Paws and Claus pictures

Who says pets don't have Christmas wishes too?

Give your furry friends the chance to tell the big man in red what they want to see under the tree Saturday at PetSmart in Penticton. 

Santa Claus will be on hand from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. to take by-donation photos with pets, with all proceeds going to Critteraid Animal Sanctuary.

Representatives from Critteraid will also be there to share information on how you can get involved with their organization, or take home a fur-ever friend in need of a home this holiday season. 

Any and all pets are welcome, from cats and dogs to bunnies and beyond. Critteraid recommends you bring smaller pets in a carrier. 


City wants home torn down

Staff with the City of Penticton is seeking an order from council to force the owner of a burned-out manufactured home to demolish the structure, or city crews will do it themselves.

Pad 93 at the Whitewater Manufactured Home Park on Paris Street saw a fire gut the abandoned structure on August 15.

Prior to the blaze, the city had received complaints that the under-construction structure was attracting vagrants and attempted to have it cleaned up.

Since then the city has tried and failed to get the owner of the home to tear it down, due in part to outstanding fees totalling $1,940.

On Tuesday city council will consider ordering the structure be demolished with a January 31 deadline. If the deadline is not met, the city will move in and bill the homeowner.

“Staff made several communication attempts with the owner of the mobile home but the property remains in a hazardous condition,” a staff report to council states.

Council will discuss the matter Tuesday.

Legion looking at new home

Members of the Penticton branch of the Royal Canadian Legion voted Monday to start negotiations to relocate.

They are looking at leaving their Martin Street spot to move to 257 Brunswick Street, former home of the Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans Unit 97 Club, also known as the ANAVETS Club. The lease would cost the legion less at the new location.

"Most of it is monetary, but the ANAVETS is a military organization as well, so it's the same sort of feeling. It just makes sense," said Sandy Schwartz, who currently works at the Legion. 

She said the vote at Monday's meeting was heavily in favour of beginning negotiations. The decision to move would mean the Legion needed to leave Martin Street this spring, but no specific timeline is in place yet. 

"It has to go through negotiations then it has to come back to the membership and they have to vote at that point," Schwartz said, meaning nothing is set in stone.

The Penticton ANAVETS club was shuttered earlier this year after allegations of theft and dissolution of the club's management.  


More SOEC parking needed

Within the next five years the City of Penticton should re-configure and optimize the parking lots at the South Okanagan Events Centre as well as construct new lots to keep up with increased demand driven in part by the new Cascades Casino, according to a comprehensive study before council next week.

The final draft of a 68-page study on parking around the SOEC suggests a multi-level parkade is not needed yet, and many spaces can be freed up for less money.

The report found that two of the busiest lots on the complex, the community centre and the curling club, can be increased in size by 19 spaces and 13 spaces respectively with a simple re-configuration. The project would include the removal of the unused Queen’s Boulevard entrance and would cost a combined $172,000.

The report also recommends the city expand parking options to the west, by expanding the existing Eckhardt Avenue lot and installing a new lot on Creston Avenue. Combined the new lots would add 72 spaces and would cost $480,000.

In the short term, the report recommends in 2019 the city implement 2-4 hour parking at the community centre, initiate time-restricted permit parking on surrounding streets, improve signage and install new crosswalks on the campus.

“SOEC parking pressures have increased over the past several years due to introduction of the casino and a general increase in traffic to the various business and services on site,” the report states.

The study found that the SOEC site has a parking shortfall on 19 spaces, mostly due to the casino complex and community centre. But when nearby parking lots on Alberni Street are counted, there is a surplus of nearly 300 spots.

The new signage would aim to inform motorists of walking times to the SOEC, as the outlying lots are mostly completely unused unless an event like a hockey game or concert is underway.

The report leaves the possibility of a multi-level parkade on the table — at a cost of $35,000 per stall — but said it should be a longer term vision to be initiated as part of a larger project.

Council will discuss the report during its meeting Tuesday afternoon.

Another 'Coffee with a Cop'

The Penticton RCMP is holding another Coffee with a Cop next week.

The event Dec. 19 from 10 a.m. to noon at the downtown Blenz will give residents the chance to meet police officers and ask questions or voice concerns.                            

“Every day our Officers put on their uniforms and work to make us safer, sometimes seeing the dark side of humanity. Coffee with a Cop is a nice chance for us to get to know our community and interact on a personal and positive level.” said Cst. James Grandy.

Blenz is located at 284 Main Street.

Big haul at toy drive

The annual Toys for Tots to Teens event garnered plenty of donations, easily surpassing the student organizers' goals. 

On Dec. 6, the Penticton community came together at Penticton Secondary School to donate toys and money toward the goal of making sure every child and youth in the community has something to unwrap this holiday season. 

"Last week on our event day, we collected 1,227 toys for our tots and teens. With the donation money we received (which will be used to buy more gifts), and the presents that were dropped off at Canadian Tire over the weekend, we are incredibly happy to say that we have reached, if not exceeded our goal of 1,500 gifts," said Katie Foreman and Matthew MacDonald, student organizers. 

The two said they are thrilled and inspired by the results of the event. They have been diligently sorting through the toys and donations for the past week.

"We sincerely thank you for filling the stockings and the hearts of those less fortunate families in our community," Foreman and MacDonald said. "Have a wonderful Christmas!"

All aboard Xmas train

Chelsea Powrie

For over 20 years, the Kettle Valley Steam Railway has been putting on a Christmas train, and they kicked off their most recent sold-out season Thursday night. 

The steam-powered train had to be warmed up for two days in preparation for its busy 10 days leading up to Christmas Eve. It has been decorated with holiday lights and will be running twice a day from now until December 23, taking about 120 people on each ride. 

"We simply can't put on enough trains to satisfy the demand, we put on as many as we can with the days we have and the crews we have, and they always sell out," said Gerry Conrad, secretary of the KVR Society. 

This year's tickets have been sold out for over a month. The hour-long train journey features views of the Summerland valley and local light displays, as well as special guests on board. 

"It's dark outside the whole run, so it's an inside-the-train experience," Conrad said. "All the magic of being inside a train lit up with Christmas lights. The gentleman in the big red suit makes an appearance with his friend, and they meet all the kids."

Roberta Graham, a 104-year-old woman, and her elderly friend Audrey Ross were on the first Christmas train of the 2018 season Thursday. Graham said she's been riding it for three years now, but for Ross, it was a first. 

"It was lovely, it was very nice!" Ross said. "I've just arrived in Penticton a year ago. It was a wonderful night."

Eastyn, a young girl, got off the train with a huge grin on her face, saying she had seen Santa and told him what she wanted for Christmas. 

"It's a secret," she said with a smile, when asked what she had wished for. 

Over 2,000 guests will ride the Christmas train in the next week and a half, a significant portion of the overall 30,000 the steam train sees during an entire year. Even so, plenty of people were left disappointed this season, missing out on tickets.

"We know that there's lots more folks that would like to ride the train than we're able to accommodate. We're going to work on that," Conrad said. 

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