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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. Planning and Development Manager Mark Brodrick spoke to the application.

“The parcel is currently R3, which is a multi-family zone, and the request is for the R4 which has a higher number density,” said Brodrick. “So, what’s proposed is a four-story multi-family complex with 22 units in total. They’re two-bedroom units, this is for rental accommodation. The building will have an elevator and they’re also proposing a parkade.”

It was also noted that the property used to be three separate parcels of land but was recently brought together into one.

“I think this is greatly needed for the downtown core. I know a number of seniors that are looking for a project like this. They want the downtown area and yet there isn’t very many apartments going in,” said Mayor Linda Brown.

The motion on the table for Council was to move the application through first and second readings and have a public hearing scheduled.

“This looks like a great project for downtown,” begin Councillor Tony Luck. “I was really happy to see some of the flexibility that was given from the planning department on this project. I’m going to support at this point and I’m looking forward to the public hearing. I’m really excited about this development and seeing this go-ahead. This is some badly needed housing here in Merritt.”

The motion passed by a vote of 7-0 and a public hearing will be scheduled, most likely for the next regular council meeting on May 28th.

Members of the public will be given the opportunity to voice their thoughts for or against at the meeting or via a written letter.

 

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Interior Health

 Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) and the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) are collaborating on a new research project providing people who use substances with take-home drug checking kits to determine if people can use them safely on their own.

Interior Health is also participating in the pilot. The take-home kits are available at several sites including in Kamloops, Cranbrook, Merritt, Nelson, Kelowna, Penticton and Vernon.

Here in Merritt the take-home drug checking kits will be available at the ASK Wellness Society.

“We know using drugs alone presents a significant risk amidst a toxic, unpredictable and illegal drug supply that is taking three to four lives every single day,” said Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “Drug checking is an important tool in our toolbox and through this research project we can learn more about how to keep people safer and help them find a pathway to hope.”

“We know that most people dying from overdoses die while using alone,” said Dr. Mark Lysyshyn, Medical Health Officer, VCH. “We’re hoping that giving people the opportunity to check their drugs for fentanyl on their own could help them make safer choices and save lives.”

Clients will receive five free test strips, with instructions, to take home so they can check whether their substances possibly contain fentanyl, the toxin contaminating the illegal drug supply, which was responsible for approximately 87 per cent of illicit drug overdose deaths in 2018 in B.C.

The research study will compare results of take-home drug checking with drug checking services already being offered at VCH sites using trained technicians. Researchers will evaluate the fentanyl positivity rates from the take-home checks compared with rates that technicians get during the same time frame. The study will help determine whether take-home drug checking kits can be effectively used outside of a health care facility without staff oversight.

“Using the test strips will allow people to identify if there is fentanyl in their drugs so they can make informed decisions about how to reduce their risk of overdose,” said Dr. Jane Buxton, Medical Lead for Harm Reduction, BCCDC. “Although the test strips do not detect all fentanyl analogues, they are another tool that we can use to engage with people who use substances and discuss with them how they can reduce harms. After testing their drugs, people may choose to use less, to use with a friend, or not use the drug at all. And, of course, key to staying safe even with access to test strips is to be trained to respond to an overdose and have a naloxone kit with you at all times.”

Currently clients voluntarily check their drugs at VCH sites an average of 500 times each month. Since many fatal illicit drug overdoses occur in private residences, and when the person is alone, a take-home drug checking kit could help more people.

 

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Bowen Island

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.

Leading the presentation on behalf of Bowen was their CEO Zach Chester.

“The reason for coming is we’re interested in two pieces of land to have a cannabis operation here and we just thought we’d introduce ourselves and make sure we have your blessing to see if you’re okay with what we’re trying to do here in Merritt,” said Chester. “Our mission is to bring high quality craft cannabis flower and extracts to the legal market.”

Chester spoke to what he believes is the biggest problem facing the cannabis industry.

“There is a lack of high-quality legal cannabis, because most of the companies that are through, they’re often public companies. They’re all about stock price and having the largest square-footage facility and all about the mass-produced market,” said Chester. “The big issue with the market is there is no legal craft higher end cannabis suppliers.”

Their are two properties being looked at by Bowen, one plot of land near the airport and another on Midday Valley road.

“The properties we’re looking at are several acres. So, the question we have now is how big can we get in Merritt,” said Chester. “We could expand to quite great size here, as long as people can staff the place.”

They also spoke to list of jobs that would be created if they entered the community. The list included;

  • Quality Assurance
  • Cultivators
  • Trimmers
  • Product Processors
  • Packagers
  • Security
  • Business and Accounting Staff

The jobs varied from entry level, no experience necessary all the way up to degree needed.

 

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Weapons 1

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.

Constable David Feller lead the presentation speaking to several the technically legal weapons, starting with bear spray.

“A couple of those canister were found in unattended bags. So, you have a child running along in a park and they pick that bag up and even if the bag just rattles around it depressing that lever, they’ll get a big cloud of OC in the face. It’s enough to incapacitate an adult, so it would incapacitate a child without an issue,” said Cst. Feller.

Cst Feller

Feller also spoke specifically to the flashlight-baton-stun weapon mix, which can be purchased by anybody over the age of 19.

“It’s a rechargeable flashlight with a foot to a two-foot-long aluminum tube, the tube on the end is comprised of a bunch of chunky metal protrusions,” said Feller. “The device it’s self is a flashlight with a 2-million-volt stun lance built into it. It’s sold as a device basically marketed for protection from wild animals. It’s designed as a defence item.

“If an individual was you use that is the commission of offense, it would quite a high-level charge against them. It would be then a prohibited device, as it would come down as a stun or conducted energy weapon. Unfortunately, when we encounter individuals with those, typically they aren’t being carried for there intended purpose,” said Feller.

“Obviously it poises a significant risk to our members,” concluded Feller.

Constable Tracy Dunsmore then spoke to encouraging the public to call Crime Stoppers if they know somebody that is known to carry a weapon. Reminding the public that they could receive money for their tips.

Weapons 2

 

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First plane

(Photo- Nicola Valley Museum and Archives)

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.

“We are trying to get some kind of celebration going, that could potentially be an ongoing event,” said Mayor Linda Brown.

“Mr. George has kind of taken the lead on this and hopefully he can get enough volunteers to help him organize this event or it may not happen,” said Mayor Brown. “We have a plea out there to say, anybody out there who’s interested in helping organize this event please get in touch with Mr. George. We have a lot of ideas but there really needs to be some effort put in to organizing.”

Will George can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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On Twitter: @Q101Merritt

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