Rivers Trail joy ride on stolen dirt bike ends in arrest

Dirt bike joy rider arrested

A dirt bike stolen from a Sahali property in June was recovered last weekend after Mounties received a report of someone out for a joy ride on Rivers Trail.

Police said they received the report just after 9:30 a.m. on Saturday. A short time later, Mounties recovered the dirt bike in the Schubert Drive area.

According to police, the driver of the dirt bike was arrested for offences including prohibited driving and possession of stolen property.

Mounties said the bike was returned to its rightful owner.

Anyone with information about the theft can call police at 250-828-3000 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.


Kamloops teacher recognized with award from Canadian government

Local teacher wins award

A Kamloops educator has earned a national award for teaching excellence.

Brandon Bell, a teacher at Marion Schilling elementary, was announced as one of 25 teachers across Canada awarded the 2022 certificate of achievement from the Government of Canada.

According to a bio included in the list of winners, it would be an understatement to describe Bell's classroom as dynamic.

“He continuously varies his class activities and his methods — employing many software programs, getting students up on their feet voting on answers, going outside for ‘real life’ math or simply having a class discussion,” the government website said.

“These different approaches capture students' imagination and keep the classroom a fun and lively learning environment.”

Bell said the news of his achievement is only slowly sinking in.

“Talking to my wife and family and stuff like that — this is kind of a big deal,” Bell told Castanet Kamloops.

“It feels pretty good. It's like, I love what I do and it's nice to get recognized. But that's not why I do it.”

A full list of recipients of the 2022 Teaching Excellence awards can be found here.

Pelley promoted from within, named new officer in charge of Kamloops RCMP

New police chief named

A new officer in charge has been named for the Kamloops RCMP detachment — and they didn't have to look far to find him.

In a news release, the City of Kamloops said Insp. Jeff Pelley has been selected through an interview process to step into the role that has been held for the past four years by outgoing Supt. Syd Lecky. Pelley has been operations officer at the Kamloops detachment since April of 2021.

Lecky will be leaving the local detachment to take on a new role as commander of the national police force in the Northwest Territories.

In a news release from the City of Kamloops, Mayor Ken Christian said as chief of police, Pelley will build on Lecky’s legacy “with a strong focus on evidence and community-based policing.”

“Jeff has extensive general duty experience, strong leadership skills and a capacity to triage serious incidents,” Christian said.

“From gangs and drugs to domestic and mental health concerns, Jeff will lead from the front and is committed to calming the streets and making Kamloops a safer city.”

Pelley was chosen after a selection and interview process involving the mayor, city CAO David Trawin, and the Southeast District RCMP.

The city’s statement said Pelley grew up near Kamloops and has 23 years of experience working in various roles within the RCMP.

Throughout his career, Pelley worked in Kamloops, Prince Rupert, Kelowna, 100 Mile House, New Hazelton, North District and Williams Lake, with experience in frontline operations and serious crime.

Pelley has also held roles as watch commander and detachment commander, and has worked with Indigenous communities throughout his career.

According to the city, Pelley has been recognized throughout his career for resolution skills, strategic planning and enforcement strategies involving gang and offender violence.

Pelley said in a statement he is thankful to be selected as commander for the Kamloops detachment.

“I look forward to building on the current successes of all the women and men and to making our community safer, as it is an amazing place to work and live,” Pelley said.

“My family and I are ecstatic that we were able to return to Kamloops last year after being posted here in 2003 as a frontline constable. I am alive to the community issues and commend our employees on their dedication and tenacity over the past year.”

Supt. Syd Lecky offered his congratulations to Pelley in a statement.

He said Pelley “seamlessly transitioned” into the role of operations officer last year, demonstrating leadership, professionalism and community engagement.

“Jeff is definitely qualified and also a great person," he said. "My sincere congratulations to Jeff who is best positioned to address the policing challenges in our community.”

According to the city, a plan will be developed to ensure a smooth transition within the next few weeks.

Once Pelley assumes the role and responsibilities, he will be formally promoted to the rank of superintendent.


