Salmon Arm  

You know it's a small town...

In a small, sometimes sleepy town, seemingly nothing can be newsworthy.

Take Chase, for example.

Police in the community of about 2,000 are looking for an individual who did something they shouldn't have done, but got nothing in return – twice.

Early last week, police were alerted to two instances in which vehicles were rummaged through. One occurred on Cedar Avenue, the other on Okanagan Avenue.

In both cases, nothing of value was left inside the vehicle, and nothing was reported to be missing.

Police in Chase are looking for information on the would-be thief.

Meantime, an unidentified man was taken to hospital for treatment after he jumped in front of a moving transport truck on the Trans Canada Highway just east of the junction with Highway 97.

The driver was able to avoid the man, but in the process, sent his rig into a ditch.

The driver and vehicle were not harmed.

The suspect fled the scene toward the river.

Chase RCMP, with the assistance of dog patrols and air support, were able to locate the man.

Money pours into Sicamous

Water will be a little cleaner in Sicamous thanks to the federal and provincial governments.

The Shuswap community has been given $1,660,000 for wastewater facilities upgrades through the Clean Water and Wastewater Fund.

The fund is providing about $310 million to 144 projects throughout the province and allows investments in local government infrastructure, specifically supporting long-term benefits in rehabilitating drinking water, wastewater and stormwater systems, as well as planning and designing future facilities and upgrades to existing wastewater systems.

This funding will help communities ensure residents have safe and reliable access to drinking water and improved environmental protections and will assist local governments in meeting provincial and federal regulations.  

Cash for local airport

Salmon Arm's airport is getting a cash infusion from the province this year with a $225,000 grant for a fuel system upgrade.

The investment will make the airport's infrastructure work more efficiently "providing better services for pilots, crews, and ultimately passengers," said Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo.

The money comes through the B.C. Air Access Program, allowing the transport ministry to cost-share with public airports on projects such as lighting and navigational systems, terminal building expansion or upgrades and runway improvements.


Rules could shutter brewer

After operating for 17 years, changes to the Agricultural Land Reserve have a small Shuswap brewery unsure if their operation is legal.

Brian MacIsaac and Rebecca Kneen have been running Crannog Ales on a small piece of Agricultural Land Reserve land in Sorrento since January 2000.

While a small operation, their Back Hand of God Stout can be found flowing from taps throughout Kelowna.

At their outset, MacIsaac says they were the only on-farm brewery in the province.

“The ALR at the time actually rubber-stamped us for going ahead,” MacIsaac said. “They came out here a few times and really liked what we were doing.”

MacIsaac said they were told at the time that legislation didn't exist to cover their operation, but as long as it was under 100 square metres, they could operate as a home-based business.

In 2015, the province changed the ALR regulations to require non-farm use applications like breweries to produce at least 50 per cent of their product on their own land.

MacIsaac says for a small brewery, this is a “ludicrous” requirement.

Crannog has been growing its own hops on their small farm, but they buy most of their barley from Saskatchewan and Alberta. The type of barley they require can't be grown in Sorrento, and the barley must be malted, a process they need to do offsite.

“You can't just use raw barley right off the field,” MacIsaac said.

While Crannog hasn't been contacted about the ALR changes, the Sunshine Coast's Persephone Brewing, which is also located on ALR land, has been told they need to grow 50 per cent of their product onsite within the year, or face being shut down.

“We asked them about us, and they said no other breweries exist on ALR land, and we've been at it for 17 years, so we exist,” MacIsaac said.

Crannog has signed a petition with Persephone to push for changes to the ALR requirements that would allow small breweries to operate on ALR land under more feasible conditions.

The online petition, with more than 2,700 supporters as of Wednesday, is addressed to Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, B.C.'s minister of agriculture.

Letnick says he has seen the petition and is planning to talk with the owners of Persephone.

The owners of Crannog have tried to contact Letnick as well, but Letnick says the current “message is really clear” when it comes to allowing non-farm use operations on ALR land.

