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The provincial government is providing funding for 40 new provincial RCMP officers to police rural parts of B.C., but it’s too soon to say if any will be heading to the South Okanagan.
In response to questions from Castanet, the B.C. Ministry of Public Safety says it is creating 28 new positions at B.C. rural detachments as well as a 12-member “provincial support team.”
“We recognize pressures on frontline provincial resources and we are working with the RCMP, and internally to government to address these issues,” a Ministry statement said.
During annual budget discussions at Penticton city hall this week, the RCMP’s presentation indicated the provincial component of the Penticton RCMP detachment would be getting extra officers.
However, Staff Sgt. Kirsten Marshall, acting officer in command, said it’s not clear if the province has fully committed to the extra officers.
Provincial RCMP officers in Penticton are responsible for areas outside city limits, like Naramata, Kaleden or OK Falls. The Town of Oliver’s RCMP detachment, because the community’s population is below 5,000, is also provincially funded and has been seeking extra officers for years to deal with increased caseload associated with the new prison.
The provincial government says they are still determining where the new officers will be deployed.
The news may come as a relief to small communities, anxious about $10 million the RCMP said last month it has to cut from its provincial policing budget to avoid a deficit.
The provincial government says those cuts are happening on the RCMP’s end, and that it has provided an increase in policing funding year over year.
Thirty of the new provincial officers are cadets just arriving from depot. West Kelowna announced in September it would be getting one of the new cops.
The City of Kelowna is beginning a multi-year expansion for the Capital News Centre.
Council on Thursday approved a $230,000 budget request for a program and schematic design for expansion of the facility.
The plan is to add two more sheets of ice and additional sports facilities.
Cost of the expansion is estimated at $25.5 million.
Small Business BC has announced the semifinalists for its 17th annual awards, and there are seven companies in the Thompson Okanagan region that cracked the lists.
There were 611 nominations received, and the top 10 in eight categories that garnered the most votes were named earlier this week as semifinalists.
“It’s fantastic to see small businesses nominated and recognized from every corner of B.C., not only for their success but also for the positive impact they are making in their local communities and the global economy,” Small Business BC CEO Tom Conway said in a press release. “We’re very excited to see who comes out on top.”
There are three Thompson Okanagan companies among the final 10 for the Best Youth Entrepreneur Award. Salmon Arm’s Mismack Clean Cosmetics and Pamper Day Spa are among the finalists, as is Vernon’s Raven Hair Salon.
Kelowna’s Twirling Umbrellas, which is a web and digital design company, is up for the Best Company Award, while Salmon Arm’s Meikle Studio, which is an art house, is a finalist for the Premier’s People’s Choice honour.
West Kelowna’s New Tew Yew is a finalist for the Best Community Impact Award. It is a company that uses up-cycled and repurposed materials and fabrics to make new clothing.
Finally, Vernon’s Summit Tiny Homes is one of 11 companies—there was a tie for 10th—up for the Best Marketer Award.
The 10 finalists in each category will now submit to an expert panel a detailed application outlining why they deserve to win the award for which they’ve been nominated.
The top five finalists for each award will be announced on Jan. 20, and the winners will be revealed during the Small Business B.C. Awards Gala at Vancouver Convention Centre on Feb. 21.
Small Business BC Award winners will receive the Premier’s Prize in the amount of $1,500 cash, a one-year all-access pass to Small Business BC education and experts, and the honour of being named a top B.C. small business.
Kelowna International Airport is set to grow again.
During Kelowna city council budget approval Thursday, councillors directed almost $70 million towards expanding YLW over the next three years. The investment is the largest the airport has ever received in its 72-year history.
“Today marks the next step in our plan to expand the airport to ensure it meets the needs of our region now and well into the future,” airport director Sam Samaddar said. “With this investment, we can begin construction in the spring of 2020 to better serve more passengers.”
