RDEK Takes Over Ownership of Parr Utilities’ Assets

It was a full house Monday night as the RDEK and community came together to celebrate the purchase of Parr Utilities’ assets and a major step forward for the Windermere Treated Water project.

“This is such a pivotal milestone for the community and the team that has worked on this project for so many years,” says Electoral Area F Director Wendy Booth. “Today is the result of lots of creativity, patience and hard work. I want to thank everyone who has been part of this journey from the community and the members of our Utility Advisory Commissions who’ve helped guide this project, to the RDEK staff, Parr Utilities, and various government agencies who had a role in getting us to today.”

The finalization of the purchase of Parr Utilities’ Assets is a critical piece in the effort to bring treated water to the community of Windermere, which has been under a Water Quality Advisory since 2006; however, there is still much work to be done.  

In addition, the project includes the construction of approximately 1.5km of watermain to connect the Windermere townsite water system to the water treatment plant, construction of a pressure management station, upgrades to approximately 1km of the existing water distribution system and installation of new fire hydrants.  Construction is expected to begin in spring of 2019.

Once complete, the project will eliminate the Water Quality Advisory and bring treated water that meets Interior Health standards to the Windermere townsite area while providing improved fire-flow capacity. 

Funding for the $12,210,000 project includes $7.2 million from the Federal Gas Tax Fund. The remainder of the project costs will be covered by reserve funds and borrowing.

The RDEK’s ownership of the water treatment plant results in a publicly owned facility capable of serving treated water to the east side of Lake Windermere. Once Windermere is connected, the East Side Lake Windermere Water Service Area will be the RDEK’s largest water utility.

The water treatment plant building was part of the purchase agreement and the RDEK is now preparing to move its Columbia Valley office to that building.  The Columbia Valley office is currently housed in the BC Hydro building in Athalmer, and will be closed October 18 and 19 for the move.  The office will re-open in the new location at 1164 Windermere Loop Road on Monday, October 22, 2018.

Overnight House Fire in Tie Lake Quickly Actioned

Members of the South Country Fire Departments sprang into action overnight after a fire broke out a home in the Tie Lake area near Jaffray.

“The homeowner and neighbours called in the fire immediately, our crews responded quickly and the wet conditions helped prevent the fire from spreading to the neighbouring trees. All of those factors helped contribute to the great outcome,” says Elk Valley & South Country Rural Fire and Rescue Service Deputy Chief, Michael Hockley.

A total of 17 firefighters and 8 pieces of apparatus from the Baynes Lake, Jaffray and Elko Fire Departments responded at approximately 11:30pm and had the fire fully extinguished and mopped up a few hours later. There were no injuries and although the home did sustain damage, it was minimal.

The exact cause of the fire is under investigation; however, it is not suspicious in nature.

Life-Changing Call for Elko Firefighters

After busy few weeks of emergency callouts, the members of the Elko Fire Department immediately jumped into action when their pagers went off in the wee morning hours of August 2nd. What they didn’t know at the time was that this call was going to change their lives forever.

“We got the call that a first-time mother to be was in labour and that the baby was coming,” explains Elk Valley & South Country Fire Deputy Chief Michael Hockley.  “We arrived on scene and dad Ian was doing a great job. Minutes later at 1:56 am, a beautiful, healthy baby girl was born. It was surreal moment and one that every member of our team will remember forever.” 

The baby, Alice Donna Vickery, and mom Jen were cared for by the firefighters until the BC Ambulance Service arrived and transported them to hospital in Fernie.

This is the first delivery for the department, and according to locals, Alice is the first baby physically born within the small community of Elko since 1934 as expecting moms generally go to hospital in Cranbrook or Fernie. To celebrate the occasion and mark this special milestone in the department’s history, the department presented Alice with her very own fire department t-shirt and a certificate making her an honourary member of the department.  

The presentation was made during a regular practice night so the entire department could offer their congratulations and meet Elko’s newest resident.
 

Jaffray Fire Department Responds to Overnight Car Fire

Members of the Jaffray Fire Department were on scene of a car fire last night assisting the BC Wildfire Service.

“The call came in just before midnight and the Wildfire Service requested our help as their crews aren’t equipped to battle vehicle fires,” explains Deputy Fire Chief Michael Hockley. RCMP and the Conservation Officer Service responded to the initial call on Highway 3/93 near Wardner and an Initial Attack crew was dispatched as the fire spread from the car to the surrounding grass.

Jaffray responded with an engine and tender and 7 firefighters in total.  “The quick work by all parties involved helped prevent the fire from spreading,” adds Hockley.

Although the vehicle is a total loss, there were no injuries and the fire was fully extinguished.

Evacuation Alert RESCINDED for Ta Ta Creek Area as Crews Make Progress on Lost Dog Complex

The evacuation alert that had been issued for 121 properties in the Ta Ta Creek area as a result of the Lost Dog Complex Fire has been rescinded.

“The BC Wildfire Service has made great progress on the Lost Dog Complex Fire. The fire is largely contained and they felt it was safe to lift the evacuation alert,” says RDEK Emergency Information Officer Loree Duczek. “We are grateful to all the men and women on the front lines and behind the scenes who have been working to get the fire contained and would like to extend a special thanks to the residents who have been affected since the fire broke out.”

The fire, which was sparked by lightning August 10, is still being actively actioned by the BC Wildfire Service.

Although the alert has been rescinded, Duczek says it’s still important for all residents in the region to remain aware and prepared. “We have received some rain in different parts of the region; however, conditions remain extremely dry and we all need to continue to stay prepared and aware as we still have a lot of summer left in spite of the cooler conditions this week.”

The following alerts and orders remain in effect in the region:

  • Evacuation ORDER - St. Mary Valley – 65 properties in Electoral Area E in the St. Mary Valley
  • Evacuation ORDER- Cross River / Nipika Mountain Resort – 9 properties including Nipika Mountain Resort

Evacuation ALERT - City of Kimberley – 4500 properties in the City of Kimberley and in the RDEK south and southeast of the municipal boundary

  • Evacuation ALERT - Randal Creek Fire (Southeast of Yahk) – 1 property in Area C near the RDEK’s boundary.

For more information on the latest status of wildfires in the Southeast Fire Centre, visit http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/wildfire-status

Evacuation ALERT Issued for City of Kimberley

The City of Kimberley has issued an evacuation ALERT for all properties within the municipal boundaries effective 11:00PM (MST).

“The purpose of an alert is to give people the time to prepare and that is the intent tonight,” explains EOC Director Terry Balan. “With an evacuation order issued earlier tonight for rural residents in the St. Mary Valley, the BC Wildfire Service has recommended implementing an alert for the City of Kimberley to give residents the opportunity to prepare now should conditions worsen and they be asked to leave on a moment’s notice.”

A map of the alert area is available on the RDEK’s website. The alert area includes:

• The entire city of Kimberley municipal boundary, and properties in the RDEK directly south and southeast of the City of Kimberley municipal boundary.
“We need to stress that at this time, this is only an alert,” adds Balan.

If people have personal items, recreational vehicles, boats or other items they want to move, the alert stage is the time to move them. If an order is issued, it means you must leave the area immediately.
The RDEK has posted a basic checklist of things to consider having ready as part of your personal preparedness. A link is available on the RDEK”s website – on the Emergency Information page.

An Information Line remains set up at 250-426-2188 or toll free 1-855-346-2188 and information is available on the RDEK’s website at: http://www.rdek.bc.ca
. For the latest status of wildfires, visit http://www.rdek.bc.ca For t.he latest status of wildfires, visit http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/wildfire-status">http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/wildfire-status

Evacuation ORDER issued for 65 Addresses in St. Mary Valley

The Regional District of East Kootenay has issued an evacuation ORDER for 65 properties in
Electoral Area E in the St. Mary Lake Area.

