West Kelowna  

Snowman is abominable

Look up - wayyyyyy up!

With all due respect to Bob Homme, Canadian TV's 'Friendly Giant,' this snowman is gigantic, ginormous, abominable. It will give you a kink in your neck if you look long enough.

The snowman, about nine feet tall, was constructed Saturday by Glenrosa resident Lance Schimelfenig, with help from his children, Bria and Cohen.

"We had planned to make a snowman with the kids on the long weekend, but my husband just kept rolling balls," said mom Renee Bell. "He was like, maybe we'll put on another one.

"He wanted to put one more on there, but I said, if that things falls, it's not a good situation. So let's just keep it where it's at."

Lance enlisted the help of not only his kids, but a ladder to reach the height he did.

"I have no idea how he got it up there. He's a muscly guy, he works construction. He just heaved it up there."

But, while snowmen are supposed to be bright, and cheery sorts (see Frosty), this one can be a bit daunting.

"We live on a mountain, but we can see it out of our bedroom window, and it's honestly creepy," said Renee.

"It peeks up over the cedar trees we have down there, so I'm sure our neighbour would look out the window and be startled for a second."

She said the effort was worth it, judging by the kids' reaction.

"Cohen, our son, is five and he was just overjoyed about it.... He just wanted a regular snowman, so the fact he got that was just blowing his mind."

When spring finally does arrive and the snow is a distant memory, this snowman may still be hanging around.


West Kelowna seeks CAO

The search is underway in West Kelowna for a new top bureaucrat.

The city is looking for a new Chief Administrative Officer after it was announced Tuesday that Jim Zaffino would not be continuing after his contract expires June 28.

Zaffino has been with the city almost since day one. He was hired as the city's first Chief Financial Officer in January 2008, weeks after Westside officially became a municipality.

Zaffino spent six years as CFO before replacing Jason Johnson in the city's top job in March 2014. He was expected to stay on the job for one year before retiring in 2015, but signed another four-year contract to remain on the job through June of this year.

“Jim Zaffino was instrumental in establishing the City of West Kelowna’s organizational structure and systems, literally from nothing,” says Mayor Gord Milsom.

“West Kelowna council is extremely grateful for his exemplary years of service and for employing, for our community’s benefit, the tremendous wealth of knowledge he has gained during his 40 years in local government. West Kelowna council wishes him all the best in the future.”

Zaffino will help the city transition to its new leadership through the end of June.

“I am very proud of the accomplishments this organization has achieved during my eleven years at the City of West Kelowna, including establishing the city’s first financial systems,” says Zaffino.

“I am thankful to have worked for West Kelowna council and alongside some of the best municipal employees I have ever met. The dedication and commitment West Kelowna staff bring every day continues to be tremendously gratifying.”

Thefts prompt city action

The City of West Kelowna is beefing up security efforts following a rash of thefts at its Elliott Operations Yard.

City officials say the yard, at Elliott and Dobbin roads, has been broken into 10 times over the past year, including five times in January alone.

The break ins resulted in more than $20,000 in damage as well as the cost of replacing stolen property.

In order to beef up security, the city has authorized a $12,000 emergency expenditure for security cameras at the facility.

City CAO Jim Zaffino got council's approval earlier this week, even though the expenditure had already been made.

Zaffino did say police have caught one of the two people involved in the thefts.

The cameras will be paid for from reserves for future expenditures.


V-P faces assault charges

A trial has been set for a West Kelowna school's vice-principal after he was charged with assault causing bodily harm. 

Duane Thachyk, 55, was charged last November for the incident, alleged to have occurred on Oct. 13, 2018. The trial is scheduled to start June 7 in Kelowna.

None of the allegations has been proven in court, and Castanet has learned that the alleged incident did not involve any students. 

District superintendent Kevin Kaardal said safety is the district's top priority.

“We can’t discuss personal matters,” said Kaardal. “Student safety is our number one priority and in all matters where there is a perception of risk to students ... we act in an abundance of caution.”

Assault causing bodily harm is defined under the Criminal Code of Canada as any hurt or injury to a person that interferes with the health or comfort of the person and that is more than merely transient or trifling in nature.

Thachyk is listed under the staff directory at Mount Boucherie Secondary School as its vice-principal and also listed as the education advisor for the West Kelowna Warriors.

Castanet reached out to Thachyk for comment and received an automatic reply saying: “I am unavailable to send a timely reply by email until further notice. Sorry for any inconvenience."

Snowmobile crosses hwy

UPDATE: 1:50 p.m.

We've yet to hear back from the RCMP, but some snowmobiling readers have pointed us in the direction of information on the legality of driving a sled on public streets and highways.

According to DriveSmartBC.ca, a snowmobile can indeed be driven on or across highways – if all required conditions of the Motor Vehicle Act and All Terrain (Motor Vehicle) Act are met.

That means the vehicle must be registered with ICBC and registration decals be visible on both sides of the cowl or other conspicuous place on the machine.

"Incidentally, unless you are a visitor to B.C., this registration is required before you can operate the snowmobile anywhere in the province," the site says.

An operation permit must be obtained from local police, and the owner must licence and insure the machine with ICBC, which will issue licence plates.

The driver of the snowmobile must also hold a valid driver's licence.

ORIGINAL: 11:50 a.m.

It may seem like the Great White North out there, but driving a snowmobile on public roads is not advisable.

A reader just sent us this photo of someone riding a snowmobile at the intersection of Highway 97 and Bartley Road in West Kelowna this morning.

