Salmon Arm  

Landslide, flooding fears

Concerns in the Shuswap over the possibility of further floods or landslides are heading to Victoria.

Politicians attending the Southern Interior Local Government Association (SILGA) conference in Kamloops have supported a resolution calling on the province to ensure logging companies hold comprehensive public consultations in communities that could be affected.

The resolution was put forward by the Columbia Shuswap Regional District.

There are worries logging the steep slopes in some areas have or could “impact water sources and slope stability,” said Rhona Martin, chairperson of the CSRD board. “Since I've been the representative, there have been two very significant torrents at Swansea Point.”

Residents of the community, which sits south of Sicamous along Mara Lake, “are very, very concerned,” Martin said, adding there were similar worries at Silver Creek, between Salmon Arm and Falkland.

Last Saturday night, 10 Silver Creek properties were evacuated “due to an immediate danger to life safety as a result of groundwater and slope instability,” according to a regional district release. The order has since been lifted.

At a recent meeting, CSRD directors recommended to Tolko and the Ministry of Forests that a moratorium be placed on future logging activity in the Hummingbird Creek and Mara Creek basin due to the history of large debris flows in the area.

It also called on Tolko Industries to hold public engagement meetings to provide information and answer questions regarding forest stewardship plan amendments.

"I don't think anybody around our board table is opposed to logging but there should be consultations with communities that may be impacted," Martin said. 


Washout destroys road

A torrent of water has completely washed out Eagle Bay Road, on Shuswap Lake.

The Shuswap Emergency Program has activated an Emergency Operations Centre after the road was completely wiped out, leaving a gaping break in the road metres wide and deep.

The washout happened at 6111 Eagle Bay Rd. 

Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure are on scene and are evaluating the incident, according to the Columbia Shuswap Regional District.

The road is closed until further notice.

A comfort centre is set up at Eagle Bay Community Hall, located at 4326 Eagle Bay Rd. to support residents affected by the incident.

Emergency Support Services personnel will be on hand to provide information to residents on the current status of the incident and relay updated information from the Emergency Operations Centre as it becomes available.

Stabbing taken seriously

Officials with the North Okanagan-Shuswap School District are investigating a stabbing on a school bus two weeks ago.

“A young student brought a pocketknife on the school bus and stabbed at another student. There were no injuries as a result of this incident,” stressed Alice Hucul, district spokesperson.

The incident took place on April 12th and is "being fully investigated,” she said.

Hucul said the district has a policy to deal with weapons infractions, including a hearing involving a youth and family counsellor or school counsellor and possibly inter-agency professionals such as social workers, the RCMP and others.

“The hearing is used to identify interventions and supports that are needed and appropriate. It may involve restitution and further actions for all impacted. Conditions of return to school are identified.”

Hucul said: “All incidents are taken seriously. The safety of our students is always our top priority. The school district is committed to providing a safe learning environment for our students.”

Hucul did not identify the school involved in the matter.


Landslides causing concern

Provincial candidates in the Shuswap district have been talking about landslides and not the political kind.

During Tuesday night's debate, candidates were questioned about clear cut logging and whether it should be banned above residential developments.

Tolko Industries is proposing to log above the Swansea Point area east of Sicamous, which has seen landslides in the past destroy homes and properties. As well, a section of Highway 97a washed out in 2012.

Liberal candidate Greg Kyllo said there wouldn’t be any logging without a full watershed study.

“Our government spent over $3 million to replace the culvert on Hummingbird Creek with a bridge and bank stabilization to address the rapid flow concerns.”

But the NDP’s Sylvia Lindgren wasn't so sure, calling for regulations requiring companies to set aside money for compensation in case something happens.

Lindgren also called for a moratorium on clear cutting on steep slopes near residential areas.

“We need to be using the best scientific methods possible to determine if it’s safe,” she said.

The Columbia Shuswap Regional District board appears to agree.

At a recent meeting, directors recommended to Tolko and the Ministry of Forests that a moratorium be placed on future logging activity in the Hummingbird Creek and Mara Creek basin due to the history of large debris flows in the area.

