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Salmon Arm  

CSRD wildfire report highlights communication concerns, desire for local firefighting supports

Concern about fire response

A Columbia Shuswap Regional District report commissioned after last year’s wildfire season shows many residents were concerned with a lack of communication during the emergency, and feel those who chose to disobey evacuation orders to fight the fire were not treated well.

The CSRD’s goal was to get feedback from the community about the district’s response during the Bush Creek East Wildfire that ravaged the region last August.

The report was conducted by Monogram Communications and Consulting.

In order to gather feedback for the report, the CSRD and Monogram held four in-person Community Conversation events — which were attended by more than 250 people — and two virtual events.

More than 400 people filled out a feedback survey.

In a statement on the CSRD website, John MacLean, chief administrative officer, said the district appreciates how many people took the time to participate.

“We know the community was anxious to share their thoughts, and we appreciate that so many residents took the time to share,” MacLean said.

“Having recently received the report ourselves, it has a lot of information to review. We are spending some time at a staff level to digest what was heard and to look at how those learnings can be incorporated into our emergency plans.”

The report is available to the public via the CSRD's website, and lists a dozen common concerns raised among all the different events.

According to the report, residents found the Aug. 18 evacuation alert came too late, and some reported not receiving it at all.

Some said they had difficulties with the Alertable app, used by the CSRD to send emergency alerts. Residents told the district there was a lack of communication leading up to evacuation alerts and throughout the emergency.

The report said residents held support and appreciation for CSRD fire services teams, balanced by feelings that those same teams didn’t do enough to share resources with locals who tried to help. People also voiced distress about the treatment of those who chose not to evacuate, and requested the development of community groups who could support firefighting efforts.

Residents acknowledged the importance of emergency support services, and requested more access to mapping information and signage for evacuation routes.

The report said people also voiced recognition of the importance of emergency preparedness, nothing there has been an uptake in requests for FireSmart information and assessments, several new volunteers for emergency support services and questions about S-100 courses for basic firefighting training.

There are also wide variety of recommended actions listed in the report to help solve some of the community issues.

The CSRD said it will be sharing the information from the report with agency partners like the BC Wildfire Service, the Ministry of Emergency Management and Climate Change and the RCMP.

The report will be presented to the board of directors for review and discussion at next week's regular board meeting on April 18.



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Salmon Arm police hand out 24-hour driving ban, tow vehicle after reports of a man 'tweaking out'

'So now I can drink'

Mounties say they handed out a 24-hour driving prohibition, seized a canned vodka beverage and towed a vehicle after receiving complaints about a man “tweaking out” and screaming at a woman.

Salmon Arm RCMP Const. Andrew Hodges said the incident took place on March 26.

“A complainant reported seeing a man 'tweaking out' and screaming at a woman in the 800 block of 16th St. NE,” Hodges said.

He said police attended and located the man and woman parked in a 2007 Chevrolet Equinox.

“Police observed drug paraphernalia in the vehicle, and the driver was exhibiting obvious symptoms of being impaired by drugs.”

After police handed the driver a 24-hour driving ban, he reportedly opened a canned vodka beverage and began drinking it while yelling, “I can’t drive, so now I can drink.”

“Police seized the vodka beverage, and the vehicle was towed off scene,” Hodges said.

“The man was advised he could obtain his driver’s licence from the police detachment after 24 hours.”



Salmon Arm Mounties say drunk driver caught without insurance after striking speed alert sign

Driver hits speed alert sign

A drunk driver with no insurance was caught in Salmon Arm after hitting a speed alert sign, police say.

Salmon Arm RCMP Const. Andrew Hodges said the incident took place on 20 Ave. SE on April 1.

“Police were on patrol and observed a running Toyota Tundra parked with no one in the driver’s seat,” Hodges said. “A man was standing outside the vehicle next to a speed alert sign that appeared to have been struck by the truck.”

The man admitted to police that he had been driving the truck and reportedly smelled strongly of alcohol.

Mounties requested a breath sample from the man.

“The first sample resulted in a fail, and the second sample was also a fail,” Hodges said. “The truck was also discovered to not have valid insurance.”

The driver was prohibited from driving for 90 days and the Toyota Tundra was impounded for 30 days.

Police also served the man with a violation ticket totalling $598 for not having valid insurance, and referred the matter to ICBC.



