|  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.

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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MASTER OF CEREMONIES — Invermere’s longest serving marriage commissioner Andy Stuart-Hill will perform his final wedding ceremony this week, including four today (Friday, September 26th) before retiring as a commissioner. Mr. Stuart-Hill has married some 500 couples in the valley since 2004. Kyla Brown Photography

Readying for retirement

Posted on September 26th, 2014 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
Local marriage commissioner Andy Stuart-Hill will perform his final ceremonies this weekend before retiring from the role, after marrying more than 500 couples in the past decade.
Mr. Stuart-Hill — who has long been known in the valley for his various volunteer roles, his world traveling, and for writing a book on the history of Panorama Mountain Village — became even better known to almost 1,000 locals and visitors alike by joining them in matrimony on their wedding days, starting in May 2004.
“I’m just nearing the end of …

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La Cafamore returns to Invermere with new twist

Posted on September 26th, 2014 by


By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff
La Cafamore will soon be back in the valley again.
The classical music group has been performing in the Kootenay regions for more than six years, and has had numerous stops in Invermere during that time.
Although the composition of the group has morphed during the years, the one constant is the band’s commitment to classical music, and according to group member Carolyn Cameron, every concert has its own challenges and rewards — which, for Ms. Cameron in this tour, includes playing the piano instead of the violin …

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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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