Chute Lake Elementary has limited space and property to expand.

“Some schools present an opportunity to convert existing multipurpose rooms to dedicated classrooms, which is relatively simple and cost effective. However, some schools have limited space and property in which to expand, such as Chute Lake Elementary," said the district.

On Thursday, the moms were told their children have been accepted into Anne McClymont Elementary.

“Starting school is scary, and the solution they are proposing to us is to send them down on the bus to another school. It is not our neighbourhood school,” said Myles.

Alanna Chambers, who moved to the community so her children could attend the school seven years ago, said the kindergarten classes have decreased in number three, to two and a half and now two.

A middle school is set to be built by 2019, but the parents would like a guarantee their children can be registered for Grade 1 at Chute Lake.

"It is seemingly the same situation year after year," said Camille Olsen. “They could have done better."

A public meeting will be held May 1 at the school.

“We feel that the school wants what's best for our community as well. We do feel that they are on our side and they do want to welcome our kids in there,” said Chambers.

Police action just a drill

Commuters on Pandosy Street may have noticed some serious-looking police action this morning. But, there's no need for concern – it was only a drill.

The RCMP's Southeast District Emergency Response Team held training exercise at two homes near Kelowna General Hospital that are set to be torn down.

The ERT officers, similar to SWAT teams in the United States, were practising entering buildings in emergency situations in full combat gear with dog teams as well.

Since the houses were planned for demolition, they didn't need to be concerned about damage in the intense training session.

The action drew curious onlookers.

Members spent the day conducting strategic manoeuvres at 2169 and 2159 Pandosy St. and thanked the property owner, Alana Marrington of 2169Pandosy.com, for allowing them to practise on site.

Once the homes are demolished, a new four-storey mixed-use development will be built on the property, that offers condominiums and medically related retail and office services.

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