2012: The Year in Local News, Part II

Here is a recap of some of the area’s biggest stories in 2012, running April through July.

  • Dec. 28, 2012 9:00 a.m.

Barry Coulter and Annalee Grant

• It was reported in the Townsman on Monday, April 2, that more than 450 turned out to the previous Friday night’s production of The Vagina Monologues at the Key City Theatre, which raised more than $10,000 for the Cranbrook Women’s Resource Centre. The episodic play by Eve Ensler, which was directed by Tanya Laing Gahr and produced by Susan Hanson, was preceeded in the theatre lobby by a host of fundraising activities.

Cranbrook City Council made the momentous decision at their regular meeting of Monday, April 2, and turned down the request to allow chickens and goats in Cranbrook backyards. A letter from a resident requested a new bylaw allowing the urban animal husbandry, but the Family and Community Services Commitee recommended leaving the issue alone for the time being. Mayor Wayne Stetski he may reconsider it at a later date. At the same meeting, Council decided to support in principal a proposed outdoor lacrosse arena.

• The Regional District of East Kootenay said the region is struggling with its wildfire protection burden, facing a complex funding hurdle in terms of preventative treatment of Crown lands.

• It was reported on April 5 that Garry Anderson, Executive Director of the Canadian Museum of Rail Travel, had been recognized by the Canadian Museums Association with an Award of Distinguished Services, “for individuals who have made a distinctive contribution to the museum community.”

• Two years after fundraising efforts began, the Kootenay Child Development Centre in Cranbrook opened its doors and started taking appointments, the Townman reported on April 11. The bright, colourful building contains 13 offices, a boardroom, an assessment room and a family room. The Child Development Centre is a central location where families from all over the Kootenays can find a range of services for children’s heath and development. The Community Connections Society of Southeast B.C. owns and operates the centre. More than a million dollars was raised to help complete the facility.

• A trio of endangered mountain caribou, part of a herd of 19 brought down from northern B.C. a month earlier, were reported wandering around Fort Steele and Mayook, and even on Cranbrook’s spray irrigation fields, it was reported on April 16. Twenty animals were relocated from the Dease Lake area in an attempt to boost the local herd. One died on route, 10 were released near the local herd in the Purcells, and nine released into vacant caribou habitat. Some of the new caribou broke away, and went exploring lower elevations, which put them at increased predation risk. Another caribou wandered over to the Crawford Bay area, and actually swam across Kootenay Lake and back again.

• The Columbia Mountains Institute hosted a conference in Cranbrook on April 18 and 19, drawing participants from a wide variety of organizations in B.C., Alberta, the U.S., and as far away as the Univesity of Waterloo. The focus of the conference was methods of dealing with urban wildlife, and featured a demonstration of how to gently herd deer out of town (ducks were used in this case, for demonstration purposes) using trained dogs.

• Canadian Country music sensation Johnny Reid played a show at a sold out Rec Plex on Friday, April 20.

• At their April 23 meeting, Cranbrook City Council voted five to two in favour of culling up to 50 deer in 2012. The previous November, Cranbrook culled 25 deer, the first of three East Kootenay communities to conduct a cull. Kimberley followed suit, but Invermere’s cull was shut down following a legal challenge. Culls are currently on hold pending the results of that lawsuit.

• A massive fire gutted almost an entire downtown city block — the 800 block of Baker Street — on Tuesday, April 24. The fire started in the early morning and wiped out four businesses. Cranbrook Photo and The Choice were spared, thanks to efforts by the Cranbrook Fire Department. At least one resident, Ross Dixon, lost everything he owned in the fire. Two people were rescued off the roof by the fire department and RCMP officers, who risked their own lives in the attempt. The buildings destroyed were among the oldest in Cranbrook, and held many businesses over the years, including the original Fink Mercantile, Bowness Wholesale Liquor and the Little Davenport Café. Orval Johnson of OJ’s Antiques said he was opting for retirement after the disaster destroyed his business. Investigators said the cause of the fire may never be known.

• An evacuation alert was put into effect for parts of Kimberley on Wednesday, April 25, as flood waters from Lois and Kimberley Creeks rose almost two feet overnight. Residents in Morrison Sub and Wallinger Avenue were affected. More than 5,000 sandbags had been deployed as of Wednesday, and thousands more were on the way.

