Tag Archives: grand forks gazette

City of Grand Forks to replace collapsed culvert

A collapsed culvert under Boundary Drive has caused rising water levels in neighbouring homes and concern from city staff.
The city became aware of the problem when affected residents expressed concerns about high water tables north of Central Avenue and along 17th Street in an environmentally sensitive wetland area.
Hal Wright, manager of operations for the city’s public works and operations, pointed out they originally thought it was due to the record high levels of precipitation this year.
“Especially in June when we had almost three times greater than the recorded record, as well as in November there was quite a bit of moisture,” he said. “Just to be sure I had the crews go out and check the flows under the roadways and blockages so we’re sure there was free flow.”
During the inspection, city workers found the pipe blocked under Boundary Road, just south of the Triangle Gardens subdivision.
“We were unable to get through with our equipment, and we used a camera on both ends of the pipe and found that it had collapsed,” Wright explained.
“The actual pipe had collapsed with earth on top of it. We’re unaware of when this happened, whether it was the high rains in June, but the fact remains that we have a block in there and we have to clear that.”
Wright pointed out this particular culvert is a corrugated metal round pipe that goes from one side of the road to the other and actually connects to two manholes. Pipes from the upstream side and also pipes on the downstream side connect to the culvert so that it completes the passageway beneath the road.
This allows water to flow from one side to the other without damaging the road. The water comes from Ward’s Lake, through the city and eventually ends up in the Kettle River.
City staff are currently working to replace the culvert immediately to avoid potential flooding and/or damage to and upstream of Boundary Drive.
Though the culvert has collapsed, Wright added there is no concern for a sinkhole or collapsing of the road.
“The pipe is two feet in diameter, and six to nine feet (two to three metres) below grade,” he said. “From the camera, it looks like it has been there for a while (and) it shouldn’t affect the road surface.”
Additionally, the existing culvert system is old and does not incorporate recommended best practices, including a proper inlet/outlet structure. The replacement of the pipe would also include entrance barriers to prevent animals and small children who may be attracted to exploring the culvert.
According to a staff report presented at Monday’s city council meeting, estimated costs of the remedial work, including survey, engineering, procurement and construction is $55,000; however, prices are subject to change.
“We’re in the planning stages and we’re out for tender,” said Wright. “This is also an important time to make sure we don’t add to the problem.”
Two options to replace the pipe include tearing up the road and replacing the entire pipe before burying it again, or tunneling a new pipe to replace the existing one.
They are still discussing costs of the repair, as this amount has not been budgeted for 2012, Wright added.
Coun. Gary Smith noted city staff is working very hard and diligently to make sure the city’s infrastructure levels are maintained.
“We’re doing the proper things and the proper time,” said Smith. “These things happen, and it’s almost impossible to predict. It’s like doing renovations on a house: sometimes when you open things up you think, ‘Oh my God, what did I get myself into?’ Sometimes you have to deal with things as they come up and this is one of those cases.”
The site of the damaged culvert is also located within an environmental sensitive area (ESA).
The staff report noted, “Given the proximity of the culvert to sensitive terrestrial and aquatic habitat within the ESA, best management practices and site specific environmental mitigation measures will be implemented during construction to help minimize the overall environmental impacts of the culvert replacement on adjoining sensitive environmental habitat.”

As such, a qualified environmental professional will be on-site during construction.

Wright noted the Ministry of Environment would dictate the timeline for replacement of this culvert, but the estimated timeline for commencing this project is in February 2013.

Originally posted in the Grand Forks Gazette.

