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West Kelowna  

Water notice rescinded

UPDATE: 5:25 p.m. March 18

In consultation with the Interior Health Authority, the boil water notice for the West Kelowna Estates Water Services Area, issued March 14, has been rescinded as turbidity has returned to acceptable levels. 

There are currently no water quality advisories in effect in West Kelowna.


ORIGINAL STORY: March 14

A boil water notice has been put in place for residents and businesses who draw water from the West Kelowna Estates water system.

The notice was issued by the City of West Kelowna in conjunction with Interior Health due to increased turbidity resulting from a mechanical failure at a pressure reducing system.

People on the system are advised to boil water before using it for drinking, making ice, cooking, washing food or brushing teeth.

The system is being repaired, and will be flushed, disinfected and tested before the notice is lifted.

The city is offering free water to those residents affected by the boil water notice at the bulk water station at Shannon Lake and Asquith roads.



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Crash slows commute

UPDATE: 4:45 p.m.

Both southbound lanes heading toward downtown Westbank are now open following a multi-vehicle crash on Highway 97 near Westlake Road.

However, one lane heading northbound remains closed as police await a tow truck to clear away the vehicles.


There are reports of a multi-vehicle accident on Highway 97 South in West Kelowna.

The crash occurred near the intersection of Highway 97 and Westlake Road.

It is affecting traffic heading over the bridge into West Kelowna.

Reports indicate as many as four vehicles may be involved.

Air bags were apparently deployed.

No word on injuries, or how long it will take to clear it up.



HomeSense opening soon

The sign has been up for months.

Anxious consumers on the Westside won't have to wait much longer for the opening of its latest big box store.

Canadian-owned HomeSense will open its new store April 9 on Westbank First Nation land.

The home furnishings chain announced in July it would be opening the store in the Synatan Shopping Centre.

The building has been home to two failed endeavours.

Calgary-based Wholesale Sports Outdoor Outfitters opened in February of 2014, only to close up shop in September of 2017.

The store was one of 12 that closed as the company shut down its Western Canadian operations, because of what one company official said was a continued shift to online purchases, and an overall slowing of consumer discretionary spending.



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Gus missing for 2 weeks

Madison Erhardt

A family is still shocked and continues to search after their beloved dog Gus went missing on March 4 in the Upper Glenrosa area of West Kelowna.

John Brooke was out for a walk with two year-old Gus who bolted off along a logging road in Glenrosa just minutes after their walk began.

Brooke tried calling for Gus and searched for him for hours on end, but the two year-old pup was nowhere to be seen.

''Once I got up to the logging road I saw tire tracks that were fresh, but I don't know if he got into this vehicle or if he ran and chased a deer.''

''It's been really hard. I don't know what happened to him. He just vanished. I went back there every day for a week,'' Brooke said. 

The Pyrenees-Akbash cross is approximately 130 pounds and has an orange collar.

''I have had some sightings of Gus, but nothing has turned up," Brooke said.

''Someone called me with a potential sighting of Gus in Lake Country that matches his description. They said he was in the back of an old SUV. A police report was made at the time of the sighting, but the person who reported it was unable to see the license plate of the vehicle,'' he added.

Brooke has posted a $1,000 reward for the person that finds Gus.

Anyone with possible leads or information can call Brooke at 250-808-1473.



WFN school going solar

Westbank First Nation's Senisyusten House of Learning Elementary school is going solar.

With the assistance of a $150,000 equity investment from the province, WFN says it will build a rooftop solar farm on the school to "demonstrate the viability of clean energy."

Once it's operational, the school is expected to offset about $12,000 in annual utility costs.

The system will be connected to BC Hydro's distribution system, and become part of its net metering program.

"The Sensisyusten school solar installation is an important pilot project for Westbank First Nation to demonstrate successful clean energy in our community core and to continue to build upon that success with future renewable projects," Chief Roxanne Lindley said in a news release.

"Our community supports innovative projects like using the space on our school to harness the energy of the sun for electricity. Having support of the First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund was helpful in finding the resources to make that happen."

The school was recently expanded and renovated to support the solar installation.

Construction of the solar farm is expected to be complete late this summer.



Urgent care centre closer?

West Kelowna Mayor Gord Milsom believes the province is close to deciding where an urgent care centre will be located in the Central Okanagan.

He made that pronouncement after a meeting last week with Health Minister Adrian Dix in Victoria.

"I get a sense they are pretty close to making a decision," Milsom told Castanet.

Milsom, who took office in November, spent a few days in the provincial capital getting to know key ministers.

Following his meeting with Dix, Milsom says he now has a better handle of what the province has planned for health care in B.C.

The city has been lobbying for about a decade in hopes of getting improved medical services, including an urgent care centre.

"He (Dix) added a lot of clarity as to the direction the government is heading," said Milsom.

