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West Kelowna  

Vehicle goes off Boucherie Road and over bank Sunday night

Vehicle goes over bank

A vehicle went over an embankment in West Kelowna Sunday night.

About 10:10 p.m., the vehicle left Boucherie Road between Mission Hill and Green Bay roads.

It's not known if there were any injuries in the crash.

Firefighters, paramedics and RCMP responded to the scene.

The incident reduced traffic to a single lane during the response.



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West Kelowna residents spot mother bear and cubs, conservation officers called

Mother bear, cubs spotted

A West Kelowna resident is warning others after witnessing a mother bear and her two cubs meandering through their neighbourhood on Saturday afternoon. 

Rebecca Meredith first noticed the mother bear and her two cubs at about 2 p.m. Saturday, in a field near Reece Road and Broadview Road. 

Realizing there were three young teenage boys playing in the area, she immediately started yelling out to alert them to the bears' presence.

"I just saw the mother at first, then I saw the one cub quickly following and that's when I saw the boys playing up above and motioned them to get out of there, because there were bears. Then I saw the second cub.

"It was actually quite cute, the two cubs were actually wrestling and playing with each other in the field. I thought, 'oh, that's cute,' ... but from a distance." 

The bears wandered off for a while, before returning later that evening just before it got dark. 

Meredith says in the 11 years they have lived at that location, she has seen a bear on two other occasions, but never a mother bear with cubs. 

"It's a little worrisome because in behind where these bears are, there's a little ridge that goes up where these boys were playing. People quite often walk their dog along the ridge up there, so you wouldn't be able to tell there's bears right below you. It's a problem." 

Meredith contacted conservation officers Saturday afternoon, who filed a report and posted a sign to alert locals bears had been sighted in the vicinity.

However, Meredith says the sign wasn't placed on the popular trail where she thought it would be, but along Shannon Lake Road. 

She hopes by alerting the community to what she saw, locals will be more aware of the situation. 

 

To report or stay updated on reported animal sightings, visit WildSafeBC



Green Party candidate says there are ways to improve traffic flow on William R. Bennett Bridge

Plan to fix Bennett bridge?

The Green Party candidate in Kelowna West says he has a cost-effective plan to improve traffic flow between West Kelowna and Kelowna.

Peter Truch, a transportation engineer, says he is the only candidate running in the riding with a plan, and the expertise, the end gridlock on the William R. Bennett Bridge.

Truch says there are ways to move traffic more efficiently along the bridge, including lane reversals to accommodate rush hour traffic, improving intersection designs and optimizing traffic signals.

“The BC Liberals created our traffic problem through poor planning 15 years ago and have done little to fix the problem since then,” says Truch, who says he has solved transportation challenges in communities throughout the province.

“The BC Greens have a proven track record of working collaboratively with other parties to implement affordable and sustainable solutions. My recommendations for fixing bridge traffic would cost an estimated $50 million. This is a fraction of the current $1.5 billion proposal on the table, and as a result, is much more realistic to implement.”

Truch adds he is in favour of economic development and new services in West Kelowna to reduce the number of trips, and enhance other transportation options so few people need to drive.



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Late-night crash sees sedan hit pole, roll onto its side in West Kelowna

Rollover crash on Westside

A car went over a bank and rolled onto its side in West Kelowna overnight.

The compact sedan went off the road at Ross and Bartley roads, near the Trailpark mobile home park, just after 11 p.m.

The driver suffered minor injuries in the crash, the cause of which is unknown at this time.

The vehicle struck a power pole and landed on its side beside a driveway.

Firefighters, paramedics and RCMP attended the scene.



Temporary housing at Super 8 Motel to remain through winter

Housing open past winter

Temporary supportive housing set up at the Super 8 Motel in West Kelowna is expected to remain operational at least through the winter.

Officials with Turning Points Collaborative, the non-profit organization running the project says the tentative date is March 31.

"But, if we are still in the middle of this pandemic on March 31, I would imagine everything would be done to continue to shelter these individuals," the official stated to Castanet.

This comes as contracts for other similar facilities in Victoria are not having the leases renewed past the end of March.

Temporary housing at the motel was established in mid-May to get people off the streets in response to COVID-19.