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Paving project proposed from Grand Forks to Christina Lake

Work is underway to connect Grand Forks to Christina Lake with development of the Cascade Kettle River Heritage Trail.
The goal of the Grand Forks Community Trails Society is to develop trails around the area and hopes to connect the 17.5 kilometres between Grand Forks to Christina Lake with an accessible trail as a part of the continuing Trans Canada Trail. The trail would also cross through the Boothman’s Oxbow Provincial Park and the Gilpin Grasslands Provincial Park.
“The Grand Forks Trails Society is creating a vision for the community,” explained Chris Moslin, chair of the Grand Forks Community Trails Society.
“It’s really a stretch of land that the community knows really well because there’s a lot of history and a lot of folklore associated with this route.”
Broken into three stages, the first stage starting from 68th Avenue has already begun with the help of Roxul, which has been updating its parking lot and the path behind their property.
“It’s all about the process; every process has a timeline, intake and rules,” Moslin said.
“With the construction of Roxul’s parking lot and the leveling – (it’s) pretty committed to developing that area. It looks all right now but in 20 years there will be bushes and plants and a really nice entrance and parkway off of 68th.”
The first stage, beginning at 68th Avenue will continue up until Nursery Trestle and is estimated to cost around $101, 640.
The second stage will continue from Nursery Trestle up through Gilpin Grasslands Provincial Park at the estimated cost of $1,029,900, and the final stage will be from the Gilpin area to Cascade Gorge Trestle at the estimated cost of $416,700.
There will be various donors and funding through each of the three stages, including the City of Grand Forks, Roxul, Trans Canada Trail, Regional District of Kootenay Boundary Areas C and D, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources Operations and the federal government.
Estimated costs have taken into account: engineering (at $25,000), gates and traffic control to install for $35,000 (for 10 gates at $3,000), control of organics for $6,000, soil sterilizant at $20,000, and subgrade preparation for $24,000.
Grand Forks Community Trail Society director George Longden added there is also the possibility of funding from the gas tax funding from the city or regional district next year.
“This is the kind of project that gas tax money are supposed to be spent on: things that are green initiative and will reduce carbon emissions, gets people out of cars and moving,” Longden said. “Gas tax money is an option that the city and regional district have, which is to spend the money on this kind of initiative. The beauty of this money is that if you have the commitment from the local government of those kinds of funds, you can leverage the money with the province or the federal government.”
Mayor Brian Taylor, though fully supportive of the idea, is wary about the timing.
“We need to look at some other priorities at this time and balance off some of the benefits for this particular project,” said Taylor. “I’m not sure the timing is off for this, but the Trail Society is very proactive and may find funding for this. In terms of the city’s responsibility, the society is asking us to support it at this time.”
Taylor noted there is a section of the trail that they would have to contribute funding to, but when it will happen will be decided in the budget process.
“This is a long term project and we’re all in it for the long run,” he added. “It will be a big tourist draw and I like that it makes it available to people with mobility problems.”
The trail itself will be accessible to people of all ages, whether on mobility devices or bikes, for runners and walkers, and currently equestrians.
“At this moment it is open to horses, most of (the trail) is 66 feet wide (20 metres), which is the standard for railroad trails,” said Longden. “That’s wide enough for what we call a braided trail. For people who are on mobility devices, biking or running, or just walking, they can use the paved part. If necessary we can mow a section alongside for the equestrians. We are trying to involve everyone, from equestrians to the ATV club.”
Moslin pointed out asphalt has been chosen for the trails because of its durability and cost efficiency. After it cures, the asphalt is inert with the environment, prevents grass growth and is easy to maintain.
“There are also two to three possibilities for tubing stations to be set up where people can be dropped off during the summer months to enjoy the river,” said Moslin.
Longden hopes that the entire trail will be complete by 2017 to coincide with Canada’s 150th anniversary.
For more information, visit gftrails.ca or the group’s Facebook page Grand Forks Cascade Kettle River Heritage Trail.

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Nitrate levels in water not a problem in Grand Forks

