Capital News review of 2012 (part 2)

A look back on the year's events as covered by the Capital News.


Cause of the Capri Hotel fire June 31 is suspect according to fire investigators because it began in the early morning hours in a number of places on the sixth, seventh and eighth floors, forcing the evacuation of 358 guests.

Trevor Shannon is found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Evan Wilke. He died of a gunshot wound at a party of young people in April, 2007.

June set new records for rainfall with 107 millimetres, more than double the average in what is normally the wettest month of the year.

A new vice-chancellor takes over at UBCO, Deborah Buszard, replacing Doug Owram, who retired.

Thousands are drawn to City Park by Keloha, Kelowna’s new music festival, which is affiliated with the Centre of Gravity event.

A motorcyclist is killed in an accident with a left-turning car at the entrance to Okanagan College and his bike disintegrated.

Kelowna businessman and philanthropist Mel Kotler,70, lost his battle with cancer.

Supporters rally behind the cause of a  Lake Country dog named Shadow whose fate is in the hands of a judge after it was alleged he bit a woman who was walking her dog.

City of Kelowna prepares to sell its municipally-owned electric utility to Fortis B.C. for an estimated $50 million, which would be invested in Fortis B.C., yielding returns of $2.1 million a year.

Two fish kills in different areas of Okanagan Lake, and affecting different species of fish, are being investigated by the provincial government.

A row of 41 Katsura trees along Okanagan Lake in West Kelowna are responsible for the delay of a project to widen Gellatly Road along the lakeshore, and increase the amount of parking there. Residents don’t want them cut down.

More than 100 people show up at the regional district office to protest the confinement of Shadow in the pound for more than a year after it is alleged he bit a walker. The board agreed to meet with his owners at a later date.

Someone exposed himself to an eight-year-old at the Rutland YMCA, but didn’t touch her. Security has tightened up at the facility.

Kelowna RCMP officer Geoff Mantler is acquitted of assault on Manjeet Singh Bhatti, a self-confessed addict, while he was being arrested by police in August, 2010, because of conflicting evidence.

Hot, dry and windy weather has made it difficult to control a wildfire in the Wilson’s Landing area on Westside Road.

Bystanders helped seniors from a Kelowna retirement residence during a three-alarm fire that destroyed about 18 units. A discarded cigarette is believed to be the cause.


More than a million dollars in damage has been caused to the valley’s cherry crop due to rain and hail in the past two weeks.

A police chase from West Kelowna to Vernon resulted in one woman in hospital and a couple of bullet-riddled police cruisers, plus two suspects in custody.

Hundreds come out to watch the aerial acrobatics of Canada’s Snowbirds, a squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force, to raise money for the CHILD Foundation.

The B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union pickets a Kelowna government office building to protest the lack of a settlement in their current labour dispute with the provincial government.

Two boats and a gas bar were damaged in a fire and explosion at Shelter Bay Marina in West Kelowna.

Victims of a ‘swarming’ attack following the Centre of Gravity event in downtown Kelowna require facial reconstruction surgery following the attack.

A small plan crashes into the forest near Brenda Mine on its way to Boundary Bay from Penticton, killing one and injuring three others.

Kelowna council considers a plan to move Interior Health offices throughout the city into a single building downtown.

The third body of the summer is pulled from Okanagan Lake near Hot Sands Beach.

Despite his reluctance to do so 15 years ago, Kelowna Mayor Walt Gray declared 2012 Gay Pride Week as requested by the Rainbow Coalition.

A forest fire east of Oyama is contained within a day, despite hot, dry conditions.

The $14.5 million Bernard Avenue upgrade project breaks ground.

The City of Kelowna’s flag controversy—whether or not to fly courtesy flags atop city hall—was cut short when council decided on a new policy to not fly any at all.

Council decides to expand the bus fleet in Kelowna at a cost of $1 million over the next three years.

A raid by Kelowna RCMP on a Hells Angels clubhouse in Kelowna’s north end nets $4 million in cash, believed to be the proceeds of crime.

The historic Benvoulin Church, owned by the Central Okanagan Heritage Society, celebrates 120 years.

A half-acre fire in Mission Creek Regional park took only minutes for firefighters to douse, thanks to a lack of wind.

After a four-year-old boy was bitten on the face by a pit bull, has resulted in calls for a ban on the breed in B.C., similar to one in Ontario. The boy required 32 stitches to his face.


Arson is suspected in three fires in Rutland within minutes of each other, but with the help of nearby residents, all were put out without significant damage.

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick is named provincial agriculture minister in a cabinet shuffle, and becomes the third of the three Central Okanagan MLAs to serve in that post.

The $14 million Bernard Avenue revitalization project begins, and merchants prepare for the street to be shut down for months for the work to be done.

Four houses and several outbuildings are destroyed in Peachland when wild winds whip flames miles ahead of the forest where it started in the Trepanier Valley west of Peachland. A massive evacuation, closure of the elementary school and Highway 97 result.

Despite the objections of Lake Country council, the province approves water licences on its upcountry reservoir to waterfront lot lessees.

