Year in Review: Looking back at the headlines of 2014

This week the News reviews the headlines from July to December.

  • Jan. 7, 2015 6:00 a.m.

 

July

Local governments in the North Okanagan and Shuswap launched an urgent drive to save the CP rail line between Sicamous and Armstrong from potentially being chopped up and sold to private investors. A meeting was held in Salmon Arm at the Columbia Shuswap Regional District offices on June 24 to strategize ways to preserve the line as a transportation corridor, initially for hiking and biking and, in the winter, perhaps cross-country skiing or snowshoeing.

The District of Sicamous announced chief administrative officer Heidi Frank had resigned, and would be leaving the district in August.

Summer Stomp organizers and the District of Sicamous received word from the Agricultural Land Commission that the municipal dog park –  which is part of the agricultural land reserve, could be used to host the motorcycle event until 2016.

Young people see lots of sexual images and hear lots of sex-related information on the Internet, but they aren’t acquiring fundamental knowledge, said Cathy Johnston, a family life teacher with School District #83 for 20 years. Last year, Johnston’s full-time position was cut to 0.6, now it has been cut altogether.

News the price for the district’s proposed water treatment plant had risen from $4.5 million to $7.9 million, instigated a groundswell of concern among residents interested in less costly alternatives, not only for the end-product but also in relation to water sources. Mayor Darrell Trouton said input had not fallen on deaf ears, and that time and effort was expended to assure the district is moving in the right direction.

Sicamous council approved the issuance of a development permit to numbered company 443606002 BC LTD, for the development and construction of a proposed 276-slip marina in Old Town Bay, as well as a breakwater, marine servicing and fuelling facilities, public and private boat launches and more. The marina will be developed in two or more phases, and will eventually be the new home of Twin Anchors’ houseboat rental operation.

The body of Kevin Boutilier was recovered, a year after the 25-year-old Calgary man went missing in Shuswap Lake. The BC Coroners Service confirmed the body of Kevin William Boutilier was recovered on July 10.

‘Surprisingly complicated’ was how a defence lawyer described portions of the, legal action initiated by Ray Sasseville, Joan Hansen, and Sturgis North Entertainment Inc. involving motorcycle events they put on in the North Okanagan-Shuswap. After launching the lawsuit in BC Supreme Court in December 2013, in March, Sasseville and Hansen began the process to drop the court action against six of the seven defendants. According to the initial claim, Sicamous was named because Sturgis North entered into an agreement to hold an annual event there beginning in 2011 called the Sturgis North Burn-out and Festival. The plaintiffs alleged the event was wrongfully taken over and became the Summer Stomp Burn-out.

Tickets for illegal dumping may be issued to those responsible for the mess left outside the recycling bins earlier this month at the corner of Main Street and Highway 97A. On the evening of Canada Day, the person contracted by the CSRD to maintain the depot was frustrated and angry to find a day’s worth of refuse left on the ground – and the bins completely empty.

Mayor Darrell Trouton announced he would not be seeking re-election in November.

From a policing perspective, apart from the odd arrest for intoxication and a couple of noise complaints, the Summer Stomp event came and went without a hitch.

At a committee of the whole meeting, District of Sicamous community planner Mike Marrs informed municipal council he’d received notice of a new application being submitted to the federal government for a licensed medical marijuana production facility. Marrs also updated council on another application, this one from 1937 Enterprises Inc., to establish a licensed medical marijuana production facility at Waterway Houseboats’ Monashee Frontage Road manufacturing facility. Marrs said the company, which runs the website bcorganicbud.com, had not yet been awarded a licence under the federal government’s new regulations for the commercial production of medical marijuana.

Cody Franson’s future was no longer an unknown following the signing of another one-year contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Franson’s contract  was in limbo since last summer when his previous contract, worth $2 million US, ended, leaving him a restricted free agent.

The Bottle Shop confirmed Monday they’ve been raising money to help Al Robert, whose home was damaged during a severe storm that ripped through the Shuswap.  Police were also called out to a Swansea Point residence where a tree fell on the house and injured a woman inside.

The province announced the replacement of the Malakwa Bridge would begin in August, to be completed by the summer of 2016.

Approximately $2,300 in stamps and coins were stolen from the post office. Sicamous RCMP Const. Dusty Miller said the theft was reported on July 25, and occurred sometime overnight.

