The 2023 Vernon Winter Carnival raffle features $28,000 in prizes

Carnival raffle tickets on sale

More than $28,000 in prizes are up for grabs through the Vernon Winter Carnival raffle.

Tickets are now on sale for the 2023 raffle that features a 2022 850 Pro RMK 155 Matryx Polaris Snowmobile from BDM Motorsports and Polaris as the main prize.

The snow sled is valued at $20,100.

Other prizes are:

  • 2nd Prize: 2019 Typhoon Moped BDM Motorsports
  • 3rd Prize: 2 SUP Paddle Boards Innerspace Watersports
  • 4th Prize: Spring Stay & Explore at Predator Ridge Resort -
  • 5th Prize: 1K Your Way - $1,000 towards an RESP, RRSP, your personal loan or your credit card
  • 6th Prize: Stay & Play Package - Silver Star Mountain Resort

Tickets are one for $20, three for $50 and 10 for $150.

Chances are 1 in 5,000 to win a grand prize based on tickets sold.

The Vernon Winter Carnival will be held Feb. 3-12 next year.


Vernon's Upper Room Mission collecting backpacks for the less fortunate again this year

Backpacks full of blessings

Vernon's Upper Room Mission is once again filling backpacks for the city's less fortunate.

And for many of the recipients, it could be the only present they receive all year.

The backpack program has been an annual event at the mission for several years and once again the URM is looking for backpack donations for males and females for Christmas.

People can just donate just a backpack, or the items for a backpack or both.

The gifted items can be some of the basic necessities many of us take for granted, such as:

  • Warm gloves, scarf, and/or toque
  • Hand warmers
  • New socks
  • Small notepad and pens
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Toiletry items (travel size is best): shampoo, conditioner, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, razors, Kleenex, Band-Aids, First-Aid kit, chapstick, etc.
  • candies/chocolates

The URM will be collecting the backpacks until Dec. 16. They will be handed out on Dec. 23.

For more information, click here

BC SPCA wants federal government to outlaw shipping horses out of the country for human consumption

Stop the slaughter: SPCA

Canada is one of the only countries in the world that breeds, raises and transports horses overseas to be slaughtered for human consumption.

And the BC SPCA is renewing calls to stop the practice.

The animal care group is again asking the federal government to put an end to the horse meat industry in Canada.

They are encouraging people to sign an online petition asking the government to take action.

Carly Marchand, of Freedom's Gate Equine Rescue in Salmon Arm, called it Canada's dirty little secret.

Marchand said many horses that are sold at auction are then sold to slaughter houses, which then sell them for human consumption.

Known as 'meat buyers' or 'kill buyers' Marchand said they will bid on horses no one else is bidding on.

“You can purchase horse meat even here in B.C.,” Marchand said. “Local butcher shops will carry it ‘behind the counter.'”

Marchand said horses that are shipped out of the country sometimes arrive at their final destination severely injured, or even die during shipping.

“Canada recently updated their transport laws, which previously allowed horses to be transported for 36 hours at a time,” says BC SPCA’s Melissa Speirs, manager of farm animal welfare.

“Canada’s current animal transport laws are still inadequate. It is currently legal for horses to be transported without feed, water or rest for up to 28 hours.”

The long journey begins when horses are loaded onto trucks and driven to Calgary, Edmonton, or Winnipeg airports, where they may sit on the tarmac for hours before being loaded. According to Speirs, before being loaded on the plane, three to four horses are put into a single shipping crate smaller than the average horse stall.

“With such close quarters, horses can easily injure one another or lose their balance and be unable to get back up,” Speirs said.

“The BC SPCA strongly advocates that no animal should be transported without feed, water, or rest for more than eight hours, and that horses should not be shipped by plane under these cramped and stressful conditions,” says Speirs.

The BC SPCA also supports the Canadian Horse Defense Coalition’s work towards ending the live export of horses for slaughter. Most recently, the BC SPCA joined them and other animal protection organizations in sending an open letter to the federal government urging action on this issue.


Vernon's Historic O'Keefe Ranch will present an outdoor theatrical production of A Christmas Carol

Scrooge coming to O'Keefe

Scrooge is coming to the ranch.

Vernon's Historic O'Keefe Ranch is teaming up with the Powerhouse Theatre for an outdoor production of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.

The show is an immersive, walking theatrical experience where audiences will travel on foot and wagon to and from each historic building on the O’Keefe Ranch to witness and participate in the classic story.

There are three performances each evening with 15 patrons per performance, Dec. 6, 10, 13 and 17.

Light food and drinks will be offered throughout the evening with a choice of vegetarian, gluten-free, or no restrictions, and alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages.

Running time is two hours and 10 minutes including intermission.

