The Valley Sentinel 2015 in Review

Dianne St. Jean

The following are excerpts of stories or headlines covered by The Valley Sentinel throughout the year 2015. While we attempted to include what we considered to be key events, space restrictions have necessitated omitting some events that others may have liked to see included.

While each highlight has been placed under a specific category, some might also apply under another. The events are not necessarily listed in chronological order.

Robson Valley

Developers of Valemount Glacier Destinations (VGD) held a number of community presentations in Valemount to keep the community informed of the progress and to provide opportunity to raise any concerns regarding plans for the proposed world-class ski resort. After having to modify the Master Plan a few times, it appears that plans are moving forward, and there is expectation that final plans will be approved. Construction of Phase One of the project is expected to begin in September 2016.

The “Better at Home” pilot project, a non-medical support program sponsored by The United Way, was launched in collaboration with community members from Dunster, McBride, and Valemount. A working committee was struck to work out details, with Cathy Pittman from McBride hired on as Program Coordinator. The program focuses on support solutions for seniors, including access to greater mobility from getting out and shopping to travelling to medical appointments out of town.

The Valley Museum and Archives in McBride held a Front Page contest. Contestants had to come up with a design for a front page from the Robson Valley in the year 2114. Amber Whelpton of McBride took first in the Ages 9-12 category and Jim Swanson from Banff, AB won in the adult category.

Valemount Area Recreation Development Association (VARDA) completed improvements to Crystal Ridge with funding through the Northern Development Initiative Trust and the Columbia Basin Trust’s Community Initiatives program. New trail grooming equipment was also purchased.

For the first time in forty years, Valemountain Days did not run in Valemount. The announcement was made in April. Since January many appeals for

volunteers were made, all to no avail. Without sufficient manpower to run the events, the Valemount Community Sports Days Association had no choice but to cancel the program.

Valemount Secondary School student Shae-Lynn Carlson was selected to attend an international basketball camp in the UK. The community rallied around Carlson to help her raise the money to attend.

Canada celebrated its 148th anniversary since Confederation in 1867. On July 2 government representatives from all levels came to Valemount with good news of funding: $235,000 from the Government of Canada toward a new Fifth Avenue Lift Station in Valemount, with the Provincial Government matching that amount; and $436,000 to support the conservation of fish habitat on Swift Creek through the Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnerships Program.

Conflict between CLAC and the office of the Mayor of McBride regarding the firing of Public Works employee John Aitken created a storm of controversy over policy. The firing was supposed to have been spawned by a move to unionize with CLAC. The dismissal resulted in a Labour Relations Board hearing and vote for certification. Details of the settlement regarding the unfair labour practice filing were kept confidential. At the same time, employees voted in favour of certification with CLAC.

The Village of Valemount ruled against compensation for residents from Eighth and Ninth avenues who experienced water/sewage backup after a failure of the Dogwood St. and Eight Avenue lift station in August last year. CAO Anne Yanciw commented that the liability insurance carrier determined no fault on the part of the Village; however, claimants wondered what information was given to the carrier to make that determination since there had been admittance that the Village knew the problem with the lift station existed before the backup occurred.

Both McBride and Valemount saw the termination and replacement of CAO positions. Eliana Clements unexpectedly resigned her position with the McBride office shortly after the 2014 elections and was ultimately replaced by Kelly Williams after Bob Lafleur took the helm as interim CAO at the beginning of April for several weeks.

Anne Yanciw gave up her position as CAO for the Village of Valemount after controversy swarmed the community stemming from the dissatisfaction of several business owners and private citizens over her professional conduct. Yanciw was replaced by interim CAO Ken Wiesner. The Village of Valemount is on the cusp of hiring a new CAO.

The Castle Creek Hydro Project Open House tour took place in June. About 30 employees had worked daily over a period of more than two years to complete the project. The system delivers 6K kilowatts of power to the grid and runs at about 75% capacity regularly.

The Robson Valley Support Society celebrated 35 years of operation.

Royal Canadian Legion Valemount Branch 266 hosted the 65th Anniversary commemoration of the Canoe River Train crash, which happened on Nov. 21, 1950. A troop train with about three hundred and forty soldiers bound for the war in Korea collided head-on with an eastbound CNR passenger train just south of Valemount, killing seventeen gunners and the two-man locomotive crew from each train.

The proposal to designate the Ancient Forest a UNESCO World Heritage Site raised concern with some residents along the Eastline, specifically guides, outfitters and farmers, who were concerned that their livelihood would be affected because of land restriction.

The McBride Community Forest Corporation was in a hotseat of controversy, and while positive steps have been taken toward getting it back on track, some solutions remain to be undertaken including correction of an overcut, issues with road implementation and overall administrative challenges. An oversight team was formed to prepare an emergency plan to address the issues.

The community of Dunster celebrated its 100th Anniversary during the August long weekend. There was live, outdoor entertainment and turn of the century motor vehicles. The Community Centre, the school, the railway station and the General Store were all refurbished in preparation for the event, which was well attended.

Dunster also celebrated its 11th Music Festival.

The River gospel music festival hosted its second annual event at the Canoe River Campgrounds south of Valemount.

Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope celebrated 35 years with a climb to Mt. Terry Fox, situated just north of Valemount. Fox’s family and representatives of the Terry Fox Foundation joined in the Mt. Terry Fox Trek, which took place the weekend of Sept. 5 & 6.

