RAISE YOUR GLASS
Timber Ridge residents started the year off with some good news. With a $1.45 million upgrade to the area’s water system now complete, the Regional District of East Kootenay lifted a water quality advisory for residents that had been in place since 2006.
The advisory was put in place more than four years before because the area’s water failed to meet Interior Health requirements for turbidity (cloudiness). Following the upgrade, residents in Timber Ridge received bulk treated water from a private utility. Water meters were also installed as part of the project.
CANADIAN TIRE COMES TO TOWN
Canadian Tire reps met with the RDEK to discuss a permit application for a new store near the crossroads outside of Invermere. The new site on Athalmer Road was the third the company had looked at for a Columbia Valley store.
The store’s design is modified somewhat from Canadian Tire’s usual model, to fall more in line with the traditional design of valley buildings and include more trees. It’s slated to open in 2012.
COTR SCORES PARAMEDIC PROGRAM
The first full time Primary Care Paramedic program in East Kootenay launched at College of the Rockies in March. The program was the first in B.C. outside of the Lower Mainland and Kelowna. At the end of the 22-week course, participants were eligible to sit for the provincial paramedic licensing exam.
IMAGINE YOU (AND INVERMERE) AND ME
The Imagine Invermere Community Sustainability process kicked off with a public input session at the Windermere Community Hall January 15. The sustainability plan is meant to guide the District’s decision making by setting out future goals and direction for the community.
BC LIBERALS AND NDP FEDS MAKE THEIR PICKS
The BC Liberal leadership race, set for February 26, was winding down, with local Liberals planning to throw their support behind George Abbott, with Kevin Falcon as a second choice. “George Abbott is the guy who is going to do something for our province,” riding association president Doug Clovechok said.
Meanwhile, former Invermere mayor Mark Shmigelsky was picked as the NDP’s next federal candidate for the Kootenay-Columbia riding. “Winning this riding back will be a huge task,” said Schmigelsky in a speech.
LAYTON TOUCHES DOWN (PART 1)
Then-NDP leader Jack Layton made the first of several visits to the Kootenay Columbia Riding, joining Mark Shmigelsky (the NDP’s recent candidate for the federal seat) in an informal meeting with local seniors. Laton criticized attack ads run by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, saying they were similar to “being in a schoolyard and poking someone in the eye.”
RADIUM MOURNS FREDERICKSON
Radium councillor Brent Frederickson passed away suddenly as the result of a tragic accident January 18.
Frederickson was one of the longest serving village councillors, elected continuously since the village’s 1990 incorporation.
“Brent was quiet and unassuming, but told it like it was,” said mayor Dee Conklin. “His knowledge of the growth of the town, and the people in it, could never be duplicated by anyone.” Frederickson’s seat on council would remain vacant until the November municipal election
THE FALCON HAS LANDED
BC Liberal leadership candidate Kevin Falcon made a campaign stop at the Best Western Invermere Inn, telling potential voters he would invest in the provincial forestry industry and promote job creation in rural communities if elected party leader.
CHAMBERS MULL AMALGAMATION
The Columbia Valley and Radium chambers of commerce announced they would begin exploring amalgamation options. If successful, the plan was to have Radium’s chamber focus on tourism and information centre management, while the CV chamber would deal with economic development and other business issue.
PUSH ON FOR ‘KENNY’S DOG PARK’
A petition to have a dog park created in Invermere was gaining support.
Created by Jo-El Buerlen in memory of her late husband, Kenny Sorensen, the petition suggested Invermere could build “Kenny’s Dog Park” on crown land near Toby Creek. Volunteers from Invermere Companion Animal Network were helping to circulate the petition, and both mayor Gerry Taft and local dog control officer Carol Dobson spoke favourably about the idea.
VALLEY DIRECTORS CALL FOR REC CHANGES
Columbia Valley directors on the RDEK board were calling for a review of service areas in the valley.
At present, the Canal Flats recreation service area is separate from the rest of the Columbia Valley’s, making it difficult for the village to find the funds it needs to repair its ageing arena (which needs an estimated $1 million in repairs). Current boundaries also have a small number of residents of Area F who fall inside the Canal Flats service area paying higher taxes than those Area F residents in the Columbia Valley service area.
