Jaffray Area OCP Goes to Public Hearing

After more than two years of planning and community consultation, the public will have its last opportunity to comment on the Jaffray Area Official Community Plan and South Country Zoning Bylaw at a public hearing next week.

“A public hearing is different than a public meeting. It is a legislative requirement and is intended to obtain public comment as part of the formal bylaw process,” explains RDEK Chair Rob Gay. “It is important for people to read the plan and participate in the public hearing. This is not a question and answer session or a time to debate the merits of the plan. It is an opportunity for the public to state on the record their reason for supporting or opposing the proposed bylaw.”

This planning process itself dates back to September 2015 and has involved extensive community consultation and information. “Recently there have been some suggestions that this process hasn’t been transparent and that RDEK staff and the Area Director have worked independently. This is simply not the case,” states Gay. “This process has involved a public advisory group of dedicated volunteers, there have been multiple meetings and open houses, an additional comment period following the boundary adjustment, and multiple direct newsletter mail outs to every property owner in the affected area. In addition, there have been 15 different stakeholder meetings.  To insinuate that this process has been anything but open and transparent is both unfair and inaccurate.”

Having said that, Gay says the Board recognizes that there are people on both sides of the issue: those who support the plan and those who oppose it.  “I want to stress that we are there to listen. That is the entire purpose of the hearing: to listen and to gather the community’s comments. I am hopeful that we have a good turnout and look forward to respectful dialogue.”

The public hearing will be held November 22nd at 7:00 PM at the Jaffray Community Hall.

For those unable to attend the public hearing, written submissions can be mailed, faxed or emailed and must be received prior to the close of the public hearing. The public hearing notices are available at www.rdek.bc.ca or through the RDEK office.

Links:

Windermere Water and East Side Water Service Establishment Bylaws Adopted

On the heels of two successful referendums in late October, the RDEK Board of Directors has formally adopted the required bylaws to officially purchase Parr Utilities and move forward with connecting the Windermere Water System.

“The successful referendums were a huge milestone for the community and now the work begins on the next steps in the process,” says RDEK Electoral Area F Director Wendy Booth.

The purchase agreement between the RDEK and Windermere Water and Sewer Company for the purchase of Parr Utilities has a closing date of May 31, 2018.  “We are still working on a number of approvals and other details prior to taking over operation of the water system, including an ALR application for subdivision and approval from the Comptroller of Water Rights,” says RDEK Engineering Services Manager Brian Funke.

Another key step in the process will be the design and construction tender. The RDEK hopes engage an engineer this winter.

“This is a huge project and there are so many pieces in the puzzle,” adds Funke. “As a project team, we will be putting together a plan and we will be communicating with the community every step of the way.” 

The voter turnout for the October referendums was approximately 35%, with 77% voting in favour in the Windermere Water Upgrade referendum and 81% of voters in support in East Side Lake Windermere Water vote. The first ballot was for customers in the Windermere Water Service Area regarding borrowing for the purchase of the water treatment plant. The second ballot related to the establishment of a new water service area that includes Windermere, Timber Ridge and the existing Parr customers.

The Windermere Water System has been under a Water Quality Advisory since 2006.

Preliminary Voting Results (Windermere Water Upgrade / East Side Lake Windermere Service)

Here are the preliminary results from the parallel referendums (click on the link for detailed breakdown):

The Official results are expected to be declared by the Chief Election Officer early next week.

RDEK Email Group Online Sign Up Form

The RDEK email groups are separated by community to ensure you receive only the most relevant information.

Please fill out the form below, by adding your email address and selecting the community you live / own property in.  If you live/own property in more than one area and want to be on more than one list, you can choose as many lists as you like; however, you may receive multiple emails if you are on multiple lists.  The list has been separated by Subregion to help make it a bit easier to find your community, as there are a lot of options.

As a member of this email group, you will receive emergency notifications (for things like flooding and wildfire), general information, project news, news releases (relevant to your area) and, for those on an RDEK water or sewer system, information on interruptions/upgrades for your water or sewer service. Once a month you will also receive the Board Meeting Highlights which provide an overview of some of the decisions of the Board.  Legal notices are never sent via email. Public hearing notices are listed on the meetings/notices page and are included in the Board Highlights each month.  These lists are for RDEK use only and are not shared with third parties.

 

 

 

 

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RDEK Director Acclaimed as President of UBCM

The RDEK’s Electoral Area F Director Wendy Booth has been acclaimed as the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) President.

“On behalf of the RDEK, I want to congratulate Wendy. She works tirelessly and is fully committed to everything she takes on. Here in the East Kootenay, we are lucky to have such a passionate voice representing us on a Provincial level,” says RDEK Board Chair Rob Gay. “On a broader scale, British Columbians will benefit from Wendy’s leadership as she continues to advocate for policies and programming that benefit us all.”

This will be Booth’s fifth year on the UBCM Executive. Last year, she served as First Vice President and has also been a Second Vice President and Director at Large.   In addition, the RDEK has two other Directors on the UBCM Executive.  Invermere Mayor Gerry Taft has been re-elected as a Director at Large and Gay is serving as the Association of Kootenay Boundary Local Governments (AKBLG) representative on the Executive.

The formal installation ceremony took place this morning at the annual UBCM Convention in Vancouver.

Fire at Columbia Valley Landfill Quickly Extinguished

 A small fire at the Columbia Valley Landfill Thursday afternoon was quickly actioned by staff and the Windermere Fire Department.

“A fire broke out at about 3:30 PM yesterday afternoon in a fresh load from the Brisco area. Landfill staff immediately contacted the local fire department and implemented our Landfill Fire Response Plan,” says RDEK Solid Waste Superintendent Jim Penson. “The fire was isolated to a small area of new garbage being packed on the face.  Staff was able to remove the burning waste along with a larger section around it and relocate it to a flat open area.  The waste was hosed down as it was removed and again as it was placed in the secondary location.”

The fire department responded with two trucks and stayed on site throughout the mop up.

“While there was smoke initially, the staff and emergency responders did an exceptional job of isolating the fire, removing it from the working face of the landfill and extinguishing it immediately,” adds Penson.  The active fire was suppressed within an hour and staff remained on site until 8:00 PM monitoring the pile and completing the mop up.

Fire Chief Applauds Responders for Quick Action on Grass Fire

Columbia Valley Rural Fire and Rescue Service Fire Chief Jim Miller is applauding the efforts of all those who responded to a quick moving grassfire near Windermere Sunday.

“We had ten members and three pieces of equipment from the Windermere Fire Department, a crew and truck from Fairmont Fire, a BC Wildfire Service initial attack crew and officer along with one of their helicopters immediately respond,” says Fire Chief Jim Miller. “There was certainly the potential for that situation to be extremely serious and we are very grateful for the immediate and effective response of all involved.”

In addition, the RCMP and BC Ambulance Service responded to the approximately one hectare fire on Kootenay Road 3. Fortunately, there were no injuries and no structures lost.

“This shows just how dry conditions still are,” stresses Miller.  “We cannot stress enough that the fire danger is still there and it is imperative that we all continue to be smart out there.”

The cause of the fire is under investigation; however, it is believed to be human caused.

Evacuation ORDER Rescinded for Moyie, Alerts Lifted

The cooler temperatures and rain today have resulted in encouraging progress on the fire front, including the official rescinding of the evacuation ORDER for the Moyie area effective 6:00 PM tonight.

“This is an exciting day,” says Information Officer Loree Duczek.  “Not only are we pleased to be able to see everyone in the Moyie area able to head back home safely tonight, we have also been able to lift a number of alerts across the region. What a difference a week makes.”  Residents are asked to wait until 6:00 PM to return home.

The rescind area is shown on the attached map and applies to the west side of Moyie Lake, including:

  • Monroe Lake
  • Green Bay
  • Braunagel Road
  • Moyie Shores Estates
  • Aurora Estates

Evacuees from the Moyie area are encouraged to visit the Canadian Red Cross desk at the ESS Reception Centre at the curling rink to pick up a cleaning kit and determine what re-entry assistance they may be eligible for. The Red Cross hours are 9 AM to 4 PM. They can also be reached at 1-800-863-6582.  There are also information packages available for pick up that include details of what to expect and tips for re-entry.
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In addition to the rescinding of the evacuation order for the Lamb Creek fire, a number of evacuation alerts have been rescinded this afternoon:

  • Lamb Creek Fire (Moyie Area): Evacuation ALERT Rescinded for Porto Rico Road, Moyie Vista, Hidden Valley Road, Owl’s Nest, Moyie townsite, Eagles Nest, and both sides of Highway 3/95 south of Braunagel Road to Stone Creek
  • White River Complex Fire: Evacuation ALERT Rescinded - Whiteswan Area
  • Linklater Fire: - Evacuation ALERT Rescinded - Newgate/West Koocanusa - for the community of Newgate south to the US Border - including Sunshine Houseboats, Sandy Shores, and Madera Ranch RV resort    

“In spite of this progress, it’s important for people around the region to remember that we still have a number of active fires burning in the East Kootenay and there are a number of area restrictions around those fires that must be adhered to,” adds Duczek.  For more information on the area restrictions, visit http://www.bcwildfire.ca

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The Off Road Vehicle Prohibition and campfire ban remain in place.

“We want to thank the residents of Moyie for their tremendous cooperation and patience,” adds Duczek. “This has been an extraordinary fire season and we also owe our heartfelt thanks to the men and women from the BC Wildfire Service who have worked tirelessly on the front lines and behind the scenes to protect us all summer.”

For the latest status of wildfires, visit http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/wildfire-status

Whiteswan Evacuation ORDER Downgraded to ALERT

As firefighting efforts continue on the White River Complex Fire, the RDEK has rescinded the evacuation ORDER and downgraded it to an evacuation ALERT for the Whiteswan Area.

“The crews are continuing to make progress on the White River Fire and the BC Wildfire Service felt comfortable in recommending the order be lifted and downgraded to an alert,” says Information Officer Loree Duczek.  “It’s important to note that a number of area restrictions were announced yesterday by the Southeast Fire Centre, which include the Whiteswan area.”

Access to Whiteswan, including the Lussier Hot Springs, is now under an area restriction that begins at the turn off from Highway 93/95.

Yesterday, the RDEK was able to do a partial rescind of the evacuation order in the Moyie area, which downgraded a portion of the evacuation order on the east side of the lake to an alert.  “It was a good day yesterday to know hundreds of people were able to return home,” says Duczek. “We are now focused on getting the remaining people on evacuation order in the Moyie area back to their homes as quickly and as safely as we can.”

The current evacuation orders and alerts in the RDEK are as follows:

  • Lamb Creek Fire (Moyie Area): Evacuation ALERT for Porto Rico Road, Moyie Vista, Hidden Valley Road, Owl’s Nest, Moyie townsite, Eagles Nest, and both sides of Highway 3/95 south of Braunagel Road to Stone Creek (166 properties, including over 450 RV sites)
  • Lamb Creek Fire (Moyie Area):  Evacuation ORDER - Green Bay, Monroe Lake, Braunagel Road, Moyie Shores Estates and Aurora Estates.  (232 properties, including Provincial Campground)
  • White River Complex Fire: Evacuation ALERT - Whiteswan Area (4 private properties and the Whiteswan Lake Provincial Park including all campgrounds)
  • Linklater Fire: - Evacuation ALERT - Newgate/West Koocanusa - for the community of Newgate south to the US Border - including Sunshine Houseboats, Sandy Shores, and Madera Ranch RV resort (18 properties, including 300 RV sites)   

For the latest status of wildfires, visit http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/wildfire-status

Changes Announced to Backcountry Closure (1pm Mountain Time - September 19/17)

Area restriction rescinded for White River Complex fire

Due to recent changes in the weather and fire behaviour, the area restriction
currently in effect around the White River and Quinn Creek wildfires will be rescinded at noon
Pacific Time on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017.
In addition, BC Parks (in consultation with the BC Wildfire Service) is reopening Whiteswan Lake
Provincial Park for public use, effective immediately.
However, in the interest of public safety and the safety of first responders, the following forest
service road closures are now in effect and will remain in place until the public is otherwise
notified.
White River Forest Service Road, starting at the 32.5 kilometre mark
White-East Fork Forest Service Road, starting at the 60-kilometre mark
White-Schoefield Forest Service Road, starting at the 78-kilometre mark
Lodgepole Creek R05956 SEC 1 Forest Service Road, starting at the 54.3-kilometre mark
Quinn Creek Forest Service Road, starting at Alpine Creek
Bull River Forest Service Road, between the 94.5-kilometre mark and Narboe Creek
Information on other wildfire-related area restrictions in the Rocky Mountain Forest District,
including detailed maps and road closures, is available online: http://ow.ly/2K9q30fiF5c

A campfire ban remains in effect throughout the Southeast Fire Centre. For more information
about this ban and other open burning prohibitions, please visit: http://ow.ly/GWXj30fiFgp

The Southeast Fire Centre extends from the United States-Canada border in the south to the
Mica Dam in the north and from the Okanagan Highlands and Monashee Mountains in the west
to the B.C.-Alberta border in the east. The Southeast Fire Centre includes the Selkirk Natural
Resource District and the Rocky Mountain Natural Resource District.

To report a wildfire or open burning violation, call *5555 on a cellphone or 1 800 663-5555 tollfree.

For the latest information on current wildfire activity, burning restrictions, road closures
and air quality advisories, visit: http://www.bcwildfire.ca

Evacuation ALERT Rescinded for Elkford and Area as Cool Weather Arrives

The Quinn Creek and White River Complex Fires received precipitation overnight and are contributing to less aggressive fire behaviour today.

As a result, in consultation with the BC Wildfire Service, the precautionary Evacuation Alert for the Elkford area has been RESCINDED by the Regional District of East Kootenay, District of Elkford and District of Sparwood.  Click here for Evacuation Alert Rescind.

“Although the alert has been lifted, it is important for residents to remain aware and prepared should conditions on either of the fires change,” says Information Officer Loree Duczek.  “In spite of the rain received in parts of the region, conditions still remain dry and we all need to continue to stay vigilant.”

Both Rocky Mountain Elementary and Elkford Secondary School will reopen tomorrow morning.

“I want to thank the community for its tremendous support and cooperation,” says District of Elkford Mayor Dean McKerracher.

The evacuation ALERT area covered the area north of the District of Sparwood to Bingay Creek, including the District of Elkford, Line Creek, Green Hills and Fording River Operations and all rural properties north of the District of Sparwood.
The Quinn Creek fire is currently estimated at 7513.5 hectares and is burning southwest of Elkford, while the White River Complex is now estimated at 25,640 hectares.

For the latest status of wildfires, visit http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/wildfire-status

REPOSTED FROM SE FIRE CENTRE: News Release: Off-Road Vehicles Restricted in Back Country

For Immediate Release 2017FLNR0297-001600 Sept. 19, 2017


INFORMATION BULLETIN
Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development BC Wildfire Service


Off-road vehicle prohibitions rescinded throughout B.C.


KAMLOOPS   The operation of off-road vehicles will once again be permitted on Crown land throughout the Cariboo Fire Centre, Kamloops Fire Centre and Southeast Fire Centre, effective at noon on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017.


Cooler weather conditions and recent precipitation have reduced the flammability of fine fuels in these regions, which has significantly reduced the chance of a wildfire starting from a spark or a hot engine

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However, the BC Wildfire Service reminds the public that some area restrictions are still in effect on Crown land in the vicinity of large wildfires in the Cariboo Fire Centre, Kamloops Fire Centre and Southeast Fire Centre, to help protect public safety and allow firefighting operations to continue efficiently. The use of off-road vehicles will continue to be prohibited in the restricted areas around these wildfires.


Additionally, campfire prohibitions remain in effect throughout the Cariboo Fire Centre, Kamloops Fire Centre and Southeast Fire Centre.


More information about these area restrictions and campfire prohibitions can be found online:


  Factsheet on fire-related prohibitions and restrictions: http://ow.ly/qUPm30fhyGz
  BC Wildfire Service website: http://www.gov.bc.ca/wildfirebans


Individuals found to be in contravention of an area restriction may be issued a violation ticket that carries a fine of $767, while individuals found to be in contravention of a campfire prohibition may be issued a ticket that carries a fine of $1,150. If a person s activities causes or contributes to a wildfire, the person responsible may also be ordered to pay all firefighting and associated costs.


To report a wildfire or open burning violation, call *5555 on a cellphone or 1 800 663-5555 toll- free.


For the latest information on current wildfire activity, burning restrictions, road closures and air quality advisories, visit: http://www.bcwildfire.ca
You can also follow the latest wildfire news on:


  Twitter: http://twitter.com/BCGovFireInfo
  Facebook: http://facebook.com/BCForestFireInfo

Swift Response by Residents and Firefighters Keeps Blaze Contained

Members of the Jaffray Fire Department were on the scene of a fire this afternoon.

Six firefighters and three pieces of apparatus responded to the scene of a vehicle fire at a residence. “The fire started in the pick up truck in the yard and quickly spread into the trees,” says Elk Valley & South Country Rural Fire Chief, Dave Boreen. “Fast action by residents in the area helped slow the fire until our crews arrived.”

The blaze was quickly extinguished and hot spots mopped up and Chief Boreen says the neighbours and firefighters who responded to the call were instrumental in keeping the fire contained and controlled. “This had the potential to be a much more serious event. The truck had diesel fuel storage tanks in the back, conditions are tinder dry and we had gusty winds all afternoon. The neighbours and firefighters did a tremendous job today.”

The truck was heavily damaged by the fire and there was no damage to the nearby residence or surrounding structures..

