Gold drilling shows promise

Exploratory drilling results indicate gold mining operations near Kamloops could be extended another six years.

The additional lifespan hinges upon New Afton Mine's C-zone block cave, a down-plunge extension of the B-zone block cave currently mined at the underground operation 10 kilometres west of the city.

Results of the drilling were released this week.

Operator New Gold projects that under current conditions the mine would operate until 2022-23, but that could be extended to 2029 if the C-zone contains sufficient copper-gold mineralization.

“The results of the 2016 C-zone drilling confirm the continuity of mineralization immediately to the west of the block cave volume included in our C-zone feasibility study reserve, indicating good potential to further increase New Afton’s overall mine life,” said Mark Petersen, vice-president of exploration.

“Looking forward, it is particularly encouraging to see step-out holes as far as 150 metres west of the planned block cave continue to intersect copper and gold mineralization at grades similar to those currently being mined.”

So far this year, New Gold has completed about 60 per cent of its planned 10,000-metre exploration for 2016.

Based on the encouraging results, the company plans to complete the remainder of the $6-million program during the second half of the year. 



Keep your drones away

Dangerous use of drones is on the radar of Kamloops airport authorities.

Coun. Ken Christian, who sits on the airport board, said they are working with the city to ensure the public understands the risk. Christian said drone technology has advanced to the point where the devices can fly higher, posing greater hazards to aviation.

The hazard exists not only in the immediate vicinity of Fulton Field.

“They do have the potential to interfere with aviation,” Christian said. “People should not be flying drones around Crestline and around McArthur Island.”

Transport Canada launched a public campaign earlier this month called #NoDroneZone, intended to inform drone flyers of safe and legal operation.

Rules can vary according to location, with a key stipulation about airports – flying drones is not recommended within a nine-kilometre radius of airports, heliports and seaplane bases. Doing so requires a permit from Transport Canada.


Understaffing chronic: HEU

More staffing is key to addressing resident aggression in long-term care facilities, the Hospital Employees Union says.

The union responded Wednesday to a report by B.C. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie, who recommends a review of staffing levels for residents with more complex care needs.

There is no "major fix," the report states, but there is a need for more accurate reporting.

Key findings focus on “high-incident” reporting facilities, where four or more incidents of resident-to-resident aggression occurred in the last year. Many residents in those facilities have higher care needs, including more diagnosed aggression behaviours, psychiatric diagnoses, and higher rates of antipsychotic drug use.

The report finds there were slightly fewer funded direct-care hours at the high-incident facilities. 

“While we would expect more complex residents translates to more care hours, unfortunately we don’t see this – and this concerns me,” said Mackenzie. “Even in facilities with the most complex residents and highest incidence of aggression, some fall below the minimum provincial guideline of an average of 3.36 care hours per resident per day and we must look more closely at what appropriate care hours are in these facilities.”

Health Minister Terry Lake acknowledged the issue and has called for a provincial review of care hours, she noted.

The union holds up the report as proof of longstanding issues. Understaffing has been a continual issue within the Interior Health region, it says. And resident-to-resident aggression has led to injury and death in some cases.

"The seniors advocate established earlier this year that four out of five care facilities are not funded to meet the province's minimum staffing guidelines," said HEU secretary-business manager Jennifer Whiteside.

"We agree with the advocate that a further review is required to establish what level of staffing is needed to provide safe and dignified care for residents."

Mackenzie also recommended more training for staff who work at these facilities.

HEU represents about 20,000 members working in seniors' care.

A 2014 survey of HEU care aides found that:

  • More than half said they didn't have enough time to meet residents' needs.
  • More than 70 per cent reported they did not have the time to comfort or reassure someone who may be confused, agitated or afraid.
  • Nearly three-quarters said they're forced to rush seniors through basic care routines, including toileting, bathing, grooming and feeding.

Mackenzie's report recommends that resident-to-resident aggression be defined and tracked the same way across all residential care facilities and at a provincial level. In addition, the Office of the Senors Advocate (OSA) recommends a review of the adequacy of staffing for residents with more complex needs, specifically during busy times like dinner hours, when there is a noted spike in incidents.