Another provincial leadership candidate dropped by the valley – this time, from the BC NDP side. Mike Farnworth, who counted local NDP MLA Norm Macdonald among his supporters, pledged to pay more attention to communities with resource-based industries and look for ways to keep forestry processing jobs in the province.
MIDGETS SCORE TIER III ZONE VICTORY
The Windermere Valley Minor Hockey midget team earned themselves a provincial berth after beating their Creston rivals in a home tournament. The victory was extra-juicy as the team had decided to compete at the Tier III level for the season, rather than the easier Tier IV, where they had been assured of a much easier path to provincial competition.
FLATS RALLIES AROUND ‘BIG MEZ’
Friends and family of Dave Mesenchuk staged a Red and Blue for Big Mez hockey tournament in Canal Flats on February 26.
After suffering a spinal injury in a November car accident Mesenchuk was diagnosed as quadrapalegic.
The eight-team tournament had a unique format. Once individual players signed up, they were drafted into teams by Mesenchuk himself, who was rehabilitating in Calgary. Mesenchuk arrived back in Canal Flats in time to drop the tournament’s first puck.
THE CLARK ERA BEGINS
BC Liberal delegates cast their votes for former premier Gordon Campbell’s replacement February 26, resulting in a victory for Christy Clark. The local Liberals had backed George Abbott in the race. While congratulating Clark on her victory, Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald also expressed disappointment that Abbott, the candidate with the most rural background, hadn’t fared better in the race.
PANO ATHLETES HEAD EAST
Panorama Ski Team members returned from a successful run at the Canada Winter Games in Halifax, held February 11 to 27.
Alexandra Starker, 16, Matt Mario, 17, Brydon Coombe, 16, and Rob Grieg, 17 all headed out to the games, with Starker bringing back gold medals in slalom and GX.
DON’T FEED THE ANIMALS
A new bylaw prohibiting the feeding of deer was on the table at District of Invermere council. The bylaw was developed with the help of Invermere’s Urban Deer Committee, charged with finding ways for the district to deal with its large number of habituated, problem deer. The bylaw also lays out how garbage and other bear attractants must be dealt with to minimize other wildlife conflicts.
ELECTION 1, PART ONE
The next federal election was called for May 2, and candidates were starting to appear.
For the NDP, former Invermere mayor Mark Shmigelsky, for the Conservatives, Sparwood’s current mayor David Wilks. The federal Liberals had yet to announce their pick in the riding. An independent candidate, Brent Bush, had also tossed his hat in the ring.
Local Jayme Saunders was presented with a silver medal for bravery in Vancouver. The award recognized her quick thinking after an accident the previous July where Saunders and her boyfriend David Weismiller went off a bridge and into Findlay Creek when they lost control of the dirt bike they were riding. Though injured herself, Saunders used her first aid training to help Weismiller, who had a collapsed lung, broken bones and a pinched carotid artery.
NEW ROCKIES HEAD HONCHO
After several weeks of searching, the Columbia Valley Rockies hockey club found a new coach to head up the Junior B team. Marc Ward, a former University of Alberta and Minor Midget hockey coach, signed on to become the Rockies’ full time head coach and general manager. Previously, the club used part time coaching staff.
CHAMBER MULLS ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
The Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Invermere Business Committee called a special meeting to discuss ways to strengthen the area’s economy. Suggestions included running more community events throughout the year, and marketing the Columbia Valley as a whole as a destination for tourists.
LAYTON TOUCHES DOWN (PART 2)
NDP leader Jack Layton was back in the riding, stumping for local MP candidate Mark Shmigelsky. While here, he criticized the federal Conservatives for their role in bringing HST to B.C., calling the tax a “backroom Harper-Campbell HST deal.”
DIX COMES OUT ON TOP
In the midst of federal election fever came another provincial vote, as the BC NDP picked their next party leader. Adrian Dix beat out Mike Farnworth on the third ballot to take the party reins. Farnworth had been supported by local MLA Norm Macdonald.
The new Copper Point Resort opened its doors to the public just in time for the Victoria Day long weekend. The 106-suite resort had already made headlines when it won three gold Tommies at the Canadian Homebuilders’ Association (Okanagan Region) annual awards gala in February.
