Waters: Kelowna is a playground for all, including gangsters and hitmen

Kelowna's death toll from gangs pales in comparison to the the number in the Vancouver area.

It’s a little like the kettle calling the pot black.

A Vancouver newspaper that paints Kelowna as an organized crime stronghold, inferring it’s now a community where gangland-style killings over drugs are common place and where residents are now afraid of increasingly visible violent criminals, should take a look in its own backyard before painting other cities with the same brush.

Based on the number of reported shootings—of people both identified as members of the crime world as well as innocent bystanders—the suburbs of the Lower Mainland would appear to be far more dangerous than Kelowna.

How many times in the last few years have we heard about gangland-style hits there, carried out during the day in crowed public places? Are residents there afraid to go out on the streets?

The Vancouver Province ran the unflattering portrait of Kelowna last weekend in light of the recent deaths of a man and woman in West Kelowna. The man, Jeremy Daniel Snow, spent time in a U.S. jail for flying drugs across the border in 2009.

The deaths were tragic—especially considering it appears the other person killed, 30-year-old Tiffany Goruk, a mother of two who was dating Snow, had no connection to the crime world and may have just been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

There’s no doubt Kelowna and the surrounding area has its share of crime—as does any other city in the country. It has also had some high profile cases, such as the brazen August 2011 daytime shooting of Lower Mainland gangster Jonathan Bacon or the murder of Mindy Tran in 1994.

The Bacon shooting was described by the Province as a “wake-up call” for the city. But what wasn’t included was the fact that Bacon, and the two gang-member buddies he was with, were visiting at the time. That shooting wasn’t a home-made crime.

Too often we hear that crime in the Central Okanagan is an imported phenomenon. Outsiders get blamed and the impression is given that if it wasn’t for those who come here from elsewhere, we would not have crime.

But that’s bunk.

Kelowna can and does generate its own crime, and yes, the city is a desirable place for all people to come to—good and bad.

But painting a picture of a city that has been overrun by criminals is just plain incorrect.

The article also criticizes development here and on that score, maybe there are points to be made. Changes are taking place though and, love it or hate it, what happened in the past happened.

It’s time to move on.

As for strip mall development, especially on the Westside, what the folks in Vancouver weren’t told is that  it has taken place on WFN land.

Alistair Waters is the Capital News  assistant editor.


Kelowna Capital News