Having fun with sparklers in the parking lot following the fireworks show during the Cariboo Gur Sikh Society’s celebrations of the 550th birthday of Guru Nanak Dev Ji. (Observer file photo)

Year in Review: November 2019

The Quesnel Cariboo Observer looks back at some of the stories that caught our attention in November

• A catastrophic failure of the ice plant at the Quesnel Curling Centre meant they were unable to install the ice required to start the season. The cost to replace the plant is $200,000, and the B.C. Curling Association has partnered with the B.C. Amateur Sport Fund to help the curling centre raise the needed funds. At the end of November, the North Cariboo Joint Planning Committee agreed to use Gas Tax funds to help the curling centre, with the Cariboo Regional District providing $140,000 and the City of Quesnel giving $60,000, leaving the curling club to pay the remaining $25,000 to $30,000 for a new refrigeration system.

• Quesnel swimmer and softball player Grace Currie won the Regional Premier’s Award for Indigenous Youth Excellence in Sports.

• The newly-restructured Wells Fire Brigade has started practising and has a new interim fire chief. Current volunteer Carrie Chard agreed to be the interim fire chief, and District of Wells CAO Donna Forseille says it looks like the original 10 members are staying on, and possibly five more volunteers are joining the fire brigade.

• The City of Quesnel announced it will be getting out of the commercial garbage pickup business next year to focus its energies on waste diversion and options to extend the life of the landfill. The City’s Solid Waste/Recycling Strategic Review highlighted that the current landfill space is expected to be funny in 2040, and something must be done.

• Local boxers put on a great show when 2 Rivers Boxing Club hosted Rumble 27, with Jacob White earning Fight of the Night honours after scoring his first victory.

• Twelve Quesnel runners competed at the 2019 B.C. Cross Country Championships, with Ruby Nicholas (17th in Junior Girls) and Caleb Woollends (98th in Junior Boys) scoring the top performances among the local racers.

• The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development announced a new sharing agreement, called apportionment, for the Quesnel Timber Supply Area, giving local government, First Nations and community more of a say in how forests are managed. The new apportionment includes an increase in available First nations woodland tenure from 42,650 cubic metres to 162,500 cubic metres. As well, 77,000 cubic metres have been earmarked for new community forest agreement opportunities.

• The Cariboo Gur Sikh Temple Society celebrated the 550th birthday of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the founder of Sikhism, with a community dinner and fireworks.

• Canadian National Railways unionized conductors, train persons and yard workers went on strike the week of Nov. 18. They had been without a contract since July 23. The strike lasted a week.

• Quesnel was named the third most dangerous city in Canada, based on its overall Crime Severity Index (CSI) in Maclean’s magazine’s annual report of Canada’s 20 most dangerous cities. The CSI is a Statistics Canada measure of all police-reported crime, and the rates used in the report reflect the average rate of each crime per 100,000 people.

• The Quesnel Auto Racing Association held its 64th annual awards banquet, handing out several awards. Fourteen-year-old Quinton Bonn of Quesnel won the Rookie of the Year Award, while Dustin Brown from Quesnel was first in Prism Towing Mini Stocks. Dave Zacharias from United Concrete was named Sponsor of the Year, and Mallory Huska won the President’s Award.

• Wells artist Bill Horne won the Prize of Excellence (fourth prize) in the Seventh NBC MESHTEC Tokyo International Screen Print Biennial for his print, Babarrunak Raku. Horne’s print was exhibited at Yurakucho Asahi Gallery in Japan for five days, and Horne and his partner, Claire Kujundzic, travelled to Japan for the awards ceremony.

• Quesnel Technics Gymnastics Club coach Christine Club was honoured by Gymnastics B.C. as the top coach in Zone 8.

• The Quesnel Model Railway Club was still “desperately” looking for a new home but set up a Christmas train display at City Furniture and Appliances Ltd. on Reid Street.

• Panago Pizza raised $5,800 for the Quesnel School District’s breakfast program after a very successful pizza fundraiser in late November.

