First-ever Occasion Technique within the works for Kelowna – Kelowna Information

Photo: Rob Gibson

The city wants your input on when and where big events should be taking place in Kelowna.

Residents are being encouraged to contribute to the first-ever Event Strategy.

“Our goal is to foster an eventful city, not just a city full of events,” said Chris Babcock, Event Development Supervisor. “We’re engaging with our event industry partners and residents to ensure that future events hosted in our city help to bolster our community pride as we strive for a vibrant and inclusive event culture here in Kelowna.”

As part of the strategy, Get Eventive Days will take over the waterfront promenade for two weekends this summer; July 24 & 25 and August 21 & 22, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

It will feature local art, sports demonstrations, music, food trucks and more.

“In addition to our event strategy, we’re also seeking ideas as to what Kelowna’s signature event could be,” said Babcock. “We invite our residents to be creative, tell us their ideas, and help us develop an event that reflects who we are and who we want to be.”

You can visit the Event Strategy project site until September 7 to make suggestions, vote on other residents’ ideas and fill out a city survey.


Rob Gibson – Jul 23, 2021 / 1:23 pm | Story: 340863

UPDATE 1:20 p.m.

The pilot of the first Harbour Air Flight from Vancouver to Kelowna, Burt Wright tells Castanet everything went without a hitch, the flight landed safely and the passengers enjoyed their experience. Many saying the best part was the view.

Wright says, “we got a good look at the Brenda Creek fire and I can tell you I saw with my own eyes how hard BC Wildfire air tankers hitting that fire and my instruments show me the air traffic in the area, the fire threatening the Coquiahalla seems like it has slowed down, hopefully, firefighters are getting the upper hand on that fire.”

The return flight departed from the Hotel Eldorado dock (the Smack Dab side) at 12:15 p.m. Friday and the next flight arrives on Monday.

Harbour Air says they hope to expand the service if there is a demand. Today they were one passenger shy of full capacity, with arriving in Kelowna and 9 passengers heading to Vancouver for the weekend.

Rob Gibson

UPDATE: 11:55 a.m.

The first Harbour Air flight from Vancouver to Kelowna touched down on Okanagan Lake at the Hotel Eldorado Friday morning.

The Cessna Caravan holds nine people, and several people arrived Friday morning to spend the weekend in the city.

The plane will be taking off back to Vancouver at 12:15 p.m.

The flight will return to Kelowna on Monday, to bring travellers back home after their weekend stay in the Okanagan.

ORIGINAL: 11 a.m.

Another Okanagan first on Friday.

Harbour Air lands on Okanagan Lake for the first time as it launches weekly round-trip flights between Vancouver and Kelowna, with flights docking at the Hotel Eldorado.

The Eldorado Hotel is the newest destination for Vancouver-based Harbour Air, and the first-ever flight is expected to arrive today at 11:20 a.m. and the return flight to Vancouver departs at 12:15 p.m.

Nica Graziotto sales manager at the Eldorado Resort tells castanet, “we will have the owner and executive team at the dock to greet and there are now 8 passengers (expected) arriving from Vancouver.”

Harbour Air and the Hotel Eldorado announced the partnership earlier this month. Harbour Air will be providing weekly round-trip flights between Vancouver and the Eldorado. Flights are scheduled to increase to twice a week for the last part of July and August.

“Getting people directly to the heart of where they want to be on the coast is what we are known for” said Harbour Air’s CEO, Greg McDougall. “Now, with working with the beautiful Eldorado Resort, we finally have an opportunity to offer that same service into a beautiful property on Okanagan Lake and we couldn’t be more excited.”

Harbour Air and the Eldorado have partnered to create special hotel and accommodation packages for passengers.

“The Eldorado Resort is delighted to be working in partnership with Harbour Air who, as many people may know, is the largest all-seaplane airline in the world. Harbour Air customers have come to expect the very best in terms of service excellence and safety, and so for the Eldorado Resort, working with Harbour Air was a natural fit for us,” said Eldorado Resort general manager Mark Jeanes.