“High winds and an increase in fire behaviour have prompted the BC Wildfire Service to recommend
the RDEK issue an Evacuation Order,” explains EOC Director Terry Balan. “Our first priority is
public safety. These decisions are not made lightly and everyone within the evacuation
order area needs to leave immediately.” The evacuation ORDER area includes:

•     St Mary’s Lake area from the West boundary of the City of Kimberley to the Redding
Creek / St Mary’s River convergence including St Mary’s Lake Road and Lakefront Road

“Residents in the evacuation ORDER zone are being asked to register with the Emergency Reception
Centre at Centennial Hall, located at 100 4th Avenue in Kimberley,” adds Balan.

The evacuation ORDER covers the same area as the ALERT that had been in place for the past few
days.

The Emergency Information Line remains set up at 250-426-2188 or toll free 1-855-346-2188 and
information is available on the RDEK’s website at: http://www.rdek.bc.ca For t.he latest status of wildfires, visit http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/wildfire-status">www.rdek.bc.ca.

For the latest status of wildfires, visit http://www.rdek.bc.ca For t.he latest status of wildfires, visit http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/wildfire-status">http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/wildfire-status

Corbin Area Evacuation ORDER Downgraded to ALERT

The evacuation ORDER for the Corbin area has been downgraded to an evacuation ALERT for 10 properties in the community of Corbin and Teck’s Coal Mountain Mine property.

It is important for people within the alert area to remain prepared and follow updates on the Leach Creek Fire. In addition, anyone wishing to remove recreational vehicles from the area is encouraged to remove them now in the event that conditions worsen and an order needs to be re-issued.

A map of the alert area is available on the RDEK’s website and includes the portion of Corbin Road in Electoral Area A and the community of Corbin. The District of Sparwood has issued an evacuation alert in connection with the same fire. The District’s alert area covers the Coal Mountain Mine property and a small portion to the northeast. 

The Leach Creek fire remains estimated at 30 hectares in size and is burning in the vicinity of Corbin Road.

These latest orders are in addition to the following orders and alerts remain in place:

  • Cross River Fire Evacuation ORDER – affects 9 properties on Settlers Road / Cross River Forest Service Road
  • Lost Dog Complex (formerly Ta Ta Creek Fire) Evacuation ALERT – affects 121 properties in the Ta Ta Creek Area
  • Meachen Creek / St. Mary Lake Area – Evacuation ALERT – affects 65 rural properties in Electoral Area E in the St. Mary Valley.
  • Randal Creek Fire (near Yahk) Evacuation ALERT – affects 1 rural property in Electoral Area C

An information line has been set up at 250-426-2188 or toll free 1-855-346-2188 and, when not staffed, will have a recorded message with the most updated information.

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

Precautionary Evacuation Alert Issued for Nine Properties in Cross River Area

A precautionary evacuation ALERT has been issued for 9 properties as the Cross River wildfire continues to burn.

“An evacuation alert informs residents of the threat of a potential or impending danger. It is intended to give people time to gather things and prepare themselves so that they are ready to go should the situation worsen and an Evacuation Order be issued,” explains Information Officer Loree Duczek. “We encourage people within the evacuation alert area to put together important papers (like insurance papers), medications, valuables, supplies for children and pets, and other important items so that in the event things progress and they are asked to evacuate, they are ready to go.”

The fire, which was sparked by lightning, is burning in the Cross River drainage in the Columbia Valley. It is being actioned by the BC Wildfire Service as a modified response fire and the latest information on the fire will be available on the interactive map from the BCWS website: http://www.bcwildfire.ca

.

A map of the alert area is available on the RDEK’s website. The alert area affects two properties on the Cross River Forest Service Road and seven properties on Settlers Road and includes Nipika Mountain Resort.

The RDEK is hand delivering alert notices to the affected properties this morning and will continue to work with the BC Wildfire Service to keep residents informed.

“We need to stress that at this time we have only issued an alert and now is the time to take steps to be prepared.”

The hot, dry conditions are expected to continue across the region today, before a cold front moves in starting tomorrow. With that change in weather, there is a chance of strong winds, isolated thunderstorms with lightning.

An information line has been set up at 250-426-2188 or toll free 1-855-346-2188. For more information on the stages of evacuation and tips on how to prepare in the event of emergencies, visit http://www.rdek.bc.ca

.

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

Small Grass Fire Quickly Extinguished in Fairmont This Afternoon

Members of the Fairmont Fire Department responded to a small grass fire in the Fairmont Area this afternoon.

“Residents in the area were knocking down the fire with hoses and extinguishers when we arrived on scene,” says Columbia Valley Rural Fire & Rescue Deputy Chief Drew Sinclair.  “Our firefighters were then able to fully soak the area to ensure hot spots were dealt with.”

Although the exact cause of the fire is under investigation, it is suspected to be the result of a faulty transformer.  “While on scene, our firefighters heard a buzzing and snap sound from above and saw a spark from the transformer, which leads us to believe it was the cause of the fire,” adds Sinclair.  BC Hydro is on scene this afternoon doing follow up.

“We appreciate the quick actions of the residents today,” says Sinclair. “In these extreme fire conditions, we urge the public to use extra caution, particularly around hydro poles or overhead lines.”

The call came in at 1:44 PM this afternoon.

Photo: the grass fire broke out on Columbia River Road August 8, 2018

Regional District of East Kootenay and City of Fernie Celebrate Completion of West Fernie Servicing

The completion of the largest construction project in the history of the Regional District of East Kootenay was officially celebrated in West Fernie today.

The West Fernie Servicing and Restructure Project provided West Fernie residents and businesses with upgraded water and new stormwater sewer and sanitary sewer systems. The work included the rehabilitation of approximately 4.1 kilometres of potable water mains, approximately 3.4 kilometres of sanitary sewer and 3.3 kilometres of stormwater mains, and repaving of all the roads.

The upgraded water system replaces the previous system that was more than 50 years old and in deteriorating condition, while the new sanitary sewer system will allow 200 homes within the project area to move away from individual septic tanks.  Finally, the new stormwater management system will provide better management of localized flooding, run-off and spring melt throughout much of the community.

With $16.4 million in available funding, this project was an exceptional example of cooperation as multiple funding sources contributed to making the project happen and multiple agencies worked together to bring it to a successful completion.  Funding for the two-phase project included:

  • $5,000,000 General Strategic Priorities Fund (Phase 1)
  • $1,000,000 Community Works Fund (Phase 1)
  • $240,000 Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (Phase 1)
  • $6,941,528 Building Canada Fund (Phase 2)

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

Approved by West Fernie and City of Fernie residents in 2014, the West Fernie Servicing & Restructure project’s first phase of construction started in the spring of 2016, while the second phase of construction got underway in the spring of 2017.

Properties in each phase of the project became part of the City of Fernie upon substantial construction completion.

Quotes

“The Government of Canada recognizes that investing in up-to-date efficient water systems is key to creating strong healthy communities. I’m very pleased to see that West Fernie has been able to upgrade its water, wastewater and storm water infrastructure thanks to our funding. This work will not only improve residents’ quality of life, but strengthen the foundation for community development and economic growth for years to come.”

- The Honourable François-Philippe, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities

“The new West Fernie water and sewer systems are a great asset to the community and will make a positive impact in the lives of the people who live here. This is an example of how partnerships between all levels of government support communities to thrive and make life better for British Columbians.”

- The Honourable Lisa Beare, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture

“Today marks an important milestone in the Elk Valley’s history as we officially celebrate the completion of a project that has been 12 years in the making.  The completion of this project is the result of the determination and cooperation of so many. We are grateful to the Provincial and Federal governments for providing critical funding for the project. I also want to thank the staff at the RDEK and City of Fernie who have worked tirelessly to get to this point; the engineers and construction contractors who’ve worked so hard with the community over the past two years; and, the community who have been so cooperative and understanding throughout the construction process.”

