Ranchers plan large grow-op

Two environmental award-winning farmers are planning to build a massive medical cannabis facility in the South Okanagan.

David and Wanda Casorso are planning a grow-op on their property at 164 Secrest Hill Road, about five kilometres north of Oliver.

The Casorsos are seeking permission from the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen to build a facility close to 130,000 square feet in size, which would allow them to grow about 30,000 kilograms of medical cannabis each year.

The building would take up close to 18 per cent of their 6.72-hectare property — well above the land-coverage limit of three percent for agricultural land, as outlined in the area's zoning bylaws.

If not approved, the RDOS noted the Casorsos plan to grow medical cannabis in a greenhouse instead, which wouldn't require a permit from the regional district.

The Casorsos noted a greenhouse would take up just over 480,000 square feet to produce the same amount of cannabis, which would be close to 67 per cent of their property. The area's zoning bylaws allow greenhouses to cover 75 per cent of a land parcel. 

The couple said their plan "does not defeat the intended bylaw, due to the fact the building will be used directly for agriculture production."

RDOS staff are recommending board members approve a permit for the 130,000 square-foot building.

"If the applicant were to pursue the alternative option of growing medical cannabis in a greenhouse, the building footprint would be larger than an indoor growing building. Plants can be stacked vertically in an indoor growing building as the plants do not need to access sunlight," staff's report said.

Staff added in the future, "the buildings could also be used for other soil-less medium agricultural use."

The permit application will go before RDOS board members on Thursday.

The Casorsos also own and operate Casorso Ranch on Dulton Creek Road, east of Vaseux Lake.

Casorso Ranch received the B.C. Cattlemen's Association Environmental Stewardship Award in 2013, for the owners' work to manage and conserve water.


New roof for the animals

Chelsea Powrie

The animal sanctuary Critteraid is seeking help with repairs to the main house, with a special emphasis on the roof.

"Our building is getting of age, we're in desperate need of a roofing company that would work with us right now," animal director Jess Byer said. 

Another big project that needs tackling is improvements to the outdoor cat enclosures. 

"We always want to make sure we're up to code and up to safety for all our beautiful animals that call this place home," Byer said. 

Byer is extremely grateful to anyone who shares their time, money or expertise. 

"This place is our home, for the animals and all of the volunteers... We just can't thank the public enough for the donations, the support, and the time they put in."

To volunteer or donate, visit the Critteraid website

Devices kept from landfill

Colton Davies

Okanagan residents had some help to do spring cleaning on Saturday and diverted junk from landfills in the process.

London Drugs locations across the valley held a recycling roundup event, where the public could drop off residential recycling.

Among the items brought in were microwaves, TVs, old computers, printers and VCRs. 

Penticton London Drugs assistant manager Karen Muir points out their stores accept more than just electronic devices — including plastics and styrofoam from grocery stores, and empty beverage containers.

"There's a lot of different items that customers were not aware of, and that's part of the event today."

Muir says in Penticton alone, they collected about 1,000 pounds of recyclable items during Saturday's five-hour event.

And apart from saving waste from ending up in landfills, Muir says the event is educational for people as well.

"Deciding what can go to recycle bins and what London Drugs will take, because sometimes there's a variation. We'll do some things that your recycle bin won't do," Muir says.

"Especially if there's data, we want to make sure that your data is removed and removed properly, because you don't want that out."

London Drugs collects recycling year round in store, Muir says, adding Penticton's location had a waste diversion rate of nearly 92 per cent last year.

"We're hoping this year we're going to actually get a little bit higher, which should be very easy to do. It's just about having that awareness."


Overnight outages planned

Some Penticton residents will be without power in the early hours of Father's Day due to scheduled maintenance by FortisBC.

The company said two hour-long outages will take place on Sunday, from midnight to 1 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. to 6:30 a.m.

According to the company's outage map, 1,146 customers will be affected by the maintenance.

FortisBC has also scheduled a power outage for maintenance in Summerland, from 12:01 a.m. to 6 a.m. on Sunday, which will affect all customers in the district.

Lightning damages plane

A WestJet flight from Calgary was struck by lightning as it descended into Penticton Friday afternoon.

The 78-seater Bombardier Q400 landed safely at the Penticton airport just before 2:30 p.m., but the lightning strike caused damage. 

After the undisclosed damage was discovered on the ground, the plane was unable to make its flight back to Calgary, causing a “significant delay” for those heading east, according to WestJet's Lauren Stewart.

The plane has now been repaired, and is back in use by WestJet.

Environment Canada had issued a severe thunderstorm watch for the South Okanagan Friday. 

City's 'sunshine list' growing

The City of Penticton’s “sunshine list” has continued to balloon, with 105 employees at city hall now making more than $75,000 in 2017.

That figure is up from 97 staffers in 2016 and 86 in 2015.

Many salaries were pushed skywards by last year’s flood and wildfire seasons, which required city staff and firefighters to put in heavy overtime hours. Nearly 40 staff were paid more than $1,000 in provincially-funded emergency overtime last year. General manager of infrastructure Mitch Moroziuk billed a whopping $17,500 of emergency overtime.

The city’s top earners were members of the electrical union, which also saw big overtime hours funded by Telus for the fibre optic rollout.

Provincial law requires municipal governments to disclose the names and salaries of staff members who make more than $75,000 and payments to vendors over $25,000 in a year.

The "sunshine list" was made up of 38 managers, 33 firefighters, 24 CUPE members and 10 electrical union members.

The city also disclosed there was six severance agreements in 2017, ranging from two weeks to six months of compensation.

Mayor Andrew Jakubeit is paid $64,000 per year, while councillors collect $23,000. Both earn more by sitting on the RDOS board, as Jakubeit, Helena Konanz, Judy Sentes and Andre Martin do.

The City of Penticton’s top 10 salaries of 2017

  • Fredrick Weir, Lineman, $191,000**
  • Mitch Moroziuk, GM of Infrastructure, $190,000**
  • Geoff Mander, Journeyman Lineman, $186,000
  • Peter Weeber, City Manager, $179,000**
  • Amory Walliser, Electrical Utilities Sub Forman, $177,000
  • James Bauer, CFO, $171,000**
  • Larry Watkinson, Fire Chief, $163,000**
  • Anthony Haddad, Director of Development Services, $150,000
  • Jarret Warren, Lineman, $150,000**
  • Shawn Filice, Manager of Electrical Utility, $147,000

**Includes emergency overtime funded outside the city

New pub to open by Skaha

A new beach-house-inspired pub is planned to open on the south end of Penticton early this summer.

Owners of the Pirate's Cove Beach House say they're hopeful the pub near Skaha Lake will be ready to open its doors on July 1.

The property, at the corner of Skaha Lake Road and Yorkton Avenue, was formerly home to Anthony's Pub and has been vacant for about two years.

New owner Darryl Sanders said extensive cleaning has gone on for nearly a month, and said he's aiming for the new establishment to be "a step above" pub standards.

He said a pub on the city's south end is something that doesn't currently exist, and said it's needed.

"We've got a lot of construction on that end of town... We have no bar, per se, no venue on that end of town. So if anybody wants to go out who lives down here, they have to cab all the way downtown," Sanders said.

"Now there's something on this end of town, it's within walking distance for a lot of people... I just figured it'd be a good idea."

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