West Kelowna  

Residents escape unharmed in Westbank mobile home fire

2 escape mobile home fire

Two residents escaped unharmed in a mobile home fire on Westbank First Nation land overnight.

Shortly after midnight, crews from West Kelowna Fire Rescue responded to the fire at the PineRidge Mobile Home Park.

Fire Chief Jason Brolund says first arriving firefighters from the Westbank station found a fire on the deck that had extended into the mobile home.

The home sustained fire damage throughout.

Two residents are in the care of emergency support services.

Nearby structures were successfully protected.

Crews from Lakeview, Rose Valley and Glenrosa also responded to assist.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.


Highway 97 down to single lane alternating traffic due to pothole repairs

Repairs will slow hwy traffic

Traffic will be slow moving throughout Peachland on Saturday night, as road crews work to repair pot holes along Highway 97.

AIM Roads shared that the repairs will be between Peachland and Greata Ranch from 6 p.m. until midnight.

Single lane alternating traffic will be in effect as repairs will be working on the single lane areas tonight.

Travellers are asked to slow down and watch for traffic control.

Former WFN chief recognized for a lifetime of achievements both in politics and business

Ex WFN chief honoured

The accomplishments of former Westbank First Nation Chief Robert Louie have been recognized by the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business.

The association recently honoured Louie as its 2022 lifetime achievement recipient.

The award recognizes a First Nations, Inuit, or Métis person whose business leadership has made a substantive contribution to the economic and social well-being of Indigenous people.

A former lawyer, Louie spent 24 years as chief of Westbank First Nation, while helping to guide it through independence and self-governance.

Over the years, he also served as chairman, director or board member of more than 30 corporate entities, six of which he continues to sit on today.

Louie is presently owner of Indigenous World Winery and Distillery, Kelowna West Manufacturing Home Park, and other business ventures.

“Robert Louie exemplifies the entrepreneurial and leadership characteristics at the heart of this award,” said CCAB president and CEO, Tabatha Bull.

“His entrepreneurial spirit, work leading the Westbank First Nation as Chief, and advocacy for legislative change to effect economic growth through Indigenous land, have earned him a reputation as a role model, mentor, and a deserving lifetime achievement recipient.”

Over his final years as chief, Louie helped finalize WFN self-governance in 2005. Since then, economic growth within the reserve has grown from 110 businesses to more than 500 with close to $700 million in revenue.

"I am honoured, grateful and appreciative to receive the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business Lifetime Achievement Award,” said Louie.

“To serve, work with and support Indigenous people in economic and business ventures makes me so proud to be Indigenous. I salute all Indigenous peoples in business."


Developer feels SolAqua is a win-win for West Kelowna

SolAqua seeks balance

Developers of a proposed townhouse project along Campbell Road believe they have brought forward a "very responsible development," that is a "win-win" for everybody.

If built as is, the development would add between 45 and 60 townhomes, an identical number of moorage slips, plus a vineyard and potentially small winery and tasting room.

Dubbed SolAqua, the project is the second iteration of the much larger Blackmun Bay development West Kelowna council voted down more than two years ago.

Blackmun Bay began as a 740 unit apartment, hotel and townhouse development with buildings as high as 14 storeys.

While it was eventually scaled down to eight storeys and 350 units, it was shot down as being too big, and the developer chastised for ignoring the concerns of Casa Loma residents.

"We have worked very hard to rethink this project," Robert Moskovitz, executive vice president, development and operations of Landstar, the company proposing the project told Castanet.

"We are very proud of the fact we have come up with a vision that's a byproduct of four years of listening to the community.

"I believe we brought forward a very responsible development that fits well within the character and form of West Kelowna."

Even SolAqua has been scaled down somewhat from what was originally presented to council back in the summer.

That iteration included a 242 slip public marina which council said was too big. Coun. Doug Findlater called it a non-starter.

That number, Moskovitz said, is something that had been allowed by both the provincial and federal governments.

"But, council believed they didn't want to see a public marina in this area, they just wanted to see boat moorage associated with the local residents.

