Kelowna and West Kelowna business advocacy groups join forces
Two chambers, one voice
One large voice is better than two.
That's the belief of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce and Greater Westside Board of Trade who are joining forces to create the Central Okanagan Business Advocacy Team.
The two organizations recently signed an MOU at the BC Chamber AGM in Whistler.
According to representatives from both organizations, they have identified a number of "regional issues" that are not getting enough attention.
By joining forces, they believe they will have a stronger and more influential voice when dealing with governments at all levels.
"Our board and staff look forward to supporting the work being done at the Greater Westside Board of Trade through more collaborative advocacy on street safety issues for business, labour force shortages and the rising cost of doing business in the Okanagan," said Kelowna chamber board chair Dan Price.
"Throughout, we will explore other areas of co-operation beyond advocacy and policy that are mutually beneficial."
Amber Hall, president of the Greater Westside Board of Trade says her organization looks forward to working with the Kelowna chamber on issues such as transportation, public safety and housing.
"These issues affect both of our communities and when we work together we can more effectively advocate to government," she says.
The agreement will be reviewed after one year.
Rubber boa slithers through Rose Valley in West Kelowna
Rubber boa spotted on hike
Don’t be alarmed if you see a rubber boa snake in the Okanagan this summer.
Pennie Mathieson was out hiking with a friend earlier this week in West Kelowna’s Rose Valley Regional Park when the pair came across a large snake that caught them by surprise.
Mathieson tells Castanet the snake was the largest she’s ever seen in the area, and that at first, she confused it for something more dangerous.
“We went and hiked Rose Valley reservoir and we were on the northeast side of the reservoir around 10:30 a.m. when we saw [the snake] on the trail. We didn’t know what it was, but you could tell when you hear my voice on the video that I thought it was a rattlesnake,” explained Mathieson.
According to the hiker, the rubber boa was approximately two and a half feet long and about two inches thick. She says the snake seemed very docile and unbothered by their company.
Although rubber boas are non-venomous and not a threat to humans, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings when out on a hike.
Mathieson wanted to spread the word to other hikers in the area as there may be other snakes out there that might not be so friendly.
“We did a hike and we were on our way back towards the vehicles and that’s where we discovered it. It was right on the trail. We were the only one’s there, but we do come across the odd person and their dog. We were just so surprised.”
Spotting a rubber boa can be rare as they’re primarily a nocturnal creature, but can sometimes be active at dawn and dusk.
Crash slows southbound Highway 97 traffic in West Kelowna Saturday
Crash slows highway traffic
A crash has slowed traffic on Highway 97 through West Kelowna Saturday afternoon.
According to a motorist driving through the area, several vehicles were involved in the crash in southbound lanes of the highway near Daimler Drive.
Police, paramedics and fire crews are on scene, but the nature of the crash or any possible injuries suffered by those involved is not known at this time.
Google Maps' traffic data shows its slow going in the southbound lanes from Daimler Drive back to Ross Road.
City of West Kelowna removes document from web that was published due to pandemic restrictions
City removes document
A West Kelowna resident says he was surprised to find his name and address listed online in a municipal document that has since been removed from the web.
Akshat, who wished to go by only his first name, says his family stumbled across the document — the city’s parcel tax roll — by searching his name and “City of West Kelowna.”
The document lists every property owner and their addresses in the city. Castanet was able to find the document in the same way.
Akshat admits that the information in the file is no different than what used to be published by the phone book, but he said there always was an option to opt out of the phone book. The land title office, meanwhile, charges fees and is not searchable by name.
“I'm just not comfortable with that — I usually didn't try not to give out my addresses to people or anything, just because you never know,” he said.
“Somebody that wants to cause me harm, because they might be offended by something that I said on social media, they know exactly where to find me down to my unit number.”
Akshat posted about the issue in local social media groups, generating a large discussion.
The City of West Kelowna says all municipalities in B.C., by law, must make their parcel tax roll available for inspection by the public.
City manager Paul Gipps says pre-pandemic, the municipality would have a hard copy of the document at city hall for whoever wants to examine it.
With the onset of COVID-19, they were not allowing people to visit city hall, so the municipality published the document online.
Once Akshat raised his concerns, Gipps said they realized they were again allowing the public to attend city hall, so the document was removed from the web on Thursday.
“I said, ‘okay, well it doesn't need to be up, so take it down.’ Because normally, if not for the pandemic, we wouldn't put it online, we’d just have a book that you can inspect at City Hall,” Gipps said.
