Year in Review – January to April

Highlights of 2016 from the Clearwater-North Thompson Times

January

Gilbert Smith Forest Products Ltd. in Barriere celebrated 60 years in business during its annual Christmas party in December. The event at the Lions Hall was attended by over 130 present and past employees as well as their spouses.

Wells Gray Outdoors Club held its second annual Sno-cial at the Candle Creek Ski Trails. The brilliant blue sky was enjoyed by approximately 65 members and non-members.

A former Clearwater resident accused of sexually assaulting young boys when he coached hockey here was ordered to stand trial. Alan Davidson, 60, later served with the RCMP. At the time of his arrest in March, 2014, he was working as a deputy sheriff in Alberta.

Nine young children plus parents and onlookers enjoyed a skating party at an outdoor skating rink in Vavenby. The event was organized and paid for by area resident Kevin Sheffield, who also was largely responsible for flooding the rink and keeping it in good condition.

A trailer in Graffunder Trailer Park caught fire. The man renting the trailer got out without any injuries. Volunteers with Vavenby Fire Department quickly extinguished the blaze when they arrived.

A 48-year-old resident of Clearwater lost his life in a motor vehicle collision south of McLure. His vehicle apparently went of control on the wet and slushy highway and crossed over into the path of an oncoming tractor-trailer.

BC Ambulance and Search and Rescue were able to fairly easily rescue an injured snowmobiler after he activated a SPOT tracking device that gave his GPS coordinates. The incident occurred over 30 km from the Finn Creek access point near Blue River.

Members of the TNRD board compared a dispute over the use of the Upper Clearwater Hall to the Hatfields and the McCoys. After presentations from both groups, the board decided to survey the approximately 85 property owners in the service area to see if they wanted a $5,000 per year grant-in-aid for the hall to continue.

The TNRD board approved an additional $40,000 in federal gas tax funding for upgrades to the Blue River water system. The system had been upgraded in 2013 and 2014 at a cost of $1.2 million. There had been some cost overruns, however. The extra money would reduce the amount those connected to the system would have to make up through user fees.

 

February

Kinder Morgan still hoped to have an expanded Trans Mountain pipeline in service as of 2019, even though the new Liberal government in Ottawa had extended the cabinet review period by four months and the B.C. government had said it couldn’t support the project unless five conditions were met. That was the word from company spokesperson Dave Fowles during a community-to-community forum in Clearwater. “Nobody spends more money on safety and integrity than Kinder Morgan,” he said.

Vavenby’s Ron Cederholm won first place in Clearwater Rotary Club’s Ice Man fishing derby on Dutch Lake with a 45 cm kokanee.

First baby of the year was Suneh Gurdev Kaur Dhanoa, daughter of Baljinder and Amandeep Dhanoa. She was born Jan 19.

Vikings marauded along the Candle Creek cross-country ski trails as Wells Gray Outdoor Club hosted its annual Birchleg costume event. It was one of several events held as part of the Clearwater Winter Festival. Others included a figure-skating demonstration by Raft Mountain Skating Club, Skate with Disney, at the Sportsplex, tobogganing and tubing at Clearwater ski hill, and several hockey games.

District of Clearwater property taxpayers likely would pay 5.5 per cent more than the year before, according to information released during an open house. The increase would amount to $58 on a house assessed at $250,000.

Canfor was picked as one of the top employers in B.C. “Thank you to the Canada’s Top Employer organization for their recognition,” said Tracey Arnish, Canfor’s senior vice-president for people and culture. She noted that the company’s ability to attract and retain talented people was one of of the most important factors in ensuring its future success.

About 115 students from Raft River, Barriere and Blue River schools took part in annual cross-country ski races in Blue River. The event had been re-named the Andy Aufschnaiter Memorial after a Blue River resident who used to play a major role in organizing it.

Four members of the Hamra family, including two small children, arrived in Clearwater. Originally from near Damascus, they came here by way of Lebanon and Jordan.

Councillor Ken Kjenstad announced that about 30 members of the Russian women’s hockey team would spend several days training in Clearwater prior to the upcoming women’s hockey championships in Kamloops. The team was expected to arrive March 20.

Clearwater Peewee Rebels defeated the 100 Mile 2 squad to win their league pennant.

 

March

Employees at Canfor-Vavenby celebrated with a free lunch after winning the Polar Cup – awarded to the Canfor division that raised the most money per capita the previous year.

Blue Water Power Corporation of Abbotsford was proposing a 15 megawatt run-of-the-river power project on Mud Creek east of Blue River. The proponent was seeking an investigative license that would enable evaluation, sampling and feasibility studies. TransAlta had operated a 19 MW hydro plant on Bone Creek, which is about 20 km north of Mud Creek, since 2011.

