RCMP plea: Treat replica firearms as if they are the real thing

Fake guns a real concern

Kelowna RCMP have a message for owners of imitation and replica firearms - treat them as if they are the real thing.

RCMP say more and more, they are coming face-to-face with replica firearms which, in highly dynamic incidents, a high risk encounter or in bad lighting, can make it impossible to distinguish.

In a news release, police say BB guns, airsoft guns and replica firearms can all have the appearance of a real gun. And they can all trigger a serious response from police.

“Our officers will treat all these replicas as real until it can be safely proven that they aren’t,” says Insp. Dale Somerville, operations officer with the Kelowna RCMP.

“Imitation firearms are not toys and they need to be dealt with responsibly. Our message is simple: Avoid the confrontation. Don’t show imitation guns in public.”

The RCMP is also asking those who sell air guns and replica firearms to be vigilant about who they're selling to and to make sure buyers are aware that these items can be mistaken for lethal weapons.


COVID conspiracy theory protestors set up outside Castanet

Protest outside Castanet

A group of COVID-19 conspiracy protestors set up outside Castanet’s Kelowna headquarters Wednesday morning.

Carrying signs like “Jail Bonnie Henry, Dix and Farnworth” and “Contact tracing violates our privacy,” the small group says they are upset with Castanet’s coverage of pandemic. 

The protestors were also carrying a signage condemning most other Kelowna media outlets.

Many of the protesters are the same group that has gathered in Stuart Park regularly. The group has also been distributing pamphlets of COVID-19 conspiracy theories within the community. 

The majority of the group would not provide their names, with the exception of their leader, who would only provide his first name as "Dave."

The group moved on after about 30 minutes, possibly to picket other media.

Throughout the pandemic, Castanet News has strived to provide science- and fact-based coverage of the pandemic by spreading the recommendations of health officials and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

Concerned citizen worried about 'little moose' after mother hit

'Little moose' left orphaned?

A Kelowna woman has reached out to Castanet to let us know she witnessed the aftermath of a moose collision on Highway 33 near the hairpin turn in Joe Rich Tuesday morning.

"I was driving by and saw two people out of their vehicles and a moose laying on the shoulder of the highway."

Yvonne Poetschke, says she believes the BC Conservation Officer Service was called to take care of the badly injured animal, however, today she says there are reports of a baby moose that has been seen in the area.

"Now there's a little moose running up and down the hill," Poetschke says. "If you could just let people know to slow down in that area just before the hairpin where it's still 100 km/h zone that would be helpful."

Poetschke says she's at work Wednesday, but is concerned about the 'little moose' that she is considering going to the area where the sightings have occurred and flagging drivers down herself until BC Conservation has an opportunity to attend the scene and sort the situation out.


Velo Volt E-Bike rentals launch in Kelowna

Velo Volt E-Bike launches

Two women who have been riding bikes together since the age of 13 had a vision to create a biking experience that everyone could enjoy, so the pair has just launched Velo Volt E-Bike rentals in Kelowna.

"We wanted a new concept. We wanted it to feel fun and easy and something that anyone can do," says co-founder Sarah Stark. 

The Velo Volt E-Bike's can equalize different fitness levels and abilities with their Trek Allant+ 7 models.

"Eco mode is our first level of pedal assist which could actually go about 130 kilometres so we really encourage people to get out there, find the top of Knox, explore south-east Kelowna, go to the end of Lakeshore," says Stark.

All of the bikes are equipped with lights, carrier bags, first-aid kits, hand sanitizers and e-grade helmets. 

Velo Volt E-Bike rentals are able to operate between Osoyoos and Revelstoke so group rentals can be organized at various locations. For those renting in Kelowna, Velo Volt has provided three self-guided tours including Velo Vines and Views, Foodie Fondo and Lakeshore Velo Vino.

"Or you can just go do your own thing if you want to hit every single beach one day you can do that but the maps point out some of the really good local businesses like restaurants, wineries and beaches," says co-founder Kendra Penrose.

E-Bike rentals also provide COVID friendly team building events.

"Right now a lot of people are working from home and you may not have been able to connect with colleagues so it's a really great safe outdoor way to reconnect," says Penrose.

