Revelstoke 2015 Year in Review – Part 2

A look back at the biggest stories in Revelstoke from April to June 2015.

  • Dec. 31, 2015 6:00 a.m.
It wasn't a good year for CP Rail in Revelstoke. In January

It wasn't a good year for CP Rail in Revelstoke. In January

April 1

Welcome to the Revelstoke Review!

Welcome to the new look, new name Revelstoke Review!

First off — this isn’t an April Fools joke. We don’t have the resources to produce such a dramatic change to the newspaper as a one-time thing.

As of this week, the Revelstoke Times Review is now the Revelstoke Review. We’ve got a new logo and we’re going back to the historic name of the newspaper because, quite frankly, the old logo was ugly and Revelstoke Review is a better, catchier name. It also makes for shorter e-mails and a shorter web address. Let’s face it — Times Review was a bulky name, the result of a merger between the upstart Times and the legacy Review in 1992. When we told people our e-mail address, they often remarked how long it was.

Revelstoke Review is a shorter name with great alliteration and a long history in the community.

Axis Mundi festivals announced for Revelstoke

Two new festivals coinciding with the summer solstice and fall harvest have been announced for Revelstoke, starting this September.

The Axis Mundi Harvest will take place this Sept. 18-20, with the Axis Mundi Solstice set to take place June 17-19, 2016.

The festivals are being organized by Hugo Rampen, the former organizer of the Salmon Arm Roots & Blues festival, in conjunction with the City of Revelstoke, Revelstoke Mountain Resort, the Revelstoke Chamber of Commerce, Revelstoke Arts Council and Revelstoke Accommodation Association.

Rampen has said the festivals would be “multi-genre.”

“The intent is to create the type of festival that doesn’t really exist in this area at the moment,” he told the Times Review.

Each lifestyle festival will feature events related to music, arts, adventure sports and the environment, “all programmed with a strong sense of community interaction and ecological sustainability,” according to a news release announcing the two festivals.

Juvenile girls star at Canadian Nordic ski nationals

Revelstoke skiers are returning home with much to be proud of after the 2015 Ski Nationals held in Thunder Bay, Ontario from March 14-21.

Six athletes from the Revelstoke Nordic Ski Club travelled eastward to compete against more than 600 of the top cross country skiers from across the country.

Emily Suchy lead the way with four golds in the Female Para-Nordic sit-ski, while Beth Granstrom, Alana Brittin and Elizabeth Elliott ranked second, third and fifth respectively in the 2000 Girls aggregate standings. Kate Granstrom and Tayla Koerber rounded out the Revelstoke contingent with strong results in their deep Juvenile and Junior Girls categories.

Snowmobiler survives Boulder avalanche

A snowmobiler survived an avalanche after being buried in snow for 10 minutes on Boulder Mountain on Friday.

According to reports, a man was snowmobiling in the Turbo Hill area when he triggered the avalanche.

Joe Lammers, an avalanche forecaster and search & rescue member, posted on Avalanche Canada’s Mountain Information Network that the avalanche was a size 2.5.

“According to a witness, the subject triggered the avalanche with his machine and was buried for ten minutes before he was rescued by his partners,” wrote Lammers. “He regained consciousness and managed to sled down to the parking lot.”

April 8

Derailment of train downtown sparks rail safety concerns

A derailment of two grain cars on a train full of tanker cars carrying dangerous goods in downtown Revelstoke last week has sparked worries of what could have been.

“Obviously there is a concern,” said Mayor Mark McKee. “It was just lentils but take lentils out of the picture and put in propane and it becomes a different story.”

The CP Rail train derailed across the street from the Visitor Information Centre on Thursday, Apr. 2, at about 2 p.m.

George Hopkins witnessed the train derailment. A retired railroader, he and his son were watching the train slowly pass by when they heard a bang and it jumped the track. They both rushed to contact CP Rail.

The derailed cars were carrying a grain of some sort. They were preceded and followed by a long line of black containers cars that generally carry oil, gases or dangerous goods.

New fishing regulations in effect for Revelstoke area

Changes in regulations to the Columbia River fishery don’t go far enough, says the Revelstoke Rod and Gun Club.

“It’s not everything we wanted but its better than before,” said Gary Krestinsky, the club’s president. “These new regulations are welcome but they only go partway to conservation.”

The 2015-17 Freshwater Fishing Regulations went into effect April 1.

In the Revelstoke area, the most significant change is that fishing is now banned from the Revelstoke Dam to the BC Hydro power lines over the Columbia River, about 300 metres north of the Illecillewaet River.

The change means that fishing from the shoreline in Centennial Park or along the Big Eddy Greenbelt will no longer be allowed.

Photo: Revelstoke Caribou Rearing in the Wild conducted its second capture this year, penning 18 female caribou and one calf inside the pen north of Revelstoke in the spring. In July, 17 adults and 11 calves were released. They were hoping for better results this year after seven of nine calves that were born in the pen died last winter. ~ Photo by Rob Buchanan, RCRW

April 15

Council passes $23.2 million budget

Revelstoke council made few changes to its draft budget, opting for a smaller tax increase on businesses, but almost the same spending as proposed by city staff.