Nitrate levels in Grand Forks’ water wells aren’t a major concern according to an engineering consulting firm.
Remi J. P. Allard, senior hydrogeologist from Piteau Associations Geotechnical and Hydrogeological Consulting Engineers, gave a presentation to city council at a recent meeting to discuss the city’s wells and its condition.
As a part of the presentation, Allard noted groundwater protection, which is a new mandate from Interior Health Authority, is also a part of future steps for the city.
“The issues in Grand Forks, which are items that are being looked at but aren’t necessarily issues that are a cause for concern, are that some people in Grand Forks think there’s a really big nitrate problem,” he said during the meeting. “However, in the areas around your wells, there isn’t too much of a problem.”
Nitrate contaminated water, caused by bad irrigation or fertilizers, pose health risks to people leading to sickness and some cases, death.
The recent Kettle River Watershed study pointed out nitrate-nitrogen groundwater levels range from more than 0.01 mg/L to less than 30 mg/L, with a median of 3.4 mg/L. The Canadian Drinking Water Guideline to safely drink water is 10 mg/L nitrate-nitrogen level.
“Your wells all have low concentrations of nitrate which is good … and the maps show how nitrate concentrations have changed over time,” said Allard.
“Well 2 (along 75th Avenue, near Hutton school), which is your work horse, shows that nitrate levels have been going down since early 2000, went up for a bit, and have since gone down.”
When they looked closer, Allard noted attention should be paid to the agricultural activity, commercial residences and institutional practices.
Other issues brought up were the total delivery capacity of the well (which deals with how closely the wells are located together and the well’s ability to provide water in the long run), well efficiency (damage from mineral encrustation), bacteria in the wells (caused by farms), the well’s vulnerability, and the age of the wells.
The City of Grand Forks currently has five operating wells. The first well was drilled in the 1940s and hasn’t been in operation since the 1980s.
Well 2 was drilled in 1956, Well 3a (near 68th Avenue) in 1969, Well 4 in 1977 and Well 5 (both near 70th Avenue) in 1988. The most recent well built is Well 3 (near 3a, also near 68th Avenue) in 2000.
“Some wells are pushing 50 to 60 years old, and they’re like any other asset you have in the city, they need eventual replacing. I’m not saying they need to be replaced right now but we are identifying which ones are a priority to be replaced and in what order,” said Allard.
“Your most valuable well is 3 because it’s your newest one and will likely last longer,” he said.
He added Well 2 is at the top of the list to be replaced because of its age, followed by Well 3a and 4 due to their proximity to each other.
“What you should do is put aside some money to drill another well sometime in the future,” Allard said.
“The point of this exercise is to identify your priorities and to get you thinking about those options.”
Mayor Brian Taylor explained that nitrate has always been a concern in the city, with concern to two or three of the wells in particular.
“We learned that in fact, the nitrate plums are not moving towards that direction which is good news for us,” he said during the meeting. “Nitrate has been a concern for many years and it’s primarily ground cropping in some of the areas, in particular the potato fields are one source. The fertilizing habits of some of the farmers in the area have changed and so the problem doesn’t seem to be getting worse.”
Taylor noted it was good news during the presentation and nitrate levels seem to be decreasing overall.
“It has been detected in various private wells around the city and there have been wells shut down because of it. It was a big concern but it’s timely that we have been getting some reassurance lately,” Taylor continued. “We’re really diligent in terms of water testing. There are rumours that go around and there’s some substance to the rumour but this should lay to rest a lot of concerns that people have expressed.”
The city is continuing to develop a long-term plan for the development of another well in the future.
“We looked at where you could put a well in the city where you wouldn’t have to deal with nitrate issues, good water quality and not have to deal with your existing wells,” said Allard. “We did find a location in the future for another well, which we call Well 6, which is south of Well 3a.”
Allard added the next project they are working on is the Ground Water Protection Planning, which is part of Interior Health Authority’s new plan. The protection plan will focus on creating a contingency or emergency response plan, as well as monitor and protect local water sources.

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Grand Forks forms its own downtown business group

