McLure residents to vote on fire department in June 23 referendum

McLURE – Residents of McLure will vote June 23 on whether the McLure Fire Department should become a TNRD-operated service.

About 30 people attended an information meeting in the fire hall Thursday night (May 24, 2018) as a follow-up to a meeting April 4 at which there was strong support for holding a referendum on the issue.

Due to liability concerns and changes in provincial regulations, the TNRD decided earlier this year to cease collecting taxes for society-run fire departments at the end of 2022. The McLure fire board then applied to the TNRD to come under its wing.

At Thursday’s meeting, TNRD reps explained the background to the situation, financial implications for homeowners, and the referendum process.

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Report recommends financial support for rural fire services

(Image: Abbott-Chapman Report)

An independent review of flood and wildfire practices commissioned by the B.C. government holds some potentially good news for rural fire departments.

The report, called Addressing the New Normal: 21stCentury Disaster Management in British Columbia, summarizes the findings of co-chairs George Abbott and Chief Maureen Chapman.

Among its 108 recommendations are several relating to rural fire services.

One of the most important is recommendation 84, which states, “The Office of the Fire Commissioner, in conjunction with the BC Wildfire Service, be encouraged to develop a strategy that supports First Nations communities and rural and remote communities that lack capacity for fully resourced fire departments but seek emergency training and response capacity.”

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East Shuswap Rd. residents back home after brush fire

Residents of Country View Estates on East Shuswap Road were temporarily evacuated Friday night (May 18, 2018) after a brush fire broke out in the 3000 block.

The fire was reported about 9 p.m. BC Wildfire Crews quickly brought the fire under control and crews remained on scene overnight to monitor.

Due to the proximity of the fire to the Country View Estates mobile home park, residents were evacuated as a precaution until the fire was confirmed as being under control.  All residents have since returned.

The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.

City council takes no action on residents’ request for support on Lafarge

Lafarge officials talk to residents at meeting in April.

Kamloops City council took no action Tuesday (May 15, 2018) on a request to support changes to an application from Lafarge for new air emissions.

Doug Mears and Gina Morris appeared at the council meeting asking council to back an extension on public input on the application to Oct. 31, and that Lafarge be required to get a new permit instead of amending its current one.

They spoke on behalf of the Citizens for Compliance committee formed by residents living near Lafarge, as well as the Kamloops Area Preservation Association and the Kamloops Moms for Clean Air.

But Mayor Ken Christian pointed out the public-input deadline has already been extended to May 31 at council’s request, and suggested residents take their proposal directly to the Ministry of Environment.

He said the difference between a new permit and an amendment to the existing permit is “a technical decision” in which the City has no say.

Lafarge wants to produce gypsum and pumice flour at the plant.

Residents, who live in Electoral Area P although Lafarge is within City boundaries, are concerned about fugitive dust and other possible pollution and contend the current deadline won’t allow enough time to collect and analyze data.

They say a new permit would require a more rigorous process than an amendment.

Residents form lobby committee on Lafarge application

Neighbours of Lafarge Kamloops have formed a lobby group to push for higher standards in an air-emissions permit amendment sought by the company.

Members of the newly formed Citizens for Compliance (CFC) said today (Monday, May 7, 2018) in a media release they’re concerned about health effects from fine dust Lafarge hopes to grind from gypsum and pumice.

According to the media release, dust escape from the plant is conservatively estimated at 17 tonnes per year, with at least five to 10 per cent of that ‘fine particulate.’

They also have concerns about the gases Lafarge will use to “cook” the pumice, monitoring of emissions, enforcement of standards, and other issues.

Lafarge held a public-information session on the project April 5, and has since said it will establish a community liaison committee of its own.

“We want the Ministry of Environment to hold them to the highest possible standard, to protect our health, our possessions, and for some of us, our livelihoods as well,” said nearby resident and CFC member George Doonan.

“We’re trying to get our voices into the equation,” said Doonan.

“Part of the problem is that on either side of Lafarge we are TNRD, but Lafarge is in the city tax base. The city feels no responsibility for us, and the TNRD doesn’t want to be involved either. We’re stuck in the middle with nobody to speak for us.”

May 31 is the tentative cut-off date for public submissions to government on the proposal.

Local state of emergency in Electoral Area M

UPDATE: The TNRD will hold a public meeting for Stump Lake residents at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, May 4, 2018 at the church at Douglas Lake Road and Highway 5A. TNRD and provincial representatives will attend to answer questions about rising levels in Stump Lake.