News Kamloops.com


Paid more than the mayor

More than 50 Kamloops city managers and exempt staff crested the $100,000 salary mark in 2015, a substantial hike from 34 the year before and more than the mayor receives.

The increase to 54 is largely owing to retroactive payments in 2015 arising from 2012-2014 contract settlements for Kamloops Fire Rescue union members and management, said Kathy Humphrey, city finance director, in a report received by council.

Remuneration and paid expense figures are contained in an annual statement of financial information that the City is required by law to disclose.

The top-paid executive at city hall is chief administrative officer David Trawin, who pulled in $266,000 annually. Byron McCorkell, director of parks, recreation and culture, was paid $206,000 and David Duckworth, director of corporate services and community safety, got $198,000.  

According to Humphrey’s summary, the overall increase in salaries, wages and benefits from 2014 to 2015 was approximately 7.5 per cent. Another 3.8 per cent was due to an additional pay period in 2015, which also resulted in the addition of approximately 30 people to the 2015 list of employees with a total remuneration greater than $75,000 who were not on the list in 2014. 

The 27th payday also shifted about 24 employees in to the greater than $100,000 category in 2015.

Mayor and council figures are also included in the report. Mayor Peter Milobar earned $99,483 in 2015 while councillors were paid roughly $30,000 each. Coun. Arjun Singh tops out on the expense side at $7,400, a distinction likely attributed to his travel as a UBCM vice-president. The mayor is second with expenses of $5,400.

Total disbursements last year by the City of Kamloops for goods and services accounts exceeding $25,000 amounted to almost $218 million.


Thieves assault residents

A search is on for three thieves who assaulted a pair of Westsyde residents early Wednesday after they were caught breaking into vehicles.

Around 4:15 a.m., a homeowner in the 3200 block of Westsyde Road awoke to noises outside. He saw someone attempting to break into his vehicle. With another resident, he confronted three males outside the vehicle and a struggle ensued.

The two residents were taken to Royal Inland Hospital with minor injuries and were released after treatment. Police were unable to locate the three suspects, who are described as all over six feet in height and wearing black hoodies. One male wore a grey hoody.

A police investigation continues. Anyone who may have witnessed the altercation is asked to contact the Kamloops RCMP at 250-828-3000.


Turban saves swimmer

A Sikh man in Kamloops is being called a hero after he used his turban to help save a woman from the frigid North Thompson River in the province's southern Interior.

Avtar Hothi and his son Paul were working at their family farm in Heffley Creek, just north of Kamloops, on Saturday evening when they heard cries for help.

They rushed to the riverbank to see a young woman struggling to stay afloat in the strong current.

Paul Hothi says they urged her to try to get closer to the grassy riverbank, but with nothing nearby for her to grab, they feared one of them would have to risk a jump into the water.

Hothi says that's when his father pulled off his turban which, when unwrapped, is a nearly three-metre length of cloth.

The woman was able to clutch one end when it was tossed to her, and she was quickly pulled from the water.

"We weren't prepared for it or expecting anything like this and his quick thinking," said the younger Hothi. "We used his turban as a rope because it would have been a lot harder just to pull someone up off shore."

He also said someone brought a blanket and the frightened woman was calmed down and returned safely to relatives in a nearby home.

Sikh men consider it improper to show their hair in public, but Hothi noted those rules don't apply if it's a case of life and death. 

Wine battle back on agenda

One of the thorniest issues to tie up Kamloops city council in recent years — whether to permit a VQA wine store at Save-On-Foods — is back before a public hearing on July 12.

With the exception of Coun. Donovan Cavers, councillors voted Tuesday to hold a second public hearing on the matter, having first voted down a development variance permit on May 17. 

At that juncture, Overwaitea management couldn’t see how it could get past the City’s decision, but a Save-On delegation was back at City Hall on June 14 asking council to reconsider a reworded motion. That motion, minus references to hard liquor produced from rice and honey, now clearly states B.C. VQA wines only will be sold at the store within a store.

Still, there were some doubts around the council table Tuesday. Coun. Tina Lange noted that the provincial government states on its website that it is changing all VQA-only stores into specialty wine stores that carry more than B.C. products.
“I’m assuming they would get the go-ahead from the B.C. Wine Institute,” Lange said of the move. In that case, would the variance stand or would it be superseded by the province’s change? The question couldn’t be answered Tuesday.