Those renting Velo Volt E-Bikes must be 18-years-old or older. 

And with the launch of the company, Stark and Penrose have started an Instagram contest where people have the opportunity to submit a name for their orange bike trailer. The selected winner will then receive two free half-day E-Bike rentals.

Click here to book a half-day or full-day bike ride.

Dashcam footage captures pickup driver running stop sign

Pickup runs stop sign

A Kelowna driver captured the moment a truck drove straight through a stop sign on Tuesday morning, endangering other vehicles on the road.

The incident happened at about 6:45 a.m. at the intersection of Leckie Road and Dilworth Drive.

Arnold Butland was on his way home from a work job when he approached the green light and yielded to an oncoming vehicle from the opposite side of the road.

But the oncoming traffic wasn't just limited to the vehicle on the other side of the road - he also avoided a truck which "flew through" from his left. 

"The guy just flew through the stop sign. The other driver that was coming from the other direction shook his head as he was going past me and had his hands up in the air like what, did you just see that?"

"I turned the corner and I realized, s***, that just happened in front of me."

Butland reported the incident to Kelowna RCMP about an hour later when he made it home and reviewed the dashcam footage, but was advised to call 911 immediately, should a similar incident happen again. 

He says it is paramount that drivers learn to be more careful to ensure everyone's safety on the road. 

"I don't know if the guy was texting or what he was doing but obviously he blew right through the stop sign, like he wasn't planning on slowing down.

"Everybody's got a drivers license, everybody was taught to drive properly. I wish everybody would learn to just abide by the signs and drive to the speed limit."

Kelowna daycare looks to increase its capacity

Daycare seeks to expand

A Kelowna daycare finds itself in the unusual position of having to go before city council in order to expand its capacity.

Dynamic Afterschool Care on Birch Avenue is looking to increase it capacity from 58 to 68 children.

However, in order to accommodate the increased number, a variance is required to reduce the number of on-site parking spaces from the required 10 down to three, and loading spaces from one down to zero.

"Staff understand that additional childcare spaces are needed in the community and the primary need for parking is with staff that can be accommodated on-site," planning staff stated in a report for council.

"Most of vehicular traffic to the site will be for the purposes of pickup and drop-off."

Staff indicate any change will have a minimal impact on the neighbourhood.

It's indicated parking is only required for staff use, with three tandem spots available on-site off the rear laneway.

Staff also indicate there are plenty of spaces, both in the front, and the rear for drop off and pick up of children.

Cameron Park across the street from the daycare could also be used as a drop off or pick up point.

Staff indicated there were no negative comments from neighbours concerning the expansion.

Council will hear the application next Tuesday evening.

Heavy police presence at Kelowna Superstore parking lot

Police attend parking lot

UPDATE 7:20 p.m.

Most of the police presence at the Kelowna Superstore parking lot has now been cleared.

A white SUV was observed being towed away from the scene under police escort. 

Castanet will request more information from the RCMP.

ORIGINAL 6:45 p.m.

There is a significant police presence in the parking lot of Kelowna Superstore.

Several RCMP cruisers have converged on the lot at Highway 97 and Underhill Street.

Castanet will update as more information becomes available.

COSAR says this is one of the worst years for drownings in BC

Bad year for BC drownings

The Central Okanagan Search and Rescue team are breathing a sigh of relief after making it through another long weekend.

Central Okanagan Search and Rescue crews were kept hopping throughout the BC Day long weekend after being called in to assist with three incidents – including two within minutes of each other.

Duane Tresnich, COSAR Search Manager says he was actually thinking it could have been busier.

"I was expecting fire evacuations depending on which way the wind was blowing. At that time I had teams on the water searching for the cliff diver, and then an ATV incident we were trying to get to before dark. It was a little bit of chaos over a period of a couple of hours."

Tresnich says he hasn't had a long weekend off in years, "we're on call 24/7" but he says this one of the worst years for drownings he's seen in a long time.

"For B.C. this year, there's been a heck of a lot of drownings, especially young males. One of the worst years I've come across."

Tresnich says he couldn't guess why, but said "with COVID-19 and everyone getting out and doing things we've been finding people aren't as prepared or as fit as they were before this all started."