It also called on Tolko Industries to hold public engagement meetings to provide information and answer questions regarding forest stewardship plan amendments.

During Tuesday's debate, the Green Party's Kevin Babcock said: “I work in a plywood plant and these companies always put safety first, so it should be the same when it comes to logging practises.”

Libertarian Kyle McCormack was applauded when he insisted that “if a corporation destroys your home you should have recourse to go after them.”

A statement from Tolko indicated planning of any new road building or logging activity could take a year or more and will only move ahead in a safe and sustainable manner. 

Shuswap candidates spar

The issues of health care and the economy dominated an all-candidates debate in Enderby Tuesday, as the four candidates vying for the job of Shuswap MLA  jockeyed for position ahead of the May 9th provincial vote.

Incumbent MLA Liberal Greg Kyllo pushed the government’s record on the economy and, specifically, the $267 million invested in the riding over the past four years, noting new daycare and seniors housing spaces in the city.

“We have created 220,000 new jobs in the past 4 years, have the lowest unemployment rate since the 1970’s and the only triple A credit rating of any province in Canada,” Kyllo told the crowd of 50 area residents.

NDP candidate Sylvia Lindgren fired back that while the province may have built new facilities there are no funds for equipment and personnel.

“I question whether our MLA has been effective. Have we received value for the money spent?” Lindgren asked.

Green party candidate Kevin Babcock said the way forward for B.C. was to stop propping up old industries and invest in new technology especially in the energy sector.

Libertarian newcomer Kyle McCormack explained that his party is all about individual property rights and less government.

“We need to get rid of all these special interest tax credits and implement a lower flat tax,” McCormack said. Questions at the Enderby Chamber of Commerce-sponsored all candidates forum ranged from the opiate crisis to the shape of local roads.

One of the more heated exchanges came over the Site C dam project, with Kyllo defending it as being forward thinking to meet B.C.’s energy needs, noting it will be 700 per cent more efficient than the Bennett Dam with a smaller footprint.

Babcock said some of the best farmland in the province would be flooded and the money would be better spent on new energy technology like wind power.

Lindgren called the dam project  a billion dollar albatross that will take forever to hit carbon neutral status, while McCormack objected on the principle of private land rights and long time residents being forced off their property to make way for the dam.

This was the fifth of six Shuswap riding election forums, with the final tilt at the Sorrento Hall on April 27th.

Evacuation order lifted

UPDATE: 5:12 p.m.

An evacuation order for 10 Silver Creek properties has been lifted following a geotechnical survey of the area.

"The Ministry of Forests, Land and (Natural) Resource Operations in collaboration with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure have collaborated to bring in some heavy equipment and redirect the groundwater overland drainage into the natural drainage," said emergency operations centre director Darcy Mooney.

"That has enabled us, under the advisement of the ministry, to remove the evacuation order for all of the 10 affected properties."

Those property owners, according to Mooney, will likely be back in their homes by 6 p.m., but it's not quite over for them yet.

Mooney says the property owners have been asked to have a look at their properties to make sure no sandbags are required.

Sandbags have been provided to the local firehall for any nearby property owners who may need them.

UPDATE: 2:06 p.m.

A crew from the Transportation Ministry is working along the shoulder of Salmon River Road in the Silver Creek area in order to ensure the overland flow of ground water is diverted into ditches.

Flaggers are on at the scene and driving is down to single lane, alternating traffic. Work is expected to be completed later this afternoon.

Meanwhile, geotechnicians have completed an overfly of the area where people living in ten residences along the road were evacuated last night, said Darcy Mooney, operations manager with the Columbia Shuswap Regional District.

However the two experts are now inspecting the area on foot, closer to the structures, Mooney said.

The evacuation order remains in effect.

–with files from Kate Bouey

UPDATE: 10 a.m.

Two experts were viewing an evacuation zone in the Silver Creek area on Sunday morning.

The geotechnicians, one from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources and the other from an independent firm, were surveying the waterlogged land from a helicopter, said Darcy Mooney, operations manager with the Columbia Shuswap Regional District.

Mooney said most of the residents from the affected homes were staying in local hotels.

An update is expected by mid afternoon.  

