Nov 16

‘Fantastic’ May long weekend for Okanagan tourism, despite weather

KELOWNA – In the Okanagan, summer means plenty of sunshine, but that’s not what was forecasted for the unofficial start to the hottest season of the year.

Despite that, the May long weekend kept its reputation as one of the busiest tourism weekends of the year.

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“From all accounts, our stakeholders in the many attractions and accommodations in Kelowna are saying it’s a fantastic May long weekend… they’re very pleased with the activity,” said director of marketing and communications with Tourism Kelowna, Chris Shauf.

In fact, not only was it another lively Victoria Day long weekend, it was exceptionally busy for many local businesses.

“We were almost 100 per cent [capacity] so it was fantastic… We had to open our patio a few times over the long weekend as the rain came and went… It felt a little bit like summer despite the clouds,” said general manager of Manteo Resort, Heather Schroeter.

The long weekend was even a record-breaker at some tourist hot spots, like Cedar Creek Estate Winery.

The winery’s marketing manager believes this was the busiest May long weekend the business has had in the last four years. Anahita Pouget said the winery saw 20 per cent more visitors this year than last year.

General manager of the Delta Grand, Daniel Bibby, was surprised with how busy the hotel was over the long weekend, despite the forecast of clouds and chance of rain.

“This was one of the best long weekends we’ve had in a long time, so I think guests were ready to travel, it was sort of that feeling of, ‘What rain? Let’s get out and enjoy Kelowna and the valley,’” said Bibby.

The rain also didn’t put a damper on camping plans for many tourists and locals. Many of those at Bear Creek Park in West Kelowna had a hard time booking their campsites because of the demand.

“We found out that there was a site cancelling, so we were just online go, go, go and we finally got it,” camper Doug Adams told Global News on Saturday.

With the start of the official summer season just around the corner, campsites, hotels, resorts and many other local attractions are already starting to pre-book.

“We saw a lot of people coming in and checking with our visitor team for opportunities and options about what else they could experience in the area,” said Shauf.

The tourism boost seen in the Okanagan isn’t isolated; there’s promising numbers throughout B.C. The province says the number of international visitors in the first quarter of 2016, is 16.8 per cent higher compared to the same period last year.

Nov 16

Calgary’s ‘Falconridge rapist’ to be released this summer

Andrew Jefferson, better known as the “Falconridge Rapist,” will be granted statutory release this summer.

After serving two-thirds of his sentence, Jefferson will be released to finish the remainder of his sentence in a community correctional centre or residential facility until it concludes in May 2017.

READ MORE: Controversy in the ‘Falconridge rapist’ case

Jefferson was first arrested after committing sexual offences between 2006 and 2007. Following his release he returned to jail after an attempted stabbing and theft of  a vehicle in 2013. After serving his sentence, Jefferson will be subject to a 10-year Long Term Supervision Order (LTSO) during which he must report to a parole officer. Other conditions will be determined after monitoring the final year of his sentence in the community.

01:56

Assault

High-risk Falconridge rapist sentenced

02:10

Crime

‘Falconridge Rapist’ convicted of Langley carjacking



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    Jefferson was described in court documents as not having a behavioural management problem, an improvement upon his behavior during his first sentence. The Correctional Services of Canada (CSC) said in these documents that Jefferson still struggles with emotions during stressful time periods, and he is a risk for future violence towards an intimate partner and has a history of re-offence. The same documents said that Jefferson is now understanding and motivated to take part in the programming that is recommended for him, including anger and emotions counselling. He has successfully completed a High Intensity Sex Offender program.

    READ MORE: Calgary’s ‘Falconridge rapist’ sentenced to four years for B.C. assault, carjacking

    “The CSC reports that [he] accept[s] responsibility for [his] offending and [has] expressed remorse and victim empathy.”

    He will have to report to a parole officer, and various counsellors, as well as complying with eight conditions of release. These conditions include no drugs or alcohol, seeking and remaining employed, following a treatment plan, and avoiding specific groups of people including the victim and her family, and anyone who is involved in criminal activity or substance abuse.

    If Jefferson becomes an undue risk to the community he can be returned to prison by his parole officer, and the Parole Board of Canada can revoke leave if any conditions are breached.