Organized youth sport throughout the Inside Well being area will now be permitted – Kelowna Information
High hopes for a great summer to help them recover from the pandemic have gone up in smoke for many tourism operators in the Okanagan.
“In July, for the most part, everyone was feeling quite positive. People were here and life was going on quite well and then we seem to have just had, unfortunately, one situation after another, which has really rocked August and looks to be rocking September now,” said Ellen Walker-Matthews, chief executive officer, Thompson-Okanagan Tourism Association.
She calls it very concerning for the tourism industry in the region, especially small, independent operators.
“The summer starts looking good. You get stuff filling in and then you get cancellations, and then you get smaller stuff filling in. So, you never know. It’s up and down every day, whether you’re going to have to have the guys out in the vans or not,” said Jo Breckman of letsgowinetours.ca.
He’s not the only one facing mass cancellations or postponements.
“Most of them have asked to move it ahead to a further date. So I think some people are still holding on, but what can you do? It’s one of those things where a lot of things happen,” said Andrew Deans, owner/operator of A Taste of Kelowna Food Tours.
“Last week we had some people who were evacuated in Spallumcheen who couldn’t make it up, so you just have to flex with the way the world is going right now. For me, some people have moved to a further date and some people who are from out of town, unfortunately, they’re just saying ‘we’ll see you next year.’”
Others are shifting gears and targeting locals, to try to make up for lost visitor dollars.
“We’ve got through the worst of it so far. So, I think if we can get through this, especially opening a small business in the middle of a pandemic, then I think we can take on anything after this,” adds Ashton Olsen of Okanagan E Kruise LTD.
There could be help on the way. TOTA is lobbying for more government support for the region.
“We’ve put the information in governments’ hands about what is happening, as we watch the cancellation of Ironman and the cancellation of Granfondo. Those are all big events that really keep the industry going through the fall and keep them alive, therefore, through the winter,” said Walker-Matthews.
She notes TOTA is trying to get as much detail and information into the hands of those who can make decisions about more funding to ensure the sector can recover the fall and winter seasons.
In the meantime, small operators are just hoping they can hold on through the winter and come back stronger next summer.
One of the three men accused of killing a man and dumping his body on a forest road off the Coquihalla in 2017 pleaded guilty to manslaughter earlier this summer.
The second-degree murder trial for 30-year-old Jared Jorgenson began in May, more than four years after the body of 20-year-old Michael Bonin was found on Peers Creek forestry road, east of Hope.
On June 24, before the end of his jury trial, Jorgenson struck a plea with the Crown and pleaded guilty to the lesser offence of manslaughter. He was sentenced to 252 days of jail, but with 251 days of credit for pre-trial custody, he was only left with a single day left to serve.
Jorgenson had been out of custody on bail since June 2018. He’ll remain under probation conditions for three years.
The contents of Jorgenson’s trial was covered under a sweeping publication ban, pending the conclusion of the trial of his co-accused Ryan Watt. Watt is scheduled to face his own jury trial in January 2022.
Jorgenson’s trial began a couple weeks after his other co-accused Joshua Fleurant pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. He was sentenced to life in prison, with no chance of parole for 20 years.
Earlier this month, Justice Allan Betton sentenced Fleurant to 18 months of jail for contempt of court, after Fleurant refused to testify against Jorgenson during the trial.
“The jury was deprived of the opportunity to hear that testimony, to consider it in the context of the whole of the evidence, and to render a verdict on the best evidence that could be presented,” Justice Betton said in his recently posted decision.
Justice Betton noted that Fleurant was not “belligerent or obnoxious or rude,” but he was “firm in stating that he would not testify.”
It’s unclear if the Crown would have accepted Jorgenson’s plea to manslaughter if Fleurant had testified during the murder trial.
Because Fleurant was already sentenced to life in prison for second-degree murder, the additional 18-month sentence will be served concurrently to his life sentence, and it won’t add any additional jail time.
The last man accused in Bonin’s murder, Ryan Watt, will face his own jury trial in Kelowna beginning Jan. 24, 2022. Watt has remained in custody since his arrest in January 2018.
