Three weeks ago, Merritt City Council approved a motion to send a delegation to the Ministry of Mines in opposition to the proposed gravel pit just outside of city limits.
Two weeks ago, Merritt City Council and Mayor Linda Brown apologized for jumping the gun on the decision and invited Nicola Valley Aggregates to present their side of the story.
Last night the saga came to an end with a reconsideration motion on the table.
The exact wording of the motion was the following; That the City of Merritt send a letter and delegation to the Province, opposing the proposed sand and gravel pit on highway 8.
“I would just like to say that I myself jumped in without hearing the whole story. It was a lesson well learned for myself,” said Councillor Melvina White.
“I think what we need to do is, we can’t determine what’s the right answer and what’s the wrong answer. I think we all need to vote with our hearts at this point,” said Mayor Linda Brown.
“My feeling out there is the community is pretty much split 50-50 on this project,” said Councillor Tony Luck. “We were put in a tough situation on this one. I think if we move forward here with a resolution, I’m not proposing we go forward as a delegation. Certainly, we need to look at a couple of options on this.”
Councillor Luck then proposed an amendment to send just a letter of concern, removing the words “and a delegation’ from the motion.
“If Councils desire is to make sure this doesn’t go ahead that’s one part, but certainly the other part is if it does go ahead, we want to make sure it’s well monitored,” said Councillor Luck.
“This is a very difficult issue, we all want to protect our environment. I’m comfortable sending a letter expressing our concerns, because we want to make sure whatever happens, that we do the utmost to protect why we live here,” said Councillor Kurt Christopherson.
“From my position I would still like to do the delegation. I don’t know if I was ever totally opposed but I do think the Ministry needs to hear our concerns,” said Mayor Brown.
“I agree with Mayor Brown, I think it is our onus to bring this forward to the Province. The community has made it very clear they have concerns. I do think a delegation is appropriate to make sure the Province hears that,” said Councillor Travis Fehr.
“I think I would be in support of the letter because we have many people who are against and some people that are for. I think we need to address the concerns of everyone. I would be in support of the letter, maybe not the delegation but at least the letter to address our concerns,” said Councillor Adam Etchart.
Councillor Mike Bhangu then moved an amendment to change to wording to ‘voicing concerns’ not ‘opposition’.
That was the motion that ended up passing through a vote of 6-1, Councillor Etchart was the lone vote in opposition.
The final wording is; That the City of Merritt send a letter and delegation to the Province, voicing concerns to the proposed sand and gravel pit on highway 8.
A delegation will be sent on Thursday.
On Twitter: @Q101Merritt
(Written by Tyler Cronsilver)
Currently, there is not a main gas station between Merritt and Kelowna. However, a developer is looking at making changes to this to build a gas station and drive-thru restaurant near the summit of the Okanagan Connector.
The Regional-District of Okanagan Similkameen is being asked to rezone the Elkhart Lodge property, located on Highway 97C west of the Pennask Summit.
The rezoning would make it possible to provide a gas station, restaurant, service station and a highway maintenance yard.
This would assist many motorists entering and exiting the highway and cater specifically to them. There’s already some commercial zoning on the property from when it was used as a gas station previously, and the applicant is essentially looking to update that zoning, as the current zoning does not allow this kind of change, they are looking to pursue.
A gas station opened on that property not long after the Connector opened and operated through the 1990s.
The closest community to that property is Merritt, which is nearly 60 kilometres away.
Currently, the RDOS is not aware if the applicant has any interested business owners who would be looking to move into that area if rezoning is approved.
On Twitter: @Q101Merritt
Earlier this morning, the Merritt Fire Department responded to a call at Aspen Planers.
Eight Merritt firefighters responded to the call.
The BC Ambulance Service provided assistance as a precautionary measure, and Chief Dave Tomkinson confirmed that there were no injuries. Also, the RCMP was on scene earlier in the day to help provide site control, they have since left the site.
Fire Chief Tomkinson briefed Q101 on the call.
“We had a fire in the barker which extended into the dust collection system. The mill’s crew had it somewhat under control when we arrived and we’ve just been working to extinguish what’s in the actual dust collect system right now,” said Chief Tomkinson.
With the fire under control Chief Tomkinson spoke to what his crew was working on. (Pictured above)
“There's fire smoldering in all the duct work. So, we’re just systematically going through and making sure there are no embers left,” said Chief Tomkinson.
Tomkinson admitted the process was likely to be a lengthy one.
