BC Housing, city talking

The Mayor of Penticton is confident a BC Housing development for the homeless will still come to fruition within the city, after council rejected plans this week for 52 units on Green Ave.

Council voted 5 - 1 Tuesday to send the modular project back to the drawing board due to concerns around its location within a school zone.

“I don’t think anyone in the public hearing or amongst council didn’t see the need,” Andrew Jakubeit said during this week’s Mayor’s Minute. “It boiled down to location. Some of the neighbours used the proximity to schools as an excuse or lobbying point — and it is a valid concern.”

Jakubeit said it’s possible BC Housing selected the Green Avenue location because it is an empty, provincially-owned lot, that would allow quick construction.

The 52-units would have been added to 46 existing transitional beds next-door at the Skaha Sunrise Apartments. The development is a part of 2,000 similar beds being rolled out by the provincial government across B.C.

“One of the residents brought up, ‘we already have 46 units here, our neighbourhoods already contributing, our neighbourhood already has its fair share.’” Jakubeit said, adding he would prefer to see transitional housing units spread throughout the community rather than centralized.

The Mayor said he and most on council are in support of the development in principle, which will provide 24/7 security and supports for those currently living on the streets. 

“We know there is the need for it. It’s economically more cost effective to have them housed, then to sort of manage and chase after them and have protective services… I’d rather have the police doing police work than managing homelessness,” he said.

He added similar developments fully staffed with support services have proven to be a great success. Supt Ted De Jager said this week called to the Fairhaven transitional housing project in Penticton have fallen to less than one a month with new programming there.

Jakubeit said city staff met with BC Housing Wednesday to discuss potential new locations for the project, “we are trying to fast track that and find a solution that works for everyone.”


Convention centre opens

Colton Davies

The curtains are up on Penticton’s newest convention space.

After nearly nine months of construction, the Penticton Lakeside Resort opened its new convention centre on Tuesday.

Staff say the opening was around two weeks ahead of schedule, which enabled the centre to host its first conference on Wednesday and Thursday. 

Brannigan Mosses, the resort's director of regional sales and marketing, says there's roughly 15,000 square feet of space — made up of a ballroom, upper and lower foyers and two heated decks.

Mosses says the Lakeside Resort is hoping to provide tenants an “authentic Okanagan experience" at the new convention centre.

"We're hoping that by bringing those city-wide events, people get a real taste of it. They won't just come for their event, but they'll be here to return with their families, their spouses, their friends, to really enjoy this beautiful city."

Mosses says the new space has the capacity to host events such as concerts, car shows and weddings, among others.

Some major events already booked include Oktoberfest, the BC Hockey Hall of Fame banquet and the Okanagan Wellness Summit.

"We're excited to see all the possibilities this space can entertain," Mosses says. 

"We're looking forward to working with our partners at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre and being able to bring more city-wide events to Penticton."

The PTCC generated more than $11 million in economic activity for the South Okanagan Events Centre complex last year. 

Penticton Mayor Andrew Jakubeit said on a recent Castanet Mayor's Minute that having the two convention centres will benefit the city by bringing in more people overall. He added that he hoped the two can collaborate on some events.

"I think there are synergies that can be obtained that we should be working together on," Jakubeit said on May 11. “Either entity wants what’s best for our community."

Lake may plateau soon

UPDATE 2:30 p.m.

If the weather cooperates, Okanagan Lake could stop rising within just over a week, provincial officials say.

Shaun Reimer, section head of Public Safety and Protection and manager of the Penticton dam, says the rate of rise for water levels on Okanagan Lake has dropped significantly, to just over two centimetres a day over the last few days.

“Based on the current projections and conditions we’ll probably continue to see that reduction in how fast the lake is rising,” he said, explaining its expected inflows should match outflows in Penticton within the week to 10-day mark.

“We are still very vulnerable to significant rain, and that’s really what we are going to have to watch for going forward,” he added.

Local governments have been armouring the shore based on a projected maximum lake level of 343 metres above sea level, a figure that won't likely be reached without heavy rain. 

Should the skies stay dry, Reimer predicts the lake will rise another 10-20 centimetres higher than Thursday's height of 342.63 metres above sea level.

ORIGINAL 11:15 a.m.

New data from the BC River Forecast Centre shows a “dramatic” snow melt has occurred over the first two weeks of May.

Okanagan snow basins were measured on May 15 at 126 per cent of normal, well down from the 206 per cent registered on May 1.

“Snow packs have largely been depleted from low elevation areas,” the snow bulletin states. “Mid-elevation areas have melted approximately 30-60 per cent of the snow pack, and upper elevations have melted 10-30 per cent.”

In the Similkameen, the drop was even more dramatic — now at 56 per cent of normal, down from 210 per cent two weeks ago. The Boundary was measured at 132 per cent of normal.

“Ongoing flood risk from this season’s snow pack is primarily associated with the remaining mid-to-upper elevation snowpack,” the report states. “In low-to-mid elevation watersheds, snow melt risks have subsided.”