Photo: Contributed

Photo: Facebook

Friends and family of Cailen Vilness are hosting a memorial fundraiser on Saturday July 24th at August Luxury Motorcars.

“We are putting this event together in memory of him, as well as to support the family. If you knew Cailen, he was a jack of all trades and in his eyes, an absolute master of all of them. One of his many passions, was the car and automotive industry. He loved the cars, the people, modifications and everything that goes with it,” said friend Connor Braham.

Vilness’ Ford Focus ST will be at the event.

There will also be a memorial poster to sign, a variety of decals by donation as well as a silent auction with items from local shops.

The event will take place at 1 p.m. with all funds going to Vilness next of kin.

“There are no tickets or anything for the event, people can just come and go as they please. We have over $4000 in donations included in our silent auction. So far we’ve raised $2000 just in sales of stickers and decals my fiancé has created,” said sister-in-law Erika Hartman Freitas.

More more information and to R.S.V.P., click here.


Photo: Interior Health

Dr. Albert de Villiers

The former chief medical health officer of Interior Health who’s now facing child sex charges elected Wednesday to be tried by a judge-alone in Alberta.

Dr. Albert de Villiers, 52, was charged in June with sexual assault and sexual interference against a young child. The charges are alleged to have occurred between 2018 and 2020 in the Grande Prairie area.

De Villiers’ case appeared in Grande Prairie court Wednesday, where he elected to be tried solely by a judge.

He’s now scheduled to return to court in Alberta in April of next year for a preliminary inquiry. A preliminary inquiry is held to test the strength of the Crown’s case. At its conclusion, a judge will determine if the case can proceed to a Supreme Court trial.

De Villiers was the lead medical health officer for Alberta’s north zone before moving to Kelowna last August. After the charges were laid last month, Interior Health appointed Dr. Sue Pollock as interim chief medical health officer.

Following his arrest, he spent a night in custody before he was released on bail on June 9 under a number of conditions, which include not being in the presence of anyone under the age of 16, unless with an approved person.

Residents in Mission are fed up after dead rats that appear to have been poisoned have been dumped onto a public pathway.

Laureen has contacted the City of Kelowna, The RDCO and Kelowna By-Law Enforcement, but she hasn’t had any luck getting to the bottom of why the rats are turning up on the pathway, but she wants it to stop.

“It seems that somebody has been throwing dead rats onto the walkway for the last two years, and it’s just getting worse and worse and especially with the heat right now, the smell is starting to get pretty horrible,” Laureen says.

She also says that she’s concerned for other animals who may get too close to the dead rodents which lay directly in the middle of a busy walkway.

“To me it looks like they’ve been poisoned and just thrown across. It doesn’t look like they’ve been caught in a trap of any sort, and it’s sad because it’s just going to go back into the food chain and kill or hurt other animals,” said Laureen.

Cindy Ross owns both a dog and cat. She refuses to take her dog anywhere near the pathway, and she is concerned for her cat. “Well I wouldn’t want my dog to be sniffing and going near the rats because they’re poisoned, and just the fact that there is poison somewhere over there. We have a cat too, so I’d be concerned that my cat would be very interested in the rats,” said Ross.

As people walked through the pathway while the sun beat down at 27 degrees, it was clear they weren’t too pleased with the sight of dead rats scattered directly in the middle of the pavement. One man who was walking beside his children on bikes had to express extreme caution to them as they tried to avoid the foul sight and smell. He said he was fed up with whoever has been doing this, and mentioned that it’s been an ongoing issue for at least 2 years.

The B.C. government has just put a temporary 18-month ban on the sale of rodenticides to protect owls, wildlife and other pets from potential poisoning. The hope for people living in the area is that this ban will put an end to the gruesome sights along the pathway that connects Old Meadows road to Welke Road.

Photo: Contributed

Robert Riley Saunders

A man accused of defrauding and stealing from dozens of at-risk youth in his care over a number of years may plead guilty in the coming months.

Robert Riley Saunders was charged with 13 criminal counts in December 2020, including 10 counts of fraud over $5,000 and breach of trust by a public officer. Most of the charges allegedly occurred in Kelowna between 2011 and 2017, although he had been employed by the Ministry of Children and Family Development as a social worker since 1996.

