Country's top startup city

Kamloops has been recognized as the top city in Canada this year for startups.

Startup Kamloops, an organization dedicated to supporting entrepreneurship in the city, was awarded the Startup Community of the Year award at Thursday night’s Startup Canada Awards.

The award recognizes an organization that has had an “extraordinary impact” on the entrepreneurial environment in its community.

The award ceremony is held each year by Startup Canada, one of the country’s leading ​social enterprise organizations dedicated to supporting and giving a voice to Canadian entrepreneurs.

For more on why Kamloops is "punching above its weight" in the startup world, check out the full story on Castanet's sister business news website, Okanagan Edge.


Search for woman continues

Police continue to search for a missing 61-year-old Prince George woman who was last seen in Williams Lake.

Jenny Lynn Larocque was reported missing on Oct. 3, after she hadn't been seen since Sept. 27.

On Oct. 15, Larocque's large dog was found in the Venables Valley area, south of Ashcroft. While the dog had suffered minor injuries, it was in otherwise good health.

The following day, with the help of a police helicopter, a police dog unit and Kamloops Search and Rescue, Larocque's dark blue 2014 Jeep Compass was found on a rural road in the area.

But, despite days of searching, Larocque has not been found.

At this time, police do not believe Larocque has been the victim of foul play.

Anyone with information is asked to call Prince George RCMP at 250-561-3300, Ashcroft RCMP at 250-453-2216 or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

Impacts of wildfire smoke

Wildfire smoke in July and August significantly impacted the health and lifestyles of residents in the Kamloops area, say doctors. They have issued recommendations, including preparing air shelters for those without proper ventilation.

A report published by the Kamloops Physicians for a Healthy Environment Society said the air quality during the unprecedented wildfire season “had direct physical, psychological, social and economic impacts to citizens.”

In early August, the smoke was so thick in Kamloops that it reached 18 out of 10 on the Air Quality Health Index with citizens at high risk.

An online survey conducted Aug. 7-Sept. 4 found more than half of the 641 respondents (54.5 per cent) categorized their lifestyle as severely affected by the wildfire smoke.

The survey also found:

  • 502 people suffered from throat irritation (79 per cent)
  • 502 people suffered from eye irritation (79 per cent)
  • 474 people suffered from headaches (75 per cent)
  • exercise outdoors was severely affected in 346 (54.8 percent) of respondents
  • 58 people (9 per cent) wore a mask to exercise outdoors at all

Only one person reported going to hospital with severe symptoms while five used the emergency room, 13 had to go to a community health provider and 147 used more of their usual medications such as inhalers, sinus tablets, or other pills. The majority, 65 per cent, toughed it out.

“We encourage the health authorities to develop a system of monitoring the health of the population in B.C. for both short term and long term health impacts,” the report stated.

It also called for alerts with a timescale that could describe short-term fluctuations in the smoke produced by wildfires.

During extreme smoke events, the report said the province should:

  • supply facemasks of the proper quality to adequately filter out the fine particles produced by wildfires
  • prepare a disaster response plan should include industrial sized filters installed in strategic public buildings to act as air shelters for those who do not have homes with air-conditioners or furnace fans

The group said some respondents to the survey wanted better surveillance, fines and actions taken against those starting fires through careless human activity.


Awesome alley art

Some back alleys in Kamloops are much more appealing thanks to a work experience program that transformed the area in to safe, usable spaces.

The alleys have also become a popular destination for walking, sightseeing and photography.

The Kamloops Central Business Improvement Association (KCBIA) received more than $19,000 in government funding for its Back Alley Art Gallery Job Creation Partnership project, where the two participants are learning about large-mural creation and other career-enhancing skills.

The participants are gaining work experience in urban design and painting techniques as they work on the murals, scheduled for completion by Oct. 20.

The first mural, behind Kelson Place at 301 Victoria St., celebrates the former Leland Hotel built on that spot in 1905. The second mural, behind Subway, 316 Victoria St., is entitled “The Mystic” and was created to promote peace and love.

The third mural, “The Jaguar,” located behind Mittz Kitchen, 227 Victoria St., depicts an Olmec/Inca temple and draws inspiration from diverse cultures.

“Our initial instincts that the murals would become a tourist attraction have proven to be true. We have seen an increase in pedestrian traffic in the back alleys with people touring the murals and stopping to take photos with the works. We are thrilled to be able to contribute to the Kamloops arts and culture landscape and will continue to do so,” said Ryan S. and Shannon G., project participants in a joint statement.