- Electoral Area A Director Mike Sosnowski - Regional District of East Kootenay

“This is an exciting day.  On behalf of the City of Fernie, I would like to acknowledge all the funders who made this project possible. The new water and wastewater infrastructure will make a significant impact for years to come. From the earliest stages of planning and in-ground construction to the hours of work on the boundary restructure and ongoing operations, we commend everyone who contributed to the project’s success.”

- Mayor Mary Giuliano, City of Fernie

Associated Links


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Structure Fire Quickly Extinguished in Jaffray Area

Members of the Jaffray Fire Department responded to a small structure fire earlier this afternoon in a pump house on a property along Highway 3/93 near Little Sand. 

The fire was actioned by the landowner until the fire department arrived and was the result of a pump failure.  “This is another example of how quick actions by both the landowner and the fire department helped prevent a fire from becoming a much more serious situation,” says Elk Valley & South Country Rural Fire & Rescue Service Fire Chief Dave Boreen. “It was a hot day with gusting winds and everyone involved did a great job today.”

A total of 6 firefighters and 3 pieces of apparatus responded to the call at 2:00 PM this afternoon. 

The fire is now out and poses no risk of spreading.

Funding Awarded for Hill Road Erosion Control Project

The Hill Road Dike south of Fernie will be getting some additional erosion protection after the Province announced it was providing nearly $750,000 in funding through the Community Emergency Fund (CEPF).

The Dike was damaged during flooding in 2013 and has been repaired; however, this project will complete erosion protection in front of the dike. “I’d like to thank the Province and Union of BC Municipalities for supporting this important project,” says Electoral Area A Director Mike Sosnowski. “The RDEK will also be contributing approximately $350,000 to the project from the Electoral Area A Flood Control Service to complete the required work.”

The erosion control project was identified as a priority in the Elk River Priority Flood and Erosion Mitigation Sites Conceptual Design Report that was completed as part of the Elk River Flood Strategy Report. The next step in the project will be to hire an engineer, which is expected to be happen in early 2019.

“When we established the Area A Flood Control Service, our goal was to have funds available so we were ready to act in the event we could secure other funding sources,” explains Director Sosnowski. “This is a wonderful example of how having our own funds in place can help make important projects happen.”

The RDEK also received $24,900 from the CEPF for upgrades to the Regional Emergency Operations Centre.

The CEPF is one of a suite of programs funded by the Province of BC and managed by the Union of BC Municipalities.  The $35 million fund is intended to enhance the resiliency of local governments and their residents in responding to emergencies.

Kimberley Transfer Station to Re-Open on a Limited Basis Starting Tomorrow

Five days after a fire tore through the building at the Kimberley Transfer Station, the site will partially re-open tomorrow on a limited basis.

“We are re-opening the recycling and reuse areas and will have a small area for the disposal of household garbage,” says Environmental Services Manager Kevin Paterson. “The garbage disposal area has limited capacity, so we are asking residents to bring only small household loads. Any larger or commercial loads will have to be taken to the Cranbrook Transfer Station or Central Subregion Landfill until further notice.”

The Reuse Shed will be open and yard and garden waste will be accepted.  Mattresses and boxsprings will NOT be accepted and will need to be taken to the Cranbrook Transfer Station where they can now be recycled.

“Essentially we need everyone to understand that our capacity is limited so they need to be conscious of what they bring to us,” adds Paterson.  “We are doing our best to minimize the impact to residents and are grateful for the public’s ongoing cooperation and understanding.”  The City of Kimberley’s regular garbage pick up will continue as normal and the schedule has not been impacted by the fire.

The structural engineer will be completing an assessment of the building this week.  Efforts will continue to fully re-open the site; however, it is still too early to determine how long that process could take. 

The Cranbrook Transfer Station is located at 2405 22nd Street North and is open between 8:30 am and 5:30 pm daily.

South Country Fire Departments Respond to House Fire in Rosen Lake Area

A residential house fire in the Rosen Lake area was extinguished by firefighters last night.

“The crews did an excellent job of getting on the fire and were able to keep it confined to the one room of origin. The homeowner had closed the door to the room and his quick thinking also made a big difference in the outcome of the call,” says Elk Valley & South Country Rural Fire & Rescue Chief Dave Boreen.  “Once the fire was out, the crew worked on ventilating the structure to lessen the effects of smoke damage.”

The occupants were home at the time of the fire and were able to escape with no injuries.

In total, 18 firefighters responded from the Jaffray, Elko and Baynes Lake Fire Departments responded to the call on Legion Road at 7:45 pm.

The fire broke out when a rechargeable battery that was being charged malfunctioned and ignited. “This is a good reminder that although malfunctions like this are rare, it’s important to always take safety precautions when recharging portable devices,” adds Boreen.

Although there was some damage in one bedroom of the home and smoke throughout, the rest of the house was not impacted by the fire.

Kimberley Transfer Station Remains Closed, Plans For Partial Re-Opening in the Works

Insurance investigators are sifting through the ashes and debris at the Kimberley Transfer Station today as the focus moves to securing and partially re-opening the site following Friday night’s fire.

“There are a number of steps we have to complete before we can look at a partial re-opening,” explains RDEK Environmental Services Manager Kevin Paterson. “Once the investigators have completed their work, we will have a structural engineer assess the building structure and begin moving out the rubble and burned debris and securing that area of the site.”

The RDEK then hopes to re-open the recycling areas and place some temporary bins for disposal of household garbage.  “Our goal is to re-open to small, household loads as soon as we are able to; however, all larger or commercial loads will have to be taken to the Cranbrook Transfer Station or Central Subregion Landfill until further notice.”  City of Kimberley’s public works department has been working closely with the RDEK and the City’s curbside pick up will continue this week without interruption.

In the interim, the Transfer Station remains closed, although Paterson hopes to see the partial re-opening sometime this week.  “We recognize there is an impact to residents and we are working to get things re-opened as quickly as possible,” adds Paterson.  “We want to thank everyone for their patience and understanding.”

The fire broke out Friday night and caused significant damage to the transfer station building and a skid steer. The cause remains under investigation.

Until the site has re-opened, residents can dispose of their household garbage at the Cranbrook Transfer Station located at 2405 22nd Street North between 8:30 am and 5:30 pm daily.

Highway 3 Re-Opens East of Galloway Following Vehicle Fire

Highway 3/93 was temporarily shut down this afternoon after a truck hauling a fifth wheel trailer burst into flames.

“The vehicle and trailer are both a total loss,” says Elk Valley & South Country Rural Fire & Rescue Chief Dave Boreen.  “We closed the highway to allow our crews to safely access the scene and work to prevent the spread of the fire to the ditch and beyond.”

The occupants of the vehicle were all able to escape safely and there were no injuries.

At the same time, a call came in about a grass fire in the Dicken Road area near Hosmer. Members of the Hosmer department were supported by firefighters from Fernie Fire & Rescue who responded through mutual aid with crews, a tender and their bush truck. That fire was quickly extinguished and although the cause is under investigation, it is not believed to be suspicious.

It has been a busy 24 hours for the small rural fire service, having already dealt with two medical calls and two significant fires since yesterday morning in the South Country.  “The past 24 hours really show how dedicated our firefighters are. They never give up and they answer the call no matter what the circumstances,” says Boreen. “It also underlines the critical importance of having a number of people on the fire department roster.  We are in urgent need of more members and I hope the community will answer OUR call.”

The fire service is now offering a benefits package to members, along with free training.  To learn more about how you can help become involved, contact Boreen or Deputy Chief Michael Hockley at 250-429-3133 or visit www.rdek.bc.ca

Quick Action and Cooperation Combine to Stop Wildfire in South Country

The Chief of the Elk Valley & South Country Rural Fire and Rescue Service is crediting the quick actions by campground staff and campers for controlling a wildfire at Aye’s Ranch Campground near Baynes Lake this afternoon.