• The Missoulian newspaper in Montana reported that one of the endangered caribou transported from northern B.C. to the Cranbrook area had made its way into Montana. It had apparently swam Lake Koocanusa three times. Signals from its satellite collar orginally indicated the caribou had died, but when Montana wildlife officials reached the animal, they found it was still alive, suffering from “tick paralysis.” The caribou was transported back into Canada to rejoin its herd.

• On Friday, May 4, Cranbrook/Kimberley RCMP displayed the results of a huge drug bust — cocaine, crack, heroin, methamphetamine, mushrooms, hashish, pot and ecstasy. Twenty-five persons — some of them high school-aged — were arrested after a months-long investigation.

• On Monday, May 7, it was reported that the B.C. Government had tabled legislation that would grant Jumbo Glacier Resort resort municipality status, regardless of whether people were living there or not.

• It was also reported on May 7 that  Michelle Plante of Kimberley was running a “halfway house” for sled dogs, who had been rescued from dire circumstances, and were convalescing, healing and being rehabilitated before going on to “forever homes.”

•The Symphony of the Kootenays announced it was in danger of dissolving, the Townsman reported on May 11. The 37-year-old organization was faced with dropping attendence and mounting financial pressures. It said it was in danger of folding if new leadership didn’t rise to the challenge. At a special meeting held Wednesday, May 16, many potential new board members stepped forward. Later in the year, in September, the Symphony would decide to take a year off, then return with a new musical director and new direction.

• On May 18, it was reported that MLA Bill Bennett, chair of the all-party government committee examining a possible ban on cosmetic pesticides, said the committee had rejected such a ban. Reaction in coming days was fast and furious on both sides of the debate.

• MP David Wilks “clarified” his remarks on Wednesday, May 24, the day after suggesting to constituents in Revelstoke that he would vote against Bill C-38 (the 2012 federal budget) if he got enough support from fellow MPs. Wilks said he had heard from the Prime Minister’s office after making this remarks, which were posted online. Speaking to the Cranbrook Chamber of Commerce on May 24, he said he supported the budget as a whole.

• The Kootenay Ice abruptly fired head coach Kris Knoblauch on Friday, May 26. No reason was given, but Knoblauch had been in consultation about a possible head coaching job there. Knoblauch worked as an assistant coach for the Kimberley Dynamiters for a spell, until he was hired as the head coach of the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League in November.

• New census date informed us that seniors made up 17.9 per cent of Cranbrook, The Townsman reported on May 30.

• On Saturday, June 5, the North Star Rails to Trails was officially incorporated into the 16,800-km long TransCanada Trail network. A special celebration was held at the Wycliffe Bridge, with TransCanada Trail CEO and President Deborah Apps in attendence.

• At it’s Friday, June 8 meeting, the Regional District of East Kootenay upheld its 2009 decision to ask the province to create a mountain resort municipality for Jumbo Glacier Resort. Gerry Wilkie, director of Area G, brought forward a motion aksing the board to rescind the 2009 decision, but it was voted down eight to seven.

• On Saturday, June 11, BC Premier Christie Clark came to Cranbrook to tour the Kootenay Child Development Centre, and announced a $50,000 community gaming grant for that facility. The Premier also took part in a “Women in Business” breakfast at the Heritage Inn.

• Mayor Wayne Stetski announced Tuesday, June 12, as Philippine Independence Day in Cranbrook, in recognition of Cranbrook’s large and vibrant Filipino community.

• The 48th annual Sam Steele Festival drew a record crowd to downtown Cranbrook on the weekend of June 15, 16 and 17.

• On Monday, June 18, it was announced that Bob Dylan was to play a concert in Cranbrook in August. On Friday, June 22, tickets for the show at the Rec Plex sold out in record time. It was also reported on June 18 that Brianna Kennedy and Taylor Miller were named Cranbrook Youth Ambassadors — Kennedy as Sam Steele Sweetheart and Miller as Princess.

• The College of the Rockies announced that it would be the host of the 2013 Pacwest Volleyball provincial championships in February.

• The Cranbrook Farmers Market kicked off its fourth season on Saturday, June 23.

• Heavy rainful caused serious flooding concerns in southeast BC in the last week of June. Part of Wasa were flooded.

• The 280 students of Mount Baker Secondary School’s Class of 2012 celebrated convocation ceremonies on Thursday, June 29.

See the continuation of

the Townsman’s year in review in Monday’s edition.