• Convicted animal abuser Catherine Jessica Adams appeared in Quesnel Law Courts Nov. 26 and was sentenced to seven days in jail and two years probation for one count of breach of probation order.

• Although no deal had been reached yet, striking University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) faculty members suspended picketing and returned to their teaching duties Nov. 29, enabling classes to resume as usual Dec. 2, which meant the September semester could be completed before the end of 2019.

• A 45-year-old man was found dead in the ATM vestibule at the Bank of Montreal in downtown Quesnel. The area was cordoned off for a couple hours on the morning of Dec. 4. The man was not identified, and police said they did not consider his death to be suspicious.

• A small group of Quesnel residents expressed their concern with some of the changes being proposed in the City of Quesnel’s Official Community Plan (OCP) and Zoning Bylaw during a public hearing at City Hall. Secondary suites and development in the West Quesnel Land Stability Area were raised by residents at the public hearing on Dec. 3. At its Dec. 17 meeting, council adopted both the OCP and Zoning Bylaw, with Coun. Ron Paull opposing the OCP because there is no requirement for secondary suites to be owner-occupied.

• Chase Kohorst and his cousin Kaydan Loomis noticed a lone bear cub hanging around the yard at Cohort’s home near Kersley. A volunteer from the Northern Lights Wildlife Society sanctuary in Smithers came to trap the bear cub and take her to the sanctuary. She was examined, and volunteers say she looked OK but was half the weight she should be to hibernate, so she will stay at the sanctuary over the winter.

• Volunteers with the long-running Good Cheer campaign decided this year, they would no longer offer food hampers but instead give out gift certificates that can be used at Save On Foods and distribute toys to children aged 12 and younger.

• The College of New Caledonia Board of Governors approved a two-per-cent domestic tuition and mandatory fees increase for the 2020-21 academic year, as well as a three-per-cent increase to international tuition and mandatory fees. The Board directed that revenues generated from the increases be noted in the 2020-21 budget and invested directly into services supporting students.

• Raising a number of safety concerns, local trucking companies asked city council to come up with an alternate to the Maple Drive detour they’ve been taking since the Johnston Bridge closed to industrial traffic in October 2018. They suggested Johnston Avenue as an alternate for access to the Quesnel Plywood Plant, but council ultimately voted that Johnston will remain closed to industrial traffic, and the City will encourage safety upgrades on Maple Drive.

• Citing a “devastating” decline of caribou in the western portion of B.C.’s Interior, leaders from the Tsilhqot’in National Government and the Ulkatcho First Nation announced they are implementing an emergency ban on Mountain Caribou in their traditional territories.

• A fundraising drive by the Quesnel Community Foundation raised $56,280, and an anonymous donor pledged to match $50,000 of that, bringing the total amount raised to $106,280.

• Troll Ski Resort opened early this year, with lifts beginning to run Dec. 14. During opening day, the resort collected donations for the Salvation Army as “payment” for lift tickets and rentals.

• The University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) and the UNBC Faculty Association accepted the recommendations from special mediator Trevor Sones, ending the Faculty Association’s strike action. Arbitration is expected to begin in the new year for the dispute regarding salaries. UNBC faculty had been on strike since Nov. 7.

• Quesnel native and full-time Wells resident Stewart Cawood was chosen as the new producer for Barkerville Historic Town and Park’s Theatre Royal’s 2020 operating season. The previous operators, Newman and Wright Theatre Company, had announced in early November that after 16 years, they were concluding their run as principal operators of the theatre. Cawood has worked at Barkerville since 2006.

• Quesnel swimmer Hannah Trimble had a taste of intentional competition, competing at the 2019 U.S. Paralympics National Para Swimming Championships/Can/Am Open in Texas.

• The McLeese Lake Volunteer Fire Department celebrated acquiring a piece of lakefront property on which it can build a fire hall with a “golden shovel” groundbreaking community event. The fire department has been working towards this for six years.

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