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Last week, a delegation from the City went to the Ministry of Mines in Kamloops to share their concerns about the proposed gravel pit along highway 8, west of Merritt.

The following is a section of the letter than accompanied the delegation;

Of primary concern to our City is the question of how large this open pit mine could be. The applicant indicated to Council that they anticipate removing between 20,000 and 40,000 tonnes of gravel per year initially, as the intent is only to serve the local market. This is a number that we understand and can live with.

The letter continued to say;

Council’s level of concern with this project goes up dramatically as the size of the operation trends towards the 200,000 annual tonnes extracted mark… On this basis, Council requests that if approved, the maximum annual tonnage extracted to be reduced to 80,000 tonnes per year or less, requiring the applicant to re-apply if it desires to exceed this figure.

CAO Scott Hildebrand spoke to how he felt the meeting went.

“We just reviewed the information with him. The Mayor made sure we gave them our perspective and the feedback that Council gave that night. It was just a discussion on some of the feedback that he’s been getting from the community,” said Hildebrand. “He heard us, and he will take the information and make his decision.”

For the full letter that was sent to the ministry head over to: https://www.merritt.ca/city-council/agendas-and-minutes

Then click on ‘May 14, 2019 Regular Council Meeting’ and scroll down to the bottom of the agenda document (pages 91-92).

 

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city merritt council

A possible downtown development will be before City Council tomorrow. The proposal is for a 22-unit residential development at 1801 Coldwater Avenue, at the corner of Coldwater and Chapman.

“There are some variances involved and it isn’t an extremely large lot, but it would be high density for that lot,” said Director of Corporate Services Sean Smith.

Plans submitted to the meeting agenda show the proposed project being a four-story structure with an elevator. It also specifies being a two-bedroom and multi-family rental development.

“We’re once again excited to see some development interest, particularly on the residential side. We’ve been seeing lots of commercial interest so that needs to be balanced by more residential opportunities,” said Smith.

Smith also spoke to hearing from the community about liking to see more residential developments in the downtown core. He added that those comments are especially coming from seniors.  

The development will require a public meeting if Council choses to move the zoning amendment past first and second readings on Tuesday.

 

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Missing and Murdered

Over the weekend members of the public joined together in a solemn ceremony. Starting on Friday and running overnight into Saturday the Conayt Friendship Society hosted a ceremony to honour missing and murdered Indigenous women.

Diana Norgaard spoke to why they wanted to host the ceremony a few weeks ago.

“We want to provide a ceremony to say to the community that this is not okay and that we remember those women and we remember those girls because they were important to us and we want it to be a solemn ceremony,” said Norgaard.

“An important thing in indigenous ceremonies is that we have a sacred fire. A sacred fire that allows our energy to go to the creator and the universe and so the creator and the universe can hear what it is that we are asking for our women, our girls and our families our brothers and sisters who live in this valley so they can live violence free,” said Norgaard.

The ceremony was not only for those of Merritt and the Nicola Valley but for missing and murdered Indigenous women across the Country.

 

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Monte Park

(Photo - BC Wildfire Service Twitter)

On Sunday, BC Wildfire Service Personal responded to a fire burning near Buse Creek, north of Merritt and east of Kamloops. The fire which was originally estimated at 2.0 hectares was quickly classified as out of control.

As of 4:00pm on Sunday the Wildfire Service was reporting it at 6.0 hectares and it was burning about 25 km east of downtown Kamloops. Yesterday it is was also being reported that tankers and helicopters were on scene assisting the ground crew.

This morning the BC Wildfire Service is reporting that the blaze has grown to 19.0 hectares.

The fire is suspected to have been human caused.

There is also a small spot fire burning west of Merritt near Gordon Creek. The blaze is only 0.01 hectares but is considered active this morning. The fire is also suspected to be human caused.

 

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Abby

(Written by Tyler Cronsilver)

Hard to believe that we are already halfway through 2019, and almost at 2020. And with a new year comes new advancements in technology. Often, we think about jumps in tech when it comes to phones or gaming systems or even cars, but maybe what you haven’t thought about recently is the technology in other industries such as log building.