Wine will take the spotlight again Sept. 8 to 11 at Kelowna’s Manteo Resort when the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society hosts the B.C. Lieutenant Governor’s Wine Awards.
As the premier wine judging competition in B.C., the event provides the opportunity for all licensed B.C. wineries to have their best wines judged by a highly esteemed industry panel. Presented by Valley First, TricorBraun and ContainerWorld, the competition recognizes a wide variety of wine styles and had more than 740 wines judged in 2020.
“I am thrilled to announce this year’s judging panel”, said Okanagan Wine Festivals Society general manager, Elan Morris.
“Our impressive panel speaks to the veracity of this competition. Everyone involved in the process is excited to see this year’s wine entries—and of course, which wine will earn the distinction of Wine of the Year. “
This years judging panel includes:
• Alder Yarrow
• Treve Ring
• Gurvinder Bhatia
• Sebastien Le Goff
• Brad Royale
• Emily Walker
• Barbara Philip
• DJ Kearney
• Sid Cross
• Rhys Pender
• Iain Philip
• Matt Landry
• Tim Pawsey
• Mark Filatow
• Geoff Last
Morris said the aim of the awards is not just to recognize the best wines but also to give B.C. wineries the opportunity to show off their products.
All licensed B.C. wineries can enter two wines without charge. The final submission date is Sept. 2.
In 2020, the Wine of the Year honour went to Upper Bench Winery and Creamery for its 2019 Riesling.
“For several years in a year now, we have seen the top honour go to a smaller winery,” said Morris. “Every B.C. winery has the opportunity to shine at this competition. This year already, we have seen a record number of smaller wineries enter their wines. That’s exciting.”
A veteran judge at the awards, Pawsey said he understands the importance of them
“With roots in the original Okanagan Wine Festivals judging (dating back over 40 years), the BCLG Awards is the longest-running competition dedicated to rewarding excellence in BC Wines.,” he said.
“With one of the broadest and most widely experienced panels, its accolades remain among the most sought after in Canada.”
Wineries can register their wines at: www.thewinefestivals.com.
Rob Gibson – Aug 26, 2021 / 6:08 pm | Story: 344035
A well-known Okanagan man who recently moved to Kelowna and purchased his first home is now in the fight of his life.
Brendan Nishimura (Kolybaba) has recently been diagnosed with a rare antibody-mediated inflammatory demyelinating disorder of the central nervous system, called Myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein associated disease, or MOGAD.
Now his friends and family are trying to help by starting a GoFundMe campaign for Nishimura, who was recently married and is a new father.
“Anyone who knows Brendan knows how genuinely kind, caring, passionate, and truly amazing he is. You may know Brendan from Jojo’s Cafe, Elvis’ Fine Jewelry, Osoyoos Home Building Center, and many other local events such as Open Mic nights and much more,” the fundraiser says.
The disease that Nishimura suffers from causes inflammation of the optic nerve, but can also cause inflammation of the spinal column and brain. Along with vision issues, Nishimura has now lost function in his feet and legs, can no longer swallow or use his tongue, or control his bladder.
The GoFundMe indicates, “because the disease is so new, his medication is not currently covered by BC Healthcare/Pharmacare. The family is now looking at medical bills of up to $40,000 a year, as each injection of Rituximab is $10,000 and he will need four a year.”
“We are hoping to remove some of the financial stress from their lives so Brendan can focus on getting better and back to his family.”
Photo: Nicholas Johansen
Two more Interior residents have recently died with COVID-19, including another resident of a Kelowna long-term care home.
The BC Centre for Disease Control disclosed two more COVID-19 deaths Thursday in the the Interior Health region, bringing the total deaths in the region to 184. COVID deaths in the region have been increasing this month, as new daily cases reach record levels.
One of the recent deaths came from Kelowna’s David Lloyd Jones long-term care home, where five people have died with the virus since an outbreak was declared there on Aug. 12.
There remains 11 active outbreaks in long-term care and assisted living facilities in the Interior, including six in Kelowna and one in West Kelowna.
The most recent outbreak was declared Wednesday at Kelowna’s Spring Valley Care Centre, where three residents and one staff member have tested positive.
