2017 in review: December

The year ends with drones used to search for missing women and plans laid for a new 95-room hotel.

December

Excitement was brewing in the brightly coloured building that had made its presence known on Shuswap Street.

Not just a pretty facade, it will be home to the Salmon Arm Innovation Centre, a hub for the technology sector, business start-ups, innovation and collaboration for entrepreneurs.

The idea of the Innovation Centre has been evolving for the last several years said Lana Fitt, manager for the Salmon Arm Economic Development Society. Already people have been touring the building, excited by the promise it holds.

After 35 years in the education system, 31 of them in the North Okanagan-Shuswap School District, and 29 as principal, life was about to change for Alan Harrison.

As a city councillor for many years, Harrison, 58, has been asked often recently if he would consider running for mayor.

“I’m considering that – I’ll take some time in January, February and March to consider…” he said.

Salmon Arm council pondered a new policy that would make nine city properties available to food truck vendors. The locations proposed in the new city bylaw include: Blackburn Park, the Canoe ball diamonds, Fletcher Park, Klahani Park, Little Mountain, Marine Park, McGuire Lake (the 6th St NE Boulevard), the recreation centre and Hudson Avenue NE (the Ross Street Plaza).

“Legend” is the word the Shuswap Trail Alliance used when describing Connie Harris Crowley. Crowley was officially awarded a Senate 150 Commemorative Medal at Salmon Arm’s council meeting. The medal is given to outstanding community volunteers who promote community trails as a legacy for the future.

The Atom A Silverbacks played host to a 12-team tourney over the weekend and narrowly missed out on a championship trophy. The tournament featured a strong field from the Okanagan, Prince George and the Lower Mainland.

The pace at which personal bests and club records are falling to the current crop of Columbia-Shuswap Selkirks swimmers suggested to head coach Barry Healey that he had something special on his hands.

Ethan Skofteby and James Lebuke, who both appeared at this year’s age-group nationals, took four seconds off their best times in the 200-metre freestyle since then. Lebuke also took four seconds off his 200-metre Individual Medley time.

In the last two meets alone, Lebuke and Skofteby shattered 33 club records.

Extra feet on the ground and drones in the air was the way Wendy Mohr described how she and others were spending their time recently.

Mohr and Judy Leon were two of the people committed to making sure the four missing women and one whose remains were found in the North Okanagan-Shuswap are not forgotten. But their goal involved more than emails and posters. They were literally walking the walk.

“We talk to people who live in the area and they give us permission to look on their land. We plan days where we go to search together…” said Mohr.

Missing are Caitlin Potts, Deanna Wertz, Ashley Simpson and Nicole Bell. The remains of Traci Genereaux were discovered on a farm on Salmon River Road in Silver Creek.

The pleas of existing hoteliers did not sway Salmon Arm council’s view of a rezoning application for a new hotel in town.

Hollypark Hotels Corporation wants to build a six-storey, 95-room Fairfield Inn & Suites Marriott International hotel at 790-16th St NE, across from Salmon Arm Secondary’s Jackson campus.

Jill Power, manager of the Comfort Inn, made an impassioned plea to council to protect existing facilities by not allowing the new hotel, saying that most of the hotels run at 20 to 25 per cent capacity during the shoulder seasons.

New mothers-to-be in Salmon Arm have a new choice when it comes to maternity care. A pair of midwives will be setting up practice. The Shuswap Midwifery clinic will be located at 204-151 Hudson Ave in the Winter building and will be open by the end of January.

More than 50 people gathered somberly to stand in solidarity with all women who have suffered violence. Jenny Carter, minister of the First United Church in Salmon Arm led the gathering at the Salmon Arm campus of Okanagan College, one of hundreds of vigils held each Dec. 6, the anniversary of the 1989 Ecole Polytechnique massacre. Student Marc Lepine shot and killed 14 women in his self-proclaimed fight against feminism.

Plans to build a BMX track in the Shuswap continue but focused on a new location – Silver Creek.

Shelly Desautels and a subgroup of the Shuswap Cycling Club interested in BMX are working to get a track built a the Silver Creek Community Park.

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