A downtown business association has been created with a vision on how local businesses can improve the downtown core.
Business owners and managers of downtown Grand Forks gathered to discuss the formation of a downtown business association on Nov. 13.
Carole Lajoie, owner of Value Drug Mart, acted as a moderator to facilitate discussion on the future of downtown Grand Forks and what direction the group would like to head.
“The thing that became clear was that we really needed a downtown association and a group that is focused on what goes on in downtown Grand Forks,” she said. “We started by defining what we felt was downtown Grand Forks. At (an earlier) meeting, we also discussed what issues we’d like to address and one of issues was that we needed Grand Forks to look better and appealing for people who come into town.”
The defined area is from 72nd Avenue to 75th Avenue, from Riverside Drive over to 5th Street, with a small portion of Central Avenue to 6th Street.
“We want to put together a core group of people who would be interested in being on a board or advisory capacity,” Lajoie pointed out. “We’re starting this as a volunteer downtown business association.”
Lajoie explained she attended a meeting hosted by the Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC) last August.
“The EDAC brought in Barb Haynes from the Penticton Business Improvement Association to speak to merchants who had businesses downtown and to talk about what they are doing in Penticton because they have an active group of businesses,” she explained. “There wasn’t a lot of people there but the group of us that were there, and were motivated by what we heard, got together in September to talk about what we wanted to see in Grand Forks.”
There were two meetings that followed the Haynes forum, but Lajoie noted it was apparent in the second meeting that the group had to do a better job at communicating with the businesses downtown.
“We want a group that is specifically focused on issues that affect us downtown. That’s our mandate,” Lajoie went on to say. “I’d love to see the day when downtown Grand Forks is a happening place and people want to come downtown because Grand Forks is a really cool little community with lots of neat businesses, and services, and interesting things going on.”
Lajoie noted ideas and brainstorming were required to form a communication plan, followed by a budget plan through a board, before everything will be discussed with the main group.
Some questions were raised as to why the Boundary Country Regional Chamber of Commerce (BCRCC) had not been taking charge of creating the group, though they have been assisting with the formation of the association.
BCRCC executive director Sarah Winton clarified the BCRCC is a regional chamber that is focused on a larger area.
“The reason it’s not the City of Grand Forks Chamber of Commerce is because it’s not financially viable. We have a small community and population base and that membership numbers do not support a chamber of commerce,” Winton explained. “It’s regionally based because we have larger numbers and theoretically a larger membership base that will support a chamber.”
Winton pointed out the chamber’s mandate is to work regionally but they can provide support services and resources.
“We can help facilitate meetings such as this to bring people together, but (the BCRCC’s) focus needs to be on regional initiatives and projects,” she said.
The City of Grand Forks’ chief administrative officer (CAO) Doug Allin explained the city is working on its strategic plan, including the downtown rejuvenation plan, to see what the city can bring forward.
“We’re currently working on a budgetary program,” he said. “But the council would like to meet with the business association to talk about what these plans will look like.”
When Allin arrived from Peachland to assume the CAO position, he noticed there were several services the city was lacking, including graffiti removal.
“Upon talking to council, it has been suggested there be an ability (to provide) a can of paint or using restorative justice to clean up the buildings,” he added. “Another initiative city council is discussing is suggesting a bunch of options so we can get our house in order downtown. We have a responsibility to the community in regards to garbage cans, light poles and fibre optic pieces. We’re bringing forward a menu of business items to city council but we would also look at it through the business perspective. That will give this group a foundation to work on.”
Allin noted some ideas suggested include finalizing the fibre optics business plan to draw businesses downtown and working on the tax exemption bylaw.
“It’s about how can we provide some opportunities for businesses downtown to improve that won’t cost them,” he concluded. “What we’d like is to bring forward for the group to pick, and not the staff and council picking it. It would be you guys coming up with a consensus of what you would like to do to.”
During the meeting, a board and advisory group were created to discuss further options. The next meeting is planned for sometime in January or early February.
The board consists of Lajoie from Value Drug Mart, Cheryl Savai from Thistle Pot Gifts, Dale Best from Work n Play, Cathy Boisvenue from Grand Forks Home Hardware, Dave Bachmier from Neighbours Computers, and Donna Soviskov from Joga’s. Coun. Gary Smith is the City of Grand Forks liaison and Winton will be the liaison for the BCRCC.