McBride held a by-election to fill the position of Councillor Robert Callaghan who resigned his seat as of March 1. The four candidates were (in alphabetical order) Lisa Bugaychuk, Joe Rich, Diane Smith, and Rick Thompson. The Sept. 19 election results had a win for Thompson with 110 votes.

Concerns were raised regarding the condition of Horseshoe Lake outside of McBride. Since then Ducks Unlimited and the Chamber of Commerce have responded with plans to upgrade the failing waterflow system to adjust levels and to deal with the overgrowth of lily pads and algae caused by the low levels.

The Farmers’ Institute in McBride celebrated its 100th Anniversary.

The Valemount Volunteer Fire Dept. celebrated 50 years of dedication and service on Oct. 25. There was an excellent turnout of community members.

After much effort Blue River finally received a new pumper truck and fire fighting equipment. With no properly functioning fire truck and a lack of fire fighters, the Fire Dept. had been all but immobilized. Through the effort of new Fire Chief Gabriel Lavoie and an increase in volunteers, Blue River was finally able to revive the status and function of its Fire Department.

Phase One of the Mountain Bike Trail for Valemount, known as 5mile began in June. The work was carried out by Robson Energy Services, owned and operated by Andreas Thoni, with the help of Valemount local Ross McKirdy. Others who helped included Jeff Cook from Cornerstone Excavating & Contracting (Kimberly), Brett Saunders, Michelle Fletcher, Randy Pruden and Dylan Cuming.

Province of British Columbia

As of Apr. 1, grocery stores were permitted to stock 100% BC wine on their shelves in order to support BC’s home-grown economy. The move was executed in phases. A limit was put on the number of new licenses available and there are certain eligibility requirements, such as maintaining a min. of 10,000 sq. ft. and approx. 75% focus on food products and service.

The Government of British Columbia implemented a ten-year transportation plan (BC On the Move) for the construction of seven new passing lanes on Highways 5, 16 and 37. This included a new southbound passing lane on Highway 5 at Camp Creek about 10 km south of Valemount.

BC took bragging rights on its AA(High) and AAA ratings. Finance Minister Michael de Jong was proud to announce confirmation of BC’s top fiscal ratings. The province has been receiving credit rating upgrades since 2004, accredited to its strong fiscal discipline practices and declining debt burden.

Above-normal hot, dry weather fostered major forest fires in the province, including the Little Bobtail Lake fire, which raged out of control in May.

The Provincial Government also waged war against invasive mussels by launching a program to prevent our waters from contamination through infected water vessels. Through the Invasive Species Prevention Program checkpoints were put up along Highway 5 and around Kinbasket Lake and other high-traffic tourist areas.

Canada

The Canada Winter Games were held in Prince George from Feb. 13 – Mar. 1, 2015 with the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation as Official Host Nation. Team BC finished with 88 medals.

Team Canada took gold from the Russians at the 2015 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Junior Hockey Championship.

The federal government introduced new anti-terrorism legislation. The move created controversy over the increased power by CSIS to monitor movement of individuals or groups suspected of involvement with terrorist organizations.

Sgt. Andrew Joseph Doiron from Moncton, N.B. was killed on Mar. 6 as the first casualty in Canada’s operations against ISIS.

Canada voted in October, with a surprise majority win for the Liberal Party and making Justin Trudeau the 23rd Canadian Prime Minister. The Liberals staked a firm claim of 184 seats, needing just 170 to seal a majority. The greatest shock was the outcome for the NDP, finishing with just 44 seats and a number of lost seats including that of Olivia Chow, wife of late NDP leader Jack Layton. Another surprise was the outcome for the BQ, with just ten seats and BQ leader Gilles Duceppe losing his own riding.

What we are looking forward to in 2016:

Increase in local economic development and opportunity through regional development and tourism projects. This includes the Trans Mountain (Kinder Morgan) pipeline twinning project, Valemount Glacier Destination construction, and further expansion of the Mountain Bike Trail.

The appointment of a new CAO in Valemount.

Resolutions and revival in the McBride Community Forest Corporation.

There was an obvious increase in property sales in Valemount at the latter part of 2015. Many of these are Albertans who have dreamed of settling in Valemount for years and who are finally taking the plunge. Others intend to open new businesses in Valemount. It will be interesting to see what changes will occur in Valemount in 2016 as a result of this.

Fast Eddy (Dostaler) made his way through Valemount on Fri. Mar. 27 from his starting point in Victoria, BC on Mar. 1.
Fast Eddy (Dostaler) made his way through Valemount on Fri. Mar. 27 from his starting point in Victoria, BC on Mar. 1.
 
Curtis Pawliuk and Patricia Thoni representing VARDA presented Valemount school Principals Priscilla Davis (Elementary School) and Dan Kenkel (Secondary School) with a cheque for $8000 to go toward their food programs. Each school received $4000.
Curtis Pawliuk and Patricia Thoni representing VARDA presented Valemount school Principals Priscilla Davis (Elementary School) and Dan Kenkel (Secondary School) with a cheque for $8000 to go toward their food programs. Each school received $4000.
 
Lheidli T’enneh artist Jennifer Annais Pighin created three unique designs that were used on Team BC apparel and pins for the 2015 Canada Winter Games.
Lheidli T’enneh artist Jennifer Annais Pighin created three unique designs that were used on Team BC apparel and pins for the 2015 Canada Winter Games.