West Kelowna  

Temporary Boucherie Road closure for spring clean up on May 27

Boucherie Road closure

A portion of Boucherie Road will be closed on Wednesday night as crews complete a spring spruce up. 

Boucherie Road between Hayman and Hudson Roads will be closed from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on May 27 for crews to put up hanging baskets and continue spring maintenance. 

The road, bike lanes and sidewalks will be fully closed to motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. Motorists can use Hudson Road and Highway 97 as a detour. 

Residents living within the immediate area will be able to enter the work zone, as will emergency vehicles, buses and transit users. 

Garbage bins placed too early, black bear spotted in Rose Valley

Bear spotted in Rose Valley

UPDATE 2:27 p.m.

With recent bear activity ramping up across the province, B.C. Conservation Officers are starting to conduct their bear attractant patrols to help reduce conflicts in communities.

"It is critical for everyone to do their part to help keep wildlife wild, so bears don’t gain appetites for non-natural food or lose their fear of humans – putting both bears and communities at risk," said the BCCOS Facebook Page. 

As part of these patrols, COs will be in neighbourhoods checking to see if attractants are secured by using bear-proof bins, picking excess fruit from trees and using electric fencing around livestock.

“As the COVID-19 outbreak means more people stay home, this creates opportunity for garbage and other attractants to pile up – but also more opportunities to manage them,” said Doug Forsdick, Chief Conservation Officer.

“We hope people take this opportunity to assess their properties for potential attractants and ensure they are properly stored. Communities where attractants are managed properly experience fewer human-wildlife conflicts and fewer animals destroyed.”

During the first phase of patrols, CO’s completed more than 700 inspections, issued more than 75 charges, 300 warnings and 350 Dangerous Wildlife Protection Orders, which direct a property owner to remove an attractant or face a $575 fine. 


ORIGINAL 12:08 p.m.

A black bear was spotted in the West Kelowna's Rose Valley neighbourhood on Sunday night, WildSafeBC reports.

Meg Bjordal, WildSafeBC Okanagan Westside coordinator says she saw a bear while tagging garbage bins that were placed outside for pick-up too early on Griffiths Place in West Kelowna. 

"It had been seen on Scott Cres. earlier in the day," she posted on WildSafeBC's Facebook page. 

"Please note that there is at least one active bear in the neighbourhood right now, though based on resident photos I suspect there are actually two — both are cinnamon phase black bears."

Bjordal also is reminding residents in the Rose Valley neighbourhood not to place garbage bins out on the street the night before. They've placed stickers on bins as a friendly reminder that garbage put out early is a bear attractant.

"Please remember to store your garbage securely!"

West Kelowna woman warns of break-ins at storage facility

Storage locker trashed

A West Kelowna woman is sounding the alarm after her storage locker was broken into last week.

Kaitlyn Gonek reached out to Castanet with photos and videos of her secure, indoor storage at the U-Haul at 3571 Old Okanagan Hwy. in West Kelowna.

Gonek says she went to drop her winter tires off at her storage locker and was shocked to find garbage and what appeared to be people loitering inside and possibly living at the facility that she assumed was secure.

"I had to walk through a pile of garbage to get to the manager's office. I saw a homeless man prop open the door to get into the loading area proceed to dump a yellow mop bucket of urine."

Once Gonek made her way to her locker she saw that the door was off the tracks and that items inside her locker were missing. That's when she called RCMP.

"[They] were coming and going from the 'so called' secure facility even when the RCMP were there." Gonek says she doesn't know where the people she saw came from, how they got in, or what they were doing there.

RCMP confirmed they did respond to a call at the U-Haul in West Kelowna.

Gonek claims the local general manager acknowledged they've had vagrancy challenges at the facility and said they are "working on" the situation.

Several customer reviews for the facility in recent months on U-Haul's own website feature similar complaints.

"When we first rented the locker in October 2019 we were very impressed with the site, but as the months went by I started fearing for my safety when I visited late at night or early in the morning because it appeared that people were living in some of the lockers and they were quite scary," reads a review on March 31, 2020.

Castanet reached out to U-Haul for a response. Jeff Lockridge, manager of media and public relations
U-Haul International says, "regrettably, the customer’s storage locker was broken into, and this crime remains an open file for the police. We are available to assist the police in any way during their investigation."

