West Kelowna  

City council has endorsed its community vision

West Kelowna has a vision

The City of West Kelowna has taken a step closer to a new Official Community Plan after endorsing its community-inspired "Community Vision."

The vision, adopted by city council Tuesday, helps chart the direction the city will take over the next 10 years, and beyond.

The city began seeking input for the community vision in late June of last year, and culminated with a "Did We Get It Right?" which produced further refinements.

More that 2,150 questionnaires and feedback forms were completed, providing more than 6,500 distinct inputs which went into the five foundational themes and 23 key directions to work toward.

Mayor Gord Milsom called the vision a "significant accomplishment" which will serve as a foundation for the updated OCP.

“A strong Community Vision is the basis of all of our plans and policies in a community. It provides the direction for where we want to go as we grow. Council and staff are grateful for the community’s participation in sharing what they value as we look to the future of this beautiful city," said Milsom.

“Continued collaboration and partnerships with Westbank First Nation, agencies, organizations and people who learn, live, work and play in West Kelowna will achieve the vision of a caring and resilient Greater Westside community for everyone.”

Work on the new OCP and Transportation Master Plan are expected to begin in the spring.

The complete updated Community Vision will be available at www.ourwk.ca on Monday, March 1.


West Kelowna council narrowly votes to move short-term rental bylaw to public hearing

Split on short-term rentals

West Kelowna residents will get another chance to chime in on a proposed package of bylaws that, if ultimately approved, would legalize, and regulate the short-term rental industry.

Council was split on whether to give first and second reading to the bylaws and move to a public hearing, or whether it should just give first reading, and kick everything back to staff for further work.

By a 4-3 margin, council voted this week to move ahead to a public hearing. Councillors Jayson Zilkie, Stephen Johnston and Jason Friesen voted against the recommendation by staff to move forward.

The main issue is excluding property owners with secondary suites and carriage houses from utilizing any portion of the residence for short-term rentals.

The concern for those who agreed with the policy was protection of the long-term rental stock within the city.

Mayor Gord Milsom, who applauded staff for how far they have come in producing a policy in just five months, says he believes as home ownership becomes more and more difficult, the percentage of renters will far outdistance owners over the next 20 years.

"I think the intent of secondary suites was for long term rentals and I believe we should stay that way. We're going to need them as time goes by," said Milsom.

"We are going to need as much purpose built rental property as we possibly can, including secondary suites."

Milsom's main concern was lumping bed and breakfast operations in with short-term rentals. However, he backed off some when it was pointed out current B&B operators would be grandfathered under the proposed new regulations.

Coun. Friesen told his colleagues he wants to move the bylaws forward, but doesn't believe waiting a few weeks to give staff a chance to make some tweaks is too much to ask.

"I think that is the challenge for me...we do not have a policy, nor do we have an affordable housing strategy. In light of that, I just don't think it's fair today to pull (secondary suites) that out," he said.

"We've consistently said our rental pool is increasing. Vacancy in our long-term pool is increasing. To not allow that is a detriment, especially when housing costs are getting higher.

"For me, the logic around not allowing short-term rentals in suites or carriage houses is not there, the logic is unfounded in what I'm seeing, what I'm hearing and what we're saying."

A date for a public hearing has not yet been announced.

Ad Standards council finds local billboard questioning COVID vaccine to be 'misleading'

COVID billboard misleading

A West Kelowna billboard questioning the safety of the “cure” for COVID-19 is “playing upon fears rather than providing facts,” according to Canada's Ad Standards council.

The billboard, which reads “COVID. Is the cure worse than the illness?” was up on the corner of Boucherie Road and Highway 97 for several months. It was purchased by Vaccine Choice Canada, an organization that purports to provide information about “the vaccine issue.”

The Ad Standards council recently ruled the billboard contravenes several sections of the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards, after the council received four complaints about it.

“The complainants alleged that the advertisement was spreading dangerous information about COVID-19 safety measures, posing a risk to public health by making statements that were not truthful,” the council wrote in its decision. “Some of the complainants alleged that, based on the information available on the advertiser’s website, the advertisements were spreading misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine.”

In response, Vaccine Choice Canada said the billboard was “meant to invite consideration and public discourse to evaluate the effectiveness and measures being imposed in response to COVID-19,” adding that debate around COVID-19 measures are “systematically censored.”

The majority of the council members found the phrasing “Is the cure worse than the illness?” above the Vaccine Choice Canada website address created the impression that the COVID-19 vaccine is, or could be, worse than contracting the disease.

“According to the majority of Council, taken in the context of a global pandemic and the possibility that 'cure' could mean vaccine, sowing this doubt could contribute to vaccine hesitancy by playing upon fears rather than providing facts,” the Ad Standards Council ruled.

