Monday, December 10, 2018
Mostly Cloudy
Currently
Chance of Snow
Monday
High 1° / Low 0°
Snow
Tomorrow
High 4° / Low 0°

Parks Canada launches website and survey for public consultation on proposed national park reserve

0

By Vanessa Broadbent
Aberdeen Publishing

Parks Canada has announced the launch of its public consultation process regarding the South Okanagan-Similkameen region’s proposed national park reserve: a website including a survey.
The announcement was made Monday by minister of environment and climate change Catherine McKenna, George Heyman, B.C. minister of environment and climate change strategy, Chief Clarence Louie of the Osoyoos Indian Band and Chief Keith Crow of the Lower Similkameen Indian Band.
“Canadians are invited to share their views and ideas on the proposed boundary for the national park reserve and provide their input on key aspects for consideration in the management of the lands,” Parks Canada stated in a news release.
Chief Louie shared his support for the park reserve, saying the present provincial system does not provide enough protection to the area.
“Today, we are proud to say we are partnering with the Lower Similkameen Indian Band, and the Governments of Canada and British Columbia to move forward with the important work needed to protect this area as a proposed national park for future generations.”

 • Read more: Parks Canada launches website on proposed national park

McKenna is urging the public to complete the survey.
“I encourage local residents, indigenous peoples and stakeholders, as well as all Canadians, to participate in the consultation and shape the proposed national park reserve in the South Okanagan-Similkameen.”
When McKenna visited Osoyoos in August to discuss the national park reserve, she said the public consultation process would include open house meetings. Parks Canada has not issued any information regarding such meetings.
Public input will be gathered online, through the consultation website, until February 28, 2019.
In spring 2019, once feedback has been collected and reviewed, Parks Canada said they will share a “What we Heard” report with the public, which will include a summary and analysis of the results of the consultation.
Parks Canada said the findings will “inform future recommendations regarding the proposed national park reserve.”
An agreement on a boundary for the proposed national park reserve and an approach to the management of the land is planned to be in place by summer 2019.
Once agreed on, the formal establishment of a national park reserve in the South Okanagan-Similkameen can begin.
The website and survey can be found at www.letstalksouthokanagansimilkameen.ca.

Top cop questioned about crime

0
Area G director Tim Roberts asks a question during a presentation from RCMP Superintendent Ted de Jager at last week’s regional district meeting. Looking on are Town of Oliver representative Petra Veintimilla and Area A (rural Osoyoos) director Mark Pendergraft.

By Lyonel Doherty
Oliver Chronicle

The RCMP crime stat system will be changing in the South Okanagan and across the country in the new year, says Superintendent Ted de Jager.

The commander spoke about the coming changes during his presentation to the regional district last Thursday.

De Jager said most of the calls will be classified as “founded,” which will result in a significant spike in statistical reporting.

“That doesn’t mean crime has risen. That means the way that it’s reported has changed.”

De Jager said this is a refreshing reset that will allow them to directly compare what is going on in local communities. However, it makes it very difficult to compare what happened in previous years.

“It’s an attempt to more accurately reflect the state of crime and what causes crime and how we report it.”

The new system will simplify the terminology and difference between “unsubstantiated” and “founded” and “unfounded.”

He noted when police say something is unfounded, it doesn’t mean they don’t believe someone, it just means they can’t establish that something occurred.

“This new form of statistical reporting is designed to get rid of that ‘grey’ (area) and be very direct.”

 • Read more: Municipal candidates address crime problem at forum

Area D director Ron Oberik applauded the new system, saying statistics have been very inconsistent between cities.

“There’s a lot of discrepancies historically in the last 10, 20 years and a lot of unfounded categories or files have come under really harsh critique.”

The superintendent said RCMP staffing is going well, noting they are in the process of finalizing the commander for Summerland and filling vacant positions in Oliver and Osoyoos.

