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Northbound lane on Coquihalla closed due to vehicle incident

Crash slows Coquihalla

UPDATE 6:43 a.m.

The Coquihalla is now open following a collision that caused delays Wednesday afternoon in the left northbound lane just north of Hope.


ORIGINAL 8:14 p.m.

Anyone heading into the Interior from the coast on the Coquihalla Highway Wednesday afternoon is likely to be delayed just north of Hope.

A crash has closed down the left northbound lane just north of the Great Bear Snowshed, according to DriveBC. The snowshed is just southwest of the Coquihalla recreation area.

Emergency vehicles are currently on the scene.



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Kamloops speed dating event to match people goes online

Speed dating goes digital

Looking to date, but COVID-19 throwing a wrench into plans?

A special online speed dating event will be held later this month for people in and around Kamloops. Participants will be rotated through different virtual rooms online to chat with others, so the distance between them is significant but the spirit of the event is kept intact.

To help get things moving, a connection exercise will be assigned.  Most participants are expected to be 35+.

Afterwards, participants can email the host who they enjoyed chatting with and hope for a match.

Tickets are $20 plus a fee from Eventbrite. Click here for more information.



Jamaican musician uses Merritt for backdrop in new music videos

Merritt in music videos

JA DMills may make music associated more with Jamaica than B.C.'s interior, but music videos he's released this month feature more Merritt than anything (other than the singer himself).

Dmills has released videos for two songs, My Life and A Just Life. They're both made by Merritt's Xana Studio and feature DMills in different parts of the town.

In a post on Facebook, Steven Bauwens (who owns Xana Studio) says DMills has moved to Merritt.

For those who find DMills accent and dialect difficult to understand, there's a translation of My Life on the songs YouTube page.

 





Ride hailing company officially active in Kamloops

Kabu launches in Kamloops

If you need a ride home today after having one too many (while practicing responsible social distancing rules), there's a new option.

Kabu, a ride hailing service, officially launched in the Tournament Capital at 11 a.m. today. Its service hours run to 11 p.m. tonight before moving to a regular schedule (6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 6 a.m. to 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday).

"Kabu wants to be part of the solution as B.C.’s economy begins to ramp up again,” says Kabu president Billy Xiong in a press release. “We believe there’s a strong demand for ride-hailing services in Kamloops, and we want to provide employment opportunities for drivers who want to be their own boss and choose their own
hours while earning a living wage.”

Locally, Kabu is working with Tasteful Excursions.

Kabu works over an app that can be downloaded in the Apple or Google app stores.

As COVID-19 is still a concern, drivers and riders are required to wear a mask. Drivers are also taking other precautions, including cleaning after each ride and installing plastic shields.



City of Kamloops Virtual Canada Day is streaming live!

Canada Day is live!

The City of Kamloops Virtual Canada Day celebration is now live.

The event is streaming via Vimeo, with live music, plays and participatory activities. All performers are local to Kamloops.

The stream started at 11 a.m. and will run for a couple of hours.



Kamloops theatre planning to reopen in fall, looking for creators

Theatre plans reopening

Western Canada Theatre (WCT) is planning to open the Pavillion Theatre this fall with small audiences and local creations.

Right now the WCT is asking for proposals from local artists for performances that would be appropriate for the small theatre at the end of Lorne Street.

"We will welcome smaller audiences back to the Pavilion Theatre in cabaret-style seating, with tables and chairs," states the organization in a press release. "We look forward to working with small groups of local artists that will highlight the wealth of talent in our community."

While performances will have to take into account social distancing and the pandemic, WCT is encouraging creativity.

"It will be a season of surprises, innovation, and intimacy – intimacy of performance and ideas, while maintaining physical distancing," states the release.

A modified stage at the Sagebrush Theatre is also being planned. How the 2020/21 season will look is still uncertain.

For more information, click here.



Unexpected popularity hits Kamloops cycling shops during pandemic

Biking boom empties stores

While some parts of the economy are cratering, some are experiencing an unexpected boom during the pandemic.

One is cycling. Local bike businesses are reporting massive growth compared to last year, at a time when many other retailers are in the red.

"We've had a lot of explosive growth," says David Lee, who owns CycleLogic with locations in downtown Kamloops, Quesnel, Williams Lake and Prince George.

"Word got out biking was the new toilet paper," says Jessica Blanken, owner of District Bicycle Company. "There's nothing left."

Mayor Ken Christian says word of the boom in biking was brought up at city hall earlier this month.

Blanken notes that District, which has been around for five years, recorded its best day ever on one Saturday this spring, adding that she had a conversation with people at Spoke Bike and Ski (formerly Spoke N' Motion) who said that same day was their best day ever as well.

Mike Reid, the manager at Spoke Bike and Ski, says their entire inventory of bikes ranging from $500 to $3,500 has been bought up.

"We're getting close to doubling our business," he tells Castanet, estimating they're at above 150 per cent of where they were last year and things are still busy. "The only thing we missed out on was getting more bikes in so we could sell them."

Blanken says sales at District are similar.

Lee calls the situation "not normal."

The three locals all agree the reason is related to the pandemic, which has impacted things in a few different ways. One is international vacations which cost thousands of dollars, have mostly been cancelled, leaving some people with unexpected cash on hand.