The council found the billboard misleading, displays a disregard for safety and plays upon fears to mislead the consumer.

Advertisers that are found to contravene the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards will be “asked to remove or amend” the ad.

But as of Wednesday, this particular billboard is no longer up at the corner of Boucherie Road and Highway 97. It's been replaced by two others from Vaccine Choice Canada. These read: “Is your health worth a few hours of research?” and “Children are harmed by lockdowns.”

Maple Reinders have won the contract to build the new Rose Valley Water Treatment Plant

Water plant contract award

Construction on the new $75 million Rose Valley Water Treatment Plant could begin within the next two weeks.

Allen Fillion, director of engineering and public works shared that news after announcing the city was awarding the contract for construction of the water treatment plant and reservoir to Maple Reinders.

Fillion said the company came in with the lowest bid, $45.1 million. Of the 10 bids the city received four, including Maple Reinders, were pre-qualified.

The bid, he says, came in about $5 million under what was anticipated for the project.

"They were very aggressive on their pricing," Fillion told council Tuesday.

"They were consistently lower on all items."

With preliminary work already done and money allocated for other aspects of project, Fillion said the winning bid needed to be slightly under $50 million to stay within the overall budget.

Maple Reinders constructed both the Powers Creek and Peachland water treatment plants.

Fillion noted the company is also primarily using local sub-contractors.

West Kelowna moving forward with new location for soon-to-be displaced skate park

Skate park moves to ALC

The City of West Kelowna is turning to the province for help in relocating the skate park adjacent to the Johnson Bentley Memorial Aquatic Centre.

The park, just to the north of the aquatic centre, will eventually be ripped up as part of construction for city hall.

The city has submitted a non-farm use application to the Agricultural Land Commission to relocate the skate park to a portion of ALR lands within Memorial Park, situated below the aquatic centre.

Much of the land in question is currently used as a parking lot. There is also road access to Memorial Park field for events such as Westside Daze and Music in the Park.

West Kelowna CAO Paul Gipps says that access will be maintained.

"Although we are at concept stage, and accessibility details will be finalized as part of the preliminary design phase coming up in the spring, maintaining proper access to the site for events such as Westside Daze, Music in the Park and the whole of the community will be an absolute priority," said Gipps.

The non-farm use would allow the city to use the 1.2 acre parcel of land for a new skate park plus ancillary uses such as a parking lot.

As part of the application process, city council must give its approval before it can be forwarded to the ALC for consideration.

Construction of the new two-storey, 45,000 square foot city hall is expected to begin later this summer, with completion sometime near the end of 2022.

The current skate park was built in 2016 at a cost of approximately $400,000.

Bright meteor shoots across Kelowna early Monday morning

Fireball lights up night sky

A bright green fireball flew over Kelowna early Monday and one lucky resident caught it on camera.

Darren Seneshen was travelling on Highway 97 in Westbank towards Kelowna when a meteor flew across the sky above Kelowna at 5:23 a.m.

“It was something I’ve never seen before. It was so green and vivid and the tip so red and big,” he explains. “There was a little plane flying in the same direction on the south-side of the highway heading towards the airport and I’m thinking, wow they must have had a pretty good shot of that thing. I thought maybe it shot out of the plane and I’m thinking who the hell is shooting this fricken rocket launcher over the mountain,” he laughs.

Seneshen says while it happened so quickly, it appeared the fireball flew right over the Kelowna International Airport.

And according to social media, some lucky people in Alberta also got to witness the meteor lighting up the northern sky in the Edmonton area.

“It was actually really wild in real life,” says Seneshen.

Large boat moored at Lake Okanagan Resort capsizes

Large boat capsizes

If you own a large boat and moor it at Lake Okanagan Resort you might want to double-check that it's still upright.

Castanet received these photos from Rick Marwood, a BCAA driver who responded to a call at Lake Okanagan Resort on Saturday, February 20.

"I was towing a vehicle out there and the fella says to me, 'you gotta come down to the dock, bring your camera.'"

Marwood says when he got down to the dock he could see a large boat capsized and mostly under water.

Marwood says the person he was with showed him a picture of the boat taken when it was above water and it looks like a large boat. Marwood believes the boat sank sometime Friday or overnight, "it's a big boat, a nice boat. Now there's a big hole in the hull."

Marwood says he doesn't know who owns the boat and when he took the pictures Saturday there didn't appear to be any fuel or oil leaking from the boat.

"But they're gonna have to get divers and a strap on this thing and get a crane and barge to get this sucker out," says Marwood.

A representative from the marina at Lake Okanagan Resort tells Castanet the boat is being worked on as of Monday morning.

