Maruis Auer is a grade 12 student here in Merritt and for the last few years he has been spearheading a proposal to form a Youth Advisory Committee.
The stated mandate of the Committee would be to act as a resource to City Council on issues affecting youth in Merritt. To provide a youth perspective on community issues. And to encourage youth understanding and participation in municipal government.
Maruis spoke to Q101 about his inspiration behind the project.
“I think it was in 2016 when the Prime Minister announced his Prime Minister’s youth council and I thought that would be a good idea to have on a smaller scale here in Merritt for youth to give input to their council, to their elected officials,” said Maruis.
The committee would consist of up to 10 youth members as well as one advisor from City Council.
“I think it will benefit council for sure, because they will have a youth perspective. Another perspective is always useful no matter who it’s coming from, so you have a more informed decision making process,” said Marius.
Some of the details above may change as there is further discussion, but City Council was fully behind initiative.
For Marius, politics have long been a focus, with him even heading off to Ottawa and Victoria for conventions in the past.
“I’ve been talking to some programs in Ottawa about doing a year internship on Parliament Hill. But afterwards a political science degree is something I’m very interested in,” said Marius.
Maruis did admit his passion for politics lays primarily at the Federal level, however mentioned the impact that Provincial and Municipal politics play in day to day life.
On Twitter: @Q101Merritt
During Tuesday's Merritt City Council meeting, Anhart Community housing society made their first presentation to council on their plans for a four-acre property on DeWolf way.
CFO Crystal Wiebe addressed council to explain Anhart’s goal for not only Merritt but broader.
“We have an incredibly lofty goal of 20,000 units over the next 10 years. And really our goal is to provide housing to people that are at risk of homelessness or to people in need of affordable housing with a focus on seniors,” said Wiebe. “We call it workforce housing but really it’s for people on a low income that need affordable housing and I think we can all agree there is a real need for that.”
The project in Merritt is currently slated as a 76-unit 2 building development, however it should be noted it is still very early in the process.
“Across the country we are seeing a real definite cry for affordable housing for people who can no longer make ends meat,” Wiebe told council. “We see that there is a continuum of housing that starts in shelters and ends in people that own in million-dollar homes. What we’re finding more and more as the market is becoming less and less affordable, is that people are constantly getting pushed down the spectrum. So, if we can fill in gap that seems to be missing, we can stop this downward flow and bring people up into more sustainability.”
After conducting market research in Merritt, Anhart's initial plan is to have 12 studios, 26 one-bedrooms, 32 two-bedrooms and six three-bedrooms. Though it should be noted that the project is still at a very early stage and numbers could change.
Anhart has projects across BC, Canada and the world, so Wiebe spoke to why they chose Merritt.
“We are seeing that the small communities have kind of been abandoned. Really there is a real big gap in the affordable housing, and we haven’t seen in the past two or three decades there’s been much attention to this market. So, we know the need is there. And we have researched that as of 2019 there is a zero-vacancy rate, so that’s why we have chosen Merritt,” said Wiebe.
Anhart feels like it can build development abiding by the current by-laws, however some help from Council could help the project.
“If we want to deepen the affordability of it and council was open to perhaps some relaxations or some additional density it would make the project more affordable in the end,” said Wiebe.
Councillor Adam Etchart asked Wiebe about a possible timeline for the project.
“We are just now getting the funds to get the pre-development going. We are planning in the next few months to get our preliminary drawings, so that we could submit some kind of application within five or six months,” stated Wiebe.
Councillor Tony Luck spoke to why he supports the project.
“I really like the presentation. The thing I like is its philanthropic, it’s outside the community. You’re not coming here and asking for a bunch of money, it’s a group of individuals that have built up some wealth over their time and now they want to give back to the community. We will look at it closely and try to support this the best way we can,” said Councillor Luck.
On Twitter: @Q101Merritt
(Photo- Bob Holmes, road leading up to proposed gravel pit)
Yesterday a community meeting was held to address the proposed gravel pit just outside of town, in attendance included the Coutlee residents, Mayor Linda Brown and few City Council members, MLA Jackie Tegart and David Laird from the TNRD.
Nicola Valley Aggregates LTD. has proposed digging a new gravel pit, approximately two kilometers away from Merritt.
“We were stunned when we learned that the guy who’s bought it has an arraignment with somebody else to put in a gravel pit,” said Robert Holmes.