NO ORANGE SURGE HERE: CONSERVATIVE WILKS TAKES SEAT
Conservative candidate David Wilks handily defeated all comers in the race to represent Kootenay-Columbia on Parliament Hill. Wilks captured 56 per cent of the vote.
In second place was former Invermere mayor Mark Shmigelsky, with 33 per cent of the vote. Next were Green party candidate Bill Green with six per cent, Liberal Betty Aitchison with 3.5 per cent and independent Brent Bush with 1.5 per cent.
Former Conservative MP Jim Abbott, who retired at the close of the previous parliament, began the process of adjusting to civilian life.
MORE POWER TO ATHALMER
BC Hydro began its expansion of the Athalmer substation, located at the crossroads outside of Invermere. The project was meant to improve reliability and allow the utility to service more customers, should the valley’s population base expand.
The expansion would cost more than $15 million and would see two transformers replaced with large capacity models, as well as the construction of a new control room building. Because of the work, planned outages were expected throughout the summer.
The Invermere College of the Rockies campus picked up a $13,000 donation to be used for program development. The cash came from David Thale of The Ridge Construction Ltd. and the Home Renovation Centre, who had been paid the money by the college itself for his work on two of its trades programs.
BIG UPS FOR PANORAMA
Panorama Mountain Village was awarded Resort of the Year by the B.C. Alpine Association. This is the second time the prestigious award has come to the resort. It also picked up the trophy in 2007.
MAN DIES IN RCMP CUSTODY
A 58 year-old man died in RCMP custody in Fairmont on May 11. The BC Coroners Service and members of the Port Moody Police department were investigating the death. No further details of the case were made public at the time, as the investigation was ongoing.
Julie and the late Bill McIntosh were named Invermere’s citizens of the year. The award is handed out annually by the Rotary Club of Invermere and goes to a member of the community who fulfils Rotary’s motto of “Service above self.” Bill was a founding member of the Rockies hockey team, and he and Julie dedicated much of their time to supporting community activities.
Later in the year Bill would receive a second honour, when Invermere’s annual bull riding event was re-named the Bill McIntosh Memorial Bull Riding in the Rockies.
WATER FOR WINDERMERE?
The RDEK pitched a water system upgrade to Windermere residents at a May 17 open house. The upgrade, to be voted on June 25, would see the community purchase treated water in bulk from a private company. Windermere’s current water system didn’t comply with Interior Health standards. Reactions to the proposal were mixed.
LAKE WATER OKAY
After five years of lake water testing, results of the Lake Windermere Project were released to the public. The tests showed the lake’s water quality was mainly good, but members of the Lake Windermere Ambassadors stressed that lake users should not become complacent.
IH ADDS BEDS AT COLUMBIA GARDENS
Interior Health signed off on 34 new residential care beds for Invermere, as part of an expansion of Columbia Garden Village. Construction was slated to begin in September, with completion set for summer of 2012. The new beds would give the community a ratio of 75 beds per 1,000 people over the age of 75, the Interior Health standard.
TWO YEAR-OLD DIES IN TRAGIC ACCIDENT
A two year-old Invermere boy drowned at a campsite on Cartwright Lake, RCMP reported. According to police, the family lost sight of the young boy for a brief time. He was located close to shore, having fallen into shallow water. The boy was evacuated to the Children’s Hospital in Calgary, but was pronounced dead in the early hours of July 11.
A WRENCH IN WINDERMERE WATER PLAN
With the vote on Windermere’s new water system just 10 days away, a group of residents pulled together a meeting to discuss other alternatives.
The RDEK was hoping to see the town agree to buy bulk, treated water from a private utility, but retired water consultant Steve Lacky suggested the community could build a new water treatment plan in its former fire hall. Lacky said the move could lower water costs and cost the regional district less overall than the current plan.
The RDEK fired back at the proposal a week later.
Area F director Wendy Booth told The Valley Echo the new proposal would likely not meet Interior Health water treatment standards because it lacked proper discharge for sewage water. She also questioned whether fire hall neighbours would be willing to live near a water treatment plant.
“There is a ton of misinformation,” Booth added. “I think you have to go back to the proposal that the RDEK has put forward.”
