Happy times: Francis Johnson Sr. beams at friends during the 30th Skwlax Pow Wow held near Quaaout Lodge. More than 260 dancers gathered for the event.

2013: The year that was (last six months)

A recap of the highlights in the news from July to December of 2013.

  • Jan. 1, 2014 6:00 a.m.


• Salmon Arm RCMP and fire department were called to the scene when a transport truck driver lost consciousness after a coughing fit, and crossed the westbound lane of traffic on the Trans-Canada Highway, went over an embankment, plowed through a farmer’s field and two fences before stopping on the patio of a residence. The accident ruptured the truck’s front diesel tanks, leaking diesel fuel onto the ground. Crews worked for hours to contain the spill from reaching Canoe Creek and cleaning the site.  No charges were laid.

• The city’s parks and recreation department were finally able to start up the McGuire Lake fountain after it had been out of commission since the summer of 2012. Staff discovered that one of the transformers was heating up too much and required an upgrade.

• The Shuswap Lake Integrated Planning Process (SLIPP) revealed the results from the two-year water quality monitoring program they were conducting on the Shuswap and Salmon Rivers and Canoe, Tappen, Newsome and White creeks. The results showed that most sample sites met government safety guidelines for drinking water, swimming, irrigation, livestock, fish and wildlife, and overall quality was good. Some sites however showed high concentrations of phosphorus, nitrogen and fecal coliform bacteria that were cause for concern. Grey water discharge samples were taken at the popular houseboating stop Nielsen Beach on Shuswap Lake; results showed that bacterial counts at the site continue to decrease and were below swimming guideline levels and may be attributed to the voluntary wastewater measures taken by houseboat companies.

• Salmon Arm Council supported a proposal from TRUE in the Trees project co-ordinators. The project is to place drums in a local park/pond area located at 28th Street NE and Fifth Avenue NE to encourage children to get back into nature. The proposal states that drumming brings a sense of security and a comforting self-regulation, and encourages children to spend more time outside. Council received some letters from surrounding neighbours opposed to the $10,000 project.

• Council approved a new cell tower location in Canoe following much opposition from the community of the first proposed site which was located on Lyman Hill in North Canoe. The new proposed location is near Canoe Forest Products, along the Canadian Pacific right of way.

• Five local First Nations’ bands: Adams Lake, Neskonlith, Splatsin, Little Shuswap and Kamloops, all participated in the Pulling Together Canoe journey this year. For the past 12 years, First Nations groups with local RCMP, choose different routes on B.C. waters to paddle together in an effort to break down the barriers between police and first nations. This year the event started in Enderby with a Sun Rise Ceremony, with canoes hitting the water at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 27. They continued on to St. Ives, Celista, Quaaout Lodge, Chase and Pritchard, and finished off in Kamloops, seven days later in time to participate in the Kamloops Powwow. The journey included three different bodies of water and over 110 kilometers paddled.

• Scott Campbell is announced as the new Salmon Arm SilverBacks director of game night operations. Responsibilities include all game-night operations at the Shaw Centre including on-ice promotions, customer care and hiring of game-night staff. Campbell was the play-by-play announcer for the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 seasons.

• Local 16-year-old Lisa Petterson with her dog Toby gained enough points at the BC Regionals event in Langley to qualify for the Agility Association of Canada’s Canadian National Dog Agility Championships held in Edmonton.


• The Hideaway Liquor Store owner, Gord Erickson, takes issue with the new provincial liquor store location. Provincial regulation states that liquor store owners cannot be within one kilometre of each other, with the new store location that puts the two stores within 521 meters of each other.  The province responded to a letter that Erickson sent stating that the regulation applies to licensee retail stores (private liquor stores) and not BC Liquor Stores or wine and VQA stores.  The province also announced this month that they will begin selling cold beverages and will be installing walk-in beer and wine refrigeration units in Salmon Arm, and will be asking for community feedback regarding support of these units.