The funds will go towards doubling the size of the departures area, expanding security screening, increasing food and beverage options, additional snow clearing capabilities, and expanding the apron to accommodate larger and more aircraft.
Beginning in March, the work is scheduled to continue through 2023.
To fund the expansion, YLW’s airport improvement fee is increasing by $5 to $25 for every departing passenger. As such, the investment does not impact taxation.
Last year, 2,080,372 passengers moved through YLW, a 31 per cent increase since 2015, making it the 10th busiest airport in Canada.
The airport is projected to see 3.5 million passengers by 2045.
OTTAWA — Federal regulators are hoping a wave of new air passenger rights arriving this weekend will take the humbug out of holiday travel.
New rules will take effect on Sunday affecting flight delays and cancellations, including requiring airlines to seat parents beside or near their children at no extra cost, and compensate flyers for delays and cancellations within an airline’s control. Delays resulting from weather or mechanical issues are exempted.
The regulators are also promising public awareness help in the face of polling that suggests many people boarding flights don’t know about the new regime.
This is the second phase of passenger-rights rules. The first ones landed in mid-July and required airlines to compensate and respond to tarmac delays, denied boardings and lost or damaged luggage.
Transport Minister Marc Garneau’s mandate letter also shows he is to look at a much broader change to how Canada’s airports operate.
The marching orders from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau include making planes and trains more accessible; making Canada’s airports more efficient and accountable to travellers; and set standards to limit the amount of time travellers spend waiting at airport security.
“The model that has existed with our airport authorities for over 20 years has been a very good model, but it’s 20 years old and the world has changed,” he said.
“It’s a good time to re-look at the governance and the way things operate within our airports.”
The mandate letter was made public Friday morning just as Garneau was talking about the new suite of passenger rights.
AirHelp, a Berlin-based passenger rights company, has said the exemptions for weather or mechanical malfunctions doesn’t encourage airlines to avoid “so-called undiscovered issues” and allows them to sidestep compensation by pointing to malfunctions on the tarmac.
Other consumer rights advocates say getting monetary compensation is tough because it requires passengers to present evidence that is in the hands of the airline.
The rules rely on travellers filing complaints with airlines or, as a last resort, the Canadian Transportation Agency.
Agency chair Scott Streiner, said the number of complaints about air travel continues to rise and will likely top 10,000 for 2019.
Streiner said he was satisfied with the airlines’ overall efforts to comply with the first wave of rules and expected the same in the coming weeks. He also noted his agency didn’t hesitate to fine companies found in violation of the rules already in place.
But six months into the new regime, it isn’t clear how well things have worked because data about complaints rests with air carriers and isn’t yet public, said Ian Jack, the Canadian Automobile Association’s managing director of government relations.
A CAA-commissioned poll made public Friday found that just over half of respondents said they hadn’t heard or read anything about the rules aiming to protect flyers caught in travel nightmares.
Stephanie Ball has been named new executive director of Central Okanagan Journey Home Society, which is the group in charge of trying to solve homelessness in the region.
Ball brings more than 26 years of experience in the human services sector. She has worked on many local, regional and local projects both in Canada and in the United Kingdom.
“I believe deeply in localized solutions, and while there is similar work occurring across communities, the community context always looks different,” Ball said in a press release. “My experience provides me with the depth of practice that is critical in understanding the complexity of homelessness and poverty on a multifaceted level, and the acumen to effectively convene partners, stakeholders and investors in achieving the targets and timelines necessary to reach Functional Zero by 2024.”
Ball will be working alongside the COJHS board executive in the coming weeks in an effort to ensure a seamless leadership transition.
“As a seasoned executive, she has spent much of her career engaged in systems-level orchestration and brings a strong reputation as an impact strategist,” Journey Home wrote in a press release announcing the move.
Ball’s appointment comes exactly one year to the day that the organization named Gaelene Askeland as its new executive director.