That community was due to vote on the RDEK’s plan at the end of the week.
When votes were counted, it was turned down by the majority of Windermere residents.
The Valley Echo‘s annual Giving Back Golf Tournament was a rousing success. The June 26 event raised almost $14,000 for the Invermere Companion Animal network, which houses cats and other small animals while they await adoption.
NEW FINES FROM DOI
The District of Invermere added some teeth to many of its bylaws, introducing a municipal ticketing system for a host of violations, such as failing to obtain a business license (first fine $150), or having an unsightly property ($250). District staff stressed the tickets were meant as a “last resort,” which appeared to be in keeping with past practices.
The district has been able to ticket violators of its dog, noise and signage bylaws since 2001, and had given out less than 10 tickets in that time.
TEACHERS VOTE FOR STRIKE ACTION
Valley teachers voted in favour of fall strike action, falling in line with their colleagues around the province. When classes resumed, teachers would begin a “teach only” campaign, with no administrative work planned.
At the end of 2011, this strike action was still ongoing, most noticeably when teachers did not issue formal report cards at the usual time.
POWER SURGE DAMAGE RALLIES COMMUNITY
Brisco residents packed into their community hall after a June 30 power surge cause mass electrical damage in area homes.
The damage came after a tree hit a BC hydro line, blacking out 12,000 homes in the valley. Those closest to the downed tree reported damage to household wiring, appliances and, in one case, an older model hot tub. A BC Hydro rep was on hand to explain what had happened.
After an investigation through the summer, the utility eventually agreed to compensate homeowners somewhat for the damage, but Warner Einer of the Brisco rec board, who became a spokesman for the group, said he doubted it would cover the cost to those facing major repairs and replacements.
Invermere’s problem deer were a hot topic at district council once again, as the Urban Deer Committee struck to study the problem ungulates released its final report.
The committee proposed a three-pronged strategy for the district: cull some deer, relocate others to the Upper Kootenay River Valley, and run public education campaigns for residents advising them of their own non-lethal options for keeping their yards deer-free. Council would sign off on the plan in July, but had not begun its culling campaign at year’s end. Cranbrook, which had also been grappling with a deer problem, became the first East Kootenay community to begin its cull on December 6.
MINISTER TOURS JUMBO
B.C.’s minister for forests, lands and natural resources was in the area to tour the site of the proposed Jumbo Glacier Resort and meet with members of the Ktunaxa Nation. Thompson said the tour was part of his “due diligence” on the Jumbo file, not a sign a decision was on its way. That proved true, as the remainder of 2011 passed with no further official action on the long-debated resort.
FOUR KILLED IN HWY 93 CRASH
A family of four from California were killed in an explosive crash on Highway 93, not far from Olive Lake. The Howard family — Robert, Ana-Maria and their daughters Samantha and Veronica – were driving north through Kootenay National park when a tractor-trailer in the other lane crossed the centre line and jackknifed into their path. The truck’s fuel tanks exploded, with the family still pinned against the barriers on the side of the road. The 40 year-old truck driver was uninjured in the collision.
HELIPAD REVAMP TAKES OFF
Interior Health announced a cash injection for the closed Invermere helipad. The pad, closed after Transportation Canada found several deficiencies during a 2010 inspection, would be upgraded with cash left over from renovations to Invermere’s emergency room – about $300,000 of surplus money.
FLOODING IN WINDERMERE
A state of local emergency was declared in Windermere after the creek near Shadybrook Resort and Marina flooded. The flooding was due to a large sediment buildup in the creek bed, caused by a spring landslide.
The high waters made four of Shadybrook’s campsites unusable, and two trailers on the creek’s opposite bank had to be towed away to avoid damage. The state of local emergency, put in place by the RDEK, made it easier for the district to kick start repair work in the area.
SPLASHDOWN AT THE LAKESIDE
The annual Lakeside Event was back for its 35th year at Kinsmen Beach, and the sky was filled with para- and hang-gliders splashing down into the waters of Lake Windermere.
This year’s event had special resonance, thanks to a tribute to valley hang glider Daniel “Dano” Saunders who had passed away earlier in the year. Family friend Jeff Blake flew Saunders’ glider, which sailed above the beach, emblazoned with the words “4 YOU DANO.”
