Kelowna West Green Party candidate Peter Truch candidate sits down with Castanet News

Peter Truch: 1 on 1

Peter Truch is making his first foray into the provincial political arena, carrying the banner for the Green Party in Kelowna West.

Truch, a transportation engineer and small business owner, is looking to unseat incumbent Liberal Ben Stewart.

He sat down with Castanet News to discuss his decision to run in the election and some issues within the Kelowna West riding.

On running for the Green Party:

"People, planet, small business. those are kind of the three mainstays of the Green Party. We care about the economy, although we've been branded as a bunch of tree huggers. One of my aims in this election is to make sure that is shed. We're neither left nor right, but we do tend to be economically conservative or responsible but very socially minded as well at the same time. I think from a politicians perspective, the voice of the people, is going to be best represented by someone who's not whipped by a particular direction of the party."

On transportation issues:

"I'm the only candidate in this election for Kelowna West that has put forward a plan, I understand it's starting to turn some heads and get some attention even by competitors. Mobility I think is one of those silent factors that is an important thing for Kelowna West. I have a very affordable plan a very realistic plan that can be used to fix mobility across the bridge and keep people and goods flowing both on the bridge and through Central Kelowna and West Kelowna as well."

On affordable and supportive housing:

"I have a plan, and my catch line slogan is irradiate the homeless camps. I think some people may take that as I want to just abolish them. That's not what I'm trying to suggest. What I am all for is making sure as a fundamental basic necessity, that everybody in our society should have shelter, and good, reliable shelter. Once that housing first policy is in place, then we can work on all of the other issues that come along with that. Things like mental health, addictions, food security and food sustainability, health care.

"They are all intertwined. This riding has a very large population of people without homes. By very large, we're still talking about under 1,000, so it's a very realistic thing we can tackle in the short term to get people into houses, eliminate the camps, get people into proper, stable housing, then work with them through all of the other social programs to make issues a lot better."

On governing out of the pandemic:

"The Greens have, what is in my mind, the most robust plan to go forward post-COVID. It's targeted plans for

those that need the help the most. Our tourism industry is a very good example, especially in this area here. Our tourism industry does need extra support to make sure they don't become insolvent over time. We have programs in place that are going to support those businesses. Once we come through the pandemic, then we are also the most fiscally minded rather than either applying it blanket across the board, or providing a tax break to the rich. The Liberal proposal to reduce the PST...if a business has lost 50 per cent of their revenue, seven per cent of a reduction isn't going to do anything to make them stay afloat."

On voting for Peter Truch:

"To the voters of Kelowna West I would very much appreciate your vote as a BC Green. I am fiscally conscious as a small business owner. I am neither left nor right, i am collaborative. I look for solutions that fit everybody's agendas as best as possible. Obviously we are not going to make everybody happy all the time, but consensus is about making sure we do the best for the most amount of people both now, and in the future. I'd appreciate you vote on, or before Oct. 24."

You can view the complete interview below.

Read more BC Election 2020 coverage on Castanet here.


Air Canada putting all-business-class jets into service in Kelowna this winter

Swanky jets to land at YLW

Air Canada is putting its fleet of jets typically used by sports teams, pop stars and the very rich into service at a handful of destinations this winter, including Kelowna.

The all-business-class Jetz charter aircraft are now available to customers on commercial flights between Toronto and Kelowna. 

Each of the airline’s four Airbus A319 Jetz aircraft are configured with 58 business-class seats, less than half the normal number of seats for the aircraft.

"Air Canada is very pleased to offer its customers a unique opportunity to travel like a pro athlete or a VIP and experience our premium Jetz service. Customers booking on a Jetz flight will enjoy such amenities as its all-Business Class seating configuration, upgraded meal service, and shorter boarding and deplaning times. These features, combined with Jetz's other attributes, create a private-jet-like experience," said Mark Galardo, vice president of network planning and alliances at Air Canada.

Prices on the flights between Toronto and Kelowna start at roughly $2,200 return. 

