West Kelowna  

Head-on collision narrowly avoided on Hwy 97 in West Kelowna

Head-on collision near miss

A West Kelowna woman tells Castanet she almost had a head-on collision last week.

Jolie Charette says she was leaving work at the West Kelowna Superstore late on Sept. 22 and was travelling down Highway 97, when she "realized that there were some really bright lights, like headlights, coming right at me."

The incident happened near the Butt Road intersection.

"The car was driving straight towards me, I had to swerve out of the way. Luckily there was a cop car following after."

Charette says she didn't notice the police lights until after she had to swerve to avoid the oncoming vehicle.

"We don't know what it was. We did report the incident to police. But what was going on? We're wondering, maybe the car was running away from the police?"

Castanet reached out RCMP for more details on the incident.



Bear crawled through window of West Kelowna home last week

Bear through window

Thursday night, the black bear entered the kitchen of a home on Golf Course Drive to get at the garbage in the house.

Conservation Officer Ken Owens says they are aware of the incident and they've set up a trap in the area.

“We remind people to effectively manage bear-human conflicts, it is critical that everyone in the community prevent bear’s access to non-natural food sources,” Owens said in a statement.

“If even a single container of garbage is left unsecured, it will draw bears to our communities and create public safety issues for all residents.

“Bears use their incredible sense of smell to zero in on food sources from many kilometres away. Once a bear has obtained foods like garbage, it will become single minded and become more and more determined in its attempts to access the food source, sometimes going so far as to break into homes.”

If you manage bear attractants around your house, worksite or campsite you can keep your family safe and keep bears from being destroyed.

Owens says there are a number of things you can do:

1. Keep all garbage securely stored until collection day. Store attractants in a sturdy building or place in, an approved bear-resistant trash receptacle. Use bear resistant refuse containers community wide.

2. Manage your fruit trees and berry bushes responsibly. Pick ripe & fallen fruit daily. Remove unused fruit trees. Install bear electric fencing which is cheap and portable.

3. Bird feeders often become bear-feeders, so please only feed birds during the winter months. Take feeders down between April and December. One kg of bird seed equals 6,600 calories.

Civic election: Carol Zanon running for West Kelowna council

Get to know Carol Zanon

Castanet News has distributed a questionnaire to city council candidates in both Kelowna and West Kelowna to help voters get to know those putting their names forward. Between the two cities, 45 people are running for city councillor.

All candidates have been given the same questions and answers have been edited for clarity and brevity when needed. Responses will be published daily in the weeks ahead. An interactive database of Okanagan candidates, including previous questionnaire stories, is here and is being updated daily.

Election day is Oct. 15.


West Kelowna candidate: Carol Zanon

Why would you make an effective city councillor?

I have confidence that my experience, skills and willingness to learn would make me an effective city councillor. During the time that I have served on the present city council, our city has grown from 27, 000 people to almost 39,000. As I have been on council since incorporation, I am aware and ready to tackle the issues that affect our city.

As a specific example that affected our community, I was elected Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Westbank Irrigation District that built the Powers Creek Water Treatment Plant that delivers clean, safe water to about 13,000 of our residents. It was constructed on time and on budget.

Academically, I hold the Master of Science and the Juris Doctor degrees.

In your view, what is the number one issue facing the city today, and how would you deal with it knowing city hall only has so much power?

Right now, today, the immediate issue is the supply of reliable, clean and safe drinking water from the Rose Valley Water Treatment Plant. The end is in sight and will be solved early in 2023 with the opening of the facility. Overall, there are many issues facing the city, and mostly, they have to do with change – changes in the economy, changes in housing needs, changes in the costs of living and doing business, and more.

To be effective, there has to be a plan, and we have one. This year, the Strategic Plan has four pillars:, investing in infrastructure, promoting economic development, strengthening our community and fostering safety and well-being. To act on this plan, we have a balanced budget, and advocate for grants and other assistance from our provincial and federal governments.

It could be decades before a second bridge is built across Okanagan Lake. How do you deal with West Kelowna's transportation bottleneck in the meantime?

Even with a second bridge, there will be bottlenecks. More needs to be done. Traffic must be able to flow freely on our side and continue through Kelowna. On our side, interchanges are needed along Highway 97 at the Hudson and Boucherie intersections.

