Foodie event brings crowds

The 10th Annual Big Reds Wine Festival at Big White Ski Resort this weekend proved to be a hit breaking previous attendance records.

The two night event saw more than 600 guests flow through the Village Centre Mall sampling the handcrafted wines making it the most attended Big Reds to date.

The event connects consumers with local wineries in an intimate environment while enjoying great snow and delicious food.

“The popularity of Big Reds mirrors the growth of the wine industry in B.C.,” said Trevor Hanna, vice president of hospitality at Big White Ski Resort. “When we first started Big Reds there was less than 150 wineries in B.C. and now there is well over 300.”

“Without the continued support from our family of generous winery and restaurant partners, this event would not have made it through 10 wonderful years.”

The annual event featured 136 wines from 31 different Okanagan wineries and food from eight local restaurants, which is the most vendors in the event’s history.

Guests were asked to choose their favourite winery and restaurant during both nights of the event and the businesses winning over the attendees were Globe Café and Tapas Bar and The View Winery.


Few without power

UPDATE: 3:05 p.m.

Three customers are without power, according to FortisBC, after crews worked much of the day to restore power to an area of southeast Kelowna. Power went out early Sunday. 

UPDATE: 10:45 a.m.

Power remains out to 500 customers in southeast Kelowna, according to the FortisBC website.


Southeast Kelowna suffered a widespread power outage Sunday morning after a pickup hit a utility power pole on Pooley Road. 

The driver is reported to have fled the scene and the RCMP conducted a search. 

The FortisBC website said electricity to 500 customers went off at 4:23 a.m. this morning.

A Fortis crew has been working at the site. It is not known when power will be restored to those still affected.

A photo sent in to Castanet around 9:30 a.m. shows the road remained closed as work continued.

Castanet will update when more information becomes available. 

Thief robs therapy farm

Alanna Kelly

On the day of the annual holiday fundraiser, the founder of a local farm woke up to find it had been robbed.

Heather Henderson, founder of Arion Therapeutic Farm, said she found the lock on the office door pried open Sunday morning.

“I walked inside and saw a pry bar on the ground and the drawer we locked the cash in open.”

Henderson said about $400 was stolen.

“It was loose coin we keep for our events,” she said. “All the fees help our animals so it is very disappointing to find that, especially on the day we are trying to make money.”

“Now we are down a few hundred dollars before we even start our event.”

As smiling children and families arrived at the farm, Henderson attempted to stay positive and turn the day around.

“We needed it… you know,” she said. “We’ve had a hard month, we’ve lost a few animals.”

The 8th Annual Winter Wonderland fundraiser is the farm's biggest event of the year and all the money helps in the running of the site.

Henderson said the event is free so all families can come enjoy the day and get to meet Santa. 

The farm is an educational and supportive site offering a variety of amenities and hands on farm activities. 

“Our horses and animals continue to cost, regardless of how many people come and pay for programming or come as a visitor,” said Henderson. “Those fees are still not enough to support our massive overheads, which are mainly feeding our animals.”

The office is located about two acres into the 12 acre property.

“We don’t have cameras, we can’t afford the security system, so I guess we’ll resort to taking things home at night.”

A GoFundMe account has been created to help the farm. 

Henderson said she will be contacting police to report the break-in, but hopes it was worth it to the person who stole the cash.

“If that person is out there and hears this I hope it was put to good use. If they see fit to return it, that would be wonderful.”

Castanet's week in review

Castanet's week in review with Nich Johansen.

Market proves popular

Thousands of items got ticked off Christmas lists Saturday at the fifth annual Craft Culture Holiday Market taking place at Prospera Place in Kelowna.

The market features more than 175 vendors from B.C. and Alberta selling their handmade and hand-designed wares.

Items for sale include clothing, Christmas decorations, art, soaps, food and more.

Saturday's event was extremely popular, and hundreds of people waited in line outside the arena for their chance to shop.

“We've had about 8,000 people throughout the weekend in the past, so judging by today I think we'll be close to 10,000,” said Karalyn Lockhart, owner of Craft Culture.

