More flooding is ‘imminent’ in Kelowna; mass evacuations possible

It’s being called “the perfect storm” and it could lead to thousands of people being evacuated in Kelowna later this week.

The triple-whammy of above normal snow pack levels and already saturated ground in the mountains, warming temperatures and forecasted heavy rainfall could combine to create a once-in-200 year flood event in the city.

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“We are planning for the worst and hoping for he best,” says Emergency Operations Centre director Brian Reardon. “Citizens should be doing the same. Last week’s flooding may prove to be just a dress rehearsal for a much larger event ”

He says upwards of 2,500 Kelowna residents could have to leave their homes.

Reardon advises people living in low-lying areas near water courses to start sandbagging now and to prepare a grab-bag of essential items should they be evacuated for an extended period.

About 100 forests ministry personnel will be in the city later Wednesday to help with sandbagging.

“Today is a call to action,” says Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran. “This is a serious issue heading our way we need to be prepared.”

City crews are heightening the dikes along some stretches of Mission Creek.

“We are going to have to do our best to protect property, city infrastructure and residents, says Basran. “We will get through this as a community.”

Water levels in already swollen creeks are expected to start peaking Thursday evening or Friday morning.

Anyone noticing a potential flooding problem should call the Kelowna Fire Department at 250-469-8801.

In Kelowna, sandbags are available at the Enterprise Way fire hall.

Sand is available at:
路 Cook Road Boat Launch outside the Hotel Eldorado on Cook Road,
路 Burne Avenue, west of Ethel Street at Mill Creek
路 Rowcliffe Avenue at Richter Street
路 221 Adams Road (Industrial Park)

In West Kelowna, sandbags and sand are available at:
路 1341 Green Bay Road
路 2606 Casa Loma
路 Pritchard Park at 1587 Pritchard Drive
路 4081 Hitchner Road
路 Pebbles Beach Park at 2589 Whitworth Road

For Lake Country residents, sandbags are available at Swalwell Park and at Lake Country Okanagan Centre Fire Hall (10591 Okanagan Centre Road East)
Sand is available at:
路 Swalwell Park at 9950 Bottom Wood Lake Road
路 Commonwealth Road by Holiday Park
路 Deldor Road

Separate ‘nuclear specific’ evacuation plan for Point Lepreau unnecessary, safety officials say

As the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission holds hearings in Saint John on NB Power’s application for a five year renewal to Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station’s operating license, questions are arising about an evacuation plan for surrounding communities in the event of an accident.

Saint John’s fire chief told the commission it’s been a long time since an evacuation plan specifically related to Lepreau has been discussed.

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Currently, there is an evacuation plan of a 20-kilometre radius, which New Brunswick’s Emergency Measures Organization (EMO) feels is sufficient.

READ MORE: Environmental groups urge nuclear commission to release full report on disaster scenarios

Saint John sits about 40 kilometres away from Point Lepreau, but EMO says the city shouldn’t have to change its current evacuation plan.

“The difference between evacuating a community because of a threat posed by a nuclear plume doesn’t really require a whole lot of change in terms of the behaviour of the evacuees,” said NB EMO Director Greg MacCallum.

Nuclear Safety Commission staff agree even in the event a plume were to reach Saint John, “the impacts of that would never justify undertaking an evacuation,” explained Luc Sigouin.

“There are other protective actions that could be required, for example sheltering.”

Not everyone agrees enough is being done.

The Canadian Environmental Law Association wants Lepreau’s renewal application denied, at the very least only a one year approval granted, in the absence of a publicly available emergency plan. It doesn’t think the current distance is enough.

“As we saw with Fukushima, the initial evacuation zone then had to get evacuated because the emergency planning zones were not large enough,” said Association lawyer Kerrie Blaise. “Twenty kilometres is not enough.”

EMO says its emergency response plan has the ability to adapt to changing circumstances.

The hearings are scheduled to wrap up on Thursday.

U.S. to expand laptop ban to include European countries: officials

The Trump administration is likely to expand a ban on laptops on commercial aircraft to include some European countries, but is reviewing how to ensure lithium batteries stored in luggage holds do not explode in midair, officials briefed on the matter said on Wednesday.

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Any expansion of the ban could impact U.S. carriers such as United Airlines, Delta Air Lines Inc and American Airlines Group. Six U.S. and European officials said they expect the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to make an announcement but declined to say when.

In March, the U.S. announced laptop restrictions on flights originating from 10 airports including in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey because of fears that a concealed bomb could be installed in electronic devices taken onto aircraft.

READ MORE: In-flight iPads and free WiFi: How airlines are working around the electronics ban

Britain quickly followed suit with restrictions on a slightly different set of routes. One European official acknowledged that the expanded ban could affect flights to the United States from Britain.

DHS spokesman Dave Lapan said Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly “hasn’t made a decision but we continue to evaluate the threat environment and have engaged in discussions with airline representatives and other stakeholders about the threat.”

Kelly will give a classified briefing on Thursday to senators about domestic threats and airline issues are expected to be discussed, a congressional aide briefed on the matter said.

The U.S. laptop ban has affected direct flights to the United States by Royal Jordanian Airlines, Egypt Air, Turkish Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Kuwait Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad Airways.

WATCH: Canada to review threats that led to US, UK laptop ban on flights (March 2017)

One issue under discussion is how to ensure that lithium batteries in any large collection of devices stored in airplane holds do not explode in midair, officials told Reuters.

