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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.

Flood of new volunteers stops Christmas Bureau from folding

Posted on November 21st, 2014 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
Christmas cheer will continue in the valley well into the future, thanks to an outpouring of volunteer support in recent weeks for the Christmas Bureau.
“The board of the Christmas Bureau of the Columbia Valley would like to thank the community for answering our call for help,” said bureau chair Helen Wynder. “We managed to have 14 new volunteers join our society so we can once again supply gift food cards and angel gifts along with gift boxes to those in need in our communities.”
The charitable society has …

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Change not in the cards as valley votes back incumbents

Posted on November 18th, 2014 by


Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
Unofficial results are in for this past weekend’s municipal elections, and the valley has voted resoundingly to keep things the way they are, with incumbents returning to office in every race.
In the only mayoral race in the valley, incumbent Canal Flats mayor Ute Juras beat challenger Dean Midyette 200 votes to 83 votes.
All three Invermere councillors seeking re-election succeeded and the fourth councillor, Al Miller, is again a familiar face, having previously served on council from 2008 to 2011. The only true newcomer to the Invermere council …

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Bill Thompson

Much-loved science teacher remembered by community

Posted on November 14th, 2014 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
A celebrated David Thompson Secondary School teacher passed away last weekend, leaving family, friends, and former students and colleagues recalling him with fondness.
Bill Thompson, who passed away on Saturday, November 8th, taught science and biology at the local high school from 1970 to 2005. He was affectionately know as “Mr. T” and “Biology Bill” and his teaching style and legendary field trips made a big impression on those around him. He had recently celebrated his 70th birthday in October.
“He loved this valley. He taught students how …

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Foodies bring home Italian ideas

Posted on November 14th, 2014 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
Several local Columbia Valley delegates recently attended the global Terra Madre slow food conference in Italy, and returned inspired about family farming.
Spring Hawes, Byron Leinor, Bill Swan, Ally Candy and Shannon Swan went to the conference in Turin from October 23rd to October 27th. The conference is held once every two years and this year the theme was “Celebrating Family Farms”.
“It was a really big gathering of people from all around the world. There were literally thousands of people getting together to talk about the values …

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New figure skating club coach comes full circle

Posted on November 14th, 2014 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
The Columbia Valley Figure Skating Club is delighted with its newest coach Marni Kreutzer.
“It’s great for us. It can be tricky to get high-level coaches in a small town,” said club president Leanne Beddie. “We are so pleased to have Marni come coach at our club. It has been a smooth transition.”
Mrs. Kreutzer is a valley local and was a member of the club as a kid — it was at the club that she first began figure skating.
“Marni started her skating right here in Invermere at …

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SCHOOL’S SET —The school in Ghana that a group of local volunteers helped build in 2013 has been completed, much to the group’s delight.

One more school for Ghana

Posted on November 7th, 2014 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
Local students who helped to start constructing a school in Ghana a year and a half ago are delighted that the building is now finished.
The David Thompson Secondary School (DTSS) students, eight in total, went to Nyameyekrom in Ghana during their March break in 2013 as part of a Me to We and EF Educational Tours volunteer trip, and during their time there helped begin what would turn out to be the year-long process of building a more permanent school for the community.
The village sent the volunteers …

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Deadly driving case draws to a close

Posted on November 7th, 2014 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
A long-standing case in Invermere Provincial Court finally came to a close earlier this week with the sentencing of a Vancouver man convicted of dangerous driving causing death in connection with a fatal accident in Kootenay National Park more than three years ago.
Jaswinder Singh Bagri — who was found guilty this past April on four counts of dangerous driving causing death after a four-day trial in March — was sentenced in Invermere court on Monday, November 3rd to three years in jail and a five-year driving prohibition …

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Jumbo policing clarified

Posted on November 7th, 2014 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
The provincial Environmental Assessment Office has clarified that it considers a Glacier Resorts Ltd. commitment in its environmental assessment certificate to do with police services to be applicable when people are actually living and working at the planned Jumbo Glacier Resort, not during construction phases of the project.
“This condition is an operational requirement and will be implemented when there are staff, residents and visitors at the resort,” said Ministry of Environment spokesperson David Karn.
Invermere councillor Paul Denchuk, in a story in last week’s October 31st edition of …

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HELMER HISTORY — Max Helmer Sr. and his son Joe (12 years old at the time) pose, in October 1968, with the then-new Invermere cenotaph they had just finished building. Photos submitted

Cenotaph work spans three generations of Helmers

Posted on November 7th, 2014 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
Remembrance Day will take on special meaning for the local Helmer family this year, as current work being done by Max Helmer Construction Ltd. on the Cenotaph Park Revitalization Project echoes similar work done by the family in past generations.
The youngest Max Helmer (there are three consecutive generation of Max Helmers in the family) is the project superintendent for the current project, which will see the park shift from the middle of 12 Street (where it intersects 7th Avenue) to becoming a triangular-shaped park running alongside …

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Funding comes through for new Whiteway groomer

Posted on November 6th, 2014 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
The Toby Creek Nordic Ski Club has received $15,000 from the Columbia Valley Directed Funds Committee for maintenance equipment for the Lake Windermere Whiteway.
“That was tremendous. It really shows the community commitment to the Whiteway project and that people understand just how beneficial it is to the whole valley,” a visibly excited Nordic Club president Lyle Wilson told The Pioneer just after the decision at the committee’s latest meeting on Monday, October 27th. He added that the money to buy the new grooming equipment will translate into …

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Free flu vaccinations offered

