June 26, 2019 1:57 am
Updated: June 26, 2019 4:49 pm

UPDATE: Outspoken Kelowna residents lose family car to suspicious blaze

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UPDATE: An overnight vehicle fire that occurred earlier this week was confirmed as arson, Kelowna RCMP announced on Wednesday.

In a press release, police said trained fire investigators confirmed the blaze was the act of an arsonist.

The incident took place on Monday, just after 1 a.m., along the 300 block of Pearson Road. When emergency crews arrived, they found a red Mini Cooper engulfed in flames.

“A Kelowna RCMP fire investigator has since conducted an examination of the charred vehicle and has now deemed the incident as an act of arson,” said Kelowna RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey.

“Our investigators have reason to believe that the event was targeted.”

Police say they are searching for a suspect whose image was captured on closed-circuit cameras in the area.

The unidentified suspect is described as approximately 6 feet tall and being heavier set. He was seen wearing a light coloured hoodie with the hood up, light coloured pants and a pair of dark running shoes at the time of the incident.

Anyone with any additional information is asked to contact the Kelowna RCMP at 250-762-3300 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

ORIGINAL STORY:

A Kelowna family lost their car in a suspicious fire on Monday morning and they believe they were targeted for speaking out against a proposed housing facility in their neighbourhood.

RCMP confirm the blaze was suspicious and are working with the fire department to collect evidence.

The family, who wishes to remain anonymous due to further safety concerns, believe they were targeted for their views on the McCurdy Road housing project for the homeless.

They told Global News they are frightened the targeting will escalate.

READ MORE: Rutland residents gather to protest supportive housing project in neighbourhood

Rutland residents have been protesting the construction of a 49-unit supportive housing project.

They believe the wet facility, a project that will allow residents to use drugs and consume alcohol, will only add to the escalating crime problems in their neighbourhood.

The facility will be operated by the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Kelowna branch.

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, who has sympathized with the resident’s concerns, also had his office vandalized.

READ MORE: Undercover drug operation in Kelowna nets pile of alleged traffickers, RCMP say

Letnick has asked the Minister of Housing, Selina Robinson, to put any future housing projects in Rutland on hold until the negative issues, including carelessly discarded hypodermic needles, theft and vagrancy, currently impacting the neighbourhood are addressed.

“We need to see these facilities brought in with the support of local communities, not without them,” he said.

After further listening to the neighbourhood’s concerns, Letnick said he now understands why they are passionately speaking up.

“I would suspect that any community, anywhere, if it was seeing what’s going on here would be doing the same,” Letnick said.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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