These routes affect traffic on Westbank First Nation lands, as well as ourselves. As the highway is under provincial jurisdiction, not ours, there is a need for both our governments to work together and encourage action. As well, traffic lights need to be synchronized and the couplet needs to be eliminated and replaced in Westbank Centre.

Business and the population is growing on the westside, putting more pressures on the infrastructure, necessitating the construction of roads and sidewalks, and encouraging multimodal traffic. As more jobs are created here in our city, using the bus, riding a bike and walking to work and recreation can reduce reliance on the automobile for transit.

A new Transportation Master Plan is due soon and in conjunction with budgetary measures, we can ease the traffic situation in West Kelowna.

Do you think West Kelowna is growing too fast?

It’s growing fast, for sure, but not too fast. Canadian citizen has the right to live (almost) anywhere they wish in our country. People want to come to our lovely valley. We have shorter winters and longer summers that most of Canada. And then there are the beaches, wineries, parks, and lots of recreation

opportunities. To accommodate this growth, we require a variety of housing forms, in suitable locations. We have lots of single-family homes being built but we need to work with the development community to encourage the construction of entry level housing through the housing spectrum, from apartments, duplexes town homes, high rises, etc.

The city will have to work with other levels of government and their agencies for funding and assistance into build emergency and supportive housing. The new Official Community Plan(OCP) and the forthcoming Transportation Master Plan will guide the growth for the future.

How would you make West Kelowna more affordable?

To make West Kelowna more affordable, we need a strong economy. The city is planning to establish an independent economic development corporation, that will nurture that growth. At a cost of about $1 million for a single family home in West Kelowna, it is affordable for only a few.

Comparable sized cities offer over 2,000 social housing units while we have about 400, most built before our incorporation. Council needs to, and will advocate with other agencies to construct need-based, subsidized and affordable units for low income families, and seniors. We have had success with finding emergency shelter and supportive housing for our vulnerable homeless, by working with BC Housing and other, non-government agencies.

Another way to approach the issue is to encourage employers to set up business here, providing new jobs. Another is to motivate developers to construct a wider range of housing types at more attainable prices, with different ownership forms, and to increase the supply of rental units. Only ten years or so ago, outside of secondary suites, we had less than two dozen purpose built rentals! That has and being changed, but we need more variety of housing forms offered.

If you had $1 million to spend on anything in the city, how would you spend it?

If I had $1 million to spend, I would invest it in the new Economic Development Corporation that is being set up. In the long run it could give us the biggest bang for the buck over time, and ultimately provide funds for the city for use as needed (e.g., for housing) or even for fun (e.g., a playground).


West Kelowna woman undertakes a mission to clean Westside Rd.

Solo cleaning mission

A semi-retired West Kelowna woman is on a one-person mission to try and clean up Westside Road.

"I've always felt sort of a responsibility to keep Mother Earth clean I guess," says Lynn Retzer.

Retzer is winding down her cleaning business and now has time on her hands.

"I'm in a position now where I have more time to be able to do things like this," she said.

"I was out riding my bike the other day, and I just noticed how atrocious, how much garbage and whatnot was in the ditches."

Retzer says she decided to take it on herself to try and do something about the mess.

"I started at the beginning of Highway 97 and I got down not quite one kilometre and I'd already collected that much."

Retzer says she plans to keep going and she hopes that she can inspire others to be more mindful about throwing out their garbage.

"I'm just going to keep trying to do what I can. Once a week, go out and see what I can do and just hopefully show people to be more respectful and not throw their stuff into the ditch. Just doing my part."

Civic election: Anthony Bastiaanssen running for West Kelowna council

Meet Anthony Bastiaanssen

Castanet News has distributed a questionnaire to city council candidates in both Kelowna and West Kelowna to help voters get to know those putting their names forward. Between the two cities, 45 people are running for city councillor.

All candidates have been given the same questions and answers have been edited for clarity and brevity when needed. Responses will be published daily in the weeks ahead. An interactive database of Okanagan candidates, including previous questionnaire stories, is here and is being updated daily.

Election day is Oct. 15.


West Kelowna candidate: Anthony Bastiaanssen

Why would you make an effective city councillor?

