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Kelowna  

Southbound traffic stalled along Enterprise Way is now moving again

Traffic moving on Enterprise

UPDATE 5:20 p.m.

A vehicle hauler, stuck on Enterprise Way has now been moved and traffic has returned to normal.


UPDATE: 4:10 p.m.

Mario's Towing has sent in a large, heavy duty tow truck to try and move a vehicle hauler, stuck on Enterprise Way.

The hauler was trying to leave Kelowna Ford but bottomed out while trying to leave.

Traffic southbound has been stalled because of the incident


ORIGINAL: 3:30 p.m.

You may want to avoid Enterprise Way if you are heading into Kelowna during this afternoon's rush hour.

According to one witness, a vehicle hauler attempting to leave the Ford dealership somehow got stuck and is blocking traffic heading southbound on Enterprise.

Traffic is now backed up past WalMart.

Attempts are being made to tow the hauler out of the way.

This is a developing story which will be updated as more information becomes available.

Send pictures to [email protected].



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Townhome burning at complex in Kelowna's Rutland area Friday

Townhome charred by fire

UPDATE: 5:15 p.m.

The townhome fire at 799 Houghton Road appears to be largely knocked down now after the home became fully engulfed by flame just before 4:30 p.m.

The home appears to be severely damaged, with one wall completely charred by flame and sections of the roof burned through.

One woman was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation but her condition is unknown. The cause of the fire is also now known at this time, but the nearby hedges were completely burned in the fire.


UPDATE: 4:55 p.m.

One woman is being treated for smoke inhalation at the townhome fire in Rutland Friday afternoon, as fire crews continue to work to fully knock down the blaze.

Smoke continues to pour from the home, which is located in the southwest corner of the Alexander Place complex, at 799 Houghton Road.

One side of the impacted home is now completely blackened from the blaze, as flames are still visible coming from the home's roof. The nearby hedges have been completely burned.

There appears to be two units in the impacted building.


ORGINAL: 4:35 p.m.

Fire crews are responding to a fire at a housing complex in Kelowna's Rutland area Friday afternoon.

A townhome in Alexander Place, at 799 Houghton Road, is fully engulfed in large flames as of 4:30 p.m., and the fire appears to also be burning in nearby hedges and trees.

Fire crews have upgraded the blaze to a second-alarm fire, and multiple engines are headed to the scene.

Castanet will have more information as it becomes available.



Turtle Island Festival celebrates National Indigenous People's Day in Kelowna

Turtle Island Festival 2024

The Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society celebrated National Indigenous People’s Day with their Turtle Island Festival on Friday, shutting down the block for music, dancing, drumming and learning, as well as truth and reconciliation.

“It is an opportunity for conversation, for recognition, for learning for our multicultural country that we live in and National Indigenous People’s Day and our Turtle Island Festival is a good day and opportunity for us to share our culture and those pieces with anyone who wants to come and be a part of it, learn and grow, and be part of that truth and reconciliation,” said Christina Verhagen, president of the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society.

Just 10 years ago, Verhagen says a lot of people didn’t believe that residential schools existed, but she says there has been a shift in learning and understanding since the remains of 215 missing children were found in Kamloops.

“That was a huge turning point. We have known for generations what was happening and what has gone on, and so many of our survivors needed that recognition and acknowledgement. And our community needs that in order to move forward,” said Verhagen.

“I’ve seen a shift there. I’ve seen people that I’ve had interactions with in the past that had no understanding of that and are now asking questions or making statements that show they’ve learned something and that they’re growing and that they have a new knowledge set to work from.”

While progress is being made towards truth and reconciliation, organizers say these festivals and celebrations help lead a new generation into a better tomorrow.

“Ceremony in general is very important and I think that drumming and language and different cultural events are something that’s being lost by the community and that’s a loss of identity. So anytime we can rebuild that and take the opportunity to celebrate that and bring the community in to take part, it enhances our culture and passes it on to the future generations,” said Joseph Lang, director of operations for Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society.

The Turtle Island Festival ran through most of the day and night in downtown Kelowna Friday, with people sharing stories, eating bannock and buffalo burgers to close out the night.

The Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society invites anyone and everyone to come check out their space and learn more about Indigenous culture. There door is always open.



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A female's body was discovered at Kelowna's Waterfront Park Friday morning

Waterfront Park now cleared

UPDATE 2:58 p.m.

