Penticton Indian Band has 25 nominees vying for eight band council seats in upcoming election

PIB electing new council

The Penticton Indian Band's election cycle is continuing, with council nominations held Tuesday. 

Twenty-five PIB members' names were put forward, for eight seats on council. 

The nominations follow the election for Chief on Monday night, when incumbent Chief Chad Eneas was replaced by Chief Greg Gabriel. 

Eneas is now one of the 25 running for Council, as well as Tim Lezard, who finished second in Monday's balloting for Chief. 

Five current members of council are seeking re-election: Charlene Roberds, Carlene George, Vivian Lezard, Fred Kruger and Suzanne Johnson. 

The rest of the nominees are as follows: 

  • Tucker ARMSTRONG
  • Julia BARBER 
  • Tracey BONNEAU 
  • Tony ENEAS 
  • Clint GABRIEL 
  • Crystal GABRIEL 
  • Lesley GABRIEL 
  • Kevin GABRIEL 
  • Ernest Michael JACK 
  • Lavern JACK 
  • Victoria JAENIG 
  • Dolly KRUGER 
  • Joe KRUGER 
  • Nicholas KRUGER 
  • Jen LEWIS 
  • Percy LEZARD 
  • Nancy SCHMIDT 

The nomination process was managed by Victoria-based lawyer Marcus Hadley, appointed as a third-party electoral officer. 

Council elections are scheduled for Dec. 7. 


Man allegedly behind shooting in Osoyoos waiting a few more weeks for his bail hearing

Alleged shooter in court

A man facing charges for allegedly shooting another man in Osoyoos is due back in provincial court for a bail hearing in November.

Colton David Thorsen is charged with one count of attempted murder with a firearm, two counts of uttering threats and one count of pointing a firearm.

Thorsen, who is currently in custody, appeared via videoconferencing briefly in provincial court in Penticton Wednesday. The bail hearing was adjourned for four weeks by Judge Michelle Daneliuk to Nov. 18.

On Oct. 11 around 1:26 a.m., Osoyoos and Oliver RCMP responded to a report of a shooting in the 8,000-block of 70th Avenue. Police reported a 24-year-old man from Osoyoos arrived at the residence of a 21-year-old man, also of Osoyoos, and shot him after an ongoing dispute between the two.

The suspect fled the area on foot, police said in a press release two days later, with Sgt. Jason Bayda calling violent crime “rare in Osoyoos.”

There was a significant increase in violent crime seen in Osoyoos, including 12 incidents in the third quarter of 2019 (July to September) up from two incidents in the same quarter in 2018, according to crime stats presented by the RCMP at that time. Osoyoos had a Crime Severity Index rating of 117.2 in 2018, the last year the data was available from Statistics Canada, compared to the B.C. average of 87.67 that year.

The index is a measure of criminal incidents weighted with more serious crimes, taking into account not only the change in volume of a particular crime, but also the relative seriousness of that crime in comparison to other crimes.

Summerland seeking year-round spot for dogs off leash

Pondering place for pooches

The search for a suitable spot for a year-round, fully-fenced, off-leash dog park in Summerland is narrowing down potential sites, and seeking public help with the decision. 

Three locations are currently being explored: 

  • Living Memorial Park (adapting ball diamond #3) 
  • Powell Beach Park (adapting ball diamond) 
  • Summerland Rodeo Grounds 

A year-round spot has been determined by the district to be important for the future of the community, which is home to an estimated 2,000 dogs based on the Canadian average of 41 per cent of households owning a dog. 

The district points to evidence that pets provide health and wellbeing, and dogs in particular increase physical activity and social contact between walkers and their families and neighbours. 

An online Zoom public open house has been scheduled for Oct. 22 at 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to present information about the proposed locations, answer questions and gain community input. Those interested in attending are asked to pre-register through the website.

There will also be a public survey available on the website from Oct. 23 to Nov. 8. 


Snowfall at higher elevations causing trouble on B.C. highways

Hwy 3 open after crash

UPDATE 10:30 a.m.

DriveBC reports traffic on Highway 3 between Garret Rd and Saturday Creek has been restored to single-lane alternating traffic. 

Significant snowfall hit the Crowsnest Highway at the Allison Pass overnight.

ORIGINAL 8:25 a.m.

Rain in the valley means snow at higher elevations Wednesday morning.

Snowfall on Highway 3 about 38 km west of Princeton has caused a semi-tractor-trailer to lose control. It is currently on its side across the highway blocking traffic in both directions.

