City of Vernon enters final phase of 48th Ave. road project

No more 'Lake Toyota'

Lake Toyota will soon be a thing of the past.

In the springtime, a massive puddle has often formed in front of Vernon Toyota at the intersection of 48th Avenue and Highway 97.

But, the final phase of a construction project at the intersection is scheduled to begin Monday and will include a new drainage culvert, road improvements and multi-use pathway on the north side of 48th Avenue.

In 2019, crews started constructing the multi-use pathway and curbing, and constructed a storm outfall and concrete culvert to address regular flooding issues on the road.

The final phase of the project will include the construction of storm sewer pipes and manholes, road grading and the completion of the multi-use pathway and culvert.

Construction is expected to be completed by the end of June, weather permitting.

During construction, lane closures will be required on 48th Avenue between 32nd Street and Anderson Way, however crews will maintain a minimum of one eastbound lane and one westbound lane for traffic.

Access to area businesses will remain open to both traffic and pedestrians. 


Armstrong veterinarian urging pet owners to secure animals

Dog dragged to death

A North Okanagan veterinarian is sounding the alarm after a horrific incident in Armstrong.

Dr. Britt Mills, of Mills Veterinary Services, is urging people to secure their dogs and not let them ride in the back of trucks.

“My 17-year-old son witnessed a dog dragged to its death yesterday because it was loosely tied in the back of a pickup truck and jumped out,” Mills posted. “My son, whose vehicle was following this driver, tried to get his attention by honking, but it was a second driver who stopped in front of the pickup who was finally able to stop it. It wasn’t a long distance, but there wasn’t much recognizable of a beautiful dog. The driver was devastated and everyone at the scene was traumatized.”

Mills told Castanet she made the post in the hope that someone will think twice before putting their dog in the back of a truck, stressing she did not want to shame the dog's owner, who feels terrible about the incident.

“If that dog's life is to mean anything, it's to hopefully never have it happen to another dog again,” said Mills.

Mills said several times a week she will see a dog in the back of a truck.

She said she has approached people in the past whose dog is either not tied properly or not tied at all, and she is often met with hostility and a barrage of profanity from the owner.

She's not doing it to be intrusive into someone's affairs, but for the safety of an animal that has no say in the situation.

“If a dog has to be in the back of a truck, the correct way of securing him is two short ties coming from either side of the box. This requires getting in the box with the dog as you secure him,” she said, adding the best way to transport the dog is to bring it into the cab.

“If you are a dog owner who puts your dog in the back of a truck without securing it properly, just stop. It is not worth it, and your dog is not immune to the forces of physics.”

Mills urges anyone who sees an unsecured dog in the back of a truck to call police or the SPCA.

Vernon crews working on several projects this year

Let the road work begin

Weather forecasters are saying spring is here, the snow on the Valley bottom is all but melted, but the true sign of spring is when city crews break out the heavy equipment.

There are several projects planned by the City of Vernon for 2020, with possibly the biggest one getting underway this week.

The extension of 30th Street to 39th Avenue through the former Civic Arena property has begun with heavy equipment digging holes and moving dirt.

“We will have some road closures happening on 29th Street and 39th Avenue and that is to connect 29th Street and 30th Street at 39th Avenue,” said Christy Poirier, with the city.

“That construction is scheduled to take place between now and October. There will be detours in the area until then.”

Poirier reminds people all businesses in the construction area will be open for business while the work takes place.

Kirn Dhillon, manager of infrastructure, said the road extension is one of several projects on tap for the city this year.

“We are continuing with the downtown roads revitalization,” said Dhillon.

Dhillon said the projects include rehabilitation of 32 Avenue between 33 Street and 35 Street; upgrades on Pleasant Valley Road near 48 Avenue and upgrades to the existing Okanagan Landing Road sewer force main from Tronson Road to the Vernon Water Reclamation Centre.



New location for in-person payments

Changes at city hall

Changes are coming to Vernon City Hall.

Starting next week, all in-person payments will be paid and processed at the community services building, 3001–32 Ave.

As of Friday March 6, the city hall cash station will be closed until further notice and the public will be directed to the front counter of the community services building, which is beside the museum in the old library.

This change in service will allow the city to complete the main floor city hall renovations, which include a new cemetery inquiries office and redeveloped workspaces for an expanded financial services team.

All changes are being made within the existing department space.

While the renovations are underway, contact information for the finance department will remain the same.