European regulators have warned placing what could be potentially hundreds of devices in the hold on long-haul flights could compromise safety by increasing the risk of fire from poorly deactivated lithium-ion batteries.

On Tuesday, Reuters reported that a United Nations agency has begun an effort to craft global guidance for the use of laptops and other portable electronics in passenger aircraft cabins after the bans upset airline passengers and Middle Eastern carriers.

READ MORE: Airline trade organization says electronic ban will lead to more restricted borders

The International Civil Aviation Organization met on Tuesday to debate the issue after the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and other countries complained their airlines had been unduly penalized by the decision, three sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Airports and airlines in Europe have already been working on plans for a possible extension of the ban since the U.S. announced the first restrictions on larger electronic devices in the cabin, according to several industry sources.

Issues that need to be resolved include how best to inform passengers of any new restrictions to keep disruption at airports to a minimum. On the operational side, measures such as stopping online check-in for U.S. bound flights or ensuring U.S. flights depart from a dedicated part of terminals are among ideas being mulled, although no decisions have yet been taken.

Brandon football community looks to continue legacy of Kevin Boyd

Crocus Plains football head coach Rob Dinsdale still remembers the first time he met Kevin Boyd.

“I would have been in grade nine in 1999. He was a big, imposing guy with a beard, shaved head. But the first time you meet him, he’s always there with a big smile and a handshake. Such a friendly, welcoming man.”

Boyd passed away suddenly on February 29, 2016 at the age of 46. He left behind his wife, Jordana, three kids, and a gaping hole in the Brandon football community.

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“Kevin is singlehandedly responsible for keeping kids out of gangs in Brandon, for keeping kids alive,”explained Blaine Moroz, Crocus Plains assistant coach and one of Boyd’s best friends. “When Kevin passed, I got a message saying, ‘If I hadn’t met coach Boyd, I’d be dead.’ That is the absolute epitome of Boyd, he gave his life for everybody else.”

Boyd is being honoured this weekend as part of the Winnipeg High School Football League’s Senior Bowl.

“I just loved the sense of family he fostered in his team because it’s given my son, who’s in his first year of high school, a family and 60 brothers to go to school with and support him everyday,” Jordana Boyd said. “Kevin would be very honoured by this, and then he’d turn around and talk about the players because it’s all about you guys.”

As part of his legacy, a group led by Moroz is looking to build a dedicated football park in Brandon called Boyd Stadium. The project would give the Westman Youth Football Association a permanent home.

“We’re hoping that we do have a field to play on and a parking lot this year, those are our immediate needs,” said Moroz, who is also president of the WYFA. “We are hoping that all three levels of government will step up to help. We feel it’s a much needed, great project, and it gives kids a safe place to play sports for generations to come.”

The price tag for the stadium project is roughly $900,000. You can learn more about the project here.

City promises to better direct fans where to ‘go’ after Edmonton Oilers games

One day after Coun. Scott McKeen asked for a report on public urination because post-game playoff revellers are getting out of hand, the city has confirmed plans to get the word out on where to go.

The problem isn’t immediately outside Rogers Place, so there are no plans to add porta potties near 104 Avenue. However, as fans wander south, the urge to go seems to grow.

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“Two to five blocks is the typical radius where people are stopping in an alley,” said Ian O’Donnell, head of the Downtown Business Association. “From the sounds of it, the awareness campaign and the increased amount of bylaw and police in the area are mitigating it.

“I’m not so sure it’s as large an issue as we’re hearing about but certainly it’s an issue that we want to make sure is controlled.”

READ MORE: City councillor wants to crack down on public urination after Edmonton Oilers games

McKeen said he’s taken plenty of angry phone calls from downtown residents.

“God, I’d rather they at least go in the alley,” he said. “But using the alcove or the entry way to a condo building downtown, I don’t know what that says about the individual, but nothing good.”

“If they’re going to pee on it, it’s just a reflection that they don’t really care about the place.”

Nicole Poirier, the city’s director for civic events, confirmed Edmonton won’t be adding any more location stops, but it will step up the communication campaign.

READ MORE: Porta potties installed downtown to relieve Edmontonians during Oilers playoff run 

“What we’re planning to do about that is to put some of our fun, cheeky signage up that actually identifies where the portable washrooms are and they are just north of Jasper Avenue in Michael Phair Park,” she said.

“So we’re hoping that people will be responsible and use the portable toilets that we’ve put out there for public use.”

The original signs are on 104 Street and say “Let’s Go” as in “Let’s Go Oilers” — identical to the rest of the Oilers Entertainment Group marketing. The washroom is around the corner from the signage.

If the playoffs extend beyond Wednesday’s game in Anaheim, and the Edmonton Oilers advance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs against Nashville, Poirier said the city will look at the situation again, keeping in mind the expectations of Edmonton Police Chief Rod Knecht that the size of crowds will grow.

READ MORE: Oilers playoff run costing Edmonton police $400K in overtime 

“When we are trying to find locations, we have to look where can we put them that aren’t going to be disruptive to, for example, residents. They don’t want slamming doors,” Poirier said.

“As well, we have to make sure that they’re in an area that is a city public space that we can put them in. In this case, we had a park space that was available so that was one of the easier locations to put the washrooms into.”

Michael Phair Park was selected because of its good lighting, public access, and because it’s not on private property.

Other locations may be looked at further south from Rogers Place.