De Jager also pointed out that the RCMP’s Community Active Support Table (CAST) will be rolled out regionally, not just in Penticton. CAST is a program that brings police, Interior Health and social services together to assist the most vulnerable people. For example, instead of arresting and charging someone who causes a disturbance due to drug addiction or mental health issues, that person will be directed to the proper agency for help.

During question period, Penticton Mayor John Vassilaki asked de Jager about RCMP response times that have come under scrutiny lately. A downtown business recently had to wait about 20 minutes before police arrived to deal with an agitated male.

It was discovered that RCMP were dealing with other, more serious calls at the time.

 • Read more: Violent crime, domestic violence up in Oliver

De Jager began by saying the South Okanagan/Similkameen is one of the safest places to be.

“That doesn’t mean crime does not happen,” he stated, adding there are concerns that CAST is dealing with.

He noted their focus is on prolific offenders, a small component of society that causes 80 to 90 per cent of the crime in local communities.

“We’re talking less than a hundred people, so that’s who we need to target.”

De Jager said the notion that downtown Penticton is an unsafe place is wrong.

“If someone doesn’t feel safe, I quite frankly take that personally and I want to make sure that they do.”

The commander said the RCMP is making every effort to make sure that the public feels safe anytime and anywhere in the South Okanagan.

“That said, if I know there’s a grizzly bear in the woods, I know I have a right to be in those woods, but I’m not going to go because I have to take some responsibility as well.”

De Jager referred to property crime and the theft of valuables from unlocked vehicles.

“We all need to take accountability.”

With respect to response times, the commander said the police response time to the incident in Penticton was three minutes.

“It was three minutes from the time it showed up on his (officer’s) computer screen to the time he arrived.”

De Jager called the delay to the scene a dispatch delay.

He said if they doubled the detachment strength in the South Okanagan, there would be no guarantee that dispatch times would change. “Sometimes members simply are involved in other files.”

De Jager said they are conducting a study of response times in the South Okanagan/Similkameen region.

“The fact is the majority of our response times in the more urban areas are well under industry standards.”

Area B director George Bush agreed that the Okanagan-Similkameen is a very safe place.

“We have very few criminals but the problem is they’re very consistent.”

He noted that Keremeos and Cawston are no strangers to crime.

De Jager said programs like Block Watch and Citizens on Patrol are vital. While a police officer may not be patrolling a rural area, a volunteer of Citizens on Patrol can be.

It’s neighbours looking after neighbours, he said, noting he left his garage door open one time and his neighbour texted him to ask if he was in there. “So he’s looking out for me and I’m looking out for him.”

De Jager said it would be ideal to respond to every call quickly, but the farther out people live, the longer it will take.

When you look at staffing levels in smaller communities, there may only be one police officer on duty, with another on backup, he said. That’s why it’s important to look out for yourself and your neighbour, he reiterated.

De Jager said he does random surveys of agricultural areas by checking tractors and ATVs and he often finds the keys in them. The commander pointed out they recently hired a new coordinator to help communities set up their own “neighbourhood watch” programs.

Santa makes an entrance in Oliver

0

As you can see, children couldn’t wait to give Santa a big hug today during Breakfast With Santa at the Oliver Community Centre. (Video by Lyonel Doherty)

RCMP still seeking wanted man

0
Jeremy Hargreaves is wanted on four province-wide warrants. If you see him, call 911 or Crime Stoppers immediately. (Photo contributed)

The Oliver RCMP is still seeking the public’s help in locating Jeremy Hargreaves who is wanted on four province-wide warrants.

Hargreaves is Caucasian, stands five feet, 11 inches tall and weighs 210 pounds. He has brown hair and blue eyes.

If you see him or have information on his whereabouts, call 911 or Crime Stoppers and quote the file number 2018-7447.

Oliver RCMP Cpl. Christina Tarasoff thanks the public for providing information which led to the successful arrest of two of Oliver’s most wanted – David O’Brien and Seamus Kirby.

