|  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.

BOWLING BUDDIES — From left to right are Bess Spark,  George Bicknell, Myrtle Holden, Arnold Wassing and Herta Tacha wearing their Seniors Games silver medals. Photo submitted

Valley seniors take silver

Posted on September 19th, 2014 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
A group of valley seniors recently returned home from this year’s BC Seniors Games with a silver medal in carpet bowling.
The team — which consisted of skip (captain) Myrtle Holden, Herta Tacha, Bess Spark, Arnold Wassing and George Bicknell (filling in for Aly Mederer) — represented East Kootenay Zone Seven and earned the silver during the September 9th to September 13th games in Langley, coming just one point shy of the gold-medal winning team in the final standings.
“That’s the luck of the game,” said Mrs. Holden, speaking …

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JUNGLE LOVE — Lucky valley students and residents will have a chance to head to the Ecuadorian Amazon (shown above) this coming spring break.  Photo submitted

Travel to the Amazon on a volunteer trip

Posted on September 19th, 2014 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
Valley students will have the chance to head to Ecuador next spring as part of a volunteer trip led by an East Kootenay teacher.
Elk Valley teacher Kerrie Purdy, with the help of local Columbia Valley teacher Debra Fisher, will be taking a group of students and adults to help build schools or other needed infrastructure in the South American country during the 2015 spring break through an EF Educational Tours and Me to We partnership trip.
“It’s amazing for students to get out of the classroom. They learn …

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TIGHT SQUEEZE — The Invermere Public Library has the third smallest size-to-population served ratio out of all of B.C.'s 72 public libraries.

Patron survey shows Invermere library squeezed for space

Posted on September 6th, 2014 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
The Invermere Public Library’s most recent patron survey underscored a desire for more space, while the most recent audit of the library highlighted problems with the building’s roofing, exterior windows and heating system.
“We heard over and over again; needs more space, needs more space, space, space,” said chief librarian Nicole Pawlak, speaking about the 2014 patron survey.
The library did the survey this past spring, after the library board voted during a strategic planning session to undertake more public consultation. The last time the library did a patron …

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WATCHFUL EYES — Nolan Rad, Jim Galloway and Bob Campsall setting up the watchdog camp in Jumbo Valley. Photo by Pat Morrow

Jumbo construction set to start, watchdog camp set up

Posted on August 29th, 2014 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
Opponents of the Jumbo Glacier Resort project have established a watchdog camp in Jumbo Creek, as Glacier Resorts Ltd. presses ahead with its most significant physical infrastructure developments yet.
Glacier Resorts Ltd. and Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort Municipality are undertaking work to put in three bridges — a temporary metal bridge spanning Leo Creek on the Jumbo Creek forest service road, another temporary bridge, and a permanent bridge at kilometre 15.8 on the same road. The permanent bridge is being paid for by the municipality; the temporary …

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Teachers continue to strike as school year set to start

Posted on August 29th, 2014 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
The start of the school year is just around the corner, but with the ongoing province-wide teachers’ strike still in effect, classes in the valley could well be empty for the first week of September.
As of The Pioneer’s press deadline on Wednesday, August 27th, there had been no indications of a breakthrough in stalemated negotiations between the provincial government and the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation (or BCTF, the provincial teachers’ union). Valley teachers and the local school board chair expressed hopefulness that a deal could be reached …

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ALOHA DAVE ­— Dave Goldsmith will be selling his vast collection of Hawaiian shirts at the upcoming Annual Autumn Show and Shine at the Radium Springs Golf Course on September 20th.           Photo submitted

Aloha shirts all the rage

Posted on August 29th, 2014 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
A secondhand Hawaiian shirt, bought on a whim, has turned into a business idea. Valley resident Dave Goldsmith, who lives between Brisco and Spillimacheen, bought his first Hawaiian shirt at an Edgewater garage sale four years ago, and recalls that the purchase made his wife roll her eyes. His wife’s subtle hint at Dave’s taste did little to deter Dave’s budding enthusiasm for secondhand Hawaiian shirts and soon he was buying more.
“During the next three years, I collected quite a few more at garage sales and thrift …

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GOLDEN BOWLERS — The Radium Hot Springs Carpet Bowling team will be representing the East Kootenay at the 2014 BC Seniors Games. In the back row (left to right) are Arnold Wassing and Aly Mederer; in the front are Myrtle Holden, Herta Tacha and Bess Spark. Photo submitted

