There's still time to register for the annual Camp Out to End Youth Homelessness

Youth camp out nearing

Locals interested in raising money for at-risk youth can still register for the fourth annual Camp Out to End Youth Homelessness.

The event, set for Friday, Dec. 11, will see participants spend a night out in the cold and sleep on nothing more than a cardboard box. The evening provides people an opportunity to understand the experiences of hidden homelessness that youth face, says Katherine McParland, executive director of A Way Home Kamloops.

"I feel like it's a life-changing experience for many of our past campers," she tells Castanet. "I think a lot of them didn't realize all of the amazing things we have, and it's easy to take housing for granted and having a warm, safe place to sleep. I think it really changes the perspective on what homeless youth experience and creates that responsibility that we as a community all have a role to play to raise the child."

It also helps destigmatize the issue of youth homelessness "because there's that increased awareness and understanding," McParland adds.

The camp out is a major fundraiser for A Way Home Kamloops. This year, staff hope to raise $50,000, money that will go toward the non-profit's programs, which include providing youth with housing, education and employment training. Previous campouts raised money for Safe Suites and funded the youth housing first program (71 individuals were housed in 2019). 

This year, to keep in line with COVID-19 safety protocols, campers won't gather at a park. Rather, they'll be asked to camp out in their own yard or inside their home. Each registrant will get a package, which includes a carboard box and supplies for the evening.

"People can adapt the event to whatever makes sense for them. For example, young families, they may want to camp out in their living room and that's really good because there's some good conversations that could be had with children around homelessness," McParland says.

To date, this year's camp out has raised just over $37,000, with around 35 campers registered so far.

To register as a camper, click here. To become a sponsor, click here.

City of Kamloops has to repair water main break for the second time in two days

Water main breaks again

The Highland Drive water main in Kamloops needs another repair after breaking for a second time today. 

The initial break occurred yesterday morning, and crews say it won't be fixed until late Saturday afternoon (Dec. 5). 

"We understand limiting water usage on the weekend is more challenging," says Greg Wightman, the city's utility services manager, in a news release. "We're asking residents to do what they can to ensure we can maintain sufficient water supply and fire suppression."

Juniper Ridge has been able to keep its water supply, but the crew is asking residents to limit their water use where possible.

Avoiding long showers, running the dishwasher and laundry machine throughout the weekend is advised.  

Expect traffic delays throughout the weekend, and be prepared to reduce speed near the work zone. 

Group gathers at Kamloops intersection to protest for Indian farmers

Protest for farmers in India

A group of protesters gathered on Friday (Dec. 4) at Columbia Street and Summit Drive to protest the privatization of farming in India.

The Indian government is trying to privatize farming and protesters congregated at 2 p.m. in Kamloops to show their support for friends, family and farmers who live there. Many held signs that said, "Farmers feed you, not politicians" and "Protect the farmers of India, revoke anti-farmer bills," as drivers passed by and honked in support.

“We’re all here today to show our support to the farmers protesting in India. The government in India has passed three laws, which make the farming sector private and it’s eventually going to lead the bigger corporations and bigger business people to decide the price of selling and buying and totally control the farming sector in India,” says Ramanvir Mavi, one of the protest organizers.  

Tens of thousands of farmers reportedly gathered in Delhi today (Dec. 4) to protest the privatization of farming in India as well. Mavi says the Kamloops gathering was to join them from afar. 

"Eventually, down the line, what's going to happen is it’s going to force them to sell their lands and give out everything to these big corporations and lose everything they got," he explains. "This is like their bread and butter, and that’s being taking away."

"The bigger population is from Punjab India where 70 per cent of the people are dependent on farming and 70 per cent of the crops in India are supplied from Punjab," Mavi continues. 

"I can connect to them because I know how dependent we are on farming and what it means to people and what these laws mean to us."

Mavi, like many other Kamloopsians, has friends and family in India who will be deeply affected by this new law.  

"If there is more people aware of this, there is more pressure on the government and they might change their laws and take the bills back," he adds.

The group will gather for a bigger, second protest tomorrow (Saturday, Dec. 5) at the North Shore A&W at 1 p.m.

Kamloops RCMP arrest a suspect in Thompson Hotel arson

Arson suspect arrested

RCMP have arrested a Kamloops man for the Thompson Hotel arson that occurred Thursday morning.

The 39-year-old suspect will face charges and will appear in court at a later date.

The fire that took place around 12:40 a.m. After police obtained video surveillance from the hotel, the suspect was seen starting the fire before fleeing the scene. 

RCMP arrested a man matching the description of the suspect at 3:20 a.m. Police say the man was in possession of evidence that proved he committed the arson. 

After the arrest, the suspected was taken to the Kamloops Police Station and investigated further. 