“It’s a little daunting but with assistance from the mill staff we’re getting a handle on it,” said Chief Tomkinson.
On Twitter: @Q101Merritt
The Thompson Nicola Regional District (TNRD) has received $100,000 in grant funding from the Provincial Government to help attract more business to the area.
The TNRD is being awarded the money to create a digital photo library of locations and subjects in the Thompson-Nicola region. The project includes an image library that will be used to attract film production companies, as well as for marketing, informational and educational purposes.
Q101 spoke with Victoria Weller, Film Commissioner with the Thompson Nicola Film Commission about the generous grant.
“The money will go towards establishing a digital asset management system. So, we all have digital libraries, and this will put it all in one hub,” said Weller. “It goes towards hiring about five or six really good photographers, that we will send out throughout the entire region to get some really good photos.”
While the grant does speak specifically to the television and movie industries, the new database will also help other departments within the TNRD and beyond.
“This is not just from a film industry perspective this is from everyone’s perspective. It will be a library that will be open to all sorts of industry, from ministries, government agencies, first nations and non-profits. So, it’s a bigger, broader project,” said Weller. “We need to re-photograph everything because so much has changed over the past three, four years.”
“We just need so many more images refreshed. It’s a huge area to cover, we’re about the size of Denmark,” said Weller.
Currently the area sees its peaks and valleys throughout the year in terms of filming, something Weller is hoping will even out.
“We’re also looking to boost up the shoulder seasons. The shoulder season seems to be when the film industry is most interested in our area,” said Weller. “The early spring and spring are the best times for filming as well as the fall. We hopefully will attract more films during the winter months. So, that’s why this project goes for a year and a half, so that we can get all four seasons.”
“We’re seeing an expansion of Canadian projects coming and looking more into our region,” said Weller. “We don’t have a lot of photos for example in the winter months throughout the TNRD. Now that we can identify some local photographers, we can send them out in their local jurisdictions then load them up into the system. It really is more of a robust project in terms of scope and in terms of time.”
Along with hopefully bringing more productions to the TNRD, the grant will also bring with it a few job opportunities.
“It will also create employment because photographers, we are going to be buying pictures, we are going to be hiring them, as well as a project manager,” said Weller. “So, at least photographers who are starving artists, it may help them as well.”
On Twitter: @Q101Merritt
As part of its ongoing commitment to reduce wildfire threats, the B.C. government is providing more than $2.2 million in community resiliency investment grants to support projects in the Kamloops Fire Centre.
"Community resiliency investment funding will help Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities increase their resiliency to wildfire threats," said Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. "The program is designed to support projects at the local level to help keep British Columbians safe."
This funding is part of more than $6 million in community resiliency investment grants provided to 85 municipalities, regional districts and First Nations throughout the province, following the program's first application intake.
The community resiliency investment program was established in September 2018 with $50 million to assist local governments and First Nations to lower wildfire risks around their communities. As part of Budget 2019, the B.C. government has provided an additional $10 million.
A key component of the program is that it lets communities apply for funding to cover up to 100% of a wildfire risk reduction project. Eligible applicants facing a lower wildfire risk can apply for up to $25,000, while applicants facing a demonstrated higher wildfire risk can apply for up to $100,000.
Through this program Merritt received $71,500 for five areas of need;
Q101 spoke with Merritt Fire Chief Dave Tomkinson about the influx of funding.
“The Community Wildfire Protection Plan was last updated in 2015 and since that time we’ve done a bunch of fuel modification work and just a whole bunch of work surrounding that,” said Tomkinson. “We’ve identified new areas and in order to receive operational funding in the future they have to be included in a Community Wildfire Protection Plan. So, by updating the plan theoretically we’ll be able to apply for more grant funding in the future.”
He also added that the plan is 100% funded through the grant with no expense to the tax payers. Tomkinson continued by speaking to the different maintenance areas they’ll now be addressing.
“There are areas below Parker drive and above the ball diamonds which we’ve been waiting to apply treatment to. We’ve been hoping to do some goat grazing, so that funding will help us with that,” said Tomkinson. “In the other areas it’s a mix of doing some prescribed burning, some pruning, pilling and burning.”
The bulk of the funding is earmarked for ‘Block 1A’, the area is several hectares in size and well up slope from residences in the bench area.
“It’s a larger area up above the bench where we will actually be reducing the number of stems and number of trees in that area, to increase our resiliency if a fire was to come in that direction,” said Tomkinson.
On Twitter: @Q101Merritt