Applications for 2023 Social and Community Development grants now open

City invites grant applicants

Non-profit organizations and societies in the Tournament Capital are invited to submit applications to the City of Kamloops to receive funding through 2023 Social and Community Development Grants.

In a news release, the city said applicants can apply for funding up to $30,000 which can cover operational costs, a special project, special capital expenditures or one-year seed money for a social enterprise initiative.

According to the city, money is available for projects that align with council’s goal of livability, or address priorities laid out in the Kamloops Social Plan — a document laying out the city’s goals to address resident wellbeing, including topics like childcare, food security, substance use and homelessness.

“Projects will be evaluated and awarded based on the quality of application and benefit to the community,” the city said.

The city said applicants will also need to demonstrate how projects will strengthen community wellbeing, address social and community issues, improve agency capacity to meet a social need, and promote cultural understanding.

Projects and initiatives receiving grant funding will need to happen within Kamloops.

According to the city, the grant application process is electronic, and application materials can be found on the city’s Grants and Funding webpage. Applications will need to be submitted by Nov. 7 at midnight.

Applicants will hear about the status of their grant funding in late December, with results being made public in January.

Details about how previous grant funds have been used are available on the City of Kamloops website.

Mounties investigate late-night fire in abandoned building on former car lot

Police probe suspicious fire

Police are investigating a suspicious late-night fire in an abandoned building on a former North Shore car lot.

Emergency crews were called to an address in the 100-block of Tranquille Road at about 1:45 a.m. on Monday for a report of a fire.

According to police, Mounties contained the area and evacuated a nearby home as Kamloops Fire Rescue crews fought the fire.

“No one was located in or around the building,” RCMP Cpl. Crystal Evelyn said in a news release.

The building that burned Monday is located on the former Red Sea Auto lot, very close to the site of another recent suspicious fire. On Feb. 4, crews made quick work of a blaze at the same address. In that case, a different building was completely destroyed by fire.

Anyone with information about the blaze can call police at 250-828-3000 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

Mayoral hopefuls debate crime, homelessness at well-attended Tuesday night forum

Candidates spar over crime

Kamloops mayoral candidates sparred over questions related to tackling crime, substance use and restoring a sense of community safety in a debate Tuesday night at Thompson Rivers University’s Grand Hall.

The moderated debate was co-hosted by CFJC and the Kamloops and District Chamber of Commerce. It was attended by all five mayoral candidates and about 150 members of the public.

Moderator James Peters, assistant news director at CFJC, asked mayoral candidates a number of prepared questions submitted by the chamber and other groups before opening up the mic to audience questions.

One attendee asked candidates what they will do to make community members feel safe.

Sadie Hunter said feelings of fear and frustration are valid, but a community conversation around solutions needs to start from a place of compassion.

Hunter noted the complexity of solving an issue rooted in untreated mental health conditions, substance use and a lack of housing, and said the city needs to continue to be loud to lobby for healthcare-based solutions.

“The answer to how to solve it is not straightforward. And if someone does give you a platitude and say that they have a straightforward answer with a stroke of a pen — build a facility, move people out to whatever — they’re lying to you. Because that’s not feasible or logical,” Hunter said.

Reid Hamer-Jackson, who has called for a recovery centre to be built in the city, said people using substances “want to get better.” Hamer-Jackson said he first posed the idea of a recovery centre four years ago to someone at the city who said it was a great idea.

“I never knew that it was illegal to try to get off drugs and into recovery through recovery centres,” Hamer-Jackson said.

Ray Dhaliwal brought up a recent conversation he had talking with students who said they feel unsafe at the North Shore bus loop, noting the youth came up with great ideas.

He said there needs to be more patrols — “foot patrols, bike patrols, horseback even if we can.”

“The first step is to get more boots on the ground, have a CSO [community service officer], a bylaw officer, at the bus loop 24 hours, as long as the buses are running to make sure that the people that are using those loops are safe and not harassed all the time,” Dhaliwal said.

