Saturday, February 16, 2019

Community mourns firefighter’s passing

Oliver is mourning the sudden passing of veteran firefighter Dwayne Emery, described as a caring, gentle soul.
Dwayne Emery served with the Oliver Fire Department for 20 years.

Many heavy hearts are mourning the passing of a veteran firefighter in Oliver.

The Oliver Fire Department has announced the sudden passing of Dwayne Emery, who served the community for 20 years.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family,” the department says on its Facebook page.

Comments are pouring in from many people who knew Emery. One wrote: “Your love for your community, family and friends is your legacy, dear man. Please hug your loved ones, folks, life can change in an instant.”

Other posts indicated that Emery was such a kind, gentle, caring soul. “Loved by many, gone a lifetime too early.”

Condolences are even pouring in from other departments, such as the Labrador West Search and Rescue team, and the Sechelt fire squad.


Kairos Blanket Exercise at Senpaqcin

In January, the intermediate students and teachers at Senpaqcin hosted the Kairos Blanket Exercise as part of their inquiry into how systems of governance shape the lives of people. The Blanket Exercise covers more than 500 years of history in a 90 minute experiential workshop with the purpose of fostering understanding about our shared history as Indigenous and Non-Indigenous people. Students, parents, community members and leaders walked on blankets that represented “Turtle Island” and into the role of First Nations, Inuit and Metis people. The intermediate students all had scrolls to read that shared historical facts and distributed cards to participants which helped people role play a variety of different situations (pre-contact, treaty making, colonization and resistance).

Local elder, Ramona Bent shared, “What was amazing about this exercise was the visual as the children spoke their parts; for example (small)pox and the deaths and the ones holding a certain color card had to sit down, then residential school and they were put on a separate blanket, ones who lost their status had to sit down and as they went through this you could see how many people were left and how the land was getting smaller for hunting, gathering, etc….what a powerful exercise…what a great learning tool and visual. Thanks to SPC.”
The exercise concluded with a talking circle facilitated by community elders to discuss the learning experience and to share their thoughts, feelings and transformed thoughts.

National Park meeting rescheduled


Vanessa Broadbent
Aberdeen Publishing

A meeting intended to give community members the opportunity to voice their questions and concerns about the proposed national park reserve in the South Okanagan has been cancelled by Parks Canada, with less than 24 hours notice.

Sarah Boyle, Park’s Canada’s project manager for the park reserve, told Oliver town council on Monday evening that the meeting, planned for Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., would be postponed so senior officials could attend.

Parks Canada had agreed to meet at the Oliver Community Centre with the South Okanagan-Similkameen Preservation Society (SOSPS), Grasslands Coalition and the British Columbia Wildlife Federation (BCWF).

A meeting planned for Wednesday with the Naturalist Clubs and First Things First Okanagan is also being rescheduled.

“Parks Canada apologizes for the short notice and inconvenience that this may cause the membership of these organizations. Lead representatives of these organizations will be contacted in the near future with further details,” Parks Canada media relations chief Dominique Tessier said in an email.

The SOSPS received confirmation from Parks Canada on Feb. 8, four days before the event, and were told the next day that only 150 people would be allowed to attend, the society said in a press release.

“Many, many members from various organizations like the BCWF, Grassland Coalition and the SOSPS had indicated relief that there was finally going to be a open-mic conversation about the park,” the press release stated.

“If the promise to have a conversation with local residents can be broken last-minute to the convenience of Parks Canada, is this an indication of the integrity they will practice in the future with promises regarding any aspect of the process … For an organization that promised local input, this decision by Parks Canada to shut down the conversation during the “consultation period” has done irreparable harm to the trust that locals have for our Federal Government and the democratic process.”

Parks Canada has not yet announced when the rescheduled meetings will be held.

Highway north of Oliver reopens after major closure


Damn erosion!

The major artery between Oliver and Kelowna was fully closed for over a week because of a rockslide on the morning of Feb. 2.

It will be a while before a four-lane section of Highway 97, just north of Summerland, is completely back to normal.

Travel times are only a little longer now, but before a convenient detour opened on the morning of Feb. 11, drivers were faced with an extra two to three hours on the road, each way.

Mayor Martin Johansen, after checking with Oliver’s operations department, said there have been no major impacts in Oliver as a result of the slide, which occurred about 60 kilometres north of town.

“I do expect the road closure has negatively impacted residents who need to travel past Summerland for work or medical appointments and businesses who may be waiting additional time for deliveries,” he said.

“I suspect the significance of the impacts will increase the longer Hwy 97 remains closed.”

