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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.

Sunchaser class action lawsuit hearing begins

Posted on January 15th, 2016 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
A longstanding class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of thousands of Sunchaser Villas timeshare owners is currently being heard in court in Vancouver, with the proceedings expected to last until later this month.
“The trial began on Monday, January 4th and is underway,” said the claimants’ lawyer Michael Geldert, adding that lawyers from Victoria-based Cox Taylor have been representing his clients in court.
The trial is scheduled to run a full three weeks through to January 22nd.
The Pioneer attempted to contact the two Cox Taylor lawyers involved in the case …

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Relocation study not jeopardized by urban deer culls

Posted on January 15th, 2016 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
The alleged launch of an urban deer cull in Cranbrook that grabbed attention on January 12th after cull opposition groups released a video showing a fawn caught in a clover trap in a Cranbrook yard (and the botched killing of the fawn by contractors) will not affect the trial East Kootenay urban deer relocation study scheduled for this winter, nor will the ongoing urban deer cull in Invermere (which is running again this year from December to March as it did last winter).
In the wake of the …

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Growing the valley’s permanent population eyed

Posted on January 15th, 2016 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
Local residents and second homeowners will get a chance to give their input into the Columbia Valley Resident Attraction and Retention Strategy at a focus group session later this month.
“It’s an opportunity for us (the Upper Columbia Valley municipalities and rural areas) to get the opinions of local residents on what keeps them here,” said Invermere mayor Gerry Taft. “There are some obvious benefits to having more people here in the valley, and that’s what we’re trying to do by developing this valley-wide strategy. We all think …

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day-passes

Lake Windermere Whiteway welcomed at last

Posted on January 8th, 2016 by


The Whiteway should be up and running by the time this edition of The Pioneer is printed, with Whiteway maintainer Brad Kitching having made the first plow of the world-famous Nordic ski and ice skating trail the afternoon before the paper went to press.
“I just put down the first plow of the year, so we actually now have a Whiteway this year,” Mr. Kitching told The Pioneer on Tuesday, January 5th. “We’ve got it opened, I’ll do some track setting and it should be good to go tomorrow afternoon.”
A …

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Property assessment values in valley see slight increase

Posted on January 8th, 2016 by


B.C. Assessment’s notices for this year are in the mail. As Kootenay-Columbia region residents receive them in the next week or so, most property owners in the Upper Columbia Valley can expect to see the value of their homes having increased by about 10 per cent as compared to last year.
The 2016 assessment notices reflect the assessed value of homes on July 1st, 2015. For Invermere, the average 2016 single family home assessment value is $371,000 (up about 10 per cent from the average 2015 home assessment value of $342,000); …

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HOT STUFF — Smokin’ Ray and the Detectors will be lighting up the Bear’s Paw and Grill in Fairmont on January 8th and 9th. Photo submitted

Smokin’ Ray gets set to smoulder

Posted on January 8th, 2016 by


Smokin’ Ray and the Detectors are set to take Fairmont Hot Springs by storm with their thundering classic rock sound.
The Golden-based band has only been playing together for about a year and a half, but most of the band members have at least five decades of being musicians under their belts, and their combined talent has already had heads turned and toes tapping in previous Columbia Valley shows in Invermere and Radium Hot Springs.
“We do R&B, blues, classic rock and a few late ‘50s surf tunes,” said keyboard player Brian …

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Deer relocation project underway

Posted on January 8th, 2016 by


An urban deer relocation trial study will start this winter in several East Kootenay communities, including Invermere.
The trial has been the subject of considerable discussion in recent months, and will be carried out by Cranbrook-based VAST Resource Solutions Inc. The launch of the project, even in pilot form, comes after years of back and forth on the urban deer issue between Kootenay municipalities, a few municipalities from elsewhere in B.C., and the provincial government (which has jurisdiction over all wildlife in B.C., including urban deer).
“The objective of this project is …

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Krissy Vann and Deb Matejicka