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Rail Trail 200 International Sled Dog Race cancelled for 2013

The Rail Trail 200 International Sled Dog Race has been cancelled for 2013 due to lack of sponsorships and volunteers.
After two successful years, Dr. Ruth Sims, one of the organizers of the event and president of the Boundary Dog Sled Association, noted the canceling of this year’s event will allow them to re-organize the race for next year.
“We do not have enough promising sponsorship to feel sure we will be able to offer a reasonable purse for the mushers,” she explained. “Without a decent purse we will not be able to attract any mushers, so all the preparation – which is a huge amount of work – will be for naught.”
Sims went on to say, “Almost everybody that has been or is involved with the race has already donated huge amounts of time and money out of their own pockets, and we cannot expect people to continue to fund the race from their personal finances.”
During the year hiatus, the plan is to change the format of the race and to make it a stage race or to possibly start with a day of sprint races instead.
The last two years consisted of two races, the 161-kilometre (100-mile) race with eight dogs, and the 322-kilometre (200-mile) with 12 dogs.
The event would begin on a Friday morning in January in Grand Forks behind the Station Pub with the 161-kilometre race concluding in Beaverdell on the Saturday morning, while the 322-kilometre race would conclude at the Greenwood checkpoint on the Saturday night.
Coun. Cher Wyers, the city liaison to the Rail Trail 200, noted though it was somewhat of a disappointment to the community, realistically the race was short of volunteers this year and the funding dollars were lacking.
“There will be some reorganization internally, as well as a redesign of trails to make it more spectator friendly,” Wyers said. “The race would’ve been at the end of
January and we would’ve lost a number of volunteers who moved away or moved on and it’s a big job clearing that trail.”
The previous two years had a heavy snowfall on the Saturday race, which required constant supervision and maintenance from volunteers, she said.
Wyers pointed out the association is looking for a venue like Jewel Lake, and to work with the lake’s owners for day races or sprints.
“Apparently sprinting competitions are very popular for spectators,” she added. “However, we now have funding in the bank and we’re going to build it up. We had our Fowl Supper (in October), which is a big contribution to keeping ourselves sustainable and to help us move forward to 2014.”
Sims noted the final details as to the new format are still in the planning stages.
“Don’t forget about us!” said Sims. “Just because we don’t have a race in 2013 doesn’t mean we are giving up! So keep coming out to our fundraising events and stay tuned. I try to update (our) blog at regular intervals, so that is a good place to stay abreast of any new events and developments with the race(s).”
Updates will be made on the Rail Trail 200 blog at www.railtrail200.com.
The Rail Trail 200 is a pre-qualifying race for both the Yukon Quest Sled Dog Race between Whitehorse, Yukon and Fairbanks, Alaska and the Iditarod Trail Sled dog race in Alaska.  The Rail Trail 200 will be back in 2014 in the new

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City of Grand Forks hopes new signs stop speeders

There have been new stop signs placed along 72nd Avenue in Grand Forks to minimize the number of vehicles speeding through the street.
The three-way stop signs were recently put up at the intersection of 72nd Avenue and Cypress Way after multiple complaints about speeding vehicles and the dangers it caused in the neighbourhood.
“Throughout this year we’ve been receiving complaints about speeders on 72nd Avenue, in between 27th Street and 19th Street,” said Hal Wright, the City of Grand Forks’ manager of operations. “We have the street park on one side and Extra Foods on the other side, and there were some concerned residents in the area, as well as an RCMP request for signage.”
In correspondence with the city, police noted that 72nd Avenue was like a perceived drag strip that was created between the grocery store all the way down to the local skate park.
Grand Forks RCMP was contacted but was unable to respond by press time.
Wright noted the location of the new stop signs, between 19th and 22nd Streets, represented the midway point of 72nd Avenue, which until that point was a long stretch of road without any signs for traffic control.
There was also consideration given to the opening of the Silver Kettle Village and the increase of traffic that would occur.
“We thought it would be opportune at the time to put up new stop signs to slow the traffic down and have them stop there so that it wouldn’t continue to be abused for speeding,” Wright said. “We’ve been monitoring it and we will continue to monitor it. I haven’t received any more complaints about speeders going through there, and I know there are several happy people there about the new signage.”
After doing a quick investigation, Wright pointed out that Silver Kettle has a full parking lot and that the stop signs are doing what they are intended to do.
“The street on the other side was for construction access to the Silver Kettle, so it’s not a real street, but all legally existing streets have a stop sign,” he said. “It was just a very long stretch of road that a few made it bad for the majority because if all of us law-abiding citizens obey the speed limit then there’s no problem. But it’s the few that make it bad for everybody so we felt it necessary to put the stop signs there.”
Coun. Gary Smith suggested that a stop sign might also be placed near the Gables, by 27th Street.
“I thought it would be better placed near the Gables because there are a lot of kids who go to that complex,” he said. “That’s the route they take to go to school.”
He noted the placement chosen by staff may have been determined to be the better location for the stop signs, though additional signs may help.
“I just think it should be placed further down the street,” Smith said. “I made the suggestion to staff because there’s certainly more traffic coming from the Gables than there is from Silver Kettle Village at the moment. Staff are thinking into the future by hoping that residents will get used to the three-way stop sign.”

