(Written by Sidney Parker)
The end of this month will usher in a new era for Merritt with the inaugural meeting of a new LGBTQ2+ club, Fierce Merritt. Q101 had the opportunity to sit down and talk with the man behind the group, three-year resident of Merritt, Hugo “Hugo-a-go-go” McPherson-Ashmore. Hugo was a club promoter in Los Angeles for 25 years and retired when he moved back to Canada. I asked him if he was here when a high school LGBTQ2+ alliance group proposed, and was denied a rainbow crosswalk to City Council in March of last year,
“That’s why I’m doing this!” Exclaimed Hugo.
“I was just so surprised... well first of all I was so impressed that the kids would do this because when I was in high school nobody ever came out, and so I thought these kids were so brave. There are a lot of people in Merritt that support gay and lesbian causes in Merritt, I’ve met a lot of them. And I’ve also met some homophobes. I’ve put these posters up, and sometimes people take them down.”
Hugo also explained that despite people tearing down the posters, every shop he went into said they would put up a poster. The Coldwater Hotel even went so far as to raise a rainbow flag that Hugo provided.
“Haters came out again about this, especially online.”
He wanted to create a space for LGBTQ2+ people at public events. You can find him and his group at community events by looking for the rainbow flag.
“Meeting new people, making fierce new friends.”
The club has even struck inspiration in other areas of B.C.,
“I swear this happened, this is so weird. I put one up, someone took a picture and they sent it to their friend at 100 Mile House they sent it over to someone else, and that guy sent me an email within a half an hour of me putting the poster up! He said he was going to try and make it to this [Lynda’s Cafe event] and he said he wishes they had a club there, a Fierce Club. I said well you’re welcome to use the Fierce name and you can do the ‘Fierce 100 Mile Club’. Someone’s got to do it, if you want to have a gay group, go for it! Nothing to venture nothing to gain.”
Hugo also has some big plans for the club,
“I would love to have something called a ‘Fierce Fest’!”
A street festival, a picnic in the park, and an event at the Baillie House are all on his radar. He’s confident that he can make it happen with community support.
“The ladies at the Baillie House and at the Thrift Store are so sweet.”
When asked if he would try to propose a crosswalk again to City Council Hugo said,
“I would be totally supportive of it, but I only have so much energy. I would get behind whoever’s doing that, but I don’t have a clue how to. I met the mayor and she’s very sweet, I haven’t told her about this [Lynda’s Cafe event] yet but I plan on going to City Hall. But yeah I’d be totally up for it.”
I also asked him what it felt like to have the community show their support of LGBTQ2+ people after the denied proposal,
“It felt great, but I still felt mixed emotions. We bought a house to retire here, and we knew there wasn’t like a gay community here. It’s cowboy and it’s rough, but that’s okay because I’m from a farm and so is my husband. But then when this [denied crosswalk] happened we thought, ‘did we make a mistake?’ But we made an investment and I wanted to make an investment here because I do love Merritt, and there’s a lot of good people here.” I asked him if all the window rainbow stickers, the Coldwater Hotel rainbows, the Hospital’s rainbow, and the University’s rainbow made him feel like he didn’t make a mistake, his response was,
The Club’s first event is being held at Lynda’s Cafe on Friday, May 31st from 5-7pm.
“Lynda and her husband Brian were so accepting.”
For more information, you can visit their website:
Or contact Hugo via email:
Or contact Hugo by phone:
“There’s always going to be haters, but there’s always going to be love. I try to see the good in people.”
On Twitter: @Q101Merritt
(Various weapons seized by Merritt RCMP)
Every weekend Q101 will revisit the most talked about stories of the week in Merritt and bring them to you all in one place. As well as my personal favourite story of the week.
This week the city was talking about a possible downtown residential development, weapons seized by the RCMP and a third cannabis producer eyeing Merritt for a possible new home.
A much-needed residential development could soon be coming to the downtown core. On the table this week at City Council was a rezoning and variance permit for 1801 Coldwater avenue, on the corner of Coldwater and Chapman.
This week is National Police week across Canada, and with that in mind the Merritt RCMP invited Q101 down to the detachment to see some of the weapons they encounter on a near daily basis.
A common theme was present throughout the displayed weapons, that being they're legal. Or at least legal for their intended purpose.
A third cannabis producer has made a pitch to Merritt City Council. Bowen Island Growers was in town on Tuesday to speak with Council regarding their proposal to bring a micro cultivation and production site to the city.
