Spot sized fire burning near Okanagan Indian Band along Westside Road

Spot fire near Westside Rd

BC Wildfire Service is reporting a spot sized fire near Westside Road and the Okanagan Indian Band.

The fire is 0.009 hectares in size and is listed as out of control on the BCWS website.

Reportedly on Nashwito Road, the fire looks to be just west of OKIB land.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.


Power fully restored to Lake Country customers

Power fully restored

UPDATE 7:56 p.m.

All Lake Country area BC Hydro customers should have power fully restored.

According to the outage map, power was restored to the remaining 1,520 customers at about 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

Power had been out since 2:15 p.m.

UPDATE 5:47 p.m.

Power has been restored to some BC Hydro customers affected by the Lake Country power outage.

Currently, 1,520 are without power, down from the 3,335 originally impacted.

BC Hydro says a bird hitting its wires caused the outage.

Crews are on site and the power is expected to be fully restored by 7 p.m., Sunday

ORIGINAL 3:07 p.m.

Over 3,000 BC Hydro customers are without power in the Lake Country area, Sunday afternoon.

The power company is reporting an outage impacting 3,335 customers.

Power has been off since 2:15 p.m. with the outage stretching from Wilson Landing up to Killiney Beach.

A crew has been assigned, but is not yet on site. There’s no estimate restoration time and the cause is still under investigation.

A power outage affected a similar area – with 3,335 customers impacted – on Saturday. The outage lasted from 9:43 a.m. to 6 p.m. and was cause by a downed tree across wires.

Fundraiser planned for Vernon Community Radio Station

Help 'Power the Tower'

Vernon's community radio station has one final hurdle to clear before it can start broadcasting.

The station's final step is to purchase, install and maintain a radio transmitter on the station's radio tower. On April 25, Don Cherry’s, in the Vernon Lodge and Conference Centre, will be hosting the Power the Tower fundraiser to raise money for 97.9 Valley FM.

Performers at the fundraiser include Shawn Lightfoot, Marv Machura, Cat Wells, Garry Grosso, Duane Marchand, Carolyne Anele Dickson, Kris Andres and Manfred E. Harter.

There will also be a silent auction.

“We are just one step away from making the dream of community radio station on the airwaves of Vernon a reality,” said Marv Machura, volunteer radio show host.

“So much work has gone into getting to where we are now, it would be a tragedy if we don’t manage to cross the finish line."

The fundraiser starts at 6 p.m.

In 2017, the Vernon Community Radio Society formed and began the long road to where they are now with a studio, equipment, broadcasting license, local programming and online streaming at ValleyFM.ca.

According to a press release, if the society can not get on air soon, “they will lose their CRTC license."

In 2020, the CRTC, Canadian Radio Telecommunication Commission, approved the frequency 97.9 FM for the station.

For more information, click here or go their Facebook page.


Vernon stormwater drainage bylaw may come with $50,000 fine

Bylaw has big fine

Breaking this bylaw could be a costly mistake.

At their regular meeting Monday, Vernon city council will get a brief update on the stormwater drainage bylaw.

“Administration has a draft stormwater drainage bylaw that is being co-ordinated with interfacing bylaws,” the report says.

“Administration will present the bylaw to council at the May 27 meeting.”

The current draft of the bylaw includes the ability of the city to fine up to $50,000 for violations of the bylaw.

City of Vernon offering two programs to plant trees and fight climate change

Residents can go green

The City of Vernon wants to help residents turn the town green and combat climate change.

This Earth Day, the city is launching the 2024 sustainability-grants and tree-voucher programs which will help Vernon residents engage in sustainable neighbourhood actions that can make a real difference.

“There has never been a more important time to take action at a local level in order to foster a more sustainable way of life,” said Mayor Victor Cumming. “These two programs that are being offered by the city will provide excellent opportunities for our citizens to connect with one another, take small easy steps forward, and possibly establish new, home-grown sustainability initiatives from the ground up.”

Sustainability grant program

The sustainability grants program encourages participation in actions that promote environmental and community resiliency. For 2024, the program will include separate spring and fall application periods. Grants up to $2,000 will be available to encourage sustainability projects led by Vernon residents, youth, non-profit organizations, and community groups.

For information on this program and how to apply, click here.

Deadline to apply is June 15.