A West Kelowna food bank for single-parent families and seniors loses its charitable, tax-exempt status, on a decision by Revenue Canada.

The murderer of a West Kelowna family, David Ennis, is not to be paroled, decides the parole board, after a hearing attended by a number of relatives and friends of the Johnson and Bentley families.

Kelowna historian and environmentalist John Woodworth dies at the age of 88.

A 20-hectare grass fire in Joe Rich is tackled quickly by three local fire departments and the forest service, which managed to knock it down in a matter of hours despite windy conditions.

A Kelowna woman, Kate Grossmith, who was beaten by a hammer, dies of her injuries. It’s expected her son will be charged.

A $28 million expansion and upgrade of Okanagan College’s trades training facilities is announced by the province.

Local ratepayers object to paying the whole cost of a $22.3 million upgrade to the South East Kelowna Irrigation District’s water system.

Kelowna makes a bid for the Ironman Canada event, which was formerly held in Penticton.

Calona Vineyards celebrates 80 years of business in downtown Kelowna and its position as a leader in the B.C. wine industry, from a producer of jug wines to a maker of award-winning premium wines.


Laurel D’Andrea, publisher of the Beyond 50 magazine, is named one of three volunteer sector leaders in B.C. and awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for her efforts.

Inadvertent 911 pocket dialling by local residents keeps Kelowna RCMP hopping and wasting their time. From the start of May tp the end of August, the RCMP had to deal with 1,192 pocket dialed 911 calls from cell phones, about eight per cent of the total number of calls police dealt with in that time period.

The CIBC Run For The Cure in support of breast cancer research and treatment initiatives raises $253,350 in Kelowna. The event raises more than $30 million across Canada.

A bomb threat at the Interior Savings branch in Rutland backs up traffic on Rutland Road but turns out to be a hoax.

President of the B.C. Fruit Growers Association, Kirpal Boparai, is sent packing by the Okanagan Tree Fruit Co-operative, the largest packinghouse in the valley, over his attempt to sell his fruit privately. Boparai’s membership in the co-op is revoked in light of his comments including co-op workers being lazy and the co-op management not understanding the needs of fruit growers.

Wildlife ecologist Karl Larsen says the eastern grey squirrel, normally associated with the eastern parts of the U.S. and Canada, has begun showing up in Kelowna

with a hearty appetite to eat anything, from disposed of garbage, to tree fruit and grape crops. The squirrels are considered one of the top 100 invasive species on the planet.

Nancy Cameron, president and chief executive officer of Tourism Kelowna, is named 2012 Business Leader of the Year by the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce

The annual Maxine DeHart United Way Ramada Hotel Drive-Thru breakfast raises $37,000 for the United Way fundraising campaign.

More than 700 meals are prepared for the annual Thanksgiving Day dinner for th homeless hosted by the Kelowna Gospel Mission.

Controversy over a documentary called Donkey Love leads Landmark Cinemas to back out of a commitment to host the Okanagan Film Festival. The documentary examines how bestiality plays a role in Colombian culture.

Investicare Seniors Housing Corporation says construction of a state of the art health facility in West Kelowna, initiated by the Westbank First Nation, could start within a year.

Work begins on upgrading Bernard Avenue with the segment of the road between Richter and St. Paul streets. Work on the first phase of the project is completed on Dec. 14.

Provincial law that bans anyone under the age of 18 from using a tanning bed goes into effect.

Groundbreaking takes place on construction of the new cardiac care centre at Kelowna General Hospital.

A group of West Kelowna residents still struggling with the loss of friend Ashlee Hyatt were stunned to learn t her boyfriend, Michael Baxter, was killed in a single vehicle accident on Princeton Avenue in Peachland after his pickup truck rolled several times while in the midst of turning a corner. Two other people in the car survive the crash.

Money committed to four different city infrastructure projects is clawed back and redirected to cover cost overruns of $400,000 on the $1.6 million renovation of the second floor at City Hall.

Joyce Brinkerhoff, a school trustee and co-president of the Intercultural Society of the Central Okanagan, says a census result that shows 85.9 per cent of the city’s population spoke English as their first language in 2011, compared to 84. 7 per cent in 2006, doesn’t reflect negatively on Kelowna’s ethnic diversity, but rather is a sign that the city’s immigrant population has grown roots.

A B.C.-wide protest to stop the planned pipeline from the Alberta tar sands to Kitimat, from where bitumen would then shipped to Asia by tanker, comes to Kelowna as more than 100 people rally outside Kelowna-Mission MLA Steve Thomson’s constituency office.

Kelowna Mayor Walter Gray says he wants to debunk the public myth that housing costs in Kelowna are among the most expensive in the country. He says such speculation is having a negative impact on the city’s economic growth.

South East Kelowna Irrigation District ratepayers reject, by petition, a proposal to borrow $15.3 million to upgrade the water quality standards that are required by the provincial government. Some 32 per cent of eligible voters, far beyond the required minimum of 10 per cent, voted no to the proposal under the alternative approval process.