Baynes Lake Fire Receives Meaningful Donation

A unique and memorable training experience unfolded in Baynes Lake last week as six members of the Lacombe Fire Department arrived to donate and personally deliver new rescue tools and a pump for the Fire Department.

“The driving force behind this donation was Zach Walker, who started with the Baynes Lake Fire Department as soon as he was old enough to join before moving on to become a member of the Lacombe Department. Zach’s brother Ethan is currently a part of our Junior Program in Baynes Lake and I can remember both boys being around the Fire Hall from the time they were very young,” says Elk Valley and South Country Rural Fire Chief Dave Boreen.

Tragically, Ethan and Zach recently lost their mother Juanita following a motor vehicle accident near Wardner.  When the hydraulic rescue tools and pumps were offloaded, each was adorned with a small plaque that reads “In Memory of Juanita Walker.”

“There are moments when you see things unfold that you know are going to leave a lasting legacy. This is one of those moments,” adds Boreen.

The Lacombe firefighters, including Zach, then delivered a weekend extrication training session.  Firefighters from the Baynes Lake, Elko and Jaffray Fire Departments participated in the training exercise and it was not only a great opportunity for cross-training, but also team building.   

“We are very grateful to the Lacombe Fire Department for this meaningful donation,” says Boreen. “I’d like to thank all the firefighters who came down to deliver the donation and provide training for our department and would like extend special recognition to Zach and Ethan who have been – and continue to be – and important part of the Baynes Lake Fire family.”

Fire Chief Salutes Local Volunteer Firefighters

A fatal motor vehicle incident is the latest in several serious calls over the past few weeks for the volunteer firefighters of the South Country Rural Fire and Rescue Service and their Chief is saluting his entire team.

“Early Sunday morning members of the Jaffray, Baynes Lake and Elko Fire Departments responded to a serious motor vehicle incident that left one woman dead, a young girl and others injured.  These calls are never easy and our volunteer firefighters once again did an exceptional job on a very difficult call,” says Fire Chief Dave Boreen.  “Our small rural departments in the South Country work closely together and support one another in incidents. This is another example where our team model not only helps in the response, but in supporting one another following challenging incidents.”

Just over a month ago, members of all three departments responded to a multi-casualty, multi-vehicle incident near Galloway when a commercial vehicle collided with four other vehicles in a construction zone.  In that same time frame, they have responded to a difficult industrial fire and a rash of other smaller incidents.

“I can’t say enough about our firefighters and responders.  In our small, rural communities where we are long distances from populated centres and medical facilities, the service they provide is truly invaluable,” adds Boreen. “When I see them go to not one, not two, but multiple difficult calls, it makes me appreciate and respect their service all that much more.”

The South Country Fire Departments are located in Jaffray and Baynes Lake with a satellite department in Elko.  In addition to their multi-department response structure, the volunteers often train together.

“I hope the residents in our communities take a moment this week to thank a local firefighter. They deserve our accolades,” adds Boreen.

New firefighter recruits are always welcome and all training is provided. Anyone interested in becoming a part of a South Country fire department can contact Boreen or Deputy Chief Michael Hockley at 250-429-3133.

Extreme Fire Danger has RDEK Pleading with Public to be Smart

The RDEK is applauding the efforts of the BC Wildfire Service and City of Cranbrook Fire and Emergency Services for their quick action in dousing an interface wildfire Sunday afternoon north of Jim Smith Lake.

“The fire broke out in a forested area heavily used by residents for recreating,” says RDEK Emergency Services Coordinator Travis Abbey. “There was certainly the potential for that situation to be extremely serious and we are very grateful for the immediate and effective response of all involved.”

Ten structural firefighters from the City of Cranbrook Fire Department and one piece of apparatus spent over three and a half hours supporting BC Wildfire Service personnel on the scene.  Late last night, the Fire Department responded to another call in the Hidden Valley area where they found and extinguished an abandoned campfire.

“What makes yesterday’s situation that much more troublesome is that although the Jim Smith fire remains under investigation, it is suspected to be human-caused. The Hidden Valley campfire was absolutely human negligence,” adds Abbey.  “We cannot stress enough that the fire danger is extreme and it is imperative that we all be smart out there.”

In addition, crews from Radium and Invermere dealt with a human-caused fire near Radium over the weekend and the Windermere Fire Department responded to a grass fire.  “We have been lucky that we haven’t had the lightning and winds that other areas of the Province have been experiencing, but the hazard rating here is just as extreme. There is no excuse for human-caused fires.”

With the potential for a dry thunderstorm system to move through the East Kootenay today, it is important for residents to also know how to report fires if they see them. To report a wildfire, unattended campfire or open burning violation, call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone.

For the latest information on current wildfire activity, burning restrictions, road closures and air quality advisories, visit: http://www.bcwildfire.ca

Campfire Ban Issued for Southeast Fire Centre (Including RDEK)

REPOST from: Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations BC Wildfire Service

Effective at 1:00 PM Mountain Time on Friday, July 7, 2017, campfires will be prohibited throughout the Southeast Fire Centre to help prevent human-caused wildfires and protect public safety.

This campfire ban will remain in place until the public is otherwise notified.

The Southeast Fire Centre is currently experiencing dry conditions and fire danger ratings are generally "high" or "extreme" throughout the region. With forest fuels drying out and lightning storms in the weather forecast, it is crucial to decrease the risk of human-caused wildfires so firefighters can concentrate on naturally occurring wildfires in the region.

Prohibitions on larger Category 2 and Category 3 open fires are already in effect throughout the Southeast Fire Centre.

To learn about the differences between campfires, Category 2 open fires and Category 3 open fires, visit: http://www.gov.bc.ca/wildfirebans or review the open fire regulations poster at: http://www.gov.bc.ca/openfireregs

Specifically, prohibited activities once the campfire ban takes effect will include:

* campfires, as defined in the Wildfire Regulation: http://www.gov.bc.ca/wildfirelegislation

* the burning of waste or other materials

* stubble or grass fires of any size over any area

* the use of fireworks, sky lanterns, tiki torches, chimineas, burning barrels or burning cages of any size or description

* the use of binary exploding targets (e.g. for target practice)

* the use of air curtain burners (forced air burning systems)

The Southeast Fire Centre covers the area extending from the U.S. border in the south to Mica Dam in the north and from the Okanagan Highlands and Monashee Mountains in the west to the B.C.-Alberta border in the east. It includes the Selkirk Natural Resource District and the Rocky Mountain Natural Resource District.

A map of the affected areas is available online at: http://ow.ly/lGdb30drACI

These prohibitions do not apply to cooking stoves that use gas, propane or briquettes, or to a portable campfire apparatus with a CSA or ULC rating that uses briquettes, liquid or gaseous fuel - so long as the height of the flame is less than 15 centimetres. The use of a campfire apparatus that does not meet these specifications is prohibited.

These prohibitions cover all BC Parks, Crown lands and private lands (including all rural areas of the RDEK), but do not apply within the boundaries of a municipality that has forest fire prevention bylaws and is serviced by a fire department. Always check with local authorities to see if any other burning restrictions are in place before lighting any fire.

Anyone found in contravention of an open burning prohibition may be issued a ticket for $1,150, required to pay an administrative penalty of $10,000 or, if convicted in court, fined up to $100,000 and/or sentenced to one year in jail. If the contravention causes or contributes to a wildfire, the person responsible may be ordered to pay all firefighting and associated costs.

To report a wildfire or open burning violation, call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone.

For the latest information on current wildfire activity, burning restrictions, road closures and air quality advisories, visit: http://www.bcwildfire.ca

Jaffray and Elko Area OCP Scope to be Revised Following Public Consultation

After reviewing the results of the public feedback on the draft Official Community Plan and zoning bylaw, the Board has decided to proceed with a revised plan area boundary that excludes the communities of Galloway and Elko.

“Following our Open Houses, we met with a number of groups and individuals and the message has been loud and clear that the Elko and Galloway areas do not want land use regulations at this time,” says RDEK Electoral Area B Director Stan Doehle. “We will continue to move forward with the planning process for the rest of the plan area. The RDEK will have to revisit the possibility of planning for Elko and Galloway sometime in the future.”

The OCP process started in October 2015 and has involved numerous workshops, stakeholder meetings, and Open Houses. 

Today’s decision means the draft will be amended to exclude the two communities and they will remain unzoned areas with no community plan to guide and regulate future development.

In addition to the Board’s decision to amend the plan boundary and exclude the two communities, the public input and comment period held over the past few weeks will also result in a number of revisions to the draft OCP and zoning bylaw for the Jaffray, Tie and Rosen Lake areas.  The RDEK will be coming back out to the community to present the revised drafts later this summer.

“I want to thank everyone for their comments and involvement in the process,” adds Doehle.  “I also want to acknowledge the hard work of our RDEK planning staff who have been working on this file for almost two years, and who will continue to work with residents and stakeholders moving foward. They’ve done a tremendous job.”

Information related to the planning process is available on the Planning Process page.

Area F Volunteers of the Year to be Honoured at Upcoming Town Hall Meeting

The Regional District of East Kootenay will be honouring its Electoral Area F Volunteer of the Year the Area F Town Hall Meeting and Volunteer of the Year Celebration July 10th at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort.

“I am excited to formally recognize our Electoral Area F Volunteers of the Year George and Stella Gray. They are outstanding contributors to the community and this is a special opportunity for us to thank them for all they do,” says Area F Director Wendy Booth.  The Volunteer of the Year celebration gets underway at 7:00 PM and will include a presentation and refreshments.

It will be followed by the Area F Town Hall Meeting at 7:30 PM. “The goal of the Town Hall Meetings is to create conversations with residents and property owners in Electoral Area F and provide information on our programs and services,” says Electoral Area F Director Wendy Booth. The Town Hall Meeting agenda includes a Director’s Report, along with presentations on the Fairmont Debris Flow Mitigation Project, RDEK 5-Year Financial Plan, Wildsafe BC and more.

The Volunteer of the Year Celebration and Town Hall Meeting will be held in the Pine Room at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort and is open to all Area F residents.

The RDEK will be recognizing its Volunteers of the Year throughout the year and a date has not yet been set for the Area G celebration and Town Hall.

RDEK Board to Determine Next Steps in Jaffray and Elko Area OCP Process

The RDEK Board of Directors will be determining the next steps in the Jaffray & Elko Area Official Community Plan (OCP) and South Country Zoning Bylaw process at its July Board Meeting.

In April, the RDEK presented the first draft of the OCP and zoning bylaw during Open Houses in Jaffray and Elko and held an eight week comment period to gather community feedback.  “We received a wide range of input on the first draft, including verbal and written submissions, comment forms, and two petitions,” says Planning & Development Services Manager Andrew McLeod. “Staff have been compiling that feedback, answering questions and considering revisions to the draft in response to the feedback received to date.”

Following the comment period, the original plan was for the RDEK to make revisions and then hold a second round of public information meetings to share the revised drafts. However, due to some of the feedback received, the Board will now be asked to provide direction on how to proceed from here.  “Three options on how to proceed will be presented to the Board at the July Board Meeting and we will await the Board’s direction,” adds McLeod.

The Jaffray & Elko Area OCP planning process was initiated in September 2015.  Consultation leading up to the preparation of the draft OCP and zoning bylaw included two surveys, two preliminary community meetings, six Community Planning workshops, consultation with the Advisory Group, and stakeholder meetings. 

For more information on the OCP and the process to date, visit www.rdek.bc.ca and select the Jaffray and Elko Area OCP link under Current Projects.  Copies of the Request for Decision and Information Report are available as part of the Planning & Development Services committee Agenda Package (under the meetings tab on the website).

Electoral Area E Volunteer of the Year Recognized

Naomi Miller was officially recognized as the 2017 Electoral Area E Volunteer of the Year at a Town Hall Meeting Tuesday night.

Miller has been a volunteer in the Wasa area for over 35 years. “It is difficult to summarize Naomi’s contributions to our community and to preserving our history,” says Area E Director Jane Walter. “Even now in her 90th year, she gives in so many ways.”

She has worked tirelessly rejuvenating the Fort Steele Graveyard with a committee she organized and works with; is a member of the Wasa Historical Society; and, is a member of the Wasa Memorial Garden. In addition, she is a key part of the Arm Chair Travellers, a group that meets monthly to share photos and stories of their travels. She has written several books on our area and spends countless hours researching, recording and writing articles of historical interest for her “History Bytes” column in the local Tri-Village Buzz Newsletter every month. Miller’s interest in history extends well beyond her community. She donated many hours volunteering for the BC History Magazine, now called BC Historical News, and served as Editor.   

“Her interest in preserving the history of people, places and events in our area and right across our Province is impressive and will leave a legacy for future generations,” adds Walter.

Miller was presented with a small gift during the Volunteer of the Year ceremony, which was held in conjunction with the Area E Town Hall Meeting in Wasa.   Following the Volunteer of the Year portion of the evening, RDEK staff provided updates on a range of topics including the local Mosquito Control Program, Five-Year Financial Plan, and Planning Initiatives.  The RCMP also attended to provide an update

Fernie Transfer Station Closed Early Today (June 23/17)

The Fernie Transfer Station has been closed early today. 

We received a mixed load that may contain hazardous materials and want to ensure the load is examined and properly handled.  In the interest of safety, we have decided to close the Transfer Station early so that we can get the load properly assessed and cleaned up. 

We hope to have the Transfer Station open for regular hours tomorrow morning but will continue to keep the public advised if we are not able to open on time for any reason.

2017/2018 CBT Community Initiatives and Affected Areas Program Funds Approved

The Regional District of East Kootenay Board of Directors has approved funding for 138 projects around the region over the coming year.

The funding comes from Columbia Basin Trust’s Community Initiatives and Affected Areas Programs, which are administered by the RDEK. 

“We approved a total of $1,235,971 for 2017/2018. The approved projects cover everything from education programs to playground and facility upgrades, community programs and tourism related projects,” says RDEK Board Chair Rob Gay.  “On behalf of the RDEK Board and our residents, I want to thank the Trust for providing this funding for so many different community-based projects, many of which could not happen without this support. I also want to extend our thanks to the volunteers who give their time and energy to make these projects happen.”

After considering public input and recommendations from the municipalities and Electoral Area Directors, the Board approved the funding at its June Board Meeting.  A complete list of the approved projects is available on the RDEK’s website (http://www.rdek.bc.ca) on the News and Current Projects pages or by contacting the RDEK.

Columbia Basin Trust supports efforts by the people of the Basin to create a legacy of social, economic and environmental well-being and to achieve greater self-sufficiency for present and future generations. To learn more about the Trust visit http://www.ourtrust.org

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For a complete list of approved projects, click here or visit the CBT programs page on our website.

Several Self-Fill Sandbag Stations Established Around RDEK

With rising waters across the Province as spring run-off begins, the RDEK is encouraging residents living near waterways or in flood-prone areas to take steps now to be aware and prepare.

“It is so important for people to protect their homes and properties early,” stresses Emergency Services Coordinator Travis Abbey. “We have established numerous sandbag stations around the region so they are available to anyone wishing to be proactive in sandbagging if they wish.”

Sandbag stations are located at Centennial Centre in Kimberley, the City of Cranbrook Public Works Yard, Wasa Community Hall, Hosmer Pub, Jaffray Community Hall, Windermere Fire Hall parking lot, and on the east side of the old barn beside Mountainside Golf Course in Fairmont. 

The sandbag stations have sand and bags; however, residents need to bring their own shovels and gloves.   Sandbags should be filled ½ to ¾ full with the ends folded over for best compaction and effectiveness when placing them.

While there is no new active flooding in the East Kootenay, water levels are running high in many channels and with both warm weather and precipitation in the forecast, are expected to rise.

“The most effective tool in the toolbox is early preparation and prevention. Residents who are concerned they may be impacted by water levels need to take steps now to prepare themselves,” adds Abbey. “At the emergency management level, we are working cooperatively with all the municipalities and First Nations in the East Kootenay and are ready to provide support as needed.”

Residents who see, or are experiencing, wide-scale flooding are encouraged to report it to the Provincial Emergency Coordination Centre at 1-800-663-3456. This is the fastest and most effective way to activate local emergency management personnel.

RDEK Offices Closed Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The RDEK offices in Cranbrook and the Columbia Valley will be closed on Wednesday, May 10, 2017 for our annual Staff Meeting.  We will reopen on Thursday, May 11, 2017 for regular office hours.

Gas Leak Repaired in West Fernie

(updated: May 9/17 3:10 PM)

Big thanks to Fortis and Fernie Fire & Emergency Services for their quick action on a gas leak in West Fernie today.

Fernie Emergency Services responded to the call after an unmarked gas service was hit earlier this morning. The leak prompted the precautionary evacuation of six homes and closed Beach Avenue to traffic.

The leak has now been fully repaired. The evacuation order has been lifted and the road has been reopened.

Fortis is on route to repair the problem, which should be done early this afternoon. Everyone is requested to stay away from the Beaver Street area for the next few hours.

Gas Leak in West Fernie

An unmarked gas service in the Beaver Street area of West Fernie was hit this morning, causing a gas leak. Fernie Fire and Emergency Services are on scene and six homes on Beaver St. have been evacuated. In addition, Beach Ave. is closed to all traffic.

Fortis is on route to repair the problem, which should be done early this afternoon. Everyone is requested to stay away from the Beaver Street area for the next few hours.

Updated: May 9, 2017 - 12:50 PM

NO WAKE Zone Requested for Tie Lake

With continued high water at Tie Lake and expected warming trends, the RDEK is making a plea to boaters to obey a voluntary no-wake zone on the lake until the water has dropped to a more seasonal level.