A DRY GULCH NO MORE?
The RDEK announced it was pursuing a plan to build a new water system in Dry Gulch in partnership with the Kinbasket Water and Sewer Company and Radium Resort.
Radium Resort would receive sewer service as part of the deal, while Dry Gulch residents would have access to treated water and a new water system would be built for the community. Until construction was complete, the Kinbasket would supply the community with water through Radium Resort. Before work could begin, residents of Dry Gulch would have a chance to agree to or vote down the plan through petition.
COUGARS ON THE PROWL
Following the provincial trend, cougars were on the move around the valley. Two cougars were put down in the valley – one in Edgewater, one in Fairmont. Conservation officer Lawrence Umsonst said the cats were reportedly preying on pets and farm animals. In Fairmont, sheep were attacked, while two Edgewater cougars were spotted stalking a dog.
NDP leader Jack Layton succumbed to cancer on August 22, prompting an outpouring of sympathy and remembrance around the valley.
Mark Shmigelsky, who had stumped with Layton during the spring federal election that swept the NDP into the role of official opposition, said the news hit him harder than he’d expected. “I hadn’t known Jack for a long time,” he said. “But he certainly had an impact on my politics.”
FLATS FIREFIGHTERS PUMPED FOR NEW TRUCK
The Canal Flats Fire Department got a new, state-of-the-art truck, valued at $274,000. The new truck, with a mobile water tank and pumping capability, became the go-to piece of equipment for the department.
The Invermere Killer Rollbots roller derby team played its first-ever bout in Marysville on August 27. The team, formed in May, went up against the Cranbrook Mountain Town Maulers, who had been skating since the beginning of the year. While the Maulers emerged victorious with a score of 173-111, the Rollbots were a force to be reckoned with on the track, hitting hard – and picking up most of the bout’s penalties. The two teams are set to continue the grudge match in 2012, when a full season of East Kootenay Roller Derby will run through the summer.
WELCOME BACK, PST (EVENTUALLY)
Thirteen months after its introduction, B.C.’s HST was given an official heave-ho in a mail-in referendum. In the Columbia River-Revelstoke riding, 66 per cent of voters opted to get rid of the tax, while 55 per cent of British Columbians overall were against it. Though officially on its way out, repealing the HST will be a long haul project for the government, which has said it likely won’t meet its original deadline for the change back.
OUR NEW LOOK
Readers of The Valley Echo noticed a major change this month, when the paper unveiled a redesign of its pages and logo. The new design takes its inspiration from the Echo‘s early days in print, though a return to the paper’s original moniker, The Lake Windermere Valley Echo, was not seriously considered.
GLIDER CRASH KILLS TWO
Two members of the Canadian Rockies Soaring Club were killed when their gliders collided over Mount Swansea during a September 3 flight. While flying in the same thermal lift, the two sailplanes touched wings, lost control and crashed into the side of the mountain. Both Keith Watson, 50, of Calgary and Ray Perino, 59, from Kelowna died at the scene. Sun blindness has since been blamed for the crash.
WATER SKI RESORT UNDER CONSTRUCTION
A new resort featuring two private lakes was under construction near Fairmont. Developer Jon Martin said the Fairmont Beach Resort and Water Ski Park would feature 25 cabins and RV lots on two private lakes, catering to water ski enthusiasts like Martin himself. The resort is slated for completion in summer 2012.
MILLER FOR MAYOR?
One of the valley’s municipal election races picked up speed, as Invermere District councillor and Home Hardware owner Al Miller put an end to a summer of rumours and announced he would run for mayor. Incumbent mayor Gerry Taft had announced his intention to run again earlier in the summer. The two-man race would be the only mayoral contest in the valley, and one of the most discussed throughout election season. Meanwhile, veteran councillor Bob Campsall announced he would retire at the end of the term, after serving the district for 15 years. “I’m starting to think, how much time is left? Better do a few other things besides go to meetings,” Campsall quipped.
ROCKIES COME UP SHORT IN EXHIBITION
The Columbia Valley Rockies went 0-3 in exhibition season, setting the tone for much of the 2011-12 year so far. In trend that would continue through the season, head coach Marc Ward said difficulties stemmed from a lack of players – the team played all of its games with about 15 players on its bench.