A geotechnical assessment will be conducted Sunday after 10 homes in the Silver Creek area near Salmon Arm were evacuated Saturday night.

The Columbia Shuswap Regional District issued the evacuation order “due to an immediate danger to life safety as a result of groundwater and slope instability.”

Members of the RCMP were on hand to ensure residents followed the order and left the area. They remain on the scene.

The evacuation order is in effect for the 10 properties in the Silver Creek area:

  • 1605, 1615, 1618, 1626, 1629, 1635, 1648, 1652, 1655 and 1656 Salmon River Road

Residents were told to leave their homes, taking critical items only if they were immediately available and pets in kennels or on leash.

Emergency Support Services set up a reception centre at the Prestige Harbourfront Resort.

Members of the public have been advised to remain away from the area under the evacuation order. 

Election talk in Shuswap

The Shuswap district's three provincial candidates will be on the carpet Monday at an all-candidates forum hosted by the Salmon Arm Chamber of Commerce.

The forum takes place at the SASCU Recreation Centre auditorium at 2550 10th Avenue NE, on Apr. 24 from 6-8:30 p.m.

Questions will be presented to Liberal Greg Kyllo, the NDP's Sylvia Lindgren and the Green Party's Kevin Babcock.

“We are taking our cues from the public,” said Corryn Grayston, the chamber's general manager. “We've had a fairly healthy number of questions through our website.”

The questions, submitted by members of the public, will be reviewed by a task force before being put before the candidates.

Grayston said there are questions on job creation, gaps in skills and labour and the environment. 

Fishermen lucky to be alive

Three men are lucky to be alive after their boat was swamped while fishing on Shuswap Lake Sunday.

RCMP Cpl. Dan Moskaluk said at around noon, police received a report that three adult men had to be rescued from the big lake.

“It was reported that the three men were fishing in a 12-foot aluminum boat off the shores of Shuswap Lake in Sicamous, when their boat became swamped. The three men ended up in the frigid waters of Shuswap Lake,” said Moskaluk.

“It was their good fortune that a couple was also boating nearby and heard their cries for help. The couple was able to follow the voices and locate the three males who were hanging onto the aluminum boat. The couple sprang into action and brought the hypothermic males onto their boat and transported them back to Sicamous where BC Ambulance personnel were waiting.”

The men were treated for moderate hypothermia and released from Shuswap Regional Hospital.

“On this particular day these individuals were very fortunate to have been rescued under such dire circumstances,” said Moskaluk. “These males were also wearing life jackets when they ran into trouble. This incident is a strong reminder of how important it is to practice safe boating and always be prepared for the worst possible scenario whether you are the rescuee or the rescuer.”

Moskaluk said all three men are doing well and have expressed their gratitude toward their rescuers, the Czerniaks.

Lost women found in woods

RCMP remind people to use caution in the backcountry after two women went missing for a short time in the Shuswap.

Cpl. Scott Linklater said Chase RCMP received a report of two lost women near Adam’s Lake Provincial Park about 8:45 p.m. Sunday.

“Two 21-year-old females went with a group of people for a drive into the logging roads west of the park,” said Linklater. “After a period of time, the two girls exited the vehicle and were subsequently left behind by the group. When the group returned to the park, friends of the girls became concerned for their safety and called police.”

“Police located one girl who had separated from her friend. A local resident, who hearing of the lost girls assisted in the search, located the second female,” said Linklater.

“If you are lost, remain as a group and do not separate from others, this will increase the ease in locating you and enhance your safety," he added.

Trucker crashes to avoid car

The driver of a big rig decided it was better to hit the ditch than a car.

Just after 5 p.m. on Monday, Chase RCMP received a report of a tractor trailer rolled over in the ditch on the Trans-Canada Highway, near Francois Road in Lee Creek.

Cpl. Scott Linklater said an eastbound car had come to a stop, waiting to turn left.

“The eastbound truck, unable to stop in time, attempted to avoid hitting the car by driving onto the shoulder. The trailer entered the ditch, rolling onto its side, causing the tractor unit to roll as well,” said Linklater.

The driver was treated at the scene for minor injuries.

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