GoFundMe for Osoyoos family that lost young father


Vanessa Broadbent
Osoyoos Times

Friends of the victim of a fatal accident on Highway 97 on Friday morning are asking for the community to help support the family.

Cole Bowe, a 24-year-old Osoyoos resident, passed away after the vehicle he was in hit a patch of ice and collided with an oncoming car at Deadman’s Lake near Road 21.

Bowe was an employee of the Osoyoos Buy-Low store.

“He was amazing; he was so funny and so cheerful,” coworker Sue Turnbull Spencer said.

“It didn’t matter what he was going through, he came in with a big smile every day, joking around. Nothing brought him down.”

Bowe’s wife and 10-month old son were also in the vehicle and hospitalized. The child sustained only a few minor injuries, Turnbull Spencer said.

She’s created a Go Fund Me account and is collecting donations to support Bowe’s family when his wife, currently in stable condition, is released from the hospital.

“I was worried about where they were going to go after this because Cole was the main provider of the family,” Turnbull Spencer said.

“At least if she doesn’t have to worry about the financial part right now, then that’s one less worry for her.”

So far, just over $3,000 has been raised. The goal is to raise $10,000.

“I’m so impressed,” Turnbull Spencer said. “I don’t even know half the people that are donating right now.”

Buy-Low doesn’t seem the same without Cole, and his coworkers are devastated, Turnbull Spencer said.

“We mourn him everyday; everyone just loved him so much. It’s hard to talk about him at work without everyone starting to cry.”

The Go Fund Me account can be found at

2019 Sheep Count at Vaseux Lake


Photos of the 2019 Sheep Count at Vaseux Lake hosted by the Southern Okanagan Sportsmen’s Association.

Here are the results of the 70th Annual Sheep Count at Vaseaux Lake Foothill Ranges Today:

We had approximately 25 Volunteers/Hikers attend with an 8 a.m. start at the Vaseux Lake Campground. We’d like to thank our visitors who came from the Lower Mainland to be apart of history and locals who braved the frigid temperatures in the name of conservation.

We’d like to thank this year’s volunteers who organized and cooked for the event: Lee Clarke, Joan Lindsay, Mathew Lewis, Darby Lewis, Ron and Mary Ostermeier and Lindon Springer.

This is the 70th Annual Sheep Count at Vaseaux Lake – the longest consecutive wildlife and sheep inventory count in Western Canada.

2019 Sheep Count Totals:

97 California Big Horn Sheep

23 Rams

57 Ewes * some of the Ewe counts included young yearling sheep

17 Lambs

66 Mule Deer

64 Does

1 buck

1 Fawn

Other Mammals Counted

3 coyotes

Figure skater Patricia Fortunato wins silver


Patricia Fortunato who skates out of the Summerland Skating Club had the chance to compete at the 2019 West Coast Challenge Adults Competition this past weekend (February 9th).

This was her first attempt at an adult competition and she managed to have a clean program, snagging a 2nd place finish in the Silver Interpretive (young adults) category with a new personal best of 29.11 points.

Fortunato hopes to continue competing in adult competitions and is planning on moving up to Gold Interpretive as well as Gold Freeskate at the 2019 Super Series Final Competition in March. As long as head coach Louise Evans and club coach (sister) Sabrina Fortunato continue to put up with her!

National park likely but ‘not a done deal,’ manager says

Parks Canada has appointed Sarah Boyle as the new project manager for the proposed South Okanagan national park reserve. (Submitted photo)

By Lyonel Doherty

The project manager of the proposed national park reserve says there’s a high likelihood that the park will go ahead, but “it’s not a done deal.”

Those were the words of Sarah Boyle to the regional district on Thursday during a presentation to board members.

Boyle said public consultation continues (until Feb. 28), noting they are committed to working with ranchers and cattle grazers to reach common ground.

She also pointed out that public access to the lands within the park will not be disrupted.

But Area B (Cawston) director George Bush expressed a concern about a lot of agricultural land being lost to the park, noting that four or five ranches have been bought out already by Nature Trust.

“It just continues, and then now we’re going to lose another, I don’t know what it is, a hundred thousand, two hundred thousand acres (to the park).”

Bush said this is all food-producing land as far as the people who live there are concerned. “And it’s going to be lost, so it’s a major concern. We talk about food sovereignty all the time, and we’re losing it.”

Bush clarified that he is in favour of protecting the land, but there are other ways of doing it.

“I’m not in favour of the provincial government giving up the rights to look after this land to the federal government.”

Bush said the government may promise continued use of the land (for helicopter training, for example), but they can “take it away any time they want.”