Police have now cleared the scene of Friday morning’s death in Kelowna’s Waterfront Park, but police won’t release any further details about what happened.

Officers swarmed the park at about 7 a.m. Friday after a female’s body was found in the area.

Officers, along with BC Coroners Service, spent the morning investigating, but the Kelowna RCMP say they will not be releasing any additional information about the death today.

At this time, it’s not clear if the death is being considered a homicide or not.

As of 2:30 p.m., the treed area south of the Tugboat Bay bathrooms is now open to the public, after officers closed the area earlier this morning.


UPDATE: 12:40 p.m.

Police remain on scene at Kelowna's Waterfront Park Friday, investigating the overnight death of a female in the park.

The Kelowna RCMP have released few details about the death, only saying the female's body was found in the park at about 7 a.m. While officers continue to collect evidence near a treed area south of the Tugboat Bay bathrooms, police have not said if they believe the death to be criminal in nature.

One nearby resident told Castanet police arrived in the area just after 7 a.m.

“We saw all the emergency vehicles arrive, quite a number, at least half dozen RCMP trucks, fire department, inflatables," the man said.

“We heard some noise last night while we were sleeping, but that's common down here. So who knows. I guess the interesting thing that I noticed was the undercover police car with four undercover officers that went down. Maybe there's some criminal activity, who knows.”

The majority of Waterfront Park remains open to the public Friday, while officers and the BC Coroner Service continue to investigate.


UPDATE: 10:20 a.m.

Sgt. Laura Pollock of the Kelowna RCMP spoke briefly to media Friday morning about the body found at Waterfront Park Friday morning, but she provided few details about the situation.

"This morning at approximately 7 a.m., a female was located on the shores of Okanagan Lake in Waterfront Park," Sgt. Pollock said. "The RCMP and the BC Coroners Service are working together to identify the female and the cause of her death."

A large police presence remains in Waterfront Park Friday morning, but police won't say whether the death is being investigated as a homicide. The BC Coroners Service is now on scene.

A treed area south of the Tugboat Bay bathrooms is closed as officers investigate, but the majority of the park remains open to the public.


UPDATE: 9:35 a.m.

Kelowna RCMP confirm they found a body at Waterfront Park Friday morning.

The coroner is on the scene and a tent has been placed around an area of the park near the lagoon on the Delta Hotel side of the park.

RCMP are holding a press conference where they indicate they will read a statement.


UPDATE: 9:05 a.m.

Kelowna RCMP say they have recovered the body of a female in Waterfront Park.

No further details have been released. RCMP will be making a statement at 9:45 this morning.

Witnesses in the area say RCMP were in the park earlier this morning and pulled what they believed to be a body from the park's lagoon system.


ORIGINAL: 8:15 a.m.

Several emergency vehicles are staged at Waterfront Park in downtown Kelowna Friday morning.

A Castanet reader shared a photo showing several RCMP cruisers and Kelowna Fire Department apparatus along the waterfront. There appears to be a boat trailer, indicating a water rescue may be underway.

Another witness says there was a boat on the water and something was pulled from Okanagan Lake. An ambulance was parked nearby.

Castanet has a reporter on the way to the scene.

More to come.



Police impound 225 vehicles in Kelowna area this year

225 vehicles impounded

Since the beginning of this year, more than 225 vehicles have been impounded in the Kelowna area for excessive speeding.

The BC Highway Patrol released the latest data Friday afternoon, detailing several of the recent impounds that have occurred in the area this month. These include:

  • A Chevrolet Camaro travelling at 111 in a 60 km/h zone
  • A Honda Accord going 143 in a 60 km/h zone
  • A Kia Forte travelling 110 in a 50 km/h zone
  • An Acura RSX speeding at 188 in a 110 km/h zone
  • A Cadillac Escalade going 148 in a 90 km/h zone

Excessive speeding is defined as travelling more than 41 km/h over the posted speed limit. The fine for speeding more than 41 km/h over the limit is $368, and it increases to $483 for those travelling in excess of 61 km/h over the limit.

Additional impound fees cost upwards of $1,000.

“Any officer who observes a vehicle travelling at an excessive speed, whether privately or commercially owned, must impound the vehicle for seven days at the owner’s expense,” said Cpl. Melissa Jongema, BC Highway Patrol Media Relations Officer.

“Speed is one of the leading causes of serious injury and fatal collisions. Please slow down, obey the posted speed limits this summer, and drive safe.”