As it is an outdoors performance, people are advised to dress for weather conditions.

Tickets are $75 per person and are on sale through Ticket Seller.

Rob Dinwoodie to perform a Cowboy Christmas at Vernon Alliance Church

Yeehaw for Christmas

A Cowboy Christmas is coming to town – and it will help those in need.

Vernon country singer Rob Dinwoodie will be at the Vernon Alliance Church Dec. 16 for some classic cowboy carols and songs.

Dinwoodie will be joined on stage by Dixon Zalit and Tim Boulter for the concert, which runs from 7 to 9 p.m.

“It's a family friendly event,” Dinwoodie says of the evening, which also features a drama with Vernon's own Jason Armstrong.

“It's a twist on the Charles Dickens' Christmas Carol and the drama is going to be associated song, music and cowboy poetry.”

North Okanagan historian and author Ken Mather will host the event as well as deliver some of his own cowboy poetry.

“We're going to do some traditional and original Christmas songs in kind of the cowboy way,” Dinwoodie says.

All proceeds from the event will go the church's Common Threads program, which helps the less fortunate in the city.

“So people are giving to the needy in our community,” he adds.

Tickets are available online.

Carnival of Lights, downtown Vernon holiday festivities begin tonight

Downtown set to sparkle

Downtown Vernon gets into the Christmas spirit tonight.

The Carnival of Lights kicks off with twinkling lights, entertainment, food vendors, crafts, games, and local holiday gift ideas at Spirit Square outside City Hall.

Festivities go from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Civic Plaza.

The lights will be turned on in the tradition of Light Up, and will glow each night through Dec. 31. They'll be back on for Vernon Winter Carnival, Feb. 3-12.

The Downtown Vernon Association will also begin its holiday festivities in earnest.

Meet Santa, take advantage of free parking Saturdays and enter your child’s letter to Santa for a chance to win one of 12 $100 'downtown dollar' prizes.

Third quarter economic and tourism update shows 'strong year' for Vernon

Indicators looking good

A third quarter economic and tourism update to the City of Vernon indicates "a very strong year" for overnight visitation to the area.

Overnight visitation to Vernon, measured by the local hotel room tax, indicates "a very strong year with seven of eight months exceeding the previous five-year monthly average," the report states.

Through the end of August, more than $867,000 has been remitted to the city through the tax – nearly 94% of total revenue from the tax in 2021.

It's anticipated the tax will collect more than $1.1 million for the year, setting a new benchmark.

Through the end of August, accommodation providers are estimated to have generated more than $29 million in revenues, with a year-end estimate of more than $39 million. That's 9% higher than the previous record, set in 2017.

Meanwhile, the city's Development Approvals Working Group says it is hearing positive feedback on development permit processing times and communication.

The group says housing needs will continue to drive activity in the industry, and there is "increased interest in Vernon by institutional developers and investors who have the financial capacity to move forward on larger projects independent of interest rates."

The third quarter saw 42 building permits approved, bringing the annual total to 322.

This year has seen more multi-family projects and fewer single-family homes compared to previous years, the report states. "This shift has put 2022 on pace for a record-setting number of approved residential units."

Third quarter permit values totalled $61.37 million. Year to date, that value is more than $165 million.

The increase "can be attributed to a combination of inflationary pressures on construction costs (both materials and labour) as well as an increase in the number of multi-famiy permits that are generally higher in value per permit than single-family permits," the report adds.

Through the end of the third quarter, 392 residential units were approved for construction – exceeding the total units approved for construction in 2017, 2020, and 2021.

Higher density residential units (multi-family units and single family dwellings with suites) continue to outpace single family permits by more than two to one.

Overall real estate transaction volumes declined in the quarter, reflecting consumer caution as a result of interest rate hikes.

Job posting activity also tempered in the third quarter, following a peak of nearly 900 postings in July 2022.

But, despite the slowdown in hiring demand, the quarter averaged 666 job postings – an increase of 10% over the 2021 average of 598.

Both skilled and unskilled/unspecified posting volumes trended downward. However, postings that required some level of post-secondary training saw a much smaller reduction.

Vernon historian uncovers footage of demolished Civic Arena from 1961

Civic memories live on

A park may now sit where Vernon's Civic Arena once stood – but, thanks to celluloid, memories of the much-used arena live on.

For decades, the building was a place for the community to gather for everything from hockey games to celebrations.

Vernon historian and videographer Francois Arseneault has uncovered footage of a hockey game at the arena from 1961.

Work on the Civic Arena began in 1937 in the midst of the Great Depression and employed relief workers for construction.

“When it opened, the Civic was billed as ‘the only structure of its kind between Vancouver and the Kootenays equipped with artificial ice,'” Arseneault says.

