Hundreds of poles replaced

BC Hydro crews are replacing 223 wooden power poles in Vernon as part of a maintenance program that is replacing 8,000 across B.C. as part of its ongoing maintenance program.

The average lifespan of a wooden power pole is 40-50 years, with many lasting much longer.

More than 10 per cent of BC Hydro’s poles are more than 50 years old. One of the oldest utility poles in the province is located in the Southern Interior and has been in operation since 1931 – eight years before the Second World War began.

Adverse weather, insects and wildlife all contribute to the deterioration of the poles over time, which results in them needing to be replaced.

To ensure the safety of crews and the public, BC Hydro may need to disconnect power when replacing aging power poles. Crews will notify customers in-person, by mail or phone about the scheduled outages for maintenance.

BC Hydro has about 900,000 wooden poles that hold more than 58,000 kilometres of overhead distribution lines and 278,000 overhead transformers across the province. Replacing power poles is one of the investments BC Hydro is making to its aging infrastructure to improve the safety and reliability of the electricity system.


Homes for the homeless

It has been a much-needed facility for a long time and the My Place apartments officially opened Thursday.

Located at 3500 27th Ave., the four-storey modular apartment building has 52 units, with three dedicated to people with disabilities.

Each unit is private with a washroom and kitchenette.

The ground floor includes a commercial-sized kitchen, common dining area, laundry facilities and support-service rooms.

Randene Wejr, co-executive director of Turning Collaborative Society, said the building is expected to be full by July 1.

The society will operate the building and provide residents with meal programs, life and employment skills training and access to health and wellness support services.

"A safe home is a critical foundation for recovery, while support services are the building blocks that give strength, purpose and hope so people experiencing homelessness can make a new start," said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. "The City of Vernon has shown leadership by leaning in to the challenges and working with us to help us build these life-changing homes for people."

Robinson said the province is not just creating places for people to live, but is helping them deal with mental health and addiction issues that may be holding them back.

“We are still the only province in the entire nation that has a minister responsible for mental health and addiction,” said Robinson, adding having a home is a very important step in recovery.

“We recognize that it certainly contributes when you're homeless, it certainly contributes to your mental well being.”

Wejr said My Place will have 24-hour staffing as well as mental health and addiction programs.

She said My Place may not be the final stop for many residents who will integrate back into mainstream society, freeing up apartments to help others in need.

Silver Creek bike trail a go

Plans for a 3.65-km bike trail linking the Silver Creek Community Hall, library and elementary school with the Silver Creek Park are gearing up for construction, the district announced in a press release on Thursday.

At the May 16 Regular Board Meeting, Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) Directors approved entering into an agreement with Mountain Side Earthworks Ltd. for the construction of the Salmon River Parallel Trail adjacent to Salmon River Road. The total cost is not to exceed $848,000 plus taxes.

"The project is being funded through a $785,000 grant from BikeBC, with the Board voting to approve a $250,000 expenditure from the Electoral Area D Community Works Fund to cover the remaining costs," CSRD said.

"The bike trail will be a separated, asphalt trail to run within the road right-of-way between Haines Road and the Silver Creek Park on the east side of Salmon River Road."

The development of a pedestrian bridge over the Salmon River is part of the project, CSRD added. The tender for the bridge portion of the project was already awarded to Landmark Solutions Ltd.

Construction on the project is set to begin in September.


RCMP ready to patrol lakes

The Vernon North Okanagan RCMP boat and its officers are gearing up for a busy season on Okanagan waterways. 

RCMP vessels will be on patrol throughout the summer and the RCMP is reminding the boating public to be prepared. 

Here are a few safety tips:

  • If you cannot swim, stay out of the water and seek the shade instead.
  • Wear a personal flotation device. Tragedy can strike in an instant. Don’t assume that you will have time to put on a lifejacket.
  • Watch your speed. Don’t race to the lake and don’t race on the lake. Speed is a major contributor to incidents on the roadways and on the water.
  • Do not put your feet in fast moving water that is deeper than the length of your arm. If a foot becomes entrapped by rocky bottom in deep water, the current will eventually push the swimmer over face first into the water.
  • If you are going to a less-travelled area, let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return.
  • Always remember that alcohol and water don’t mix. Impaired driving laws are the same for operating a boat as they are for a vehicle.

"Our officers will be out on the vessels conducting routine patrols and engaging with boaters conducting safety checks," said Const. Kelly Brett. "Every power-driven boat requires the operator to hold a valid pleasure craft operator’s license. Failing to provide a valid license could result in the operator being directed to shore and ticketed under the Small Vessel Regulations (SVR)."

Impaired driving will also be on the officers top priority list this summer, Brett added. 