This week my favourite story was centered around the Merritt Airport celebrating its 100th anniversary next month.
On June 29, 1919 the first plane to ever land at the Merritt Airport touched down on the runway. In honour of the centennial, the City of Merritt is hoping to have a celebration.
On Twitter: @Q101Merritt
Ashcroft and area residents are advised that due to temporary limited staffing availability, the emergency department (ED) at the Ashcroft Hospital and Community Health Care Centre will be closed overnight from 8 p.m. Saturday, May 18 to 8 a.m. Sunday, May 19 and close again Sunday night at 8 p.m. The emergency department will re-open at 6 p.m. May 24, according to regular hours.
Interior Health regrets this temporary closure and reminds residents to take note of the following if they require care while the emergency department is closed:
Ashcroft ED services normally operate on weekends only, open from Friday at 6 p.m. to Monday at 8 a.m.
On Twitter: @Q101Merritt
This week Staff Sergeant Lorne Wood presented the first quarter numbers for the Merritt RCMP Detachment.
“For the first quarter of 2019, general duty members responded to 1304 calls for service, compared to 1282 calls for the same period a year before. So, just a slight increase,” said Staff Sergeant Wood. “There were 89 prisoners, 58 of those prisoners were for alcohol related issues, so that does continue to be an issue in the community.”
False or hang-up 911 calls once again were prevalent in town.
“Sixty-nine calls for 911, again is another drain on resources. Nearly all those calls were hang-up 911’s or someone dials it and panics and hangs up, so members have to go track them down,” said S.Sgt Wood.
He also mentioned the current drug trends seen here in Merritt.
“Crack cocaine, cocaine is still very prevalent. Heroin and fentanyl has been seized, not in great quantities but it’s definitely there, and methamphetamine is also readily available,” said S.Sgt Wood.
Wood also spoke to the Department and Central Interior Traffic Officers responding to 19 drug and alcohol related driving offences. He also mentioned that the Traffic Officers also assist the detachments general duty members with back up and assistance for calls in and out of town.
The biggest problem facing the Merritt Detachment undoubtably is a shortage in manpower.
“For a lengthy period of time in this first quarter we had nine members in total doing the work of 15 members that are staffed at the detachment,” said Wood.
“We have managed to send some limited numbers of our members on some training for standard field sobriety and impaired driver training, search warrants and carbine operation,” said Staff Sergeant Wood. “Much of the other training previously scheduled has been cancelled due to manpower shortages at the detachment.”
“It’s concern, it’s not pointing fingers at anybody, but you need help,” said Councillor Kurt Christopherson. “I think it’s very evident from what you’ve said that we need more manpower on all fronts if we’re going to adequately deal with the situations and people that need help in our town. I’d like to commend you and the force for the tremendous job you do when you’re often so shorthanded.”
For the full report head to – https://www.merritt.ca/city-council/agendas-and-minutes
The report is on pages 27-31 of the May 14th Regular Council Meeting Agenda.
On Twitter: @Q101Merritt
With the long weekend only hours away, many Merrittonians may be eyeing up a weekend in the great outdoors.
Merritt Fire’s Krista Minar spoke to Q101 about what those headed out into the bush need to know about fire safety as wildfire season has arrived with a bang across the region.
“We’ve had absolutely amazing weather and of course it comes with its own risk,” said Minar. “We need to remember to do things like follow any fire bans that are out there or restrictions. Of course, there is no open burning within the City of Merritt, but if you’re out in the bush you want to make sure that you completely put out that fire.”
“If you’re going out into the bush its just being mindful of how your practices might affect the environment. And then making sure you have the tools to mitigate any accident that may occur, having a shovel, having some water, some way to kind of put out the fire,” said Minar.
Minar also spoke to how you could spark a wildfire from your vehicle or ATV completely by accident.
“Vehicles as well can also cause issues if they’re exhaust is standing in tall dry grass. As you know we haven’t had a tonne of precipitation so, absolutely vehicles can play a roll in starting a fire and completely by accident,” said Minar. “Even if you’re going out ATV’ing making sure you’re complying with regulations that now require spark-arrestors are very key.”
Minar also reiterated at any point if you’re out in the bush or within city limits and see a fire to call Merritt Fire and 911 or the BC Wildfire Service at *5555.
On Twitter: @Q101Merritt