Clearwater Times Year in Review: Part two

A sign on the door at the Red Cross HELP depot’s 85 Clearwater Station Rd. location said as of June 24, 2019, PG Surg-Med will be providing services in Clearwater for Interior Health Authority referrals. Photo by Jaime Polmateer
After five years Clearwater’s new affordable housing project was ready for occupants and executive director for Yellowhead Community Services, Jack Keough, said nearly all the units in the building were spoken for before the project’s completion. Photo by Jaime Polmateer
Roughly 40 people attended the residence of Duane and Angie Smith near Barrier throughout the day on Sept. 16, 2019. Those who showed up did so to help stand against an eviction notice they were served by the Thompson Nicola Regional District (TNRD) for living in an R.V. on their own property. Photo by Jaime Polmateer
Jim’s Food Market reached 100 years of operation last year. Friends and family held a celebration at the store’s Little Fort location on Oct. 12 to acknowledge the occasion. Back row (l-r): Sarah Noble, Kym Jim, Jenny Jim, Brad Rymer, Kee Jim. Middle Row: Kyn Jim, Chris Jim, Cassidy Kurtenacker, Camille Jim, Pam Jim, Kam Jim. Front Row: Mateo Jim, Graham Jim, Kim Cartwright, Marie Jim. Photo submitted
The Evergreen Acres Seniors Housing Society (EASHS) held the sod turning for its expansion project on Nov. 15. Pictured (l-r): Pearl McAloney, chair of EASHS, Selina Robinson, Minister for Municipal Affairs and Housing, Ken Kjenstad, chair of the Wells Gray Community Forest, Mayor Merlin Blackwell, and former mayor of Clearwater, John Harwood. Photo by Jaime Polmateer
Members of Clearwater and District Road Rescue, as well as Mayor Merlin Blackwell, stand with Wells Gray Community Forest representative, Ken Kjenstad, as he makes a cheque donation of $26,000 toward road rescue’s updated jaws of life units on Dec. 17. Photo by Jaime Polmateer


Students from a local music class offered by Sona Music and Audio gave their first ever recital to the public, showing off the skills they’ve been picking up since starting lessons taught by teacher Brenden Benoit.

The musicians, ranging in age from 10-years-old to adult, played guitar and piano in the styles of contemporary, pop, and classical music.

“It was really awesome to be able to provide that for folks in town,” said Benoit.

Clearwater’s Health Equipment Loan Program (HELP) depot had been closed, forcing clients of the service to travel to Kamloops or 100 Mile House for the closest alternate location.

“I have no idea (what this will mean) for people who don’t have anyone to help them to get this kind of equipment before surgery or don’t have the funds to drive to Kamloops,” said Barb Hall, former volunteer team lead at the Clearwater location.

“It’s really sad. I feel really bad about it.”

The District of Clearwater (DOC) was putting out a call to residents to take part in a letter-writing campaign to make the provincial government aware of the hardships residents were facing after the Canfor mill closure in Vavenby, as well as the potential hardships that would arise if Interfor gets cutting rights to Canfor’s forest tenure in the area.

Mayor Merlin Blackwell had a talk with the deputy Minister of Forests Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development where he strongly suggested the need for a direct line so the public could comment on the situation, with the government saying it’d likely open a web portal so residents could voice their opinions.

“What we’re trying to do now is make it a little fairer because I think it’s actually tilted into not being fair at this point for North Thompson Valley residents,” said Blackwell, noting Interfor had already gathered letters from the councils of Chase and Salmon Arm supporting the $60 million deal for Canfor’s local forest tenure.

“I’m hoping the citizens of the North Thompson Valley and those affected by this will start sending in their sincere thoughts and a lot of that is how this affects them directly or indirectly because it reaches into so many things.”


A teamster whose horse died after a situation involving a driver’s impatience wanted to send a message to the motoring public to slow down and show courtesy to others on the road.

Brad Cameron was taking his son and daughter for a morning ride on his team of two horses, Max and Duke, on July 27 when a pickup truck decided to pass on the narrow gravel road, spooking the horses and resulting in Max dying of a heart attack.

“We were headed down the road and I could hear a vehicle coming up behind us and he’s slowed to our speed, which is probably about six km an hour,” said Cameron, adding at this point he was looking for a safe place to pull over and let the truck pass.

