Festival performer Kyle Loven presents innovative puppetry with My Dear Lewis.
An inspiring and creative arts festival is coming to Kelowna this winter to entertain the crowds.
The fourth annual Living Things Festival returns Jan. 15 to Feb. 2 featuring more than 18 shows and events celebrating boundary-pushing contemporary theatre, dance, music, animation, art and more.
Festival founder Neil Cadger says the festival brings together people from all places to encourage residents to engage with one another, in a time of increased loneliness and digital connection.
“We team up with presenters from across North America to bring the most exciting, internationally-celebrated performances to Kelowna. This year, Living Things will welcome artists from Vancouver, Montreal, and South Korea via Amsterdam.
“The work we present is powerful, sometimes deliriously funny, sometimes challenging but always, somehow, a question of life and death.”
The variety of performances includes an over-the-top drag bingo show, talking rice cookers, two armies of French baguettes batting for Poland’s fate amongst a backdrop of exploding tomato bombs and an entertaining one-woman show exploring four generations of Indigenous women.
This is the first year Living Things Festival, founded in 2017, will partner with the Kelowna Art Gallery to bring internationally-acclaimed interactive visual art to its downtown space, as well as live public art installations at UBCO.
Tickets range in price from $10-35 per show, and some events are free or admission by donation.
To view the full lineup or purchase tickets, click here or visit the Rotary Centre for the Arts box office.
Photo: Sarita Patel
A scene in Highland Drive North in Kelowna
UPDATE: 2:36 p.m.
Kelowna RCMP has issued a press release regarding the incident near Highland Drive.
Just after 12 a.m. on Sunday morning, a traffic officer tried to make a traffic stop on a dead end road near Highland Drive. The driver allegedly did not stop, which led to a pursuit.
An interaction between the two resulted in shots being fired by police. The driver kept going, but was later admitted to the hospital with gunshot injuries that were not life-threatening. The man has been arrested but he is still in the hospital.
The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is looking into the incident to see if the police’s actions or inactions are linked to the man’s injuries.
UPDATE: 12:38 p.m.
A resident of Highland Drive South has reached out to Castanet with more information describing what they saw and heard while stepping outside for a cigarette around midnight.
She heard some commotion and decided to message her boyfriend.
“The first message I sent to my boyfriend was at 12:08 a.m. that’s when the cops were still yelling at the guy and everything. I was shaking, it was so intense to watch,” says the resident.
She lives across Clement and up a hill so her backyard had a clear view of the area.
“I was sitting out there having a smoke and I heard the sirens and then I was looking for them, because it’s a quiet neighbourhood.”
She adds, “on Highland Drive North you can see the truck – it backed-up and then went forward – it looked like it was probably trying to turn around in the cul-de-sac.”
“Then the cop – I can hear him and see him kind of out of his vehicle – I heard him say, ‘stop right there’ then the truck went forward and I heard two shots, bang-bang, I was like is that real?,” she says shocked at the incident.
She says the truck then took off with the police following him up the road and then things just got quiet again for hours.
“I saw someone in the bush an hour later but no cops back until obviously this morning,” she says.
ORIGINAL 10 a.m.
Police are on scene on Highland Drive North near Jack Robertson Park dealing with a disturbance.
A Castanet viewer says police have been on scene since 3:30 a.m., they were unsure of the cause of the disturbance but end of the road has been blocked off.
Another resident called in saying, “I live right across the street and they have cones out… it looks like they have a forensic truck. It’s a white truck with a camper on the back.”
“I saw about three or four cops and a bunch of pylons on the road, it’s been like this since 6 a.m., when I woke up.”
One neighbour said, he heard two loud noises early this morning.
Castanet was on scene but due to the ongoing investigation officers were unable to comment at the time.
They did confirm that the Independent Investigations Office were heading to the scene.
Castanet will have more information when it becomes available.
Castanet’s week in review with Nich Johansen.
Photo: Nicholas Johansen
From left to right, Barn Owl owners Tim Kramer and Gary Brucker, COFB’s Fraser Campbell and Tammie Watson, brewer Colin Pistawka.