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Heliport plans progressing for the Boundary Hospital in Grand Forks

The City of Grand Forks city council has agreed to send a letter to Transport Canada in support of the construction of a heliport at the Boundary Hospital property.
Council received a request to support the proposal from the Interior Health Authority (IHA) on Oct. 22.
Airport manager Wayne Kopan explained in a letter addressed to the mayor and council that the heliport is compatible with the existing site behind the Boundary Hospital and is open to any potential expansion.
“The constructed heliport will not impact any future municipal development in the immediate vicinity of the Boundary Hospital,” he said.
Ingrid Hampf, acute area Director Kootenay Boundary at IHA, told the Gazette that the heliport would be a great benefit for critical patients when it’s completed.
“We are currently talking to consultants about the site, and they have started with the surveys and geotechnical assessment,” she said. “We will have the final design phase completed by mid-to-late December, and expect the tendering to go out between January and February.”
Hampf stated that depending on ground conditions and the weather, groundwork should begin in the spring.
“We expect that it should be completed by early summer once we have Transport Canada certification,” she said.
Jeff Olsen, unit chief for Grand Forks Ambulance Services, is looking forward to the helipad.
“We’re anticipating it being built and we would certainly use it,” he said.
“We’re currently using the grass instead right now, which isn’t the best option. There is the new helipad at Kelowna General Hospital that we can get to an hour, so we’re looking forward to it.”
Olsen is referring to the new wing at the Kelowna hospital that has a heliport built on its roof for emergencies.
Mayor Brian Taylor noted that the heliport project has been discussed for many years.
“The city gave its approval to Transport Canada, so it’s a big improvement in moving patients to where they can get the best care,” he said. “Interior Health may ask the city to co-operate with them in helping to clear the snow, and the city wants to co-operate as much as possible to make this happen.”
Taylor explained that helicopters have limited ability to operate in the dark and inclement weather, so there are some restrictions on helicopter transport.
“They’ve already been landing there so there shouldn’t been too much construction that would occur, aside from setting the pad, paving and making a safe landing area,” Taylor added.
Last May, IHA announced that Grand Forks’ Boundary Hospital would have a heliport built.
IHA explained that the new heliport would be utilized by Kamloops-based emergency helicopter BC Ambulance Services to serve B.C. Southern Interior residents and that the heliport would assist in quicker response times for emergencies.
Construction of the heliport is possible thanks to donations from the Clifton family, which has donated a total of $150,000 to Boundary Hospital.

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Permit approved to tear down Winnipeg Hotel in Grand Forks

Grand Forks city council has approved a development permit to dismantle the current Winnipeg Hotel and replace it with a liquor store.

“It’s part of the commercial core and under our new sustainability plan it is required to have a development permit before anything happens on the property, and that’s what they have asked for,” explained the City of Grand Forks chief administrative officer Lynne Burch.

The application suggests a 2,532 square foot (253 square metre) retail commercial building, for liquor distribution, to replace the existing building. The site plan also includes access from Central Avenue and a location for off-site loading.

A current zoning bylaw in Grand Forks requires one parking space for every 484 square feet (44.96 square metres), which translates to four parking spaces. The application reveals six possible spaces, and one handicapped space.

Arild Engen, the realtor, said the plan is to tear the entire building down.