- Sun Pointe Village in Kelowna – five residents (+2)
- Brookhaven Care Centre in West Kelowna – 10 residents and 20 staff; two deaths
- Cottonwoods Care Centre in Kelowna – 19 residents and 11 staff (+1) ; three deaths
- Hawthorn Park in Kelowna – one resident and four staff
- David Lloyd Jones in Kelowna – 38 residents and 12 staff (+1); five deaths (+1)
- Village at Mill Creek in Kelowna – two residents and one staff
- Spring Valley Care Centre in Kelowna – three residents and one staff
- Nelson Jubilee Manor – two residents and three staff; two deaths
- Kootenay Street Village in Cranbrook – one resident and two staff
- Nicola Meadows in Merritt – four residents and three staff; one death
- Hardy View Lodge in Grand Forks – one resident and one staff
“I simply won’t do it. I will not.”
The owner of Ricco Bambino Urban Winery and Garden Bar says he is taking a stand and is refusing to comply with the government’s orders to enforce the vaccine passport.
“I will not ask my staff, I can’t put them in harm’s way. I can not be part of anything that is going to cause a further divide in our community, further segregation, further discrimination. We are not going to do this. We are not going to enforce. I absolutely refuse to do this,” said owner Jason Alton on Thursday.
Alton says despite potential consequences, he wants to put up a fight.
“I am worried if we have to close or if that is forced upon us, but as far as customers, we have had overwhelming support. People love what we are doing.”
Alton says he is concerned for his staff’s safety.
“Verbal assaults, potentially physical assaults. You’ve seen what has happened when people have been asked to wear a mask.”
The mandate goes into effect on Sept. 13, when proof of a single dose of vaccine will be required to enter many non-essential businesses, including gyms.
Brett Barker, president and CEO of Anytime Fitness in Lake County, says he will not comply with the government’s demands.
“My specific industry has received nothing but restrictions, mandated closures, when our current solution isn’t working,” Barker said. “I mean we live in a country that is free and it needs to stay that way.”
Barker says he has received a lot of support from clients.
“Lots of people stopping me in my workout. Two of them had medical exemptions. He told me that my stance meant everything to him and his ability to continue to come to the gym.”
Many other businesses across B.C. have shared similar perspectives.
A Facebook group called “BC Businesses against Health Pass” has attracted more than 60,000 members.
The group shares a list of businesses that claim a vaccine passport in B.C. is unconstitutional.
Bad Tattoo Brewing, one of the busiest restaurants in Penticton, also announced Thursday they will not be enforcing the rules. The Kelowna Chamber of Commerce has called for a delay in the program rollout, noting that 36% of members are strongly opposed.
At this time, it’s unclear how the government intends to monitor the measures or what penalties businesses might face if they do not comply.
Castanet has reached out to the Ministry of Health, which has yet to respond.
Some of the top legal minds in the country say B.C.’s vaccine passport program will almost certainly end up in court, but that doesn’t necessarily make it illegal or unconstitutional.
Premier John Horgan says the province is ready for the fight in court.
“Government is always prepared for these types of adventures into the courts, we do it all the time,” he said.
The government says the vaccine passport measure is temporary, but will run until the end of January.
Rob Gibson – Aug 26, 2021 / 3:37 pm | Story: 344043
Australian Fire Information Officer, Luke Robinson, provides an update on the Mount Law wildfire
Australian fire crews in B.C. are heading home after a pair of deployments providing relief to British Columbians fighting wildfires.
BCWS fire information officer Taylor Colman tells Castanet 34 Australians firefighters are leaving the province on Sunday. A contingent of 100 Mexican firefighters will be in B.C. for another two weeks, on the front lines until Sept. 9.
Okanagan fire complex information officer Luke Robinson is among the Australians leaving at the end of the week after arriving in the province on July 27.
Robinson says he’s looking forward to sleeping in his own bed, but he says he has been treated very well in Canada. He said the hardest part of his time in the Okanagan has been trying to remember to drive on the right side of the road.
“We’re heading home after two deployments. I wish I could have helped finish what we started, the deployment here has definitely been good,” Robinson said. “We’ve learned stuff from the Canadians and I think they’ve learned stuff from us.”