One of Kelowna’s newest craft breweries has teamed up with the local food bank to keep food out of the trash.
On Saturday, Barn Owl Brewing released its latest beer, the Breaking Bread Amber Ale. The 680-litre brew contains about 50 pounds of old bread from the Central Okanagan Food Bank that would have otherwise gone to waste.
“There’s just so much mass-produced bread that even with all the client needs that we have here in the cities, we get rid of quite a bit,” said Tammie Watson, interim executive director of the COFB.
Instead of sending the stale bread to the landfill or to animal farms for feed, Watson asked her friend Gary Brucker, Barn Owl co-founder, if they could use it. She had heard of a similar arrangement at European breweries.
While Barn Owl brewer Colin Pistawka had never brewed a beer using bread before, he began researching earlier this fall, brewing two test batches, before making what became the final product.
“You have to toast it in the oven, so I had my parents’ double oven, with four trays at a time, and it took me a couple batches to get through,” said Pistawka. “We had baguettes, ciabatta and loaves and whatever I could slice up and toast, I just threw in there.”
Pistawka started with a base of a traditional amber ale, using malts with “bread-heavy characteristics,” before adding the toasted bread to the grain.
“It ended up actually giving really good complex notes,” he said.
A dollar from each pint of the new beer sold will be donated back to the food bank.
“So we can then purchase more food, get it back in the hands of the hungry families here in town so we can continue to feed those in need,” Watson said.
Brucker says he’d like to see other local breweries partner up with the COFB as well, to create their own bread-based brews.
“The end result of this is exposure for the food bank, and for dollars to go back and to keep the bread out of the landfill,” Brucker said. “If all the other breweries can come on board, we’d welcome that.”
Castanet is counting down the top stories of 2019.
We’ll count down to the year’s No. 1 story on Dec. 31 and publish the newsmaker on New Year’s Day.
Our No. 10 story of 2019 – the fatal stabbing of Eli Beauregard.
A 16-year-old boy was stabbed to death in downtown Kelowna this past summer, and six months later, no one has been charged.
Just before 11:30 p.m. on June 27, Eli Beauregard was stabbed in the covered parking area behind the BMO bank on the corner of Bernard Avenue and Water Street. He died in the hospital several days later.
On the night of the stabbing, police scoured the downtown core looking for a suspect. Kelowna RCMP initially arrested one person in connection with the stabbing, but that person was then released.
Police said they believe Eli Beauregard and the suspect were known to each other, but no charges have been laid in half a year.
“On June 28, an individual identified by investigators as a suspect was taken into police custody,” Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey told Castanet in early July. “That suspect was later released pending the results of the still ongoing criminal investigation.”
Police checked nearby businesses for surveillance footage in the days after the stabbing, but it’s unclear if any video of the incident was found.
Following his son’s death, Robyn Iain-Beauregard told Castanet that Eli had been living on the streets after recently moving out of his home.
“He called me from the youth shelter in town here and told me he was happy and healthy and he was doing good,” Iain-Beauregard said. “I asked him if he wanted me to send him some money and he said, ‘No, I’m good, I don’t need money, I don’t need anything, Dad, I’m right where I want to be, I’m happy.’”
He got another phone call from Eli’s mother on the night of stabbing.
“I got a phone call from his mom telling me that he was in critical condition in the hospital and that they were going to have to amputate his arm,” Iain-Beauregard said. “When I got to the hospital, I realized it was a lot worse at that point than it was when she called me.
“His heart stopped at the scene, and it stopped again at the hospital. They tried everything over the course of three days to make him comfortable and try and fix what was wrong, but there was just too much damage.”
A week after the stabbing, a man named Chris Cox told Castanet he came upon the scene just after Eli had been stabbed, and that he knows who the killer is.
“I walked up, and I seen a bunch of blood and Eli holding his arm,” Cox said. “That’s when … the person who did it came up to me and said: ‘I just stabbed Eli.’ She told me she stabbed Eli because he had never been stabbed before.”
Cox said he has told his story to the RCMP, and the suspect police initially arrested is the person he believes is responsible.
