Surveys in the mail

The City of Vernon is seeking more input for its Recreation Master Plan for the Great Vernon area.

If you received a recent survey in the mail, you are one of only 5,000 to get one.

"There is a lot of different ways we are engaging the public, and they have an opportunity to give us feedback on what they see are the priorities moving forward of recreation in the community," says Doug Ross, director of recreation services with the City of Vernon.

A working group between the planning departments in City of Vernon, The regional district and the District of Coldstream put together mailing lists for those communities, and people were randomly selected to participate.

"It is so we get a diverse response," says Ross. "We are making sure we are hitting all of the socioeconomic areas of the different communities."

The 5,000 surveys are what is called a 'control group.' Once the surveys are completed online, the survey will be released to the Greater Vernon public.  

The Recreation Master Plan public engagement process aims to identify priorities and recommendations regarding the provisions of recreation facilities, active lifestyle opportunities and recreation services to meet the needs of residents and visitors over the next 15 years. 


'It doesn't feel real'

"She was really, really sweet, and caring. She cared a lot about everyone. She was really funny too."

Castanet has been contacted by a close family member of Heather Barker — the victim of a sudden death at a home near The Rise Golf Course.

The family member alleges that Barker was in an abusive relationship. 

The family member shared details of seeing Barker severely injured one time while visiting the house. 

"He was really jealous."

The family member describes Barker's past few months as being heavily controlled by her boyfriend.

"He wouldn't let her out the door to talk to me, but then she whispered to me that he beat her up."

Police have not confirmed what lead to the death of Barker. 

The boyfriend is a small business owner in downtown Vernon. Castanet has elected not to release the boyfriend's name at this time. Heather Barker often worked at his business.

"I was supposed to go out for lunch with her just a week ago, and I wish I had done that."

The last time the family member saw Barker was on Thursday following the incident. Barker was on life support in the hospital.

The family member says Barker escaped to a women's shelter just weeks before her death but ended up back at her Cordon Place home.

Neighbours of the victim say they often could hear loud altercations coming from the home.

"It feels like a dream right now, I can't fully process it," the shocked family member said. "She is gone, I just keep thinking she is at work, it doesn't feel real."

Police have yet to determine the cause of the sudden death but are currently investigating for foul play.

Vernon RCMP hasn't provided further comment but have been on scene at the Cordon Place home since March 15 and will remain there for further investigation.

Police say the neighbourhood isn't in any danger.

Sudden death at home

Chantelle Deacon

UPDATED: 12:39 p.m.

"A few days prior she came out onto the deck in a bathrobe and yelled something," says Jacob Sparling, nearby homebuilder. "It sounded like she yelled help me."

Residents of an upscale Vernon neighbourhood are visibly concerned after the death of a 37-year-old woman last week.

"Just the way that it was it didn't seem like there was anything about it," Sparling said, clearly shaken. "It just seemed like a little argument they were having."

The woman was found unresponsive in her home near The Rise Golf Course on Cordon Place last Thursday and later died in hospital.

"They [police] came knocking at the [my] door I'd say a little more than a week ago and asked me if I knew the people next door," said Brian Lasalle, next door neighbour. "I said, 'we just see them coming and going, not really."

Lasalle says police specifically asked about the woman from next door and they were clearly concerned for her safety.

"He [the man next door] was pretty strange," Lasalle said. "Coming down the street pulling donuts in the cul-de-sac is kind of a no-no, we have children in the neighbourhood."

"He was giving these neighbours every four letter word and really rude, obnoxious and mean."

Police have been on scene at the home since March 15 while an investigation into foul play continues.

The Vernon RCMP General Investigative Section have now taken the lead in the case.

There is no risk to the public, according to police.

UPDATED: 9:24 a.m.

A 37-year-old woman is dead and police are investigating for foul play. 

The woman was found unresponsive at the home near The Rise Golf Course on Cordon Place on Thursday.

She later died in hospital.

Police say the incident happened during the early morning hours of March 15.

The Vernon RCMP General Investigative Section have now taken the lead in the case.

Police remain on scene.

There is no risk to the public, according to RCMP.

UPDATED: 9:17 a.m.

The Vernon RCMP General Investigative Section (GIS) has now taken the lead of a sudden death investigation after a 37 year old woman was found un-responsive in her Vernon home on Cordon Place near The Rise Golf Course.