“The campground had done some preparedness planning and the staff and campers did a good job of controlling the fire until we arrived on scene,” says Chief Dave Boreen.  “Our firefighters were then able to complete a guard around the perimeter of the fire and extinguish hot spots.  There were no injuries and we couldn’t have asked for a better outcome today.”

The fire was sparked when a portable generator failed and had the potential to be much worse. “Weather, topography and fuel load were all against us and the site only has one road in and out. The campground staff and campers along with our firefighters did an excellent job of preventing what could have been a very serious situation,” adds Boreen.

In total, eight firefighters responded to the call just after 6:20 pm this afternoon.

New Park to be Established at St. Mary Lake

St. Mary Lake Regional Park will soon become the newest park in the RDEK following a new agreement between the local government and a private property owner.

“St. Mary Lake is a beautiful and popular recreation spot for residents and visitors and I am so pleased that we have been able to reach an agreement with the property owner to allow for continued public use of this area,” says RDEK Electoral Area E Director Jane Walter.

The property, which is located on the east end of St. Mary Lake, was sold by Tembec to Mt. Evans Land Company Ltd. in 2017.  Prior to the sale, the land had been rezoned to permit some residential subdivision with the condition that no subdivision could occur unless the landowner created a six-hectare park and transferred it to the RDEK. With no plans to subdivide the land in the near future, the private property owner offered to enter into an agreement that would allow the public to continue to have access to the lake. 

“Mt. Evans Land Company Ltd. is very pleased to be working with the RDEK on the development of an official park on Mt. Evans owned land in the south east corner of St. Mary Lake,” say the Bronson and Jenks families, who own the property. “The formation of this RDEK park represents a great opportunity for local residents and tourists to enjoy the natural beauty of St. Mary Lake and the St. Mary River while protecting the shoreline for future generations.”

While the land remains the property of Mt. Evans Land Company Ltd., the Licence of Occupation permits the RDEK to operate the designated area as a day-use public park with rules consistent with other RDEK park facilities.  Over time, it is anticipated the RDEK will make some modest improvements to the park to enhance the visitor experience and to protect the shoreline.

“We are grateful to Mt. Evans Land Co for their partnership and willingness to find a way to maintain public access to the Lake,” adds Walter. “This new agreement provides certainty to access issues on the lake and we are excited to see the Park officially open this summer.”

The boundary of the park will be clearly marked and the remainder of the property will remain private and closed to public access. Should the land be subdivided in the future, the terms outlined in the covenant established during the rezoning process would still apply and the land would be formally transferred to the RDEK.

2018/2019 Columbia Basin Trust Community Initiatives and Affected Areas Programs Funding Approved

The Regional District of East Kootenay Board of Directors has approved funding for 156 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 $1,084,126 for 2018/2019. The approved projects cover everything from environmental education initiatives to health & safety programs, community enhancement, and youth related projects,” says RDEK Board Chair Rob Gay.  “Without this funding, so many important community-based projects would not be possible and we are deeply grateful to Columbia Basin Trust for its ongoing support.”

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 www.ourtrust.org.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW SUCCESSFUL PROJECTS

Electoral Area G Volunteer of the Year Recognized

Michael Hutchinson was officially recognized as the 2018 Electoral Area G Volunteer of the Year at a Town Hall Meeting last night.

Hutchinson and his wife Karel own Pips Country Store in Edgewater and are both known for their kindness and cheerful dispositions. “Michael is always willing to help, no matter what time of day. He goes above and beyond to help anyone in need,” says RDEK Electoral Area G Director Gerry Wilkie. One of the nominators spoke to Hutchinson’s kindness sharing examples of seeing him give gas and food to those down on their luck or having a hard time.

“In our small, tight knit community we are lucky to have someone like Michael, who not only demonstrates exemplary kindness and generosity, but who gives tirelessly in so many ways to help our community,” adds Wilkie. Hutchinson uses his own equipment and fuel to keep the Edgewater Hall clear of ice and snow; is the head of the building committee for the Edgewater Recreation Society; carries out routine maintenance of the Edgewater Hall; and, has been instrumental in the rebuilding of Frank’s Rink

In addition, he has served for five years as a trustee on the Vermillion Irrigation District.

Hutchinson was presented with a small gift during the Volunteer of the Year ceremony, which was held in conjunction with the Area G Town Hall Meeting in Edgewater.  

Following the Volunteer of the Year portion of the evening, Area G Director Gerry Wilkie provided a report on some of the activities and programs he has been involved in recently.  RDEK staff then provided updates on the Baptiste Lake Dam Project, Five-Year Financial Plan, and a new benefits program for RDEK firefighters.

RDEK Purchase of Parr Utilities to be Delayed

Just days before the RDEK was set to finalize the purchase of Parr Utilities' assets, the purchase has been delayed due to a possible historical, unsurveyed road on the property where the water treatment plant is located.

“This is an unanticipated hurdle,” says Area F Director Wendy Booth. “This is an extremely complex process and staff have been working diligently through every step, focused on our May 31st goal. Staff and the property owner have been working on amending the agreements and negotiating the required leases to gain final approvals. Every step of the way, we have remained focused on our agreement timeline.”

With the agreements moving forward, one of the final steps is registering the lease agreement on the Title of Land.  This includes checking the original legal documents that defined the existing property. “Through that process, a line on a map from 1893 was discovered indicating a trail or road existed on the property. The road no longer exists; however, if it was a designated road historically, the ownership has to be legally addressed before the lease can be registered,” explains Booth. “In all the years since 1893, the property has not been altered in a way to bring the existence of this road to light." 

The Surveyor General Division is now assessing the legal status of the possible road, which will help define the next steps and timeline.  Until the property title is confirmed, the RDEK's purchase of Parr Utilities' assets is delayed, so the RDEK will not be taking over operations or utility billing on June 1.

“This development is obviously disappointing for all of us – including the community. Having said that, we need to keep perspective. This is a delay. Once we have more information from the Surveyor General, we will know what steps have to be taken to proceed with the purchase,” stresses Booth. “The project and the East Side Lake Windermere Water Service will continue to move forward, just the timeline will look different than what we had hoped.”

Strong Turnout to Moyie Meeting

Over 150 people turned out to a meeting in Moyie Saturday afternoon to learn more about the various options available to preserve the Narrows on Moyie Lake.

“Through the early stages of the Moyie & Area Official Community Plan (OCP) process, the community has been very clear that the preservation of the Narrows is a high priority.  With the combination of private land, Crown land and the waterway itself, there are a number of different options and jurisdictions to consider. Our goal with the meeting was to bring all those parties together and provide the community with information on the available options,” says Michele Bates, the RDEK’s lead planner on the project.

Throughout the afternoon, there were presentations from Transport Canada and the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development and the RDEK.


“It was good to have everyone together in one room so we could all gain a better understanding of what tools there are, who is responsible for overseeing those tools and how the community might pursue options in the future,” adds Bates.

Over the next few days the RDEK will be compiling a meeting summary to post on its website and share with the community.  Once people have had the opportunity to think about the different preservation options and what they would like to see done, Bates hopes they will provide that feedback to the RDEK.  “There were no decisions made at the meeting as the entire purpose was about information sharing.  The next step will be for residents to provide us with their thoughts and opinions on the options presented,” says Bates.

The meeting summary and comment forms are expected to be added to the RDEK’s website and emailed to the Moyie & Area email group later this week.  Comments will be accepted until early July.

 

RDEK Monitoring Flood Conditions as Melt Continues

On the heels of another warm week followed by a thunderstorm system, the BC River Forecast Centre has upgraded its High Streamflow Advisory to a Flood Watch for the Kootenays.

While the biggest impact is expected in the Kootenay Boundary and West Kootenay, RDEK staff are continuing to monitor local conditions and are prepared to respond in the event we experience wide-scale flooding.

“We are seeing an expected rise in local streams and tributaries as the mid and higher elevation snow melts and are urging residents who are in flood-prone locations to be proactive in protecting their properties,” says Protective Services Supervisor Terry Balan. 

