201664

West Kelowna  

BC Hydro sending crew to restore power to customers

Glenrosa power outage

BC Hydro is sending crews to restore power to home in the Glenrosa area.

According to the BC Hydro power outage website, only 39 customers are impacted by the outage.

Crews are expected to arrive on scene at 9:15 a.m.

The cause of the outage is under investigation.



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Safe drinking water available less than 3.5 months of year so far in parts of West Kelowna

Water advisories drag on

Parts of West Kelowna have had safe drinking water for just three months and 11 days so far this year.

But light is at the end of the tunnel.

Next year, once the new Rose Valley water treatment plant is up and running, residents serviced by its system will say goodbye to prolonged water advisories.

While water advisories on the Rose Valley system have always been routine during the spring snowmelt and early summer, having them stretch well into the fall is usual.

City of West Kelowna general manager of infrastructure Allen Fillion says they have been noticing the impacts of climate change on the Rose Valley reservoir

“We have a biologist that we work with that has been monitoring that lake for 40 plus years,” Fillion said. “There's definitely changes in water quality and more algae blooms.”

While this summer was not as hot as last year, overnight temperature lows were elevated. As a result, water temperatures in the reservoir were quite a bit warmer than usual.

“Warmer water then allows a better opportunity for bacteria and the like to grow,” Fillion said.

Water exiting the Rose Valley reservoir is not treated, beyond chlorination, before it enters the taps of households on the system that was originally designed for agriculture.

The $75 million water treatment plant is state-of-the-art and will result in clean, clear water flowing from taps — much like the Powers Creek system that treats the water for Glenrosa.

“This is our last year of having any significant water quality advisories. So we're really looking forward to that as all the residents are,” Fillion said.

While crews are working to complete the treatment plant, Fillion says they have not been resting on that fact this year and have been trying to mitigate this year’s challenges with the water quality.

“When we started having these challenges, we added capacity to our chlorine system, we started flushing out the system or wherever we could, we've continued to work with our biologists on any treatments for the reservoir. It's just been a challenging year.”

He said crews have been out on the lake treating the water to try to get a handle on algae blooms.

Fillion notes that the Rose Valley watershed is blessed with ample quantities of water, and technology will deal with quality issues. That is better than the alternative, whereas some other BC Interior communities have great quality water but not enough of it — something that can’t be solved with a treatment plant.

It is hoped the new plant will be operational in spring 2023. The new Rose Valley water service area will include the systems of Lakeview, Pritchard/Sunnyside and West Kelowna Estates, servicing about 18,000 residents. All those systems remain under a water quality advisory.



Two-month closure planned for part of West Kelowna's Westlake Road

Water work to close road

West Kelowna drivers are being advised about construction next week on Westlake Road as crews install water mains related to the Rose Valley Water Treatment plant.

Westlake Road between Starlight Crescent to Horizon Drive will be closed Oct. 4 through to Nov. 30.

Detour routes will be in effect in two phases:

Phase 1: Oct. 4 for approximately six weeks

Local residents and visitors to the Peak Point neighbourhood will use Westlake Road from Horizon Drive during the first phase of construction.

Phase 2: To begin after Phase 1

Local residents and visitors to the Peak Point neighbourhood will use Westlake Road from Starlight Crescent during the second phase of construction.

Detours will be in place for motorists, while pedestrian access will be maintained. Cyclists are encouraged to follow posted detours or dismount through the construction zone. Access for transit and emergency vehicles will be maintained at all times. Trail users can continue to access the Rose Valley trails throughout construction.

To minimize impacts to residents, construction is also being coordinated with active transportation upgrades on Westlake and Parkinson Roads, from West Kelowna Road to Pettman Road. Also, drainage improvements on Rosewood Drive will be completed as part of this project.

Construction to install the water mains on Menu and Ourtoland Roads is anticipated to begin in mid-October, once the construction schedule is confirmed by the contractor. Advanced notice will be provided to residents living within the work area and the public prior to construction.



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Students, Mounties honour Truth and Reconciliation Day with canoe journey

Paddling for reconciliation

A group of students from Constable Neil Bruce Middle School and officers from the West Kelowna RCMP detachment took part in a special Truth and Reconciliation event ahead of Friday's federal holiday.

