Veteran comedian John Wing coming to South Okanagan

Veteran comic live on stage


Comedy fans in the South Okanagan have a night of laughs to look forward to this September, when decorated stand-up comedian John Wing brings his act to the Venables Theatre.

Wing has been entertaining audiences for 40 years, accumulating more than 350 television appearances in Canada and the U.S., including The Tonight Show with both Jay Leno and Johnny Carson.

He was also a semi-finalist in season eight of America's Got Talent, and has performed at more than 40 comedy festivals around the world.

“It’s not often that the list of festivals and appearances a comedian hasn’t done is shorter than what they have, but with John Wing, that’s pretty much the case,” says Train Wreck Comedy’s Rob Balsdon.

“This is a must-see show for anyone that considers themselves to be a big fan of stand-up comedy, he just makes it look so easy up there.”

Wing has also published eleven books of poetry, a memoir of his first ten years of stand-up, and in 2021, his first novel, “A Car To Die For."

Catch Wing live at the Venables Theatre in Oliver on Saturday, Sept. 24 at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased online through Train Wreck Comedy online, the Venables Theatre online, or by calling the Venables Theatre box office Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 250-498-1626.


South Okanagan Women in Need Society thrilled after local businesses step up to help

Call for help answered

A call for community help from the South Okanagan Women in Need Society was met with overwhelming support this week.

SOWINS, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping women and children escape abuse and violence, found themselves with a greater need than ever before for non-perishable food and hygiene products.

"The rising costs of living including gas, food, and other essential items have been disproportionately difficult for many or our clients to navigate who often have modest incomes and live paycheque to paycheque," said Danielle Goulden, SOWINS executive director.

“Most years the shelves get replenished without us having to put out a plea for support, but this year has been different, and we are experiencing a much higher need than we have seen in previous years.”

The society posted to their Facebook page last week and the response was more than they could have dreamed. Many community members stepped up with donations, and then they got a call from Paul Carey at Cantex Okanagan.

He and Colin Powell, owner of the Penticton IGA, had teamed up to bring a truckload of items to SOWINS.

There were cases of water, Boost nutrition drink, juice boxes, granola bars, tuna, crackers, pasta, pasta sauce, rice and freezies, thrilling the SOWINS team.

“The South Okanagan community continues to amaze me," said Goulden.

“We cannot thank all of you and especially Paul and Colin enough for helping us meet the growing needs in our community."

To learn more about SOWINS and the services they offer, including a 24-hour crisis line, emergency sheltering, counselling services for women, youth and children, mobile outreach and community-based victim services programs, or to donate, click here.

Affordable housing could be combined with emergency services at a new city-owned building in Penticton

Police, fire, housing?

Affordable housing could be combined with emergency services at a new city-owned building in Penticton.

At Tuesday's meeting, city council voted to spend $75,000 on a needs assessment for a complex that could see a fire hall — since the main fire hall on Nanaimo Avenue has been slated for replacement — share a space with a public safety and Emergency Operations Centre, bylaw and community policing, RCMP, as well as, potentially, housing and commercial spaces.

"The first phase of the project will involve a complete analysis of the background materials, user group needs, stakeholder and partnership opportunities. A space needs analysis will be undertaken working with all proposed user groups to determine the space programming required within the facility," wrote community services general manager Anthony Haddad in his report to council.

"Identification of required city processes, policy compliance and approval processes will also be identified in the first phase of the process, including the creation of a Project Steering Committee."

The $75,000 will fund that first step, including preliminary site identification processes.

"Research will also be undertaken on similar types of facilities across the province and country to look at lessons learned to help inform this important project for the city."

Council was in support, though Coun. Judy Sentes had some thoughts.

“I would be very interested in a couple of the points that are being pursued, not he least of which is affordable housing and commercial use to be incorporated,” Sentes said, but added a concern about emergency services like fire and RCMP sharing a space with residents.

“For my two cents worth, I don’t see those things being incorporated effectively or efficiently. I just think there’s a lot of concern about encumbering the ability of our emergency services to do their job. But I look forward to the committee.”

Haddad said city staff will be looking to council as things move forward for direction as to the structure of the committee, and assured council the community would be involved.

"We certainly will have the public at the table in detail through this process."