The district received a $5,000 grant from BC Healthy Communities to engage in the development of healthy community partnerships and support health and well-being in Sicamous.

 

August

District council was informed by staff that development and temporary use permit applicants may be waiting longer for approvals as a result of the recently-signed protocol agreement between the District of Sicamous and the Splatsin councils.

On Aug. 1, Sicamous RCMP and BC Ambulance Service responded to a two-vehicle collision on the Trans-Canada Highway/Highway 97A intersection.  Police say the driver of an eastbound vehicle attempting to turn left onto 97A failed to yield to an oncoming westbound vehicle.

A brief statement from the BCTF announced the resumption of talks, a day after the B.C. government announced a contingency plan to pay strike savings to parents of younger students if the strikes keeps schools shut in September.District council chose to avoid setting a precedent by not reimbursing the Eagle Valley Senior Citizens Housing Society for expenses related to the recent boil water notice. The society sought costs for a potable water tank totaling $1,823.40.

Columbia Shuswap Regional District electoral area directors (EAD) approved a policy amendment that preventing the awarding of grants three-months prior to election time.

RCMP recovered the body of an Alberta man who went missing in Shuswap Lake following a boating collision.

A second man involved in the incident was taken to hospital with serious injuries.

Police were seeking a suspect in an attempted abduction of a 16-year-old girl that occurred near Sicamous. The incident was reported to Sicamous RCMP on Aug. 17. The man, described as being in his mid-20s, with chin-length blonde hair and wearing a brown hat and a dark red shirt, asked the girl if she wanted a ride. When she declined, police say the man grabbed the girl. She fought off the attack and fled unharmed to a nearby residence.

Council supported a Remedial Action Requirement, as per the B.C. Community Charter, for the demolition of a residence at 705 Larch Ave., the site of a structure fire on July 22, 2013.

The BC Coroners service reported that Kim Alan Edwards, 57, died as a result of a two-vehicle collision near Avoca Road in Craigellachie.

Vic Phillips sees a lot of potential for Sicamous and the Parkland Center Mall.

“It’s got a very good future, it’s a very good structure…….it’s in excellent shape, a well-built building in a great location,” said Phillips, the mall’s new owner.  He said he was looking to invest in the young municipality, believing it has a great future.

Music in the Park took place Saturday, Aug. 23 at Malakwa Centennial Park. This was a fundraiser for the Malakwa Community Centre Association and the community hall fund.

On Aug. 18, RCMP recovered the body of Darryl John Johnston, 50, of Calgary following an extensive search that began the day prior, when police responded to a report of a boating incident at Hungry Cove north of Sicamous.

A boating fatality at Hungry Cove has prompted Columbia Shuswap Regional District directors to issue a plea for the installation of a navigation beacon to improve safety.

Salmon Arm’s Cindy Derkaz announced her intention to seek the Liberal nomination in the federal Okanagan-Shuswap riding. The federal New Democratic Party selected its candidate for the riding – Jacqui Gingras of Falkland. In the Conservative camp, four people declared their wish to represent the party in this riding. Salmon Arm businessperson Mel Arnold, former Vernon Mayor Wayne Lippert, Vernon businessperson Scott Anderson and former Lumby councilor Janet Green are all vying for the Conservative candidacy.

 

September

The first day of school came and went Tuesday in School District #83, with the impasse between the provincial government and the teachers’ union delaying the start of the year to an unknown date in the future.   “It’s a very sad day,” is how Glenn Borthistle, superintendent of schools, described Sept. 2.

Council received notice from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities that the federal Transportation Safety Board had completed its yearlong investigation into the fatal Lac-Megantic derailment of an unattended freight train on July 6, 2013. Resulting explosions killed 47 people and destroyed 40 buildings. Coun. Fred busch said council should take heed of the incident, noting there are  “umpteen trains that come through here and we really don’t know what it is that they’re carrying.”

A report to council from staff contained a recommendation to remove the speed dips  on  the Eagle River Bridge, and place load restrictions. Couns. Charlotte Hutchinson and Suzanne Carpenter weren’t convinced the dips should be removed. Coun. Fred Busch expressed frustration over having to make a decision based on information that was handed to him just minutes before the meeting began.