Here in Merritt is Nicola Valley LogWorks (NVL), who just two years ago partnered with a Swedish software company, Ballmer Systems, when they heard about Abby, a fully functioning log building robot. Abby belongs to NVL, and with the help of Ballmer Systems were able to bring Abby to the forefront of the industry. You might think that the name Abby stands for something like Q101 initially did, but John Boys, the President of NVL explains it is much simpler.

“Abby was made by a company called ABB, which is the largest producer of robots in the world. They’re a Swiss-Swedish company. She was obviously female, and wants shiny new toys all the time, so Abby just seemed like a natural fit,” John joked.

Abby will be working hard at building the outdoor education classroom located at Collettville Elementary, here in Merritt, and will aid in the construction and safety of the structure throughout the building of the project.

They have currently had Abby two years now.

“It started back in 2008. I went to an international Log Building Association conference and I met a Swiss software engineer from a company called Ballmer Systems, who had this idea about log building, and thought that he could use robotics to do it, and he was looking for a new partner. 2008 was not a good time to be launching a new house building venture. The markets had completely collapsed, but we stayed in touch and then two years ago, we felt it had developed to a point that we thought we could take it from concept to full execution, and we’re close,” stated John.

Although Abby was brand new technology to NVL, this was not the first time they had worked with a robot before.

“I’ve worked with a lot of CNC machines, some of which have some robotic ability. CNC and robots are a different concept. A lot of people think they’re the same thing, when they’re two distinct things. CNC stands for computer numerically controlled. A standard CNC machine in the woodworking industry would be a 3-axis router that’s on a table and cuts a sheet of plywood. It has a z-axis, an x-axis, and a y-axis and it works in those 3-axes. This is a 7-axis machine and it can reach around under, come to the ends of the pieces, and it can even amputate its own arm if it has the wrong tool on it.

As smart as the robot seems, it’s not going to be taking over the world any time soon.

“You have to be careful with the grabbing and the safety side of things. This machine is mostly being used in an industrial setting, manufacturing a car, with 4 of them lined up. It’s quite easy to train a robot to do one or two things, or more. But we are asking it to do hundreds of thousands of different things. Its able to pick up a variety of tools. It can on its own decide which tool it needs to use.”

Most people are probably wondering if this is the future of log building and technology. Q101 asked John if he saw this as the way of the future.

“Oh my god, yeah. The world is changing rapidly in so many ways. Robotics is a big part of it. Artificial Intelligence is a whole other part of it. But that’s something that we have no idea how that’s going to change the way we live or work, not all in positive ways. Utilizing robotics is such a critical part of it. They are very flexible tools but they’re hard to program. You can’t just buy this with an off the shelf software. You must develop it, code it. That’s the challenge right there.

Although robots are very smart and intelligent, John explains that they can only do as much as the human operating it knows.

 “Some of the best companies out there are not using robots. They’re using dedicated machines to cut their material. A robot is a very adaptable tool that can do almost anything if you understand how to operate it. It can do nothing until you understand it.”

John explained, “For us, when we decided to launch into this venture, we sat down with our crew with us. Some of them almost 30 years and talked about with them if this was something we wanted to do, if we wanted to be partners in this venture. The reality of it is we are probably close to the average age of 50, then 20, and I can’t ask my guys to spend nine hours a day running a chainsaw anymore. They will need to go to a chiropractor. They will need the hot tub, or the sauna. Traditional log building wears you out and beats you up, and its hard to make a good living at it. So, this is a way for us to leverage the knowledge that we’ve gained over almost 40 years of log building.”

NVL explained the reasoning behind adopting this new technology to use, rather than hiring a new body.

“Here at Nicola Log works, we’ve embraced the technology, decided it was smarter for us to take a log builder, working ten years and train him to run a robot, rather than hire a robot technician and train him with log building. There are several reasons for that. The amount of knowledge required to be a good log builder and really understand what it takes, takes years and years of training. That and they’ve already demonstrated they’re a key employee, and we just felt much further ahead investing in their training. The key for industry and people is you need to commit yourself to lifelong learning. You need to take responsibility constantly upgrading your knowledge and be ready for what’s coming at you, or you will be left behind.”

For more on Nicola Logworks and Abby the Robot, visit their website at www.logworks.ca.

For video of Abby, check out www.ballmer.ca (The brains behind the robotics of Abby)

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=myvideosource66

 

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