"It is very disheartening that someone would intentionally start a fire like this in our community putting others at risk for no apparent reason," says Sgt Darren Michels, "We are certainly very happy that this fire was observed early and didn't have time to spread."

BC Prosecution Service will wait for final findings from the RCMP before reviewing and approving the charges against the suspect. 

No injuries after pickup slides into a ditch

In ditch after sliding on ice

UPDATE: 12:30 p.m.

Platoon Captain Troy Grant at Kamloops Fire Rescue tells Castanet, "A gold pickup truck was going up the hill and the driver lost control after sliding on ice."

One driver and one passenger were in the vehicle; neither suffered any injuries.

Castanet previously reported that this was a multi-vehicle collision, but KFR says no other vehicles were involved.

ORIGINAL: 9:45 a.m.

Kamloops emergency crews are responding to a collision on Highway 5 just south of the Rogers Way intersection, on the west side of the road.

Kamloops Fire Rescue has confirmed to Castanet they are on scene.

A gold coloured pickup truck is stuck in a ditch 50 feet off of the highway.

Expect delays. Castanet will update this story as soon as more information is available.

Sun Peaks now has a COVID-19 testing site

COVID testing site opens

Getting tested for coronavirus is now doable in Sun Peaks.

A COVID-19 testing site has been set up in Sun Peaks Centre, located at 3200 Village Way.

A notice on the municipality's website notes testing was made available as of today (Dec. 4) at 10 a.m. Both the nasal swab and gargle tests can be performed, according to Laura Bantock, executive director of the Sun Peaks Community Health Centre.

Testing is available Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, between 10 a.m. and noon. Appointments are mandatory and can be booked online via Interior Health. (Click here to fill out the form or call 1-877-740-7747, daily between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m.)

"If testing goes as we think it will, we can expand from two-hour clinics to four-hour clinics," Bantock says.

People from other provinces or countries can also be tested. They must bring their work visa document and passport. 

Moreover, masks are required for testing. One will be provided if needed.

Sun Peaks Mayor Al Raine calls the new testing site "a good step forward."

"We do have employees here who don't have vehicles [to go into Kamloops to get tested]," he tells Castanet of one of the benefits, noting there are also young athletes from Ontario and Quebec at the mountain's training facility.

"We still have people arriving from other places and obviously we have to be on our toes. ... I think it's a good preventative measure."

Raine has previously told Castanet he'd like to see rapid COVID-19 testing in the village.

"I wish that was available because that would make it a lot simpler. There’s still is time between when the person gets tested and the results come out and the communication of the results to people and all of their contacts," the mayor says. 

Raine adds he had a recent conversation with Dr. Carol Fenton, the local medical health officer, about rapid testing and made the request. 

"The response was rapid tests aren't necessarily as accurate as the slower [swab and swish] tests," he explains.

"If there is a 20 per cent error factor, at least you have 80 per cent of the cases nailed down. I'm not the medical expert. I have to certainly accept their opinion that that's not the approach. I have a hard time understanding it," he says.

Editor's note: A previous version of this story stated the nasal swab test was the only option available in Sun Peaks. Laura Bantock says that has changed and now includes the gargle test too.

'Crafty lefty' the newest addition to Kamloops baseball team

Another NorthPaw added

The Kamloops NorthPaws have announced another signee.

Colby Ring, a Canadian left-hander, has been added to the pitching staff, according to a news release from the newly formed baseball team. 

Ring is from Langley and is entering his sophomore season at the University of Antelope Valley after transferring from Johnson County Community College. 

His pitching skills are diverse. He throws a fastball, changeup and curveball, the team says. 

"I consider myself a crafty lefty. I'm not going to come out there and overpower anyone with a fastball. I like to work in all my pitches to keep hitters off balance," Ring states in the release. "Definitely something I can bring to Kamloops is a winning attitude and help out in any way I can when I step on the mound at Norbrock [Stadium] to hopefully win some games for the NorthPaws this summer."

He notes one of his best playing experiences was representing Canada at the Little League World Series with his Langley team in 2011. They finished fourth in the international bracket.

Ring will know a few NorthPaw faces; he's previously played with teammates Ryan Beitel and Tommy Green

"I don't think there's a better place to play in my opinion than up in Kamloops during the summertime. ... I'm looking forward to getting up there and competing with some of the best players around. I'm really excited," Ring adds.

City of Kamloops completes water main repair

Water main break fixed

Crews have wrapped up repairs to the broken water main on Highland Drive in Valleyview.

The water main break happened Thursday morning (Dec. 3), around 5:45 a.m. near the entrance of the Valleyview Arena. Shortly after, the city asked Juniper residents to limit their water use (running dishwashers, washing machines and taking showers) while crews worked on fixing the problem.

