West Kelowna  

Parole hearing for Wells Grey mass killer delayed

Shearing seeks day parole

Family and friends of a West Kelowna family murdered 39 years ago will have to wait two more months to find out the fate of their killer.

David Shearing killed six members of the Johnson and Bentley families while they vacationed in Wells Grey Provincial Park in August of 1982.

Shearing, who has legally changed his name to David Ennis, was eventually arrested and convicted on six counts of second degree murder.

He was scheduled for a parole hearing in July, however, Tammy Arishenkoff a childhood friend of one of the victims, says that hearing has been pushed back to September.

According to the petition she is still managing in an attempt to keep Shearing behind bars, Arishenkoff says much of the delay is due to the fact he is applying for day parole.

"In essence - he is not ready, and is now filing other applications available to him in order to get around a failed full parole decision, she wrote.

Arishenkoff also indicated he can apply to be moved from the Bowden, Alta. medium-security prison he is presently housed in, to a minimum-security facility.

He could also apply for unescorted temporary absences.

Earlier this year, Arishenkoff sent the parole board a nearly 90,000 name petition asking that Shearing remain behind bars.

She also took exception to the fact friends and family were required to submit paperwork by May 1 for an anticipated July hearing, while Shearing was able to wait until the last minute to even decide if he would go ahead with the hearing.

He was denied parole in 2008 and 2012, but waived his right to a hearing in 2010, 2014 and 2016.


Vehicle in lake, another in ditch on Westside Road

Car goes off embankment

A crash on the west side of Okanagan Lake north of West Kelowna led to a vehicle going off an embankment into the water and another vehicle being forced into a ditch.

BC Emergency Health Services received a call at 7:32 p.m. to a multi-vehicle incident on Westside Road near Bear Forest Service Road.

According to witnesses at the scene, a vehicle was passing the driver in front of them when they hit that vehicle and it was sent off the embankment into the nearby water. The other vehicle then went into a ditch off the other side of the road.

A witness at the scene, Angela, said her friend went down the embankment to find the vehicle but once they reached the water, all they saw was vehicle debris and what appeared to be car oil in the water.

The witness said it appeared the vehicle was fully submerged into the water. BCEHS has not yet confirmed this information.

Another witness says there are multiple emergency crews at the scene and they were told Westside Road will be closed for three to four hours.

Christine Ackerly, communications officer for BCEHS, says no patients have been transported to hospital. BCEHS is still on-scene.

More information will be provided as it becomes available.

Woman thanks Good Samaritans after rescue

'They touched my heart'

A Kelowna woman who says she was saved by a couple of Good Samaritans after being blown off course wishes she had got their names.

"They brought me home and didn't accept any money but I didn't get their names."

Lorena Ordonez tells Castanet she was out for a paddleboard on Okanagan Lake this week when she ran into some wind that blew her way off course.

"I put my paddleboard in near my home in the West Harbour. It started great with no wind and then I got trapped by the wind."

Ordonez says she ended up being blown towards Bear Creek campground and finally managed to work her way to shore. She made it to Westside Rd. and started trying to wave down vehicles.

"Some people thought I was just waving at them. Finally, two men in their 20's stopped and helped get my board in the back of their truck."

Ordonez says they gave her a lift in the back of the truck and while she says they chatted back and forth a bit she didn't get their names.

"I'm beyond grateful and thankful that they stopped."

The only thing Ordonez managed to pick up was that one of the young men works on Pandosy St. and the pair were originally from Calgary.

"I want to say thank you, and to the whole community if you see someone stranded or in danger, let's help them."


Music in the Park returns to West Kelowna this summer with a new look and a new location

Return of Music in the Park

The City of West Kelowna is using the province's gradual reopening to bring back one of the city's most popular summer attractions.

Music in the Park, which was cancelled last year due to COVID-19 restrictions, will return this summer with a bit of a different look and in a new location.

Day-long performances will take place over four days, Thursday, July 1 and three Saturdays; July 31, Aug. 28 and Sept. 4.

The venue has also been moved this year from Memorial Park to Kinsmen Park on Shannon Lake Road, which is better suited to handle restrictions still in place.

Music in the Park will feature four one-hour performances with a maximum of 50 people allowed per performance and six people per group, in keeping with the latest provincial health office guidelines.