 

 

Hornets win barn burner against Mustangs

0
Sahil Deol of the Hornets drives to the hoop during today's game against the Maggie Mustangs in the 58th annual Okana-Qen basketball tournament. The Hornets edged their rivals by only one point to win the game 56-55. (Photo by Lyonel Doherty)
Hornet Bret Rollison attempts to score against Will Casimir-Eneas in today’s game against the Maggie Mustangs. The Hornets stung their way to a thrilling 56-55 win. (Photo by Lyonel Doherty)

The SOSS senior boys basketball team won their second game today in the 58th annual Okana-Qen tournament.

The Hornets faced the Princess Margaret Mustangs in a “barn burner” that saw the home team edge the Mustangs by one point: 56-55.

Standout players Sahil Deol and Bret Rollison led the Hornets throughout the game.

The tournament finishes up Saturday.

Great toys for great kids!

0

The Bargain Store again this year is collecting toys for the kids who are getting Knights of Columbus Christmas Hampers. 

There were so many bags of toys collected this past week, that the pickup truck that took them away looked like Santa’s sleigh. 

The Spirit is in the air….

Tripped-out drivers not wreaking havoc on the roads

0

By Dan Walton
Oliver Chronicle

Has the legalization of marijuana increased the amount of stoned drivers on the road?

If so, it “remains to be seen,” according to Cpl. Mike Halskov, media relations with the RCMP’s South Okanagan Traffic Services.

However, “There may have been an expectation that there would be a significant increase in the number of people found driving under the influence of cannabis with the introduction of the new legislation.”

Halskov said impaired driving investigations are nothing new for the RCMP, which has been conducting them since 1921.

Police were able to enforce against high driving long before legalization, but since Oct. 17, they are now able to issue tickets for certain offences instead of criminal charges, Halskov said.

“It is still a bit soon to say how many tickets have been issued under the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act (CCLA) and those stats are compiled and released by ICBC once the data is in.”

 • Read more: Huge marijuana facility proposed in Oliver

Under the new laws of the CCLA, drivers who possess or consume marijuana are committing offences that are “actually a close parallel to offences in the Liquor Control and Licensing Act,” said Halskov.

“The bottom line is this: Impaired driving, be it by alcohol or drugs was illegal prior to legalization of cannabis, and it remains so today.”

Impaired driving investigations are not a perfect science, he said, as “These types of investigations are very complex and technical.”

Halskov was asked: after consuming marijuana, how much time has to pass before it’s safe and legal to drive again?

“The best advice I can give is that if you have consumed anything that can impair your ability to drive (alcohol/drugs/prescriptions), consider not driving at all and finding alternate ways home.”

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the answer is four hours.

According to the federal government’s website, “There is no standard waiting time to drive after using cannabis.”

 • Read more: Students warned about the dangers of drug abuse

The federal government warns that a “moderate social dose” of marijuana can cause a person to be impaired for more than 24 hours.

But for those familiar with the effects of marijuana, it sounds ridiculous to think that somebody could still be high more than 24 hours after consumption.

The Canadian government backs up that claim by citing a study from 1991 which involved only nine participants.

Amanda Stewart, who owns Valley Hemp Imports & Co. in Oliver, thinks the government should base its laws on independent and peer-reviewed studies. She wonders why the CCLA is based upon studies that were sponsored either by governments or pharmaceutical companies.

“It hasn’t really been what I would call legalization, more of a monopolization,” she said. “It’s strange to see that there’s so many barriers for people to go into business selling cannabis.”

Since legalization, Stewart said many customers have been asking if they could buy weed at her shop.

“It’s legal now, why aren’t you selling it?” has become a regular question at Valley Hemp.

 

“The government hasn’t done a good job informing people on their version of legalization,” she said.

However, Stewart has noticed more seniors taking up an interest in marijuana, “and the role it can play in their health. A lot of older Canadians wouldn’t have thought of trying it when it was illegal.”

Back to the roads.