For members of the public who have a utility bill or cemetery question, staff members will still be available at city hall.

However, customers are encouraged to book an appointment for either of these matters before visiting the office. The Finance department can be reached via phone at 250-545-1361 or through the city’s website.

Why there's so much road dust in Vernon, and its effects

Vernon's dust woes continue

UPDATED: 12:19 p.m.

Yet another road dust advisory has been issued for Vernon.

Interior Health advises pedestrians to avoid roads with heavy vehicle traffic. They also state those with respiratory issues should be extra careful outdoors.

The air quality advisory will be in effect until further notice.

ORIGINAL: 5:00 a.m.

Vernon has been hit with multiple air quality advisories this year, lasting for numerous days. The number of days that have been under an advisory has risen each year, with 2019 coming in at a total of 18.

The reason for Vernon's road dust advisories are due to two factors: the geographical location of the city, and the type of road grit being used on the streets.

When it comes to dust particulates, there are two types that are monitored by air quality devices. PM10 is a larger, more coarse type of dust particle. It is visible to eye, and poses no real health risk. PM2.5 is a much finer dust particulate, and can't be seen by the naked eye. This finer particle is the more hazardous type out of the two.

"With the PM10, your body naturally filters it out so it doesn't get deep into your lungs," says Kevin Aschenmeier, an employee at the Okanagan Science Centre. "The PM2.5 goes further into your lungs and causes more health problems."

The air quality measuring device is located at the science centre, where it monitors the air quality for the citizens of Vernon. The city is more susceptible to road dust advisories due to its location just as much as the road grit itself.

"We don't really have the winds here to clear the air," says Aschenmeier. "If you lived on the coast you might have more pollution, but it would register as less because the wind blow is out to sea. Here, it gets stuck in the valley so it just sits here."

The City of Vernon has been conducting research into road grit alternatives, but their early findings have shown that their current road grit is appropriate.

"A report will be brought forward to council regarding the type of road grits that we use and what alternatives were explored," says Christy Poirier, spokesperson for the City of Vernon. "Early conclusions from a geotechnical engineer show that the road grit we use is actually testing better."

The City is also in the process of procuring a vacuum streetsweeper, but Poirier said it's likely that the machine won't be brought in until late spring or early summer.

Vernon elementary school starts plastic-free initiatives

Kids saving the planet

One class of Grade 5 students managed to influence their entire school to become more environmentally conscious. The youngsters in Mrs. O'Brien's class at Kidston Elementary have been learning about the environment and how they can take care of our planet.

"We don’t have garbage cans in our class," said Kobe. "We recycle or compost everything!"

In the weeks leading up to Valentine's Day, the class learned about how many single-use plastics there can be in a day. Last year, students collected about 1000 single-use plastics from all the classes, and estimated that up to five times that amount went home with students too.

Mrs. O'Brien's class challenged the rest of their school, and other schools in district and province, to join them in a plastic-free Valentine's Day celebration. Many classes and schools in the district took them up on that challenge, and even schools in Maple Ridge and Revelstoke participated.

After the success of their Valentine's Day celebration, Mrs. O'Brien's class will be writing letters to all of the parent advisory councils and principals in the district to follow in their footsteps. The class has many more initiatives planned for the rest of the school year.

Vernon youth program will help deal with stress, anxiety

Navigating the stress of life

A course is being offered to help area youth navigate the stress of life.

The Canadian Mental Health Association-Vernon & District branch is bringing back the Teen Mindfulness Group in association with the YMCA.

The group supports youth ages 13-17 who experience worry, stress and/or anxiety.

CMHA-Vernon will be running a six-week session to support teens in learning healthy coping strategies to manage stress, explore fun and creative ways to learn about mental wellness and connect with other teens going through similar experiences.

Every Thursday from April 2 to May 7 teens will work with two facilitators and learn about anxiety, mindfulness, ways to practice it and healthy coping strategies for anxiety.

Program eligibility requirements include:

  • Youth must be between the ages of 13-17
  • Experience anxiety, worry and/or stress
  • Attend one of the interview sessions
  • Be able to attend all six group sessions

Since spots are limited, and dependent on suitability, it is necessary for all potential participants to attend one interview session.

The interview sessions are March 5 and 12 at the Vernon Library from 4:15-6:30 p.m. 

Teens are only required to attend one interview session. 

To register for the interview session, or for more information email [email protected] or text/call at 250-306-8082.

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