Man dead after hit and run

A man, 48, is dead after a vehicle struck him on Seymour Street in Kamloops then took off.

On Oct. 20 at 1:40 a.m. a taxi driver contacted Kamloops RCMP to report that he had found a man injured and lying on Seymour Street near the B.C. Lottery building.  

Police officers quickly arrived on scene and called an ambulance.

The man later died in hospital of his injuries.

Video surveillance shows the vehicle after it struck the man.

The driver did not stop and fled the scene.  

The vehicle is described as looking like a mid-2000’s Dodge Neon SX 2.0 four-door sedan, silver or grey in colour.  

Kamloops RCMP are asking for the public’s help in identifying the suspect vehicle. If you have any information on this vehicle, who the owner is or who the driver might be, contact the Kamloops RCMP at 250-828-3000.  If you wish to remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.


Cage fighter facing charges

A Kamloops mixed martial arts fighter has been charged with multiple counts of domestic assault.

Matt Baker, 34, is due in court Nov. 1 on four counts of assault, uttering threats and mischief.

Known as “The Riotmaker,” Baker is ranked as the eighth-best MMA fighter in Canada.

The four assaults are alleged to have occurred Dec. 31, 2017, May. 1, 2018, May 15 and June 18 in Kamloops. The Vancouver Sun is reporting the incidents involve his spouse.

Baker is billed as 6-foot-1 and more than 200 pounds, competing in the middleweight and light-heavyweight categories.

Fatal pedestrian collision

A pedestrian was killed in a motor vehicle collision in Kamloops overnight.

Kamloops RCMP were on the scene into this morning on Seymour Street West, near the BC Lotteries headquarters, says Sgt. Kelly Butler.

The collision happened at 1:35 a.m., and the scene has been cordoned off while police investigate.

Traffic is being rerouted around the area. 

The area is expected to be closed to vehicle and pedestrian traffic for several hours, Butler advised by email at 4:45 a.m.

Police are seeking witnesses, and anyone with any information is asked to call Kamloops RCMP at 250-828-3000 or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477.


Some pot strains sold out

Consumers in British Columbia wanting to legally buy recreational marijuana for the first time on Wednesday were most likely to use the province's online sales system, which Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says passed one significant hurdle in the early going.

After it went live at midnight, Farnworth says the system recorded about 1,000 sales in the first hour.

"It did not crash," he told a conference call with reporters.

By 2 p.m., the only government store in B.C., in Kamloops, had taken about 200 orders, and the province said there had been about 5,600 online purchases. By mid-afternoon some products were sold out.

Farnworth said he expected demand to exceed supply for some of the products.

"Some strains are going to sell out faster than other strains, and it shows people are excited about the prospect of being able to buy legal cannabis in B.C. and in the rest of the country," he said. "It doesn't surprise me. It's like you go to the liquor store and sometimes your favourite wine is sold out."

Viviana Zanocco, a spokeswoman for the BC Liquor Distribution Branch, said producers "fell short" on what the government expected to be delivered.

Blain Lawson, CEO of the distribution branch, said the store's frosted windows meet a Health Canada regulation that prohibits product being visible from the street. "We're making sure that it looks nice from the outside, but children won't be able to see into the store," he said.

The store has a clean, streamlined layout with white walls and glossy shelves. Mounted electronic tablets with touch screens display strains of marijuana available for purchase and prices.

Consumers can take a whiff of each strain from a clear plastic "smell jar" that has a small piece of bud inside. Staff carry small flashlights to help customers take a closer look at the nuggets, but otherwise the product is not openly displayed.

Kevin Satterfield, director of cannabis retail operations for the distribution branch, said about 20 people have been hired to work at the store and they looked for staff with awareness of cannabis. All underwent criminal background checks, but a small pot possession conviction would not necessarily disqualify them.

Educating cannabis buyers

UPDATE: 1:45 p.m.

Buying cannabis at the province's first legal retail cannabis store in Kamloops is an educational experience.

During the opening of Kamloops store Wednesday, Michael Tan, executive director of the Liquor Distribution Branch, said their research has shown despite high rates of cannabis consumption in B.C., “generally the knowledge of cannabis was relatively low.”

“There was an opportunity to educate customers, particularly new customers, on the plant,” Tan said.

Posters in the interior of the cannabis store provide information about the difference between indica and sativa cannabis, and how the levels of THC and CBD, along with different terpenes, affect an experience.

“Not anyone of those attributes are indicative of an experience, but all three combined would make a fairly educated choice,” Tan said. “Every single experience is personal to everyone, and the best way to determine what your best strain would be is through cautious experimentation.”

Unlike liquor stores, children aren't allowed in cannabis stores, even with a parent, and the windows are frosted as per Health Canada regulations.

On Wednesday, the Kamloops store was offering 85 strains from about 40 Licensed Producers.

