Heavy traffic incoming

Penticton RCMP are asking the public to be patient this weekend, or consider walking/biking downtown.

With the Peach City Beach Cruise set to attract close to 800 classic cars to the downtown, “traffic is going to be a mess,” said Cpl. Ted Manchulenko. “It’s an awesome event, but there is no way around it.”

The Penticton Farmers is moving to the 500 and 600 block of Main Street on Saturday to accommodate the car show, further impacting traffic. The Penticton Elvis Festival will also be drawing large crowds all weekend.

Lakeshore Drive will be closed all weekend for the Beach Cruise, with Main Street past Eckhardt Ave. closed Friday evening for the parade of show cars.

Manchulenko says police are asking people to park on the outskirts of downtown and walk into the neighbourhood.


Arena debate to ramp up

The long-running debate over the fate of Memorial Arena is about to heat up.

“There is a few of balls in the air here,” Andrew Jakubeit said on this week’s Mayor’s Minute, acknowledging that the clock is ticking for the city to make a decision on Penticton’s arena situation.

A grant application worth six million dollars is due on July 30, and Penticton will need to decide before then if it wants to renovate or replace the aging Memorial or McLaren Arenas.

“The outcome of getting that grant will, I think, will dictate what avenue we take,” Jakubeit said. “Obviously a six million dollar grant on a multi million dollar complex, will dictate how we proceed.”

It was revealed this week that an option being considered would see a new arena built on the South Okanagan Events Centre campus, something that put Travel Penticton’s proposal for a desperately needed new visitor centre there on ice.

An open house is planned for June 28 from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Convention Centre that will unveil the draft findings of the viability studies into Memorial and McLaren Arena, and a separate feasibility study into a new arena.

Jakubeit said he hasn’t seen the studies yet, but expects the community to be presented with design costs, concepts, drawings and options for refurbishing Memorial Arena, or building a new facility.

So far the process has been steered by the arena task force, comprised of “subject matter experts and people from the community that are helping vet the pros and cons,” Jakubeit said.

Following the June 28 open house, the arena task force will hold open workshops in July to develop draft recommendations, which will be put to the public online, and at the Penticton Farmers Market July 15 and 22.

The mayor did note the city is interested in keeping a possible new arena on the SOEC campus to preserve “synergies” around hosting tournaments and other events. He expects traffic concerns to be addressed in the studies.

Then finally, there is a special public meeting scheduled for July 25, where council is expected to make a decision on how to pursue the grant before the July 30 deadline.

Wild hoping for less travel

The Okanagan Wild play their only game of the season in Penticton this weekend, near the tail end of their inaugural season.

The Wild have struggled this year (4-11) in the B.C. Intermediate Lacrosse League, hamstrung by a travel schedule that saw them play just a handful of their home games in the Interior.

The team has played a pair of games in Kamloops, one in Merritt and one in Rutland. The rest of their “home games” were played in the Lower Mainland, something the team's general manager is aiming to change for next season.

“We were challenged with the heavy travel at the first half of the season,” Martin Gardner said, noting that many of the players from all over the Okanagan and Southern Interior already have to travel hours just to make it to practice.

“But overall, I think we are exactly where we want to be leading up to next year, which is going to be a different animal altogether,” he said. “The biggest key to our success, is going into next year, the boys were scared and timid, didn’t know what to expect, there was a lot of emotion about the unknown.”

Parents, volunteers and coaches have all been learning as they go this season.

The Wild play the New Westminster Salmonbellies, Saturday at 4 p.m. at Memorial Arena. With eight players on the Wild roster hailing from the Peach City, Gardner expects a hard fought game.

“Its back and forth action, high levels of one on one competitiveness, but it's a team sport and a spectator sport, I welcome people to come out, lacrosse is an amazing game,” he said.

The Wild play one more game in the Interior on July 8 in Vernon at Kal-Tire Place, before heading back to the Lower Mainland for the final three games of the season.

Gardner says they are exploring the possibility of a single home venue for next year, but he also likes the idea of spreading the home games throughout the Okanagan, Kamloops and Merritt.

Aboriginal Day celebrated

It was a beautiful day to be alive and dance, the Penticton Indian Band’s Levi Bent told the crowd at the local Aboriginal Day celebration, and that's exactly what attendees did.