The result is the city will run a $20,000 deficit in 2015.

Faced with their first budget and little time to prepare, council said any real cuts will have to wait until next year.

“I feel we’re behind the eight ball and I’m looking forward to other things happening and getting more in depth next year,” said mayor Mark McKee.

Council passed a budget that features a two per cent tax increase on home owners and 0.5 per cent tax hike for business owners, plus increases to water, sewer and garbage rates. The first draft of the budget featured a two per cent tax increase on businesses.

They also voted down a tax decrease for Downie Timber and instead opted to give it the same two per cent increase applied to classes other than business.

The vote came after 2.5 hours of deliberation at council’s third budget meeting on Thursday, Apr. 9.

Private company proposes investment in golf club

A private Calgary investment company is proposing to take over the lease for Revelstoke Golf Club and transform it into a profitable business that is a destination for tourists and special event planners.

“We are not here to buy the golf course,” said Larry Shelley, the managing partner of Citrus Capital Partners. “We are here to potentially enter into a lease agreement with the city that would define the way in which the golf course would operate going forward in a way that’s constructive to the citizens of this city.”

Shelley was in Revelstoke on Wednesday to address members of the Revelstoke Golf Club about his proposal to take over operations of the struggling course.

More than 100 people came out to hear his pitch to the club and the community.

“We’re not going to make any major decisions here today,” he said. “I want to give you some information and some options and hopefully stir some thought so in the next few weeks we can decide if there’s an avenue going forward you would be inclined to support.”

April 22

Rave reviews for new skateboard park design

“It looks sick!”

Those were the words of three local teenagers after eyeing up the design for Revelstoke’s new skateboard park. They said it simultaneously, with barely any prompting.

The skatepark design was unveiled at an open house hosted by the City of Revelstoke, the Columbia Valley Skateboard Association and New Line Skateparks last Thursday, Apr. 16, at the community centre.

“They nailed it,” said Chris Payne, the president of the CVSA. “It’s balanced. It has its individual elements but it all flows together.”

The proposed park is a little under 20,000-square-feet in size, though it’s total footprint appears significantly larger than the existing 16,000-square-foot park because of its oblong shape.

April 29

City considering privatizing garbage collection

With their garbage trucks nearing the end of their life and the regional district planning on curbside food waste pickup, the City of Revelstoke is considering privatizing garbage collection services.

Council has asked staff to look at contracting out garbage collection by contacting the city union and beginning the tendering process.

“We are looking at the whole thing about garbage collection because our trucks are falling apart,” said Mayor Mark Mckee. “We’re unsure of what we’re going to be collecting in the future and we’re concerned if we go and buy a truck we’re going to have for six or eight years, that it may be the wrong kind of truck because food waste may be coming out of the garbage stream.”

May 13

Company seeking financing for bio-energy facility in Revelstoke

One company has come forward with the intention of building a biomass conversion plant in Revelstoke.

Emergent Waste Solutions (EWS) is seeking financing to build a plant in Revelstoke that would convert wood waste into oil, synthetic gas and a form of charcoal called active carbon.

It has asked for a letter of support from the City of Revelstoke as it moves forward.

“We’re in the stage now of raising capital to build this plant in Revelstoke,” Kevin Hull, the CEO of EWS, told the Review. “We have tremendous interest expressed from investors and we feel that we have an investor lined up for this, of course unless you have the money in the bank, you don’t have anything.”

EWS uses a technology called Advanced Pyrolysis System (APS) to convert carbon-based waste into different products. According to the company’s website, it can be used to convert rubber tires, sewage, food waste, manure and wood into a variety of after-products.

RCMP urge precautions after series of bike thefts

The bikes were locked up and hidden underneath the deck at the back of the house, but that didn’t deter thieves from making off with them in the night.

“I think we got cased,” said Francois Desrosier, who, along with his girlfriend, was the victim of the latest mountain bike theft to hit Revelstoke this spring. “What I think is there’s people around town watching bikers and when they recognize a flashy bike they follow them home.”

The two thefts make nine so far this year in Revelstoke, according to the Revelstoke RCMP. Of the nine, four bikes were unlocked, five were locked, six were left in the open, one was in an unlocked garage and two were outside but hidden from view.

The total value of all nine bikes is estimated at $20,600.

Seth Bafaro selected in WHL Bantam Draft

Revelstoke native Seth Bafaro has become the first local minor hockey player to be drafted into the Western Hockey League since 2009.

Bafaro, who turns 14 next weekend, was picked in the third round, 49th overall, by the Tri-City Americans in the WHL Bantam Draft on Tuesday, May 5.

“It feels pretty good,” he told the Review. “I’ve heard good things from players about them. They always have a good team and good development.”

