Bulky item disposal is available for Central Okanagan residents starting June 30

Bulky item disposal soon

North Westside Road residents within the Central Okanagan will have an opportunity to dispose of unwanted bulky items.

Beginning June 30 until July 14, during regular operating hours at the North Westside Road Transfer Station, residents can dispose of large household items for a cost of $20 per truckload.

Cash or cheques are the only accepted method of payment.

This special disposal opportunity is available to residents with a valid ID card only, for residential items including: appliances, scrap metal, lawn mowers and other motorized parts, household and lawn furniture.

Hazardous waste including computers, electronics, etc. will not be accepted. Unwanted fridges and freezers will also be accepted at no charge.

The North Westside Road Transfer Station is open Monday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. until 12 p.m.

Starting July 1, opening hours on Saturdays will extend to 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Transfer Station is located at the Sugarloaf Mountain/Whiteman Creek Forest Service Road.

The Kelowna Water Polo Club is taking its sport outdoors

Water polo going outside

The Kelowna Water Polo Club is taking its sport to the outdoors, and with it, comes a plethora of benefits.

Both adult and youth water polo will be played at Tugboat beach for July and August. That means many parents who weren’t able to see their children develop and progress in the sport due to the COVID-19 restrictions can finally get out and watch.

"During this experience we haven’t been able to have the parents see the growth of their kids, they’ve just been hearing it from us as coaches," said Kelowna Water Polo Club head coach Kristen Smart.

"But for us now to be able to say okay, we’re allowed to have spectators on the beach, please come out and see how much of a growth you can see in your child, not only as a swimmer, but as a team member and as a general person."

Another KWPC coach Adam Frank says the move makes a lot of sense for the organization, beyond the beauty of the setting. "It also just makes it cheaper than having to rent a pool, and we can have a lot more people outdoors."

Being a coach for any youth sport is often a thankless job. But Frank says getting a chance to coach kids in a sport he used to play competitively is very rewarding for him.

“It's seeing them develop. It's the first time I've ever coached youth, so it's testing my own abilities and remembering how the sport is played as I haven’t played competitively in a few years... so when I do see myself getting through to the kids and they’re picking it up, that's probably the most rewarding thing,” said Frank.

Kristin Smart wants to remind Kelowna residents that water polo is for everyone. For those who are interested in signing up, the KWPC has a youth program open from ages 9-12 and 13-16, as well as ages 17 and up for their adult program. You can sign up, or learn more about the club, here.

Okanagan Mayors call to action on water conservation

Mayors 'make water work'

As the weather heats up in the Okanagan, so does the competition between communities to be named “Make Water Work Community Champion.”

This week, Okanagan mayors helped kick off Make Water Work, a valley-wide outdoor water conservation campaign, with videos on social media, pledging to conserve water this summer.

“It’s fun, but also a serious issue,” said Armstrong Mayor Chris Pieper, whose community has collected the most number of pledges to win the champion title in 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2020.

“We all drink out of the same watershed,” he adds.

The Make Water Work campaign, led by the Okanagan Basin Water Board and its Okanagan WaterWise program, is delivered in partnership with Okanagan local governments and utilities and is aimed at addressing the second largest use of all water in the valley, residential outdoor use.

“This spring, the Okanagan has seen record-breaking temperatures and record low precipitation,” said OBWB chair and Osoyoos Mayor Sue McKortoff.

This week’s rainfall, while welcome, was not enough to make up for this water deficit and all indicators suggest we could be headed for another drought this summer. “We often take water for granted and we need to be much more mindful about water waste,” she said.

Mayors from across the valley are posting videos on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, pledging to make water work better for grandchildren, their community, the fish, and more.

“We all share this one water so we’re all in this together,” added McKortoff.

Since the Make Water Work campaign began in 2011, McKortoff says she has seen a shift in people’s attitude.

“I think Make Water Work has caused people to be more aware of how much water they use and when they use. I see people putting in the right type of irrigation, like soaker hoses and drip emitters, and planting the right material for our dry climate.”

Okanagan residents are being encouraged to go to www.MakeWaterWork.ca and pledge to:

  1. Water lawn between dusk and dawn.
  2. Water plants, not pavement.
  3. Never mow low. Let it grow.
  4. Choose plants suitable to our dry climate.
  5. Tune up my irrigation.
  6. Aerate my lawn and top dress with compost.

“The Okanagan is one of Canada’s most water-stressed regions,” said OBWB Communications Director Corinne Jackson, who manages the OkWaterWise program and its Make Water Work campaign.

“The fact that we have water restrictions is an indication of that.

