Kelowna’s year in review – March 2020

Top stories from the month of March

Kelowna RCMP create sex crimes unit

After months of public outcry over how the Kelowna RCMP was investigating and classifying sexual assault files, the detachment announced it would be further investigating 12 such cases and creating a sex crimes unit.

The recommendation came from the RCMP’s national Sexual Assault Review Team (SART), which investigated local Mounties’ responses to such files, after Statistics Canada data showed nearly 40 per cent of sexual assaults reported to police were deemed “unfounded” through 2018 and 2019.

After review and reclassification of files, the numbers came back in line with the provincial average.

•••

Adjustments as COVID ramps up

Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran addresses media from the front steps of council chambers on March 23. 
(Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)

Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran addresses media from the front steps of council chambers on March 23. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)

March saw several postponements, which would later become full-on cancellations.

The Kelowna Rockets’ season, several expositions and other events were put on hold, only to later be cancelled entirely.

Classes moved online for post-secondary and grade school students; school trips were cancelled.

Non-essential businesses closed, and most people cooped up inside their homes as provincial health officials recommended social distancing.

Traffic through Kelowna International Airport went down significantly, and has continued at a low rate throughout the pandemic. Airport management said it could be up to five years before the airport returns to pre-pandemic levels. Last year, YLW hit two million passengers for the first time.

This year, it’s expected to it around 700,000.

Jailed two years for 30K child porn files

Protesters gather in front of the RCMP detachment in Kelowna in late November to voice their concerns about the high number of sexual assault reports that were deemed “unfounded” in 2019. (Michael Rodriquez - Kelowna Capital News)

Protesters gather in front of the RCMP detachment in Kelowna in late November to voice their concerns about the high number of sexual assault reports that were deemed “unfounded” in 2019. (Michael Rodriquez - Kelowna Capital News)

A Kelowna man convicted of possessing over 27,000 photos and 1,000 videos containing child pornography was sentenced to two years in prison followed by three years of probation in a provincial courtroom in Kelowna on March 13.

Tanner Klassen, 26, was charged on March 23, 2018, after accidentally selling a TV with a USB flash drive hidden in a secret compartment. Klassen asked the individual to retrieve the device for him, but curious as to what was on the device, the man looked and found various files containing child porn with children as young as three-years-old. Klassen was charged after the individual went to the police.

Klassen said he hadn’t used the drive since receiving it. However, the device was found in a TV manufactured in 2013 – two years after he claimed to have recieved it from a “group of middle school kids.”

•••

Former mayor dies

Former Kelowna mayor Jim Stewart

Former Kelowna mayor Jim Stewart

Former Kelowna Mayor Jim Stuart died in March.

Stuart, the namesake of downtown Kelowna’s Stuart Park, saw the city’s growth from a primarily farm-based city to the economic centre it is today.

“As Kelowna goes through another extended period of expansion, I can imagine the pressures and the forethought mayor Stuart needed to call upon to steer the city from its past to its future,” said Mayor Colin Basran. “Change is never easy, and mayor Stuart guided the city through probably its biggest shift ever. I know it must have been difficult for him, but he always had the best interests of the city in mind and he guided his council through many difficult decisions and directions.”

Stuart was awarded the City of Kelowna’s Freedom of the City award in 2001, an honourary distinction only granted to 18 people since it was introduced in Kelowna in 1946.

•••

First murder of the year

View of Trumpeter Court in Kelowna, B.C. on March 24, 2020. (Photo - Daniel Taylor)
View of Trumpeter Court in Kelowna, B.C. on March 24, 2020. (Photo - Daniel Taylor)

View of Trumpeter Court in Kelowna, B.C. on March 24, 2020. (Photo - Daniel Taylor)
View of Trumpeter Court in Kelowna, B.C. on March 24, 2020. (Photo - Daniel Taylor)

An Upper Mission killing in late March was the first of the year in Kelowna.

On March 24, gunshots rang out in the 300-block of Trumpeter Court, just before midnight. Police arrived on the scene to find a man dead inside a vehicle near a home at the end of the court.

The detachment’s serious crimes unit took over the file, but information has been sparse since April.

The RCMP confirmed that no arrests have been made in relation to the death to this point.

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Year in Review

Just Posted

Michelle Jacobs receives her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Coast Capri Hotel on April 28, 2021. The pop-up clinic was hosted by the First Nations Health Authority. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
126 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health over the weekend

There are 22 individuals hospitalized due to the virus, and 13 in intensive care

(File photo)
Repeated cougar sighting on Okanagan Rail Trail

Plenty of bear sightings around the valley too

Cassie Bonthoux and James Nelson (Contributed/Facebook)
Kelowna dealer who operated international dark web drug ring denied appeal

The BC Court of Appeal denied James Nelson an appeal on his 11-year prison sentence

Vernon local Ryan Lazar – who specializes in 2D background design and 3D animation – is ready to start his career after a tough yet rewarding two years of studies. (Contributed)
Okanagan College students get animated at graduation

‘The pandemic has resulted in more video consumption and the animation industry is so hot right now because of it’

A screenshot from the Kelowna Fire Department’s new Fire Safety House educational video. (Contributed)
Kelowna Fire Department’s Fire Safety House goes virtual

To adjust to the pandemic, KFD is offering virtual fire safety videos, virtual tours of fire hall

WildSafeBC is reminding residents to keep manage wildlife attractants on their property. (WildSafeBC Central Okanagan)
WildSafeBC reminds residents to manage attractants as bears spotted in Okanagan

The most prominent reminder is to keep garbage secured indoors until collection day

Barriere RCMP nabbed two suspects who were allegedly breaking into cabins in McLure. (File photo)
Thieves nabbed by Barriere Mounties during McLure break-ins

Police Service Dog Kody instrumental in making the arrest

KCR Migrant Support Worker, Javier, had an exciting day escorting his son Ian with him during ‘Take your Child to Work Day’!
KCR: Volunteering is being part of a whole

KCR Community Resources shares stories of its volunteers in a weekly column

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the province’s COVID-19 vaccine program, May 10, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays below 500 a day over weekend

14 more deaths, down to 350 in hospital as of Monday

Royal Bay Secondary School’s rainbow crosswalk was vandalized shortly after being painted but by Monday, coincidentally the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the crosswalk had been cleaned up and students had surrounded it with chalk messages of support and celebration. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C. high’s school’s pride crosswalk restored following ‘hateful’ graffiti attack

Hate terms, racial slur, phallic images spray-painted at Greater Victoria high school

RCMP vest
Penticton beach brawl results in one arrest but no charges

People took to social media after a fight broke out at the fire pits at Okanagan Lake Saturday

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Terrance Mack would have celebrated his 34th birthday on May 13, 2021. Mack’s family has identified him as the victim of a homicide in an apartment on Third Avenue in Port Alberni sometime in April. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Family identifies Ucluelet man as victim of Vancouver Island homicide

Terrance Mack being remembered as ‘kind, gentle’ man

Salmon Arm RCMP seize a handgun, drugs and cash at a Silver Creek property on Friday, May 14, 2021. (File photo)
Police seize handgun, drugs and cash at a Shuswap property

Salmon Arm RCMP said warrant for Silver Creek revealed cannabis, possible cocaine, magic mushrooms

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