Keeping track of sandbags

Madison Erhardt

Since flooding began in early May, two million sandbags have been installed as part of the flood protection measures across the Central Okanagan.

On Wednesday, the regional district launched a digital tool that uses crowd sourcing to help inventory the number, location and type of sandbags on private and public property.

This data will be used for planning and assessment of the demobilization of flood-protection measures. As plans are developed, information on the removal of sandbags, including debris management, will be posted at cordemergency.ca.

"It will take a lot of resources to bring all the sandbags back that aren't needed. This app will help us make an inventory of what type of sandbags are out there and help us plan for the response of how we can get crews out there," said CORD information officer Laura Wilson. 

"If the public are interested in moving the sandbags themselves, they can take them to the Cook Street boat launch in the Lower Mission, and crews will dispose of them," she added.


Double dose of bad luck


The couple who owns a mobile home destroyed by flames Tuesday evening in Kelowna have been living in Toronto, awaiting a lung transplant.

Kory and Renee Bradshaw's home on Chute Lake Road caught fire Tuesday, and heavy winds quickly whipped the fire through much of the house.

Witnesses said the fire began in a hedge close to the road, but fire crews have yet to determine the cause of the blaze.

Kory, 37, has cystic fibrosis and can no longer work.

The couple have moved to Toronto while they await a lung transplant at St. Michael's Hospital, renting an apartment while paying the mortgage on their now-destroyed Kelowna home.

Kelowna neighbour Beth Shey has started a GoFundMe page to help the couple pay their bills.

“While their home is insured, the emotional and other financial costs are mounting for this young couple,” wrote Shey. “Please, every dollar helps.”

Shey says the Bradshaws only learned about the fire through Castanet's article.

As of Wednesday evening, $1,900 had been raised.

“My heart goes out to you, my friend,” wrote Kendall Johnson on the page.

Chance to learn and share

Wednesday marked National Aboriginal Day – and downtown Kelowna's Leon Avenue was alive with music, art, crafts and activity as people of all races celebrated.

A huge teepee was a focal point outside the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society as volunteers served lunch to people taking in the entertainment.

The national day is a chance to learn about the heritage of First Nations, Inuit and Metis across the country, organizers said.

Meanwhile, Interior Health said today it has set a goal to triple the number of aboriginal people on its workforce by 2025. First Nations residents are often under served, and IH has hired an aboriginal recruiter to change that.

“The aboriginal recruitment strategy and the investment in not one but two embedded, dedicated educators are great examples of how we are working together and moving forward in a positive manner," said Brad Anderson, corporate director of aboriginal health with IH.

There are 54 First Nations communities within Interior Health region.

“Addressing bias and racism within our healthcare system is everyone’s responsibility. From frontline staff, to those voicing their objections when treated unfairly,” said Joe Gallagher, CEO of the First Nations Health Authority. 

Torched SUV sparked fire

The burned-out getaway SUV left near Commonage Road in Lake Country by the gunmen who killed Jonathan Bacon sparked a small wildfire in the dry, mid-August grass. 

The murder trial of Jujhar Khun-Khun, Jason McBride and Michael Jones continued this week with dozens of pictures of the torched Ford Explorer shown in court.  

The accused are facing first-degree murder and attempted murder charges for the 2011 midday shooting outside the Delta Grand that left Bacon dead and several others injured.

Witnesses have testified about masked gunmen who jumped out of an SUV in the driveway of the hotel and fired dozens of shots into a white Porsche Cayenne, sending crowds of people running for safety.

As the Porsche came to a stop against the hotel wall, Bacon slumped out of the passenger door onto the lawn. One of the shooters walked up, and shot him again at point-blank range.

Christina Conquergood and her sister Ingrid Merkus, witnessed the Ford Explorer barreling down Cawston Avenue towards them, slowing at Ellis, and carrying on eastbound.

A burned-out vehicle matching its description was found in Lake Country, about 50 metres off Commonage Road, later that day. The torched SUV sparked a grass fire.

Additionally, the day after the shooting, a resident on the 12800 block of Carrs Landing Road found several articles of black clothing dumped in his recycling bin, including hoodies, a jacket and a hat believed to have been worn by the shooters. 

A tribute to Kelowna

Alanna Kelly

A local artist took on the challenge of completing a 20 by 300 foot mural as a tribute in Kelowna.

Eric Blais was commissioned by Fripp Warehousing to create the artwork, which took over three years.

“We were looking for things that were indigenous to the Okanagan, there is a lot more but these are just some of the things I came up with,” he said.

Residents in the area have expressed their appreciation for the beautiful piece of art.

“A grizzly bear, being of course what Kelowna is, the Ogopogo, the bridge, the wine and fruit industry, and hockey,” said Blais.

Multiple people were at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the mural on Wednesday evening including Kelowna's Mayor Colin Basran.

“Any chance we can have, and add, public art to our community and not to mention the fact you can see it from parts of Knox Mountain … I think it is pretty cool and a job well done,” said Basran.

Investigating lake dump

UPDATE: 6:45 p.m.

Conservation officers from the Ministry of Environment are investigating after a video surfaced of someone dumping rock and soil right into Okanagan Lake.

It is still not clear if the individual has a permit to do so and officers are still investigating the incidents which took place on both June 9 and 15.

“The conservation officers became aware of it on Saturday and now they are investigating it under the federal fisheries act as well as the provincial water sustainability act,” said Inspector Tobe Sprado.