This is a great alternative to asking why someone wants to be a city councillor! Wanting to be a city councillor and being an effective one are not the same thing. Being effective takes experience, education and skills. I have had the opportunity to work in many board and committee environments over the past decade. Both as a member, and as a leader in these organizations I have had to learn how to listen, collaborate, and contribute in order to be effective. Extensive experience and formal education in good governance has prepared me to be an effective leader and contributor. The community is counting on our city councillors to work together to come up with innovative solutions and to get things accomplished.

In your view, what is the number one issue facing the city today, and how would you deal with it knowing city hall only has so much power?

It’s tough to single out a particular issue as being number one. For different residents there are different priorities. The job at city council is to try and make sure all citizen’s issues are prioritized and addressed. High on the list for many is affordability as well as public safety. Working as a realtor I see areas where there could be improvements in housing affordability. Whether it be incentivizing builders to build affordable housing or rentals or increasing efficiency in the process to get new housing built to meet community needs. Regarding public safety, working together with other levels of government as well as community policing and fire departments is key to developing effective solutions to municipal issues.

It could be decades before a second bridge is built across Okanagan Lake. How do you deal with West Kelowna's transportation bottleneck in the meantime?

This summer, we were reminded once again of the brutal traffic congestion on our only bridge to Kelowna. It is not only incredibly inconvenient for people who need to cross for work or to get to school, it is potentially life threatening for anyone needing to get to the hospital in an emergency situation. Again, there is only so much the city can do on its own. We need to keep pressure on the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and other stakeholders to improve this most vital transportation link in the Okanagan.

A convertible middle lane on the bridge, elimination of the traffic light at Abbott, overpasses at Boucherie and Hudson are all potential improvements. This shouldn’t only be talked about during elections, this is an issue our citizens deal with every day. We also need to collaborate with the City of Kelowna to join our voices to make them stronger.

Do you think West Kelowna is growing too fast?

West Kelowna is growing to become one of the best places in Canada to live, and that is something to be proud of! Managing growth and developing and maintaining the infrastructure needed to support this growth is paramount. As long as the city keeps its eyes on the future and does its best to be prepared, I think we are on a good path.

How would you make West Kelowna more affordable?

Affordability is a huge issue. High inflation and the increasing cost of living across the board is affecting everyone. The City has limited options available to them. A one per cent reduction in property taxes would not make a significant difference to the average citizen’s annual budget, but it could have a big negative impact on the city’s ability to provide services for all. Focusing on making improvements to the development process to encourage more diverse and affordable housing options will be the most impactful way the city can try and improve affordability.

If you had $1 million to spend on anything in the city, how would you spend it?

A million dollars doesn’t go anywhere near as far as it used to. It won’t build a bridge or overpass, it won’t build any new schools or community service buildings. In the City’s budget, a million dollars doesn’t tip the scale on most projects.

To community service providers, a million dollars can be make-or-break money to provide much needed services to families, seniors and our communities most disadvantaged. I would make that money available for community service providers. The food bank, community social development organizations, youth sports organizers and more. Money for the people in our community for programs supported by people in our community.

Ski patroller injured in 2014 Crystal Mountain chairlift incident is now eligible for WorkSafe compensation

Crystal Mtn. claim ongoing

More than eight years after a terrifying chairlift crash at the now-defunct Crystal Mountain Resort in West Kelowna, the Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal has determined a former ski patroller who was injured in the incident is eligible for compensation through WorkSafeBC. But the patroller had argued he shouldn't be.

On March 1, 2014, two chairs at the ski hill came crashing to the ground when a cable came loose. Four people were injured in the crash, including volunteer ski patrollers Kevin Gourlay and his partner Maegan Harvey.

The resort has never reopened since the crash occurred.

Both Gourlay and Harvey initially submitted claims to WorkSafeBC seeking compensation for the injuries they suffered, but their claims were denied after WorkSafe concluded the plaintiffs were volunteers.

As a result, the pair then filed civil lawsuits against Crystal Mountain in 2016, and separate trials for both matters were scheduled to begin in the summer of 2019.

But shortly before the trials were set to begin, Crystal Mountain successfully applied to have the trials adjourned while the resort appealed the WorkSafe decision.

