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The Merritt City Council unanimously approved a recommendation to apply for a pair of grants; the B.C Provincial Nominee Entrepreneur Immigration Regional Pilot and the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot.

The pilot programs are designed to make it easier for foreign investors to come to Canada and more specifically to rural communities.

Community Futures here in Merritt is leading the charge on the programs and Business Analyst Manuel Olguin spoke about the pilot projects.

“The Province is launching a different pilot program targeting rural communities such as Merritt,” said Olguin. “The original program was an option for entrepreneurs to establish or buy a business anywhere in B.C. Now the pilot program is an option for entrepreneurs from other countries to come to rural communities.”

Not everybody can apply to this program as the project has a list of economic and personal requirements. The entrepreneur must be able to speak English. And must be willing to invest a minimum of $200,000 into a new or existing business. Along with the investment, they must also have a net worth of $600,000.

Councillor Mike Bhangu did raise a concern about the potential of an investors family not being able to speak English being a burden on the community. Mayor Linda Brown didn’t see that as being a problem.

“I think it’s difficult for them, but this is a choice the family makes. I don’t think it’s a burden on the community,” said Mayor Brown.

Councillor Travis Fehr nicely wrapped everything up.

“Any burden that the community might have to bare due to language difficulties is fair outweighed by the advantage of having an entrepreneurial investor of that caliber,” commented Fehr.


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City hall

The City of Merritt in considering rezoning 1104 and 1132 Midday Valley Road. The proposed measure is to change the plots of land from residential to light industrial.

Mayor Linda Brown spoke to the decision during last weeks council meeting.

“We look at this property and we say how in the world could it ever have been set aside for residential. I have no idea who would build residential in the middle of an industrial park,” said Mayor Brown.

A hearing into the matter is scheduled to be held on Tuesday February 26th, at 7 pm. Anybody who would like to address the proposed plan will have the opportunity to do so at the meeting. And written statements must be submitted by Thursday 21st, at 12 noon.


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Priest fire

On Sunday night at approximately 9:30 pm the Merritt Fire Department responded to a fire on Priest Avenue. When crews arrived on scene the detached garage at the residence was fully involved and the fire was extending to the residential structure.

All four occupants of the home escaped from the house. Two had minor injuries, including one that was transported to hospital.

At this time the cause of the fire is not considered to be suspicious. Investigators are set to return to the scene on Tuesday.

In total 19 firefighters responded to the call. Crews left the scene at around 2:30 am Monday morning.

more to come

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hgb 9

Stu Middleton was in Merritt yesterday speaking to the Centennials about his tragic story, which became the inspiration for Hockey Gives Blood.

Hockey Gives Blood is a non-profit society that has partnered with the Canadian Blood Services in an effort to reduce blood shortages nationwide. The inspiration for this group came from two separate events; the first being the death of Tom Middleton, Stu’s father, and the second being the Humboldt Broncos tragedy. Stu’s father was killed on the Trans-Canada Highway while heading to one his Junior games in 2000.

“I found out my dad was killed traveling to one of my games, I found that out, about the accident, in the dressing room. And ultimately learned of his death away from home,” said Stu. “I felt from that accident no difference was ever made. When the Humboldt Broncos tragedy happened, I just thought that could be the same thing, something had to come from this. If players and teams from across the country could make blood donation a part of their program a real difference could be made to save lives.”

Stu’s teammates and the local hockey community helped him through that difficult time just as Canadians witnessed the hockey community rallying together to help those affected by the accident in Humboldt. In wake of the 2018 tragedy, Hockey Gives Blood set out to build something that is positive, is long-lasting, and is a tool for the hockey community to make a positive impact at every level.

“Our platform is that if the leaders are doing it, which you guys will be. You have the opportunity to make a difference,” Stu told the Cents players. “If we encourage you at a younger age, there is a good chance when you get older you might become a life long donor. Or you might just get involved in different capacity. The main message here is, that when I was younger nobody told me it was important. We’re here to tell you it is.”

Hockey gives blood is partnered with a tonne of junior hockey teams across the country, and with the Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames and Toronto Maple Leafs of the NHL.

Stu Middleton also spoke to the partnership they have formed to help raise awareness for stem cell research and donations.

“We were asked by Canadian Blood Services to be the face of their stem cell campaign,” he said. “All you have to do register as a stem cell donor is go online. You fill out a form online and they will send you a swab kit right to your house. And in less than 20 minutes you can be registered, and you could save someone’s life.”

To learn more about the stem cell testing go to

And while Hockey Gives Blood resonates a strong message to those who lace them up, you don’t have to be player or coach to make a difference. Every year Canada Blood Services needs 100,000 new donors.

The closest donor centres to Merritt are in Kamloops and Kelowna.


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Nicola Valley Theatre

During Tuesdays council meeting, the Nicola Valley Theatre Society followed up on their proposal to build a Performing Arts Theatre near the Civic Centre. The Society presented council with multiple options for placement of the theatre, some detached, and others connected to the Civic Centre.

The Performing Arts Theatre is a separate project from the Nicola Valley Community Theatre, which is another project the Society is attempting to have built in Merritt.

The Community Theatre is a proposed multi-theatre building with three separate theatres. The first would be a 133-seat flexible theatre with a stage for live performance. The other two theatres would have 101 and 81 seats respectively. The project would be on the corner of Garcia and Coutlee. Grants and other funding are still being acquired before shovels can break ground.

The Performing Arts Theatre near the Civic Centre is a proposed 276 seat theatre. To date 1.5 million dollars has been raised and acquired through grants for the project.

Director with Merritt Theatre Society Rich Hodson spoke with Q101 about why he believes so strongly in bring these projects forward.

“Arts and culture is a growing industry,” said Hodson. “It really important to bring people into Merritt. To get the tourism thing going. All these venues are out there, but they bypass Merritt because we don’t have a facility to hold them.”

Along with the cultural benefits, Director David Brown saw another great benefit the city could see from the projects.

“If there is any potential employer looking at relocating to the Nicola Valley. One of the things they look for is what are some of the activities my employees could do. What is the quality of life,” asked Brown? “Do we have school systems and hospitals, but more importantly arts and culture. And there finding that, that is the drawing card throughout the Province.”

The theatre would also give the city of Merritt a complete convention centre. A strong selling point due its perceived tourism draw.

Some of the concerns raised at the meeting about the proposed Performing Art Theatre, was parking and the day-to-day operational costs.


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