The Water Sustainability Act states that any person who commits a change in and about a stream as a first offence could face a fine up to $200,000 or imprisonment for six months. If it is a continuing offence they face a fine up to $200,000 for each day the offence was committed or six months imprisonment.

According to the Federal Fisheries Act, no person shall deposit or permit the deposit of a deleterious substance of any type in water frequented by fish or any where fish may enter.

Anyone who contravenes that act as a first offence will receive a fine for up to $100,000 or imprisonment for a year.

ORIGINAL: 5 a.m.

Lake Country residents are concerned after seeing someone dump what appears to be fill into Okanagan Lake not far from their drinking water intake.

“Most people in the area get their drinking water from the lake,” said a resident. “We have an intake (just) north of where they are doing this.”

The property is on private land with a vineyard, near Lakeshore Drive and Okanagan Centre Road West.

According to a neighbour, the dumping is to protect the property from erosion after ongoing high lake levels.

Heavy equipment could be seen dumping rock and soil into the water on June 9 and 15.

“You can see from the pictures there is a big plume of soil heading in the northern direction,” said the neighbour.

Up the road, just 100 metres north, is where at least 15 homes get their drinking water from the lake.

“It’s not my lake, it is all of our lake, and we should all be stewards of our lake,” he said.

Castanet reached out to Lake Country City Hall, which is aware of the dumping, but said it does not fall under its jurisdiction.

Coun. Blair Ireland said he is aggressively investigating the incident and has been notified by multiple residents.

“The picture I was sent (showed) quite a bit of dirt spread across quite a bit of the lake, and there are a lot private water systems there. Who knows what’s in that soil?” he said.

Ireland added that in order to fix erosion, there are multiple steps that must be taken.

“It’s certainly not what most communities do when they place materials in the water,” he said.

Large rocks have been recently used in Lake Country to stop erosion, as dirt could just wash away with another storm.

“It is everyone's water source here in the valley. We have to make sure it is done properly, safely and environmentally,” he said.

A request has been submitted by Castanet to the provincial government for information on the incident and if the individuals have a permit for the work.

Ped struck on Leon Ave

A pedestrian was struck on Leon Avenue Wednesday evening.

Paramedics and firefighters responded to the scene where a driver was driving out of a parking spot on the road and struck a pedestrian.

The woman was able to stand up on her own but was taken to hospital as a precaution.

Boil water in Sunset area

A boil-water notice has been issued for residents served by the Sunset Ranch water system after bacteria was found in test samples.

The notice affects 275 properties connected to the community water system in the Central Okanagan East electoral area.  

Regional district communications officer Bruce Smith said:, “Interior Health has been contacted, and we’ve taken steps to alert affected customers after routine testing found some bacterial results in samples at the reservoir. 

"While there’s no evidence the reservoir has been accessed, our staff found some vandalism to the gate to the system reservoir. In order to protect the safety of system customers, we’ve implemented the boil-water notice until the reservoir can be flushed and testing is done to prove any bacterial contamination has been removed and water quality is restored.”

Until further notice, affected residents should boil any water used for drinking, cooking, washing produce or fruit, making beverages and ice or brushing teeth for at least one minute or use bottled water.

Evening Update June 21

Castanet's Evening Update for Wednesday, June 21, with reporter Wayne Moore.

RCMP forgot about knife

“You'd agree it would not be proper to charge someone based on how it makes the RCMP look?” asked Jeff Campbell, defence counsel for Cory Van Gilder.

“100 per cent, I agree,” responded Cpl. Gina Horley, lead RCMP investigator in the case.

Van Gilder's manslaughter trial continued Wedneday with defence peppering Horley and Const. Nedine Ricioppo about a knife victim Zachary Gaudette was reportedly carrying when Van Gilder punched him, leading to his death.

Ricioppo was the first officer to arrive at the Cactus Club on Banks Road on Feb. 17, 2016, after receiving reports of a fight. She found Gaudette lying in the parking lot, unresponsive, as restaurant staff performed CPR.

Gaudette died two days later in the hospital.

On the morning after the incident, Ricioppo met with RCMP investigators, including Horley, and shared what she knew about the case. In briefing notes from that meeting, Ricioppo noted that Gaudette was found with a small knife in his pocket.

Prior to the notes being brought up in court, Ricioppo testified Gaudette had no weapon on him.

“I don't recall the knife, and my job is to seize evidence at the scene, so it would have been marked if I would have found the knife,” Ricioppo said.

Despite her assertions, Ricioppo said the information in the briefing notes would have come from her.

The knife was not included in the case's exhibits, and neither Ricioppo nor Horley could say where it ended up.

Several witnesses testified previously that they were concerned Gaudette may have had a knife on him when he approached the group of people outside the restaurant, yelling and challenging people to fight.

During a police interview on Feb. 23, 2016, Van Gilder expressed concern that Gaudette may have had a knife. His defence is that use of force was justified, based on self-defence.

In the RCMP's report to Crown counsel, no mention of a knife was made.

Van Gilder wasn't charged until July 2016, almost five months after the incident occurred.

In an April 15, 2016 email Campbell brought up in court Wednesday, Kelowna RCMP spokesperson Jesse O'Donaghey responded to Horley's concerns about ensuring “public confidence in the RCMP” following the identification of a suspect in Gaudette's death.

“Should Crown not lay the charges, it may come back negatively on the RCMP," O'Donaghey wrote.

Horley testified police had been under media pressure to report on the progress in the case.

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