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West Kelowna  

West Kelowna squeezed

West Kelowna doesn’t have enough land, and that’s hampering efforts to build new recreation facilities, city hall, and more.

“Land is a big challenge,” Mayor Doug Findlater told members of the Greater Westside Board of Trade at a state of the city address, Thursday.

Speaking to the crowd at the Cove Lakeside Resort, Findlater said a lack of appropriate places to put new buildings in West Kelowna is causing problems.

He pointed to the new soccer dome the city would like to build. West Kelowna has support from a provincial soccer association to build the structure, but, since there isn’t really any place to put it, the project has become “a lot more complex.”

Then there’s the dream of an entire sports complex, or, the new city hall that will in all likelihood eventually be built — where would they go?

Findlater said to deal with the problem, the city is looking at a land management plan that will include strategies for acquiring more land, but also selling land the city already owns.

Nothing is even close to being decided, and more research will need to be done before anything moves forward, but Findlater twice raised the possibility that some city parks might end up getting sold.

He pointed out that most every economic indicator in the city is going up, including population, the number of business licences issued, construction activity and housing starts.

There were also a record-breaking number of single family homebuilding permits issued in 2016, “and all signs point to an even better year in 2017.”





Boil advisory lifted

The Regional District of Central Okanagan has lifted a boil-water advisory for users of the Star Place water system.

The community water system services eight properties off Trepanier Road, near the Okanagan Connector.

Turbidity in the water has greatly improved since the notice was issued May 24. 

Water quality is back to normal operating levels and within acceptable guidelines for Canadian drinking water quality, the RDCO says.  



Bicycle drive-by goes to trial

The man accused of a brazen drive-by bicycle shooting will face trial in Supreme Court.

Tyrone McGee, 29, was arrested in the late hours of Aug. 2, 2016, after he allegedly fired multiple shots from his mountain bike into a 48-year-old man's car on Hudson Road in West Kelowna.

As the shooter attempted to reload, the driver of the car swerved into the man on the bicycle and crashed into a street light.

McGee was arrested nearby shortly after, with the help of Ice the police dog.

The driver of the car was seriously injured from eight gunshots to the chest, leg and hand.

McGee was charged with attempted murder along with several other firearms-related offences, and had a preliminary inquiry Monday to determine if the Crown has enough evidence to proceed to Supreme Court.

The victim in the shooting was Reginald Purdom, a key witness for the U.S. government in Kevin Kerfoot's drug conspiracy case.

Kerfoot, 53, was charged with organizing a plot to smuggle 41 kilograms of cocaine into Canada in 2005.

Purdom had previously served 54 months in jail after he was caught bringing 24,000 ecstasy pills into the United States to trade for the cocaine.

Purdom, now free from jail, was shot in West Kelowna two weeks after Kerfoot lost his appeal bid to halt his extradition to the United States.

Kerfoot pleaded guilty to the drug smuggling charges in April, nine months after the shooting, and faces a minimum of 10 years in jail.

McGee will be back in court on July 24 to schedule a trial date.  



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Cooking fire sparks blaze

A report of a late-night car fire in West Kelowna turned out to be a small wildfire.

Fire crews responded to the fire just after 11 p.m., near the intersection of Gellatly Road and Angus Drive.

When the first crews arrived, they reported fire and smoke showing from a wooded area above several homes on Angus Drive, says assistant fire chief Darren Lee.

The fire was upgraded to a wild land fire with a second alarm.

With the assistance of Lakeview Heights fire crews, firefighters stretched a hose through an adjacent residence and used wildland hose packs to attack the blaze.

Once the fire was knocked-down, firefighters worked to establish a hand-guard around the perimeter.

Preliminary investigation indicates the fire was caused by an unattended cooking fire in a makeshift camp.

Twenty-one firefighters fought the blaze. Police and BC Ambulance also attended, although it is not believed anyone was hurt in the incident.



Vehicle heads into the bush

A vehicle heading down Glenrosa Road from the Crystal Mountain area went around a curve near the cattle guard, went off the road into the shoulder, over corrected and then drove into the bush Tuesday evening.

Despite the scare, no one was injured in the mishap that occurred just before 7 p.m., according to a witness at the scene.

One lane of the road was closed with police, a fire crew, ambulance and a tow truck on scene.



A licence to grow

Trent Kitsch is now licensed to cultivate medical marijuana out of his West Kelowna facility.

Health Canada issued the licence Friday, a little more than a month after inspecting the operation.

The licence only allows Kitsch to cultivate medical marijuana, not sell the product.

