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A snowy March on the Coquihalla.

VSA Highway Maintenance spokesperson Bob Gilowski confirms that about 50% more snow than normal fell at the summit.

"Typically, in March we see 160cm of snowfall. This March, at the summit we saw just over 250cm of snow fall."

The increased snow at higher elevations throughout BC's Interior last month, has lead to seasonal flooding concerns in many areas, including here in the Nicola Valley.

Bass Coast harm reduction teams are ready, but not expecting an increase in overdoses resulting from fentanyl this summer.

"It's actually easier to find somebody to talk to about the issues surrounding drugs at Bass Coast, than it is in a normal community. So, we're not that worried."

There were no overdoses reported at the Merritt electronic music and art festival last year, and while she says they will be prepared, co-founder Liz Thomson indicates they are not expecting a sudden increase because of the rise in overdoses and deaths in the past year because the deadly opioid.

"It's a social issue that hasn't spiked in our particular community. We continue our year-round educational approach. We don't promote or condemn the use of drugs, we just provide education."

Last year in BC a record 922 fatal overdoses were recorded, with more than half the result of fentanyl.

Since Bass Coast moved from Squamish to Merritt in 2013, the most overdoses recorded in a single year was three, but none have been fatal.

UPDATE April 15th 1:15pm: Robert Raymond Dezwaan has been re-captured.

 

Man who admitted to killing a Merritt teenager escapes from prison.

Correctional Services Canada confirms Robert Raymond Dezwaan was not accounted for earlier this afternoon at the Mission Institution.

Dezwaan is currently serving a 16-year prison sentance after pleading guilty to killing 16-year-old Cherish Oppenheim in Merritt back in 2001.

He is 53-years-old, 6'1, 186lbs, bald, with green eyes.

Anyone who sees, or knows of his whereabouts is asked to contact Merritt RCMP or Crime Stoppers.

Policies surrounding secondary suites within the City of Merritt to be reviewed.

The motion from Councillor Linda Brown was at Tuesday's regular meeting, with the hope of creating more rental options for potential residents.

The review will look at ways the city can create more rental suites, and options for registering illegal suites already operating in the city.

"I would like us to be able to bring the illegal suites operating in the city up to code. Not to shut them down, but work with owners to number one, want to upgrade, and number to a level which is safe for those renting the unit."

With Merritt's rental vacancy at virtually 0%, and the city expecting as many as 600 workers to come to the city the next three-years to help build the Merritt section of Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, Brown believes developing additional rental options is a must moving forward.

Merritt making a bid to host the Canadian High School Rodeo Finals.

President of the Nicola Valley Pro Rodeo Association Allison Thompson confirms they are preparing a bid, to bring the championship to the Nicola Valley in 2018.

"This is our only opportunity for a while to bring the finals to BC. If nobody makes a bid they would return to Nanton, Alberta. The finals rotate throughout the provinces, so if we miss out next year, we won't have another opportunity for at least six years."

Staging the Canadian High School Rodeo Finals in Merritt would not only be huge for rodeo fans, but also the area economy.

"It would bring over 300 competitors to the city. Along with parents, grand parents and a whole bunch of other people. That's a lot of food, a lot of gas, and a lot of hotel rooms."

Thompson says they plan to submit a bid soon, and should find out by the end of July if it was successful.

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