Climate protesters to gather outside Vernon RBC branch

Climate protest planned

Local organizers plan to join in a national day of action on climate change.

The Vernon Climate Action Group plans to protest outside the Village Green branch of the Royal Bank on Oct. 29.

Organizers say RBC is the largest fossil fuel funder in Canada and has invested more than $208 billion in the fossil fuel industry since the 2016 signing of the Paris Accord.

That agreement established a goal to limit global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celcius.

The group says the bank is also the largest funder of the Alberta oilsands and is helping to bankroll the Coastal Gaslink Pipeline in B.C.

The day of action will see similar events happen across the country.

The climate group says Canadians need to know "the role Canada’s big banks are playing in funding fossil fuel expansion."

?"The goal for our event is simple: tell the truth. We want to let our community know that RBC is funding the climate crisis that ravaged our area this summer," organizers charge.

Protesters are expected to meet at the southeast corner of the mall at 4:20 p.m. before marching to the bank branch.

Among other thing, protesters are seeking RBC and other banks divest from fossil fuel investment.


North Okanagan Hospice Society receives $25,000 donation

$25K donated to hospice

A local donor has given $25,000 to the North Okanagan Hospice Society to put towards programs and services at the facility which provides end-of-life care.

Executive director Lisa Matthews says the unnamed donor has been volunteering with the society since 1998 and has seen the fundraising challenges the organization has experienced over the last two years.

“As a volunteer, I feel part of the team providing support. We all work together to provide the services that these people need,” the donor said in a press release.

She added that volunteering at hospice allows her to do something good for the community and those who are receiving services.

NOHS was incorporated in 1984 as a charitable organization with the purpose of supporting those with a palliative diagnosis, their loved ones, and the bereaved.

Initially formed as a small volunteer organization with a visiting program, the society is recognized as a leader in the development and delivery of comprehensive hospice palliative care.

“The society depends upon dedicated benefactors to help people through one of the most difficult times of life,” says Matthews.

“Gifts, such as the one we have received from this donor, allow us to continue to provide excellence in the delivery of compassionate, hospice palliative care and end-of-life services right here in our community and to help promote public awareness of hospice care.”

Hospice must fundraise approximately $50,000 every month to maintain and deliver its services.

Squires Four owner closes under weight of COVID restrictions, renos planned during closure

Squires closed for renos

UPDATE: 3:15 p.m.

Squires Four Pub owner Vick Singla says, while there will be renovations coming, the main reason he's closed the doors at the Vernon watering hole is restrictive provincial COVID regulations.

"Due to all these restrictions, there is limited traffic coming in the door," he said Wednesday.

"We're trying our best ... there will be renovations, but we want to see what's coming," he said of provincial health orders.

He's hoping that in the new year there will be some loosening of regulations as vaccination numbers increase.

"We're really hoping for 100% seating," he said.

Meanwhile, renovations are still planned, said ownership group spokesperson Tanvi Thakore.

ORIGINAL: 2:45 p.m.

A Vernon watering hole popular since the 1980s has closed for renovations.

A rather ominous sign on the front door at Squires Four Pub, Wednesday, left people wondering what's going on – but ownership group spokesperson Tanvi Thakore says not to worry, Squires will reopen in the new year.

"Pub shut down due to unprecedented reasons," the sign reads.

"We are closed for renovations," Thakore told Castanet.

Work will begin Monday, and "it will be two months at least before we reopen," she added.

The renos will include some remodelling and new furniture at the landmark pub on Stickle Road, across from Swan Lake, at the northern edge of the city.

Meanwhile, the Squires liquor store remains open, and the manager there says the cannabis store will reopen "as soon as the new owners get their distribution licence."

New ownership took over in June, led by Lower Mainland businessman Vick Singla.

"We want to make it more beautiful, we want to add some features in it, we want to do some renovations that's going to give it a little bit more of a contemporary and better look, inside and outside for the audience here,” Singla said at the time.

Teresa Durning, Jamie Morrow add names to list of candidates for vacant Vernon council seat

Morrow to run for council

UPDATED 2:55 p.m.

Jamie Morrow has entered the race for Vernon city council.

Marrow announced Wednesday he is running for the vacant seat in December's byelection.

“I have grown up in Vernon, graduating from Vernon Secondary School. I am also a proud graduate of Okanagan College here in Vernon. I consider myself a lifelong learner and have recently completed my Masters of Business Administration program,” Morrow said on his Facebook page.

