Category Archives: News

Granite Shows New Life

GCPS web site picture
By George Elliott

Signs of Life Coming to Granite Creek

The 1885 Gold Rush in the Similkameen Valley centred on the tiny creek near present day Coalmont that was named Granite. A settlement grew at the site and miners arrived from as far away as California looking for new rivers and creeks to mine. Within two decades after being partially rebuilt following a fire in 1907, the community was largely abandoned and has been known as a ghost town since the 1930’s.

The Granite Creek Preservation Society was formed in 2013. The group’s mandate is hefty considering the historic significance of the once thriving gold town. The GCPS desires to protect the territorial integrity of the town site. Through their efforts they have worked to provide an understanding of the importance of the historical, archaeological and geological aspects of the ghost town and surrounding land. The group has taken on this task in order to encourage continued study of the significance of the historic gold mining town.

It took the GCPS 18 months of hard work to reach a major step in their preservation efforts. That was when they were granted a License of Occupation with the approval of the RDOS. The LoO is a requirement before any kind of physical preservation can take place at the town site. The GCPS has had a self-guided interpretive walking tour on their radar for years. The LoO allows them to proceed with a plan, with the assistance of the RDOS, to place a total of ten story boards/interpretive signs at Granite. Two will be in the area of the Granite Creek Cemetery with the remaining eight to appear within the footprint of the ghost town site.

Each sign will feature photos of landmarks or buildings as they once appeared and a documentation of what may have happened at the location during the height of Granite Creek’s popularity. Signs will recount significant activities, identify key community leaders and important buildings adding to the experience of walking the streets of what was once one of the largest settlements in British Columbia.
Grant applications are currently in process to assist with funding this exciting development of bringing life to Granite.

Cemetery Also Set To Come Back To Life

Prompted by contact by Consumer Protection BC, the GCPS is in the process of becoming the Operator of the Granite Creek Cemetery, which was closed in 2007. Although the group had been unofficially taking care of the cosmetic appearance of the Cemetery as well as researching and documenting burial records for the site, they recently opted to apply to become the official Cemetery Operator.

The process is complicated as it involves several steps, the first being obtaining a Lease for the property where the Granite Creek Cemetery sits. The goal of the Society is to reopen the Cemetery to allow for full body burials, cremated remain interments and the scattering of cremains for residents (and the families of residents) of Coalmont, Granite Creek and Blakeburn. The group is early in the stages to reopen the Cemetery and is hopeful they will achieve this goal within 2017.

Letters of Support for the GCPS becoming the official Operator of the Granite Creek Cemetery can be filed online at this link or comments can be mailed to the Senior Land Officer, Thompson-Okanagan, MFLNRO, at 441 Columbia Street in Kamloops, BC V2C 2T3.

You can also support the Granite Creek Preservation Society by becoming a Member. Membership is $10 per year and you can join online at www.granitecreekbc.ca. Or if you prefer, you can just make a donation to support the efforts of the GCPS in preserving the ghost town and Cemetery.

Please visit the Granite Creek Preservation Society web site.

Our Historical Artifacts At Risk By Radical Move

The Princeton Museum and Archives houses some of our most dear historical artifacts from this area. Individuals and families have donated their heirlooms and fonds so that they will survive into the future and be available for generations to come. This, along with education and interpretation, is the job with which a museum society is tasked and which is the core of their constitution. Museums can often raise money and provide a focus for tourism, but that is only relevant in as much as it benefits their main goals, and not as ends in themselves.

The Princeton and District Museum and Archives Society has been in existence and run by volunteers since the 1950s. Currently there is a part time manager who makes the whole thing run smoothly. These last few weeks a plan by the Town of Princeton to take over the museum has come to light. Exactly what they believe to be “the museum” is not clear yet, but it looks like they are asking the Museum Society to dissolve and give the collections to them. This is putting the artifacts at risk because the town has no mandate such as a museum society does. Presumably some new legal document would be written up, but obviously that could not be sanctioned or approved by the people who had made donations in the past. These people made a deal with the museum society and not with the Town of Princeton.