The criminal charges were laid more than two years after Saunders was hit with a number of civil lawsuits from former youth in his care.

While Saunders elected in February to face a judge-alone trial, it now appears Saunders is working to strike a plea deal with the Crown.

During a pre-trial conference in Kelowna court Thursday morning, Crown prosecutor Heather Magnin said she and defence counsel Brian Fitzpatrick have had resolution discussions about Saunders’ case, and he’s close to entering a guilty plea in the matter.

At this time, it’s unclear what charges Saunders would plead guilty to, but plea deals generally involve the Crown dropping some charges in exchange for the plea.

But it appears the Crown and defence have different positions on sentencing. Following the expected guilty plea, Crown and defence are seeking a seven-day Gardiner hearing, where evidence is presented to a judge about aggravating and mitigating sentencing facts in a case, which are in dispute.

Prior to the expected guilty plea, Fitzpatrick and Magnin plan on producing an agreed statement of facts in the case.

“It’s a very involved case in terms of the disclosure and the circumstances of the youth that are named in Counts 5 through 13, and we’re just looking to see if we can find some common ground to avoid calling the youths on the Gardiner hearing,” Fitzpatrick said Thursday.

“If we do then perhaps we can whittle down that [seven-day] time estimate and it can be easier to find the time that we need in Kelowna.”

The matter will be back in Kelowna court on Aug. 16, when a date for the expected guilty plea will be set.

“We should try to have a definite date for the plea, no later than the end of September or the first week of October, so we kind of have a hard deadline there that we need to meet,” Fitzpatrick said.

Last year, the provincial government settled a class-action lawsuit, agreeing to pay dozens of former youth in Saunders’ care tens of thousands of dollars. The total payout is expected to exceed $8 million, but the exact number of people involved remains unclear.

The civil suits claim Saunders would open joint bank accounts with the youth in his care, and then withdraw government money meant to be used for their care, for his own use. It’s not clear how much money Saunders allegedly stole over the years, but many youth in his care claim his actions left them homeless, sexually exploited and addicted to drugs.

“Saunders sought out and exploited aboriginal high-risk youth because he knew that his supervisors and managers… would not look closely at their affairs or adequately safeguard their interests,” the lawsuits against Saunders states.

Saunders remains out of custody after he was granted bail two weeks after his initial arrest.

Photo: Jamie Stevens

Jamie Stevens can cross albatross off his golfing bucket list.

The associate professional at the Kelowna Golf and Country Club recorded one of the rarest feats in golf, a two on a par five on the 16th hole at the club during men’s night Wednesday.

Stevens was two-over for his round when he stepped onto the tee box at 16, and ripped a drive 296 yards down the right-centre of the fairway.

He picks it up from there.

“Coming in, I had 194 yards. The pin was back, so I figured a seven-iron would cover the front, which is what I did in fact,” Stevens said.

“We were fortunate because there were guys on the 17 tee box which is directly adjacent to 16 green.

“They obviously saw it go in before we did, so their celebration on 17 allowed us to amp up our celebration a bit from the middle of the fairway.”

He says he knew he hit it well, but really didn’t give it much thought until the group on 17 started going crazy.

Stevens has four aces to his credit, but says this tops the list mainly because it’s the longest shot he remembers going in the hole.

“It’s probably my highlight shot.”

And, a one-in-a-million shot according to the PGA.

Those are the odds of getting an albatross, which the PGA says happens a few hundred times a year.

The odds are far greater than a hole-in-one, but infinitely less than a condor, which is a hole-in-one on a par five, which incidentally has been documented five times.

It’s unclear how many times an albatross has been made over the 100-year history of the course.

With the albatross out of the way, next up on Stevens bucket list would be a 62 at his home course.

The competitive course record at the Kelowna Golf and country Club is 63, held by a handful of golfers.

Photo: Contributed

Ian Wilson, Naved Avery, Karen Mason

A local charity and mental health support group has teamed up to offer mental health support for young adults and front line workers.