Boyle said this is the type of constructive criticism they want to hear right now. She noted that more detailed steps are required such as completing range impact assessments.

“We’re committed to working with grazers. We’ve been told that that was a deal breaker the last time. We have to find a way to make it work with the ranching community.”

In an overview on the park proposal, Parks Canada says one of the key objectives is to maintain ecological integrity of wildlife habitat and plant species.

Boyle has also been saying that Parks Canada cannot expropriate private property in order to enlarge or establish a national park. She also says private lands would only be purchased on a willing seller-willing buyer basis.

Parks Canada says the park will draw 100,000 visitors annually in year one to five. Fifty six per cent will be local, while 44 per cent will be tourists.

Parks Canada predicts there will be approximately 55 law enforcement incidents (relating to the park) per year, with one to four requiring the RCMP.

This is a primary concern for some Oliver residents, including Shirley Zelinski, who fears an increase in crime if the park is established.

“Our officers are stressed, overworked and have no extra time in their day to head to the park,” she said, adding that residents don’t want to bear the cost of additional officers and the overtime incurred.

According to Parks Canada, the following activities will be allowed in the national park: wildlife viewing, fishing, hiking, camping, horseback riding, mountain biking (in designated areas), hang gliding/paragliding, and off-road vehicle use (for grazing tenure holders and park operations).

The following activities won’t be allowed: recreational off-road vehicle use, hunting/trapping, firewood collection, parachuting and base jumping, mushroom picking and drone use.

As for hunting on private property, the government has no jurisdiction or rights on privately-owned lands.

Prior to Boyle’s presentation, Area C director Rick Knodel expressed a concern to stakeholders that Sasha Hopp from the South Okanagan Similkameen Preservation Society was denied by the regional district to appear as a delegation. He said he intended to request that the board withdraw Boyle’s presentation for the same reason it gave Hopp: “Addressing any policies that could be perceived as benefitting any one party prior to adoption of the plan could undermine the planning process.”

The regional district said Hopp’s request was denied because the board doesn’t have jurisdiction over the proposed park.

The preservation society recently released a survey that indicated more people are opposed to the park and are calling for a referendum to decide the matter.

The Oliver Chronicle asked Parks Canada if a referendum is a possibility at this stage of the game. No response yet.

Parks Canada will meet with stakeholders on Tuesday, Feb. 12 at the Oliver Community Centre starting at 6:30 p.m.


Montreal Canadiens alumni ready for big game in Oliver

Verna Louie collects autographs from Montreal Canadiens alumni (Mike Weaver) at the Oliver Community Centre before the big game tonight. (Photo by Lyonel Doherty)
Montreal Canadiens alumni Mike Weaver poses for a photo with Brian Coughlin and baby Corson. (Photo by Lyone Doherty)

It’s almost time for the big game to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Oliver Arena.

Montreal Canadiens alumni arrived to a warm welcome at the Oliver Community Centre late this afternoon. They are finished signing autographs and are getting ready for the puck drop tonight against the Oliver Big Horns.

Proceeds will help with much-needed upgrades to the Oliver Arena.

Oliver man arrested for assault

Police have arrested a 56-year-old Oliver man for assault and uttering threats. A Emergency Response Team was utilized Thursday evening to assist in the arrest. (File photo)

A 56-year-old Oliver man is facing charges of assault and uttering threats.

According to police, on the night of Feb. 5, someone reported that the suspect (Bradley Cairns) went to a residence where he allegedly assaulted and threatened the occupant.

Through the investigation it was determined that any attempt to arrest the individual may cause a significant risk to both public and officer safety. So on the evening of Feb. 7, an Emergency Response Team was deployed to the home of the suspect to assist in the execution of the arrest warrant.

Cairns was arrested at his home without any issue. Inside the home, police located three long rifles, two of which had spent casings in the chamber, according to RCMP.

Cairns has been charged with one count of uttering threats and one count of assault. He was scheduled to appear in court in Penticton today (Feb. 8).

Collision claims life of Osoyoos man, 24

A 24-year-old Osoyoos man died in a two-vehicle collision south of Oliver this morning. A mother and her 10-month-old infant survived the crash.

A 24-year-old Osoyoos man died in this morning’s two-vehicle collision on Highway 97 south of Oliver.

The incident occurred just before 10 a.m. at Deadman’s Lake near Road 21.

Police report the collision occurred when a northbound Chevrolet Cavalier impacted a southbound Chevrolet Sonic. A 24-year old male passenger in the Cavalier was deceased at the scene.

