Friday, January 18, 2019
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Teneycke sends Christmas card letter to victim

Prolific offender Arthur Ronald Teneycke

Lyonel Doherty
Oliver Chronicle

Wayne Belleville still can’t escape the nightmare after receiving a Christmas card letter from the man who shot him in the back three years ago.

The furniture maker is shaking his head at the justice system again, trying to figure out how Ronald Teneycke was permitted to send him a letter when he’s not allowed to have any contact via court order. (Teneycke was labeled a dangerous offender and sentenced to an indefinite jail term following his rampage in Oliver in 2015 when he shot Belleville in the back.)

Just when he was putting all of that behind him, Belleville received a letter in the form of a Christmas card from Teneycke who is serving his time in federal prison in Agassiz.

“My initial reaction was . . . I was pretty upset about it. Because no matter what’s written in there, to me the underlying message is A, I’m thinking about you, and B, I know where you live.”

Belleville vividly recalls that day on July 22 when he picked up Teneycke on a back road near Oliver. He didn’t realize he picked up a prolific offender that police were looking for until it was too late. He grabbed the keys and bolted from the truck, but was shot in the back. As Belleville lay there, Teneycke raised the rifle again but was distracted by an oncoming vehicle. He then fled the scene in the truck and left Belleville there on the side of the road. He was later rushed to hospital with a ruptured spleen.

 • Read more: Parents to fear again when Teneycke released

Belleville referred to the letter as troubling and disturbing, so he called the police who forwarded charge recommendations to the Crown.

In the letter, Teneycke wishes Belleville a merry Christmas and invites him to visit at Kent prison, giving him detailed instructions on how to get there.

The offender writes he will always be disappointed in himself for shooting Belleville, but then later expresses no empathy for him.

Belleville said the Crown is proceeding with charges against Teneycke for disobeying a court order.

Belleville said the Crown prosecutor is disturbed that Teneycke was permitted to mail that letter in the first place. Before calling the police, Belleville called the prison for an explanation.

“I got a call back from a gentleman and he was very profuse in his apologies and he assured me it would never happen again.”

But Belleville said the apology doesn’t carry much weight.

 • Read more: Prosecutors trying to throw away key on Teneycke

The Chronicle contacted Correctional Services Canada and is waiting for comment.

Referring back to the letter, Belleville said Teneycke suggests that he has evidence that

Belleville could use in a lawsuit against police.

Belleville said the only problem he has with police is they never followed up with him.

“You’d think there would be like a review, like, how did we do? Did we make any mistakes here? Did we learn from this situation?”

(Belleville believes the RCMP could have done a much better job in warning the public about Teneycke’s presence in the South Okanagan during his crime spree.)

“I think they did a terrible job . . . they were looking out after their own interests and their own safety rather than the interest and safety of the community at large.”

Belleville said Teneycke’s letter starts out as (almost) an apology, but then gets caught up in seeing himself as a victim with no remorse for what he did.

 • Read more: Teneycke named dangerous offender, jailed indefinitely

“If he ever does come up for parole, I will be pointing at that and say, listen, he’s had three years to think about this, and he says he has ‘no empathy’ for shooting someone in the back.”

Belleville said despite the indefinite jail term, Teneycke is still eligible for parole.

But he quoted the judge who said this offender is beyond redemption.

“There’s no possibility that this guy can ever function normally . . . the only place he can function normally is in the structured environment of federal penitentiary,” Belleville said.

He noted that Teneycke still blames him for trying to escape that day, and refers himself as a nice guy when he’s straight.

 • Read more: Victim hoping Teneycke jailed indefinitely

Belleville reiterated his surprise that Teneycke was allowed to mail the letter.

“He’s a dangerous offender. He’s in a maximum security facility and yet he’s still able to commit a criminal act right under your nose? How is that possible?”

(After Teneycke robbed East Side Grocery in Oliver that summer in 2015, he mailed a letter to the owner while he was in a provincial jail.)

Belleville believes that offenders’ mail should be checked to ensure there is no possibility of contact with their victims.

Injunction sought against property owner


Lyonel Doherty
Oliver Chronicle

The regional district is taking court action against a property owner in Willowbrook for a building bylaw infraction.

Last week the board voted to seek an injunction for a large horse riding arena that was built on Jones Way Road last fall.