We're pretty sure such a move is highly illegal, and have reached out to local RCMP to find out how much someone could be fined for pulling a stunt like this.

"When you drive a two-wheel-drive truck, leave it at home and take snowmobile?" the photo tipster wondered.

Pedestrian struck on hwy

A pedestrian was rushed to hospital after being struck by a vehicle on Highway 97 Monday evening in Peachland.

Just after 6 p.m., emergency crews were called to the scene in the southbound lanes of the highway, near Clements Crescent.

Witnesses say the pedestrian parked on the northbound shoulder, exited his vehicle and was crossing the highway on foot when he was struck by a Toyota Corolla.

“The northbound lanes of the highway were empty, and southbound traffic was slowing or stopped for a red light at the nearby intersection,” says RCMP spokesman Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey. “The pedestrian crossed at an uncontrolled portion of the highway, and reportedly emerged from between stationary vehicles when he was struck by the Toyota, now moving forward in the right-hand turn lane.”

The 59-year-old Kamloops man was taken by ambulance to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries and later released.

The driver, a Peachland woman in her sixties, remained at the scene and was visibly shaken. Her vehicle sustained moderate damage and was towed from the scene.

Any witnesses are asked to contact West Kelowna RCMP at 250-768-2880.

Rollover on the Connector

Paramedics were rushing to the scene of a collision on the Okanagan Connector about 9 a.m.

An ambulance and firefighters were headed to a rollover about 10 kilometres west of West Kelowna, where a pickup was on its side in the eastbound lanes.

There is no word on injuries or of other vehicles were involved in the crash.

'He was born to race'

Alanna Kelly

A West Kelowna teenager isn’t old enough to have a driver’s license, but he sure knows how to drive a race car. 

Marco Kacic, 15, has been racing carts since he was five years old and just made the shift into Formula 4 racing. 

His father owned a carting team and got Kacic into the sport.

“I just loved it as soon as I got into it,” he said. “Ever since then all I want to do is get in a car and drive.”

Kacic's mother Amy says he grew up at the race track and would sleep better when the engines were running. 

“He was born for this,” she said. 

At first, they started in Formula 1600, but due to funding issues, they weren’t able to finish the season. This year, he jumped into Formula 4 and became part of Doran Motorsports Group. 

Kacic is one of the youngest competitors and says he is so talented because of his speed. 

The 15-year-old just won his debut in F4 at the Auto Club Speedway race track in Fontana California hosted by the Formula Pro USA F4 Winter Series. 

“He’s going to become an F1 driver,” said Amy. “That’s the hope and the plan.”

Kacic trains in the gym and also spends about three hours a day using his simulator that is inside his dad’s old office at their West Kelowna home.

He attends Canadian Sports School, which allows him to focus on his sport and gives him flexibility with his racing.

“There is so much that goes into it, you have to be a good driver, you have to have a good team and one of the most important things is you need to have the funding and money to make all that happen,” he said. “That is where we are struggling right now.”

The family hopes to be able to get sponsors to keep Kacic racing and reaching his goal of being an F1 driver. They also set up a GoFundMe fundraiser to help support him. 

“In western Canada, there is really not a lot of racing,” he said. “I found lots of people are really interested in the sport, but it is really difficult to find funding around here.”

He is busy preparing for his next race which is just around the corner in March.

Industrial park for Westside

More than 10 acres of industrial space in West Kelowna will start being developed this spring.

Denciti Development Corp. is creating the West Kelowna Industrial Park in an effort to combat low industrial vacancy rates.

The land is located at 2648 Kyle Rd., and it will be the first project in the area in seven years.

“West Kelowna is a market that has such limited supply of modern, industrial product due directly to a lack of industrial development,” Denciti CEO Garry Fawley said in a press release.

“West Kelowna Industrial Park gives businesses one of the few chances to own their own title because it is being built on one of the last large parcels of undeveloped freehold land in the area. We have flexibility for various scenarios, including build-to-suit, strata ownership and strata leases.”

For more on this story, visit Okanagan Edge.

Seeking 35 new firefighters


The list of requirements below only apply for the career firefighter position. Those applying for the paid-on-call positions do not require these certifications. Full information can be found here

Do you have what it takes to fight fires?

The City of West Kelowna is looking to hire 10 new full-time firefighters after council approved eight new positions in this year's draft budget in addition to two other spots opening up.

In addition to the 10 full-time positions, West Kelowna Fire Rescue is also seeking 25 paid-on-call firefighters.

“Firefighting is very physically demanding work and involves hauling heavy equipment, ascending and descending on ground extension ladders and fire escapes, working in extreme heat and smoke, and working in confined spaces with limited vision,” the city's recruitment page states.

“Firefighting is also mentally demanding and requires constant and ever-expanding knowledge for department personnel.”

Successful candidates must have a Grade 12 education, NFPA 1001 Level 1 and Level 2 firefighting training, NFPA 472 Hazmat Awareness and Operations, a first-responder licence, a Class 3 driver's licence, no more than six driving points in the last three years, and a clean criminal record as it pertains to firefighting.

Those applying must also be physically and medically fit for the position.

West Kelowna Fire Rescue is hosting an information session for those interested in the paid-on-call positions at 7 p.m. Feb. 13 at Station 34, 3399 Gates Rd.

Those interested in the position must apply by Feb. 25 at 4:30 p.m. The City of West Kelowna's firefighter information package can be found here.

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