Kamloops school district offering online tools for parents at home

Tools for parents at home

In an effort to help parents staying at home with their children, School District 73 is regularly uploading tools and ideas to its website.

A specific parent resources page has been created, and Supt. Alison Sidow is hoping parents will check it often because it's being updated regularly. Included are lists of activities, virtual tours of museums, ways to keep kids active indoors and links to online educational entertainment.

"We're updating that frequently," Sidow tells Castanet. "There's also information on managing anxiety in children."

"It can be very stressful in some homes."

She adds the school district's meal program started on Monday; it provides food to children identified as needing support.

"We're doing everything we can to provide resources for families," she says.


Kamloops real estate market showing signs of COVID-19 impact

COVID-19 hits real estate

The Kamloops and District Real Estate Association (KADREA) is reporting that despite a strong start last month, the impact of COVID-19 was felt in the market before March's end.

In the end, the month was about even to March 2019, according to KADREA president Wendy Runge. Last month's data kept the year-to-date stats ahead of 2019's pace.

However, the current trends show a slowing marketplace, with a 10 per cent drop in new homes up for sale when compared to March 2019.

"COVID-19 is currently having a dramatic impact on the real estate market, as it is in many other sectors, and this is likely to persist for some time," Runge writes in a press release. "Demand for real estate remains strong but most sales models are now forecasting a drop of anywhere from five per cent to 20 per cent (of sales) for this year depending on how long this pandemic lasts."

March 2019 and March 2020 were fairly even when it comes to prices, with an average single-family home increasing 1.2 per cent to $494,990. 

To slow the spread of COVID-19, Runge encourages potential home buyers to virtually tour houses.

City of Kamloops seeking new housing solutions during pandemic

City looking for shelters

The City of Kamloops is considering municipal facilities and parks as shelter for the city's homeless during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a press release, the city states administration has been in discussion with BC Housing, Interior Health and social agencies about how to support vulnerable populations during the global crisis. This includes people experiencing homelessness, under-housed people, people with complex care needs, and people with mental health and substance use needs.

“We’re focused on the safety and health of all residents of our community,” Mayor Ken Christian says in the release. “We know that this population is particularly vulnerable to infection and may not have the ability to follow best practices for prevention or treatment on their own.”

Given that shelter for the homeless often requires individuals to sleep in close quarters, the province is working on solutions that would help limit the spread of COVID-19.

"These solutions include identifying alternative locations for shelter residents that allow for proper physical distancing as well as the isolation of high-risk or symptomatic individuals," states the city in the release.

City staff are now looking at city facilities and parks as possible shelter sites.

“This is an unprecedented time in our community, and it’s not business as usual,” says Christian. “Our primary objective at this point is to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and minimize its impact on our community.”


Kamloops councillor wants pipeline work stopped during COVID-19

Walsh wants TMX halted

Coun. Denis Walsh is looking to see local work on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project (TMX) shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a press release, Walsh says he's heard construction near and through Kamloops is due to start this month. He has sent a letter to Premier John Horgan, urging the province to suspend pipeline construction during the pandemic.

"The primary objective at this point is to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and minimize its impact on our community," Walsh writes in the release. "This is an unprecedented time in our community and it's not business as usual."

He raises issue with the fact hundreds of transient workers will be moving through communities while the pandemic is ongoing.

"The associated influx of TMX workers represents a direct threat to the health and lives of all Kamloops-area residents," Walsh states in the letter, which he shared with media. "So I therefore am urgently requesting that you order a halt to TMX construction activities under provincial emergency powers associated with the COVID-19 pandemic."

It's also noted in the release that Walsh is invested in two local businesses that have shut the doors.

VIDEO: Mayor gives update on municipal COVID-19 situation

Kamloops mayoral update

It's been 16 days since the City of Kamloops launched its emergency operations centre.

And the situation remains stable, says Kamloops Mayor Ken Christian.

"From what I'm told, we appear to be in a secure and holding state right now," he says in a video address to locals.

In the video, published today (April 1), he focuses on encouraging people to stay home during the pandemic and gives an update on how some city services are operating. He notes buses are still running but moving to a summer schedule as of Sunday, April 5. Fares are not being taken at this time, and buses are limited to 20 riders.

He also reinforces the fact playgrounds, which were shut down more than a week ago, are still closed, even if the tape has come off.

"Don't use them," Christian says. "Our playgrounds are closed and we want them to remain that way."

He also notes the BC Centre for Disease Control has deemed farmers' markets an essential service, so the Kamloops version is allowed to go forth, if organizers wish to, with some conditions in place. No non-food items are allowed and social distancing is required. The Kamloops Farmers' Market has indicated it plans on going forward with the market on its Facebook page.

Council meetings will resume on April 7. However, it won't be physically open to the public.

"There won't be public participation in that meeting but it will be videoed out to community and media," the mayor says.

If people or businesses are seen breaking the regulations around social distancing and gatherings, he says the city's bylaw team should be called.

Christian also commends the Kamloops RCMP for their actions this weekend, when the first murder of the year in the city was recorded at a house party.