While flying on an Air Canada Jetz flight, families and groups also have the option to book four facing seats with a table in the middle. Ipads for entertainment are complementary and customers will receive priority check-in and security clearance meaning boarding takes place just 35 minutes before departure.

Booking details can be found here.

One person tests positive for COVID-19 following event hosted by Liberal candidate Renee Merrifield

Exposure at candidate event

A person who attended a "community gathering" at the home of Kelowna-Mission Liberal candidate Renee Merrifield has tested positive for COVID-19.

Merrifield's campaign manager, Rob Murphy confirmed to Castanet News of a possible exposure to the virus a week ago.

Murphy says Merrifield hosted an outdoor event last Wednesday evening with a group of "concerned people who just wanted to meet her and get to know who she was."

"The event was under 20 people, and it took place following public health guidelines with respect to it being outdoors," he said.

"Everybody was social distanced. Masks, gloves and hand sanitizer were all utilized."

Murphy says the campaign was made aware on Monday that someone who had attended the gathering had subsequently tested positive for COVID-19.

"We've been in touch with that individual as well as everybody that was at that particular gathering.

"Renee has had no symptoms, and was advised by Interior Health that after the number of days that had gone by, that she is unlikely to need a test because she's not exhibiting any symptoms.

"She has been taking additional precautions to limit her transmission of anything. She wears a mask everywhere she goes, she hand sanitizes, and she really hasn't been doing any events where she has been anywhere near anybody."

Murphy says Merrifield is not self-isolating because she is not exhibiting symptoms.

But, he says the campaign has not been doing many public events, and when she is out in public, Merrifield always wears a mask.

He says he doesn't believe Merrifield informed those at Tuesday's all-candidates forum of the possible exposure. However, he added extra measures were put in place to ensure everyone attending the forum did so safely.

Thunderstorms mixed with snow at high elevations overnight

Thunder snow overnight

Plummeting air temperatures and warmer ground temperatures resulted in a unique weather phenomenon in some areas of the Interior Tuesday night – thunder snow. And more snow is expected across the province later this week.

Fifteen centimetres of snow fell over Alison Pass near Manning Park overnight, and more continues to fall Wednesday morning. Snow fell across other high elevation passes as well, and the Coquihalla Highway between Merritt and Kamloops remains slippery. With the snow, and rain at lower elevations, also came lightning.

“The airmass that's coming over us is so cold aloft, and the ground had been so warm for so long, there's still enough energy to produce a few thunderstorms here and there,” said Doug Lundquist, meteorologist with Environment Canada. “And it's that type of instability that's affected Alison Pass and the higher elevation terrain.”

And while we may have seen the last of the thunderstorms for now, more snow and plummeting temperatures are expected across the Interior later this week and through the weekend. Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement, warning of more early season snow and below seasonal temperatures.

“There is definitely a new system coming in and we're talking about periods of snow from Thursday night through Friday, and an Arctic front coming through on Friday,” Lundquist said. “I wouldn't be surprised if we see some white on the ground here [in the Valley] Friday, so it's a good reminder to get ready.”

Snow accumulation of two to 10 centimetres is expected from the Fraser Canyon to the Kootenays. 

Temperatures are expected to hit a low of -10 C Saturday, before warming to more seasonal temperatures by the middle of next week.

“It is a little unusual to have an Arctic outbreak this early coming up, especially what we're expecting Thursday through Friday there and that cold on the weekend, but not unheard of,” Lundquist said.

And for those planning on heading to the polls Saturday, make sure you layer up, as temperatures are expected to reach a high of just one degree.

Interior Health has declared COVID-19 outbreak at École de l’Anse-au-sable school in Kelowna: letter to parents

COVID 'outbreak' at school

What was first believed to be a single COVID-19 exposure at the French-language École de l’Anse-au-sable school in Kelowna has now been declared an outbreak.

In a letter to students and parents obtained by Castanet News, Interior Health says it has "declared an outbreak of COVID-19 at École de l’Anse-au-sable."

The letter goes on to say due to the "ongoing risk of transmission, all students and staff from Maternelle (kindergarten) to Grade 3 (M. Adrien's class) have been asked to remain home and self-isolate until the end of the day on Nov. 4."

