The past 12 months have seen an action-packed selection of local news stories, from dramatic rescues after icy plunges into Lake Windermere at the start of the year to the tragic loss of life of a Radium woman in a car accident at the start of December.Looking back over the year, its amazing to reflect on what a vibrant community the Columbia Valley holds. This is far from the sleepy, small-town community it seems from the outside. Heres a reminder of each months big stories, in one of the most exciting news years the valley has ever seen.


Icy plunges

The start of 2012 saw a trio of falls through thin ice on Lake Windermere when locals Don Steedman, Jordie Kirk and Robert Madsen all plunged into the chilly waters. While the first two were uninjured but startled, Mr. Madsen suffered a shattered femur when his leg punched through shifting ice as he returned from a fishing trip.

Dry Gulch seeks water

Residents petitioned the Regional District of East Kootenay in January for another chance to vote on a proposal to bring water to their community, after turning down suggested upgrades in September 2011. The $1.8 million of provincial funding set aside for Dry Gulch was reallocated to Wilmer and Spur Valley in August.

Whiteway gets international attention

The Lake Windermere Whiteway came under the media spotlight as Invermere Mayor Gerry Taft sent out some premature invitations to celebrate the facility becoming a record breaker. Invermere is still chasing the Guiness World Record for longest and largest maintained ice surface.


Winter protests

The sounds of protests filled the streets in Invermere this February as deer cull opponents took to the streets twice to voice their displeasure at the upcoming trapping and euthanizing of up to 100 deer from the community. Also seen out with placards were the local teachers at the start of March, who protested the introduction of new provincial government legislation named Bill 22.

Delpine Lodge up in smoke

On February 20th, firefighters from Invermere had to douse Wilmers Delphine Lodge with water after a smoke plume was spotted rising from the roof. The landmark lodge escaped serious damage in the blaze, which damaged a secondary lodge building.

Drug dealer conflicts lead to assaults

A trio of assaults in Radium Hot Springs at the end of February had residents concerned for their safety, but were played down as grown-up bully tactics by the RCMP. The attacks, which were not reported to police, were attributed to drug conflicts by Staff Sgt. Marko Shehovac.

Deer cull begins

After the Invermere Deer Protection Organization lost a court battle to have an injunction against the District of Invermere extended, the municipalitys much-debated deer cull began on February 25th. After some tampering with traps and suspected interference from those opposing the cull, a total of just 19 animals were trapped and killed as part of the program, which originally had been intended to euthanize 100 deer.

In March, two members of the deer protection organization had charges recommended against them by local police after harassing the contractor hired to carry out the cull.


Teachers on strike

Columbia Valley teachers and educators across the province walked off the job on March 5th, leaving behind empty classrooms. The three-day walkout was part of an ongoing contract dispute between the Ministry of Education and the B.C. Teachers Federation. In April, teachers pulled out of involvement in voluntary duties outside work hours including school sports, clubs, activities and graduation ceremonies.

Dog escapes being devoured by owl

A tiny miniature Chihuahua named Roxy narrowly escaped becoming an owls dinner on March 7th, when the large bird swooped down and attempted to carry her away from her owners backyard. Fortunately the bird dropped Roxie and her owners intervened before she was seriously harmed.

Jumbo Glacier Resort approved

On March 20th, the provincial government made a Jumbo announcement that the paperwork permitting the mountain resort had been signed, allowing the project to move ahead. The proposal to build the $450 million resort, 55 kilometres west of Invermere, was submitted to the government in 1991, and spent 20 years tied up in ministry project reviews. The announcement met with vehement resistance from anti-Jumbo protestors, who took to the streets in April for a rally against the resorts construction.

Employment centre saved

The local employment centre, which was in danger of blinking out of existence, was saved at the end of March by a collaboration between the Family Resource Centre and Canadian Mental Health Association. The organizations took over the running of the centre when it was at threat of being closed in province-wide employment service changes.

Big bucks received for Canal Flats arena

When the provincial government pledged $800,000 in funding for the upgrades of the Canal Flats arena at the end of March, council and residents cheered the cash injection, which allowed the $1 million project to move ahead.


Avalanche strikes near Panorama

A human-triggered avalanche tore down the slopes of an out-of-bounds ski area near Panorama Mountain Village on April 1st. Although up to a dozen people were originally feared missing and buried in the slide, and two skiers had to be pulled to safety, rescue workers eventually determined that the avalanche claimed no victims.