Self-fill sandbag stations have been set up at the City of Cranbrook Public Works Yard on Cobham Avenue, Centennial Hall in Kimberley, Moyie Pumphouse on Tavistock Street, and Hosmer pub. Additional sandbag stations are in the process of being established at the Windermere Fire Hall and Mountainside Golf Course (behind the big barn) in Fairmont. The stations have sand and sandbags, but people need to bring their own shovels and gloves.  Empty sandbags are available in other areas of the region by contacting the RDEK and additional stations will be set up as the need arises.

“Our snow levels remain above normal. The higher-than-seasonal temperatures we are experiencing and concentrated rain events can certainly increase the potential for localized flooding. Right now, we are holding our own and we remain ready to respond if required,” adds Balan.

Although water levels have risen in creeks, streams and rivers across the East Kootenay, there is currently no wide-spread flooding.  The forecast for the next 24-48 hours is calling for the potential for localized thundershowers producing several millimeters of rain in a very short period.

To report wide-scale flooding, call 1-800-663-3456. 

The RDEK has distributed flood preparedness information, and has posted it on the RDEK's website on the Emergency Info Page.

BC Parks Land Acquisition Announcement Includes Special Baynes Lake Property

Summary of a news release from the Provincial Government:

The B.C. Government has announced more than 190-hectares of ecologically sensitive land on six different parcels around the Province has been acquired as new parks or additions to existing parks, including one very special piece of property in the Baynes Lake area.

“Parks benefit our environment, our economy, and make life better for people in B.C. every day,” said Premier John Horgan. “By protecting these lands today, we’re expanding the beautiful parks B.C. is known for around the world, and making sure this land will be here for future generations.”

Among the properties acquired is a 17-hectare piece of land in the middle of Kikomun Creek Provincial Park that was home to the Carlsons - a long time Baynes Lake family. “This is a huge announcement for our community,” said Regional District of East Kootenay Electoral Area B Director Stan Doehle. “The Carlson family has supported the citizens of Baynes Lake for years, and Jane was known for her passionate commitment to the area. It is wonderful to see the property become part of the park so that it will be protected and enjoyed by all. This is what the family wanted, and what we have been working toward for a long time. I know Jane would be so proud.”

The other five properties acquired are:

  • 144 hectares of land called Eagle Heights, near Koksilah River on southern Vancouver Island;
  • 2.5 hectares at Harmony Islands Marine Provincial Park along the Sunshine Coast, supported by a $750,000 contribution from the BC Marine Parks Forever Society;
  • 16.4 hectares at Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park in the Okanagan;
  •  9.45 hectares at Dionisio Point Provincial Park on Galiano Island, and
  • Four hectares at Purcell Wilderness Conservancy Provincial Park near Kaslo.

To view the full news release and more detailed "BC Parks Land Acquisitions" backgrounder, click here: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018PREM0021-000821

RDEK Encouraged by Strong Turnout to Planning Process Meeting

Over 100 people filled the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce on Saturday, April 21 to take part in a community planning workshop for the review and update of the Lake Windermere Official Community Plan (OCP).

“The main purpose of the workshop was to gather comments on proposed policies and questions around various land use topics and to allow people to share their thoughts on where preservation or changes could occur,” says RDEK Area F Director Wendy Booth.  “We have really been trying to emphasize the importance of community involvement, so I was very pleased to see so many people in attendance.”

The RDEK’s lead planner on the project, Kris Belanger, provided those in attendance with an overview of the process to date, including results of earlier rounds of public engagement, before having everyone break out into working groups. “It was a great day. The feedback from the workshop gives us a sense if we are on the right track, or if we need more feedback into a particular topic,” says Belanger.

For the most part, workshop participants shared similar views about many of the proposed policy and land use questions, and the RDEK received positive feedback from the workshop. However, Belanger says there were several questions related to land on the west side of Lake Windermere where opinions differed. “The discussions around the development of land on the west side of the lake near the border of Invermere did not result in clear direction on how we should proceed. We need to do some additional engagement in order to get a sense of how to address the land use concerns.”

Recognizing that approximately 70% of property owners in the plan area are non-residents, and attending an in-person meeting is not always practical, the RDEK will be introducing some online options to gather additional feedback from residents and property owners in the plan area.

“A key part of the online engagement will be to seek more detailed information about land use near the border with Invermere,” explains Belanger.  The RDEK will provide more information on how to access the online information once it has been fully set up.

For more information on the Lake Windermere OCP, or to sign up for the RDEK’s email group, visit www.rdek.bc.ca.

Grass Fire in Baynes Lake a Reminder of the Dry Conditions

UPDATED:

The BC Wildfire Service is on site and will continue with mop up following yesterday's grass fire in the Baynes Lake area. There are still a number of hot spots in some of the driftwood, which is generating some smoke.

A big thank you to all of the responders who answered the call - and to our fire watch team who spent the night on scene. We are so lucky to have such dedicated members of our community serving as firefighters.

ORIGINAL RELEASE:

Crews remain on fire watch tonight after a grass fire burned 30 acres of grassland in the Baynes Lake area this afternoon.

“The fire originated on a private property. It quickly burned onto crown land and through the dry grasses and driftwood along the shores of Lake Koocanusa,” says Elk Valley & South Country Rural Fire and Rescue Service Deputy Chief, Michael Hockley. “Fortunately, the winds took the flames away from any residences and our crews were able to keep the fire from spreading into the heavy timber in the area; however, this is a really important reminder for everyone that although things are wet and the snow is just melting, the fine fuels are still dry and fire can spread quickly.”

A total of 17 firefighters and 7 pieces of apparatus from the Baynes Lake, Jaffray and Elko Fire Departments worked to contain the fast moving grass fire, which broke out just before 3 pm in the Kerr Road area. They were joined by a BC Wildfire Service initial attack crew just after 7 pm.  “Our firefighters did a great job containing the blaze in windy conditions,” adds Hockley. “We are also grateful for the assistance of the BC Wildfire initial attack crew and will be turning the scene over to them in the morning.” adds Hockley.  In the meantime, members of the local fire departments will remain on site throughout the night doing fire watch to ensure any hot spots are actioned.

Today’s fire emphasizes the importance of ensuring the proper safety measures are in place and that the conditions are appropriate before doing any outdoor burning.  In addition, residents are reminded to ensure they have researched any burning regulations that are in place through the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Resouce Operations and Rural Development prior to doing any burning.  

There are currently no open fire prohibitions in effect for the Southeast fire centre; however, anyone wishing to light a Category 3 open fire must obtain a burn registration number from the Province ahead of time by calling 1 888 797-1717 between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm.

To view the current fire bans and restrictions for the Southeast Fire Centre, visit: www.bcwildfire.ca.

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Home Involved in Jaffray Area House Fire a Total Loss

The flames have cooled and the focus will now turn to investigating the cause of an overnight house fire in Jaffray.

The fire broke out just before 11:00 pm Wednesday night in the Rosen Lake area and Elk Valley & South Country Rural Fire and Rescue Chief, Dave Boreen says crews focused on keeping the blaze contained. “When we arrived on scene, the home was fully engulfed and our efforts throughout the night were on controlling the fire and keeping it from spreading beyond the structure. Our crews did an excellent job.”

A total of 19 firefighters from the Jaffray, Baynes Lake and Elko Fire Departments answered the call and the Fernie Fire Department also responded with one of their tender trucks to assist with shuttling water to the scene. 

“The fire was fully extinguished early this morning and we spent the rest of the night on scene mopping up and dealing with hot spots,” adds Boreen.  “Today we will begin the investigation to try to determine the cause of the fire.  That process can take some time.”

The home was unoccupied at the time of the fire, and there were no injuries.

