Tax BC evenly: chamber

There should be no property transfer tax whatsoever in B.C., but if it must remain, the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce says it wants to see just a one per cent flat tax similar to what’s levied in other provinces.

As well — after the province imposed a whopping 15 per cent tax on foreign buyers this week to address the Lower Mainland price squeeze — the local chamber is calling on the government to adopt a flat, two per cent property purchase tax for all of B.C.

“It's nice to see that the provincial government realizes the PTT needs adjusting and we look forward to working with them to get a result that works well for the entire province, not just Vancouver,” said Brant Hasanen, the chamber’s policy development chairman.

Two years ago, the local chamber submitted its position to the provincial government on the need to charge a higher tax to foreign buyers than to domestic buyers. That certainly wasn’t the main motivation for bringing in the 15 percent foreign tax, but the chamber feels it played some role in focusing attention on the issue.

“I’m comfortable that there is some influence there,” Hasanan said, noting that the chamber has good communication with the province on policy considerations. The issue was brought to the chamber’s attention through its regular roundtables and reaching out to the business community, he said.

Currently, the PTT is charged at one per cent for the first $100,000 and two percent on the remainder, but in a province where price is an issue, it’s the highest rate in the country and adds on average about $5,000 to the cost of a home. In Alberta, the tax would be $120. In Saskatchewan, the tax would generate $1,050, and in Ontario, $1,750 on an average home.

“One of the things that’s been brought to our attention many times is the inequity of the property transfer tax. It just makes the buying and selling of real estate more expensive than it needs to be.”

In its 2014 position paper, the chamber recommended:

  • Amending the PPT Act to provide for a new primary residence grant
  • Continuing to increase the threshold for the First Time Home Buyers exemption
  • Introducing a new PPT rate of a minimum of two per cent of the property purchase price for all property in B.C. bought by non-residents of Canada or corporations controlled by non-residents

Hasanen said they would like to see the tax ditched, but recognize the province’s need to balance its fiscal plan.

He doesn’t feel 15 per cent will be good for business, that it could have the unintended consequence of driving foreign buyers into outlying markets such as Kamloops and Kelowna. A lack of inventory in the Interior could drive up prices here just as foreign buyers are blamed for driving Lower Mainland prices through the roof.



Bail denied in murder case

A bail application by a Brocklehurst resident who stands accused of attempted murder has been denied.

Kristopher Teichrieb, 39, had his application for judicial interim release turned down Thursday morning in Kamloops provincial court by Judge Stephen Harrison.

A construction contractor, Teichrieb has been in custody at Kamloops Regional Correction Centre since he was involved in an altercation on June 19. He is alleged to have assaulted Jessie Simpson, 18, with a baseball bat after seeing the teen in his driveway. 

The Savona teen has remained on life support at Royal Inland Hospital since then and his family says his prospects for recovery are poor. The charge against Teichrieb could be elevated to murder if Simpson does not survive.

A publication ban has been imposed on details arising from the bail hearing.

The accused man will next appear in court Aug. 11 when a date will be set for trial.


Huge turnout for pow-wow

Dancers and their families from across Western Canada and the U.S. have begun arriving at the Kamloops Pow-Wow grounds for the 37th annual event, one of the largest on the North American powwow circuit.

Veronica Seymour, one of the event’s co-ordinators, said Thursday that things are getting hectic, as might be expected with 10,000 guests showing up at the Secwepemc Arbour site.

As tradition holds, the event gets underway with the first of four grand entries on Friday at 7 p.m. Successive grand entries take place Saturday at noon and 7 p.m., and on Sunday at noon.

They're expecting the usual heat along with thundershowers over the weekend and Friday's forecast of 34 C is consistent with past years. However, the weather may bring some relief Saturday and Sunday with temperatures dipping down to 26 and 22 C, respectively.

Seymour said they are expecting 1,000 dancers to compete over three days with 10-15 drum groups participating as well. This year’s host drum is Black Bear. Sage Hills will be honourary host drum.

The powwow has a total prize payout of $77,000. It also offers one of the richest 50/50 payouts at $3,500. In addition to dancing, there is an art, crafts and trade show as well as an auction set for Saturday.


Green leader on Ajax panel

Organizers of a panel discussion on the controversial Ajax Mine proposal on the outskirts of Kamloops hope to see a good turnout despite short notice and awkward timing on a Friday night at the start of a long weekend. 

The panel, including Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, gathers Friday night, 7:30 p.m., at St. Andrew’s on the Square. They’ll be discussing impacts of the copper/gold open pit mine on the community and environment.

