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Dan Albas HOC

For the first time since October’s election, MP Dan Albas has returned to the nation’s capital. The entire Tory caucus was back in Ottawa reviewing the election during a lengthy meeting yesterday with Leader Andrew Scheer.

When Albas returns again to Ottawa when parliament resumes, he doesn’t plan on waiting long to bring forward private members' business.

“I’m sure the clerk in charge of private members business is probably tired of hearing from me. Yes, we have been actively engaging in those files,” said Albas.

Along with looking at new bills, Albas also had some legislation that wasn’t completed during the past parliament. The MP at bills relating to registered disability savings plans, as well as the looting during emergencies bill.

Albas mentioned that prior to parliament reconvening, there is a lottery to decide the order of private members' business.

“People will know I will be tabling those bills. I will be calling upon the Government to look at them because I don’t care who gets the credit, a good idea should go forward despite where it comes from,” said Albas. “This is how I like to work in Ottawa, proposing good ideas that I heard from my listening tours, ideas generated from my riding that can have a national impact and should be supported.”

Yesterday, Scheer called on the Prime Minister to call MPs back to Ottawa as soon as possible. However, it is still unclear exactly when Justin Trudeau will reconvene parliament.


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TMEP Pipe2

The Upper Nicola Indian Band along with two other first nation communities have dropped their appeal of the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project.

Following the second Federal approval of the expansion, a limited number of communities were given the green light to proceed with appeals.

The groups recognized didn’t include environmental groups and the grounds of the appeal narrowed the scope to the second round of consultation only.

Chief Harvey McLeod was not able to comment at this time as the legal process has not quite concluded.

With Upper Nicola no longer appealing the pipeline, the Coldwater Band is now the only Nicola Valley First Nation currently battling the corporation in the courts. The Coldwater’s main sticking point with the expansion has been related to their aquifer and the possibility of the Band losing their only water source.


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City hall

One year ago yesterday, Linda Brown was sworn in as Mayor. At the time the Mayor stated, “It won’t take 15 months again”, referring to re-establishing committees.

Twelve months into her term, most committees have yet to hit full speed, a decision Brown says was thought through.

“It’s been my decision to say if we can’t do it all then let’s do some of this stuff first and the committees can wait,” said Brown.

The things that Brown chose to prioritize ahead of committees were zoning, the official community plan, and strategic planning.

“I don’t know if it was the right decision but given our staffing component it was, from my mind, the only thing to do,” added the Mayor.

Brown did mention how on the upcoming council meeting agenda a few committees will be coming forward for consideration.

While committees haven’t taken flight, Mayor and Council did make changes to how committees work, ensuring that in future election years they won't dissolve.

The Mayor attempted to move a similar motion as a Councillor before the election but it was defeated.


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Next week, Kelowna will be hosting an International Indigenous Tourism Conference, due to its proximity the City of Merritt will be able to attend for the first time.

“We have representatives there from the City of Merritt as well as the local bands,” said Will George, Manager of Tourism.

“It’s quite beneficial to be able to go to the conference as there will be individuals from all over the world,” added Will.

Along with attending the conference, Merritt will be getting showcased on the international stage during a tour of the city.

“So, we will be able to showcase the indigenous culture we have here in Merritt as well as some scheduled activities that the conference has planned,” said Will.

The tour is being orchestrated through the International Indigenous Tourism Association as well as the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association.

“We want to make sure we give them a warm welcome and showcase the Nicola Valley to all those are visiting for the first time,” added Will.


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city merritt council

The Municipal and Regional District Tax (MRTD) was last imposed in Merritt in 2012.

The tax is placed on the bills of tourists visiting Merritt in the form of a line item of their hotel bills at checkout. The tax can be from one to three per cent and the funds are then put back into the community in the form of tourism initiatives.

While the accounts from around the room varied, the reasoning behind the tax ending in 2012 appeared to be disagreement between the City and group representing the hotels.

Since 2012 some hotels in the City have been imposing a voluntary levy to people's stays as a way of continuing to gain funds for tourism in the Nicola Valley.

The purpose of Tuesday’s meeting was to bring the groups back together to work collaboratively.

Manager of Tourism Will George spoke to the reasoning behind a possible future partnership with the Merritt & Nicola Valley Destination Marketing Society (MNVDMS).

“This was brought up in numerous reports that collaboration needs to move forward,” said Will.

Will continued to mention that the two groups, being the City and Marketing Society, currently have some overlap in their programs which could be eliminated if the parties agree to work together.

The main sticking point of the evening came with the wording of the recommendation and the part which read “Committee recommend to Council that MNVDMS be designated as the ‘eligible entity’ to receive program funds under the terms of the Provincial Sales Tax Act.”

“I’m not so sure that I’ve come to grips with who is the primary applicant in this situation,” said Mayor Linda Brown. “I would like to be able to move in the direction of working together, I’m just not sure that’s the only condition that we would do this on.”

Coun. Kurt Christopherson wanting to see the project move forward in a positive light, moved an amendment.

“I’d like to make an amendment that might calm some fears. That being that the committee recommends to the council to 'explore' the option that MNVDMS be designated as the eligible entity," said Christopherson. 

The amended motion passed by a unanimous vote.

The motion will now be brought to a regular council meeting for consideration.


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