Residents in TNRD electoral areas, five municipalities eligible for invasive plant program

Tackling invasive plants

Residents in five Thompson-Nicola Regional District municipalities now have access to tools and services offered through the regional district to help manage invasive plant species.

According to a statement from the TNRD, Merritt, Clearwater, Logan Lake, Clinton and Sun Peaks have formally joined the regional district’s invasive plant management program.

“Starting in the spring of 2022, residents within these municipalities are eligible to participate in the program services, which are designed to help landowners manage select invasive plans on their private land,” the TNRD statement said.

The program is also available for residents in TNRD’s electoral areas.

Program services include free loans of equipment such as sprayers, seeders and fertilizer spreaders.

Residents can also access rebates for invasive plant control that is administered by a certified TNRD contractor, and free consultations with an invasive plant specialist.

A herbicide-free option is also available, with residents able to access free insects for biological control.

According to the TNRD, all property owners can access free disposal of invasive plants at regional district solid waste facilities. Education and outreach programs are also available through the Thompson Nicola Invasive Plant Management Committee.

The TNRD said there are over 72 priority invasive plants — non-native species that can negatively impact animals, humans and ecosystems — currently identified in the region.

More information on the invasive plant program can be found on the TNRD website.


Firefighters still working to put out fire at Quaaout Lodge; Kukpi7 says community will rebuild

'We can get through this'

UPDATE: 3:02 p.m.

Firefighters are still working to control a fire that started in Quaaout Lodge Sunday morning, according to Little Shuswap Lake Indian Band Kukpi7 James Tomma.

Tomma told Castanet Kamloops firefighters from Skwlax Volunteer Fire Department and Chase Fire Rescue were called to the resort, which appears to have suffered heavy damage as a result of the blaze.

Tomma said the Little Shuswap Lake Indian Band will have more information in the coming days regarding the incident, but he said the community intends to rebuild.

“We did have an emergency meeting with our lodge employees and management. There's nothing that we can do about the fact that a major part of our lodge is gone. But as a community and everything, we're going to work through this, we're going to rebuild,” Tomma said.

He said the Quaaout Lodge was an “integral part” of the First Nations community and outlying communities.

“We're one of the largest employers in the area, so we’re not going to walk away. We can get through this,” Tomma said.

According to guests staying at the lodge, the fire started between 8:00 and 8:30 a.m., with everyone evacuated from the building. Videos and photos shared to social media show flames and a thick column of dark smoke rising from the building.

There is no official word yet on the cause of the fire.

Tomma said lodge staff have accounted for all guests and there have been no injuries as a result of the fire.

"At one time, there was a worry that there might have been two dogs left in there, but when they opened the door to go in, the puppies ran out. So we didn't even lose the puppies,” Tomma said.

Tomma said there were historic and cultural artifacts in the lodge, but to his knowledge they haven’t been destroyed.

The Grand Chief of the Union of B.C. Indian Chefs has expressed sadness over the fire.

In a social media post, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip said he loved the Quaaout Lodge, described on its website as the pride of the Little Shuswap Lake Indian Band.

“Great food! Indigenous menu! Many good memories. Totally sad day! Our hearts go out to the Adam’s Lake and the Secwepemc People,” the post said.

Frank Caputo, Conservative Member of Parliament for Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo, also expressed his sympathy on Twitter.

“This brings tears to my eyes,” Caputo said.

“Quaaout Lodge is such a beautiful place with amazing staff. I was there a few weeks ago. I hope everyone is safe.”

Members of the South Shuswap Chamber of Commerce took to Facebook on Sunday and said they are keeping the band in their thoughts.

“Our hearts go out to our friends at Quaaout Lodge and Talking Rock Golf and the Little Shuswap Indian Band for the devastating fire this morning,” the chamber of commerce said.

“Our thoughts are with you all.”

ORIGINAL: 10:13 a.m.

Emergency crews are tackling what appears to be a large fire at Quaaout Lodge and Spa, a resort located on Little Shuswap Lake near Chase.

Dan Thiessen, who said he was a guest at the lodge staying on the third floor, told Castanet News the fire started between 8 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. Sunday morning.

Thiessen said to his knowledge, everyone evacuated the building safely.

Videos and photos shared on social media show flames and a plume of dark grey smoke rising from the roof of the lodge.

