Sign-gate controversy still swirling around Osoyoos mayor

Osoyoos Mayor Stu Wells confirmed the controversy about his role in the theft of a sign played into his decision not to run in the election

Osoyoos Mayor Stu Wells confirmed his role in the theft of a sign from a disgruntled homeowner at Regal Ridge.

Osoyoos Mayor Stu Wells confirmed his role in the theft of a sign from a disgruntled homeowner at Regal Ridge.

Osoyoos Mayor Stu Wells confirmed Friday that the expected controversy about his role in the theft of a sign factored into his decision to drop out of the upcoming municipal election.

Wells admitted that in June 2013, he and his wife were caught on surveillance video taking a protest sign from a disgruntled homeowner’s property at Regal Ridge near Osoyoos.

The homeowner, Oliver Betz, said the story of the theft of his signs had been spreading by word of mouth through the community.

“In the weeks preceding the mayor’s withdrawal of his candidacy, I heard anecdotally from a few people in Osoyoos that the mayor was getting very anxious about the number of people aware of the thefts, and the impact on his campaign,” wrote Betz in an email to the Western News, adding he decided to make the story public now in case Wells should decide to return to politics.

“I think the matter of why the mayor trespassed onto my property and stole legal signs (which were meant to protect his constituents) continues to be a matter of public interest,” wrote Betz. “I believe that the citizens of Osoyoos and the RDOS (as he is a director), are entitled to know what motivated the theft of the signs. In case Mr. Wells returns to politics, I believe citizens also have a right to know the true character and history of the individual they are voting for.”

Betz, involved in a dispute over a lack of utility services at Regal Ridge development, had painted a protest message on his driveway. After that was painted over one night, he put up new protest signs and installed a surveillance camera to watch over them.

“The trespassing and theft of signs were captured on video from a surveillance camera,” wrote Betz. The matter was handed over to the RCMP and a six-month investigation followed, according to Betz, which he said ended in Wells, his wife and a third person involved being sent directly to probation.

Wells confirmed the story.

“About a year and a half ago, the incident did happen. There was charges laid. It went through the police, legal and judicial process. I met my conditions and sent the letter of apology,” said Wells.

“The fact Mr. Betz doesn’t want to accept it, that’s now on his side of the plate.”

Wells, who didn’t say what compelled him to take the signs but called it an act of “stupidity,” said the case went through a “very rigorous” police investigation, and RCMP and Crown eventually put it into “a diversion process.”

“I didn’t even have a lawyer,” he said.

In his apology letter, which Betz released, Wells writes that his “actions were committed without any thought as to what you have been through in dealing with the physical deficiencies in your property purchase,” and that Betz’ difficulties were exacerbated by his “callous disregard for your rights and freedoms.”

It was only a week ago that Wells made headlines when he dropped out of the Osoyoos mayoral race within hours of the nomination deadline but earlier tipped off Coun. Sue McKortoff, who then decided to seek the top job.

Wells now admits the pending release of information related to the sign incident was a factor in his decision to drop out.

Just Posted

Summerland cidery Millionaires' Row is hosting a Father's Day car and art show. (Facebook)
Vintage cars, art and cider for Father’s Day

Summerland’s Millionaires’ Row Cider Co. is hosting the car and art show

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

James Miller, the managing editor at the Penticton Herald, has been voted in for Jake Kimberley’s vacated council seat. (Submitted)
James Miller elected as Penticton city councillor

Penticton also voted yes to allowing up to 25 years for a Skaha Marina contract

The Eyes of the Tigers on the 2021 Beer Run on June 19. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Penticton Beer Runners take trip around local beaches and brews

Over 160 people signed up to come back after the 2020 run was cancelled

There was high voter turnout for the first of three advance voting days for the Penticton city by-election.
Penticton city by-election general voting day is today, June 19

737 voters on June 9 in comparison to 2018 general election, which had 1,001 on first day

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed Eli Beauregard facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

Starting in 2022, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District is extending dog control to the entire Electoral Area D. (Stock photo)
Dog control bylaw passes in Shuswap area despite ‘threatening’ emails

CSRD board extending full dog control in Electoral Area D starting next year

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Most Read