Penticton city council adopts 'Food Security Strategy'

Strategy to feed everyone

Penticton city council has endorsed a local "Food Security Strategy," the result of three years of work mapping out a potential roadmap to ensure everyone in the city has access to nourishment with less reliance on other communities.

Development of a food system strategy was adopted as a “medium term” plan as part of the city's Official Community Plan in 2019.

The city received a $15,000 per year grant over three years to develop the plan, choosing to work with Urban Systems as a contractor, and matched the grant from city funds for a total cost of $90,000.

It involved community analysis and food system mapping, several rounds of stakeholder and public consultations, working groups, online feedback and a review with the Penticton Indian Band.

The goal is to reduce food insecurity in the Penticton area by relying less heavily on food shipped from elsewhere, and removing barriers to growing food locally.

Surveys found that 24 per cent of people who responded sometimes worried about food insecurity, mostly due to income or lack of time, but also due to lack of mobility or distance to food sources.

Strategies suggested in the long term include more urban agriculture, support for community gardens, education and awareness in schools, zoning to promote food retail in residential areas, animal husbandry policies and regulations to promote urban hens, bees and more, and soil protection bylaws.

Adjustment of crops as the climate changes is also on the menu.

But first steps are simpler. The first is the creation of a food security council and a finding coordinator for that council begin implementing the objectives.

City staff have already been working with United Way on setting up a local "Food Hub," hoping to have that in place by the end of 2022.

Council was happy to endorse the strategy. Some shared memories of their own history with agriculture.

"As a Grade 11/12 student at Pen High, they had courses [in agriculture]," Mayor John Vassilaki said.

"The school board gave me the property that the library and museum is sitting on at the present time. They gave me that land for two years, and I grew wild crops. I grew hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of pounds of green beans that the family used and we also gave gave out to the needy."

He also remembered several other acreages of land that himself and other students used to grow other crops that were distributed to the community.

"I'd like to see that starting to happen again. At the high school or even at the college level and get things happening in the community like in the past."

Coun. Julius Bloomfield also shared his memories of being on the Penticton Urban Agriculture Association more than a decade ago.

"One of the things that I can say is that a nonprofit organization running on a very, very, very limited budget runs out of steam when it comes to this type of application. So this idea does need the support of municipalities, it does need our support," he said, adding that he hopes to hear more about how the municipality can help at future meetings.

Council voted unanimously to endorse the strategy. Read the full findings from Urban Systems online here on page 27 of the council agenda.

Boil water notice issued in Sun Valley area of Okanagan Falls after power outage

Boil water notice issued

The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen has issued a precautionary Boil Water Notice for the Sun Valley water system, which serves the southeast area of Okanagan Falls.

A power outage Monday night resulted in the water system losing pressure. As a result, residents may observe some discolouration or sediment in the water.

"If you experience dirty water, simply run your cold water taps only and/or garden hose until the water runs clear. Residents may also wish to isolate their in-home treatment systems until turbidity has decreased to normal levels. In addition, residents should check the water quality before laundering clothing during this time, to minimize potential staining or discolouration," reads a news release from the RDOS.

Use a safe alternate source of water for preparing baby formula for infants and young children, and boil water for all drinking, brushing teeth, food preparation or cooking purposes and ice making.

Bring water to a full boil and keep it there for at least one minute.

"The RDOS would also like to remind all business owners/operators (bed and breakfasts) and public facilities operators that it is the responsibility of said establishments to notify their customers of the Boil Water Notice," the news release concludes.

Anyone with questions can contact the Public Works Department at (250) 490-4106 or (250) 490-4135 during regular business hours, Monday through Friday.

Village of Apex residents can go home after two-plus weeks under evacuation order

Apex residents can go home

Contributed James Shalman/Apex Mountain Report

An evacuation order for Apex Mountain Village will be rescinded at noon Tuesday.

Residences in the village will be cleared for access after more than two weeks away while crews fought the Keremeos Creek wildfire.

The properties will remain under evacuation alert for the time being, meaning residents returning home should still be ready to leave again if need be.

The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen urges non-residents to stay clear of the village during the re-entry process.

The Apex Mountain Waste Transfer Station will be available for residential garbage drop off.

For a list of things to expect when returning home after an evacuation order, click here. A copy will also be provided upon re-entry, and more available at the Apex Volunteer Fire Rescue hall.

Twenty-five properties along Sheep Creek Road, Highway 3A and Green Mountain Road remain under evacuation order. For an interactive list of properties under alert and order check here.