On Sept. 6, Sicamous RCMP responded to a medical emergency on Shuswap lake near Seymour Arm. Upon arrival, RCMP officers were informed a 23-year-old man from Innisfail, Alta, had fallen from his houseboat into the lake and did not resurface. Nearby houseboaters who witnessed the incident began searching, and the missing man was located 10 minutes later but was no longer breathing.

Coun. Terry Rysz announced he would seek the mayor’s chair. Rysz says his experience as both deputy mayor and chair of the finance committee provided him with the important background needed to make a bid for mayor.

On Sept. 4, Sicamous RCMP responded to a domestic disturbance at a residence after receiving a report of threats being made towards the home’s owner by her son.

Education Minister Peter Fassbender rejected the B.C. Teachers Federation’s call Friday for binding arbitration to end the teachers strike.

Fassbender later said the province may take extraordinary steps to ensure senior secondary students’ school year is not cut short by the teacher’s strike. “Do you put it on the end of the year? Do you take it out of spring break? Do you take it out of Christmas holidays? My staff are looking at all of the options.” Fassbender said.

“Cautiously optimistic” was how the president of the North Okanagan-Shuswap Teachers’ Association described her reaction Tuesday morning to news of a tentative deal in the teachers strike. “It’s so hard for me to say more until I get more detail,” NOSTA president Brenda O’Dell told the News.

A temporary borrowing bylaw received third reading by council, authorizing the district to borrow up to $4.39 million for building the proposed $7.92 million water treatment facility.

Council supported a motion to restrict load limits on the Eagle River Bridge and defeated another to remove the dips. Council also agreed they had to begin planning for the bridge’s replacement.

The Sicamous Eagles began their season in the red following losses at home and away. Saturday night’s season-opener wound up being a come-from-behind victory for guests and rivals, the Revelstoke Grizzlies, who took the game with a 4-3 win. On Sunday, the Eagles were in Kamloops where they were shut out with an 8-0 win for Kamloops Storm.

Being a world champion was a new experience for Will Phillips, but one the gold-medal martial arts practitioner seemed to be taking in stride. Between Sept. 3 and 7, Phillips, from Sicamous, and 14 other members of the Provincial Martial Arts Association (PMA) Shuswap were at the Olympic Oval in Richmond, B.C., taking part in the first TAFISA (The Association for International Sport For All) World Martial Arts Games. There Phillip competed in three events in his division: kata, continuous sparring and point sparring. It was in the latter competition, a difficult match versus a competitor from the U.S., that Phillips earned gold.

What may seem a little thing can mean the world to a child living in poverty. Grace Krauss saw this firsthand during a mission in Costa Rica, where she and other Operation Christmas Child ambassadors distributed shoeboxes filled with gifts to children. Krauss said it was an amazing experience, especially seeing the kids’ faces as they opened their boxes and dug inside. Krauss was selected to take part in the trip by Samaritan’s Purse, the international relief organization that oversees Operation Christmas Child. The program annually collects and distributes shoeboxes to children worldwide.

The Shuswap’s Better at Home program expanded its outreach to better help seniors to remain independent. The program is intended to assist seniors “with simple day-to-day tasks so they can continue living at home.”  Jeanne Rokosh, general manager of Shuswap Better at Home, says her role is to help co-ordinate the delivery of non-medical services for seniors who would like to remain in their homes. These services include things like housekeeping, lawn work, the provision of transportation, minor home repairs, grocery shopping and friendly social visits.

After a rather rough couple of season starter games, the Junior B Eagles picked up three wins in a row, including a satisfying 4-3 rebound versus the Kamloops Storm. On Friday, Sept. 19, the Eagles were at the Revelstoke Forum for another round against the Grizzles. The end result was a 6-4 win over Revelstoke.  On Sept. 20, the Eagles were back on home ice where they earned a 6-5 win over the Grand Forks Border Bruins.

October

A made-in-the-Shuswap resolution for the B.C. government to take ownership of abandoned rail corridors received unanimous support at this year’s Union of BC Municipalities convention. During this annual gathering of local government representatives, held Sept. 22 to 26 in Whistler, Sicamous Coun. Terry Rysz presented the resolution the province “facilitate public acquisition and ownership of abandoned transportation corridors,” and that the B.C. government work with UBCM to develop a funding mechanism such as a province-wide parcel tax, to help governments or community groups purchase and maintain corridors for public recreational use.

