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West Kelowna  

Beware of rental scam

RCMP are warning residents to beware of online rental scams.

Police say a West Kelowna man discovered an online rental scam, using a local online classified service in late September.

The man avoided the scam after seeking advice from a friend.

The alleged scammer apparently copied images and detailed rental information from online advertisements associated to real Central Okanagan properties and then created a fictitious ad on an alternate site with altered contact information.

The scammer’s ad is often detailed with a fictitious back story outlining the reasons for the property being rented out. Typically once a fraud victim shows any interest in the property, the scammer emails a rental application.

“In this particular case the fraudster later contacted the victim by phone and advised that their application was accepted,” said Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey.

“While pressuring the would-be renter to secure the deal, an e-transfer deposit of approximately $1,000 is requested and a promise is made to promptly courier the premises’ keys, which of course never show up.”

Police say there are several ways to avoid these types of scams, including:

  • Physically go to the property and book a viewing, when searching for rentals
  • Conduct your own open source queries to ensure the advertisement isn’t a duplicate
  • Do not transfer funds to unknown individuals
  • Trust your instincts, if it doesn’t seem right, don’t do it
  • Consult with a friend or family member first


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Grass fire on Stevens Road

Fire crews in West Kelowna were called to a small grass fire Friday afternoon.

The fire broke out in a ditch in front of Wheels Truck Parts on Stevens Road.

Crews were able to quickly extinguish the fire before it had a chance to spread.



New water rates approved

West Kelowna council has given first three readings to bylaws that will create one water system, one rate structure and one quality of water for all residents.

Under the proposal, users who will benefit from the Rose Valley water treatment plant will see rates increase to help cover costs of the city's portion of the new $49-million facility, while users of the Powers Creek water treatment plant will also see rates go up to help pay for capital costs to improve that system.

Rates will change for all customers beginning in January. Uniform rates will be phased in over the next four years.

Once rates are uniform in 2021, all West Kelowna residents will pay $227 each quarter for water.

Other elements of the water rate structure include:

  • Residential, industrial, commercial and institutional customers would be charged both a fixed component (operational + capital + debt) and a variable component (consumption)
  • A move to a single definition of "agricultural' (BC Assessment - Class 9) and an agricultural rate structure consisting of both a flat per hectare charge and a consumption charge (both effective Jan. 1, 2020)
  • The elimination of five non-conforming commercial/institutional rates from our existing bylaw effective Jan. 1, 2019
  • The inclusion of a "capital component" to the city’s "unimproved parcel" water flat fee
  • An update to our bulk water rates

Once the Rose Valley plant is operational, all systems will be renamed the West Kelowna Water System.



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Harassed until he quit

A seasonal bylaw officer in Peachland quit after constant harassment on the job.

The man was expected to work until September, but walked out early after having enough.

Mayor Cindy Fortin says the man "was receiving verbal harassment, and there were some blunt letters to the editor at the time," according to fellow staff.

The town is now looking at changing some of its regulations and bylaw strategies.

“We are switching to a more voluntary compliance. Everyone has to comply, but we are taking more educational approach,” said Fortin, who added she was concerned by the harassment.

“Peachland is known for not being afraid to voice its opinions,” she said. “I am not saying who was right or who was wrong, but it is important that we do have someone out there.”

Fortin said staff have also re-examined where dogs are allowed since the incidents.

“You can’t have them on public sports fields, but we are not going to be as strict about whether or not a person can take their dog on leash down to the lake,” she said.

“We are going to ease those rules a little bit – but people have to still pick up after their dogs.”



Ransacks family's garage

Alanna Kelly

A family living in the Shannon Lake area were sleeping when two thieves raided their garage after taking the garage opener from a vehicle in the driveway.

Security video footage shows a man and a woman opening the door of a parked vehicle in a driveway in the 2000 block of Hihannah Drive at about 3 a.m. on Oct. 27.

The owner of the home, who asked to remain anonymous, said “I always lock the vehicles and this one time I forgot, I had the garage door opener in there.”

The man is seen carrying bear spray in his hand as the couple breaks into the garage.

“It’s very scary for anyone opening their door if they hear something… then what? They try and spray you?,” she said.

The two can be seen walking back and forth putting items from the garage into a large white Chrysler 300.

Items taken from the garage include a stand-up Stanley tool kit, a drill, vacuum, battery charger, cover for a BMW 428i, compressor hose, outdoor lights and various tools. 