Building inspection supervisor Laura Miller reported that an official noticed the construction of a large accessory building on Sept. 5, 2018. A stop-work order was placed on the project because, allegedly, there was no building permit.

“The property owner was quite upset that the building official was on his property,” Miller said.

On Sept. 7 the owner attended the regional district office and applied for a building permit. But during a zoning check, it was discovered that the building did not meet the minimum setback requirement of 15 metres. In other words, the building was encroaching into the west side yard setback. Therefore, a variance was required. This information was conveyed to the owner along with details for applying for a development variance permit.

On Sept. 21 a building official visited the site and discovered that construction was continuing (without the variance). On Oct. 3 a bylaw offence notice with a fine of $200 was sent to the owner for failing to obey the previous order.

 • Read more: Building under construction lost in fire

On Nov. 5 a letter was sent to the owner requesting a variance permit be applied for. Miller said the owner was advised that the building should not be occupied until a valid permit was issued. As of Jan. 3, no variance had been applied for.

According to Miller, the owner had advertised the building on social media as “completed and usable.”

Miller said the building infraction is considered to be category 3 (potential health and safety deficiencies), warranting a Section 302 notice on title and injunctive action.

Miller said seeking a court injunction has a legal cost.

Area C Director Rick Knodel said the board took action on this issue as a result of the owner not coming forward to give input.

But he admitted that bureaucratic procedures, once triggered, are annoying.

Knodel confirmed the building in question was constructed without a permit, but the owner has claimed it as a farm building.

He said that would still require an exemption permit (at no cost) prior to construction, which would have detected the setback violation and been dealt with at that time.

But he noted the building was completed before the exemption was issued while under the stop-work order.

“This was before my tenure, but I believe all that is required at this point is a variance to the setback from the next property.”

Knodel said he is not a fan of how these setbacks are written because they are more appropriate for a subdivision or urban environment. But he noted a variance procedure can deal with this problem until a legislated change can be made.

“It (the variance) should not be an issue once it is undertaken.”

Grazing calf takes suspected bullet


Dan Walton
Oliver Chronicle

A Black Angus calf seems to have been shot in the grazing lands west of Town.

Rancher Ed Schmalz, who homesteads between Oliver and Osoyoos, takes his cattle out to graze on Crown land west of Town every spring and brings them in for the winter in the fall.

When it was time to round them up last October, he noticed one of his calves had an infection on its side.

“It doesn’t leave much of a wound – you only see it when you shave his coat,” said Schmalz, who suspects it came from a .22 calibre rifle. “He has a big mass of puss on his back, about eight inches wide. So he had that infection from the bullet for quite a while.”

From the angle of the wound, “This calf must have been shot while he was laying down,” he said. “It would have been impossible to shoot from up above.”

Wound from suspected bullet

A report from Three Valleys Veterinary Service states that “There appears to be an opening between the withers about the size of a bullet hole which runs five-six inches under the skin towards the neck.”

Schmalz said the healing process is going very slowly and the bullet has not been retrieved. The calf will be taking at least one more trip back to the vet.

“We don’t want to keep opening him up,” he said. “They already made two cuts.”

If the calf recovers he will be ready for market in about a year. If he doesn’t recover he will have to be euthanized, which will count as a loss of about $1,000 to $1,200.

“It’s not common but sometimes you just have some haywire guys or something,” Schmalz said.

Furthermore, two of his cattle were found dead last season on the grazing lands. They were both buried before the one with a bullet wound was discovered, so at the time Schmalz assumed they died of natural causes. But now he wonders if they were shot as well.

Anybody with information relating to the matter is asked to contact Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-8477. BC Cattlemen’s Association offers rewards up to $5,000 for information leading to convictions relating to killing cattle or damaged property.

Letter: Inmate writes rave review of prison

The Okanagan Correcitonal Centre

To whom it may concern:

I read a letter sent from here – the Oliver Correctional Centre – that myself and a few other inmates find to be untrue. The sender of said letter is a self-admitted thief, and as a joke he sent in a poor-me, whining later that most of us here do not agree with. 

In his letter of woe he said that everything here “sucks.” Obviously written by a very learned individual. 