“It's not what were going to look like six months from now, or what we'll look like a year from now,” said Brian Lawson, CEO of the Liquor Distribution Branch. “As more LPs come on stream and as they move from start up phase into normalized operations, that'll change dramatically.”

Additionally, customers can purchase rolling papers, pipes and bongs, along with other accessories.

UPDATE 11:15 a.m.

As the clock struck 10 a.m., the doors of the province's first legal recreational cannabis retail store opened in Kamloops, and eager customers patiently filed in. 

Becky Prete from Kelowna was the first one through the doors. She had been waiting since just after 6 a.m.

"I honestly thought I'd be a few blocks back, I literally thought that there'd be a lineup last night," Prete said. 

"Last night felt like Christmas for adults, I was super giddy. This morning when I got here, I was like, I'm so glad that I got up early and came."

While only about eight people were in line at 8 a.m., the lineup quickly grew as the opening neared, and close to 100 people were waiting by the time the doors open. 

Prete, who's been using cannabis for about a decade, says she never expected to one day buy cannabis from the government. 

Some who came out of the store after making their purchases expressed concern with pricing, which ranged from $6.99 to $13.99 per gram. 

"I bought seven grams and it was $100 ... I paid $10 in tax, that's a lot of tax," said Robert Griffiths, a Kamloops resident who grows his own medical cannabis. 

"I'll keep growing my own, it's cheap, it's pennies per gram if you do it at home."

Prete said while she wasn't too concerned with pricing on the first day of legalization, she may pay more attention to price later down the road.

Don and Aaron, two brothers who own the cannabis cultivation company DNA Genetics, travelled from California to see their products on the shelves in Canada. 

"It's amazing, it's been a long journey," Don said. "The goal is to have it legal everywhere like every other plant. Just make it legal and let people be adults and choose what they want. So Canada, we respect you for doing that."

While legal cannabis in B.C. can only be purchased from the retail store in Kamloops at this time, online sales went live at midnight. A $10 shipping fee is included for purchased online.

LIVE 10 a.m.



UPDATE 9:40 a.m.

As the clock ticks closer to 10 a.m., the lineup of those looking to purchase legal cannabis from the government grows. 

The BC Cannabis Store in Kamloops is the first legal retail dispensary to open in the province. 

Becky Prete from Kelowna got to the store just before 6 a.m. and is now first in line to get her hands on legal weed. She says she's been using cannabis for many years, and never expected to be buying from the government. 

The media were given tours of the store prior to opening. The inside has an Apple Store feeling to it, save for the pipes and bongs on the shelves and photos of cannabis on the walls. 

The store will be offering 85 strains of cannabis today, with prices ranging from about $6 to $16 for a gram.

Castanet's Nich Johansen is covering this story and will be going live shortly after the store officially opens.

ORIGINAL 5:00 a.m.

The first provincially run cannabis retail store in B.C. opens in Kamloops Wednesday morning.

The BC Cannabis Store is opening its doors in Kamloops' Columbia Place Shopping Mall at 10 a.m. Wednesday morning, the day cannabis is federally legalized.

The store is bracing for a busy opening day, staffing 24 “cannabis consultants” when the doors open. While the province had initially announced they expected to offer 150 strains of cannabis, there will be 85 strains available to purchase on opening day.

In addition to dried cannabis, oils, and seeds, the store will also sell paraphernalia like rolling papers, pipes and bongs.

On Tuesday, the province announced customers will pay $6.99 to $13.99 per gram, plus tax, and online orders, which come online at noon, will include a $10 shipping fee.

Castanet will be live on location at the opening of the cannabis retail store in Kamloops Wednesday morning.

Plenty of buzz, but no chaos

B.C. is coping with a complex shift in policy as recreational marijuana is legalized, but the province has passed one significant hurdle with its online sales system, says Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth.

The online site went live at midnight, and Farnworth says it recorded about 1,000 sales in the first hour.

"It did not crash," he told a conference call just hours after the site opened. "So far, it is performing as we hoped it would."

Farnworth said business remained steady through the morning, although he did not have specific figures.

He also explained the rationale behind the price of marijuana listed on the government website, which ranges from $6.99 to just over $16 per gram.

"People are prepared to pay a premium for knowing that they have a product that they can trust," he said. "We are confident that our pricing is competitive and that it is products that people will want."

Several customers stood in line before sunrise waiting for B.C.'s only recreational cannabis store to open in Kamloops. The government-run outlet is in a strip mall. Its windows are frosted and a security guard paced outside.

Becky Prete, who works at cannabis company Tweed Inc. and is in her 30s, drove from Kelowna and stayed overnight in a hotel before arriving at the store at 6 a.m. Bundled in a blanket and sipping a coffee, she was first in line and said she couldn't wait for the doors to open.

"I have a feeling I'll be mildly overwhelmed because I'm going to want to look at everything, but I'm just excited to check it out," she said.