“Specifically related to municipal politics, I have previous council experience having served on council in the East Kootenays and was proud to contribute to my community through my position on council. I have over 20 years of business management and leadership experience through my career with a number of diverse businesses including previously owning and operating two businesses in B.C.”

For the past 14 years, Morrow has worked at Okanagan College in the School of Business as an advising and recruitment co-ordinator.

ORIGINAL 10:37 a.m.

Another candidate has entered the quest for a vacant seat on Vernon city council.

Teresa Durning is the latest candidate to announce her candidacy in the December byelection.

In a press release, Durning says she “has a strong business background, is a community volunteer and outdoor enthusiast who has been dedicated to making Vernon a great place to live and work for more than a decade.”

Durning has been nominated for multiple community leadership awards, including the local chamber's Top 20 over 40 and Community Leader of the Year.

She is vice-president of the Greater Vernon 2022 BC Winter Games, a member of the Silver Star Rotary Club, and a board member of the Greater Vernon Art Gallery.

Durning studied business at Thompson Rivers University and holds a national tourism supervisor designation from the National Tourism Human Resource Council of Canada, together with graduating from the digital marketing management program through the University of Toronto.

The public is invited to meet Durning Nov. 2, 4 p.m. at Marten Brewing in downtown Vernon. Current COVID health orders will apply.

Also running for the seat left vacant by the passing of Dalvir Nahal are Erik Olesen, Flora Evans, Arthur (Art) Gourley and Stephanie Hendy.

The cutoff for nominations is 4 p.m. Oct. 29. Dec. 4 is voting day.

Downtown Vernon garbage bin fire quickly extinguished

Garbage fire doused

A garbage bin fire in downtown Vernon was quickly snuffed Wednesday afternoon.

Shortly after 2 p.m., firefighters were called to the corner of 34th Street and 31st Avenue, where a garbage was smouldering.

The incident happened outside the former Kindale/Valley First building across from Surplus Herby's.

The fire, presumably started by discarded smoking material, was doused within minutes and firefighters were on their way.

City of Vernon honours volunteers who helped during White Rock Lake wildfire

Big thanks to volunteers

The City of Vernon honoured its Emergency Support Services volunteers, Wednesday, in the wake of an intense summer wildfire season.

The city held a luncheon at the Schubert Centre to thank the volunteers for their work during the White Rock Lake fire and others during the season.

“On behalf of council, the city and all of our citizens, I would like to thank the many volunteers who worked with us during this past wildfire season,” said Mayor Victor Cumming.

“Citizens rallied together during this emergency and gave generously of their time, compassion and personal skills, to work in the reception centre and provide ESS to evacuees from neighbouring communities. We all benefit when the community comes together and looks after one another during disasters. I could not be prouder.”

Dignitaries from the City of Vernon, Regional District of North Okanagan, Township of Spallumcheen and Thompson-Nicola Regional District attended to recognize the volunteers and the work they performed at the Dogwood Gym Reception Centre during the fires.

Over the course of 40 continuous days of centre operations, 169 volunteers contributed more than 6,000 hours of work, registered almost 3,000 evacuees from numerous jurisdictions, and provided evacuees with more than 10,000 referrals.

“Emergency Support Services is called the heart of emergency response,” said Fire Chief David Lind. “The work is delivered with compassion and empathy, primarily by civic-minded volunteers who come forward to help their neighbours in a time of need.”

Volunteers from the Canadian Red Cross, SPCA, Salvation Army and other non-government organizations also supported the White Rock Lake wildfire response.

Semi crash near Salmon River Road on Highway 97 north of Vernon

Semi tips in Hwy 97 crash

UPDATE: 1:30 p.m.

A crash north of Vernon on Highway 97 involves a semi on its side in the ditch near Salmon River Road.

The truck was hauling hay and appears to have lost at least part of its load.

Traffic is moving around the incident.

Police and firefighters are on scene.

It's unclear at this time what caused the accident.

ORIGINAL: 12:50 a.m.

A collision north of Vernon is impacting traffic on Highway 97 near Yankee Flats.

A semi has reportedly rolled near Salmon River Road.

DriveBC reports the incident between Salmon River Road and Whispering Pines, about 16 kilometres east of Falkland.

A scene assessment in progress.

Drivers are advised to watch for traffic control.

Castanet has a reporter headed to the scene.

Study funded to examine North Westside governance

Governance study funded

The provincial government has provided a $60,000 grant for a study on governance and services on the North Westside of the Central Okanagan Regional District.

