West Kelowna  

Crash took out power in large part of West Kelowna

Power restored after crash

UPDATE: 7:05 a.m.

RCMP say two people in a BMW that crashed into a power pole in West Kelowna overnight were not injured in the collision. 

Police were called to the 3400 block of Elk Road about 11 p.m., where the southbound vehicle failed to negotiate a corner, left the roadway, and struck the pole. 

Speed is believed to have been a factor in the crash, says RCMP Cpl. Jocelyn Noseworthy. The adult male driver was issued a violation ticket under the BC Motor Vehicle Act. His female passenger was unhurt.

UPDATE: 5:25 a.m.

BC Hydro reports power was restored to 2,585 customers in West Kelowna about 3 a.m.

A two-vehicle crash about 11 p.m. on East Boundary Road near Chief Tomat school took out a power pole and brought lines down on the road.

A BMW reportedly went off a curve near Elk Road, hitting a tree and the pole, ending up in the front yard of a home.

The incident closed the road while Hydro crews restored power and the crash scene was cleared.

It's not known if there were any injuries in the crash.

The outage affected an area east of Saddleback Place, west of McCallum Road, south of Auburn Road and north of North Ridge Estates.

ORIGINAL: 11:15 p.m.

A large part of West Kelowna lost power late Tuesday night. 

The lights went out for nearly 2,600 BC Hydro customers shortly before 11 p.m.

While the cause remains under investigation, emergency crews responded to a report of a vehicle hitting a power pole on East Boundary Road around the same time.

There is no estimated time the power will be restored.

Blasting permit to start for Rose Valley Water Treatment Plant

Water plant blasting begins

The City of West Kelowna has issued a blasting permit for early site works for the Rose Valley Water Treatment Plant starting next week. 

The work will take place Monday to Friday and occasionally on Saturday as needed.

The blasting is required to prepare for civil site works on a 24-acre property at 2010 Bartley Rd., which the municipality acquired to construct its long-awaited multi-barrier water treatment plant.

As part of early site works, blasting is required to create access and service line conduits to the site and establish foundations for the plant and the required holding tank reservoirs.

As part of WorkSafeBC requirements, safety horns will sound before the blast and again once the area is clear.

The company will conduct ground vibration and air overpressure monitoring during blasting activities.

Construction is expected take at least 20 months to complete, allowing the plant to be commissioned and fully operational by late spring of 2022.

Interior Health confirms cases of COVID-19 at Bylands Nurseries

75 Bylands workers isolating

UPDATE: 4:40 p.m.

Seventy-five employees of West Kelowna's Bylands Nursery are self isolating, after 14 of them recently tested positive for COVID-19. 

The outbreak at the nursery was discovered over the weekend, and as such both Bylands Nurseries and their Garden Centre have closed. 

Of the 75 people who are now self isolating, 63 are temporary foreign workers while 12 are local employees. 

Interior Health says the positive cases "may be linked to a group of workers who arrived in Kelowna from outside of Canada on March 12."

UPDATE: 4:10 p.m.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry called the outbreak of COVID-19 at West Kelowna's Bylands Nursery the province's "first large community outbreak" of the disease. 

Over the weekend, Interior Health tested a group of temporary foreign workers at the business who were experiencing symptoms. Dr. Henry would only say that "a number of them" tested positive, but the exact number is unclear

Interior Health continues to investigate the outbreak, but it's believed the people contracted the virus while they were in Canada. The group of workers arrived in Canada in early March, before there were any COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Interior Health said the cases "may be linked to a group of workers who arrived in Kelowna from outside of Canada on March 12."

"They did an investigation, a public health follow up, of all of the people who had been in the premise and where they were working," Dr. Henry said. '"Finding out who was in contact with whom."

Dr. Henry said the people who tested positive hadn't been going out in the community since their arrival in Canada.  

"These people were being isolated, in that they weren't going out into the community because they had come in from another country, but there was some considerable mixing on the farm when they were working together," Dr. Henry said. 