Consistent with  a HungerCount 2012 report that showed a 2.4 per cent increase  in food bank clients across Canada in 2012 and 31 per cent above pre-recession levels, the Kelowna Community Food Bank says its client traffic began to increase during the summer, which is traditionally a slower time for food demand.

Living up to one of his campaign promises, Mayor Walter Gray announces that Jim Paterson, the city’s general manager of community sustainability, will be the city’s first director of business development, a move the mayor said would help create a better synergy between new business development and city services.

The Bank of Canada promotional tour to showcase the new $20 bill comes to Kelowna, one of five cities chosen to roll out the new high-tech polymer note.

Kelowna General Hospital Foundation surpasses its $6 million fundraising goal for the new Centennial Tower.

CORD director for Okanagan East, Patty Hansen, raises the possibility of a referendum among her constituents to either remain as they are, join the City of Kelowna, join the District of Lake Country or form their own municipality. Hansen’s campaign arises out of her frustration at the CORD board table, in particular the Kelowna Mountain residential proposal and commercial development.

The trial of the girl accused of killing Ashlee Hyatt ends with a guilty verdict on the charge of manslaughter against the teenager. The trial resulted from an incident between the accused and Hyatt at a house party in Peachland in 2010 that resulted in 16-year-old Hyatt dying as a result of a knife wound to her neck.

The Big White Ski Resort community is angry over a decision by the B.C. Ambulance Service to not have an ambulance stationed full-time at the ski resort, deciding it would be better usedif stationed in Lake Country and called to the ski hill when needed.

West Kelowna announces completion of the most significant infrastructure taken on by the young municipality, hooking up sewer services to 1,500 homes that were previously reliant on what, in many cases, were failing septic fields.

Local chef Mark Filatow is the gold medal winner at the Gold Medal Plates competition in Vancouver, earning a spot in the Canadian Culinary Championships to be hosted in Kelowna in February 2013. The event is also part of a fundraising campaign for Canada’s Olympic athletes.

Research by UBC0 scientists indicates that male goldfish in a treated effluent reservoir were being feminized, the result of estrogenic compounds found in the waste treatment plant wastewater.

The new Parkinson Activity Centre opens, the replacement for the Water Street Seniors Centre, which will be removed from the city’s downtown waterfront to make way for both a new Kelowna Yacht Club and expanded Stuart Park.

Kelowna city council says a wish list of two new firehalls and up to 40 new firefighters is too expensive for local taxpayers.

Several stores in the Burtch Plaza are destroyed by a fire that starts under mysterious circumstances. Left homeless by the fire were Soccer Express, Colour Me Mine, EcoWater 2000 and Canadian 2 for 1 Pizza.


Premier Pacific Properties makes another attempt to gather Kelowna council support for its ambitious two high-rise tower Monaco project at the corner of St. Paul and Doyle. After shooting down the initial proposal earlier in the year, council remains skeptical about the building footprint for one 30-storey tower, saying it’s beyond what the Downtown Plan calls for. The revised proposal

is deferred by council for more discussion between the developers and city staff before a vote is taken to send it to public hearing.

Six different agencies sign a protocal  agreement with the Kelowna RCMP about how to address domestic abuse complaints where someone’s life may be at risk. The groups involved include the Kelowna Women’s Shelter, Elizabeth Fry Society and the B.C. Ministry of Children and Families.

Kelowna General Hospital becomes the fifth medical centre in B.C. to provide full cardiac care services, with the first patient undergoing open heart surgery at the hospital.

A surprise guilty plea to a charge of assault causing bodily harm is enteredby Kelowna RCMP Const. Geoff Mantler. The charge resulted from the controversial arrest of Kelowna’s Buddy Tavares, in whch Mantler was caught on video kicking Tavares in the head. Sentencing is put over to April 2104.

Okanagan orchardists Fred Steele, of Kelowna, and Jeet Dukhia, of Vernion, appear to be the two leading candidates to replace Kirpal Boparai as president of the B.C. Tree Fruit Growers Association when growers meet for the association’s annual convention in January, 2013.

An official with the Southern Nevada Water Authority, speaking at a water conference in Kelowna, points out how that region has made it illegal to water the street or allow irrigation water to run off a property without facing hefty fines.

A century of history associated with the sport of rugby in Kelowna is celebrated with a series of rugby matches at City Park.

Plans for a new public pier and day-use marina at the foot of Queensway Avenue gain the necessary approvals, and construction is scheduled to be completed by next spring.  The pier and marina will be built by Edmontn’s Westcorp.

Despite some complaints about on-street parking, rection is generally positive about the first phase of the new look to Bernard Avenue.

Spierhead Winery’s 2010 pinot noir vintage is  judged the best in Canada by Wine Access magazine, putting the small East Kelowna winery on the national wine map.

Kelowna council spent a record low three hours and 19 minutes to approve a preliminary $351 million budget for 2013 calling for a 2.58 per cent property tax increase. Budget deliberation meetings in the past generally tended to be marathon sessions that started in the morning and dragged on into the evening.


Kelowna Capital News