Hunter responded to both Dhaliwal and Hamer-Jackson’s responses. Hunter said she has lost friends to substance use, and added treatment for substance use is valuable, but people can’t be forced into treatment.

“It sounds great — we’ll build a facility. But where's the money coming from? We just had a conversation about tax rates. You can't pay for that without raising taxes or forgoing other services,” Hunter said.

“A 24/7 CSO, that is in our plan. But we need more people to apply and be a CSO. So if you know some people, Ray, I’m sure they would love to have them.”

Hamer-Jackson replied, saying he thought a specific source of grant funding from the province could help support such a facility.

Dhaliwal responded by saying bylaw officers left when the city transitioned to the community services model, and noted that decision is currently going through arbitration.

“We would have those people in place if the bylaws were still in place,” Dhaliwal said.

Another attendee asked candidates for their “best outside-the-box idea” to help with homelessness, theft, vandalism and substance use.

Dieter Dudy said the city needs a complex care facility and a way to handle prolific offenders, noting in the early 1980s, the provincial government closed down facilities and released people into communities without giving them the necessary support services.

“If you look at the whole homelessness situation, there's only about 10 to 15 per cent of them that are creating the issues that we have today," he said.

"They're responsible for 90 per cent of the crime. We need to find a way to house them and give them the care that they desperately need."

Arjun Singh said he is advocating for funding more outreach workers as part of his platform.

A woman who identified herself as a registered psychiatric nurse spoke up, saying she is trained to educate and work with communities on issues of homelessness and stigma around addictions.

She decried “disinformation” coming from some who are running for council and for mayor, saying that organizations who are there to help have been denied funding from “particular council members who now say that they want more of these people out there.”

“You're saying that you want to talk to professionals, but the information that you're giving is not valid. Please tell me, when are you going to work with us? Because we want desperately to work with you,” she said, backed by applause from the audience.

“As your mayor, I will reach out to you,” Dhaliwal said, noting his mother has been in the medical field for years.

Singh said it’s best practice to talk to the experts.

“We have to work together and we have to stay in relationships — very, very key thing. So I am committed to that,” Singh said.

Hamer-Jackson said he had already reached out to professionals and recovery societies, and Hunter said she wants to hold a forum so community members can hear from subject matter experts on issues related to mental health and addictions.

Dudy thanked the woman for her “thoughtful and impassioned plea” and noted that council has been trying to find answers but has hit roadblocks.

“It's unfortunate when you sit there and speak to a minister and that person just goes in circles," he said.

"I have said earlier that the time for asking is over and the time for demanding is here and we need to be the thorn in the side. It's not the answer you need right now, the answer you need right now is what can we do immediately to help but I think we're taking the steps forward.”

Another all-candidates forum, this one featuring mayoral candidates and council hopefuls, will run Wednesday night at TRU's Grand Hall, starting at 7 p.m. The event, which is free to attend, is being put on by Kamloops This Week, Radio NL and CBC Kamloops.

WCT kicks off season with ghostly thriller inspired by true events

Ghostly thriller starts season

Sydney Chisholm

Western Canada theatre is kicking off its new season with an original script and a whole bunch of special effects.

Sleight of Mind is a new ghostly thriller inspired by the true story of the most documented paranormal psychic in history.

“I guess the best way to describe it as a psychological thriller,” Jamie Williams, who plays Dr. Harry Price in the show, told Castanet Kamloops.

“But it centres around a psychic medium, Rudy Schneider, and a doctor from London, Dr. Harry Price who I play, who is determined to legitimize the science of psychical research.”

Valeria Ascolese, the actor who portrays Lola Montez said this will be her very first time playing a ghost on stage — and with the role came new challenges.

“There's been a lot of physical discovery as to how I move and how we exist in this play,” Ascolese said.

“As somebody who's there, but not really there. Somebody who's in somebody's mind, but not fully a physical embodiment. So it's been fascinating to play with the movement.”

According to Ascolese, though it’s a ghostly thriller, it's about more than just the paranormal.

“It's a show about power and obsession and love and passion,” she said,

“And it's kind of embedded with this general theme of being a thriller.”