May’s availability was key to holding the discussion, said John Schleiermacher of Kamloops Area Preservation Association. 

“I think she was doing some routine travel and managed to work it into her schedule,” he said. “We’ve been in contact with her for the better part of a year to try to sit down and talk about this.”

B.C. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver visited in March, partly to tour the Ajax site and learn more about the project. Schleiermacher said he’s not sure how much May knows about the project but he’s been sending her information. 

The panel will also include Dr. Jill Calder of Kamloops Physicians for a Healthy Environment, Schleiermacher and local politicians, but details haven’t been confirmed.

KGHM’s environmental assessment review was paused in May and will remain so until October in order for the applicant to prepare responses to more than 2,000 comments and questions.

The community advisory group working with the B.C. Environmental Assessment Agency requested an additional comment period once the company responds and the 180-day review resumes at Day 108. Their request was turned down.

“It doesn’t fit into their structured format, which is definitely slanted for a mine in a remote area, not for a mine near a city of 90,000 people,” Schleiermacher said. “Basically, we’re shut out of the process right now.”

The advisory group still hold out hope for a federal full panel review, a request the City has made three times to two successive governments without success. Part of the idea of including May in Friday’s discussion is to raise the profile of their concerns in Ottawa.

– NewsKamloops.com

Kamloops takes challenge

One good turn equals five others.

That’s the idea behind the One-Bag Challenge, a midsummer food bank fundraiser that Kamloops has borrowed from Kelowna. 

Each donor of a bag of non-perishable food items challenges five other friends, family members or acquaintances to do the same, multiplying the results.

“We need the same amount of food year round,” said Bernadette Siracky, food bank director, noting that public donations tend to slow down through the summer period. The publicity alone is effective.

“Shining a light on us is really helpful.”

“It seems to have gone quite viral on social media,” said Matt McCurrach, president of Canadian Home Builders Central Interior, before he listed his group of donors.

MLA Todd Stone, Home Hardware owner Rick Kurzac and TRU’s Lindsay Langill were on his list.

Owing to the exchange between the chamber of commerce and Coun. Donovan Cavers earlier in the week, he also challenged chamber president Ryan Scorgie and the city councillor to also deliver bags of food.


Heritage site gets new life

The City of Kamloops is spending $150,000 to add new life to a local landmark and open its doors to the public as a heritage site.

Repairs and upgrades to the B.C. Sheep Breeders Building at 961 Lorne St. are underway and involve much more than a facelift.

Built in 1929, the building is a former industrial warehouse that serves as a testament to the sheep breeding and wool industry in Kamloops in the 1920s and into the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Improvements will include residing the building with new wood painted in the original colour schematic to maintain the exterior heritage look of the building is not compromised. New windows, window protection, lighting upgrades, subfloor construction, landscaping and fire suppression engineering are all included in the upgrades. The project started this week.

The city and Kamloops Museum and Archives are transforming the building, formerly a prop and costume storage facility for Western Canada Theatre, into a more secure environment. The building's primary role will be to support the KMA with a visitor centre at the heritage site.

– NewsKamloops.com

Big year for New Gold

New Gold is reporting strong second-quarter earnings on the basis of improved gold prices, higher production and lower costs.

And the company, which operates the New Afton Mine west of Kamloops, may have some additional momentum building: Market analysts predict a continued surge in gold prices this year. Gold stood at $1,757.92 Cdn as of Thursday, July 28. Gold prices have gained 26 percent overall this year.

Shares of New Gold traded up 6.17 percent during midday trading Wednesday on the TSE, reaching $6.19. 

Consistent with the expectations outlined as part of its first quarter results, New Gold’s production increased quarter over quarter, resulting in consolidated gold production of 190,234 ounces in the first six months of 2016 which was five percent higher than the same period of the prior year.

Gold production at New Afton during the second quarter increased to 25,287 ounces. The increase relative to the prior-year quarter was due to a 16 percent increase in mill throughput which more than offset a planned decrease in gold grade. Gold recoveries remained consistent at 83 percent despite the significant increase in throughput. New Afton's average mill throughput during the second quarter was 15,320 tonnes per day.

As a result of the continued strong throughput, New Afton's quarterly copper production increased by 11 percent to 22.1 million pounds when compared to the second quarter of 2015.

As a result of the company's strong first half production, New Gold is well positioned to meet its full-year gold production guidance of 360,000 to 400,000 ounces. At the same time, the company's first half copper production of 51.1 million pounds was higher than planned, increasing by 10 percent relative to the prior-year period, and New Gold now anticipates it will exceed the high end of its full-year copper production guidance of 81.0 to 93.0 million pounds. 