RDEK Staff Don Jerseys in Support of #HumboldtStong

The sticks are out front. The jerseys are on. The RDEK's employees joined thousands of Canadians in showing our support today. #HumboldtStrong #JerseysForHumboldt

Crews on Scene of House Fire in Jaffray Area

Crews are on the scene of an overnight house fire in Jaffray.

Members from the Jaffray, Baynes Lake and Elko Fire Departments responded to the call just before 11:00 pm Wednesday night. “The house was fully engulfed when we arrived on scene and is a total loss,” says Elk Valley & South Country Rural Fire and Rescue Service Chief, Dave Boreen. “Fortunately, there were no occupants in the home and there are no injuries.”

The original call came in at 10:48 pm and a total of 19 firefighters from the three departments answered the call.  “The crew has done a great job of keeping the fire isolated to the one structure and although we now have the fire itself under control, I expect we will remain on scene throughout the night to ensure it is fully extinguished and any hot spots are dealt with,” adds Boreen.

The Fernie Fire Department also responded with a tender truck to assist with water shuttle operations.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.

Photo taken as crews arrived on scene:

RDEK Board Gives Green Light to Negotiation with Recycle BC

The RDEK Board of Directors has asked staff to begin negotiations on an agreement with Recycle BC to establish and operate Recycle BC depots at six of its staffed locations.

“Recycle BC has reached out to see if the RDEK would be interested in becoming a contracted collection partner. As a Board we are looking at options to create value for our taxpayers and increase the access to additional recycling opportunities,” explains RDEK Board Chair Rob Gay. 

Currently, the only Recycle BC depot in the East Kootenay is at the Cranbrook Bottle Depot.  RDEK Environmental Services Manager Kevin Paterson says there are a number of products that are accepted in the Recycle BC program that are not accepted in the yellow bins. “There are separate bins at these Recycle BC depots for the collection of items like Styrofoam, all plastics and film, aluminum foil and containers, tetra paks and cartons.” 

In addition to providing more regional access to these recycling opportunities, becoming a contracted collection depot would potentially result in a long-term reduction in costs to taxpayers as the RDEK would be compensated for the recyclables collected at its depots. “Recycle BC does not recognize our yellow bin program, so in order to qualify for some of the financial incentives and expand the region’s access to recycling, we need to operate depots that meet their specifications.”

The Board has directed staff to negotiate an agreement with Recycle BC for depots at the Cranbrook, Kimberley, Elkford, Sparwood and Fernie Transfer Stations and Columbia Valley Landfill.  “We would still have our yellow bin program, this would just be a change at these six staffed sites to introduce this new model as a way to enhance our recycling program,” explains Paterson.

As negotiations have not yet started, it is too early to determine whether Recycle BC will entertain six depots or what the specifics of the system might look like.  Any changes to the system will be clearly communicated prior to implementation.

New Alert System Does Not Include Local Governments At This Time A new wireless alert system announ

A new wireless alert system announced by the Provincial government this week does not apply to local governments at this time and the RDEK wants to get the word out so people are aware of the system’s current limitations.

“Emergency Management BC will be utilizing the national Alert Ready program to send messages to wireless phones; however, it’s important for people to understand that these alerts currently only apply to tsunami warnings and are not available for any other local emergency at this time,” explains RDEK Communications Manager, Loree Duczek.  “We have long been advocating for a system that will push emergency messages out to mobile devices and are excited about this step, but want to make sure the public is clear about the system’s current limitations.”

Part of the RDEK’s concern is that all wireless carriers in BC are sending test text messages to wireless customers advising of the new system and stating that customers will receive emergency alerts from the government for possible life-threatening situations. “While local governments hope to one day be able to access the system, EMBC has indicated it will be a year or more before the technology is in place to allow this to happen, so we want to stress to residents that they will not be receiving text messages about local emergencies other than tsunami warnings,” adds Duczek.

The RDEK is in the process of implementing a mass notification system that would send messages regarding evacuation alerts or orders; however, users will have to sign up for that system once it is in place.

“We strongly support having an alert system like the one being introduced by the Province this week where critical emergency-related messages can be pushed to any smartphone or device within a defined geographic area,” says Duczek.  “We are eager to see the system expanded to include all life-threatening emergencies in BC and be accessible by local governments next year.”

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Clean-Up Underway at Cranbrook Transfer Station

Contractors are on site undertaking clean-up this afternoon after someone deposited 10 bags of asbestos-containing vermiculite insulation on the floor of the main building at the Cranbrook Transfer Station.

Upon discovering the bags, staff implemented our standard asbestos procedure which included closing the main building as a precaution, contacting the contractor to assess the bags and determine steps for clean up. That clean up work is currently underway and is expected to be complete later today.

Temporary garbage bins for the public have been set up outside the building; however, the public is asked to hold off on using the site if possible for the duration of the afternoon.

Asbestos-containing loads require special handling and burial at our landfill sites. The RDEK apologizes for any inconvenience caused and is working to return to normal operations as quickly as possible.

RDEK Adjusts Plans in Light of ALC Decision

The Agricultural Land Commission’s (ALC) decision to deny the Regional District of East Kootenay’s subdivision application for land containing the Parr Utilities Water Treatment Plant has prompted the RDEK to adjust its plans, but the project remains on track.

“We had submitted an application to the ALC to subdivide the land so that the RDEK could own both the water treatment plant and the land it sits on. The ALC has denied our application, but has conditionally approved a long-term lease for the land,” explains RDEK Electoral Area F Director and Vice Chair Wendy Booth. “Our focus right now is on working with the property owner to negotiate the terms of a lease agreement and gaining final approvals so we can continue to move the project forward.” 

Although the ALC decision changes the original plan, the RDEK remains committed to working within the new parameters to keep the project on track and meet the terms of the purchase agreement.

“While not our preferred option, the long-term lease will provide some certainty with regard to the land and will not change our ability to own and operate the water treatment plant itself,” adds Booth.  Staff are now working on the lease agreement and adjusting other aspects of the project caused by this setback.

The RDEK hopes to take over ownership of the plant at the end of May.

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Good Turnout To Wasa & Area OCP Open House

Over 75 people attended an open house Wednesday night regarding proposed Environmentally Sensitive Area Development Permits.

The RDEK hosted the evening and the Planner leading the project says the night was both about sharing information and receiving wider feedback from the community. “There have been questions about how the mapping was done for the proposed development permit areas. We felt it was important to share the process that was used by the professional environmental consultants,” explains RDEK Planner Michele Bates.

Another important part of the evening was gathering feedback from the community on the proposed Environmentally Sensitive Area Development Permits. “We did have comments about the need for clarification with some of the definitions in the proposed bylaw, particularly around grasslands and old growth forests,” says Bates. “All of the feedback received was appreciated and I encourage anyone not able to attend the open house to get in touch with me in person, on the phone, or by email to share their thoughts.”

There is a public comment period open until April 23rd, after which the draft bylaw will be completed and presented to the RDEK Board for consideration.  If the Board chooses to give the bylaws first and second reading, there would be a formal public hearing.

Protecting the environment was one of the key themes identified by residents at the inception of the Wasa & Area OCP process and the introduction of Environmentally Sensitive Area Development Permits is one of the tools within an OCP used to help preserve and protect the natural environment.  The RDEK has ESA Development Permits in several of its other OCPs in the region.

Comment forms, and copies of all the presentation material from the open house are available on the Wasa & Area OCP - Environmentally Sensitive Area Development Permits page.

2018 RDEK Electoral Area Volunteers of the Year Named

The Regional District of East Kootenay has named its 2018 Electoral Area Volunteers of the Year.

“Today, more than ever, volunteers are the heart of our communities,” says RDEK Vice Chair Wendy Booth. “The Electoral Area Volunteer of the Year Awards is a long-standing program here at the RDEK and it is an honour to be able to formally celebrate six individuals this year.”