Manslaughter in Invermere

Cory Jarock, a 31-year-old house painter living in Invermere, was found dead on the driveway of a 5th Avenue home on April 3rd. An investigation into Mr. Jarocks death led to charges of manslaughter, criminal negligence causing death, assault and robbery, all in relation to the death, being laid against Brian Panebianco, 23, also from Invermere. Mr. Panebiancos trial will be moving ahead in the new year.

Rick Hansen Relay visit

The Rick Hansen 25th Anniversary Relay passed through the valley on April 13th, with many local difference makers involved in carrying the famous relay medal. Kate Gibbs, one of the Invermere medal bearers, entered Pothole Park to rapturous applause from crowds of more than 200 supporters as the evening celebrations got underway.


Radium sawmill reopening announced

Eager workers and the community of Radium Hot Springs received early Christmas presents when it was announced that Canfor would reopen its Radium sawmill with a $38.5 million upgrade to improve efficiency. The mill was officially reopened on October 29th.

Radium Hot Springs pools to go private

Parks Canada announced plans to sell all three Canadian Rockies hot pools in Radium, Banff and Miette Hot Springs to private operators. At the Radium pools 20 out of 42 employees learned that they would be affected by the move at some point in the new year.

Deer protection group wins right to lawsuit

The Invermere Deer Protection Society received legal consent to sue the District of Invermere for damages relating to the February deer cull in B.C. Supreme Court. The presiding judge dismissed the District of Invermeres counter-suit to recover funds spent on the legal case.


Jumbo decision left to province

On June 8th, the Regional District of East Kootenay voted to uphold a 2009 decision turning over land use and planning decisions regarding Jumbo Glacier Resort to the province. A motion to recant the boards previous position was defeated by a vote of 8-7;the same tally as in 2009.

Campground declares state of emergency

Windermeres Shadybrook Campground & Resort was showered with a deluge of icy sediment-filled water, which spilled over from Windermere Creek and flooded trailers, patios and cut off water and sewer services to 20 sites.

Castle Rock crumbles under heavy rains

A heavy deluge showered down more than raindrops as the retaining wall supporting the entrance roadway to Castle Rock Estates broke apart on June 26th. Massive boulders crumbled towards Westside Road below, spurring a large-scale cleanup by the District of Invermere.


The July 15th Fairmont Hot Springs mudslide, which swept past the resort, across Mountainside Golf Course and through the neighbourhoods beside Fairmont Creek, caused millions of dollars worth of damage.

Thief nabs District of Invermere truck

A bold thief stole a District of Invermere truck while workers laboured less than 100 metres away at Kinsmen Beach on July 9th. A workers purse and several other valuable items were in the vehicle at the time.

Mudslide sweeps through Fairmont

On July 15th, a churning mass of mud, boulders and torn-up trees flooded through Fairmont Hot Springs, causing millions of dollars in damage and stranding 600 campers. The mudslide, caused by the bursting of a natural dam formed in a narrow section of Fairmont Creek above Fairmont Resort, washed out the road connecting the lodge to its RV park.

Conservation of Lot 48 celebrated

An untouched piece of nature on the eastern side of Columbia Lake received protection from development thanks to the efforts of the Nature Conservancy of Canada and partners. Lot 48, which is of deep spiritual significance to the local Ktunaxa Nation and considered to be ecologically sensitive, was purchased by the Nature Conservancy for $7.2 million.


Local theatre fights on despite digital switch

Invermeres Toby Theatre learned that their 60-year history of screening analog films will soon come to an end. Many Hollywood studios announced that they will no longer be producing films on reels, meaning vintage theatres like the Toby will have to purchase hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of new projection system.

Invermere Rowing Club gets adaptive

Valley local Jill Unger learned to glide through the waters of Lake Windermere as gracefully as she negotiates life. Ms. Unger, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999, was given the chance to skim Windermeres waters in a brand new $7,500 adaptive rowing boat.

Windermere cyclist represents Canada at Paralympics

Jaye Milley put his training to the test and represented the Columbia Valley and Canada in the road and track cycling categories of the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Mr. Milley, 21, was born without properly formed hands and feet, but trained himself to race a specially modified bike.


Invermere helipad reopens

The Invermere & District Hospitals helipad re-opened on September 13th after renovations were completed to bring it up to Transport Canada standards. The $300,000 project required the helipad to be relocated and increased in size, with new lighting and height restriction poles installed.

