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West Kelowna  

Westshore Estates residents upset by abandoned appliances filled with rotting food

First fire, now garbage

A North Westside woman tells Castanet she is extremely upset that someone dumped their appliances, full of spoiled food, outside an empty lot in Westshore Estates.

"It's very upsetting considering everything we've been through."

Heather Mill, like everyone else in Westshore Estates, was evacuated due to the White Rock Lake wildfire. The fire burned within a few hundred feet of her home. Because the power was lost, any food left behind spoiled and the regional district made arrangements for the appliances to be picked up.

"Somebody obviously missed that deadline and decided they were gonna ditch their appliances in front of someone else's lot so they didn't have to take any responsibility. Now the bears have knocked all the appliances over and gotten into the spoiled food and garbage that was in there," Mill says.

RDCO spokesman Bruce Smith tells Castanet they are aware of the situation and intend to clean it up.

"It’s disappointing that illegal dumping would happen, as we recognized as part of the recovery, that residents returning home would have issues with spoiled food, fridges, and freezers. That’s why we arranged the free scheduled curb side collection and additional self-drop off of fridges and freezers."

Mill says the sight and smell has left her and many neighbours re-traumatized.

"It's extremely disheartening every time I see it, it's like instant tears."

Mill says she is worried about the bears in the area, "those bears have nothing to eat in the forest right now so they are already looking for people's garbage.

"We have had very little problems with garbage bears since I moved here in 2015 and I would like to see it stay that way. But I am growing worried that this will change if people don't start thinking more about how to handle their waste."

The RDCO is also making arrangements for anyone impacted by the wildfire with a fridge or freezer for disposal and who missed the free drop-off/scheduled collection programs, to use the upcoming extended Bulky Household Item Collection at the North Westside transfer station during its regular operating days and hours Oct. 6 to 20.



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COSAR delays celebration to rescue stranded Alberta couple

Saved on special night

A special night for Central Okanagan Search and Rescue turned into just another night at work for volunteer rescue crews.

After almost a year of planning, COSAR was set to unveil their Westside gear cache Thursday evening.

"Unfortunately, the ceremony had to wait as the volunteers were called out to search for two missing hikers in the McCall Lake area above Peachland," states a news release from COSAR.

An Alberta couple had successfully made the 300-metre climb up to the lake but became disoriented on the braided trails and, after circling the lake twice, they decided to sit, call for help and wait.

With sunset about a half-hour away, RCMP and COSAR decided to use a helicopter to extract the pair.

“It was textbook,” said search manager Duane Tresnich. “The couple did everything right by sitting and waiting for help. Wandering around in the dark could have led to trouble, as there are trails and cliffs everywhere."

“Interestingly, we had a crew bringing a trailer from our main hall by the Kelowna Airport and another crew bringing in assets from our new West Kelowna gear cache. The West Kelowna team arrived more than a half-hour sooner. I think this speaks to the success of the new location."

"COSAR would like to thank Mega Storage for their support and use of their facilities," says Tresnich.

Thursday's rescue was the 82nd task of the year, "we’re on track to break the record of 84 tasks, set in 2020," Tresnich says.



New park opens in Westbank Centre

New and improved park

A new park in West Kelowna has officially opened.

The new and improved Carate Park in Westbank Centre includes a playground and walking path.

“We invite the community to stop by and experience Carate Park’s unique-to-West Kelowna features, including a one-of-a-kind playground and a walking path connecting two pollinator gardens for the bees,” said parks and fleet manager Stacey Harding.

The city spent $140,000 improving the space over the past 12 weeks on Majoros Road.

West Kelowna also announced all municipal parks will allow barbequing again, including those in Glenrosa that had been closed earlier this summer during the Mt. Law Wildfire.

"Thankfully the cooler, wetter weather has reduced the fire hazard rating, which had been at high to extreme all summer and has now dropped to moderate,” said fire chief Jason Brolund.

“Parks users must take all proper precautions when barbequing in our parks, or anywhere for that matter and remember, no smoking or vaping is allowed in our parks, on our trails or at public spaces in the City of West Kelowna.”



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Crash slows morning commute across Bennett Bridge

Crash slows bridge traffic

It was slower than normal for drivers commuting into Kelowna from West Kelowna this morning.

A crash tied up traffic coming down the hill and across the William R. Bennett Bridge.

One tip to Castanet suggested four vehicles were involved.

An ambulance and fire truck were dispatched to the scene and a tow truck was spotted taking away a white Car or compact SUV. The vehicle has extensive rear-end damage.

The crash scene has been cleaned up, but it will take time for traffic congestion to clear.



New skateboard park opens in West Kelowna

Shred at the new park

Madison Erhardt

Looking for a place to shred?

Look no further than the new skatepark at Memorial Park in West Kelowna.

Wednesday afternoon West Kelowna council, Westbank First Nation and the Okanagan Regional Library celebrated the official opening with a ribbon cutting ceremony.

“This popular amenity will provide opportunities for all ages and abilities to enjoy and be a welcoming place to gather,” said said Mayor Gord Milsom.

With construction now complete, the existing skatepark will be decommissioned in preparation for construction of West Kelowna’s first city hall and a permanent home for the Westbank library building.

Earlier this month, crews began site servicing land for the building.

"We are continuing to grow as a municipality and it is just another great addition for our people," Milsom added.

A detailed design process of the first city hall and library building is underway. From now through to Oct. 3, the community is encouraged to get involved and provide input on the final design.

The new skate park design includes an addition of a mini ramp, and a new "island" feature to allow for looping circulation around the lanes.

The skatepark is usable at this time, but is expected to be completely finished by mid October.