'Due for a great summer': Okanagan tourism industry hoping for the 'old normal'

'Due for a great summer'

Cindy White

On the first full days of summer in the Okanagan, fingers are crossed in the tourism sector.

“I think we are due for a great summer and I have a feeling, cautiously optimistic, that this is that great summer,” says Thompson-Okanagan Tourism CEO Ellen Walker-Matthews.

The cooler, wetter end to spring is cause for optimism.

“We’re really looking forward to a summer that’s like the ones were over five years ago. Where we have a mixture of the hot stuff, which we always get here in the Okanagan, but some more weather that’s conducive with being outside and not being overheated, and no wildfire smoke and restrictions from governments. We’re really looking forward to the old normal.” says Downtown Kelowna Association executive director Mark Burley.

One possible dark cloud the industry is watching is the impact of the province’s new rules restricting short-term rentals.

“We know that some of our communities really depend on that Airbnb business,” notes Walker-Matthews. “We’re taking that in stride at the moment and trying to see what the numbers play out to be.

“Certainly, there’s availability in our hotels and we know that not all travellers necessarily want to stay in a hotel. So, we’ll see how that market works,” she adds.

The short-term rental crackdown doesn’t appear to be scaring investors away from downtown Kelowna. Arc’teryx and Fjallraven recently opened stores on the same block along Bernard Avenue.

“And then we have Urban Distilleries coming to fill in the spot between those two stores. That’s pretty exciting. They’re supposed to be open early in July,” says Burley.

He points out that there aren’t any empty spaces on Bernard Avenue right now, and other parts of downtown are also filling up. Burley says once residents start moving into Water Street by the Park that will bring even more locals into downtown businesses.

The first big event to kick off the summer of 2024 will be Canada Day celebrations. Hopefully they won’t be marred like last year in Kelowna, when a wildfire broke out on Knox Mountain.



Province rubber stamps merger between City of Kelowna and GEID

Province OKs water merger

The final hurdle has been cleared allowing the Glenmore Ellison Improvement District (GEID) to merge with the City of Kelowna’s water utility after the province signed an Order in Council to approve the move.

Back in March the GEID signed a transition agreement aimed at transferring operation of the utility to the city.

“People living in the Okanagan will soon have better access to important services and strong infrastructure that they need and rely on,” said Municipal Affairs Minister Anne Kang.

“Our provincial government is pleased to support and to see the successful completion of this agreement between Glenmore Ellison Improvement District and the City of Kelowna.

“This new partnership will ensure community vibrancy and resiliency so residents in the area can benefit for many decades to come.”

The gradual transition is scheduled to begin on Jan. 1 and run through 2027.

GEID staff and operations will be maintained as a business unit within the city to enable a smooth operational change, a news release states.

Customers are expected to receive the same level of service through the transition period.

The board of trustees and GEID staff are proud of the legacy we leave, including the successful completion of all major capital projects needed to deliver high quality drinking water and agricultural water to the Glenmore and Ellison valleys,” says Steven Bonn, chair of the GEID board.

“GEID’s strong financial position will allow a seamless operational transition.”



Kelowna man handed 5.5-year sentence for 2021 bat attack

5.5 years for bat attack

A Kelowna man who was convicted of beating another man with a baseball bat back in August 2021 was sentenced to an additional 601 days in jail earlier this week, but he'll be under a 10-year long-term supervision order once he's released.

George Young faced a two-week trial back in February 2023 and Justice Geoffrey Gomery convicted him of aggravated assault a month later.

While Young had claimed he had been acting in self defence when he struck Tyler Takeda several times with the bat in the parking lot of the Kelowna Econo Lodge, at Gordon Drive and Harvey Avenue, Justice Gomery ruled that Young had acted out of anger.

Monday, Young was handed a 5.5-year sentence for the aggravated assault, wihch was a joint sentencing submission by both the Crown and defence. Young has been behind bars for the past two and a half years, but with enhanced credit, he was given credit of 1,407 days and he's now left with 601 days to serve.

During trial, Justice Gomery was shown video of a part of the assault, which shows Young striking Takeda with a small baseball bat in the head area and the torso. He is then seen pacing around the parking lot with the bat, before leaving the scene.

The Crown alleged Young struck Takeda between three and five times total, due to witness testimony and from the injuries Takeda suffered.

In his defence, Young said he hit Takeda with the bat because Takeda had threatened him with a gun. He said Takeda had threatened his friend Aaron Bielak over an alleged drug debt, and Young claimed he went to the parking lot to “diffuse the situation.”

