2016 News Year in Review

The top news stories in the 100 Mile House Free Press from 2016

Rudy Karlen, owner/operator of XH Buffalo Ranch on South Green Lake, stands by one of the buffalo hides he tanned by hand and without the use of harsh chemical. Behind him are some of the skulls he also prepares for sale. Skulls and hides from the ranch were used during the making of the Hollywood box office smash The Revenant.

Rudy Karlen, owner/operator of XH Buffalo Ranch on South Green Lake, stands by one of the buffalo hides he tanned by hand and without the use of harsh chemical. Behind him are some of the skulls he also prepares for sale. Skulls and hides from the ranch were used during the making of the Hollywood box office smash The Revenant.

Jan. 7

Chief applauds mandate, points to gaps

Canim Lake Band Chief Mike Archie applauded the federal government’s pledge to accept the Truth and Reconciliation report’s 94 recommendations toward healing and reconciliation for the tragic harm done by residential schools.

However, Archie said improving government relationships with First Nations was still short on commitment and resourcing, on both the federal and provincial level.

Jan. 7

RCMP investigate suspicious death

Police investigated the death of a 37-year-old person in 100 Mile House.

On Jan. 4, 100 Mile House RCMP followed up on a report of a local employee who had not shown up for work and found the resident deceased in a home on Norman Road.

The death was treated as suspicious at that time and the North District Major Crime Unit with forensic experts were called into investigate.

Jan. 7

Council passed snow/ice policy

District of 100 Mile House council approved a Snow and Ice Removal Policy to minimize its risk of claims and strengthen both the District’s defence and business and residential snow removal requirements.

District noted a history of a slip-and-fall claim every two or three years, each for which the Municipal Insurance Association of B.C. had recommended settlements. The policy also requires landowners to keep all removed snow on their own property.

Jan. 14

Accused murderer in court

Michael Martel, 46, was in court Jan. 12, 2016 on a charge of first degree murder in connection with the death of Vesna Dumstrey-Soos.

RCMP had treated her death as suspicious after finding her deceased in a home in the 6000 block of Norman Road.

North District Major Crime Unit investigated, and after an intense search assisted by their own Emergency Response Team,Air Services and local RCMP, arrested Martel on Jan. 6.

Jan. 14

John Warman honoured

Members of the Lone Butte, 100 Mile, 108 Mile, Deka Lake, Interlakes, Forest Grove, and Lac la Hache fire departments theBC Ambulance Services escorted fallen firefighter John Ansel Warman in a long procession out of the community on Jan. 6.

A former fire captain and first responder with the Lone Butte Fire Department, John passed away on Jan. 1, 2016 after a courageous battle with cancer.

Jan. 14

Ray Matwick remembered

Longtime Big Country Shrine Club member and co-founder Raymond Matwick, who passed away on Dec. 8, 2015, was remembered as a valued friend and devoted community volunteer. Ray was also a Shriner clown who entertained children as Razzle Dazzle and a Masonic Mt. Begbie Lodge member and leader. His loving wife, Marie, noted Ray was a very giving man who wanted to help others.

Jan. 21

Supreme Court to hear teachers appeal

The Supreme Court of Canada agreed on Jan. 14, 2016 to hear The B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) appeal of a decision the year before by the BC Court of Appeal (BCCA).

The appeal aimed to overturn the BCCA ruling that the provincial government didn’t violate bargaining rights with its 2002 legislation changing class size and special needs support that the BCTF maintains was stripped from the teachers’ collective agreement by legislation.

Jan. 21

Local products in The Revenant

Buffalo hides and skulls from XH Buffalo Ranch at Green Lake were featured in the blockbuster movie The Revenant, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, with Grace Dove, who has roots with the Canim Lake Band, playing his wife.

Siblings Franzi Karlen-Ng and Rudy Karlen were surprised by the mid-2014 call requesting their ranch supply these for a movie.

On Jan. 10, 2016 the Revenant grabbed Golden Globe Awards for best movie, best actor (DiCaprio) and best director.

Jan. 21

New Year’s baby arrives

The 2016 New Year’s baby, Ayla Racine, was born at 100 Mile District General Hospital at 8:52 a.m. on Jan. 13.