In its latest update Friday morning, the City of Kamloops says repairs finished last night. 

"Work will continue throughout today to return the water system to normal operation and restore the road surface. Traffic delays should be expected," a statement reads.

Steep grades and challenging soil conditions made it difficult to locate the failure, the city adds.  

"We thank the residents of Juniper Ridge for their efforts to conserve water, which assisted greatly," says Greg Wightman, the city's utility services manager, in a news release.

BC Wildlife Park nets $50,000 donation to help with hoofstock

$50k for park's hoofed-folk

Quarantine issues aren't unique to Kamloops' human residents.

The BC Wildlife Park has been collecting donations for a hoofstock quarantine, a need identified at the end of 2019. While 2020 started off strong, the COVID-19 pandemic altered some of the park's priorities.

However, a quarantine pen is back in play, thanks to a $50,000 donation.

"Recently, we received some absolutely incredible news! We are so honoured and excited to have been selected by the Weston Family Foundation for a $50,000 donation through their director initiated grants," the parks writes on its Facebook page.

The donation means the park can not only start building the pen again, but they can finish it.

The pen will be used to quarantine hoofstock, large animals that require room. The park has 14 species of hoofstock at the park, with 40 different animals. They range from big animals, like bison and elk, to smaller things like goats (mountain and...farm).

"This infrastructure is needed for many reasons, including the ability to allow the BC Wildlife Park and the Fawcett Family Wildlife Health Centre to be ready for any incoming large hoofstock and allow our animal care team to isolate individual large animals for health reasons," states the park.

Other funds at the beginning of the year helped them start the project, including $15,000 from the Shuswap Community Foundation, and $1,500 from the BC Interior Community Foundation.

Kamloops man shares his story to remind the public why wearing a mask is vital

More than meets the eye

A North Shore Kamloops man is sharing his story of battling cancer — and it's a friendly reminder to respect social distancing protocols.

In the summer of 2016 Bob Trudeau was feeling tired. He was over 60, so he chalked it up to age. The grandfather of one is a runner and was going for his usual run on a local trail when he began to feel excruciating pain in his torso.

After a visit to his doctor, he was told he had 11 vertebrae fractures. On Jan. 3, 2017, Trudeau was diagnosed with multiple myeloma — the fractures were a result of the disease attacking his bones, a common way it presents itself.

According to Myeloma Canada, it is the second most common form of blood cancer. The disease affects a type of immune cell called the plasma cell, found in the bone marrow. Eight Canadians are diagnosed daily and, in spite of its growing prevalence, the disease remains relatively unknown.

During this emotional time in Trudeau's life, he continued to walk and hike.

"For me, that's my mental and physical well being. I've always been a very active person. It's a part of who I am."

Following a stem cell transplant, in September 2017, Trudeau was deemed in submission — meaning his cancer was dormant.

"It never actually goes into remission. They can put it into submission, so you always have the cancer. It's just a matter of time before it starts presenting itself again," he explains.

Recently, doctors told Trudeau he's relapsing.

"I'm in my second relapse starting now and I'm on a maintenance program where I go every four weeks to the hospital for treatment."

There is no cure for Myeloma.

However, thanks to recent breakthroughs in treatment, people are living longer and better lives. 

Not only does he love to run, Trudeau is part of a support group in Kamloops for people who suffer from Myeloma and spearheads the annual Kamloops Myeloma walk.

"This year, we decided we better not do an actual physical march because our immune systems are extremely compromised. We still wanted to raise awareness for the cause."

The father of two is visibly in great shape, but battles his cancer daily.

"I definitely think people should be following the COVID-19 protocols now because I am extremely compromised and you can't tell by just walking past me. It's a bigger thing — it applies to so many seniors, parents and grandparents, that you need to be so careful of transmitting anything to them," he says.

To continue raising awareness for Myeloma during the pandemic, Trudeau did a 50 km walk-and-run in September and he prepares for the 2021 gathering every day by running the Kamloops trails.

Although he has the strength to stay active, his fight with myeloma continues — and a pandemic is an added stress.

"It mystifies me and makes me angry at the same time. I just can't understand how people follow all these rules out there like driving on the road or waiting until they are 19 years old to drink but can't respect these protocols," he adds. "These rules will actually save people's lives."

It's a friendly reminder as to why COVID-19 protocols are put in place.

"It's not a restriction of freedoms. It improves the freedom for everybody if you wear a mask in a public places.  You don't know what somebody else is going through until you walk in their shoes. That's what so many people forget," Trudeau says.

Trudeau continues to maintain his own health and safety, and hopes the public will do the same for those who have compromised immune systems, despite what meets the eye.

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