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Kelowna  

Fun Day flooded

The annual Oyama Fun Day has been cancelled due to extensive flooding in the area.

The event has is organized by the Oyama Community Club, an more than 100-year-old organization that has been putting on some kind of kickoff to summer celebration since they were first created.

Unfortunately, widespread flooding across the Okanagan has hit Oyama, forcing the cancellation of the June 4 event.

“The grounds are flooded and with the high water showing no signs of lowering, unfortunately a decision to cancel was made,” the club said in a statement.

The decision was met with sadness on Facebook.

“I haven't missed one since I was born!” wrote Brittney Halldorson.

'So sad but understandable,” wrote Julia Eyles. “This is an awesome tradition so hopefully it will be held later in the season.”

Pictures in the area show the grounds outside the Oyama Community Hall completely flooded.  





Who are you pulling for?

The United Way and BC Transit are pulling for the community. Literally.

The annual United Way Bus Pull returns to Kelowna on Saturday.

Join in on the fun, cheering on 10 teams of eight who will compete for bragging rights and the coveted Community Cup by pulling a B.C. Transit bus to the finish line the fastest.

Funds from the event go toward the United Way's annual fundraising campaign.

The bus pulling will take place at the Prospera Place parking lot. Anyone is welcome to come down and watch the blood, sweat, tears and smiles. Strong man Noah Normandale will also attempt a solo bus pull.

There will also be food vendors on site..

The event takes goes from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. 



Fastest log car visiting town

The world's fastest tree is coming to Kelowna.

The Cedar Rocket is made out of a single 240-year-old red cedar.

The car, along with HGTV’s Brian Reid Sr. of Timber Kings, will be at Savoy Equipment to meet the public on June 3.

“We are extremely excited to host Mr. Reid and this very special car. We have been working for quite some time to bring it to Kelowna, and we hope to raise a notable amount for the Canadian Kidney Foundation,” said Ally Turner, marketing manager.

The car holds a Guinness record for the fastest motorized log. It’s powered by twin turbine engines.

There will also be a barbecue lunch from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.





Pride ready to shine

Okanagan Pride has unveiled its theme for this summer's festival.

"Shine Bright" is the slogan for the 2017 Pride Week festival, Aug. 12-19.

“Although there has been Pride celebrations in Kelowna for more than two decades, 2017 marks the 10th anniversary of celebrations under the banner of Okanagan Pride – our diamond anniversary,” says Dustyn Baulkham, president of the Okanagan Pride Society.

“When we thought about diamonds, we realized they really reflect members of the LGBT2Q+ community. They’re strong, unbreakable and totally unique. It’s only natural we landed on the ‘Shine Bright’ theme."

Activities will include a kickoff launch party, mid-week golf tournament, and a march and social event for the trans community and its supporters. The final weekend of Pride closes with the popular Kings & Queens of the Okanagan drag competition, the family-friendly Pride march along Kelowna’s waterfront and festival in City Park.

“We’re looking for community groups, organizations and businesses to come forward and host affiliate events,” says Baulkham. “We’d love to make new connections in the community and develop new partnerships that will advance the Pride movement within the Valley.”



'I'm glad to be alive'

An East Kelowna woman had a rude, and violent, awakening in the early hours of Wednesday morning. 

Susanna Drewes was lying in her bed in the McCulloch Heights mobile home park on McClain Road, while her husband Roger was in the bathroom getting ready for bed, at 12:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, when they heard a loud crash and their home shook violently.

“At first I thought we were having an earthquake or something,” Roger said.

The crash turned out to have come from a large tree snapping in the wind and crashing onto their home and three vehicles. It landed mere feet from where Susanna was lying.

“Three feet over and it would have been curtains for me,” Susanna said. “I'm glad to be alive.”

The tree also took down a nearby power line, prompting a response from the fire department and eventually FortisBC.

“I was sitting here for several hours waiting for Fortis to come to redo the wire, because Fortis was really busy,” Roger said.

The Drewes have insurance on their home, but they say it might not get figured out for a few days.

“I hope it doesn't rain,” Roger said.  



'A shock to the community'

The Crown spent Wednesday pushing back against the narrative that they're responsible for the long delay in getting the three men accused of killing Jonathan Bacon to trial.

Michael Jones, Jason McBride and Jujhar Khun-Khun are charged with murder and attempted murder in the midday shooting outside the Grand Hotel in August 2011.

The trial has been a long time coming, having been delayed on several occasions since the first trial date was set to begin in April 2016.