"When you are in business you have to learn to pivot and create the best you can under the circumstances."

Despite the scaled back project, there is still opposition to development of any kind within the Casa Loma neighbourhood, mainly due to increased traffic it will bring and the fact the two-lane Campbell Road provides the only way in and out of the community.

"Are there going to be more cars, yes, but is not the 401.

"Will there be times during the day when there is more traffic, likely. But, we're going to do everything we can to improve the road, widen the road, to allow some pedestrian walkways. So, there will also be some additional improvements that benefits everyone."

Overall, Moskovitz says he believes the new project is one that will benefit buyers and become an iconic development within the city.

Council have given initial approval for the development. A public hearing is scheduled Feb. 9.

West Kelowna nonprofit grant requests to city increase by 70%

Nonprofits more in need

Requests from non-profit agencies, societies and other organizations for grants from the City of West Kelowna increased nearly 70 per cent over what was provided a year ago.

However, during deliberations Tuesday, city council actually reduced the grant-in-aid it will pay by nearly $7,000.

Those figures included $3,500 in aid requests not made this year as well as $1,200 in funds for two neighbourhood associations taken care of in other portions of the budget.

A number of organizations asked for an increase in grant-in-aid funding from a year ago, however, council chose to stick with the previous years funding in most cases.

The Westside Celebration Society, which runs Canada Day and Westside Daze events will still receive $25,000 despite asking for $30,000, the Health Network Society will also receive the same $14,000 as a year ago, while the Kelowna Rowing Club, which asked for additional funds to $6,000 will receive the same amount ($1,500) as a year ago.

One organization, the Telemark Nordic Ski Club, was turned down altogether.

The club had requested $5,000 after receiving $3,500 in 2021, however, Coun. Rick de Jong argued the club is a budding, profitable, successful business, not one he sees as struggling.

"To me, it doesn't fit the definition of grant-in-aid."

The Central Okanagan Food Bank, which asked for a $14,000 grant-in-aid after not applying a year ago, was turned down, as was the Comedy Festival Society ($5,000) and the YMCA's Alternative Suspension Program ($20,000).

West Kelowna mom plans to raise up to $750,000 for a much needed inclusive playground

A playground for all

Melissa Grassmick wants to fill a void she sees in the City of West Kelowna - the lack of an inclusive playground.

Grassmick's seven-year-old daughter Julia requires a wheelchair to get around after a blood clot that compressed her spine when she was 17 months old left her paralyzed from about the waist down.

She brought her vision for an all inclusive playground to West Kelowna council Tuesday.

"It's something I've always thought about but, up until now, I just really didn't have the time to dedicate to something like this," Grassmick told Castanet News.

She says she was at a local neighbourhood park with her two year old son last fall, and noticed how inaccessible it was and how frustrating that is.

"Now that he is older, it would be great to bring both kids together, but it really isn't an option.

"So, I thought I am going to pursue this. I found some contacts through the city, I contacted a playground designer and was off to the races from there."

The plan she pitched to city council was for a playground at the Westbank Town Centre Park.

"I felt that would be an ideal spot given the infrastructure that is already there," she said.

"It is fairly level, has accessible parking and a washroom building with an accessible component, which are big ticket things to add to a park if they aren't already there."

Grassmick estimates the playground, dubbed "Julia's Junction, an inclusive play space for all abilities," would cost about $750,000 to build.

She has already raised more than $12,000, including $10,000 from corporate partner Modern PurAir and their charitable foundation PurKids.

"Until we got council approval, I really hadn't been proactive to get the word out because we didn't even know if there would be a project to fundraise for."

Grassmick hopes to be able to raise upwards of $700,000 through several government and private sector grants.

While council was fully supportive, there were some concerns about the location being so close to George Pringle school. The area will be part of a construction zone while the school is converted from an elementary to secondary school.

Council asked staff to report back within a month on how to achieve such a playground for the community.

Click here to donate.

Crash slowing evening commute in West Kelowna

Crash slows Highway 97

The evening commute is being slowed by a crash on Highway 97 in West Kelowna.