"We have taken steps to prevent these issues from reoccurring, including evicting tenants who we found to be unlawfully lingering on our property and in our facility. This issue was addressed firmly and directly for the sake of our other customers," Lockridge added.

Gonek says she didn't have storage insurance and is working with U-Haul to get some of her storage rent for May back, "I packed my stuff up and got out of there." She says she just wanted to make sure anyone else who uses that service and hasn't been there in a while "should go and check your stuff."


West side prowler looking for crimes of opportunity

Prowling for unlocked doors

Rob Gibson

More examples of why it's so important to make sure your vehicle and residence doors are locked.

We received this surveillance video from Justin McCullough, "I caught this guy trying to break into my vehicles. He was checking the door handles to see if they were unlocked."

McCullough lives in the Smith Creek area of West Kelowna and says the video is from early Friday morning.

"My doors were locked but it looked like he was making his way down the street looking to steal something," says McCullough.

"We just want people in our area to know that this is going on," McCullough says. "If it wasn't for our surveillance video we wouldn't have even known it was going on."

BC Conservation Officers are concerned about an injured moose

Help for injured moose

BC Conservation Officers need your help to try and locate a moose that has been sighted roaming in West Kelowna.

Castanet received several reports Friday afternoon of a moose wandering near McGinnis Rd. and in the Glenrosa area. Callers were concerned because the moose is described as having what looks like serious injuries to its face and head.

The BC Conservation Officer Service reached out to Castanet Saturday also concerned about the moose's well being. They've received multiple reports to the Report All Poachers and Polluters line but have been unable to locate the moose.

Conservation officers want to locate the moose to assess its health. They're concerned the moose may be suffering and are asking for the public's help if you spot the moose please call the RAPP line.

Officers are eager to make sure the moose will have the chance to heal itself if they determine that it is injured.

A large crowd is expected for a public hearing in West Kelowna

Physical distancing tested

West Kelowna's plans to ensure physical distancing is maintained will be put to the test when the city holds its first public hearing.

The city, which briefly suspended public hearings due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will be holding its first public hearing in three months Tuesday after developing protocols to do so safely, and in accordance with provincial health office, and legislative requirements.

The process will include mayor and council taking part remotely from home with staff, applicants and the public speaking from council chambers.

Tuesday's public hearing will likely test those guidelines, with a large number of residents from Crystal Springs manufactured home park expected to descend upon city hall to speak out against a proposed cannabis production facility adjacent to their property.

City officials would not respond to Castanet's attempt to learn what the physical distancing and large gathering plan entails.

They say that will be released to the public Monday.

Fourteen residents of the park sent submissions to the city prior to the Tuesday morning deadline to have submissions included with the staff report for council.

Two late submissions had also come in as of late Friday afternoon.

It's not clear how many residents plan to address council directly Tuesday.

Most of those who have already responded are concerned about safety and odour concerning the facility, and the potential loss in property value.

Some residents of the 55 and over park are also concerned about breathing and health issues they fear will be heightened if the plant is allowed to go ahead.

Council, which has already given initial approval for the facility, is being asked to approve a rezoning application to allow for cannabis production within a building that includes multiple tenants, not whether it is actually allowed on the property.

During initial consideration, Coun. Jason Friesen told angry residents of Crystal Springs a cannabis production facility is already an allowed use on the property, which is zoned industrial.

The only issue, he said, is whether production could take place within a building housing multiple tenants.

"If you come to the public meeting and say it's going to stink, yes it's going to stink, but it is allowed. Keep that in mind... understand what it is we are actually discussing," he said at the time.

The public hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Okanagan trucking company organizes food drive for charities

Trucking to help food bank

An Okanagan trucking company is going above and beyond to try and support the Okanagan Food Banks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on the ability of organizations like the Central Okanagan Food Bank to keep up with the demand. Chief executive Trevor Moss has gone on record saying, "we are coping with a significant and growing demand for food as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic."

Jeff McGraw with Pro-Ex Transport Systems Ltd. tells Castanet, "we saw a need and we're planning on doing something down the road but the COVID-19 situation bumped up our plans to help now."

McGraw says they'll provide a trailer at selected Okanagan grocery stores from Thursday to Sunday to accept donations for the food bank.