The Workers Compensation Act bans an employee from suing their employer if they receive compensation from WorkSafeBC.

Crystal Mountain said WorkSafe had denied Gourlay and Harvey's claims based on “incomplete information.” Additionally, the Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal had recently ruled that volunteers may be considered “workers” under the Act in circumstances where they receive some benefit from their volunteer work.

At some point, Harvey's action against Crystal Mountain was “resolved,” but it's not clear if she settled her case with the resort, or how much money a possible settlement involved. A third person injured in the incident, Lawrence Waldenberger, has settled his civil suit with Crystal Mountain.

More than three years after Crystal Mountain filled its application with the Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal, the tribunal ruled last month that Gourlay should be considered a “worker,” and that his “injuries arose out of and in the course of his employment within the scope of the compensation provisions of the Act.”

Gourlay, meanwhile, opposed Crystal Mountain's application to the WCAT, and argued he was a volunteer ski patroller who should not be covered by the compensation of the Workers Compensation Act. It's not clear why Gourlay took this position on the application, after first applying for WorkSafeBC coverage prior to filing his lawsuit, but Gourlay will likely be unable to pursue his lawsuit against Crystal Mountain now that he's eligible for compensation through WorkSafe .

Gourlay's lawyer, Vahan Ishkanian, told Castanet he was unable to discuss the matter, as it's “before the courts.”

In its decision, the WCAT noted Gourlay received a season pass in exchange for nine ski patrol shifts throughout the 2013/14 season, which was worth $449 or $695 depending on when the pass was purchased.

“While the value of the season ski pass, when calculated based on the number of hours the plaintiff had committed to work, was less than minimum wage, I do not view the value of the ski pass as insubstantial,” wrote Guy Riecken, vice chair go the WCAT in his decision.

“I conclude that the plaintiff’s provision of ski patrol services was part of the business organization of Crystal Mountain and that the operational routines of the relationship between the plaintiff and Crystal Mountain were more consistent with employment than with volunteering.”

Referee shortage has high school football teams scrambling

Referee shortage in football

Football is back, but the referees are not.

The BC Football Officials Association is short staffed and scrambling to keep both high school and community football alive this season.

“We’ve lost five senior officials in the last year, and that makes a huge difference because only about 12 of these guys can do senior varsity and senior varsity takes five officials at a time," said Kevin Rowe, BCFOA referee.

"The bottom line is football requires more officials than any other sport. Softball you can use one, basketball you can use a couple. In this situation with so much activity and the risks for children, we can’t run a game without enough guys watching it. We won’t do it and nor will they.”

Being heavily involved in high school football as the head coach of the Mount Boucherie Bears Junior Varsity team, Jason Hudson knows just how important getting involved in sports can be for young kids.

“Some of these kids, the only reason why they’re able to be in school is sports. Sports are everything to them. They come to school because they know after school they get to come out onto that field and be a part of this team," said Hudson.

"Without that, there’s a lot of kids we might lose. Not only just within sports, but within school systems as well. It is a very important part of growth for young kids, to learn that team mentality, how to be trusted by other people, it builds employment skills, it is one of the most important pieces for a youth.”

As the BCFOA has lost almost a third of its staff over the pandemic, the association is pushing for parents, spectators and fans to come out and give refereeing a real shot.

“As we’re seeing a shortage of officials, we’ve got about 21 in the Interior from Kamloops to Kelowna, covering everything from Vernon to Salmon Arm as well. Essentially with that shortage, if even one parent came from every team that we look after, it would make a huge difference in the number that we have to be able to get all these games done in a short amount of time," explained Rowe.

If you’re interested in becoming a football referee, you can visit the BCFOA website to sign up and get involved.

West Kelowna approves townhouse development for Shannon Lake

Townhouse build approved

West Kelowna city council has voted to approve a 72-unit townhouse development on the shores of Shannon Lake.

The project at 2749 Shannon Lake Road is directly adjacent to another under-construction townhouse development.

Council voted to approve the development permits for the project Tuesday, with only Coun. Carol Zanon voting against, citing concerns about parking.

“I’m very, very uncomfortable with the parking situation,” she said.

The development includes the bylaw-required 114 spaces, two per unit, plus 14 visitor and five loading stalls.

