West Kelowna  

Mystery of 'Free Westbank'

Is it a hangover from the vote nine years ago that selected West Kelowna over Westbank? Or is it someone with a lot of time on their hands and a sense of humour?

Whatever the reason, West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater says he doesn't know why "Free Westbank" graffiti has started popping up around the city.

"All I know is it's graffiti, and it will have to be cleaned up. And that will come out of the taxpayers' pocket," said Findlater, who acknowledged no one from the community has contacted him with any theories or concern.

"The only people who seem to be interested at all are in the media."

The spray-painted signs started popping up about a month ago, most of them in the downtown Westbank commercial district.

Highway signs have also had the words West Kelowna blanked out.

Whether it's the city, or in many cases, the province, Findlater says someone will eventually have to go out and clean up the graffiti.

West Kelowna does not have a graffiti eradication program like some communities. It's just handled by staff as a regular part of maintenance, the same as cutting the grass, he says.

The community was split in 2008 when a two-part referendum was held to determine if residents of the year-old municipality wanted a name change from Westside, and if so, which of four names it would prefer.

West Kelowna won out 3,841 to 3,675 over Westbank. Two other options received little support.

Proponents of Westbank argued for months that a second referendum with just the two names be included, that WFN residents were denied a chance to vote, and that Westbank has been Canada Post's demarkation for the region for decades.

Much of that sentiment is still prevelant.


Wildfire human caused

UPDATE: 10:20 p.m.

Fire Investigators believe the blaze in Glen Canyon was human caused, but they will continue their investigation Friday. 

West Kelowna fire crews, along with assistance from the BC Wildfire Service, were able to keep the Thursday afternoon blaze to a size of 15 metres by 30 metres, and quickly knocked down the flames. 

The fire was just 300 metres from another blaze the day before

A total of 22 firefighters attended the scene Thursday. 

UPDATE: 7:40 p.m.

The Glenrosa fire is out, having been doused with fire-retardent foam.

UPDATE: 5:55 p.m.

The fire in Glenrosa appears to be well under control.

Castanet's Nich Johansen says from the scene that fire crews have set up a sprinkler type hose to soak the area, and the level of urgency seems to have calmed down.

Police have taped off the area, although there is no word on whether the fire is suspicious in nature or if it may have been intentionally set.

Without lightning in the area, it is almost certainly man-caused.

UPDATE: 5:45 p.m.

Some residents were asked to temporarily leave their homes in the area of a small wildfire burning in the Glenrosa area.

Norma Marton said she could see flames from her home, and they were growing fast in the Glen Canyon trails area.

"We looked out ... and the flames were just up the trail, and it was really taking off," she said.

The fire is burning in a canyon area surrounded by homes and agricultural properties.

The trail network runs all the way down to Gellatly Bay, and Marton said the fire appeared to be about 10 by 10 feet in size before she left for safer ground.

She and her husband said the park has had an almost daily problem of people ignoring a trail closure put in place due to the extreme fire hazard.

"We've had such a problem with people not staying out of the area," she said.

UPDATE: 5:25 p.m.

A fire in a rugged canyon in Glenrosa is about two blocks farther uphill from Wednesday's small spot fire.

A Castanet news chaser at the scene says it is not in the same spot that flames broke out 24 hours ago.

High tension power lines are above the area, and the amount of smoke is increasing, which may make any aerial attack on the fire difficult.

No aircraft are on scene at the moment, though West Kelowna firefighters have arrived and were hiking into the canyon.

ORIGINAL: 5:15 p.m.

Castanet is receiving reports of smoke and possible fire in the Glenrosa area of West Kelowna.

Fire is reported in steep terrain off Dunbarton and Aberdeen roads.

A reporter is headed to the scene.

The fire comes only one day after another small spot fire in the same area of Powers Creek Canyon.

It's not yet known if this is a flare-up of the same fire.

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Fire cause still unknown

Fire investigators continue to look into the cause of a small fire in Powers Creek Canyon Wednesday evening.

The fire broke out about 7 p.m. in steep terrain.

West Kelowna Fire Department crews were able to extinguish the fire before it could get any larger than about 20 by 20 feet in size.

Fire Chief Jason Brolund says crews were able to mop up the fire last night, and the scene was quiet when they checked on it again this morning.

Fire investigators remain in the area trying to determine the cause of the fire.

Assistant chief Darren Lee said Wednesday evening the fire was likely human caused.


Fire in Powers Creek

UPDATE: 8:40 p.m.

The 20 by 20-foot brush fire in Powers Creek is in the mop up stages but it is most likely human caused says, assistant fire chief Darren Lee of West Kelowna Fire Rescue. 