The 2018 Electoral Area Volunteers of the Year are:

  • Electoral Area A Jeri Mitchell
  • Electoral Area B Norma Sommerville
  • Electoral Area C Mike Matejka
  • Electoral Area E Pat Walkey
  • Electoral Area F Kayja Becker
  • Electoral Area G Michael Hutchinson

“On behalf of the Board of Directors, I would like to congratulate our Volunteers of the Year, and thank everyone who took the time to nominate an extraordinary volunteer,’ adds Booth. “We had so many wonderful nominees this year and it really emphasizes the incredible contribution all volunteers make in the region.”

The RDEK will be formally recognizing the 2018 Volunteers of the Year later this spring in conjunction with its Town Hall Meetings.

Overview of Volunteers of the Year:

Area A – Jeri Mitchell
Jeri Mitchell is very community minded and helps run and organize a Christmas cheer group to gather help for people and do general acts of kindness for those in the community.  In addition, she volunteers at various events selling 50/50 tickets to raise money for clubs in the community. Jeri volunteers at the Lions Demo Derby annually to help with sales/security/grounds monitoring and is always willing to help others when needed and get others onboard to assist.

Area B – Norma Sommerville
Norma Sommerville has been an integral member of Baynes Lake Parks & Recreation Society serving as their President for a number of years.  She has been the driving force behind the many improvements that have been made to the Glen Sandberg Memorial Park in Baynes Lake, twice a week Sommerville organizes, bakes for and takes care of a coffee group at the Baynes Lake Hall.  In addition to her ongoing volunteerism, Norma has organized the Halloween Party, children’s move nights, and the annual community Easter Egg Hunt and Party.

Area C – Mike Matejka
Mike Matejka is an active member of JCI Kootenay, and in September 2017 was named the 2018 JCI National President.  He has been a member of JCI since 2010, and has been numerous community events including the Balls of Steele Tournament, JCI regional convention, building of Moir Park, the Santa Claus parade and more.  Through his volunteerism and passionate leadership style, he has also influenced and mentored numerous other young leaders, igniting their passion for community service.

Area E – Pat Walkey
Pat Walkey has contributed to the Wasa community for over 40 years.  When her family was young she was active in assisting with school and extra-curricular activities such as coaching baseball. For the past five years, she has been on the Recreation Society executive and previously served many years as the recording secretary.  She is currently the Historical Society treasurer and helps look after the Memorial Garden. She helps with community bingos, pancake breakfasts, spaghetti suppers and other fundraisers and is involved with the Wasa Fitness Centre.  

Area F – Kayja Becker
For years, Kayja Becker has run the Children’s section of the Fall Fair.  This year, she has taken on the position as president of ICAN and has spent many hours planning fundraising events and get-togethers to raise awareness for this cause.  She is a board member on the Community Foundation, and is involved in numerous other community events including the Sue Wells Art Day and Halloween Haunted House at the Fire Hall.

Area G – Michael Hutchinson
Michael Hutchinson keeps the Edgewater Community Hall clear of ice and snow, using his own equipment and fuel and is known for quietly working behind the scenes to do whatever needs to be done to improve the community.  He is head of the building committee of the Edgewater Recreation Society; carries out routine maintenance of the Edgewater Hall; has been instrumental in the rebuild of Frank’s Rink; and, served for five years as trustee on the Vermillion Irrigation District.

Windermere Water Project Receives $6 million in Federal Gas Tax Funding

The Province of BC has just announced the projects approved for funding through the Federal Gas Tax Fund and the Windermere Water Project has received $6 million in funding.

Today’s announcement will have a huge impact on the Windermere Water Upgrade project. RDEK Chair Rob Gay and Vice Chair Wendy Booth will now begin working with staff to determine how the funds will be used to complete critical infrastructure upgrades and reduce the overall tax impact for property owners on the Windermere Water Upgrade project.

To see all projects funded through this intake, visit:  https://news.gov.bc.ca/16553

We will provide the community with more detailed information once we have more specifics on how this amazing news will impact the project; however, we wanted to share this information with you right away as it has JUST been announced.

Click here to view the full Province of BC news release:

RDEK Approves Five-Year Financial Plan

The Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) Board of Directors has adopted its 2018-2022 Financial Plan.

The 2018 operating budget totals $30,543,324, which represents a 7% increase over last year. With many projects already funded, this results in a 1.3% increase in taxation.  “Our Board and staff recognize the importance of balancing the provision of services with keeping taxes in line and I believe we are once again striking a good balance in this year’s budget,” 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. 

“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 2018 revised assessed values are available.

Highlights in the 2018 budget include a Solid Waste Management Plan Review and waste audit, along with increases in recycling and landfill operating costs. In addition to a grant of up to $300,000 to the Akisq’nuk First Nation for its indoor sports complex and a $130,000 grant to the Kootenay East Youth Soccer Association for its proposed indoor sports facility, the budget includes funding for a new Elk Valley Transit bus, new staff positions, and new mobile inspection software that will help improve efficiency of building inspections.  It also includes fulfillment of the $260,000 funding commitment to the Cranbrook Homeless Shelter Project, should the Province approve the project this year.

Some of the larger capital projects include completion of the West Fernie Service & Restructure Project; the Windermere Water Upgrade project and purchase of the water treatment plant; upgrades on the Lake Baptiste and Tie Lake dams; and, completion of Phases 1-4 of the Westside Legacy Trail and Fairmont Flood and Debris Flow Control Project.  The total capital budget is $14,252,018.

The 5-Year Plan for 2018-2022 was formally adopted by the RDEK Board Friday at its March Board meeting. Copies of the plan are available online at www.rdek.bc.ca or by request through the RDEK’s Columbia Valley and Cranbrook offices.

Speculation Tax Causes Concern

Although the Province’s recently announced Speculation Tax does not apply in the East Kootenay, the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) Board of Directors believes the region is already being impacted by the announcement and wants assurances the Tax will not be implemented in the region.

The tax, which was announced in the provincial budget, will apply a tax of $5 per $1000 of assessed value for properties owned by out-of-Province homeowners who do not occupy their residence. In 2019, the rate will increase to $20 per $1,000. “The new tax uses a broad-brush to paint all second-property owners as speculators. Our Board wants to stress to the Province that in our area, our second-homeowners are a valued and important part of our communities and we are gravely concerned about the impact this tax could have should it be expanded,” says RDEK Chair Rob Gay.

As a result, the Board is calling on the Province to provide assurances the tax will not be expanded to the RDEK and undertake meaningful consultation with local government before any further changes are contemplated. 

“Our concern isn’t just about the potential future impacts. We believe there are already negative impacts on regions not originally included in the tax, particularly because of the uncertainty it has created,” adds Gay. “Recreational property investors may be hesitant to invest in our region if there is no assurance that the Province won’t be expanding the Tax further.”

The Board will be sending a letter to both the Premier and Minister of Finance explaining the negative impact on regions not originally included in the tax, requesting consultation prior to any changes, emphasizing the importance of our second-homeowners in our region and asking for assurances the tax will not be implemented in the East Kootenay.

In addition, the Board will be submitting a resolution to the upcoming Association of Kootenay and Boundary Local Governments Annual General Meeting calling on the Union of BC Municipalities to advocate that the Province engage in appropriate consultation with local government and to provide local governments with an opportunity to opt in or out of the tax.

Water Pressure Restored on Elko Water System

RDEK operators restored the Elko community water system to normal operating pressures this afternoon after yesterday’s power outage and subsequent equipment failure.  More repair work is needed to restore the system to full functionality, and that work will be undertaken throughout the coming week.  As part of these repairs, another interruption in water service is expected later next week for Elko, and the community will be advised in advance once a firm schedule is determined.   The RDEK will continue monitoring the system and has operators on stand-by should another failure occur  in the mean time.

Improperly Disposed Needles Cause Concern

The Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) is appealing to the public to properly and safely dispose of needles and other bio-medical waste.