Because this will be the world premiere of the play, Williams said the rehearsal process is a little different than preparing for a theatre classic.

“It's always exciting to be involved in a new play in particular, because of the whole process — you're discovering things for the first time and shaping the way a play will be developed in the future,” Williams explained.

In order to portray the paranormal events, special effects will play a big part in the new show.

“I mean, there's like a bit of theatre magic to really sort of raise the pulse of the audience and get them on the edge of their seats,” Williams said.

Ascolese said this will also be her first time working with special effects.

“It's like an art of its own,” the actor said.

“So it's fascinating to see how special effects— how much they change the story, but also how much more work actors have to do when when those are involved.”

Sleight of Mind runs Oct. 13 to Oct. 22 at the Sagebrush Theatre, located at 1300 9th Ave.

For more information or to purchase tickets, click here.

Crown closes case in trial of pipeline protesters accused of violating Trans Mountain injunction

Will TMX protesters testify?

Trans Mountain crews were undertaking “very critical” work the day a group of anti-pipeline protesters disrupted construction along Mission Flats Road two years ago, a judge has been told.

The Crown closed its case Tuesday afternoon in the criminal contempt trial of four protesters accused of storming a Trans Mountain worksite on Oct. 15, 2020, in violation of an injunction put in place two years earlier.

The B.C. Supreme Court trial of April Thomas, Henry Sauls, Romily Cavanaugh and Jocelyn Pierre began on Monday. Cavanaugh is accused of using a zip tie to attach herself to a gate and Pierre is accused of using a zip tie to attach herself to a bulldozer.

Court has viewed three videos depicting the events of the day — one filmed by an RCMP constable’s body cam and two others shot by someone affiliated with the group of protesters and streamed at the time on Facebook Live.

Each of the videos depicts a chaotic scene with lots of yelling and screaming from the protesters as they were removed from the site by police.

In cross-examining the Crown’s witnesses, the accused have maintained the force used by Mounties was excessive and unnecessary. Officers in the videos appear measured while dealing with the protesters, who were carried from the work site to RCMP vehicles.

The final Crown witness on Tuesday was Karen Delorey, a former high-ranking RCMP officer who now works as an assistant regional security manager for Trans Mountain.

Delorey said crews were undertaking important work when the protesters arrived at the work site. She was called to the scene by security guards and arrived before Mounties.

“We had been, and in the weeks leading up to that as well, we had been doing some very critical drilling under the Thompson River,” she said.

“And during that period of time we had a number of protest activities that were happening.”

Each of the accused is self-represented, which has made for a bumpy process in court.

Thomas and Cavanaugh have been reprimanded by B.C. Supreme Court Justice Shelley Fitzpatrick for asking irrelevant and improper questions of Crown witnesses, including personal questions and at least one about the “nationality” of a constable of South Asian descent.

On Tuesday, court was told the Crown disclosure belonging to all of the accused recently went missing. Thomas said she had been storing the documents in a box that she can no longer find. She suggested the box might have been stolen.

“I just assumed it would pop up and it hasn’t,” she said.

Fitzpatrick ordered the trial to continue in the absence of the disclosure.

“They are the authors of their own difficulties, if this is going to pose a difficulty here,” she said.

The four accused are slated to open their case on Wednesday morning. It's not yet known whether they will call any evidence, but they have indicated that they plan to.

The trial is scheduled to conclude on Friday.

School District 73 trustee candidate profile: Jimmy Johal

Meet Jimmy Johal

Castanet Kamloops is going to help you get to know the candidates running for Kamloops school trustee seats over the next few weeks. Every morning starting Oct. 1, we will be posting a Q&A from one of the candidates running for the board of education in the Oct. 15 local general election. All trustee candidates were asked the same questions, and their answers, submitted to Castanet by email, are published in full.

Castanet Kamloops: Why do you think you would be a good trustee for SD73? What unique perspective, skills or vision do you bring to the table?

Jimmy Johal: I’m running for school trustee to find a meaningful way to give back to my community in an area that means a lot to me.