• Campaign spending was released to the public; MLA for the Shuswap, Greg Kyllo, spent more money than any of the other candidates for the Shuswap, and more than Premier Christy Clark on her riding for Vancouver Point Grey. Kyllo spent $113,280, while NDP’s Steve Gunner spent $36,495, BC Conservative’s Tom Birch spent $12,892, BC Green Party’s Chris George spent $9, 354, and the Advocational Party’s Johanna Zalcik spent $1,096. The amount spent campaigning also mirrors the election results. Christy Clark spent $108,765 on her riding.

• Salmon Arm city council approved changes to the local transit system, which included reducing the services along the Foothill Road loop but adding a “shoppers shuttle” that would add 11 trips on weekdays and 10 trips on Saturdays; this change costs the city $6,700.

• Shuswap Trail Alliance was selected as BC Parks’ Volunteer Group of the Year. The group received a letter from Minister of Environment Mary Polak congratulating them after being nominated by North Okanagan and Shuswap BC Parks Area Supervisors, Kevin Wilson and Wes DeArmond. Projects completed by the Trail Alliance include upgrades to the Enderby Cliffs Provincial Park trail, the Eagle River boardwalk, bridge and sign upgrades, the winter trail maintenance at Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park, the Routes and Blues and Bigfoot Snowshoe trail programs and many others.

• RCMP arrested a man who used a stolen credit card to pay for his dinner at a local restaurant. Police also found numerous other pieces of identification on the man.

• Salmon Arm junior tennis players competed against players from Calgary, Kelowna and Kamloops at the Rookie Tour Tennis Tournament held at the Salmon Arm Tennis Club. The local players placed well with Jonathan Breugem placing second and Julia VanBuskirk taking third in the U-10 category, and Susannah Wark taking second and August Thomson placing third in the U-12 category. Wallis Thomson placed first, Emily Wark second and Jackson Wark third in the U-14 category.

• Members of the Chamber Musicians of Kamloops with the Brandenburg Orchestra brought a touch of royalty to Wednesday on the Wharf, playing Handel’s Water Music which was originally played for King George I of England in 1717.

• With attendance up by 1,000 from last year’s event, Roots and Blues this year was considered a great success. Weather held out each day as performers from all over the world wowed the crowds. Organizers changed the main stage layout this year, allowing for more room for dancing at the front. They also raised the stage by a foot and included huge screens so people seated behind could still see. Musicians also raved about the excellent reception they received from coordinators behind the scenes and the energy of the crowds.


• City council refused a rezoning application made by School District #83 for the former J.L. Jackson school site from P3 Institutional to C2 Town Centre Commercial. This was the second failed rezoning application for the parcel. In 2006, a retailer applied to rezone a portion of the parcel to C7 Shopping Centre Commercial for a new grocery store.

• Former KOA Campground at 481 Highway 97B NE, adjacent to Haney Heritage Park, was recently approved an official community plan amendment to become a mobile home park by city council.

• Columbia Shuswap Regional District director, Rhona Martin, was acclaimed president of the Union of British Columbia Municipalities for the 2013-2014 term. Martin also serves on several committees and boards throughout the province.

• Firefighters from all four Salmon Arm fire department halls were called to fight a fire at Canoe Forest Products. Smoke was coming out of a chip bin and when the chips were exposed to oxygen and started a fire. The fire was contained to just the bin as loaders were used to empty small amounts of chips at a time so firefighters could spray them down.

• The fire at Pedro Gonzales Fruit and Garden Ltd. was the result of arson, Salmon Arm RCMP confirmed.

• Fifteen varieties of Gort’s Gouda cheese was recalled after several E. coli cases were reported, including one death.

• Popular bluegrass musician and local Sorrento man, Gene Bretecher, is missed by his community after his untimely death. Bretecher, 74, fell out of his boat about 30 meters from Shuswap Lake shore and, despite quick response from help nearby, could not be resuscitated.

• Several local tennis players won top places at the Salmon Arm Tennis Club’s Open Tennis Tournament. Despite rain delays, the tournament was well received.

• Local Shuswap Middle School student, Alec Crawford was invited to play for Team BC’s rugby team after impressing coaches during tryouts in the lower mainland.

• Considered a learning experience, the Salmon Arm Pee Wee Colts lost 28-6 against the Kelowna Lions in their first game of the season.

• Salmon Arm Golf Club hosted its 2013 Ladies Amateur Open with several local players winning their division.

