Year in review in news: July to December

July

Politicians looking for support following mill closures

July 4 – Various political bodies in the South Cariboo were reaching for solutions and support after the closures and curtailments of local mills. MLA Donna Barnett, along with Liberal forestry critic and Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad and Thompson-Nicola MLA Jackie Taggart met with chambers, councils, private sectors, First Nations, and logging contractors between 100 Mile House and Williams Lake. They also toured the West Fraser facility in 100 Mile House. The purpose of the meeting, said Barnett, was to “find out exactly where things are at and how we could help, looking for suggestions and recommendations”.

Organizations stress importance of mental health

July 11 – Emotional distress might be a result of the recent mill curtailment and closures. During this time, local support officials are reminding the public on the importance of their mental health. “Every person’s situation is different,” said Chris Pettman, executive director of the Cariboo Family Enrichment Centre. “People can experience trauma, which can affect their mental health. It can be subtle, complex, multi-layered or on-going and they can keep having triggers regarding that trauma.” It’s important to normalize that everyone has mental health and do feel an impact by certain things or events, said Susann Collins, executive director at the South Cariboo Canadian Mental Health Association branch.

Carefree Manor announces expansion plans

July 18 – In efforts to provide more housing for seniors in the South Cariboo, Carefree Manor announced it would be expanding its existing residence. The expansion was said to offer an additional 31 units to the residence for a total of 67 independent living suites, including 30 assisted living suites. Construction was expected to begin in early fall. A completion date had yet to be determined, but the manor suspected the expansion to be finished later in 2020. “This is an exciting time for seniors in and around 100 Mile House to know that there will be an increase in housing available soon,” said Cindy Parent, manager of the residence.

Staffing shortages at rural hospitals

July 25 – Rural community hospitals were experiencing staffing shortages to the point where many were wondering if patient care is being compromised. “100 Mile House is no different from many of other hospitals in the province where staffing can be challenging,” said Allison Filewich, an acute care nurse manager. According to Filewich, 100 Mile District General Hospital had been actively recruiting but it could be difficult for a hospital in a small town to compete with hospitals in more urbanized areas. A hospital in an urbanized area was more likely to be chosen than one located remotely. Despite the competitive nature, Filewich said she has had some luck.

Tsilhqot’in Nation appeals to U.N. in Taseko conflict

July 25 – A United Nations representative was invited by the Tsilhqot’in Nation to visit Teztan Biny (Fish Lake), 185 kilometres southwest of Williams Lake where Taseko Mines had a permit to do exploratory drilling in the vicinity for its proposed New Prosperity Mine project. In a submission to the U.N., the Tsilhqot’in stated they faced an imminent, “eyes wide open” violation of their most fundamental human rights under international laws, including the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

August

Dissapointment following low town hall meeting turnout

Aug. 1 – A lower- than-expected turnout at a town hall meeting left many feeling “disappointed.” Residents were invited to voice concerns and express ideas the region could benefit from. The CRD and District of 100 Mile House were there to listen to these ideas and thoughts from the residents of the area concerning the local economy and the impact from previous fires, the pine beetles epidemic, agricultural, ranching and tourism changes and more recently, mill curtailment. “It was a really well-intentioned, well-organized meeting,” said Margo Wagner, chair of the Cariboo Regional District. “I think the turnout was really disappointing.”

Public hearing on cannabis production facility

Aug. 8 – The District of 100 Mile House was seeking public input on bylaw amendments that would accommodate a craft cannabis facility. “This is something that’s new, it’s never been tried before,” explained 100 Mile House Mayor Mitch Campsall. “They know it can be successful and I guess they’re going to make it successful.”

Election well underway

Aug. 15 – The federal election was well underway with Cathy McLeod running for the Conservatives, Terry Lake for the Liberals, Iain Currie for the Green Party and Ken Finlayson running for the newly established PPC. NDP candidate Gina Myhill-Jones had withdrawn for personal reasons. The Communist Party and the Animal Protection Party were also fielding local candidates.

Lac la Hache residents complain about crime

Aug. 22 – The citizens of Lac la Hache had a meeting with 100 Mile RCMP Staff. Sgt Svend Nielsen and CRD director Al Richmond to discuss Clarke Avenue, a problematic road with what community members said had two “drug houses.” It was the second public meeting pertaining the issue on Clarke Avenue, with somewhere between 150-170 people attending this time. “I know we were pretty consistent for about six weeks and we did approx probably a dozen patrols for four/five days on the seven days during the week.”

