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Penticton  

City keeping an eye on public in outdoor spaces

Keeping on eye on facilities

With restrictions being lifted, the City of Pentiction is reminding visitors of parks, beaches and outdoor facilities to be aware of COVID-19 safety measures. 

The Emergency Operations Centre says they will be monitoring outdoor spaces to assess whether the public is abiding by the guidelines. 

“We applaud those many groups who have found creative ways to socialize outdoors while maintaining physical distancing,” said Bregje Kozak, EOC deputy director and the City’s director of recreation & facilities. 

“However, we have also seen instances of people not abiding by the restrictions, particularly at some outdoor recreation sites. We will continue to assess these locations and encourage everyone to pay attention to the posted signage.”

While visiting a park or beach:

  • Ensure gatherings are small, with no congregating between groups. 
  • Keep your distance of at least two metres from others, including in parking lots.
  • Wash or sanitize hands frequently and upon returning home. 
  • Please dispose of any garbage or recycling in the bins provided.

While using an outdoor recreation facility, in addition to the above: 

  • Stay two metres apart from other players at all times. 
  • Limit play to single or doubles with partners from the same household.
  • Clearly mark your balls and refrain from picking up others.
  • Do not share racquets or other equipment.

“The threat of COVID-19 is not over, and it’s important we continue to follow these safety measures,” said Penticton Mayor, John Vassilaki.

“For example, when you’re walking along the boardwalks, please remember to be respectful of others and move into single file if necessary. Thank you for showing your consideration for others and let’s continue to be safe.”



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Penticton courts stir back to life with one of BC's first live trials after pandemic shutdown

Courthouse stirs back to life

The Penticton courthouse partially opened its doors Monday for the first time in months.

While the registry remains closed, judges are back on the bench. Courtroom 201 is hosting one of the province’s very first in-person trials since the shutdown back in March — a continuation of the Supreme Court trial of Cheryl Lynn Aeichele and Elkena Michael Knauff, who are charged on a three-count indictment for possession of methamphetamine, cocaine and fentanyl for the purpose of trafficking.

While the courtroom is open to the public, there is a limit of six people in the gallery. 

A judge is also hearing criminal matters in provincial court in Penticton, but that courtroom remains closed to the general public for the time being, according to sheriffs. Washrooms at the courthouse are open. 

The B.C. The Supreme Court has already announced plans to resume some regular operations, with the trial in Penticton surviving as a test for the system. 

The provincial court system continues to rely primarily on teleconferences and video appearances. Criminal lawyers in B.C. have called on the system to start to open up and clear a the large backlog of cases caused by the COVID-19 shutdown.



Penticton restaurants thrilled to reopen their dining rooms

Restaurants thrilled to open

“Be A Tourist in Your Own Town” is a 10-part collaboration between Castanet and Travel Penticton, highlighting ways to enjoy the city. Watch for it every Monday morning.

Theo’s Restaurant is one of Penticton’s most iconic dining rooms. The Greek restaurant on Main Street was also one of the first wave of restaurants to re-open for “safe distancing dining” on Friday, May 22.

“It was a good night,” said owner Gregory Condonopoulos on Saturday. “One of our first customers were Austin and Katie. They joined us the last night before restaurants were shut down and the first night we re-opened. We also had a couple who chose to have their 10th anniversary with us.”

With 8,000 square feet, Theo’s is one of the largest restaurants in Penticton. That extra square footage helped make sure customers could enjoy their experience with tables at least six feet apart and staff trained to provide a safe dining experience, said Gregory.

“The team has been working hard to re-organize and prepare for safe distancing dine-in. We are going the extra mile to make sure it’s done right for you and your family,” Gregory added. They had specially made distancing stickers for the front entrance.

“We have nothing on the tables and food is delivered to the tables on banquet trays for guests to pick up themselves. We have one way in and one way out. We are following all the rules while still trying to create a nice dining experience.”

Gregory opened the upstairs on Saturday and belly dancing will be back next weekend. Plans are in the works to eventually throw a re-opening party with all the fun Greek traditions including Greek dancing, plate breaking and a whole lamb cooked on a spit.

Theo’s has been in Penticton since the 1970s and has a loyal and growing following. When the restaurant closed for COVID-19, they continued to do take-out. While slow to start, Theo’s quickly became a hot spot for locals to get takeout.

“We have a sustainable takeout business now and we will hopefully maintain that. A lot of our senior customers are choosing takeout over dining in,” he said.

Gregory wanted to express his gratitude to the community for supporting Theo’s through all of this.

“Business was down 70 per cent when we closed and now with the social distancing protocols we still won’t be anywhere near back to full again but it’s still so nice to see everyone supporting us and to see diners face-to-face again. Thank you.”

The team at Cannery Brewery is also humbled by the community’s support.

“The support that we have had from the Penticton area community has been nothing short of astounding,” said Cannery Brewery owner Patt Dyck.

“To the liquor stores selling our packaged beer, to the local restaurants offering beer to go with their food, and to the people coming to the brewery, we say thank you! We are beyond grateful for the outstanding support that we have had from this incredible community.”

It's been more than 10 weeks since breweries had to shut down their tap rooms to the public.

“We quickly pivoted our business, launching an online store on our website, offering touch free, curbside pick up options, and beer to go sales. Through it all, our amazing brew crew has continued to brew beer,” said Patt.