During a press conference Thursday, the BC Wildfire Service’s fire operations manager Todd Nessman thanked the Australians for their efforts.
“We’re grateful for the support they provided,” Nessman said. “When they return home they’ll be in quarantine so it was a big commitment that they put forward, so we’re very grateful that they were willing to help out.”
Colman says firefighters and support staff from other provinces will be arriving to help control wildfires still burning out of control in the province.
“We have got eight extra support staff from Alberta along with 17 firefighters coming our way,” Colman said. “Their first day on the fire line will be Friday, August 27. That will give us a total of 42 people from Alberta.”
More help will be arriving on Sunday as 19 firefighters from the Parks Canada fire program will be arriving. They will join another 20 firefighters from Parks Canada who arrived earlier this week to join the fight.
“The fire situation this year has not only been challenging in B.C., but also in other provinces, including Eastern Canada and south of the border,” Colman said.
“Many agencies have requested resource support. The wildfire activity has stabilized somewhat in the East and we will continue to have conversations with our partners through the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, bringing in resources when they become available to us, as required.”
In total, there are between 3,400 and 3,500 personnel fighting wildfires in B.C. right now, including 466 from out of province and 1,200 contractors.
UPDATE: 2:45 p.m.
With cooler weather across B.C.’s Interior over the past week, fire activity has calmed significantly in most areas of the province.
During Thursday’s wildfire update, the BC Wildfire Service’s Todd Nessman said it’s been a “relatively quiet week” for firefighters across the province, after the extreme fire behaviour seen earlier this month.
As a result, some firefighting resources are being sent home, and the BCWS’ helicopter and air tanker fleets are being reduced. There remains about 3,400 personnel working across the province though.
Nessman noted they are still facing some challenges on the massive White Rock Lake fire, burning between Vernon and Kamloops.
“There is still is some concerns around that northeast corner; they were unable to conduct that large-scale ignition operation to secure the flank they were hoping to, just with some of the wind conditions, it wasn’t the right environment so they put a pause on that,” Nessman said.
“Otherwise, they’re pretty happy with operations and how things are going. They’re feeling confident that they have a good hold on this and in the coming days they’re hopeful they’ll be able to provide some recommendations around [evacuation] orders and alerts.”
A number of properties along the north end of Westside Road remain evacuated due to the fire.
The week-long forecast doesn’t show any significant weather events that are too concerning from a wildfire perspective, Nessman added.
This fire season, 1,551 fires have burned about 862,000 hectares. Nessman said the province has so far spent somewhere in the $400 million range on fire suppression. The province spent a record $649 million fighting fires in 2017.
ORIGINAL: 1:55 p.m.
Officials with the BC Wildfire Service, Emergency Management BC and the RCMP provide an update on the wildfire situation in B.C.
Photo: Kelowna Minor Football
UPDATE 2:20 p.m.
Interior Health has sent out a brief email clarifying its stance on sporting activities across the health region.
“Interior Health is clarifying team sports for adults and youth can take place under the Interior Health gatherings and events public health order, including competition, such as games and tournaments,” the statement said.
“Spectators are allowed, but capacity is limited to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors. Sports like martial arts, gymnastics, dance classes and cheerleading can take place and must meet the indoor capacity of 50 people. Events like cycling or running races cannot exceed the event capacity of 100 people.”
Click here for information about orders currently in place throughout the Interior Health region.
The City of Kelowna informed youth leagues across the region Wednesday that games were not permitted due to IH restrictions.
City officials were informed Thursday morning that was no longer the case.
UPDATE 1 p.m.
Less than 24 hours after youth sports leagues across the Interior Health region were informed they would be unable to play games, that decision has been reversed.
While the health authority has not responded to requests for comment, the City of Kelowna has released a brief statement on its website confirming the switch.
“We are awaiting further details, but have received confirmation directly from Interior Health that competitive sports are able to resume in the region and wanted to share this information with team organizers immediately as we understand many teams are in the process of making alternate schedule arrangements based on the Interior Health bulletin issued on August 23,” the statement reads.