A month ago, plans for a new 52-bed supportive housing complex was announced for Westbank First Nation lands, a collaboration between WFN, BC Housing and Turning Points Collaborative.

Those plans, according to the official, were temporarily put on hold once the election writ was dropped.

"Our hope is right after this election is over, all of the work to get that supportive housing on Westbank First Nation lands gets going again.

"Then, we can eventually move these folks who are at the Super 8 into that."

Since housing opened up at the motel, 10 residents have been able to secure more stable housing.

Those remaining are undergoing Vulnerable Assessment Training to identify who may be ready to move into supportive housing.



West Kelowna auto theft suspect arrested twice in one week

Arrested twice in one week

A West Kelowna man is facing numerous criminal charges after being arrested twice in only six days.

Bryce Williamson, 31, was taken into police custody just after 4 a.m. on Oct. 3 after a member of the West Kelowna RMCP Community Safety Unit found him driving a vehicle that had been reported stolen on Julien Road in West Kelowna.

During the investigation, it was determined that Williamson was also prohibited from driving a motor vehicle and he was brought before the courts and released on conditions, awaiting a future court date.

Later on Oct. 9, Kelowna RCMP's Target Team Street Enforcement Unit spotted a brown Chevrolet pickup truck with an inactive license plate. The officers followed the vehicle to a residence located in the 500-block of Radant Road where they performed a traffic stop.

Police ran checks on the dirt bike that was in the vehicle at the time which had been reported stolen on Sept. 30 in Penticton.

The driver of this truck was once again Williamson, who was arrested. Investigators seized tools, an air soft gun and illicit drugs. 

The BC Prosecution Service has approved several charges including theft of a motor vehicle, possession of a controlled substance, possession of stolen property, driving while prohibited, failure to comply with a release order and breach of probation.

Williamson was denied bail on Oct. 10 and is in custody. He will appear in Kelowna court on Oct. 26.



Another example of bad driving on Highway 97

Bad driving: Part II

Rob Gibson

Another example of a bad Okanagan driver, this time in West Kelowna.

This one goes back to late summer in West Kelowna when James Sidhu caught a four-door sedan making an illegal turn on Highway 97 and Ross Rd. in West Kelowna.

"He's got Alberta plates but I've seen it around here for the past six or seven months," says Sidhu.

Sidhu says he was heading south on Highway 97 when he came to the lights on Ross Rd. that's when he noticed the sedan indicate it was making a right turn on Ross Rd. but instead, it looped around the concrete lane dividers and continued southbound on Highway 97.

"He couldn't wait the extra few seconds for the light to change. It's frustrating. What do you do? At least this way people see it and so do the bad drivers."  

Sidhu says he has to drive almost every day for work and feels like it's just a matter of time before this particular driver gets into an accident and hurts themselves and others. "He easily could have been t-boned in this incident."

Sidhu said he was prompted to share the video by another recent similar story.

"My hope is this person recognizes themselves on Castanet and they're at least a little embarrassed."



West Kelowna council officially approves borrowing plan for Rose Valley Water Treatment Plant

Water borrowing adopted

The City of West Kelowna now knows how it will fund its portion of construction of the Rose Valley Water Treatment Plant.

Council Tuesday formally adopted a long-term borrowing bylaw which sets out repayment of a loan for the city's share of the $75 million water treatment plant.

The bylaw will allow the nearly 8,300 future users of the Rose Valley plant to either pay an up-front lump sun payment of $2,815, or an additional $34 a year, on top of the $116 property owners currently pay, over the next 25 years.

Both options don't kick in until 2022.

"The city will contact future plant users with further information in 2022, before the plant goes into operation," city officials stated in a news release.

“Earlier this month council had the opportunity to see first-hand the construction progress well underway that will lead to the delivery of clean, safe and reliable drinking water in 2022,” said Mayor Gord Milsom.

“This final step was largely about how users prefer to pay for their service when the plant opens in 2022. Long-term borrowing is a proven cost-effective solution used on other large infrastructure projects and council is pleased the community continues to endorse this model.”



Massive lighthouse proposed for winery would be West Kelowna's tallest building

Massive lighthouse proposed

West Kelowna city council has postponed its decision on a large lighthouse proposed for a winery near Goats Peak to allow for public feedback.

