Renee Merrifield speaking to media on her front doorstep after winning the Kelowna-Mission riding for the BC Liberal Party. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)

Renee Merrifield speaking to media on her front doorstep after winning the Kelowna-Mission riding for the BC Liberal Party. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)

Kelowna’s year in review – October 2020

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

  • Jan. 1, 2021 12:00 p.m.

Penticton man killed ex-wife’s four neighbours to stop them from ‘bullying’ her

John Brittain pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder in a Kelowna courtroom on Wednesday, Oct. 14, for killing four of his ex-wife Katherine Brittain’s neighbours – Susan and Barry Wonch, Rudi Winter and Darlene Knippelberg, all of whom were in their 60s and 70s.

The incident unfolded in Penticton back in April 2016.

During the court’s proceedings, Crown counsel Colin Forsyth explained that despite Britton separating from his wife in 2012 the two maintained a close relationship. Over time, the two developed issues with Katherine’s neighbours.

This would lead to Brittain going on a shooting rampage killing Wonch, Winter and Knippelberg.

Brittain then drove to the Penticton RCMP detachment to turn himself in.

He was sentenced to life behind bars on Thursday, Oct. 15, and will serve 25 years before getting a chance at parole.

•••

Horgan’s B.C. majority came with historically low voter turnout

Despite B.C. being in the midst of a global pandemic, the NDP called an election for Oct. 24.

While John Horgan and the BC NDP would go on to win a majority, it came with the second-lowest overall voter turnout on record, at about 52 per cent of eligible voters.

In the Central Okanagan, Norm Letnick of the BC Liberal Party was re-elected as MLA in Kelowna-Lake Country, keeping the seat for the party. Letnick won 1,368 out of 2,542 counted votes (53.82 per cent) with 36 of 117 polls reporting.

Ben Stewart was also re-elected as MLA in Kelowna West, retaining the seat for the BC Liberals. Stewart won 2,737 out of 5,856 counted votes (46.74 per cent) with 67 of 113 polls reporting.

Newcomer to politics, Renee Merrifield who replaced former MLA Steve Thomson, was elected to the Kelowna-Mission riding.

Merrifield won 1,168 out of 2,184 counted votes (53.48 per cent) with 30 of 114 polls reporting.

•••

Kelowna restaurant landmark up in flames

Kelowna lost an iconic landmark this past October when Olympia Greek Taverna in Rutland suffered extensive fire damage.

An Olympia waiter and another staff member were playing cards in the restaurant after closing hours Tuesday night when they started smelling smoke shortly after 10 p.m.

Flames were then spotted coming from the rear of the building.

The blaze was deemed accidental by the Kelowna Fire Department.

However, the loss of the business was devastating for co-owners Mike Koutsantonis and his brother Chris.

“We’ve been in Kelowna for over 50 years, both in downtown and our second location in Rutland. We’ve been running this Rutland location since 1973 until today,” Mike Koutsantonis told the Capital News in the immediate aftermath of the destructive fire.

He said they want to rebuild and continue the family business, but how or when that will be, that is still too early to tell, he said.

The community railed around Koutsantonis, his family and staff by posting well wishes both on Facebook and by leaving notes on the storefront facade of the burned building on Highway 33.

•••

Kelowna man charged with attempted murder in Halloween night stabbing

A Kelowna man is charged with attempted murder following a stabbing on Halloween night.

Just after 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 31, Kelowna Mounties responded to a report of an assault in front of the H2O Centre on Gordon Drive in Kelowna.

Upon arrival, the RCMP says officers found a 23-year-old man suffering from serious injuries sustained during the alleged attack.

Jesse Pez, 30, was located and arrested at a nearby home on Old Meadows Road.

Pez was out on bail for another incident at the time of his arrest.

He also would have remained on probation as part of his sentence for assaulting a peace officer last year.

Originally, Pez was granted bail.

But he breached probationary and release orders and subsequently was arrested on Dec. 12.

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Olympia Taverna in Kelowna’s Rutland neighbourhood was destroyed by a fire on Oct. 6. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)

Kelowna’s Jesse Pez, charged with attempted murder in relation to an alleged Oct. 31 stabbing, is out on bail. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)