Many brave firefighters are down in the South Okanagan helping protect the area from the Nk’Mip Creek Wildfire, and on Thursday, the 26 women working on that fire stepped aside for a moment to take a photo and celebrate their efforts, along with gender diversity.
The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen shared the photo and information on their Saturday community bulletin wildfire update.
The wildfire has women working in all functions of the incident, including firefighters, incident support and incident commander.
The women come from BC Wildfire, Parks Canada, Mexico, Australia, Osoyoos Indian Band and Seneca Consulting.
“Behind the Wine” is a new summer series taking you behind the scenes of the South Okanagan’s iconic wine industry. Watch for it on Sundays.
River Stone Estate Winery is a family owned and operated winery in the South Okanagan, sitting just north of the town of Oliver.
The winery got its start from the co-owner and winemaker who had a keen interest in fermentation and a passion for learning.
“I got interested in making wine when I was about 17 years old. I was kind of like a kid with a chemistry set. I was looking for a practical application for chemistry and then I discovered fermentation and fermentation was fascinating to me at the time,” Ted Kane said.
Kane didn’t begin with wine grapes; he started with mostly fresh fruit at the time, which was apples and pears and rhubarb.
“I didn’t like what I made all that much and so I thought that I should try getting into some grape wine. So I started first with kits and I had a little bit of some success with that, but I was reading journals and books and stuff on it, and starting to understand how I could manipulate the chemistry of the wine kits.”
From there, Kane began to source grapes at the Italian markets each year.
“I learned from that, that better wines came from better products…I went on to coming out to the Okanagan Valley, during Fall Wine Festival time, and I started sourcing out grapes from various vineyards up and down the Valley and meeting winemakers at tasting events and it just kind of grew from there.”
His passion even made its way to growing grape vines in Edmonton, in his backyard in a greenhouse.
Kane wanted to expand and move to what he considered the best wine region in Canada.
“But, I still had to have a day job and I still was a long ways away from being able to afford anything really. So I was a respiratory therapist, which was another love of mine. I worked at that for 13 years, where I met my wife Lorraine,” he explained.
Eventually, Kane convinced his wife of his dreams to move and they planned to head down to the South Okanagan after she finished medical school.
“We found the perfect piece of land, which was in 2001. We bought our land, the first part of the parcel of land of 10 acres, bordering the Okanagan River. And it had all the aspects, all the features, for great grape growing.”
But the acres hadn’t been farmed for 30 years prior to the family getting to it.
“It was just cactuses, and sagebrush. So it was kind of like a blank canvas, and we could go at painting our masterpiece.”
Over the years, the family expanded and the team continued to work on their perfect vineyard land.
“Then we basically worked our butts off until 2010 and I saved up enough money to buy some tanks, and we opened up the winery.”
That year the winery started with just 900 cases, building to 4700 this year.
“There’s a little bit of all of us that make that product that is in that bottle.”
Kane said that what sets his winery apart is the passion for their growing area.
“Our team is what makes us special as well. We’ve got a great team of people in from the vineyard to the cellar, to the wine shop. And so it’s a real team effort here, and we couldn’t do it without, you know, all those guys,” he said.
Local residents may have recognized the Oliver Fire Department Chief, Bob Graham, pouring wines in the tasting room over the years.
“Our story is similar to some but it’s built from the ground up with just chasing a dream. And now, here we are.”
The winery has a big focus on Bordeaux style reds, featuring Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petite Verdot, but also carries a nice selection of whites and rosés.
The River Stone Estate Winery’s Tasting Garden is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tastings can be made online through their website here. While they prefer reservations, they do welcome walk ins based on availability.
A cat who was close to not surviving through his sickness has made a full recovery with the Critteraid Animal Sanctuary in Summerland, and the spunky guy is ready to find his forever home.
Grandoro was brought inside in February during the cold snap, and thanks to efforts from his medical team, vets, volunteers and cuddlers, he’s strong and playful once again.