Tree voucher program

The city’s tree voucher program provides Vernon households with a $25 voucher toward the purchase of a shade tree to plant in their yard. Vouchers may be used to purchase trees at Nicholas Alexander Home & Garden Centre or Swan Lake Market & Garden.

“We are encouraging residents to plant trees,” said Kevin McCarty, city climate action specialist. “Trees can help offer energy cost savings by providing shade, reduce sound and dust pollution to your property, and reduce the impacts of stormwater on flood events – all while enhancing the value of your property.”

For more information and to apply for your voucher, click here.

Vouchers are limited.

Vernon man heading to Antarctic to raise mental health awareness and build schools in Africa

Hiking to new heights

Sir Darren Jacklin is going to new heights to raise awareness for mental health and to help educate children on the other side of the world.

The Vernon man, who was knighted into the Royal Order of Constantine the Great and Saint Helen in 2022, will be heading to Antarctica in January 2025 where he will climb Mount Vinson.

The highest mountain in Antarctica, Mount Vinson rises 4,892 meters (16,050 feet) above sea level.

Jacklin has adhered to a stringent training regime for months to do the climb that will raise awareness for mental health and generate funds for the LYNK Foundation to build 100 schools worldwide.

“Over the past few months, I've intensified my physical training regimen to ensure I'm in peak condition to face the extreme conditions of Antarctica. This includes endurance training, cold exposure practices, and mental resilience exercises,” Jacklin said.

“Each step brings me closer to not just tackling the physical challenges of the expedition, but also shining a light on the importance of mental health, a cause very close to my heart. Together, we’re not just hiking, we’re building a brighter future with each stride.”

Jacklin said Antarctica is “a magical place to visit, yet less than 100 climbers per year venture to climb Antarctica’s highest peak, Mount Vinson, because of the logistical complexities in getting there.”

With guidance from the Canada West Mountain School, Jacklin is honing essential skills needed for the expedition, including snow rescue techniques and setting up specialized anchors.

On June 29, Jacklin will be leading a fundraising hike in Mt. Seymour Provincial park, starting at 6 a.m.

Vernon's Allan Brooks Nature Centre has opened for 2024

Nature centre now open

Vernon's Allan Brooks Nature Centre has opened for the season.

This year marks the 24th year for the centre located off of Commonage Road south of Vernon.

Since its inception, the ABNC has grown from a discontinued weather station into an interpretive centre with activity rooms, display space, indoor and outdoor classrooms, picnic and play areas, a pond, native plant gardens, viewpoint sitting areas and a wheelchair-friendly grasslands trail around the grounds.

ABNC displays and features a variety of nature-associated learning opportunities, information, activities and experiences for all ages.

The centre provides visitors a first-hand opportunity to see and learn about the Okanagan’s unique and diverse natural heritage through views, information, programs and displays of the region’s natural areas.

The ABNC is also one of only a few places where you can see Swan, Okanagan and Kalamalka lakes from a single vantage point.

Angie Ioakinidou, with the ABNC, said the centre will be hosting a variety of programs throughout the season, including youth summer camps.

Ioakinidou said education about nature and all that lives in it, is one of the main goals of the ABNC.

And while the centre is geared towards educating children, adults will a lot by visiting as well.

Ioakinidou said it is also a nice just to hang out at the centre.

“It's a beautiful place to come and have a picnic or go for a walk. We have trails that go all around the centre, and you are outside in nature, there's nothing better than that.”

For more information on the ABNC, click here.

Vernon's James A. Munro was one of the first to raise concerns over the impact of pollution

Environmental champion

On April 22, Earth Day will be commemorated in 192 countries around the world.

Since its inception in 1970, the event has sought to raise awareness of the need to protect Earth's natural resources and foster a global environmental movement. Over the years, Vernon has been home to many environmental champions, one of whom was considered a leading authority on waterfowl in western North America.

James A. Munro was born in Kildonan, Man., on Nov. 8, 1884. He grew up in Toronto, where he was introduced to naturalists, including Dr. William Brodie, Sam Wood and John Edmonds. Munro moved to Okanagan Landing in 1910 with his wife, Isabella, who was recovering from tuberculosis.

Here, Munro crossed paths with fellow ornithologist Major Allan Brooks. While they reportedly went on numerous field expeditions together and held each other's abilities in high esteem, their strong-willed and opinionated natures often led to disagreements.

