Year in review – May 2020

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

  • Dec. 31, 2020 1:00 p.m.

Illegal dumping on the rise in Kelowna amid pandemic: forest clean-up group

An old RV dumped at James Lake, leaking fluid into the lake 2water. (Contributed)

An old RV dumped at James Lake, leaking fluid into the lake 2water. (Contributed)

In May, illegal dumping was recorded as being on the rise in the Central Okanagan.

“Illegal dumping is on the rise at the moment and growing fast,” said Kane Blake of the Okanagan Forest Task Force.

“The task force’s goal is simple, working to keep our forests clean and to bring public awareness to the issue of illegal dumping and its impact on forested areas.”

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.

Blake said as the sequestered population finds themselves without much to do besides tidying their property, the wait at the landfill is getting increasingly arduous.

Amid the pandemic, the task force has had to halt its frequent clean-ups, but Blake is hopeful to get back to business relatively soon.

Crown land and the back roads leading to it are the hardest hit, according to Kelowna-based conservation officer, Terry Myroniuk.

The Regional District of Central Okanagan (RDCO), which handles most of the clean-up and field complaints regarding improper dumping, said as the pandemic continues it’s been harder for them to send people to clean them up. Stewart said the RDCO is counting on residents to report illegal dumping when they see it.

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Kelowna couple returns home after working the frontlines of pandemic hotbed in Italy

Okanagan health-care workers Ian and Carolyn Larratt in Italy. (Contributed)

Okanagan health-care workers Ian and Carolyn Larratt in Italy. (Contributed)

As the B.C. provincial government called a state of emergency on March 18, the COVID-19 pandemic had already taken a stranglehold in parts of Europe.

That same day, two Okanagan health-care workers travelled over 8,000 kilometres to provide assistance in Italy, one of the world’s most severe hotbeds for the virus at the time.

When Ian and Carolyn Larratt landed in Cremona, a city situated in northern Italy, the total number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in their home province of B.C. was 231. In Italy, that number was 35,713 – and it was skyrocketing.

Ian and Carolyn are a Summerland paramedic and a Kelowna General Hospital nurse who live together in their marital home in Kelowna.

They signed up with Samaritan’s Purse in the fall of 2019 – with no inclination that their first deployment with the humanitarian aid organization would be for such a significant event.

Ian said he and his wife arrived in Cremona to find a hospital bursting at the seams, overrun resources and “tragedy everywhere.”

“The whole country was on lockdown,” he said.

“It was pretty scary to see just how bad it can get.”

Ian and Carolyn worked at a 68-bed COVID-19-exclusive field hospital set up across several inflatable tents. Of those 68 beds, there was also a 10-bed intensive care unit ventilators to care for critically ill patients.

On May 7, a few weeks after Ian and Carolyn returned home to Kelowna, the field hospital discharged its last patient. It had accepted its first patient on March 20.

Okanagan health-care workers Ian and Carolyn Larratt in Italy. (Contributed)

Okanagan health-care workers Ian and Carolyn Larratt in Italy. (Contributed)

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Vernon man arrested after nurse assaulted at Kelowna hospital’s COVID-19 screening desk

The BC Nurses’ Union demanded answers after a nurse at Kelowna General Hospital (KGH) was assaulted on May 13.

The union claims the nurse, working in the emergency department at the COVID-19 screening desk, was struck and verbally assaulted by an irate patient.

KGH is one of a few hospitals in the province that is supposed to provide security in the emergency room at all hours, part of a pilot project led by the nurses union and Interior Health in 2018.

Union president Christine Sorensen said in addition to the incident, she’s concerned the COVID-19 screening desk did not have a plexiglass shield installed.

“Not only did this nurse experience a traumatizing incident that left her with physical injuries; she is also working through a pandemic, on the frontlines, in a high-risk area, without the appropriate infection control measures in place,” said Sorensen.

In an emailed statement, Interior Health said when the incident occurred, a security officer intervened immediately.

“Interior Health takes all incidents of aggressive behaviour at our sites very seriously. Safety for patients, staff, physicians and the public is a key component to our ability to deliver health services,” read the statement.

A 37-year-old Vernon man has been arrested in relation to the incident. The nurse suffered non-life threatening injuries.

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Year in Review