If an RCMP officer suspects a driver is stoned, that officer may subject the motorist to a Standardized Field Sobriety Testing (SFST), and possibly have them submit to a battery of tests conducted by a Drug Recognition Expert.

THC doesn’t even have to be detected in the saliva of a driver in order to press charges. If the police officer doesn’t have a screening device, they can demand SFST and charge drivers who fail. If a driver does spit into a screening device and no THC is detected, the officer can still initiate the SFST and charge those who fail.

Council crunching numbers for canal fix

0
In its bid to obtain federal funding to reroute the siphon around Gallagher Lake, the Town of Oliver is expanding the scope of the project to include maintenance work needed for the remaining sections of the canal

By Lyonel Doherty
Oliver Chronicle

Town council is crunching the numbers with its consultant to determine how much a canal fix project will truly cost Oliver.

Recently, water councillor Rick Machial raised a concern about not knowing all of the numbers before council proceeds with any decision to borrow money. But he was assured by Chief Administrative Officer Cathy Cowan that council will indeed have all of the figures before a grant application is submitted.

The Town previously chose the option of rerouting the irrigation canal around Gallagher Lake after the siphon was damaged by a rockslide in 2016. The rerouting option will cost approximately $10 million.

The provincial government has committed $5 million to the project, but the Town hasn’t received any funding commitment from the federal government, which is worrisome for council.

However, the Town recently learned that the project could be eligible for a grant under disaster relief, but the minimum funding application threshold is $20 million.

So the Town is trying to meet that threshold by expanding the scope of the project. For example, it is considering adding some maintenance/repair work that is required for other sections of the canal to bring the total to $20 million, including a $5 million contingency.

 • Read more: Dates set for irrigation/canal shut down

Machial mentioned a different grant project they are trying to get funding for – covering the canal at Tinhorn and Hester Creek where a previous mudslide compromised the irrigation system.

Mayor Martin Johansen said it is his understanding that the Town will take all of the projects related to the canal and consolidate them into one capital project (for the $20 million funding application).

Council has discussed borrowing $4 million in order to get all of the work done, but Machial said these discussions are preliminary because there are still a lot of questions that need answers.

Councillor Larry Schwartzenberger agreed, saying there is no indication that the grant will come through.

“If we apply for our grant and we get it, then we have to figure out how we’re going to pay for our share, through taxation or borrowing, or a combination of both. If we don’t get the grant, it’s hypothetical.”

Councillor Dave Mattes said the Town may end up borrowing no matter what happens.

Cowan reiterated that more information is forthcoming once staff and the consultant figure out the numbers. She said the Town might get an answer about its application in the spring or before July of 2019.

She said one thing they have to convince the government is that the canal project is a public utility and not a private one. She noted it’s a utility that all taxpayers pay for.

Gulliver in Space at Tuc-el-Nuit

0

Tuc-el-Nuit students perform “Gulliver’s Travels in Space” as part of this year’s Missoula Children’s Theatre production at Frank Venables Theatre.

Handbells playing at new venue for 2018

0
Both directors of the Oliver Handbell Ringers and Singers, Helen Wollf and Sue Gay, invite the community to enjoy "Under a Winter Sky" in the new venue - Oliver Alliance Church

Contributed

There’s no denying it. Christmas is on its way.

The Oliver Handbell Ringers (OHR) are ramping up and getting set to present “Under a Winter Sky” to the Okanagan Valley. Emcee Mal Bearman explains to a crowd of holiday shoppers, “Don’t be confused! We definitely have a beautiful venue to play “Under a Winter Sky” in…The Oliver Alliance Church!”

Eclectic mixes of musicians gather several times per week to work on an art that can bring joy to many, especially during this busy season. OHR members hail from both sides of the 49th parallel, and range in age from early 20’s to the members that are a bit more than 20. This troop consists of ringers and singers working under the direction of a pair of dedicated ladies, who happen to be a daughter/mother team. The dynamic duo – Helen Wollf and Sue Gay – share both their passion and talents in music with many.