“This is huge for all of us who have been beside him since February when he came in. He was in medical distress to the point that we weren’t sure the first few days if he could even do it. He is showing us all how amazing and wonderful he is with just a little bit of TLC and a lot of support,” Critteriad Animal Director Jess Byer said.
Grandoro is about eight to 12 years old and will need to be the only pet in the home.
“He’s very spunky and he definitely is not shy about telling you how he likes things. He will be on a special diet his whole life, but it’s very easily managed. But if you want that roommate, best friend of a cat, this is the boy for you.”
If you think you have the right home for Grandoro, send Critteraid an email to set up a time to meet with him at [email protected]
The first section of Penticton’s new bike lane officially opens Sunday morning, and the urban cycling director for the Penticton and Area Cycling Association is excited.
“I think we first went in front of council two and a half years ago, asking them to restart this, essentially the bike plan they had from 2012,” Matt Hopkins said. “To see it in the ground, I mean, I rode it today, because it is operational up to White. It’s obviously just the beginning but it’s really, really exciting.”
Initial use of the lane may not be as heavy as first hoped, due to the heatwave and ongoing heavy smoke in the area, but Hopkins hopes to see seasoned and new cyclists alike testing it out.
“I hope people come down. I hope it’s going to be busy, but it’s hard to say with the conditions… The nice thing about an all ages and abilities facility is that it’s designed for young people, it’s designed for older people, it’s really designed as an inclusive piece of infrastructure that anyone can use.”
The City of Penticton will be kicking off the grand opening for the first sections of the lake-to-lake bike lane with a 9 a.m. ribbon cutting at Lakeshore Drive. The event will also include some education for the community on how the two-way cycle route can be safely used.
After that, cyclists will be invited to ride the completed section to the Penticton Library for some treats, then back to Gyro Park where cycling ambassadors will be available to answer questions about the project. The ambassadors will also be stationed along the route.
“It’s pretty straightforward to use, I think, pretty much anyone should feel comfortable using it,” Hopkins added.
When the bike lane construction started downtown, some businesses voiced concerns about the impact it had on their business traffic as well as worries for future customers now that there was less parking in their area.
But Hopkins added that since downtown hasn’t been very inclusionary for cyclists and other transportation in the past, this could be the right step to changing that.
“We have to make it easier and more attractive for people to walk, bike and use public transit. We need improvements in those areas for a number of reasons. I mean, a lot of people don’t drive cars, a lot of people don’t want to drive cars,” he said.
“It’s a form of transportation that doesn’t cause any pollution. So I think within our OCP, we look at you know, the important investment, the top of the investment pyramid is, you know, for pedestrians, and then bikes, and then at public transit. So I think it’s nice to see, council investing in these things and giving people really like a transportation choice.”
The $8 million price tag is another pain point for some in the community, who would like to have seen their tax dollars spent elsewhere.
One resident voiced this concern at Penticton’s special council meeting on Thursday, where just two RCMP officers were hired instead of the proposed five wanted by Mayor John Vassilaki, since most council members wanted to address the budget first.
“I think the cost, you know, of course, it does cost money. I mean, you look at this project that we’ve got so far. It’s almost 50 per cent paid for by grants, and the federal government’s granting more money for active transportation so if the provincial government. So the timing is great,” Hopkins refuted.
“I don’t think it’s an expensive investment, quite frankly, but we’ll see.”
Check out Gyro Park for the Pedal Penticton Expo where you can demo an e-bike from the Bike Barn and Freedom Bike Shop, take a ride in a tri-shaw with Cycling without Age, register your bike with the Project 529 bike security initiative, and learn more about cycling in the area with the Penticton and Area Cycling Association and Hoodoo Adventures. Cyclists will also have the opportunity to use the Bike Valet service throughout the morning.
Photo: Chelsea Sousa
The Nk’Mip fire has destroyed at least three homes to date.
UPDATED: 8:55 p.m.
The Anarchist Mountain Fire Department shared a warning to residents out on evacuation orders on Saturday night.
“Strong wind speed and smoke have been expected with a shift in weather, as forecasted,” their Facebook post reads. “AMFD crew is patrolling the community and monitoring for hot spots.”