Snowfall also causing problems in the mountain passes there is snow on the Coquihalla, Allison Pass and the Okanagan Connector Wednesday morning.

Prominent South Okanagan businessmen Singla and Toor made their first appearance in court

Alleged fraudsters in court

Two accused South Okanagan immigration fraudsters had their first appearance in Penticton court via their lawyers on Wednesday morning and will be back on Jan. 6, 2021 for particulars. 

Surinder Paul Singla, founder of Singla Brothers Holdings Ltd. in Penticton and Randhir (Randy) Toor are facing charges for their alleged role in an immigration fraud scheme.

Singla faces 10 charges relating to the period between March 2015 and January 2017.

Toor faces 18 charges for alleged incidents between October 2015 and September 2017, as well as 10 charges of possessing a firearm without a licence and an additional weapons charge. 

Sockeye fish return to Okanagan Lake for the first time in 50 years

Sockeye using their ladder

Casey Richardson

A fish ladder installed in the Penticton dam last year gave sockeye an access point for the first time in 50 years and it’s paying off.

The Okanagan Nation Alliance got 100 fish up into Okanagan Lake and have tagged 30 of them so far.

While the dam was installed too late for any fish to make it through in 2019, this year the salmon were ready to use the ladder. 

“Having a 100 sockeye in there is pretty significant both for science and the symbolism behind it,” Ryan Benson, a Fisheries Biologist with the Okanagan Nation Alliance, said. “Just a trickle trying to get up and over into the dam.” 

“We were going to limit it to 100 sockeye in total and we are going tag them, put in these fluorescent tags on them and put in these transmitters”

The transmitters run all the way up to Vernon to watch how far the sockeye venture now that they’re in Okanagan Lake. 

On top of this success, this year's return for the run is looking to break records, bringing home an estimated 30,000 fish to the area. The previous record was 23,000 Sockeye in 2018.

While the full number won't be determined until November, Benson has high hopes with the counts so far. 

“It was pretty much like a perfect storm, in a good way,” he said. “We had a big run expected to come in and really good river conditions.” 

The high salmon return also came from the hatchery’s strong production back in 2016, following the four year cycle and seeing those fish come back to reproduce.

“We got a lot of hatchery production that year, I think that broke a record, so this is the adults from that year coming back.”

Benson hopes to see the forecast and estimate equations for a breaking year come through, but his team will still be counting and monitoring to get those final numbers.

“The big goal is to basically restore Indigenous fisheries and population to the Syilx, to the Okanagan territory,” Benson said. “Doing the best we can to restore it to historic levels.”

Penticton sees significant property crime change, but top cop says pandemic the cause

Property crime jumps down

Property crime stats are down for the third quarter of 2020 in Penticton, a fact RCMP Supt. Brian Hunter attributes in part to the ongoing pandemic. 

At Tuesday's council meeting, Hunter presented incident numbers for July, August and September, which included a dramatic 26 per cent decrease year-over-year property crime: 1,561 incidents to 1,152.

But Hunter was quick to stave off celebration, a position he has taken in the past when presenting positive trends to council. 

"We’re down 26 per cent from really high numbers,” Hunter explained. “I know there’s a lot of victims out there … it’s not a really good news story for a lot of [community members.]"

Hunter indicated fourth quarter statistics are likely to be telling, as CERB and other pandemic benefit payouts change their terms.

“I think we’re going to find some of our clients don’t have as much money as they did at the beginning of the pandemic," he said. 

Total calls for service year over year are down 13 per cent, from 5,412 in quarter three of 2019 to 4,723 in quarter three of 2020.

While Hunter is happy with that, he also shared another issue plaguing his police. The ongoing pandemic continues to mean that criminals are out on the streets faster, whether it be because the court system is now trending toward immediate bail rather than incarceration or because breaches of probation are not being prosecuted. 

"That’s the bread and butter for policing and crime reduction strategy,” Hunter explained. “That’s one of our biggest tools in managing chronic offenders but it’s definitely the type of offence that we aren’t getting as many charge approvals as we would like.”

He used the example that in recent weeks, Penticton RCMP have made "a lot" of arrests for stolen vehicles and property. 

"They are all back out on the street. And that’s just the capacity of our system, during the pandemic, as you can well imagine is a little bit frustrating."

Coun. Katie Robinson said that at this fall's annual Union of BC Municipalities convention, city council had the chance to ask the attorney general directly about this catch-and-release issue, as they have many times before. 

"I hope they heard us this time. It’s starting to be a yearly refrain from this council that we bring it up with them, but we’ll continue to beat the drum."

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