Here’s a look back at the top stories throughout the week.
A Lake Country family is still left with more questions than answers more than four years after Arlene Westervelt’s death.
Her husband, Lambertus Westervelt, was charged with second-degree murder in April 2019 after an extensive investigation into Arlene’s June 2016 drowning death on Okanagan Lake. The Crown stayed that charge in July 2020 after more than a year of the matter winding through the courts.
The grieving family gathered on the steps of the Kelowna Law Courts demanding justice on Monday, Sept. 14 — the day Westervelt was set to face a preliminary inquiry into the matter.
A woman at Kelowna’s Orchard Park Shopping Centre shared a video to social media claiming she was “harassed” by employees who, in keeping with company policy, wouldn’t let her into their store without wearing a mask.
In the video originally shared Thursday on Facebook, Susan Roth Drazdoff Faechner can be seen at the entrance of LUSH Cosmetics, arguing with a security guard and three employees who appear in the background.
“I am just browsing, you are harassing me,” Faechner says in the video. Employees can be heard calmly telling her that wearing masks in-store is company policy and reminding her of online shopping as an alternative option.
Tejwant Danjou was reduced to tears on Monday (Sept. 14) afternoon as he was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 12 years in the murder of his common-law partner, Rama Gauravarapu.
The former Surrey real estate agent was convicted of second-degree murder last month for bludgeoning Gauravarapu to death with a wine bottle in a West Kelowna hotel room on July 22, 2018, while the two were on vacation in the area.
Crown sought parole ineligibility for a 13-to-14-year term, while Danjou’s defence called for the mandatory minimum 10-year term. Ultimately, Justice Allison Beames split the difference between the two suggestions, opting for 12 years of parole ineligibility.
“This was a brutal, tragic and senseless killing,” Beames said as she delivered her verdict.
Another woman has come forward with allegations of sexual assault against former Kelowna Mountie Brian Mathew Burkett.
A fourth woman filed a civil lawsuit against Burkett on Thursday, Sept. 17, alleging the officer used his position of power to sexually harass her. Separately, Burkett is also facing seven criminal charges for breach of trust.
The new lawsuit alleges Burkett manipulated, stalked and harassed the plaintiff, telling her he’d ensure she’d go to prison if she did not have sex with him. Eventually, the suit alleges, this led to Burket sexually assaulting the Kelowna woman.
After more than 13 years of vacancy, demolition is scheduled for a downtown Kelowna building that used to house a McDonald’s.
The site, at 1746 Water Street, was the subject of a lengthy lawsuit between the City of Kelowna and McDonald’s that was recently resolved in May.
The legal action stemmed from the 2007 construction of revised road alignments for the William R. Bennett Bridge. McDonald’s subsequently ceased operations at the location and claimed land and business losses against the city.
With smoky conditions in the valley and a shortage of labourers, this year’s harvest season is proving to be a difficult one for Okanagan fruit growers.
Avi Gill of Farming Karma said they’re not quite in the middle of harvesting yet, but they’re already feeling the struggle.
“Ambrosia is our main brand, so we don’t have to harvest until the end of September, but we’re pushing to make sure we have enough pickers leading up to that,” he said.
“I think there will be that (worker) shortage at the end of September… it was a tough cherry season but the apple crop is looking good. But now we have the problem of picking it all in time.”