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne says the grant will assist the RDCO over the next year and engage with residents to understand their concerns and interests about governance.

RDCO Board Chair Gail Given says while this is not an incorporation study, it will build on the findings of the work done in a previous study in 2017.

“This funding will help clarify governance roles and responsibilities and to address the awareness, education and misinformation issues that surfaced during the work of the North Westside Services and Issues Review. We look forward to developing some realistic options to address the issues and concerns raised and to improve the flow of information and understanding between the RDCO and residents.”

Some residents of the North Westside, including the communities in and around Killiney Beach, Fintry and La Casa, have been disillusioned with the RDCO and have made calls to incorporate into a distinct municipality. A formal study into the idea, which is challenged by the lack of commercial tax bases in the area, has never gotten off the ground.

A terms of reference for the new study will be confirmed, including the formation of a seven-to-12-member study committee, approved by the regional board and comprised of residents endorsed by Central Okanagan West Electoral Area Director Wayne Carson.

"This work will provide the information requested by this community to evaluate governance options and to understand the concerns and interests of the North Westside through an independent study. I look forward to getting this study underway so that we can receive the answers we have all been waiting for," Carson said.

Greater Vernon Chamber calls for equality on regional capacity limits

Lift limits, says chamber

The Greater Vernon Chamber is calling for equality on capacity limits under COVID-19 restrictions.

An inconsistent approach to pandemic measures and vaccinations across B.C. is negatively impacting North Okanagan businesses, the chamber says.

Capacity limits for indoor sporting events, concerts and theatres are limited to 50% by Interior Health, despite limits being lifted in other parts of B.C. with proof of double vaccination.

“We are extremely concerned about the disparities between regions, and we are calling on MLA Harwinder Sandhu and Health Minister Adrian Dix to take steps that ensure public health while allowing economic recovery to continue,” chamber president Robin Cardew said in a press release Wednesday.

“We appreciate that Interior Health’s protocols are based on low vaccination rates in the Interior and the potential spread of COVID, but the same situation exists in other health regions. If patrons to an event must be double-vaccinated and wear a mask, all communities in B.C. should be treated equitably when it comes to capacity. At a minimum, Interior Health and the government need to provide a benchmark so businesses know what level of cases must be reached before capacity limits shift.”

IH was expected to provide an update on capacity limits Oct. 22, but so far has not updated the policy.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry indicated Tuesday that a decision on Interior Health capacity limits could occur within the week.

“How is someone attending a Vernon Vipers game or a concert at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre more at risk than someone pursuing those activities in Vancouver or Victoria if they all wear masks and show their vaccination passports?” says Cardew.

“Business owners and non-profits have taken significant measures to provide a safe environment for their patrons and staff, while navigating the financial challenges COVID-19 has created since spring 2020. They require a consistent set of rules and not a patchwork of protocols based on lines on a map. We would urge business owners and residents to contact the provincial government to express concerns about the two-tiered restrictions in B.C. and insist that recovery for all regions must be a priority.”

Thief caught on camera stealing gas from FortisBC work trucks on in the Commonage Road

Thief swipes Fortis fuel

Video surveillance in the Commonage Road area caught an individual stealing diesel from FortisBC vehicles.

Fortis trucks have been parked along Carr’s Landing Road in Lake Country while they continue working on extending a new gas line between Kelowna and Vernon.

The resident whose cameras captured the incident says Fortis approached him, stating they were confused about why their trucks were empty when they arrived at the site in the morning.

The resident agreed to go through his security footage and found images showing a person pull up to the side of the road on Oct. 24 at 9 p.m. in a white pickup.

The person can be seen turning the vehicle off and turning the lights on. They can also be seen tucking behind the truck anytime a vehicle would drive by.

The Fortis trucks are out of frame in the video, however, the suspect can be seen filling up their gas tank from a jerry can after presumably syphoning fuel from the work vehicles.

The video shows the individual walk out of frame and return, appearing to be holding something and bringing it to their truck.

At one point, the individual appears to load two items into the flatbed of the pickup.

The individual can be seen returning around 12:30 a.m. Monday, however the video does not show anything beyond them parking at the same spot as the time before.

FortisBC spokesperson Nicole Brown says the utility has been made aware of the situation and will be filing a report to RCMP, along with the video footage.

“Our first priority is safety and making sure the equipment is working properly,” says Brown.

She said Fortis plans to look into increasing security in the area while crews continue the work on the gas line.

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