Woman flees into lake

A woman in Summerland jumped into Okanagan Lake in an attempt to escape police on Thursday afternoon.

A resident of the Summerland Beach RV and Campground told Castanet News a woman came into the park late this morning, asking for help. When police arrived, she fled, eventually jumping into Okanagan Lake.

Marine help from the Penticton Fire Department was called in around 12 p.m. to assist.

The woman eventually returned to shore and was placed under arrest. An officer at the scene said she was being detained under the Mental Health Act, and is being taken to hospital for examination. 

Castanet has reached out to the Southeast District RCMP for more details.


Triathlons need volunteers

Volunteers are desperately needed for Challenge Penticton and ITU Multi Sport World Championship Festival being held this weekend and in August. 

The Challenge Penticton takes place Sunday, July 23 and ITU volunteers are needed from August 12 to 27. 

"We're looking for a few people to do two volunteer shifts (4 to 5 hours each) as a course marshall, one at Challenge Penticton on July 23 and one at ITU Multisport World Championships during the ten day festival," said Jennifer Andrews Penticton based coach. "We're offering a $50 honorarium to those who can help us out."

There is many perks to helping out,  like a small party for all volunteers following both events, according to the Penticton Challenge and ITU websites. 

Volunteers are needed at first aid stations, transition, finish line, massage, medical, environmental crew and much more. 

To volunteer for the ITU or the Penticton Challenge email [email protected] 

Fire 100% contained

UPDATE 12:20 p.m.

Fire Chief Larry Watkinson has confirmed they have achieved 100 per cent containment of the fire. Residents should be allowed back into their homes in "the next couple hours."

The Penticton Fire Department will remain on the scene all night.

UPDATE 12:00 p.m.

The fire continues to hold, but upwards of 40 homes remain evacuated. The evacuation area consists of all of Westwood Drive, in addition to other homes near the fire. 

Fire Chief Larry Watkinson said they are relieved they managed to avoid a complete disaster.

"The fire backed right up into properties onto porches, as close as you can get without losing structures," he said.

Evacuees are being asked to register at Penticton Community Centre reception centre at 325 Power Street.

UPDATE 11:30 a.m.

Penticton Fire Chief Larry Watkinson says crews have achieved 60 per cent containment on the fire, which they are estimating at one hectare in size.

Damage to the roofs of two homes near the fire was not significant, as firefighters were able to douse the spot fires before flames spread.

Watkinson said crews will be working to fully extinguish the fire overnight. He hopes residents of Westwood Drive will be allowed to return to their homes this evening. 

UPDATE 11:00 a.m.

Penticton city manager Peter Weeber says fire is “being managed effectively” and has “not spread beyond the current fire area.”

Damage to a pair of homes has been limited to the roofs of both homes, he said.

A tactical evacuation remains in effect, with our reporter at the scene confirming residents are still not being allowed back into the area.

Firefighters from Penticton, Summerland and Naramata remain on scene with the support of a helicopter from the B.C. Wildfire Service.

UPDATE 10:25 a.m.

The B.C. Wildfire Service is now on scene with air support, dropping water on the grassy area below Westwood Drive where the fire started.

Crews have started to gain an upper hand on the original fire, but are dealing with a pair of spot fires on the roofs of nearby homes. The City of Penticton has confirmed that at least two homes have been impacted by the fire.

Castanet spoke to a resident of Sandstone Dr. who is not being allowed to return to his home, due to the active water drops from the B.C. Wildfire Service.

“Very anxious, very worried,” said Giorgio Chiacig, “they said I can’t go back to the house because of water bombers coming in and it's a safety hazard.”

UPDATE 10:05 a.m.

Fire officials have been unable to comment so far, but an RCMP officer working a roadblock says fire crews have started to “get a good handle on the fire.”

He noted the fire has spread since it started, but that they have a request into forestry crews for water bombers, which are on the way.

The fire is burning near Westwood Drive, which is under a tactical evacuation. Sandstone Drive has been placed on evacuation alert. Penticton city manager Peter Weeber confirmed there have been tactical evacuations and will provide more information when available.

Additional resources have also been called in from the Naramata and Summerland Fire Departments as well

UPDATE 9:50 a.m.

Penticton RCMP is telling residents in the surrounding neighbourhood they should be ready to evacuate. People are being moved away from the fire zone, with officers stating “it’s not contained.”

Our reporter at the scene says some residents are fleeing the area with horses.

ORIGINAL 9:30 a.m.

Castanet is receiving reports of a wildfire on Westwood Drive, in the West Bench area, just outside Penticton.

The Penticton Fire Department has responded, and put out a request to forestry for a helicopter.

A reporter is en route to the scene.

We will provide more updates as they become available.


Bathtubs ahoy!

Bathtubs, bathtubs, bathtubs – now even better for spectators.

The third annual Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race, hosted by the Summerland Yacht Club in support of the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation, is all set to go on Saturday, August 19 at Powell Beach in Trout Creek.

Spokesman Jim Cavin says the race course this year has been changed to make it more viewer friendly. It now features a smaller, triangular three-kilometre circuit from Powell Beach. Racers head north towards the Summerland hill on Highway 97, then east towards Naramata, before returning to Powell Beach.  Each race will be from 8-10 laps (depending on weather conditions) instead of three on last year’s larger course.

There will be three race categories starting with Class B (home-built) bathtubs at 11 a.m.; Class A (performance craft) at 12:30 p.m.; and a Super-Modified class (high-powered entries from the famous Nanaimo race) at 1:30 p.m.  There will be no recreational “putt-putt” event this year.