“We know Tie Lake is often the first lake people head to in early spring as it traditionally has warmer temperatures for the early spring rides; however, the water is still extremely high and the dam remains at risk, especially if heavy waves start pounding the shoreline and sandbag berm,” explains RDEK Electoral Area B Stan Doehle. “Beyond the infrastructure, there are sensitive shoreline habitats and nesting grounds along with properties that could sustain damage.”

The RDEK does not have the jurisdiction to implement or enforce a no-wake or boat ban, so is appealing to boaters to abide by the voluntary request.  “We recognize people want to get out and recreate; however, we also know they love the lake and are hoping that they will respect the short-term no wake zone to minimize the long term risk,” adds Doehle. The request would be for all boats to maintain speeds slow enough so as not to create a wake.

The RDEK sandbagged and then added additional reinforcement to the Tie Lake Dam several weeks ago as the water through the spillway was above capacity and there is a risk of erosion undermining the dam leading to its failure.

They continue to closely monitor the lake level, which peaked at 16” through the weir a few days ago.  The level has been dropping slowly; however, remains at 14”, which is well above seasonal norms.

For more information, call 1-250-489-2791.

Localized Flooding Leads to Coordinated Response

The Regional District of East Kootenay and City of Cranbrook, with support from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, are working cooperatively in response to localized flooding in the Hospital Creek and Jim Smith Creek drainages.

“We are currently experiencing ponding and localized flooding, particularly in the 3rd Street NW area and Leask,” says RDEK Emergency Services Director Travis Abbey.  “The residents have been working together with the City and RDEK to create a dirt berm and have been actively sandbagging as water pools in Pop Price park.”

A dirt berm was constructed over the weekend and is being reinforced with additional dirt today.  Sand and sandbags have also been dropped off to help residents in the affected area prepare should the water continue to rise.  There are currently five homes being directly impacted by water on 3rd Street NW.

The City’s storm water system is at capacity and the water flow is backing up along both Hospital Creek in the King Street area and Jim Smith Creek as it exits Elizabeth Lake. “If you can imagine a bathtub with one drain and a number of hoses filling it, you can get a clear picture of the challenge we are faced with,” adds Abbey.

“The City has deployed pumps and Public Works crews have been providing equipment and trucking fill to help keep water at bay; however, it is going to be sometime yet before the system will have the capacity to drain.”

A few homes and at least one business along Jim Smith Creek between Elizabeth Lake and where the creek channel goes under Van Horne Street are experiencing localized flooding. 

The RDEK is also urging residents along Caldwell Road to move equipment, vehicles and other property to higher ground. “Elizabeth Lake is rising up to an inch per day currently and it’s important for people to take action now to help protect their property. Things like vehicles, recreational vehicles and other equipment should be moved to higher ground before the water levels rise to the point where access may be difficult or impossible,” says Abbey.  

A self-fill sandbag station remains open at the City of Cranbrook Public Works yard on Cobham Avenue. A self-fill sandbag station has also been set up at Centennial Hall in Kimberley for residents wishing to prepare their properties or concerned about high water levels.

In March, the Province announced it had approved Disaster Financial Assistance for the entire East Kootenay. This week, Emergency Management BC announced it has extended the event’s date range to include the time period from March 5 – April 10, 2017.  Both the City and RDEK have application forms available on their websites and at their main offices in Cranbrook.
 

Provincial Disaster Financial Assistance Now Available For Those Affected By Flooding

**Joint RDEK and City of Cranbrook News Release**

Following the flooding across the region mid-March, Emergency Management BC (EMBC) has authorized disaster financial assistance (DFA) for those affected right across the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) including the City of Cranbrook, as a result of the damages.

Those who may qualify for this assistance include: home owners, residential tenants, small business owners, farmers, charitable organizations and local government bodies, who were unable to obtain insurance to cover these disaster-related losses.

All applicants should first check with their insurance agent to determine if their current insurance policy provides coverage for the resulting damage. As part of the DFA qualification process, the applicant’s insurer will be asked to provide a letter indicating that the applicant could not have purchased insurance to cover these disaster-related losses.

Information about Disaster Financial Assistance is available on the DFA web site at http://www.gov.bc.ca/disasterfinancialassistance.  There you will find the DFA Application Form, ‘Disaster Financial Assistance Guidelines for Private Sector’, information bulletins about DFA and insurance and ‘One Step at a time – A Guide to Disaster Recovery’.   If you have questions or require further information, contact EMBC at 1 888 257-4777 (toll-free).

Application forms are available through RDEK offices in both Cranbrook and the Columbia Valley as well.  Cranbrook residents can pick up application forms and information fact sheets at Cranbrook City Hall or download them from the City’s website at http://www.cranbrook.ca

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Applications are encouraged to be submitted as soon as possible.  The deadline for EMBC to receive this form is June 25, 2017. As applications are received in this office, EMBC will confirm eligibility and contracted evaluators will contact eligible applicants to explain the DFA program requirements and schedule an onsite visit.

It is vitally important for those who suffered flood damage and may not be insured to make application for this funding in order to ensure your home or property are properly dried out and repaired.  The risk for black mold is extremely high and if it is allowed to take hold, it can quickly grow and can cause serious health issues.

The City of Cranbrook and the RDEK thank the Province for understanding the severity of this flooding and for stepping forward to help our residents and business owners deal with the clean-up and repairs.

New Official Community Plan Process Set to Begin for Windermere Area

Work will soon begin on a new planning process for the Windermere area.
“The Board has authorized staff to proceed with a review and update of the Lake Windermere Official Community Plan (OCP),” explains RDEK Electoral Area F Director Wendy Booth.  “Land uses change over time and the current Lake Windermere OCP was adopted in 2008.  This new planning process will ensure we have an OCP that is based on current information and reflects the community’s vision for the future.”
As part of the planning process, the RDEK is hoping to appoint a public advisory group. “The Advisory Group will work closely with Director Booth and our staff throughout the process,” says Planner Kris Belanger. “In addition to the Advisory Group, we are hoping to see strong engagement from residents and property owners.  The goal of reviewing and updating the OCP is to ensure it reflects the community’s vision and we need to have the community’s participation to make sure that happens.”  The recruitment for the Advisory Group and the first public engagement opportunities are expected to begin in May.
The planning process is expected to take between 18 and 24 months to complete. “I encourage residents to get involved and be engaged every step of the way,” adds Booth.
The OCP covers a wide geographic area including Windermere, rural Invermere, Westside Road to Rushmere and the east side of the Lake from Windermere to Akisqnuk.
An Official Community Plan (OCP) is a long term strategic planning document that reflects the community’s vision for the future while providing a policy framework to promote greater certainty in land use decision making by the Regional District Board.
More information about the Windermere OCP planning process will be available on the RDEK’s website at  www.rdek.bc.ca in the near future.

RDEK Asking for Community Input on Expanded Fire Service for Wardner and portions of Bull River and

The RDEK is urging residents of Wardner, Bull River and Mayook to attend an important Open House and community dinner April 5 to provide feedback on whether they would like to see a fire service expanded into their area.

“We have had many inquiries from residents asking for some kind of fire protection service in that area but we need to hear from the wider community about whether this is something they would be interested in the RDEK pursuing,” explains Building & Protective Services Manager, Sanford Brown. “This meeting is the first step and we would really like to see a strong turnout.  We will have maps of where we could physically provide service and we need to hear from people about whether or not they would be interested in us looking into it further.”

There will be an Open House at the Wardner Community Centre April 5th at 1:30pm followed by a free community dinner and presentations at 6:00 pm. “During the first part of the day people can come and go. There will be staff on hand to answer questions and gather feedback.  At 6:00 pm, we will have a beef on a bun dinner and there will be some more formal presentations,” explains Brown.

“If there is support from the community, the RDEK would consider expanding the current Jaffray Fire Protection Service to cover Wardner and portions of Mayook and Bull River,” adds Brown. “Our preliminary analysis shows expanding our existing service in Jaffray is the most economical and feasible option to provide fire protection service to the Wardner area residences.”

Staff will take the information from this meeting along with an open comment period in April to determine whether there is sufficient interest in moving forward with a detailed analysis for an expanded fire service. If there is, there will be a second public meeting in mid-May which will include specifics on the proposed boundary, structure of the service, costs, and the elector assent process.

“It’s important to understand right now we need to know if the community is interested in us looking into this concept and, if yes, what the potential boundary would be,” stresses Brown. “They will be providing us with those two pieces of the puzzle in April.  Before we can go any further, we need to know these two pieces first and that’s what this Open House and dinner in April is about.”

For more information as the process moves forward, visit the Fire Service Expansion page

Regional District of East Kootenay Approves 5-Year Financial Plan

The Regional District of East Kootenay has adopted its Financial Plan for the years 2017 - 2021.

The 2017 operating budget is $28.1 million, which represents an overall decrease of $1,383 from last year. This includes a number of grant-funded items and items that are specific to certain service areas. When those items are set aside, the 2017 operating budget for services shared by most municipalities and electoral areas in the region, represents a 1.8% decrease from 2016. “Our Board and staff recognize the importance of balancing the provision of services with keeping taxes in line. We have worked hard to adopt a budget that achieves a good balance,” says RDEK Chair Rob Gay.

It is important to understand that there is a difference between the numbers in the budget and the effect those numbers will have on individual tax rates. Residents of the RDEK will be affected differently, depending on the municipality or electoral area in which they live.  On average, residential properties in the RDEK will see approximately a 0.5% overall decrease in their tax levy. 

While there is a tax decrease in many parts of the region, residential properties in the Columbia Valley Subregion will notice an average increase of 9.8% due largely to increased costs associated with the Columbia Valley Economic Development Service and Columbia Valley Solid Waste.

“Unlike a municipality that has one boundary and one set of taxpayers, different areas of the RDEK require different services and these are paid for only by the taxpayers of each specific service area,” explains Gay. “In addition, even though there may be increases in the requisition amount, new development in parts of the region can offset some of that impact on RDEK taxpayers.”

Tax calculations are expected to be complete by early-April when 2017 revised assessed values are available.

Highlights in the 2017 budget include the completion of Phase 1 of the West Fernie Servicing and Restructure Project and construction for Phase 2, a closure plan for the old Kimberley Landfill, a watermain replacement in Moyie, construction of a septage pond in Electoral Area B, completion of the Fairmont Debris Flow Mitigation Project, dam upgrades at Lake Baptiste and Tie Lake (pending funding), and replacement of an HVAC unit and the roof at the RDEK office in Cranbrook.

The 5-Year Plan for 2017-2021 was formally adopted by the RDEK Board at its March Board meeting. Copies of the plan and a brief overview can be viewed here.

Regional District of East Kootenay Local Conservation Program Awarded

The Regional District of East Kootenay’s Columbia Valley Local Conservation Fund has been named as a recipient of a 2017 peer nominated award from the Species and Ecosystems at Risk (SEAR) Local Government Working Group.

The award went to local governments who have demonstrated exemplary work on a species and ecosystems at risk related initiative and the RDEK was one of six BC local governments to receive the recognition.

“The Columbia Valley Conservation Fund has provided funding to a number of important on-the-ground programs over the years,” says RDEK Columbia Valley Services Committee Chair Ute Juras.  “While the RDEK and Columbia Valley Directors received the award, it is shared with the Technical Advisory Committee, Kootenay Conservation Fund who administers the program on our behalf, and the people and organizations who are using the funds provided by the program to help protect and enhance the Valley.”

The awards were announced by Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps during the recent SEAR Local Government Working Group Symposium, which was attended by over 160 participants from municipal, regional and provincial governments.

Pictured: The RDEK Columbia Valley Directors with their 2017 Species and Ecosystems at Risk (SEAR) Local Government Working Group award. The award was presented to the RDEK for demonstrating exemplary work through its Columbia Valley Local Conservation Fund.

Swift Response by Fire Crews Keeps Blaze Contained

Members of the Fairmont Fire and Windermere Fire Departments responded to a fire in Fairmont overnight.

Twelve firefighters and a tender truck from Windermere responded to the blaze on Wills Road. “When we arrived, we found one area of the home engulfed,” explains Columbia Valley Rural Fire & Rescue Service Chief, Jim Miller. “Our efforts focused on keeping the fire isolated in that area to protect the rest of the home and prevent further loss.”

The fire was contained to the north side of the home in the roof area and although it sustained major damage, the house was saved.  Just after 3:00 am, the scene was turned over to on-site security to monitor and at 5:30am, firefighters returned as one of the hot spots flared up. Crews have now left the scene.

There were no injuries and the residents, who were renting, are staying with friends.

“The crew did a great job and their efforts helped prevent this fire from having a much larger impact,” adds Miller.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined; however, it is not suspicious in nature. Miller expects to be on site today to begin the investigation.

Warming Centres Close as Highway Reopens

As the sun makes an appearance in the East Kootenay, the warming centres in the Elk Valley have closed and traffic is getting back to normal.

Highway 3 has reopened at the BC/Alberta border and the warming centres in Sparwood and Fernie have shut down.

While the Emergency Program Coordinators will continue to monitor conditions closely, the RDEK’s Emergency Operations Centre is also closed following this week’s massive snowfall across the East Kootenay.

All area highways are now open and there are no longer any weather warnings in effect.  As residents continue to dig themselves out, drivers are reminded that winter driving conditions are still in effect across the region.

RDEK Hunts for Outstanding Volunteers

If you know an outstanding volunteer in one of the rural areas in the region, the RDEK wants to hear from you!

Nomination forms are now available for the 2017 Electoral Area Volunteer of the Year and, as it has in past years, the Regional District will once again be honouring one outstanding volunteer from each of its six Electoral Areas.

“Our Volunteer of the Year program recognizes an individual or couple from each of our Electoral Areas and gives us the opportunity to pay tribute to them and to all the volunteers who give selflessly to contribute to the spirit, culture and people of their communities,” says RDEK Board Chair, Rob Gay.

Nominees must be a resident of an Electoral Area and make voluntary contributions to their community.

Nomination forms can be filled out or downloaded from the RDEK website (http://www.rdek.bc.ca) and can also be picked up at the Cranbrook and Columbia Valley RDEK offices, and from the Electoral Area Advisory Commissions.

The deadline for nominations is Wednesday, February 15, 2017.  To download a nomination form, click here.

Warming Centres Open as Snow Blankets East Kootenay

The RDEK’s Emergency Operations Centre has been activated in the Elk Valley to help coordinate support efforts in the wake of this week’s heavy snowfall.

Emergency Social Services (ESS) volunteers have opened warming centres in Sparwood and Elko and have a third warming centre opening this afternoon in Fernie to help provide a warm shelter for stranded travellers as Highway 3 remains closed in two areas. “Currently, 38 people have registered at the warming centre in Sparwood and Elko has 11,” says RDEK Information Officer Loree Duczek. “Drivers are asked to postpone any non-essential travel. If it’s not necessary that you be out on area highways, please stay home.”

The Highway is closed from Elko to 10 km west of Fernie because of high avalanche hazard and active removal of avalanche debris on the highway. A warming centre has been set up at the Elko Community Hall for residents and travellers.

Highway 3 is also closed at the BC/Alberta border due to heavy snowfall and low visibility in Alberta. The warming center in Sparwood has been moved from Fire Hall #1 to the Sparwood Leisure Centre, located at 367 Pine Avenue.  A warming centre will also open at 3:00pm at the Fernie Community Centre on Highway 3.  There is no estimate on when the highway through the Pass may reopen.

Travel advisories have been issued today for Highway 95A from Kimberley to the Wasa Junction and Highway 3 from Goatfel to Cranbrook due to limited visibility, blowing and heavy snow.

“Travellers trying to travel east to Alberta are urged to use the Highway 93 route through Kootenay National Park and stay off the Highway 3 corridor from Cranbrook to the Elk Valley,” adds Duczek. Though there are winter driving conditions, Highway 93 through the Park is currently open.

The entire East Kootenay, including the Elk Valley and north to Invermere, is under a snowfall warning and the forecast is calling for an additional 15-35cm of snow by this evening with the potential for strong, gusty winds, reduced visibility and heavy snow.

To stay on top of the latest advisories and conditions, residents and travellers are encouraged to check the following resources before heading out:

Wood Grinding to Start at Columbia Valley Landfill this Week

The Regional District of East Kootenay will be grinding the wood waste and green waste at the Columbia Valley Landfill site over the next few weeks.

The contractor is expected to be on site as early as this Thursday, January 5th and grinding will take place during regular landfill hours.  The public is asked to stay well back from the equipment and machinery.

For more information, please contact Jim Penson at 250-489-2791 or 1-888-478-7335.
 

2016: A Year in Review by RDEK Board Chair Rob Gay

2016 was another dynamic year at the Regional District of East Kootenay and looking back, there are several highlights. 

In May, we celebrated the retirement of our long-time and very successful Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Lee-Ann Crane.  Shawn Tomlin was named the new CAO by the Board and has transitioned into his new role.  In other staffing news, the Board approved a six- year collective agreement with CUPE staff (Jan 1, 2016 – Dec 31, 2022), which includes an average wage increase of 1.7% per year. Other key features within the agreement include a commitment to a job evaluation plan, a benefits review plan, and changes to existing extended health plans.   In December, the Board passed a resolution to raise the stipend for all Directors.

While the past few years have been busy on the emergency front, 2016 was a good year.  We were well prepared and had no major fires or floods. We conducted a full-scale emergency exercise in the Elk Valley this fall and it was a tremendous learning opportunity for all. Between emergency responders, participating agencies, volunteers and emergency program personnel, we had over 100 people participate in the exercise. Our E911 fire dispatch service was relocated to Kelowna this year.

Our Planning and Development Services Department was busy updating a number of existing Official Community Plans (OCPs). Good progress is also being made working with local residents to develop the first OCP for the Jaffray, Galloway and Elko areas. Very few parcels of private land within the RDEK are not included in an OCP.