"It is a community outbreak that was caught relatively early, we hope, but we will see over the next coming two weeks. There are people right now who are not sick who have been exposed to some of those people who are and they have a probability of becoming ill over the next two weeks. 

"It will be two to four weeks before we understand the extent of this outbreak."

ORIGINAL: 2:40 p.m.

Interior Health has announced an outbreak of COVID-19 at West Kelowna's Bylands Nurseries involving a group of temporary foreign workers.

The group involved is currently residing in on-site housing at the business, and was ordered on March 27 to remain in quarantine on the property until further notice.

A number of the workers have now tested positive for COVID-19. 

Interior Health says the medical health officer who made the order remains confident that the risk of exposure to the public is low because none of the workers interacted with customers and have had very little contact within the community. The business is currently closed.

Interior Health says the workers who are quarantined on site have good housing accommodations which allow for safe self isolation. The company has been fully co-operative with Interior Health.

"These cases may be linked to a group of workers who travelled to Kelowna from outside of the country on March 12," Interior Health says.

Under the order of the medial health officer, Bylands Nurseries "has undertaken several measures including enhanced cleaning of all nursery, housing, sanitary and other facilities accessed by employees as well as denying access to all visitors to the site."

The adjacent garden centre has also closed voluntarily.


Peachland cancels 'World of Wheels' show set for May

World of Wheels cancelled

Another spring staple has succumbed to the spread of the coronavirus.

World of Wheels in Peachland has been cancelled. "We are sorry to have to cancel this year’s car show May 17th, 2020," say organizers.

In a press release, organizers say they held off on making the move as long as possible because they know how important the event is for Peachland.

The show attracts thousands of people and cars from across B.C., effectively doubling the community's population for a day each year.

"We have survived floods and fires, but we can’t dodge this pandemic. We look forward to a better year in 2021. Stay safe and healthy."

Motorhome destroyed by fire in West Kelowna

Old RV up in flames

A motorhome went up in flames early Monday in West Kelowna.

Just before 4 a.m., West Kelowna Fire Rescue responded to a fire in the Ross Road area.

Crews arrived to find a fully involved RV that had apparently been parked in a small stand of trees on private property for several years.

Assistant fire chief Brent Watson says firefighters quickly extinguished the blaze and confirmed there were no occupants inside.

The 30-year-old motorhome was destroyed in the fire. It had not been insured since the 1990s, says Watson.

A definitive cause of the fire may not be determined due to the extent of the damage, but it is considered suspicious and remains under investigation.

West Kelowna couple stays in Mexico amid pandemic, living in van

Hunkering down in Mexico

Braden Taylor and Lyndsay Fillier are used to an on-the-road lifestyle, spending the last three years living in a camper-van. After deliberation, they have decided to stay on top of a mountain in Mexico while the pandemic continues.

The couple spends their summers working at The Cove Resort in West Kelowna in order to spend winter living abroad.

"We really love it, we love the people here, to us it's almost a second home," says Taylor. "The first time we crossed into Mexico we were very scared to be honest. You hear so many stories about the crime and corruption, but since we've come to Mexico and travelled around it seems like the opposite of that is true."

They travelled to Mexico in January for the second year in a row, with the intention of returning home in June. When they left on their journey, they did not realize what was in store for the world.

Since learning the seriousness of COVID-19, the pair has stocked up on food and water and are currently in an isolated area in between Mazatlan and Durango. 

"It seems to be pretty relaxed here in Mexico in terms of the coronavirus scare and when we were in more populated centres people didn't seem to be too concerned, but of course we're hearing a lot of concerns back home," says Fillier. 

While the federal government has urged Canadians to return from abroad before the borders were closed, Taylor and Fillier decided it was best not to attempt to drive back and potentially get stuck at the border, exposing themselves to others. 