"I'd say anyone who had a trip to Mexico planned got their refund and are staying in town," says Reid.

Lee agrees, and adds that social distancing is causing people to choose different activities.

"I think it's simply people are bored; you can't play soccer, play lacrosse," he says.

That's lead to a rediscovery of cycling, which all three note has been growing in general for a number of years. Blanken says this year is above average, though, estimating 80 per cent of the people coming in to her store are 'new' riders.

She also agrees that vacation money is likely being spent on bikes, adding that they've essentially sold out of bikes under $6,000. From what she understands, the trend is worldwide, and now supply chains and distribution issues are hitting retailers.

"The industry is running out of product," she says. "Not just bikes, even the most basic parts."

They even had issues restocking water bottles at one point.

Lee and Reid echo that sentiment.

"The only thing we missed out on was getting more bikes in so we could sell them," says Reid. "The supply chain definitely got complicated this year."

The producers expected the industry to slow down, says Lee, and planned accordingly. Now that it boomed instead they're having to react to the situation. Blanken says her shop was in the same situation.

"COVID hit and we did not expect it to have the impact upon the industry like it did," she says, noting her shop dropped to just her and her husband for a couple of weeks, but now is fully staffed with some concern of burnout.

Lee anticipates the boom to continue through the rest of 2020, and is hoping that a good portion of those rediscovering cycling will stay interested in the coming years.

"Cycling has been growing consistently for the last 20 years," he says.

"That'll continue for several years, but that will plateau," he adds.

Blanken is less certain.

"We don't know what to expect for next year," she says. "How many will want to return and upgrade?"



Here's where thefts from cars happened, and where bikes were stolen from

Map: Thefts from cars, bikes

The RCMP have released their weekly map of where thefts from vehicles in the city of Kamloops and neighbouring areas happened, and where bikes were stolen.

Just 14 thefts from vehicles were reported last week, between June 22 and June 28. Reports from earlier in June recorded thefts in the low 20s; last week was below average at 17.

The vast majority of thefts from vehicles happened in the city's two central areas: the downtown (6) and North Kamloops (3). One each was recorded in Sahali, Valleyview, Mission Flats and the airport. One reported theft isn't shown on the map.

During the same period eight bike thefts were reported to the police, spread throughout the city. Only Brocklehurst saw multiple bikes stolen (2), while each of the following areas saw one: North Shore, downtown, lower Sahali, upper Sahali, Aberdeen and Tk'emlups land.



North Thompson River expected to surge again this week

River surge expected

The rain expected over the Central Interior this week could result in flows experienced in 1972, according to the River Forecast Centre.

Environment Canada is calling for 20 to 40 mm of rain over the course of Tuesday night, Wednesday and Thursday. Regions in the North Thompson could receive between 50 and 70 mm of rain, states the latest update from the province. However, there is some uncertainty around how much rain will come down. 

Dave Campbell, lead at the River Forecast Centre, is anticipating the North Thompson River to surge again as we head into the weekend, he told reporters during a media briefing Tuesday afternoon (June 30).

"At this point, we do have Kamloops under that flood watch. If the rainfall that is in the forecast right now materializes, I would expect we would be pushing that up to a flood warning. But at this point, given the uncertainty of the rainfall, we’re just sort of alerting to the potential for that kind of scenario," he said.

Low-lying areas in and around the Overlanders Bridge and other areas adjacent to the river are of concern, Campbell added.

"In terms of context, we're looking at a rise above current levels, the order of a metre or two. Given the context of current levels, just to put that in perspective, is a pretty big jump over what we've seen. We saw about a metre of rise over the last week, 10 days."

The South Thompson River, meanwhile, is not expected to increase as dramatically. That being said, the combined high flows for the North Thompson River and South Thompson River could mean a swell in the Thompson River at Kamloops.

Campbell encouraged people to use extreme caution when on or around rivers. 

"In a lot of the rivers, because flows have been so high, we've seen a lot of bank erosion, a lot of trees coming into the river and a lot of debris," he said. "It's probably not a good time to be out there right now."



Central Interior to get battered with heavy rain

Heavy rain on the way

A special weather statement has been issued for the South Thompson. 

Environment Canada is calling for heavy rain in the Central Interior tonight, Wednesday and Thursday.

Between 20 and 40 mm of rain is possible through Thursday, states an online bulletin, with the higher rainfall amounts expected over the mountains.

However, Environment Canada says there remains some uncertainty about just how much rain will come down.

"In addition to the widespread synoptic rain, thunderstorms will have the potential of adding 15-25 mm over short periods," reads the weather statement.

That means some unlucky places could see over 60 mm of rain.

The rain is a result of a low-pressure system developing over southern Alberta today, which will intensify as it moves northward into northern Alberta by Wednesday night. The system will funnel rain across the Central Interior. The alert covers multiple regions north of the South Thompson as well.

"Showers will transition into rain, heavy at times, tonight or Wednesday morning. The rain will taper off on Thursday morning, but showers are likely Thursday afternoon," Environment Canada says.

This isn't good news for local rivers, which may rise further as a result. This includes the Quesnel River (Cariboo Mountains), the North Thompson (Blue River/Clearwater region) and the South Thompson (Shuswap).

The BC River Forecast Centre has called a press conference for 4:15 p.m. today to provide an update on the provincial flooding outlook for the coming days.



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