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Salmon Arm  

High price tag for new Sicamous Health Centre remains contentious

Healing centre budget fight

The proposed Shuswap (Secwépemc) Healing Centre and its $10-million price tag remains a source of controversy in the Shuswap community.

The District of Sicamous is seeking to trim costs on the controversial project.

Chief administrative officer Kelly Bennett presented a breakdown of a quote for exterior work on the building during last week's finance committee meeting.

Bennett and chief financial officer Bianca Colonna went through the quote line by line.

“So, good news, from the original quote on Oct. 24, it was $6.49 (million), but we’ve now got a revised one to $6.3, so it’s down $170,000,” Bennett reported.

The total cost for the project is still approximately $10 million.

Bennett said interior costs could be locked down by January or February.

Currently, interior work is estimated to cost about $2.5 million.

“To get into a brand new community health centre as well as a healing centre for the Indigenous part, at no tax impact after two years of operation is like… why are we even discussing it? Of course, it’s a no brainer,” said Coun. Malcolm Makayev.

Coun. Ian Baillie, however, has doubts about the cost.

“We should be re-evaluating whether we need everything in this building, at this price tag … the question is whether we can afford it, and I don’t think we can,” he said.

Baillie noted the project’s budget has increased from $6 million to $10 million, and he believes it could go up further.

“I think that’s something the whole community believes in, is having an updated health centre. I don’t think the whole community believes in this project though. And for that reason, I can’t support it,” concluded Baillie.

A fixed-price contract with Scott Builders was authorized in the end, with Baillie the lone dissenting vote.



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Salmon Arm Fair announces summer schedule change

Fair moves to new dates

The Salmon Arm Fair is 'moo-ving' on up in the calendar

The community agricultural fair is foregoing its usual September weekend and instead will celebrate its 125th anniversary Aug. 23-25.

"What better way to celebrate summer in the Shuswap than to include the beloved, family-oriented Salmon Arm Fair?" says manager Jim McEwan.

"It's a perfect time to present our annual celebration – families are preparing for the end of the summer; friends are visiting from out of town looking for fun activities, and the weather will be perfect."

The 55+ Games are coming to Salmon Arm starting Sept. 10 and will be using the fairground for equine events necessitating a change of dates for the fair.

The recent announcement of the Roots and Blues music festival moving to July opened up an August weekend, giving the Salmon Arm Fair the perfect opportunity to move to summer.

In a press release, Salmon Arm and Shuswap Lake Agricultural Association president Steven DeBoer says: "In less than 10 short months, we look forward to welcoming guests back to our grounds to rekindle memories, establish new traditions and experience the fair we all love – all while enjoying the pleasant late-August climate."

The fair has seen excellent attendance since canceling for 2020 and 2021, but organizers are still looking forward to introducing the heritage fair to a new audience of summer visitors.

Organizers anticipate more families attending on the Friday and Sunday since they will no longer conflict with students starting the new school year.



Transport Canada teams up with CSRD to clear rogue buoys

Rogue buoys taken aboard

The Columbia Shuswap Regional District and Transport Canada have been taking action on rogue buoys afloat on Shuswap Lake.

Transport Canada’s Navigation Protection Program continues its enforcement efforts clearing non-compliant boys from Shuswap Lake.

In the month of October, 28 buoys were removed by Transport Canada with support from CSRD Staff.

The team’s cleanup efforts also revealed an unreported sunken vessel in the Tappen Bay area. The location was marked with a cautionary buoy to warn boaters until further action can be taken.

In May and June, 342 buoys were tagged by CSRD staff as non-compliant. Tagging the buoys gives owners time to rectify non-compliance before Transport Canada comes in and removes them.

Buoys are considered non-compliant if they are not following regulations regarding size, colour and identification. There are federal and provincial regulations regarding buoys as well as local bylaws set by the CSRD.

Improperly sized or coloured buoys can present a hazard to boaters or other lake users.

Over the last four years the CSRD has tagged approximately 969 buoys, with Transport Canada removing 166 of them.

The majority of non-compliant buoys either have their issues resolved or are voluntarily removed by their owners before further enforcement is necessary.

An increase in the number of buoys on the water in Shuswap and Mara lakes has generated numerous complaints to both Transport Canada and the CSRD.



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New details of rescue efforts after cats seen falling from moving trailer

Late-night cat rescue heroics

These cats landed on their feet — thanks to the tireless late-night efforts of Shuswap animal rescue volunteers.

Chase RCMP responded to multiple calls about a suspicious flat-deck truck hauling a travel trailer on Squilax-Anglemont Road Sunday afternoon.

