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Kelowna  

Meet me on Bernard returns this month

Meet me on Bernard again

Meet Me on Bernard will return to Kelowna's downtown this summer with more to see and experience.

From the first day of July until the September 5, Bernard avenue will be transformed into an outdoor pedestrian mall featuring live music, extended patios, public art, local retail, street games, free programs and more.

Downtown Kelowna Association executive director Mark Burley is ready for what he would classify as a classic Kelowna summer as Meet Me on Bernard has quickly become a staple for the city this time of year.

"It's the perfect way to support the recovery of downtown businesses while reconnecting with friends and family," he said.

Kelowna City Mayor Colin Basran says it's been thrilling to watch this event evolve from a temporary pandemic measure into a vibrant and energetic platform for community connection that enlivens our public spaces.

"Whether you're a business owner, an artist, a foodie or just looking for a great time, Meet Me on Bernard has something for you this summer," said Basran.

Meet Me on Bernard will run seven days a week all summer long and will close off access to traffic from the sails to St. Paul Street.

Traffic will be cut off as of June 27 as the City begins to set-up.



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Developers frustrated with permit delays in Lake Country

Developers tired of waiting

Time is money, and for developers waiting and waiting for permit approval for projects in Lake Country, time is costing them money.

Several developers have reached out over the past several weeks to voice their frustrations over the time they have to wait to get "simple" building permits.

At times, months, if not more. Some say they have been waiting over a year for approvals that should have taken a fraction of that time.

One developer told Castanet he is in the unenviable position of pre-selling homes in anticipation of getting permits, and the delay means the current climate is driving the cost of materials, and construction costs up putting them in an awkward position.

Several developers attended a meeting at municipal hall in Lake Country Wednesday at the request of newly hired director of planning and development Jared Kassel.

Kassel, who has been on the job since early 2022 says he wanted to talk to the development community about the permitting process, about the roles and responsibilities of building inspectors within the district.

"A lot of the conversation involved challenges associated with making applications in the district and the timelines we are facing - the resourcing issues we are facing," Kassel told Castanet News.

The issues, Kassel said, are multi-faceted, including the boom in growth that has seen the municipality grow by 22 per cent since 2016 according to figures contained within the latest Census.

"We certainly do have resourcing challenges as well, not just in the building department. These development applications get bottle necked in the planning department and also engineering."

Kassel says some of the delay developers are experiencing relates as well to the complexity of development applications, in part due to the fact there is more building being done on slopes due to the scarcity of land in Lake Country.

"We are also getting more multi-family developments in the form of townhouses and projects like that.

"They require more oversight. Things have to go to council more often because they are more complex files."

He says servicing challenges have also grown where capacity of sewer lines and water lines are being maximized meaning infrastructure needs to be expanded.

Kassel does believe solutions to the challenges facing the district and the development community can be found.

One solution is adding resources to help clear the backlog of files. Conversations with council to approve those resources are taking place.

And, while those positions wouldn't be in place until the 2023 budget, Kassel says a few positions within the planning and engineering departments are in the process of being filled.

The other solution, he says, is looking at internal processes, things such as the Official Community Plan, procedures and zoning bylaws.

"Based on my previous experience I believe we can streamline some of our processes to make them more efficient and less bureaucratic.

"There is no question these things take time. A lot of things need to go through council and those discussions need to happen before changes can happen."

While frustrated at the delays, members of the development community told Castanet the meeting Wednesday was, for the most part, positive.

One builder says they want to work together with the municipality to come up with solutions that will work for everybody.



After a pandemic pause, the Tea Party is ready for Kelowna's Rock the Lake

Tea Party ready for shows

The Tea Party will be returning to the stage in Kelowna this summer, close to three decades after making their first appearance in the city.

Originally hailing from Ontario, the Canadian rock band will be playing at Kelowna's Rock the Lake festival, which takes place outside Prospera Place from Aug. 5-7.

Stuart Chatwood, one of the three members of Tea Party, says the band has played in Kelowna “many times,” since first playing in the city in 1993 on their very first tour.

"Everything was new, we were starting to sell records then too for the first time, like in a big way,” Chatwood said. “It was a really, really exciting time.”

Since then, the band continued to see success through the 90s, up until 2005 when they took a break. But the band reformed in 2011, and have continued to make music together ever since.

