Disposal of biosolids topic for all-day TNRD session

Jar of biosolids. (Image: Mel Rothenburger File photo)

The TNRD board will immerse itself in biosolids — the subject, not the stuff — at an all-day workshop Friday, July 20.

The board will hear from experts on alternative methods of handling biosolids other than applying them to land. Biosolids are the material left over after sewage treatment, and are commonly used for agricultural purposes.

Topics at the session, for which the board approved up to $25,000 to cover costs, will include various technologies, especially thermal disposal.

The use of biosolids on agricultural lands has become particularly controversial in the Nicola Valley and Kamloops.

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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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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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Contaminated recyclables a growing issue for TNRD

The TNRD is asking residents to be more vigilant about disposing of recyclable materials.

This comes after the TNRD’s recycling processor, Emterra Environmental, informed the regional district last week that it would no longer accept mixed recycling, citing high contamination levels.

Due to international pressures such as China’s new “National Sword” policy, there’s no longer a market for mixed recycling with any level of contamination, meaning Emterra can’t sell it.

“The biggest source of contamination is from the municipal recycling depots and curbside-collected recycling,” said Jamie Vieira, the TNRD’s manager of environmental services.

“This is to be expected as there is no one monitoring what goes in the bin. It is up to individual residents if we are to avoid sending mixed recycling to landfill.”

The TNRD is asking residents to ensure they carefully follow the accepted materials guidelines for mixed recycling to avoid contamination.

Forms of contamination include food residues on otherwise acceptable items, household garbage being put in mixed recycling bins, and items that are recyclable but aren’t part of the mixed recycling program.

 

Latest renovation work starts on downtown library April 30

The second phase of renovations to the downtown Kamloops Library will get underway next week.

The library will remain open but the public will have to access the Civic Building via a walkway from Victoria Street beside the parkade ramp.

The current entrance will be closed off beginning April 30 as construction gets underway. When it’s done, there will be a new entrance and more interior space in what is now the courtyard.

The new entrance will face Victoria Street and a large foyer will be available for hosting events.

Construction will take about four months.

Board to workshop issue of eliminating land application of biosolids

Anti-biosolid rally outside UBCM convention in Vancouver in 2015. (Image: Mel Rothenburger)

By MEL ROTHENBURGER
Director, Electoral Area P, TNRD

Biosolids, and ways to stop them from being put on the ground, will be under the microscope of Thompson-Nicola Regional District directors.

The board will organize a workshop to that end after debating the issue at length during Thursday’s (April 19, 2018) regular meeting.

Directors Randy Murray (Area M – Nicola Valley North) and Ken Gills (Area L – Grasslands) presented a motion proposing this:

“That the TNRD hold a TNRD Board workshop(s) focused on:
“the elimination of the land application of bio solids within the TNRD, and
“the review and implementation of alternative disposal/ storage methods for the region (gasification and/ or sequester) with the intent to end the land application of biosolids within the TNRD by delegated provincial authority.”

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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.

Rising costs put the squeeze on regional hospital projects

(Image: Mel Rothenburger)

By MEL ROTHENBURGER
Director, Thompson Nicola Regional Hospital District

New hospital equipment and renovation projects are testing the limits of funding from the Thompson-Nicola Regional Hospital District, says CAO Sukh Gill.

The regional hospital board approved another $6,945,700 as its 40-per cent share of the latest Interior Health wish list on Thursday (March 29, 2018) but Gill said tax hikes might be needed if the trend continues.

The list totals close to $24.5 million, meaning local taxpayers will ante up $9,493,700 of that amount. The TRHD board previously approved $2,424,000. The remaining amount is included in the 2018 budget but is “much higher” than in the past, Gill said.

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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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Public input invited on five-year financial plan

The TNRD is seeking feedback from residents about its five-year financial plan.

A public open house will take place at the TNRD Civic Building on Thursday, March 8, 2018 from 10 a.m. to noon. Director of Finance Doug Rae will be on hand to answer any questions and to provide information.

The online citizen-engagement platform PlaceSpeak will also be available to provide input. To participate in PlaceSpeak, create a PlaceSpeak account. The residential address of the user is never displayed to others or the administrator of the consultation. Your address is used only to ensure that you live in the TNRD.

TNRD staff begin developing budgets for each service for the coming year in September, taking into account strategic plans and priorities previously set and direction previously given by the board of directors.

The result is a final recommended five-year financial plan that will be presented to the board for adoption this month.

For more  information about the plan, or to provide feedback through the Financial Plan Input Form, go to tnrd.ca.

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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Wildfire recovery report shows $30-million economic loss

Elephant Hill fire as seen from Ashcroft.

Last year’s wildfires caused a $30-million economic loss, says a report on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District’s recovery efforts.

Myles Bruns told the TNRD board Thursday (Feb. 8, 2018) that most of the business losses were caused by interruptions to business operations. Sixteen percent of them were directly due to fires, and 8.5 per cent had business interruption insurance.

Bruns said about $21 million in sales was lost, and $1 million in wages.

Among suggestions for helping in the economic recovery were cutting red tape, creating a business continuity plan, and increased tourism marketing.

While some of the proposals are outside the TNRD’s jurisdiction, Bruns said the regional district has a role to play in advocating for them with other levels of government.

“The TNRD has done a phenomenal job” in responding to the aftermath of the wildfires, Bruns said.