Active living and culture director Jim Gabriel told Castanet News an item on the IH website indicating organized youth sport was not permitted until further notice was confirmed after a couple of calls from the city to health authority officials.
“Once we got comfortable understanding that, we made the call because health authorities make the call on public health, and it’s part of our responsibility and our process to follow that,” said Gabriel.
He said they informed leagues of that directive, then received information that it could be changing, which was confirmed via email earlier this morning.
“I think there is more information to come out, and we’ll get an understanding as to whether there will be conditions around it, but as far as we’re concerned right now, we’re proceeding with sport competition.
“We are extremely happy…we understand and value the importance of sport and what it means to the community and what it means to youth and adults and the whole healthy lifestyle.”
Interior Health has not yet responded to requests for comment.
The president of the Kelowna Minor Football Association is outraged after learning kids will not be allowed to play competitive games “until further notice.”
Katrina Gaspar received the notice from the City of Kelowna Wednesday.
“We have received further clarification from Interior Health outlining the latest restrictions around sport and exercise for the Central Okanagan region,” the letter from city community development co-ordinator Brad Duquette wrote.
“Effective immediately, all team-based competitions and games (both outdoor and indoor) are suspended in the Interior Health region until further notice.”
Kids can take part in “skills and drills,” as they were last summer.
“The kids are devastated, the kids are in tears,” said Gaspar.
“We’re talking about high school sports, we’re talking about community sports. This is one outlet kids have that gives them happiness. It teaches them life skills.”
Gaspar says the ruling may cost KMFA kids and, will be financially devastating if they have to refund monies to kids who leave over the latest restrictions.
Minor football played a very short season through October and into November last year before being shut down a second time.
KMFA has launched an online petition directed at Dr. Henry, Premier John Horgan, Health Minister Adrian Dix and others asking the restrictions be rescinded.
Castanet has reached out to both the city and Interior Health for comment.
Photo: BC CDC
New COVID-19 cases by local health area, identified between Aug. 15 and 21.
The rapidly increasing number of weekly COVID-19 cases has turned a corner in the Central Okanagan, but new cases continue to reach record levels in other parts of the Interior.
The latest geographical data released by the BC Centre for Disease Control shows there were 737 new cases of COVID-19 identified in the Central Okanagan between Aug. 15 and 21. While the region remains the hardest hit in the province by a long shot, that number is down from the 922 cases the week prior. This is the first time the weekly case count in the Central Okanagan has decreased from the week before since early July.
But while case numbers may be headed in the right direction in the Central Okanagan, many parts of the Interior continue to see cases reach unprecedented levels. In fact, last week was the first time every local health area in the Interior recorded new cases.
The North Okanagan regions have all posted new highs, with Vernon recording 133, Enderby at 28, Salmon Arm at 79 and Armstrong-Spallumcheen at 16.
The Kamloops region also saw its highest number of new cases in a single week, with 193. The region’s previous high came way back in early February, when 161 cases were identified.
The South Okanagan has faired moderately better, although the Keremeos region recorded its worst week, with 15 cases. Forty-three new cases were found in the Penticton region, while 22 people tested positive in in the Oliver and Osoyoos area.
Parts of the Kootenays have also seen a considerable rise in cases in recent weeks, with Nelson, Creston, Cranbrook and Trail all recording their highest ever single-week case counts.
But those numbers are rising across most of the province as well, including the Lower Mainland. The Interior has been B.C.’s worst hit region throughout the summer, largely fuelled by transmission in the Central Okanagan.
While the area accounts for about 15 per cent of B.C.’s population, it was making up close to 60 per cent of the province’s cases through late July. But as new cases rise throughout the Lower Mainland, the Interior now makes up roughly 40 per cent of the province’s new cases.
With new cases rising for weeks, so too have COVID hospitalizations. Province-wide, there are now 139 British Columbians hospitalized with COVID-19, including 75 in critical care. About 30 per cent of these are from the Interior region.
Multiple outbreaks have once again been declared in local long-term care facilities, and 11 Interior care home residents who’ve contracted the virus have died this month.
Dr. Bonnie Henry has previously said elderly people and those most immunocompromised can still suffer serious health issues from COVID-19, even if they’ve been vaccinated.
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