Fact is, as far as institutions go, OCC is one of the best. The food is second to none, the guards (although new) actually seem to care, and except for a few of the more jaded ones, they even try and help whenever possible. Healthcare is for the most part on top of things, and our units are all in working order. 

I myself have done time in both federal and provincial centres and I find this one to be above average. I think what Sam was upset about was his inability to work with others and he seems to have forgotten that if he can’t do the time he shouldn’t have done the crime! LOL

I am in no way sugar-coating my letter and although I’ve been in on different convictions over the years, this one is only a minute, for driving … oops got caught. 

But other than boredom, I myself find nothing that “sucks” that badly inside these walls.

Honestly yours,

Mike Harfman

Baldy gives meaning to Mondays


No need to worry about coming down with a case of the Mondays at the ski hill.

And every Monday for the next five weeks, Baldy Mountain Resort will be donating $2 from every lift ticket to a different local charity. 

“This is our first season launching Meaningful Mondays, and we couldn’t be more excited to see how it works,” said general manager Andy Foster. “These groups do amazing work for our region, and we want to recognize that by helping them raise money and awareness.”

To support the initiative, skiers and boarders simply have to enjoy a day at the hill the way they normally would. 

“We really see this as a model win-win-win for the industry where great causes get valuable exposure and fundraising, skiers can feel great about their ski day,” says marketing co-ordinator Andrew Zwicker, “and we can help a few more people than usual get up to Baldy to experience the magic of the mountains and cure their case of The Mondays.”

Valley loves Rebel Luv

Mikie Spillett and Ken Repkow are better known a the rock duo Rebel Luv

Dan Walton
Oliver Chronicle

Rebel Luv was shown some affection by the readers across the Okanagan Valley. 

The rock ’n’ roll duo of Mikie Spillett and Ken Repkow – who call Oliver home – were recently featured in Okanagan Life Magazine’s Best of 2018, winning the category of Best Local Musician/Music Group in the South Okanagan.

Contest winners were determined by online voting, and the support came completely naturally – neither musician promoted the contest to their friends, nor did they vote themselves.

So how did they win?

“Being present in the community,” is Ken’s answer. “We’ve been playing in West Kelowna to Osoyoos, and a few different places like Hundred Mile House. We’ve been playing constantly almost every weekend.”

No matter where they perform a show, there’s something for everyone on every set list.

“We’ve got over 300 tunes under our belt so we can cover all styles of music,” Ken said. “From AC/DC and Led Zeppelin all the way down to Buck Owens.”

“To Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson,” Mikie chimed in.

“And of course we throw in some originals as well,” Ken said. 

As fans well know, Mikie’s background is in country singing. She could be any farmer’s daughter. And Ken, underneath his hair-metal hair, sharpened his musical chops during the Golden Age of Rock ’n’ Roll, from the 1960s to the 1980s. 

“We now appreciate each other’s different styles,” Mikie said. “And we practice hard. Some fans asked if we could learn Kryptonite by Three Doors Down recently, so we did. And we enjoy it.”

When Ken first tried to get her to learn rock tunes, Mikie would say, “I can’t sing that, are you nuts?” 

But then, “All of a sudden it was like, oh my God, I nailed it. I can sing that!”

While it was challenging for both of them to learn their partner’s favourite style of music, it spurred major artistic growth. And since Ken is so familiar with the full spectrum of sound, “You can just hum a song, he’ll find it and he’ll be playing it in no time,” Mikie says. “He’s passionate in his playing – he wants to get every note perfect.”

“Country stuff is like the stuff my mom used to play,” Ken joked. “What sets us apart – Mikie is a really good entertainer and performer. She’ll be in the crowd egging you on to come dance.”

Beyond her perky covers of classic tunes from the radio, Mikie’s brand of passion is easy to appreciate through an album they wrote together called Small Town Talk.

“It’s called Small Town Talk because people love to chat,” Mikie said. “In a big city you’ll hear the gossip about, but when you’re a small town, you know exactly who it’s about.”

The near future holds many more Rebel Luv  in the Okanagan. Over the next few years, Rebel Luv hopes to record another two or three albums, as well as take their show on the road across B.C. and Alberta, possibly farther. 

The next chance to party with the South Okanagan’s number one band is on Saturday, Jan. 19 at Murphy’s. And there’s no cover charge.