The Keremeos Creek wildfire is estimated at nearly 7,000 hectares in size and has been "relatively stable," according to BC Wildfire Service, for the last few days.

'Incredible community': Apex Fire Brigade thrilled after Penticton brewery fundraiser raises $15K

$15K for Apex fire crews

A fundraiser at Slackwater Brewing has left the Apex Fire Brigade Society feeling overjoyed and grateful for the overwhelming community support.

Apex Mountain village was evacuated for more than two weeks as local crews and BC Wildfire personnel continue to fight the nearby Keremeos Creek wildfire.

Since Apex is near and dear to the Slackwater owners' hearts, they decided to host a live music event this past Sunday with proceeds going to the Apex Fire Brigade Society and Apex Volunteer Fire Rescue.

“I grew up skiing at Apex, I got married at Apex, and our children will grow up enjoying Apex Mountain each year. Seeing our community come together in such a short time frame was overwhelming," said Kelsey Peyton, co-founder of Slackwater.

"As soon as we put the event live on Facebook, donation offerings started pouring in from local businesses."

The event, through its silent auction and donations, raised an incredible $15,000, a figure that fire prevention officer Molly Raine said will go to excellent use.

"We will be using it to support our crew with any immediate supply needs and we will put any leftover money towards purchasing a wildland slip-on skid unit for our pick-up truck," Raine explained.

"We will be better able to support [the community] in the event of another forest fire. A full-sized truck with this skid unit can be staged and used for pumping, supporting sprinkler operations or direct initial attack.”

Slackwater Brewing and Apex Fire Brigade Society would like to thank all of the musicians who donated their talents and time, and all of the local businesses and individuals that contributed to the event.

"These have been very long days for our crew but knowing we have this incredible community to protect is what keeps us going," Raine added.

"Your support and appreciation always makes our job easier and more fulfilling."

South Okanagan residents urged to pack an emergency kit before you need it

Prepare a bag ahead of time

While hundreds are still evacuated from their homes due to the Keremeos Creek wildfire, emergency officials are urging everyone else to take the time to pack a “grab and go” bag.

“In the case of wildfire emergencies, things can move fast. It’s important for all citizens living within the wildfire urban interface to know what they will need to do if they receive an order to evacuate,” says RDOS FireSmart Coordinator Kerry Riess.

“Now is a good time to consider all the needs of every member in your care, including pets and farm animals, so you can ensure your emergency kit includes all the items sufficient for at least 72 hours.”

The kit should include the following:

  • Enough water for three days
  • Food that won’t spoil such as canned goods, dried foods
  • Manual can opener
  • Flashlight
  • Batteries
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Candles / matches
  • First Aid kit
  • Medications
  • Whistle (to attract attention, if required)
  • Extra keys for your house and vehicle (fully fuelled)
  • Change of clothing
  • Blankets
  • Toilet paper
  • Cash in small bills, credit cards
  • List of key contacts
  • Face masks
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Paper, pencil or pen
  • Copies of important documents (birth certificates, insurance, passports)
  • Charger for cellphones, laptop and other devices
  • Pet food and bowls (if required)
  • Extra eyeglasses or contact lenses / contact lens solution (if required)
  • Infant formula, bottles, diapers, wipes (if required)

Items to take if time allows:

  • Easily carried valuables
  • Family photos and other irreplaceable items
  • Personal computer information on hard drives and disks
  • Always keep a sturdy pair of shoes and a flashlight near your bed in case of a sudden evacuation at night.

Canadian researchers sorely underpaid, says local MP

Pay researchers more: MP

South Okanagan - West Kootenay MP Richard Cannings is calling on the feds to improve how researchers are paid in Canada.

Cannings fired off a letter — jointly signed by Brian Masse, the NDP Critic for Innovation, Science and Research — urging Ottawa to pay researchers at least a living wage.

“Canada is lagging behind the world on innovation and research at a time when we know these are the hallmarks of successful economies. We need to do more to ensure funding does not just funnel into institutions, but also supports the actual people doing the research so they can afford to put food on the table and a roof over their heads. Without people, there is no research” said Cannings, who is scientist himself and sits on the House of Commons Standing Committee on Science and Research.

Cannings’ letter noted the postgraduate research scholarship funding landscape that has been entirely stagnant for almost 20 years despite overwhelming increases to tuition and housing costs over that period.