“My daughter said this pickup truck was right close to us, a few feet away, and he was going over to the right to find a way to get around us, then back to the left, and so on.”

The family was driving on Westsyde Road in McLure, which Cameron noted doesn’t get much traffic even on a busy day, and when the truck slowly began to pass within inches of their wagon, a dog riding in the box of the truck began barking at the horses, adding to the stress of the situation.

Though Cameron and his family were heartbroken over the loss of Max, who they said had another 15 years of good life left in him, it’s the impatience and lack of road etiquette they want to draw the public’s attention to.

Clearwater’s new affordable housing project was ready for occupation and Yellowhead Community Service’s (YCS) executive director, Jack Keough, said nearly all the building’s units had already been spoken for.

“Basically we’ve already finished the substantial completion, that occurred in late July. We’ve been interviewing people for the past couple months and the building is pretty much full,” he said.

“We’re pleased we’re going to be starting off with pretty much full occupancy.”

Keough added the finished building came as a relief after roughly five years from concept to completion, involving hard work from a fair number of people along the way.

The construction itself took 16 months, following a year and a half design phase, all of which came after proposals for funding and getting support from Wells Gray Community Forest and the municipality.


Members of the formally named Thompson Nicola R.V. Rights group held a public meeting at the Clearwater Elks Hall on Sept. 11, leading to the proposal of a formal committee to prioritize objectives and come up with a clear statement of purpose.

Tom Coles, spokesperson for the group, said interest in the idea was almost unanimous among attendees of the meeting.

“What we are right now is essentially just a Facebook group. It was a handful of concerned citizens and we decided to do something about this situation; the way we kicked that off was forming this Facebook group to gauge interest in the community and rally some people together,” he said.

“We tossed the idea around of a B.C. Rural Rights Association because honestly, this issue with R.V.s is not the problem, it’s the symptom of the problem a lot of people are having in that regional governments aren’t really taking the needs of people into consideration when passing these bylaws.”

One of the people in attendance, Angie Smith, had been living in an R.V. outside Barriere with her partner and said she’d had two infraction notices and was threatened to be evicted the upcoming weekend after the TNRD paid her visit, originally because of a problem with the livestock on the property they were on.

Roughly 40 people from the group would later attend the Smith residence on Sept. 16 to help stand against the eviction notice.


The remains of two men had been identified, decades after their small plane crashed in central B.C.

A DNA analysis confirmed the remains found in a white Piper Super Cub floatplane last fall are those of Ernie Whitehead, 78, and Len Dykhuizen, 55, of Eagle Bay, just north of Salmon Arm.

The pair had left Eagle Bay on June 20, 1987, bound for McDougall Lake in a remote and rugged part of Wells Gray Provincial Park.

“RCMP are pleased that we have now been able to provide their family with answers to some long standing questions. This discovery ends over three decades of uncertainty,” said RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey.

Organizers with the Clearwater Sponsorship Program were welcoming a third family of refugees from Syria.

Sandra Holmes, who helped form the group, said the family was scheduled to arrive on Oct. 24 from Lebanon and donations were being accepted as part of fundraising to help them settle in once they landed.

“When the call went out in 2014 to help alleviate the Syrian crisis by sponsoring a refugee family Clearwater responded by forming a group and with the support of Refugees and Friends Together (RAFT), an organization affiliated with the Kamloops United Church, we were successful in bringing a family of five to settle in the area,” said Holmes.

Jim’s Food Market marked a 100-year milestone, with friends and family gathering at the Little Fort location to celebrate the occasion.

“It’s pretty amazing,” said Kym Jim, grandson of the store’s founder, Kam Kee Jim.

“We’ve been thinking about this for a long time and actually got something together and organized a party for this. It’s something you count down the years when you see 1919 on a sign and finally, we’re there — 2019.”

According to articles in the Times archives, Kam Kee Jim’s father, Jim Young Fat, emigrated from China to California in 1868 and first worked as a labourer helping the construction of the California Pacific Railway.

In 1910, Kam Kee Jim moved to Burnaby, and Jim Young Fat joined him and set up a sawmill business.

