Salmon Arm  

Columbia Shuswap Regional District says Mara Lake dock owners' rail trail claims blatantly false

Dock claims 'laughable'

A group of Mara Lake property owners is claiming the Columbia Shuswap Regional District has no plans to build a public rail trail along the lake and instead is secretly planning a multimillion "commuter train mega-project."

The CSRD, meanwhile, says the claims are laughable and untrue.

A press release from the BC Dock Owners Coalition alleges that communities from Sicamous to Armstrong have been "misled by (the) promise of a walking trail that will instead see Mara Lake industrialized for transit purposes."

The group claims that despite months of promoting the Shuswap North Okanagan Rail Trail, the district plans instead to rebuild the old CP railway along the western shore of Mara Lake.

For its proof, the coalition offers the revised licence and upland consent agreement the district is asking landowners across the right of way from the lake to sign.

The document is an updated version of the previous agreement between landowners and CPR, which granted them access across the rail corridor to their docks.

Part of the document states: "The licensee acknowledges that the licence area is situated within the owner's lands, a portion of which is used to actively operate a public trail, and which the owner may in the future, utilize as part of a transportation corridor (such as for commuter rail) and that the owner's ability to safely and efficiently operate same is paramount."

The CSRD, Regional District of North Okanagan, and Splatsin te Secwépemc are the current owners of the corridor, which was purchased with the intent of building the rail trail.

CSRD chief administrative officer Charles Hamilton says he was "disappointed" to see the dock owners' latest tactic.

He called the allegations "blatant false rumours with the aim of deceiving the public."

Hamilton said the group's objective would appear to be "achieving privatization of public lands for their own interest and enhancing their property values."

He noted while the group has enlisted a law firm in its fight, no lawsuit has been launched.

Its actions would appear at this point to be sabre rattling.

As to the group's claims the consent agreement points to future construction of a rail line, he responded: "absolutely not."

The coalition fears the 22 property owners would be cut off from their water access, lowering property values.

It also blasts rail trail construction costs that have soared from a planned $13 million to nearly $23 million.

"These expenditures are likely driven by a level of engineering not necessary for a simple hiking area, but one which would make sense for an operational railway carrying railcars and people," it alleges.

The rail trail will run from Sicamous to Armstrong when complete. Funding is ongoing for the first section from Sicamous to Mara. Its costs have risen due to erosion along the lake and the need for a highway crossing closer to Armstrong.

"This is no longer just a Mara Lake problem. It's a Shuswap problem and a North Okanagan problem," the coalition alleges.

"This is getting ridiculous," Hamilton responded. "It would be funny if it wasn't so disappointing."


Grandmother from Malakwa competes on Food Network's 'The Big Bake: Holiday'

Gramma Bear bakes big

A grandma from Malakwa had the time of her life on a Food Network baking show with $10,000 up for grabs.

Janet Letendre, owner of Gramma Bears Cakery, took her talents to the competition show The Big Bake: Holiday Season 2.

Her team, Triple Treats, consisted of her friend Karen Huntley and her cousin Chrissy Cummings, who are both bakers and cake decorators.

The episode was filmed in February in Toronto.

During the competition, teams were given five hours to design, bake and decorate a grand-scale cake creation based on a holiday theme.

In Letendre’s episode, titled At Home with Santa, their theme was ‘what would Santa and Ms. Claus do on their day off?’

Team Triple Treats created a hot tub party themed cake that stood taller than five feet.

Letendre describes the flavour as hot chocolate, with whipped caramel, butter-fried hazelnuts, topped with marshmallow icing and brushed with Irish cream.

Despite the stressful environment of being in a baking competition, Letendre says the team had an incredible time.

“There’s a lot of stress. Things don’t always go right and it’s not your kitchen, you have to just go with it,” says Letendre.

“You’re just laughing so hard the whole time, there’s nothing else you can do.”

At one point, host Eddie Jackson came over when Letendre said “it’s a hot tub party, and the judges are invited’ and then began dancing with the team.

Letendre also described the sweet moment her grandchild saw her on TV.

“My grandbaby is watching and says ‘grandma TV! Grandma TV!’ and suddenly it clicked for him, and I came over and said “do you recognize grandma on TV?” she recalled.

Letendre said her interest in baking piqued when she would help her mother bake as a child.