• Shuswap Writers’ Group celebrated their 25th year anniversary with food, live music and speeches at the SAGA Public Art Gallery.

• The annual Floating Lantern Celebration, hosted by Runaway Moon Theatre and the Lower Shuswap Stewardship Society, was held on World River Day, Sept. 29. The theme for the event was “Calendario,” a community art project that emphasized to people the timing and order of events that take place in nature that surrounds them.

• September was a busy month for awareness events: the annual Superwalk for Parkinson’s, held at McGuire Lake, the 33rd annual Terry Fox Run held at Blackburn Park, and the Bike for Your Life event. All events had great turnout from residents this fall.

• Salmon Arm unknowingly had a celebrity in its midst as Gemini award-winning TV star Rick Mercer was confirmed to be in town filming a project.

• The Youth of St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church raised enough money to erect two peace poles in celebration of International Day of Peace. The poles were placed at Peace Park and St. Joseph’s Church.

• Despite bad weather, the Salmon Arm Fall Fair opened its doors as usual and welcomed about 8,500 people over the span of the weekend.


City council decides to pursue developing a policy regarding placement of cell phone towers after residents of the Hillcrest area learned a tower may be put up near the residences and school. The policy would be a guideline that council could use when Industry Canada sends referrals to the city regarding new cell tower locations.

• The city’s economic development society was given the green light to complete a preliminary report on a tax incentive for the Salmon Arm Industrial Park as part of the five-year action plan the city is working on.

• BC Safety Authority (BCSA) issued a press release regarding “park homes” manufactured by Riske Creek Trailers, a business based out of Tappen. The owners did not provide the requested records to the BCSA so a press release was issued in an attempt to locate all owners or occupants of the homes. The BCSA is concerned for the public’s safety as some of the homes have uncertified installation of gas appliances which creates risks of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning.

• A two-week long waste audit, conducted by Tri Environmental Consulting Inc., was performed at the  Salmon Arm landfill. The results showed there have been some improvements since the 2006 audit was completed but the numbers still reflect there is still risk of contamination and a shortened lifespan of the landfill because of what is going into it. Of great concern was that about 24 per cent of the waste going into the landfill is compostable food waste, while paper and plastic made up 34.6 per cent waste.  Both categories make up more than 50 per cent of the waste that could be diverted from the landfill.

• Owners of Gort’s Gouda were relieved when they were told that “no E.coli was found on the premises and that it was only found in two wheels of red pepper and black pepper (cheese)” by officials. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the BC Centre for Disease Control both came to the Gort’s Gouda Cheese Farm after a suspected E.coli outbreak and took more than 200 samples. Five weeks after the prohibition was placed, it was lifted to the family’s relief.

• A memorial scholarship fund was created by the family of Shane Gorner, the teen who died in a workplace accident at Dinoflex, and the Shuswap Community Foundation. The bursary will go to a Grade 12 student attending Salmon Arm Secondary who demonstrates a talent in the arts.

• The SilverBacks showed outstanding performances against Penticton and Merritt with 4-2 and 5-2 wins respectively. Head coach Troy Mick said the Penticton game was probably the team’s best 60 minutes of play yet.

• Chantel Jeffrey, 12, won all three pentathlons for the 11 and 12 girls category at the KISU Iron Pentathlon held in Penticton. Mayor Nancy Cooper presented Jeffrey with a certificate of achievement of her success in the provincial championships.

• Randy Brooks won a bronze medal in the Golden Master’s division at the prestigious Molokai Hoe Race held on Waikiki beach on Oahu. They completed the 42 mile race over open ocean in 6 hours 25 minutes.

• The Salmon Arm Art Gallery’s new exhibit titled, “Downtown in Focus: Photography Then and Now,” showcases historical and contemporary photographs of downtown Salmon Arm. The exhibit was done in collaboration with the Downtown Improvement Association.

• Children and adults alike were spooked by the scary scenes played out by local actors at the R.J. Haney Halloween Spooktacular.


• City council opted out of a recycling program with Multi Material BC. The program was to work in conjunction with the existing city recycling service but would have accepted more materials like Tetra packs and clamshell packaging. The city had signed a letter of intent with MMBC, but council voted against signing the final contract, based on legal concerns raised by staff.