Kelowna got a tourism boost in more ways than one this October when it hosted the 2019 Skate Canada International, garnering millions in spending and international media attention.
A report commissioned by Tourism Kelowna found the event generated $5.3 million in economic activity, with $4.5 million of that directly in the Kelowna area.
Ticketing information shows 3500 out-of-town visitors travelled to Kelowna for the event, including 45 per cent who were first-time visitors to the city.
International visitors came from Japan, the U.S., Australia, China, England, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, Switzerland and Taiwan.
On average, out-of-town visitors stayed for four nights, and visited attractions such as wineries, local restaurants, shops, hiking or biking trails and galleries or museums.
Surveys found 94 per cent of attendees were satisfied with their time in Kelowna and 87 per cent said they are likely to return.
Tourism Kelowna president and CEO Lisanne Ballantyne says the 2019 event provided an opportunity to showcase Kelowna, and for her team to provide a first-class visitor experience.
“Through our major events strategy, Tourism Kelowna and the City of Kelowna work together to secure bids for national and international events that we can host during our traditionally slower tourism months. Events like Skate Canada bring new spending to the market that benefits our city and region and many local businesses directly.
“As soon as competitors and spectators arrive for an event, our visitor experience strategy begins. Our team was in the arena, at the downtown Kelowna Visitor Centre, and at the arrivals area at Kelowna International Airport to greet visitors, answer questions, and encourage visitors to explore Kelowna and visit local businesses. Our goal is great reviews, increased spending, and return visits.”
Beyond the spectators, the event attracted 60 athletes from 14 countries, requiring an estimated 1,800 hotel room nights for athletes, coaches and event organizers alone.
The next big sporting events coming to Kelowna include the World Mixed Doubles and Senior Curling Championships in April 2020, the Memorial Cup in May 2020 and the Tim Hortons Brier in March 2021.
The silver screen has brought in lots of green to the Okanagan.
In a report to the Regional District of North Okanagan from the Okanagan Film Commission, it stated that the film industry had a $23.7 million economic impact in 2019.
“It creates opportunities,” said Dalvir Nahal, who was RDNO’s representative to the film commission. “It creates jobs.”
There were 31 film, television and commercial projects shot in the valley, plus 72 location requests.
One of the most prominent projects that was shot in the area was The Last Victim featuring Ron Perlman, who has starred in Hellboy and Sons of Anarchy. The film was shot in Vernon, Kelowna and other parts of the Okanagan.
But there were also a lot of local people featured in these projects, both in front and behind the camera. The OFC got $226,500 this year from the three regional districts, with $33,000 of that coming from the RDNO and $1,500 from Enderby.
The OFC is looking for a $10,000 increase in grants in 2020 for more support staff.
After more than 10 years of promises, construction will finally begin on what is now known as Pandosy Waterfront Park.
City council approved $4.5 million for the beginning of construction of the park on Cedar Avenue during its budget discussion on Thursday.
Work will include public consultation, design and the first phase of construction.
This includes demolition of the existing residential properties, a central plaza, activity lawn, beach front, restored shoreline and outdoor classroom. Construction of the first phase is anticipated to be completed in 2021.
Council agreed the expenditure is great news and finally makes good on a promise made to residents more than a decade ago.
Coun. Luke Stack said if it wasn’t for the inclusion of an infrastructure tax levy in last year’s budget, it may not have been possible this year.
Hospice House Kelowna has launched a new website with the intention of providing more information for people who are looking for palliative care options.
The website was funded by Kelowna General Hospital Foundation, which also led the fundraising campaign for the facility in 2008.
“The Hospice House is an important part of Interior Health’s hospice palliative care program,” Central Okanagan hospice palliative care services manager Jessica Barker says. “These families are navigating a very difficult time. It’s important that they are able to research their options and find the information they need with ease.”
Hospice House Kelowna believes the new website will fill a gap in available online information and provide resources for individuals and families facing a life-limiting illness, at home or in care settings.