Cavin says 22 entries have been confirmed to date, including an entry by physicians at Penticton Regional Hospital. More registrations are still being accepted. For details visit their website ogopogobathtubrace.com.

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been a huge success since its debut in 2015 – having raised $44,000 for the SOS Medical Foundation’s campaign to provide the medical equipment for the PRH expansion.

* * *

Speaking of the Bathtub Race, our thanks to Mike and Samantha Stokes at Buy the Sea seafood in Penticton who hosted a fundraising barbeque last Saturday to help promote the Bathtub Race. Race volunteers served up dozens of delicious sockeye lunches to the public. This marked the second year Buy the Sea has held a Bathtub Barbecue – many thanks to Samantha and Mike and all those who helped out.

* * *

A couple of charity golf tournaments in support of PRH are coming up next month. The 21st annual Peach City Tees Up for Cancer ladies golf tournament will be held Aug. 18-19 at the Penticton Golf Club.  Tees Up has been an incredible supporter of the cancer/oncology department at PRH for more than two decades. Now they’re committed to raising $150,000 over five years for the Medical Foundation’s tower campaign. In addition to their golf tourney fundraising efforts, Tees Up is encouraging supporters to donate online at sosmedicalfoundation.com.  Make sure to mention on the donation page that your contribution is linked to Tees Up.

Meanwhile, EllisDon Infrastructure, the province’s private sector partner in the $312.5-million PRH expansion project, hosts its own tourney at the Penticton Golf Club on August 28. Again, all the proceeds will go towards our tower campaign. Good luck to all the golfers – stay out of the trees!

* * *

Construction of the new David E. Kampe Tower continues to roll along at a rapid pace. The exterior of the six-storey building should be complete by the end of this year, with work then focusing on interior work in 2018.  To view the daily progress, just click on the live webcam accessible through the Foundation’s website.

John Moorhouse is the development and communications officer for the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation.

Pot shops left to RCMP

Penticton’s mayor says the decision to end the city’s experiment with licensing marijuana dispensaries brings the community in line with what is going on elsewhere in the Okanagan.

Andrew Jakubeit made the comments during this week’s Mayor’s Minute, adding the steps they took seven months ago were meant to be an “in between step” until legalization took place.

“At the end of the day, the Prime Minister is still saying the sale of marijuana is illegal and it's for the RCMP to enforce.”

Jakubeit said ending the permitting system also makes it a bit more “consistent in terms of injunctive action or for the RCMP.”

He pointed to a trio of letters sent in March by the Penticton RCMP, ordering both the two licensed dispensaries and an unlicensed shop to shut down, noting the local police consider them all illegal, permits or not.

Penticton city council created the licensing system in response to a sudden proliferation of dispensaries in the city in an attempt to regulate and keep them in check, in absence of police enforcement.

That appears to have worked partially, with just Jukka Laurio’s Herbal Greens defying the system and staying open after missing out a permit.

All three shops will be asked to transition to a “wellness centre” model, which would be able facilitate medical cannabis and sell paraphernalia, but not actually sell the drug.

With numerous dispensaries across the province operating and selling cannabis under a “wellness centre” banner, Jakubeit said bylaw and police would be expected to enforce the law should a local shop decide to continue to distribute cannabis.

“It is something for the RCMP to enforce, and the level of enforcement is a question best answered by Superintendent Ted De Jager.”

The Penticton RCMP have repeatedly declined elaborate on the issue in the past.

Cleaning up Carmi forests

Penticton's forests are being used as dumping grounds, and this Saturday, the community will clean up the mess.

Every year, the South Okanagan Trail Alliance, in partnership with the Upper Carmi Neighborhood Association conduct an illegal trash site cleanup in Penticton's Carmi Beaverdell Road area.

"We get far too many [people] that think the forest is a place to drop their trash," said Andrew Drouin, president of the local trails club. "Our group, the South Okanagan Trail Alliance has a partnership agreement with the Crown to build trails on our section of land, Carmi Beaverdell Road, so we pay specific attention to that area."

They will be using heavy duty equipment, like Bobcats and loaders to remove the garbage, according to Drouin.

"We take away thousands of pounds," he said. "It's not going to be people walking around with garbage bags, it's going to be people showing up with flat decks, Bobcats and method loading tons of garbage onto flat deck trailers."

It's ignorant people looking to save $20 at the landfill, said Drouin. The garbage left by people at the Carmi Beaverdell Road area is a large assortment.  

"Everything you can imagine from microwaves, fridges, stoves, household garbage and everything in between," he said.

The event will start at 10:00 a.m. on July 22, at Garnet Fire Interpretive Centre parking lot. The community is invited to join in and help make the forests "beautiful again."

Make sure to bring gloves, appropriate footwear, a rake, bug spray and water.

Art market begins Sunday

Summer art markets begin this Sunday in Penticton, running until September 3. 

The market takes place on the grounds of the Leir House at 220 Manor Park Avenue, starting July 23 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

"We welcome vendor sellers of arts, crafts and local food products, and musicians to perform for the Sundays as well," Sharon Lawrence, Penticton Arts Council office administrator. "We also welcome those individuals who would like to offer the opportunities of massage, reflexology and card readings."

The event exists for the purpose of providing a unique marketplace where individuals can exhibit and sell fine art and quality handcrafted work to the public.

The Penticton Art Councils objective is to bring all a chance to socialize, listen to music and have fun.

Vendor tables for the Sunday events are $10 for general admission and $5 for Art Council members. The market is free to the public.

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