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SASCU Indoor Memorial Arena to remain closed, engineering report recommends demolition, replacement

Report finds arena not safe

An engineering report on the SASCU Indoor Memorial Arena has found the building's structural integrity to be “in poor condition,” and recommends demolition.

The City of Salmon Arm announced the results of the report in a Facebook post on April 11, and said in its current state, the building cannot be occupied.

The city said it has not finalized a decision on the future of the arena, and will be engaging the community in discussions about facilities.

“Based on the historical data reviewed, site observations made and the structural evaluation, the building envelope and structure are generally in poor condition and beyond their intended service life,” the report said. “Significant financial investment will be required to extend the useful service life of the building.

“It is the opinion of the undersigned that repairs to the building envelope and structure is not a viable option, and demolition or replacement should be considered.”

The report did contain options for repairs that would allow for continued use of the arena, but the estimated cost of the work necessary for full occupancy is about $2.7 million.

The City of Salmon Arm made the decision to close the arena last November after a preliminary engineering study revealed that the roof of the arena could collapse under a heavy snow load.

Several user groups were upset with the timing of the decision, as they had already paid for insurance and collected fees in anticipation of using the arena over the winter.

Decisions about the future of the arena are likely to be a topic of discussion at the next city council meeting on April 22.

The full report conducted by BAR Engineering is available on the City of Salmon Arm’s website.



Brazen thief walks into a Salmon Arm music store, takes guitar from window and quickly runs away

Daytime guitar theft

A brazen thief walked into a Salmon Arm music store in the middle of the day and stole a guitar from the front window.

Acorn Music Store at 118 Lakeshore Drive NE in Salmon Arm was the target of the theft that took place around 4 p.m. on Wednesday April 10.

Cory Bagg, the store owner, said his employee was busy helping a customer when the thief took the chance to strike.

“We had our employee working with some customers on their instrument and he was partway through the store,” Bagg said. “A gentleman walked past our window and walked straight in deliberately without pause and proceeded to read the tag on the guitar in the window and then removed it.”

“It was an Epiphone, Les Paul, special in black matte, and he grabbed it and walked straight out and went booking and down the sidewalk.”

Bagg said his employees are instructed not to attempt to detain would be thieves.

“So our employees have been instructed not to interfere for their own safety, so he stepped out just to see what vehicle the fellow was driving, and then reported it to the RCMP.”

“Fortunately, for us, it was only one guitar, it's the way things can go sometimes, but definitely, we'd love to have it back,” he added.

He also said they were fortunate that the thief didn’t have more expensive taste.

“That one's in about the $300 to $400 range, so fortunately, it wasn't one of the more expensive guitars, although it does look like a very expensive guitar,” Bagg said. “The one beside it is actually $1,000, so it was surprising to see him take the wrong one.”

Bagg said they were able to get a good picture of the suspect from their surveillance cameras and even think they learned the name of the individual. However, they are leaving the incident in the hands of the RCMP.

Bagg said Acorn Music hasn’t seen much in the way of crime however the street they are on has seen people trying the locked doors at night.

“There's been numerous nighttime attempts at opening some of the doors along this strip, although we haven't been affected in some time,” he said. “We don't usually have any crime or theft, the fellows are pretty good at keeping an eye on things and we have good surveillance as well.”

“Most people who are in the store are here to support us.”

Acorn Music asks that people keep an eye out for the guitar in case the thief is attempting to sell it around town.



Salmon Arm Mounties urging caution after local woman lost $1,900 in e-Transfer scam

Scammer posed as son

Mounties are warning the public to be cautious after a Salmon Arm woman was scammed out of $1,900 after receiving a text message from someone claiming to be her son.

Salmon Arm RCMP Const. Andrew Hodges said the incident took place on March 20.

“A woman reported she had been defrauded out of $1,900,” Hodges said in a statement. “The woman stated she received a text message from someone claiming to be her son and needing money.”

Hodges said the woman e-Transferred the money to an unfamiliar email address which was set up with auto deposit, and didn't realize she had been scammed until after she sent the money.

Mounties are reminding the public to exercise caution before sending an e-Transfer.

“This could include speaking to the person in real life, or if speaking over the phone, then using code words to confirm their identity,” Hodges said. “Never assume the phone numbers and names appearing on your call display are accurate. Don’t be afraid to say no.”

