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Twenty-two local and regional governments have been approved to receive their share of more than $3 million in provincial emergency preparedness funding to support flood risk assessment, mapping and mitigation planning.

"It's critical that we invest now in preparedness and disaster mitigation," said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. "Funding these projects is another way that we're building resiliency in our communities to improve public safety."

Funding for the flood risk assessment, mapping and mitigation planning component of the CEPF was announced at the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) convention in September 2017. This funding is part of a $33.5-million plan designed to help communities prepare for, and respond to, disasters.

Not on the list of recipients was the City of Merritt. Q101 spoke with Director of Finance Sheila Thiessen who mentioned over 6 million dollars was asked for by local communities with only around 3 million in the pot to be distributed.

Thiessen also added while not receiving the grant funding is less than ideal the City will be moving forward with its flood mitigation plans, once another source of funding can be decided upon.

 

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Guichon Grass

Yesterday, students from across the district had the opportunity to visit the Laurie Guichon Memorial Grasslands Interpretive Site to learn about our beautiful surroundings and the invasive species that are threatening them.

Q101 had the opportunity to speak with Rachel Whitehouse a Rangeland Agrologist with the Ministry of Forests and Coleen Hougen an Invasive Plant Management Coordinator for the Thompson Nicola Invasive Plant Management Committee and the TNRD.

“An invasive weed is one that has special characteristics that make it a threat to either the environment, social values or cultural values,” said Whitehouse. “So, these are weeds that reproduce really quickly, have special adaptations that help them out compete other plants more so than your typical weed.”

Hougen spoke to why she feels it’s so important to help educate the students at such a young age.

“It’s good to instill this in them to get appreciation for our natural landscapes, their values and how invasive plants can impact them,” said Hougen. “I feel that when they learn this at a young age, they’re able to carry this on into the future and into their science programs. Hopefully become stewards of the land at some point and help do what they can to prevent further introduction and spread.”

Knapweed is one of if not the most prevalent invasive species found in the Merritt area.  The plant produces 150 thousand seeds per metre squared. One of the stations the students were visiting was small area that they were helping clear of the invasive species.

“It was brought over here in the late 1800’s accidently as a contaminate in alfalfa seed and it has just spread all over North America,” said Whitehouse. “It outcompetes all the native plants, it releases a chemical that kills off the surrounding grass. So, it’s really hard on livestock and wildlife to forage.”

Hougen added in its native habitat in Russia, knapweed is not considered to be invasive due to other species in the area to are able to compete against it.

For more information you can visit TNIPMC.com or go into the Merritt Forestry District and ask for a weed ID booklet.

 

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Arts Council

Mayor Linda A. Brown has encouraged the Nicola Valley Arts Council to plan a Mayor’s Gala for the Arts to showcase our local talent and raise funds for our arts-based organizations.

“We are attempting to organize a Mayor's Gala for the Arts,” said Mayor Brown. “The proceeds from this Gala will be to fund community arts events and societies within the Nicola Valley.”

The Gala will take place on September 28th at the Civic Centre, presenting Michael Perkins and the Playmor Junction Big Band.  This 18-piece band will be playing popular swing music from the 40’s to 60’s.  There will be a dance floor and opportunities for dancers to win prize money for local non-profit groups.  The evening includes a banquet, cash bar, silent auction, games, art show and local entertainers.

“We absolutely need volunteers,” said Jane Bartle. “We need volunteers to organize competitions, we need volunteers to help with the setup, we need volunteers to help with the cash handling. We figure we need about 20 people on the day, but we also need people who are willing to spearhead subcommittees to organize programs.”

To make this event the stunning success we all want for our community, we need local sponsors and many helpers.   Check our website for a list of ways you can help and to volunteer email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   Watch our website and Facebook page for event updates throughout the summer: www.nicolavalleyartscouncil.com

Table reservations and tickets will be available July 1st.

For More information contact

            Jane Bartle, Gala Committee Chairperson

            nThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  Phone: 250 378-5259

            Website: www.nicolavalleyartscouncil.com

 

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On Twitter: @Q101Merritt

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Dan Albas HOC

Dan Albas, MP for Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, recently put forth a private members bill hoping to improve protections for those going through bankruptcy with regards to their RDSP’s (Registered Disability Savings Plan).

“Bill C-410 which is a private members bill that I tabled to help give the same protection to the working men and women when it comes to RRSP’s. Those are protected when someone hits a bankruptcy process. Those pension funds are protecting under the law,” said Albas. “Right now, registered disabled savings plans, those are not protected like a RRSP.”

Albas had been championing the bill in Ottawa when the Liberal Government adopted his idea in their latest budget.

“In the most recent budget implementation act, the Minister of Finance has included where a RDSP will see the same protections that an RRSP does,” said Albas. “There was a court case a number of years ago right in British Columbia where this was a challenge. Fortunately putting the spotlight on it has obviously changed the Governments mind and they’ve adopted it as part of their own.”

While the Liberal Government did adopt part of Albas’ bill, a second section was left out.

“They still haven’t taken up the second half of my bill, which is to do the same protecting for RRSP’s for RESP’s (registered education saving plans). I ultimately believe that when people put away money for their children, whether they have disabilities or want to go to college or university some day, that those things are protected from creditors the same way we protect our RRSP’s.”

Albas did mention he would be bringing that portion of the bill forward once again. However, due to half the bill already being moved forward, it will require a rewrite.

 

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Wildfire camp

(BC Wildfire Service recruits at boot camp near Merritt)

So far this year there have been 190 total wildfires across BC, including 13 new blazes that sparked last week alone. With fire season in full swing, Q101 caught up with Krista Minar from the Merritt Fire Department to talk about protecting your home against the worse case scenario.

“Some of the things we’d like to encourage homeowners and renters to start thinking about, is first to understand what their risk is. Part of this by staying involved with what’s going on in the Province then of course locally,” said Minar. “The other thing is understanding what types of risks your property has specifically. To better understand that one thing we like to encourage to think about is to have a structure assessment done.”

Minar did mention that the assessments can be done through Merritt Fire Rescue.

“In a wildfire structure assessment, what we look at is right from the top down. We look at what type of roofing you have, what your building materials are, so what your siding is made out of,” said Minar. “Then we look especially at the first initial five feet of your home, because those are the areas that are most at risk in the event of an ember storm.”

She also spoke to what homeowner can do today in only 30 minutes to help protect their homes.

“Honestly the easiest most cost affective thing that someone could do today, is to walk the area around their property and get rid of surface vegetation, so that needles, pinecones, sticks, anything that has collected through the wind or over the course of the winter,” said Minar.

 

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