Nanofibre closes up for good

Nanofibre Networks, a local valley business offering Internet services, closed up shop for good at the end of September, after selling its assets to Shaw. Since its inception in 2007 the company had been losing money, explained Paul Partlo, chief financial officer.

Panebianco sentenced on drug charges

Brian Panebianco, 23, the accused in the Cory Jarock manslaughter case, received one-month sentences for drug charges unrelated to the death of 31-year-old Jarock, and remains in custody.

Four bears shot

Two adult bears and two cubs were shot and killed by conservation officers near Invermere after a home invasion and multiple close encounters, including a 300-pound bear lurking near Eileen Madson Primary school.

Rollbots take derby crown

Invermeres Killer Rollbots rolled to a championship finish in the inaugural season of the East Kootenay Roller Derby League, defeating Fernies Avalanche City Rollergirls on September 15th.


Rockies coaching switch-up

Coach Marc Ward abruptly left his position with the Columbia Valley Rockies hockey team on September 25th, clearing the way for Ross Bidinger to take over as coach, along with a trio of Dubielewicz brothers.

Canfor sawmill reopens

Canfors Radium sawmill and planer reopened in mid-October to great relief from Radium Hot Springs residents and former mill workers, some of whom had been out of a job for nearly three years. More than 80 per cent of the unionized employees returned to work at the modernized site, where $38.5 million worth of upgrades had been carried out.

Flying rock causes fatality

An unusual accident claimed the life of a 37-year-old Calgary mother, who was killed by a rock flying through the windshield of a car near Canal Flats. An investigation is still ongoing, though the rock appears to have flown from between the tire treads of a low bed trailer truck. The woman was later named as Janice Cairns. Her husband and two children were in the vehicle at the time of the accident.

Dismembered deer in Invermere

A deer-poaching spree near Kpokl Road in Invermere meant five separate callouts for conservation officers between October 2nd and 12th, as local deer were found with grievous injuries and had to be put down.

The crackle of electricity

A new 230-kilovolt, $114-million BC Hydro power line was energized on October 23rd, ensuring a more reliable power supply between Invermere and Golden.


Huge water leak fixed

A major water leak that had been spewing up to 10 litres per second of drinking water into the ground beneath a road in Invermeres Wilder subdivision was found and fixed, after it was revealed a four-inch cap on section of pipe was missing.

Fraudster sentenced to house arrest

A Calgary man was sentenced to 24 months of house arrest after being found guilty of fraud related to the Spirits Reach development near Canal Flats. John Groothius still owes a share of the $2.86 million awarded in a civil suit to the developers.

Veterans remembered

Edgewater, Invermere and Canal Flats remembered local veterans with well-attended Remembrance Day services in all three communities.

Jumbo Mountain Resort Municipality approved

A mountain resort municipality was given the go-ahead for Jumbo Glacier Resort on November 19th, prompting a mixed outpouring of support and opposition for the ski resort project. An initially appointed council was named for the 5,925-hectare, zero-population community, located near Jumbo Mountain, 55 kilometres west of Invermere.

Huge donation to community foundation

A donation of more than $2 million from the estate of Canal Flats Arnold Ellis created a huge endowment for the Columbia Valley Community Foundation, and bolstered a broad post-secondary scholarship fund for David Thompson Secondary students.

Thrift shop targeted

The Invermere Thrift Shop was targeted twice within 10 days by thieves looking to get an even better deal on used merchandise. Three young adults were caught in the act by a security camera at the store.

Kicking Horse Coffee partners with U.S. company

Kicking Horse Coffee took on a U.S.-based private equity partner in a multi-million dollar deal that will expand the reach of Invermeres biggest business success story to south of the border and into Quebec.


Regional district speaks out against resort municipality

The Regional District of East Kootenay made its displeasure known over the provinces decision to allow a non-elected director to have a vote at the regional table. The board passed a motion to send a letter of complaint to Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development Bill Bennett.

Tragic accident claims Radium womans life

Shirley Dian Hudson, of Radium, sadly passed away on December 12th after a two-vehicle collision on Highway 93/95 just north of Invermere. Icy road conditions are being investigated by the RCMP as a possible cause for the accident.

The reopening of Radiums Canfor sawmill in mid-October was cause for much celebration from former workers, 80 per cent of whom regained their jobs. The mill was closed for almost three-and-a–half years.