Ayla arrived at six pounds, seven ounces to proud parents Adam and Kassandra Racine of Forest Grove and a brother, Coby, 5. Ayla was born in the same hospital where Kassandra was working as a nurse while Adam was employed at Gibraltar Mine.

Adam was also a New Year’s baby, in 1986, for the Logan Lake/Kamloops area.

Jan. 28

Economic update looks favourable

There was optimism in the local economic outlook for 2016 according to District of 100 Mile House Councillor Spence Henderson’s presentation to the South Cariboo Chamber of Commerce on Jan. 12.

Tourism in 2015 was estimated as up 36 per cent over 2014, business development programs had continued to grow and both potential tax relief and indicators for new construction activity were ahead for 2016, he reported.

Jan. 28

Chasm bighorn sheep herd dwindles

The spread of respiratory disease that devastated a wild herd of bighorn sheep from more than 100 animals to about 20 led to a public meeting planned in Clinton on Feb. 7.

Organized by the Wild Sheep Society of B.C., the meeting was intended to help remedy the situation by publicizing the message that wild sheep are at a high risk of contracting the deadly disease when in contact with any domestic sheep.

Jan. 28

Local victim mourned

Thirty people – men and women – came together at the Grieving Circle held on Jan. 18 for Vesna Dumstrey-Soos, who was found dead in her home on Jan. 4.

Michael Martel was facing a first degree murder charge in connection with the death of Dumstrey-Soos.

“I had no idea she was at risk,” said 100 Mile House & District Women’s Centre executive director Sonja Ramsay, adding an influx of clients were accessing its resources crediting the Grieving Circle and a Jan. 14 letter to the editor in the Free Press had inspired them.

FEBRUARY

Feb. 4

First Nations vote on treaty process

First Nations in the region prepared for an important step in a historic treaty negotiation taking place.

The Canim Lake Band is one of four Northern Secwepemc te Qelmucw (NStQ) bands to cast votes on if they approved itsLeadership Council to proceed to Final Agreement Negotiation – a stage estimated to take three-five years to complete.

Feb. 11

108 Mile Water System vote

More information was to be offered at a public meeting on Feb. 15 toward an informed vote on the 108 Mile Ranch WaterSystem Upgrade referendum on Feb. 27.

The Cariboo Regional District had stated it already knew borrowing up to $2 million to construct a new well, water main and water treatment would result in a more productive well than the others in the community’s water system.

Feb. 11

Residents rally for school

Bridge Lake and area residents began to rally against the potential closure of the Bridge Lake Elementary School (BLES).

School District 27 (SD27) trustees had decided on Jan. 26 to start a 90-day public-consultation process for the potential closure, but the community complained they hadn’t notified parents or other area stakeholders the potential closure was up for discussion.

Feb. 18

District wowed by water grant

Local politicians rejoiced over an unprecedented $5,850,000 in Gas Tax funding announced for the 100 Mile House WaterSupply Upgrade project, including construction of wells and a water treatment plant.

The project plan was to provide a reliable, safe and clean water supply to the residents that addressed water security and quality (Phase 1), and adequate fire protection and improved water storage capacity in the Exeter Road/industrial area(Phase 2).

Feb. 18

Bridge Lake draws battle lines

The battle to keep Bridge Lake Elementary School (BLES) open had begun by the school’s Parents Advisory Committee (PAC), Interlakes Economic Association and other concerned citizens.

A community meeting held Feb. 12 had a good turnout of area residents indicating they would continue to build their case to keep the school open, with a full house was expected at a March 2 public forum.

Feb. 25

OCP/Zoning bylaws updated

At its Feb. 23 meeting, the District of 100 Mile House council passed first and second readings to its new OfficialCommunity Plan (OCP) and Zoning bylaws.

Issues for input in the new Zoning Bylaw included legalizing secondary suites, changes to permitted home-based businesses, allowing residential poultry or bees and medical marijuana production regulation.

Feb. 25

Dying bighorns need local action

The near decimation of the Chasm bighorn sheep herd is part of a troubling trend of wild sheep dying off after contact with domestic sheep.