At this point it is not known what the outcome will be. We do know that the building is owned by the town. We also know that the museum society is an official repository of First Nations artifacts in the valley. The First Nations view of a possible transfer is not known. In any case, this is going to be an interesting situation which will no doubt bring out some heated discussion between those who support the traditional role of one of our oldest cultural institutions in the area, and those who wish to see a more radical political and business approach as the way forward.

If you are interested in participating in these discussions and becoming a member of the Museum, please come to the Annual General Meeting Thursday 17 March, 7 pm at the Museum on Vermilion.

Six Hour Power Outage Today

At five minutes after one in the afternoon Coalmont went dark. It wasn’t until 7 p.m. that the lights came back on.

Interestingly, when someone called to report the outage, Fortis wasn’t aware that there was a problem. Apparently they don’t do any monitoring of the grid or meters. Not only that, but one Coalmontian reports that “About half an hour after the power went on, a lady from Fortis called us to see if the power was back on in Coalmont“. So apparently those expensive smart meters also don’t report when the power is on.

Horses Found On Auction

One of the Coalmont horses

A reader has spotted the horses which were here last summer and which subsequently disappeared, leaving us wondering about their fate. Coalmont resident Debbie Hong sent in this interesting information about the current whereabouts of these seemingly neglected animals. Debbie writes:

“This ad was posted on the Facebook Page BC Auction Horses. I can’t seem to post the pics but unfortunately they are the ones that are gone, but not forgotten, from Coalmont.”

“These horses are booked into Valley Auction’s THURSDAY Feb 25th SALE…. viewing will be permitted from Saturday the 20th on at the Valley Auction Sale Yard. Please remember these horses have been abandoned since June 2015 and MUST BE SOLD THROUGH PUBLIC AUCTION….. no one is to attempt purchasing them private prior to the sale…. go meet them…. they are super friendly and looking for attention. Please also note, there is no registration papers or confirmation of age available, these are just guesses listed below…..

1) Black stallion, thinking around 4 years old.
1) Buckskin, seems gelded, maybe coming 2 years old.
1) Mature bay brood mare, seems heavily in foal, quiet and gentle, stands about 14hh if that.
1) solid face bay mare, might be coming 2.
1) wide blazed bay mare might be coming 5.
1) bay mare with star stripe snip seems to be about 3 years old….

“I guess someone was tired of feeding someone elses horses since last summer and is now trying to recoup the cost of the feed and care, this being a brutal winter when it comes to the cost of hay. Hopefully they find homes and do not end up in the meat buyers pen, not that there is anything wrong with slaughtering horses but these ones are deserving of a long term home.”    ~ Debbie Hong

Previous stories here and here.

Coalmont Road Blocked

There was a rock slide on the Coalmont Road earlier this evening and passage is now closed in both directions. According to one motorist who wasn’t able to make it to Princeton the slide happened around a quarter after five.

The location of the slide is a few feet east of the yield sign by the defile. Although it appears that the road itself has not given way, the debris is apparently too big to clear this evening and in the interest of safety needs to be carefully looked at during daylight. Argo has been out there all evening.

The Drive BC Road Conditions site reports that the next update will be tomorrow, Friday, November 19, 2015 at 10:00 am.

At this point there is no knowing when the highway will be open again, but people planning to go to work in Princeton should at least make other plans for the morning. Although it would add almost an hour each way, an alternate route would be Highway 5A and Otter Valley Rd.

UPDATE: There is an Argo truck at the gate by Parrish and Coalmont Road to warn people not to go that way unless they’re local. They now say that it might be cleared today but more likely by tomorrow. Drive BC says they will have the next update tomorrow (Friday) at noon.

UPDATE 2: As of late Thursday afternoon the road is open again. However, they were still working on it so expect delays.

Just A Note

Sorry We're Closed sign

The Coalmont is closed. The food cart is gone. There’s no party tonight.

Chris and Sylvia had a good run and a lot of fun was had at the Coalmont Hotel since they re-opened the pub on October 28, 2013. (see story)

We have no more details about what brought this on, and all you’ll see is a note of thanks to the community posted in the window.

Note:

Campfire Ban Here Now

Effective immediately, there is a campfire ban within the Tulameen & District Fire Protection Area.