Bullet wizzes through two apartments

The Oliver RCMP

Lyonel Doherty

A 30-year-old Oliver man fired a gun and pierced a hole through the apartments of his two upstairs neighbours.

One of the neighbours, while sitting on his couch, was nearly shot during the bizarre incident south of Oliver yesterday afternoon.

An apartment dweller contacted police to report that “while sitting on his couch at home he heard a loud bang and observed the cushion beside him now had a hole in it and stuffing was coming out of it,” according to Sergeant Blaine Gervais from the Oliver RCMP.

The incident occurred at 2 p.m. in an apartment complex near Road 11.

Gervais said the man who reported the incident believed the loud bang came from the unit directly below him. This unit was occupied by the 30-year-old male.

Oliver RCMP attended the address supported by South Okanagan Traffic Services, Osoyoos RCMP and a First Nations officer. 

“The third floor tenant exited the residence when members arrived and advised he heard several loud bangs and observed pieces of metal on his floor,” Gervais said.

Police subsequently arrested 30-year-old Daniel Khafizov who resided on the bottom floor. Gervais said a search of his unit revealed spent .22 calibre casings, a .22 calibre rifle, along with multiple small calibre bullet holes in the ceiling and walls.

An examination of the middle and top floor units also revealed small caliber holes in the floors and ceilings. Khafizov has been charged with several firearms offences.

“At this time there is no reason to believe he was targeting the upstairs tenants, instead he was just carelessly firing the .22 calibre rifle indiscriminately into his ceiling and walls,” Gervais said.

Number of properties increase in Oliver

According to BC assessment, the majority of residential homeowners in the region can expect a modest increase in value. Photo contributed

Lyonel Doherty
Oliver Chronicle

The total assessment roll value in the Town of Oliver has increased by 10.7 per cent in 2019 to reach in excess of $1 billion, according to BC Assessment.

Thompson Okanagan assessor Katrina LeNoury said the typical increase in the Okanagan Valley is between zero and plus 15 per cent (compared to last year). But the vast majority of valley communities are in the plus seven to plus 10 per cent range, she noted, adding that  Oliver is right in the middle.

In 2018 the average assessed value of a single residential property in Oliver was $352,000. That has jumped to $381,000 in 2019 (an increase of plus eight per cent).

 • Read more: Many homeowners to see assessment increase (2017)

In Osoyoos, the average assessment last year was $382,000. This year it’s $414,000, representing the same plus eight per cent increase.

“What may be of interest is that the number of properties in the municipality (of Oliver) increased from 2,572 to 2,609 in 2019,” LeNoury pointed out.

She said local communities and individual housing may experience changes greater or lesser than the average, as market values are based on demand and conditions.

Overall, the Okanagan’s total assessments increased from approximately $108 billion in 2018 to $118.6 billion this year. A total of $2.5 billion represents new construction, subdivisions and rezoning of properties.

The total value of B.C. real estate on the 2019 assessment roll is more than a whopping $1.99 trillion.

LeNoury encourages homeowners to access the BC Assessment website  ( for a wealth of information about properties and comparable sales in the area.

She pointed out that an increase in assessment does not automatically translate to a corresponding increase in property taxes.

Property owners with questions about their property or assessment are encouraged to call 1-866-825-8322.

If someone is interested in filing an assessment appeal, he or she must submit the appeal letter on or before Jan. 31.

Celebratory skating

Local residents are embracing the new year by going skating in the Oliver Arena, which celebrates its 50th anniversary next month. Photo by Lyonel Doherty

Smoke Signals

On March 17 the OIB hosted a grand opening of the new Tim Hortons (and gas station) in Senkulmen Business Park north of Oliver. (Photo Vanessa Broadbent)

Column by Marvin Louie

Another year has come and gone and as you get older, time definitely does seem to go by faster. As the time goes by each year there are obviously ups and downs throughout the year, but I believe with most people that as you reflect back on the year, the good things usually outweigh the bad. 

I’m sure that everyone has their own unique way and pleasure in looking back on the year and reflecting on all that one has learned, collected and cherished. In that spirit I will reflect and share some thoughts about how the Osoyoos Indian Band (OIB) has flourished this past year and hopefully will continue that ‘train’ into the new year. 