Risks from snowmelt in the Okanagan Lake system, South and North Thompson Rivers and the Kootenay region are expected to last another one to three weeks.

Flood fears in the Okanagan have shifted to the lake, which surpassed full pool last week. The lake’s rise, however, has slowed significantly in recent days. You can track Okanagan Lake levels and how they compare to last year here.


Flood barriers coming down

Flood barriers are coming down in Tulameen, where building inspectors have been sent to examine 15 properties that have been under evacuation order since April 29.

The RDOS lifted evacuation alerts Thursday off 288 other properties in Tulameen.

“Flooding, caused by high snow levels, rain and warm temperatures, inundated a large part of the Tulameen townsite in late April,” an RDOS news release says. “Otter Lake and the Tulameen River have now dropped significantly and the majority of snow in the area has melted.”

Following the assessment by the building inspectors, the evacuation orders for the 15 homes will be reassessed for tomorrow.

Crews with the RDOS are in the process of removing aqua dams and gabions in Tulameen, but property owners are advised to keep sandbags in place and watch their homes should heavy rainfall occur.

New bike trail opens

After nearly two years of work, the newest mountain-bike trail at Penticton’s Three Blind Mice area has opened.

Upper Neverland is a 3.2 kilometre climbing-only extension of the original Neverland trail, ending at the Reservoir Trailhead.

While the bulk of the trail building work was completed last year, the Penticton Area Cycling Association opted to keep the trail closed last year to allow it to firm up and rest under the snow.

“The final 600 metres was hammered in by a super dedicated crew of 20 or so volunteers fuelled only on ‘new trail excitement’ and copious beverages provided by our generous local sponsors,” a PACA web posts says.

Upper Neverland is slightly steeper and more technical than the original Neverland trail and is classified as blue difficulty.

The $60,000 project was funded in part by the City of Penticton, Western Canada Diversification Fund, RDOS and members. With the exception of the volunteer-built portion of trail, it was constructed by Cabin Forestry.

“We highly encourage everybody to go up and enjoy this climb (yes, it is possible to enjoy climbing),” PACA said.

Olympian part of Peachfest

Summerland's Justin Kripps, who is fresh off of winning an Olympic gold medal in bobsled earlier this year, will be a part of the Penticton Peach Festival in several facets this summer.

Kripps will be involved in the opening ceremonies on August 8 and will be signing autographs that day at Okanagan Lake Park. He'll also be leading the Peter's Bros grand parade on August 11.

The 31-year-old was born in Hawaii but grew up in Summerland, and said he attended Peachfest "all the time" as a kid, and comes back constantly for the event as an adult.

“I remember as a kid it was so fun because there were all these people in town and so much energy. It was a big deal when I was a kid and I still feel that way when I check it out as an adult," Kripps said.

Kripps and Ontario's Alex Kopacz tied for gold in two-man bobsled in PyeongChang — Kripps' first medal in his third Olympic appearance.

“We are so proud of all of our Olympic athletes from the Okanagan and happy to have Justin share his gold medal with everyone at the Penticton Peach Festival,” Peachfest president Don Kendall said.

Kripps shared his gold medal with students at schools in Summerland recently, and said being able to do that came "full circle" for him.

"I remember being in a class and being so inspired when we had Olympian Curt Harnett speak to us when I was young,” he said.

The 71st Peachfest takes place from August 8 to 12 this summer.

Urgency to count bats

Little is known about the bat populations in the Okanagan and Similkameen, and a provincial non-profit group is asking for volunteers to help collect the most basic information.

The annual bat count begins next month, and the BC Community Bat Program is asking for residents to help count bats at roost sites in the region.

“No special skills are needed, you can be any age, and you can relax in a deck chair while counting," ecologist Paula Rodriguez de la Vega said.

During the count, volunteers wait outside roost sites and count bats as they swoop out at sundown. They then record numbers and basic details of weather conditions.

If volunteers don't have a bat roost site on their own properties, they will be matched at sites as close by as possible.

The BC Community Bat Program said one to two counts are done between June 1 and 21 before pups are born, and one to two more take place between July 11 and August 5 when the pups begin flying.

The program said there is some urgency to collect basic data on bat populations in B.C. with the White Nose Syndrome being detected in bats near the province.

WNS is a fungal disease first discovered in New York in 2006, and Rodriguez de la Vega said it's believed to have killed more than seven million bats since then.

“In March 2016, the disease was detected just east of Seattle, and has now spread within Washington state... We never known when it is our last year to obtain population estimates before White Nose Syndrome causes widespread declines in western North America," she said.

Further details on the program's bat counts can be found here.

More Penticton News

Recent Trending


Send us your News Tips!

Okanagan Oldies

Penticton SPCA Featured Pet

Flutter Penticton SPCA >


Castanet Proud Member of RTNDA Canada