Although small camp fires are still allowed in other parts of the Kamloops Fire Centre, due to irresponsible campfire use and in the interest of public safety, there is now a restriction here. Please be advised that this also applies to private land. Failure to comply with a ban can result in fines, and there are heavy penalties for those found to be responsible for starting a wildfire.   §

UPDATE: Effective at noon on Friday, July 3, 2015, all open fires – including campfires – will be prohibited throughout the entire Kamloops Fire Centre. This prohibition will remain in place until the public is otherwise notified.

Hot Weather

The current British Columbia heat wave is even more impressive here. Yesterday we got up to 38°C – possibly more. The last time it was this hot around here was in 1996, and that was “only” 34 degrees. There were records broken in several other areas. At 41.1°C Lytton takes the prize as usual.

Perhaps because it is still early in the summer, there are fewer restrictions on fires than one might expect. Specifically, forest use is unrestricted and campfires are permitted, but burning of waste is prohibited as is grass burning and anything more than a small well controlled fire. For ban and restriction details, see the Open Fire Bans in Kamloops Fire Centre page.

The British Columbia Wildfire Management Branch has an up-to-date web page of Fire Prohibitions and Area Restrictions. It’s probably a good idea to bookmark that.   §

Heather Deanne Lutz

Heather Lutz

Heather Lutz

January 24, 1968 – June 4, 2015

Survived by her much loved partner Todd Lester, her mother Margaret Tissuer (Ron) and brother Trevor Lutz (Laura) and her extended Tisseur and Lester families. Predeceased by her father Daniel Lutz in 1996.

Todd has a little house on Columbia and Heather first came here seven years ago. She initially enjoyed walking, rollerblading and bicycling around town, until the disease made it too uncomfortable to do so.

Heather is deeply missed by her family, as well as extended family members, friends, and collegues who loved her.

There will be a Celebration of Life: Sunday, July5, 2015 at 1pm Sullivan Hall at 6306-152 St., Surrey, BC.

New Look for CoCo

The first edition of the original Coalmont Courier was printed with ink on wrapping paper. The New Coalmont Courier is printed with ones and zeros right on your screen. It’s a lot less messy, and also easier to reformat.

First edition Courier headline

It’s time for a new look. As you see, the Coalmont Courier is now different, and we’ll be making some more changes over the next little while. Some parts are old, obsolete, or downright deprecated, and they’ll have to go. In the meanwhile, the publication will continue as usual and the older stories will still be there.   §

Smart Meter Concentrator

First smart meter repeater in town

It looks like Fortis installed the first smart meter concentrator here yesterday.

Advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) requires a medium to provide continuous point-to-point communication connectivity. Your smart meter (to be installed next week) needs to connect to an aggregation node and have a data uplink to the AMI Control center. Typically, a local AMI system includes smart meters and data concentrators. Also, each smart meter can serve as a hub or repeater for other smart meter communication with data concentrators.

There are more steps to the whole chain. Obviously what starts at your meter will have to end up in a Fortis control centre. The equipment shown here, located on Main Street, will have backhaul communication. It could connect to satellite or possibly the China Creek Internet tower.   §

Parkland Donation

The last meeting of the Regional District had an important agenda item.

COMMUNITY SERVICES – Rural Projects
1. Area H Parkland Donation: To accept the offer of parkland donation.
It was MOVED and SECONDED THAT the Board of Directors accept the offer of parkland dedication in Coalmont, pending the results of the proposed environmental audit.

CARRIED

Map of lots along KVR

Our New Telus Phone Is Here

new payphone on Front Street, 2015
Our new payphone came today. There was no ceremony, no speeches, no band. A pickup drove up and within minutes the job was done. It looks good though. Kudos to Telus for coming through.

It’s a very functional unit from which one can make free 911 calls and all the other calling features which one would expect. No coins, which is probably a good thing because it’s just one less thing to break and for Telus to deal with. There’s a soft glow light inside the top of the hood which is both welcoming and functional. One can also imagine that with the unit being on the wall of the Telus building, the technicians who frequent this location will keep an eye on it, and perhaps even change the light when it goes out.

The new location has advantages and there is no question that the phone looks good there. It’s also nice and private for those who enjoy that. Perhaps the biggest advantage is being off the street so the snow plow won’t block it in the winter time. That driveway is typically kept clear when it snows.

