|  Your source for news and events in the Columbia Valley

Steve Hubrecht
Email: steve@columbiavalleypioneer.com
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Reporter Steve Hubrecht arrived in the Columbia Valley after working for newspapers in Fernie, B.C., and Beijing, China. He spends as much time outside as possible – if he's not at the Pioneer and Echo office, he's probably out telemarking or hiking. He grew up in southern Ontario and graduated with an MA in Journalism from the University of Western Ontario in 2006.

New radio station comes to Invermere

Posted on August 28th, 2015 by


The Upper Columbia Valley’s radio dial is about to get a whole lot more exciting in coming weeks with the launch of a new radio station here in the East Kootenay.
Lethbridge-based Clear Sky Radio Inc. started up 107 Summit FM, which has headquarters in Cranbrook, earlier this month and it has been testing, with music only programming, for about a week. The station broadcasts throughout the East Kootenay and here in Invermere the frequencey is 107.7 FM.
“We’re really excited to be here,” said station manager Melissa Hamm. “We play adult …

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Smoke and haze paint the Columbia Valley skies an eerie purple

Massive Washington state fire creates smoky skies in the valley

Posted on August 28th, 2015 by


The thick smoky haze hanging over the Upper Columbia Valley, and almost the entire Kootenay region, throughout the past week is the result of the enormous Stickpin wildfire in northern Washington state.
The fire, which has been burning just south of B.C’s Boundary region (Grand Forks), is almost 20,000 hectares and is the biggest Washington state has ever recorded. Initially the fire had little effect on the Kootenay region (which lies immediately east of the Boundary region,) but that changed last weekend, as the wind began pushing the smoke this way.
“Winds …

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Local RCMP fight spread of fentanyl in valley

Posted on August 21st, 2015 by


Use of the dangerously lethal drug fentanyl has been rising lately across the country, throughout the province and even here in the valley.
A recent report issued by the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse pointed to a marked increase in fentanyl-detected deaths across Canada in the last several years, a trend Columbia Valley RCMP Corporal Grant Simpson said he’s witnessed locally in the Upper Columbia Valley.
“There are quite a number of people using it,” said Cpl. Simpson. “I wouldn’t say it’s rampant, but it’s fairly widespread. It’s quite a dangerous drug …

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Kootenay-Columbia moves to level three drought conditions

Posted on August 21st, 2015 by


Water conservation is being urged in the East Kootenay, with the provincial government having recently declared the region to be in level three drought conditions.
Warm and dry conditions have been persistent across B.C. for much of the summer, but have so far been affecting the lower mainland, Vancouver Island and the Okanagan (which are on level four drought conditions, the highest level possible) much more than the Kootenay region. The entire Kootenay-Columbia area, however, was bumped up by the Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO) on August …

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Canal Flats man missing after accident

Posted on August 21st, 2015 by


A Canal Flats man is missing after falling off a bridge on the Skookumchuk Forest Servide Road last weekend, with search and rescue efforts ongoing since.
The 51-year old man crashed his vehicle into the guard rail of the bridge, not far off the Findlay Creek Forest Service Road, after coming around a corner. He got out and attempted to free the vehicle and while go doing so, fell into the creek 150 feet (45 metres) below. The RCMP received a call about the incident on midnight of Friday, August 14th …

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SUB - Pioneer hang glider toon - Vance Rodewalt

Cartoonist reflects on career

Posted on August 7th, 2015 by


A lifelong editorial cartoonist, who made his living taking humourous pokes at high and mighty politicians in the pages of the Calgary Herald, is now making his home in the valley.
Vance Rodewalt worked for The Albertan, the Calgary Sun and, for 25 years, the Calgary Herald, as well as Peterman Publishing, Cracked magazine (Marvel Comics), and Crazy magazine in a career stretching from 1970 until 2010, when he retired and moved to the valley.
“I was always a visual person, I actually won a Grade 4 scholarship for fine art, but …