MAN DIES IN BACKCOUNTRY
An 85 year-old man who went missing overnight in the backcountry was found dead by RCMP on September 21. Bogomitr Rutar was on a firewood gathering and hunting trip near Jumbo Creek, a usual occurrence for him, according to police. When he failed to return home, his family alerted the authorities and search and rescue teams set out to find him. Rutar was found deceased early the next morning outside his overturned vehicle, which was well off a dirt road.
CAMP GREEN REMOVED FROM GLACIER
The vacant ski training site on Farnham Glacier was pulled down, leaving only a hut used by a local heli-ski company at the site. Camp Green, once used for training Olympic athletes in the summer season, had been shuttered since 2008, with most of its facilities left standing and often unsecured. With remediation completed, Glacier Resorts Ltd. vice president Grant Costello said his company, which holds the license of occupation for the area, hoped to begin a day use program of its own on Farnham in 2012.
DOI SWEETENS ELECTION POT
Invermere councillors agreed to a pay raise for the winners of the next municipal election. Starting in 2012, the district’s mayor will pick up $20,000 annually, with councillors making $12,000. For councillors, who previously made $8,902, it’s a 35 per cent jump. For the mayor, whose 2011 salary was $16,561, it’s 21 per cent higher.
CANAL FLATS ACCLAIMS, WHILE 10 RUN FOR COUNCIL IN INVERMERE
With nominations for councils, regional districts and school boards closed, the Columbia Valley was officially in election mode — with one possible exception.
In Canal Flats, both mayor and council were acclaimed, with Ute Juras stepping up to the hot seat and Evence Blanchard, Paul Marcil and Gilbert and Marie DeLorme joining her as councillors.
Also acclaimed were Area F director Wendy Booth, Radium Hot Springs mayor Dee Conklin and all three valley school board trustees: Jim Jenkinson, Amber Byklum and Rosemary Oaks.
In Radium, current councillors Clara Reinhardt, Don Devlin and Ron Verboom were back on the ballot along with newcomers Karen Larsen, Deborah Fischer and Todd Logan.
Invermere’s slate of candidates was even larger, with 10 people vyying for four district seats: Justin Atterbury, Greg Anderson, Dale Wilker, Richard Unger, Rob Dunn, Paul Denchuk, Stephanie Stevens and Dave McGrath.
Area G director Gerry Wilkie also faced competition for his seat for the first time, from former school trustee and fellow Edgewater resident Roberta Hall.
ROCKIES END LOSING STREAK
The Columbia Valley Rockies notched their first win of the season in Grand Forks October 21, when they went 7-4 with the Border Bruins. The win, brought the Rockies’ record to 1-14-0-1, the team having notched an overtime loss earlier in the season.
A SAFE SPACE
A new safe home opened in Invermere, giving temporary shelter to women and children dealing with domestic violence. A program of the Family Resource Centre, the house offers shelter to about four women and their children for 30 days, after which counselling and support service remain available.
PAGET SHOWS HER CHOPS
An Invermere judoka earned first place at the B.C. Judo championships, held in Abbotsford in late October. While at a lower belt level than any of the girls she was competing against, 11 year-old Marcia Paget displayed confidence and determination on the mat, propelling her to a golden finish.
GUINNESS IS GOOD FOR… THE WHITEWAY
The Invermere Business Committee unveiled its plans for an expanded Whiteway and winter village on Lake Windermere — including a Guinness Book of World Records challenge. If the 17 km Whiteway is widened to 10 metres across, it will be the largest outdoor skating rink in the world, a record currently held by Ottawa’s Rideau Canal. Fundraising for the $30,000 project is ongoing.
THE VALLEY VOTES
The votes were in. An increased number of voters turned out around the valley to cast ballots for their next district reps and village councillors November 19. When the dust settled, the results tended to favour the incumbents — with a few surprises.