A state of local emergency due to flooding was declared today (May 3, 2018) in Electoral Area M (Nicola Valley-North).

A state of local emergency allows local authorities to exercise emergency powers to order the evacuation of residents from their homes, prohibit travel and enter private property when an emergency threatens lives, properties or the environment within the Thompson-Nicola Regional District’s jurisdiction.

No evacuation alerts or orders have been put into effect so far in Electoral Area M, which includes Stump Lake, where residents have been asking that the water level be lowered.

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TNRD comes through again!

Tables will be stored under the stage at Heffley Creek hall. (Image: File photo)

Thanks to Deb McDougall for posting the following article in the Heffley Creek Holler’s April 25, 2018 edition under the headline ‘TNRD comes through again!’:

HEFFLEY CREEK — Has anyone at the hall event noticed the large, cumbersome and unsightly pile of tables blocking the community library?

Well, it won’t be there much longer, thanks to Mel Rothenburger and the TNRD.

After seeing other community halls storing their tables under the stage, I figured we should do that (and if anyone remembers, they actually USED to be stored under there and why it was stopped no one knows).

I asked the city for assistance with this small project and their answer was that because it wasn’t an important project to keep the hall open they wouldn’t fund it. Luckily, Mel Rothenburger of the TNRD was at the meeting and offered financial assistance.

The board decided to use the same contractor as the exit stairs (Josh Huber) and the project should be done the first week in May. Thank you again so much Mel! We get our library back!

Appreciation dinner honours volunteers who stepped up during wildfires

(Click on any image to view gallery)

National Volunteer Week provided the occasion for a special celebration Wednesday night (April 18, 2018) as more than 500 wildfire 2017 volunteers were honoured at an appreciation dinner.

The evening, presented by the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, recognized the outstanding efforts of those who stepped up during last summer’s wildfires that raged throughout the B.C. Interior. During the wildfires, the TNRD co-ordinated volunteer and emergency operations, and the City of Kamloops provided many of the facilities, including the evacuation reception centre in the Sandman Centre where the celebration was held.

As the guest volunteers arrived, they were greeted with cheers from TNRD directors and City councillors and staff waving “Thank You” signs.

The volunteers enjoyed a lavish buffet and swapped stories about surviving the summer from hell.

More than 1,200 volunteers in total worked long hours wherever they were needed during the fire season, which lasted several weeks.

TNRD Chair John Ranta and Kamloops Mayor Ken Christian co-hosted the event, which included entertainment by local musicians and dancers Brendan Methot, the Kamloops Swing Dance Group, Madison Olds, the Kamloops Performance Company, the Three Kings band, and Dave Coalmine and Evan Wilds.

Rotarians acted as servers for the dinner. Others assisting with the evening included the Canadian Red Cross, Monte Creek Ranch Winery, Lee’s Music, Nandi’s Flavours of Indian, Dorian Greek House Restaurant, Moon Wok Chinese Restaurant, Canada Safeway and Tim Hortons.

— Mel Rothenburger, Director, Electoral Area P, TNRD.

Liaison committee to meet on Lafarge app by May 31

Lafarge Kamloops will form a community liaison committee to work with residents on concerns about an application for a new air emissions permit, the company says.

In a notice to residents, the company says it’s looking for five neighbours to sit on the committee, and that it hopes to have the first meeting before May 31, the new deadline for public input to the Ministry of Environment.

The idea for a liaison committee was broached at an informational meeting April 5 at the South Thompson Inn that drew about 50 people. MOE environmental Protection officer Jason Lasiuk said at the time the deadline of April 30 was not hard and fast, and City council passed a motion last week asking for an extension, but the Lafarge letter is the first time the new date of May 31 has been mentioned as confirmed.

The company’s email includes a list of 21 questions raised at the April 5 information meeting, including the liaison committee request, accountability, and human health risk assessment.

The company wants an amendment to its existing air emissions permit to start up a new operation producing gypsum granules.

— Mel Rothenburger, Director, Electoral Area P, TNRD


Neighbours demand accountability if Lafarge permit is approved

Lafarge officials talk to residents at meeting Thursday night.

SOUTH THOMPSON — The Ministry of Environment will look closely at including accountability measures in an air emissions permit application being sought by Lafarge for its Kamloops plant.

About 50 people packed a room at the South Thompson Inn on Thursday night (April 5, 2018) to demand the company be a good neighbour when it starts up a new operation producing gypsum granules. Those living nearby demanded the meeting after word got around about the application.