Residents can learn more about common scams and how to protect themselves from fraud by visiting the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website.



Salmon Arm's Glynis Sim takes 38th place, top Canadian finish at the World Cross Country Championships

Top finish for local athlete

Salmon Arm’s Glynis Sim took 38th place at the World Cross Country Championships in Belgrade, the top Canadian finish in her division.

The World Cross Country Championships took place on March 30, and Sim arrived back in Canada on Sunday, April 7.

Sim competed in the senior women’s division and finished the 10-kilometre race with a time of 34 minutes and 37 seconds. She said she was pretty happy with her performance.

“It was pretty good,” Sim said, “It was a lot of fun, but definitely a tough course and tough race.”

She said she enjoyed competing with different athletes from around the world.

“There were varying abilities, I would say, but yeah — it was pretty cool.”

Sim was born and raised in Salmon Arm, but she is now living in Vancouver while she attends the University of British Columbia, taking part in the university track and field team while pursuing a nursing career.

She said the cross country season is over, but she still has lots of running to do.

“The season's over for cross country now, and then I'll be starting a track season in the spring,” Sim said. “So 1,500 metres and five kilometre racing on the track.”

Kenya’s Beatrice Chebet finished first in the division with a time of 31 minutes and 5 seconds.



Sicamous council votes unanimously in favour of rezoning rail trail properties

Rail trail gets the go ahead

The District of Sicamous council voted unanimously to approve zoning bylaw changes which will pave the way for a rail trail after a well-attended public hearing Wednesday evening.

The district held a public hearing for the reconsideration of zoning bylaw amendment 1044 after it was initially defeated at a council meeting on Feb. 14.

About 150 people came out to attend the public hearing at the Sicamous and District Senior's Centre, with more watching online via Zoom. All the chairs available were full, and more people stood around the edges of the room for the duration of the hearing.

Four councillors had voted in opposition to the proposed bylaw amendment at the Feb. 14 meeting, however, all of them said they were ready to vote in favour of the rail trail zoning at Wednesday's public hearing.

Coun. Ian Baillie said council had received more information about the project, and he was happy to vote in favour of the amendment with the new information.

“I was one of the four that voted against it and I would do it again, based on the information that I had at the time,” Baillie said.

“We’ve had multiple meetings with the CSRD [Columbia Shuswap Regional District] and the rail trail owners, Splatsin, and MOTI [B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure] and a lot of these important players, where there were question marks around the information that we were getting.”

Questions remain around zoning type

Some council members said the type of zoning used for the rail trail site, P3 park general, might not be the best choice — and further amendments could lead to more public hearings in the future.

Coun. Gord Bushell said even though he planned to vote in favour of the proposed bylaw amendment, he was not sure P3 was the correct zoning.

“We can still adjust it or we can still change it to a transportation corridor,” Bushell said. “All along, it's been called the transportation corridor, so we still have time to change that whenever we do. Tonight, we have to get the rail trail moving.”

Should council decide to amend zoning going forward, it would require another public hearing.

Mayor Colleen Anderson thanked everyone for coming, and also thanked councillors who previously voted against the rail trail.

“Respectfully, you guys had a lot of questions and you got a lot of questions answered. So thank you guys very much as well," Anderson.

She also tried to ease the fears of the dock owners.

“The zoning doesn't affect your docks,” she said. “W1 [zoning], which is docks, are allowed in the channel in Sicamous. As long as you have upland owner consent, you can have a dock in the channel.

"That's just the zoning in Sicamous, so I just wanted to clarify that for you folks.”

With the zoning amendment bylaw passed, construction will be able to begin on the section between 0.5 and 1.5 kilometres that falls within the District of Sicamous.

Residents weigh in on zoning change

More than a dozen residents spoke at the hearing in support of the rezoning amendment, including CSRD electoral area E Director, Rhona Martin.

Two residents spoke against the zoning amendment. They made it clear they support the rail trail in general, but that they believed the park zoning would impact their ability to keep their docks on Mara Lake.

Residents identifying themselves as dock owners had voiced their opinions against passing the zoning for the rail trail at the original public hearing on Feb. 14.