I was born in Kamloops at RIH [Royal Inland Hospital] and completed K-12 in this district. Now my son is attending school here, too.

The education system is placing a high value on topics such as reconciliation, inclusion and diversity. It means we have to outwardly reflect these ideals starting at the board level.

I studied financial management majoring in accounting. I am a small business owner and licensed builder. I bring a unique skill set for this role. Perhaps most importantly, I have the time to devote to the board. My businesses are running well. I have the right people in place, which frees me up to network and build up the strong partnerships so that together our voices make more of an impact. We need to be seen and heard. I want to devote a good chunk of my time and make sure Kamloops secures the funding it deserves. Our new schools must get the shovels in the ground sooner or else this will keep getting pushed back for years. It is an urgent matter.

What is your vision for the school district? If you are elected, what might look different four years from now?

Johal: This is my vision:

1) Prioritizing student learning and well-being. Every child deserves a quality education. This includes feeling safe and included, and having access to programs and services that will support them.

2) Expanding community partnerships. Schools, families and communities should work together to enhance learning and we need to strengthen and support these collaborative efforts.

3) Building schools and other safe spaces for learning. Kamloops’ student population is growing, and our schools are overcrowded. We need to continue budgeting and advocating for funds to build new schools and renovate older schools.

5) Giving families and educators a voice. I will work with and for students, parents, teachers and support staff to amplify the voices that need to be heard.

In four years from now, I want to see new schools built, and more funding for additional new school builds, plus a far more diverse, inclusive and equitable education system that works for every student and staff. And I want to see all of those who graduated from high school this year living happy, healthy, productive and satisfying lives.

Aside from capital projects, how do you think the district should deal with growing enrolment?

Johal: With growing enrolment, we’ll need to continue managing our spaces and resources as efficiently and creatively as possible. Overcrowding is the number one concern in our schools right now, and we can’t let that affect the education and well-being of our students. Schools were designed for a certain number of students – the gyms, the libraries, the fields, the hallways – and we can’t just keep adding portables to the school grounds forever. Building and renovating new schools is now an urgent matter.

Kamloops is a growing school district. With this growth comes more diversity. This means we will have to continue focusing on policies and programs that are more inclusive and equitable, including reconciliation efforts, so that every child has the supports they need to succeed.

Also with this growth, we will need more teachers, support staff, and educational assistants, etc. This means we must not only recruit these great people that prepare our children for life, but also retain them. Recruiting and retention policies and programs will need strengthening.

In your opinion, what are the top priorities right now for SD73?

Johal: The most urgent issue is we need more schools. Our schools are overcrowded. Currently, there are enough portables on school grounds to fill more than three schools. Additionally, our district is currently growing at a pace where we need one new school per year.

How can we get more schools? We need to expand on our partnerships so that we can present a united voice when we lobby the province for more funding. If elected, I will be devoting a significant amount of my time to creating and strengthening these relationships so we can amplify our message and get new schools built.

In the meantime, we need to continue delivering a high-quality education to our students. This includes their social, physical, mental and emotional well-being, as well as that of the staff. Equity, inclusion, and reconciliation efforts need to continue. Wrap-around support services need to be available for children that need them, and early childhood education (daycares) need to be added to our schools.

The SD73 area has felt the impacts of climate change in recent years. What steps do you think the board could take to foster climate resilience?

Johal: The board needs to take an all-encompassing approach towards climate resilience. This means it must be 100 per cent part of the school district culture — every student, every staff member, every school, every department. Climate resilience needs to be considered in every decision.

We need to continuously improve our recycling, waste reduction, and composting strategies until we achieve zero waste. And we need to keep teaching this to our students and their families.

Our asset management processes need to factor in climate resilience into every decision. From purchasing and operating school buses and vehicles, to choosing materials for buildings, to landscaping fields, to facility maintenance procedures, and the list goes on and on. Every decision needs to incorporate sustainable practices to achieve a net zero school district.

