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Oliver & Osoyoos  

Used flip phone program gives seniors a lifeline during emergency season

Flip phones connect seniors

A local support program is taking used flip phones and offering them up to seniors so they can be prepared for emergency season.

Desert Sun Counselling & Resource Centre is assisting older adults in Oliver, Osoyoos, and Okanagan Falls to maintain contact and stay informed through a technology-based emergency preparedness program.

“Seniors really struggle to navigate an emergency," said Marieze Tarr, executive director with the Desert Sun Counselling & Resource Centre. "Most of the information about the emergency is found online and a lot of seniors don't know how to navigate the Internet.”

Staff at Desert Sun have refined their support program by observing past evacuations.

“We also realized that we had a lot of contact information for seniors, but they were landlines. And so, when the emergency happened, some seniors found the way to evacuate themselves but we had no way of connecting with them during the emergency.”

The United Way funded program started in 2022 and now has around 75 seniors enrolled in the program.

When emergency strikes, Desert Sun hands out preparedness kits, including the flip phones, a list of items that need to be packed, and other essentials. The centre also provides transportation to evacuation centres and gives updates to seniors’ family members who live outside of the Okanagan.

This emergency season, the centre is also hoping to connect seniors to programs offered by the centre so they can have access to meals and emotional support when they are away from home.

“Just having you somebody check in with them and talking to them on a daily basis in a calm voice — we found that really helped,” Tarr said.

“That's also the feedback that we received from a lot of our seniors was that, you know, that was great that there was somebody who checked in with them every day.”

For more information and resources click here.



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Hand-painted ties stolen in Osoyoos recovered on the Sunshine Coast

Hand-painted ties recovered

When artist Gabriele Beyer’s Osoyoos home was burglarized in November 2021, much of her livelihood was stolen: about 1,000 hand-painted neckties and bowties – she estimates $140,000 worth of merchandise – as well as dozens of her paintings.

More than two years later, some of those works are showing up on the Sunshine Coast.

“I was devastated because they got 20 years worth of my work,” said Beyer. “They got all my design samples and all my inventory.”

For weeks following the theft, Beyer worked on getting the story out – on social media, in the news and on telephone poles as she made up posters with the missing paintings. “Nobody could make any sense of it.

“And then I had to say, ‘Okay, that’s all I can do and I have to start the grieving process.’”

It was more than two years later when Beyer got an email from a Gibsons thrift shop: 127 of her bow ties and 27 of her neckties had been donated to the Sunshine Coast Community Services Thrift Store. Noting the label on each tie, a staff member had gone online to see how to price them, saw that they’d been stolen and contacted the artist.

Beyer immediately came to the Coast to retrieve her ties and ended up staying nearly two weeks. “I found a wonderful community of people listening to my story and wanting to help me find my stolen art,” she said.

Beyer visited every thrift store on the Coast. Up in Egmont, the store manager told Beyer that she’d seen more than 15 of the ties in a ziplock bag about a year ago. At the Sechelt Salvation Army thrift store, the woman working at the front desk recognized one of Beyer’s more unusual paintings as one that had passed through that store.

a-painting-that-was-stolen-from-gabriele-beyer
It is thought that "The Narcissist" passed through the Salvation Army Thrift Store in Sechelt, which Beyer says she painted "after a painful experience with a narcissistic partner." Courtesy of Gabriele Beyer

So now, Beyer has put up posters from Egmont to Gibsons, hoping someone will recognize paintings or ties and possibly return them.

The 46 paintings stolen had not been for sale. “[They’re] like my journal of life of 20 years,” said Beyer. “I started to paint after my husband died and a lot of that work is very personal.”

As well, after the neckties were stolen, Beyer was essentially out of business – a fact made all the worse that the business, Murphyties, was her late husband, Michael Murphy’s, endeavour. “Basically 20 years of my designs and then even more of my late husband’s designs, we did that together,” she said. “All the designs were gone, basically the intellectual property of the company.”

The ties are also very time consuming to paint. “They were a labour of love,” said Beyer.

In the intervening years, Beyer says she’s made a name for herself painting murals in Alaska. “I have moved on, but it means so much to me that [the ties] are coming back to me.”

This isn’t the first time some of her stolen work has been recovered. Last year, six paintings and six neckties were recovered in Surrey and three months later three big paintings were found in a trailer in Osoyoos. Ten neckties were recovered after having been listed on eBay in Philadelphia. However, the find on the Sunshine Coast is the biggest yet.

One can see Beyer’s paintings at facebook.com/murphyties and anyone who thinks they may have seen any of the works is asked to get in touch with Beyer at [email protected].

Beyer also notes the generosity she has found on the Coast. “In between hanging posters, going to thrift stores, talking to galleries from Gibsons to Egmont, I hiked the many trails, two times meeting with the Pender Harbor Hiker group,” said Beyer. “I made so many new friends. My heart is really touched by this experience.”