First of all I would like to thank the Oliver Chronicle (Lyonel and the staff) for allowing me to write a column to be published in their paper once a month. It’s been a fun experience so far and I look forward to continue writing articles into the new year. I wasn’t sure at first about it but when the OIB chief and council encouraged me to do it (I think maybe it was because no one else wanted to do it) I thought what could possibly go wrong? I mean, no one has ever gotten in trouble by writing ‘bad articles’ in the newspaper before.

From my first article explaining the title “Smoke Signals” to future articles talking about new OIB businesses, community events and youth activities, it’s definitely been a fun rollercoaster ride that I hope continues for a while. As I mentioned early on the Osoyoos Indian Band is a progressive band that strives for economic self-reliance and self-discovery within its members. This ideology continued this past year with a new business opening up on reserve land which was a new Tim Hortons located at the intersection of Hwy 97 and Enterprise Way. With this new business came new job opportunities for OIB members; one of our OIB youth took advantage of this by being one of the first to apply for a job opening and is now currently a shift supervisor.  Our band is very fortunate (through hard work) to have many opportunities that other bands may not, so it’s great to see so many of our youth (and other members) take advantage of the opportunities presented to them. 

Through this past year the OIB had continuous events that flowed effortlessly through the changing seasons that included job fairs, golf tournaments, school and community celebrated events, and many special events that were organized by the youth. The OIB community is a tight-knit group that takes great pride in celebrating everyone’s achievements as well as welcoming visitors from the outside. 

The one group that I am particularly proud of is the OIB youth. Since I moved back to Canada from the United States in 2002, I have seen great achievements by this group. The OIB Youth Council (six members) was formed this past autumn and is driven to do great things for the community as well as for themselves.  Youth Council member Kali Baptiste said, “I am proud to be on the OIB Youth Council and we expect to pick up the momentum on what we started so far, which would include continuing generating revenue (to be put back into the community) and follow through with some business plans that were started last year.” 

So happy New Year everyone and eat lots of fry bread!    

No one’s jonesin’ to sell weed legally

Vanessa Broadbent photo

Oliver Chronicle staff

The Town of Oliver has not received any cannabis licensing applications yet but there may be one in the works.

Chief Administrative Officer Cathy Cowan recently reported to council that the Town has been queried about an application in relation to zoning.

“We did reply back saying that it did meet our zoning (requirements).”

The Town expects to see an application soon.

The province has already started issuing licences for the retail sale of non-medical cannabis.

It is up to each municipality to determine if and where non-medical cannabis can be sold and whether it is sold in private or in government stores. (The province cannot issue a licence unless the municipality gives a positive recommendation.)

The Town of Oliver recently received a letter from the Liquor Distribution Branch expressing an interest in opening a BC Cannabis Store in the community. Council passed a motion to invite the branch to submit a proposal.

Councillor Dave Mattes previously stated the Town would welcome the branch to fill a vacant property on Main Street.

Town takes part in commemorative tree planting

File photo

Oliver Chronicle staff

The Town of Oliver is helping the Local Government Management Association celebrate its 100th anniversary by purchasing a tree.

At its last meeting before Christmas, Town council approved a motion to buy a tree that may ultimately end up in Oliver’s newest park.

Corporate Officer Diane Vaykovich said the Town can submit a reimbursement up to $50 to the association.

Councillor Dave Mattes said the Town is planning on building a new park on Fairview Road. He asked Director of Operations Shawn Goodsell if the Town could use this purchase towards the park.

“Is it only one $50 (tree)?” Goodsell asked to a room full of laughter. “Can we purchase multiple trees?” Goodsell added.

He said if they do build the park in the new year, they are planning on replanting a bunch of trees there.

Council adopts sewer tax rates


Oliver Chronicle staff

The Town of Oliver has adopted amendment bylaws for sewer user and parcel tax rates.

At a recent meeting, Councillor Petra Veintimilla wanted clarification on the rates and what residents are actually paying. 

The annual sewer parcel tax is $109.40, while the flat rate sewer user fee for single or multi-family is $268.35 per dwelling unit.

Director of Operations Shawn Goodsell said sewer user rates represent users who have a sewer connection. But sewer parcel taxes are for residents who have the infrastructure running by their property. They have the ability to easily connect to the service.

