Pritchard, Chase join Canada’s 150th birthday party

Providing some remarks at opening ceremony during 2016 Canada Day in Chase.

Canada Day celebrations in rural areas might not have the huge crowds and the extent of festivities that they do in cities, but they’re just as heartfelt and as much fun.

I’ll be attending a couple of them as the representative for Electoral Area P as we celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday. Events in Chase get underway with a parade at 12 noon from Safety Mart Foods. Activities at the park start at 1, with opening remarks by dignitaries at 2.

There are concessions, a beer garden, entertainment and, at 10 p.m., fireworks.

Pritchard residents have organized a Canada Day picnic at the Pritchard beach between 2 and 6 p.m., with picnic games throughout the afternoon, and cake at 5.

Residents are asked to bring food, refreshments, and chairs.

Porta potty courtesy of Electoral Area L Director Ken Gillis and myself, via our respective TNRD budgets. The porta potty will remain on site for the summer.

Local wineries collect medals at national championship

Winners.

Winemakers in Area P are feeling pretty good these days after the 37th annual All Canadian Wine Championships in Ontario.

Monte Creek Ranch Winery and Harper’s Trail Estate Winery accumulated an astounding eight medals in a competition that included 1,401 wines from across the country. Monte Creek Ranch Winery’s tasting room and sales centre are located in Area L but it also has vineyards across the South Thompson River in Area P.

Privato Vineyard on Westsyde Road in Kamloops also won a medal.

Twenty wine judges from six provinces judged entries over three days to determine the top wines in several categories sorted by grape variety and price. Wines were scored on a 100-point scale and awarded medals accordingly. The All Canadian Wine Championships is the oldest national wine competition.

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Work continues on test well at Black Pines

Photo taken during drilling of Black Pines well. (TNRD photo)

BLACK PINES — Work continues towards bringing a new proposal to Black Pines water users on resolving the water-source question.

After issues arose with the proposed location of a new intake on the North Thompson River, the TNRD turned to ground water as a potential source. A well drilled near the transfer station off Westsyde Road showed promising results.

As a result, the TNRD board approved allocating an additional $100,000 from the Electoral Area P gas tax account to assist with well development and pre-design costs for the Black Pines Community Water System.

The regional district received approval for $896,666 from the Building Canada Fund in 2015 to construct a new intake. The federal and provincial governments provide a third each for BCF infrastructure grants, with the remaining third contributed by local residents who receive the service.

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No problems with Heffley dam during spring flooding

Heffley Lake dam at spillway. (Image: Mel Rothenburger file photo)

HEFFLEY LAKE — There were no problems with the Heffley Lake dam during spring high water, says Darren Bennett, senior regional dam safety officer with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

Bennett provided an overview of dam safety monitoring to the TNRD’s Emergency Management and Protective Services Committee this week.

He said their are 450 private regulated dams in B.C. and the owners of dams are responsible for their safe operation. The Heffley dam is operated by the Heffley Irrigation District.

“We do depend on the public for their observations,” Bennett said.

His job is to enforce regulations and make sure dam safety reviews are carried out on schedule.

I asked him specifically about the Heffley Lake dam and he replied that while there was some increase to seepage, water from the lake didn’t over-run the top of the spillway and there were no concerns.

“All dams leak,” he commented, because none is water tight. The issue is the degree of seepage.

Bennett said a safety review of the Heffley dam scheduled for this year will be done as planned. Owners of dams now pay for the costs of periodic safety reviews, which are done by independent engineers.

Board supports UBCM resolution on water funding

RIVERSHORE — A resolution will be going from the TNRD to the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in September supporting access to gas-tax funding for not-for-profit strata councils and not-for-profit private utilities.

After considerable debate, the TNRD approved my motion on the issue by a vote of 14-10 at a board meeting Thursday, June 15, 2017.

For the past two years, I’ve been working with the Rivershore Estates strata council to get clarity on whether stratas qualify for access to federal gas-tax funds. Rivershore’s water system needs upgrades and the strata council asked for support in obtaining federal funding.

Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo MP Cathy McLeod has also been assisting. The question of whether strata developments qualify is  a new one for the UBCM, which administers the gas-tax program for the federal government in B.C. The UBCM initially indicated Rivershore wouldn’t be eligible because it’s considered private, and there’s a requirement that projects be for public use and benefit.

