Toddler Gaige and his father, Mark Banman. (GoFundMe photo)

Toddler Gaige and his father, Mark Banman. (GoFundMe photo)

Kelowna year in review –April 2020

A look back at the top stories from the month of April

Child dies after being struck by vehicle in Kelowna

A toddler was killed after he was run over by a vehicle near his parents’ home on April 19.

The child, 18-month-old Gaige Banman, was pronounced dead shortly after RCMP officers arrived on scene that afternoon.

The community rallied for the grieving family, raising more than $7,500 in an online fundraising campaign.

Exactly one week after the incident, several people lined McCurdy Road for the toddler’s funeral procession, blowing bubbles as the hearse passed.


Outbreak at Bylands Nurseries

Another temporary foreign worker at West Kelowna’s Bylands Nurseries has tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases in the outbreak to 20.The announcement was made on April 13 by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry after an Interior Health (IH) medical health officer said she anticipated no further cases to be confirmed in the outbreak on April 1.The only other outbreak in the region is at Okanagan Correctional Centre and remains at one confirmed case, though Henry said a ‘number’ of tests have come back negative. (Contributed)

At the tail end of March, Interior Health declared the nation’s first outbreak of COVID-19 among migrant workers at West Kelowna’s Bylands Nurseries.

Through April, a total of 23 workers tested positive for the virus and Interior Health ordered 75 workers who were exposed to the virus – 63 migrant and 12 local – to self-isolate.

Interior Health officials said the workers arrived at the farm between January and early March, with the most recent arrivals coming on March 12 – at which time measures suggesting a two-week isolation period had not yet been implemented.


Woman allegedly heard screaming for help before vehicle rollover

Rollover on Springfield. Michael Rodriguez, Kelowna Capital News.

Police were in search of a red car before it rolled over into a ditch on Springfield Road, on April 29.

According to Const. James Ward, officers were looking for the vehicle after reports a woman was seen downtown Kelowna yelling for help out the window.

However, officers were not pursuing the car at the time of the crash.

“Just by fluke they happened to be going eastbound and I was going westbound (on Springfield). I didn’t see them but all of a sudden people started yelling and honking at me,” explained Ward.

“I did a u-turn and came over and the vehicle was in the ditch.”

According to Ward, the car came within a “matter of inches” from a woman and a baby in a stroller waiting at the bus stop.

One man was arrested after trying to flee the scene. He was heard yelling “I love you” to his passenger, who was being treated by paramedics.


Illegal dumping on the rise

The increase in dumping could be attributed to, as Blake describes them, “non-reputable haulers”

As many positive outdoor activities saw an increase through the COVID-19 pandemic, so did some negative ones.

According to Kane Blake of the Okanagan Forest Task Force, illegal dumping is on the rise.

The task force’s goal is simple, to work to keep forests clean and to bring public awareness to the issue of illegal dumping in local forested areas.

Amid the foliage and natural beauty found around Kelowna’s many forested areas, piles of trash are also a common sight.

The increase in dumping could be attributed to, as Blake describes them, “non-reputable haulers” commissioned for spring cleaning waste, but another likely culprit is the COVID-19 pandemic.

The wait at the landfill became arduous in April, as the quarantined public didn’t have much to do besides clean their homes.

“A simple Facebook search shows lots of people looking to hire people for dump runs but the real question is how much of it is actually making it to the landfill.”


Six firefighters retire

Six Kelowna firefighters with a wealth of experience – nearly 150 years combined – have announced their retirement from the Kelowna Fire Department.

Captains Al Lipkovitz, Tim Hill, Rob Buchanan, Rob Schelppe, and fire prevention officer Gayanne Pacholzuk are the department’s 2020 retirees.

“We will miss seeing them every day in the stations but the friendships will last a lifetime,” stated the fire department in a message posted on Instagram.

Year in Review