"When they were looking around for the smoke they realized it's a little more than just a barbecue," Lee said. "They upgraded to a first alarm wild land fire and then requested a second alarm and got a request into the BC Wildfire Service."

"We want to get the wildfire here really fast if we have something going on."

The brush fire on the north side of Powers Creek was tough to access because it was at the bottom of a steep canyon. 

"When they got to the bottom there was a 20 by 20 fire smouldering in the ground, which is what we call rank one," Lee said. 

The cause of the blaze is still under investigation. 

UPDATE: 8:05 p.m.

The small brush fire in the Powers Creek area of West Kelowna was first spotted by neighbours.

Municipal fire crews appear to have the blaze under control, which is a few metres square in size.

It is in Powers Creek Canyon, near several residential areas and Off The Grid Winery.

Firefighters made their way into the area from two sides, off Glencoe Road and from the opposite side in Glenrosa.

ORIGINAL: 7:40 p.m.

Castanet is on the scene of a small brush fire that has broken out in West Kelowna.

The fire is in the Powers Creek area, near Glencoe Road and Windt Road.

The fire broke out about 7 p.m. in steep terrain.

Fire crews are on scene, and helicopters are circling the area.

Shot fired a false alarm

A report of a possible shot fired in West Kelowna late Tuesday turned out to be nothing.

Police were dispatched to the 3300 block of Old Okanagan Highway about midnight, after receiving a report of possible gunfire in the area.

Several officers flooded the area, conducted roving patrols and made several inquiries with residents in an effort to identify the source of the noise.

Cpl. Jesse O'Donaghey said officers were unable to confirm the exact source of the complaint, which may have been a firework.

Spike in theft from vehicles

West Kelowna RCMP are reporting a 47% increase in theft from motor vehicles from January 1 - July 31 this year, compared to the same time period in 2016. 

A total of 175 reports have been received by RCMP in the first six months of this year, compared to 119 cases reported in the first six months of last year.

Police say that in many of these cases, vehicles' doors were left unlocked or valuables were left in sight. 

“In at least one case, the suspect(s) stole the victim's drivers licence, birth certificate, credit cards, SIN card and even their passport," said Cpl. Jesse O'Donaghey. "Which not only opens up that person from being further victimized through identity theft and fraud, but also poses significant challenges for them to obtain replacement forms of identification”

While many of these incidents have occurred in West Kelowna's downtown, the RCMP stressed in their release that these thefts from vehicles have happened throughout the community, and that no neighbourhood is immune to these crimes.

The RCMP is urging the public to not leave personal belongings in the open in vehicles. Commonly stolen items include purses, wallets, cash and loose change, sunglasses and similar items of value.

Missing youth found dead

The body of a West Kelowna teen, missing nearly a month, has been identified as the individual found deceased alongside MacDougal Creek Saturday.

Jake Fehr's body was discovered just before 11 a.m. Saturday in a wooded area along the creek behind the 3200 block of Cougar Road.

“RCMP can confirm that the deceased male has now been positively identified, by the BC Coroners Service, as missing youth, Jake Fehr,” says Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey. “

"We are profoundly saddened by this discovery, our deepest sympathy is extended to Jake’s family and friends during this difficult time.”

Fehr, 17, was last seen at his family home on Chieftain Road during the early morning hours of July 13.

RCMP say Fehr's death is not believed to be suspicious. Police and the BC Coroners Service are investigating.

ATVer goes over cliff

B.C. Air Rescue, Vernon Search and Rescue winch team and Penticton Search and Rescue combined efforts to get an injured ATVer out of the backcountry near Peachland, Monday.

The male rider apparently went over a cliff near a forest service road in the hills above Peachland.

The BCAR helicopter was dispatched from Wildcat Helicopters in West Kelowna about 2:30 p.m.

A spokesman said the job required a 200-foot winch from dense forest.

There is no word yet on the severity of the man's injuries.

The patient was handed over to B.C. Ambulance paramedics after being flown back to the Wildcat base.

Sailboat in distress towed

West Kelowna RCMP responded to a 25-foot sailboat in distress on Okanagan Lake, Sunday evening, just north of Rattlesnake Island.

Police say a large wave caused by high winds disabled the boat's motor. 

RCMP called in the Peachland Fire Department for help. 

Rescue crews located the vessel and safely towed it back to Peachland for repairs.

The lone person on board was uninjured.

Rear-ender slows traffic

A rear-ender on the William R. Bennett Bridge has slowed traffic heading into Kelowna Saturday afternoon. 

The minor collision occurred at about 1 p.m., closing the far right eastbound lane of Highway 97 before the bridge. 

The crash did not appear to leave anyone with any significant injuries, but an ambulance did attend the scene.

Traffic was backed up on the highway in the eastbound direction almost to Westside Road. 

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