"There's a saying in basketball, that defense wins games," he says at the end of the video. "A good defense against COVID-19 will help us through this crisis."

"This is no time to let up, this is a time to double down."

Last month was drier and colder than usual in Kamloops

March was dry and cold

If you thought March was a bit cool this year in Kamloops, the stats back you up.

Environment Canada meteorologist Doug Lundquist tells Castanet the Tournament Capital was significantly cooler than usual.

"For Kamloops, March came out at 3.6 C," he says. "It's usually 5.2 C, so that's 1.6 below the average."

That's just around the standard deviation, he says, meaning it's a notably cold March, though not near any of the coldest on records.

"When it's more than one degree, I think it's fairly significant," Lundquist says, noting March is a month that can be significantly cooler or warmer (unlike October, which is very consistent).

It was also a dry month, which is not uncommon for March in Kamloops; in fact, February and March are the two driest months. That said, Environment Canada recorded even less precipitation than usual.

"It was 2 mm; you usually get 13 mm," Lundquist says. "It was a very dry month."

While there was some snow right at the end, he says most of March only saw trace amounts of precipitation.

"There were some close-to-record breaking temperatures (on the cold end)," he notes. "We had a couple of arctic air days."

March actually started off warmer than usual; however, the first week was above average. The remainder of the month was around average or below, with the arctic air making it even colder on a couple of days.

Kamloops Arts Council offering financial assistance to local artists

Financial help for artists

With the COVID-19 pandemic and self-isolation impacting shows and exhibits, the Kamloops Arts Council (KAC) is changing how it sends out grants.

Having heard a plea from the arts community over the past few weeks, the KAC will be providing funds for artists in need as soon as possible.

"We have made the decision that we will be forgoing our grant program this year to instead provide immediate financial assistance to artists most affected by COVID-19," the organization announced today (April 1) in a press release.

The KAC scholarship program won't be affected, the organization adds.

They're also turning to the community at large to help out.

"Between April 1–April 7, 2020, every donation made to the Kamloops Arts Council will be matched to a maximum contribution of $3,250 and these funds will go directly to local artists in need," reads the statement.

Artists need to apply no later than April 7. You can find the application here.

To provide transparency, the KAC will release some information after the campaign; however, it won't be publishing the names of those assisted.

To donate to the Kamloops Arts Council, click here.

Medivac helicopter called to scene of Coquihalla crash

Crash cleared on Coquihalla

UPDATE 11:05 a.m.

DriveBC reports the crash on the Coquihalla has been cleared. 

Traffic is flowing again, but motorists are being advised to expect delays and congestion.

ORIGINAL 10:20 a.m.

A serious crash has closed the Coquihalla Highway between Hope and Merritt Wednesday morning.

The crash occurred at about 9:30 a.m., somewhere between Juliet Creek Road and Larson Hill.

A medevac helicopter is heading to the scene to transport a victim.

DriveBC is warning drivers of delays up to one hour, for both directions.

The nature of the crash is unknown at this time.

Frenchies Poutinerie reopening for the month of April

Local poutinerie reopens

Frenchies Poutinerie will be reopening for takeout and deliveries only, the company said Tuesday night (March 31).

In February, owner Elie Hanna put the storefront up for sale and announced he was relocating the business to Victoria in the spring. The last day of operation in Kamloops was Feb. 27.

A Facebook post shared yesterday states that due to the pandemic the new owners have postponed taking over the lease until the end of April. 

"In (order) to pay for our obligations, we have made the decision that fits our situation by (reopening) for the month April," Hanna writes on Facebook. "I will be personally working every shift open to close to ensure you’re getting your poutine made by yours truly."

He notes Frenchies will have a slightly reduced menu. 

Frontline workers, meanwhile, will receive 50 per cent off.

"We hope everyone is staying safe and are finding ways to keep strong during these hard (times)," states the post. 

The hours of operation are: Monday to Sunday, from noon to 7 p.m. (closed on Sunday).

Anyone who wishes to get their fries and cheese curds delivered to them can order through Mitchie's Delivery starting this Thursday. You can order for pickup by messaging on Facebook or calling/texting 604-901-8970.

Ebus suspending all B.C. trips, starting this weekend

Ebus suspends B.C. trips

Intercity bus company Ebus is suspending all B.C. trips as of Sunday, April 5.

In an online announcement, the company states it's choosing to suspend service to slow the spread of COVID-19 and urges people to "stay safely home."

"The health and safety of our passengers and staff has always been of utmost importance," reads the statement on the Ebus website. "So by asking you to stay safely home, you're helping contribute to the fight against the COVID-19 virus for the whole community."

The company started serving B.C. in 2018 after Greyhound stopped service in Western Canada. Ebus also operates in Alberta; service there was suspended March 29.

In B.C., Ebus runs routes between Kamloops, Kelowna, Salmon Arm and Vancouver, with stops in between.

While service is only temporarily suspended starting this weekend, it's unclear when it will resume, according to the company.

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