 • See more: A decade of ringing in the South Okanagan

When ringer, Shana Cachola, was asked about the appeal of ringing bells Cachola explained, “This craft is different than anything else I do. It takes intense practice, both together and individually. It’s REALLY hard! We work closely with one another, and the teamwork is truly something to treasure. It also makes me smile, right from my heart.”

Christmas icon that it is, the bell can instantly transport us to happy, snowy times in days gone by. With the pressures of modern life and expectations running high, the directors of the Oliver Handbell Ringers hope you can take a moment to relax and enjoy the efforts of their hard-working players. Wishes from Director Wollf, “We hope that our Christmas celebration of music is a gift to all ages!”

Performances at Oliver Alliance Church, admission is free (free-will offering will be taken)

Friday, December 14 at 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, December 16 at 3:00 p.m.

Find more information on Facebook – Oliver Handbell Ringers

Letter: Urban Planning

1

Dear editor:

As reported in the Chronicle:

Traffic calming and new park design By dwalton – November 23, 2018.

An open house takes place on Dec. 4 in the Community Centre Hall. Doors open at 4:30 p.m. with informal information and drawings available to view with Town Staff and TRUE Consulting.

I applaud the Town of Oliver for trying to include the public on these two issues. However, I have some real concerns:

Clearly while rushing to get the Coast Hotel into town someone in the previous administration forgot to include the rest of Station Street into their/our plans. Wouldn’t a comprehensive plan that included the remnants of Centennial Park, the new little park along side Fairview and the remaining portions of Station street as parts of the same issue?

Instead we now have an out of town entity, True Consulting out of Kelowna, engaged in the planning that should have been undertaken long before we bent over backwards for those that own the Hotel.

I have a set of suggestions:

Consider the remaining parts of Station Street, the remnants of Centennial Park and this new little park all part of the same project.

• Re-construct Centennial Park, there exists plenty of room to do so, in fact there exists enough room to expand it.

• Install a new trailer dump; I am almost certain that our planners wouldn’t have forgotten to include the plumbing tie ins in all the new infrastructure that we paid so dearly for to placate the Coast Hotel.

• Finish to the north, the paving, utilities infrastructure and beautification of Station Street.

• Invite Chief Louie and whomever designed their office structures to come in and design and install a native theme to the entire Station Street area. The OIB office structure is without question the most innovative and beautiful design I have levelled my eyes on in this entire region. Inside and out.

• Don’t make the issue of ‘Traffic Calming’ more complicated than it need be. Reduce the speed limit on any street within 500 meters of the junction of 97 and Fairview. 40km maybe even 30km in some spots.

• See to it that traffic enforcement exists. Clearly the RCMP is tied up with bigger issues, so explore the idea of: red light and speed cameras that automatically generate tickets/fines for the owner of the vehicles who chose to put us all at risk. Many communities in BC are doing the same.

Integrating with OIB on issues such as these might just pave the way for more cooperation with respect to other important matters of the day; like crime. I might also allow our youth to see that this community respects those of us who came before us and provide inspiration to them and our tourist guests that our only focus is not solely on the consumption of alcoholic beverages.

I would also like to know who commissioned True Consulting, how much it will eventually cost us and what were the constraints and or guidelines that were provided to them.

Michael Guthrie

RDOS landfills switching over to winter hours

0

Need to do a dump run?

Keep an eye out for the new hours.

From December to the end of February, the landfill in Oliver – as well as every other RDOS landfill in the South Okanagan – will be reducing its hours.

The Oliver Landfill will be opening later on weekdays. Between Dec. 1 and the end of February, operations will run from noon to 3:45 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 3:45 pm on Saturday.

All landfills will be closed on stat holidays and Boxing Day.

For further information on landfill winter hours please contact the Regional District Solid Waste group at 250-490-4129, visit www.rdos.bc.ca or e-mail info@rdos.bc.ca.