People of all ages, from all walks of life came together at the Shatford Centre on Wednesday.

"It's about connecting and reconnecting communities and different age groups from youth to elders in the whole Penticton area and to showcase our connection between artists here in the Okanagan and throughout Canada," said Dr. Michelle Jack, head of the fine arts department at the En'owkin Centre.

This is the second year that the En'owkin Centre and Okanagan School of the Arts have partnered to strengthen and connect the indigenous and non-indigenous communities of Penticton.

Levi Bent served as MC for the day, which opened with a prayer and welcome by Richard Armstrong and dignitaries, PIB chief Chad Eneas and Mayor Andrew Jakubeit.

Eneas talked about celebrating the life that was gifted to us and the need for environmental action so kids can have clean water, air and food. Jakubeit said celebrating culture is a great thing and that he looked forward to the dancers and art.

A mini pow-wow with Bent and the Highwater drum group followed the speakers.

The Resurgence Exhibition, curated by Jack and Ann Doyon, also opened, while a feast and entertainment was held on the outdoor and indoor stages.

Next week the Centre will host an Open Canada 150 discussion with indigenous perspectives at 7 p.m., June 27.

Art auction turning 40

The Penticton Art Gallery is inviting residents to join them this week for one its most important fundraisers of the year.

The 40th Annual Art Auction, Thursday, will offer a unique and enticing array of fine art items.

"At the very basic level, this is just to support the gallery with funds raised from this going to our ability to do what we do, our exhibitions and public programs," said curator Paul Crawford. "On another level it's an amazing opportunity for the public to acquire amazing art for every taste and budget."

A wide range of art is up for grabs, including work from heavy-hitters like Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol, Alex Colville and local talents like "Gentleman Potter of the Okanagan Valley" Jay Cryderman and Penticton painter Kristine Lee. There are also uncommon collectible items and extraordinary experiential packages.

The auction will feature hors d'oeuvres, a buffet dinner and local wine and beer.

Items will be auctioned off both silently and live, followed by live entertainment and a “dessert under the stars” in the Ikeda Japanese Garden.

Looking back at 40 years, guests are invited in semi-formal attire with the theme of Studio 54.

Tickets are on sale now at the Penticton Art Gallery for $75 each or $70 each for gallery members.

Groups of four are $275.


Library flasher found guilty

A 64-year-old man who exposed himself to a woman and her three children at the Penticton Library last year has been found guilty.

Judge Meg Shaw rendered the decision Wednesday, which followed a trial for David Ernest Friesen last month, who was charged with committing an indecent act in a public place and two counts of exposing genitals to a person under 16.

According to Shaw, in January 2016, a mother was unloading her children from her van in the library parking lot when she was approached by Friesen, who was wearing a baggy coat and grey beard.

He said hello, and began a polite conversation with the woman about the weather, before asking if there were any girls in the van.

During the trial, the mother testified that she observed his penis fully hanging out of his pants, with no clothing blocking its exposure.

The woman then abruptly cut off the conversation, at which point he stood up straight and smiled, eventually leaving in a nearby vehicle.

At the time the woman did not know his identity, but several weeks later she spotted the same man at her church and was able to get his name. The man was the arrested and charged.

In handing down her decision, Shaw said she accepted the evidence of the mother, noting that there was no other reasonable explanation for a man to be exposing himself on a winter’s day.

The incident was no accident, she stated, and was an intended act for sexual gratification.

A pre-sentence report including a psychiatric component is being prepared for the case, at the request of defence lawyer James Pennington.

The matter will be back before the courts on Aug. 23. In the meantime, Friesen remains out on bail.


Thrilled with new fire boat

Just in time for summer, the Penticton Fire Department has its hands on a new rescue boat.

Fire Chief Larry Watkinson says they took possession of the vessel on Saturday, and have been training all week on Skaha Lake.

“It is an absolutely incredible machine, quite a vessel, incredibly responsive and very powerful,” he said “It's the size that we wanted, and maneuverable, totally exceeds expectations.”

The boat was purchased following a public funding push this winter, with the department's old 1988 Zodiac falling apart. Organizations like the Penticton Yacht Club and Lakeside Resort stepped forward, helping to pay for the badly needed $180,000 machine.

The department will be providing media with more details during a tour of the boat on Friday.

Watch Castanet News for that story.

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