Third Space Charity has collaborated with Switch Research to offer the company’s “Self-Love” Journal and 90-day wellness program to all its student intern counsellors and their clients free of charge.

“We’re so grateful Switch Research offered to donate this product and program as part of nurturing deeper mental wellness in counselling clients and the frontline workers who support them,” says Third Space Charity executive director Karen Mason. “To work with a local company that shares our vision of a community where mental wellness is prioritized and quality, mental health care services are accessible to everyone is exciting, and we know this collaboration will make a difference in many lives.”

Switch Research works with psychologists, clinical therapists, researchers and psychiatrists to develop and distribute mental health resources. The Self-Love Journal and program are aimed at helping people reframe insecurities, stop negative thought patterns, and start living a more compassionate, self-positive life through daily guided activities, prompts and strategies.

“We create tools that work and offer positive, lasting impact,” explains Switch Research co-founder and product manager Ian Wilson. “We love the work Third Space Charity does to promote a mentally well community, and we hope donating the Self-Love journals and program to its clients and interns will improve resilience, and add significant value to counselling sessions and the practicum program.”

Third Space Charity offers supportive care counselling to young adults from 18 to 29 through its Community Care and Student Care Programs with no cost. The services are provided by graduate level, counsellors-in-training who work in the Charity’s practicum program under the supervision of highly skilled, clinical counsellors.

Last year, the Charity was responsible for 1,600 free counselling sessions to 275 clients.

The Central Okanagan Food Bank is setting up relief hampers for those who have been evacuated in Sicamous and Ashcroft.

The food bank has been very busy with supporting not just the Central Okanagan, but also surrounding areas. Tammie Watson is the Chief Development Officer at the COFB, and she says she felt like the food bank needed to support the two communities right away because their people have an immediate need.

“Honestly it’s just because of what’s happened in the last few days there, and the amount of evacuees and the way the fire is spreading, they really do have an immediate need,” said Watson.

Watson wasn’t sure how the 400 relief hampers would be done in such a short amount of time, so she sent out an email asking for volunteers to lend a hand. The response she received was astonishing. “Right away we received confirmation from staff at Big White, CMW Capri, Cisco, Kinsmen as well as Calsa. We had 30 people in today within 24 hours when we put out the appeal to help us get these hampers to our neighbouring food banks,” said Watson.

Watson also wants to stress that no matter where you live, if you’ve been evacuated and are now in Kelowna temporarily, to please reach out to the COFB. You can contact them by clicking here.

Jason Baughen works in insurance, but he was called upon to volunteer. He says he felt compelled to help out in any way he can. “We had a colleague send out an email a couple days ago advising they needed some volunteers, so we thought what a great cause. We work in the insurance industry and we have lots of clients who have been affected by the evacuations, thankfully not affected by any losses just yet, but it’s one of those crazy seasons right? Fire season in the Okanagan is always kind of wild,” said Baughen.

Trucks will be loaded up and will head to Sicamous and Ashcroft on Friday morning, but the Central Okanagan Food Bank will continue to provide hampers for those who require them throughout this unprecedented time.

Photo: Interior Health

A lot of people have got their jab through Interior Health mobile immunization centres.

Since June, over 20,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered through the pop-up drop-in clinics. The aim was to make it easier for people in larger, urban centres to access vaccinations.

“Reaching the 20,000 dose milestone through our mobile clinics is an important achievement to celebrate as we continue to work to increase our vaccination coverage across the interior,” said Interior Health president and CEO Susan Brown. “Community support throughout Interior communities has been incredible and we want to thank each of our partners for the critical work they continue to do to make our mobile clinics a success.”

Two rural mobile immunization clinics continue to travel across the Interior to more rural and hard-to-reach communities. You don’t need an appointment and can just walk up and register. For second doses, it has to be more than seven weeks (49 days) since your first dose.

To make an appointment for a shot, register online by visiting the provincial website, call 1-833-838-2323, or visit a Service BC office listed here, and then book an appointment.

You can also check the list of all Interior Health COVID-19 immunization clinics.

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