Visitor numbers down in Oliver

1
Despite Festival of the Grape attracting many people to Oliver every year, visitor numbers at the Oliver Visitor Centre are down by 2,000 this year compared to 2017

By Lyonel Doherty
Oliver Chronicle

The impact of weather and wildfires has resulted in lower visitor numbers in Oliver this year.

The Oliver Tourism Association (OTA) has reported that visitor numbers are down 2,000 compared to 2017.

From the beginning of 2018 to mid-November, 9,357 people dropped into the Oliver Visitor Centre, compared to 11,369 in 2017.

“Things are changing . . . we’re competing more than ever for visitor traffic with our neighbouring communities,” said treasurer Carol Sheridan during her presentation to Town council on Monday.

She cited the fire season and weather as a couple of reasons why numbers are down significantly.

 • Read more: Town supports TOTA’s biosphere destination

Sheridan also noted that visitors are seeking out information about tourism experiences in Oliver in different ways.

“They don’t just walk into your centre anymore, they’re looking on your website, they’re looking through social media”

(The Oliver Chronicle has learned that visitor centre manager Rhoda Brooks is scheduled to be laid off in December – the first time that has happened in 13 years.)

Sheridan said this year’s Festival of the Grape was also subject to unkind weather, noting they sold just under 2,800 tickets.

But the Oliver Cask and Keg festival saw a 30 per cent increase in attendance, with more than 800 people.

“A lot of people decided to come and spend the entire weekend,” she said.

Sheridan said one of OTA’s biggest accomplishments this year was engaging people through social media. She reported nearly 1,600 fans on their Facebook page. She also noted they have nearly 2,600 fans following them on Twitter, and more than 1,000 followers on Instagram (up 500 per cent since 2017).

Sheridan told council that OTA is finding that the cost of operating the visitor centre and marketing Oliver is increasing.

 • Read more: Oliver tourism a mixed bag (2013)

She noted the number and value of the grants they receive are decreasing or no longer available.

Despite that, OTA distributed 30,000 of its visitor guides this year, and they are all gone, she pointed out.

Sheridan said the board discussed priorities and agreed that looking at their staff structure is one of them. For example, they need an executive director to work on obtaining grants, form new partnerships, and most importantly, work towards a DMO (destination marketing organization) accreditation.

“For us to really, really bring the world to Oliver like we know everybody wants us to do, we need to amp up the level of staff service that we have.”

To that end, Sheridan requested a three per cent increase per year from the Town of Oliver, a total of $2,596 over three years. (The association’s fee for service agreement with the Town is coming up for review in 2019.)

Mayor Martin Johansen asked OTA if it is working on bringing a new event to Oliver.

Board director Danielle Hutton said they are working on a winter event as a top priority.

“We really want to focus on being a four-season destination,” she said.

It’s A Wonderful Life, A Live Radio Play at the Venables

0

By Patrick Turner
SOAP Theatre Productions

SOAP Theatre, EZ Rock and a talented group of performers will be presenting a classic holiday story with a special twist thrown in later this fall.

It’s A Wonderful Life, A Live Radio Play by Joe Landry, will be presented at the Osoyoos Elks Hall on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 and at the Frank Venables Theatre in Oliver Dec. 7-9.

Rather than a play full of action, this version of Frank Capra’s classic film brings the ever-timely story of disaster, redemption and holiday magic to life on stage before your eyes and ears in the form of a radio broadcast. It’s Christmas Eve, 1946 in the Golden Age of radio. Five actors have gathered in the WBFR studios for the weekly instalment of Theatre of the Air, a live radio broadcast. The talented ensemble brings a few dozen characters to the stage to tell the memorable story.

It’s a Wonderful Life is about the life of George Bailey, a generous and well-meaning man who has become too downcast and tired to continue living. He considers ending his life one fateful Christmas Eve when his guardian angel, Clarence, shows George what his town of Bedford Falls would have looked like if it hadn’t been for all his good deeds over the years. Even the cynics among us will cheer as George Bailey, standing on the brink of despair, famously learns that “no man is a failure who has friends.”