The market runs again on Sunday until 5 p.m.

Grinch hits home twice

A holiday Grinch hit the same home twice Friday, making off with Christmas decorations right from the front lawn.

Bryan Smith caught the first theft on his security camera Friday morning at 7 a.m. at his home on Spruceview Place.

The footage shows a man on a bicycle riding up and taking an inflatable Christmas lawn ornament off the lawn.

Apparently not satisfied with his first caper, the man came back just before 9 p.m. the same day and finished the job, taking other items from Smith's lawn.

“Maybe someone might know who he is and also we’d like to prevent anymore theft by this individual if possible,” Smith said. 

Watch out for Santa's bus

Keep your eyes peeled for the Santa Bus. 

Santa's Bus started rolling Dec 10, with Santa touring the Central Okanagan collecting donations for the Salvation Army.

A collection of food, toys, and money will be donated to the Salvation Army’s Christmas Hamper Program. 

To view the schedule of Santa's stops, head here.

If you can't spot Santa out and about then come down to the Salvation Army Thrift Store and have your photo taken with Santa in Kelowna and West Kelowna. 

Food donations are accepted for the Salvation Army Food Bank.

Not in my backyard

Kelowna business owners are pushing back against a new supportive housing complex set to go up in the Mill Creek Commerce Park.

Toni Gaspari, one of the developers of the park, says nearby business owners are upset they weren’t consulted about the project before plans were put in place.

He said most didn’t have any idea the project was happening until media organizations began asking them to weigh in on it.

While they fully support supportive housing in the community, Gaspari said many are worried the spartan, repurposed modular units that will make up the development won’t fit the form and character of the surrounding area.

For more on why City of Kelowna representatives are defending the project, including why one says some of the business owners' claims are "misleading," check out the full story on Castanet's sister business news website, Okanagan Edge.

New firehall for Glenmore

Glenmore will get a new firehall.

The issues remain where, and when.

An analysis of firefighting needs in Kelowna, produced by Darkhorse Analytics, is at odds with a preferred location outlined a year ago by the Kelowna Fire Department.

The analysis, which will be presented to city council Monday afternoon, suggests the best place for a future new hall is in the densely-populated Glenmore and Watson Road area.

The fire department originally suggested placing a new firehall closer to area around John Hindle Drive.

The analysis indicates at new hall in the Watson Road area would greatly improve response times for both medical first response and fire call as opposed to a Hindle Drive location.

The report also looked at the overall performance and issues facing the fire department.

In concluded one of the biggest challenges is the rapid increase in service calls. Over the past three years, service calls have increased 10 per cent each year, reaching more than 11,400 in 2016.

Sixty-five per cent of those calls are medical first response. About half of all fire calls are minor while another 40 per cent are for alarms.

In the Glenmore area, a majority of first response calls come from two addresses, Sandalwood Retirement Resort and Highlands Retirement Residence.

The report also suggests the downtown hall would be better situated closer to Harvey and Richter while the Mission hall will eventually need to be split with one in the Pandosy area and the other in the Upper Mission.

Convicted in stabbing

A Kelowna man could face jail time after he was convicted in a road rage incident that led to a stabbing 18-months ago.

The incident occurred on May 21, 2016 in the 400 block of Gramiak Road in Rutland when a cyclist, 18-year-old Alexander Lewis, ran into the back quarter panel of a Dodge Ram pickup.

The truck stopped to offer assistance to the cyclist, who reportedly cursed at the driver and walked away.

Police say the driver was concerned about the cyclist’s condition and followed him on foot.

The cyclist returned to the area and confronted the driver’s son, who was holding a piece of debris from the crash at the time.

Police say a physical altercation ensued and the cyclist allegedly stabbed the driver in the abdomen with a knife.

The driver was treated at the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Lewis was convicted in Kelowna court Friday and a presentence report was ordered.

He's scheduled to appear in court again on Feb. 6 to set a date for sentencing.

– with files from The Canadian Press

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