It was a very busy and productive year for our Engineering Services team. We have largely completed Phase 1 of the West Fernie Servicing and Restructure project, which included installation of sanitary and stormwater sewer services and upgrades to the water system. The City of Fernie's boundary has been expanded to take in approximately 130 homes in Phase 1 and they are now part of the City of Fernie. Phase 2 construction is expected to begin in 2017. Many other projects were completed on time and on budget.  Two other items of interest include work on the Fairmont Creek Debris Flow Mitigation project, and work on the Windermere Water project. Staff is currently investigating the possibility of purchasing Parr Utilities as a means of supplying treated water to Windermere.

Our Building and Protective Services forecasted a slight decline in building permit values in 2016 compared with 2015, and we did see a 10% reduction.

Our residents and visitors continue to enjoy our great outdoors. We have supported new and existing non-motorized trials, waterways, and parks. In the Cranbrook area, the RDEK has provided financial support for washrooms and pier construction at Idlewild Park,approved funding to help compete the Cranbrook to Wardner section of the Trans Canada Trail (watch for the grand opening on July 1, 2017) and supported improvements to the North Star Rails to Trails.  In the Columbia Valley, construction is about to commence on the first phase of the Westside Legacy Trail.

All six RDEK Electoral Areas have a grant in aid fund. In 2016, a number of non-profit groups benefitted from these small ($500- $2500) grants.

Some other highlights from the past year include enhanced support for the Highway 3 branding project, support for the implementation of the Agricultural Plan, an extension of the Columbia Valley Local Conservation Fund, the establishment of an economic development service in the Columbia Valley, and Provincial funding for wildfire protection treatments the Westview area near Cranbrook. Electoral Areas B, C, E, F and G have contributed to funding high speed internet in the region.

Looking ahead, we are just beginning our annual budget preparations, and I do not foresee any major increases in property taxation for 2017.

We continue to build on our relationships with our First Nation neighbours and to look for opportunities to achieve our collective goals.   

We hope to enhance our management of solid waste in the region and see greater diversion of the materials ending up in our landfills. Some concepts we are currently exploring include region wide composting and diverting a greater variety of consumer products such as mattresses, appliances, power tools, etc.  The RDEK is also working Multi Materials British Columbia to enhance that program’s service to our region.

A few other ongoing projects that we will continue to support in 2017 include: collaboration with the other Kootenay RDs and CBT  to provide extension and education services to agricultural producers throughout the Columbia basin; improved access to high speed internet for homes and businesses in our area; and, taking action on climate change to minimize local impacts. We will endeavor to be leaders in energy efficiency to reduce greenhouse gases and will continue to look for innovative ways to implement projects to help protect our residents from the impacts of forest fires and floods.

As always, communication is important to us at the RDEK and we are committed to paying attention to our residents’ needs, enhancing our communication, and working proactively with those community groups who contribute to the quality of life we enjoy in the East Kootenay.

Windermere Fire Department Responds to Residential House Fire

Members of the Windermere Fire Department, with assistance from the Invermere Fire Department, responded to a residential house fire in Windermere yesterday afternoon.

Approximately 14 firefighters arrived on scene and spent four hours fighting the fire. “The house itself will be a total loss, but thanks to the quick action of the firefighters we were able to isolate the fire and the residents will be able to save many of their belongings,” explains Columbia Valley Rural Fire and Rescue Service Fire Chief, Jim Miller. There was no one home when the fire broke out and there were no injuries.

“The crew did a great job of keeping the fire from spreading to the neighbouring trees and residences,” adds Miller.  Firefighters remained on the scene throughout the afternoon mopping up and dealing with hot spots.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Latest Draft of the Kimberley Rural OCP Unveiled to the Public

After months of consultation, the draft of the updated Kimberley Rural Official Community Plan (OCP) is now available for review and comment.

“For the past year we have been working with residents and other stakeholders to review the OCP and get input about their future vision for their community,” says RDEK Planner Michele Bates.  “It is always exciting to be able to present the draft and I am now looking forward to receiving comments on it.”

The draft OCP was unveiled at an Open House Tuesday evening, which was attended by 35 people.  It will be posted on the RDEK’s website by the end of the week and the public comment period will be open until mid January.

“If people were not able to attend the Open House, or if they would like additional time to review the draft before making comment, we have a public comment period running until January 11,” adds Bates. Comments will be reviewed by the RDEK and will help inform revisions to the draft OCP.

The existing Kimberley Rural OCP was adopted in 2006.  OCPs are generally reviewed every five to 10 years to ensure they are current and capture updates that are required.

More information about the Kimberley Rural OCP process can be found by clicking here.

Jaffray Fire Department - Recruits from Wardner Area Welcome

The Jaffray Fire Department is in need of some new recruits.  You don’t have to live in Jaffray or within the Fire Protection Area to be a part of the department and we are taking new recruits from as far away as Wardner.  

No experience is required and all the training is provided (for free).  There is a weekly training night in Jaffray along with some online training.  If you live in the Wardner area and are interested in becoming a paid-on-call firefighter with the Jaffray Department, we’d love to hear from you!

Click Here to view an informational brochure.  This week we have two events lined up:

  • Thursday, December 1 @ 6:30pm at the Jaffray Community Hall -  a free pulled-pork-on-a-bun and information night
  • Sunday, December 4 from 1pm to 4pm at the Jaffray Fire Hall free community training event with hands-on fire extinguisher and adult CPR training along with station tours and more. 

These events are free and open to everyone.

For more information on what is involved in being a paid-on-call firefighter, please contact Chief Dave Boreen or Deputy Chief Michael Hockley at 250-429-3133.

Loree

RDEK Seeks Help Identifying Illegal Dumper

The RDEK is hoping someone may have seen an act of illegal dumping at the Canal Flats Transfer Station last week.

“We believe between late afternoon Monday and sometime Tuesday morning someone with a dump trailer disposed of 40 black plastic bags in the wood pile at the Transfer Station,” explains RDEK Solid Waste Superintendent Jim Penson. “The bags were filled with insulation, brown cellulose and vermiculite, which likely contains asbestos.”

What makes this incident of illegal dumping so perplexing is that the asbestos containing materials were watered down to prevent dust, double wrapped in 6mm poly plastic and properly sealed.  “They even left their Tyvec protective suits and gloves in the pile once they finished off loading everything,” says Penson. “Clearly they knew the potential hazard of dealing with these materials, took all the right steps to properly remove and handle it and then dumped it in the wood pile at our site where it potentially could have put others at risk.”

The RDEK took immediate action to get the bags cleaned up and safely taken for disposal. “The bags were placed in a double lined bin and the clean up went really well with no exposure to the workers or public,” says Penson.

Aside from the potential risk this act could have created for the users of the Transfer Station, there is a financial impact for all taxpayers in the Columbia Valley.  “Had the owners of the bags taken them to the landfill for proper and safe disposal, it would have cost them around $200,” explains Penson. “Instead, all the taxpayers in the Columbia Valley will have to pay for the clean up which involved extra contractors, hauling time and will end up being closer to $2000.” 

The RDEK hopes that someone saw the people responsible for this careless act and is able to identify a vehicle or licence plate number.  “We would really like to know who is responsible so that we can educate them about the risk of their carelessness and seek compensation for the clean up,” says Penson.

Anyone with any information is asked to contact Jim Penson at the RDEK’s Cranbrook Office.

Emergency Exercise Hailed a Success

A large-scale fuel leak in the Elk River, motor vehicles incidents involving hazardous materials and multiple injuries were all part of the mock-scenarios yesterday as part of the RDEK’s full-scale emergency exercise in the Elk Valley and South Country.

“Between emergency responders, participating agencies, volunteers and emergency program personnel, we had over one hundred people participating in the exercise,” says Elk Valley and South Country Emergency Program Coordinator Marianne Stone.  “It presented so many learning opportunities for everyone who took part.”

The exercise was designed to test inter-agency cooperation and response, procedures, information systems, communications and coordination.  There were mock-accident scenes set up at the Sparwood Transfer Station and in the Elko area that involved multiple agencies and on-site response by members of the Fernie, Sparwood, Elkford, Hosmer and Elko Fire Departments along with the BC Ambulance Service.  In Fernie, an Emergency Operations Centre was established to deal with a mock fuel spill north of Elkford and support the mock accident scenes.

“There were successes during the exercise and a number of good lessons learned. The incidents had multiple agencies responding and it was wonderful to see how they worked together on scene,” adds Stone. “Whether it was communication between agencies, communities or individuals, the exercise highlighted the importance of strong communication and we will now be working on a more comprehensive communications plan moving forward.”

The RDEK hosts a variety of training exercises throughout the year in each of its Emergency Program Areas.  “Our goal with these full-scale exercises is to test our Emergency Programs and provide an opportunity for responders and emergency program personnel to get together in a realistic scenario so that we can be more prepared for when real emergencies happen,” says RDEK Emergency Services Coordinator Travis Abbey. “These exercises take a huge amount of pre-planning and coordination and we are grateful to Marianne and her team for the work they put in to design the exercise and coordinate the people and agencies who participated.”

Regional RDEK Firefighter Recruitment Drive Underway

A region wide firefighter recruitment drive is underway in the Regional District of East Kootenay.

“Our fire departments play a pivotal role in our rural communities,” explains Elk Valley & South Country Fire Chief Dave Boreen. “To keep these departments running and able to answer the call, we need to have a dedicated core of firefighters and are looking to bolster our numbers in every department.”

The RDEK has fire departments in Jaffray, Baynes Lake, Elko, Hosmer, Fairmont, Windermere, Edgewater and Panorama and the goal of the campaign is to recruit 10 new members to each department other than Panorama, which has a full roster at this time.

“There are all kinds of different jobs people can do within the fire departments,” stresses Boreen. “From looking after the paperwork and filing end of things, to running hoses or working pumps, to putting on the gear and fighting the fire, we need people to fill a range of roles. The only requirement is an interest in helping their community and a commitment to training.”

Application forms are available on the RDEK’s website and at the Fire Halls. Packages will also be available during the recruitment campaign as firefighters go door to door within their communities.
The deadline for applications to be submitted is December 15, 2016.

“There are many benefits of becoming a part of a department,” adds Columbia Valley Rural Fire Deputy Chief Martin Caldwell. “There is amazing training and leadership development, lifesaving first aid skills, the reward of knowing you are helping your community and becoming part of a great team. In addition, our firefighters all receive on-call pay.”

Anyone looking for more information on the Elk Valley / South Country Fire Departments can contact Boreen at 250-429-3133. For information on the Columbia Valley Rural Fire Departments, contact Deputy Chief Martin Caldwell at 250-342-6214.

RDEK to Provide Update on Windermere Water

The RDEK is encouraging residents and property owners in Windermere to attend one of the two upcoming Open Houses they have scheduled regarding the status of the Windermere Treated Water Project.


"The goal of the Open Houses is to provide residents with an update on where things are at, including the current options for treated water,” says RDEK Project Supervisor Elizabeth Ahlgren. “Another important aspect for us is the feedback. We are looking for input from residents as we move closer to bringing an option out to the community through a formal assent process.”


The Open Houses will be held on Saturday, August 20 from 9:00 am to 11:00 am and Tuesday, August 23 from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm at the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce. “The style of the sessions is set up to be informal so people can come and go; however, we will also do a brief presentation at 9:30 am on the 20th and 1:30 pm on the 23rd,” adds Ahlgren. Information will be handed out at the meeting for people to take away and review.


For any option to proceed, an elector assent process will have to take place; however, Ahlgren says the RDEK is still a ways away from that. “The first step is to go out to the community, explain where things are at, share new information and get a sense from them how they feel about the options moving forward. We really hope to have a strong turnout and continue to have dialogue with the community in the weeks ahead.”


The Windermere Water System has been under a Water Quality Advisory since 2006. In order for the Advisory to be lifted, the water must be filtered or treated and meet Interior Health standards.
More information is available on the RDEK’s website: www.rdek.bc.ca.

Road Construction May Lead to Delays for Elk Valley Transit

The current road construction between Sparwood and Fernie may add an additional 1/2 hour to your trip in both directions.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

For up to date information on issues that may effect the Elk Valley Transit System, please visit https://bctransit.com/elk-valley/home

New Composting Pilot Project Underway

Residents of the Columbia Valley and Elk Valley are being encouraged to take part in a new pilot composting project being coordinated by the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) this summer. 

“Residents are now able to drop off their household kitchen waste at the Columbia Valley Landfill, and Sparwood and Fernie Transfer Stations,” explains RDEK Environmental Services Manager Kevin Paterson. “The composting bins for the public are specially marked and will be available through the end of October.”

The program accepts nearly all kitchen scraps. While many residents in the East Kootenay already compost fruits and vegetables on a small scale, there are food scraps, such as meats, cheeses, paper plates, and paper towels that are not appropriate for backyard composting due to the potential for attracting wildlife and pests.  These are all accepted in the pilot program.

The RDEK has also partnered with a number of businesses on a commercial organics trial in an effort to address this significant waste stream in the East Kootenay. 

Organics collected through the public drop off bins and the commercial program are being combined and processed together. “The Regional District is testing a low-tech, but highly efficient method to process the organic materials, using carefully monitored windrows,” says Paterson. “The Regional District already manages household waste, recyclables and other waste streams, so adding organics to our services would be a natural next-step.  This pilot project will help us to be better able to understand our ability to process organics on a larger scale.”

Groundswell Network Society in Invermere has been a strong supporter of the pilot project and Executive Director Bill Swan emphasizes the opportunity for turning our waste into valuable material. “Well managed windrows that are turned regularly, maintain an acceptable temperature threshold, and have sufficient carbon content will result in the production of nutrient rich soil” Swan explains.

Composting of organic waste not only saves valuable landfill space, but can also reduce the amount of methane produced by a landfill. “The Regional District of East Kootenay has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Organics diversion is a relatively quick and simple way to achieve immediate reductions, and has the potential to save money and emissions through local production of a valuable end-product,” says RDEK Community Energy Manager Megan Lohmann.
Currently, the public composting program is being trialed in the Columbia Valley and Elk Valley.The pilot program will wrap up at the end of October. The next step in the project will be to conduct quality testing on the compost through the winter and early spring. The results of the pilot project will be reported to the RDEK Board in 2017.

More information is available from on-site staff, through the RDEK’s Cranbrook office and on the Pilot Program page

Public a Key Part of Identifying 9-1-1 Service Concerns

Recent follow-up by a Kimberley resident with concerns about a 9-1-1 call he placed has helped the RDEK identify and correct an issue with dispatch terminology.

“We had a resident contact one of our South Country Rural Fire Departments recently after he called to report a vehicle fire on a rural road and the local fire department didn’t respond,” explains RDEK Emergency Services Coordinator Travis Abbey. “We have a system in place to follow up on questions or concerns regarding both 9-1-1 and fire dispatch, and during the investigation into this complaint, it was discovered that there was an error in the dispatch of that call.”

The call was transferred by the dispatch centre to the BC Wildfire Service’s Southeast Fire Centre as it was interpreted to be outside the fire protection area. While RCMP responded to the vehicle fire to monitor the situation, the BC Wildfire Service did not dispatch a crew as the fire was isolated and not in danger of spreading. Through follow-up on the inquiry, it was determined the fire was actually within a fire protection area.

“We want to thank the individuals who came forward to ask about the circumstances of this particular call as it has helped us identify ways to improve the communication and dispatch terminology and ensure this situation is not repeated in the future,” adds Abbey.  “In the RDEK, well over 1500 9-1-1 calls are placed every year and the vast majority of those calls are placed and handled seamlessly; however, when someone experiences an issue with 9-1-1 or fire dispatch, we need to hear from them. This is an excellent example of how hearing about a concern can help us investigate and, if possible, put measures in place to improve the system.”

Public concerns can be directed to the RDEK’s Emergency Services Coordinator, Travis Abbey at 250-489-2791 or toll free 1-888-478-7335.

The RDEK provides 9-1-1 service to the region. The 9-1-1 service is contracted to E-Comm and callers are asked if they require police, fire or ambulance.  E-Comm’s job is to connect the caller as quickly as possible to the agency requested and remain on the line until the appropriate dispatch has answered. Police calls are handled directly by E-Comm, while ambulance calls are forwarded to the BC Ambulance Service Dispatch in Kamloops, and fire calls are dispatched by the fire dispatch centre in Kelowna.

Quick Action by Fire Department and Neighbours in Suzanne Lake Area

Jaffray firefighters are currently on the scene of a small lightning caused fire in the Suzanne Lake area.  The fire was first reported at approximately 7:00pm and was initially actioned by local residents until fire crews arrived.  We have six Jaffray firefighters on scene and a BC Wildfire Service crew is en route. The fire is not threatening any structures and is guarded and under control.

A big thanks to the residents and firefighters for their quick action this evening! 

Pictured:  a member of the Jaffray Department this evening on the scene of a lightning caused fire in the Suzanne Lake area.

Idle Wild Dam Rehabilitation Project Made Possible Thanks to Federal Gas Tax Fund

Reposted from the City of Cranbrook

Enjoying Canada’s vast green spaces and parks is a favourite pastime for Canadian families as a way to meet with relatives and neighbours, appreciate nature and share some quiet time.

Residents and visitors to the City of Cranbrook area will soon be able to enjoy the restored and enhanced Idlewild Lake and park areas thanks to a project that will rehabilitate the Idlewild Dam. The work is being completed thanks to $2.8 million provided through the federal Gas Tax Fund.

The project is about to break ground and will take approximately three years to complete. It will include the rehabilitation of the dam and spillway, along with recreational and shoreline improvements to the park.