Local seniors ready for a magic carpet ride

Posted on August 29th, 2014 by


By Pioneer Staff
The 2014 BC Seniors Games will be held in Langley from September 9th to 13th and the Radium Hot Springs Carpet Bowling Team will be representing the East Kootenay Zone 7. The team consists of skip (captain) Myrtle Holden, who was on the silver medal team in 2011 in Castlegar, as well as Bess Spark, Herta Tacha, Arnold Wassing and Aly Mederer. All players are between 65 and 85 and have participated in the Seniors Games for five to 15 years. Although the team would love to place in the medals, …

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The exhaust from a forest fire near Canal Flats floods the sky with smoke.           Photo by Lizzie Midyette

Firefighters increase containment on wildfire near Canal Flats

Posted on August 22nd, 2014 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
Firefighters continue to battle what has now become a complex of wildfires south and east of Canal Flats, with containment increasing on the White Tail Brook fire, the largest fire among them.
The White Tail Brook fire was, as of Pioneer press time, 1960 hectares in size and 85 per cent contained, according to B.C. Southeast Fire Centre information officer Jordan Turner.
“Today we’re working on extinguishing hot spots that were found in a scan and mopping up the northeast and western flanks on the White Tail Brook …

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Jumbo resort puts in bridge, adopts zoning bylaw

Posted on August 22nd, 2014 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort Municipality, during council’s most recent meeting, adopted a bylaw allowing ski resort infrastructure to be built in the municipality and approved a cheque register that included funds for a bridge being installed by the municipality in Jumbo Valley.
The bylaw allows for the construction of ski lifts, lodges and other ski resort infrastructure, and applies to the controlled recreation area in the higher alpine areas of the municipality, with the exception of the Farnham Glacier. Jumbo council gave it first and second reading during …

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OFFICIALLY OPEN — Residents, Family Resource Centre members and politicians join scissors to cut the ribbon on the affordable housing project. Photo by Steve Hubrecht

Affordable housing project opens

Posted on August 15th, 2014 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
The Family Resource Centre, politicians from governments of all levels, and local residents gathered earlier this week to celebrate the official opening of the centre’s first affordable housing project.
Kootenay Columbia MP David Wilks, East Kootenay MLA Bill Bennett, Invermere mayor Gerry Taft, Regional District of East Kootenay Area F director Wendy Booth (representing the Columbia Basin Trust), Invermere Family Resource Centre vice president Sue-Rose Read and local resident Hannah Capilo cut the ribbon on the 18-unit apartment complex at 218 10th Avenue on Monday, August 11th in …

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EcoSociety amends petition against Jumbo

Posted on August 15th, 2014 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
The Jumbo issue is set to start heating up again, with the West Kootenay EcoSociety having made amendments to its petition challenging the incorporation of Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort Municipality, and then calling for people to set up a watchdog camp up in Jumbo Creek to monitor Glacier Resorts Ltd. activities this summer.
“It’s not so much changed as developed,” said West Kootenay EcoSociety executive director David Reid, speaking about the amendments to the petition. “It’s a complex case, with constitutional issues, so there’s a lot of research …

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NEW PRESIDENT ­— Pascal Van Dijk brings some Dutch flair to the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort, as the new president and chief executive. Photo submitted

Fairmont resort welcomes new CEO

Posted on August 15th, 2014 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
Fairmont Hot Springs Resort’s new president and chief executive officer brings a Dutch twist to the role.
Pascal Van Dijk, who took over the top job in Fairmont this July after serving as the resort’s chief financial officer for the past two years, is originally from the Netherlands.
As part of his past career with Dutch industrial construction company Ballast Nedam, Mr. Van Dijk was chief financial officer at Kicking Horse Resort in Golden (which was then owned by Ballast Nedam) for three and a half years. When his …

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GLOWING HORIZON — Courtney Taylor snapped this photo on Monday, July 28th of pink clouds looming over the Fairmont Range, likely caused by the White Tail Brook wildfire burning near Canal Flats. The shot was taken from Petro-Canada in Invermere. Photo submitted