The trial officially started on May 15, 2017, with the defence applying to have all of the charges dropped, due to what they say has been a violation of the accused's right to a speedy trial.

In a Supreme Court of Canada decision this past summer, the court ruled that a supreme court case should take no longer than 30 months from when charges have been laid, barring delays caused by the defence or other exceptional circumstances.

“Within the delay analysis, the seriousness of the offence is a factor,” said Crown prosecutor David Ruse Wednesday. “Not exclusively the charge or the offence but all of the circumstances that go into it, including the complexity of the trial, the length of the trial, all of that.

“It was a public execution that not only killed Jonathan Bacon, but it left three other people injured, one of them paralyzed for life ... It can fairly be described as a shock to the community.”

The defence has attributed the delay of the first trial date to the Crown not providing their evidence to defence in a timely fashion, but Ruse says Khun-Khun's own lawyer had said “a number of unresolved issues” forced the delay.

The April 4, 2016 start date was pushed back to Nov. 7, 2016. The second date was subsequently pushed back to the beginning of May, and then again to May 15. 



Reprieve in flood battle

Temperatures are expected to rise again at the end of the week, and a break in the weather Wednesday allowed residents to bolster flood protection measures.

Lakes are approaching historic volumes, and the high water levels are expected to remain well into July.

The warmer temperatures will speed up the snow melt at higher elevations, and creek flows and area lakes will rise.

“Residents are urged to continue to help neighbours with this work, with sandbag stations welcoming volunteers to help fill and carry sandbags,” the Central Okanagan Emergency Operations said in a statement.

Environment Canada says showers will continue overnight on Wednesday with a risk of thunderstorms in the afternoon on Thursday. Temperatures are expected to reach 30 C on Monday and Tuesday.

Sandbagging stations are stocked and replenished daily at several locations throughout the Central Okanagan and are listed here.



Tough times across region

Thousands of jobs disappeared, more people were unemployed, there was less capital investment and dozens of businesses went bankrupt in the Thompson-Okanagan in 2016.

The deluge of bleak news overshadowed bright spots in the region’s economy last year, leading to an overall downturn in the region’s economic growth.

The Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia released their regional check-up today, and the indicators don’t tell an encouraging story for the Thompson-Okanagan.

While an influx of people from Alberta and the Lower Mainland buoyed the population by 3,766, spurring a surge of new housing sales, starts and construction, big hits to the region’s manufacturing, transportation, and trades meant overall job losses.

In total, the Thompson-Okanagan development region lost 1,700 jobs in 2016, but the region’s manufacturing, transportation, and trade industries industries saw approximately 11,500 jobs disappear.

Somewhat puzzling was the fact that half of the 11,500 jobs lost in those industries were in wood product manufacturing. Considering the region’s softwood lumber production increased in 2016, a possible explanation could be that the manufacturing activity occurred in neighbouring regions like the Kootenays or Cariboo.

According to Karen Christiansen, a partner at Kelowna’s MNP LLP, dwindling transportation jobs, particularly in the trucking industry, could be due to the ripple effects from the wildfires and economic struggles in Alberta.

Another unexpected loss were retail jobs, which went down despite the fact that the region’s tourism activity remained busy and there was an overall increase of 6.4 per cent in retail sales across the province.

As a result of all the lost jobs, the region’s unemployment rate rose to its highest level since 2011. In 2016, 7.8 per cent of people in the Thompson-Okanagan didn’t have a job, significantly more than the provincial average of 6.0 per cent.

In addition, 25 business in the region reported bankruptcies in 2016, something that Christiansen says indicates the region has “deteriorated as a place to work and invest.”



Expect delays at landfill

You can expect some delays at the Glenmore landfill.

Delays will occur Thursday and Friday for completion of a project at the scale house at the entrance to the dump.

Due to construction, the two inside scales will be closed and all traffic will be diverted to outside scales that normally operate as automated scales. 
 
Construction will include the installation of new electronic signage, which will improve communication and provide safety instructions to both commercial haulers and residential customers.

Work is expected to be complete by end of day on Friday.



Naborly and Equifax partner

A Kelowna entrepreneur’s startup announced a major partnership with Equifax Canada today that will see it act as the primary service provider for small-scale landlords and tenants using the credit rating service.

Naborly, a company started by Kelowna native Dylan Lenz, uses sophisticated software to analyze information about potential tenants for landlords, and rates potential renters with a “chance of success.”

For more on the partnership, and what it means for Naborly, read the full story on Castanet's business news website Okanagan Edge.



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