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Local record for BC Thanksgiving Food Drive.
 
Organizer Tony Luck says the annual event facilitated by Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Merritt brought in nearly 4,800lbs of food for the Nicola Valley and District Food Bank over the weekend.
 
He says it's up 30% from the previous record.
 
"The response was amazing. We even had people when we were picking up food asking to volunteer. In most cases we were already done, but many indicated they would like to be involved next year." 
 
The event asks residents in the city to fill bags that were distributed by volunteers earlier in the week.
 
More than 22,000lbs of food has been collected locally through the annual BC Thanksgiving Food Drive since 2012.
 
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City of Merritt contingent busy at annual UBCM convention.
 
Mayor Neil Menard says they were able to meet with ten provincial ministers last week in Whistler, addressing issues from the Exit 286 visitor centre to flood mitigation.
 
"They probably listened closer than any other UBCM convention I've gone to. In all of the meetings we had, we got very positive comments about being serious about looking into our issues, like the Kettle Valley Railway project, Exit 286, highway maintenance, and flooding. We mentioned that it a couple different meetings, and I think we will see some results out of it."
 
Menard says municipalities rarely receive firm commitments at UBCM, but believes the city put its best foot forward.
 
Other items addressed included, establishing a detox centre in Merritt, the timber supply leaving the Nicola Valley and the need for a new courthouse.
 
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Emergency crews searching the Highway 5 corridor for a missing private plane.

Two people were aboard the Van's R-V-6 two-seater aircraft when it disappeared Friday while en route from Edmonton to Chilliwack.

Lieutenant Tony Wright with the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre says seven aircraft from the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association and three more from the Royal Canadian Air Force have been involved in the search effort, which includes the Merritt area..

"The search is ongoing. We continue to search the Highway 5 corridor between Chilliwack and Valmont."

Wright says rain and low cloud coverage has made the search challenging.

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'Hidden' homeless population difficult to track within the City of Merritt.

Keri Cooke of Ask Wellness says a point-in-time count conducted back in April failed to accurately show those living couch to couch in the city.

During the day organizers were unable to identify anyone that was homeless but managing to avoid living on the street.

She believes it was because many are afraid to draw attention to the people they were staying with.

"Out of the eleven people counted, all were identified as 'absolute homeless'. However, in the days following the count, we did notice a huge increase of people coming into our office indicating they actually don’t pay rent, or have anywhere to live, just going from couch to couch. So, it was frustrating from the standpoint we know the numbers are extensively higher."

Cooke says the hope is the province will adjust the now yearly April Homeless Count to be conducted over an entire month, like in previous years.

 

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Licensing fee for potential cannabis dispensaries remains up in the air in the City of Merritt.

The bylaw surrounding the sale of recreational marijuana has been amended but director of Corporate Services Sean Smith says the business license fee has not been set.

The fee is designed to be revenue-neutral, and while cities like Kamloops and Vancouver have set the price at $5,000 and $30,000 respectively, he says the city is still weighing all options.

"We're not just going to follow what everyone else is doing, because they are doing it. I want what the rational and reasoning is behind them before making any recommendations to council. So, right now we are still in a holding pattern."

Smith says its unlikely the city has the business license fee is set by Oct 17th, when recreational marijuana becomes legal in Canada.

 

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