Posted on November 6th, 2014 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
Flu season is here in the valley and Interior Health, as well as both pharmacies in Invermere, are offering free flu vaccine shots to local residents.
“It’s an easy way to build your immune system against disease. It’s a great thing to have in your tool kit against viruses,” Pharmasave pharmacist Dean Bradley told The Pioneer. “There’s no evidence of harm in getting the shots, especially with this strain of flu shots.”
“Influenza reduces the body’s ability to fight illnesses and infections and it can also increase a person’s …

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Police presence in Jumbo Valley debated

Posted on November 6th, 2014 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
Even with construction work temporarily on hold as the province’s Environmental Assessment Office reviews whether or not the project is substantially started, the Jumbo Glacier Resort project continues to generate discussion in the valley, with the latest back and forth centering on the rally held by resort opponents in the Jumbo Valley earlier this month and the subsequent police presence there.
A letter from Invermere councillor and rally participant Paul Denchuk in the October 17th edition of the Pioneer drew a RCMP report-length response from local Columbia Valley …

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More than ever before at Fairmont wine festival

Posted on November 6th, 2014 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
Valley wine lovers are getting ready to clink their glasses with the East Kootenay Wine Festival just a week away.
Fairmont Hot Springs will host the 13th annual edition of the event next weekend on Friday, November 7th and Saturday, November 8th, and this year it promises to be bigger and better than ever.
“It’s probably the event of the year. It’s the one event that everybody seems to look forward to most. It just keeps growing and getting better. We’re constantly adding new wineries,” said Fairmont Hot Springs …

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Work on Jumbo resort on hold pending decision

Posted on October 24th, 2014 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
As construction work in the Jumbo Valley winds down while the province reviews and decides whether or not the Jumbo Glacier Resort project is substantially started — and correspondingly whether or not Glacier Resorts Ltd.’s environmental assessment certificate will expire — the project continues to pique attention throughout the valley and beyond.
Last week the assessment office sent a letter to Glacier Resorts Ltd. addressing the company’s non-compliance with three conditions of its environmental assessment certificate, but the office clarified to The Pioneer that this does not …

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Rancher leaves large legacy to valley’s food bank

Posted on October 17th, 2014 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff

A local rancher, Albert Cooper, who died in 2012, has left more than $650,000 of his estate as a legacy fund donated to the Columbia Valley Food Bank.
“We are honoured and pleased to say the least. We consider it to be a great responsibility and a great opportunity to better things in the valley,” said food bank chair Ron Stainthorpe. “We’re going to do some strategic planning to take a hard look at what we can do with the money. In the meantime, we want to keep …

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Orphaned grizzly cubs relocated to Smithers

Posted on October 17th, 2014 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff

Two grizzly bear cubs orphaned when their mother was struck and killed by a vehicle on the highway near Canal Flats have successfully been transfered to a bear rehabilitation centre in Smithers.
“It’s a sad story with a happy ending,” said local conservation officer Greg Kruger, speaking to the fact that the cubs were taken in by the Northern Lights Wildlife Society, which is the only wildlife shelter in the province legally allowed to rehabilitate bears.
Conservation officers received reports on the afternoon of Saturday, October 11th of bear …

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Christmas Bureau in dire straits, urgently seeks new volunteers

Posted on October 14th, 2014 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
The Columbia Valley Christmas Bureau is in dire straits, and may fold after this season if new volunteers do not join soon.
“We are in desperate need of new volunteers who are ready and willing to work on this year’s and continuing years’ campaigns of providing Christmas hampers of food cards and ‘angel gifts’ (which are presents for kids ranging in age from infants up to 12). I can’t emphasize strongly enough the situation we are in,” said Christmas Bureau chair Helen Wynder. “We need people and hours …

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WINDERMERE HERO TO THE RESCUE­ — Stephen McGarva’s book, The Rescue at Dead Dog Beach, was released a month ago and covers his time living in Puerto Rico from 2005 to 2007. After discovering the gruesome Dead Dog Beach, a dumping ground for unwanted dogs, McGarva began a rescue mission.
Photos submitted

Valley man writes about dog rescue

Posted on October 9th, 2014 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
A Windermere local who first gained fame several years ago for rescuing hundreds of stray dogs in Puerto Rico is again making headlines after recently publishing a book about his experiences.
Stephen McGarva’s book, The Rescue at Dead Dog Beach, was released just over a month ago on August 26th and stems from his time living in Puerto Rico from 2005 to 2007.
“It was a painful process. In order to write well, you really have to delve deeply into what happened. It was challenging, but it was …

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Windermere man does valley proud

Posted on October 3rd, 2014 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
Often a newspaper is filled with ‘bad news’ — accidents, fires, natural disasters, political blunders and other unfortunate circumstances and small wonder, since these are all the types of things that grab people’s attention and leave them talking.
What a welcome change then, to be able to shine a light on some ‘good news’ — the efforts of Windermere-born and raised Stephen McGarva, who spent the better part of two years helping to rescue and care for abandoned and stray dogs on a remote beach in …

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Planners back consulting on future of Invermere

Posted on September 26th, 2014 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
The update of Invermere’s official community plan is inching closer to completion. Planners with the district and Calgary-based consultants Urban Systems set up display boards explaining the project to the public in downtown Invermere late last week.
The display boards, which were set up in front of the old Lake Auto building on Invermere’s main street on Thursday, September 18th and Friday, September 19th, presented an idea of what the official community plan will look like once it has been incorporated with the Integrated Community Sustainability Plan — …

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