Merritt society plans $5.3-million theatre complex

Artist’s conception of proposed theatre complex in Merritt.

MERRITT — If all goes according to plan, Merritt will get itself a $5.3-million performing arts theatre without the need to go to a referendum.

Rick Hodson, director of the Nicola Valley Community Theatre Society, told the TNRD board Thursday (June 15, 2017) the proposed complex would include three 103-seat movie theatres and a 274-seat performing arts theatre.

The society has raised $267,000 so far in promises and cash, and is hoping for a $3.7-million grant from the Rural Dividend Fund based on special circumstances due to the closure of the Tolko sawmill and loss of 203 direct jobs.

He said if the Rural Dividend Fund comes through, the project is definitely a go. The group will also apply to the Federal Cultural Spaces program for about $633,000 with matching donations from the broader community.

Hodson said the downtown core of Merritt is stagnating and in need of revitalization, and there’s no traffic downtown after stores close.

The society already owns land worth $300,000 that’s suitable for a 14,000 sq. ft. building in the downtown core.

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TNRD’s bill for flood response could hit $400,000

Yates Creek was one of many flooding points in TNRD.

The spring flooding could cost $400,000 when all the bills are in, says TNRD chief administrative officer Sukh Gill.

He told a meeting of the Emergency Management and Protective Services Committee in an interim verbal report Wednesday (June 14, 2017) that costs include such things as sand and riprap, helicopter time and wages. It doesn’t include property damage incurred by residents.

Some wages will be eligible for reimbursement from the provincial government, he said.

Gill said the flooding was the largest and longest natural disaster in the TNRD since the wildfires of 2003. The regional district activated its Emergency Operations Centre on May 5, the day the flooding began after a heavy rainfall.

Twenty to 25 TNRD staffed the EOC throughout the flood period.

“It’s still not over,” he said of the process, though the EOC is now in monitoring mode.

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New cannabis laws will have big impact on local governments

Local governments need to prepare for the impacts of a major new industry as Canada moves toward changes in marijuana laws.

A presentation by Denise McCabe and Kaitlynn Cumming of Fulton & Company was one of the most interesting sessions I attended during the annual convention of the Southern Interior Local Government Association at Sun Peaks recently.

The purpose of Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, is to reduce organized crime, restrict youth consumption and allow for legalized recreational use of marijuana.

Whether or not it accomplishes all of those things, another result will be the creation of an industry conservatively estimated at $22.6 billion.

As the existing medical-marijuana industry expands into recreational marijuana, production will increase 10-fold.

This rapid expansion won’t be through Mom and Pop operations but largely via mega-farms. McCabe gave as one example plans for an indoor growing facility of close to 790,000 sq. ft. on 30 acres of property.

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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.

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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TNRD opens emergency operations centre in response to flooding

River levels are rising.

Flooding in areas within the regional district has resulted in various road closures, including major highway access.

The TNRD said today (May 5, 2017) Rodeo Drive in Cherry Creek was closed, and the TNRD was working with the Ministry of Transportation to investigate alternative access routes for the area.

The TNRD activated its emergency operations centre in the wake of the flooding to coordinate response. It advised residents to evacuate immediately if they’re in an area in which imminent danger is caused by flooding.

The provincial government urged caution and encouraged the public to prepare for localized flooding as water levels are expected to rise in the B.C. Central and Southern Interior regions of the province due to anticipated increased snowmelt, precipitation and higher than normal rain levels throughout recent weeks.

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B.C. government provides $20,000 to fight invasive plants

Hoary alyssum is one of the noxious weeds that creates problems in rural areas. (Mel Rothenburger photo)

The provincial government is providing $20,000 to the Thompson-Nicola Regional District to help manage invasive plants in the region, Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Terry Lake announced today (March 29, 2017) in a press release.

Thirty-one grants, totalling $1.8 million, are being distributed throughout the province in 2017 to local governments, regional invasive species committees, environmental organizations and the Invasive Species Council of British Columbia. The funding will assist with their ongoing activities and also support the objectives of the provincial Invasive Plant Program, the release said.

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Stop of Interest signs recognize First Nations culture and history of province

Unveiling of new Stop of Interest sign.

I was pleased to be present Monday (March 27,  2017) for the unveiling of the first of 75 new Stop of Interest signs.

The sign, located next to the Sts’Xum monument beside the Trans Canada near Pritchard, acknowledges the archaeological finds made during the four-laning of the highway.

Transportation Minister Todd Stone and representatives from the Sexqeltkemc te Secwepemc presided at the ceremony.

The Stop of Interest project has received some criticism for supposedly not properly considering First Nations culture and history but I can tell you that’s not true.

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TNRD director running for post on 100 Mile House school board

TNRD Electoral Area B Director Willow MacDonald, second from right.

UPDATE: Willow MacDonald was elected by a vote of 40 to 16 to the 100 Mile House school district on Saturday, March 25, 2017.

A TNRD board director is running for election as a trustee in the 100 Mile House school district today (Saturday, March 25, 2017). Willow MacDonald, who represents Area B in the TNRD, is running against 100 Mile resident Cameron Jensen.

MacDonald, whose TNRD area stretches from Clearwater to Albreda in the North Thompson, is now a 100 Mile House resident.

The successful candidate will serve out the remainder of the 2014-2018 term as trustee for Zone 3 in School District 27 due to the resignation of trustee Chris Pettman. Swearing in will take place April 25.

House-number signage program moving forward

Example of standard house-numbers sign. (CRD)

TNRD residents will have an opportunity to purchase economical, standardized and highly visible house-number signs when a new program gets going.

This is something I’ve been pushing for over the past several months at the suggestion of an Area P resident, as it’s a big safety issue when first responders go looking for addresses. Staff initially estimated that such signs would cost around $40 each, and that a program would need a $20,000 subsidy to be effective.

However, in checking with the Cariboo Regional District, I found that a successful program has been operating there in which signs are produced by several suppliers at a cost of only $21.50 to residents. CRD Area D director Steve Forseth helped me get the information on this program, and I ordered a sign myself to check out the size and quality, and they’re very good.

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Free disposal days coming up in April and May

Heffley Creek Eco-Depot.

Free Disposal Days are coming up soon in the TNRD.

Residents may bring one free load per household to their local eco-depot or transfer station on event day. A load is defined as a maximum of one eight-foot pickup truck box or one eight-foot trailer.

Residents can save money on materials normally charged disposal fees for such things as cooling appliances, tires on rims, mattresses, furniture, demolition/construction waste, wood waste, roofing shingles and household garbage.

The free load on Free Disposal Day applies to residential customers only. Regular disposal fees apply for all business/commercial loads.

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’47-cent fund’ will assist community infrastructure in electoral areas

A new reserve fund will benefit Area P and TNRD communities in developing projects within those communities.

What I call the 47-cent Fund is officially the Community Benefit Infrastructure Fund, and was approved today (Thursday, March 23, 2017) as part of the annual TNRD budget and five-year financial plan.

The fund sets aside funding within each electoral area for use on projects in those areas as approved by the board.

Tax requisition to establish the fund for 2017 will total $94,307 in Area P. Much of it is funded through new growth, leaving about $12,000 to be raised through taxation, which impacts an average residential property (valued at $298,495) by 47 cents.

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