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City of Merritt stuck with former BC Hydro building as courthouse, despite safety concerns.

Councillor Mike Goetz not pleased that the building on Voght street continues to serve as the city's court house.

"We've been down to see the Minister of Justice the last two years at UBCM to talk about how unsafe this building is and how lawyers won't come to it. And, how victims and perpetrators have to enter and exit through the same doors. and sit in the same waiting sections. We get agreement from the ministry, and a lot of shaking heads, but don't seem to be getting any action. As a city, we have also made a pitch to buy the RCMP building, and attach a courthouse at our own expense, but continue to get no traction."

The City of Merritt has no say where court services are offered, and is only involved in the process of renewing the lease for the former BC Hydro building on Voght St, because the province is unable legally to sign a lease with a Crown corporation.

The current lease agreement with BC Provincial Court Services, renewed last night by Mayor and Council, is in place until January 2019.

A coalition of four international unions has launched a campaign to remind Kinder Morgan not to put profits ahead of safety when it begins work to expand the Trans Mountain pipeline this fall.

Patrick Campbell with the International Union of Operating Engineers says the unions involved support pipeline construction for the jobs that it generates, but are concerned about the safety of the $7.4 billion expansion.

"We have built the majority of all the National Energy Board pipelines in Canada, and our contractors were responsible for the construction of the original Trans Mountain pipeline. Our concern is that this level of BC based skill is not being called upon to build the expansion."

The IUOE and three other unions which support pipeline construction launched a website to express their concerns this week, www.safetybeforeprofits.ca.

It was a strong year financially for the City of Merritt last year.

At last night's regular meeting, BDO Canada LLP's Mario Piroddi presented the city's 2016 audited financial statements.

He painted a rosy picture, informing Mayor and Council that both revenues and assets were up, and debt was down.

Another positive, the City now has an unrestricted surplus of over $4.8 million.

"A municipality should have anywhere between 5% and 25% sitting in unrestricted surplus. The smaller the community, the less certainty over the tax base, the higher on that end you should be. For example, if you are a city like Vancouver you want to be down at the 5%. The City of Merritt currently sits at 25%, which is right where you want to be."

Following 2016, the City of Merritt now has over $58-million in tangible financial assets.

 

Prescribed burn scheduled for the area between Parker Drive and Central Park next month.

To reduce the threat of a wildfire in the area, Merritt Fire Rescue Department chief David Tomkinson confirms the prescribed burn will take place on May 6th.

"There's standing, and matted grass on the slope we want to take care of. We can't wait too long, or conditions won't be conducive to burning."

Members of the MFRD will be on scene to make sure the burn remains under control.

The burn is expected to be completed the same day, and will only proceed if weather and site conditions are ideal.

Male facing charges after being caught with gun at a Merritt pub.

During a Bar Walk at the Coldwater Pub Saturday night, Cst Tracy Dunsmore says officers observed two males who they believed to be under age.

When they attempted to check the males identification, they bolted for the door.

"Members caught them at the backdoor. There was a scuffle. When they searched the one male, they located a loaded .32 revolver, a knife and a quantity of cash."

As a result, 22-year-old Johnny Drynock of New Westminster has been charged with possession of a firearm, carrying a concealed weapon (the knife) and breach of probation.

His brother, 20-year-old Michael Drynock of Merritt, was charged with obstructing a peace officer, and breach of probation.

Both are expected to make their first appearance in court in Merritt on Thursday.

 

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