"We are proud to have delivered such strong second quarter results," stated Randall Oliphant, the company’s executive chairman. "The combination of higher production, lower costs and improved gold prices enabled us to generate a 39 percent increase in our cash flow. We are on track to meet our full-year gold production guidance and pleased to be in a position to lower our cost guidance. We look forward to a strong finish to the year."

– NewsKamloops.com

Spilled gas sparks fire

Gasoline spilled from a chainsaw is blamed for an afternoon residential fire in North Kamloops.

Two Kamloops Fire Rescue engines responded to the fire in the 100 block of Wilson Street shortly before 2:30 p.m. Wednesday. 

A nearby resident said firefighters quickly brought the fire under control, however, there was extensive damage to the house. 

The homeowner was tuning up the chainsaw indoors when a spark ignited gasoline. The man suffered minor injuries and was checked by paramedics at the scene.

– NewsKamloops.com

'You're building dreams'

A subdivision at the far eastern end of Juniper East drew a crowd Wednesday morning for a ceremony marking the start of construction of the 2017 TRU trades training house and Y Dream Home.

As trades students looked on, Bren Joseph, a TRU carpentry student, together with Hank Bangma, construction trades instructor, and Coun. Ken Christian lined up for a customary cutting of a 2X4 to celebrate the occasion.

“Around the world, they’re playing Pokemon Go,” Christian joked. “Here in Kamloops, we play hide the Dream Home. It took me a while to find it.”

The 2017 Training House will be a three story three bedroom home with a basement, approximately 3800 sq. ft. total floor area. Its location affords a fine view of the valley below, though, enticing for Dream Home lottery ticket buyers.

“It’s a beautiful lot,” said Matt McCurrach, president of Canadian Homebuilders Central Interior. In recent years, the board has been moving the training house project around the city. This year’s home was in Westsyde.

“In about eight months, it will be known as the Dream Home,” McCurrach said.

He described the future home as a typically modern design, West Coast contemporary with an open-concept floor plan and an “equal opportunity” playroom off the back of the garage, connecting with a rear courtyard.

Now in its 27th year, the partnership is unique to Kamloops. The training benefits residential construction and electrical students with a hands-on experience. The students do the foundation, framing and rough in work, then the home is finished with the generous support of CHBA CI members. 

“This is something that doesn’t happen in every city because of the partnership involved. You guys are not just building a home, you’re building dreams.”

Designed by Grant Bergman of Bergman Home Design, the home is being built as an Energy Star home.

Paul Vinepal of River City Enterprises Ltd. is the project manager for the build. Many CHBA CI members provide ongoing support in products and/or labour. 

“This project allows us to be part of the community and also showcase the incredible talents in our local homebuilding industry,” said McCurrach. 

“For us it is about enhancing the educational experience of our trades students by giving them on site experience in addition to classroom work,” Bangma added. 

The project will feature the latest innovative product and designs for those thinking of building a new home or even renovating extensively their current home. 

CHBA CI will profile the building steps on Facebook and Twitter, giving followers an unusual snapshot of the residential building process.

- NewsKamloops

Shots fired was targeted

UPDATE: 11:40 a.m.

Kamloops RCMP say a shots fired incident on the North Shore Wednesday morning was targeted and that no one was hurt. A search for three suspects continues.

Police cars arrived at a residence on the 900 block of 13th Street around 7:30 a.m. after a number of reports of shots being fired.

“A firearm was seized outside of the residence. It is unknown at this time if this was the weapon used to fire at the residence,” said Cpl. Jodi Shelkie, RCMP spokesperson.

Shelkie said three people from inside the house were detained for “safety and for investigation” but were later released without charges.

“No one was injured as a result of the shots fired,” Shelkie said. “This residence is known to police and it is believed this was a targeted incident and there is no danger to the general public.

“Witnesses saw approximately three suspects running from the residence just after the shots were fired. The only definite description available at this time is that all three were wearing hoodies.”

Anyone with information is asked to call Kamloops RCMP at 250-828-3000 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

Original story

Three suspects were detained by police after shooting erupted around 7:30 a.m. Wednesday on 13th Street in North Kamloops.

Half a dozen RCMP vehicles were on scene after receiving a report of shots fired at a home on the block. They immediately cordoned off 13th Street before arresting the suspects about a half hour later. A shotgun was discovered in an alley behind the home, the same address where police responded to reports of shots fired on April 29.

After obtaining a search warrant a week later, police seized large quantities of drugs and arrested a man believed to have ties to organized crime.

Police have yet to release any details on the incident. They are, however, asking the public to steer clear of the area until it's determined safe. 

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