"Disturbingly, callers reported that cats were falling out of the trailer while it was in motion," says Chase RCMP Sgt. Barry Kennedy.

When police attempted to stop the vehicle, the driver sped up and officers chose not to initiate a chase due to risk to the public.

"With help from the public, the trailer was eventually located, abandoned on a forest service road near Skimikin Lake," says Kennedy.

Kayley Jackson from Shuswap Paws Rescue Society was part of late-night rescue effort.

“The cats were escaping through the rotten trailer. The SPCA cruelty [investigations department] were called by local rescues. The local volunteers dug through the trailer and rescued five cats and three kittens. They were handed to the SPCA when they arrived on the scene,” says Jackson.

Before the trailer was towed to an impound lot, the people returned to the site.

“There were four people left there, myself included. ...It was quite scary. We called it in to the RCMP. It was the same vehicle that was reported to have towed the trailer,” Jackson says.

The remaining cats have been an ongoing project to trap.

The SPCA have decided not to take in any additional animals or find the ones that fell out of the trailer, says Jackson.

But rescuers with Shuswap Paws and Sammy's Forgotten Felines Rescue Society are still looking for the cats that fell out of the trailer onto the road.

“There are 10 additional cats that we have trapped so far at the initial site on the North Shore. We are looking for the four cats that were witnessed falling out of the trailer,” says Jackson.

She says rescue groups were familiar with the trailer prior to the incident.

“The CSRD was trying to help him as part of the North Shore fire recovery. They were providing food for the cats and trying to get the owner to surrender the cats for the last few weeks. He had given a few cats to the local animal rescues, which was again organized by the CSRD, but refused to surrender the others."

Jackson says there have been multiple reports over years to the cruelty division of the SPCA about the alleged animal hoarding.



Trans-Canada bridge in Sicamous a national disgrace, and gross negligence, council says

'A national disgrace'

Sicamous council is sounding the alarm over the state of the R.W. Bruhn bridge on the Trans-Canada Highway.

The bridge is one of the major entrances to the community, and delays on its planned upgrading are bubbling over in frustration.

"We've received an email that the Bruhn bridge now is gonna be pushed off until beginning of next year until it goes to tender… The bridge is now a safety issue, it is rebar and concrete falling off the bottom. It's our major transport route through Canada, it's not the Bruhn bridge its the Trans-Canada Highway," said Mayor Colleen Anderson.

"I've asked the CSRD to write a letter to MOTI (Ministry of Transportation), Transport Canada and anyone else you want to include on that, MLA or whatever … I'm looking for council support for this letter," Anderson said during council's meeting Wednesday.

Coun. Ian Baillie had strong words on the issue.

"I think this is becoming a provincial disgrace. If it's not a national disgrace, it's pretty damn close to it," he said.

"I mean I came to Sicamous four and a half years ago and I was told that bridge was starting that year, and every single year there's another layer of BS that's put on the old excuse pile.

"What we do know is that people are going to die on that bridge, this is not a joke and it keeps getting pushed year after year after year. We almost had a car that went over the side railing. What if that happened in the summer and it fell on a boat or houseboat? I mean this has gone beyond being able to be pushed off," Baillie continued.

"I mean it's almost, in my opinion, gross negligence now to keep putting this off."

Council passed a motion to draft a letter requesting the Ministry of Transportation expedite the tender process in order to end bridge construction delays.



Salmon Arm sports complex roof found to be structurally unsafe when snow accumulates

Winter sports centre to close

The City of Salmon Arm has announced it will be closing the SASCU Indoor Memorial Sports Complex as soon as the first snowfall arrives.

According to the city, a preliminary engineering study was conducted and concerns were raised about the structural integrity of the building's roof when under the burden of a snowpack.

The report states the existing roof does not have the capacity to support the current design when loaded with snow. In addition, the design of the roof makes removing snow difficult and costly.

"Under these circumstances, it is not financially or operationally viable to keep the facility open when there is snow on the roof," the City of Salmon Arm wrote in a Facebook post.

“The overall safety and well-being of the users of our facilities is, and will always be, the priority of the city and the Shuswap Recreation Society.”

The SASCU Indoor Memorial Sports Complex is an indoor turf field facility which provides an indoor space for community sports during the cold winter months.

The city says it recognizes closing this facility will have an impact on community recreation groups, and they are committed to helping these groups find alternatives to support their continued operation.

The city will be commissioning a more detailed structural review of the facility in the coming weeks.