A group of citizens calling themselves the Coutlee Residents committee have sent a letter to the Chief inspector of mines regarding a proposed gravel pit virtually across the street from the Village of Coutlee.
Spokesman for the committee Robert Holmes spoke to Q101 about the letter they sent to the Ministry of Energy and Mines that laid out 15 points of emphasis on why they oppose the project.
“Anybody that wants to put in a gravel pit has to follow the mines act and there are specific guidelines,” said Holmes. “The first thing on that list is public consultation and that has never taken place.”
Other items included the proximity to communities, noise and dust impacts, traffic considerations and groundwater impacts.
At the community meeting the underlying point of emphasise was to be prepared for the public consolation meeting, which to this point has not been officially scheduled.
For her part MLA Tegart laid out what steps she will be taking.
“I think it’s important to understand that the independent decision maker is an independent decision maker and as an MLA it’s inappropriate for me to try and influence them. I don’t have any problem what so ever though writing a letter saying I’ve heard all the concerns, that it is incredibly important that we have a public meeting. And I will talk to other MLA’s that have been successful in making sure a proposal didn’t go ahead,” said Tegart.
David Laird is the area M Director with the TNRD, he spoke to the view the ministry has towards gravel pits.
“The Ministry does not care how many gravel pits there are existing in a community. They’ll actually approve a gravel pit beside a gravel pit beside a gravel pit. And there’s no such thing as being zoned for mineral extraction the whole of BC is zoned for mineral extraction. It can go anywhere, it’s up to the inspector of mines to decide where and what they should allow to be taken out of the ground,” said Laird.
Laird and Tegart both spoke to the importance of First Nations consultation.
“First Nations consolation is incredibly important. When making presentations it will be incredibly important to emphasise how consolation looks and what hasn’t been done,” said Tegart. “Not that the views of neighbours don’t count but First Nations consultation is incredibly important.”
Another issue that received attention was the road safety along HWY 8 and the road leading up to the proposed pit.
Laird mentioned that early estimates from the ministry put the road work needed at $250,000.
The community is vowing to continue to fight, and the next key step will be at a public consultation meeting with the developers.
On Twitter: @Q101Merritt
Today is Nicola Valley Multi-Cultural day, and the Nicola Tribal Association is hosting a free celebration all day long at the civic centre.
The celebration is set to run from 10am to 7pm. Richard Wimbush spoke to Q101 about what those who attend can expect.
“We have all-day entertainment, starting off the morning with some powwow dancing and some drummers. Moving into the afternoon and evening with some live performances from some local artists, musicians, open mic,” said Wimbush.
Some of the food caterers on site will include Mary’s, Jaki Joes, and Kekuli.
Along with the delicious food, dances and art displays, there will be some workshops.
“We have some free workshops, beading, cedar bark weaving,” said Wimbush.
Other activities will include basket making, food preparation, crocheting, painting and arts and crafts.
While the party will run all day, there is a little extra incentive to be there around 6pm.
“We have door prizes, but they’re not being handed out all day you have to be there at six o’clock to get a door prize,” said Wimbush.
The community should come and be prepared to be fully immersed in a cultural experience.
Q101 will also be on-location at the civic centre from 10-2, so make sure you stop by and say hi.
On Twitter: @Q101Merritt
A crazy crime spree from Kelowna to 100 Mile House ended in the arrest of a young couple. A 28-year-old man and 34-year-old women have been arrested in 100 Mile House after returning to the scene of the crime.
The couple’s crime spree began in West Kelowna where they stole a vehicle before heading into Merritt.
In Merritt, the couple stopped for gas, and while the female suspect was filling up the car, the male entered the convenience store. Upon entry he announced that it was a robbery and indicated that he has a gun, however no weapon was ever produced or observed, it was threatened.
The suspect demanded money and lottery tickets from the employee who cooperated. After opening the till the employee fled the building and locked the culprit inside the store. Once the suspect realized he was locked in, he broke a window with a microwave and the couple escaped.
The couple then headed toward 100 Mile House where they were involved in a motor vehicle accident with another car. After the crash they pulled the driver from the other car and proceeded to steal that car.
The couple was finally arrested when they returned to the scene of the second car jacking because they forgot something in their first stolen vehicle.
The young couple are being held in custody while Crown Counsel reviews the events from Kelowna, Merritt and 100 Mile House to determine what charges are going to be laid.
On Twitter: @Q101Merritt