Monette Farms has purchased the 17-acre parcel at 2789 Hwy. 97 South in 2019 with plans of developing the property into a 12-acre estate vineyard and winery. 

“We wanted this place to be a ‘beacon’ for tourism and local pride, and as it happens sometimes the simplest version of an idea is the best one,” said the applicant in a letter to council.

As a result, the winery is proposing its tasting room be a 35-metre tall lighthouse complete with a viewing platform around the top. The building would be West Kelowna’s tallest; Mission Hill’s bell tower is 33.8 metres when measured from its lower-level base.

While city councillors were eager to approve the non-farm use application required to green-light the winery in general, they all wanted more information on the large lighthouse.

Coun. Doug Findlater said since the application became public on Friday, he’s heard feedback ranging from “ghastly piece of junk” to “wonderful landmark.”

At eight-storeys tall, fire chief Jason Brolund said the structure meets the high-rise classification in the building code, meaning his firefighters would need new training.

“I have no doubt that high-rises are coming and this may well be the catalyst to roll that program out,” Brolund said.

Coun. Carol Zanon did not hold back with her opinion of the lighthouse, “I deplore this as the epitome of bad taste,” adding “there are no lighthouses on this lake.”

Coun. Jayson Zilkie, however, noted that bell towers held no significance to West Kelowna prior to Mission Hill’s going up — but that one is now iconic. He, like other councillors, said he found the renders of the lighthouse in the application lacking in sufficient detail to gain approval.

“I don’t object to new ideas, thinking outside the box,” said Mayor Gord Milsom, suggesting the lighthouse could become a tourist attraction. 

Planning staff told council the lighthouse would not be visible from the nearby Goat's Peak subdivision but would be visible from Gorman's Mill.

Council unanimously voted to postpone the approval of the height variance required for the lighthouse to allow the proponent to provide more information while voting to approve the non-farm use application for the winery in general.



Prolific offender on trial for horrific crash in West Kelowna

Prolific offender on trial

The trial for a West Kelowna man charged with multiple counts of dangerous driving prior to a horrific collision began Tuesday in Kelowna.

Prolific offender John Aronson appeared via video conference for the first day of his trial, pleading not guilty to all charges.

Shortly after 6 p.m. on Sept. 23, 2019, Aronson was driving westbound along Highway 97 towards West Kelowna - just hours after being released from custody related to a high-profile takedown at Orchard Park Mall in January that year.

The arrest saw police shoot at Aronson several times, following an incident the day before when Aronson pepper sprayed another driver. 

Aronson, facing a total of 22 charges last September for various offences, struck a plea deal, and plead guilty to six while all others were dropped by the Crown.

Having remained in custody since his Jan. 2019 arrest, Aronson was sentenced to time served and released on Sept. 23.

Despite being disqualified from driving, Aronson drove that evening across the William R. Bennett bridge, and was heading towards West Kelowna when he caused the head-on collision. 

A female motorist who witnessed the collision testified Tuesday she first noticed Aronson's car when it came speeding up from the right hand side, and abruptly cut in front of another vehicle. 

"It was going much faster than we were driving," she says. "That was my first alert that something wasn't right." 

According to her testimony and dash cam footage that captured the events, Aronson then directed his vehicle to cut across the median and travel into oncoming traffic, causing a multi-vehicle collision. 

Given "no time" to brake or avoid the collision, a truck driver travelling eastbound into Kelowna hit Aronson's vehicle head-on, spinning multiple times before feeling the impact of the car behind him and coming to a halt.

The driver of the truck told the court he got out of his vehicle, did a 360 degree turn on the spot to check for blood, turned off the gas tanks in his truck and heard the screams of Aronson pleading for help. 

Aronson, appearing via video conference, spoke up to apologize to the driver seated in the witness stand, before being asked by Justice Clarke Burnett to not address any of the witnesses.

Despite sustaining only minor physical injuries, the driver of the Dodge Ram 1500 says more than a year on, the psychological impact has been significant. 

He returned to work last week for the first time since the events of Sept. 23, and has been seeing a counsellor since Feb. to help deal with the trauma. 

"I just couldn't get my head together. It's been a challenge this past year. It's like my whole life has been flipped upside down ... physically I'm fine but mentally it's been a challenge. Even talking about it now is difficult."

Aronson remains in custody and the three-day trial will continue through to Thursday.



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