The accomplished and in-demand Sean Bray, Kinga Hemming and Bernie Addington Trio take the stage at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. to kick off the series on July 1.

Awarding winning songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Lindsay May and the Mayhem play at 3:30 and 5:30 p.m. performing originals and covers of the greats such as The Beatles and Queen.

In order to take in one of the shows, you must pre-register by calling 778-797-8800.

Those attending shows are asked to bring their own drinks, snacks, chairs or blankets.

The remainder of Kinsmen Park will remain open so, in order to limit crowd size, fencing will be in place.

West Kelowna breaks ground on new skatepark, first step towards new city hall

Ground broken on skatepark

The City of West Kelowna has broken ground on its new skatepark, the first step in the new city hall project.

The ceremony on June 15, which was closed to the public and media, took place at the site of the $18 million project at the corner of Old Okanagan Highway and Dobbin Road.

The current skatepark next to the Johnson Bentley pool needs to be removed to make space for the new city hall building. The 51,500 square foot, four-floor building will feature an Okanagan Regional Library on its ground floor.

The new skatepark is expected to open early fall 2021.

“We’re making history together with the Okanagan Regional Library and Westbank First Nation in providing recreation, community services, culture and learning for everyone to enjoy,” says Mayor Gord Milsom. “Breaking ground for the enhanced skatepark couldn’t have been achieved without the valuable design input of our skateboard community and the public, and we remain grateful for their participation.”

“The skatepark is the beginning of construction on the site where our City Hall/Library Building is located, and we’re so very pleased to have the Okanagan Regional Library as an equity partner. We’re also deeply honoured to partner with Westbank First Nation to incorporate Indigenous art, language and culture that can be celebrated for generations to come,” says Milsom.

Westbank First Nation Chief Christopher Derickson congratulated the city on the project.

“We are honoured and excited to be a partner in this project not only with the City of West Kelowna, but with the Okanagan Regional Library as well on their new location in the civic centre. For centuries, my people, the Syilx people and Indigenous people across this country, have gone unrecognized by the greater Canadian public. In fact, if you drive along the highways in the province of BC, you very rarely see any indications that you are coming up to a Reserve or First Nation community. However, in this community, residents of the City of West Kelowna and those who come through this building, will be able to tell whose land they’re on, where they’re located, and learn something about the Indigenous people, the Syilx people, and the Westbank First Nation community as they enter their civic hall.“

As construction progresses, the existing skatepark will remain in operation until the new skatepark is complete this fall. Once built, the existing skatepark will be decommissioned in preparation for City Hall/Library Building construction.

The municipality is seeking feedback on the design on the city hall building through to June 27 here.

West Kelowna Fire Department's 50/50 draw benefiting three local charities only has a few tickets left

50/50 tix almost sold out

The West Kelowna Fire Department's 50/50 draw benefiting three local charities only has a few hundred tickets left.

The fundraiser is running from April 1 to August 1, with the draw happening the morning of August 1.

"Over 1,000 tickets are available and it is $20 per ticket. The winner will receive $10,000 with the remaining $10,000 going towards the BC Burn Fund, CRIS Adaptive Adventures, and the Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs," said West Kelowna firefighter Azi Fahandeg.

Fahandeg says 737 tickets have sold with 263 tickets remaining.

Tickets can be purchased online by any B.C. resident 18 years of age or older.

Tree climber called to rescue cat that spent 6 days stuck up a tree

Cat uses up a life

A cat named 'Snickers bar' may have used up one of its nine lives after getting itself stuck 80 feet up a pine tree in West Kelowna.

Mathew March, of Smart Tree Care, tells Castanet he's rescued treed cats all over the Central Okanagan but this one was up a tree off West Kelowna's Cougar Road for six days before he got the call to help out.

"They're really good at climbing up but not down," March says.

March says the cat had gotten itself stuck on a very high branch, so he had to use a slingshot to send a rope to a branch above the cat before he scrambled up the tree with his special 'cat bag' which allows him to safely transport the cat back to solid ground.

"It was at least 80 feet up a monster pine tree. I climbed up above the cat and then I rappelled down to it. I grabbed it by the scruff of the neck so it wouldn't fight me, put it in the bag and then lowered it to safely to the ground."

