Bernard Avenue in Downtown Kelowna on July 27, 2020. (Aaron Hemens - Black Press Media)

Weekly roundup: Interior Health records three more cases, wildfire smoke over B.C., mountie faces third lawsuit

A look at the top stories of the week

Here’s a look at the top stories of the week.

Air quality bulletin still in place for Okanagan

The Okanagan – or Smokanagan, if you will – and other areas around the province are being impacted, or are likely to be impacted by wildfire smoke over the next 24-to-72 hours.

Environment Canada said Sunday, Sept. 13, a special air quality bulletin has been extended to include more regions over the weekend. A link to a map of B.C. showing the affected regions can be found here.

Smoke impacts due to long-range transport from wildfires in the western United States have already been observed in some areas of Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland, and portions of the Interior. Smoke forecast models indicate the potential for a significant push of smoke into BC throughout the weekend.

Possible COVID-19 exposure at private party in downtown Kelowna hotel

A private party held at Hotel Zed on Sept. 7 may have exposed several people to COVID-19, Interior Health announced on Friday, Sept. 11.

The health authority said a number of people gathered in a common area and/or balcony of the hotel at 1627 Abbott Street and may have been exposed to COVID-19. Interior Health is working closely with the Hotel Zed but individuals who attended this party may not have been registered guests. The party is reported to have taken place between midnight and 3:30 a.m.

Health officials are asking people who attended the party to self-monitor for symptoms of the virus and get tested if they begin to exhibit symptoms.

Public health tracing is underway, Interior Health said, and the authority will be reaching out directly to individuals who have been exposed.

“This potential exposure is a reminder of how important it is to keep gatherings small and to people you know as we head into the fall,” said Interior Health in a news release.

Kelowna Mountie at centre of UBCO wellness check investigation faces third lawsuit

A third person has filed a civil lawsuit against Kelowna Mountie Lacey Browning, accusing the constable of assaulting and threatening him in front of his five-year-old son.

Browning is currently the subject of a high-profile criminal investigation into a wellness check at UBC Okanagan in January, in which she was seen dragging nursing student Mona Wang down a hallway at her residence and stepping on her head. Wang is currently suing Browning, the Attorney General of Canada, and the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor in relation to the incident.

Interior Health records three more COVID-19 cases

Interior Health reported three new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, Sept. 11, bringing the total number of cases in the region since the pandemic began to 465.

This comes after the health authority reported no new cases on Thursday.

Fifteen cases are currently active and hospitalizations remain at zero.

The outbreak at the Okanagan Correctional Centre in Oliver (declared Aug. 12) remains at seven cases — all among staff members. All seven cases have recovered.

No Interior Health cases are associated with the water treatment facility project outbreak in the Elk Valley (declared Aug. 27).

Suspect nabbed by Kelowna RCMP after knife-wielding robbery attempt

A 21-year-old Kelowna woman is in RCMP custody after she allegedly attempted to rob a Kelowna business while wielding a knife on Wednesday (Sept. 9) morning.

RCMP received a report that a woman had entered a business at the 1900-block of Pandosy Street in Kelowna, produced a knife, and demanded money. The culprit threatened the staff, grabbed merchandise and fled the area on foot.

Officers subsequently flooded the area and apprehended the suspect.

West Kelowna teacher who sexually exploited student permanently loses teaching licence

A B.C. teacher has been permanently banned from the classroom after engaging in criminal misconduct involving the sexual exploitation of a vulnerable student.

A consent resolution agreement posted by the B.C. Commissioner for Teacher Regulation on Tuesday, Sept. 8 states the teacher exhibited a “pattern of boundary violations in addition to the most serious violation which led to the criminal conviction.”

On May 2, 2018, the school district reported that a teacher had begun a sexual relationship with a student at the school. The teacher was subsequently charged with sexual exploitation of a young person by a person in a position of trust or authority and resigned the following month. The commissioner initiated an investigation on July 6, 2018, after learning the teacher had been charged with breaching his bail conditions.

In February 2019, the teacher pleaded guilty to several charges and he was sentenced in February 2020. Following his sentencing, the teacher entered a consent resolution agreement, agreeing his actions constituted professional misconduct and conduct unbecoming.

Concerns over mental health loom as B.C. enters fall during COVID-19

World Suicide Prevention Day is a day where people can join in unison to promote an understanding of suicide.

Annually on Sept. 10, people in more than 50 countries come together to support those impacted by a suicide attempt or loss.

Aaaryn Secker, manager of learning and development with the Canadian Mental Health Association in Kelowna (CMHA) said she has seen an uptick in people struggling with mental health in Kelowna due to the COVID-19 pandemic, noting the CMHA is experiencing a high demand for its virtual counselling services.

Kelowna Chiefs look to continue winning ways during unusual season

The Kelowna Chiefs Jr. B. Hockey Club will look to pick up where they left off when the puck drops to start the 2020/21 KIJHL season in November.

Before COVID-19 concerns forced the KIJHL to cancel the remainder of the playoffs in March, the Chiefs were tied 1-1 in a second-round series against the Princeton Posse that they were favoured by many to win. The Chiefs, led by leading scorers Kayson Gallant and Porter Dawson, were on a roll in the playoffs, dropping only a single game to Princeton after boasting a 33-12-3-2 record in the regular season and finishing first in the Bill Hausen Division.

”Our chances were really good of going all the way,” said Ken Law, head coach of the Kelowna Chiefs.

“We were really starting to gel and just getting our feet under us. We had our injured players back and the rug got pulled out from under us on our way to Princeton for game three.”

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