COVID topped news, other events in 2020

A member of 100 Mile Fire Rescue ensures the fire is out by giving the site a spray of water. Of the 25 members of the department, 17 fought the blaze throughout the night from Friday night to Saturday morning. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)A member of 100 Mile Fire Rescue ensures the fire is out by giving the site a spray of water. Of the 25 members of the department, 17 fought the blaze throughout the night from Friday night to Saturday morning. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Former Liberal MLA Donna Barnett passed the torch to Liberal MLA elect Loerne Doerkson this weekend as the longtime Cariboo advocate retired from politics this year. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Former Liberal MLA Donna Barnett passed the torch to Liberal MLA elect Loerne Doerkson this weekend as the longtime Cariboo advocate retired from politics this year. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
100 Mile conservation officer Joel Kline assists after a motorist put what he thought was a dead eagle in his minivan, only to have the bird wake up while he was driving. (Photo submitted)
100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)100 Mile conservation officer Joel Kline assists after a motorist put what he thought was a dead eagle in his minivan, only to have the bird wake up while he was driving. (Photo submitted) 100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
A member of 100 Mile Fire Rescue ensures the fire is out by giving the site a spray of water. Of the 25 members of the department, 17 fought the blaze throughout the night from Friday night to Saturday morning. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
A member of 100 Mile Fire Rescue ensures the fire is out by giving the site a spray of water. Of the 25 members of the department, 17 fought the blaze throughout the night from Friday night to Saturday morning. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)A member of 100 Mile Fire Rescue ensures the fire is out by giving the site a spray of water. Of the 25 members of the department, 17 fought the blaze throughout the night from Friday night to Saturday morning. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press) A member of 100 Mile Fire Rescue ensures the fire is out by giving the site a spray of water. Of the 25 members of the department, 17 fought the blaze throughout the night from Friday night to Saturday morning. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Norbord has announced it plans to permanently close the 100 Mile oriented strand board plant.
Norbord has announced it plans to permanently close the 100 Mile oriented strand board plant.Norbord has announced it plans to permanently close the 100 Mile oriented strand board plant. Norbord has announced it plans to permanently close the 100 Mile oriented strand board plant.

Starting as an outbreak from a live food market in Wuhan, China, the virus that would become known as COVID-19 spread rapidly in the last months of 2019 throughout the city and during the new year, the rest of China.

In Canada, it was mid-March when parts of the country went into lockdown and everyone started hearing about bending the curve. In School District 27, students went home for a spring break that would last the entire spring before they briefly returned to school in June. In 100 Mile House, businesses large and small closed their doors or limited their hours to wait out the virus.

Ultimately, due in large part to the widespread diligence of 100 Mile House’s citizens and the small size and location of the community, the worst of the pandemic never truly reached our doors. However, many felt, and still feel, the pain of being unable to see loved ones, especially those in long term care homes. With the virus being particularly deadly amongst the old and infirm many have had to go without family or friends for months now.

COVID-19 cancelled most of the events that usually make small-town living so special. Hot July Nights, numerous craft fairs, Remembrance Day celebrations and the Santa Claus Parade were all cancelled. Most sports did not start or were suspended. Even churches and other places of worship have been suspended throughout the year, causing the faithful to go online to hold worship.

All of this has been hard but there have been bright spots here and there as well. The 100 Mile Farmers Market, albeit in a reduced state, successfully ran throughout the summer with no outbreaks while in the early months of the pandemic people hung hearts and encouraging words in their windows. Drive-in movie theatres made a comeback in the area and homemade masks were distributed for free to healthcare workers in need.

While anti-lockdown protests have begun in 100 Mile House recently, beyond our borders vaccines for COVID-19 are beginning to be distributed throughout the world.

First baby of the decade for 100 Mile House

Elisabeth Haerttrich was 100 Mile’s first baby of the new decade when she born at 9:20 a.m. on Jan. 6 at the Cariboo Memorial Hospital (CMH) in Williams Lake. Elisabeth is the third child of Claudia and Robert Haerttrich, who live in the Ranchettes. As Germans, they hoped she’d be able to become a dual citizen like their other children, Ava and Joseph.

– Jan. 9, 2020

Council votes yes to two retail cannabis stores

The District of 100 Mile House approved the retail licenses of two government-approved cannabis shops – Cariboo Buds Cannabis and Central Cariboo Cannabis Supply – with both to be located downtown on Birch Avenue. Cariboo Buds Cannabis owner Harkamal Maan said it had been a long process to make the application and she was happy to see the work pay off. Central Cariboo Cannabis Supply owner Janet Lilly agreed, saying the shops would be good for 100 Mile House.

– Jan. 15, 2020

Donna Barnett announces retirement

After decades of being politically active and advocating for the Cariboo-Chilcotin, MLA Donna Barnett announced she wouldn’t stand for re-election. Barnett was first elected in 2009 as a Liberal, winning by only 88 votes. She went on to comfortably win re-election twice more but said being in the official opposition really wore her down. “Serving as the MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin has been an honour and privilege,” Barnett said. “I have enjoyed working with and for the wonderful constituents I serve.”