Thiessen said as of about 10 a.m. Sunday, the front right half of the building is destroyed but firefighters appear to have the blaze under control.

Castanet has reached out to Chase Fire Rescue for more information.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

Mounties probe burglary at business on Victoria Street

Downtown business burgled

Police are working to determine what was stolen from a downtown business following a burglary last weekend.

Mounties said they were called to a business in the 700-block of Victoria Street just before 5 a.m. on Monday for a burglary alarm.

“Officers attended and observed damage to the front door and items, including change, scattered on the floor,” RCMP Const. Crystal Evelyn said in a news release.

“Items stolen are still under investigation.”

Anyone with information can call police at 250-828-3000 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.


Kamloops mental health and substance use professional receives award

Health professional awarded

A Kamloops-based mental health and substance use professional has received an award from the BC Centre on Substance Use for her work in education and training.

Amanda Lavigne was handed the Interdisciplinary Clinical Excellence Award during the centre’s annual Substance Use conference, held virtually over May 16 and 17.

“She has shown tremendous effort to improve knowledge and understanding of substance use and addiction, and seeks every opportunity to share this knowledge widely,” said a statement posted to the BC Centre on Substance Use website.

“She has led a nurse prescribers’ group in Interior Health and is recognized for her role in developing a supportive community of practice. …Amanda is granted this award in thanks for her unwavering support and advocacy of regulatory change.”

According to the BC Centre on Substance Use, the fourth annual conference drew 1,100 registrants, along with multiple conference sites with dozens of attendees hosted by drug user groups across the province.

RIH boss says staffing new patient care tower will 'take some time'

Will RIH tower be staffed?

The head of Royal Inland Hospital says it will "take some time” before the facility’s new patient care tower is adequately staffed, but she expects the state-of-the-art building to serve as a recruiting tool on its own.

The Phil and Jennie Gaglardi Tower is slated to welcome its first patients in the middle of July. The $417-million tower has been under construction at RIH since 2018.

Earlier this month, Kamloops Mayor Ken Christian, who also chairs the Thompson Regional Hospital District, said he was worried the facility “will be nothing more than bricks and mortar” without proper staffing.

RIH is in the midst of a staffing crisis. Interior Health officials have said they are doing all they can to recruit, but it will take time.

Castanet Kamloops asked Tracey Rannie, executive director of RIH, whether the tower would be adequately staffed when it opens.

“We do have staffing shortages, so we’ve done a lot of work as we move into the tower to change our rotations to align with what is needed in the tower,” she replied.

“The tower is an incredible investment in our community. Also, I would add, it’s a modernized facility — it’s absolutely beautiful — and that helps with our recruitment efforts.”

Rannie was again asked whether staffing would be adequate for the tower’s opening, slated for July 17.

“Well, we are in a staffing shortage,” she replied. “So we’re going to be working toward that and it’s going to take a while to recruit.”

Rannie said recruitment efforts are in full swing.

“There’s been a lot of work around recruitment and we’re going to continue to recruit,” she said.

“One thing is, Kamloops is a great community. It’s a beautiful region full of activities. We highlight this in recruitment efforts. We still have work to do. … It’s going to take some time to recruit folks.”

TteS, federal government had follow-up meeting to discuss healing centre, Kukpi7 says

Museum, lodge still on table

Kukpi7 Rosanne Casimir said she has had a follow-up meeting with the federal government in regards to a healing centre, elders’ lodge and museum for Tk’emlups te Secwepemc.

During his visit to Tk’emlups in October, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had promised to work together with TteS to establish the facilities, which were requested by the First Nations band.

In a press conference Wednesday, Casimir was asked if the federal government had made any progress following up on this promise.

“The federal government, I believe, is working on some steps to support our community and all those that have been impacted here from Kamloops Indian Residential School for that healing centre. I am going to be following up,” Casimir said.

“I did have a follow up meeting with him in regards to the ask that we had and the significance and the importance.”

Casimir said the healing centre, elders’ lodge and museum would be meaningful for the community, especially residential school survivors.

“All three of those we saw as something that was really extremely important for our community when we're looking at community perspectives towards healing,” Casimir said.

Casimir said TteS has many artifacts they want to be able to share in a museum. In October, she said there are artifacts currently held in a New York museum that are waiting to be returned to Tk’emlups.