RDOS urges residents to store food as black bears emerge from hibernation

Watch for black bears

South Okanagan residents are cautioned to store away food sources and watch for black bears, as the four-legged creatures emerge from hibernation this spring.

In a press release issued Monday, the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen said black bears are starting to come out from their winter dens in search of food. Bears with cubs deserve extra caution, it added.

Along with the bears being out, the RDOS warns that interactions with the animals in the district “reached new highs in 2023.”

“Convenient, unnatural food sources draw wildlife into communities, creating safety concerns for wildlife and residents,” reads the press release. “Bears can smell five times better than dogs.”

RDOS tips to avoid attracting bears and other wildlife:

· Storing all garbage in a secure area, preferably a lockable garage or shed

· Washing all food and recyclable containers thoroughly before placing in bins or setting aside for depot drop-off. This can be done using a diluted bleach and water mix in a spray bottle

· Freezing potentially smelly leftovers or scraps, especially meat and fish, and waiting until just before pick-up to place them in the garbage container outside

· Removing bird feeders. Birdseed is a very high-calorie snack for a hungry bear

· Waiting until the morning of pick-up to put the garbage on the curb for collection

For more information on wildlife safety click here.



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Rebel Luv to play tunes as hikers take Oliver Community Park for hospice

Dress up, hike to classics

Hikers at the Desert Valley Hospice Society’s annual Hike for Hospice can enjoy the South Okanagan duo Rebel Luv as they walk in support of end-of-life care.

Starting at 11:30 a.m., hikers will join others raising funds at Oliver Community Park on May 26. Participants are encouraged to dress up or dance to Rebel Luv, with the aim of making the hike as fun as possible.

“There's a walking oval around the Oliver Community Park that is one kilometre in length,” said Janette VanVianen, Desert Valley Hospice Society administrator. “Our walkers can go 1,2,3 – 10 times around the oval — however many times they want.”

“Anybody that comes in with pledges … that will be their registration and they get a free hot dog and refreshment at the event.”

Playing classic rock and old country, Rebel Luv is a new musical addition to the hike and will be taking the stage from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.

“They'll have some music to walk to, or if they want to dance around the oval, whatever they like.”

The dog-friendly event will also have wildflower and milkweed seeds on site for sale. Funds raised from the hike will be supporting programs at the DVHS House, grief support, and training programs.

Pledge forms are available at the DVHS House, Osoyoos’ Sonora Community Centre, Re/Max offices in Osoyoos and Oliver, Royal LePage in Oliver, and at the Oliver Community Centre.

Participants without pledges can register for $10.

For more information and to register click here.



Osoyoos Lake held at historically high level in preparation for drought

Lake held high for drought

Osoyoos Lake water levels are being maintained at a higher elevation than normal, as the International Osoyoos Lake Board of Control attempts to counteract anticipated low run-offs.

In a news release on Monday, the International Osoyoos Lake Board of Control said it is maintaining those levels because it expects the lower spring run-off due to lower-than-normal snowpacks.

As of April 9, Osoyoos Lake has been seeing an elevation of 277.92 metres, a historical high since 1987 for this time of year. Lake elevation levels are typically closer to 277.5 metres in mid-April.

According to the B.C. River Forecast Centre, the province is is averaging 63 per cent of normal snowpack, which is the lowest April average in over five decades. In Oliver and Osoyoos, the snowpack is between 70 and 80 per cent of normal.

“Upstream of Osoyoos Lake, Okanagan Lake is also at a higher-than-normal elevation. Discharge from both Okanagan Lake and Osoyoos Lake is typically increased in late winter to prepare for the inflow from melting snowpack,” reads a news release from the IOLBC.

“However, due to the low snowpack observed across British Columbia this winter, lake managers have decided to counteract the potential impacts of a low runoff year by holding more water than usual in the lakes.“

Water flowing out from the Okanagan river in Penticton is also at a historically low point, with the current discharge at 5.15 cubic metres per second, whereas this time of year it is typically roughly 15 cubic metres per second.

Flows of the Similkameen River, which joins the Okanogon River south of the Zosel Dam in Oroville, has an April to July flow volume forecast of 685,000 acre-feet, below the 1 million acre-feet drought criteria.

“The International Osoyoos Lake Board of Control has notified the Washington Department of Ecology that the Order that Osoyoos Lake can be operated under the drought rule curve as defined by the 2013 Order," said the IOLBC.



Celebrations of Traditions pow wow on at Osoyoos Secondary School

Pow wow open to public

School District 53 is running its Celebration of Traditions Pow Wow next weekend.

On April 19 and 20, the school district is holding a spring pow wow at Osoyoos Secondary School, starting on Friday at 7 p.m

The pow wow will include a host drum by Smokey Valley, High Water; emcee Gord Cuthbert; and arena director Oly Bent. It will be open to the public on Friday, from 7 to 11 p.m.

Participants of the event can take part in a dinner on Friday and Saturday at 5:30 p.m., as well as a Saturday breakfast at 9 a.m.

Attendees will be able to see various vendors with the chance to win a door prize.

