Tag Archives: grand forks

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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Twenty-two kilometres of roads in Grand Forks in poor condition

 

The City of Grand Forks received a report on the condition of the city’s roads after much concern about it’s aging status during a city council meeting on Sept. 4.
Michael Trickey and his team from Strategic Infrastructure Management Inc. from West Kelowna began reviewing the city’s roads in July and looked at which ones needed to be fixed and what should be done with them.
“We looked at the safety and the condition of the road, and we looked at any drainage problems,” Trickey explained. “We did all the field inspection sheets, so where all the roads are geographically, and all the information about that road, such as the condition of it and what we found out. Then we looked at whether you had to rebuild it, which is the most expensive thing to do, then resurface or is there something you can do to maintain it.”
According to Trickey, Grand Forks has around 70 kilometres of road. Of the 70 kilometres, 10 kilometres are in very good condition.
Around 38 kilometres are considered to be in fair condition, which Trickey notes would be a concern in five to 10 years.
The remaining 22 kilometres are in poor condition and should be either reconstructed or resurfaced.
“There were also some roads that really didn’t have a lot of activity on them, and it was very remote and unpaved; for those I would recommend running them until they fail because there isn’t much traffic and there are barely any homes,” he added. “We found around 2.8 kilometres of roads that we thought you should consider transferring because you’re not using it. That’s good news because it means you don’t have to worry about those roads.”
However, Trickey pointed out that rather than spending a lot of money on reconstruction, he suggested starting a crack seal program to deal with cracks in the road that haven’t been sealed for several years.
“We think if you crack sealed your roads, and had a major program for it, you wouldn’t have to resurface (the roads) for quite a while and it would save some money that can be diverted to your sanitary and sewer water system,” he said.
For reconstruction, which involves digging up the entire portion of the road and rebuilding it, it would cost $88 per metre square.
Trickey noted that there are three kilometres that require reconstruction, which is roughly $900,000 a kilometre and $2.2 million in total to complete all three kilometres.
“If you resurface, which would just change the surface rather than dig out all the gravel as well, it’s going to cost you $42 per square metre, that’s about $400,000 per kilometre,” he said, adding there is around nine kilometres that should be considered for resurfacing.
“However, for crack seal, it’s only $2.95 per linear metre – and there is around 50 kilometres of roads that are in fair condition in the city.”
Trickey also pointed out that the city’s decision would depend on what they find from the sewer and pipeline investigation.
“If you find some pipes that need replacing, you may decide to reconstruct that as well,” he said. “You need to consider doing it now, or soon. The costs (to reconstruct), which would include construction, administration and design, would cost you $2.2 million, and $3.34 million for the resurfacing. For crack sealing, to do 50 kilometres may only cost you $50,000.”
Mayor Brian Taylor was pleased by the report and what the overall costs fixing the city’s roads would potentially cost.
“This is something we can do without a government grant at this point because we don’t have money for the bigger projects,” he said.
The City of Grand Forks is already looking into multi-utility projects that would include updates to the sewer and road infrastructure. The report notes that of the 70 kilometres of road in the city, only 12 kilometres need to be looked at.
Cecile Arnott, the city’s chief financial officer, noted that spending money now can save thousands for future projects.
“One of the options we’re bringing forward is to mirror the road assessment with the sewer assessment because this is a known savings and a known risk,” she said. “There’s no way we should reconstruct or resurface an area without checking the sewers underneath because you don’t want to go through all that and not have checked.”
Arnott is pleased that the city’s good maintenance plan “to get to it and doing the right thing quickly will save you in the future” has been working.
The final report will be available by the end of September.

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City of Grand Forks considers land transfer with Roxul

The City of Grand Forks is discussing the transfer of road and land properties to Roxul Inc.
The topic was discussed as Bylaw No. 1931, the Roxul Road Closure Bylaw, during the city council meeting on Aug. 27 at city hall.
City council gave three readings of the bylaw, though the motion still has to go through final reading and there may be further discussion at a later meeting. Bylaw No. 1931 is intended to affect the closure of the required non-developed sections of roadway located in the city’s industrial park.
Leslie McLaren, the North American government affairs and corporate communications manager for Roxul Inc., noted that the land trade was made between the city and Roxul to ensure safer road and land access in the community and around the Roxul facility.
“Roxul will be trading some 3,000 square metres of our property for 6,000 square metres of city property,” she stated in an email. Along with transferring property to the city, Roxul plans to fill and construct a three-metre wide ramp for the Trans Canada Trail to access 68th Avenue. There will also be a 10-metre roadway constructed from a new proposed Roxul access road from 68th Avenue, along the north boundary of the Roxul property going east from the trail, including a small parking area at the start of the trail.
A portion of the existing Trans Canada Trail, located directly east of the former CanPar property and currently trespasses on Roxul lands, will not be affected.
Roxul representatives noted they would formally dedicate that portion of the land for trail purposes as part of the compensation for city property.
“Roxul has agreed, as part of this land transfer, to smooth out access, fill in, and prepare a parking lot that the community will be able to use to leave vehicles, and access the nature trail that runs along Kettle River through to Christina Lake,” said McLaren.
As Roxul updates the Trans Canada Trail, they will also be looking to potentially add trail map signage on the lot and “plant trees along the lot line along the back of the factory to provide a more enjoyable experience,” McLaren said.
Roxul will settle the surveying and transferring costs, including updates to the trail.
Lynne Burch, city chief administrative officer, noted that the city is waiting for the final survey plan.
“What will happen is we have to advertise it in the paper, and it has to go in for two consecutive issues,” she explained. “From there, we can take it back to council for adoption, before it goes to the Land Title Office.”
After it is submitted to the land title office, there will have to be a plan of subdivision and road dedication that the city is also waiting for.
The subdivision plan will dedicate the new roadways, new portion of the trail and trail parking area, and consolidate the Lot 9 properties and closed road portions with existing Roxul properties.
Burch noted that the property will then be transferred to Roxul and Roxul can begin building and bringing in their
equipment.
The ad will ask residents that if their interests may be impacted, they can bring their concerns to city council during the meeting they plan on adopting the bylaw at.
“We are going to be adopting (the bylaw) on Sept. 17,” said Burch, adding the trails would not be touched. “The only thing that will happen is that we’re going to get improvements made for the trail and Roxul will be doing that at their cost.”
Last summer, representatives from Roxul Inc. made a proposal to council to acquire portions of city lands for the purpose of installing new pollution abatement equipment intended to deal with the “blue smoke” currently being discharged through the plant’s stake.
Roxul noted that they intended to install around $6 million worth of improvements to the Grand Forks facility, but the additional upgrades would encroach city land.
It was also noted that the company wished to re-develop their property to construct a safer
access from 68th Avenue and to close the existing access to 2nd Street.
McLaren noted that Roxul’s target for completion is late 2012.