“For those addresses still under Evacuation Order, please do not return until the Regional District has rescinded the order.”
ORIGINAL: 11:45 a.m.
The Nk’Mip Creek fire burning southeast of Oliver continued to grow Friday and through the night, and more growth is expected through Saturday.
The large fire is currently estimated at 13,000 hectares in size, and it’s forced the evacuation of hundreds of properties in the area. At least three homes have been destroyed by the fire so far.
“Yesterday and overnight, fire growth was observed on the north and northeastern flanks, driven by wind, fuel type, and dry conditions,” the BC Wildfire Service said in a Saturday morning update.
“Today, the weather will remain hot and dry, with strong venting conditions throughout the burning period. Winds are anticipated to be variable and driven by daytime heating, topography, and fire behaviour. These challenging conditions are expected to increase fire behaviour, with wildfire personnel maintaining life, property, and fireline safety as critical objectives.”
Temperatures are forecast to reach 38 C near the fire Saturday, although relative humidity is expected to increase Sunday, along with the potential for showers.
Through Friday night, fire crews remained on scene in the Shrike Hill neighbourhood, working to protect homes in the area. They continued to patrol Saturday around residential areas near McKinney Rd, Nk’Mip Rd and Shrike Hill, burning off any unburnt fuels in the area and extinguishing hot spots.
Other crews are also working near Mt. Baldy Resort, while firefighters are working to protect homes around the Anarchist Mountain community.
“Heavy equipment remains on site and is continuing with line location, and construction and reinforcement of guards to the southeast of Mt. Baldy Resort and the McKinney Nordic Ski Club,” the BCWS said.
“Patrols and mop up continue on the fire’s southern perimeter. Heavy equipment will be strengthening and widening guards on the southeast and eastern flanks.”
There are now 186 BC Wildfire Service firefighters working on the fire, along with five helicopters and 14 pieces of heavy equipment. An additional 46 municipal firefighters are working on structural protection.
Pictured are (starting from far left) Greta Henning, Sue Blackwell and Aidan Mayes of Quota Internationalof Penticton alongside (children’s names ? Lily (yellow dress), Gia and Brooke) and Manisha Willms, Executive Director of the OSNS Child and Youth Development Centre.
The Okanagan Similkameen Neurological Society has been given a very welcome donation from a long-time supporter of their organization.
Quota International of Penticton donated $5000 OSNS Child and Youth Development Centre. Consistent with their mission of elevating life for children with special needs, the group once again made a much-needed donation to the Centre.
With a limited capacity to fundraise this year, the gift is very appreciated from an organization that is a true friend to the OSNS.
This donation is particularly poignant as it was made in honour of founding member Joy Pinney who sadly passed away earlier this year.
The donation of $5,000 will enhance developmental treatment for children attending the Centre.
To learn more about OSNS, visit their website at www.osns.org.
Photo: Summerland Farmer’s Market
When you’re shopping for your fresh produce on Sunday at the Summerland farmers market, you also have the option of getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
Interior Health is hosting a drop-in vaccination clinic at the market starting at 9 a.m. and going until 1 p.m.for those who are in need of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Anyone aged 12 and over who has not received their first dose, or who has received their first dose more than seven weeks ago and is looking for their second, is eligible.
The drop-in clinic will be active during the market this Sunday, Aug. 1.
Find them in in the market between on Henry Avenue and Kelly Avenue on Main Street.
Trevor, Ingo & Ryley Seibert complete the first laps on the newly reconfigured Penticton Speedway
The Penticton Speedway revved and roared to life on opening day on last Saturday, July 24, after major upgrades and renovations to the facility.
Close to 1000 fans were in attendance to watch the Avion Motorsport RS1 series and the Avion Sprint car races. Tickets sales went live 24hrs before the race as the speedway team worked late into the night to get bleachers in place to host fans.
“The team worked incredibly hard getting the facility ready to open. The fans were entertained with a great night of racing. It was fitting that my cousin and partner, Trevor Seibert, won the opening race in the RS1 Series after taking his work boots off 20 minutes before qualifying,” co-owner Ingo Seibert said in a press release.
