How much snow was there in the 2010/11 season? Enough to cave-in the roof of a building at Downie Timber it seems. Fortunately

How much snow was there in the 2010/11 season? Enough to cave-in the roof of a building at Downie Timber it seems. Fortunately

Revelstoke Times Review Year in Review 2011 – part 1

In our annual Year in Review issue, we summarize some of the biggest news, community, sports and business stories of the year.

  • Dec. 28, 2011 10:00 a.m.

Revelstoke was a hive of activity in 2011. A new wave of construction continued around town, including the new Revelstoke Secondary School, the new Best Western Hotel and the substantial completion of the third building at the base of Revelstoke Mountain Resort. That’s on top of Revelstoke 5 and the start of Mica units 5 & 6. Much of this work was conceived and begun before the global economic downturn came along, and Revelstoke was certainly fortunate to have the opportunity to build them all.

In a town with just one of them, nothing can define community experience quite like a high school. The new Revelstoke Secondary School is the story of the year, since it’s emblematic of this construction wave and will continue to be a community hub for decades.

Of course, it wasn’t all hard hats ‘n’ hammers. In our annual Year in Review issue, we summarize some of the biggest news, community, sports and business stories of the year.

Happy New Year Revelstoke, and we’re looking forward to seeing you again in 2012.

January 26

Jack Layton visits riding to support Mark Shmigelsky

The federal NDP sees an opportunity in the riding of Kootenay-Columbia when current Conservative MP Jim Abbott bows out ahead of the next election. Abbott, who announced his planned retirement in early 2010, won the riding with a whopping 59.6 per cent of the vote in the 2008 election, well ahead of NDP candidate Leon Pendleton’s 22.6 per cent.

Federal NDP leader Jack Layton was in Cranbrook on Jan. 24 to support NDP candidate and former Invermere mayor Mark Shmigelsky, who won the right to represent the NDP in Kootenay-Columbia just over a week ago.

January 26

New CAO Tim Palmer arrives

The City of Revelstoke’s new Chief Administrative Officer Tim Palmer will begin in Revelstoke sometime in mid to late February.

Palmer recently resigned as the CAO of the Village of Burns Lake to take the position as Revelstoke’s top municipal employee.

Palmer cites his work on community sustainability initiatives in Burns Lake, including work on a community heating initiative which will be implemented in 2011.

March 2

City council opts for 4% residential tax increase

Revelstoke city council has decided on a four per cent hike in residential taxes for 2011, but will hold the line for commercial and industrial taxpayers at zero per cent.

The decision came at their Feb. 22 regular meeting, following presentations from citizens concerned about cuts to recreation services and from a budget focus group consisting of residential and business representatives.

The four per cent increase means the owner of an average-valued $350,000 home will pay an extra $45 dollars in city taxes.

March 2

Snowmobilers concerned about proposed new caribou closures

Local snowmobile groups are worried that if proposed new snowmobile closures go ahead, it will become increasingly difficult enforce the closures designed to protect caribou habitat.

“We are afraid that if these closures go ahead, that we will not have buy-in from the snowmobiling public and we fear that civil disobedience will become an issue,” said Angela Threatful, executive director of the Snowmobile Revelstoke Society. “People will no longer respect the boundaries based on the fact that we’ve already given so much up, we’ve worked hard, we’ve invested thousands upon thousand of dollars in environmental stewardship and, if it comes down to additional closures above and beyond that, I feel it will have a negative impact.”

The new closures being proposed by the B.C. government include a complete closure of Caribou Basin and a greatly extended closure of Keystone Standard Basin.

April 20, 2011

Federal all-candidate’s forum lacks spark with front runner absent

It’s a good thing they called it a forum and not a debate – because there was little of the latter at the Kootenay-Columbia all-candidates forum in Revelstoke last Tuesday night.

Three candidates attended the Apr. 12 forum – Mark Shmigelsky of the New Democratic Party, Bill Green of the Green Party and independent candidate Brent Bush. Missing were Liberal candidate Betty Aitchison (who did send in an introducing statement) and Conservative David Wilks, who is regarded as the favourite to win the riding.

Thirty minutes after the national leader’s debate ended, the forum began, with about 50 people in attendance, many of whom were wearing NDP badges. Brydon Roe, president of the Revelstoke Chamber of Commerce, acted as moderator.

With Wilks absent – he said he already committed to be elsewhere when the invitation came – the forum lacked any sense of antagonism and there wasn’t too much to separate the three candidates.

May 4

Trans-Canada truck crash spills pigs’ blood all over yard

A cloud of dried up pork blood exploded out of a tractor-trailer, down the bank of the Trans-Canada Highway and onto the lawn of a house below after the truck crashed in Revelstoke early Thursday evening.

The west-bound semi, which was carrying a load of powdered pig’s blood, caromed off the highway and took out a hydro pole while rounding a bend between the Meadows in the Sky Parkway and Highway 23 north.

“We believe at this point the vehicle was travelling too fast for the curves and as a result lost control and went into the left-hand side ditch,” said Cpl. Rod Wiebe of the Revelstoke RCMP.

The crash caused the trucks load to explode out of the trailer and blanket the embankment south of the highway, as well as the lawn of a house on Bend Road below. The powdered blood covered everything around the house and the foul stench of pig’s blood permeated the air.

MP Jim Abbott says goodbye to Ottawa

This week, with another federal election in the books, Jim Abbott won’t be making plans to head to Ottawa. Instead, he’ll be off to Edmonton to spend time with his grandchildren.

“For 17.5 years I had to ask my family to build their lives around mine so now I’m going to be in a position to fit into where they’re coming from,” said the long-time Member of Parliament for Kootenay-Columbia. “I’m really looking forward to that. It was mixed feelings. Walking away from a job, from a life that I absolutely loved was hard but on the other hand, the anticipation of getting into something where I have more personal time and more flexibility is really appealing.”

Abbott, 68, announced in February, 2010, he would not run in the next federal election. For the first time since 1993, a campaign took place without his name on the ballot.

June 22, 2011

RCMP reclassify drowning to murder

The RCMP are now classifying the August 2010 drowning of an Alberta schoolteacher at Shelter Bay as a homicide.

Laura Letts-Beckett, a 50-year-old elementary schoolteacher from Westlock, Alberta, was in a boat with her husband on Aug. 18, 2010.

An August 19 report in the Revelstoke Times Review, which was based on information provided by the RCMP, said that Letts-Beckett was standing up in the Zodiac when she fell overboard. She was not wearing a lifejacket and it was reported she couldn’t swim.

At the time, the RCMP reported her husband attempted to rescue her but was unable to.

RCMP Southeast District spokesperson Cpl. Dan Moskaluk confirmed the RCMP suspect foul play. “The death is being classified as a homicide,” he told the Times Review in a June 14 telephone interview. “[RCMP Southeast District Major Crime Unit] has been involved and continue to be involved in the investigation. It is an ongoing investigation.

June 29

No injuries in Albert Canyon train derailment

A freight train derailed Tuesday afternoon between Albert Canyon and Mount Revelstoke National Park.

CP Rail spokesperson Kevin Hrysak said a westbound freight train derailed at around 2:45 p.m. on Tuesday, June 21. It came off the tracks about 25 kilometres east of Revelstoke.

Hrysak said 17 cars derailed in the incident.

Several cars were flipped on their side as a result of the derailment. Others were thrust into the air and one was hanging down the bank towards the Illecillewaet River.