Large wildfire keeps burning

Posted on August 8th, 2014 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
The White Tail Brook wildfire continues to burn near Canal Flats along with several other smaller spot fires in the area, keeping Whiteswan Provincial Park and its forest service road access closed.
Firefighters are still working to get the active White Tail Brook fire, which is now 1,550 hectares, under control. According to the B.C. Southeast Fire Centre, they have it about 50 per cent contained.
“That means that crews have got a fuel-free area or some other kind of fire break around half of the fire,” said Southeast …

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Invermere couple has decades of sewer fees refunded

Posted on August 8th, 2014 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
Invermere council agreed during its most recent regular council meeting to refund 20 years’ worth of sewer fees to a local couple, after the couple learned in unfortunate fashion that their home had never been connected to the district’s sewer system.
“It doesn’t make sense that a house in town, purchased in 1994, for which a sewer fee is being collected is not connected, and no record of connection seems to exist,” wrote George and Marla Oliver in a letter to council on the matter.
The couple have lived …

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CULTURE QUEENS — CastleRock Art Group painters Laila Jensen, Donna Deschenes and Trich Gaul will display their paintings as part of the Columbia Basin Culture Tour. Photo by Steve Hubrecht

CastleRock trio readies for first show

Posted on August 8th, 2014 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
A trio of artists from the CastleRock subdivision are gearing up for their first group show at this weekend’s Columbia Basin Culture Tour.
Painters Donna Deschenes, Laila Jensen and Trich Gaul, all from CastleRock and going by the name CastleRock Art Group, will be displaying their paintings at the Heritage House Arts Center, located in one of Invermere’s oldest homes. The paintings on show will be a mix of styles, with Ms. Deschenes presenting mostly oil-based painting, Ms. Gaul exhibiting all acrylic paintings, and Ms. Jensen showing mainly …

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District will cut down iconic Russian olive tree

Posted on August 1st, 2014 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
An iconic tree in the middle of Invermere will get the axe later this summer.
The Russian olive tree in Cenotaph Park at the junction of the main street (7th Avenue) and 12th Street will be chopped down during renovations to the park, slated to begin sometime in August.
“Of all the looming things we’ve needed to do for the last few years, this is the one we’re dreading the most,” said Invermere mayor Gerry Taft.
The district’s contracting arborist, Green Leaf Tree Service, has deemed the tree — which …

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Panorama adds new chairlift

Posted on August 1st, 2014 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
Panorama Mountain Village is adding a new quad chairlift this summer, helping make more terrain at the ski hill accessible to novice skiers.
The new Doppelmayr lift, part of more than $10 million the resort is spending on upgrades this summer, will take skiers and riders up to beginner-friendly terrain below Founder’s Ridge next season.
The liftline for the chair lift has been graded and most of the towers installed. Much work remains, but the resort expects to be able to start load testing this August.
“It …

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Street closures spark kerfuffle

Posted on July 25th, 2014 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
Blocking off downtown streets for market-type events became a hot topic of discussion at the most recent Invermere council meeting, with talk on the issue prompted by two different items on the agenda.
During the July 22nd meeting, Consign-It owner Mary Lou Delesalle, who is a co-ower of The Book Bar, blasted the district’s decision to block off 12th Avenue around Cenotaph Park from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. in order to set up and run the Thursday night evening markets from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., saying …

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AGRI-REVIVAL — The sign marking the site of the Agri Park is visible from Highway 93/95 next to the entrance of the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce and Lions’ Club hall. Photo by Nicole Trigg

Summer Fair set to mark Farmers’ Institute centenary

Posted on July 25th, 2014 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
The valley’s long-standing agricultural organization, the Windermere District Farmers’ Institute, is set to turn 100 in style this weekend, with a centenary celebration and summer fair to mark the occasion.
The fair and celebration will be at the location of the new agri-park at the Crossroads on Sunday, July 27th and will feature a host of agricultural-themed events, as well as a series of speeches and presentations to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Farmers’ Institute and a ceremonial groundbreaking for the institute’s micro-abattoir project.
Provincial Ministry of …

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Public hearing date set for Jumbo ski area bylaw

Posted on July 18th, 2014 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
During its most recent council meeting, Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort Municipality council gave first and second readings to a zoning bylaw allowing for the construction of ski lifts and lodges.
The bylaw received the initial readings at the Tuesday, July 15th council meeting and applies to the controlled recreation area in the higher alpine areas of the municipality, with the exception of the Farnham Glacier. It allows for the land to be developed as a ski area, including the construction of ski lifts and other typical ski …

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