The truck has already been set up for this weekend at the West Kelowna Superstore and will feature stops in Kelowna, Lake Country, and Vernon. Penticton is not taking part at this time.

Participating stores include Superstore in West Kelowna and Vernon, Save On Foods in Lake Country, and FreshCo. and Independent grocer as well.

Next weekend, May 28, the truck will be set up at the Vernon Superstore followed by the Save On Foods in Lake Country, June 4, and at the Save On Foods in Kelowna on June 11.

McGraw says they intend to keep going right into July and are still working out the details with grocery stores and food banks.

Organizer of Peachland's outdoor grad walk has cancelled

Grad walk cancelled

A group of local high-school graduates have had their grad celebrations cancelled, again.

After formal graduation celebrations across British Columbia were cancelled this year, a Peachland mother was planning on holding an outdoor graduation walk for her daughter and friends on Peachland's Ray Kandola Heritage Pier on the afternoon of May 30. She invited other graduates to don dresses and suits and join them. But the event has now been cancelled.

Vangie Neyedli said Interior Health reached out to her with concerns about having too many people gathered in one place, but IH notes that it did not cancel the event.

“We did reach out to the organizer to offer public health support, but the organizer cancelled the event before we were able to speak with her,” IH's Susan Duncan said.

“We continue to remind everyone that COVID-19 remains a risk. It spreads easily in large crowds and the provincial health officer’s order for mass gatherings of under 50 people remains in effect.”

A Facebook event for the grad walk listed 22 people had confirmed their attendance, while another 40 said they were interested. Last weekend, Neyedli told Castanet that any grads in the region could attend the outdoor event.

She said everyone would be kept two metres apart at the event, and the idea was well received on the Peachland Neighbours Facebook page. But the organized event won't be happening now.

“We understand this is a challenging time for graduating students and their families and we thank everyone for their patience and support in celebrating our graduates appropriately and safely in this unique time,” Duncan said.

Okanagan Connector saw significant snowfall overnight

Snow-covered Connector

While warm weather and longer days in the Valley are sure signs summer is on the way, winter is hanging on at higher elevations.

Those driving the Okanagan Connector Friday morning will find significant snow on the highway, and it continues to fall. About nine centimetres of snow fell on the Pennask Summit through the night, while the Coquihalla saw a light dusting of snow that has since been melted by rain.

Webcams on the Connector shows the snow has also fallen on the Elkhart area, but the lower-elevation Brenda Mine region remains clear.

And while warm conditions have been rapidly melting snow at Big White, getting the mountain ready for its June 26 kick off to the mountain bike season, snow also fell at the resort overnight.

Environment Canada has issued a weather alert for the Okanagan Connector Friday morning, forecasting another five to 10 cm to fall through the morning, before freezing levels rise to 1,700 metres this afternoon. Two to four cm of snow may fall on the Coquihalla through the morning as well.

At the Valley bottom, showers are expected to continue through to the late afternoon, with a 60 per cent chance of showers overnight.

Tenant at Green Bay Mobile Home Park escapes eviction, for now

RV owner gets a reprieve

It looks as if Mark Davis will be able to continue to live at the Green Bay Mobile Home Park for the foreseeable future.

Davis has lived in his 42-foot recreational vehicle in the park for the past three years, however, he was ordered to leave by the City of West Kelowna because bylaws prohibit the use of RVs for an extended period within residential zones.

He was provided a one-year temporary use permit in June of last year. That permit was set to expire June 22, at which time he would be forced to leave.

In its bylaws, the city says RVs are not meant for year round living, and could cause air quality and service limitations.

Since they are not buildings, or structures, they are not subject to BC Building and Plumbing Code requirements.

Davis turned to Castanet, saying he didn't know where he was going to go.

And, he questioned the need to leave, saying there's a housing crisis and people need a place to live.

Davis cited people living in RVs in Kelowna and on Westbank First Nation land, and wondered why he was being told to leave.

It now appears as if the pandemic will give Davis a bit of a reprieve.

Director of development services Mark Koch says it is the city's hope the two sides can work together.

"We will not be looking to enforce the order during the pandemic," says Koch.

He said the city has written to Davis stating just that.

Davis says he has not yet received the letter.

He also has indicated an application for another temporary land use permit is being submitted to the city.

West Kelowna council will rule on that at a later date.

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