“My mom was blind, and at the age of six I was reading from the Blue Ribbon Cook Book, telling my mom what to put in – we baked a lot,” says Letendre.

“I still have that cook book.”

This is Letendre's second go at a baking competition. Two years ago, she was chosen to compete on the Food Network US - Holiday Baking Championship in Los Angeles.

The episode At Home with Santa can be found on STACKTV with Amazon Prime video channels, or with the Global TV app.

Single lane alternating traffic on Highway 1 near Sorrento due to rocks on road

Rocks cover highway

UPDATE: 4:21 p.m.

Highway 1 between Little River Road and Lindburg Road has been reduced to single lane alternating traffic.

ORIGINAL 3:30 p.m.

Rocks are covering the Trans-Canada Highway near Sorrento.

DriveBC reports rocks on the road between Little River Road and Lindburg Road, about 13 kilometres east of Chase.

A lane closure is in effect while an assessment is in progress, and delays are to be expected.

DriveBC is advising motorists to watch for traffic control.

Photos of the incident shared on social media show a mix of small and larger material from a rock face spread across both lanes.


North Okanagan-Shuswap to open classrooms to evacuated students

Classes open for evacuees

The North Okanagan-Shuswap School District is opening its classrooms to evacuated students from flood zones in the Interior.

Students displaced by flooding and staying in the district's catchment area will be able to attend classes along with local students.

“We want to help families who have been displaced to our area with any educational support we can offer during this difficult time,” said Supt. of Schools Donna Kriger.

“Hopefully, this will help restore a little normality as well as help keep the children engaged and learning.”

Anyone interested can contact assistant Supt. Ryan Brennan at 250-804-7841 or email [email protected].

Last week, Deputy Minister of Education Scott MacDonald met with Nicola-Similkameen Supt. Steve McNiven and neighbouring districts, including Kamloops, Central Okanagan, and North Okanagan-Shuswap about supporting the education of students displaced by flooding in the Merritt area.

A provincial cross-ministry team will check in regularly with the districts to ensure resources and services are mobilized to meet the needs of staff and families.

Salmon Arm RCMP return stolen trailer and dirtbike before owner even knew they were gone

Police busy with thieves

Salmon Arm RCMP were kept busy over the past week.

Sgt. Scott West says notable incidents included an attempted theft from sea cans on 40th Street SE, where the thieves were scared off when alarms sounded.

A thief was caught after breaking into a garage on the 800 block of Salmon River Road and taking a wood stove and other property.

West says an unknown culprit broke into a business near 30th Street NE and stole liquor on Monday. The suspect was captured on security video, fleeing on foot. Police are examining evidence found at the scene in hopes of identifying the suspect.

In another event late last week, a horse trailer with licence plate WLD03N was stolen from 15th Avenue SW. If anyone sees the trailer they are asked to call police.

On Sunday, a stolen Jeep Liberty SUV was located in the Sandy Point Road area. With the Jeep was a cargo trailer that contained a KTM motorcycle. The two vehicles and trailer were recovered.

The owner, who lives in Blind Bay, was appreciative of the recovery of his trailer and motorcycle before he even knew they were gone, says West.

North Okanagan-Shuswap School District fined $1,700 for environmental infractions

District fined over septic

A Shuswap elementary school was fined a total of $1,700 for environmental infractions.

Two fines, of $800 and $900 were issued to Sorrento Elementary for failure to comply with an effluent permit.

North Okanagan-Shuswap School District spokesperson Alice Hucul says: "The two fines are to do with the monitoring of the septic system at Sorrento Elementary."

The school's septic system is on a permit that specifies that monthly dip tests must be done, as well as groundwater elevation tests, and the amount of effluent flow must not exceed a specified level.

"Over the years, the school has typically reached no more than 25 per cent of this flow level," says Hucul.

SD 83 was fined $800 for not sending an annual report and having an unapproved method of measuring effluent flow, and $900 for failing to take the required amount of dip tests throughout the year.

District operations staff are working with Ministry of Environment to be in compliance with the terms of the permit, Hucul added.

The penalties were listed on the provincial government environmental compliance report web page.

The site states the district was issued two administrative penalties as it "failed to conduct sampling and monitoring as required by the permit on numerous occasions between 2018 and 2021."

Shuswap Trail Alliance launches new and improved website

New trail website

Shuswap Trails are now a little easier to navigate online.