Severe weather has taken a heavy toll on a number of the Shuswap’s premier trails. In the past year or so, the Gorge Creek Loop Trail in Craigellachie, the Upper Bear Creek Flume Trail in Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park and the Reinecker Creek Trail west of Margaret Falls in Herald Park all suffered at the hands of nature which, in some cases, caused substantial infrastructure damage that will cost thousands of dollars to repair.

The Okanagan Regional Library is considering cuts at 19 branches, including those in Sicamous and Salmon Arm, to achieve a better balance of service levels at its libraries. In total, ORL is looking to reduce 12.5 full-time positions at 19 of its 29 service locations.

Rhona Martin’s term as president of the Union of British Columbia Municipalities ended with this year’s convention in September.  Martin, who describes her time at the helm of UBCM as an amazing opportunity, will try for a 24th year as Area E Rural Sicamous director.

Pickleball is back in play, and runs Thursdays from 7 to 9 p.m. at Parkview Elementary.

The Sicamous Eagles learned that life on the road can be hard. On Friday, Sept. 26 the team was in Castlegar where they lost 7-4 to the Rebels.  On Saturday, the Eagles were south of the boarder to battle the Spokane Braves. Sicamous earned a 3-2 win. On Sunday the Eagles were in Nelson to take on the Leafs. Final score: 6-3 for the Leafs.

Despite poor registration numbers and numerous cancellations, Sicamous council is not giving up on summer recreation programming for the community.

Council received a summer program and events report from the district’s new program and events manager, Jillian Alexander. Alexander noted in the report that out of 29 possible program dates, only three had enough registrants to run.

A Salmon Arm businessman will carry the Conservative banner in the 2015 federal election. Mel Arnold was elected the party’s Okanagan-Shuswap candidate during two days of voting.

A new rural advisory council is the key commitment from the provincial government’s new report on rural development, Supporting Rural Development: Creating a Voice for Rural B.C. The rural advisory council will provide input to government policy decisions to best support thriving rural communities, while keeping in mind government’s need to control spending and ensure an overall balanced budget.

The pulse of the Shuswap is strong in many ways, but there is room for improvement in others. This is one of the findings contained in a Shuswap Community Foundation report. A total of 10 issues were considered in assessing the overall health and vitality in the report that included input received from a Vital Signs survey. Survey respondents asked for extended hours and further reach of transit service and a regional service to provide better access to education and employment opportunities.

The Sicamous Eagles had their work cut out for them when they faced off against two of the best in the KIJHL. On Friday, Oct. 3, the Eagles lost 5-4 to the league’s top team and guests, the Osoyoos Coyotes. On Saturday, Oct. 4, it was Eagles versus Storm in Kamloops. The Storm won 5-2.

Twelve people were officially in the running for council, while two were vying for mayor

In the mayoral race, incumbent Coun. Terry Rysz was up against former Sicamous mayor, Malcolm MacLeod.  Those campaigning to keep their seats on council were incumbents Fred Busch, Charlotte Hutchinson, Don Richardson and Joan Thomson. They were up against Colleen Anderson, Gord Bushell, Todd Kyllo, Malcolm Makayev, Jeff Mallmes, Lynn Miller, Donna Mounce and Janna Simons. Longtime incumbent Rhona Martin would face off with political newcomer Dan Letendre in Electoral Are E Rural Sicamous/Malakwa.

Iconic Canadian retailer Roots appeared to have taken a shine to Sicamous. A newly released product for the store was an item called the New Sicamous Coat, priced at $228 on the roots.com online store.

November

A standing-room only crowd of approximately 200 people packed the Sicamous Seniors Centres to listen to the candidates for the upcoming municipal election. The issue that the crowd was buzzing about was not necessarily items like improved water treatment or increased economic opportunities, although those were certainly discussed, but about the “team” approach being taken by five of the council candidates. The group has taken a political party-like strategy coming out with a “like-minded platform” to create change in the community.

The candidates, Todd Kyllo, Malcolm Makayev, Colleen Anderson, Jeff Mallmes and Gord Bushell, were vocal in their support for a business-like approach to council and stressed the need for voters to elect a team of representatives who could get things done.

Sicamous has many assets but improvements can be made, starting with attitude.

That was the overall finding of eight Healthy Community Forums.

District of Sicamous  Coun. Suzanne Carpenter said the goal of the forums, funded by a $5,000 grant from BC Healthy Communities Society, was to get a snapshot of what the community is doing well, how to sustain that and how to improve on making Sicamous a healthier community.