While Lafarge still has a permit from when it was producing cement, it needs an amendment for its new operation. While the plant is within City of Kamloops boundaries, it is surrounded by Electoral Area P of the TNRD.

Those in attendance peppered Lafarge officials and a Ministry of Environment representative with concerns about possible health risks and air pollution, wanting to know what to expect. Many said Lafarge had not been a good corporate neighbour in the past when its cement plan was in operation.

“There is no trust,” said one resident. “You’ve got to play ball with us.”

Turning to environmental protection officer Jason Lasuik, she said to applause, “Don’t issue that permit without some parameters so that we’re protected.”

“We’re just scared of opening a door where the same thing happens again,” said another resident.

Consensus in the room seemed to be that monitoring of air emissions has been lax in the past, and more assurances need to be in place this time, including a robust monitoring system.

Lafarge offered to look at establishing a liaison committee to ensure residents are kept informed of developments at the plant and that they have a way to raise concerns.

Lasiuk said it might be possible to write such a process into the permit amendment. “We’ll look at it,” he said.

He said that while April 30 is the stated deadline for public submissions on the proposal, it’s “not hard and fast,” and could be extended if necessary. He expects a decision to be made in about three months.

— Mel Rothenburger

McLure residents support holding referendum on fire service

McLure fire hall has recently had new siding installed, plus a new sign, and it’s looking great.

McLURE — Fifty residents turned out to a public meeting last night to strongly support going to a referendum on a new funding and administration model for the community’s volunteer fire department.

In a non-binding straw vote, 49 said yes to conducting a formal public assent process, while one said no. A recommendation will now go to the TNRD board to approve a referendum that will ask if residents of the fire protection service area want the fire department to be administered by the TNRD and taxed for it based on assessment.

The process comes as a result of an application by the fire department executive after the TNRD voted not to collect taxes for non-TNRD fire departments as of 2023, due to liability concerns.

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Thanks to TNRD directors, staff and Area P folks for condolences

Edyn Cate Bella Rothenburger, April 24, 1979-March 7, 2018.

I would be remiss if I didn’t express my sincere thanks for all the condolences, kind words and offers of help to my family and me after the sudden death of my daughter Edyn on March 7.

The past few weeks have been very difficult but I’ve remained “on the job” for Area P, and much appreciate the support of TNRD board members and staff, and many residents of Electoral Area P.


Brigades team up to fight house fire at East Paul Lake

(Image: Barb Zimonick)

Volunteers from three rural fire brigades teamed up today (Monday, April 2, 2018) to control a house fire at East Paul Lake that could have gotten away and spread into the trees.

More than 20 volunteer firefighters from the East Paul Lake, Paul Lake and Pinantan brigades answered the call to the fire on Cowichan Drive about 3 p.m. and worked on it for close to three hours. Unfortunately, the Panabode home was destroyed but the flames were prevented from getting into standing trees nearby.

Photo shows how fire threatened to get into trees. (Image: Barb Zimonick)

Al Scramstad of the Pinantan brigade said a faller was called in to cut down two trees, and volunteers worked with hand tools to get at burning roots.

Scramstad, Ron Daciuk of the East Paul Lake brigade and Ed Lund of the Paul Lake brigade all credited the quick action of the volunteers with preventing a wildfire that could have burned up the slope and across Paul Lake Road.

“These guys, I’m so proud of them,” said Scramstad.

No injuries were reported.

Sincere sympathies to the owner of the home that was lost in the fire; congratulations to the brigades for stopping it from being worse than it was.

Daciuk said the East Paul Lake brigade also answered a call to Cold Creek Road on the weekend and got it under control before major damage was done.

— Mel Rothenburger, Director, Electoral Area P

TNRD to stay out of Lafarge issue; open house set April 5

Director, Electoral Area P, TNRD

The Thompson-Nicola Regional District board will stay out of a controversy over an application by Lafarge Canada to obtain a new air permit for the production of gypsum granules, at least for now.

Lafarge shut down its cement kiln in 2016 and now wants to produce a mixture of gypsum powder, water and a binder agent, but residents near the South Thompson plant and in Pinantan have expressed concerns.

Lee Morris and David Wieb of East Shuswap Road wrote to the TNRD board Thursday (March 29, 2018) opposing the application due to previous damage they say was done to homes and vehicles when the cement plant was in operation.

They sought clarification on the composition of air emissions from the new proposal, as well as on containment measures, timelines and accountability.

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