North Shuswap residents demand answers for Bush Creek wildfire response

Sparks fly at fire meeting

Sparks flew Thursday night at a public meeting on the wildfires that devastated the North Shuswap this past summer.

Residents are demanding answers over what some claim was a BC Wildfire Service back burn that got out of hand during the Bush Creek East wildfire.

About 300 North Shuswap residents attended the meeting in Celista, said CSRD director Jay Simpson.

Residents signed a letter listing complaints about how the fire was handled.

"I think it went really good," said Simpson. "The community. I mean, obviously, they're a bit charged, but they really kept it in hand last night. There was some, you know, a few good questions. And certainly, the presentation was very thorough and did lay out the ... the facts as we know them. So, I think that the meeting went well."

Lee Creek resident Jim Cooperman made a presentation on the BCWS response.

That included findings from a report by wildfire expert Bruce Morrow on the controlled burn above Lee Creek on Aug. 17.

It claims BC Wildfire Service conducted the burn without a proper fireguard in place and despite a weather forecast calling for a shift in wind direction that caused it to burn out of control.

BCWS said in August the burn was conducted to remove fuels between North Shuswap communities and the wildfire, which was more than 40,000 hectares in size.

The wildfire swept through Lee Creek, Scotch Creek, Celista and Magna Bay on Aug. 18, after the wind change.

Cooperman has submitted complaints to the Forest Practices Board, which is conducting an independent investigation.

The CSRD estimated 176 structures were destroyed and 50 were partially destroyed.

North Shuswap resident Mark Taggart was at the meeting.

"The evidence that Jim has right now shows that the Bush Creek East and Adams Lake East fires never merged. There's unburnt forest between the two," Taggert said.

"it's just a lot of misinformation that we were given along the way."

He said Cooperman's research has "debunked some of the statements that were made by BC Wildfire."

Taggart said he'd like to see an inquiry and reform within BCWS.

"You know, I remember when I was a kid, 40 years ago, B.C. was number one in the world. ...Other countries would look to B.C. for forest fire help and forest firefighting technology and methods.

"We've lost our way. We really, really have. It's happened with Monte Lake. It’s happened in Lytton, it's happened here now. It's all over the place. It's not just the North Shuswap that has suffered from this. And it comes down to when is enough enough?”

The full letter of complaints can be found on a change.org petition titled Shuswap Firestorm - Last Straw and the full presentation from Jim Cooperman will be posted on YouTube in the coming week.



Armed home invasion turns out to be Halloween hallucination

Break and enter confusion

A woman told police a group of people wielding guns and wearing Halloween costumes was breaking into her home in Anglemont – but Chase RCMP found no crime committed.

Medication may be to blame.

Chase RCMP responded to a call about a break and enter in progress about midnight on Nov. 13.

The woman said she was out of town but was watching the break-in via video surveillance.

She described a group of 10 people wearing Halloween costumes and wielding guns, loading up her valuables and preparing to leave.

Chase RCMP Sgt. Barry Kennedy says when officers arrived, they found the premises undisturbed.

Police spoke with neighbours and confirmed that no one had been seen at the property.

When police followed up with the caller, they learned she had recently had surgery and was on medication that may have led to her confusion.

The caller was thankful for the RCMP's efforts and invited them to join her for coffee and bread when she returns home, says Kennedy.



Travel trailer goes up in flames outside Chase

Travel trailer inferno

A wood stove chimney was found to be the cause of a travel trailer inferno outside Chase.

Chase RCMP on patrol spotted a large fire in the woods off the Trans-Canada Highway west of Chase on Nov. 14.

Police say the trailer was fully engulfed in flames when they came upon it.

The lone occupant of the trailer escaped the fire with just the clothes on her back.

Adams Lake Fire Department responded to the scene and prevented the fire from spreading into the forest.

The cause of the fire was determined to be the chimney of a wood stove that was the heat source inside the trailer.



Man held in walk-in cooler in alleged kidnapping and assault in Shuswap

Held in walk-in cooler?

A Celista man claims he was kidnapped, assaulted and held in a walk-in cooler for hours.

Chase RCMP say they received a delayed report of an assault that allegedly occurred on Nov. 2.

The victim says he was “taken” by an acquaintance and transported to a rural property, where he was assaulted before being held in a walk-in cooler type structure for several hours, says Chase RCMP Sgt. Barry Kennedy.

The victim told police he was later released, and he walked home.

The man was taken to hospital for assessment, says Kennedy.

RCMP obtained photographs and statements, spoke with possible witnesses and visited the location where the victim claims he was held.

Officers were unable to find any evidence to support the man's story.



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