– Feb. 6, 2020

PSO Students head to Victoria for international robotic competition

Students from Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School got the chance to showcase their robotic skills in Victoria at Canada’s largest high school robotics competition from March 3-8. This year there were 41 teams registered to compete including one from as far away as New Zealand. PSO’s team, dubbed the Roughneck Robotics, included Kasper Hansen, Nathan Hollander, Jason Watkins, Cory Bougie, Ty Butler, Dallas Schroevers, Dirk Verheul, James Scarpino, Amber Siebert and Mickey Hannesschalger.

– March 2, 2020

100 Mile Free Press celebrates 60 years

The 100 Mile Free Press celebrated 60 years of operations this year. To commemorate the event, the Free Press interviewed former publisher Chris Nickless, who served from 1997-2017, and former editor Ken Alexander, about their favourite memories at the paper.

– April 18, 2020

Residents deal with flooding at Tsq’escenemec (Canim Lake) main reserve

The Tsq’escenemc reserve on Canim Lake was nearly cut off by the floodwaters this spring. Chief Helen Henderson issued an evacuation notice for the north side of the reserve while she consulted with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure about the status of the Tsq’Escen Road. Aerial photographs revealed the extent of the flooding, as well as water levels around the Bridge Creek-Houseman Road area, where the water in some places had reached the foundations of some homes.

– May 1, 2020

‘Probably the biggest mule deer project to ever occur in this province’

A mule deer study continued on the Bonaparte Plateau. The project looks to identify the effects of wildfire on mule deer habitat selection and population growth. In the Bonaparte Plateau, where the Elephant Hill wildfire burned around 190,000 hectares in 2017, the mule deer range runs from Cache Creek to Clinton and as far north as Lone Butte and Interlakes.

– May 21, 2020

Federal government’s gun legislation leaves confusion, says Lone Butte Club

The Lone Butte Fish & Wildlife Association raised objections to a new assault weapons ban announced by the federal government, saying it was confusing. Grayson Klassen, the association’s public relations director, said 300 of their 510 members have restricted Possession and Acquisition Licenses (PALs), meaning they can own restricted guns.

– June 7, 2020

PSO reverse grad a success

It literally rained on Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School’s reverse grad parade but both students and their parents had a fun time. COVID-19 restrictions necessitated reversing the parade with the community driving by the grad students waving signs and honking their horns as they stood waving in their Sunday best. Roughly 80 students graduated this year.

– June 21, 2020

Former Free Press editor and long time community member passes

Former 100 Mile House Free Press editor and long-time community member Gordon Kellett died on Thursday, June 11. Kellett, who was found to have a mass on his liver, had moved to Fischer Place just prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. His late parents George and Marion, who moved to Canim Lake in 1945, had owned the Shangri-La Resort.

– June 18, 2020

Rogue floating bog corralled by residents

A storm early in July birthed a new floating island on the waters of Lac La Hache, much to the confusion and amusement of the lake’s residents. The free-floating bog, made up mostly of vegetation and pieces of old walkway, was towed away from civilization by two Lac La Hache locals, including Ross Curry who had lived in the area for 50 years.

– July 9, 2020

FOI documents offers closer look at cause of Elephant Hill wildfire

A Freedom of Information Request into the Elephant Hill wildfire, which burned more than 190,000 hectares and destroyed 45 homes in 2017, offered a closer look at the ignition site, time, cause, and investigation of the fire. An aerial photograph indicated the fire started near one of the bends of the Thompson River southwest of Ashcroft, 46 metres above a train tunnel on the CN mainline. The report listed the cause as undetermined but noted it “is most likely the result of smoking and smoking materials, as all other causes have been excluded.”

– July 17, 2020

Hot demand for real estate in South Cariboo

A mini real estate boom was recorded in the South Cariboo. Real estate agents at both RE/MAX and Royal LePage 100 Mile Realty say sales have doubled or tripled over last summer, particularly among recreation properties across the region. Lots that previously listed year after year in Deka Lake, for instance, were selling like hotcakes, while similar sales are being seen in Green Lake and the Interlakes. Buyers were typically from the Lower Mainland and the Okanagan who want recreation around the Interlakes or Green Lake areas, but locals were also joining the market.

– Aug. 19, 2020

Load limit restrictions for Horse Lake Bridge

The District of 100 Mile House prepared to post weight limit restrictions on the Horse Lake Bridge after an assessment last fall found certain individual “hollow core” piles may not have sufficient capacity for commercial traffic such as logging trucks. That assessment, by West Edge Engineering (WEE), found that while the bridge structure was still adequate for community traffic, weight load limits are needed to avoid overloading the two-lane wooden crossing before a new one is built, likely in 2022. The report noted, however, the “occasional logging truck traffic would not cause immediate structural failure.” The District signs would restrict maximum gross vehicle weights to 13,620 kilograms at both ends of the bridge, facing oncoming traffic.