“We worked well together as a team in a fast-paced, positive and fun environment. We enjoyed the social engagement with city folk, and it’s great exercise! We learned many painting techniques and tricks from talented lead artists.”

Multiple firearms stolen

Kamloops RCMP have received 12 reports of theft from vehicles in the last two days – including three in which firearms were stolen. 

Two of the vehicles had windows smashed, and the other was left unlocked when the hunting gear was taken.  

“Police realize it is hunting season, and often hunters get home late from a day in the woods, but it is extremely important that they always take their firearms into their residences and secure them properly,” said Cpl. Jodi Shelkie. 

“Rifles and shotguns that have been stolen can be used in the commission of an offence and/or could result in someone being injured,” Shelkie added. 

Along with the weapons, thousands of dollars in hunting gear was also taken including knives, ammunition and binoculars. 

Attempted luring at school

An 11-year-old girl kept her wits about her while an unidentified man allegedly attempted to lure her into his vehicle.

The incident occurred Monday afternoon in front of David Thompson Elementary in Kamloops.

According to police, the girl was waiting in front of the school when a man approached her, saying he was there to pick her up.

The girl asked the man what her mother's name was, which he was unable to provide. He apparently then told the girl he worked with her dad, and was asked to come and pick her up. He wasn't able to provide her father's name, either.

The man walked away without making any attempt to grab the child. The girl went into the school to report the incident.

Police are looking to speak with the man. He is described as Caucasian, in his twenties, with lip and eyebrow piercings. He was clean shaven, with dirty blond, shaggy hair. The suspect was wearing tight blue jeans, a dark shirt and a red, flat-brimmed hat.

His vehicle was described as an older, dark burgundy Chevrolet truck. It had a matching canopy.

Anyone who may recognize the man, might have witnessed the incident, or could have video surveillance is asked to contact Kamloops RCMP at 250-828-3000.

Declared dead, still alive

A Kamloops man who recently lost his mother is fighting for his own life after a bureaucratic mix-up declared him dead.

Bryan Kupiak, 65, is healthy, but says somehow his social insurance number was substituted for his mother's after she died in September.

A death certificate with Kupiak's name on it was issued to his estate.

He says the mix-up has cost him access to his own pension and he has also had to ensure his bank accounts, driver's licence and other important documents and services have not been compromised.

Kupiak has been working with Service Canada and his member of Parliament but says the stress is intense.

He has been told it could take another month or more to resolve the problem.

A telephone call to an official at the old age security office, which handles pension issues, confirmed Kupiak's predicament.

"He comes back on (the line) and I said, 'Tell me, Mohammed, am I dead or alive?' and he says, 'You're deceased.'"

Kupiak says the hardship is especially difficult to endure because he is still grieving the loss of his 87-year-old mother. 

Thief takes the BAIT

A 19-year-old Kamloops man is awaiting court proceedings after allegedly trying to steal a BAIT car.

Police say about 4 a.m. Saturday, they were alerted to an activation of a BAIT car.

RCMP went to the area where the vehicle had been driven and apprehended a suspect without incident.

The suspect was released to appear in court at a later date to answer to charges of theft over $5,000 and possession of stolen property.

The suspect was previously known to police.

BAIT cars are everywhere, police say. Steal one. Go to jail.

Missing woman located

UPDATE: 6:30 p.m., Oct. 16

Police advise Taylor Lynn Wilson has been located. Police would provide no further details.


Police in Kamloops are looking for an 18-year-old woman who has gone missing. 

Taylor Lynn Wilson, who also uses the last name Harris, was last seen by her family Thursday, and they are concerned about her safety.

Her family says it is not like her to go missing.

Police have asked anyone who has seen, spoken to, or knows anything about her whereabouts to call the Kamloops RCMP at 250-828-3000.  

Kamloops hotel robbed

A Kamloops hotel was robbed overnight.

But, RCMP have a suspect in custody after he was tracked by a police dog.

The Holiday Inn and Suites on Tranquille Road was robbed about 11 p.m. when a lone male wearing a cloth over his face entered the lobby and demanded cash from the night clerk. 

The suspect obtained the cash drawer and fled on foot with an undisclosed amount of cash.  

The clerk was shaken but unhurt in the incident. 

Police set up containment of the area and successfully arrested the man at 1:45 a.m.

A 37-year-old Kamloops male of no fixed address is expected to appear in court today. He is known to police.

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