Natalie Sorkilmo spoke out against the zoning amendment, identifying herself as a resident who lived along the rail trail lands, as well as a business owner in town. She said she was one of the people who distributed rail trail flyers ahead of Wednesday's public hearing.

“Yes, we distributed the flyers,” Sorkilmo said. “And you know what, it's brought everybody out tonight and I think that's really important.”

She said she had also sent a letter to Sicamous council warning of what she claimed are legal implications of the proposed P3 zoning as it relates to the district's Official Community Plan.

Sorkilmo declined to provide further details at the meeting, saying she would make the letter publicly available. It was not made clear when or where she would be posting the document.



Trucker caught driving drunk after police pull over 18-wheeler on Highway 1

Semi driver drunk on Hwy 1

Mounties say a call from concerned motorists led to them catching an impaired driver behind the wheel of a semi truck pulling a 52-foot trailer on the Trans-Canada Highway near Salmon Arm.

Salmon Arm RCMP Const. Andrew Hodges said the incident took place March 28 on the Trans-Canada Highway near Tappen.

“At 12:30pm a complainant reported an erratic semi driver speeding and tailgating, eastbound on the Trans-Canada Highway,” he said. “Police made patrols and were able to locate a semi with matching licence plate.”

Police pulled over the semi truck and requested a breath sample from the driver.

“On the fourth attempt, police were able to obtain a suitable breath sample which resulted in a fail,” Hodges said.

“The driver was provided the opportunity to provide a second breath sample, which also resulted in a fail.”

Police served the driver with a 90-day driving prohibition and his truck was impounded for 30 days.



District of Sicamous issues statement clarifying it is not affiliated with rail trail flyer

Rail trail flyer circulated

The District of Sicamous has issued a statement saying it isn't affiliated with a flyer that has been circulated throughout the community which claims to communicate "the truth about the rail trail."

A rezoning amendment bylaw necessary to make way for the Sicamous portion of the Shuswap North Okanagan Rail Trail was narrowly defeated at a Feb. 14 council meeting, with some adjacent property owners expressing concerns about dock access.

Mayor Colleen Anderson ordered a reconsideration of council's decision after being presented with a substantial petition from members of the public, and a public hearing will be held on April 10.

The District of Sicamous posted a statement to its website on Friday, April 5, noting a flyer had been distributed to Sicamous mailboxes about the Shuswap North Okanagan Rail Trail.

“This flyer was not created or distributed by the District of Sicamous," the statement said.

The statement provided links to the official Shuswap North Okanagan Rail Trail website, as well as links to recordings of Sicamous council meetings that featured rail trail discussions and updates.

The flyer claims to be clearing up misinformation about the rail trail, but it is not clearly attributed to any organization or group. Small print on the bottom of the document reads, “This flyer is independently brought to you by concerned citizens.”

The flyer argues the rail trail lands should not be zoned as a park, and instead should be zoned as a transportation corridor like Enderby’s section of the rail trail.

“The P-3 zoning put forward at the Feb. 14 public hearing is contrary to the lawful requirement of the DOS council to protect the public interest both present and future,” the flyer reads.

“The District of Sicamous can mirror the transportation corridor zoning that the City of Enderby used for the rail trail and through this zoning can secure easements and utility rights of way to service the future development of Sicamous and the future development of Splatsin’s IR#3.”

Currently Sicamous does not have any kind of transportation corridor zoning available in their zoning bylaws, however it is possible for them to create a new kind of zoning. It's not clear if that would provide the benefits purported by the flyer.

A public hearing for zoning bylaw 1044 regarding the rail trail lands, as well as a few other housekeeping zoning changes, is scheduled for April 10 at 5 p.m. at the Sicamous and District Seniors Centre.

Should the bylaw amendment pass at the public hearing, the council could choose to create another zoning amendment bylaw to change the zoning, however it would require another public hearing.

On March 27, the district issued a statement denouncing threats and bullying of both council members and members of the public related to the rail trail zoning issue.

The Shuswap North Okanagan Rail Trail is intended to be a 50 kilometre non-motorized corridor for walking and cycling, stretching from Sicamous to Armstrong.

In February, ownership partners behind the Shuswap North Okanagan Rail Trail announced project construction would start three kilometres past its originally planned starting point after Sicamous council voted down the rezoning bylaw amendment.



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