Clearwater Blackhawks won the 35+ division at the annual Old-timers Hockey Tournament at the Sportsplex. Winfield won the 45+ division. A total of eight teams took part.

District of Clearwater could save $50,000 to $60,000 in wages through a reorganization of its public works department. The position of public works superintendent was being eliminated and those duties given to several other employees.

Clearwater Secondary School was in the final stages of being connected to the province’s Next Generation Network high speed Internet, said principal Darren Coates. Over 30 students took at least one course on-line, he noted.

A total of 10 teams entered Dodgeball Madness at Clearwater Secondary School to raise funds for the grad class. Wannabees took first place, followed by Average Joes in second.

Installation of a proposed splash park in Weyerhaeuser Pioneer Park was to begin sometime in May. Land clearing had taken place the previous fall.

Blue River’s new firetruck proved its value during a house-fire, according to fire chief Gabe Lavoie. Engine 1 and six firefighters arrived in minutes and contained the blaze to the kitchen and attic. Approval to borrow up to $385,000 to purchase the new truck had been given during a public meeting the previous September.

An avalanche 30 km southwest of Blue River killed two adult male snowmobilers, both from Alberta. Five other members in the group were able to avoid the slide. They dug out the two buried sledders but were unable to revive them.

Mayor John Harwood planned to meet with the head of the Kamloops Fire Centre to discuss the possible closure of Clearwater Fire Zone. “The possible implications include loss of people and jobs, less equipment and longer callout times,” he said. “It’s not just Clearwater that would be involved, but also Valemount and McBride.”

Six-year-old Keenan Crawford won the Tiger Cup for being the most sportsmanlike participant in the kids program at Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing in Blue River. The weekly learn-to-ski program was available without charge to sons and daughters of resort employees and at a nominal charge for those from elsewhere in the North Thompson Valley. Two weeks earlier about two dozen from Simpcw First Nation took part.

First boy of the year was Olin Fullen, son of Kris Olson and Jordan Fullen. He was born Feb. 12 in Blackpool.

Clearwater hosted 36 members of the Russian women’s hockey team, including 28 players, for several days as they got over jet lag and prepared for the the women’s world championships in Kamloops. The visit included a game with present and former female members of Clearwater Minor Hockey. Members of the team often commented on the friendly reception they received in town.

Rotary Richard signalled that the ice went out on Dutch Lake on March 19, three days earlier than the previous earliest date. Eleanor Collins won the prize for having the closest guess.

 

April

The ice had left less than two weeks earlier but Reegan Yurkiw went swimming in Dutch Lake. Several people reportedly went in even earlier.

NDP health critic Jennifer Rice visited Clearwater as she researched rural maternity care in B.C. Prior to 2008, up to 80 babies per year had been born at Dr. Helmcken Memorial Hospital, she found.

Canada placed second and Russia third in the women’s world championships in Kamloops. The United States won in overtime, while the Russians edged out Finland in a shoot-out for bronze.

Clearwater town council gave first reading to a new zoning bylaw. If approved, it would replace an existing bylaw that was more than 30 years old. Major changes would include opening up Riverside Centre (Brookfield Mall and area) to multiple uses.

Taxes in Wells Gray Country would go down 1.23 per cent, reported Carol Schaffer, TNRD director for Area A. Taxes for an average residence would be $343.

Property owners in Upper Clearwater indicated by a narrow majority that they would like the question of a grant-in-aid being collected to support Upper Clearwater Hall be taken to a public assent process. In order for the tax for the grant-in-aid to end, a majority of property owners within the service area would need to submit a petition, as well as a majority of property holders by assessed – a so-called “double majority.”

A walker found a tiny wooden boat on an Oak Bay beach with the names of two deceased Clearwater residents on it: Iris and Gerald McKinley. How it got there was a mystery.

Enrolment at Clearwater Secondary School and other North Thompson schools appeared to have stabilized, according to principal Darren Coates. The number of students was expected to level out at 174 next year. In 1999 there were 439 students attending CSS.

Clearwater Buy-Low contributed $40,000 for a splash park planned for Weyerhaeuser Park. Target date for completion was July 1, said Early Years community development coordinator Heather Adamson.

Sorgent.e Hydro Canada announced that it had signed a 40-year standing offer agreement with BC Hydro for its proposed Clemina Creek hydro project. Located about 30 km south of Valemount, the project would have a total capacity of 10.5 MW.

Clearwater town council does not support economic development, said Ron Rotzetter of Bearview Development Inc. in a letter to the editor. District of Clearwater was not willing to change its official community plan to accommodate a shopping centre his company was proposing for next to Highway 5.

North Thompson Spartans junior and senior rugby teams had strong starts to their seasons. The juniors beat Sahali 48-0 while the seniors defeated NorKam 50-0 in their first games. The teams were made up of students from Clearwater and Barriere secondary schools.