Six-storey apartment proposed for Kelowna's Badke Road

Badke apartments planned

Owners of a property on Badke Road in the Rutland area want to tear down an existing low-rise apartment in favour of a larger, six-storey building.

Plans presented to the city's planning department this week suggest removing the present two-storey apartment at 765 Badke in order to build a larger 120-unit apartment.

Kerr Properties, owners of the property are seeking a development permit in order to construct the new building.

Plans suggest a mix of 28 one-bedroom, 78 two-bedroom and 14 three-bedroom units within the new apartment complex.

Parking would be available for 134 vehicles with 100 long and short-term bicycle spaces.

Each unit would include a private balcony or patio but, aside from a front plaza specific amenity space is not detailed.

Internal staff will review the proposal before city council gets a chance to weigh in.


Kelowna aerospace company to benefit from Boeing contract

KF to benefit from contract

Several companies with manufacturing and assembly plants in Canada, including in Kelowna B.C., will benefit from a $4.6 billion (US$3.4 billion) contract awarded to Boeing (NYSE: BA) to build 14 new P-8A Poseidon aircraft for the Canadian Air Force and three for the German Navy.

The P-8A Poseidon is a maritime and reconnaissance aircraft with anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare capabilities.

The 14 Poseidons that Canada has ordered are to replace Canada’s CP-140 Aurora maritime patrol aircraft. The cost of the Poseidon acquisition program is an estimated $10.4 billion.

Boeing expects to deliver the first P-8A Poseidon to Canada in 2026.

“With the P-8 acquisition, Boeing’s economic commitments to Canada have the potential to generate annual benefits of more than 3,000 jobs for Canadian industry and value-chain partners, and at least $358 million to Canada’s gross domestic product over a 10-year period,” Boeing said in a news release.

As BIV reported last year, when the Poseiden aquisition plan was first announced, Boeing expects to spend $2.5 billion in Western Canada, about $920 million of  which would be spent in B.C

Companies in Canada to benefit from contracts under the Poseidon building project include CAE, GE Aviation Canada, IMP Aerospace & Defence, KF Aerospace, Honeywell Aerospace Canada, Raytheon Canada, and StandardAero.

Some of these companies, including KF Aerospace, CAE and StandardAero, have maintenance or manufacturing or assembly plants in B.C. Last year, KF Aerospace Kelowna received an award from Boeing as a top supplier.

The new fleet of surveillance planes will be based in B.C. at 19 Wing Comox and in Nova Scotia at 14 Wing Greenwood.

KF Aerospace in Kelowna will be providing maintenance for the new Poseidons, said Matt Stone, communications director for KF Aerospace. He added that the company has worked with Boeing in the past, but only on civilian contracts.

"This is our first time partnering with them on a defence-related program, so this is really going to get our foot in the door with more opportunities for defence programs," Stone said.

Flags on Central Okanagan schools at half-mast to honour Mulroney

Flags going to half-mast

Flags at all schools in the Central Okanagan will be lowered to half mast in honour of the passing of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

The school district said in statement flags are to be flown at half-mast from now until sunset on the day of Mulroney's funeral (date to be determined) on all British Columbia government buildings across the province.

A family spokesman says Mulroney died surrounded by his family in a Palm Beach hospital, where he'd been since a recent fall.

News of his death prompted a flood of respect and remembrance, both in political circles and beyond.

Mulroney, a charismatic and compelling leader with convictions as deep as his trademark languid baritone, led the country as the leader of the Progressive Conservatives from 1984 until 1993.

He reinvented cross-border relations thanks to a close friendship with then-U.S. president Ronald Reagan, a relationship that helped usher in the era of continental free trade and bilateral environmental treaties.

For many, Mulroney will always be the prime minister who introduced the Goods and Services Tax — a bold and necessary move, he insisted, but one that came with lasting political damage.

He had no fear of trying "controversial things," said former prime minister Jean Chrétien, including twice trying unsuccessfully to amend the Constitution with the Meech Lake and Charlottetown accords.

"In politics, opposition is opposition," Chrétien said. "It's like playing hockey. You can fight on the ice and have a beer together after that. And we had a lot of things in common."

with files from The Canadian Press


Okanagan Transit Alliance ‘steadfast’ in push for local, publicly accountable transit operators

Transit alliance 'steadfast'

The Okanagan Transit Alliance is not giving up the fight to have local, publicly accountable operators take over transit service in the region.

Earlier this week BC Transit confirmed that it is extending the term of its operating agreements with TransDev Canada for the Kelowna Regional Transit System, Vernon Regional Transit System, North Okanagan Transit System, and Shuswap Regional Transit System. The contracts have been renewed for two years, beginning April 1, 2024.

TransDev is a multinational corporation based out of France that operates bus services is several countries around the globe.

The Okanagan Transit alliance says it’s disappointed with the contract renewal, but not surprised.

“This extension signifies a continuation of the status quo: a lack of accountability, the squandering of public funds to bolster the profit margins of an overseas corporation, and a lack of transparency regarding contract details and company performance,’ said OTA spokesperson Kirstin Pulles in a statement to Castanet.