“Canada is asking our best and brightest minds to work full-time for less than minimum wage. It is an impossible task, let alone immoral for government agencies to pay well below their own mandated standards,” added Cannings.

His letter says master's students currently receive $17,500/yr. and P.hD. students receive $21,000/yr. Postdoctoral fellows, who have completed their doctoral degree, receive $45,000/yr.

Seven thousand scientists and researchers have signed onto a letter that points out “poverty wages” are preventing preventing people from pursuing advanced education and jeopardizing important research.

The group is asking for a 48% increase to match inflation while indexing it to the consumer price index and a 50% increase in the number of research awards granted by government.

“In the coming months, the government has a chance with its Fall Economic Statement to do the right thing and make these important investments. We’ll keep fighting to improve the affordability crisis every sector of society is facing. For research and innovation, the future of our economy is on the line,” Cannings said.

Crews making 'good progress' on Keremeos Creek wildfire

Progress on Keremeos Creek

UPDATE 2:30 p.m.

The BC Wildfire Service says it was able to make “good progress” over the weekend on containment lines around the Keremeos Creek wildfire.

Fire behaviour remains relatively stable due to moderate temperatures and humidity today, added fire officials.

That trend is expected to continue until Wednesday when temperatures will start to rise again.

The fire is still mapped at 6,950 hectares.

Another aerial scan is planned on the fire in the coming days to help assess hot spots near the fire’s perimeter.

Most of the activity on Sunday happened in the northwest and southwest on very steep terrain.

“Nearby communities can still expect to see smoke within the fire's perimeter over the coming weeks. This is common with large wildfires, and smoke will continue to be visible until there is significant rainfall over the fire,” BCWS said.

While smoke rising from within the burn zone is common, smoke coming from green trees outside the perimeter should be reported.

There are currently 329 firefighters, 27 structure protection personnel, a liaison from Lower Similkameen Indian Band, 17 helicopters and 22 pieces of heavy equipment on site.

Evacuation alerts and orders remain in place. An interactive map of the evacuation zones is here.

ORIGINAL 5:30 a.m.

Fire behaviour at the Keremeos Creek wildfire outside of Penticton remained relatively stable over the weekend.

According to BC Wildfire Services, fire behaviour was lessened by moderate temperatures and increased humidity Saturday and Sunday.

The fire remains stable along the western side of Highway 3A, and operational objectives remain mostly the same.

The fire's northwest flank continues to be the most active section of the fire, suppression efforts are challenged by steep terrain that is inaccessible to crews and heavy equipment.

From Keremeos Creek Road to Green Mountain Road, crews are extinguishing hot spots and removing combustible fuel 25 foot in from the fire perimeter, a process known as blacklining. Along Olalla Creek Road and Highway, 3A crews are patrolling and establishing a 100-foot blackline in from the fire perimeter.

Structure protection personnel continue to maintain established structure protection systems at Apex Mountain and the Green Mountain Road.

Lightning in the Kamloops Fire Centre

BC Wildfire Service crews in the Lillooet zone of the Kamloops Fire Centre have responded to 17 wildfire starts in the last four days. These new starts are a result of thunderstorm activity which moved through the region between Aug. 10 - Aug. 13.

"Thanks to the public’s quick detection of these new starts, our firefighters and aircraft were able to effectively respond. Six of these wildfires are out, four are under control, and one is being held. Of the 17 new starts, all but two of the wildfires are estimated to be one hectare or smaller in size," says the Briana Hill, BCWS spokesperson.

The two wildfires which are larger than one hectare are classified as out of control and are burning at high elevations in inaccessible terrain in the Stein Valley. The other wildfires that are currently out of control are also burning on steep cliffs in challenging terrain which do not have safe access or egress routes for ground personnel.

Helicopters have been bucketing water to keep fire behaviour low while wildfire officers evaluate these incidents and come up with response plans that don’t compromise responder safety. These wildfires are not currently threatening human life or other values.

A spokesperson for the BC Wildfire Service says 80 per cent of the 212 new fires sparked across the province since Wednesday were caused by lightning.

Briana Hill says the service was well prepared and 69 per cent of all of those ignited by the strikes are now classified as out, under control or being held.

The service says in a statement that this is not unusual as August is typically an active month for lightning strikes in the province, second only to July.

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