Growth strategy report shows rural lifestyle is changing

Looking from Barnhartvale area north towards Area P. (Image: TNRD Growth Strategy Report, Kaisa Weins)

The rural population is declining, more rural residents are living closer to Kamloops, and farms are getting fewer but bigger.

Those are just a few of the findings in a new report on growth from the TNRD’s planning department. It’s an update of a previous study done a couple of years ago and it’s full of fascinating information about the state of the region.

The decline in rural population, and the concentration of population around urban centres, is concerning given the importance of our rural lifestyle. Sixty per cent of housing starts are now within what planning director Regina Sadilkova calls a “reasonable commute” from Kamloops.

The TNRD has a higher than average number of daily auto trips by those who live in the country but work in the city.

Two municipalities are experiencing significant growth. Between 2011 and 2016, Kamloops grew by 4,600 residents, or 5.4 per cent, and Sun Peaks continued to grow at a clip of more than 10 per cent.

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Pinantan Winterfest deemed a great success

Al Scramstad of the fire brigade conducts a draw during Winterfest.

PINANTAN – Last weekend’s Winterfest was a great success with an excellent turnout and lots going on.

Residents enjoyed milk bottle curling, snow golf, ice fishing, a snow sculpture competition and other events, plus chili, hot dogs and other treats. The fire brigade and first responders set up information tables.

Marg Seaby of the Pinantan East Paul Lake Community Association reports that $233.55 was raised for Christmas hampers.

Snow sculpture winners were Jennifer/Jim.William and Charlee Hoye (first), Nathan Chilibeck/Ashton and Chrystal Lockland, Warren Bobinski/ Shylla (second) and Iona Lockland and Shylla Bobinski (third).

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‘Does TNRD board have a short memory on wildfires?’

The headline on the story detailing the decision by the Thompson-Nicola Regional District to eliminate funding for volunteer fire brigades should have read “fire dumb.”

My husband and I are volunteer firefighters in the Paul Lake/Pinantan area and we spend hundreds of hours training and practising in the event of a fire.

The small amount of money invested in radios, pumps, hoses, etc., goes a long way to providing fire protection and will certainly help prevent forest fires that would literally cost millions to curtail. Or does the TNRD board have a short memory when it comes to last summer’s wildfires in B.C.?

If liability is the concern, does that mean we should stop our donations to the Canadian Cancer Society or the Heart and Stroke Foundation because we would be liable if someone dies?

At least TNRD Area P director Mel Rothenburger understands the value of the many volunteer firefighters and brigades throughout the region, but shame on those on the TNRD board who voted against this funding.

Paul Lake 

Cat evacuated from wildfire finally gets to go home

Dexter the cat after his rescue.

The cat came back the very next day
The cat came back, they thought he was a goner
But the cat came back; he just couldn’t stay away

— Lyrics, Fred Penner

Unlike the cat in children’s entertainer Fred Penner’s song, Dexter didn’t come back the very next day, due in large part to the fact he became lost hundreds of kilometers from home.

But after almost seven months on his own including some nasty winter weather, Dexter is heading back where he came from.

The grey tabby was evacuated from Williams Lake to Kamloops with his family last summer during the height of the wildfires.

He went on the lam during a visit to Pritchard and got left behind when the evacuation was over. He wasn’t seen or heard from until this week when he was spotted at the Pritchard eco depot.

Dexter’s story played out on the Pritchard community Facebook page when residents Mary Huntington and Gail Robinson posted his photo after the cat was found in a recycling dumpster at the eco depot.

Noting that he was friendly and wearing a brown and black striped collar, they sent out a call for help in locating the owners.

Along with at least one offer to adopt him came a reply from Violet Weaver that the cat belonged to her and her grandmother and had escaped in Pritchard.

“We never found him. I had no more hope. I gave up….” she posted.

So Dexter will soon be reunited with his family. Maybe his happy ending won’t be the last — his story prompted another post that two Clinton cats were also lost in Pritchard during the evacuation.

— Mel Rothenburger

Regional board cuts funding for non-TNRD fire departments

Fire truck formerly owned by Pinantan fire brigade. It was sold due to budget concerns. (Mel Rothenburger photo)

Life got harder for fire departments in the Thompson-Nicola Regional District on Thursday (Feb. 8, 2018) as the board of directors voted to cut off funding due to concerns about liability.

Effective immediately, community fire brigades will no longer be eligible to receive discretionary funding from electoral area directors, and fire departments currently funded through taxation must consent to fall under TNRD administration by 2022.

That means I’ll no longer be allowed to contribute to the Pinantan, Paul Lake and East Paul Lake brigades from the discretionary fund allotted to each electoral area director. This is a modest fund that can be used to help out community projects, and I’ve been able to direct some of it to the brigades for such things as pumps, radios, helmets and AEDs.

