Salmon Arm  

Remote Seymour Arm First Responders get communications boost with $10,000 worth of equipment

Boost for first responders

The Shuswap's Seymour Arm First Responders Society have received $10,000 worth of communications equipment in a grant from electronics giant JVC-Kenwood.

The Kenwood Cares grant is the second this year, marking the first time it has been awarded twice in one year, "with the decision to do so coming in the wake of the pandemic and the impact on donations to non-profit organizations," the company says in a press release.

The initiative garnered more than 40 submissions, a new record.

“This grant is a game changer for the responders, as they are the only medical emergency team within the community,” says Paula Salamandyk, secretary for SAFR. “The radios will enable our team to respond immediately to medical emergencies, and they will now have radio contact with all outside emergency support services.”

SAFR operates in the remote Shuswap off-grid community of Seymour Arm, with no other medical facilities and limited cell service.

“It was clear in their submission that due to lack of cellphone coverage in their remote community, that two-way radio is their only reliable communications option," said JVC-Kenwood national sales manager Wilfried Mulder. “This grant will enhance the response time of the local volunteer group when working with their mutual aid partners.”

Authorized Kenwood dealer Vella Radio in Salmon Arm has also offered its support in technical system services, including providing a digital repeater on their network.

The Seymour Arm First Responders were formed in 2014 to offer emergency medical assistance to the community.

Since their inception, they have responded to hundreds of medical emergencies in the community and on Shuswap Lake.


School District 83 North Okanagan-Shuswap is piloting the Open Parachute Program

Mental health and students

A new program is designed to help students with their mental health.

School District 83 North Okanagan-Shuswap is piloting the Open Parachute Program now through June.

Open Parachute is a Canadian online wellbeing program designed to support the mental health of students from Grades 6-12, their parents and teachers.

Open Parachute lessons cover several core topic areas, with appropriate lessons for every age group, compromised of video stories, exercises and discussions.

Carol-Ann Leidloff, director of instruction said the program will be available to all teachers in the district who teach students in grades 6-12 as part of the physical health education program.

“The lessons are easy for teachers to prepare and deliver, the videos are relevant and engaging for students, and I really like the supports available for parents. It is important to support our students’ mental wellbeing at all times, and especially during these challenging times. This is one more tool for our teachers,” said Leidloff.

The program also has resources for parents to provide them with tools for reinforcing student wellness at home.

On Feb. 1 the North Okanagan-Shuswap School District 83 first-ever Mountain Bike Academy kicks off

Pedaling a new course

Students at Jackson Secondary School will be pedaling their way to a first when it comes to school courses.

On Feb. 1 the North Okanagan-Shuswap School District 83 first-ever Mountain Bike Academy kicks off with 17 students taking part.

“This program is a fantastic fit for our community for a myriad of reasons. We have a world-renowned trail society in the Shuswap Trail Alliance, and their modus operandi is collaboration and trails for all. The sport of mountain biking has exploded in popularity in recent years and exponentially so since the beginning of the COVID pandemic,” said teacher Chris Stromgren.

Stromgren said there has always been a significant interest in mountain biking at the school level and since he began the Salmon Arm Secondary mountain bike program in 2008, students have brought home five B.C. School Sports Provincial championships.

“The time is right to extend the opportunities for kids in our community who wish to get further involved in mountain biking and to potentially use it to open doors to future careers, be it in racing, the bike industry, trail development or the like,” he said.

The course is open to Grades 9-12 students throughout the school district. Students will have opportunities to be outdoors and weather permitting, Stromgren hopes to have students on their bikes by the end of February.

Students will earn credit for the course which includes a component of community and planning, where they will collaborate with user groups and identify mutual needs and provide quality development of sustainable resources.

Students will also take safety and first aid, which includes understanding safe practices and risk management as well as first aid training.

A third component of the course will be the development of leadership skills as well as a component on mechanics and repair.

Of course, mountain biking skills is a large component of the academy, where students will work on skill development, enjoyment of the sport and fitness.