• Council gave first and second reading to city bylaws that support detached secondary suites or coach houses within the urban containment boundary.

• Salmon Arm residents have an opportunity to vote on a 10-year lease that council is considering entering with WH Laird Holdings. The lease would be for land at 641 and 621 Ross Street NE. The lots may be used for parking and as a staging area for the construction of the Ross Street underpass.

• Salmon Arm Secondary invites the public to participate and provide opinion on a new program for the school. The school is going through a restructuring after it was determined that the current scheduling system isn’t working. Three options were presented at an early November meeting: 1) a non-travelling model, where students from grades nine to 12 are attached to one campus for the entire year; 2) a junior/senior model where grades 9 and 10 attend Jackson and grades 11 and 12 attend the Sullivan campus; 3) a ‘double block’ model where students attend one class in the morning and one in the afternoon, with classes meeting every second day.

• A new route with the Shuswap Transit System for Salmon Arm was created to accommodate the new SmartCentres shopping centre. Called the Shoppers Shuttle, the route will stop at all three Salmon Arm shopping centres as well as a downtown stop.

• The Salmon Community Association announced 2013 as a profitable year for the non-profit organization. The association made a profit of $115,095 this year, a huge increase from last year’s $21,054 deficit. The increase is attributed to increased sales from the Salmar Grand which more than doubled as well as the Salmar Classic made more than $10,000 profit after last year’s $21,340 operating deficit.

• Three Salmon Arm tennis players, West Martin-Patterson, Ken Hecker and Kevin Pearson competed in the Singh-Dalin Tennis Tournament in Kamloops. Martin-Patterson won the A Event and Hecker and Pearson won second place in the B Event.

• Members of the Salmon Arm Ice Breakers Speed Skating Club competed in the New Gold Chill meet held in Kamloops. Alex Seal, master skater and club coach, won all his races.

• The Scotiabank Bantam Tier 2 Silvertips won 4-3 against their old rivals from Kamloops.

• Dr. Thierry Vrain, a retired soil biologist and geneticist, spoke to an interested crowd about genetically modified foods and human health at the First United Church. The talk was part of a cross-Canada speaker’s tour.


• The Shuswap Watershed Water Quality Program (SWWQP) was approved as the new water quality program to succeed the Shuswap Lake Integrated Planning Process (SLIPP). The Columbia Shuswap Regional District directors were asked to approve allocation of up to $240,000 to fund the 2014 development plan.

• City council decided to opt back into the Multi Material BC recycling program. Council had learned the cost of opting out of the provincially-mandated program could be significant.

• Salmon Arm City Council gave final reading to zoning and ocp amendment for a private property located beside Little Mountain Park. The amendments are a step towards the city acquiring the property for the park.

• Support of composting spreads to more businesses within Salmon Arm, which now includes McDonald’s, the Shuswap Pie Company and Chiang Mai Orchard Thai Restaurant.  The businesses work with Spa Hills Farm which picks up and processes compost on their property.

• A tentative agreement was reached between CUPE Local 523 workers and the North Okanagan-Shuswap School Districts. CUPE members were in a legal position to walk off the job but representatives of the two sides met and were able to create a tentative contract.

• The SAFE Society, Okanagan College Students’ Union and Okanagan College Aboriginal Services united to sponsor the annual candlelight vigil, United Against Violence Against Women, held at the Salmon Arm Campus of Okanagan College.

• Shuswap Search and Rescue members were called out to Crowfoot Mountain above Celista to search for a missing snowmobiler. The missing Kamloops man had gotten separated from the rest of the group and became lost. A member of the Crowfoot Mountain Snowmobile Club found the man around 4:30 a.m. He had been well prepared with warm clothes and food, and was found in good health.

• Salmon Arm’s Alysson Marshall won silver in the 1.2-km classic sprints race at the first Haywood NorAms cross-country ski race held at Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre. Marshall also won gold in the sprint race at the Alberta Cup event.

•The after-school literacy program for aboriginal students, Coyote Reads, received $53,000 in funding from the Vancouver Foundation, allowing the program to be made available to grades 6-7 students in three School District #83 middle schools.


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