The two then moved to Lillooet in 1911 and built their first general store on the main street before moving to Little Fort in 1918 and buying a hotel that burned down one year later. In its place, The Jim Man Lee Store was built with a 10-acre garden and a dairy to help supply the store.

Tiny House Warriors members Amanda Soper, who also goes by alias Kanahus Manuel, and Isha Jules were released on conditions following a hearing in Kamloops.

The pair was charged with mischief and intimidation after being arrested for telling a road maintenance crew they had no Secwepemc consent to work on Highway 5 near Moonbeam Creek, about 60 km north of Blue River, B.C.


Wadlegger Logging and Construction Ltd bought Clusko Logging’s hard assets and harvesting rights in the Clearwater area.

Hans Wadlegger, co-owner of the company, said the purchase had to do with the closing of Canfor’s Vavenby mill and the possible transfer of tenure from Canfor to Interfor.

“In this environment, there’s going to be fewer trees being cut in this valley and Clusko is looking at some other opportunities, so we’ve made an agreement with them to buy their hard assets here in Clearwater,” he said.

“We bought their shop, the land, and the camp, but what we were most interested in was their quota.”

The Clearwater and District Hospice Society (CDHS) held the ribbon cutting for its hospice room in the Dr. Helmcken Memorial Hospital.

The room, which officially opened on Nov. 4, came after years of planning and fundraising and will give hospice clients a comfortable and private place to stay while in the hospital.

“The room was a long time coming and Clearwater hospice members are proud to say Interior Health and hospice have finally come together to make this happen,” said Eileen Sedgwick, president of CDHS.

“Each time the room is used we’ll be seeking input into anything that will help those using it.”

The Evergreen Acres Senior Housing Society (EASHS) held the sod turning for its expansion project, with representatives from EASHS, local dignitaries and Selina Robinson, Minister for Municipal Affairs and Housing, all picking up shovels for the occasion.

Despite cold rain, a large crowd showed up for the Nov. 15 event, which began with a blessing of the land from Mona Jules and Margaret Joseph of Simpcw First Nation.

Upon completion, the expanded facility will offer 20 new rental homes for seniors in need of housing that will be close to public transit, the nearby medical clinic, and the shopping centre.

Robinson touched on the importance of seniors being able to afford to stay in their home communities.

“We all need to do our part to make sure people can find a home that meets their needs, and that they can afford, in the community where they have connections, relationships and where they’ve had a life,” she said.

“With these new homes, seniors in Clearwater will have the opportunity that everyone deserves — to stay in their community, close to their friends and family, close to the community that makes this a home.”


Blue River Safari had been fined $35,000 for baiting bears — the largest fine amount ever delivered in a B.C. court for attracting dangerous wildlife.

According to the B.C. Conservation Officer Service (BCCOS), the fine delivered was a precedent-setting case for the organization.

Siblings Russell and Debra Critchlow were both ordered to pay $17,400 to the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation and were then fined an extra $200.

BCCOS began investigating in August 2017 after receiving a complaint the Blue River tour company had been baiting bears to increase sighting opportunities for clients.

Forest View Place Extended Care Senior Living’s first Adopt a Resident program was a resounding success, completing its goal of having all 21 residents “adopted” inside a week of announcing the initiative.

Adopt a Resident involved staff at the facility putting up an Adoption Tree in one of the hallways, decorated with red and green ornaments, each with a different resident’s name and Christmas wishlist on it.

“This is our first year; we were trying something new so we can better utilize money from our recreation program, rather than trying to give gifts out of our recreation money,” said Shelly Redman, activity worker at Forest View Place Extended Care Senior Living.

Clearwater and District Road Rescue received a needed update to some of its gear after replacing its outdated jaws of life units with new battery-powered models.

The cost of the four new units came in at about $42,000, and will replace the previously used hydraulic models, which were 30 years old.

“The thing with these ones is they’re a lot easier ergonomic-wise for the responders. They cut through high strength steel and you don’t have to worry about gas power plants, hydraulic lines, lines snagging or someone stepping on them,” said Mike Savage, deputy unit chief, adding the weight of the new tools is about half of what the road rescue crew had to deal with on the older models.

“And in terms of walking over embankments, you’re not taking all that stuff over it and down, now it’s just one tool and a rescuer and away they go.”

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