Weather Network gets firsthand look at valley

Posted on December 25th, 2015 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
The Weather Network was in the Columbia Valley just before the holidays, enjoying everything the valley has to offer in the winter.
Calgary network correspondent Deb Matejicka and Vancouver correspondent Krissy Vann were joined by outdoor photographer and writer Dax Justin and public relations consultant Noelle Aune, from Thursday, December 17th to Sunday, December 20th.
“Everything has been a fresh experience for me, since I’ve never really been in the mountains before, and what an experience it is. Magical is the word to describe it,” said Ms. …

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TIP TOP TRAIL — It’s precisely these Whiteway conditions that a pair of local high school students are hoping for so they can proceed with their plans to hold the first winter version of the Rotary’s Loop the Lake community race. File photo by Nicole Trigg

Students and Rotary team up to plan winter Whiteway event

Posted on December 25th, 2015 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
A pair of David Thompson Secondary School students plan to use the Whiteway to create a winter version of the popular Loop the Lake summertime event.
Amira El Wakeel and Anna Arif have been working with the Rotary Club of Invermere to put together a family-friendly skating, Nordic skiing and running event on the lake, as a fundraiser for the planned Westside Legacy Trial.
“We just thought it would be a really fun idea to have a community event or a race on the Whiteway,” said Amira. “So we …

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GOOD PRESS — Top Canadian travel blogger Leigh McAdam was introduced to backcountry snowmobiling during her recent trip to the valley. Photo submitted

High profile blogger makes winter visit to valley

Posted on December 18th, 2015 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
Renowned travel blogger Leigh McAdam was recently visiting the Upper Columbia Valley, and left praising the area’s winter recreation opportunities.
Ms. McAdam, who has visited the valley several times previously and picked the Whiteway as one of her Top 100 outdoor options in the country in her book Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures, was here from Tuesday, December 8th to Thursday, December 10th.
Her visit saw her zipping through the backcountry with some of the valley’s snowmobile tour operators, savouring the local hot springs, and going for …

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Invermere man killed in accident near Fairmont Hot Springs

Posted on December 18th, 2015 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
An Invermere man was killed in a fatal traffic accident just south of Fairmont Hot Springs last week.
On Wednesday, December 9th, the 73-year-old local man was northbound in a Toyota sedan on Highway 93/95 when he crossed the centre line and collided head-on with a tractor trailer heading southbound.
The East Kootenay Traffic Services and B.C. Coroner’s Service have investigated the incident, with assistance from the Columbia Valley RCMP, but cannot yet make the results of the investigation public.
“We can’t disclose it yet, but we do have a …

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Christmas Jam returns

Posted on December 18th, 2015 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
The Windermere Valley Musicians Who Care are reviving a festive tradition and are set to once again hold the Christmas Jam.
The Christmas Jam had been previously held for a number of years at the old Lakeside Pub. After the Lakeside Pub closed, it was held at Angus McToogle’s, but it has been on hiatus for the past two years.
“We’ve raised funds the past two holiday seasons with the Christmas Valley CD, but we always had fun doing it (the jam), so we thought it was time to …

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NETWORKING — The Weather Network journalist with the Calgary Bureau, Deb Matejicka interviewing Copper Point Golf Club professional Casey Johnson during The Network’s visit to the Columbia Valley this past summer. Photo submitted

Weather Network is coming to town

Posted on December 11th, 2015 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
The valley is set to get some massive Canada-wide television exposure in a week’s time, when the Weather Network comes to visit.
A pair of representatives from the network will stay at Copper Point Resort from Wednesday, December 16th to Thursday, December 20th and will do their best during that time to sample as many Columbia Valley winter activities as possible.
Copper Point general manager Amanda Robinson told The Pioneer the Weather Network had visited the resort and valley in the summer for two days, trying out the summer …

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PLUSH PLANE — Integra Air hopes to attract new East Kootenay-Calgary commuters with its comfortable cabin and convenient new flight times. Photo submitted