For more information contact Helen Gallagher at 250-498-4346.



Try dragon boating for free and attend the Osoyoos Lake Paddling Club's open house

Free trial for dragon boating

The Osoyoos Lake Paddling Club is hosting a dragon boating open house, offering an opportunity to try paddling.

Starting at 11 a.m., those interested can learn more about dragon boating at Safari Beach Resort on April 20.

The club welcomes both seasoned paddlers and beginners to attend and learn more about the activity. The dragon boat team will also be offering a two-week free trial.

“If you like it and want to continue, you can paddle at no charge up to the May Long weekend,” reads the event listing. “After that, we ask that you make a commitment to join the club.”

The club’s boating season runs from May until September. Practice takes place Wednesday and Friday at 7:45 a.m. and Monday and Thursday at 5:45 p.m.

For more information click here.



Osoyoos council calls on feds to manage ‘personal and defamatory attacks’, renews ask for local ethics commissioner

Rules to stop harassment

Unruly conduct in council chambers is prompting Osoyoos council to ask upper levels of government for help managing what it says is "malicious behaviour" from members of the public.

The Town of Osoyoos is asking the provincial and federal governments for legislation against “personal and defamatory attacks on local government” in a resolution to a regional advocacy body later this month.

Osoyoos council has put forward a resolution to the Southern Interior Local Government Association about conduct they say undermines and ties up the democratic process. SILGA represents 37 Southern Interior local governments and will be holding a conference from April 30 to May 3.

Defamatory comments and threats have been hurled at councillors and staff during Town Hall meetings, mostly over the Town’s beleaguered water system and a 26 per cent tax increase.

In the resolution, the Town notes that current rules under WorkSafeBC and the Workers Compensation Act do not offer enough protection to council members against such problems.

Osoyoos is now calling on upper levels of government to strengthen protections against what it says are malicious accusations and comments.

The resolution states that the Town is asking for “legislative changes that address the issue of personal and defamatory attacks by members of the public on local government leaders, while also upholding principles of freedom of speech and transparency.“

The request to SILGA also renews calls from other municipalities for the province to create a shared local ethics commissioner’s office to help enforce conduct rules, and establish an independent office of integrity.

Earlier in March, the Town of Osoyoos amended its code of conduct, setting out procedures around interruptions to council meetings, harassment, and conduct that ties up the business of council from being carried out.

For example, signs are no longer allowed at council meetings and presentations can't contain defamatory or discriminatory content.

Residents are still able to address council through a five-minute delegation, but they must be approved by council and reflect items on the most current agenda.



Local photographer publishes coffee table book showcasing breathtaking South Okanagan, Similkameen & Boundary Country landscapes

'A landscape like no other'

A South Okanagan photographer and writer is sharing his love of the local region with a new book of area landscapes, landmarks, communities and history.

“A Landscape Like No Other: South Okanagan, Similkameen & Boundary Country” by Richard McGuire is a paperback coffee table book with 47 full-page colour photographs and bite-sized text descriptions.

“Many Canadians and people outside Canada have no idea such a special corner of Canada exists,” McGuire said in a news release.

“We have semi-arid, desert-like landscapes with plants and animals not found anywhere else in Canada. We have grasslands, ponderosa pine forests, blue lakes, vineyards and orchards. Even jagged rock formations and mountains with alpine tundra.”

McGuire said he first fell in love with the region when he picked cherries in the Okanagan one summer in the 1970s.

He moved to Osoyoos in 2012 to take a position as photographer, reporter and subsequently editor of the Osoyoos Times, a precursor to the Times Chronicle.

“The book includes some of my most popular photos from the past 12 years as well as a number of new ones I’ve never displayed before,” McGuire said.

The South Okanagan portion celebrates the communities of Osoyoos, Oliver, Okanagan Falls and Kaleden.

While Penticton and other communities to the north were omitted because McGuire said their character is quite different, he may be including them in a future book.

"There are introductory sections on Similkameen and the Boundary Country, which are less populated than the Okanagan, but have rich mining and railway histories from around the turn of the last century."

McGuire soft launched his book at the indoor Market on Main on Saturday, April 13 at the Watermark Beach Resort in Osoyoos.

It will also be available at his booth during the Saturday Osoyoos Farmers’ Market from May to October next to Osoyoos Town Hall.

Launch events and plans to sell it through local retailers will be announced at a later date.



Osoyoos council to hold parcel tax roll review panel

Parcel tax roll review

Osoyoos council will be going over parcel tax item, including water and sewer, later this month.

On Thursday, the Town of Osoyoos issued a notice saying that it would be holding a parcel tax roll review panel on April 23.

Council will go over the water parcel tax, the museum parcel tax, and the sewer parcel tax in council chambers during the meeting.

“The rolls affected will be open to inspection by appointment only until April 22, 2024 by the undersigned below during regular office hours, Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., excluding Statutory Holidays,” reads the notice.

According to the statement, notice of assessments were only mailed to those who were charged for the first time.



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