COVID-19 exposure warning issued after case at Salmon Arm pool

Exposure at Shuswap pool

Shuswap residents are being advised of a COVID exposure at a public Salmon Arm facility.

On Jan. 13, Salmon Arm Recreation became aware of an exposure at the SASCU Recreation Centre pool.

Upon learning of the exposure, officials say they launched an extensive deep cleaning of the facility.

As a result of the exposure, several staff have been asked to self isolate, leaving the aquatic centre with limited staff to operate previously scheduled lessons and programs.

Anyone who was at the facility between Jan. 7 and Jan. 11 is being asked to monitor themselves for any signs of COVID-19.

Anyone showing signs of infection is asked to take appropriate measures as directed by the public health officer.

BC Supreme Court upholds ALC decision against Shuswap golf course-subdivision application

ALR bid rejected again

A B.C. Supreme Court ruling has upheld an Agricultural Land Commission decision against a Shuswap land owner's bid to subdivide for a golf course and residential development.

In her ruling Jan. 11 in Kelowna court, Madam Justice Wilkinson found the commission’s decision was not unreasonable and was made within its jurisdiction.

The petition by Kahn Whitehead was dismissed.

Whitehead had sought to overturn a 2018 ALC decision denying his application for subdivision.

Whitehead had sought to sweeten the pot by offering a land swap that would include adjacent property into the Agricultural Land Reserve. But, Wilkinson ruled the act governing the commission "does not provide for or refer to the concept of land swaps in which owners apply to exclude land from the ALR or subdivide land in the ALR while including other land in the ALR."

Wilkinson said owners seeking both ALR subdivision and inclusion orders should submit separate applications.

The property, partially located within the ALR, north of Salmon Arm near Eagle Bay, has historically been used for agriculture as a hobby farm cattle operation and for growing hay, the ruling notes.

The ALC had previously refused an application by the petitioner in 1999 to develop a golf course on the property. That decision was reconsidered and approved in 2002, at which time a report found the offered "swap" lands had limited agricultural capability.

While the non-agricultural land is zoned for a golf course, the owner has not developed one.

A residential subdivision application for part of the property followed in 2016. That was also rejected in a 2017 decision, which found the property has a combination of prime and secondary agricultural capability.

"I agree with the commission that when the petitioner submitted his subdivision application he went through multiple steps, including review by the local government as well as by the commission. He had ample opportunity to clarify which areas of the property have been used for agriculture. He did not," Wilkinson wrote in her decision.

"I find there is no contradiction between the finding in the reconsideration decision regarding suitability for agriculture and the commission’s findings in relation to the 2002 non-farm use application. While the commission’s finding in 2002 that the property had limited agricultural capability may have convinced the commission to grant the non-farm use application, the same finding would not necessarily support a subdivision application."

Wilkinson noted the commission "has no mandate to expand the ALR; its mandate is to preserve the ALR."

The judge added the petitioner may still have an ALR inclusion application heard if he chooses to make one.

"The (ALC) executive committee commented that the petitioner could submit a separate application ... if he still wished to do so. There was nothing unreasonable in the executive committee’s decision not to factor in the inclusion proposal when making its decision in the subdivision application."

Drivers keep passing school buses in School District 83 even though red lights are flashing

School bus lights ignored

Motorists are continuing to put students at risk in the North Okanagan-Shuswap.

Officials with School District 83 are concerned about the number of drivers passing school buses when their red stop lights are flashing.

"We had a significant drop in November, which we were very happy about," says district transportation manager Andrea Kathrein in a newsletter.

"In December, it started to creep up, and in 16 school days we had 16 incidents.

"In the first five days in January, we had six drivers pass school buses when the red lights were flashing. This is very concerning and puts our students at risk."

Officials remind drivers it is is dangerous – and illegal – to pass a school bus when its red lights are activated.

Drivers who ignore the warning face a hefty fine and demerit points if caught.

Woman found dead on Shuswap street was victim of hit-and-run homicide, police say

Death ruled homicide

Police in the Shuswap have ruled the death of a woman found dead in Sicamous on New Year’s Day a hit-and-run homicide.

