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Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement for the Nicola Valley that has the potential for flash floods in the area.

According to weather agency, a low pressure system will develop over the southwest interior tonight resulting in widespread showers with possible thunderstorms.  The amount of precipiation will vary from region to region overnight however in the Nicola Valley area 10 to 20 mm are expected through Friday afternoon.

Environment Canada also added that any areas that see thunderstorms could see higher amounts of rain in excess of 30 mm by Friday.

The agency warns that should the area recieve the higher rainfall amounts, particularly over the same area or over unstable slopes the possibilty exists that flash floods or landslides could be triggered.

The inclement weather continues into Saturday with additional rainfall, however the weather system is expected to weaken late Saturday afternoon.

 

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Million dollar Bursary

(Press Release)

School hallways across the BC Interior are sure to be buzzing as students share the good news.  In some high schools, over 10% of their graduating class will receive an award from Interior Savings.  Of the 25 recipients from Merritt, 11 are graduating this year from Merritt Secondary.

The Million Dollar Bursary Program, now in its sixth year, offers up to $1 million in bursaries every year to Interior Savings’ young members.  With this week’s announcement of $767,000 in new bursaries, the program will have surpassed $3 million in awards since inception, $82,000 of that going to students from Merritt.

According to Kathy Conway, CEO of Interior Savings, the bursary program is part of a commitment by the Credit Union to share profits with its members while also helping its younger members make a positive move forward with ongoing education.

“Through our Million Dollar Bursary program, we aim to help students graduate from post-secondary in a better financial position,” said Conway. “The $1,000 bursary definitely helps in this regard.”

To be eligible for the bursary, students must be between 17 to 24 years old, a member of the Credit Union and have plans to attend full time studies in a recognized degree, diploma or trade certification program.  The Credit Union has committed to awarding up to $1 million in bursaries every year until 2021.  Learn more at www.milliondollarbursary.com

 

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On Twitter: @Q101Merritt

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Smith

On Tuesday evening, Sean Smith Merritt’s Director of Corporate Services, presented the findings of a business licence review which took place last year in the city of Merritt.

Smith started the presentation with some pretty jarring numbers collected between February 2016 and December 2018.

“The average processing time for business licence application was 21.2 days,” said Smith. “The top 25 percent of application were completed in one day. By the time you get to the 50th percentile took ten days, your bottom 25 percent mark took at least 26 days. And we have some, I kid you not, that took hundreds of days,” said Smith.

“The goal for us was to eliminate the tail entirely. We know there are going to be times where because of inspections, deficiency that need to be remediated, it sometimes can and will take up to 30 days,” said Smith. “I understand those particular situations, I don’t understand when something takes 150 or more days.”

He did mention that some changes to a digital based system has improved wait times. However, Smith was quick to note there is still a lot of work to be done.

“We have now reduced the average processing time on our last 43 applications to 10.7 days. So, we’ve nearly chopped it in half,” said Smith.

Smith then moved into the responses from a recent survey distributed to local business owners.

“I don’t see any positive way to spin this, only 41 percent of people were satisfied with how the City performed in the business Licencing process,” said Smith. “What I’m not okay with is they don’t yet good service.”

“The number one reason was that it was confusing, and it’s hard to find answers. That is really preventable,” said Smith. “A large part of what we are going to deal with in the recommendation section is how we can put out better information to the public.”

In total Smith made 17 recommendations to Council about improving the licencing process. They ranged from bring in intercommunity business licences, to cleaning up the process among office staff and the creation of new shorter-term licences.

For the full list of recommendations – https://www.merritt.ca/city-council/agendas-and-minutes

Click ‘May 21, 2019 Agenda Special Committee of the Whole Meeting’, they’re on pages 62-69 of the document

“What you’re going to see moving forward then, we are going to work on addressing these things and bring forward to council and new business licence bylaw, ideally by late fall. As well as three intercommunity business bylaws. So that we can then start amending all our public materials with enough time to actually roll this out full steam in 2020 for January 1st,” concluded Smith.