In 1913, Munro became a member of the American Ornithological Union, and by 1920, assumed the role of Chief Federal Migratory Bird Officer for the four Western Canadian provinces. He held this position until his retirement in 1949, during which period he authored more than 175 publications on the birds of British Columbia.

Over the years, Munro's concern about the human-induced degradation of waterfowl nesting habitats across the province grew steadily. He was deeply trouble by the observed pollution of lakes and streams and was one of the first to draw attention to this issue. His advocacy spurred further field studies investigating the effects of economic expansion and population growth on migratory birds, fish populations, and mammals.

Munro passed away in 1958, and a decade later, the Canadian Government erected a monument commemorating his achievements at Summit Creek, near Creston. This marked the federal government's first acknowledgment of the accomplishments of one of its dedicated conservationists. On the occasion, Ian McTaggart, Dean of Graduate Studies at UBC, remarked Munro “had been the chief spokesman in Western Canada for the cause of migratory birds for 38 years.”

City of Vernon will temporarily release treated wastewater into Okanagan Lake

Treated water to go into lake

The City of Vernon will temporarily be pumping treated wastewater into Okanagan Lake as it works to repair a broken irrigation pipe.

To complete the repair of the pipe in the 500 block of Commonage Road adjacent to Roses Pond, the city’s spray irrigation system must be shut down and water will be temporarily diverted to Okanagan Lake via the deep-lake outfall pipe.

The shut down is expected to take place the week of April 22 and last for approximately one day.

Unique in the Okanagan area, the city typically uses 100 per cent of its high-quality treated wastewater to supply irrigation water to local golf courses, agricultural lands, parks and other properties.

The city also has the ability to divert treated reclaimed water to Okanagan Lake when necessary. When treated water is diverted from the spray irrigation system it enters the Okanagan Lake through a pipe than runs approximately seven km into lake and ends 60 m below the surface.

To ensure that both the land and lake ecosystems are protected, reclaimed water from the Vernon Water Reclamation Centre (VWRC) is treated to high standards, set by the Ministry of Environment, and monitored accordingly.

To learn more about the water reclamation process and spray irrigation in Vernon, visit the city’s website.

To learn more about the irrigation pipe repair currently in progress, click here.

Meeting to be held in Lumby Sunday to organize rally in support of family of slain woman

Seeking justice for Tatjana

Support for a slain North Okanagan woman and her family continues to grow.

On April 13, Tatjana Stefanski was allegedly abducted from her home west of Lumby.

Two days later, it was confirmed her body had been found, sending shockwaves through the community and sparking anger that the suspect in her death was arrested and released.

There has been talk on social media about holding a rally demanding justice for the 44-year-old mother of two. One such event planned for Friday afternoon was cancelled, however talk of holding a rally continues to build.

On Sunday in the Lumby Curling Rink starting at 4 p.m., a "co-ordination meeting" is being held to organize a future event.

A post on the Lumby Rant and Rave Facebook page says attendees can learn how to “use your grief for good” and support Tatjana's family.

Lumby's Okanagan Outpost is selling 'Justice for Tatjana' decals at the store, located at 1960 Vernon St.

The store is donating 100 per cent of the proceeds to Tatjana's family.

A GoFundMe has also been set up to help the family receive things like counselling, therapy, living expenses and lawyers.

Some people have expressed frustration with the RCMP for releasing the prime suspect in the case, but Tatjana's partner, Jason Gaudreault, has defended police and their handling of the situation.

“I would like everyone to please understand that the problem lies at a way higher level than the police. Trust me, they are doing all they can do within laws and regulations. Do not lash out on them. This is about the catch-and-release laws that need to be changed at a way higher level,” Gaudreault wrote on a Facebook post Friday.

On Saturday Gaudreault posted: “Tatjana deserves to be remembered as the case that changes our catch-and-release laws forever. There is no reason anyone should have to live in fear. There are better ways to keep tabs on violent offender crimes. Together let’s make a stand we can make it happen. And lastly please do not blame the police or RCMP they have to follow these laws and honestly have been quite helpful in many ways. Be safe everyone, love each other and let’s all come together.”

Because of concerns for their safety, Gaudreault and Tatjana's two children have vacated their home.

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