My view is that stratas obviously differ in structure from TNRD-operated utilities but that their water systems serve a similar purpose in that they provide an essential service to the members of a community and are of public benefit in the same way as regional-district utilities.

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Progress being made on projects in Pritchard north

Tenure area of unofficial park is shown in red.

PRITCHARD — With summer oh-so-slowly getting here (let’s keep our hopes up, at least) the park at the north end of the Pritchard bridge will be getting busier.

TNRD staff are in the process of applying for tenure on a small piece of the property beside the bridge to accommodate the porta potty and bear-proof garbage can on a long-term basis.

Area L director Ken Gillis and I (Area P) will once again split the costs between our two budgets for the year, and Bill Anderson and other volunteers will continue handling garbage removal. Thanks again to residents who look after this beautiful spot.

I’ve also been working with the Pritchard Community Association on getting some barriers on a couple of MOTI laneways in the development to allow pedestrian use but to limit quads, as well as continuing to work towards a better pedestrian pathway along River Road.

Solution for stopping a “leak” in front of the sewage ponds and River Road continues to be elusive but TNRD utilities manager Arden Bolton assures me there is no health issue.

At the last TNRD board meeting, some zoning bylaw amendments were brought forward that are of interest. One, of course, is rural livestock limits. A section is to be added limiting the number of livestock that can be kept on non-ALR parcels of a hectare or less.

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Thompson Rivers put on flood watch as levels rise

Debris in North Thompson River.

The North and South Thompson Rivers and the Thompson River through Kamloops and downstream are now on flood watch. The B.C. River Forecast Centre today (June 1, 2017) upgraded its earlier high streamflow advisory on the rivers, meaning levels will approach or may exceed “bankfull.”

The term “bankfull” means water could overflow the tops of banks onto flood plains.

The Thompson-Nicola Regional District today urged residents in low-lying areas to be on the alert for high water flows and to keep children and livestock away from unstable banks, which are prone to sudden collapse.

They should also watch for debris flows that could damage pump intakes, culverts and bridges.

The City of Kamloops has closed boat launches at Pioneer Park, McArthur Island, and Thompson Drive due to the high water levels. Boating on local rivers is not recommended due to the debris.

Anyone on the water is asked to use extreme caution and travel at idling speeds to prevent bank erosion. As river levels continue to rise, boat passage under the South Thompson railway bridge may not be possible.

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High streamflow expected on Thompson Rivers

North Thompson River is rising rapidly.

The B.C. River Forecast Centre has issued a high streamflow advisory for the North and South Thompson Rivers and all its tributaries.

A high streamflow advisory means river levels are rising or expected to rise rapidly but that no major flooding is expected. Minor flooding in low-lying areas is possible.

The TNRD is urging residents in low-lying areas to be on the alert for high water flows and to keep children and livestock away from unstable river banks, which are prone to sudden collapse. They should watch for debris flows that could damage pump intakes, culverts and bridges.

The River Forecast Centre also says Kamloops Lake may experience levels similar to when it flooded in 2012. Residents next to the lake should expect some shoreline flooding, and are advised to move equipment and other assets to higher ground where possible.

The TNRD is making sand and sandbags available for residents of Savona at the Savona Lakeshore Park in anticipation of rising lake levels.

Anyone noticing flooding in their area, or needing sand bags for protection of private property, can contact the Emergency Management B.C. 24-hour Emergency Co-ordination Centre at 1-800-663-3456, or go to http://www.gov.bc.ca/preparedbc for more information about flood preparedness.

Flooding brings extra work for mosquito crews

Mosquito control is a science.

Spring flooding has caused enough problems, but here’s another one — mosquitos.

“Due to the amount of water that has been seen from rain and snowmelt, there is significantly more standing water than usual, which means more mosquito habitat,” said Cheryl Phippen of BWP Consulting Inc., the TNRD’s mosquito control contractor.

“Now that we are expecting warmer temperatures, adult mosquitoes will start to emerge. Crews will continue to work diligently to search for larvae and to treat as much habitat as possible.”