The band was scheduled to hit the road with fellow Canadian rockers Sloan, Headstones and Moist in 2020, but the pandemic forced the tour's cancellation. Their last show together was in October 2019, but they're hitting the road hard this summer, playing 19 shows in June, July and early August, finishing off with the Rock the Lake Show in Kelowna on Aug. 6.

While the band wasn't able to play together during the pandemic, Chatwood was able to keep busy, recording music for video games. The three were able to remotely record a couple cover songs through the pandemic.

But Chatwood says he's excited to be able to play in front of people once again.

“I'm actually excited for some of the new fans,” he said. “The audience gives the band energy, we give the audience energy and it's just a magical moment. I've had some incredibly magical evenings, audiences that are in line with the band and they're there to have a good time.”

Save for the brief hiatus in the mid-2000s, the band has managed to stay together since 1990.

“It's more of a brotherhood. We love each other, we're able to forgive each other's misgivings and mistakes and move on, because we have a bigger picture in mind,” Chatwood said.

“There's a magic that happens when the three of us are in a room. We've played with hundreds of other musicians ... it makes me appreciate what we have.”

The Tea Party will be sharing the bill in Kelowna with Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, A Flock of Seagulls, Trooper, Eve 6, Moist, Chilliwack, Bif Naked, and a number of others. The festival's schedule has yet to be released, but tickets can be found here.



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RCMP, mom confirms body found Friday was that of 31-year-old Chelsea Cardno

Mom left heartbroken

Madison Erhardt

UPDATE: 4:28 p.m.

Kelowna RCMP have confirmed that the body found in a field adjacent to Mission Creek on Friday was that of the female who was reported missing on June 14.

The missing woman, 31-year-old Chelsea Cardno was last seen leaving her residence on Dougall Road South in Kelowna that day.

Police stated that the family of the missing female has been notified and confirmed her identification.

“We are all saddened by the outcome but hope the family can have some closure and they can begin the healing process,” Cst. Mike Della-Paolera, Media Relations Officer for the Kelowna RCMP said in the press release.

There is no criminal investigation underway and the BC Coroners Service will continue to be the lead investigators, according to police.

The Kelowna RCMP would like to thank the Central Okanagan Search and Rescue, the hundreds of volunteers and general public who all helped in the search.

"The missing dog has not been located and presumed to have been swept away in Mission Creek."


UPDATE: 2 p.m.

Hundreds of family, friends and community members have taken to social media to share condolences for those who were touched by Chelsea Cardno.

Just after 8 a.m. on Saturday morning, Cardno’s mom Diane confirmed in a Facebook post, that the body found adjacent to Mission Creek on a flooded property was her daughter.

The Facebook post has close to 200 shares and over 400 comments.

"It is with a troubled heart I send condolences to you and your family. I have prayed for you daily. Prayers as well for her precious JJ she loved so much," a comment said.

According to Kelowna RCMP Cardno's body was found just after 5 p.m. Friday.

“A farm owner reported finding a body on their flooded property adjacent to Mission Creek,” says RCMP spokesperson Const. Mike Della-Paolera.

The farmer who found Cardno tells Castanet he has had a number of items wash up onto his property over the years from the creek.

He says he will continue to keep his eyes peeled for J.J.

The Kelowna RCMP have yet to confirm the body found was that of 31-year-old Cardno.


UPATE: 10 a.m.

In a Facebook post Saturday morning, 31-year-old Chelsea Cardno’s mom Diane confirmed the body found adjacent to Mission Creek on a flooded property Friday night was her daughter.

"Good morning everyone, this is Chelsea’s mom Diane. It is with very heavy hearts that we have to announce that we have found our sweet Chelsea. I need to take this time to thank everyone for the outpouring of love and support over the last 11 days. To all those that came out to help us search, the tireless hours out combing through the brush, walking hours along the Greenway, we left no stone unturned."

"The community came together to bring my Sweet Pea home, and I will be forever grateful. Chelsea’s beloved JJ is still missing, so please keep your eyes open for him,” she said.

The family says they are asking for privacy as they come to terms with their loss.

RCMP will be making a media release later this afternoon.

Central Okanagan Search and Rescue confirmed they were called off the search Friday night.

“The RCMP informed us that our services are no longer required,” said COSAR manager, Duane Tresnich

Kelowna RCMP has yet to confirm if the body was that of Cardno.