“Heads up, we’ll be asking,” Lange warned City staff in advance of the public hearing.
Cavers said he still won’t reconsider the May decision as a matter of principle: “It’s basically an issue that’s being dumped on us by the provincial government.”

The only unfortunate aspect of the whole matter has been the way councillors’ views have been misconstrued in the media, said Coun. Pat Wallace.

“I think people should ask you what your intent and understanding was so most people who supported us don’t think there was a misunderstanding,” she said.

Coun. Marg Spina said the reworded motion constitutes new information and therefore warrants a second look.
Due to a potential strike by Canada Post, the notices of intent will be distributed to surrounding property owners by courier.


Pool project fast-tracked

Residents of Aberdeen can expect a few detours in coming months with work set to get underway next week on Pacific Way improvements.

Council agreed to skip a step Tuesday to clear the way for two major capital projects — upgrades to Pacific Way and replacement of the Westsyde Pool roof — to get going post-haste.

The time frame for the projects is narrow with completion for both set for January 2017, said Jen Fretz, public works and utilities director. Since both are accounted for within the 2016-2020 financial plan, staff sought prior authorization from council to award the tenders to lowest bidders. 

Under city rules, any contract worth more than $800,000 must get final approval from council. In this case, the successful bidders will get a green light as long as their bids are within budget.

“I’m very comfortable doing this and getting on with life,” said Coun. Pat Wallace.

Coun Ken Christian said he supports the $800,000 restriction, but with summer break at hand, the projects could be delayed if it were upheld. Skipping the final step will be in the best interest of citizens, he added.

A bid for the Pacific Way project has already come in at $2.2 million or about $400,000 under budget, said Darren Crundwell, capital projects manager.

“I think we’re still seeing some fairly competitive bidding,” he said.

If the bids on the pool project — expected by July 25 — come in over budget, staff will bring a recommendation back to council prior to awarding the job.


2 years for school assault

A “potentially psychopathic” man who sexually assaulted a Grade 8 student while he was a senior at the same high school in Kamloops has been ordered to spend two years less a day behind bars.

The name of the now-20-year-old man is protected by a publication ban because he was 17 at the time of the offences.

He pleaded guilty to sexual assault and invitation to sexual touching of a person under 16.

Provincial court heard the accused and the 13-year-old victim were involved in a relationship between January and June of 2013, when the offences took place.

In one case, the accused cut class and took the girl to a secluded area in a park and ordered her to remove her pants.

He sexually assaulted her on two other occasions, including once in a room at school when he covered a window with paper. At other points in their relationship, he would bite her until she bruised and bled.

The victim told court she suffers from physical pain and anxiety as a result of the assaults and can no longer wear certain clothes in public for fear of drawing attention to herself.

Judge Stella Frame called the victim “eloquent and compelling, but deeply emotional.”

Frame cited multiple psychiatric reports in delivering her sentence. At the time of the offences, the accused was under psychiatric care as the result of a previous offence in which he sexually touched a young male cousin.

Court heard the reports label the accused “a moderate-high to high risk to reoffend,” and found that he has antisocial tendencies, lacks empathy and exhibits “possible sexual deviancy.”

Another doctor said in a report that the accused shows “potential indicators of psychopathy.”

His sentence includes a two-year probation term with orders barring him from having any contact with the victim and from visiting playgrounds or places where children might be present.

He is also prohibited from possessing or viewing pornography and was ordered to submit a DNA sample to a national criminal database. 

Lifeguards back at Riverside

Swimming season is in full swing as another hot spell hits Kamloops.

Beginning Thursday, lifeguards will be on duty at Riverside Park beach from 1 to 5 p.m. daily, weather permitting.

To promote safety in and around the water, the city recommends swimming in the designated swimming area only when lifeguards are on duty and to keep within arms’ reach of young children. It is also important to closely supervise children while visiting the water park and playground areas. 

Kamloops Aquatics recommends caution when swimming in the river.

It is important to be aware of open-water hazards such as steep dropoffs, strong currents and undertows.  

In the event of an emergency outside of daily operating times, or for boating related emergencies, call 911.

For more information, visit www.lifesaving.bc.ca.


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