Year in review in news: January to June

January

$10,000 reward offered

Jan. 3 – A local man offered a $10,000 reward after approximately $25,000 to $30,000 in items were stolen from his property in Lac des Roches including a side-by-side. Daniel Gallant offered the reward to anyone who could help him locate the items and provide him with the identity of the thief. “I went to go out to the lake property in Lac des Roches to go ice fishing Saturday morning … [I] got to my sea can and it was open.” At that point, he discovered multiple tools, a firearm and a side-by-side were stolen.

Residents upset over property assessments

Jan. 10 – Property assessment notices left some South Cariboo residents reeling with the average single-family residential property going up by 20 per cent in the 100 Mile House Area, according to BC Assessment. The increase was tied with Kitimat with the greatest increase in Northern B.C. It left many residents worried about big increases on their tax bills. Peter Reid’s assessment went up by 37 per cent. “I’m worried about other taxpaying seniors.” Local realtor and councillor Dave Mingo didn’t seem as surprised there was an increase. “My first reaction was that BC Assessment is catching up to some of the sale prices we’ve had in the area.”

West Fraser curtails production

Jan. 17 – West Fraser announced further curtailments for approximately three weeks of production throughout the first quarter of 2019 at their Chasm, 100 Mile House and Chetwynd sawmills. The Williams Lake sawmill was expected to be shut down for approximately one week to complete certain capital upgrades. “The decision to temporarily reduce production at Chasm, 100 Mile House, and Chetwynd is a result of price declines in lumber markets, high log costs and log supply constraints,” the company said in a statement.

Residents warned about hefty fines for passing school buses

Jan. 24 – “Some of our busses now have the ability to take video footage outside the bus and so we’re able to see when people go through our load lights at bus stops,” said Randy Cobb, assistant manager of facilities and transportation with the school district. The passing of loading or unloading school buses is a regular issue, according to Cobb. “It’s fairly constant in our district. It’s probably weekly.”

Council adjusts logging plans after concern

Jan. 31 – After residents expressed concerns about logging operations near Bridge Creek in a special council meeting, the District of 100 Mile House Council adjusted plans. “Resident concerns focused on view quality, protection of habitat and treatment methodology being used to achieve community safety. Council heard the message,” the district said in a statement. “Council provided direction to the District consultant to modify harvesting activities on the landscape. Most of the concerns raised by residents will be addressed with these modifications.”

February

Women’s centre to close

Feb. 7 – The 100 Mile House and District Women’s Centre Society was closing as the Board of Directors, which also represented the South Cariboo Branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA-SCB), decided that having one Executive Director and Board of Directors to provide leadership to two distinctive non-profit organizations wasn’t feasible. “We are feeling confident in this decision and that the best way to move forward as a Board is to seek sustainable long term ‘homes’ for important services for women and families in our community.”

Seven overdose deaths in Cariboo-Chilcotin between May and Oct. 2018

Feb. 14 – Overdose deaths in the Interior Health region increased nearly 800 per cent in less than eight years, said a medical health officer with IH. “The majority of these overdoses are related to fentanyl,” said Dr. Kamran Golmohammadi during a presentation to the Cariboo Regional District board at its regular meeting. “IH has the highest rate of overdose deaths per capita after Vancouver Coastal Health and we are hoping with the help of communities and stakeholders we can make an impact and some progress on this front.”

Increase to family tax credits

Feb. 21 – The B.C. government created tax breaks for families with children under 18, combining the previously established Early Childhood Benefit into a single new initiative: the BC Child Opportunity Benefit. Set to come into effect in October 2020, the new benefit raises eligibility significantly. A family with one child is eligible for $1,600 per year, two children up to $2,600 per year and three children up to $3,400 a year – a jump from the existing benefit’s maximums of $660, $1,320 and $1,980 respectively. The benefit is reduced by four per cent of each family’s net income over $25,000 and phased out at a four per cent rate of each family’s net income over $80,000.

Recreation tax boundary expansion explored

Feb. 28 – The South Cariboo Joint Committee decided to explore changing the taxation boundary for all existing South Cariboo recreation services before considering new major construction projects. “Before we can move forward to consider constructing a new major facility, we first need to address the issue of our tax boundaries. We need to make sure the taxation of these recreation services is fairly distributed amongst those who benefit from them,” said co-chair Mitch Campsall.