A group of paddlers left Kelowna City Park in canoes and paddled across Okanagan Lake to the Westbank First Nations beach where they were greeted by WFN chief and council, elders and other community members.

“The paddlers presented the Westbank First Nation Chief and the elders with an “Every Child Matters” drum created by the Indigenous Leadership Class to commemorate Truth and Reconciliation Day,” says project organizer Const. Rolly Williams of the West Kelowna RCMP Indigenous Policing Unit.

Once they arrived, the students and Mounties sang the Okanagan song they were taught by WFN knowledge keeper and band councillor Jordan Coble.

“I am proud to see our police officers continue to build relationships in our community as we acknowledge Canada’s second annual National Day of Truth and Reconciliation,” added Staff Sgt. Duncan Dixon, West Kelowna detachment commander.



‘Action is better than words’: Syilx elder calls for better protection of water and land

'Action better than words'

Following a water ceremony at the shore of Okanagan Lake, a Syilx elder and knowledge keeper calls for more action to be taken when it comes to addressing pollution and illegal dumping.

“All I can say is action is better than words,” said Wilfred “Grouse” Barnes of Westbank First Nation. “To take action, to really just get out on the land, get your hands dirty picking up stuff — walk and talk.”

Ahead of the ceremony on Sunday, Barnes and his wife, Pamela, were invited to attend the Peachland Watershed Protection Alliance community cleanup event in honour of World Rivers Day, which saw dozens of “Peachland” residents come together to pick up garbage in and around the Hardy Falls area.

During the water ceremony, Barnes read from the Syilx Nation’s siw?k? (water) declaration, which outlines the Nation’s commitment to honouring and protecting the resource.

Afterwards, he smudged people in attendance and invited them to make a tobacco offering to the water. 

“Us elders, us Syilx people, this is our land. This is our water. For us to help protect it, to help keep it clean, is far better than just talking about it,” he said.

Every year, PWPA partners with community members and organizations such as Okanagan Forestry Task Force to clean up illegal dumpsites and abandoned vehicles left within the Peachland watershed, which spans about 124 square kilometres west of Okanagan Lake and provides drinking water to the community.

While the community cleanup around Hardy Falls on Sept. 25 saw only a handful of garbage bags filled with litter along creeks and streams, industrial garbage bins were packed with garbage collected during the Peachland watershed cleanup on April 30.

The latter cleanup event saw residents haul away everything from abandoned vehicles, furniture, shotgun shells, used needles, household appliances and more.    

Kane Blake of the Okanagan Forest Task Force said that since the organization’s founding in 2016, they’ve cleaned up over 400,000 pounds — about the size of a passenger jet plane — of illegal dumpings from across the Okanagan.

Barnes praised PWPA for the work that they do in protecting and cleaning up the water and the land.

“What I see is there’s a lot of respect. A lot of respect for the syilx people, and a lot of respect for the water and the land,” he said.

– IndigiNews



Civic election: Garrett Millsap running for West Kelowna council

Get to know Garrett Millsap

Castanet News has distributed a questionnaire to city council candidates in both Kelowna and West Kelowna to help voters get to know those putting their names forward. Between the two cities, 45 people are running for city councillor.

All candidates have been given the same questions and answers have been edited for clarity and brevity when needed. Responses will be published daily in the weeks ahead. An interactive database of Okanagan candidates, including previous questionnaire stories, is here and is being updated daily.

Election day is Oct. 15.

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West Kelowna candidate: Garrett Millsap

Why would you make an effective city councillor?

Having been born and raised in the Okanagan, I have seen many changes to our communities. I believe I am at a point in my life that it is time for me to step up and represent the young families of West Kelowna. As our city continues to see rapid growth, I want to ensure that the City of West Kelowna remains the best place to live, work and play. I believe that my entrepreneurial experience (Rad Relish), education (Business Degree UBCO), and my community involvement (Kelowna Metis Association) will serve me well if I am elected to city council. I also will pledge to utilize our best assets, our residents & taxpayers, to come up with better solutions to the current issues facing our community, taking a common sense approach to problem solving.