“A farm owner reported finding a body on their flooded property adjacent to Mission Creek,” says RCMP spokesperson Const. Mike Della-Paolera.

RCMP Officers have secured the area and the British Columbia Coroner Service has been notified and is en route.

Cardno went missing along Mission Creek on June 14, 2022.

She was last seen leaving her home on Kelowna's Dougall Road South, when she took her dog J.J. for a walk on the Mission Greenway.

Her vehicle was found parked at the north end of Pasadena Road, but there's been no sign of Cardno or her dog.

Cardno’s disappearance triggered an intensive search by the RCMP and Central Okanagan Search and Rescue, another search was planned to start Saturday morning.

“The RCMP have notified the family of Cardno and have offered all supports available,” says Inspector Beth McAndie, Kelowna RCMP Investigation Service Officer.


ORIGINAL: June 25

A body has been found adjacent to Mission Creek on a flooded property.

Kelowna RCMP tell Castanet the grim discovery was made just after 5 p.m. in the 3600 block of Berard Rd. near MacMillan Farms in Kelowna, BC.

“A farm owner reported finding a body on their flooded property adjacent to Mission Creek,” says RCMP spokesperson Const. Mike Della-Paolera.

RCMP Officers have secured the area and the British Columbia Coroner Service has been notified and is en route.

The body at this time is unconfirmed to be that of Chelsea Cardno, who went missing upstream from that location on June 14, 2022. Cardno’s disappearance triggered an intensive search by the RCMP and Central Okanagan Search and Rescue, another search was planned to start Saturday morning.

Out of respect for the family and close friends of Chelsea Cardno, the RCMP are asking the public to avoid the area.

“The RCMP have notified the family of Cardno and have offered all supports available,” says Inspector Beth McAndie, Kelowna RCMP Investigation Service Officer.

At this time the Kelowna RCMP General Investigative Support Team will continue to work alongside the British Columbia Coroners Service which has now taken over the conduct of this investigation.



BC Tree Fruits first fruit packer to receive safety excellence certification

BC Tree Fruits earns kudos

Lake Country’s BC Tree Fruits has been feted for its exceptional safety record.

The co-operative received a Topaz Award and a Fantastic Four Risk Control Leader award from the Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC.

“Safety is a key pillar in our co-operative,” BC Tree Fruits president and CEO Warren Sarafinchan said in a press release. “Whether it be our on-farm or consumer food safety programs, or the health and safety of our growers and employees, safety is front and centre to who we are every day.

"I congratulate all of our employees on these achievements and look forward to ongoing improvements as the co-operative’s growers and employees work together to supply fresh B.C. tree fruit to the world.”

The Topaz Award is awarded to businesses that successfully achieve its Occupational Safety Standard of Excellence certification, and BC Tree Fruits is the first fruit packer to ever receive the honour. It is also the first fruit packing house in Canada to receive the certification.

The Fantastic Four Risk Control Leader Award is one of six MSABC safety excellence honours. BC Tree Fruits was nominated for and presented this award in recognition of mitigating risks and injury management within the workplace.



Okanagan Humane Society seeking fosters for cats, SPCA also overwhelmed

Dire need for cat fosters

Madison Erhardt

It's a tough job, but someone's got to do it.

Becky Huber has been fostering a group of adorable kittens for the past two months after they were found by the Okanagan Humane Society.

The kittens came from a colony of 60, found on Leathead Road in Rutland.

The Okanagan Humane Society, a registered charity that is volunteer-run says over the past few months they have seen an influx of stray cats and kittens.

"People leave them behind when they move, people just can't take care of them anymore and they are left to fend for themselves. Lots of people are just not spaying and neutering their animals which is something that is very important that they need to do," Huber said.

OHS says more fosters are needed.

'We are not government funded. We don't have a shelter per-say so the fosters basically are the shelter."

"Right now we have over 100 cats in care so that is a lot of fostering that we need to find places for these cats to go on their way to the journey of being in their forever home," said volunteer foster coordinator Charity Dickinson.

"I really think more people should do it and open their homes. They are really not a lot of work. It is so very rewarding when you get to find them a home and know that they are going to be taken care of," Huber added.

The BC SPCA says their shelters are also overwhelmed with a large number of cats.

From June 20 to 30, the BC SPCA is offering 50 per cent off adult cat adoption fees, in an attempt to free up space for new incoming animals.