A town-hall meeting held in Clinton on Feb. 7 discussed this local issue, and the broader one of preventing the spread of pathogens carried by domestic sheep from killing off wild sheep by endeavours to keep them separated.

MARCH

March 7

108 water upgrade approved

Residents on the 108 Mile Ranch water system approved the Cariboo Regional District to borrow up to $2 million for a new water treatment plant in 2016.

Eligible residents voted more than eight per cent in favour at advance polls or on general voting day poll on Feb. 27 and also approved developing an alternative water source by 2018.

March 7

Hospital laundry stays local

The Interior Health Authority (IHA) board decided on March 1 to let the hospitals in 100 Mile House, Golden, Ashcroft,Princeton, Lillooet and Williams Lake keep their own laundry services.

This decision was a huge victory for these communities because it was an assurance there would be no job losses resulting from the laundry services being privatized.

March 14

Residents balk at forum change

A quiet protest resulted when about 160 area residents showed up to voice their concerns and ideas at a public forum about the possible closure of Bridge Lake Elementary School to find the format had changed.

School District 27 had instead set up four large tables for providing input on a specific question be compiled by a facilitator,causing most of the residents to balk and refuse to sit at these tables.

March 14

Laundry decision brings mixed reaction

Follow up discussions revealed Hospital Employees’ Union (HEU) found keeping in-house laundry local was a good news/bad news decision for members.

While the jobs saved in 100 Mile House was good news for local laundry workers and their families, their joy was dampened by the knowledge of about 150 of their co-workers in other Interior communities losing their positions.

March 21

Disruption at treaty polls

The Northern Shuswap Tribal Council and its affiliated NStQ Treaty Group delayed and reorganized its Agreement-in-Principle referendum on treaty agreement negotiations planned Feb. 11.

NStQ leadership cited the Williams Lake Indian Band (WLIB) polling station being disrupted by a small group of protestors predominantly comprised of non-WLIB community members slating a full re-vote to take place on April 28.

March 21

Lac la Hache OCP updates

Some 30 area residents attended the initial consultation meeting on the Lac la Hache Official Community Plan (OCP) Bylaw rewrite on Feb. 22.

The OCP has not been updated in nearly 20 years, so a number of changes in local community trends and potential issues such as water quality, the aging population, transportation and agriculture needed addressing.

March 28

Seniors prompted for MSP help

Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett encouraged local seniors to see if they are eligible for Medical Services Plan premium assistance through a one-time application.

Noting retroactive assistance may be provided for up to six years previous, she explained more people than ever will qualify for (MSP) premiums assistance in 2017, which is important for seniors to understand – as just 39 per cent of them in B.C.even know about it.

March 28

Man charged in local shooting

RCMP located 45-year-old Nicholas Finley in Mission and charged him in relation to a local shooting incident that resulted in a victim being airlifted by a BC Ambulance helicopter.

100 Mile House RCMP members had been investigating the shooting of a 42-year-old local man – who didn’t co-operate with police – in the Horse Lake Road area on March 6.

APRIL

April 7

Eagles info reward

On April 3, 2015, the Conservation Officer Service (COS) investigated 10 eagles illegally shot, bagged and tossed in ditches in areas near or along North Bonaparte Road east of 70 Mile House.

Then on March 24, 2016 the BC Wildlife Federation posted a reward of up to $2,000 for information leading to a conviction.Call COS anonymously at 1-877-952-7277 or cell dial #7277.

April 7

South Cariboo OCP opened

Area residents were asked to provide input for future development to the Cariboo Regional District (CRD).

The South Cariboo Area Official Community Plan (OCP) update process was well underway including a survey available until mid-April to help steer area development to ensure it meets the needs of the present day and long into the future.

April 14

Moose suffer winter ticks

After many moose were seen with grey or patchy hair or exposed bloodied skin denoting tick infestation, an online MooseWinter Tick Survey was initiated by e-mail to FLNRMooseTickSurvey@gov.bc.ca.

The tick larvae attached themselves to moose in the fall to feed on their blood, and can cause anaemia, hair loss, reduced foraging – and high tick numbers can even endanger moose populations.