This would be the first declared outbreak at any school in the province since students returned to class in early September.

An "exposure" is when someone who attended the school tested positive for COVID-19 and does not mean the disease was transmitted. An "outbreak" is declared when health authorities have determined transmission in a school setting.

Officials with Interior Health were unable to speak directly on the contents of the letter, but indicated the health authority is investigating.

"I know they are investigating developments relating to that school, and I also know later this afternoon, Interior Health will release an update with additional details," the official stated.

The letter indicated other students up to Grade 12 are not considered exposed at this time, and are able to attend regular classes at the school.

"If you did not receive a phone call or letter, your child could continue to attend school," the letter stated.

"If you or your child develop any symptoms of COVID-19, please ensure that the affected person isolates and then calls Kelowna Community Collection Centre at 250-469-6985 for an appointment to assess for COVID-19.

Those people are asked to indicate they are associated with the school outbreak. Interior Health says additional health measures will be implemented if necessary.

École de l’Anse-au-sable is part of School District 93 which encompasses 40 French-language schools across the province.

Flair Airlines flights from Kelowna and Prince George on COVID watch list

More flights exposed

Coronavirus exposure alerts have been issued for two new flights in the B.C. Interior.

The BC Centre for Disease Control lists an Oct. 12 Flair Airlines flight from Kelowna to Edmonton and an Oct. 13 Flair flight from Prince George to Edmonton as having passengers with confirmed COVID-19 cases onboard.

Affected rows on the Kelowna flight are rows 24-30. On the Prince George flight, they are rows 10-16.

Passengers are advised to monitor for symptoms.

Passengers seated in the affected rows should be considered high risk "due to their proximity to the case."

This follows another Kelowna flight exposure on Oct. 10, on WestJet Flight 182 from YLW to Calgary.

The latest Prince George flight is the sixth in or out of that city that has been exposed to the virus.

Five recent Vancouver flights are also listed on the BC CDC site.


Former SEKID and SOMID to pay more for water integration in 2021

Water integration fee rising

The cost to homeowners within the former SEKID and SOMID water utility will be going up in 2021 to fund the nearly $100 million water integration project.

City council has approved an increase in the monthly project fee from $32 to $40.

That could change again by the end of 2022 once the entire cost of the project is known. However, city infrastructure director Alan Newcombe says he believes the $40 monthly charge will be very close to the final fee those residents will pay.

The fee is being collected to repay money borrowed from the water utility reserve to pay for the city's portion of the water integration project.

Those funds are being paid back over 20 years.

Mayor Colin Basran told council he believes the additional project fee should have been closer to $40 all along.

"The $32 fee was implemented by the former SEKID board with, I would say, not as much consultation as we would have liked,' the mayor stated.

"And, had that happened, it wouldn't have been $32. I would have been higher, which is where it should have been in the first place."

Residents were informed of the likelihood of an increase in the project fee when it was first implemented two years ago, however, councillors believed those affected residents should be notified again and reminded that increase is coming.

Newcombe says the total value of the project now sits at $98 million after the city received an additional $12 million grant from the province to initiate Phase 2 work, including including transmission main and reservoir expansions.

That work is expected to begin in the spring of 2021.

Newcombe says other phase 2 work, including the Westpoint transmission main and the KVR reservoir upgrades are underway, and should be complete by the spring.

RCMP investigating after two cattle found dead on Postill Lake Rd.

Cattle struck, left for dead

Kelowna RCMP are investigating after finding two dead cattle on Postill Lake Rd on October 18.

RCMP say the cattle were not harvested and they believe the cattle were struck by a vehicle about 2.5 kilometres up the gravel portion of Postill Lake Road in Kelowna.

Frontline officers attended and located the two dead cattle. The owner of the cattle has been identified and has confirmed they were on the open range in the area.

“These cattle were not harvested, and it is believed they may have been struck by a vehicle,” says Cpl. Cory Lepine of the Livestock Section of the RCMP. “We are attempting to determine how they came to their death and are appealing to the public for assistance.”

Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call the RCMP Livestock Section at 250-314-1800.

FH&P Lawyers challenge locals to a freehand pumpkin carving contest

Show off your carving talent

If there’s one thing you need to do this fall, it’s take your shot at a freehand pumpkin carving contest.

With encouragement from public health officials to consider alternative ways of celebrating Halloween this year, a Kelowna law firm is offering locals the chance to enter a socially-distanced pumpkin carving competition. 

The competition run by FH&P Lawyers opened on Oct. 5, and asks Kelowna locals to gather with family members or those in their 'bubble' to honour the age-old tradition of pumpkin carving. 

FH&P Lawyers will be offering a Grand Prize Basket for the individual or family crowned as pumpkin royalty, including:

  • a $500 donation on your behalf to the charity of your choice,
  • two bottles of wine from The Hatch Winery,
  • a $30 gift certificate to Boston Pizza, downtown Kelowna location,
  • a $30 gift certificate to Cora Breakfast & Lunch,
  • a pair of movie passes to Landmark Cinemas with popcorn and a drink,
  • and a free will from FH&P Lawyers. 

One pumpkin per household is allowed, and pumpkins must be carved by hand with no stencil use. 

To register your entry, simply snap a photo of your hand-carved pumpkin creation and post it on Facebook, tagging FH&P Lawyers in the post.

All photos posted and/or tagged to the FH&P Lawyers Facebook page will be included in the competition, and entries must be uploaded by Thursday, Oct. 22.

The winner will be judged by a panel of lawyers within the firm and contacted by the firm on Friday, Oct. 23. 

Local production company wins a Sports Emmy

And the Emmy goes to...

Sarita Patel

And the Emmy goes to... an Okanagan man!

A new startup company in Kelowna has made waves in the television world, capturing a Sports Emmy for their work with Red Bull. XR Media Group uses tech such as extended, virtual and augmented reality for their productions which helped them capture the coveted Emmy. 

“The drumroll moment is pretty exciting and there was a wave of I didn’t know if I heard what I heard,” laughs Ryan Whitehead, technical creative for XR Media Group, describing his emotions when the winner was announced on Aug. 11. 

“I kind of was like looking around the room saying, that’s a win right? That’s us!”

He says being a first-year startup, it’s great to get recognized on such a big stage, especially for a small company of six in Kelowna. 

Due to COVID-19, Whitehead threw a small gathering at home instead of walking the red carpet for the award ceremony and received the hardware through the mail. The Outstanding Digital Innovation category had some big names.  

“There [were] two Major League Baseball technology nominations in there, there was a Fox Sports nomination, Riot Entertainment. There [were] a lot of big hitters that our little startup from Kelowna — we’re happy just to be rubbing shoulders with these other brands.”

He’s been nominated three times and won twice, first a Primetime Emmy working with Taylor Swift and this one, which he says is pretty special as it was a labour of love from his small team.

“Typically when we’ve gotten recognition in the past it’s been through an agency, it’s been through big LA studio, this wasn’t the case,” adds Whitehead. 

“We acted as the agency, we are the production house, we were the creative house so, we’re all pretty proud at XR Media Group for this accomplishment.”

The project was done for the Red Bull RAMPAGE mountain biking event in Utah. 

“We essentially augmented the broadcast by scanning the mountain, creating a digital twin of the mountain and creating assets that populated that mountain during the broadcast and they were located positionally in space.”

With the platform, they were able to display information like rider-line graphics, speed, slope depth and more to bring the event to life. 

XR Media used a method typically not used outdoors.

“It’s traditionally used in studio environments like the weather channel but this was the first time that I know of, not saying it is the first, but first time I know that it was used at a long distance like this in an outdoor environment,” he says. 

Whitehead has worked in many places around the globe and says Kelowna is a special place.

“Just 'cause you’re working from a small town doesn’t mean you can’t work on a global scale at all. If you’re in the right place, doing the right type of work and your work is solid you can go anywhere and we feel pretty fortunate to be working out of Kelowna.”

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