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City of Merritt starting process to reserve Charters St properties for biodiversity conservation purposes.

Unsuitable for development, 2801, 2802 and 2807 Charters St were purchased by the City of Merritt in August of 2015, at a cost of $75,000.

The idea at the time was to create a sanctuary for wildlife, and director of corporate services Sean Smith says administration will now develop the bylaw needed to make it official.

"Since it is an environmentally sensitive development permit area, if we were to get a building permit for it, it would already require a report from a qualified environmental professional. That being said, if we choose to designate it as a park, there won't be an development permits issued."

The properties on Charters St, which includes an island that was created when the Nicola River was re-routed back in the 1940's, are home to at least 22 varied species of birds.


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Canada's natural resources minister believes Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is key to the country's clean energy future.

Jim Carr says his government remains firm in its support of the $7.4-billion expansion, adding the project will help the country transition to clean energy.

"Our plan is to use this time of transition to our advantage. Building the infrastructure to get our resources to global markets, and using the revenues to invest in clean forms of energy. That is why we have approved pipelines, including the Trans Mountain expansion. And, we are determined to see it built."

Carr says the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is in the national interest and the federal government has jurisdiction to approve it.


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Upper Nicola Band looking to construct largest solar farm in Western Canada.

In partnership with Fortis BC, the band is planning to build a $30-million, 56,000 panel, 15-megawatt (MW) solar farm on the Quilchena reserve.

Chief Harvey McLeod says they have been working on a potential on reserve alternative energy project since 2011.

"It falls right in line with our mission statement, we want to be in harmony with the land. And, this is a terrific opportunity to do that. By no means will it stop there, there are other things that are going to be happening in the community to support this, and all our members will benefit. So, it's really exciting."

A referendum is planned in April, where members will vote on whether or not to approve a commercial lease for the 200 acres needed for the project, and an additional 200 acres, for other potential business ventures.

Should the lease be approved, and testing on site through the summer months by Fortis BC continues to produce positive results, construction could begin sometime in 2019.


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School District 58 adding a late bus to give rural students the opportunity to participate in after-school activities.
Superintendent Stephen McNiven says the pilot-project will begin in April, adding another bus to Douglas Lake, and both the Coldwater and Shakan Indian Band reserves on both Tuesdays and Thursdays after 5pm.
"The after-school program at Central Elementary finishes around 5:15pm, so a bus will pick up any students that need to head out from there, and then head over to the high school. From there, the three buses will head out in the three different directions. It's going to be a bit of a work in progress to start, but we will be monitoring it, and adjustments could be made along the way."
If the late buses are well utilized, McNiven says the district could look at making them permanent for the 2018/19 school year.  
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City of Merritt hiring from within to head up recreation and facilities department.

CAO Sean Boven confirming Sky McKeown, currently the Fire Prevention Officer with the Merritt Fire Rescue Department, will take over as the manager of Recreation and Facilities on March 26th.

He says the city will continue to go without a director for the time being, but the manager position is essentially structured the same way.

"It was a national competition, and he made it known he was interested. And, when it came down to it, he was the just the best for the organization, best for the community, and best for operations moving forward."

McKeown is filling the role left vacant when the City of Merritt parted ways with Lee Nelles last November.

He becomes the fourth manager of Recreation and Facilities the city has employed since 2015.


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