By Dan Walton

Pioneer Staff

Threats of repercussions from the Interior Health Authority have prevented non-profits in the valley from fundraising with barbecues.

Unfortunately, regulations are at the point where you pretty much need a commercial kitchen to follow the rules, said Home Hardware owner Al Miller.

For the past 12 years, Mr. Miller has assisted many non-profits by hosting fundraiser barbecues out front of his store, but the May-long weekend was the last barbecue held at his store.

Norm Macdonald, MLA for Columbia River-Revelstoke, said that his office has received complaints about too much red tape over the past six to 12 months. While regulations seem to have become more strict, Dan Byron, Interior Health environmental health officer, said thats not the case.

Guidelines have not changed from last year and neither has Interior Healths approach, Mr. Byron said. Theres a lot that can be done to satisfy regulations.

But he added that staffing shortages in Invermere have reduced the opportunities to obtain assistance from health officials in meeting regulations.

Mr. Macdonald said the complaints are not unique to the Columbia Valley. In some parts of the province the interpretation of the rules has been overly onerous, he said. There just simply needs to be an adjustment.

But Mr. Byron said that no adjustments need to be made. We all [B.C. Health Authorities] follow the same guidelines and aim to have a consistent approach, he said.

Mr. Byron does not recall any recent cases of food-borne illnesses in the valley, and could not offer a reason for the stricter interpretation of the regulations in the Columbia Valley over the past year.

Its taken a lot of fun away from what we were doing, Mr. Miller said.

Illness caused by commercially prepared food can be reported to Interior Health at 250-862-4200. Mr. Byron said that, if possible, complainants should store a sample of the culprit leftovers for analysis. Those who feel that too much red tape has burdened the practice of fundraising barbecues can lodge a complaint with Mr. Macdonald. He can be contacted at his office by phone at 250-344-4816, or email at norm.macdonald.mla@leg.bc.ca.