Beaverdell business gets licence to grow small-batch cannabis

Licence to grow cannabis

A Kelowna husband and wife team have received the go-ahead to begin a small-batch craft cannabis operation in Beaverdell, B.C.

"I'm a micro-cultivation producer and my forte is going to be craft cannabis," said Jeff Aubin, CEO Smoker Farms.

Aubin says he and his wife and a good friend have been working on the licence for a couple of years now, so the news is welcome.

"It's been a struggle but this is great news and we are excited."

Aubin looked into opening a dispensary in Kelowna but decided against it because he found the process onerous.
"I find that in the legal market most of the cannabis doesn't have a lot of love attached to it." Aubin says, adding Smoker Farms will "bring the love" by having a smaller crop of MK Ultra, with smaller rooms and more attention to detail.

"It has been our dream to be able to produce quality cultivars like MK Ultra and now we can begin to make those dreams a reality.”

Aubin has been working on the MK Ultra strain for 10 years.

"This cultivar has tested at a THC percentage of over 20 per cent, packing a powerful punch that is sure to resonate with a number of new and old consumers alike."

Aubin hopes to bring a craft cannabis feel to his business even though his product will likely be sold under another label once it's purchased at auction through Craft Depot.

"I'm working on deals that would allow for our labelling to be on future products so people will know how to find us, but for now, we're just happy to be where we are," says Aubin.


Chamber Music Kelowna receives grant for big communications upgrade

Upgrades for CMK

Chamber Music Kelowna (CMK) has received a grant from the Central Okanagan Foundation to allow for a massive communications upgrade.

Funding from the grant will allow CMK to redesign and transform their website while also creating their first subscriber and donor database. 

With this funding, CMK can enhance and diversify communication platforms and content with current subscribers, single-ticket holders and the entire community.

CMK is now able to launch their first in-house newsletter for members, donors, performers and music students. The newsletter will feature news and articles for lovers of classical music while maintaining a close tie with society and the hundreds of supporters in the community during these unprecedented times.

“Thanks to COF’s project grant, Chamber Music Kelowna is launching on a long anticipated project to bring all aspects of our communications with supporters, both present and future, up to date," says Chamber of Music Kelowna president Diane Bond. 

"This is especially helpful in the current challenging circumstances. We also thank Kelowna Website Development for donating a portion of the costs of our website renovation and Magda Mutch, our vice-president, web volunteer and donor who has provided the leadership to bring this project to fruition.”

The website redesign is now underway which will also give CMK the ability to receive donations electronically while instantly providing electronic tax receipts for donors. 

Do you agree or disagree with BC Transit's mandated face covering rule?

Face coverings on transit

BC Transit will require passengers to wear face coverings on buses starting August 24. Castanet hit the streets of Kelowna to find out what people think of the new rule.

The rule will apply throughout the province in an effort to stop the potential spread of COVID-19.

Some special accommodations will be made for passengers under the age of five and those with certain health conditions.

Do you agree or disagree with this new rule? Send your thoughts to [email protected]?


FortisBC restores power to 700 customers

Power restored for 700

UPDATE 9:30 a.m.

Power has now been restored, according to FortisBC.


ORIGINAL 7:30 a.m.

Hundreds of FortisBC customers are without power in Kelowna this morning.

According to the FortisBC website, the power for 702 customer went out just after 6 a.m.

There is no word on why the power went out, but according to Fortis a repair effort is underway.

Naked woman caught on camera ripping and throwing flowers

Naked flower tosser

A strange sight captured in Kelowna's City Park Friday afternoon.

Mark Nowak sent us a photo of a completely naked woman seen pulling flowers from a flower bed in front of the City Park Sign on Abbott St.

"I was dropping my daughter off for work downtown just before 5 p.m. when we saw this woman heading right for the planter."

Nowak says he has no idea what was going on aside from an obvious mental health situation. "It's sad but I was scared for my daughter. I have pieces of that flower in my car."

Nowak says RCMP were on scene quickly to deal with the naked flower tosser and tells Castanet that he has seen some bizarre things in Kelowna's downtown area.

"I told my daughter, if you see anything like that again you run the other way. Unfortunately, people in that state are unpredictable and I worry about my daughter's safety."

Earlier this year, the commanding officer of the RCMP in the Southeast District of BC called on Interior Health to expand the region's Police and Crisis Team, which partners a nurse with an officer for mental health calls.

One such team already operates in Kelowna, but Chief Superintendent Brad Haugli said he'd like to see it expanded, as the region's officers have seen a 21 per cent jump in mental heath calls since 2016.

In response, IH said they have no plans to expand the service in the near future.

"It's not the most effective use of scarce health-care resources, especially when we know there's such a significant demand for mental health services for the whole population," said Karen Bloemink, vice-president of clinical operations.