“There's two ways to go about getting a non-farm use on good agricultural land,” Letnick said. “One is the path of the regulation (which includes the 50 per cent requirement) and if you can't meet the path of the regulation the other way is the path of the application to the Land Commission.”

ALR staff will be coming to check out Crannog's operation in April, and while MacIsaac says he thinks they'll be OK, he wants to “be on the ground floor of renegotiating a better policy and have some regulations that make sense.”

“We're totally in favour of ALR, we just want to make sure the right things are going in there,” MacIsaac said.

As part of the 2015 changes, wineries in B.C. are allowed to operate on ALR land if 50 per cent of their product comes from anywhere in the province, a regulation MacIsaac says would be a step in the right direction for breweries.

“Wineries have a much longer history and through the (2015) consultation it was felt that we could move to the next step with wineries,” said Letnick. “The challenge with the breweries, meateries and distilleries, is that it could open itself to a lot of non-farm use on good agricultural land.”

While Letnick says he's willing to review the proposed changes found in the breweries petition, he wouldn't be able to until after the May 9 election, as “we're in the middle of an election now.”

Clean up on Hwy 97A

UPDATE: 4:04 p.m.

Clean up is in progress on Highway 97A south of Sicamous where a mudslide has closed the road in both directions for much of the day.

Drive BC says a geotech assessment has been completed.

A detour is available on Highway 97B and Highway 1.

There is no estimated time of opening. 

UPDATE: 12:10 p.m.

Highway 97A remains closed due to a mudslide.

A Castanet reporter on scene says the slide appears to be small.

The slide pushed out several blocks of the retaining wall and the debris is blocking the northbound lane.

ORIGINAL: 10:30 a.m.

Highway 97A is closed in both directions near Sicamous because of a mudslide.

DriveBC says an assessment is in progress. 

There is a detour available on Highway 97B and Highway 1.

There is no estimated time of reopening.

Send photos and video to [email protected]

Shuswap skiers tops

Two Shuswap skiers came tops at the annual Sovereign Lake Loppet on Silver Star Mountain this weekend.

Thomas Hardy, of the Larch Hills ski club in Salmon Arm, won the men’s 30 km race in 1:21 hours – well ahead of the next skier.

“I just went out for an easy 30 km, didn’t want to go too hard and blow myself up,” Hardy said at the finish. “I’ve got nationals to go to Thursday.”

The nationals take place in Canmore, Alberta.

Among the women, Abigail May, who is also from Larch Hills ski club, was the fastest.

May skied the first 29 km with two men but left them behind on the final hill.

“I’d say thanks for pulling me along and skiing with me, but yeah, you gotta work up on those uphills,” she laughed at the end of the race.

A total of 240 skiers took part in the loppet, including some from as far as the Yukon, Ontario, Texas and Australia.

Lines down near Sicamous

Highway 97A is reduced to single-lane alternating traffic near Sicamous.

DriveBC reports hydro lines are down four kilometres south of the Shuswap community.

There is no word on what caused the problem, but the incident was reported at 3:05 a.m.

Cash for Shuswap trails

Provincial funding will allow new trails for hiking, mountain biking, horse riding and snowshoeing in the Shuswap region to move forward this year, according to the Shuswap Trail Alliance.

Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo handed the alliance a $98,061.43 cheque last week.

"What the work partners throughout the Shuswap have done to enhance tourism and grow outdoor recreational opportunities is remarkable," said Kyllo. “I particularly like that the Shuswap Trail Alliance supports so many communities throughout the Shuswap, from Chase to Malakwa, and Enderby to Seymour Arm. The alliance is also engaged with First Nations communities in developing trails to raise the profile, culture and heritage of the Secwepemc peoples.”

The funding comes on the heels of the trail alliance's annual general meeting where an ambitious list of project targets was outlined for the coming year.

The 2017 Shuswap trails infrastructure project includes the addition of six new four-season trails totalling 15 kilometers.