New Cranbrook-Calgary flight starts in new year

Posted on December 11th, 2015 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
A charter airline will soon start offering new flights between Cranbrook and Calgary, a move that could help bring more tourists to the East Kootenay and make the commute to the big city easier for local residents.
Integra Air will be flying the route six days a week starting on Friday, January 4th, with evening flights from Calgary to Cranbrook and back each Sunday though Friday, as well as morning flights on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
“We wanted to do a bit of growing. We offer somewhat similar …

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GLOBAL ATTENTION — A photo of an avalanche path in Jumbo Valley that is featured in Patagonia’s current snow catalogue. Photo by Garrett Grove

Resort proponent responds to Jumbo Wild film

Posted on December 11th, 2015 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
Last week, The Pioneer reported on Patagonia’s increasing involvement in the Jumbo Wild campaign, interviewing Patagonia director of environmental campaigns and advocacy Hans Cole about the international apparel company sponsoring the Jumbo Wild film and dedicating its entire snow catalogue and part of its alpine catalogue to the issue.
This week, The Pioneer continues this story, with comments from snow catalogue writer Mike Berard, as well as Phedias Project Management Corp. president Oberto Oberti’s letter in response to the Jumbo Wild film and his comments on protection …

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TOP OF TAYNTON — The new Outback Ridge track that runs the Ridgeline of Taynton Bowl gives skiers and snowboarders easy access to some of Panorama’s exciting terrain. Drone photo by Jamie Hurschler

Panorama develops new Taynton Bowl offerings

Posted on December 11th, 2015 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
Panorama Mountain Resort has plenty of new things happening on the mountain this year, with something for skiers and riders of just about every age and ability.
For strong intermediate and advanced skiers, there’s a lot new terrain in the resort’s legendary Taynton Bowl. An extensive glading effort has opened up large parts of it, there is an all-new access track, and there’s a whole new program offered by Panorama’s Ski and Ride Centre specifically targeting Taynton.
“So there’s a new road, new runs (from the glading) and a …

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Pineridge builds community park

Posted on December 4th, 2015 by


Recent clearing work up at Pine Ridge Mountain Resort, a subdivision on the edge of Invermere, has generated discussion among local residents.
Development of the subdivision began at least six or seven years ago, but slowed considerably following the global economic recession that began in 2008 and 2009. Recent activity, however, had valley locals speculating that the developers were going ahead and building some the recreational amenities that had long been planned for the subdivision, perhaps even — given the colder temperatures — an ice rink, just in time for the …

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The DTSS Leadership class helped distribute purple light during this yea's Purple Lights Campaign

Students promote purple glow

Posted on December 4th, 2015 by


The Purple Light Campaign to highlight and condemn violence against women has returned to the valley, and this year the David Thompson Secondary School (DTSS) Leadership group lent its support to help get local businesses glowing purple.
The students joined the Family Dynamix Association (which has organized the campaign for the past several years) to distribute lamps with unmistakable purple bulbs to businesses throughout downtown Invermere on Monday, November 30th — the day after the anniversary of the 1989 Montreal Massacre.
“We believe that women should be treated with respect and should …

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Welcoming refugees in the valley examined

Posted on November 27th, 2015 by


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau plans to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada in the next few months, and B.C. Premier Christy Clark said last week that B.C. is ready to take in 3,500 of them.
She indicated that smaller towns in rural B.C., particularly those in northern B.C. with more employment prospects and more affordable housing than in coastal B.C., might make more suitable destinations than urban areas.
In response to her announcement, some in the Columbia Valley were quick to point out that the Upper Columbia Valley, with its tourism industry …

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Jumbo mayor welcomes dismissal

Posted on November 20th, 2015 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
The B.C. Supreme Court dismissed the West Kootenay EcoSociety’s petition against the creation of Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort Municipality last week, a move welcomed by the municipality.
“The decision isn’t surprising. I think the point of the legal challenge was just to create uncertainty. I regret court time was taken up with so weak a case,” said Jumbo mayor Greg Deck late last week.
The Pioneer reported on the dismissal in last week’s edition of the paper, but with the verdict coming not long before press deadline, there …

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