Final phase of Centennial Park improvements to begin next week

Park rebuild concluding

Crews are expected to begin the final phase of the reconstruction project at Rutland's Centennial Park next week.

The final phase of construction, which includes an event stage, a basketball court, an ultimate frisbee field, a junior soccer field, ping pong tables, and landscaping, is scheduled to start Wednesday.

Construction of a new washroom is expected to start in the fall.

The final phase is budgeted at $3.3 million.

The remainder of the park will remain open to the public during construction.

Access is available at the Rutland Road entrance.

The City of Kelowna acquired the park from the Rutland Park Society in 2015.

Reconstruction of the park began the following year.

Man looking to open a restaurant after prison and addiction

From prison to businessman

Sarita Patel

A man has returned to Kelowna, the city he spent his troubled teenage and early adult years in, to start a new business after cleaning up his life and getting sober in prison.

Edward Malone’s discovery that he was adopted at the age of 11 sent him spiralling into destruction, experimenting with drugs and causing him to have his first heart palpitation at age 13, eventually leading to four heart attacks and two strokes. 

He moved to Kelowna alone when he was just 15 in an attempt to get a fresh start, but instead fell into the same habits. After bouncing around the Coast and continuing to struggle with his addiction, he returned to Kelowna.

August 9 marks six years since he attempted to take his own life at the downtown bus loop with a loaded handgun. After an unknown teen talked him down, Malone saw it as a new lease on life and turned his life around for the better.  

“My time, I’d felt, had come for no return and that was why I had felt that this would be the easiest way to put myself out of the picture without thinking of the repercussions that followed,” Malone said, talking about that day at the bus loop."

Malone was sentenced to two years, less a day for possession of a weapon and for possession of a weapon with dangerous intent.

“I only served five-months out of the two-years due to good behaviour, trying to motivate, trying to inspire, obviously doing all my due diligence as a criminal to really do whatever I can to get my life on track.”

Malone started his sobriety journey the day he was sentenced and has made it almost five-years — as he showcased, proudly, five keychains on his keyring. 

He’s now chef trained by the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts. Last March he started his own catering company, which he says was successful until COVID hit. 

That’s when his fiancée and he fell into the vegan lifestyle. 

“We decided, hey, let’s actually take this and start it into a business where we can produce an organic, farm to table ambience but for a reasonable price to the community of the Okanagan.”

True Flavours will be an organic vegan cafe and catering company where he says they won't be sourcing any of their food from outside of the Okanagan Valley.

“We have the farmers here... sustainability is here and more importantly the times and the community are moving towards that direction.”

He attributes his drive to two ladies in his life.

“My daughter, I haven’t been involved in her life as much as I’d liked to be, and now that I am back in Kelowna, I can finally spend time with my daughter and give her the love and the attention that she has most desperately needed over her time of growing up.”

The second is his fiancé, Noha Youssef, who he met in Vancouver and has been with him on his journey from the start. 

“He told me everything that he had done from the very beginning of his life to now where he’s sitting in front of me, and very detailed stories. No one has ever been that honest with me and this was what I was always looking for,” said Youssef, who is the co-owner of True Flavours and also a chef. 

Redemption for Malone is paramount. He wants to give back to the community that helped him through his darkest times. 

“The world looks at you like one thing but when you come back … and say you’re a completely different person with almost five-year sobriety behind me now,” said Malone. “I’ve actually proven not only to myself but to the community, the police force here in Kelowna, that people can change and willing to be involved with the community for however long it takes.”

“Everywhere we go, we pretty much see someone that knew Eddie from the past and now they just look at him and their jaws just drop. They’re like, ‘oh, my God! I cannot believe that you have changed that much,” added Youssef. 

Malone says once their doors are open, he wants to continue to give back. 

“I want to get a give-a-meal, get-a-meal program in process, I want to work with the union gospel mission and the other establishments in the Okanagan to be able to give back, whether it’s dedicating my time in their kitchen to dropping off some food for their clients “

His biggest piece of advice to those struggling is to find a passion and pour your whole heart into it to achieve your goals.

Orchards plead for workers as they are forced to abandon crops

Orchards plead for workers

Cherry and apple farms are desperate for workers in the Okanagan and Creston, so much so that farmers have no choice but to abandon crops.

Worker shortages are the result of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on international travel and travel options within Canada.

The BC Ministry of Agriculture along with the tree fruit industry are now asking local workers for help in harvesting, to reduce food waste.

In an effort to connect local workers and farms, a new web portal called the 'Farm, Fish and Food Job Connector' has been launched by the Ministry of Agriculture. This portal has proven successful in the Fraser Valley.