 

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On Twitter: @Q101Merritt

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city hall

Canada's tourism sector is booming, bringing in record numbers of international visitors in 2017 and 2018. It's our number one service export and accounts for one in ten jobs. The Government of Canada is committed to building on this momentum and investing in tourism to create middle class jobs, grow Canada's economy, and bring new opportunities and pride to communities looking for a chance to show the world what they have.

That's why the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie, today unveiled Creating Middle Class Jobs: A Federal Tourism Growth Strategy, which will bolster growth and diversify the sector by enhancing and developing the unique experiences that attract tourists year-round to all regions of our country.

This strategy will empower communities of all sizes through short- and long-term measures by:

  1. providing $58.5 million in funding through the Canadian Experiences Fund to enhance Canada's tourism products and experiences;
  2. changing the way we invest in tourism by developing tourism investment groups where all levels of government will collaborate to invest more efficiently while meeting local priorities and identifying ways to raise private investment; and
  3. creating the new Tourism Industry Economic Strategy Table to provide a platform for government and industry leaders to collaborate on overcoming sector challenges.

These three pillars will take a whole-of-government approach to addressing barriers to growth such as lack of investment coordination and labour shortages.

These measures will position the sector to meet the strategy's ambitious targets by 2025 by increasing:

  • tourism revenues by 25% to $128 billion;
  • jobs directly related to tourism by 7.3%, creating 54,000 new jobs in the process;
  • growth in the visitor economy to outpace the growth in the national economy;
  • international arrivals during the winter and shoulder seasons by over 1 million; and
  • the proportion of tourism revenue generated beyond Montréal, Toronto and Vancouver, the three big cities where tourism activity is currently concentrated.

Merritt's Economic Development and Tourism Manager Will George spoke to Q101 after reviewing the new framework.

“Something that I wanted to comment on that really stood out from our side here as a local tourism organization, is the growing jobs in tourism,” said George. “So, looking at the business attraction side of things and attracting invest to and from the visitor economy. This fits quite nicely in (to our current plans), and it’s excellent to see that we have some new federal tourism funds to assist with that.”

“Having a community grant writer, this all ties together. Being able to have a dedicated person who can write grants for our community, this will just be another grant we’ll be adding to their to do list when we hire them to bring more money to Merritt and the Nicola Valley,” said George.

 

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On Twitter: @Q101Merritt

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Community Health

On Tuesday evening, Claire Audet and Jeff Conners from Interior Health were in Merritt to present to Council their healthy communities initiative.

“Within our team we have healthy community facilitators, environmental health officers, dietitians, tobacco reduction officers and tobacco enforcement officers and we try to work all together when we come and work with local governments,” said Audet.

The presentation spoke to a wide-ranging group factors and challenges that can lead to one’s good or poor health.

“Seventy-five percent of what influences your health is outside the healthcare system and 60 percent of it is actually influenced by your community,” said Audet.

They also spoke to one in five children living in poverty, the effect of people driving everywhere and not walking, along with mental health and housing being major factors in health of those across the region.

“The challenges we face on a day to day basis with healthy communities is that fact that one out of three people live with chronic disease. They’re the ones who take up most of our health care dollars, they may be 35 percent of the population, but they take 85 percent of our dollars. So, it would be really nice if we could help them be healthy within their communities which we know is really easily done,” said Audet.

With a full-scale review of Merritt's official community plan (OCP) in the works for later this summer, it was mentioned how they can take part in the planning.

“What we want to bring to the official community plans is health wording. So, it actually gives you the capability to look at it in the future, to actually incorporate it into your transportation, your housing, all the various components on your official community plan, and then create some bylaws in the future,” said Audet. “We try to work with whoever you consult with and we’ll sit down and provide them with healthy community initiatives. Try to inject health wording so you can expand the OCP to include it.”

 

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On Twitter: @Q101Merritt

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