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Organic farmers get certified

Posted on August 7th, 2015 by


Local Winderberry Farms and Edible Acres farmers Oliver and Lin Egan recently became the first certified organic farm in the East Kootenay.
The final stamp of approval came two weeks ago, capping an official certification process the Egans began three years ago.
“It’s good. We’ve been practicing organic methods for eight years now, so it’s not a big change for us, but it’s official now,” said Oliver.
The certification is through the Kootenay Organic Growers’ Society (KOGS) which uses the provincial Certified Organic Association of B.C. (COABC) standards.
“It feels awesome, it’s great. …

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Valley bustles during long weekend

Posted on August 7th, 2015 by


Tourists flocked to the Upper Columbia Valley during the August long weekend, typically the busiest of the season, giving the local economy a much-welcome mini-boost.
Both the Columbia Valley Visitor Centre and The Radium Visitor Centre reported large numbers of visitors between Friday, July 31st and Monday, August 3rd, as did many of the valley’s major resorts.
“It was a really big weekend,” said Radium Visitor Centre administrative assistant and visitor councillor Lindsay Torma. “It was by far the busiest weekend of the summer for us. We keep tabs on the motel …

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Famous hiking book gets update

Posted on July 31st, 2015 by


An updated version of the iconic Hike Around Invermere book will likely be out next spring.
“It’s desperately needed. There’s been a lot of access changes, a lot of road changes, a few trails have been de-activated and there’s actually quite a lot of new trails to add,” said valley resident and book co-author Aaron Cameron, confirming that work has been underway on the updated edition for the past two years and is scheduled to wrap up later this fall, with publication probably coming in spring 2016.
“There’s been a lot of …

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Jumbo Council ask province to defer small community grant

Posted on July 31st, 2015 by


Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort Municipality council, at its most recent meeting, decided to send notification to the provincial government, asking the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development to defer payment of the Small Community Grant, pending the outcome of the resort proponents’ appeal of the B.C. Environment Minister’s non-substantial start decision in June.
The grant, which for the Jumbo municipality totals about $200,000 a year, far exceeds current operating expenses and has so far been put into the municipality’s general reserves. The money has attracted criticism from resort opponents.
During discussion …

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Invermere library asks for money to address budget shortfall

Posted on July 24th, 2015 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
Representatives of the Invermere Public Library attended the most recent Invermere council meeting, asking for increased funding to help deal with a consistent budget shortfall.
Library board chair Norm Funnell and library director Nicole Pawluk told council members at the July 14th meeting that each year the library’s board passes a budget that is technically $20,000 in deficit.
“It’s an ongoing problem,” said Mr. Funnell, adding that the annual shortfall stems from the library’s decision to increase its hours (and correspondingly add staff) several years ago.
Mr. Funnell …

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Swimmer in triathlon suffers heart attack

Posted on July 20th, 2015 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
A Calgary resident passed away last weekend after suffering a heart attack during the swim portion of the Heart of the Rockies triathlon.
The 53-year old was rescued from Lake Windermere at about 11 a.m. on Sunday, July 12th by the Windermere Fire Department’s rescue boat, rushed to shore and taken by ambulance to the Invermere & District Hospital.
“He was doing the Olympic length swim and he was in the middle of the pack. The safety spotters had their eyes on him because he was struggling. At first …

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Orphaned cubs successfully released back into wild

Posted on July 20th, 2015 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
A pair of grizzly cubs orphaned near Canal Flats last fall have now been reintroduced to the wild.
“It’s been a successful operation,” said local conservation officer Greg Kruger.
The cubs were initially found hanging around the body of their mother, who had been hit by a vehicle just off Highway 93/95. Conservation officers tranquilized the cubs and then transported them to the Northern Lights Wildlife Shelter in Smithers, B.C. The cubs — one male and one female — spent the winter there and then were brought back down …

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Swimmer in Heart of the Rockies suffers heart attack