Zanon said she feared the residents of the development would inventively use up all the spots and overflow into a lot planned for access to a new public waterfront park going in on the shores of Shannon Lake.

Coun. Rick de Jong noted that Shannon Lake Road is an arterial roadway that does not allow street parking.

“I don’t want to see this spill out onto Shannon Lake Road. That is my big concern,” he said. “I want to see Shannon Lake Road, signed, no parking.”

He said buyers in the development will need to know what they are buying into and know there is no option for overflow parking.

The development will be built in three phases, working back from the lake.

When the property was rezoned in 2019, land along the shores of Shannon Lake was dedicated as park and a pedestrian right of way was registered.

Park improvements at the waterfront include a fishing dock, picnic tables, benches and the paved parking area that connects to the townhouse development next-door.

Two more chances for the public to learn more before referendum on funding a new Peachland Protective Services Building

Firehall referendum looms

The public gets two more chances to learn about the proposed new Peachland Protective Services Building ahead of a referendum to approve funding for the project.

Residents will be asked to vote on if they support the borrowing of $17.5 million for the project.

The referendum question “Are you in favour of the Corporation of the District of Peachland adopting the Protective Services Building Loan Authorization Bylaw No. 2364, 2022, to authorize the borrowing of up to Seventeen Million, Five Hundred Thousand Dollars ($17,500,000), over a thirty (30) year term, to fund the construction of a new Protective Services Building to accommodate the Fire Department?” will be on the ballot during the October 15 civic election.

This Saturday, September 24, there will be a community breakfast and open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the current firehall (4401 3rd St.). People will be able to ask questions and learn more about the project.

“Our goal at the end of this is for people when they go to vote on the election day, whether in the advance voting or during the regular election day on October 15, that they’re voting informed. That they’re voting with all the information to make the right decision for them” said Peachland Fire & Rescue Chief Dennis Craig.

The Firehall Master Plan, completed in 2021 indicated that Peachland Fire & Rescue Service faces several infrastructure challenges at the ageing facility they are currently in. The building is too small to accommodate all the vehicles and equipment and is too old to renovate to meet the needs of the growing community.

Access is also an issue. The proposed new site is at the corner of 13th Street and Highway 97.

“Our current building is downtown Peachland, along a 30 km/hr stretch. So all our members have to drive and abide by the rules of the road, speed limits and everything to get to the firehall."

“This new site is right at the corner of the highway and 13th Street. So basically members will come right off the highway, right into the building and avoid the whole downtown area,” explains Craig.

The final chance for input and feedback prior to the referendum will be a town hall-style meeting on October 4.

RCMP catch motorcyclist who fled, speeding through residential neighbourhood

Motorcycle flees from cops

RCMP issued tickets and fines to the driver of a motorcycle who fled from police in West Kelowna on Tuesday.

An RCMP officer on patrol in the Shannon Lake Rd. and Tallus Ridge Rd. area of West Kelowna on Tuesday spotted a black and blue Honda CBR 1000 with expired insurance.

When the officer attempted to pull the motorcycle driver over the biker looked back and accelerated from the posted speed limit of 50 km/h to over 100 km/h speeding through a residential area. The officer disengaged, turned off his emergency equipment and pulled to the curb because of public safety concerns and concern for the safety of the rider.

The chase didn't end there though. The officer tracked the address of the registered owner of the bike and went to the home. On arrival, the officer spotted a Ford Escape leaving the residence.

When the officer stopped the vehicle, the driver was identified as the wife of the owner of the motorcycle and she confirmed she was on her way to pick up her husband.

The officer found the motorcycle parked and determined that the rider had run away from the scene. The officer managed to find the owner and determined that it was in fact him on the motorcycle and he admitted to driving the bike and fleeing the scene.

The biker was issued several tickets under the BC Motor Vehicle Act including; Excessive Speed - No Insurance - Fail to Stop for police and the motorcycle was impounded for seven days.

“Riding a motorcycle or any other motor vehicle at high speeds in a residential neighbourhood is not only dangerous to the operator, but to the public. If caught, you will lose your vehicle and certainly be fined, it’s not worth the risk” said Const. Mike Della-Paolera RCMP spokesperson.

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