ORIGINAL: March 18, 2018

A heavy police presence over the weekend in an upscale neighbourhood of Vernon has people living in the area on edge.

Police vehicles have been parked in front of a condo on Cordon Place near The Rise Golf Course since Thursday.

There has been no official word on what happened, but neighbours tell Castanet that all weekend police have been seen leaving the home with unknown items in large containers.

The neighbours who spoke with Castanet say a middle-aged couple rents the home, neither has been seen in days.

The neighbours are mostly concerned for the woman who lives in the home. 

They tell Castanet that loud altercations are often heard coming from the house. 

It's not known if the RCMP have located either of the individuals from the home.

Vernon RCMP declined to comment but informed Castanet that the neighbourhood is not in any danger.



Boy receives special award

It was superpower strength that helped 10-year-old Damien Corson save his little brother after he fell through ice.

Corson was recognized on March 10 in Vancouver at the prestigious 106th Annual Commonwealth Awards for Honour and Rescue.

Just over a year ago Damien, 9 years old at the time and his little brother Brady, who was only 6 years old at the time and their two friends were hanging out in the pool area of their complex in Vernon.

The boys were enjoying the day when things quickly took a turn for the worst.

The pool was covered in ice. Brady tapped his foot on the ice and lost his balance and fell in.

Brady in his soaking wet clothes wasn't able to get out of the water.

Damien quickly ran over, while remaining calm he grabbed his brother's hand and managed to pull him out.

"I don't know what might have happened if Damien wasn't there," said Angel Corson, their mother. "We are thrilled to have a happy ending."

British Columbia's Lieutenant-Governor Judith Guichon was one of many dignitaries presenting awards at the event.

Damien was presented with the Silver Medal for Merit which acknowledges meritorious service in saving lives.

Construction set to begin

Don't forget spring-like weather means roadwork begins in full swing.

Several projects are planned for the spring and summer months, with the first one taking place downtown.

The first major roadwork is the intersection of 30th Street and 32nd Avenue says Mark Dowhaniuk, Vernon infrastructure manager.

The intersection will be closed starting today with work expected to be finished just before the start of summer.

Dowhaniuk asks the public to adjust their travel routes and to drive with care.

Information and a list of projects can be found on the city website.

-With files from Darren Handschuh

'Needles everywhere'

Chantelle Deacon

"There were needles everywhere," says a concerned Vernonite.

Hundreds of Vernon residents expressed their concerns on social media after multiple needles were found outside a local bank on Saturday.

Pictures were posted on Facebook by multiple Vernon residents showing syringes littered outside of the TD Canada Trust bank on Anderson Way.

"They were all along the cedar shavings on the garden area along the parking lot," said Kim Logan, who took a photo of the needles. "As we're driving away we see them and the picture I showed was just a small handful of what was there."

A photo posted to the Vernon Rant and Rave page received more than 100 shares and dozens of comments.

"As a mother with a little one who's gonna be walking and running around shortly this makes me so nervous I want to get sick," said one woman. "At the parks and beaches this summer I'm gonna be constantly on edge."

"Wow Vernon. This is worse than Vancouver. To see needles in the cedar chips of a flower bed in our small town makes me sick," said another woman. "It never used to be like this here. Vernon needs to address this and clean up its act."

The rapid snow melt over the weekend may be the reason so many needles were revealed, says Logan.

Bank employees quickly contacted a non-emergency line to get the syringes safely cleaned up.

If you see any syringes in the area it's best to call the Vernon Community Safety Office.

More mailboxes ransacked

Yet another community mailbox has been broken into in the Okanagan, this time near the north end of Westside Road.

The break-in happened Friday night at Coyote Crossing Villas at 12560 Westside Road.

A resident of the manufactured home park says their park manager told them about the break-in Saturday morning.

He says police told him that other mailboxes had also been broken into and looted.

“They were all wide open,” the resident said.

The resident says it's the first time he's had his mailbox broken into, but the Okanagan has seen a rash of break-ins over the past few months.

Julian Hoekstra, 43, and Kristina Anderson, 38, were arrested in December in Peachland in a stolen RV and charged with several recent Canada Post mailbox break-ins in West Kelowna, Peachland, and Summerland.

“Given the nature of break-ins with mailboxes and mail theft, I think it's really important to let people know to be a little more vigilant,” the resident of Coyote Crossing said.

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