 • See more: SOAP offers another big comedy (2017)

The versatility of the cast —  Vance Potter, Jeff Smith,  Bertie Barens, Karen Hawitt  and Curtis Boomhower – will be evident, right from the opening cue from Stage Manager Ritchie Kendrick. An interesting twist and fun part of this production will be having the “Foley artist”, or sound effects technician, namely Tom Szalay, live on stage, creating the necessary sounds using props, rather than relying on recordings played from the sound booth.

Under the direction of Trevor Leigh and producer Patrick Turner all the components are coming together in the twice weekly rehearsals that started in early September.

“Bringing this classic to life with this lovely and talented artistic team has been a dream,” says Leigh. “It’s a great way to bring in the Christmas season and it’s fun for all ages!”

Patrons will be able to take part in some Christmas carolling prior to the performances, starting about 30 minutes before curtain time.

The play will be presented in Osoyoos as part of the Osoyoos Lite-up Festival Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. Performances begin at 7:30 pm at the Osoyoos Elks Hall, which is another break from SOAP tradition.

Three performances are scheduled at Frank Venables Theatre in Oliver the following weekend with 7:30 pm performances on Friday, Dec. 7 and Saturday, Dec. 8. The popular Sunday matinee returns with a 2 pm curtain on Sunday, Dec. 9.

More information on this show and other SOAP Theatre productions this seasons is available at www.soplayers.ca.  Tickets are available on the Venables Theatre website at www.venablestheatre.ca as well as at Your Dollar Store With More in Osoyoos. Tickets are $23 in advance or $25 on the day of the show. Special rates are available for students and for groups of 10 or more. Contact the Venables box office for details at 250-498-1626.

Judge ponders sentencing for guide-outfitter

0
Hunting guide-outfitter Jim Wiens from Oliver is awaiting sentencing for contravening the Wildlife Act in 2016. (File photo)

A provincial court judge is weighing several factors in her decision on punishment for an Oliver guide-outfitter who contravened the Wildlife Act in 2016.

This week James Darin Wiens pleaded guilty to shooting from a vehicle, hunting bears with bait and feeding dangerous wildlife. The plea resulted in other Wildlife Act charges not being pursued by the Crown.

The 51-year-old outdoorsman is the owner/operator of Vaseux Creek Outfitters, a company that provides hunting excursions for deer, black bear, cougars, elk, wolves and moose.

The charges were laid following a lengthy and elaborate undercover operation in which two conservation officers posed as hunters. The officers witnessed Wiens preparing for a black bear hunt by setting out dog food and cooking grease. A bruin was subsequently attracted to the site and shot (and killed) by one of the officers.

The judge has set aside sentencing for a later date.

Wiens is facing a potential fine and could lose some hunting equipment related to the Wildlife Act contravention. It is not clear if his guide-outfitter licence is also in jeopardy.

Tobe Sprado, an inspector with the Conservation Officer Service (Okanagan region) confirmed the above details with the Oliver Chronicle.

He said undercover operations occur regularly but are only carried out in the more serious offences committed by commercial operations. He noted there is always an element of risk to the officers involved, but no different than the risk associated with an RCMP traffic stop.

“We’re not going to put anyone’s life at risk.”

The Chronicle questioned Sprado on the protocol during these special investigations into Wildlife Act contraventions. He was asked about the officer who shot the bear and whether this act could also be considered a contravention of the law. He noted that conservation officers have special authority under the Act and are exempt from these contraventions.

Sprado also noted that black bears are not a species at risk, not like caribou. And the fact is conservation deals with a lot of conflicts with bears, he pointed out.

Sprado commented on the Wiens investigation and the necessity to carry out the shooting of the bruin.

“If the officer had missed, it would have placed the investigation at risk,” he said, adding there is also a risk to the safety of the officers.

As for Wiens losing his licence, Sprado said that is up to the director of wildlife to decide. He noted the director has the ability to administer additional sanctions or a suspension of permit.