A Parks Master Plan is also being created to formalize the upgrades to the recreational features of the park. This plan will take into consideration input from a 2015 Idlewild Park community survey that received over 1000 public responses.

The Government of Canada provides more than $266 million in indexed annual funding for municipal infrastructure in British Columbia through the federal Gas Tax Fund. The majority of this funding is allocated to municipalities who decide which projects will address their local priorities. They can spend, pool, bank or use their annual allocation to finance loans related to eligible infrastructure or capacity building projects. The Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) administers the Gas Tax Fund in BC, in partnership with Canada and British Columbia.

Quotes

“Through the federal Gas Tax Fund, the Government of Canada is allowing communities in British Columbia, and across Canada, to make informed decisions about their infrastructure investments and how best to spend federal dollars. The Idlewild Dam rehabilitation project will better protect the local environment and will open up improved recreational opportunities in an area that has been cherished by residents for so many years.”

The Honourable Amarjeet Sohi,
Minister of Infrastructure and Communities

“Idlewild is one of my family’s favourite relaxation spots in Cranbrook. When the dam holding back our beautiful trout pond was deemed unsafe, I promised Mayor Pratt that I would do all I could to help find the funds to restore the dam and the pond. I am grateful to UBCM and the federal government for their support.”

Bill Bennett,
MLA Kootenay East

“The City of Cranbrook is very appreciative of this funding provided from the federal Gas Tax fund. I would especially like to thank the City and UBCM staff who put a lot of time and effort into the preparation of the funding request. Thank you to the Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett and to the Union of BC Municipalities.  Once the dam is rebuilt and the surrounding park improved, it will provide residents with many years of enjoyment and various activities.”

Lee Pratt,
Mayor, City of Cranbrook

“Dam replacement is a priority for many communities in British Columbia. I am pleased to see the support provided by the Federal Gas Tax Fund for this project will rehabilitate Idlewild Park.”

Al Richmond,
UBCM President

Associated Links

Investing in Canada, the Government of Canada’s new $120 billion infrastructure plan: http://www.infrastructure.gc.ca/plan/index-eng.html

.

Federal infrastructure investments in British Columbia: http://www.infrastructure.gc.ca/map-carte/bc-eng.html

.

Federal Gas Tax Fund: http://www.infrastructure.gc.ca/plan/gtf-fte-eng.html

.

For additional public consultation opportunities and open house activities on this project, please visit the City’s web site.

Pictured Left to Right:

David Kim, CAO, City of Cranbrook; Ron Popoff, Councillor, City of Cranbrook; Wes Graham, Councillor, City of Cranbrook; Rob Gay, RDEK Board Chair and Area C Director; Wendy Booth, UBCM 2nd Vice-President and RDEK Area F Director; Bill Bennett, MLA for Kootenay-East; Lee Pratt, Mayor, City of Cranbrook; Tom Shypitka, Councillor, City of Cranbrook; and Norma Blissett, Councillor, City of Cranbrook.

 

Cherry Creek Falls Regional Park Officially Opened

Cherry Creek Falls Regional Park Officially Opened

Over 100 people attended the official opening of the Cherry Creek Falls Regional Park over the weekend.

“It was wonderful to see so many people come out to celebrate. The number of people who came out to mark the grand opening speaks to how much this landmark is treasured,” says Electoral Area E Director Jane Walter.
The evolution of the park from a landmark known and used by locals to a protected regional park occurred over a five year period and involved the community and all levels of government. In April 2011, an application was submitted to the Province to build a rock quarry adjacent to the Falls spurring a group of local residents to see what they could do to save the site and see it protected. This led to the formation of the Meadowbrook Community Association and lobbying of provincial and local politicians.  The RDEK expressed its opposition to the proposed quarry and its willingness to create a day-use only park at Cherry Creek Falls provided the Association could convince the mineral tenure holder to forfeit the claim and the Province to prohibit mining on the entire tenure. 

The Community Association Board raised the required $55,000 and on April 5, 2013, was informed that the tenure holder had forfeited the claim and that future mining had been prohibited on the 400+ acres. The RDEK applied to the Province for a license to create an Area E Park on approximately 40 acres and a permit for a parking lot.     "Community action ensured that this special place would not become a rock quarry and instead would continue to be enjoyed by future generations,” says Meadowbrook Community Association President, Bob Johnstone. “Thank you to everyone whose support and effort made Cherry Creek Falls Park a reality."

Over the past two years, RDEK staff have completed a number of projects at the site including the installation of a safe walkway to the Falls, safety fencing, removal of danger trees, parking lot upgrades, installation of benches and picnic tables, trail maintenance, and new signage. 

“This park represents what can happen when we come together and work together. Thanks to the efforts of so many in the community, local and Provincial governments, Cherry Creek Park will continue to be a sparkling jewel in our region and that is truly something to celebrate,” adds Walter.

The grand opening of Cherry Creek Falls Regional Park was held on Sunday, June 12 at the Falls.

Funding Secured for Completion of Cranbrook to Wardner Trans Canada Trail

REPOSTED FROM TRAILS BC

Trails BC is pleased to announce that funding has been secured for Phase 3 and the completion of the Cranbrook to Wardner Trans Canada Trail project.

At a ceremony on Wednesday, June 8th at one of the current work sites off Ha Ha Road, an announcement was made by multiple funding partners.

The Trans Canada Trail (TCT) -- represented by Sarah Meunier, TCT Trail Coordinator, British Columbia -- confirmed that TCT will provide $263, 000 in funding to the project.

“We are thrilled to contribute to the realization of this beautiful section of Canada’s Great Trail,” said Deborah Apps, TCT President & CEO. “Our volunteers and partners working on the Cranbrook to Wardner Trans Canada Trail are creating a world-class destination Trail, and we are proud to count it as part of our national network.”

Columbia Basin Trust is contributing $220,000 to the Trail through its new Recreation Infrastructure Grants program.

“Our recreation infrastructure grants fund projects that support residents to lead healthy lifestyles,” said Neil Muth, Columbia Basin Trust President and Chief Executive Officer. “We are proud to support this community trail as we know it will be well-travelled by locals and visitors alike.”

The Regional District of East Kootenay was represented by Board Chair Rob Gay who was on hand to announce $50K from the RDEK’s Community Works Fund

The Cranbrook to Wardner Trail is a tremendous asset for the region,” says RDEK Board Chair Rob Gay “Supporting the development of recreational trails is a cornerstone of our regional sustainability strategy and we are proud to provide this funding for Phase 3.”

RSTBC of the BC Ministry of Forestry, Lands, Natural Operations was represented by Rockies District Recreation Officer Lisa Cox who confirmed a $50k contribution from the province.

Trails BC director and trail project team lead Al Skucas says, “These significant funding developments will allow us to finish the great work that has already been done over the last two years. We are already looking forward to a celebration event upon project completion next year.”

Phase 3 will see resurfacing of rail trail for 3 kms from Ha Ha road to Steamboat Hill as well as improvements to Cranbrook City owned rail corridor of up to 4.5 km.  17kms section of new trail on the Mayook section started last year will be completed.  A short section of 1.4km of new trail within Highway 3 ROW will also be built near Wardner.

The overall budget of the project over the three phases will be $1.35 million when done.

As a rustic and scenic complement to the already popular NorthStar Rails to Trails, the 40+ km trail will enhance outdoor recreational opportunities for the regional communities as well as serve to make the area a popular destination for trail users.

The trail will be complete in time for Canada’s 150th Anniversary of Confederation on July 1st of 2017 which also coincides with the Trans Canada Trail’s vison of having the national trail connected by then.

For more info, go to http://trailsbc.ca/tct/east-kootenay/cranbrook-wardner or look on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cranbrook-to-Wardner-Destination-Trail

49 Years of Volunteerism Celebrated

Dorothy Durham was recognized as the 2016 Electoral Area B Volunteer of the Year at a Town Hall Meeting in Jaffray Monday night.

Durham is an outstanding leader who has been volunteering in the South Country since 1967. “It is difficult to summarize Dorothy’s contributions to our community,” says Area B Director Stan Doehle. “Her impact on the people of Area B can’t be measured by a specific position or time given to an organization because she has given so much to so many.”

Durham has been active with the Lady Lions, Sand Creek Seniors, Waldo Stockbreeders, Rural Crime Watch, and Jaffray Community Club, where she helped organize events like the Annual Fall Fair, community dinners and the Annual Christmas Party.  A sports enthusiast, she has organized numerous curling bonspiels and has served on the executive of the ladies golf club.

“People often call on Dorothy because of her nursing expertise and she provides tireless support to those in need in our community doing everything from providing a caring shoulder to helping with dressings, sitting with sick family members, and driving people to appointments. There is no end to her giving and she is so deserving of this honour,” adds Doehle.

Durham was presented with a small gift during the Volunteer of the Year ceremony, which was held in conjunction with the Area B Town Hall Meeting in Jaffray.   Following the Volunteer of the Year portion of the evening, RDEK staff provided updates on a range of topics including the Jaffray and Elko Area OCP planning process, FireSmart and personal emergency preparedness, Crown land recreation in the Koocanusa Area, 5-Year Financial Plan, and South Country Fire Update.  The RCMP also attended to provide an update.

The Area A Town Hall Meeting will be held on Monday, June 6 at the Fernie Family Centre.  For a list of all the RDEK Town Hall Meetings, visit www.rdek.bc.ca.

Electoral Area F Volunteers of the Year Recognized

Graeme and Noelene Anderson have been officially recognized as the 2016 Electoral Area F Volunteers of the Year.

The Andersons are passionate and caring volunteers and are well known to hockey enthusiasts in the Valley. “Graeme and Noelene spend countless hours fundraising and organizing volunteers for every Columbia Valley Rockies game, in addition to the hours they spend personally volunteering,” says Area F Director Wendy Booth.

Graeme is currently the President of the Rockies. In the past year he has organized the annual golf tournament and bull riding fundraiser, led a successful campaign to raise funds for a new bus for the players, organized the pond hockey and sold fundraising tickets at the market.   Noelene is also very active in supporting the team. For the past five years, she has sold merchandise at every game, taken photos, organized the puck toss, done the team’s social media posts, supported the players, organized parent nights, and encouraged minor hockey teams to attend the Rockies games by organizing tickets.  She not only organizes the “7th Rookie” where one Timbit/Novice player gets to be on the ice with the team at the start of each game, but also donates a small gift for each Rookie.

“The time, energy and heart that they put in to the team and the community is truly remarkable,” adds Booth. “They give countless hours and they do it all with a smile.”

The Andersons were presented with gifts from the RDEK during a Volunteer of the Year ceremony, which was held in conjunction with the Area F Town Hall Meeting in Fairmont.   Following the Volunteer of the Year portion of the evening, Director Booth provided an overview of her activities and RDEK staff provided updates on a range of topics including the upcoming phases of Fairmont Flood and Debris Flow Mitigation project, FireSmart and personal emergency preparedness, and Five-Year Financial Plan..

There will be an additional Area F Town Hall Meeting held in Windermere on July 4th and an Area G meeting will soon be scheduled as well.  For a list of all the RDEK Town Hall Meetings, visit www.rdek.bc.ca.

Category 3 Open Fires to be Banned Effective Friday at Noon (PST)

Category 3 open fires to be prohibited within the Southeast Fire Centre (REPOSTED)

 

CASTLEGAR– Effective at noon PDT on Friday, June 3, 2016, Category 3 open fires will be prohibited in the Southeast Fire Centre to help prevent human-caused wildfires and protect public safety.

Anyone conducting a Category 3 open fire anywhere in the Southeast Fire Centre must extinguish any such fire by noon on June 3, 2016. This prohibition will remain in place until the public is otherwise notified.

A map of the affected area is available online at: http://bit.ly/20RD4QZ

Specifically, this order prohibits:
• the burning of any material (piled or un-piled) larger than two metres high or three metres wide
• stubble or grass fires over an area larger than 2,000 square metres
• the burning of more than two piles of any size

This prohibition does not apply to campfires, cooking stoves that use gas, propane or briquettes, or open fires that are two metres by three metres or smaller. Please ensure that fires are not lit or kept burning during windy conditions and that adequate tools, water and people are on hand to contain the fire. Ensure the fire is fully extinguished and the ashes are cold to the touch before leaving the area for any length of time.

This prohibition covers all BC Parks and Crown and private lands, [and all electoral areas of the RDEK]. It does not apply within the boundaries of municipalities that have forest fire prevention bylaws and are serviced by a fire department. Please check with civic authorities for any restrictions before lighting a fire.

The Southeast Fire Centre covers the area extending from the U.S. border in the south to Mica Dam in the north and from the Okanagan Highlands and Monashee Mountains in the west to the B.C.—Alberta border in the east. It includes the Selkirk Natural Resource District and the Rocky Mountain Natural Resource District.

To report a wildfire or unattended campfire, call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone. For the latest information on current wildfire activity, burning restrictions, road closures and air quality advisories, visit http://www.bcwildfire.ca

$1.47 Million in Funding Announced for Fairmont Flood/Debris Flow Mitigation

Fairmont Hot Springs - As part of the public-safety funding announced in the 2016 provincial budget, the Province is committing $1.47 million in funding toward a flood-mitigation project near Fairmont Hot Springs that will protect the important economic area from flood damage.

The project builds on earlier work done by the Regional District of East Kootenay to widen the Fairmont Creek channel following significant debris flow events in 2012 and 2013 triggered by high water levels and which impacted residences and businesses. The 2012 event forced the closure of the highway and Fairmont Hot Springs Resort and cut off access to a RV campground.

In phases two and three now being funded by the Province, the capacity of Fairmont Creek will be expanded upstream, debris barriers will be installed, and the size of the culvert on the campground road will be increased. As well, a rainfall gauge and early warning system will be installed at the 1500-metre level of the Fairmont Creek watershed. These actions will help to capture material upstream and reduce flooding at lower levels including areas of the Mountainside Golf Course, and improve the capacity of the creek and culverts to prevent flooding.

As a result the project will protect public safety, minimize damage to public and private infrastructure, and protect the local tourism economy from business losses caused by flooding. The value of assets being protected by the project is estimated at $236 million.

In the 2016 budget, the B.C. government announced $65-million in initiatives to help keep communities safe, including $16-million for public safety preparedness initiatives and $49-million for community hazard mitigation projects, such as upgrades to dikes and flood protection. Leading up to 2016 budget, B.C. has invested significantly in flood mitigation and prevention. Since 2008, the Province has invested in 156 projects worth a total of $145 million. ($62-million has been provided provincially, $46-million federally, and $37-million in funding from the local authorities.)
Quotes:

Minister of State for Emergency Preparedness, Naomi Yamamoto - "Our government values the public safety of all British Columbians. Anything we can do to identify and diminish risk is a step in the right direction. That's why our government is investing in flood mitigation projects across the province. We are happy to work collaboratively with Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure Emergency Management BC communities to help limit the risk our citizens could be exposed to in the unfortunate event a disaster strikes."

Minister of Energy and Mines and MLA for East Kootenay, Bill Bennett - "This is a great example of the province and the regional district working collaboratively to ensure that citizens, residences, the tourism economy and critical transportation links in the East Kootenay are protected from flooding. Anyone who remembers the 2012 debris flow can attest to the damage that Mother Nature can exact in mere minutes. While that was a rare event, it brought heightened awareness to the need to take action for the future."

Chair of the Regional District of East Kootenay, Rob Gay - "Securing funding for the final two phases of the Fairmont Creek Debris Mitigation Project will enhance public safety by greatly reducing the impact of future flood and debris flow events, which will benefit the entire community. We are grateful to the Province for supporting this project and look forward to completing the engineering this year, with the bulk of the
construction to be completed in 2017."

Click here to view the full release from the Province of BC

Pictured (left to right): RDEK Engineering Services Manager Brian Funke; Minister of Energy and Mines & Responsible for Core Review, the Honourable Bill Bennett; RDEK Electoral Area F Director, Wendy Booth; RDEK Board Chair, Rob Gay.

Household Hazardous Waste Round Ups Coming to RDEK!

East Kootenay residents are encouraged to dig deep into their basements and garages in search of old cleaners, oils, pesticides and other toxic materials as the RDEK prepares to host three Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Round Ups the last weekend of May.

“We will be holding one round up in each of our three Subregions,” explains RDEK Environmental Services Manager, Kevin Paterson. “There will be no charge for drop off and this is the best way for residents to get rid of aerosols, flammable liquids, poisonous products, corrosives, oils, antifreeze, paints, pesticides, herbicides, solvents, nail polish remover, furniture polish, rat poison, pool acids and more.”

The HHW Round Ups will run from 10:00am to 2:00pm as follows:
Elk Valley Subregion
Saturday, May 28
Sparwood Fire Hall (479 Pine Avenue, Sparwood)

Columbia Valley Subregion
Saturday, May 28
Parking lot behind Radium Visitors Info Centre (7556 Main St E, Radium Hot Springs)

Central Subregion (Cranbrook/Kimberley & Area)
Sunday, May 29
Kimberley Civic Centre (525 Archibald Street, Kimberley)

The Round Ups are for household residential items only. No commercial or industrial products will be accepted and they will not accept explosives, ammunition, biomedical or radioactive waste.

“In addition to the Household Hazardous Waste products, we will also have representatives from the ElectroRecycle Program in attendance. They will be accepting small appliances, power tools and old exercise machines including everything from toasters and steamers to old drills and treadmills,” adds Paterson.

A complete list of the products accepted in the Round Ups is available by clicking here:

“These are the only events that will be held this year, so we really want people to be aware that they are happening and encourage them to use this opportunity to get rid of those old, unwanted and hard-to-get-rid-of wastes,” stresses Paterson.