"They want to support general physicians in the way of additional health professionals, adding nurse practitioners and professionals that are specialists in fields such as mental health. They are focused on building teams to support prime care deliverers."

Milsom says one of those is the introduction of a urgent care centres.

The province has committed to 10 such centres across the province. Some have already opened in Kamloops, Greater Victoria, Surrey and Vancouver. They have been placed close to major hospitals, in existing buildings with other related health services.

It's believed one will be opened in the Central Okanagan, however, the ministry has yet to announce whether that will be in Kelowna or West Kelowna.

"Whether we see an urgent care centre in West Kelowna, we just don't know."

Milsom did touch on a second health care delivery model being floated by the minister, a primary care network.

He says they discussed health care needs over and above what family doctors and walk-in-clinics provide.

Milsom says the province is planning to roll out 15 of those in the coming years.

"As far as I'm concerned, for West Kelowna, we do have shortfalls as far as certain types of health care needs, mental health and substance abuse issues, chronic pain management," he said.

"If they can be managed through the primary care network just as well as through an urgent care centre, that's good."

As for next steps, the mayor says he would like to meet with Interior Health to understand what they see for the Greater Westside, and local physicians to find out the best approach for the city.



Traffic snarled on Hwy 97

Traffic is beginning to snarl on Highway 97 between Daimler Drive and Bartley Road. Mary Joe just called the Castanet newsroom to let us know that it appears two pick-up trucks are involved and traffic is backing up in the northbound lane.

Emergency crews are just arriving on scene so it could be some time before the collision is cleared and traffic returns to normal.



ID'd after rash of thefts

A thief who targeted a West Kelowna convenience store twice in just a few hours has been identified by police.

Police believe the two robberies are related to each other.

A man entered the Mac’s Convenience Store on Boucherie Road at 7:26 p.m. and demanded cash. The suspect left with an undisclosed amount of cash and lotto tickets. 

No threats of violence were reported and no weapons were used.

The next morning at 5:40 a.m., police responded to the same store for a report of another robbery.

A man demanded cash and left the store with an undisclosed amount of money, chocolate bars and potato chips.

“As a result of their continued investigation, our front line officers have identified a possible suspect,” states Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey of the Kelowna RCMP. 

Police also believe the same suspect is responsible for a theft at a West Kelowna liquor store.

“RCMP continue to gather evidence in an effort to connect the suspect to other similar property crimes committed in West Kelowna over the past week,” said O’Donaghey.

Anyone with additional information should contact police at 250-768-2880.



All OK after hazardous mix

Alanna Kelly

Six people were released from Kelowna General Hospital after a chemical mixture caused a hotel to evacuate on Monday.

A pool attendant inhaled the gases after mixing acid and chlorine together by accident.

Assistant fire chief Brent Watson says the gas was isolated to the maintenance area of the pool at the Best Western Plus Wine Country Hotel & Suites.

“He thought he was pouring chlorine into chlorine, when in fact it was acid being poured into the chlorine which created a binary mixture which gave off a noxious gas,” said Watson.

West Kelowna firefighters acted very quickly to get the hotel evacuated which included about 20 people and Kelowna’s Hazmat crew worked together to get the bucket (containing the hazardous mix) out of the building.

Hotel management tells Castanet the six people were released from hospital with a clean bill of health.

Watson said people need to be very cautious when working with chemicals.

“Whatever it may be, be very careful and always read the label,” he said.

Management says the hotel opened again Tuesday morning but the pool is closed as they make sure everything is back to normal.

Hotel procedures will also be reviewed by management.



Okanagan adventure tour

An Okanagan thrill seeker is scratching another item off his bucket list.

Kevin Bennett, President of ZipZone in Peachland, is off on a three-week solo motorcycle trip through northern India and the Himalayan region.

Bennett loves motorcycling and travelling the world, so he has combined both as he works his way from New Delhi to Agra and ultimately  Rishikesh.

“There’s just nothing quite like riding through a remote village, in the middle of nowhere, and meeting the people. I’ve never failed to meet kind, generous and curious villagers, no matter where in the world I am. There is far more goodness in the world than the papers want you to believe”.

Bennett is renting a Royal Enfield classic motorcycle for the journey and says, “when you are passionate about motorcycling, you are automatically passionate about motorcycling history, and riding a classic motorcycle made by the 126-year old Royal Enfield Company is a bucket list experience for me. They are the tractors of the motorcycling world, with timeless styling and old-school technology that is very much analog in a digital world. Perfect for a trip through some of the most rugged terrain in the world.”

Bennett says he challenges himself to keep his adrenaline going in order to help provide guests to his ZipZone business with memorable experiences.

“It is so important that I constantly remind myself of the emotional highs that our guests go through. Only by experiencing for myself the adrenaline and the joy, can I make sure we continue to provide that same thrill for our guests”.



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