Norbord ceases production

Aug. 29 – With the exception of a team of 10 millworkers, all other employees at Norbord’s 100 Mile House OSB Mill were out of work. “There is a small team of less than 10 employees who are responsible for the care and maintenance of the mill,” a spokesperson for the company said. “This includes mothballing activities which comprise things like ensuring equipment is readied for curtailment, storing materials, and securing the site. All other employees will be off work as of August 27, 2019.”

September

Thieves steal over $300 in flowers

Sept. 5 – Flower thieves may have been on the loose in the South Cariboo, according to one local business that lost over $300 worth of product to thefts. Lee’s Custom Floors was the victim of flower thefts that took place on North Horse Lake Road, and manager Janet McKenzie said this isn’t the first time that the business had been targeted by vandals. “We’ve been broken into a million times and we’ve had vandalism lots of times,” she said. “We’ve had windows smashed and our vehicles have been vandalized, [too].”

West Fraser announces curtailments at five mills

Sept. 12 – West Fraser announced it would be curtailing operations at five of its B.C. sawmills and plywood operations beginning Sept. 16. Williams Lake sawmill and plywood are both part of the announcement, as are West Fraser’s mills in 100 Mile House, Fraser Lake, Chetwynd and Quesnel sawmill and plywood, confirmed Tara Knight, communications for West Fraser. Citing sustained weak markets, pricing in wood product markets and highcost logs, the company said it anticipates continuing ‘variable operating schedules’ until market and economic conditions improve. The curtailments would result in an estimated decrease of production ranging from 15 to 25 per cent, the company noted in a press release.

Second bus route denied

Sept. 19 – A company that applied for a bus route between Kamloops and Prince George was denied by the Passenger Transportation Board (PTB). In March 2019, the Board approved a similar route by Gertzen Ventures LTD (GLV), operating as Adventure Charters, which had been operating for four months, offering two trips weekly. “The panel finds that, at this time, the proposed addition of Route D, could have an injurious and adverse effect on the new ICB [Inter-City Bus] operator and the overall viability of ICB services on the corridor.”

Cariboo loggers rally

Sept. 26 – A movement calling on loggers throughout the province to join a Rally to Vancouver truck protest quickly gained momentum in the Interior and Northern B.C. with around 100 truckers from Prince George, Quesnel, Williams Lake and 100 Mile House driving down to Vancouver. The goal was to bring about 200 logging trucks into Vancouver, with truckers from Merrit and other areas joining in. “Nobody was taking action here, and I feel we need to be heard and seen,” said Jorden Ilnicki, the Cariboo organizer.

October

Gustafsen wildfire was caused by firearm use

Oct. 3 – Documents obtained by the 100 Mile Free Press through a Freedom of Information request revealed the Gustafsen fire (C40621) that occurred in 2017 was caused by firearm use. “Wildfire C40621 was caused by firearm use. The general site is used as a firearms range. Wildfire origin and cause staff identified the ignition area near a metal target that had numerous markings from bullets impacting against it, as well as bullet holes in the angle iron it rested upon. The metal target was fixed to the ground on a bed of cured matted grass with human refuse – paper, wood et cetera – scattered throughout. Observations made from within a grid search of the ignition area indicated recent firearms activity, such as bullets and fragmented bullet remnants.”

Public hearing set on off-road racing

Oct. 10 – A public hearing was scheduled for Forest Grove to permit the 100 Mile Horsepower Ranch to host offroad racing events like the Northwest Mud Racing Association race while including a site for people to camp. The temporary permit would allow the association to host such events on the property for a maximum of three years. According to a Facebook post, the ranch would like to permanently rezone the property but are starting with a temporary permit. “The association has tried to apply for permanent zoning in the past, but there was a tremendous amount of opposition towards it,” said chair of the Cariboo Regional District, Margo Wagner.

Ruth Lake cabin severely damaged in fire

Oct. 17 – A Ruth Lake resident’s cabin became completely engulfed in flames, following a chimney fire, leaving nothing but the remains of the wood structure. According to Lisa Barber, the property owner, by the time fire crews arrived, it was too late to salvage any remains of her father -in-law’s, Randy Barber, cabin. “He lost everything,” said Barber. “The fire hit hard and fast.”

