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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.

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

Going Dutch in Fairmont

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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SURGERY SUPPORT - A fundraiser to help with Zoey Shagar-Massie's medical bills is taking place at the Whitehouse Pub on Saturday, July 19th. Photo submitted

Pub holds fundraiser for local girl

Posted on July 18th, 2014 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
The Whitehouse Pub in Windermere is holding a fundraiser this weekend to help a former Canal Flats girl who suffers from a rare genetic, bone-growth disorder.
Zoey Shagar-Massie was diagnosed with Jeune Syndrome, or Asphyxiating Thoracic Dystrophy, not long after being born in November 2010 to parents Shaylene Sagar and Glen Massie.
The couple, who have since had a second daughter, used to live in Canal Flats, but now live in Cranbrook to be closer to the East Kootenay Regional Hospital, and say Zoey always wakes up with …

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Local RCMP officer heads to Nunavut

Posted on July 18th, 2014 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
The longest-serving constable in the local Columbia Valley RCMP detachment is heading north next week for a three-year posting to Nunavut.
Constable Tim Harper is heading to the Nunavut community of Kugluktuk today (Friday, July18th) — just nine days after Canada marks Nunavut Day — along with his wife Ali and their black lab Lucy and yellow lab Oakley, after six and half years here in the valley, trading cranking the pedals on the valley’s mountain bike trails and ripping down Taynton Bowl for the chance to live …

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Co-operative community effort helps fix up Swansea Road

Posted on July 14th, 2014 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
The drive up to the top of Mt. Swansea will be a little smoother this summer, thanks to a co-operative effort to repair the gravel road up there.
Several user groups, organized by local paraglider Max Fanderl, banded together to raise the $5,500 and considerable donations of time and money needed to retrench and touch up the road. Mr. Fanderl has been going up the Swansea road for 20 years and said that in the past five years he’s noticed that the road tends to deteriorate much more …

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ONE GEAR — Invermere riders Steve O’Shaughnessy and Jordie Kirk will head to Alaska next week for the Single Speed World Championship. Photo by Steve Hubrecht

Local riders get set for wild ride in Alaska

Posted on July 14th, 2014 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
Two local mountain bikers are heading to Alaska next week to take part in the Single Speed World Championship, with the hopes of not just winning the race, but also earning the right for Invermere to host the event next year.
Steve O’Shaughnessy and Jordie Kirk fly up to Anchorage on Thursday, July 17th for the three-day championship running from Friday, July 18th through Sunday, July 20th. The multi-day event includes the championship race, a separate as-yet-to-be determined competition to decide who will play host to next year’s …

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MINISTERIAL MATTERS — Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Todd Stone (left), Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development Coralee Oakes and Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Benett pose for a quick photo during their visit to the valley on Thursday, June 26th. Photo by Steve Hubrecht

Provincial ministers visit Invermere, tour Jumbo

Posted on July 4th, 2014 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
Three provincial ministers visited the Upper Columbia Valley last week, attending a BC Liberal party event followed by a helicopter tour to the Jumbo area.
The three ministers — Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Todd Stone, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development Coralee Oakes and Minister of Energy and Mines (and Kootenay-East MLA) Bill Bennett — took part in a private BC Liberal breakfast fundraiser at Copper Point Resort on Thursday, June 26th after Ms. Oakes met with Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort Municipality council. Bighorn helicopters …

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New liquor laws pave the way for local happy hour

Posted on July 4th, 2014 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
Happy hour is back in B.C. to the delight of most restaurant and pub owners.
A raft of changes to provincial regulations, released on Friday, June 20th, allow pubs and restaurants to discount the price of alcoholic beverages early in the day, reintroducing ‘happy hour’, which had previously existed in B.C. and which most other provinces still have.
“I think it’s great to have a little bit of flexibility,” said Safta’s co-owner Kd Golan, speaking on the new rules.
“Woo-hoo, it’s about time. They had to make some changes because …

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Library, VFC will be in second phase of new multi-use centre

Posted on June 27th, 2014 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
The new multi-use centre’s steering committee voted unanimously to recommend keeping the main hall and multipurpose rooms as the key items in the centre’s first phase at the committee’s most recent meeting.
The June 24th meeting drew a packed audience of 21 people, but the tone this week was calmer than during the previous meeting two weeks prior, with no interjected questions and comments.
The committee discussed space allocation for the new centre, a topic spurred by the most recent concept design plans from the consulting architect company on …

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Real estate market in valley may not be stable, warns expert

Posted on June 27th, 2014 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
The real estate market in the valley may not be as stable as some think, according to a prominent Canadian financial expert.
Last week, The Pioneer reported the median price of a single family home in the Upper Columbia Valley is so far $359,000 for 2014, was $394,000 for 2013 and was $400,000 for 2012, figures touted by BC Assessment and local realtors as a sign of stabilizing real estate prices, if not a harbinger of a coming rising trend in the market. But former Canadian Minster of …

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New fair revives agri-tradition

Posted on June 27th, 2014 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
The Windermere District Farmers’ Institute will mark its 100th anniversary this year with a summer fair at the location of the new agri-park, near the Crossroads, as the organization draws closer to raising enough funds to start building its micro-abattoir project.
In the latest funding announcement, the Southern Interior Development Initiative Trust (SIDIT) approved a $50,000 grant to help build the abattoir.
“We are grateful to the SIDIT for its support of this important project that we have been working on for years. The abattoir will benefit the Columbia …

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