March

Williams Lake maternity ward services suspended

March 7 – Interior Health confirmed maternity services were being temporarily suspended at Cariboo Memorial Hospital in Williams Lake due to staff shortages. The temporary suspension affected South Cariboo moms who were being sent there for delivery. “The safety issue has been paramount in our planning,” said David Matear, executive director, Interior Health West Hospitals and Communities of the reason for the decision. “We are doing everything that we can to restore the services as quickly as possible.” In the meantime, expectant mothers across the Cariboo Chilcotin region had to travel to Kamloops to have their babies in that hospital.

Man dead after shooting

March 14 – 100 Mile House RCMP received a 911 call that a male had been shot in a residence on Cedar Avenue. “Frontline Officers and EHS [emergency health services] responded and located an adult male who was deceased.” The event is being investigated as a homicide and the North District Major Crime Unit has assumed conduct of the investigation. “This residence was well known to police and although the investigation is in the early stages, police have no information to suggest that the greater public is at further risk.”

CRD to replace 14 firetrucks

March 14 – The Cariboo Regional District (CRD) was looking to replace 14 fire trucks before 2023, including three through an Alternative Approval Process (AAP) in Lone Butte, Forest Grove and Kersley. There was already a referendum in the summer of 2018 for two fire trucks for the Interlakes VFD. “Like many local governments across Canada, the CRD is faced with replacing old and aging infrastructure like water lines, sewers and equipment including fire trucks,” said CRD Vice-Chair John Massier.

Farmers’ market in need of food vendors

March 21 – The South Cariboo Farmers Market (SCFM) was in need of more food vendors. In order to maintain their membership with the BC Association of Farmers Markets (BCAFM), they needed at least 51 per cent of their vendors to be food vendors on any given day or they could lose their membership. “We really don’t want to lose membership with the BCAFM because it does A) support everyone in the coupon program and [B)] it also has a lot of support for our farmer’s market and other community members,” said Robin Hunt, president of the South Cariboo Farmer’s Market and the owner/operator of Big Rock Ranch.

Bus company applies to operate interior routes

March 28 – Adventure Charters announced that they applied to the Passenger Transportation Board to start operating two routes in B.C. that would connect the interior corridor. “We want to provide safe travel within the interior of B.C. with service timing set up to allow our guests to link into other transportation options already in place and operating. Our goal is to have a schedule that allows for easy connections in Prince George to BC Bus North and the Sky Train in Surrey for the South, and from Kamloops into the Okanagan, allowing passengers to easily travel beyond our ICB routes to provide a service that is as seamless as possible for our guests,” said Janna Gertzen, co-owner of Adventure Charters.

April

Overlimit anglers charged

April 4 – Two Lower Mainland men were charged by a 100 Mile House conservation officer for fishing over the allowable limit. The incident occurred during compliance checks on Snag Lake. “I was just doing a normal patrol, not based on any tips, and watched some individuals catch some fish. As they came off the lake I did a compliance check of their catch and between the two of them combined, they were 28 fish over the limit,” according to conservation officer Joel Kline.

Company approved for bus routes

April 4 – Adventure Charters, based in Williams Lake, was awarded a licence to operate two inter-city bus routes in the B.C. Interior: one from Prince George to Surrey down the Fraser Canyon, and another from Williams Lake to Kamloops. The licence was granted by the Passenger Transportation Board, following the failure of the previous licence holder, Merritt Shuttle Bus Services Ltd., to obtain buses, despite several licence extensions.

Resident frustrated by road issues

April 11 – Mudslides and flooding continued to plague the residents of North Bonaparte Road in the Pressy Lake Area. “There are tons and tons of debris up there threatening to fall every time it does rain, more comes down,” said Lorne Smith, a fulltime resident on the road. The response by local governmental agencies was a source of frustration for residents, including Smith. “You call Interior Roads and (you’re) getting them in 100 Mile. No, that’s not their jurisdiction, it’s Clinton’s. So you phone Clinton and they’re not open, so I phoned the emergency number and they transferred me to Clinton and they are apparently coming out here sometime today,” Smith said.

Crystal meth prevalent in 100 Mile

April 11 – The 100 Mile House RCMP detachment had a public meeting in Forest Grove in order to discuss what the department had been dealing with in the past year. At the meeting, Staff Sgt. Svend Nielsen spoke about how crystal meth has been a prevalent drug in the 100 Mile House area since January 2018. The average requirement of money to support an addict’s dependency on the drug is about $40-60 per day. Nielsen said he and the RCMP have gained this knowledge from users who have spoken to the police regarding their addiction.

Engagement on caribou recovery plan

April 18 – It was standing room only in the Gibraltar Room in Williams Lake when representatives from the provincial and federal governments hosted the Southern Mountain Caribou Community Engagement Session. The 400-plus people in attendance at the highly anticipated meeting represented a cross-section of interests from the community: ranchers, trappers, forestry workers, guide outfitters, snowmobilers, local governments — most of whom believe they have something to lose as the two governments position to sign off as soon as possible on agreements they say are needed to protect declining caribou herds identified federally as a species at risk.