“The reason for it is it has structural problems in the foundation,” he explained. “To repair it would far exceed the costs of building a new one. Secondly, the area is no longer considered a heritage site because they took the sign off the front so it’s just a big box with no appeal.”

Bill Irvine, from Brown Bridge Ventures Ltd., added that it would be difficult to rebuild the previous building given cost and time. “

Our goal is to build a retail store and not utilize the licence for the pub or the restaurant at this point,” Irvine said during a council meeting Monday. “We don’t think there’s a necessity for that at this point. Some people in the city have talked about their emotional attachment to the hotel and we completely understand that, but it’s just not economically feasible for us to rebuild the hotel.”

Engen noted that everything is dependent on the city at this point, including access to the building.

“If we can’t get access to Central Avenue, there may be an issue,” he said. “We won’t have any access because 4th Street belongs to the mall and it isn’t really a street.”

He pointed out that the lane that goes east/west behind the hotel would possible be used by the city to put in public washrooms that would block the lane.

Mayor Brian Taylor noted earlier that the building has a lot of history.

“I look at that hotel and it’s been renovated and changed and to argue the historic nature of the boards and planks is hard at this point,” Taylor said. “It has a great history, not to be denied, but in terms of the economics of bringing it back to its former beauty, I think it’s a daunting task for any developer.”

During the meeting, Taylor pointed out that council still retains control over the building site materials, colour, landscaping design and the articulation of the east wall.

“Those are items that are still withstanding from us and allow us to work with the developer,” he said.

Irvine hopes to start taking down the building as quickly as they can. He noted that much of the items within the building would be recycled.

In related news, the site of the Grand Forks Hotel is being cleared up, with a hole being filled in with dirt.

“They’re just coming in to compact the hole, that’s it,” explained owner Bob Smith. “I wish I knew more but we’re still pending on the insurance company.”

Both the Winnipeg Hotel and Grand Forks Hotel were set on fire in March 2012.

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Permanent site sought for Grand Forks and District Fall Fair

The Grand Forks and District Fall Fair Society is seeking a permanent home for the fair.
Les Braden, president of the Grand Forks and District Fall Fair Society, proposed three options recently to Grand Forks city council.
The first is to purchase a portion of the Sugimoto property, which is currently potato farmland located northerly to the city by North Fork/Franklin Road; the second is dedicating a portion of a parcel of land (Parcel Z) south of 68th Avenue, including rezoning if required; and the third option is dedicating approximately 3.5 acres west of Dick Bartlett Park and east of the Silver Kettle Village. Braden hopes this will be done by 2013.
Braden reminded city councilors at a recent council meeting of a promise made in June 1999 that then city council had designated the property at the west end of the city (Parcel Z Plan 28940) for the fall fair and other stakeholders.
However, the promise was reversed several months later by the incoming city council.
“Council tried to say they aren’t responsible because it was a different council that said it, but morally they have an obligation to the people of Grand Forks to supply us with a decent sized chunk of land,” Braden told the Grand Forks Gazette.
Mayor Brian Taylor, who was also the president of the fall fair society for three years, shares Braden’s frustrations with the lack of permanent space.
“The problem is, from the city’s side, we’re looking for an appropriate property that would give the versatility that would allow this to be more than a one time a year site,” he told The Gazette. “It has to be a site that will accommodate other groups and organizations that could utilize the space, such as the 4-H groups or agricultural organizations.”
During the meeting, Coun. Michael Wirischagin noted that he supported the idea of finding a permanent home for the fall fair.
“From my point of view, I don’t see Parcel Z as a bad fit,” he said, adding he would like to see a business plan from the society before he could agree or make a motion. Wirischagin also questioned what would go onto the property, how much they would want, and the time frame. This included what the society would require from the city.
Councillors Cher Wyers, Patrick O’Doherty, Bob Kendel, Neil Krog and Gary Smith would also like to see a business plan.
Braden noted that although the councilors would like to see a business plan, it is difficult to create one when the society does not know what chunk of land they would be given.
“We know what size we want, about 20 acres (eight hectares) – having talked with a couple of other B.C. fairs,” he explained. “They told us don’t go for anything less because you’re going to need it in the future. If you’re trying to expand and put in permanent (buildings) you need a piece of land big enough to do so.”
With additions including parking facilities and permanent buildings, Braden noted that the Grand Forks and District Fall Fair Society is eyeing two places: Parcel Z or a part of Sugimoto’s land, which is still within the city limits and close to water and sewer pipes.
“I do know there are grants available but in order to get a grant, you have to have a piece of land,” he said. “We want to be able to access grants that are available to assist in the construction of buildings to house events, the construction of which could be done to incorporate the future development of a community centre.”
The idea of a community centre has been a big question for many organizations in Grand Forks that are looking for a larger facility to hold events.
In Braden’s presentation, it was noted that a community centre would also benefit the city as an event location that can be used by community groups and organizations.
Ultimately, Braden pointed out there should be a public discussion with city council and residents on whether or not there should be a permanent space.
“If people feel that we don’t deserve it and nothing will become of anything, then let us know,” he concluded. “On the same token, if everybody is in favour of it, we’ll keep working as we had the last couple of years in getting a permanent site.”
– With files from Karl Yu