For more on the Make Water Work Plant Collection, water restrictions, tips to Make Water Work, and more, visit www.MakeWaterWork.ca.

Laugh your mask off as local comedy makes a comeback after rough year

Local comedy coming back

Rob Gibson

As British Columbia continues to come back to life—local arts groups are breathing a sigh of relief after a very long layoff.

"I think people can't wait to get out and laugh again," says Rob Balsdon, owner of Train Wreck Comedy in Kelowna.

"The entertainment industry took it on the chin through COVID-19, but focusing on what has happened isn't going to change it. I know all the comedians that I work with are just excited to get back on track and start making people laugh again."

After months of not knowing when live entertainment would be allowed to come back on stage, local comedy groups are happy to get back to work.

Balsdon tells Castanet Train Wreck Comedy has already announced six shows in three nights from July 8-10.

The shows will run at 7 and 9:15 p.m. on July 8 at Wings West Kelowna, July 9 at the Kelowna Yacht Club and July 10 at Freddy's Brewpub. Balsdon says the events will comply with the latest COVID-19 protocols and will feature tables of two, four and six. Tickets are available here.

"Grab your friends and come laugh your mask off," Balsdon says.

The shows will feature one of Canada's top comedians, Byron Bertram, who has worked on stage with the likes of Zach Galifinakis, Flight of the Concords, and Eddie Izzard. He was a big hit with the judges on Britain’s Got Talent and has also been seen on ABC’s Once Upon a Time, Dirks Gently, Riverdale, and heard regularly on SiriusXM.

Byron has been working with Train Wreck Comedy for the last seven years and is best known by many people in the Okanagan for his role as the melodramatic, sick husband, from the famous "Pam Call My Mom" Nyquil commercial.

Stuart Jones will also be performing at Dakoda's Comedy Lounge along with local comedians Jordan Strauss, Zawer Suleiman, and Kyle Ferris on June 19th.

RCMP almost catch catalytic converter thief operating in the Rutland area Friday

Converter thief slips away

A Kelowna woman says she was woken in the middle of the night by a loud scraping sound she first thought might be her window fan breaking down.

Kim Wilson tells Castanet she was jolted awake by a loud noise Friday at 4:20 a.m., she thought it was her fan but a quick check revealed no problems on that front.

"I look out the window and I see this guy hanging around a truck [parked on the street] and it was looking like he wasn't the owner of the truck," she said.

Wilson says the man was acting suspicious and looked like he had a tool in his hand as he lurked around the Leathead Road area of Rutland.

"Then he cranks under the truck and uses the tool again," she said. "He slides out on a roller and all of a sudden he's in a hurry, throws something in the back of his truck and he takes off."

Wilson called RCMP who she says arrived promptly and began to investigate the situation. It didn't take long before the investigation revealed that the catalytic converter on the truck had been stolen.

"Our truck was parked right behind the other vehicle so we were just lucky it wasn't us," she said. "They were sly."

Wilson says the entire ordeal lasted about seven minutes and RCMP say a converter, which converts pollutants into less harmful emissions before they leave a vehicle’s exhaust system, can be stolen in a matter of minutes with a blowtorch or grinder.

Thieves often target vehicles higher up from the ground such as minivans and SUV's to allow easier access to the underside of a vehicle.

Theft of catalytic converters is an ongoing issue, as the salvage price of metal contained in the exhaust emission control device is currently considered high, and can be turned around for a quick profit.

Scooter companies making major push on safety in Kelowna

Lime pledges to be safer

Kelowna's e-scooter rollout has gone anything but smoothly, but with another review of the program by city council looming on June 28, Lime Canada is making a big push to change perceptions of those opposed to the machines on city streets.

With an average of 1,700 riders a day in our city, it's clear they’re a popular method of transportation. Lime Canada took Castanet on tour Friday to show off its new street team that repositions misplaced scooters and other safety initiatives.

Lime Canada operations manager Kyle Erickson says the recent event they held in Stuart Park was a "great start" to improving rider safety.

"We've got more planned on the horizon, and the goal is awareness, so we’re out here canvassing and I know the other companies are looking to do the same, so we’re just trying to work together to keep everyone safe,” said Erickson.

The e-scooters have recently received criticism from Kelowna General Hospital chief of orthopedic surgery, Steven Krywulak, after he called the scooters “fracture machines.” Erickson says the company has some strong statistics to back up their safety.

“Right now we're at 99.35 per cent of all ride reports being injury free at Lime, which is great news. Right now we’re doing everything we can to reduce injuries. We start with properly maintenancing the scooters, we have our team out here providing education as well which is super important, because it starts from the bottom, right?”

