2017 in review: July

The Orchard House is demolished, Salmon Arm hosts open-water swimming championships


Two men died over the Canada Day long weekend, one in a motor vehicle crash and the other on the lake. Police were called to a local campground on July 2 where a 37-year-old resident of Surrey who was vacationing in the area had gone missing in the lake while swimming within the designated area. The next morning the RCMP Southeast District Underwater Recovery Team recovered the man’s body from the lake. The other tragedy took place in the North Shuswap when a vehicle rolled down an embankment in the Seymour Arm area. Chase RCMP reported that four men were in the vehicle when it went off the road. Three of the occupants were taken to hospital but the forth one, who died in the crash, was a 27-year-old man from Burnaby.

Aiden White replaced a park bench in Pileated Woods Park that was damaged. “It got broken and it was shoved off to the side and, eventually, I think the city or somebody cleaned it up. But the was broken,” said White. “That sucked a lot.” He decided to rebuild a replacement. “So I never made a bench before or anything. I looked up online how to make a bench and I got the wood together, I had it all cut and started screwing the bench together.” He painted it red and white in honour of Canada Day.

Home water proved to be a major advantage for swimmers fro the Columbia Shuswap Selkirks swim club as they took first place in two events and and other impressive finishes in the 2017 SwimBC Open Water Swimming Championships. The open water championships, held at Canoe Beach, drew swimmers from all over the province but when the races were over Ethan Skofteby stood atop the podium for the men’s 13-14-year-old two-kilometre race and Chantel Jeffrey had dominated the women’s 15 and over five-kilometre race.

“I got ahead on the start so then I just kind of kept my pace. On the last leg, I went harder to get ahead,” Skofteby said.

Like Skofteby, Jeffrey pulled out in an early lead in the five-kilometre race with teammate Molly Fogarty right behind her. Later Jeffrey slid back to fourth place but regained her lead coming in first.

The Columbia Shuswap Regional District’s Emergency Social Services opened its doors to wildfire evacuees and within a few days registered nearly 400 people from around the province, including many who had been to the Kamloops Evacuation Centre first.

“Some people have been moved around three times,” said Cindy Zobac, who was helping register wildfire evacuees.

Evacuated cats also found haven in Salmon Arm. Seventeen Bengal cats came here from 100 Mile House with cat breeders Jeannie Fournier and Eli Roy-Brown, their devoted owners. Pam and Eric Gretzinger, retired Bengal breeders, opened their home to the two – and four-legged evacuees.

“We quickly cleaned out the cattery – we hadn’t used it for a lot of years and cleaned the motor home.”

The floods and fires around the province took a toll on tourism.

“People are nervous,” said Robyn Cyr, Shuswap Tourism manager. “First they are hearing about floods and now fires. I don’t think this is going to be one of our most stellar tourism years, but people are still coming.”

Cyr said some of the hardest hit sectors were the campgrounds, where people in tents and RVs were concerned about air quality.

The former Orchard House, also known at various times as Dilkusha and Minos Restaurant was demolished by work crews on July 20. The building and property were purchased by the cit for $550,000 with the intention of removing the more-than-century old structure for future expansion of the adjacent recreation centre and pool. There was public opposition to the demolition, with a desire for the city to preserve the heritage home.

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