The original building had a facade on the front and back that made the structure look larger than it was. By the 1950s, the facade was removed, giving the building more of a traditional arena shape.

“Over its 80-year history, the arena played host to countless hockey games, figure skating competitions and community skates, but it also acted as a community centre, where banquets, concerts, dances and exhibitions were held under its wooden roof,” Arseneault says. “On VE day in May 1945, nearly the entire community congregated at the arena to celebrate the end of war in Europe.”

Kal Tire place was built in 2001, and the aging Civic was deemed too expensive to maintain and was demolished.

The grainy, black and white footage of the hockey game was taken sometime in 1961. This game appears to have ended in a 5-4 loss to the visitors.

Just like today, colourful advertisements were mounted along the walls encourage fans to purchase their wares.

Arseneault is always looking for more information on the vintage footage he digs up, and he encourages people to add their input in the comments section on his YouTube page.

Anyone who may have old 16 mm or 8 mm film footage of the Vernon and Okanagan area is invited to email Arseneault at [email protected].

3 cars lost to fire, several more sustained damage in downtown Vernon parkade

3 cars lost, more damaged

UPDATE 5:40 p.m.

Vernon fire rescue crews have now cleared the scene of an early-afternoon vehicle fire at a downtown parkade that filled the surrounding area with heavy smoke

Following an initial investigation, fire crews said that three vehicles have been lost to fire and several others have sustained damage; however, the total extent of the damage remains unknown.

Bylaw Compliance officials are assisting members of the public with retrieving their vehicles now that all levels of the parkade are back open to the public.

Once this is complete, the City of Vernon said the parkade will be closed until further notice to allow for an assessment of the structure to be done and an investigation will be underway.

The fire does not appear to be suspicious and there are no reports of injury. Vernon Fire Rescue Services and the City of Vernon thank everyone for their patience and understanding.

UPDATE 5:25 p.m.

All floors of the downtown Vernon parkade were reopened as of 4:45 p.m. following a car fire on the third floor of the structure.

The City of Vernon says no further information is available at this time regarding the cause of fire or total extent of damage.

A fire investigation will be launched into the incident, which damaged at least three vehicles.

The Mini Cooper that burned was destroyed in the fire, the cause of which remains unknown.

UPDATE 4:34 p.m.

Emergency crews are still assessing and securing the scene of a vehicle fire at the parkade in downtown Vernon.

Officials on the scene have confirmed vehicle owners who parked on Levels 1 and 2 of the parkade may now access their vehicles.

Level 3 and the roof of the parkade remain closed at this time.

At approximately 3:05 p.m. Friday, Vernon Fire Rescue Services (VFRS) was dispatched to a report of a vehicle fire inside the parkade, in the 3000-block of 31st Avenue.

Smoke from the fire was visible in the surrounding area.

Upon arrival, firefighters confirmed a vehicle was on fire on the third floor of the parkade. Initial crews on scene worked quickly to extinguish fire and ensure there was no extension to the building.

All offices within the building were evacuated and no injuries have been reported. The cause of fire and total extent of damage is unknown at this time.

The parkade is closed to the public for the time being, but emergency crews are working to assess and secure the scene as quickly as reasonably possible. The public is asked to please stay away from the area so emergency crews have easier access to the scene.

ORIGINAL 3:20 p.m.

Smoke is pouring from the parkade in downtown Vernon as a car is on fire inside the structure.

Vernon Fire Rescue Services has responded to the scene.

The call came in at 3 p.m. Friday.

It's not known at this time if more than one vehicle is involved or how the fire started.

Witnesses tell Castanet a vehicle was fully engulfed in flames on the third floor of the concrete structure.

Castanet has reached out to the City of Vernon for more information.

UBCO nursing students helping HOPE Vernon keep people on the streets warm

Nurses helping HOPE

UBC Okanagan School of Nursing students are helping the local street community.

The students are teaming up with HOPE Vernon to host a winter clothing drive Saturday at the People Place, from 1 to 3 p.m.

Highly requested items include winter coats, women's leggings, hoodies, blankets, socks, hats, gloves, bras and other basic items.

“We’re also looking for items such as hair brushes, combs, hair accessories and Christmas chocolate,” said Caitlyn Parkinson with HOPE Vernon.

HOPE is also looking for volunteers to help with its various programs, such as nighttime outreach.

The nighttime program connects with the homeless and exploited women in the Central and North Okanagan.

Volunteers go out seven nights a week at dusk in Kelowna and Vernon with supply bags, including hygiene items, snacks, warm clothing, harm reduction supplies, and more.

HOPE also operates a bad date program and a Narcan program.

For more information, visit their website.

More Vernon News