Kimberley Year in Review, Part II

A look back at April, May and June 2016 in Kimberley

One and all were relieved when two-year old Isaac Leuenberger was found safe after going missing at Premier Lake.

April

After a great deal of deliberation, Kimberley City Council decided that the best use of the vacant lot on Wallinger Avenue downtown (former Esso station) would be best used as a Veterans Memorial Park, as proposed by Military Ames. The City committed $25,000 to the project and Military Ames also applied to Veterans Affairs for funding.

While understanding people’s concerns about Cominco Gardens, Mayor Don McCormick said that tough decisions had to be made during budget deliberations, and the City was looking at everything, including the Kimberley Community Development Society, which operates the gardens.

Kimberley City Councillors rejected a request from Mayor Don McCormick to have staff prepare a report on the consequences of getting rid of the flat tax. Although councillors Roberts and Hoglund agreed with the mayor that there wasn’t sufficient information to make the move, councillors Middlebrook, Goodwin, Oakley and Kitto disagreed.

Lindsay Park School won awards in the BC Green Games again, this time with a project on Kimberley’s SunMione.

The Kimberley Bulletin announced that it was changing from a five day a week print schedule to three days —Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. The changes were effective the second week of April.

Kimberley’s Stan Salikin was one of 55 Canadians to receive the Caring Canadian Award from the Governor General. Salikin attended a ceremony in Ottawa to receive the medal. He was recognized for his incredible efforts in volunteerism, primarily with Rotary and the Kimberley Food Bank.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall declared a public health emergency over the increase of drug-related overdoses and deaths in B.C. A major concern was the drug fentanyl showing up in street drugs, with users unaware that it is there. Dean Nicholson of East Kootenay Addictions said his main concern was getting naxolone, which helps prevent overdoses, into the hands of users.

The RDEK urged the province to amend a document that would allow a Jumbo representative a vote on the regional district board. Board chair Gerry Taft said the board didn’t want to see a municipality with no residents have a say in matters of regional interest.

Preliminary details on the deer translocation study were cause for “cautious optimism” said Ian Adams from VAST Resources, who were conducting the study. Deer were removed from four communities  earlier in the winter — Kimberley, Cranbrook, Invermere and Elkford.

A water pipe break at the Kimberley Aquatic Centre caused extensive damage and caused the building to shut down. At the time, the estimate was that it would re-open in June, although that did not prove to be an accurate estimate. It was finally re-opened later in the summer. The damage was covered by insurance.

Mainroad renewed its highway maintenance contract for East Kootenay highways for seven years, announced Minister Bill Bennett. The new contract increased the amount spent on maintenance by almost $500,000. The company had been under fire over the quality of service it was providing, which some felt was not adequate.

May

Two-year old Isaac Leuenberger was found safe and sound after a night in the bush. A massive search and rescue effort was mounted to find the boy after he went missing while walking with his family at Premier Lake Park.

The Columbia Basin Trust came through with a $143,000 grant for the Kimberley Rotary Club, making the new spray park a reality. With construction scheduled to begin right after JulyFest, the question became, where would the bocce be located? At year’s end the Kimberley Chamber had not yet announced where the new location would be.

The fires threatening the northern Alberta community of Fort McMurray gripped the nation during the first week of May. Kimberley couple Katie Brown and Kyle Lomon recounted their story of evacuating the burning city to the Bulletin.

Crack cocaine, methamphetamine and MDMA were found at a Meadowbrook residence and two people, a man and a woman, were arrested. They were charged with trafficking in a controlled substance and drug manufacturing.

With the events in Fort McMurray, Kimberley City Council discussed what areas of Kimberley were particularly vulnerable. Council was concerned with the amount of interface work still needed in the Nature Park. There was also concerned expressed about the Lois Creek Trails, Townsite hill and the bench above Marysville.

The City of Kimberley applied for an extension of transit services between Kimberley and Cranbrook to five days a week instead of three. If approved, the additional trips would begin in September of 2017.

In May, the East Kootenay snowpack was at 42 per cent of normal. Across the province the average was 53 per cent of normal, a new record.

Kimberley remembered the victims of the Sullivan Mine tragedy ten years later. Paramedics Kim Weitzel and Shawn Currier, contractor Doug Erickson and Teck employee Bob Newcombe all lost their lives on May 17, 2006.

Developers presented plans for a new seniors complex in Marysville in May. The development, Kimberley Crossing, would be an age-in-place complex with three levels of care; townhouses, a Gardenview style independent living facility and an extended care/respite care facility.

June

Doug Clovechok, who ran in 2013, announced he would be the BC Liberal candidate for Columbia River Revelstoke once again. Clovechok said that he was encouraged by coming so close in 2013 and felt he could win in 2017.

Shortly after Clovechok’s announcement, longtime MLA Norm Macdonald said he would not run again. The popular NDP incumbent said he always wanted to end his career teaching and would return to the classroom after the next election.

The City of Kimberley reached a settlement with CopCan, the primary contractor on the flume rehab project. The contractor had been seeking a $560,000 payment from the City in relation to cost overruns from project delays. The settlement the City paid is $250,000.

Mayor of Invermere, Gerry Taft, announced he would seek the NDP nomination for Columbia River Revelstoke after hearing that Norm Macdonald would retire. Taft would eventually win the nomination, although there was some controversy over how he gained the nomination with the NDP’s rules that the nomination should go to a person identifying with a minority group or to a woman.

Kimberley Search and Rescue retrieved two people from the St. Mary River on June 4 after their canoe capsized. Just the previous month, ten KSAR members had been certified in swift water rescue.

Kimberley hosted the Provincial Mine Rescue Competition in June to rave reviews. Big crowds turned out to watch the rescue scenarios.

Military Ames received a grant of $25,000 from Veterans Affairs to help with moving the cenotaph to the new Memorial Park. Only part of the old cenotaph will be incorporated into the new one. Fundraising efforts were also underway by Military Ames.

Volunteers at the Kimberley Underground Mining Railway were upset and discouraged to find that the downtown station had been broken into in June. The Society lost about $500 in the break-in.

The City of Kimberley underwent an asset management assessment and the news was not good. The infrastructure deficit sits at $73 million according to the assessment. The report gave all city assets such as roads, water systems etc. a replacement value and assessed how many years each asset had before replacement.

In what was a sign of labour troubles to come, the City of Kimberley put out a press release on June 15 stating that ten days of negotiations with USW Local 405-1 had ended in a stalemate. The union responded that they had no choice but to seek a strike mandate.

That strike mandate was returned with a 99 per cent endorsement a week later.

The end of an East Kootenay political era came with the announcement that Bill Bennett, MLA for Kootenay East and Minister of Energy, would not seek re-election. Bennett said it was time to spend time with his family after four terms in government.

Round the Mountain was another huge success, selling out again and raising $10,000 for Kimberley trail development.