The 64-year-old woman was found dead at about 2:30 a.m. on Jan. 1 on a private road in Cedars RV and Resort on Luoma Road.

“The investigation has led investigators to believe that the woman was struck by a motor vehicle,” Sicamous RCMP Sgt. Murray McNeil said in a news release.

“This is now considered a fatal hit-and-run and we are once again asking the public for information regarding this incident.”

Any witnesses or anyone with information about the crash is asked to call Sicamous RCMP at 250-836-2878 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

Shuswap firefighter reaches certification milestone, has no plans of slowing down at 78

78 and fighting fires

He's 78 years old, but there's no stopping firefighter Mike Thoms.

Thoms is the 150th firefighter in the Columbia Shuswap Regional District to receive provincial certification, a goal set out by the district at the start of 2020 for its 13 fire departments across the region.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, training opportunities were temporarily shut down, putting the goal in doubt.

But, late in December, on the last day of the challenge, Swansea Point firefighter Mike Thoms completed his certification, becoming the 150th CSRD firefighter to reach the standard.

Thoms has been a firefighter for 13 years, since retiring to the Shuswap. But This retirement isn't about kicking back and relaxing at the beach.

"We made a new home here, and I wanted to give something back. No use just sitting around wasting my time. If the fire department figured I was good enough for them at my age, then why not become a firefighter?" he quipped.

Thoms worked his way slowly through the courses, including the physically challenging live fire exterior training module.

"I'm still in a daze that I'm a certified firefighter. Not in my wildest dreams did I think I could do something like that," he said. "I'm so proud to have had the opportunity and to have people who encouraged me that I could do this."

Thoms' pioneered the role of the rehab officer at the CSRD, monitoring the health and safety of firefighters when they are battling blazes. He worked with Sicamous paramedics to be trained in monitoring vital signs and blood pressure, and has gone on to help train rehab officers for other CSRD departments.

"I love what I do, so until I get really old, I'm not going to stop," he said. "As long as I'm capable, I will keep going."

All CSRD fire departments are recruiting paid on-call firefighters and welcome inquiries at 250-833-5955 or www.csrd.bc.ca/FirefighterRecruiting.

Work progressing on Trans-Canada Highway project through Chase

Hwy 1 project 'going well'

The Ministry of Transportation says work is progressing well on a Trans-Canada Highway expansion project near Chase.

The ongoing project expands the highway from two to four lanes from Chase Creek Road to west of the village.

The public can now also view a 3D animation of the design for the Chase West to Chase Creek Bridge section of the project.

The almost five-kilometre-long project is estimated to cost $260.3 million.

It follows years of locals calling for a solution to traffic issues and safety in the Shuswap community.

The Chase Creek Road to Chase West section of the work includes 3.3 km of highway widening, upgrades to highway intersections and frontage roads, construction of a pedestrian underpass and a multi-use pathway.

Construction is underway on that section.

Meanwhile, the Chase West to Chase Creek Bridge section will get going later this year.

It includes 1.6 km of highway widening, a grade-separated interchange at Brooke Drive, and extended improvements on Brooke Drive to Shuswap Avenue.

Spike belt stops erratic driver in wrong lanes of Trans-Canada Highway

Spike belt, struggle in arrest

A spike belt was used to stop a vehicle driving in the oncoming lanes of the Trans-Canada Highway between Sicamous and Salmon Arm Thursday night.

Staff Sgt. Scott West says police responded to a call about an erratic driver at 9 p.m.

"Thankfully, there were no oncoming vehicles" at the time, West said in a press release.

The vehicle was located in the Canoe area and matched the description of one which had recently fled from local police, he added.

A spike belt was deployed to disable the vehicle, which came to rest in a snowbank on 10th Avenue SE in Salmon Arm.

The driver fled the vehicle, and a man matching the description, who is known to local police, was arrested on
four outstanding warrants after a brief struggle with the arresting officer near 37th Street SE, says West.

He remains in custody.

The warrants were for drug and driving related offences.

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