Nearly $1 million for Cariboo projects

April 25 – Projects in the Cariboo region would receive $935,925 from the BC Rural Dividend Program, the province announced. A total of 11 projects in the region would receive grants through the program to support economic development and diversification, according to a release from the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. “This funding supports the diverse needs of small communities throughout the province and the people who live in them,” said Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.

May

Low-risk deliveries resume at Cariboo Memorial Hospital

May 2 – Interior Health (IH) resumed low-risk deliveries at Cariboo Memorial Hospital (CMH), following the hiring of two new maternity nurses in April. Low-risk deliveries include babies reached full term (37+ weeks) for expectant mothers with pregnancies that have had no or minimal complications. CMH would also be able to perform planned and emergency C-sections as required. The maternity ward was closed since February due to an unexpected critical shortage of maternity nurses.

Canim Lake Band moves ahead with fish farm plans

May 9 – The Canim Lake Band was working on plans to farm some local ‘surf’ to pair with the Cariboo’s ample ‘turf.’ The band received $100,000 from the BC Rural Dividend Program to put toward a closed-containment fish farm development. According to Fisheries and Oceans Canada, closed containment is a barrier technology that attempts to restrict and control interactions between farmed fish and the external aquatic environment.

Council votes in favour of cannabis dispensaries

May 16 – The District of 100 Mile House Council decided to move forward with cannabis dispensaries. “Council has been discussing this for about a year now,” said Mayor Mitch Campsall. “In that time, we haven’t been really serious about it until now. We have had a lot of people interested in this industry.” Council agreed that all dispensaries will be limited to Birch Avenue from First to Fifth Street.

Mile 108 Citizen of the Year chosen

May 23 – After profound involvement in the community, Ingrid Meyer was awarded Mile 108 Citizen of the Year. “I was very surprised when they announced I was the winner for the citizen of the year,” said Meyer. “We were in the middle of our annual general meeting when it was interrupted, to present the award to me.”

School District 27 to modify drug use suspensions

May 30 – Principal Geoffrey Butcher said the issue of vaping has increased for teens in all parts of the western world and that statistics on the increase and usage rates he has seen are not out of line with the rest of Canada and the U.S. “Over this past year we have been dealing with a number of issues at PSO and we’d like to bring them to your attention,” the letter starts. “The explosion of vaping both off school property and on has become alarming. The school board policy is clearly outlined with respect to the prohibited nature of tobacco, e-cigarettes and vape use on school property,” read a letter sent to parents of the Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School’s student body from the school.

June

Shortfall of South Cariboo housing

June 6 – There was a lack of housing in 100 Mile House and finding a place to live wasn’t becoming any easier. “It is an issue and it has been getting worse,” said Marine Jensen, the homeless outreach coordinator for the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA). “Everybody deserves housing and everybody deserves to have a safe place to stay and that’s not happening.”

Norbord announces indefinite curtailment

June 13 – Norbord Inc. will be indefinitely stopping all production at its oriented strand board (OSB) mill in 100 Mile House starting in August. The company’s 100 Mile House location has been under mounting wood supply pressure for the past decade as a result of the mountain pine beetle epidemic. MLA Donna Barnett called the news a devastating blow to 100 Mile and the South Cariboo. “It’s time the government stepped up to the plate. We’ve got Bill 22, which hasn’t helped. We’ve got carbon tax, we’ve got fuel tax, we’ve got health-care tax, we’ve got a higher income tax, and you can go across the line to Alberta and they have none of that.”

West Fraser announces Chasm closure

June 20 – West Fraser announced their intention to permanently close the Chasm lumber mill and eliminate the third shift from its 100 Mile House lumber mill. “We sincerely regret the impact this decision will have on our employees, their families and the affected communities. We will be making efforts to mitigate the effects of this business decision, including opportunities for affected employees to transition to other company locations,” said Ray Ferris, president and chief operating officer. Clinton’s Mayor Susan Swan said she was not “overly surprised” with the other mill closures in the area, but added that she was disappointed by the news.

Mill contractors face challenges

June 27 – Debra Maclean and her husband Rod Dillman, who co-own Rod Dillman Contracting were part of those being affected by the indefinite curtailment of Norbord’s 100 Mile House mill location. “We have been working for them for years,” said Maclean. “We were bidding on timber sales performing stump-to-dump logging and Norbord had been issuing some of our contract work.”


newsroom@100milefreepress.net

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