The McLure Fire Department is also directly affected. It currently operates on a tax-funded budget of about $40,000 a year. If it asks to become a TNRD-operated department, its costs are expected to go up substantially (the exact cost hasn’t been worked out yet); if it remains on its own, it will be left without the taxes collected within the service area by the TNRD effective the end of 2022.

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2018 board in place for Heffley Creek community association

Heffley Creek Community Hall.

From the Heffley Creek Holler:

The Annual General Meeting of the Heffley Creek Community Rec Association was held this past Saturday (Feb. 3, 2018) at the hall.

The 2017 board would like to thank the community members that stepped up and volunteered for the year – it takes a lot of commitment to serve on a volunteer board.

The new 2018 HCCRA ex- ecutive board is as fol- lows: President – Sharon Bergstrand, Vice Presi- dent – Glenn Stockford, Secretary/treasurer – Deb McDougall, Directors: Miles Carriere (kitchen director), Chris Bergstrand, Tammy Foote and Terry Makowichuk.

New projects for this year are to renovate the hollow stage into storage areas with a grant from the city, investigate an exhaust fan and stove griddle for the kitchen.

TNRD Area P Director Mel Rothenburger was in attendance and offered assistance for both the stage renovation and exhaust fan. Thanks Mel!

Work to resume soon on Heffley Creek bridge

Heffley Creek bridge site has been inactive for weeks but City says work should begin again soon. (Image: Mel Rothenburger)

HEFFLEY CREEK – Residents should expect to see activity resume this week at the Heffley Creek bridge construction site.

The City of Kamloops says in a press release that an Archaeological Overview Assessment identified the area’s historical potential for First Nations artifacts, which required the City to obtain a Section 14 provincial permit. The City expects to get the permit early this week, which will allow archaeological testing to begin immediately. Barring any significant findings, bridge construction is expected to resume mid-February.

“While the permit process did take a little longer than expected, our timeline is not significantly impacted,” said Greg Wightman, utility services manager at the City of Kamloops.

“Our goal has always been to reconnect the Heffley Creek community as soon as possible, and we still expect to complete this project by late spring.”

The bridge is a replacement for the creek culvert washed out in last spring’s flooding.

Public Works and Utilities Department staff are available to answer questions weekdays between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. at 250-828-3461. Project updates can also be found online at

‘The whole community bought in’ to new Sun Peaks Health Centre

Click on any image for slide show.

SUN PEAKS – The new Sun Peaks Health Centre is a popular place — 850 people are on a wait list hoping to become part of Dr. Shane Barclay’s family practice.

Mayor Al Raine told a crowd of 50 people at the official opening of the health centre Friday that there’s a misunderstanding that the facility is for Sun Peaks residents only.

That’s not the case, he said, noting the high number of people hoping to get Barclay as their GP. Four hundred and fifty have been accepted so far, and there’s room for 1250.

The health centre was built at a cost of more than $2 million. Sun Peaks resort municipality contributed $558,000, the TNRD $117,000 via Electoral Area P federal gas tax funds towards geothermal heating,  the Sun Peaks Health Association $600,000 and Sun Peaks Resort LLP $838,000. The provincial government gave $100,000 for equipment. There were also several major corporate donors.

But it wasn’t just the big donors that made it happen, said John Hatchett, former president of the Sun Peaks Health Association. He paid tribute to the many small donations by residents, and the years of fundraising and determination that got the job done.

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TNRD committees chosen for coming year

Heffley Creek Eco-Depot.

TNRD committees will have a busy year ahead of them. Board Chair John Ranta announced the makeup of committees for 2018 and I’m very pleased to say that all of my requests for committees were met, as there’s often a lot of competition for them.

At the beginning of each year, directors submit their preferences for which committees they’d like to serve on, and the chair makes decisions on the make-up of most of them, with some being chosen by directors in a vote.

Here are the committees on which I’ll sit for the coming year:

Economic Development and Recreation Services

Emergency Management and Protective Services

Regional Solid Waste Management

Utility Systems

Electoral Area Directors

Thompson Regional Hospital District

The Emergency Management and Protective Services, and Utility Systems committees are of particular importance to me due to the need to support rural fire departments, and the number of utility systems in Electoral Area P.

The Solid Waste Management Committee will continue to be busy with finalizing the new plan that will set a direction for the next 10 years for garbage disposal and recycling.

My return to the Economic Development and Recreation Services Committee is also welcome, as it now includes responsibility for the Film Commission, which I chaired several years ago.

All EA directors sit on the Electoral Area Directors Committee, and all board members are on the regional hospital district board.

The complete list of committees and directors that will sit on them is available from the 2018 Committee List on the website.

Public meeting to talk about draft garbage plan

The future of garbage will be the subject of a meeting next week co-hosted by the TNRD and the City of Kamloops.