The Shuswap Trail Alliance (STA) has launched their new and improved website. The STA used to have two websites, one for the organization and one for trail information and maps, there is now one site that covers it all.

The site features a trails database, along with information about the organization and links to many resources.

“Tourists and residents alike head to the Shuswap Trails website to find access information and to download trail maps”, said Executive Director Jen Bellhouse, “Trail users will find the new trails database easier to use and it comes with a great new search option”.

The website is a part of the wider Shuswap Tourism toolbox and the online point source for trails in the region, which is part of the Shuswap Tourism strategy. The City of Salmon Arm funded the website.

“Our new website really goes to show you what can happen when folks work together, and we are so incredibly grateful for the funding that we received for this project,” said Bellhouse.

Kevin Flynn voted to third term as chair of Columbia Shuswap Regional District

Flynn back as CSRD head

Kevin Flynn will remain chair of the Columbia Shuswap Regional District for a third year.

The CSRD director and Salmon Arm councillor was returned to the position in a Nov. 18 board vote.

Flynn is a long-serving member of the board and expressed his "deep attachment" to the regional work of the CSRD, in addition to his role as a municipal councillor.

Electoral Area F (North Shuswap) director Jay Simpson was elected vice-chair.

The CSRD says it continues to welcome the public to board meetings, but there is limited space due to COVID-19 restrictions.

It also offers live streaming of meetings on Zoom, recordings of which are made available on the CSRD website following the meeting.

Columbia Shuswap Regional District to implement mandatory vaccination policy

CSRD mandates vaccine

Columbia Shuswap Regional District directors have voted unanimously to implement a mandatory vaccination policy for the organization.

The policy applies to all elected officials, CSRD employees, paid on-call volunteer firefighters, contractors working in indoor spaces, and emergency management volunteers.

The CSRD has been working with legal counsel and consulted with other local governments and union representatives in developing the policy, which will require proof of full vaccination as of Jan. 3.

Accommodations for legitimate medical reasons, as well as protected grounds under the BC Human Rights Code, are recognized in the policy and will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

“If someone asks for an accommodation, we are looking to deal with them in good faith,” said chief administrative officer Charles Hamilton. “We are not in the business of putting people on leave, but it is a balancing act as to how we best look after the health and safety of everyone.”

Policy provisions do not mandate discipline or termination of employment for non-compliance with the policy, except in the case of an employee who falsifies information regarding their vaccination status.

For the purposes of the policy, “fully vaccinated against COVID-19” means following all required Health Canada COVID-19 vaccine protocols. If additional doses become required, CSRD personnel will be expected to comply with those additional measures.

Any new personnel will be required to show proof of vaccination before starting work.

Emergency Support Services in Salmon Arm helps hundreds of evacuees from Merritt

Over 500 families assisted

The Shuswap Emergency Program has helped hundreds of flood evacuees from Merritt and elsewhere.

Emergency Support Service staff and volunteers have assisted more than 500 families in providing basic needs including accommodation, food and some clothing and other incidentals.

The reception centre remains active at the Prestige Harbourfront Resort, located at 251 Harbourfront Drive NE in Salmon Arm, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily until further notice.

Any evacuees staying with family or friends are required to check in with their nearest reception centre.

Due to a shortage of accommodations allowing pets, the Shuswap Branch of the SPCA is providing assistance by housing animals.

Citizens can help by donating canned dog food, crates and clean blankets for the SPCA. Label items “SPCA Donation” and drop off at the reception centre.

SEP activated a Level 1 Emergency Operations Centre to monitor the situation and provide support where needed.

The emergency program says the Shuswap saw only minor incidents from the storm, including a small area of rock fall near Three Valley Gap and some issues with mud and water on Highway 97A south of Sicamous.

Sand and sandbags were made available to affected residents south of Sicamous.

“I think everyone in our regional district can be very thankful we have been relatively unscathed compared to so many of our neighbouring municipalities and regional districts,” said Columbia Shuswap Regional District chair Kevin Flynn.

“We now need to be supportive neighbours.”

There has been some panic buying of goods from local stores due to the highway closures. Information provided to SEP indicates there should only be short-term shortages, as supplies are being redirected from Alberta.

“I’m asking all residents to please be good neighbours so we can get through this together. There’s no other way to get through it,” says Flynn.

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