“We envision a future where taxpayer resources are redirected towards the creation of meaningful local employment within a locally governed transit authority. This shift would eliminate the inefficiencies inherent in involving a third-party decision maker, ensure equitable compensation for transit workers, and foster a transit system that is answerable to taxpayers and the community it serves,” she adds.

Despite the setback, the OTA says it will remain steadfast in its commitment to advocating for the establishment of a local, publicly accountable management structure for public transit. It’s urging local governments and BC Transit to making such a system a top priority.

The grass roots organization has set four main goals, with ensuring transit is public in the Okanagan by bringing it under local management at the top of the list. It also wants to see HandyDart service expanded, better hours in high-density areas and expanded fare-free service for teens.

Changing plans on UBC Okanagan downtown Kelowna tower construction

Changing plans on tower

The digging is over at the site of the UBC Okanagan downtown tower, but only because the site's engineers have put a stop to it.

Excavation work at the site of the 43-storey UBC Okanagan building going up on Doyle Avenue has damaged some nearby buildings, forcing the closure of the Legion Hall on Bertram Street and the Okanagan coLab at the corner of St. Paul and Doyle.

As a result of the unintended consequences of digging the deepest hole the city has seen for the building's parkade, UBC has now changed its plans.

“The big challenge has been the parkade, there's no question about that,” said Rob Einarson, UBC Okanagan's Associate Vice-President of Finance & Operations, during the UBC Okanagan senate meeting on Thursday.

“We've been working as hard as we can to try and minimize that. There is a new strategy that the city is accepting that will allow us to modify our parking strategy.”

During the meeting, one UBC Okanagan professor referred to the project as the “downtown disaster,” but Einarson said he'd “stop short of calling it a disaster.”

City of Kelowna Director of Planning and Development Ryan Smith says UBC stopped excavation at the site “based on the advice from their engineers,” despite initial plans to go deeper.

“Obviously some of the settlement issues they were seeing probably triggered that recommendation and UBC wants to make sure none of the properties are further impacted and they don't take unnecessary risks,” Smith said.

“We're working on what that means for parking and those types of things ... We're trying to vet the idea and make sure if the city has any conditions or requirements on the idea, that those get reviewed, and see if our counsel needs to be involved at all in the approval of that, or if that gets done at the staff level.”

Smith says a decision on what the change of plans will look like will be coming in the next couple of weeks.

Einarson told the UBC Okanagan Senate meeting that the changes are not expected to impact the timeline of the project. It's expected to open in the fall of 2027.

He added that the construction project is covered by insurance and that any potential financial consequences of the damage caused to other buildings will not be felt by UBC Okanagan.

“We're hopeful that that is not significant but if there were, that's what the building insurance is available for and it would have no impact on UBC,” Einarson said.

RCMP confirm two police incidents are linked

Police incidents linked

UPDATE 2:50 p.m.

Kelowna RCMP have now confirmed two police incidents Friday morning were connected.

Initially, RCMP say they were asked to respond to an incident in the 5700 block of Gillard Service Road near the entrance to what was the Kelowna Mountain development.

Shortly thereafter, RCMP Sgt. Judith Bertrand said officers then responded to a "related incident" on Gibson Road in Rutland.

Bertrand said based on the nature of the incidents, the Southeast District Emergency Response Team was called in to assist.

"The investigation is still on-going and thankfully all outstanding suspects have been arrested," said Bertrand.

Police have not stated the nature of the incidents involved or possible charges being contemplated. They say further information will only be provided as it becomes available.

"We are asking anyone who witnessed the incident to contact the Kelowna RCMP. To remain anonymous, please call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477."

UPDATE 1:50 p.m.

McCurdy Road appears to be open once again.

The road was closed as several RCMP converged on the area.

It's still unclear what brought RCMP to the neighbourhood.

Castanet has reached out to police for comment.

ORIGINAL 12:15 p.m.

There is a large police presence in the Rutland area at this hour.

Castanet News has been alerted to a "massive" police presence on McCurdy Road East by McKenzie and Gibson roads.

The tip says the road is blocked off.

Video of the scene shows an emergency response team vehicle at a home in the neighbourhood.

It is unclear at the present time whether this incident is at all related to an unfolding police incident in the Upper Mission near the entrance to Kelowna Mountain.

Castanet has a reporter heading to the scene and will update the situation when more information is available.

New Kelowna modular site on Highway 97 to house seniors, those with disabilities

New homes for 55-plus

The second of three tiny home or modular housing sites in Kelowna will be reserved exclusively for seniors and those with disabilities.

The City of Kelowna made that announcement Friday morning as modular, work-camp-style units are moved into place for the 60-home Trailside site on Highway 97 between Leathead and McCurdy roads.

"Trailside will support 60 seniors (55+) and persons with disabilities as they journey from unsheltered homelessness to a permanent home," the new release states.

"Considered a transitional housing step, the majority of participants will come from local shelters, freeing up those indoor spaces for others currently sheltered outside."

The units for the Trailside site were trucked and craned into place last week. They differ from the individual "tiny homes" deployed near the rail trail encampment

They will be assembled on blocks and connected to create two buildings with individual rooms, combined community space and dining room, on-site laundry and office space for staff.