As city councillors we need to be the eyes and ears of the city and that ultimately means listening and collaborating with all of the stakeholders in our community. I have been a team player my whole life and this will not change if I am elected to the city council of West Kelowna.

In your view, what is the number one issue facing the city today, and how would you deal with it knowing city hall only has so much power?

The number one issue facing our city is affordability. I hear more than ever from families that it is getting harder and harder to stretch a dollar. Home ownership has come to the point of no longer being attainable for the working class family. With the limited power we have at city hall we need to utilize collaboration between all levels of government and developers to come up with a solution that actually works. I personally would like the city to take an approach of charging development cost charges based upon square footage rather than by unit.

We also need to streamline and optimize organizational efficiency to get housing units approved in a timely manner; as any developer will tell you "time is money these days." This is a task that can't be tackled by the City of West Kelowna alone; it will take all levels working together to achieve this goal.

It could be decades before a second bridge is built across Okanagan Lake. How do you deal with West Kelowna's transportation bottleneck in the meantime?

Having been born at KGH in 1984, the Okanagan Lake Floating Bridge has been a constant issue my entire life. Everyone knew when they built the new bridge with 5 lanes that it wasn't big enough to begin with, and I believe the biggest issue we have today is all of the traffic lights on the Kelowna side of the bridge. We need to work in collaboration with the Ministry of Highways and the City of Kelowna to start removing lights. It doesn't make sense to have lights every 200 feet other than for emergency vehicles and transit buses, when Kelowna closes Bernard avenue during our busiest months of the year.

On the West Kelowna side of the bridge, we urgently need the Province to come back to the table to build overpasses at Boucherie and Hudson Roads so our community can access West Kelowna without having to use the dangerous Highway 97 corridor. We also need to attract more business to the city and create a thriving economy so people who live in West Kelowna can actually work in West Kelowna, saving them two trips across the lake daily.

Do you think West Kelowna is growing too fast?

No, but I personally feel that it is critical that infrastructure takes a front seat before it's so far behind that we never catch up. I would like to see components of growth complimented by meaningful, well-thought-out plans for neighbourhoods to have community centres that allow us to be less dependent on our vehicles for basic, everyday needs. One area of growth our city is lacking in is arts and culture and this needs to be addressed.

How would you make West Kelowna more affordable?

Further to my answer above we need to attract smart & sustainable development to West Kelowna. We need to work with developers and all levels of governments to make it easier to build housing for residents in our community. We could potentially allow reduction of development cost charges and building permit costs to attract development in our city center which needs to see a fresh new look.

Another way I would like to make West Kelowna more affordable and desirable for families is by offering recreational, arts and cultural activities at little to no cost. If we plan to end the cycle of homelessness and drug addiction it starts by providing children and youth opportunities to get involved in educational extracurricular activities. Imagine our soccer dome, arena, museum, library, and Johnson Bentley pool were actually being used at 100% capacity! Another area I would like to see research done is on water costs. I believe the average family is paying over $100 per month for water. This is a cost that needs to be investigated.

If you had $1 million to spend on anything in the city, how would you spend it?

$1 million would be a beneficial windfall for the City of West Kelowna. Instead of saying it's not enough, I would empower the residents of West Kelowna to come up collectively for the best way for this money to be used. I would invite any and all West Kelowna nonprofits, societies, and community-led initiatives to come and pitch their causes to the council, just like Dragons Den. After hearing all of these worthy causes, our Mayor, Council, City staff and other community leaders would decide how the $1 million could be distributed to make the most effective and meaningful impact on our city.



Sunnyside/Pritchard System returns to water quality advisory

Water notice downgraded

The City of West Kelowna has downgraded a boil water notice for the Sunnyside/Pritchard water service area to a water quality advisory.

Water quality advisories also remain in place for the Rose Valley – Lakeview and West Kelowna Estates Systems due to turbidity and related flushing of the distribution network.

"The turbidity affects the performance of the chlorine disinfection process because bacteria, protozoa, viruses and other microorganisms can attach themselves to suspended particles in the turbid water. These particles can interfere with disinfection by shielding the microorganisms from the chlorine," the city said in a press release.