April 14

Rural dividend bucks

A presentation about the new BC Rural Dividend – $75 million over three years – was made to the Interlakes EconomicAssociation by Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett on April 7.

On March 31 in Williams Lake, Premier Christy Clark had announced this funding component to help rural communities witha population less than 25,000 with building capacity, workforces and the community, economic and business sector development.

April 21

Business Excellence Awards

The South Cariboo Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards (BEA) was held April 16. Voting was done differently by having attendees vote for the winner of each category.

After a delicious prime rib dinner catered by Psalm 23 Transition Society, the audience was entertained by comedian John Cullen from Yuk Yuks on Tour and the awards were handed out.

April 21

Citizen of the Year

When 2015 Citizen of the Year Ingrid Meyer was announced at the BEA, Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett described her as someone who “does not understand the word no.”

Ingrid is a heavily involved volunteer at many local community events. In 2015, this included the 108 Mile Ranch Lions Club;100 Mile & District Soccer Association, 108 Mile Ranch Community Association; 100 Mile & District Historical Society; 100Mile House Wranglers and many more.

April 28

Historical society grateful

The 100 Mile & District Historical Society annual general meeting on April 23 included an overview of its year and recognition of all the people who contributed to the successful events at the 108 Heritage Site.

Then-needed repairs and renovations for the site’s buildings had prompted them to send a funding request to Barnett –and the society’s amazed delight was expressed at the receipt of a $24,000 grant to pay for all of it.

April 28

Bridge Lake school closing

School District #27 (SD27) trustees claimed “declining enrolment and shrinking budgets” before voting unanimously onApril 26 to close Bridge Lake Elementary School (BLES) in June.

Community members said they’d continue battling to keep the school open, claiming as many as three formalOmbudsperson complaints were filed regarding “flawed consultation process” and for putting children at “undue risk” with long bus rides.

MAY

May 5

Chinese business visitors

Cariboo Regional District (CRD) said a group of Vancouver-based Chinese community associations touring the area in lateMay or early June would be coming through 100 Mile House.

The delegates would arrive in time for lunch, and to see what the community offers with history and business – and since most were avid hunters and fishers, a package was also being put together to showcase tourism opportunities.

May 5

Urology feedback positive

The new urology program at 100 Mile District General Hospital was showing to be areal benefit to Cariboo residents, with21 patients being treated by April 2016.

The program was put in place in the fall of 2015, saving Cariboo patients a trip to Kamloops, and even physicians were happy with the state-of-the-art equipment available to them.

May 12

Ag-centre fights termination

When the District of 100 Mile House gave the South Cariboo Agri-Culture Enterprise Centre Society a termination of tenancy on March 9, society president Rod Hennecker said the decision was unwarranted and May 31 was too short of notice to vacate the premises.

Mayor Mitch Campsall said the Ag Centre had five years of free use of District offices, and the vacated building would provide office space for the engineers and contractors constructing its new water system.

May 19

B.C. nurses sign deal

Nurses in British Columbia got a wage increase and movement on staff shortages and workplace violence in a new five-year agreement signed with government health employers on May 11.

The contract would see B.C. nurses receive a 5.5 per cent wage increase over the five-years, with potential further increases if the B.C. economy surpasses annual forecasts.

May 19

Stopped school buses

After years of public complaints, the B.C. Liberal government decided to increase financial punishment for motorists who pass a stopped school bus with its flashing lights on.

The previous fine of $167, which was one of the lowest in the country, more than doubled to $368 with a continued three penalty points on top of the fine – plus a licence review – and a second offence within one year now results in $300 penalty points on top of the $368 fine.

May 26

New sweeper for 108 airport

The South Cariboo Regional Airport (SCRA) was gifted a sweeper retired from Kamloops Airport Authority Society after it received funding to purchase new snow-removal equipment.

Noting all of the Medevac flights it has coming in, SCRA chair Mitch Campsall said the airport at the 108 Mile Ranch had a“really old sweeper” so this donation was something “far bigger, far better and far newer” for keeping its runways clear in winter.