“Over the past few months, we have noticed a marked increase in the number of needles being dumped in our yellow recycling bins,” says RDEK Solid Waste Superintendent Jim Penson. “These needles are not from one source – they are single needles, needles used for medical purposes, insulin needles in jars, you name it.  No matter where they come from, the message is the same: they do not belong in the yellow bins.”

Most concerning to the Regional District is the potential safety risk posed by people recklessly dumping sharps in the bins. 

“Our yellow bins are sorted by hand. Every time someone puts a needle in one of our bins, they are potentially risking the health and safety of the hardworking men and women at the sorting facility. There is no excuse for it and it needs to stop,” adds Penson. 

Needles should be properly disposed of in designated sharps containers.  Containers are available at most pharmacies and there are numerous safe locations to dispose of needles across the East Kootenay.

The RDEK will be reaching out to Interior Health and other harm reduction agencies to try to get the message out through every means possible; however, is appealing to the public to do the right thing.

“The message is very simple: no needles in the bins. Period,” stresses Penson.

Funding Application Deadline Nears: CBT Community Initiatives and Affected Areas Programs

Applications are now available for the 2018/2019 Columbia Basin Trust Community Initiatives and Affected Areas Programs.

The Programs are funded by CBT and administered by the RDEK.

“The Programs are open to registered non-profit organizations.  Any private sector proposals must be sponsored by a registered non-profit organization and must clearly demonstrate community benefits”, says RDEK Deputy Corporate Officer Tina Hlushak. “These Programs are intended to be flexible and provide funding to local projects that benefit the communities of the RDEK.”

The funding application deadline is earlier than it has been in past years and is quickly approaching. “We want to make sure anyone wanting to apply is aware of the deadline and makes sure to get their applications in on time as late applications cannot be accepted,” adds Hlushak.

Application forms and proposal guidelines are available at the RDEK’s Cranbrook and Columbia Valley offices and on its website at www.rdek.bc.ca. The application deadline is Monday, January 22, 2018 at 2:00 PM.

For more information, contact the RDEK or visit www.rdek.bc.ca

City Restructure Approved for Phase 2 of West Fernie Project

The City of Fernie and Regional District of East Kootenay have received notification from the Province that the City’s boundary restructure has been approved for Phase 2 of the West Fernie Servicing & Restructure project.

“This is an exciting day,” says City of Fernie Mayor Mary Giuliano. “We are pleased to welcome the Phase 2 residents into the City of Fernie and look forward to officially celebrating the conclusion of the project in 2018.”

With the approval, approximately 115 properties on the north side of Highway 3 in West Fernie are officially part of the City of Fernie. This means all inquiries and applications for development (such as building permits, rezoning, subdivision) should now be directed to City of Fernie staff. 

The RDEK’s Project Supervisor Elizabeth Ahlgren will continue to work on – and answer questions related to – the project until its final completion.

“I am thrilled. After more than a decade of working to make this project a reality, to know that we have reached this milestone is amazing,” says RDEK Electoral Area A Director, Mike Sosnowski. “Having said that, there is still work to do to complete the project and I look forward to celebrating the official project completion next year.”

Remaining work scheduled to resume this spring includes some road work in two areas north of the Highway, along with ditching, storm work, water tie-ins, final grading, topsoil and hydroseeding.
A formal celebration will be planned for the completion of all phases of the project in 2018.

The 2018 property taxes for the 115 Phase 2 properties will be issued by the City of Fernie, and will be the first of a five-year transition from the RDEK tax rate to City of Fernie tax rate. A parcel tax to cover the cost of the project will be applied to all West Fernie properties starting in 2019.

For more information on the West Fernie Servicing & Infrastructure Project, visit www.westfernie.ca or contact Project Supervisor Elizabeth Ahlgren at the RDEK’s Cranbrook office.

Area G Volunteer of the Year Celebrated

Hermann Mauthner has been officially recognized as the 2017 Electoral Area G Volunteer of the Year.

Miller has been a dedicated volunteer in the Columbia Valley for many years. “Hermann is truly remarkable,” says Area G Director Gerry Wilkie. “His volunteer contributions have had a tremendous impact on the Columbia Valley for over 50 years. Beyond that, he and his wife Ursel have also instilled this love of community service in their children and grandchildren.”

Mauthner started and continues to run the Judo club, is a member of the Columbia Valley Hut Society and Conrad Kain Society and a past member of the Wilmer Water Works Board. He as spent decades as an active Rotarian and was a driving force behind the recent renovations at the Wilmer Community Hall. 

Mauthner has also been a long standing member of the RDEK’s Electoral Area Advisory Commission and Advisory Planning Commission. “Hermann’s years of service and his extensive knowledge about our Valley and the people here have made him a true asset on our Commissions,” adds Wilkie.

Mauthner was presented with a gift during the RDEK’s annual Appreciation Dinner, which was recognizes all the volunteers who serve on various RDEK committees and commissions.  

The nominations for the 2018 RDEK Electoral Area Volunteers of the Year begin in January. Nomination forms will be available on the RDEK’s website and through its Cranbrook and Columbia Valley offices.  The nomination deadline is January 31st, 2018.

Area A Volunteer of the Year Formally Recognized

Johnny Shaw has been officially recognized as the 2017 Electoral Area A Volunteer of the Year.

“Johnny is well known for his work on local trails, where he has devoted years to improving access for children and families as well as experienced bikers, hikers and skiers,” says RDEK Electoral Area A Director Mike Sosnowski. “He has contributed countless hours as a Board Member of both the Fernie Trails Alliance and Fernie Nordic Society and is a member of the Fernie Mountain Bike Club.”

In addition, Shaw was the liaison with community groups, Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and the Province that lead to the completion of the covered bridge over Fairy Creek and the connecting trail from Brickers Road behind the Information Centre, which provides a safe route for pedestrians. 

“Over the past two years, he has run a program at Isabella Dicken Elementary every Monday through the winter which gives over 80 kids a chance to strap on the skis and play in the snow,” adds Sosnowski.  Throughout the week, Shaw supports a team of racers, volunteering time as a coach and supporter. 

As a father of two children at Isabella Dicken Elementary School, he can often be found volunteering.  From basketball and volleyball coach, to cross country skiing and mountain bike club organizer, Shaw is inspiring our youth through his passion and dedicated service.

He was formally recognized and presented with a gift of appreciation at the recent Area A Town Hall Meeting.

The nominations for the 2018 RDEK Electoral Area Volunteers of the Year begin in January. Nomination forms will be available on the RDEK’s website and through its Cranbrook and Columbia Valley offices.  The nomination deadline is January 31st, 2018.

Jaffray Area OCP and South Country Zoning Bylaw Will Not Proceed

Following the public hearing on the Jaffray Area Official Community Plan (OCP) and the amended South Country Zoning Bylaw, the RDEK Board of Directors has voted not to proceed with the adoption of the Bylaws.

“The public hearing is the final opportunity for the public to share its opinions on the OCP and Zoning Bylaw. We have said all along that we are here to listen; and, while I believe the plan presented was a good one, it is clear from the feedback we received leading up to, and during the hearing, the proposed bylaws were not supported,” explains Electoral Area B Director Stan Doehle. “This process has been a challenging one as there are many differing viewpoints and perspectives. Unfortunately, there have been deep divisions created. My goal in asking for the Board’s support to not adopt the bylaws is that this will be the first step in bringing people back together and allowing the community to heal.”

The Jaffray Area Planning Process began in September 2015 and has involved extensive community consultation. “I want to extend my sincere thanks to the advisory committee that has devoted so many hours to this process and to the RDEK staff who have worked incredibly hard on the Plan.  I am very proud of the work that went into the process over the past two years.”

The public hearing was held in late November in Jaffray and over 150 people attended. “I believe we are making the right decision to hold off on proceeding any further at this time.”

The Jaffray area remains covered by the zoning regulations and land use policies contained in Bylaw No. 1414, which was adopted in 1999.

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.

 

Subscribe to our mailing list

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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

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

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

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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