Two other occupants of the Cavalier, a 26-year-old woman and 10-month-old infant are being treated at hospital and are in stable condition at this time.

The 62-year-old driver of the Chevrolet Sonic is also being treated for minor injuries. All parties involved are from Osoyoos.

The cause of the crash is under investigation but winter road conditions are believed to be a contributing factor.

Drivers are being asked to take extreme caution with the increase of snow on the road.

Anyone who witnessed the crash or who may possess related dash camera footage or photos are asked to contact Cst. Mark Fulton at RCMP South Okanagan Traffic Services at 250-499-2250.

One witness told the Chronicle that she observed one car lose control on the roadway on a suspected patch of ice. Nobody was speeding, she said.

Investigators are expected to be on scene for several more hours.

Serious accident closes Highway 97

Oliver firefighters work on extricating the occupants of two-vehicles after a collision on Highway 97 south of Oliver this morning. (Photo by Lyonel Doherty)
Highway 97 is closed this morning due to a two-vehicle collision south of Oliver near Road 22. (Photo by Lyonel Doherty)

Oliver firefighters, RCMP and at least two ambulances were called to the scene of a two-vehicle collision on Highway 97 at Deadman’s Lake this morning.

Dispatchers initially reported that three people, including an infant, were unresponsive and that extrication was required.
It was later reported that air ambulance was making its way to South Okanagan General Hospital for transport to Kelowna.
RCMP reported that Highway 97 would be closed for some time. No further details are known.
A two-vehicle collision south of Oliver this morning required extrication and at least two ambulances. It was reported that at least three people were injured. No further details are available. (Photo by Lyonel Doherty)

Sing along with Mamma Mia at SOSS


Who’s your daddy?

That’s the premise of – Mamma Mia – the next high school musical at Southern Okanagan Secondary School.

Relying heavily on songs by Abba, the story is about a young woman named Sophie who is eager to find out who her father is, so she goes through her mother’s diary and invites to her wedding three of her mother’s former lovers from around the time she was conceived.

One of the lead roles – Rosie – will be played by Abby Teigen.

“Rosie is really fun loving and wants to love life,” said Teigen. “And I love dancing so it’s kind of the right role.”

Playing the role of Donna (the mother) will be Grade 12 student Freya Ware. She has acted in school plays every year since beginning at SOSS, but “I’ve always played teenagers and I’m playing an adult this year … it’s challenging because you have to be more dramatic and present yourself differently than you do when you’re playing a kid.”

And there’s a little more pressure for Ware to remember all her lines in Mamma Mia.

“It’s full of songs that everyone knows, so if you mess it up, the audience will know,” she said.

Donna’s best friend, Tanya, will be played by Grade 11 student Riah Podmorow. She has also been involved with every play at her school and is excited to be performing such a classic story this year.

“Everyone knows the music,” she said. “Music draws people in. The movie was filmed in Greece, so beautiful, which is another reason why people like it so much and are excited people come and see it.”

The teacher running the production, Alison Podmorow, said a two-storey Greek tabernacle is being built, and the set is “going to be a thing of beauty.”

Mamma Mia will be more challenging than previous plays put on by the school.

“In the past we tried to focus on high school age stuff – like High School Musical, Grease, Footloose,” Podmorow said. “This one is about a bunch of 40 year olds trying to figure out who they are, so it’s a bit of a stretch with some of the kids and their acting.”

There are also adult volunteers who will be making up a six-piece live band.

Mamma Mia happens on March 7, 8 and 9 at Frank Venables Theatre. Tickets can be purchased online at

Don’t miss big game for arena’s 50th


The Oliver & District Arena, one of the first recreation facilities built in the South Okanagan, is 50 years old. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the grand opening back in February 1969 and kick off a year-long celebration of this special milestone, Oliver Parks and Recreation is hosting the Montreal Canadiens Alumni Tour for a special charity hockey game this Friday, Feb. 8.

Following a special opening ceremony and puck drop involving local dignitaries, surviving members of the original Building Committee and the singing of our national anthem by Kyah Allen, the Montreal Canadiens Alumni will face off against the Oliver Big Horns for three periods of Canada’s favourite game.