Under a water quality advisory, children, the elderly and those with weakened immunity must use water brought to a rolling boil for one minute or more, or seek an alternative safe source, for brushing teeth, drinking, making baby formula and ice, preparing food and beverages and washing fruits and vegetables.

The bulk filling station at Shannon Lake and Asquith Roads provides a safe alternative source of drinking water.



Peachland's iconic Gasthaus restaurant now ready to reopen

Gasthaus fully booked

UDPATE 3:45 p.m.

Just like that. Peachland’s Gasthaus on the Lake is fully booked for the week.

Manager Andrew Neville says they have seen overwhelming support since announcing they are reopening tonight.

“Nine months, it was a difficult time for all our staff and everybody. And now with us reopening this week, we're just trying to take it easy,” he said, explaining their soft open and limited hours.

“Everyone's a little bit rusty, and we're running with, like everyone else, a staff shortage.”

“Unfortunately, for the rest of this week, we reached capacity and next week, we're going to start all over again on Wednesday.”

The restaurant is accepting reservations online and will be open Wednesday to Sunday, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

“We've just been inundated,” Neville said. “And I noticed a couple of people mentioned that even the reservation system was crashing on them.”

Gasthaus is hoping to expand their operating hours as they bring on more staff. For now, reservations are required.


ORIGINAL 1 p.m.

Nine months of repairs, and a false restart later, Peachland’s iconic Gasthaus on the Lake restaurant will reopen today.

The Bavarian-themed restaurant announced online it will reopen initially with limited hours.

Starting Sept. 28 through to Oct. 4, they will be open for dinner service only from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

“We are having to implement a limited number of online reservations only policy for the time being,” the business said online.

“We are limiting the size of groups to eight persons. As this may seem very restrictive, we are in the unfortunate situation of just not having a large enough team to accommodate everyone at this time. The hope for the near future is that we will be able to return to regular business practices.”

Gasthaus has been closed since Dec. 27, 2021, when a pipe burst and caused significant water damage to the building.

The restoration was then delayed by the presence of asbestos in the late 1940s-constructed log cabin building that makes up part of the restaurant. The entire restaurant needed a full decontamination and repairs and restoration could not fully begin until the end of April.



Reimagined Peachland development includes 9-hole golf course

Ponderosa plan reimagined

More than a decade after a massive redevelopment of the area around the Ponderosa Golf Course in Peachland fell through, plans for a scaled-back version are moving ahead.

At its final meeting before next month's municipal elections, the current Peachland council voted unanimously to approve a revised phasing strategy for lands owned by the Romspen Group.

The plan includes construction on approximately 445 residential units as well as a nine-hole, Les Furber-designed golf course.

Romspen Group has acquired five of the southern parcels situated within a custom zone. They are moving ahead with development of their lands independent from properties owned by other interests.

Properties on the northern end are owned by Beech Westgard while two other southern parcels are owned by other interests.

Council approved Romspen's request to alter the original Phased Development Agreement from a decade ago to maintain the "financial viability of the project on their five parcels."

The residential development is planned in two phases with construction of about 250 units during each phase.

Construction of what is being called a "high quality, challenging nine-hole executive golf course" would also be built in phases but must be "fully complete" by Nov. 1, 2025.

Mayor Cindy Fortin told Castanet News a temporary clubhouse would be built, with construction of a permanent clubhouse for an anticipated expansion of the course to 18 holes once lands to the north are also developed.

Should the golf course cease to operate for more than seven months, ownership of the lands and business assets would be transferred to the district for $1.

Original plans for a 2,100 unit development along with an 18-hole championship golf course and tennis academy fell through in 2011.

Some of the physical work on the golf course had begun before the project stalled.

"Everyone seemed pretty positive about it," said Fortin of council's decision.

"It's been a real nightmare for several years and for those poor residents who live up there. Romspen is a whole new group and they have some great ideas, and there are still some things to iron out."

Fortin says council and city staff worked hard to come up with a plan that would work for all parties concerned to hopefully "appease the public who absolutely deserve to be feeling frustrated and impatient with the progress that had happened."