May 26

Gold Rush Trail jobs

The Joint Cariboo Project announced on May 20 was to improve tourism infrastructure on the Gold Rush/Spirit Trails corridor with $396,924 in provincial government funding from the Jobs Creation Partnership program.

It trained five people from the Cariboo region to gain experience in log building, trail construction and other tradesmen skills as they build amenities for the local region.

JUNE

June 2

Ag Centre leaves The Lodge

The South Cariboo Agri-Culture Enterprise Centre Society vacated the facilities at 98 Cecil Place in The Lodge basement and moved its operations to the Stan Halcro Arena on May 30.

After the District of 100 Mile House issued a termination of lease on March 9 to use as temporary construction office facilities, the Ag Centre Society rebuked the termination of lease as an unnecessary action – stating it would continue this effort, but meanwhile it “shall carry on” in the arena.

June 2

Education savings goes back

The provincial government reversed its former decision that would have forced school districts to cough up another $25 million in savings ($259,687 in School District #27) to help manage their local education budgets.

On May 31, Education Minister Mike Bernier announced school districts will now be able to keep that amount they had formerly been required to pay back for the second year of that plan, and re-introduce it into their budgets “any way they see fit.”

June 9

Some area gas pumps ran dry

At least three area gas stations ran out of regular-grade gasoline on June 4, which had some busy weekend motorists scrambling to other gas stations in the South Cariboo.

Complete outages of regular gas were seen at Lac La Hache (Race Trac Gas), the 70 Mile General Store (Petro-Canada) and the Lone Butte General Store (Race Trac Gas).

June 9

Search and Rescue funding

On June 3, it was announced the South Cariboo Search and Rescue Society received $64,837 to help find, rescue and recover people stranded and/or lost in the South Cariboo.

It was one of three Cariboo and Chilcotin-based SAR organizations to receive a total of more than $129,000 from the B.C.Liberal government’s $10 million in one-time funding commitments to the B.C. Search and Rescue Association.

June 16

Golden opportunity

Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie planned to visit 100 Mile House on June 20 to update the community on her ongoing role and progress, and to listen to the comments and concerns of local seniors and their families.

It was a chance to discuss local issues and learn more about the province’s Office of the Seniors Advocate, which monitors and analyzes seniors’ services and the issues that they and their families face.

June 16

New wells underway

The work has begun on the long-anticipated new water system for the District of 100 Mile House.

Drilling is underway now for two new wells near The Lodge – production Wells 2 and 4 – the first step of actual construction in Phase 1 of the extensive 100 Mile House Water Supply Upgrade project – thanks to the $5,850,000 in federal funding approved in February.

June 23

Plane crash at Flying U Ranch

A 42-year-old man, Jonathan Blair, of Edmonton was killed when a plane crashed on a grass airstrip at the Flying U GuestRanch at Green Lake on June 16.

His 74-year-old father, pilot and owner of the Piper Cherokee Arrow plane, was airlifted to Kamloops hospital in serious condition. Transportation Safety Board officials said he told them it was an aborted landing and collided with the trees on the far side of the runway.

June 23

New home for old caboose

The old caboose, located in the Coach House Square parking lot in 100 Mile House was donated by the mall owner, Anthem Properties, to the Water Tower Park in Lone Butte.

Anthem was commended by area officials for making the effort to preserve this piece of history at the provincially designated heritage attraction park in Lone Butte, which will celebrate its 100th railroad anniversary in April 2019.

June 30

NDP pledge wage increase

NDP Leader John Horgan’s pledge to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2021 if he is elected premier in nextMay’s provincial election drew mixed reactions locally.

Cariboo Family Enrichment Centre executive director Lisa De Paoli spoke out among the staunch supporters of this level of wage increase, while South Cariboo Chamber of Commerce president Leon Chretien believed this amount was too high, and would only hurt the local community and economy.

June 30

Postal strike looms

Canada’s postal system was in danger of being shut down by July 2 if a contract settlement could not be reached with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW).

On June 27, Canada Post notified customers should “take precautions” toward the possible legal work disruption after CUPW members voted 91 per cent (Rural and Suburban) for strike activities if necessary to achieve their goals.

100 Mile House Free Press