Some properties have septic fields, but if they have a sewer line in front of their property, they would pay the parcel tax.

Council previously approved a sewer rate increase of four per cent. A water rate increase of three per cent was also approved.

Prepare now for imminent flooding, RDOS says

Gordon Kirby stands in his yard while some of it was under water last spring. (Lyonel Doherty photo)

Lyonel Doherty
Oliver Chronicle

The regional district is advising residents to prepare for more flooding this spring.

Emergency preparedness officials say an imminent risk of flooding remains due to continued high groundwater throughout the region.

Therefore, residents living in areas impacted by flooding in recent years should have a preparedness plan in place.

According to professional engineers working with the regional district, groundwater levels are currently higher than normal due to wet conditions experienced last year. This has created an “increased potential for flooding during freshet in 2019.”

Emergency officials urge residents to prepare a “grab-and-go” kit consisting of important documents, medications and eyeglasses.

Major flooding on Sportsmen’s Bowl Road this spring caused the evacuation of residents for many weeks. The road was repaired and new culverts were installed. (Lyonel Doherty photo)

The region’s Emergency Operations Centre has established a flood and wildfire recovery team to continue working with people impacted by the 2018 floods. The team consists of recovery manager Jon Wilson, recovery coordinator Patty Otteson and information officer Erick Thompson.

The Chronicle sat down with Area C director Rick Knodel to discuss potential flooding in rural Oliver this year.

He was asked point blank how he feels about heading into another flood season.

“Let’s put it this way: I’m cautiously optimistic.”

Knodel said final work has not been done on Sportsmen’s Bowl Road, adding that most of the work completed by the Ministry of Transportation was a legal requirement to keep the road open and make it safe for snow plow operators.

“There’s quite a concern by a lot of people who see this work going on and they think this is the final route (for Park Rill Creek). But the final route has not been decided.”

The creek currently runs down the south side of the road, and new culverts have been put in to accommodate higher flows.

 • Read more: Orchardist’s land swallowed up by flooding

Knodel said to think you won’t see anymore flooding in the bowl is the wrong assumption.

The Ministry of Forests has to find a permanent route for the creek, he said.

Many residents want to see the creek back to where it was historically, he pointed out. 

“My point of view is I would think that would be the best way. But I won’t speculate why the engineers haven’t come out and said that.”

Knodel said engineers have to know what’s happening in one area before they can fix another area. 

In Willowbrook, previously inadequate culverts will no longer be an issue, but he believes residents will still see flooding this year.

“What might be an issue is the exit out of Myers Flats.” 

2017 spring flooding

Knodel said new culverts in the Road 6 to 9 area should fix the flooding problem there (by draining the water below the drop structure.

Of course, concerns will always be above the irrigation flume if there’s more runoff from the area previously burned by wildfire, he noted.

The other concern is the mosquito-breeding problem, which the regional district is trying to get a handle on, Knodel pointed out.

In the Park Rill Road area, Knodel is hoping that officials have the pumps ready to go on Okanagan River again.

Knodel met with Boundary-Similkameen MLA Linda Larson recently to discuss flood preparations and future mitigations.

The director said there is a desperate need to relax environmental controls to allow landowners to place concrete locking blocks, remove beaver dams, build berms and remove silt from previous runoffs.

He added that depth restoration and maintenance to the Okanagan River bed is a must. If this maintenance isn’t done, you will see failure, he said, likening it to buying a car but never changing the oil or tires.

“This is a case of radical environmentalism being carried to the point of idiocy; being allowed to endanger private property and destroy valuable infrastructure with little or if any measurable benefit.”

According to Knodel, local residents are increasingly being left out of the information train.

 • Read more: When will flooding end? (MLA report, May 2018)

He said the thought of creating a service for creek and riverbed maintenance and billing that cost back to residents is not feasible. “To put that onto 5,000 residents is a lovely way to create poverty and homelessness.”

Knodel said it has also been shown that clear-cut logging in the alpine has added to the rapid runoff situations that are causing many immediate and long-term problems in valley areas.

The director believes neighbourhoods should be empowered to use their human resources (church groups) to dispatch volunteers to areas in need of aid. 

“We have been missing the boat here badly and the cost is only a few phone lines and white boards.”

Knodel said this would greatly reduce the load and expectancies on emergency operation centres.