“It makes a person feel very violated,” she said. “They are going around watching for vehicles that may be left unlocked, just to know they are going and checking in your neighbourhood in hopes,” she said.

RCMP are asking anyone with information to contact them at 250-768-2880.



$150K in metals, cash gone

Thieves walked away with more than $150,000 in gold, silver and cash from a West Kelowna storage locker.

The break-in occurred sometime Nov.10, when an alarm at the rental facility was tripped.

However, the owner of the unit was unable to get to the unit right away. Police were finally called two days later.

Missing are thousands of ounces of precious metals, cash and a rare sculpture.

“Police have learned that over 5,000 ounces of silver and gold, in various forms including coins and bars, along with cash and a rare acrylic sculpture titled Eye of the Flame, was taken from within the storage unit,” said Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey.

“Our complainant was understandably distraught over the theft, which totalled in excess of $150,000 in loss.”

RCMP ask anyone with information to contact West Kelowna police at 250-768-2880 or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477, www.crimestoppers.net or by texting your tip to CRIMES (274637) ktown.



Flood recovery passes $1M

The City of West Kelowna will have to come up with a little more than $1 million for damage caused by this year's floods.

The $1.048 million is the city's 20 per cent share of flood recovery.

Total flood recovery was pegged at $5.24 million, of which the provincial Disaster Financial Assistance program picks up 80 per cent.

In order to qualify for the 80 per cent provincial payment, the city must demonstrate it has the necessary budget to cover the entire cost.

To that end, council Tuesday approved an additional expenditure of $2.8 million for 2017-2026 financial plan and $2.39 million for the 2018-2027 financial plan.

In its report, staff said 45 different repair projects have been identified, many of which are similar in nature, including failed waterfront retaining walls, pavement buckling, contaminated storm water pipes and creek bed aggradation.

Aggradation is the deposit of cobble and sediment from banks and deposited in the creeks lower reaches.

Staff indicate both Smith and Powers creeks have been severely affected, reducing the water-holding capacity of both, increasing the potential for a re-occurance even with normal water flows next year.

Work has already begun to dredge out the Powers Creek Water Treatment Plant intake pond that was significantly infilled.



Large animal struck by SUV

An SUV going Northbound along Highway 97 allegedly hit a large dog or cougar, according to a witness. 

The accident occurred just after 5:30 p.m along Grizzly Road. 

RCMP and emergence crews were called to the scene.

Two passengers from the SUV were assessed by paramedics on scene.

Castanet will update as more information becomes available. 



The surprise of a lifetime

Alia, 8, didn't wake up Sunday morning thinking she would be going to Disneyland in two days, but was surprised with the trip of a lifetime.

The smiley girl lives with a severe disability, which often forces her to use a wheelchair in order to get around.  

On Sunday, Nov. 12 the Sunshine Foundation of Canada surprised Alia and her family, with an all expenses paid trip to Disneyland in California.

“She was absolutely surprised because she didn’t know this was going to happen,” said Bev Kenzie, Sunshine Foundation of Canada representative. “Her parents were just absolutely thrilled.”

The Sunshine Foundation of Canada makes dreams come true for children living with severe physical disabilities or life-threatening illnesses, according to the website.

Alia was given the exciting news at Winners in West Kelowna.

“There was actually a young lady who who came and dressed up as one of the characters from Frozen and she got a friend of hers to dress up as the other,” Kenzie said. “Sunshine Bear was there as well.”

Alia’s mother was thrilled when she received the news.

“Amy had lots of tears in her eyes and was just so excited for her little girl,” Kenzie said.



Library rebranding itself

The Okanagan Regional Library is rebranding itself.

The Peachland branch of the ORL is involved in a rebranding event 'Connecting Curious Minds', Nov. 18 from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m.

The library closed in late May when a vehicle crashed through the building, causing significant damage. It reopened two months ago.

The library board took the opportunity to do more than just remodel.

"It was time for the ORL brand to evolve to represent better what libraries are, and how they benefit the community," said Michal Utko, marketing and communications manager.

“All ORL branches have personalities that reflect the communities they serve. We invested a lot of time and effort into gathering and implementing gathered feedback from our staff and communities about what the library means to them".

Along with the changes inside, Utko says people will start seeing the new brand on trucks, vans, buildings, print material along with their website and social media platforms.



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