“We appreciate all the support from the community, our partners and vendors. Having the fans back in the stands was a very satisfying milestone and we wanted to thank everyone in attendance on opening night.”
This is the Penticton Speedway new owner’s first season, after purchasing the popular track from the Aantjes family.
“The new track design really opened up the 2 wide racing. which is very entertaining for drivers and fans and was the intent of my design changes. The Lake Excavating crew worked 18 hr days for weeks to make the opening date. It felt great to win the opening race but driving the first 3 laps with my Son Ryley, father Karl and Ingo with his son Bryce was a highlight after months of work. Watching Ryley win the second race just topped off the evening,” Trevor Seibert, the other co-owner said.
The Speedway schedule looks to be packed for the rest of 2021. The weekend of July 30 to Aug.1 has the Gordy Mannes triple header, with drivers coming from around B.C. and Alberta.
The Avion Motorsports RS1 Series and Sprints return to the track on Aug. 21 to put on another entertaining show.
Saturday, Aug. 28, the Speedways host a Monster Truck show, a historical fan favourite.
The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen issued two public boil water notices on Saturday, for the Naramata water system and entire Sun Valley water system.
The Naramata system has observed an increase in turbidity levels above normal at the Okanagan Lake intake.
“In consultation with the Interior Health Authority (IHA) the RDOS is issuing a Water Quality Advisory effective immediately. It is recommended that citizens who require additional protection as noted below should boil their drinking water for at least one minute before drinking,” the release reads.
Those needing additional protection include people with weakened immune systems, infants and children, the elderly and people with chronic illnesses.
The Water Quality Advisory will remain in effect until further notice.
For the entire Sun Valley water system, a power outage on Saturday morning resulted in portions of the water system losing water pressure and residents possibly observing some discolouration or sediment in the water.
“If you experience dirty water, simply run your cold water taps only and/or garden hose until the water runs clear. Residents may also wish to isolate their in-home treatment systems until turbidity has decreased to normal levels.”
Both area residents are advised to use a safe alternate source of water or to boil water for all drinking, infant formula preparation, brushing teeth, food preparation/cooking purposes and ice making.
Water used from the systems should be brought to a full boil and allowed to boil for at least 1 minute.
A reminder for all business owners/operators (bed and breakfasts) and public facilities operators that it is the responsibility of said establishments to notify their customers of the Water Quality Advisory.
For further information, please contact the Public Works Department at (250) 490-4106 or (250) 490- 4135.
Photo: Mike Biden
Thomson Creek fire above Heritage Hills taken on Friday evening
Wildfire firefighting efforts are being impeded by the amount of heavy smoke in the skies around the Thomas Creek Wildfire near Okanagan Falls.
The wildfire has been burning out of control since July 11.
BC Wildfire Service reported that due to poor visibility and increased fire activity, heavy equipment withdrew from the north/northwest flank Friday afternoon.
“It does make it a little bit harder for crews to get out and get up in the air for firefighting efforts,” said Shannon Street, a fire information officer with BCWS.
Helicopters are continuing to deliver water along the north flank to ensure the fire does not spread into the drainage north of Christie Mountain.
“Then wherever possible ground crews are working on suppression efforts along the south flank of the front.”
BCWS reported ‘volatile fire behaviour and growth’ continued to be observed along the north flank in the Derenzy and McLean Clan Lake area.
“The good news though is most of that growth didn’t actually impact the control objectives, the crews have been working on over the last several days, so we’re still sitting in a pretty good place at that fire at this point in time.”
An increase in size yesterday brings Thomas Creek up to an estimated 10,250 hectares.
“Most of that growth was sort of the last 24 hours when we were able to get a bit better perimeter yesterday afternoon when the smoke cleared up a little bit,” Street added.
Twenty-one firefighters, eight danger tree assessors/fallers, 36 military personnel, six helicopters, 22 pieces of heavy equipment and seven support staff are working on the fire.
The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen still has over 700 properties on evacuation alert.
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