The meeting, on Wednesday, Jan. 17 at 6 p.m. in the Valley First Lounge in the Sandman Centre, will discuss the Regional Solid Waste Management Draft Plan.

TNRD and City staff will be on hand to provide information and to field any questions about the draft plan, which will provide guidance for the handling of garbage and recycling for the next 10 years.

Issues such as closure of the Barnhartvale landfill are expected to come up.

The amount of waste that is landfilled would be reduced by 20 per cent under the draft plan. For more information about the plan, or to provide feedback, go to

In rural B.C., we know how to deal with winter

One-track rural road on a winter’s day. (File photo)


I was standing at the kitchen window Friday morning, enjoying my first jolt of caffeine, gazing out at the frozen river. It’s always frozen this time of year.

In the background, the TV news was going, with a reporter excitedly explaining that some river back east was, OMG, actually frozen over. That kind of thing just doesn’t happen thereabouts, obviously.

“Be safe!” cautioned the anchor back in the studio when the reporter finished talking.

Be safe? The reporter was wearing a thick winter coat and heavy mitts, and standing on the deck of a very sturdy looking ice breaker.

The media are abuzz with such stories these days from places having genuine winter weather this winter.

I’m convinced the only Canadians left with any Canadian fortitude live either in Newfoundland or in the B.C. Interior somewhere outside the city boundaries of Kamloops. Everybody else is in Florida for the winter, or boarding the plane.

There’s ample evidence. In Vancouver, snow is cause for “breaking news” special reports. In Vancouver, bear in mind, they refuse to buy winter tires for their cars. Their answer to snow is to stay home from work for the day.

Closer to where we live, I heard Coun. Donovan Cavers being quoted yesterday as lamenting the fact that Prince George has better snow removal than Kamloops.

Two things about this. One is that people forced to live in Prince George deserve to at least have good snow plows. The other is that it’s about time Kamloops felt inferior to somebody other than Kelowna.

Coun. Dieter Dudy put out a very good analysis on Thursday comparing snow removal in various cities, but it doesn’t seem to have convinced anybody in Kamloops that they should stop complaining.

Later yesterday morning I had to drive into the city to do some things. One always knows where the city boundaries are because suddenly the road becomes bare of any sign of winter. That’s the place where City trucks turn off the chemical concoction that melts the ice and snow down to the asphalt.

In the country, where the provincial government is too stingy to pay its road maintenance contractors to do anything more than give roads an occasional pass with a plow and lay down a bit of gravel here and there, we make do.

In the country, we wait ages for a snowplow to appear, much in the way our ancestors waited for the annual supply ship to come over the horizon. In the city, they want instant service. They complain about windrows left by the plows in front of driveways; in the country, we (well, some) simply push the snow out of our driveways right onto the road and hope nobody notices.

Everywhere in town, the only topic for the day was the weather. People complained that the trucks weren’t hauling the snow off Victoria Street fast enough, impeding a direct path to the coffee shops. In the country, we switch on four-wheel drive or strap on snow shoes and muscle through drifts taller than our houses.

Country people laugh in the face of the snow and the wind, and soldier on. It’s the rural way.

Not everybody in the east or in town is a winter wuss. One of the books I got for Christmas was Wayne Johnston’s newest novel, which I finished the other night. Johnston is a brilliant author who brings the culture and history of Newfoundland vividly alive. I could read Johnston or Joseph Boyden all day long, which I sometimes do.

Anyway, Johnston’s new book is called First Snow, Last Light, and begins with a 14-year-old returning home from school in St. John’s to find that his parents have disappeared without a trace, just as an early snow storm begins.

For the next 500 pages or so, as the story develops, there’s a snow storm about every other page. “The only colour was white, the only sound that of the wind,” the lead character recalls at one point, in a typical description of the weather of the moment.

“The snow stung my face like flecks of glass. I was suddenly cold as if I had been dropped into a bathtub filled with ice.”

In Newfoundland, and in rural B.C., they know about winter.

In Toronto, or Vancouver, or urban Kamloops…. not so much.

The above column was published on CFJC Today on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2017 and was intended as a friendly dig at our urban cousins.

McLure Hall undergoes major exterior renovation

Siding on one wall of McLure Hall is complete, with insulation going up on the others.

The McLure Fire and Recreation Hall is starting to look a lot better as work progresses on a major renovation to replace crumbling insulation and brittle old vinyl siding. Tyand Builders is the contractor.

When the hall was built many years ago, the base of the building was inadequately sealed, allowing mice to burrow up through the insulation and into the hall. A lot of mouse traps have seen action in recent years. Even without the mice, the insulation has deteriorated. As well, the hall has become prone to house-fly infestations due to improper insulation and sealing of the windows.

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