Conservative Cathy McLeod reelected MP

Oct. 24 – Conservative Cathy McLeod was convincingly re-elected as the MP for Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo. “Obviously, [I’m] very pleased with the results and want to extend my appreciation to the voters of the riding who have trusted me again.” McLeod took home 44.7 per cent of the vote with 32,057 votes out of a total of 71,703. Liberal Terry Lake came in second at 19,543 votes (27.3 per cent), a decrease from the 2015 election when the Liberals took 21,215 votes (30.41 per cent) and finished third.

Public input on Cariboo Waggon Road restoration

Oct. 31 – A community information meeting was organized by The New Pathways to Gold Society (NPTGS) and partners on the Cariboo Waggon Road restoration. More than 45 residents gathered to discuss the “historical marvel” that played a role in defining British Columbia during the 19th and early 20th centuries. “It was a fabulous evening,” said Don Hauka, communication director for the New Pathways to Gold Society.

November

New ventilator for 100 Mile hospital

Nov. 7 – The 100 Mile District General Hospital had a new ventilator thanks to TB Vets. “It is critical in the event that we actually have to intubate a patient and provide them with an artificial airway and breathing mechanism,” said acute care manager Alison Filewich. “If we have a fairly significant trauma through a motor vehicle accident or an ATV accident and the patient requires that assistance with breathing we would hook them up to this machine which would basically breathe for them.”

District received cannabis dispensary applications

Nov. 14 – The District of 100 Mile House was seeking public input on two proposed retail cannabis locations. One of the proposed locations was Our Kitchen Corner at 355 Birch Ave. A retail license application sign was posted on the storefront window for the purpose of issuing a council resolution. The second applicant location had not yet been identified. “We had an intake period where we were accepting applications referred to us by the province,” said Joanne Doddridge, the district’s director of economic development & planning.

Rollover victim raises concern over discharge

Nov. 21 – A South Cariboo woman raised concerns about the way out of area patients were being discharged from Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. Olivia Fletcher was involved in a rollover outside Clinton, she said. “They told me, keep in mind I have no shoes, no clothes whatsoever, they told me that I’m being released to the streets and I have to find my own way. There is no way,” she said after being sent there after a rollover. Tracey Rannie, executive director of clinical operations for Royal Inland Hospital, said that while she couldn’t comment on specific patient details, she assured people that they follow proper discharge procedures. Fletcher was ultimately given a $400 taxi voucher.

Historic red stagecoach on the move

Nov. 28 – Attentive residents may have noticed a 100 Mile House icon disappear, temporarily at least. “We’re creating a new building for the red coach, right in behind the Visitor Centre. We feel that it will get way more exposure there than where it is now,” said Todd Conway, Director of Community Services for the District of 100 Mile House. The contract the district had with Westgate Resources (Red Coach Inn) to display the coach was terminated as Westgate Resources did not exercise its option to renew the agreement for a further 10 years.

December

GoFundMe for family of man who died in collision

Dec. 5 – A fundraiser was underway for the family of a 100 Mile House man who died in a fatal collision north of Clinton. Jeff Peach was unexpectedly taken from his family. A northbound transport truck, for reasons that remained under investigation, left the highway, rolled, and killed the driver, a man in his 40’s from the local area, according to Cpl. Mike Halskov. Peach left behind his wife and children.

CRD rejects cannabis rezoning application

Dec. 12 – The Cariboo Regional District (CRD) rejected an application for rezoning to facilitate cannabis production in Lone Butte. They had quite a lengthy discussion about it, says CRD Area L Director Willow MacDonald. “It wasn’t a ‘we never want to see this.’ It was ‘we don’t know how this is gonna go and putting it right in the middle of a residential area is not the wisest idea at this point in time.’”

Foodbank hands out hundreds of hampers

Dec. 19 – A sense of pride could be felt inside the District of 100 Mile’s Food Bank as volunteers prepared, served and instilled the holiday spirit in local residents, one hamper at a time. In a couple of hours, the food bank had served more than 200 Christmas hampers and was expected to surpass 300 before the day was over. “It feels really good to be able to do this,” said Bob Hicks, who’s been the executive director for nearly 40 years. “I have been doing this for so long and I look forward to this time of the year.”

Provinces provides $2.9 million to secure affordable housing

Dec. 26 – The province provided $2.9 million to purchase the Sheridan Manor to preserve some of the affordable housing in 100 Mile. The 33-unit apartment building will undergo a series of renovations like repairs and upgrades such as new thermostats, heaters, electric baseboards and more. The buildings’ existing tenants are not expected to be affected by the acquisition.

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