At a vigil in Kerry Park on July 7, Eli’s mother told Castanet she had also heard the same story that Cox told Castanet, and she was still waiting for someone to be held accountable.
Eli’s father says the lack of developments in the case has been “very frustrating.”
Photo: Canoe Coffee Roasters
Kelowna’s Canoe Coffee Roasters are being forced to change their name.
A homegrown Kelowna company has been forced to change its name after a “multi-billion dollar” American company threatened legal action.
Canoe Coffee Roasters started as a small coffee company that sold coffee out of a food truck at local markets back in 2015, but today, they have a permanent cafe on Laurel Avenue, off Clement.
On Saturday, they took to Facebook to share the bad news.
“A certain multi-billion dollar titan company out of the USA is suing our little family-run business over a pretty questionable trademark issue,” Canoe Coffee wrote.
“While we wish we could defend the awesome name we’ve built this company under, we simply don’t have the financial power to go up against this huge corporation in court.”
While they’re resigned to the fact that they’ll be forced to enter the new year with a new name, they’ve reached out to their fans for new name ideas. And the person with the winning name suggestion gets free coffee for a year.
“We’re totally sad, but also excited about all the possibilities that come with a fresh start … You know what we’re all about and what we stand for, so fire some true-to-Canoe name ideas at us!”
Some of the names that have been suggested so far include Drifter Coffee Roasters, Thwart Coffee Roasters, Ogopogo Roasters, Paddle Coffee, Kayak Coffee and the cheeky Litigation Roasters.
Photo: Twitter – Kaedan Korczak
Kaedan Korczak signs his first NHL contract Saturday.
A Kelowna Rocket is well on his way to the big leagues.
After he was drafted 41st overall by the Vegas Golden Knights in June, Rockets defenceman Kaedan Korczak signed a three-year entry-level contract with the NHL team on Saturday.
“Dream come true signing my first NHL contract with the Golden Knights,” Korczak posted to Twitter. “Can’t thank everyone enough for all the support.”
The 6-foot-2, 192-pound 18-year-old from Yorkton, Sask. has played with the Rockets since 2016/17. He also played on Canada’s Under-18 national team at the 2019 IIHF U18 World Championship in Sweden last April.
This season, he recorded 28 points with the Rockets in 32 games, ranking second on the team for points.
Korczak will join the rest of the Rockets at home next Friday, when they host the Kamloops Blazers.
About 60 volunteers made sure 800 hungry people had a full Christmas dinner Saturday at the Kelowna Gospel Mission.
The annual Christmas banquet dates back 40 years.
“It’s providing that family Christmas experience for people who otherwise wouldn’t have it,” said Randy Benson, executive director of the Kelowna Gospel Mission.
“We see a lot of our regular clients, the people that are staying here. Also, some families that maybe are on tough times, they can’t afford a Christmas meal, they’ll come down here and enjoy one.”
In addition to the warm meal, which included turkey, ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes and veggies, Benson says the community aspect of the dinner is just as important.
“We decorate our dining hall very nicely, it feels very Christmassy, and people are able to stay around and visit and just enjoy the meal,” he said.
“It is a real family experience.”
Kitchen manager Mandy Phillips said they prepared 50 turkey, 20 hams and 500 pounds of potatoes for Saturday’s dinner.
“This is the time of year when you see it all come together and you see people enjoying the meal and spending some time (with the) community and just fellowship, it’s nice,” Phillips said.
“That’s to me why I do this.”
After 18 years at the helm, this will be Benson’s last Christmas banquet as executive director of the Kelowna Gospel Mission, as he plans to retire in the summer.
“I’ve got such a great staff, they’re going to carry on and I’ve got a lot of confidence in them,” he said.
John Aronson was shot by police and arrested in January.
An independent investigation has found Kelowna police acted appropriately when they shot a prolific offender during a high-profile takedown near the Orchard Park CIBC in January.
A Kelowna police officer shot six bullets into the car John Aronson was driving on the afternoon of Jan. 23, as Aronson attempted to flee the Orchard Park mall parking lot. One bullet hit Aronson’s hip while another went through his arm.