"Once we create two quality-assured batches ... we'll get our licence to sell," Kitsch said. "It's our goal to get our licence to sell in 2017."

The West Kelowna facility is one of just a dozen in B.C. able to legally produce marijuana. Only seven of those are currently able to sell medical marijuana.

At the same time, Kitsch is planning to open a coffee shop on Bernard Avenue in Kelowna under his company name, DOJA. He stresses it's not a cannabis dispensary.

"We're going to be selling coffee, and let people know that we exist.

"We will wait for the province and municipality to lay out their plans, and only pursue what is legal and above board."

The company is just completing it's last round of financing, and expects to begin trading publicly in July.



Sunken boat removed

UPDATE: 10:35 a.m.

Very little fuel or oil leaked into Okanagan Lake from a sunken boat on Sunday.

West Kelowna Fire Chief Jason Brolund says less than two litres was spilled when the 20-foot aluminum workboat sank at the West Kelowna Yacht Club.

"Our crew worked with the regional HazMat team to place containment booms and soak up what fuel had spilled with absorbent pads," he said Monday.

Working with RCMP, the owner of the vessel was contacted. Brolund said it is the owner's responsibility in such cases to remove the boat.

It is believed a tow truck was called in to pull the boat from the water.


UPDATE: Monday 10:20 a.m.

A sunken boat at the West Kelowna Yacht Club was retrieved from the bottom of Okanagan Lake Sunday night.

HazMat crews left the scene about 4:20 p.m. after securing the area with containment booms to catch any leaking fuel and oil.

By 8:30 p.m., the boat had been removed from the water.

Neither the yacht club nor West Kelowna Fire Rescue were immediately available to comment on the incident Monday morning.


ORIGINAL: Sunday 3:30 p.m.

A boat that was tied to a dock at West Kelowna Yacht Club has sunk and is leaking oil and gas into the water.

Firefighters and the HazMat unit arrived on scene about 2 p.m.

A containment boom was placed around the boat until a crane can be brought in to remove the boat.

The size or make of the boat is not clear at this time.



Zip line with floaties?

ZipZone is taking flood protection one step further.

With tongue planted firmly in cheek, the Peachland zip lining company says it's testing floatation devices to keep participants safe.

“It offers the ultimate in protection while zip lining during flood conditions, such as those seen recently in the Okanagan,” it said a press release.

Kevin Bennett, president of ZipZone, said even though the flooding is kilometres away, no level of safety is too much.

“The Canadian spirit of entrepreneurship, invention and ‘Can-Do’ attitude is alive and well at ZipZone, and we welcome our guests to try out this exciting new invention,” said Bennett.



Collision on Hwy 97

UPDATE: 9 p.m.

A witness said two SUV's and one Pickup truck collided.
One lane is currently closed each way Northbound and Southbound on Highway.

The Left lane is closed on both sides.

it is unclear at this time if there are any injuries.


Original: 7:30 p.m.

Two cars collided on Highway 97 just before Horizon Drive heading Southbound.

The accident occurred just after 7:30 p.m.

Emergency crews are on scene.

Updates will be posted as more information becomes available.



Westside commuter hell

Westside commuters are fed up. But are they right?

There have been no shortage of complaints about long lines and morning bottlenecks getting into Kelowna.

Motorists say the commuter hell is starting as early as 7:30 a.m. most weekday mornings, with traffic backed up as far as Ross Road.

Commutes that took as little as 15 or 20 minutes are now closer to an hour.

Is it the normal summertime traffic or something else?

According to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, which monitors traffic flows along Highway 97, it's nothing more than normal summertime volumes.

"At this time of year, traffic volumes start to increase as we transition into summer and more people are travelling. The congestion around the William R Bennett Bridge is caused by these higher traffic volumes, with Friday being the busiest day of the week," the ministry said in an email to Castanet.

"On weekday mornings, traffic at the bridge now generally clears between 8:30 and 10:30 a.m. The ministry monitors the traffic flow at the bridge approaches, but the congestion we are seeing is typical for this time of year."

West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater says he has heard the same complaints. In fact, he said he's been caught in the traffic jams himself.

Findlater said he's seen more Alberta plates on the road.

"It backs up from Harvey Avenue all the way up. Complicating it are the Campbell Road cheaters that are funneling three lanes into two at the bottom of Bridge Hill," he said. "But, from my observation, there's not much to be gained because it's backed up to the Westside Road interchange anyway."

Findlater said getting more people on the bus could help, but the Kelowna side of the highway may need looking at, too.



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