Small Grassfire Quickly Contained

A small grassfire at the Fort Steele Transfer Station was quickly contained yesterday afternoon.

“We had a grass fire on our transfer station property yesterday afternoon when a controlled burn of a small brush pile got away,” says RDEK Solid Waste Superintendent Jim Penson. “Thanks to the swift action of a BC Wildfire Service crew, staff, contractors and a neighbour we were able to extinguish the fire very quickly and prevent the situation from becoming more serious.”

The fire was just over a hectare in size and is a good reminder about the dry conditions so early in the year.  In addition to the BC Wildfire Service Initial Attack crew, RDEK Staff, a neighbour and a water tender actioned the fire.

“We want to thank the neighbour, contractors and BC Wildfire Service for their assistance,” adds Penson.

The fire occurred yesterday morning and was fully extinguished within 3 hours.  The Transfer Station is a small rural transfer station located just north of the community of Fort Steele.

Construction Begins on West Fernie Servicing Project

The largest construction project in the history of the Regional District of East Kootenay officially broke ground today.

The $16,412,291 two-phase project will provide West Fernie residents and businesses with an upgraded water system and new storm water and sanitary sewer systems. 

“The Government of Canada is pleased to invest to improve the safety, quality and reliability of water services to West Fernie residents and businesses, while also upgrading the community’s wastewater management systems,” said the Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities. “Our infrastructure plan in Budget 2016 will see us invest in more projects like this to create good jobs, support a clean growth economy and leave a lasting legacy for future generations.”

The project will include the rehabilitation of approximately 4.7 kilometres of potable water mains, including all valves, fittings, service connections, fire hydrants and water meters.  In addition, approximately 4.2 kilometres of sanitary sewer and 3.3 kilometres of the stormwater mains will be installed, including any related connections, catch basins and manholes, lift stations and pumps, ditching work and tie-ins. Once completed, the modernized water mains and the new wastewater collection system will provide reliable services to the area for years to come.

“This expansion of the West Fernie Water and Wastewater Management Systems will provide critical infrastructure upgrades to the existing water system in West Fernie, which will provide long-term sustainability for residents of this community,” Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett said. “We are excited that construction has now begun on phase one, and look forward to the completion of this project.”

Dawson Construction Ltd will be completing the first phase of construction, which will focus on the area to the southeast side of Highway 3.   “I would like to thank the Federal and Provincial governments for their support of this project, the City of Fernie, RDEK staff and the community,” said RDEK Electoral Area A Director Mike Sosnowski.  “It has taken well over nine years to get to this moment and I am ecstatic to be officially breaking ground.”

Construction on this first phase of the project is anticipated to be substantially completed in 2016. Construction in the northwest area of Highway 3 is projected to begin in Spring 2017.  The City of Fernie will expand its boundary as each phase of construction is complete.

“These comprehensive upgrades to the water, storm water and wastewater systems in West Fernie underscore the importance of federal and provincial funding programs for local infrastructure,” said Union of BC Municipalities president Al Richmond. “The upgrades resulting from this project will improve local services for residences and provide a foundation for future growth.”

Funding for the project was provided as follows:

  • Phase 1 $6,000,000 Federal Gas Tax Fund
  • Phase 2 $6,941,528 Federal and Provincial contribution through the Small Communities Fund

The remainder of the project costs will be covered by borrowing and a contribution from the Electoral Area A portion of the Elk Valley Mine Tax Fund.

For more information about Government of Canada investments in British Columbia, visit http://www.infrastructure.gc.ca/map-carte/bc-eng.html 

To learn more about Budget 2016: http://www.budget.gc.ca/2016/docs/plan/ch2-en.html#_Toc446106678

For more information on the project, and to follow its progress visit www.westfernie.ca

Ecosystem Restoration Burn in Elko Area Friday (REPOST)

Reposted from: Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations BC Wildfire Service

The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, with the support of its Rocky Mountain Trench Ecosystem Restoration Program partners, will be conducting an ecosystem restoration burn on Rabbit Mountain on Friday, April 8, 2016, weather permitting.

Smoke from this controlled burn will be visible from the community of Elko and surrounding areas, and from Highway 3 and Highway 93. Trained BC Wildfire Service personnel will carefully monitor this burn at all times.

Rabbit Mountain, southwest of Elko:

* The 80-hectare controlled burn on Rabbit Mountain is part of an ecosystem restoration prescription for multiple areas within the Rocky Mountain Natural Resource District.

* This year's controlled burn is tied into previous fuel reduction projects in the region. It will help rejuvenate the shrub and grass layer, reduce fuel loads, and decrease the risk of catastrophic wildfires for the community of Elko and a nearby sawmill.

* During the burn period and the following evening, smoke may affect traffic on Highway 3 and Highway 93. Traffic control services and highway signs will be in place.

Fire is a natural, normal process in many ecosystems and is beneficial for maintaining a healthy forest and a diversity of plant and animal life. Many plants and animals have adapted to fire and some actually depend on it to reproduce.

All prescribed burns must comply with the Environmental Management Act and the open burning smoke control regulation. This helps minimize the amount of smoke generated.

To report a wildfire or unattended campfire, call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone.

For the latest information on current wildfire activity, burning restrictions, road closures and air quality advisories, visit: http://www.bcwildfire.ca

You can also follow the latest wildfire news on:

* Twitter at: http://twitter.com/BCGovFireInfo

* Facebook at: http://facebook.com/BCForestFireInfo

Learn More:

A Factsheet about prescribed burns and ecosystem restoration burns is available online at: http://bit.ly/1haDzED

Rocky Mountain Trench Ecosystem Restoration Program: http://trench-er.com

Elko Firefighters Respond to First Fire Call

Members of the Elko Fire Department responded to their first fire call over the weekend.

“We had a small grass fire in the Burton Lake Estates area,” says Elk Valley & South Country Rural Fire Service Chief Dave Boreen. “This was a good reminder about the dry conditions already this spring. Thanks to the swift action of the crew, they were able to extinguish the fire very quickly and prevent the situation from becoming more serious.”

It is a big week for the Elko Department.  Aside from responding to its first fire call, eight of the Department’s firefighters will be taking part in formal firefighter evaluations with written evaluations on Thursday and practical evaluations on Saturday.  Upon successful completion of both components, firefighters will receive a certificate from the College of the Rockies and be very close to being certified to the exterior firefighter level.  “These firefighters have been working really hard every step of the way and this will be an exciting next step for them,” adds Boreen.

The RDEK’s newest fire department began operating at the beginning of February. The department’s first official call was February 22nd when a father / daughter team responded to provide traffic control following a two vehicle motor vehicle incident. 

The Department is still welcoming new recruits. Anyone interested in learning more about Elko Fire can contact Chief Boreen at the Jaffray Fire Hall.

Long Time Arena Manager Recognized for Years of Service

After more than 16 years at the helm of the Eddie Mountain Memorial Arena, Arena Manager Phyllis Dubielewicz has retired.

“Phyllis has spent over 25 years dedicated to recreation in the Columbia Valley,” says RDEK Environmental Services Manager Kevin Paterson.  “She started with the Eddie Mountain Recreation Society as a Secretary in 1990 and has been a driving force ever since.”

Dubielewicz was Office Manager for the Society for many years, managed the Lions and Rotary ballparks for 9 years and has been the Manager of the Eddie Mountain Memorial Arena for the past 16 years. “Phyllis has been a tremendous leader and we will miss her. We wish her well on her retirement.”

At a farewell luncheon on her last day, Paterson presented Dubielewicz with an RDEK clock as a token of appreciation for her years of dedicated service.

The Arena Manager role has been expanded to include additional responsibilities and a new title.  Filling the Columbia Valley Recreation Services Supervisor position is Colin Peet, who has spent the last 3 years as Director of Recreation in Watrous, Saskatchewan.  Peet has a Bachelors and Masters in Arts in Sports Management and a Diploma in Business Administration and Human Resources.  “We are fortunate to have a really strong group of employees at the Eddie Mountain Memorial Arena, so the transition to this new position should be seamless,” adds Paterson. “Colin has a passion for recreation and will be a great asset to our team.”

Pictured from Left to Right: RDEK Columbia Valley Recreation Services Supervisor Colin Peet; Eddie Mountain Memorial Arena Staff Stan Noklebey, Rob Rice, Phyllis Dubielewicz (retired), Jye Carter and Allan Norman; and, RDEK Environmental Services Manager Kevin Paterson.

Open House in West Fernie to Introduce Construction Contractor


The RDEK will be hosting an Open House this Thursday to introduce the construction contractor that will be completing the first phase of construction on the West Fernie Servicing & Restructure Project.

“Dawson Construction Ltd. will be mobilizing in West Fernie over the next week or so and we wanted to provide residents with an opportunity to meet representatives from the company. In addition, RDEK staff and our engineering consultant Kerr Wood Leidal will be providing information on the construction schedule and answering questions,” says RDEK Project Supervisor Elizabeth Ahlgren. “Having information sessions like the ones this week allows us the opportunity to be able to meet directly with the community and answer questions. Having said that, if people are not able to attend the Open House, we are always available to speak directly with them and provide them with the information they need.” 

The Open House will be held at the Park Place Lodge in Fernie this Thursday, March 31, 2016. There will be two sessions: 4:00pm to 6:00pm with a short presentation at 4:30pm and 7:00pm to 9:00pm with a presentation at 7:30pm. “Both sessions will feature the same information and same presentation, so people only need attend one,” adds Ahlgren.

There will be an official sod turning event on Friday, April 8th at 4:00pm in West Fernie. 

More information about the West Fernie Servicing Project can be found at www.westfernie.ca or on the West Fernie Facebook page www.facebook.com/westfernieservicing

Burning of Slash Piles Begins as Fuel Management Treatment Program Wraps Up

The RDEK is continuing with our fuel management project in Baynes Lake along Jaffray-Baynes Lake Road near the Strawberry Hill area. We will begin burning the remaining slash piles today as we have a good venting index.

There will be smoke visible during the burn.

The goal of this project is to reduce the fuel load in the area and reduce the risk of wildfires.

If there are questions about the project please feel free to contact our Emergency Services Coordinator Travis Abbey at 1-888-478-7335 or tabbey@rdek.bc.ca.

RDEK and Kelowna Sign Fire Dispatch Contract

Starting May 30, the City of Kelowna will provide fire dispatch and records management for the 16 fire departments located in the Regional District of East Kootenay.  The Kelowna Fire Department already provides dispatch service to the Regional Districts of Central Okanagan and Okanagan Similkameen.

“We are able to provide the new service within our existing capacity,” said Travis Whiting, Deputy Chief of the City of Kelowna. “The selection of Kelowna Fire to dispatch for the RDEK is a reflection of the professional and efficient work of our dispatchers in support of local first responders.”

The five-year agreement between the two local governments will generate a net revenue of approximately $835,000 for the City of Kelowna over the duration of the contract.

“City of Cranbrook Fire and Emergency Services provided outstanding service for many years and we are looking forward to continuing that same high level of fire dispatch service through Kelowna,” says RDEK Building & Protective Services Manager, Sanford Brown. “This transition will be seamless. Residents of the East Kootenay and our firefighters should not notice any interruptions in service as we move the call centre from Cranbrook to Kelowna later this spring.”

For more information on the Kelowna Fire Department visit kelowna.ca/fire and to learn more about Regional District of East Kootenay services visit rdek.bc.ca

JOINT RELEASE / City of Kelowna and RDEK

Rushmere Achieves FireSmart Status

Reposted from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations

The small community of Rushmere has taken some big steps to protect residents from harm, using FireSmart principles to proactively reduce wildfire threats on private land on
the west shore of Windermere Lake.

FireSmart Canada acknowledged all that hard work on Feb. 9, 2016, with the official presentation of a Community Protection Achievement Award and the installation of a FireSmart sign at the entrance road to Rushmere. The award presentation was attended by BC Wildfire Service staff, a provincial FireSmart Canada representative, Regional District of East Kootenay staff, the fire chief for Columbia Valley Rural Fire and Rescue Services and other guests.

To earn the Community Protection Achievement Award, Rushmere was required to raise public awareness of FireSmart principles and teach private landowners how to help safeguard their homes from wildfire.

In September 2015, the B.C. government and the Union of B.C. Municipalities launched the $500,000 FireSmart Community Grant Program to encourage more communities to participate in the FireSmart program. Grants of up to $10,000 each for up to 50 communities are being offered to help communities receive a FireSmart designation.

CLICK HERE to view the full release.

No Water Use Day in Windermere Feb 9th

The reservoir project is nearing completion in Windermere.  On Tuesday, our contractor (Border Holdings Ltd) will be installing secondary chlorination for the Windermere Water System.  As a result, there will be one more “no water use” day for anyone on the Windermere Water System Tuesday, February 9, 2016 from 9:00 am - 4:00 pm.

During this time, residents are asked to use as little water as possible from the system.  As with the work in late January, we need to have all the water in the system during this process, and the water system cannot be fully shut down. 

Turning on a tap, bathing, flushing a toilet or running a load of laundry would all draw down water, so it is critical for residents to make sure they use as little water as possible between 9:00 am and 4:00 pm.

The Windermere Elementary School will be closed for a Professional Development day. Windermere residents are asked to ensure they are prepared and to use as little water as possible during this time.

We recognize the impact these “no water use days” have and are working hard to minimize the impact to the community. Thank you in advance for your cooperation and patience as we work to complete the reservoir project and increase the community’s water system supply.

For more information, please contact:
Brian De Paoli, RDEK Project Manager
250-489-2791 or 1-888-478-7335
bdepaoli@rdek.bc.ca

Draft Toby Benches OCP Unveiled

Almost exactly one year ago, the RDEK started working on an Official Community Plan (OCP) planning process for the Toby Benches area. The draft OCP is now available for review and comment.

“We have been working with residents and other stakeholders every step of the way and are excited to be at this point in the process,” says RDEK Planner Kris Belanger. 

The draft OCP and map schedules are posted on the RDEK’s website and Belanger says they have an Open House planned for mid-January to provide more information to the community. “At the Open House we will review the draft OCP and will be encouraging comments and questions.”

The Open House will be held Wednesday, January 13, 2016 at the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce from 7:00pm to 9:00pm and staff will do a brief presentation at 7:30pm.  “If people are not able to attend the Open House, or if they would like additional time to review the draft before making comment, we have a public comment period running until February 1st,” adds Belanger. Comments will be reviewed by the RDEK and will help inform revisions to the draft OCP.

An Official Community Plan (OCP) is a long term strategic planning document that reflects the community’s vision for the future while providing a policy framework to promote greater certainty in land use decision making by the Regional District Board.

More information about the Toby Benches Official Community Plan process can be found on the Toby Benches OCP Page.

New Funding Announced for Elk Valley Trail Project

The Elk Valley Community Directed Funds (EVCDF) Committee has allocated $430,000 to the Elk Valley Community Trail project. 

Efforts are now underway to secure matching funds through Trans Canada Trail, which if approved, would bring the total value of the project to almost $900,000. “From the very beginning our Committee was hopeful that we could use the Community Directed Funds to support a single project that would have a lasting and notable impact on the Elk Valley.  With the ability to receive matching funding from the Trans Canada Trail to develop this route through the Elk valley, we believe that we have found such a project,” says EVCDF Committee Chair Mary Giuliano. 

“A quality trail system is an important component of community economic development and complements the social well-being and healthy lifestyles of Elk Valley residents. As a Committee, we are pleased to be making this strategic investment in our Valley’s recreational infrastructure,” adds Giuliano.  

The RDEK, Fernie Trails Alliance, and Columbia Basin Trust will be working with the Trans Canada Trail to develop a funding agreement for the Elk Valley Community Trail project, which is proposed to connect the communities of Elko, Morrissey, Fernie, Hosmer, Sparwood and Elkford with a mostly non-motorized single-track trail.  The trail will cover a distance of 150km and help connect some of the remaining gaps in the Trans Canada Trail (TCT) through the East Kootenay.

The EVCDF Program ran for three years between 2013 and 2015.  The RDEK gratefully acknowledges the financial support of Columbia Basin Trust which supports efforts and ideas of the people of the Columbia Basin.

Chair Elected as RDEK Celebrates 50th Anniversary

The annual election of RDEK Chair and Vice Chair was held at the Regional District of East Kootenay this morning and Electoral Area C Director Rob Gay will continue on as Chair for 2016.

“I appreciate the confidence of my fellow Directors in re-electing me as Chair and I look forward to another productive year,” says Gay. This will be the Electoral Area C Director’s fifth term as RDEK Chair.  He has been on the Board since 2005.

Electoral Area F Director Wendy Booth was re-elected as Vice Chair for a fourth term.  “I have really enjoyed being Vice Chair and look forward to continuing to work with Chair Gay and the Board to advance our priorities for the coming year.”

The RDEK celebrated its 50th anniversary this week. In honour of the landmark milestone, the Board, staff, former Chairs and dignitaries gathered for a special dinner Thursday night, which included presentations that highlighted moments and memories over the past half century.

In addition, the RDEK Board of Directors has approved an updated logo for the organization. The new logo includes the addition of a sun over the mountain and will be gradually transitioned into use over the next few months.

Baynes Lake Area Fuel Treatment Slash Piles to be Burned if Conditions Permit

The RDEK recently completed an interface fuel treatment project on Crown land in the Baynes Lake Area.

The last step in the process is to pile the slash and burn it.  Contractors will be on site to begin building the piles November 19th.  If the conditions are right and the venting index is good, we will begin burning the piles November 19th. The work is expected to take approximately two weeks to complete.

