Tag Archives: grand forks

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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City of Grand Forks to spend $67K to replace computer servers

City council has voted to spend $67,000 to replace the city’s computer servers.
Operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the City of Grand Forks’ servers and data storage will need to be repaired or replaced over the next couple of years.
The current equipment (Sun Tape Library and IBM Data Storage Array) are approaching its five-year life expectancy, with the storage components and networking servers approaching nine years of service.
At the moment, the city is using Symantec Backup Exec, which stores backup data from file servers but does not connect to the city’s virtual servers. The city’s uninterrupted power supply (UPS), normally used to keep the equipment running, is also out of service.
To maintain services at city hall for 2013 and 2014, the city will invest around $67,000 to upgrade the equipment.
City Chief Administrative Officer Doug Allin pointed out the computer equipment located at city hall would soon be eliminated.
“The equipment will all be kept and shared through the school district. Our data storage is very much tied to the fibre optics program,” explained Allin. “It is a requirement under the school district that we’re partnering and sharing resources for our data backup and our service needs. Everything will tie in together.”
The city and School District 51 (SD51) have a joint partnership for the fibre network that has been constructed and developed over the past two years, that allows them to share computer knowledge, including emails and backup servers, as well as document storage facilities.
“Basically we have all the equipment downstairs in city hall,” Allin said. “This would move all of it to one central location at the school district. The city will then share the same equipment with the school board because it will run with the same equipment.”
SD51 Superintendent of Schools Michael Strukoff noted all larger organizations have the responsibility to back up its data.
“In the past, the City of Grand Forks had a small unit they were using and SD51 had one as well,” he explained. “We were backing up all of our data from our schools and the board office daily. However, two things were happening: these things get old over time and they wear out so you have to replace them. The amount of data they were storing was also growing.”
Rather than the city and school district purchase two additional storage units, Strukoff pointed out they took advantage of the situation and worked together to purchase one larger unit.
“What we’ve tried to do is purchase one that will have additional capacity for expansion, including the possibility of offering services to the community,” he said. “This places us on the next level where we can meet our own needs cost effectively and then possibly provide the service to others over time.”
Strukoff noted the process of involving other businesses, which is the next phase of the project, is slow work.
“Part of that is that we don’t have huge resources to work with but we are working on it,” he said. “The other part that has made this a little more challenging is the transitions. The city has a new individual (Allin) who is being brought up to speed and at the same time I’m going to be leaving and another person (Kevin Argue) will take my spot.”
The hope is to also connect the service to the schools and city operations at the Village of Midway and the City of Greenwood.
“As the organizations go through transitions with the senior people, we have to rework this and bring everyone up to speed,” he added. “These things take time and we are slowly working to get everything all lined up.”
The fibre optics network program began in December 2010 when city staff and SD51 staff collaborated to connect the school district and city facilities with high-speed fibre optic network capability. The network was finally completed this year, with the district and city co-operating on managing and creating the network.

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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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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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Grand Forks businesses may benefit from fibre network

A business plan for phase two on the fibre optic network will determine if the city and school board can sell its services to local businesses.
The fibre optic network steering committee, which consists of the city’s chief administrative officer and the chief financial officer, have worked to get the fibre optic network set up and running over the last 18 months.
The steering committee believes that there is marketable potential for the fibre optic network, which will benefit taxpayers, noted the Chief Administrative Officer Lynne Burch.
The pitch would start with some of the bigger businesses, such as Community Futures Boundary, Chamber of Commerce and possibly the credit union, said Superintendent of Schools Michael Strukoff.
“What we’re looking to package is backup (servers), VOIP (voice over Internet protocol), web hosting and because it’d be in Canada, they wouldn’t have to look for backup services for their data,” he said. “We’re looking to see if that’s a viable thing for us to do for a fee. The CRTC license we have from the city excludes those.”
Burch pointed out that there is a business plan that is being developed but nothing is set in stone. She added that there isn’t too much information to announce at this point. The first phase of the fibre optic network has been successfully installed in a joint collaboration between the City of Grand Forks and School District 51 (SD51).
Burch explained that the Fibre Optic Cable Network Joint Use Agreement, which is a collaborative project between the city of Grand Forks and School District 51, is essentially high-speed Internet.
“The network has allowed us to connect to all of our different sites: city hall, all the fire halls and public works yards,” she said. “It’s allowed us to connect all of those. It’s also allowed the schools to connect to all their buildings as well.”
Strukoff is happy with the abilities of the networking.
“It’s working really well for the school system in Grand Forks right now and secondarily for the West Boundary because they’re not on the fibre link but they do have access to the centralized technology centre that we have,” explained Strukoff. “We have made the transition, we’ve got better speeds inside and phase one of the operational side of it has gone well for us and the city. The things that we’ve said we’d be sharing we are and things are going well.”
The school board is still currently finalizing the installation of VOIP phones in several schools, but the city’s phones have been set up.
The network allows SD51 and the city to share computer knowledge, including email and backup servers, as well as document storage facilities.
“The really expensive part is the control room and the software. We purchased it together and we’re sharing it, and we only have to buy one instead of two,” said Strukoff.
The fibre optics network project has been made possible with funding provided by the School Connectivity Program and by Western Economic Diversification funding.
Capital contributions from the school district and the city in the amount of $250,000 each were also provided.
“The partnership is going really well. The only challenge we’re going to have is the transition,” Strukoff added. “Two senior people at the city, one has left for another job and the other will be retiring (former Chief Financial Officer Cecile Arnott and Burch), I’ll be retiring, so the catch will be the transition and getting the new people on board.”
Burch agreed, “The partnership is working really well with the school district and it’s a really technical project.”
The fibre optics network program began in December 2010 when city staff and SD51 staff collaborated to connect the school district and city facilities with high-speed fibre optic network capability. The network was finally completed this year, with the district and city co-operating on managing and creating the network.

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