According to Casimir, an elders lodge would enable the band to scare for its aging members on TteS land, while the healing centre would be for residential school and intergenerational survivors.

“We know that there's so much healing when it comes to all the traumas that so many have experienced from residential school,” Casimir said.

“We know that it's going to allow for a safe place and space to be able to reconcile the past and to be able to move forward in a good way.”

During his visit in October, Trudeau said the government is committed to working with TteS to address community needs.

“We will continue to work together on important issues, whether its the healing centre that this community has been asking for for a long time and certainly needs as a consequence of the discovery of the unmarked graves, or an elders' lodge, or designation of historic sites,” Trudeau said.

He said the government would also move forward to invest in a museum in order to commemorate and support the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc language and culture.

“These are all actions that we remain committed to, and this is the conversation we had today,” Trudeau said.

Kamloops RCMP locate missing boy

Missing boy found safe

Kamloops RCMP have located the missing youth safe and sound.

ORIGINAL: 5 p.m.

The Kamloops RCMP are asking for assistance from the public to help find a missing 17-year-old boy.

The youth has medical needs and he requires medications to remain healthy.

He was reported missing by his family after walking away from his home and was last seen in the 100 block of Schreiner St. in Kamloops on Friday at around 6 p.m.

Kamloops Voters Society launching survey on resident safety, security

Survey on safety, security

The Kamloops Voters Society is launching a survey to gauge residents’ experiences with safety and security in the city.

In a statement, KVS said it is interested in collecting insights of Kamloops residents around safety, and noted the survey will also ask questions about interactions with street-entrenched people.

The survey can be accessed through the KVS website or Facebook page, and will be open until 5 p.m. on May 25.

Mock tickets to be issued as bylaw diverting cardboard from landfills phased in

Cardboard bylaw phased in

A Thompson-Nicola Regional District bylaw approved last year to divert recyclable cardboard from landfills is being phased in.

According to a statement from the TNRD, as of next month, staff will issue mock tickets for loads of waste brought to landfills which contain over 10 per cent cardboard — the maximum allowable threshold.

The TNRD said the bylaw is being phased in at all solid waste disposal facilities in the regional district and the CIty of Kamloops.

Adriana Mailloux, manager of solid waste and recycling for the TNRD, said staff continue to educate customers in the industrial, commercial and institutional sectors, which are the focus of the bylaw.

“We have worked directly with stakeholders in developing this bylaw, which will help reduce the amount of materials going into landfills that can easily be recycled,” Mailloux said in a statement.

She said cardboard is the only recyclable material currently included in the bylaw.

According to the TNRD, staff have been visiting solid waste facilities throughout the regional district during April and May to educate customers about the bylaw.

Mock ticketing will start in June and run until August. Those bringing in refuse loads containing more than the allowable threshold of cardboard could receive a fine as of September.

“Enforcement will focus on large commercial and municipal loads, and fines will only be issued by TNRD staff and bylaw officers,” the TNRD statement said.

According to the TNRD, the regional district's current cardboard disposal rate is 620 kilograms per capita, higher than the provincial average of 500 kilograms.

When the bylaw was passed last June, TNRD said fines will be 50 per cent of the disposal fee for the load containing cardboard, meaning if a load costs $80 in disposal fees, the fine would be an additional $40.

According to the TNRD, enforcement will take place by designated inspectors at landfills and transfer stations, and they will not be inspecting bins on curbs or in back alleys. Individual haulers are responsible for controlling what is in their loads.

Police seize knives, fake handgun after cyclist stopped while riding with billy club: RCMP

Weapons seized from cyclist

Knives and an imitation handgun were seized from a man last weekend after he was stopped by Mounties while riding a bike with a billy club in his hands, police say.

According to an RCMP news release, a constable on patrol near Northhills Centre spotted the man at about 9 p.m. on May 13 and activated his police lights.

“The man stopped, then allegedly attempted to flee, but the officer was able to stop and arrest him for possessing a weapon for dangerous purposes,” RCMP Const. Crystal Evelyn said in the release.

Evelyn said a subsequent search turned up a large concealed knife, a “scalpel-style knife” and an imitation firearm.

The items were seized for destruction and the man was released without charges.

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