Posted on July 15th, 2015 by


A Calgary resident passed away last weekend after suffering a heart attack during the swim portion of the Heart of the Rockies triathlon.
The 53-year old was rescued from Lake Windermere at about 11 a.m. on Sunday, July 12th by the Windermere Fire Department’s rescue boat, rushed to shore and taken by ambulance to the Invermere & District Hospital.
“He was doing the Olympic length swim and he was in the middle of the pack. The safety spotters had their eyes on him because he was struggling. At first he told …

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Campfire ban takes effect

Posted on July 2nd, 2015 by


Campfires of any kind will be banned across B.C.’s Southeast Fire Centre (which includes the East Kootenay region) starting today.
The ban takes effect on 1 p.m. on Friday, July 3rd and comes after several weeks of hot and dry conditions, in a effort to prevent human-caused wildfires. It applies to all kinds of campfires; waste burning; stubble or grass fires of any size over any area; the use of fireworks, sky lanterns, tiki torches, chimineas, burning barrels or burning cages of any size or description; the use of binary exploding …

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Wildsight offers Earl Grey Pass trip

Posted on July 2nd, 2015 by


Local East Kootenay environmental group Wildsight will be leading a trip for local students over the Earl Grey pass and through the heart of the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy this summer.
The five-day trip, which tackles one of the wildest routes in the entire Kootenay region, is open to students aged 14 to 18 and is being made to help mark the conservancy’s 40th anniversary. Organizers Dave Quinn and Tamara Dykshoorn are tentatively planning to start near Toby Creek (just west of Invermere) and proceed across alpine and old-growth forest landscapes to …

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Couple celebrates seven decades of marriage

Posted on July 2nd, 2015 by


A valley couple is preparing to mark an exceptional milestone of longevity, with their 70th wedding anniversary coming up next week.
John and Laura Ronacher married on July 7th, 1945, and have been living happily in the Upper Columbia Valley ever since.
“We laugh a lot and have a good sense of humour. You can’t live without that,” Laura told the Pioneer earlier this week, speaking on the secrets of making a marriage last seven decades. “It’s about give and take. My husband, for instance, just learned to do the dishes …

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The Environment Assessment Office has delayed a decision on Jumbo Glacier Resort's substantial start due to concerns that the day lodge is located in a dangerous avalanche path. File photo

Glacier Resorts Ltd. examines options to proceed with Jumbo

Posted on July 1st, 2015 by


The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations has clarified some of the conditions under which Glacier Resorts Ltd. could proceed with a scaled-back version of its Jumbo Glacier Resort project without triggering another environmental assessment review process.
Spokesperson Greig Bethel told the Pioneer that the ministry is currently investigating what options are available to the resort’s proponents to revise and resubmit a resort proposal.
“If a project of reduced scope is accepted, it would still be subject to a regulatory review and approval process undertaken by the ministry’s Mountain Resorts …

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Valley mourns loss of resident

Posted on June 26th, 2015 by


The valley is mourning the loss of bright young man who passed away in his sleep while working for an oil company in northern Alberta earlier this month.
Invermere born and raised Cody James Arthur Widmer’s heart failed while he was asleep on the night of Sunday, June 14th and the coroner has ruled the cause death to be Cody’s enlarged heart, a condition of which he and his family were unaware.
“He had a big heart, not just physically but also in the way he treated others,” said Cody’s mother Marj. …

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Public consultation underway on Station Pub’s new deck

Posted on June 5th, 2015 by


Those who fancy sipping a pint while enjoying a panoramic view of Kinsmen Beach may soon have a second venue to choose from, as the Station Pub will — if it gets approval to expand its liquor licence from the B.C. Liquor Control and Licensing Branch — be building a new deck facing the beach this summer.
The formal application is for a structural change to an existing patio (expanding the small deck the pub already has) and an amendment to its existing liquor licence. The branch has been carrying out …

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