Crown prosecutor Mallory Treddenick argued the Young's version of the incident was “self serving and inconsistent with the evidence,” including three other witness testimonies and the video.

In addition to the 5.5-year sentence, Young was also placed on a 10-year long-term supervision order, which will begin following the completion of his sentence. Long-Term Offender designations specifically target violent offenders who are “likely to re-offend.” If an offender breaches their LTO conditions, they can be jailed again.

The most recent data from Statistics Canada shows there were just 92 offenders in B.C. under LTO designations as of March 31, 2022.

Young was previously convicted of criminal negligence causing death and failing to remain at the scene back in 2011. The convictions stem from an incident in the early hours of New Year's Day 2010, when Young struck Joel Reimer with his vehicle, following a fight between the two men.

Young was initially charged with second-degree murder, but he took a plea deal with the Crown and was sentenced to 6.5 years.



Rutland's new on-call team has success before program officially unveiled

On-call's early success

The new Rutland patrol team proved its worth even before the ribbon was officially cut on the pilot program.

URBA On-Call, patterned after the highly successful DKA program in downtown Kelowna, was officially unveiled last Thursday, however Mayor Tom Dyas says before the ribbon could be cut, the team was instrumental in its first arrest.

“With the unveiling Thursday afternoon, the team reported that earlier in the week when they showed up to work they recognized the thrift store had been broken into,” Dyas said during a one-on-one interview with Castanet News.

“They had a structured plan they initiated to basically look for someone in the area carrying goods from this thrift store.

“They found the individual, they took pictures of the individual, they contacted RCMP who assisted the on-call team and the individuals were arrested and the goods returned.”

Dyas called it a very positive outcome for a team whose goal is to assist businesses, residents and tourists and make the area as safe as possible.

“They did a great job. We are looking at advancing that and a number of other initiatives that we are looking at doing to bring a greater sense of security to the Rutland area.”

When asked what some of those initiatives are, Dyas said “stay tuned.”

Another initiative to come out of the task force is a site for CARE, a supportive housing project on Belaire Avenue being run by the Resurrection Recovery Resources Society.

The program, according to Dyas, is an abstinence program for individuals with regards to excessive alcohol and drug use.

“One of the items that came up in the task force is that when a program is more abstinence based there is not the ability for them to receive the same type of grant funding from a provincial or federal level that is available for facilities that provide more of a treatment base.

“One of the recommendations through the task force was that if there is somebody who is building abstinence-based structures to assist them with some of their development cost charges.”



Kelowna ComiCon moving to MNP Place for two-day celebration

A ComiCon celebration

Halloween isn't the only time to dress up in Kelowna.

Kelowna ComiCon 2024 is set to hit the city this weekend for a two-day celebration, filling MNP Place by bringing hardcore fans together to dress in their favourite cosplay and bring out their inner nerd.

KCC celebrates many different medias including anime, comics, video games, and more, providing a fun and safe space for fans to meet and interact with their favourite series, as well as to explore a multitude of merchandise from vendors and artists alike.

The KCC team is passionate about their annual event, and they're more than confident this year's ComiCon will be bigger and better than ever before, bringing in an array of voice actors, cosplayers, performers and creators.

"KCC’s goal is to continue to build and support a safe and welcoming community for all fans, showcase local artists and talents, and to help aspiring writers, actors, artists, and creators to build their skillsets," said the KCC team in a written release.

Some of the events include a cosplay contest and parade, lip sync battle, Warhammer and other tournaments, Gundam builds, guest speaker panels, video game tournaments, and celebrity guest signings with David Sobolov, Kimberley Anne Campbell, Michael Coleman, and Brendan Hunter.

The event is family friendly and open to everyone. Children 12 and under get free admission when accompanied by an adult thanks to a sponsorship from Chibi’s Anime Goods and Collectibles.

Attendees are welcome to come in cosplay or come as they are, and there will be dedicated events for children, as well as a colouring station with colouring pages that have been created specifically for this event by local artists.

KCC has partnered with the Okanagan Humane Society this year to help raise funds and awareness through a organized raffle. This raffle comes with some great prizes and 100 per cent of the proceeds will go directly to the society.

Snag your tickets through the Kelowna ComiCon website to join in on all the fun this weekend.

The event runs both Saturday and Sunday, June 22 and 23.



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