“Our shelters are overwhelmed with cats as we’ve been responding to many cases this year where up to 100 cats are being rescued at one time from hoarding situations,” said Lorie Chortyk, general manager of communications for the BC SPCA.

“COVID, the rising cost of living and mental health challenges are all playing a role in this increased need for help. We encourage anyone who has been thinking about adopting a pet to take advantage of this promotion. You will not only be providing a loving home for a deserving animal, but it will also allow us to create the capacity to help more abused and neglected animals,” Chortyk added.



Blind couple had to find own way to Salmon Arm because of guide dogs I.D.

Service dog denied bus ride

A blind Kelowna couple tells Castanet they feel their rights have been ignored as they were refused service by Ebus Friday.

Dr. Paul Gabias and his wife Mary Ellen, are both legally blind and were trying to catch a bus to Salmon Arm on Friday afternoon. They stated they weren’t allowed to board because they didn’t have the proper documents for their guide dog.

"They told me that she can't get on because the I.D. that I furnished them isn't from the government,” Gabias says.

Gabias explains that he has an I.D. card from Assistance Dogs of America for Kenko but that wasn’t enough.

John Stepovy, Ebus motorcoach director says, “the issue is, for the safety and well-being of anybody that travels, they're required to present proper documentation for a service animal or an emotional support animal. And they simply do not have the proper documentation."

Gabias is an associate professor of psychology at UBCO and he says he has never been refused travel by plane or bus before.

“The government has no business deciding what dogs are useful for blind people, I mean, she is perfectly trained. I've trained several guide dogs, blind people who come from other provinces, or other countries would not have this kind of government-issued I.D. So it's ridiculous.

“This is like fettering the freedom of movement of blind people throughout the country and throughout the world,” says Gabias.

According to the province registering and licencing guide dogs is voluntary, “guide and service dog teams with valid identification cards issued by training schools accredited by ADI or IGDF, regardless of Province or country of issue, are considered to be certified under the GDSDA:

1.1 (1) If an applicant is required under this regulation to provide an identification card, the applicant must provide a card, letter or other forms of record that

(a) is issued by an accredited or recognized training school,

(b) identifies an individual and a dog,

(c) confirms that the individual and the dog have together successfully completed a guide dog or service dog training program, whether through the school or another accredited or recognized training school, and

(d) has an expiry date that is after the date of the application.

(2) Despite subsection (1) (d), if the card, letter or record does not have an expiry date or has expired, the applicant may provide to the registrar a card, letter or other form of record that

(a) meets the requirements of subsection (1) (a), (b) and (c), and

(b) confirms that, as of the date of the applicant's application, the individual and the dog have active status as a working team.

The blind couple were forced to take a cab to Salmon Arm at a cost of over $300 and they have no idea how they will get back at this point. “I guess we’ll have to rely on family and friends.”

For his part, Stepovy says the couple and their dog are welcome to ride Ebus in the future, provided they get certification from a recognized organization like the International Guide Dog Federation.

“I don't understand why they wouldn't have legitimate documentation. Our job is to ensure the safety of every single passenger and service and emotional support animal on our coach. That's our job. That's our priority, without proper documentation we can't do that. It's as simple as that,” Stepovy says.



More than 200 City of Kelowna employees cashed cheques exceeding $100,000 in 2021

Kelowna's $100M payroll

The City of Kelowna's payroll has topped out in excess of $100 million for the first time.

In a full accounting of city spending released this week, city employees were compensated to the tune of $101.527 million in 2021.

That works out to slightly more than 64 per cent of the 2021 budgeted tax demand of $157.7 million.

Those figures include both salary paid ($85.087 million) and benefits ($16.439 million).

By comparison, the total payroll including benefits in 2020 sat at $92.4 million.

The financial statement is required to be prepared and made public prior to the end of June each year.

Along with overall numbers, it includes the number of employees earning better than $75,000 over the calendar year.

According to the report, approximately half of the more than 1,000 city employees now earn better than $75,000 annually.

In 2021, 525 staff topped the $75,000 threshold, 43 more than in 2020. That increase included nine management, 10 firefighters and 24 CUPE members.

The big jump came in employees earning more than $100,000 annually. That figure grew from 167 in 2020 to 204 last year.

In 2021, 91 management personnel, 100 firefighters and 14 CUPE employees topped $100,000 in salary.

