West Kelowna  

Dashcam video shows a near miss on Highway 97 in Peachland

Near miss on Highway 97


Dashcam footage shows a near miss on Highway 97 in Peachland.

Melissa Holmwood posted the video on the Shaming Drivers of the Okanagan Facebook page on Tuesday afternoon. The video shows a grey vehicle passing a grader over solid double yellow lines.

The Facebook post has over 100 comments, many people commenting about similar experiences on Highway 97.

A double solid yellow line requires a driver to stay to the right of the line at all times. The only exemption to this is when you are turning left to leave the highway and you do not unreasonably affect other traffic.

Castanet has reached out to the RCMP for comment.


Police seize silencer, handgun and drugs in West Kelowna raid

Silencer, cocaine seized

RCMP is releasing more details on an arrest in West Kelowna by the Drugs and Organized Crime Section.

On Jan. 19, officers surrounded and then searched a home in the 3000-block of Elliott Road.

The search involved tactical officers, the provincial anti-gang unit and Canada Border Services Agency.

Police seized a loaded handgun, multiple magazines of ammunition, and two prohibited firearm suppressors (silencers). Under Canadian law, any device designed or intended to muffle or stop the sound or report of a firearm cannot be used in Canada for any purpose.

The investigation also turned up 10 ounces of suspected cocaine and 10 ounces of suspected methamphetamine, plus cash and materials consistent with drug trafficking.

A 49-year old man was arrested on scene without incident. RCMP is recommending prosecutors lay charges of Importation of a Prohibited Device, Possession of a Prohibited Firearm, and Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking.

West Kelowna investigating becoming a Bear Smart community

Bear Smart on the Westside

The City of West Kelowna will undertake a bear hazard assessment.

The $15,000 assessment is the first step toward becoming part of the Bear Smart Community Program through WildSafeBC.

The bear hazard assessment will evaluate the community to identify attractants, the history of human conflicts, and areas where this can be improved.

Other steps include preparing a bear-human conflict management plan, revise planning and decision-making documents, implementing a continuing education plan, developing and maintaining a bear-proof waste management system and implementing bear smart bylaws.

Coun. Doug Findlater says the one aspect of the program he opposes is more bylaws, believing education and awareness is the better route to go.

He said people don't need bylaw officers running around telling them when and where to put out their garbage.

Representatives from WildSafeBC have been asked to address council in the spring.

The number of conflicts between bears and humans have been on the rise in recent years in West Kelowna, prompting the move by council.

It would also bring the city in line with neighbouring Westbank First Nation which have also initiated the Bear Smart Community Program.

"One of our number one challenges is our number of bear contacts," said city CAO Paul Gipps.

Last year was one of the worst years for bear sightings in the West Kelowna/WFN area according to WildSafeBC.


West Kelowna council wants answers from BC Transit concerning service levels

Concerns over transit cuts

West Kelowna council voiced some concerns over cuts to transit service levels.

Kelowna Regional Transit, which services the entire Central Okanagan, announced a 15 per cent service reduction earlier this month due to driver shortages.

Shortages came into effect after unvaccinated transit employees were sent home for not adhering to company vaccine policies.

Responding to a written report on transit service, council agreed to ask Kelowna Regional Transit officials to make a formal presentation.

A number of routes have reverted to summer schedules, while the 97 Okanagan Express has been rescheduled.

"I would like more discussion with BC Transit. More in depth conversations. I'm concerned about adjustments to the transit routes, especially to the 97," said Mayor Gord Milsom.

"(This is) Another sign that nothing is normal anymore. We used to be able to predict the increased use of transit, but the world has changed and it's going to take time to get back to normal and recover,"said Coun. Doug Findlater.

"They (transit) are a stop gap for our students getting to school. I want to know how our students are getting to school."

With the annual service increase last September factored in with the reduction announced this month, the city's overall contribution to the regional transit system, including both conventional and community service, was reduced by about $10,000.

Greek restaurant OPA! ready to open on Westside this week

Westbank getting OPA!


The Greek food restaurant chain will be opening its third Central Okanagan location later this week, and there will be deals to be had.

The newest location will be on WFN lands at the Snyatan Shopping Centre, which is located at the corner of Highway 97 and Butt Road.

Opening day is Thursday, and those who come out to celebrate the opening will be able to enjoy a $5 chicken souvlaki and Greek salad meal from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Not only that, but they will also be eligible to win gift cards, free meals and other prizes.

“I have always loved OPA!’s unique Greek restaurant concept, and the brand’s focus on quality and excellence,” franchise owner Anish Gill said in a press release. “As a multi-unit owner, I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the ongoing growth of the brand in Western Canada.”

The restaurant will be open Monday to Thursday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

West Kelowna gym reissued business license, continues to defy health orders

Defiant gym gets license

A West Kelowna gym which has openly defied provincial health orders for the past month, is once again legally allowed to operate, at least in the eyes of the city.

The City of West Kelowna has issued Iron Energy Gym its 2022 business license after being given the green light from Interior Health.

“Interior Health provided us with a letter indicating that Iron Energy Gym was able to open under the latest provincial public health orders, effective Jan. 20, 2022," city officials said in an email to Castanet requesting information.

"We issued the business license upon receipt of the letter.

“The gym’s ongoing operations with respect to provincial public health orders are within Interior Health’s jurisdiction to investigate and enforce.”

Interior Health's decision was made after provincial health orders issued Dec. 22 requiring gyms to close, were rescinded earlier this week.