Sicamous’ Best Western continued to live up to its name, receiving the hotel chain’s highest honour.

At the Best Western International’s 2014 convention, held recently in Toronto, Best Western Sicamous Inn co-owners Loretta and Tim Corless were the recipients of the M.K. Guertin Award, as well as the Champion Customer Care Award.  The former honour is presented to Best Western properties that demonstrated “exceptional levels of service, quality, value and commitment to the brand.

Sicamous elected a new team to council.

Unofficial results showed Terry Rysz as the community’s new mayor with 545 votes, beating candidate Malcolm MacLeod by 200 votes. In the race for council, Gord Bushell received the most votes with 682. Next in line was Malcolm Makayev with 565, Todd Kyllo with 518, Jeff Mallmes with 492 and Colleen Anderson with 463. Rounding out the team was Janna Simons, who received 371 votes, a mere three votes over incumbent candidate Fred Busch. Busch requested a recount be done. That was completed and the result remained the same.

Malakwa’s Colin Martin was out on bail as he appeals an extradition order to the U.S. on charges linked to a cross-border drug smuggling operation.

On Nov. 27, the B.C. Court of Appeal determined Martin was not at substantial risk to re-offend or flee, and that his release was not contrary to public interest.

According to the Appeal Court registry, Martin was released on a $400,000 surety. Martin was recently sentenced to two years of jail time, minus 23 months for time in custody, after pleading guilty to charges of production of a controlled substance and possession for the purpose of trafficking.

Two Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Shuswap Station 106 crews were nominated for the Canadian Safe Boating Council Rescue of the Year award. The nomination is for the crews’ two-day rescue effort in response to a boating collision on Aug. 17 in Hungry Cove.

The Shuswap Trail Alliance sought the public’s assistance in the push for government support of the Shuswap-North Okanagan rail trail concept that could potentially link Sicamous to other communities along decommissioned rail lines extending to the U.S. border. This includes a connection to the famous Kettle Valley Rail Trails.

December

Two Calgarians died  when their Honda Civic crossed the centre line and into the path of a westbound semi truck near the Canoe Forest Products mill. The pair were 18 and 19 years old.

Brandon Schweitzer can say he’s accomplished what few others have – a physical feat his friends find both inspiring and a bit crazy.

On Nov. 15 and 16,  Schweitzer was one of just over 1,000 people in Las Vegas taking part in the year’s World’s Toughest Mudder – a five-mile obstacle course, run repeatedly over a 24-hour period.

He came in 255th place overall but, more importantly, he completed his 50-mile goal.

Eight art works painted by Eagle Valley Brush and Palette Club members were selected for an interior set in the film Go With Me, starring Sir Anthony Hopkins, Ray Liotta and Julia Stiles, which was being filmed in Enderby.

Council received a report from All-Span engineering stating there’s another five years of life to the Eagle River Bridge on Sicamous-Solsqua Road.

A ceremonial ground-breaking was held at the Dabell Street site of Sicamous’ future water treatment plant. Participating in the event were Okanagan-Shuswap MP Colin Mayes, Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo and Sicamous Mayor Terry Rysz – representing the three funding partners behind the $7.9 million project.

District council supported a bylaw amendment to extend the sewer connection deadline for properties on the east side of Sicamous Narrows.

The amendment, which received three readings by council, extends the sewer connection deadline from June 30, 2015 to Nov. 30, 2015.

Legal precedent may trump the district’s desire to have some control over local mine permit applications.

Shuswap residents saw an unusual trend develop at the gas pump. Over the past month or so, gas prices  had been falling steadily across the country. As of Dec. 17, the average cost per litre of regular in B.C. was $1.79 and in Canada $1.9 (in Alberta, gas can be purchased for as low as 82.9 cents). In Kamloops, gas could be had for as low as 96.9 cents, while in the Shuswap, the price was $1.09.9.

While this higher-than-average price may not have been a surprise to locals, a big difference was how it compares to neighbouring communities. In Vernon, Enderby and even Kelowna, regular was selling for $1.08.9.

Salmon Arm chamber president Jim Kimmerly noted another big difference was the time it was taking Shuswap dealers to drop their prices in comparison to dealers in neighbouring communities.

 

Eagle Valley News