Maintaining a strong relationship with the city is also something Erickson says he values. “Right now we’re just trying to make sure that the city has access to everything that it needs and that we’re working together. Like I said, obviously the safety concern is the highest priority, and we as a company we would love to stay here in Kelowna. I think in order to do that, we need everyone on board,” said Erickson.

Kelowna’s mayor Colin Basran is hoping that some of the changes made by the scooter companies will erase some of the issues surrounding them.

"I think the operators are making some necessary changes working with our staff. But, at the end of the day, again you can't regulate human behaviour, so I'm asking those who rent these to be a little more respectful and mindful of what the laws are,” said Basran.

City council will discuss the future of the program again on June 28.

Kelowna is in the midst of one of its biggest construction booms in years

Kelowna's housing boom

The development industry seems to believe the current housing market in Kelowna will continue well into this decade.

While homes are being purchased at near record levels for record amounts, construction of new housing is also hitting historic levels.

Levels that are both a bit surprising and, at the same time not so surprising to planning manager Ryan Smith.

"I think we're surprised at how much because there is quite a bit going on, but we also see Kelowna as one of the more desirable places in Canada to live for medium sized cities, so we shouldn't be too surprised we are seeing this kind of sustained pressure," said Smith.

A report for Monday's council meeting outlining building and development numbers for the first quarter of the year show figures, some of which are on pace to reach, or shatter numbers from the building boom of the mid 2000s and the boom from 2016 to 2019.

Some of the factors, Smith states in the report include an increased demand for housing, low interest rates and work from home mobility due to COVID-19.

There was also a push by the development sector to secure building permits during the first five weeks of 2021 to avoid additional parks DDCs which came into effect in early February.

About $400 million of the more than $500 million in building permit value over the first quarter of the year came during those first five weeks.

However, the more than half-a-billion dollars in building permit value during the first four months eclipses the building permit value for all of last year, as well as each year from 2010 through 2015.

The city had already issued 772 permits through the end of March, putting it on pace to eclipse the previous high of nearly 2,700 permits.

Housing applications are far exceeding those of both the five and 10 year averages.

Permit applications were made for nearly 1,800 units, compared with the five year average of 388 and the 10 year average of 265.

The largest jump was in multi-family permits with 1,203.

"I think it's partly a rebound with parts of last year having less development activity because of COVID uncertainty," said Smith.

"Working from home and the ability of doing that long-term, people are choosing to relocate to where they really want to be. I think there is more retirement going on now, and boomers who talked about moving here are executing on that now."

Teen who fatally stabbed 16-year-old faces possible jail time

Teen faces jail for stabbing

A Kelowna teenager had been living on the streets, using drugs and drinking to the point of blackout, for two years before she fatally stabbed a 16-year-old in downtown Kelowna two years ago.

The sentencing hearing for the teen who killed Eli Beauregard on the evening of June 27, 2019 began in Kelowna court Friday morning, after she pleaded guilty to manslaughter earlier this year. Now 19 years old, she cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, as she was 17 when the stabbing occurred. Castanet will refer to her as CP.

During sentencing submissions, Crown prosecutor David Grabavac said the Crown is seeking a one- to 1.5-year jail sentence, followed by one to 1.5 years of supervision upon her release. Defence counsel Joe Killoran argued his client should avoid jail time altogether, but instead serve a period of time under the Intensive Rehabilitative Custody and Supervision (IRCS) program.

While the sentencing hearing was scheduled for just one day, submissions took longer than expected, and a second day will need to be scheduled in the coming weeks.

Justice Gregory Koturbash said he plans to deliver his sentencing within the next month, as CP is set to turn 20 in late July. If she's sentenced to jail time after she turns 20, she'll be placed in an adult institution rather than a youth facility, something Justice Koturbash hoped to avoid.

Beuaregard was stabbed twice in his right arm at about 11:20 p.m. on June 27, 2019, behind the downtown Kelowna BMO Bank of Montreal. Beauregard and CP were both living on the street at the time, while dealing with substance abuse issues. An employee at the local Boys and Girls Club described the two as “good friends.”

Witnesses said the two were having a verbal altercation for about 15 minutes prior to the stabbing, and both were intoxicated.

Killoran said CP was a traumatized youth at the time of the stabbing who'd been living on the street for two years and self medicating her numerous mental health issues with drugs and alcohol – consuming upwards of two 26-ounce bottles of vodka daily. Killoran said she'd been sexually assaulted many times while living on the street, including twice in the 48 hours before the stabbing. While she called him a friend, CP alleged Beauregard had previously sexually assaulted her while she was incapacitated by drugs and alcohol, but that allegation was never proven in court.