May 20

NCES asks for ban on motorized recreation on the Flats

A recent mud bogging incident that caused heavy damage has prompted a call from the North Columbia Environmental Society to ban motorized recreation on theColumbia River Flats.

In a letter to Revelstoke council and the Loni Parker, the Rural Revelstoke director, the local environmental group outlined numerous infractions in the Upper Arrow Lakes Drawdown Zone — locally known as The Flats.

Of biggest concern was a mud bogging incident that required two days to pull a truck from the mud using a backhoe, three tow trucks and an excavator.

“The results include… a broken hydraulic hose, oil spill, and violation of numerous regional, provincial and federal laws,” wrote NCES vice-president Fraser Blyth. “The NCES hereby requests that all motorized recreation be curtailed immediately and that no unlicensed vehicles be allowed within the drawdown zone.”

May 27

No new land-use plan for Macpherson, minister says

There won’t be a new land-use plan or a moratorium on logging on Mount Macpherson, says Steve Thomson, the Minister of Forests, Land and Natural Resource Operations.

I spoke to Thomson Monday morning after reading his response to a request by the Columbia Shuswap Regional District asking for more public consultation on logging Macpherson.

In his letter, Thomson expressed support for the land-use plans and consultation processes in place. The letter made no mention of the online petition that asked for a moratorium on logging and a new land-use plan.

It also made no mention of a recent request by Revelstoke city council to develop a new land-use plan for Mount Macpherson.

Photo: The sewer smell that plagued Southside residents for years was addressed in 2015 — hopefully for good. The city spent $360,000 on new odour scrubbers for the sewage treatment plant headworks building and $120,000 on mixers for the lagoons. The work was completed in June. ~ Google Earth image

June 10

Seven studies recommended for Mackenzie Village development

Seven recommendations have been made prior to moving forward with a bylaw for a major development in Arrow Heights.

A 135-page staff report on the proposed 1,200-unit Mackenzie Village development is asking for the developer to complete a number of studies and plans prior to moving on a new bylaw.

They include a financial impact study, traffic study, infrastructure & servicing study, environmental report, parks & trails plan, waste management plan and an affordable housing strategy.

The report by Dean Strachan, the manager of development services, follows the April 30 open house at Arrow Heights Elementary that was attended by 154 people.

The massive mixed-use, high-density development would be located on 35 acres of land off Nichol Road.

June 17

New Three Valley Gap avalanche control system announced

A new avalanche control system is coming to Three Valley Gap that the government hopes will reduce the length of closures on the Trans-Canada Highway.

Minister of Transportation Todd Stone was in Revelstoke on Monday to announce several new highway initiatives.

“We heard loud and clear improvements were needed at Three Valley Gap to shorten the duration of long closures,” said the minister during a press conference in Woodenhead Park.

The biggest is the new avalanche control system for Three Valley Gap. The ministry will be installing remote-control explosive devices along avalanche paths above the highway. The devices can be operated remotely, at any time of day, eliminating the need for day-time helicopter bombing missions that require several-hour-long highway closures.

Two other initiatives were also announced. Twenty new variable speed signs will be installed on the highway between Revelstoke and the Perry River Bridge. The electronic signs will monitor road conditions and adjust the speed limit accordingly. The signs were first announced when the government increased speed limits across the province last year; they will be installed in the fall.

The third development is the installation of new traffic light timers at the three highway intersections in Revelstoke. The new Automax system will use sensors embedded in the road to determine if traffic is backed up at a stop light. It will then adjust traffic-signal timing accordingly to speed up the movement of traffic.

June 24

Transport Canada investigating CP Rail

CP Rail is being investigated for allegedly leaving a train parked east of Revelstoke without proper brakes being applied.

According to the CBC, Transport Canada investigators raided CP Rail’s headquarters in Calgary in May as part of an investigation into the alleged failure to apply hand brakes on a train carrying dangerous goods, including oil.

The report is based on a search warrant filed in a Calgary court. CBC reporter Dave Seglins provided a copy of the warrant to the Review.

The warrant was filed by Robert Blair, an inspector with Transport Canada, in an Alberta court on May 14. In it, he seeks permission to obtain rail traffic recordings from CP Rail.

The warrant alleges that Canadian Pacific and superintendent Mark Jackson violated the Rail Safety Act by leaving 57 rail cars unattended without the hand brakes applied on Feb. 15, 2015.

City hires new CAO

There’s a new top manager at Revelstoke city hall.

Allan Chabot was hired as the City of Revelstoke’s new Chief Administrative Officer, the city announced.

“I am really looking forward to getting to work and live in Revelstoke and help the mayor and council achieve their goals,” he said in a news release. “I feel that the issues and opportunities facing mountain resort communities that include traditional resource-based employment are really in my wheelhouse and my experiences in Invermere, Golden and Fernie should serve me well. I want to immere myself again in mountain culture and be part of the great Revelstoke community.”