The only drawback of being on the Telus Building, is that it can’t be seen from the Coalmont Road (Parrish Avenue) or the KVR trail. A blue sign was placed on the telephone pole on the corner, right where the old phone booth was located, and that makes it clear that there is a telephone around. But it can’t be seen from there since it is in the woods now. Another sign could probably fix that problem.

It’s been 10 weeks since the original payphone got destroyed on March 29th (story here), but it’s all good now. Telus came up with a phone, and it looks great.

new payphone on Front Street Telus building

new payphone in the woods at dusk

Trail Widening Moving Along

Argo has been ditching the Coalmont Road and when they do that there’s free fill to be had. Today they continued using it to widen the stretch of the KVR between Parrish and the Betts shortcut. As seen in the pictures below, the first half of the block has been done previously, and now they’re continuing on the second half. Area ‘H’ representative Bob Coyne was not aware of any plan involving this work, and the Regional District Parks and Facilities Coordinator, Justin Shuttleworth, was not available for comment. If anybody has any knowledge of what the plan is, and who is behind it, please say so in the comments below.
KVR Parrish to Betts 2015 East

KVR Parrish to Betts 2015 West

UPDATE: Several people with an interest in the KVR have called to say that this is the area where there was a sidetrack on the old railway and because of the width, this would be a good place for a staging area for trail users, and perhaps also a helicopter landing.

Our Payphone Is Coming Back

Telus has just informed us that they intend to replace the payphone. David Fowler, who manages the payphone business for Telus, contacted the Sterns with the good news. He will be working with their technicians to ensure that this new payphone is installed and operational as soon as possible.

Diane Sterne writes:

Mr. Fowler operates out of the Calgary office. He will be working with their technicians to ensure that this new payphone is installed and operational as soon as possible. We are very grateful to Telus for listening to us and coming to a compromise that should work for everyone. We also wish to thank Alex Atamanenko (Federal MP), Jackie Tegart (BC MLA), Bob Coyne (RDOS Area H Rep.), all of their staff, members of the public and the press who instilled in Telus the importance of this much-needed phone. They were all instrumental in helping us arrive at this workable solution.

Mr. Fowler supplied the following details:

  1. The payphone inside the Coalmont Hotel will be removed and replaced by one accessible to the public 24/7 in an outdoor location.
  2. They will be installing that new payphone on the Telus building on the north side of Front Street, just east of the Coalmont Road.
  3. They will be installing a payphone sign(s) at the original booth location directing people to the nearby, new location.
  4. The new payphone will be of a robust design with free calling to 911, credit card calling, collect calls through an operator, but no coin slots.

Smart Meters Here Next Month

FortisBC will soon be installing advanced meters in Coalmont. We have confirmed that there is indeed a work order for our town, and they will be doing the work between June 22 and June 26. Meter exchanges will take place Monday to Friday between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Just like when your meter is normally read, you do not need to be at home.

Despite motions opposing the installation of smart meters in many municipalities, the provincial government has insisted that installations would proceed. FortisBC started installing the new meters in late 2014, are doing the Similkameen area now, and will finish with the Kootenays in late 2015.

Although the basic technology is considered by some experts to have been outdated long before it was even proposed, Fortis still believes that their implementation carries many advantages. It is not clear just how many of those are of benefit to the end user but they place more billing options, fewer estimates, and online tools, at the top of their list. For a more complete sales pitch on Advanced Meter Infrastructure (AMI) visit Fortisbc.com/ami. Current privacy concerns appear minimal, but future advanced options offer significant intrusion. At this time three years of data will be available for immediate retrieval and four additional years will be archived.

FortisBC was unable to tell us what the actual implementation of the Coalmont rollout will look like. The basic technology utilizes the spectrum between 902-928 MHz but how the connection will be made here could be different. With no cell coverage, it will likely be through satellite backhaul. The latter is expensive but FortisBC claims that it is still worth it to them in many cases. We will have answers to these kinds of questions after the first meter goes in on June 22nd.   §

A Tale of Three Trails

Friday evening’s informational meeting in Tulameen regarding trails was very well attended. In fact one person in the audience pointed out that he hadn’t seen such a turnout for a while and that this was surely testimony to the fact that here is an issue which many people care about. However, the issue which many in the audience had expected to confront, was apparently not the thrust of what the presenters had intended.