– Aug. 13, 2020

SD27 prepares for ‘full return’ to schools

With the school year looming, teachers, students and parents prepared for a full return to school for the 2020-2021 school year. A cohort system was introduced to the schools, which would allow for contact tracing should COVID-19 become a problem and would see groups of 60 or smaller in the younger grades, and 120 or smaller in high school. Supt. Chris van der Mark said there were currently about 4,600 students in SD27. Murray Helmer, president of the Cariboo Chilcotin Teacher’s Association and an intermediate teacher at Mile 108 Elementary, said teachers were cautiously looking forward to returning to school. The association represents 320 teachers in the district.

– Aug. 7, 2020

The doctor is still here: Bruce Nicolson awarded Lifetime Achievement Award

100 Mile Dr. Bruce Nicolson was recognized with a BC Rural Health Awards Lifetime Achievement for the work he has done in the community. During the past four decades, he has travelled regularly to White Feather Clinic at the Canim Lake reserve to provide closer-to-home care and has served multiple terms as the Chief of Staff of the 100 Mile District General Hospital. He was also one of the first physicians to add a nurse practitioner to the Exeter Clinic, a founding member of the Central Interior Rural Division of Family Practice and helped lead the local deployment of ‘A GP for Me’ an initiative to attach patients to a local primary care provider.

– Sept. 9, 2020

School demolition brings up memories

School District 27 announced the demolition of the 100 Mile Junior Secondary School building, dredging up a lot of memories and emotions in the community. Darlene ‘Dar’ Hastings and her friends Anne Pinkney and Jessie McCormack, were among 10 students who were the first to graduate from the junior high school. They were the only graduating class members still living in 100 Mile and said they were sad to see the building be demolished.

– Sept. 26, 2020

New wing takes shape for palliative care

The 100 Mile District Hospice Palliative Care Society partnered with Interior Health to create a much-needed space for palliative care patients with high-level medical needs. Their plan is to create a wing in 100 Mile District General Hospital specifically for palliative care with two client rooms set up as a family space with a mini kitchen, bathroom and sleeping spaces.

Oct. 15, 2020

Motorist rescues bald eagle from the side of Highway 97

A motorist who thought he was rescuing a dead bald eagle from the side of Highway 97 near 100 Mile got a huge fright when he found out it was alive and well in the back of his van. The driver headed straight for the 100 Mile RCMP detachment and met an officer, who contacted Conservation Office Joel Kline. The eagle, which was sent to a rehabilitation facility in the Lower Mainland, was determined to have lead poisoning and later died.

– Oct. 22, 2020

Liberals retain seat in Cariboo-Chilcotin

The BC Liberals retained their seat in the Cariboo-Chilcotin with a decisive victory by newcomer Lorne Doerkson, who captured 52.18 percent of the vote, or 5,262 votes. He beat out BC NDP candidate Scott Andrews, who garnered 31.42 percent of the votes, BC Green Party David Laing at 10.26 percent, Independent Katya Potekhina at 3.89 percent and Libertarian James Buckley at 2.25 percent.

– Oct. 29, 2020

100 Mile Fire investigated as arson

A fire at 100 Mile Junior Secondary is being investigated as arson. The fire occurred just days after crews started demolishing the old dormitory behind the school. 100 Mile RCMP and Fire Rescue were called to the school site at 9:30 p.m. after someone set alight the construction debris pile in the northeast corner, where the dorm and cafeteria had been located. 100 Mile Fire Rescue worked all night to extinguish the blaze, leaving the scene at 8 a.m. Saturday.

– Nov. 9, 2020

Norbord to permanently close 100 Mile plant

Norbord Inc. announced Thursday it would permanently close its oriented strand board plant in 100 Mile House, saying reopening the mill was uneconomic and it was “unlikely to have a role to play in the future.” The move came just two weeks after the company offered a tentative settlement agreement to those who had lost their jobs in August 2019 after Norbord curtailed operations at the plant on a temporary/indefinite basis. Only five workers had remained at the plant as the care and maintenance group.

– Nov. 5, 2020

South Cariboo rec service up for debate

The Cariboo Regional District will start a public education campaign around a proposal to adjust the South Cariboo’s recreation taxation boundaries to include all of electoral areas G, H and L and the District of 100 Mile House. The proposed new South Cariboo Recreation and Culture Service, tentatively slated to go to referendum in June 2022, would have a proposed annual taxation limit of $3.75 million, which would allow the CRD to establish a new recreational service that supports existing facilities, including the South Cariboo Rec Centre, Martin Exeter Hall, and 108 Mile beaches, plus the ability to pay for new major projects, such as an aquatic centre.

– Dec. 10, 2020


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