While B.C. law requires the names and addresses of property owners to be included in the parcel tax role, the Community Charter gives owners the ability to request that their name not be included.
To make this request in West Kelowna, residents who wish their information omitted or obscured on the roll can contact the city’s finance department by calling 778-797-8860 or email [email protected]
West Kelowna fire crews douse 'suspicious' blaze near church
'Suspicious' fire doused
UPDATE 8:04 a.m.
The West Kelowna Fire Department responded to a report of cedars on fire this morning in the 1100 block of Concord Road in Lakeview heights Friday morning just after 6:30 a.m.
"On arrival crews found a fire in a cedar hedge, a 10'x30' outbuilding and an RV trailer. Crews got water on the fire quickly to stop the spread to any more exposures. Crews are still on scene working with an excavator gaining access to the hidden fires under the shed roof structure," says Deputy fire chief Chad Gartrell.
Fire investigators are on the scene, and the cause of the fire is still under investigation but the blaze is considered suspicious at this time.
"WKFR would like to thank the RCMP, BCAS, and Approved services for their support at this incident," says Gartrell.
UPDATE 7:10 a.m
West Kelowna Fire crews are working on a hedge fire at the corner of Hudson Road and Concord Road in West Kelowna.
Reports indicate the fire broke out between homes and residents were out with garden hoses trying to douse the fire before fire crews showed up and took over fighting the fire.
One report indicated the lot was empty but had some old tires an RV and other debris on the property.
West Kelowna Fire Department is on the scene and the fire is now under control.
UPDATE: 7 a.m.
A large fire burning in West Kelowna is believed to be in an industrial building off Hudson Road, near the Grace Lutheran Church.
It is believed to have been used as tire storage.
ORIGINAL: 6:45 a.m.
Fire is reported this morning in West Kelowna.
Details are few so far, but thick, black smoke can be seen from across the lake, rising from the Westside.
The exact location of the fire is not yet known.
Reader reports place the fire near Highway 97 and Hudson Road or possibly in the Lakeview or Boucherie areas.
It is believed to be a house or structure fire.
Castanet will update as more details become available on this breaking story.
West Kelowna restaurant owners take over Tiki Bar at Lake Okanagan Resort
Tiki Bar has a new owner
The Lake Okanagan Resort Tiki Bar is back just in time for summer.
The Tiki Bar closed after the 2022 summer season when the previous operators, Okanagan Beach Club, which had a 10-year lease to operate most of the resort’s amenities, walked away after just two years.
Now the Tiki Bar has been taken over by the owner-operators of the popular Two Brothers Mexican restaurant in downtown Westbank.
"We have a Mexican restaurant in West Kelowna and we're trying to expand. And I thought that this will be a great spot for us," says Antonio Ortega.
The Two Brothers restaurant in West Kelowna is family-run and Ortega hopes to keep that vibe going at the Tiki Bar.
"The only thing that we don't want is like these crazy parties here. We are looking to do family things."
In June of last year, the Tiki Bar was the subject of a vote by the Regional District of the Central Okanagan board following complaints related to the resort and the Tiki Bar due to, "noise, unsafe boating, fire safety and inadequate emergency plans." In the report, both the West Kelowna RCMP and the RDCO's fire service manager pointed the finger at the beach bar.
Despite the letter, the RDCO board unanimously supported an extension of the tiki bar’s liquor licence.
Ortega says they had a soft opening over the May long weekend and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.
"Honestly, it was really good. It was busy. People love it. We will have to change the bad reputation that it has," Ortega says.
The Tiki Bar on the beach is licensed for 86 people and Ortega says he has signed a two year agreement. He's hopeful that if everything goes well, they will be able to provide a water taxi service from the Tiki Bar to across Okanagan Lake, "we want to make this feel like a destination point."
Woman captures video of the final piece of George Pringle Elementary being torn down
Emotional farewell to school
She was part of the last graduating class in 2002. A West Kelowna woman has shared a video of the final piece of George Pringle Elementary School being torn down to make way for the new George Pringle Secondary School.
Jaclyn Jaeger had just picked her son up on Wednesday afternoon when they happened to see excavators pushing down the last of the walls that need to be removed before construction can begin on the $105 million secondary school. Demolition on the site at 3770 Elliott Road got underway in March.
“It was emotional. I knew it was coming but it was cool to be able to witness it live,” said Jaeger who shared the video to a private Facebook group with several of her former classmates who went to George Pringle.
She also contacted Castanet. “I just wanted to share with the community because the school has been around for 70 years.”
The only part of the school that wasn’t demolished is the gym, which will be incorporated into the new facility.