These include: the Rubberhead Dickson mountain bike climb trail, the South Canoe Mo Bedda Mo Budda mountain bike trail, the South EQ Trail Loop Extension, the Larch Hills Traverse Top-O-the-Sic and Cedar Circuit trails, and the North Fork Wild Historic Pack Trail (Perry River Trail Big Tree Loop).

"We targeted completion of currently approved but unfinished trail work within the region," said Phil McIntre-Paul, the alliance's executive director. “Each of these build on some of the region’s most visited destination trail networks.”

In addition to the grant supporting new trail construction, regional partners had word that a smaller grant application supporting new trail planning was also successful.

The $98,000 BCRDF grant will help with planning upgrades to existing alpine trails in the East Shuswap and elsewhere.

State of emergency declared

A B.C. Interior First Nation has declared a state of emergency over the growing fentanyl crisis.

The deadly drug has been responsible for a record number of overdoses.

The Secwepemc Elders Council expressed concern over the crisis in February and has since declared a state of emergency, calling upon band leadership to take immediate action.

The chiefs of the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council have responded by committing to a co-ordinated approach to address the overdose crisis.

“It is important that all members within our communities are given the resources needed to be adequately informed on the issue of fentanyl. Prevention and awareness are critical for our members, their families, and the community to effectively combat this crisis,” said Tribal Chief Wayne Christian.

The chiefs are calling on the First Nations Health Council, Interior Health Authority, RCMP and other resources to work in partnership on the problem.

Immediate action needs to be taken to inform citizens of the presence of fentanyl in street drugs, the symptoms and probability of overdoses, the chiefs said.

“Addictions do not discriminate, and this fentanyl crisis is deadly ... it takes lives regardless of age and with only one-time use. Get educated on how to prevent this from killing your loved ones,” said Christian.

Close call with truck

UPDATE: 1:35 p.m.

A trucker who often drives the same stretch of highway where a near-crash was caught on dashboard camera said incidents like this give drivers a bad rap.

“We are supposed to be professional, and for the most part we are,” said Steve Wraith. “It’s the bad ones who make other drivers hate truck drivers.”

Wraith said he often sees drivers taking similar risks.

“At least six times in three months I’ve needed to come to a complete stop to prevent a collision with the guy passing me and oncoming traffic and when you honk your horn at them they yell out the window at you and give you the finger,” he said.

Jones, who captured a semi-truck driving erratically towards him, said that so often people talk about speed as the only factor. But it is much more complicated than just that, he said.

“The reality is it is a far more complex issue,” he said. “There is factors of road design, factors of vehicle design, driver behaviour.”

“This guy who was overtaking didn’t set out to do something dangerous when he woke up in the morning. I don’t believe that for one second, but some situation put him in a position where he felt that risk was justifiable.”

Wraith said that people need to be patient sometimes and give truck drivers room.

Often, when he is driving, people will creep so closely to the back of his truck that he won’t even see them.

“I can't imagine what it would be like being in an accident and having someone die,” he said. “I can't imagine how I would feel. I can't imagine the pain and anguish anyone would go through dealing with that.”

ORIGINAL: 10:30 a.m.

A driver had a very close call with a semi-truck when he was travelling through the Shuswap – and this wasn't the first time.

Jonah Jones was driving from Salmon Arm towards Canoe on Wednesday when he was faced almost head-on with the semi-truck.

It was around 4:30 p.m. and a regular drive for Jones.

“I could see just on the horizon two lorries (trucks), one overtaking the other and I just know that stretch of road very well and they were coming to the point they should be coming back to one lane,” said Jones.

“There was no chance he was going to make it back in,” he said.

Jones was able to slide over to the right side shoulder safely and get out of the way.

“It is an every few week reality,” he said. “That’s why I bought a dash camera.”

A similar incident has happened two to three times just in the past month.
“It’s a reality of what happens every day on that road,” he said. “ A lot of these lorries are in a rush.”

Jones did contact the company of the semi-truck who then asked for the video footage of the incident.

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