Planned speakers were the Regional District Parks and Facilities Coordinator Justin Shuttleworth, president of the China Ride Trails and historical trail researcher Kelly Cook, and Bob Coyne who is our Regional Representative, but for this occasion was here on behalf of China Ridge Trails Society. On hand also was Ken Reeve from the Vermilion Trails Society.

The meeting was sponsored by the Tulameen Community Club who had sent out notice with the following call.

ATTENTION! Mountain bikers, hikers, walkers, quadders, dirt bikers, snowmobilers. ALL users of the Trans Canada Trail and all other trails in our area…. now is the time to find out what/where/when/how you can and will be able to use the trails now and in the future.

Perhaps that is what set the audience’s expectation. It certainly became clear soon after the meeting started that a fair section of the audience, and certainly the notable number of Coalmontians present, were there to air their displeasure with how they felt about their access to the trails in general – mostly regarding the new Provincial off-road motorized vehicle regulations as this has fired up many people.

Justin Shuttleworth is the Parks and Facilities Coordinator for the Regional District. He claims to have no agenda regarding the KVR trail but says he has put a lot of time into this. He is concerned with trail maintenance and explains that it is currently being done through Vermilion Trails Society. His stance on usage is that it is, and should be, “respect based”. It is interesting to note that there are 5 active Trans Canada Trail groups in the RDOS. Currently the district jurisdiction stops 11 km short of Brookmere, but they’re trying to get that section included. The most interesting part of his presentation was regarding the recent slide by the second trestle on the KVR. Shuttleworth says that the geotech report just came in today and they will be looking at that to determine the way forward. He feels confident that money will be found to clear up the slide but it could take a little while. The best case scenario would see the job finished by the end of summer.

Bob Coyne’s presentation about the China Creek trails was short but informative. He points out that the reason that they request non-motorized only use is that it causes a lot of damage to the snow grooming equipment and actually costs them time and money, neither of which they have a lot of. Here, Kelly Cook interjects that it would really be better to avoid the negative expression “non-motorized” and instead talk about “self propelled”. They have single track bike trails and 40 km of trail which they maintain in the winter time. Coyne also says that the China Creek trails are all designed for family use. There was some argumentative resistance from the floor regarding the China Creek policies, but in the end it looked like people understood that there is access for everybody to that area and that it is imperative that certain trails be designated for specific uses or it won’t work.

Kelly Cook presented on her research and work with the Hudson Bay Heritage Trail. This is the fur trail, and not to be confused with the Dewdney Trail. In fact it has roots going back much further in history. But perhaps the most significant local role, indeed in Canadian history, is that this trail as used by the Hudson’s Bay formed the basis of Canada establishing sovereignty in this area. The trailhead is at the Tulameen museum and it goes all the way to the Coquihalla. It is unfortunate that there is no parking in Tulameen for those who want to start a hike there, but perhaps that can be remedied in the future. More work will be done to manage trail usage and we can expect to hear a lot about this exciting project in the future.

There was not anything to fault or argue with in Kelly Cook’s presentation, but throughout the rest of the meeting one could sense that much of the audience was there to get answers about motorized trail usage – specifically on the KVR.

Ken Reeve gave an inspired talk about community based choices. He advocates that the communities through which the KVR trail runs, should have the major say in what it will look like in their section. No one disagreed with that. However, as it turns out, Reeve was well prepared to answer the questions that many had really come with. He has talked with the RCMP regarding their plans. They have funding to enforce the new law and they intend to pursue a zero tolerance policy. Unregistered off-road vehicles will be confiscated – even if they are being transported, as there is a hope that this will cut down on thefts. Also, drivers must be 16 or over and hold a valid drivers license. This elicited some reaction from the audience, with one person yelling “you gotta be an idiot to not let your kid ride a dirt bike!” It seems that the new regulations will take some time for people to accept. Many want to vent about the changes, but at this point there is not really much to discuss. The information is available many places and will be given to people when they go to get their ORV license and insurance. (see earlier article) The issues about what to do with trail maintenance and individual community choices is still alive and well. Perhaps most important to many people who attended this meeting is that, at least in our area, the KVR will remain open to quads.   §