But through it all, it’s the people they have missed the most and Patt can’t wait to see everyone again. The tap room and existing patio will reopen within the next week or two.

“We will re-open our tap room with reduced capacity, smaller groups with a maximum of six people per table, and enhanced cleaning and sanitization protocols.”

In January, the city of Penticton approved a new, larger patio on the north side of the brewery.

“We are still working on plans for the new patio area. An opening date in the summer is our current hope,” said Patt. In the meantime, staff are excited to get the tap room open.

“The Cannery Brewing Dream Team can’t wait to welcome everyone back. Nachos and beer on the patio with our dear friends is what we have been longing for indeed.”

Poplar Grove Winery and restaurant is also eager to welcome guests back onto their patio overlooking Okanagan Lake.

“The focus for now is to re-open the restaurant and be able to host our guests on our beautiful patio,” said Poplar Grove food and beverage manager Michael Ziff.

Stay tuned for when the tasting room and restaurant open again.

When everyone was forced to shut down because of the pandemic, the team at Poplar Grove came together.

“We were able to pivot quickly and adapt to the situation by offering takeout food while continuing to sell wine out of the tasting room,” said Micheal.

Being able to offer something to the community felt good, he added. The take home DIY dinners were popular, he said.

“The roast dinner and BBQ packs were an instant success. They were designed to require a bit of work but easily executed for a delicious dinner,” Michael said. “People have actually expressed a wish for us to continue with takeout but our focus right now is to re-open the restaurant.”





$600K community fund for local charities

Funds for local charities

The First West Foundation and Valley First have launched a $600,000 fund for struggling charities in regions they serve, including $183,000 in the Okanagan, Similkameen and Thompson valleys. 

In a press release, the organization noted that the pandemic has been challenging for charitable organizations, with increased demands for services but also a lack of resources.

“These organizations urgently need funds to deliver their programs and services to the community's most vulnerable during the very difficult circumstances the pandemic has created,” said Richard Hill, chair of the First West Foundation board of directors. "Our mission is to help them do what they do best.”

Registered charities focused on addressing food security and basic needs for youth, families and seniors impacted by COVID-19 are eligible to apply

“Typically, granting applications require detailed information to qualify and then the funds may take several months to be distributed,” said Susan Byrom, executive director of the First West Foundation.

“We know the need in our communities is urgent so we’ve set up these funds as low-barrier—meaning the application process is fast and simple and funding will be disbursed quickly to address this need.”

$500,000 of the total will go to charities focused on food security and basic needs support for youth, families and seniors, and $10,000 will be parcelled out in $500 grants to charities that complete a profile on Do Some Good here.

In the region Valley First serves, the First West Foundation is distributing $115,000 in community response funding and $23,000 in Community Help Fund grants through the Valley First Community Endowment.


Applications are now being accepted. Charities can request any amount but may not receive all the funding requested. A small committee will review grant applications and make funding recommendations.



Reported closure on Highway 3A outside Keremeos

Single lane on Hwy 3A

UPDATE: 9:35 p.m.

Traffic is now single-lane alternating. 

DriveBC says to expect delays. 


UPDATE: 6:15 p.m.

DriveBC says Highway 3A is closed due to hazardous materials cleanup between Keremeos and the junction of Highway 3 due to a ruptured gas main. 

They say major delays are expected.

Detour via 97 S to Osoyoos and Highway 3 to Keremeos.

Another update is expected at 9 p.m.


ORIGINAL: 5:15 p.m.

A Castanet reader is reporting that Highway 3A near Keremeos is closed in both directions. 

The reader reports that RCMP are on scene and says the cause was a gas line being hit. According to him, fire crews have said the closure could be a few hours.  

DriveBC has received similar reports of a closure on the highway near Barcello Road, between Keremeos and Olalla. 

"Consider taking an alternate route," DriveBC wrote on Twitter. 

Castanet will have more information when it is available. 



Penticton childcare centre gets donation for new playground

Boost for new playground

Penticton's Two Peas in a Pod childcare centre got a boost this week thanks to a nomination from a local bank. 

Robert Van Alphen with the Penticton TD Canada Trust brach nominated the centre for the financial insitutiion's annual TD Play grant program that supports youth activities. 

"Because childcare services have been open throughout this pandemic I nominated Two Peas in a Pod," Van Alphen explained. 

The centre received a $1,000 donation. They plan to use it to purchase outdoor play equipment for the kids. 



Injured mountain biker airlifted from Penticton trail system

Biker airlifted from trails

A mountain biker was airlifted from Penticton's Naramata region Saturday morning.

Late Saturday morning, the Penticton Fire Department responded to the Three Blind Mice trail system, before calling in the Penticton Search and Rescue helicopter team.

The biker was safely lifted out of the region, and transferred to hospital, where the person is now recovering. The extent of the biker's injuries was not disclosed.

PENSAR's Randy Brown said this is the second time this week that a mountain biker has had to be rescued by helicopter from the Three Blind Mice trail system. In the past week, PENSAR has deployed resources into the backcountry four times.

“As the weather warms up and COVID restrictions start to ease, the amount of activity into the backcountry has started to increase,” Brown said.

“PENSAR cannot stress enough to those who venture into the backroads, to be prepared. Plan your route and don’t exceed the expectations of your vehicle or your own personal experience, and inform others where you are going.”



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