“We want to ensure that Okanagan workers and farmers are making use of the Farm Fish and Food Job Locator,” says Agriculture Minister Lana Popham. “Local food is so important to food security and increased use of the portal will help growers get the crop harvested in this year of COVID-19 challenges.”

Cherry producers have reported that as a result of the labour shortages, they are running out of time to harvest a variety of cherries. For example, the harvest of one type of cherry will stop when the next variety begins to ripen, despite the first variety crop remaining unharvested in the first place.

By August, late season cherry types are harvested in the Okanagan, Similkamee and Creston Valleys. Sunrise apple varieties start harvest next week in the South Okanagan and later in August in the North Okanagan. Late season apples including Gala, Ambrosia, McIntosh and Spartan are harvested between September and November.

Tree fruit harvest is paid by piece-rate such as per bin or per pound. Minimum rates are established to give workers with good hand-eye coordination and physical capabilities the ability to achieve an income significantly higher than minimum wage. 

“The harvest work is physical and rewarding,” says Pinder Dhaliwal, president of the BCFGA. “Practically, the work requires the ability to go up and down ladders and to lift weights of up to 30 pounds. Harvest work often starts early in the day to avoid the intense heat of the day."

And new this year, COVID-19 safety training is required.

“A first step in retaining local workers is that the workers recognize before starting, the physical nature of the
work,” says Glen Lucas, general manager of the BC Fruit Growers Association. “BCFGA staff can provide on-farm orientation to fruit harvesters before the work starts - this is proven to increase worker retention. Our BCFGA staff also provide information to ensure workers are aware of and following COVID-19 safety protocols.”

Those interested can contact the BCFGA labour manager Rob Forrest at 778-363-3620 to find jobs.

Police watchdog clears Kelowna RCMP after man's death

Police cleared after death

B.C.'s independent police watchdog has cleared the Kelowna RCMP in the death of a man last month.

The Independent Investigations Office says on July 25 at about 1:40 a.m., officers responded to a motor vehicle incident at the intersection of Richter Street and Clement Avenue.

The report indicates both vehicles at the incident were towed away and one man, the person that prompted the investigation, departed on foot but was found dead at 7:35 a.m later that morning.

The IIO’s Chief Civilian Director reviewed the evidence – including statements from independent witnesses and video sources – which shows that the man was cooperative when speaking with police following the collision and he left the scene on foot of his own volition after speaking to Emergency Health Services.

"Therefore, the CCD has determined that there was no connection between the death of the man and the actions or inactions of officers on the scene, and the investigation is now concluded," the IIO news release said.

The IIO is the independent civilian oversight agency of the police in British Columbia. It investigates all officer-related incidents that result in serious harm or death, whether or not there is any allegation of wrongdoing.

New initiative hits homeowner with fines due to problem tenants

Fined over problem tenants

The owner of a home in the 3000 block Springfield Road in Rutland has been slapped with several fines totalling more than $2,500 resulting from the actions of his tenants.

The home near Neptune Road, which has been the source of numerous complaints from neighbours for years, was raided by police two weeks ago. RCMP recovered about $10,000 in stolen goods, drugs and cash.

In all, nine people were arrested.

Police also responded to a sudden death at the home nearly a month ago.

City communications supervisor Tom Wilson says city bylaw, building inspector and the Kelowna Fire Department also joined in the raid - part of a new team formed two months ago to assess what is going on inside particular "problem homes."

Wilson says these types of raids have been going on for years on a more informal basis.

"The difference now," he says, "is it's a little more co-ordinated and planned.

"The other difference is we're putting the onus on the property owner with fines, rather than just trying to evict tenants."

In addition to arrests and seizures made at the home last month, Wilson says the owner of the home, Hyung Ja Eo, was slapped with six fines from the city valued at $2,500.

Tickets include, more than five occupants not related, illegally occupied bedroom in a furnace room, illegally occupied utility trailer, illegally occupied shed, illegal room in carriage home attic and building without a permit in the attic.

Neighbours have alleged there may have been upwards of 20 people living on the property at any given time over the past several years.

One neighbour, who wanted to stay anonymous, told Castanet living next to the home has been "constant calling the cops, watching your back and not feeling comfortable in your own house."

"People with mental health problems, fully involved in street life, heroin use, crystal meth use, stolen goods, prostitution, underage minors, scabbed up faces. When you talk to them, half of them are always high," the neighbour added. "When somebody's weed-wacking the back yard for three hours at 2 a.m. on a regular basis, it's crazy behaviour."

The owner of the home has also been at odds with city hall for several years over construction of a carriage home at the back of the property.

Signs went up on the property following the July raid indicating the tenants had until today to leave the premises.

Castanet viewed what appeared to be occupants of the property packing up earlier in the day and neighbours report seeing RCMP in the area frequently monitoring the situation.

with files from Miriam Halpenny

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