The piles are located along the Jaffray-Baynes Lake Road near the Strawberry Hill area. The goal of this project was to reduce the fuel load in the area and reduce the risk of wildfires. If there are questions about the project please feel free to contact:

  • Sanford Brown
    Building & Protective Services Manager
    1-888-478-7335 or sbrown@rdek.bc.ca
     
  • Dave Boreen
    Elk Valley / South Country Fire Chief
    250-429-3133

Good Turnout to West Fernie Servicing Open House

Over 50 people took in the West Fernie Servicing Project Open House Thursday.

“It was great to see so many people come out and participate in the Open House,” says RDEK Engineering Services Manager Brian Funke. “We know there is a lot of information to share and our goal is to make sure residents feel informed every step along the way. Having information sessions like the ones this week allows us the opportunity to be able to meet directly with the community, answer questions and also hear their ideas about the project.” 

At the meeting, the Project Manager for the Kerr Wood Leidal / MPE Engineering Consulting Team, Don Nash, walked attendees through the preliminary design for Phase 1 of the project, which includes the water, sewer and storm water services for the properties on the south side of Highway 3 in West Fernie.  He also reviewed the timing for Phase 2 of the project. “We wanted to get out to the community to share the preliminary design for Phase 1 and gather feedback.  At the same time, we are in the process of gathering preliminary information on properties in Phase 2, so want to make sure those residents and property owners are also engaged and informed.”

The next step in the project will be the detailed design work, which is expected to be complete by late November.  Once the RDEK receives the required regulatory approvals, the construction contract for Phase 1 will be tendered, which is expected to happen early in the New Year.  While the team is gathering the preliminary servicing information for Phase 2 properties, the actual work on Phase 2 is not expected to proceed until 2017. 

The Open House was held at the Stanford Resort on Thursday, with an afternoon and evening session.

More information about the West Fernie Servicing Project can be found at www.westfernie.ca or on the West Fernie Facebook page www.facebook.com/westfernieservicing

Strong Turnout to Initial Area B OCP Meeting

Approximately 90 people took in the introductory meeting for the Electoral Area B Official Community Plan planning process in Jaffray on Wednesday night.

“It was a great turnout and I would like to thank everyone for taking the time to participate in our first meeting,” says RDEK Electoral Area B Director Stan Doehle. “Having strong participation from the community is a critical part of this process, so it was fantastic to see so many people come out to share their values, concerns and vision for the area.” 

At the meeting, RDEK Planner Karen MacLeod provided an overview of existing regulations and an explanation of what the shift from the current Land Use Bylaw to an Official Community Plan and Zoning Bylaw means.  Participants then broke out into working groups.  “We had them identify the things they appreciate most about their community, discuss issues or concerns, and share their visions for the future,” says MacLeod. 

A second introductory meeting will be held Tuesday, October 20th at 7:00pm at the Elko Community Hall. 

“Over the next few weeks we will be compiling the information shared with us at the introductory meetings in Jaffray and Elko and through a survey that runs through the end of November.  This information will then be brought back to the community in early 2016,” adds MacLeod.

Residents and property owners not able to attend the introductory meetings are encouraged to fill out an online survey.  The survey closes on November 30th and can be accessed from the RDEK’s website: www.rdek.bc.ca.

The planning process is expected to take 18 months to complete and there will be several more opportunities for the public to participate.

An Official Community Plan (OCP) is a long term strategic planning document that reflects the community’s vision for the future while providing a policy framework to promote greater certainty in land use decision making by the Regional District Board.  The new OCP is proposed to cover the Jaffray, Tie Lake, Rosen Lake, Galloway and Elko areas.

More information about the OCP planning process can be found on the RDEK’s website at  www.rdek.bc.ca.

RDEK Directors Elected to UBCM Board

The East Kootenay will have representation on a Provincial level after two RDEK Directors were elected to positions on the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) Executive this week.

“On behalf of the RDEK, I want to congratulate Electoral Area F Director Wendy Booth on being elected Second Vice President and Invermere Mayor Gerry Taft for his election as Director at Large,” says RDEK Board Chair Rob Gay. “It is going to be an exciting year for both of them, and we are so fortunate to have them representing us at the UBCM level as they work on policy-making and programming that will benefit all British Columbians.”

This will be Booth’s third year on the UBCM Executive and her first as Second Vice President, having spent the past two years as a Director at Large.  “I’m honoured to have been elected by my colleagues and am looking forward to a dynamic year of learning,” says Booth.

It will be Taft’s second year on the Executive, but first as an elected Director at Large. Last year he was appointed by the Association of Kootenay and Boundary Local Governments as its representative. “It’s exciting to be able to continue on and move forward with some of the policy direction and initiatives we have been working on over the past year,” adds Taft.

The elections took place this week at the annual UBCM Convention in Vancouver.

New Bench Commemorates West Fernie Dike Project Completion

Electoral Area A Director Mike Sosnowski is pictured with RDEK Engineering Services Manager Brian Funke at a newly commissioned bench, which commemorates the recently completed West Fernie Dike.  The $2.6 million multi-phased dike project is one of many projects Funke and his department have overseen in Electoral Area A and the RDEK.

 

Two Elk River Erosion Control Projects Set to Begin

Repairs and reinforcement will soon be underway at two separate sites along the Elk River.

“We have two projects that we will be starting within the next week: one at the Elk Valley Airport and one in the Hill Road area near Fernie,” explains RDEK Engineering Services Manager, Brian Funke. “Both of these projects are a result of damage that occurred during the flooding of 2013.”

The work at the Elk Valley Airport involves building setback erosion protection on the bank of the River, which will tie into the existing bank armouring to help protect the airport in future flood events. The construction will begin on July 27 and is expected to take approximately four weeks.

During the peak of the flooding in 2013, a section of dike along Hill Road was lost and the work in this area will focus on rebuilding 150 metres of soil dike that was washed away.  “The work will be undertaken on both private and Crown land and residents will notice truck traffic moving on and off the site as well as some tree and vegetation removal,” adds Funke.  Work on this project will also begin on July 27.

The projects are both being 80% funded by the Provincial Disaster Financial Assistance program. The remaining 20% funding on the Elk Valley Airport project is coming from the Elk Valley Airport Service, while the remaining 20% on the Hill Road project is being funded by the newly established Electoral Area A Flood Control Service.

For more information on projects, contact Kara Zandbergen at the RDEK’s Cranbrook office at 1-888-478-7335.

Community Weed Pull for St. Mary Lake, Meadowbrook, Wasa Area This Sunday

Residents of Wasa, Meadowbrook and St. Mary Lake are being encouraged to break out the gloves and join in a community weed pull this week.

“We are targeting three common invasive plants in Area E: Spotted Knapweed, Diffuse Knapweed and Baby’s Breath,” explains RDEK Electoral Area E Director Jane Walter. “We are encouraging people to get together and pull anytime between now and Sunday. On Sunday afternoon we will have a wind up appreciation barbecue at the Wasa Community Hall for everyone who participates.” 

The community barbecue will be held at 4:00pm this Sunday afternoon at the outdoor kitchen at the Wasa Community Hall.

If people aren’t sure what knapweed or baby’s breath looks like, they can visit www.weedsbc.ca.

“We are hoping to have a good turnout. Many hands make light work and if we get together as a community and put in a bit of time, it will make a big difference,” adds Walter. “My main hope is that people will pull knapweed on their property and help pull these invasive plants if they see them in their neighbourhood.”

For more information on the Community Weed Pull, people can contact Director Walter at 250-427-2577.

High Speed Internet Coming to the Kootenays

REPOST from Industry Canada - High-Speed Internet Coming to the Kootenays
MP David Wilks and Minister James Moore announce major investment that will bring fast, reliable Internet services to 11,000 homes in the Kootenay region

July 8, 2015 – Cranbrook, British Columbia

Everyday tasks that were once done in person, such as shopping, communicating, learning and banking, are now done online. To help Canadians have better access to these and many other online opportunities, the Honourable James Moore, Minister of Industry and Minister Responsible for British Columbia, and David Wilks, Member of Parliament for Kootenay–Columbia, today announced that the Government of Canada will provide $3.34 million to the Columbia Basin Broadband Corporation to bring high-speed Internet services to approximately 11,000 households in British Columbia. Mr. Wilks highlighted the communities that will benefit in the Kootenay region, including many in Cranbrook, East Kootenay and Columbia Shuswap.

The broadband infrastructure project is expected to be completed by the end of 2017, delivering Internet speeds of up to 10 megabits per second (Mbps), twice as fast as the target speed for the Connecting Canadians program.

For Canadians who live in communities with slow or no Internet, access to high-speed services will lead to new economic opportunities and the creation of new jobs, products and services.

By Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017, over 98 percent of Canadian households will be able to subscribe to new or improved high-speed Internet services, delivering on the Harper Government’s commitment to rural Canadians. 

Quick facts

• Under the Connecting Canadians program, the Columbia Basin Broadband Corporation will receive $3.34 million to connect approximately 11,000 households in the Kootenay region, including in
o Boundary—Bridesville to Christina Lake
o Ferguson
o Edgewood, Whatshan Lake and surrounding area
o Northern Kootenay Lake communities
o Sirdar, Wynndel, Lister, Canyon, Bountiful, West Creston
o Elk Valley, Baynes Lake, Jaffray, Elko
o Spillimacheen, Brisco, Edgewater        
o Yahk, Kingsgate, Kitchener, Moyie Lake
o Grasmere, Wasa, Canal Flats, Fairmont Hot Springs, Windermere, Wilmer, Harrogate, Parson
o Crawford Bay, Gray Creek, Boswell, Riondel, Ainsworth Hot Springs
o Ross Spur, Fruitvale, Beaver Valley, Salmo, Ymir, Slocan Valley, South Slocan, Blewett, Harrop, Glade, Tarrys, Thrums, Deer Park, Renata, Genelle, rural Rossland
o Field
• Through Economic Action Plan 2014, the Government of Canada created the Connecting Canadians program, backed by a $305-million commitment to connect an additional 280,000 households in rural and remote regions of the country to high-speed Internet services at minimum speeds of 5 Mbps.
• The Government has exceeded its Economic Action Plan 2014 target by over 75,000 households in the first round of project approvals, bringing high-speed Internet access to more than 356,000 homes across Canada, and nearly 40 percent under budget.
• Last summer, the Government invited Canadians to provide feedback online to help better determine areas in need of high-speed Internet access. Once information was received, Industry Canada invited Internet service providers to submit proposals for funding under Connecting Canadians to build the wireless or wired infrastructure that will provide services to rural and remote communities in need.
• The first projects are expected to be completed by the time Canada celebrates the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017.
• Industry Canada received over 300 applications to the Connecting Canadians program from Internet service providers across Canada.
• Every province and territory across the country will benefit from the Connecting Canadians program. Announcements of individual projects will be made throughout the summer.

Quotes

“The announcement marks the next important phase in our plan to bring the benefits of high-speed Internet to more than 280,000 Canadian households, including in the Kootenays. Providing Canadians with access to high-speed Internet for learning, business opportunities and so much more is key to creating a more connected, digital Canada.”
– James Moore, Minister of Industry, Minister Responsible for British Columbia

“This is great news for the Kootenays and shows that the Government of Canada understands the importance of high-speed Internet access for our communities and people. Today’s announcement demonstrates the Government’s commitment to delivering for rural Canadians.”
– David Wilks, Member of Parliament for Kootenay–Columbia

“The Columbia Basin Broadband Corporation is committed to bringing better broadband to the Columbia Basin–Boundary region, and this funding is an important step forward in giving over 11,000 households the ability to participate fully in the digital world. Thank you to the Minister, the Government of Canada, our local government partners and Internet service providers for their efforts in bringing affordable high-speed Internet services to our communities.”
– Neil Muth, President and CEO, Columbia Basin Broadband Corporation

REPOST: Prescribed Burn Aids Fire Suppression Activities on Baynes Lake Area Fire

REPOST from SE Fire Centre

CASTLEGAR - The wildfire east of Lake Kookanusa and south of Cutts Road toward the Elk River is now 100% contained. This fire was discovered on July 4, 2015 and grew quickly and aggressively, prompting the evacuation of 200 people near Kragmont and further evacuation alerts in nearby communities.

All evacuation alerts or evacuation orders issued by the Regional District of East Kootenay for areas around this wildfire have now been lifted. For more information, visit: http://www.rdek.bc.ca

Wildfire suppression efforts were aided by the Cutts Pasture Ecosystem Restoration burn, which was conducted in fall 2013. The objectives of the Cutts Pasture project were to improve wildlife habitat and help protect local communities from the potential of catastrophic wildfires. This incident is an excellent example of how prescribed fire on the landscape can reduce fuel loads and create defendable spaces for BC Wildfire Service crews to work when fires do occur.

BC Wildfire Service crews will continue mopping up hot spots on the fire's perimeter, with the help of a sustained action crew from Ontario. Their assistance was made possible through the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, which co-ordinates the mutual sharing of firefighting resources between B.C. and other Canadian jurisdictions.

With hot and dry conditions forecast through next week and the potential for more thunderstorms, the Southeast Fire Centre is urging the public to be extra cautious in the backcountry. All person-caused fires are  preventable and these incidents may affect the ability of firefighting crews to respond to naturally occurring fires.

The BC Wildfire Service appreciates the public��s continued reporting of any smoke or flames that they see. Report a wildfire by calling 1 800 663-5555 or *5555 on your cellphone.

For the latest information on current wildfire activity, burning restrictions, road closures and air quality advisories, go to: http://www.bcwildfire.ca
You can also follow the latest wildfire news on:

Crews Thanked as Evacuation Alert Lifted

The BC Wildfire Service is being thanked for its efforts on the Baynes Lake area wildfire.

The fire has been contained and an evacuation alert that has been in place since Sunday has been lifted. “This is a good day,” says RDEK Board Chair Rob Gay. “Things escalated very quickly on Saturday night when the fire broke out, and we are grateful for the tireless efforts of the crews, who have worked around the clock in trying conditions to bring the fire under control and protect our residents.  I would also like to acknowledge the efforts of our Emergency Social Services team, our Emergency Program personnel, our Jaffray and Baynes Lake fire fighters and the many volunteers who have also been doing everything they can to help support area residents.”

At the peak of the event in the early hours of Sunday morning, 200 people were evacuated from their homes in Kragmont and an area to the south.  At the same time, the community of Baynes Lake and an area to the north were on Evacuation Alert.  By Sunday afternoon, they were able to return home as the Evacuation Order was rescinded and an Evacuation Alert put in place.  In total, 416 dwellings were on Alert in addition to a large number of recreationalists who have been camping in the area.

Further to the north, an Evacuation Order for one home in Spillimacheen was rescinded last night and an Evacuation Alert put in place for that residence.  The Evacuation Alert that was issued on Sunday for the area south of the RDEK’s border to Westside Road in Spillimacheen remains in place.

With tinder-dry conditions and continued warm temperatures in the forecast, the RDEK urges everyone to use extreme caution. 

  • For information on wildfires, visit the BC Wildfire Service website at www.bcwildfire.ca .
  • To report a wildfire or open burning violation, call 1-800-663-5555 or dial *5555 from a cell phone.

Erratic Winds Fuel Fires

An Evacuation ORDER has been issued for the community of Kragmont and a surrounding area to the south due to a wildland fire that broke out yesterday afternoon.

The Evacuation Order covers properties south of 1347 Waldo Road, including Conroy Road, Tranquility Road, Gavin Road, Fitzpatrick Road, Canyon Cut Off, Grasmere-Dorr Road, Dorr Cut Off Road, and Elko Grasmere Road.

“Everyone in the affected area should evacuate immediately. This order has been issued to protect the safety of the public,” says Information Officer, Loree Duczek. 

A reception centre has been set up at the Jaffray Community Hall and all evacuees are being asked to register at the reception centre.

“We will do our best to get regular updates to the reception centre as we receive them from the BC Wildfire Service and are working to set up an information line.  Updates will be posted on our Facebook page and RDEK website as well,” adds Duczek.

An Evacuation ALERT has been issued for the community of Baynes Lake from the area north of 1347 Waldo Road to Kikomun Road.  “Now is the time for people in the Baynes Lake area to get prepared in the event that conditions worsen and the Evacuation Order boundary needs to be expanded.  We encourage people to gather important documents, medications, papers, and personal supplies so that they are ready to go should an order be issued.

For the latest information on current wildfire activity, burning restrictions, road closures and air quality advisories, go to: http://www.bcwildfire.ca.

The RDEK’s Emergency Program has been activated to coordinate the evacuation orders and alerts, provide Emergency Social Services support to those affected, and provide support to the BC Wildfire Service as they work to contain the fire.

A separate fire in the Spillimacheen area has prompted the evacuation of a home closest to the blaze there.  The Windermere Fire Department has deployed their sprinkler protection units to three homes to help provide protection. An evacuation alert has been issued for an area from the boundary of the RDEK and Columbia Shuswap Regional District east of the Columbia River and south to Westside Road.

Two Fires of Note Burning in SE Fire Centre

The Jaffray and Baynes Lake Fire Departments and BC Wildfire Service are actioning a fire south of Baynes Lake.

Earlier today,  air tankers were used on the blaze which is burning near the Elk River.  Helicopters are continuing to drop water, and ground crews and heavy equipment are on site. 

In the Columbia Valley, BC Wildfire Service crews are actioning a fire in the Spillimacheen area. Two Initial Attack crews, two helicopters and a water tender responded to that fire earlier today. 

To get the latest information on forest fires and fire bans in the East Kootenay, visit the BC Wildfire Service website: http://engage.gov.bc.ca/bcwildfire

Phase 1 of West Fernie Servicing Project Launched

The Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) officially launched the first phase of the West Fernie Servicing & Restructure Project with about 40 residents at an information session June 23rd at the Fernie Stanford Resort. Attendees were introduced to the project team and GroundWorks branding, and learned about project history, objectives, timelines, contacts, and information sources.