A police service dog then bit Aronson’s leg as officers pulled him from the vehicle, causing cuts that required stitches.
At the time, Aronson was wanted for a road rage incident from the day before, when he pepper sprayed another driver, and police were investigating him for “a number of violent offences.” He was disqualified from driving at the time, and he has a long prior criminal record.
Over the past year, the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. investigated the incident, interviewing 30 civilian witnesses and 19 officers, and on Friday, the IIO director ruled the officers’ actions were justified.
Police believed Aronson was in possession of a gun when they moved in to arrest him on the afternoon of Jan. 23. They turned out to be correct.
While police had planned to arrest him by remotely shutting down Aronson’s Chevrolet Tahoe using the OnStar system, the shutdown failed when police moved in at 2 p.m. on Jan. 23, and Aronson fled to the mall.
When police found him, Aronson had hailed a taxi and was leaving the parking lot with two others in the cab. Members of the RCMP Emergency Response Team boxed the cab in, but Aronson ran away towards the CIBC, dropping a handgun on the ground as he fled.
He found a Dodge Caliber that had been left running outside the bank, and he jumped in. He peeled out of the parking stall and attempted to flee.
Aronson told investigators that he saw an officer in front of the car he was in shoot multiple rounds into the front windshield, from about 10 feet away.
Witnesses described Aronson’s driving as “wild and dangerous” and the IIO investigators determined he “posed an imminent risk of grievous bodily harm or death to anyone in (his) path.” As such, investigators determined the officers use of lethal force was “justifiable and not excessive.”
Back in September, Aronson pleaded guilty to six of the 22 charges he faced, was sentenced to time served and released from custody on two years probation.
The city of Kelowna is beginning the process of dismantling the homeless camp at Recreation Ave. after the security company chooses not to renew its contract.
On Wednesday, Dec. 18, the enhanced security firm contracted by the City advised it will not renew its contract effective Monday, Dec. 23, citing unacceptable liability. Without a security firm with the enhanced skills to monitor the site and complexities of the infrastructure to support a diverse population, the current level of service at the site is no longer viable.
Fortunately, service organizations are coming together to move more people indoors for the holidays.
Bridge housing at 555 Fuller Avenue opened this week with 40 spaces and as the residents transition from existing shelters to the new bridge housing facility, shelter spaces have become available. To further add to that capacity, 26 temporary indoor sheltering spaces will become available at existing shelters on Monday to accommodate people sheltering outside.
“Since the opening of Fuller Avenue, the number of people sheltering between Recreation Avenue and Poplar Point has decreased. Last night, there were a number of spaces available in shelters and, these shelters will add additional beds and mats on Monday that will be available until the Welcome Inn opens in a couple of weeks,” said Darren Caul, Community Safety Director. “What is really unique is that many social service organizations in Kelowna are coming together to bring people indoors and are providing staff to cover the additional shifts required to make these additional spaces possible.”
The Welcome Inn is expected to open by early January, adding another 20-40 indoor spaces and allowing existing shelters to revert to normal operations.
The news of additional beds is timely as the operation of the Recreation Avenue site is no longer sustainable.
The lack of enhanced security support means most of the infrastructure that was added at Recreation Avenue will be removed on Monday morning. The warming tents and storage facilities will be removed. Interior Health will also remove the harm reduction tent. However, toilets, sharps disposal and garbage containers will remain at the sites and the fencing remain at Recreation Avenue. The sites will continue to be cleaned daily by a Parks Services contractor.
“As more infrastructure and services were added to the site in December, a new security company that has a staff made up of many former first responders was brought in because of the complex and challenging situations,” said Caul.
Overnight sheltering will continue to not be prohibited at the two designated sites, but set up and take down times will be strictly enforced. Private security, bylaw, RCMP and Neighbourhood Patrol will also continue to patrol the sites and surrounding areas. The sites will continue to be monitored 24/7 by CCTV.
“The situation has been challenging in that we are trying to balance the needs of those living without homes and the surrounding community,” said Caul. “At the same time, the Journey Home Society, the City, BC Housing and the social services providers in Kelowna have been working around the clock for months trying to find creative solutions to a growing need in our community.”