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City council votes against supporting Stop the Violence BC

 

Grand Forks city council has decided not to support the Stop the Violence BC campaign, which is in favour of the strict regulation and taxation of  cannabis.
At an Aug. 20 city council meeting, council voted five to two in favour of not supporting the campaign, with Councillors Michael Wirischagin, Neil Krog, Cher Wyers, Gary Smith and Patrick O’Doherty voting against and Mayor Brian Taylor and Coun. Bob Kendel for.
A letter from Stop the Violence BC founder Dr. Evan Wood noted, “Marijuana prohibition has made our communities less safe. In an unregulated market, organized crime has taken over the production, distribution and marketing of marijuana.”
The letter is asking for support from government parties and leaders and for them to consider how prohibition contributes to the violence.
Mayor Brian Taylor brought forward the letter that contained information from eight mayors of municipalities from B.C. supporting the campaign.
At the moment, it’s also an issue of money and safety, more so than it is a moral issue at this point, the mayor pointed out.
“Clearly people are concerned with organized crime and organized criminal growers are moving out of the Lower Mainland and into the rural areas of British Columbia, which is a concern for the people Grand Forks,” Taylor said. “We do have medical marijuana here and we have a program that allows people to access medical marijuana.”
Krog said he made the motion to not support the campaign after he looked at various websites and information.
“Who wouldn’t want to stop the violence? To speak against it makes you sound really bad,” he said. “But the reality is that after all the stuff I’ve looked at, it won’t stop the violence. There are some individuals who have stepped forward and put their names publicly saying they would support it, but there are a lot of people who don’t agree with it.”
Though Krog believes more discussion is needed, ultimately he would not support the campaign. Wyers agreed with Krog.
“It goes way back to prohibition and alcohol. Today, what do we see? Millions and billions of dollars spent across the country and the world on breathalyzers, stopping and getting people off the road from drinking, fetal alcohol syndrome in babies, broken families, (Alcoholics Anonymous), and on and on it goes,” Wyers said. “So did we win with alcohol? No. Today I strongly feel that the answer is not in legalizing marijuana. Medical marijuana has already been legalized, and that issue has to be addressed with Health Canada to make it accessible.”
O’Doherty pointed out that he was not a supporter of legalizing marijuana as well.
Residents who attended the meeting were upset by the verdict.
“The more taboo it is, the harsher the laws, the more the profit,” said Les Johnson. “The more you squeeze that pipeline, the more money they will make off it and the more they’ll fight over the money.”
Sandra Mark, a social worker and who recently moved to Grand Forks, was also disappointed with council’s decision.
“I’ve worked with street folks and street kids in four or five cities and I’ve seen the impact of our current system to people who are very vulnerable in our society,” she explained. “I think we have a huge social problem and the fact that we think we should solve our social problems with prisons and through the justice system is part of the problem. We need to think much more broadly with what’s going on.”
Mark noted that 30 years ago, there were questions
indicating these issues should be dealt as health and social issues, not as criminal issues.
Grand Forks RCMP Staff Sgt. Jim Harrison, who was not at the meeting, is cautious with the program.
“I have some deep concerns because I don’t think it’s as simple an issue as people make it out to be,” he said. “Marijuana is as big an issue as it is to every other community, and it’s a serious issue in that the inroads created into our community for organized crime because off the marijuana industry is huge and that’s where my deepest concerns lie.”
Harrison noted that on a priority basis, however, Grand Forks RCMP is more concerned with the issues of methamphetamine.
“Everything has to be dealt with in a priority order with the resources that we have and we put a much higher priority to methamphetamine dealers and the damage that they do to our communities as far as our crime rate goes,” said Harrison. “There are definite links to methamphetamine to violent crime to property crime to crimes such as threats, which are occurring. It’s not so much the marijuana industry at this point.
“Is (this campaign) going to solve all our problems with organized crime? Is it going to solve all the problems of violence in the industry? I don’t know,” Harrison said.

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