The new order, allowing gyms to reopen, was made earlier this week, and came into effect Thursday, Jan.20.

The order also requires gyms to follow other orders including the wearing of masks, distancing and vaccine passports.

However, while Iron Energy has a licence to operate, owners stated Friday they would no longer check vaccine passports, or follow other health orders.

Iron Energy has also stated it will not pay a $2,300 fine issued by Interior Health for defying the earlier order.

The city says it did not fine the gym for operating without the licence.

Interior Health has yet to comment on the latest stance taken by the gym.

Iron Energy Gym say they will follow public health guidelines for now after gyms were given the green light to open Thursday

Gym follows rules for now

Madison Erhardt

Iron Energy Gym says it will follow public health guidelines for now.

Co-Owner Brian Mark says he was happy with the Provincial Governments announcement on Tuesday to reopen gyms across the province, but says more needs to be done.

"For right now, nothing is changing. For right now we are kind of meeting with other business owners and feeling where everybody is at and we haven't made any moves yet.

"What I will say is the momentum that we generated by banding together with other business owners and speaking up and using our voice has inspired us to do more and this is just the start," Mark said.

Gyms were ordered to close on Dec. 22 amid a surge in COVID-19 cases driven by the Omicron variant.

Iron Energy Gym in West Kelowna was one of the first gyms in the region to defy public health orders and remain open.

The gym was fined $2,300 and ordered to shut down by Interior Health, but they remained open.

"We disputed the fine. The Canadian constitution states that every person has a right to life, liberty, and security as a person and when we asked Bonnie Henry and Adrian Dix for evidence linking transmission to gyms they couldn't give us any.

On January 5th The City of West Kelowna said it would pull Iron Energy's business license.

“We have not issued the 2022 business licence renewal for Iron Energy Fitness Centre, 104 – 2476 Westlake Road, at this time, as the business is operating in contravention of a Public Health Order. The City will review this decision after further consultation with Interior Health," the city's statement said.

Co-owner Brett Godin says he is not concerned.

"Interior Health is people as well. They have got to understand that what is happening right now is unlawful, it's offside. There are so many things I think we could say about it and I think honestly if they turned around and looked at what the government is doing then they would have a different view on what needs to happen."

Godin says having the gym open has saved lives.

"Hundreds of emails, 500 to be exact of people saying thank you so much we support what you are doing. This helped me from committing suicide. I have a member that comes in here and he is now 209 days sober and he tells me every day how thankful he is that we are here."

Capacity limits will be placed on gyms, limiting operation to one customer per seven metres squared of floor space. Proof of vaccination will continue to be required.

Multiple RCMP vehicles have entrance to Bear Creek Park blocked off

RCMP in Bear Creek Park

UPDATE 10:59 a.m.

RCMP tell Castanet they have taken a man into custody at Bear Creek Park after receiving reports of a man in distress in the area.

The person is believed to have been suicidal and RCMP managed to defuse the situation and resolve the incident.

No further details will be released.

ORIGINAL 10:31 a.m.

RCMP are rallying around Bear Creek Park in West Kelowna along Westside Rd.

Mounties have the entranceway to the park blocked off and there are three marked RCMP cruisers, three unmarked cruisers and one Emergency Response cruiser parked just inside the park gates.

A Castanet reader indicates that they saw police arrive just before 9 a.m. Thursday morning, "something is happening in Bear Creek Campsite, a number of cop cars there."

Castanet has a reporter on the scene and we will update this story as more information becomes available.

Tactical police seize firearms, arrest 4 in West Kelowna

4 arrested, firearms seized

UPDATE: 2:30 p.m.

Police say multiple firearms were seized and four people were arrested Wednesday afternoon.

Kelowna RCMP Cpl. Tammy Lobb says the incident took place at a home in the 3600-block of Elliot Road in West Kelowna.

"The Southeast District Emergency Response Team, West Kelowna Community Safety Unit and frontline officers assisted. Four people were arrested without incident and multiple firearms were seized," Lobb said.

More information will be released as it becomes available.

UPDATE 12:30 p.m.

Police have now cleared the area. Castanet has requested more information from RCMP.

ORIGINAL 12:05 p.m.

A West Kelowna resident says officers have guns drawn on Gossett Road.

The resident, who wishes to remain anonymous, says rifles are drawn on the home and the RCMP tactical team is on scene. A drone is also reportedly flying above the home.

Residents in the area have been told to stay in their homes.

Castanet has a reporter headed to the scene and will have more details shortly.

Castanet reader shares photo of what appears to be a large cougar print

Big cat track in park

More evidence of cougar activity in the Okanagan, this time a track in West Kelowna's Kalamoir Park.

Castanet reader, Orest, who only wanted his first name used, sent us a photo of what appears to be a very large cougar print.

"My wife wears a size 8 shoe, so that's a big cat."

Orest says he often visits Kalamoir Park on Collens Hill Rd., in West Kelowna and has seen prints before but nothing this size, "interesting that a cougar that size would be that area, it had to get through a lot of houses."

Orest tells Castanet he also saw plenty of deer and smaller cougar tracks in the same general area and he wants people who use the park to be aware that there are large cats on the prowl, even near homes.

"There were lots of people walking their dogs, it's a very busy park and I just want to let people know to keep their eyes open. Cougars can be anywhere."

According to WildsafeBC cougars are the largest wild cats in Canada and are also known as mountain lions, pumas and panthers. Cougars are strict carnivores who primarily feed on deer.

If you see a cougar in an urban area displaying aggressive behaviour, call the Conservation Officer Service.

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