"We could have flown back but then we would have had to leave our van and we don't have a house back in Canada," says Taylor. "At this point we're so used to living the lifestyle that we are doing now that spending time in our van and finding a secluded place to camp."

They have spent almost a week in their van and have enough supplies for about 10 more days.

"We do think it's inevitable that the virus will spread a lot more here especially because people have been so relaxed,' said Fillier, explaining social distancing has not been adopted in Mexico.

"So we're not hugely concerned about the virus, although we are concerned that if panic starts to spread when it's time for us to go back and restock, there might be very little on the shelves."

The couple has also considered that if they do end up getting sick and the health care system in Mexico is seeing an influx of cases, they might not receive proper care.

Despite this, they are continuing to isolate themselves from others and are enjoying every day.

Their days are spent drinking coffee and eating breakfast and they enjoy reading, exercising, hiking and star gazing.

"It actually reminds us a lot of Kal Park (Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park) just outside of Vernon," says Taylor. "It's very dry, a lot of big pine trees - it really reminds us of being in the Okanagan to be honest with you."

Before the pandemic struck, the pair had planned to stay abroad until June — which they still plan to do. 

"Hopefully the Mexican-American border will be open by that time because right now we find ourselves in a situation where we've pretty much made our bed, and we have to lay in it, because the border is closed to all non-essential travel," says Fillier. 

To follow Fillier and Taylor's experience on Instagram click here. To view their website click here.

Local country artist records a light-hearted song, 'Quarantine Blues'

Got the 'Quarantine Blues'?

Ben Klick

Looking for a pick-me-up? Local country artist Ben Klick is here for you. He wrote and recorded a song titled, “Quarantine Blues’ after returning from Nashville last week. 

Klick spends most of his winter down in Nashville for an annual trip to focus on everything from guitar playing to vocals, songwriting and recording new music. 

“I’ve been going to Nashville since 2014, recording records - I’ve done two EPs down there so far and this last trip was working towards new releases and records and things like that.”

The trip usually ends around mid-March, so returning home early due to the pandemic didn’t hinder any of his work. His dad made the flight down to help with the drive home.

The pair typically take their time coming home, but rushed this time as news of the pandemic became more serious. 

Because of the severity of the virus situation in Washington State, Ben and his dad crossed the North Dakota and Manitoba border on March 15 and made their way to West Kelowna by St. Patrick’s Day. 

“The eerie part... was the Sunday we actually crossed over the border, we crossed at one of the two busiest borders in the country, and it was basically my dad and I in my truck and one other car in front of us — that was it. It was basically a ghost town everywhere.”

He says it’s relieving to be home and be safe around family back in Canada.  

While in quarantine, Klick says he started to get inspired. 

“While I was on the treadmill, all of a sudden I started singing this melody and I didn’t know what it was, but I had this melody stuck in my head so I pulled out my phone and started recording.”

After grabbing his guitar he created the chorus and ‘Quarantine Blues’ was written within the hour. 

“An hour and half after it was recorded and then I spent the rest of the day thinking of creative ways...to put a smile on people’s faces during the times that are going on right now.”

This is undoubtedly the quickest he’s ever created a song from scratch to a video. 

“It really does go to show if you write about stuff that you’re currently dealing with or impacted you and you talk about your life, it makes it easier to write,” he laughed. 

He created this video because as much as the COVID-19 pandemic is a serious matter he wanted to put smiles on people’s faces.

“I didn’t update anybody about me coming home for the last couple of months, so I just wanted to put something out to say that I’m home safe and I also want to put a smile on people’s faces.”

He’s glad the positive message is being shared all over Canada in these dark times.

$440,000 to fence a dog park was deemed excessive by council

Council nixes dog fencing

The District of Peachland has put the brakes on a pair of long-awaited projects in order to finance a much-needed sewer project.

Council this week decided against borrowing nearly $800,000 for the two projects.

The paving of Thorn Road, with a price tag of $350,000 was cancelled with much regret from councillors.

But borrowing $440,000 to fence the Sanderson Park dog park was seen as extravagant.