Visit Castanet's Kamloops Votes page to find profiles for Kamloops SD73 trustee candidates along with links to candidates' websites and social media accounts if available.

City of Kamloops councillor candidate profile: Bonnie Cleland

Get to know Bonnie Cleland

Castanet Kamloops is going to help you get to know the candidates running for city councillor over the next few weeks. Every weekday morning starting on Sept. 12, we will be posting a Q&A for each hopeful running for Kamloops council in the Oct. 15 local general election. All council candidates will be asked the same questions, and their answers, submitted to Castanet by email, are published in full.

Castanet Kamloops: Why do you think you would be a good councillor for the City of Kamloops? What unique perspective, skills or vision do you bring to the table?

Bonnie Cleland: I have lived in Kamloops for 27 years and I have lived in other cities and countries for seven years (one year each in Mexico, Nicaragua and Australia, and university in Victoria). This gives me both a local, home grown and an international perspective. I know what it is like to grow up here as well as what it is like to move to a city where you don’t speak the language.

My younger brother has autism, so growing up I have been acutely aware of the various challenges and barriers he faces into community inclusion. By harnessing these three parts of my experience I can look at various issues from different lenses to ensure that no one is left out of consideration.

My two greatest strengths involve working in a team: energy and brainstorming. Which ever team I am part of, I bring up the energy of the entire group. I don’t have any preconceptions to why certain ideas or strategies won’t work, and I have the enthusiasm to bring them to life. I can bring together ideas from multiple sources and combine them into one vision, and I thrive bouncing off the ideas and strategies of others. I uplift the entire group.

What do you think are the most pressing issues facing the community today?

Cleland: Certainly the two most often brought up with regards to this particular election are community safety and housing. I think these two issues are interrelated and tackling them will be a multifaceted approach. Other issues talked about are transportation, infrastructure and spending. What I wish we would talk about more are food security, availability of childcare and including commercial businesses in sustainable practices and habits.

How can the city best tackle social issues — mental health, addictions, homelessness, crime — given the need to work with other levels of government responsible for those areas?

Cleland: I think the lynchpin at the centre of all these issues is safe shelter. Inaccessible housing, unsafe housing, and limited temporary housing exacerbate all these other issues and it is well within the purview of the city government to introduce and support strategies to provide housing for those living in the community.

Secondly would be to access funding through various levels of government and support the local organizations that are on the ground floor and intimately involved with those at the centre of these issues.

Thirdly would be supporting community development and programs designed to support individuals before they reach the level of crisis currently facing the community.

Kamloops and area has felt the impacts in recent years of a changing climate. What do you think the city should do to foster climate resilience and reduce emissions?

Cleland: I would love to see zoning and building code that allows for more resilient building structures. There are innovative designs that allow for less pressure on existing infrastructure systems (off grid, water capture, passive solar gain etc) that are cumbersome to build because of bureaucracy and red tape. If we could streamline those, more buildings could sustain themselves and consume less system energy.

There is a lot of focus on individual responsibility and what each family can do to reduce their footprint but a bigger effect would be to include businesses (both big and small) and make it easier for them to participate in effect programs. Basically, I would like to see it more expensive to be wasteful and cheaper to be sustainable.

How can the City of Kamloops strengthen its partnership with Tk’emlups te Secwepemc and continue working toward reconciliation with First Nations?

Cleland: This is an important question that I don’t have a clean and concise answer for. My first instinct would be to follow the example of New Zealand, which has included Maori language in the school system and traditional celebrations in their sports. As a country, they have established pride within their communities and allowed for open communications. Currently in Canada and certainly in Kamloops, the hurt is still being or yet to be acknowledged and talked about with intentional listening, dealing with the complex emotions and how people of the present can move forward with behaviours and decisions of the past. I think that it is critical to continue showcasing the past by sharing stories from those with firsthand experience, and agree that while the blame may not rest with us personally, ownership over the past can allow us to move forward.

Visit Castanet's Kamloops Votes page to find profiles for City of Kamloops mayoral and councillor candidates along with links to candidates' websites and social media accounts if available.

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