The local team name was chosen to pay homage to the players who proudly wore the Big Horns jersey for many years at the Oliver Arena, even representing Oliver on an international tour to Sweden and Finland in 1984. Five of the players who will take the ice on Friday against the Habs were a part of this original team: Mike “Johnsy” Johnson, Jim “Chicken Jim” Stanley, Bryan “Brimy” Brimacomb, Larry “Dusty” MacFadden and Tom “Fortchy” Fortune. They will be joined by 13 local hockey players and two coaches representing a wide range of ages and hockey experience, all with one thing in common: a love for the game of hockey and the Oliver Arena. These players all contributed financially for the experience of playing against the ex-NHL greats, and Oliver Parks and Recreation is grateful for their support. To view the complete Big Horns and Montreal Canadiens Alumni rosters, visit Oliver Parks and Recreation website

Game-goers can also expect souvenir sales, intermission contests and activities, beverage sales featuring Firehall Brewery craft beer, the famous poutine and other treats from the Lion’s Club concession and memorabilia displays from many years of sport at the arena.

South Okanagan Minor Hockey pre-novice players will be taking the ice immediately following the first period for a special skate with the Canadiens.

Oliver Parks and Recreation is grateful for the generous support they received from the local business community to help to cover the costs of bringing the Montreal Canadiens Alumni tour to Oliver and throwing a 50th anniversary party.

Another three local hockey players purchased a “Thrill of a Lifetime” experience to play alongside the Montreal Canadiens Alumni team for the game on Friday. Ron Doucette, Derek Ruck and Dean Maynard will don Canadiens jerseys for the game and face off against their peers.

“I’m not sure when the last time the arena reached the kind of capacity we expect on Friday,” says organizer Carol Sheridan, “but Oliver sure came through on selling out this event and it will be a really special celebration of just how much this facility means to the community.”

Any proceeds from the event will go towards much-needed capital improvements to the arena. Although the building structure itself has at least 25 years of life remaining, the brine lines and concrete slab that make up the secondary cooling system and ice surface have reached end of life and are prematurely failing. The arena washrooms, dressing rooms and public spaces lack accessibility and need updating, plus the original wood bleachers, stairs and hand rails up to the mezzanine level present concerns that need to be addressed.

A concept design and budget to address these concerns as well as other potential improvements to the facility are currently being developed and will be on display throughout the year for the community to review. The work is tentatively scheduled for 2021, dependent on project funding.

For more information about the event or the Oliver & District Arena facility please contact Carol Sheridan, Manager of Parks and Recreation, at 250-498-4985 or

Senpaqcin participates in the Winter Wellness Camp 2019


By Michele Woitzik
Osoyoos Indian Band

The Winter Wellness Camp 2019 was organized by OIB’s Health Promoting School Coordinator, Jennifer Martin who works with four Okanagan Band Schools in the nation to promote mental wellness, positive school environment, physical fitness and nutrition. This position is funded by Interior Health.

The Winter Wellness Camp is planned for a time of year when spirits can be low and physical activity may be more limited due to less outdoor play and activities with shorter daylight. Intermediate Students from Sensiyusten, Outma Sqilx’w Cultural School and Senpaqcin went up Camp Boyle in Summerland for three days of winter fun, cultural teachings and bonding with new friends.

Jennifer Martin was quoted as saying,
“When looking at key factors that positively influence mental health; physical activity, Cultural connectivity, healthy eating, and positive social relationships, the idea of the Winter Wellness Camp began to take shape. Gathering students and staff together to learn strategies aimed at promoting positive Mental Health. Where better to do this than on snowshoes, ice fishing, or around a crackling fire. Students not only hear the messages of health, but get to experience them. It is a life long memory.”

There were many workshops and activities offered to the students over the three-day camp.

Hoodoo Adventures and BC Parks both offered outdoor education activities including snowshoeing, lessons about winter adaptations of different animals and tree identification.

Traditional Ecological Knowledge Keepers and Cultural Resource People shared information about winter survival knowledge, shelter building, powwow dancing, traditional tools, hunting and chaptik’w (Okanagan cultural stories) with the students. RCMP came to play outdoor games with the students and to learn from the Cultural Teachers. Okanagan Nation members; Herman Edwards, Gus Timoyakin, Clint George and Mario Hall all shared their teaching with children and adults alike.

The students’ moods were boosted with some time to dance. The Hip Hop artist, Afternoon, from Montreal came and offered hip hop dance instruction sessions in the main hall and Anita Large taught Powwow dance and ended her session with a big friendship dance.

Students also learned the importance of team work when it came to preparing meals and cleaning up the camp kitchen and cabins.

It was an amazing opportunity for our kids to connect to all aspects of their mental wellness; including spiritual, emotional, physical and intellectual components. It was the second annual event and all students were gifted with Winter Wellness Camp 2019 sweatshirts provided by Fortis BC and Greyback Construction. The camp was funded by the First Nation’s Health Authority and Dash.