"Drinking and boating accounts for approximately 40 per cent of boating-related fatalities on Canadian waterways," Brett said.

For more information on safe boating visit the Canadian Safe Boating Council website

Have fun, but stay safe

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP will be hitting local lakes to make sure people are being safe while having fun.

RCMP vessels will be on patrol throughout the summer and the Vernon North Okanagan RCMP is reminding the boating public to be prepared while on area lakes.

“With the current warm weather, this is the perfect opportunity to ensure you are prepared for taking to the water,” said Const. Kelly Brett.

“Our officers will be out on the vessels conducting routine patrols and engaging with boaters conducting safety checks. Every power-driven boat requires the operator to hold a valid pleasure craft operator’s license. Failing to provide a valid license could result in the operator being directed to shore and ticketed under the Small Vessel Regulations (SVR)”
Impaired driving will also be on the officers top priority list this summer.

Drinking and boating accounts for approximately 40 per cent of boating-related fatalities on Canadian waterways.
“Whether or not your craft is motorized, you can be charged with impaired operation of a vessel under the Criminal Code of Canada if your blood alcohol level exceeds the .08 threshold,” said Brett. “In the eyes of the law, impaired boating, like impaired operation of a motor vehicle, is a criminal offence that can have repercussions far beyond the loss of your boating privileges.”

More information on boating safety can be found online.

Joly touts tourism plan

John K. White

Federal Tourism Minister Melanie Joly told Vernon and area Chamber of Commerce members at a roundtable breakfast meeting in Armstrong Thursday morning that the recently unveiled tourism strategy will finally give the sector a seat at the adult table.

"My biggest job coming into this new portfolio was to make sure I would defend the 1.8 million people working in the sector and build the credibility of tourism in the eyes of people working in Ottawa," Joly said.

"We need to work on the supply, on what international tourists can actually do when they are in Canada. How can we ultimately make sure that we have new tourism experiences, new things to offer international visitors?" 

Joly pointed out that the biggest issue in the tourism sector is international tourists mainly go to the three big cities in Canada.

"Particularly, they come during the summer time. Our idea is to build a sustainable industry, and to do that we need to have a year-long season. We need to invest in winter and shoulder seasons. We also need to make sure that people who come to our three big cities, afterwards, go to our different regions," Joly said.

She also talked about the importance of supporting indigenous communities and their efforts to attract tourism.

"There is 17 per cent growth in indigenous tourism in Canada. How can we help strategic planning in the region?" Joly asked rhetorically.

Joly said a growing percentage of international tourists are looking to experience authentic indigenous culture when visiting Canada. After relaying the work being done to enhance indigenous communities' ability to tell their stories to visitors through funding and training, Joly received a lengthy applause break from chamber members.

"Tourism is increasingly an important component of the local economic fabric, and the federal strategy may create opportunities for us through strategic planning in rural areas, food tourism, attracting more visitors during the shoulder seasons and indigenous tourism," added Deb White, Greater Vernon Chamber director.

An infusion of federal funding and a renewed national focus on tourism was welcome news to the Armstrong Spallumcheen and Greater Vernon chambers of commerce.

During the question and answer session, several issues arose, including funding for the rail trail from Armstrong to Sicamous, the need for additional resources for indigenous tourism, support for fairs, affordable housing for tourism workers in local communities and the need to keep the backcountry open while protecting caribou.

About 90 people attended the roundtable, including representatives from the Splatsin and North Okanagan-Shuswap local governments as well as MP Mel Arnold and MLA Eric Foster.       

Alleged abusers in court

A North Okanagan woman and her daughter facing numerous charges of alleged animal neglect will be in a Vernon courtroom next month.

Carla Jean Christman and her daughter Chelsea Beluse-Christman are facing charges in relation to numerous animals seized from a farm on Irish Creek Road north of Vernon.

Among the charges for both women are cause unnecessary pain/suffering to an animal and owner failing to provide necessaries for animal.

Christman and Beluse-Christman were scheduled to appear in a Vernon courtroom Thursday for a consult counsel appearance, but the matter was put over until June 5 at 9 a.m.

The property has been involved in controversy over the care of their horses in the past.

Animal abuse at the location dates back to 2009, when Carla Christman was arrested and more than 70 animals were seized.
BC SPCA constables seized 28 thin and emaciated horses with untreated injuries on Christman’s property in December 2009. Investigators also discovered dozens of dogs and four cats inside an unventilated area that was so thick with the stench of ammonia and feces that officers gagged upon entry.

In late March 2019, 42 horses, four dogs and four hogs were removed from the property.

“All the animals met the definition of being in distress, pursuant to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act,” said SPCA senior officer Eileen Drever.

The home on the property was destroyed by a fire on March 15, but no animals were hurt in the blaze.

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