Weeks after a fire in the loading bays, Walmart store set to reopen

Walmart ready to reopen

It has been a long wait for regular shoppers.

The Walmart on Louie Drive is finally ready to open its doors again, following a fire on September 1/2021.

The fire in the loading bays at the back of the store has been deemed suspicious.

It only caused exterior fire damage, but smoke got into the store.

Workers have been on site for the past three weeks removing smoke damaged merchandise and cleaning the building.

A statement from Walmart Canada to Castanet says, "we are delighted to tell you our Westbank Walmart store will open tomorrow on Wed., Sep. 22 at 7a.m. From clean-up, to restocking the shelves with new inventory, our teams have been working very hard to get the store ready to re-open as quickly as we could.’

The store is not 100% fully stocked, but the statement says more merchandise will be arriving in the days and weeks ahead.

“It’s been a big undertaking and we'd like to thank the local community and our associates from the Westbank store for their tremendous support,” said Felicia Fefer, Manager, Corporate Affairs.



COSAR rescues driver after car goes down an embankment

Car goes down embankment

A woman was found disoriented, but with only minor injuries after her car missed a turn and ended up 75 metres down an embankment along Bear Creek Road early Tuesday morning.

Central Okanagan Search and Rescue was called out by RCMP around 4:05 a.m.

The woman driving the late model Honda used Siri to call 911 but Siri called her emergency contact instead and that person alerted police.

COSAR members, including the dog team, joined the search, which also involved the RCMP dog team and a helicopter.

After nearly five hours, the driver was found on the opposite side of the road from where her car was discovered. She had suffered minor injuries and was disoriented.

The COSAR team treated her at the scene before she was handed over to the BC Ambulance Service.

"It was great teamwork from all parties involved that brought this to a successful conclusion," said COSAR search manager Duane Tresnich.

The rescue was COSAR’S 81st call of 2021, closing in on the record of 84 calls last year.



Westbank First Nation signs policing agreement with RCMP

RCMP and WFN sign deal

The Westbank First Nation has reached a first-of-its-kind memorandum of understanding with the RCMP.

The deal signed Monday permits the enforcement of Westbank Law on Westbank Lands and may permit the disclosure of personal information by the RCMP under the Privacy Act for the purpose of carrying out a investigation.

The Westbank First Nation Self-Government Act and Self-Government Agreement authorizes the RCMP to render services necessary for the enforcement of offences established by Westbank Law where required for the effective and efficient delivery of policing services.

The MOU is the first of its kind in Canada.

“WFN has always had a positive relationship with local RCMP and this MOU is an expression of this relationship and the trust built between the RCMP and WFN. This is another valuable tool to help reduce crime on First Nation’s Land,” said WFN Chief Christopher Derickson.

The agreement was signed by Deputy RCMP Commissioner Dwayne McDonald, Commanding Officer of the BC RCMP, and Chief Derickson, as well as Westbank First Nation Councillors. The deal is effective immediately.

“This Memorandum of Understanding is a significant step in the partnership between the Westbank First Nation and the BC RCMP in recognizing indigenous law,” said McDonald. “ By expanding the services that the RCMP provides, we are able to increase our engagement opportunities which will help build positive relationships and contribute to community safety.”



Couple spent weeks in ICU with COVID-19

Surviving COVID together

Cindy White

At least they had each other.

A West Kelowna couple is sharing their story in the hope it will encourage others to get vaccinated.

“It’s not fun. Never been so sick in our lives, either of us.”

Sheila and Ken Johnson spent about a month at Kelowna General Hospital, fighting for their lives, after contracting COVID-19. They were treated in intensive care for two weeks. It wasn’t until the first dose of the vaccine started to kick in that their conditions improved.

They are incredibly grateful to the staff who worked tirelessly day in and day out.

“You’d see the same nurse for hours and hours and hours, administering oxygen in various forms trying to get our levels up to where we could survive,” said Ken.

Nearly six months later, Sheila says the couple is still feeling the lingering effects of COVID-19.

“You don’t realize the fatigue is so debilitating….You try to exercise, you want to do what they say, because it will be six months now soon since we’ve been out, and you just absolutely can’t.”

She says it’s frustrating because there's so little that doctors know about the longterm effects of COVID, but one thing she does know is vaccines work.

“When I came out of therapy the other day and walked into when they were protesting, I could have just stood there and cried because I thought, people are in there dying, they’re fighting to live.”

Sheila said she will keep encouraging the unvaccinated to get their shots. “I was told by somebody, it’s their right, you can’t say anything. I said, If I don’t say anything and one of my friends or family dies, how will I feel about that?”



Passer-by spots fire burning toward the fence near Lakeview Lodge

Witnesses help douse fire

There’s been another suspicious fire in West Kelowna.

Luckily, a woman on her way to work spotted it Sunday morning, burning up the fence near Lakeview Lodge and the Salvation Army Thrift Store, at the corner of Butt Road and Old Okanagan Highway.

Bobbi tells Castanet she was driving down Butt Rd. and saw the fire off to the side of the road, in the bush. She pulled over and called 9-1-1.

She says another man had also pulled over and she asked him to let the seniors centre know because the flames were starting to go up the fence and a tree.

‘He ran in and let them know. I opened the gates to get into the empty lot and they started coming across with fire extinguishers and trying to push water until the fire department came,” said Bobbi.

While the cause is suspicious, it might not have been intentional.

The West Kelowna fire department arrived on the scene around 7:45 a.m. “It is an area known to transient, homeless squatters, “ said Captain Conan McCarthy. “There was a melted tent just off the fence line. I can’t say that was the exact cause but it is suspicious.”

Thanks to the quick actions of Bobbi and other witnesses, they got the fire knocked down quickly.



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