Civic election: Bryden Winsby running for West Kelowna city council

Get to know Bryden Winsby

Castanet News has distributed a questionnaire to city council candidates in both Kelowna and West Kelowna to help voters get to know those putting their names forward. Between the two cities, 45 people are running for city councillor.

All candidates have been given the same questions and answers have been edited for clarity and brevity when needed. Responses will be published daily in the weeks ahead. An interactive database of Okanagan candidates, including previous questionnaire stories, is here and is being updated daily.

Election day is Oct. 15.

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West Kelowna candidate: Bryden Winsby

Why would you make an effective city councillor?

I’m not afraid to make tough decisions or “poke the bear” when necessary. I can draw on the knowledge and experience gained from three terms on West Kelowna city council and three decades in the news media. Having lived in this community for nearly 40 years, I am familiar with its history, its good qualities and its shortcomings. My involvement in local government has included being finance chair of the Okanagan Regional Library Board and city representative on the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission advisory board. Before West Kelowna’s incorporation, I was alternate Westside director, Regional District of Central Okanagan and a member of the Westside Advisory Planning Committee, RDCO. I am a former president of the Glenrosa Residents’ Association and am currently interim president of the Lakeview Heights Community Association.

In your view, what is the number one issue facing the city today, and how would you deal with it knowing city hall only has so much power?

To me, the biggest challenge we face is continuing to make a successful transition from a semi-rural bedroom extension of Kelowna to a stand-alone city in our own right. That has meant providing the basic infrastructure and amenities that a city of our size should have. We’ve got a long way to go, whether it be a safe, efficient transportation system, sufficient parkland and cultural/recreational facilities or attainable housing. We have spent a lot of time and money putting plans in place; implementing them is where the hard decisions have to be made.

It could be decades before a second bridge is built across Okanagan Lake. How do you deal with West Kelowna's transportation bottleneck in the meantime?

As recent months have demonstrated, much to the annoyance of anyone heading to or from Kelowna across the W.R. Bennett Bridge, congestion on Highway 97 is getting worse. Essentially, it’s a provincial responsibility. Millions of dollars were spent a few years ago studying the issue, in part to develop what was termed the Central Okanagan Integrated Transportation Strategy, but that effort was aborted when the BC Liberal government was ousted. We don’t need more studies. We need solutions that can be implemented before getting serious about a second crossing — reducing the number of traffic lights and building interchanges, for example. While a dramatic increase in the use of public transit may be a long-term fix, it’s not a realistic expectation in the short term.

Do you think West Kelowna is growing too fast?

I’m not convinced West Kelowna is growing at an acceptable rate. Growth for growth’s sake is not a good thing. Smart growth is a good thing, although the term means different things to different people. By one definition, it involves providing “a range of housing options, a mix of residential and commercial buildings, and accessible sidewalks, bike lanes and public transportation.”

There’s more, though. We must also be able to provide, at reasonable cost to the taxpayer, the increased infrastructure requirements that growth entails, be it adequate sewage treatment, sidewalks and streetlights, or recreation facilities. Should we acquire more waterfront, build an all-weather sports field, or replace the Johnson-Bentley Memorial Aquatic Centre? Rapid growth may demand that we do.

How would you make West Kelowna more affordable?

There isn’t a universal definition for the term, but affordability is widely considered to be no more than 30 percent of before-tax household income. In this area, the average household income is about $105,000, which means monthly expenditures for owners or renters bringing in that amount should not exceed $2,625, including utilities.

Going by the area’s median pre-tax income of $85-90,000, the number drops significantly, amid sky-high rents and purchase prices. I’d like to see the city pay more than lip-service to the issue. It could, for example, work with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to develop what the CMHC terms a Housing Action Plan, drawing stakeholders together to get a clear picture of the situation and determine ways to offer the kinds of housing options that could and should be available.

If you had $1 million to spend on anything in the city, how would you spend it?

I would commission a $50,000 study to determine how best to spend the remaining $950,000. No, wait. Bad idea. How about using the $1 million as seed money to establish a trust fund that would enable the city to support initiatives to create and preserve affordable housing for households with low or moderate incomes?



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