“This is an important milestone,” says RDEK Electoral Area A Director, Mike Sosnowski. “The project team is in place, we’ve introduced the GroundWorks campaign, and the engineering work is underway. After the years of hard work by the RDEK, the City of Fernie, the Provincial and Federal governments and the community, I’m excited to see on-the-ground work about to begin.”

Attendees also learned about a Service Card survey that will gather detailed information from properties located just south of Highway 3. Details about how residents can help by completing the cards before July 6th are spelled out in a GroundWorks package being delivered to all West Fernie homes the week of June 29th.  A ground survey being conducted throughout the entire West Fernie area starting July 6th will document roads, ditches, hydrants and property curbstop valves. All Information gathered will be used to guide project design and construction.

“We will continue to have communication with the community every step of the way,” adds Sosnowski. “From community meetings like the one this week, to newsletters, emails and the interactive westfernie.ca website, there will be lots of information available. If people have questions, they can submit them on the website or contact the project team directly.”

Approved by West Fernie and City of Fernie residents in 2014, Phase 1 of the project includes most properties south of Highway 3 and involves upgrades to the water system and construction of sewer and storm drain services. Phase 1 design is being undertaken by Kerr

Wood Leidal, along with MPE Engineering, Align Surveys, Groundtech Engineering, and Alliance Communications. The contract for Phase 1 construction will be awarded early next year, and is slated for completion in 2017.

Discussion Begins on Future of Selkirk Park in Wilmer

20 people turned out to a community meeting in Wilmer Wednesday night to discuss their vision for the future of the parcel of land historically known as Selkirk Park.

“We started the night off with an overview of the RDEK parks system, followed by a history of the Selkirk Park property,” explains RDEK Electoral Area G Director Gerry Wilkie. “We then opened the floor up and had a really good community discussion about the future of the park and what people would like to see done with the property.” 

The community meeting was the first step in seeking the community’s input on the future of the park. The RDEK has created an online survey that will be open until July 5th and for those without a computer, hard copies will be available at the Columbia Valley RDEK Office until July 3rd.  The link to the electronic survey is: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/selkirkpark

For the past 40 years the Province has leased the area historically known as Selkirk Park to the RDEK for community park purposes, but it was never developed.  This lease has now expired.  If the community wishes to see the lease renewed, the RDEK needs to hear the community’s vision for the land in order to create a required management plan for the Province.

The survey deadline is July 5th and the results of the survey will be compiled and shared with the community later that month.

For more information, contact Shannon Moskal at the RDEK’s Cranbrook Office.

ADVISORY - Fire in Wood Piles at Wasa Transfer Station

There is a fire burning in the wood piles at the Wasa Transfer Station.  The fire is currently contained to the three or four piles on west side, which have good road buffers around them. We have a water truck en route as well as the contractor who has his machine on site from unrelated work in the area. He can use the hoe to provide additional guarding if we need it. 

So, at the moment, things are looking good – and we continue to ask everyone to stay away so we can get the situation fully dealt with.

The fire may cause some additional smoke in the air this evening (there is also a small forest fire being actioned closer to Fort Steele, which has contributed to the smoke we have seen since early this afternoon).

Unless something significant changes, the next update will be tomorrow when things are fully wrapped up.

2015/2016 Columbia Basin Trust Community Initiatives and Affected Areas Programs Funding Approved

The Regional District of East Kootenay Board of Directors has approved funding for 140 projects around the region over the coming year.

The funding comes from Columbia Basin Trust’s Community Initiatives and Affected Areas Programs, which are administered by the RDEK. 

“We approved a total of $1,063,163 for 2015/2016. The approved projects cover everything from education programs to community hall upgrades, sports programs and history projects,” says RDEK Board Chair Rob Gay.  “On behalf of the RDEK Board and our residents, I want to thank the Trust for providing this funding for so many different community-based projects, many of which could not happen without this support. I also want to extend our thanks to the volunteers who give their time and energy to make these projects happen.”

After considering public input and recommendations from the municipalities and Electoral Area Directors, the Board approved the funding at its Board Meeting May 29.  A complete list of the approved projects is available on the RDEK’s website (www.rdek.bc.ca) on the News and Corporate Services Department pages or by contacting the RDEK.

Columbia Basin Trust supports efforts by the people of the Basin to create a legacy of social, economic and environmental well-being and to achieve greater self-sufficiency for present and future generations. To learn more about the Trust visit www.cbt.org.

Click here for list of 2015/2016 approved projects

Off-Road Vehicle Registration Deferred to November

NOTE: The following information is being REPOSTED from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations / BC Government Newsroom.  With a number of ORV owners in the East Kootenay, we thought it was relevant to pass along.

Mandatory off-road vehicle registration is being deferred from June 1 to November 1, 2015.

The extra time provides additional time for off-road users to prepare for the mandatory registration, while the regulatory details are finalized on both registration and safety.

These links provide additional information for ORV drivers:

Emergency Preparedness Fair Set to Go in Columbia Valley

The old Windermere Fire Hall will be the hub of activity May 2nd as the Emergency Preparedness Fair gets underway.

“The focus of the day will be on helping people prepare for an emergency, but we will have all kinds of fun and activities as well,” explains Columbia Valley Emergency Support Services Director / Deputy Emergency Program Coordinator Sharon Pasowisty. “There will be demonstrations, draw prizes, activities for the kids.  It’s going to be a fantastic day and we hope to see a strong turn out.”

Representatives from BC Ambulance, the RCMP, Columbia Valley Search & Rescue, Wildfire Management Branch and the RDEK Emergency Program will all be participating and showcasing a wide range of rescue equipment.  From hovercrafts and RCMP boats to the Jaws of Life, it will all be on display.

“In addition to the equipment and information booths, there will be demonstrations of rescue skills, a fingerprint team on hand and a station where people can assemble their own 72 hour kit,” adds Pasowisty.

The Emergency Preparedness Fair runs on Saturday, May 2 from 10:00am to 4:00pm at the Windermere Fire Hall.  There is no charge to attend and every family will receive a free binder to help get them started with their emergency preparedness plans.

Columbia Valley Search & Rescue will be manning the barbecues and raising funds for their organization.

“The entire day will be interactive and fun, but more importantly will help all those who attend be prepared for emergencies.  From knowing what to take with you in the event of an evacuation, to learning how to prepare a 72-hour kit for yourself, your family, or your pets, there will be no shortage of information,” adds Pasowisty.

For more information, call 250-347-9043.

Smoke From Pile Burning Could be Visible in South Country

The following information was released by the Southeast Fire Centre on Friday, March 20, 2015. We have posted it as the burn is taking place in Electoral Area B and will be of interest to our residents.

CRANBROOK – Crews from the Southeast Fire Centre plan to burn piles of waste wood near Baynes Lake from March 23 to April 30, weather conditions permitting. Smoke may be visible in the area during this period.

The Wildfire Management Branch intends to burn slash piles that accumulated last fall during fuels management work. This is part of a two-year project to reduce forest fuels (e.g. waste wood, brush, accumulations of needles) and decrease the risk of catastrophic wildfires in the area.

The piles are next to the Baynes Lake Dump Road. Equipment and trained wildfire crews will be on site to closely monitor the fire and prevent it from spreading.

These fires will be compliant with air quality and venting regulations and will proceed only if weather conditions are favourable for the quick dissipation of smoke. Wind speed, wind direction, venting and burning conditions will all be considered prior to ignition to minimize the amount of smoke.

Quick Facts:

  • The burn scars will be cleaned up and any remaining pieces of wood will be spread out to reduce their visual impact.
  • This fuel management project has removed danger trees, thinned stands, cleared away fuel on the forest floor, removed tree limbs up to two metres from the ground (“ladder” fuels) and removed unhealthy or suppressed trees.

To report a wildfire or unattended campfire, call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone. For the latest information on fire activity, conditions and prohibitions, visit the Wildfire Management Branch website: www.bcwildfire.ca

For more information, please contact: Jordan Turner, Fire Information Officer, Wildfire Management Branch / Southeast Fire Centre - 250 365-4014

Three Projects to Receive Funding

Three projects in the RDEK’s Central Subregion have received a big boost after being awarded funding through the Central East Kootenay Community Directed Funds (CEKCDF) Program.

“Our Committee has been refining its focus, reviewing funding ideas and prioritizing possible projects.  At our last meeting we made the first of what will hopefully be several funding decisions in 2015,” explains CEKCDF Committee Chair Rob Gay.  “The projects we have decided to fund will help sustain the economy and protect the environment in the Central Subregion.”

The three projects that the Committee approved for funding include:

  • East Kootenay Division of Family Practice’s “A GP for Me” program – $20,000 per year for two years;
  • East Kootenay Invasive Plant Council  – $50,000 per year for two years;
  • Funding for a seasonal Natural Resource Officer for Koocanusa to help advance the implementation of the recently completed Koocanusa Area Situational Analysis and Recommendations for Crown Land Recreation report – up to $75,000 in 2015.

The CEKCDF Committee was formed in 2014 and is made up of six local elected officials, four members of the public, and two First Nation representatives and is a standing committee of the Regional District of East Kootenay. The CEKCDF Program is supported by the Columbia Basin Trust with $200,000 per year over three years to fund area-wide priorities.

Elko Fire Recruitment Drive a Big Success

The momentum continues to build in Elko as the RDEK works to establish a new fire service for the community this fall.

“We had a fantastic response to the Volunteer Recruitment drive, which just wrapped up,” says RDEK South Country Fire Chief Dave Boreen. “In total, we received 37 applications and we will begin training the new recruits within the next few weeks. I am so encouraged by the number of people who are interested in joining the new department and being part of our team.”

As part of the Recruitment Drive, the RDEK hosted a community dinner and information session, a second open house, and did a door-to-door campaign with members of the community and Jaffray and Baynes Lake Fire Departments.  “I’d like to thank the volunteers from our other South Country Fire Service departments, the RDEK staff, and the community who assisted with the Recruitment Drive. It was a huge success and we could not have done it without everyone’s involvement.”

The new Elko Fire Department is still in the early stages of development. In order to move forward with the service, the RDEK needed to have enough committed volunteers. “Now that we have a good pool of interested volunteers, we can turn our attention to the next steps in the process,” adds Boreen.

Once the budget has been adopted this week, the RDEK will begin the process of ordering the required equipment and constructing a new fire hall.

Until all of these pieces are in place, there is no fire protection in Elko. The RDEK hopes to have the fire protection service established in the fall of 2015.
 

Taking Columbia Valley Tourism Marketing to the Next Level

Local governments and industry are working together to explore new ways to promote the Columbia Valley to visitors. 

The Columbia Valley Community Directed Funds Committee and the Columbia Valley Tourism Marketing Committee are working on an action plan for tourism marketing and branding in the Columbia Valley. The idea and consensus for the plan came out of a forum of valley tourism industry players held on January 15 and 16, 2015 where participants explored the concept of collaborating on tourism marketing and branding.

An important first step in creating the plan involves understanding what sort of tourism marketing is already occurring, and possibilities for working together. The two committees have created a survey that will collect important information to contribute to the action plan. “We’re really encouraging any valley businesses and organizations that advertise or communicate to visitor markets to participate in the survey” says Andrea Tubbs, Chair of the Columbia Valley Tourism Marketing Committee.

“The Columbia Valley Tourism Marketing Committee has demonstrated that multiple organizations working together can create great results” says Wendy Booth, Chair of the Columbia Valley Community Directed Funds Committee and Area F Director. “We hope the action plan project brings more players to the table and increases our capacity to attract visitors to the valley.”

The action plan will include:

  1. Identification of all organizations participating in tourism branding and marketing in the Columbia Valley, including their purpose; annual budget; and indication of their willingness to collaborate.
  2. Model for working together: a proposed framework for all key organizations to collaborate around common goals, including leadership; governance and required budget/resources.
  3. An action plan, including process and timeline for how to achieve a consistent message for the Columbia Valley given current realities/challenges.

The survey can be viewed online at www.surveymonkey.com/s/cvtmarketing

The Columbia Valley Community Directed Funds committee gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Regional District of East Kootenay and Columbia Basin Trust, which supports efforts to deliver social, economic and environmental benefits to the residents of the Columbia Basin.

Galloway Mill Fire Prompts Multi-Department Response

Crews from both the Jaffray and Baynes Lake Fire Departments responded to an early morning fire at the Galloway Mill this morning. 

“We got the call just before 7:00am and nine firefighters responded,” says Fire Chief Dave Boreen. “The fire was in the Control Room for the Kiln and caused extensive damage to both the structure and the computers and other equipment within the Control Room.”

Crews quickly managed to get the fire under control and will remain on scene for much of the day today mopping up hot spots.

There were no injuries and the cause of the fire is under investigation.

The fire will impact another event scheduled for this morning in Elko.  An Equipment Expo was scheduled to start at 9:30am featuring some of the trucks and equipment of the department. “We will not be able to have the full Equipment Expo this morning, but we do have one truck leaving the scene here in Galloway and headed to Elko and will still be holding the information session and presentations, so hope to see a good turnout in Elko,” explains Boreen.

The event in Expo is part of the Elko Fire Recruitment Drive. It begins at 9:30am at the Elko Community Hall.

Elko Fire Volunteer Recruitment Drive Kicks Off

Members of the South Country Fire Service will be in the community of Elko Tuesday evening as the “Elko Fire Volunteer Firefighter Recruitment Drive” gets underway.

“We will have some of our volunteers from the Jaffray and Baynes Lake Departments out in the community doing a door to door awareness campaign, answering questions and providing information,” explains RDEK South Country Fire Services Fire Chief Dave Boreen. “We also have two community presentations lined up at the Elko Community Hall – one on Wednesday evening and one on Saturday morning to help get the word out and encourage people to fill out application forms.”

Wednesday, February 4th, they are hosting a beef-on-a-bun community dinner from 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm with a short presentation at 6:30 pm about being a volunteer fire fighter for the new Elko Fire Department.  On Saturday, February 7th, there will be an equipment expo from 9:30 am to 10:30 am with trucks and equipment on display, followed by a presentation at 10:30 am. “Both events are free and open to the entire community. We will be having colouring pages for the kids and we would like to see a strong turnout from the community.”

The new Elko Fire Department is still in the early stages of development.  The most critical need right now is to have volunteers signed up and getting trained. “Without enough committed volunteers, there will be no fire service,” stresses Boreen. “Once volunteers submit their application packages, they can begin training right away and we will have them do both an online training component as well as hands-on training with our other two departments in the South Country.”

Application forms are available on the RDEK’s website and at the Jaffray Fire Hall, along with a number of community members in Elko.  Packages will also be available during the door to door campaign, and at both community events next week.

The deadline for applications to be submitted is February 20, 2015

In addition to securing volunteers for the department, the RDEK will be gathering the equipment needed and constructing a new fire hall. Until all these pieces are in place, there is no fire protection in Elko.  The RDEK hopes to have the fire protection service established in the fall of 2015.

RDEK On the Hunt for Outstanding Volunteers

If you know an outstanding volunteer in one of the rural areas in the region, the RDEK wants to hear from you!

Nomination forms are now available for the 2015 Electoral Area Volunteer of the Year and, as it has in past years, the Regional District will once again be honouring one outstanding volunteer from each of its six Electoral Areas.

“Our Volunteer of the Year program recognizes an individual or couple from each of our Electoral Areas and gives us the opportunity to pay tribute to them and to all the volunteers who give selflessly to contribute to the spirit, culture and people of their communities,” says RDEK Board Chair, Rob Gay.

Nominees must be a resident of an Electoral Area and make voluntary contributions to the spirit, culture or people of the community.

Nomination forms can be filled out or downloaded from the RDEK website (www.rdek.bc.ca) and can also be picked up at the Cranbrook and Columbia Valley RDEK offices, from the Electoral Area Advisory Commissions and various Community Associations.

The deadline for nominations is February 6, 2014.

Click here to download the nomination form

New Official Community Planning Process for Toby Benches Area

Work will soon begin on a new planning process for the Toby Benches area in the Columbia Valley.

“The Toby Benches Land Use Strategy is the Regional District of East Kootenay’s oldest land use plan and will be replaced by a new Official Community Plan” explains RDEK Electoral Area G Director Gerry Wilkie. “Land use issues change over time. It’s important that the residents of the Toby Benches have a Plan that is based on current information and reflects their vision for the future.” 

One of the first steps in the OCP process will be encouraging the community to get involved. “The community is a key part of the process.  We want the final Plan to reflect the community’s vision, and we need community participation to make sure that happens. I encourage the residents of the Toby Benches to get involved and be engaged every step of the way,” adds RDEK Electoral Area F Director Wendy Booth.

There will be workshops and information meetings, questionnaires and newsletters as part of the planning process, which is expected to take about 13 months to complete. A mailout and introductory meeting will be held this spring. 

An Official Community Plan (OCP) is a long term strategic planning document that reflects the community’s vision for the future while providing a policy framework to promote greater certainty in land use decision making by the Regional District Board.

Elk Valley Transit Cancelled - January 7, 2015

Attention riders of the Elk Valley Transit System.

Due to mechanical problems with the bus, Elk Valley public transit will not be running between Fernie, Sparwood and Elkford on Wednesday, January 7, 2015. 

This does not affect the Health Connections bus which will be running on schedule.

Once again, there will be no busses running on the Elk Valley route between Fernie, Sparwood and Elkford Wednesday.

Please contact the Transit Service Operator at 855-417-4636 for more information.

Holiday Hours - RDEK Transfer Stations, Landfills and Offices

The RDEK's Transfer Stations and Landfills will be open most days through the holiday season.