The site will be fully fenced and secure and, once construction is complete, the buildings will receive an aesthetic wrap to provide an updated and cohesive look.

Turning Points Collective Society, which operated a similar program in West Kelowna, will run the Trailside site, which is expected to open sometime in April.

It's the second of three sites expected to open sometime this year. The 60-unit STEP site on Crowley Avenue recently began welcoming clients.

A location for a third site has yet to be announced.

This year's Kelowna beer fest tickets go on sale Friday

Beer fest tickets on sale

With warmer days on the horizon, Kelowna beer fest tickets are now on sale.

For the second year, Thick as Thieves Entertainment will be hosting their annual beer fest in Kelowna's City Park on Saturday, May 11. Tickets have now gone on sale for the one-day event.

Thick as Thieves, run by Mitch Carefoot and Kurt Jory, puts on both Denim on the Diamond and AltiTunes music festivals, and the organization dipped their toes into hosting the beer fest last year.

The Great Okanagan Beer Fest was held at Kelowna's Waterfront Park for several years dating back to 2015, but after several years of COVID cancellations, the Whistler-based organizers chose not to return to Kelowna.

"We're thrilled to bring Beer Fest back to City Park for another year of celebration," said Jory, co-owner of Thick as Thieves Entertainment.

"This event is a fantastic opportunity for beer and cider lovers to discover and appreciate the incredible talent within the brewing community. We're proud to showcase the diverse flavors and styles that make our region's beer scene truly exceptional.”

Carefoot describes the beer fest as a “summer kick-off party” and a “celebration of community, flavour, and the artistry.”

“This event brings people together to explore the rich flavors crafted by passionate brewers, fostering a sense of camaraderie and appreciation for the diverse world of craft beer,” Carefoot said.

“With its picturesque setting, live music, and food offerings, this Beer Fest transcends a traditional beer tasting, transforming into an unforgettable experience where memories are brewed, one sip at a time."

Carefoot says this year's event will have more breweries, food trucks and shaded areas compared to last year.

Tickets can be found here, with regular-priced tickets going for $45 and VIP tickets for $170. For the first 48 hours of ticket sales, buyers can use the code KBF2024 for a 25% discount.

RCMP responding to unfolding incident in Upper Mission

Police incident unfolding

UPDATE: This police incident was linked to another RCMP response. Updates on both stories are here.

Kelowna RCMP are on the scene of what they term an "unfolding event" in the Upper Mission near Kelowna Mountain.

In a news release, police say they responded to an incident in the 5700 block of Gillard Creek Forest Service Road about 8 a.m. this morning.

"We are asking for the public to stay away from the area as there are suspects outstanding," said Sgt. Judith Bertrand.

Police as asking anyone with information concerning the incident to contact Kelowna RCMP or, to remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

RCMP are expected to provide additional details as they become available.

Tourism spending in the Central Okanagan rose significantly post-pandemic

Tourism spending spikes

A new report highlights just how important of an economic driver tourism is for the Central Okanagan.

The data, released by Tourism Kelowna, looks at the economic impact of tourism to the greater Kelowna area in 2022, as we emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic. The research was conducted by InterVISTAS Consulting Inc.

The report shows that tourism directly supported 12,630 jobs, with $598 million in wages in 2022. That made it the fourth largest employer in the region. However, the number of jobs slipped 3% from before the pandemic.

Still, the industry as a whole grew 14% since 2018, and is now valued at $2.4 billion. Spending by visitors to the Central Okanagan also ballooned since the last report, up 22% to $540 million.

“Tourism continues to be one of the Central Okanagan’s leading industries and contributes to the growth and wellbeing of our economy,” says CEO & president of Tourism Kelowna, Lisanne Ballantyne.

“Our tourism industry generates new spending and direct job creation as visitors come and stay at local hotels, eat at local restaurants, and take part in activities at local attractions. The ripple effects of this visitor economy support infrastructure and public services that benefit our city and region. It’s important to note, that as residents we benefit from these businesses, too, and can enjoy these amenities throughout the year, contributing to a stronger quality of life.”

According to the research, the industry contributes $226 million in tax revenue in 2022, an increase of 18% since 2018. That includes $19 million in municipal tax revenue. The rest went to the federal and provincial governments.

“Kelowna’s brand as a desirable travel destination remains strong, and this resiliency is reassuring as we continue to promote Kelowna nationally as a year-round travel destination,” says Ballantyne.

The 2022 Economic Impact of Tourism in the Greater Kelowna Area report found that accommodation providers (comprising of over 70 properties) and other tourism-related businesses (such as outdoor attractions, wineries, and arts, culture, and entertainment) accounted for 42% of the total direct tourism related employment in Kelowna, equal to approximately 3,700 jobs.

Tourism is the fourth biggest employer in the region, accounting for 8,900 persons. Healthcare and social assistance was tops at 15,000, followed by 12,300 and educational services at 9,500. The fifth leading employer in 2022 was manufacturing.

The full report prepared for Tourism Kelowna can be found here.

While tourism spending was up in 2022, the wildfires last summer led to a sharp drop in visitor numbers, especially in late August and early September.

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