Local program working to get musicians back to work amid COVID-19 pandemic

Elevate your music dreams

A new local program is working to get musicians back to work during a time when the entertainment industry has taken a huge hit amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kelowna's LMS Entertainment talent agency has launched the Elevate your Music Dreams studio sessions program with the help of Puresound Recording Studios in West Kelowna, which features widely known and professional musicians from the Okanagan.

“I employ approximately 17 different musicians throughout the course of a touring year and to see all of these musicians not playing, not honing their craft, but just sitting at home and basically waiting for this to finish, I thought it was a great time for us to get back and get creative,” says Mike Schell owner of LMS Entertainment.

“Our mandate is to get professional musicians back to work due to the demise of the entertainment industry as a result of COVID-19.”

The program includes cost-effective pricing for artists to record their music, suitable for musicians of any genre or ability. So, if you’re new to creating content, not to worry. A music arranger and session musician will be brought in to help you establish your ideas with instruments, voices and everything needed to create your sound.

“It’s the perfect time to do it while you’re sitting at home. Everybody’s had the last year and a bit to hone their craft. Let’s make some magic. Get in touch with us today and we’ll elevate your musical game,” says Schell.

Along with creating content, artists can also get help with marketing strategies, brand image, photos and more. All packages come with a professional engineer and music producer.

There are four different packages available including the Custom Package for $900 which includes one song mixed and mastered, two session players, one performance video and a promotional photoshoot. The Silver Package for $1,500 includes one song mixed and mastered, a four-piece band, one performance video and a promotional photoshoot.

The Gold Package for $2,500 includes two songs mixed and mastered, a four-piece band, one performance video, a promotional photoshoot and music marketing setup. The Platinum Package for $3,000 includes two songs mixed and mastered, a four-piece band, one performance video, a promotional photoshoot, EPK branding and music marketing setup.

Julie Masi, a multi-Juno award winner and one of the B.C. Interior’s most in demand musicians has joined in as one of the session players to help bring artists' ideas to life.

“We’re really excited to see who's going to take part in this and really excited to help any young musicians who are really looking to see what they can do with music,” she says. “All of the musicians that Mike hires are professionals and we’ve all had writing experience and singing and playing, so it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

In addition to Masi, more local favourites have joined in on the project, including Jimmy LeGuilloux, Dennis Marcenko, Conrad Burek, Sean Bray, Scott Gamble, Aaron Anderson, Peter Freddete and Mike Sanyshyn.

Elevate your Music Dreams is suitable for musicians of any genre, age and ability. To learn more click here.

A Peachland surfer caught some waves in Okanagan Lake Saturday

Surfs up in Peachland

While most people won't be jumping in Okanagan Lake for at least a few months, one Peachland surfer jumped at the opportunity when the winds picked up Saturday.

Derek FitzGerald has been surfing for about 25 years, but Saturday was the first time he's caught waves in his hometown of Peachland.

“I don't know too many people who've actually caught waves with a board in the lake,” he said.

Describing the lake as “frigid,” FitzGerald stayed in for about half an hour, and he was able to stand up on his board and catch a wave four times.

He wore a wet suit to help with the temperatures, but without booties, a hoodie or gloves, 30 minutes was long enough for the surfing adventure.

FitzGerald's girlfriend Ashlee Kepke said her boyfriend put on quite the show for those passing by the Peachland-area beach.

“Everybody pulled over and were watching and taking pictures,” she said laughing.

So could Peachland become the next Tofino, with hordes of surfers coming from far and wide?

“I hope not!” FitzGerald said.

West Kelowna RCMP have located the missing man, thank public for assistance

Missing man located

UPDATED: 9:35 p.m.

The West Kelowna RCMP have safely located the missing 39-year-old man.

"Thank you to the media and the public for your assistance," stated Cpl. Jocelyn Noseworthy in an email.

His name and photo have been removed from this story.

ORIGINAL: 8:45 p.m.

The West Kelowna RCMP are asking the public's help in locating a missing man believe to be in crisis.

Police state that the man was last seen leaving a residence in West Kelowna at approximately 6 p.m. on Feb. 20, 2021 in a grey 2004 Silverado Crew cab pickup truck with a canopy and BC licence plate BM9 269.

“Police, family and friends are very concerned for his wellbeing,” Cpl. Jocelyn Noseworthy of the Kelowna RCMP said in a press release.

“Police have reason to believe that [he] may be in possession of a firearm, and are asking that [when] he is seen, call 911 immediately and do not approach him. We are asking the public to be vigilant, but our primary concern is to locate [the man] and get him the help that he needs.”

The man is described as a caucasian male with a thin build and short brown hair.

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of the man is asked to call 911 immediately, or West Kelowna RCMP at 250-768-2880.

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