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Number of deer in Grand Forks has stabilized

The number of deer in the City of Grand Forks appears to have stabilized based on a recent deer count.
Announced at the recent environment committee meeting, the count had 154 deer living within the Grand Forks city limits, down from last year’s 179.
Committee chair Cher Wyers explained that the numbers seemed to have peaked.
From 2007, the September count showed 131 deer. In 2008 there were 156 deer, while in 2009 there was a count of 205 deer but the count was completed in early-October, which is later than usual. In 2010, there were 174 deer.
“We’re back to 2008 levels,” said Wyers. “I was in Zone 4, which is the downtown core (Central Avenue, Riverside Drive over to Donaldson Drive and Kettle River Drive) in this area, and the new economy in Grand Forks is deer fencing. The back alleys are amazing.”
Michele Caskey, a member of the committee, said the situation angers her because it all started with people feeding the deer.
“When I first moved here it was a rarity to see a small fawn walking across your lawn and I’d call the children to come and watch the deer – over the years it’s waned in interest,” she explained. “I’m a gardener so I find it disturbing that everyone on my street is building huge fences. We’re holding out because why should we be building fences when our neighbours are feeding the deer?”
Jenny Coleshill, project co-ordinator for the Granby Wilderness Society, agreed with Caskey. “Deer feeding is a big problem and we’ve talked about creating a map and mapping out the different areas where we could put dots for known feeders to see if there is a big difference.”
Board member and city councillor Gary Smith noted that the discussion on population control of the deer would continue.
“Whether or not we apply for a permit to do a cull, it’s not going to be addressed until a later time,” he said. “The grief that Invermere has suffered by the publicity and groups that are opposed to the cull – a lot of those conditions, Grand Forks has overcome.”
Smith pointed out the Grand Forks has an established deer committee that has completed regular counts and has consulted with the public, steps Invermere didn’t do prior to the cull.
Wyers said that the city wanted to learn from Invermere’s process, especially when an activist group such as PETA becomes involved.
“In their case, they had spent over $26,000 in legal fees alone,” she said. “They did win against the two court injunctions, but they were out of their pocket and they missed the season. They culled around 17 to 19 deer. It’s a learning curve for them and for us.”
However, Smith also wanted to note that part of the leveling out in deer population has to do with vehicle and deer collision rates.
“That’s not a better way of culling deer than bolt and trap. In terms of trauma and damage, it’s carnage,” he said. “Grand Forks pays one of the highest rates for vehicle insurance in B.C. because of high incidence of vehicle-deer collisions.”
Coleshill explained that there is also a lot of misinformation about the process of relocation of the deer as well, where wildlife is removed from its current location and placed in a remote location farther away.
“Some people might think that it’s the nicer thing to do over a cull but really it’s pretty brutal for an animal to be relocated and there’s a lot of things to consider such as where are you going to bring those deer,” she said. “If they’re poor town deer and you stick them out in the wild, they’re sitting ducks.”
Though the deer count shows a lower statistic that previous years, the board noted that there was a lot more information that needed to be gathered.

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