City manager Doug Gilchrist, the head of the city corporation again tops the list of wage earners, bringing in $306.371 last year, the first time any employee has exceeded the $300,000 threshold.

Deputy city manager Joe Creron is number two on the list at $209,680.

The rest of the top 10 include:

  • Sam Samaddar, airport manager - $202,002
  • Stu Leatherdale, director of corporate and protective services - $197,318
  • Travis Whiting, fire chief - $195,067
  • Carla Weadon, director corporate strategic services - $193,046
  • Jim Gabriel, director active living and culture - $186,777
  • Genelle Davidson, director of finance - $185,670
  • Derek Edstrom, director partnerships and investments - $182,063
  • Scott Conquist, deputy fire chief - $180,909

City council remuneration for 2021 topped $416,000. Mayor Basran pulled in $110,986 plus nearly $11,000 in expenses.

Four councillors earned $37,972 and four others $38,322.

The city also paid out more than $362.9 million to suppliers, including other agencies and governments in which it collects taxes for.

Emil Anderson Construction was the largest independent supplies, earning more than $11 million from city contracts.



Biking across Canada to raise money

Conquering Canada by bike

From the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific, recent high school graduate Aaron Saufferer will be spending his summer biking across Canada in an effort to raise money for a good cause.

“So I am helping raise money for the United Way, and they help underprivileged people in B.C. There’s lots of people who don’t have time and they can’t pay their bills, and I have two months of free time to ride my bike across the country, and some people don’t even have that time to pay the bills or work, so I think it’s a privilege to do what I’m doing," expressed Saufferer.

The young man will be doing the entire trek across Canada completely by himself with just a bike. And if that isn’t already extreme enough, he’s also decided to pitch a tent at every stop along the way, wherever he ends up for the night.

“Here I got my tent, that’s the most important piece of equipment I have. Right here I got a tarp just to lay down if it’s wet or anything it’ll keep me dry. And here I got my sleeping mat, they’re all in waterproof sacks so if it rains everything’s staying dry. And here I got my sleeping bag, which is also essential for camping," he explained.

Saufferer doesn’t have a specific dollar amount in mind for United Way, but he originally found inspiration to do this fundraiser last summer when he and his close friend biked together to Calgary, and he’ll be drawing on that inspiration once again.

“The buddy I biked to Calgary with, he’s always been pushing me to be better and be more athletic and when I think I can’t do it, he’s always the one to say keep going, keep going, and that’s inspiration. Even though he’s not with me, I’ll remember him.”

The 18-year-old biker will be starting his long journey across Canada – nearly 6,000 kilometres – in Halifax, with the goal of completing the journey in Vancouver in late August.



Homeowner spots theft in progress, confronts prowler in backyard

Homeowner confronts thief

Rob Gibson

“It’s not the first time, won’t be the last.”

Owen Wright lives on Stockwell Avenue in Kelowna.

He's sharing security video taken Thursday at 6:18 a.m., which shows a man walking into Wright’s backyard and beginning to search around. After a few minutes, Wright can be seen walking out to confront the prowler.

Wright says they built a fence to protect their property and they’ve added a security camera and other safety measures, but that doesn’t seem to stop prowlers from entering and taking whatever they can get their hands on.

“The last time was a pretty big score. They took all our power tools and overhead LED lights and a power shelter. That time they actually jumped over the fence,” says Wright.

Since then Wright has been religiously checking his security cameras every morning.

“I noticed that there were two notifications that went off and I saw there was a guy out there.” Wright says he didn’t stop to think about it he immediately went to confront the would-be thief.

“I mean, he's taking my s**t, we have to stand up for it. And I stood there for maybe a solid 15 minutes giving him a good piece of my mind.”

Wright says he went so far as to ask to see what was in his bag and the would-be thief made apologies and eventually left without further incident. The incident has been reported to RCMP.

Wright says he works hard to make the money to buy his tools and he’s beyond frustrated that he can’t seem to stop prowlers from entering his property. “I stopped this guy in the act but I can't lay a finger on him without getting myself in trouble. Police are limited to what they can do so it doesn't help. We don't know what to do anymore."

“Obviously the cop say 'lock your stuff up,' but we can't really lock the car shelter and they just jump the fence,”

Wright says he hopes there isn’t a next time, but knows there probably will be.



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