While Killoran argued the fact that CP was a traumatized, vulnerable Indigenous youth should be treated as a mitigating factor in her sentencing, Grabavac argued the courts have said that a crime motivated by revenge is actually an aggravating factor.

As the verbal argument progressed, CP stabbed Beauregard twice in the arm, causing him to immediately bleed profusely. While the fatal cut was just 0.7 cm by 0.1 cm in size, it hit the brachial artery.

“I'm bleeding, I'm bleeding,” Beauregard cried out, according to a witness.

“That's what happens, good, you deserve it,” the teenager told Beauregard, according to the agreed statement of facts.

Beauregard was rushed to the hospital, while the young girl left the area. But police found her the next morning at the Boys and Girls Club on Richter Street. She told the arresting officers she had blacked out the night before, and she didn't remember what had happened.

Meanwhile, doctors fought to save Beauregard, who had almost completely bled out. His right arm was amputated in an attempt to save him, but he was left with little brain activity given the massive blood loss. He was taken off life support three days after the stabbing, at 6:47 p.m. on June 30, 2019.

The manslaughter charge was not laid against CP until eight months later, in February 2020. She has been out of custody on bail ever since.

In the past two years, CP is no longer homeless after she reconnected with her family. A number of family members were in court Friday to support her. She has abstained from alcohol and drug use and completed a 10-week live-in addiction treatment program. Killoran relied on several doctors' reports that said incarcerating his client could risk undoing the progress she's made. Several doctors categorized her as a low-risk to reoffend, if she remains sober from drugs and alcohol.

"There would be no substantive gains to public safety by incarceration, at least over the next two years," Killoran said in court Friday, reading from one of the doctors' reports. The doctor added that associating with others in a jail setting could increase her risk of falling back into her old ways.

"What's more likely to lead to [CP] to becoming a law-abiding citizen who never again causes harm to people? Is it wrap-around supports in an IRCS, with family supports and counselling, or is it a custodial sentence with anti-social personal peers?" Killoran said. "In our respectful submission, it's the former."

Grabavac argued that while he respected the doctors' opinions, sentencing should take more into account than just how it will impact the accused.

In two separate written statements read out in court, CP apologized for her actions, and apologized to Beauregard's parents.

"Eli was a good person, we both got caught up in a lifestyle that no kid or young adult should live," CP said. "I did the unthinkable and I will live with this for the rest of my life."

She added that she wants to become a social worker, to help other youth get clean from drugs and alcohol and get off the streets.

Beauregard's mother Emily Steele spoke through tears about her son's death.

“I will never feel the same again,” she said. “I will never get to see him and his smile. I will never get to see his green eyes twinkle in the light. I will never get to hear him laugh with joy. I will never get to hear him say 'I love you mom' again. I will never get to hug him or hold him and tell him I love him. And it kills me more than you can ever know.”

City of Kelowna is not doing enough to advance actions toward Truth and Reconciliation

Reconciliation falls short

Progress has been made, but more needs to be done.

That's the conclusion City of Kelowna staff reached during a comprehensive review of actions taken by the city to advance calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's 2015 report.

City council asked for the review days after the discovery of 215 children in unmarked burial sites at a former Kamloops Indian Residential School.

Staff say some initiatives from the TRC calls to action have been implemented or are underway, but acknowledge "current work falls short of what we can, and should be doing as a city."

The Imagine Kelowna vision which is helping guide the city's 2040 Official Community Plan suggests the city's goal is to engage with the Okanagan's past by honouring our rich heritage while "following the lead of our local Indigenous communities towards a path of reconciliation."

In 2017 and 2018, educational workshops were developed based on traditional En'owkinwixw learning circles in collaboration with Syilx/Okanagan educators.

About 70 staff members attended those workshops.

"In addition, resources have been made available for all city staff on territorial acknowledgements, providing information on the Syilx traditional territories and member First Nations bands, as well as a reference to other policy initiatives and programs that other municipalities are advancing to improve their Indigenous relationships," the report states.

"The emphasis since the workshops has been on self-study and personal responsibility for learning the history of Indigenous peoples in Canada and the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions’ Calls to Action.

"However, staff feel there is a need and an opportunity to move the city beyond self-directed learning at the employee level to building broader organizational competency in Indigenous relations and cultural awareness."

Staff also suggest taking part in all regional efforts toward call to action implementation with Westbank First Nations and Okanagan Indian Band.

"While it is recognized that each municipality may have individual opportunities to advance their own initiatives, relationships, and education, there may be some benefits to regional conversations with, other local governments, the health authority, post-secondary institutions, and industry."

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