The crash in the southbound lanes near the Boucherie Road intersection is blocking a right lane.

The collison appears minor in nature but is slowing traffic significantly.

Drivers should expect delays while they travel through the area for the rest of the hour.

West Kelowna MLA calls on B.C. government to reopen gyms

MLA wants gyms open

Kelowna West MLA Ben Stewart has sent a letter to the Minister of Health asking that gyms across the province have permission to open their doors.

The letter, which was drafted on January 10, claims there is a lack of data surrounding the spread of COVID-19 in gyms and fitness facilities.

"At the beginning of COVID-19 pandemic, gyms and fitness centres were closed for three months. Since their reopening, gym and fitness owners have put in place the BC PHO mandated safeguards to protect their customers," Stewart wrote.

Stewart says his constituency office has received many phone calls and emails from frustrated clients and owners.

"Gyms and fitness centres are critical for the physical and mental health for the constituents of Kelowna West, especially when going out for a walk is not a safe option due to a lack of snow clearing, icy roads and sidewalks," he added.

Stewart says facilities should be able to work with the BC Public Health Office to mitigate exposure concerns.

"On Friday January 7, in her public media briefing, Dr. Bonnie Henry alluded that the BC PHO's concern is the younger age demographic who frequent B.C. gyms. Perhaps the BC PHO could give the gym and fitness owners the opportunity to manage this by booking for their gym members."

"I respectfully request that gym closures be reversed immediately on behalf of our gym owners and the residents that need them," he added.

Dr. Henry ordered gyms in B.C. to close on Dec. 22 amid a surge in cases driven by the Omicron variant. The closure is slated to last until at least January 18.

Iron Energy Fitness in West Kelowna is one of several gyms that have defied public health orders across the province. On January 10 the gym was fined $2,300 for non-compliance and issued an additional closure order by interior Health. They remain in operation.

When asked on Jan. 4 for evidence related to the transmission of COVID-19 in gyms, Henry could not offer specifics.

“I can't tell you every single case that's been linked to a gym, but we can tell you that there that we've seen this as a pattern, that these are environments that are higher risk," she said.

West Kelowna mom watches as brazen thief steals her car

Don't idle unattended

A West Kelowna woman has a warning for other drivers after her car was stolen right in front of her.

Don’t leave your vehicle unattended while it’s warming up.

Katie D’Aoust said she started her car around 7:45 a.m. and went inside only briefly to get her kids to take them to school when she heard a horn honk. She looked back out her front door and was stunned to see a woman put her car in reverse and drive away. She called the experience surreal.

She describes the suspect as a woman in her late 20s, wearing a large white jacket with a hood covering her head.

D’Aoust’s car was parked at the top of her driveway on Ensign Way. Katie suspects either the car thief had been watching her house or was with another person in a different vehicle, scoping the neighbourhood.

She warned all her immediate neighbours and posted to social media asking people to keep an eye out for her grey, 2002 Toyota 4Runner with BC license plate 950 SCH. She also reported it to West Kelowna RCMP.

D’Aoust wants to get the word out to those living in the Shannon Lake area to be on the watch for car thieves and to keep an eye on their vehicles, even when parked in their own driveway.

Boil water notice lifted for West Kelowna Estates after water main break, but repairs continue

Lengthy water main repairs

Nearly a week after it was first issued, a boil water notice has ended for the West Kelowna Estates System.

It was issued on Jan. 5, 2022, following a water main break in the Scott Crescent area.

In a news release, the City of West Kelowna says the notice is being lifted after consultation with Interior Health, after consecutive days of mandatory testing confirming the water is now safe to drink.

Crews continue to work in the area to repair and reinforce other infrastructure affected by the water main break. The repairs are expected to continue for several weeks, depending on the weather and other conditions.

The city also says, because there are no further Water Quality Advisories or Boil Water in effect, the touch-free, container-filling side of the Bulk Water Station on Asquith Road will be closed for the season.

For the latest on water notices and advisories or to receive alerts about the Rose Valley Water Treatment Plant, you can sign up at westkelownacity.ca/subscribe.

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