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Nomination day for the BC NDP in Fraser-Nicola.

Members in the riding will be voting for either Harry Lali, or Aaron Sam to represent the party in the riding in May’s election today.

Both expressed confidence this week, and expect to take the nomination.

For the former four-time MLA and cabinet minister Lali, it comes down to experience, and reputation.

"They want a fighter. They want somebody, a known entity, they know they can trust. And, that's why I believe that I will win the nomination, and the riding during the election."

As for the two-term Chief of the Lower Nicola Indian Band, who has received the endorsement of party leader John Horgan, Sam believes he represents the change that will be needed to defeat the BC Liberals.

"I'm young, energetic, and about change. I will bring a new voice to both the BC NDP, and the Fraser-Nicola riding."

The nomination meeting is being held in Merritt today.

 

Another snowy commute can be expected for those taking the Coquihalla today.

A snow fall warning for Hwy 5 from Merritt to Hope remains in place with a much as 10cm expected to fall today, after as much as 15 cm has already fallen on the highway since late yesterday afternoon.

VSA spokesperson Bob Gilowski says crews were out last night, and this morning working to clear as much of the snow and slush as possible.

"We are still expecting mixed-rain and snow showers. The snow level is hovering around 600m. So, that means rain on the valley bottom, and snow on the upper levels. Winter driving conditions are far from over."

Gilowski adds that March has already seen the amount of snowfall we typically see in the entire month this year.

 

The fatal drug overdoses continue to rack up around the province, as the BC Coroner's Service reports 102 illicit drug overdoses in February.

It's an increase of 73% from February 2016, and averages out to nearly 4 deaths a day for the month.

So far this year, there have been 218 illicit drug overdose deaths in the province, including two in Merritt.

2016 was the worst year on record, with 922 deaths, many tied to fentanyl.

Nearly half of the Kengard Manor destroyed by fire, leaving residents in limbo.

"I'd say just under 50%. There's water and smoke damage throughout, but from fire damage it's mostly the north-wing of the building. The south wing has not been impinged by fire."

Merritt Fire Rescue Department Chief David Tomkinson confirms the damage is leading to some structural concerns for the building.

"We have concerns certainly with the stability of the north-wing, and are asking the public to stay out of the area and let the firefighters work."

Tomkinson says it will be a while still before residents will find out when the may can return.

"We still have crews on scene attending to some hot spots. The investigation is just starting, and as I speak it looks like insurance adjusters are arriving on scene."

As many as 60 residents have been displaced by fire at the Merritt Ave apartment complex fire that burned for almost 15 hours.

Those that haven't checked in at the Merritt Civic Centre are encouraged to.

As for the 84 neighboring residents that remain without power, BC Hydro is estimating that it will be at least 3pm before it is restored.

Harry Lali confident about earning the nomination for Fraser-Nicola and winning the riding back for the BC NDP.

"They want a fighter, they want somebody, a known entity, they know they can trust. And, that's why I believe that I will win the nomination, and the riding during the election."

The former four-term MLA and cabinet minister has been extremely critical of the circumstances that lead to the shutdown of the Tolko sawmill in Merritt back in December.

"Aside from our mayor here, I'm the only one who actually came out publicly against the closure in a big way. and I challenged Tolko to not pull out of town, and I challenged the MLA that timber aught not to be leaving our community."

Lali lost his seat in the legislature in the 2014 provincial election to first-time BC Liberal candidate Jackie Tegart by just 614 votes, the narrowest margin of victory in the province.

The NDP nomination meeting in which members will decide between Lali, and Lower Nicola Indian Band Chief Aaron Sam is set for tomorrow.

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