March says the owner, Veronica, was beside herself with happiness when he handed her the closed bag. "We recommend the owner take the bag back in the house before opening it so the cat doesn't scramble right back up another tree."

According to March, "the cat went straight for its food dish," as soon it was free.

March says the cat was hungry and dehydrated from its tree adventure but otherwise unharmed.

According to PetMD feline ethologist Susan Bulanda, “a cat in a tree may have trouble coordinating their hind and front feet when they try to back down. It’s just not a movement cats normally do.” Bulanda also says cats are typically used to being able to jump down from most heights, "when cats climb trees, oftentimes it’s just too high to jump down and that’s why they get stuck.”

Iron Energy Gym awards $10K in Young and Ambitious program

Young ambition pays off

A Central Okanagan gym has awarded a $10,000 post-secondary scholarship to one of its young athletes.

Iron Energy Gym conducted the Young and Ambitious program over the last four months with a group of 14- to 17-year-old boys, with one at the end being chosen to receive the scholarship.

A 17-year-old boy named Marcus was picked as the winner of the inaugural award.

“Over the course of the last 16 weeks we took a handful of Kelowna youth through intense workouts, success talks, and gave them life advice and direction for where they want to go,” Iron Energy co-owner Brian Mark said in a press release. “We overcame adversity that came with Covid, unfortunately we had to pause the program for four weeks, but we got back together and we finished strong.”

Mark has made giving back to the community a key component of the Iron Energy business. He struggled with substance and alcohol abuse in his early 20s, so the Young and Ambitious program tackles those topics while also working on the teenagers’ physical health.

Mark said Iron Energy will have another Young and Ambitious program this winter, and it also wants to conduct one for teenage girls.

More information about Iron Energy Gym, which is located at 2476 Westlake Rd. in West Kelowna, can be found here.

RCMP report a man seriously injured after truck crashes and catches fire

Truck crashes, catches fire

RCMP tell Castanet that a motorist was seriously injured after the Mazda pickup truck they were driving left the road and caught fire on Highway 97 Tuesday morning in West Kelowna.

"The 21-year-old driver, a West Kelowna man, was transported to hospital by BC Emergency Health Services with what are believed to be serious injuries.
No one else was injured in this collision, and alcohol is not believed to have been a factor," states Cpl. Jocelyn Noseworthy, RCMP spokesperson.

The incident happened just before 2 a.m., June 22, 2021, West Kelowna RCMP responded to a single-vehicle collision on Highway 97 at Gellatly Road.

West Kelowna Fire Department attended and extinguished the vehicle.

West Kelowna's civic payroll increased by less than three per cent, mainly due to a hiring freeze in 2020

Virus slows jump in wages

The City of West Kelowna paid significantly less in staff wages than it would have had there been no COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic, and the affects it had on residents after many businesses were forced to shut down, caused the city to slash its planned 2020 tax increase nearly in half, thereby eliminating a number of planned staff hirings.

That decision, and a significant decrease in expenses billed by employees, left the city with a payroll of slightly more than $19.4 million in 2020. That's less than three per cent more than the $18.9 million spent on wages in 2019.

The city also saved nearly $30,000 in council remuneration during 2020, much of that coming from fewer expenses due likely to conventions such as SILGA and UBCM being held remotely.

Figures released as part of the annual financial report required by each municipal government also showed the city spent $4.1 million less for goods and services in 2020, much of that due in part to municipal projects which were delayed due to budget cuts.

The report also shows a large increase in those employees earning more than $75,000. In 2020, 118 employees took over in excess of $75,000, 20 more than the previous year.

Sixty-two earned $100,000 or more, one more than in 2019.

The top 10 wage earners, along with allowable expenses, include:

  1. Paul Gipps, CAO - $236,711
  2. Tracey Batten, Deputy CAO/corporate officer - $199,280
  3. Allen Fillion, Director of engineering and public works - $173,457
  4. Sandra Webster, Director of corporate initiatives - $167,385
  5. Jason Brolund, Fire Chief - $167,298
  6. Warren Everton, CFO - $165,321
  7. Brent Watson, assistant fire chief, $155,042
  8. Mark Koch, director of development services - $150,554
  9. Michelle Reid, director of human resources - $148,051
  10. Todd Moore, firefighter captain - $145,137

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