“There isn’t a day in my lifetime that I’m going to agree to a $440,000 project to fence a dog park,” said Coun. Terry Condon.

"As I've said in previous meetings, I would be very reluctant to support $440,000 for fencing of a dog park. I don't see that as justifiable," said Coun. Keith Fielding."

Mayor Cindy Fortin had empathy for residents of Thorn Road, who she says have been asking for this paving project for quite some time.

But, not dog park fencing.

"I can't imagine spending $440,000 on dog park fencing right now," said Fortin.

She says she wanted the dog park, but not at that price tag.

The decision to postpone the two projects had more to do with giving the district more room to borrow for a sewer project and not due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The worldwide pandemic was brought up briefly by Coun. Pete Coolie, who suggested the municipality needs to find some efficiencies within its current 2020 budget.

He feels Peachland needs to lessen its tax impact on businesses and residents as they face uncertain futures.

The district has, for the time being, imposed a 2.8 per cent tax increase on residents.

Moulding & More is building custom plexiglass barriers for essential service workers to stay protected

Locals build virus barriers

Sarita Patel

A West Kelowna business is helping those working in essential services by providing plexiglass barriers to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Mouldings & More will also be donating a portion of their profits to the Central Okanagan Food Bank. 

“Normally we’d create more of displays, sports displays, jewelry cases… so we’re already fabricating but we do it at a wholesale level," said Harold Loewen, owner and manager of Mouldings & More. "People don’t know about us, however when this came about we have the ability to do this product and I have a very talented staff that do a really good job so we put that into work.

The local company already has some of their new products out in the community.

“It’s actually made our clinic area look much neater and professional," said Shirley Finkensiep, clinic manager at Highroads Medical Clinics. "I think the patients are feeling safer, as well as the girls behind the counter."

She was also impressed with the timely manner in which the barriers were custom made and set-up. 

“We asked him to do it and off he went and there they were that afternoon. Then we realized we needed extra to be closed even more so we asked him to do more for us and he said it would be ready the next day but he was back the same day and we’re up and running.”

At the moment the high demand for these plexiglass barriers has led to a low inventory of materials.

“Four of my suppliers at this point have no product at all. It's right across Canada," Loewen said. "It’s because everybody is, especially in the major centres, doing this exact thing because they know it’s effective."

Mouldings & More is providing both fully installed or removal pieces for local businesses. 

“A lot of businesses don’t want you to screw holes and add big brackets so we made these ones to stand on their own," Loewen said. "If we get into larger ones like in grocery stores, they need more support because they’re larger and heavier so we support them with poles." 

Loewen says he’s noticed many people aren’t understanding the two-metre social-distancing rule because it’s a habit to be close to people. He believes these shields will help when people are encroaching on other’s space. 

“This is totally important because we are all concerned for each other’s health especially our patients and our staff as well,” says Finkensiep. 

She says they thought these plexiglass barriers were going to be temporary but they’ve now decided they’re going to keep them up permanently. 

Those interested can reach the local company at 250 769 1617 for more information.

Woman hosts 54th anniversary social distance tailgate for parents

Tailgate anniversary party

A West Kelowna woman got creative when looking for ways to give her parents a 54th anniversary celebration, so she decided to host a social distanced tailgate.

Terra Briden's parents Ernie and Myrna are celebrating their 54th wedding anniversary today amid the COVID-19 pandemic, making it nearly impossible to celebrate.

"We are unable to get together so I told them to meet me on the Westside in a parking lot," says Briden. "With the virus going on we don't know who's carrying it and we don't want to pass it to anybody. So I said come find us in the parking lot and they drove up and mom was all excited."

Briden and her children Regan and Evan greeted Ernie and Myrna to a tailgate celebration, social distancing themselves around a table in the middle of a parking lot with Starbucks and brownies.

"They did get toilet paper and hand sanitizer as an anniversary gift," laughs Briden. 

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