In Radium, Clara Reinhardt and Ron Verboom were returned to council, joined by Todd Logan and Karen Larsen. Area G director Gerry Wilkie held his seat. In Invermere, Gerry Taft secured a second term as mayor, beating challenger Al Miller 717 to 389. Only Invermere council saw more newcomers than familiar faces in its ranks. Spring Hawes was voted in for a second term, but Greg Anderson, Justin Atterbury and Paul Denchuk are all new to the council table.
MARKING AN ANTI-JUMBO ANNIVERSARY
In Victoria and the valley, the Ktunaxa Nation launched a day of Jumbo protest on November 15. The day was the one-year anniversary of the nation’s Qat’muk Declaration, a document outlining the Jumbo Valley’s spiritual importance and calling for a halt to the proposed Jumbo Glacier Resort.
At the legislature, Ktunaxa leaders, BC NDP MLAs and a former professional hockey player joined forces at a news conference opposing the resort, releasing an anti-Jumbo documentary and an economic report critical of the development’s potential economic benefits. A community gathering and documentary screening also took place that evening at the Akisqnuk Band Hall, with members of the original Qat’muk delegation sharing their memories. Reached for comment by The Echo, Grant Costello of developers Glacier Resorts Ltd. called the latest round of criticism “preposterous” and largely unfounded.
FIRST NATION AND SAWMILL FORM PARTNERSHIP
The Akisqnuknik Development Corporation signed an agreement with Edgewater-based WoodEx Industries Ltd. that could eventually see a second shift added at the sawmill. The non-binding agreement will see the corporation deliver its timber volume to the mill and the two organizations work together to create work and training opportunities for Akisqnuk band members and other valley residents.
BRUINS GET A BREAK IN 2011
Bears were conspicuous only in their absence this year in the Columbia Valley. Only one bear was put down in Invermere and Radium in 2011, compared to six in 2010. With hibernation season now underway, community Bear Aware co-ordinator Crystal Leonard praised the efforts of residents in the valley to minimize bear attractants around their homes, which likely helped keep the number of bruin issues to a minimum.
“People were really receptive,” she said.
DRY GULCH PASSES ON WATER SYSTEM
The RDEK saw another valley community pass on a proposed water plan this year, when Dry Gulch residents failed to warm to a plan to partner with the Kinbasket Water and Sewer Company and Radium Resort to provide residents with water. Area G director Gerry Wilkie said about 75 per cent of residents failed to mail back ballots sent to them by the regional district, which counts as a vote against the project. The RDEK has asked the government if it can use almost $2 million in grant money set aside for a Dry Gulch water system to do work in Wilmer and Spur Valley.
NO MO’, PLENTY OF MONEY
RCMP Staff Sgt. Marko Shehovac shaved his moustache for the first time in 30 years. Shehovac had agreed to break out the razor if the detachment could raise more than $1,000 during Movember — an annual November fundraising event in which participants grow facial hair to raise money for prostate cancer initiatives.
CANFOR BUYS TEMBEC MILL
The company that owns Radium’s currently shuttered sawmill announced it would add the mill at the other end of the valley to its collection. On November 28, Canfor announced it had acquired the Canal Flats mill and its associated Crown tenures from Tembec as part of a $60 million deal. Elko’s sawmill is also part of the agreement. Tembec retains control of its nearby pulp mill in Skookumchuck. The deal will most likely be finalized in the first quarter of 2012.
COMMUNITIES GO AFTER REC BUCKS
The village of Radium Hot Springs unveiled the first draft of its plans for a major park and community hall upgrade centred on Legends’ Field. The plan, which includes a million-dollar renovation and expansion of the existing community hall and a new village square, is headed to Victoria to be considered for funding as part of the Community Recreation Program. The $30 million pot is open to municipalities across B.C. and projects have also been submitted by the valley’s other two communities and the RDEK. In Invermere, the district hopes to expand its trail network. Canal Flats is seeking funding for much needed arena upgrades, which have been a topic of concern for the village throughout 2011. The Regional District used one of its three applications to make a pitch to spruce up the crossroads ball field with new benches, bleachers and washrooms. Successful communities will receive funding in 2012.
ROCKIES FIND SECOND VICTORY
The Rockies posted their second, and final, win of 2011 against Eddie Mountain rivals the Creston Valley Thundercats on December 6. The hard fought game saw the Rockies head into double overtime to secure their 6-5 victory.