Some people haven't been as active as they may have been prior to COVID-19 and Tresnich reminds everyone, "don't overestimate your ability."

You may not be able to swim to the floating dock or your friend's boat in the water and when it comes to cliff diving specifically.

"I know people enjoy cliff diving but dive within your ability."
Wildfires also obviously complicate search and rescue situations.

One of the best ways to get help if you're lost is to build a search fire, "don't be afraid to start a fire because that's one of the ways we can find them."

Just make sure the fire doesn't get away and go on to spark a wildfire, making the situation more dangerous.

COVID-19 cases linked to Kelowna rises by 12 since Friday

149 cases linked to Kelowna

The number of COVID-19 cases in the Interior Health region linked to Kelowna has grown to 149 on Tuesday, up from 137 on Friday.

Some are new cases, but others are previous cases that have now been linked to Kelowna as the contact tracing process is continued, said Interior Health. 

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says her greatest concern right now is the potential number of new cases that will arise from the B.C. long weekend, especially following Tuesday's update.

"We are now seeing people who were exposed up to two weeks ago. This is a concern because the majority are related to what happened prior to this long weekend ... we need to make sure these cases don't result in a dramatic uptick once again."

She is urging people to be more vigilant than ever following the long weekend, and take personal responsibility for knowing who you have interacted with and/or the places you have visited. 

"In the immediate days following a long weekend are when people can also unknowingly spread the virus to others, so for the next coming days we need to remember what it is that we were doing over these past few days and the next two weeks is important for all of us. Coming out of B.C .long weekend we all need to pay attention to how we're feeling."

Many new cases continue to be related to private gatherings or small parties affected by overlapping social circles, says Dr. Henry, as well as national and international travel and exposures in workplaces. 

"In all of these cases the common factors are really the same. It's about the things that we're doing when we're in close contact with people. That includes talking, laughing, joking around, sharing drinks, sharing food."

Minister of Health Adrian Dix added that although he believes most of the province did a good job stopping the spread of the virus over the long weekend, it still remains a threat. 

"We made the B.C. Day long weekend safe and fun and one to remember for all the right reasons, but as we know, the past month has been a more difficult month for us - in terms of cases in particular. 

"Most jurisdictions look at our numbers with envy, but we're focused on what happens here in B.C."

He encourages residents to keep social circles as small as possible and limit exposure to others. 

"Going to private parties at this time is not something we should consider doing ... this is the time to keep numbers small, and that is the way we do it, because we know there's no vaccine and we know there's no cure and we know we must continue to do it all." 

10-year-old donates to 'Food for Thought,' helping hungry kids

Helping end food insecurity

Sarita Patel

With schools having to shut their doors due to COVID-19, many children from low-income families are at greater risk of going hungry without access to breakfast programs. 

Hope for the Nations is a Kelowna-based NGO, that empowers children at risk "to become children of change" and since 2009, they've ran the 'Food for Thought' program with an aim to eliminate hunger in children.

“As of January, the BC Child Poverty Report designated that there were over 5,900 children in the Central Okanagan that were at risk of food insecurity,” said Cheryl Hoffman, program coordinator for Food for Thought. 

They program run at 30 schools within School District 23, provides a breakfast program and a backpack program — where vulnerable students take food home with easy to follow recipe cards.

Hope for the Nations has now received a plot from the Kelowna-based Legacy Foundation, allowing the charity to build a community garden.

“We’re able to design planters that are wheelchair accessible, so people with special needs, seniors can come and volunteer and spend time in our garden and we’re going to grow flowers and food that we can sell and give to children in our backpack program.”

Ten-year-old Madden Coble visited the garden when the team was building the area and quickly realized she needed to help. 

“She had come one-time when we were putting in our irrigation and she had volunteered her time to pick rocks and do a bit of digging in the earth and she really understood at ten years old what it meant for children of a similar age to be hungry,” praises Hoffman. 

Coble started an impromptu bottle drive and raised just under $200 for the program and brought her donations in person to the team on July 30. 

“It was just so heartwarming to hear about this!” added Hoffman. 

The future grade-five student loves watermelon and ice cream as her mom, Janelle describes. 

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