Area P is prominently among the areas needing attention. Extensive larval development sites in Pinantan, Paul Lake, Vinsulla and McLure have been treated, as well as Logan Lake, Knutsford, Blackpool ,Clearwater and throughout the city of Kamloops. (I can tell you that when the sun starts to sink in the evenings, the mozzies in Black Pines are second to none.)

Last week, in response to a small peak of the North Thompson River, helicopter treatment was conducted to treat mosquito larvae in flooded habitats between Darfield and Kamloops.

Both the North and South Thompson rivers are rapidly rising and the mid and high elevation snowpack has yet to melt. Significant flooding and the creation of considerable mosquito habitat from Vavenby to Kamloops along the North Thompson River, and from Chase to Kamloops along the South Thompson, is expected.

Crews that began field operations in mid-April will continue to monitor larval development in the 320 known development habitats, and will treat mosquito larvae when they’re present.

For more information about the Mosquito Control Program or to report potential mosquito habitat visit tnrd.ca or call the TNRD Mosquito Advisory Line at 250-372-5700.

Boaters asked to observe voluntary speed limit on Heffley Lake

HEFFLEY LAKE – High water is a concern to residents right now and with the long weekend upon us it’s doubly worrisome.

Long weekends mean more activity on the lake, including power boats and wakeboard boats, which cause potential damage to property when water is high. The Heffley Lake Community Association asked if there was a way to encourage boaters to take it easy so, after consulting with TNRD staff, I arranged for signage to be provided.

The signs warn boaters of the risk to wildlife as well as to property and ask for their cooperation in slowing down and following a “no-tow” rule until the lake level goes down.

Area P residents cope with impact of flooding

Electoral Area P has escaped the worst of the flooding, but that’s not to say it hasn’t caused major problems for residents in the area.

I’ve been getting around to as many of the affected locations as possible. Much of the damage is to roads, and a lot of repairs need to be done.

Homes haven’t entirely escaped, however. A home at Pinantan Lake had to be sandbagged last week, and residents all around the lake were watching nervously as the lake level rose.

At Little Heffley Lake, a house was flooded when Yates Creek breached its banks after the Thursday night rain and rampaged down toward the lake until it was temporarily diverted to another path. The house sustained serious flooding in the basement, and soaked drywall had to be removed. Neighbours pitched in to do substantial sandbagging around the house to prevent further flooding.

All up and down Heffley-Louis Creek Road there are spots that have been undermined or over-run by runoff.

The TNRD continues to help those in need with the EOC and to provide information through resiliency centres. EOC staff have been keeping all electoral area directors up to speed on developments.

Crews going full tilt to catch up to flood damage

A look at the Heffley area today (May 8, 2017) confirms significant flood damage as reported on the weekend but the water has at least slowed down. Drivers were being cautious and heeding the markers and signs erected at washout areas.

Elsewhere in the TNRD, a state of local emergency was declared at 9 p.m. tonight (May 8, 2017) for the Nicola Valley north electoral area.

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Heffley community group makes strong case for cell service

We tend to take cellphone service for granted, until we haven’t got it.

Most of the area between Heffley Creek and Sun Peaks is a dead zone, and the Heffley Lake Community Association has been trying for the past several years to talk Telus into providing cell service.

I’ve talked with Telus a number of times about this, and I understand their reluctance — the company has to go wherever it can make a profit, and it’s hard to make a profit by providing mobile phone service to less populated areas.

Because of this, Telus focuses its business plan on highway corridors. But the community association makes an excellent case.

For one thing, there’s a clear need. It could be argued that cell service is even more important to rural areas than it is to urban centres. When there’s an emergency — such as an auto accident or farm accident — in a rural area, cell service is often a life saver.

The road up to Sun Peaks is a high-traffic, high-volume road, and RCMP have joined the call for cell service. RCMP received 242 calls there in 2016, including several with injuries and at least one fatal.

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Shaw Cable does four-part series on Heffley Creek Community Hall

Shaw Cable has done a great series on the Heffley Creek Community Hall as part of its Where You Live program. Here’s Part 1, in which host Sam Numsen visits Heffley Creek to chat with folks there about how the historic hall keeps the community together.

For background, he interviews Deb McDougall, the number one volunteer with the community hall association who does so much hard work to keep the hall vibrant.