Craig McCarthy drove for two hours from Chilliwack, arriving at about 2 a.m., but his decision to nap in his car made him second in line. He has been smoking cannabis for 20 years and normally purchases shatter from an illegal dispensary.

He said he didn't mind that the government-run store doesn't carry the concentrated product, which is still illegal, and he'll buy marijuana online from now on instead of purchasing it illegally.

"I'm just happy it's finally here," he said. "It'll absolutely change my life. It's like a feeling, a weight lifted off your shoulders, when you're constantly hiding it to a degree."

The store has a clean, streamlined layout with white walls and glossy shelves. Mounted electronic tablets with touch screens display strains of marijuana available for purchase and prices.

Consumers can take a whiff of each strain from a clear plastic "smell jar" that has a small piece of bud inside. Staff carry small flashlights to help customers take a closer look at the nuggets, but otherwise the product is not openly displayed.

Some 92 products from 40 licensed producers are available, but only about seven per cent come from B.C. Kevin Satterfield, director of cannabis retail operations for the BC Liquor Distribution Branch, said he hoped to increase the amount of locally grown marijuana over time.

"It's going to be, for lack of a better term, a growth industry," he said.

You are getting sleepy

A major British Columbia university is looking for more people to put to sleep.

Thomson Rivers University’s student-run sleep centre clinic is designed to diagnose sleep disorders and is now looking to double its patient intake.

It's free for anyone interested and the centre simply requires the patient have a referral from a doctor or nurse practitioner.

TRU’s is the only sleep clinic in Canada run by respiratory therapy students and the increase in capacity means the clinic can now take six patients per day. 

Respiratory therapy faculty member and clinic facilitator Aaron Ladd said most people living with sleep disorders are unaware they have them and they experience detrimental side effects day-to-day. 

“About 10 per cent of the population has disordered breathing, or another kind of sleeping issue. Of those people with a sleeping disorder, 80 per cent are living undiagnosed. We are finally more capable of diagnosing people who have been suffering for a long time. We have 80 students working and making a difference in these clients’ quality of life,” Ladd said.

“Students run and lead the clinic. Everything from administration, maintaining patient files, to delivering the education process. They do everything. Instructors are here if they have any questions or need help with facilitation, but students handle everything else.”

Once accepted to the program, patients undergo full diagnostic and respiratory assessment and are sent home with a device to record sleeping data.

The information helps determine the likelihood of the patient having a sleep disorder. If evidence of a disorder is found, treatment is arranged. Through a community partnership, students accompany patients to the VitalAire facility where they observe a professional perform diagnostics, lead treatment sessions and fit the patient for a CPAP machine.

The clinic is open Monday to Thursday from 1-5:30 p.m. in the Ken Lepin Science and Health Sciences Building, room S301.

Patients with a doctor or nurse practitioner referral can call 250-371-5952 for an appointment.

'Historic' day for city

Councillors for the City of Kamloops took less than 10 seconds to unanimously approve B.C.'s first and only marijuana dispensary.

The store, to be run by the province, is opening Wednesday as pot sales become legal across Canada.

Mayor Ken Christian announced the approval by saying "history has been made."

Christian has said the vote was to be held last week during a regular council meeting but was postponed because of the Thanksgiving long weekend.

Development services director Marvin Kwiatkowski says there were no complaints about the operation, and the B.C. government vowed to sign an agreement with the city to ensure safety around the shop.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth has said more approved stores will follow in the coming months and the province has received 173 applications for cannabis retail outlets, with 62 of them submitted to local governments for further review. 

City cutting back gas usage

The pipeline explosion near Prince George last week is causing a provincial shortage of natural gas. 

In Kamloops, the municipality is taking steps to reduce its consumption.

Effective immediately, the city will reduce its natural gas usage by doing the following:

  • reducing the temperature of all pools by approximately 0.6ºC (1ºF)
  • reducing the temperature in all occupied buildings by 1ºC
  • reducing the temperature in all utility and heated storage buildings to 5ºC
  • turning off tube heaters in all arenas
  • reducing the temperature of the hot water for Zambonis

“The majority of the natural gas used by the city is for heating purposes,” said Jen Fretz, the city’s civic operations director. “Therefore, we are going to make some operational changes that will immediately reduce our overall usage.”

With the exception of the utility and heated storage buildings, these changes will be in place for the duration of the shortage. 

Heat may need to be restored to the storage buildings if the outside temperature drops dramatically in order to prevent the contents from freezing.

K9 captures culprit

The RCMP canine unit was called in to help arrest a man who broke into a City of Kamloops warehouse Monday morning. 

The 43-year-old man forced a door open to gain entry into the warehouse on Mission Flats Road.

Nothing was taken from the building.

The man was released with a future court date. He was previously known to police and is from Kamloops.

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