School District #23 is currently completing it’s design-build process. “Once completed, the process of building the secondary school starts,” said Superintendent and CEO Kevin Kaardal.
According to the project timeline, construction is slated to be completed in early 2027, with students moving into the new George Pringle Secondary in September 2027.
Fundraiser organized by Grade 10 Mount Boucherie student proves successful
Fundraiser 'a great success'
Close to 2,000 people gathered at Mount Boucherie Secondary School Tuesday to help raise money for mental health services while raising awareness about the services local youth can access.
The five-kilometre Walk for Mental Health was organized by Grade 10 student Delaney Neukomm. It was the first time the event's been held, and given Tuesday's success, Neukomm plans to make it an annual thing.
“Everyone seemed to be having a really great time, the Foundry speaker was amazing,” Neukomm said.
“I think it was really important for [students] to see actual resources in front of them and be able to talk to the people there and hear what they had to say.
“[The Foundry representative] talked about mental illness and the difference between mental health and the different signs and how to notice it in someone and be able to help. And then what they offer at the Kelowna location.”
The weather cooperated for the event, and those in attendance enjoyed the sun playing volleyball, tug-of-war, Spike Ball and other activities, while playing in the inflatables and slip-and-slide.
Neukomm had set a fundraising goal of $10,000 for the Foundry, a local organization operated by the Canadian Mental Health Association that provides a range of support services for people aged 12 to 24.
But as of Wednesday, she hasn't tallied up the total donations yet, as she's hoping more may come in through the rest of the week. Those interested in donating can do so here. On the donation page, scroll to “Mount Boucherie Secondary” on the fund destination tab, click “Not a Tribute Gift” in Tribute Information, and write “Walk for Mental Health” in the message box.
Neukomm estimates there were about 1,800 Mount Boucherie student and staff at the event, along with two classes from the Aberdeen Hall Preparatory School and about 100 other community members.
“It was such a great success, it's something I'd like to continue as long as I'm there and hopefully after I leave people might continue it,” she added.
Vandalism to BC Hydro transmission lines investigated by RCMP
RCMP investigate vandalism
BC Hydro has now repaired damage to one of its transmission lines that forced the complete shutdown of power in West Kelowna and Peachland Wednesday morning.
The line was vandalized and the damage was spotted during a visual inspection of the line. RCMP has taken over the file and is investigating the incident.
"Our focus is on restoring power and fixing the damage and we aren't investigators. So we'll leave that to the police, " said BC Hydro spokesperson Dag Sharman.
The planned outage started at 5 a.m. Wednesday and was restored at 5:45 a.m.
"It is frustrating for us, but really it's the community that pays the price because there are obviously all kinds of uses for power and for us to have to shut power off to safely do this work. That is just the result of somebody's vandalism is really unfortunate, and really unfair to the community," Sharman said
"We appreciate people's patience, but this is the sort of thing that just that people in West Kelowna in Peachland just shouldn't have to deal with."
The damage was done at the West Kelowna end of the 80-kilometre transmission line that connects Peachland and West Kelowna to the BC Hydro power grid at the substation in Merritt.
"It is the only line at this point that provides electricity to that part of the region. So it's a line that we really take excellent care of. And that's how we discovered this, it was a routine inspection, we regularly do inspections, and obviously maintenance on that line, we have a lot of eyes on it," Sharman says.
The investigation is now in the RCMP's hands. Sharman says the entire transmission line has been inspected and there are no other issues with the line at this time.
"It's definitely something that we take very seriously. And that's why we immediately involved the police," says Sharman, while declining to provide details on the nature of the vandalism.
Entire Westside to lose power for an hour Wednesday morning
Massive planned outage
BC Hydro says it will be cutting electricity to the entire Greater Westside early Wednesday morning to repair vandalism.
The outage at 5 a.m. on May 31 will impact the entire West Kelowna and Peachland areas and should last less than an hour.
“We recently conducted an inspection and discovered some of our equipment was damaged by vandalism on the transmission line that supplies power to the West Kelowna and Peachland areas,” BC Hydro said on Facebook.
“We need to repair the damaged equipment as soon as possible to ensure the continued safe and reliable supply of electricity to our customers in the region.”
The utility apologized for any inconvenience.
“We are committed to completing this work as quickly and as safely as possible,” BC Hydro added.
Additional details about the vandalism were not released.
The communities of West Kelowna and Peachland have for years been pushing BC Hydro to run a secondary transmission line for the Greater Westside. Now, the region relies on a single line coming down the Okanagan Connector.
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