Category Archives: Local Issues

Local Health Care Issues

Although Coalmont Residents cannot vote in the upcoming Princeton Municipality by-election, some of the issues nevertheless do involve us. Health care is one such issue and the Princeton mayor and council have a strong impact on whether we have a working hospital and working doctors available to us. Here is a report on the standing of the candidate’s on this subject compiled by the Save Our Hospital Coalition ~Ed.

This past week Save Our Hospital Coalition conducted interviews with the two candidates for mayor, Rosemary Doughty and Frank Armitage, and the two candidates for Councillor, Doug Pateman and Rob Rubis. Each candidate was asked nine questions regarding health care issues in our community. Here are the results of those interviews.

Continue reading Local Health Care Issues

Coalmont and Area Business Information

Some Coalmontians operate a business or professional service here or elsewhere. Currently there is the Coalmont Courier Business Listings, but a knowledge of the whole of Area H can be useful to all – particularly when it comes to starting a new business or improving an old one. The Princeton and District Chamber of Commerce is currently compiling information for the whole area which will ultimately be of benefit to all. Ed Muckle from the Princeton and District Chamber of Commerce is therefore asking you to please go to their research web site and fill out the form so everybody can know who you are and what you do. He writes:

The starting point for Economic Development is to know what is already in place and operating so we can determine what businesses the community needs. To this end I am asking all businesses of any type, large or small to register for the new Chamber Business to Business Directory.

Upon completion this resource will be available to all as a tool to share business opportunities, encourage residents to shop locally and identify new opportunities. I will keep progress information posted to this site on a regular basis.

Chamber membership is not a requirement for inclusion in this Directory. Everyone is Welcome. We need to know who you are and what you do.

Thank You.
Ed Muckle
Director of Economic Development Princeton and District Chamber of Commerce
ph: 250-295-7567 email: grower (at) nethop (dot) net

Click here to go to the Princeton and District Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Research Site. §

Princeton Hospital Public Forum June 21

The Princeton Save Our Hospital Coalition would like to invite everyone to a Public Forum to discuss solutions to the health care problems in our community. The Forum will be held on June 21st at Riverside Community Centre beginning at 7:00 pm.

We have invited the following panelists to speak to our community:

– Christy Clarke, Premier of British Columbia
– Michael de Jong, BC Minister of Health
– Adrian Dix, Leader of the Opposition,
– Mike Farnworth, NDP Health Critic
– Harry Lali, MLA
– Dr. Robert Halpenny, CEO Interior Health
– Charlotte Mitchell, Chief of Upper Similkameen Indian Band
– Jason Earle, Acting Mayor of Princeton
– Brad Hope, RDOS Area H Director

As you are aware, the Interior Health Authority recently instituted scheduled closures of the Emergency Room at Princeton General Hospital. These closures represent the latest in a long sequence of cutbacks that have a negative impact on our community.

Please join us to hear what our elected and appointed representatives have to say. The public will also have an opportunity to ask the panel questions.

Nienke Klaver, Secretary
Princeton Save Our Hospital Coalition

Save Our Hospital Rally

Many, if not most, people in Coalmont have signed the petition asking for the return of 24/7 emergency room services at the Princeton General Hospital. Being half an hour away from emergency care is not a good situation for us, but the recent part time ER closure has extended that to over two hours when ambulances need to go to Penticton.

Spencer Coyne, President of the Save Our Hospital Coalition sends us this notice urging us to show our concerns on Tuesday.

Save Our Hospital Coalition is holding a rally on May 22nd, 11:30am outside the Princeton General Hospital front entrance.

Save Our Hospital Coalition and the residents of Princeton are holding this rally in conjunction to a visit to Princeton General Hospital by Dr. Halpenny President and CEO of Interior Health, to show Dr. Halpenny and the IHA that the residents want full 24/7 Emergency Room services restored to the communities hospital.

You can learn more about the Save Our Hospital Coalition from their web site at www.savepgh.ca

BC Rockhounding Clubs Coming Here

The Princeton Rock and Fossil Club is hosting the 2012 BCLS Interior Zone Campout which will take place here June 22-24.

Campout 2012 will be centered around Coalmont and Granite Creek. Focus for the excursions shall be Gold, Agate and Fossil. There will be gold panning and a tour of an active gold mine along with many other events. All “static” activities, including hosted meals shall take place behind the Coalmont Hotel.

The British Columbia Lapidary Society is a non-profit organization founded to encourage and promote the lapidary hobby in British Columbia. The organization consists of thirty charter member clubs, with a membership of approximately 1,500 people who collect rocks, minerals, crystals and fossils.

For Campout Reservations and information contact Club President Terry Malanchuk at 250-293-6795 or email tmalan@telus.net

Save Our Hospital Coalition

Medical services can be hard for people in Coalmont to access. For even minor surgery, and anything much more than a blood test or x-ray, a trip to Penticton is required. In many cases this involves a second person to drive. All in all that means a lot of man hours and a lot of gas. Not good. If the service that is required is an actual emergency the situation can be much more serious.

We used to have a functional hospital with appropriate emergency service in Princeton. That is no longer the case. However, there is a petition currently being circulated which asks for public support for bringing the Princeton General Hospital back to the state that is needed in this area.

People are speaking out, and there is now a web site dedicated to this issue. The Interior Health plan of centralizing services and shutting down local hospitals is not going over well here.

In reality, it hurts small rural communities in ways that are far deeper than whether or not the emergency ward is open tonight after midnight. It takes away a service that community growth hinges on.

That is from a Similkameen Newsleader editorial. You can read the rest of that, and more, on a new web site set up to bring awareness to these issues. Visit Save Our Hospital Coalition. §

Coalmont and the KVR

The main discussion at the April Coalmont Community Association meeting was centered around the currently topical KVR trail usage as it pertains to our part of it. The main issue is the use of motorized vehicles and many people are both directly effected, and concerned. Problems such as generally disrespectful use by some people is recognized by all parties, but many believe those issues should be dealt with separately.

The overall vision of a Trans Canada Trail for exclusive non-motorized use nevertheless seems to cause problems in our local area. This discussion has been going on for several years and people have good reasons for holding whatever point of view they have. Because of the nature of a 22,500 kilometer trail, going through many different communities, there is a tendency for one community to want to decide what happens in another. It was therefore decided to put out a press release making public the fact that most people in our local area would like to see the trail remain multi use. Here is the press release:

Coalmont (April 17, 2012) – The Tulameen to Princeton corridor of the KVR was discussed at the Tuesday meeting of the Coalmont Community Association, and the public vote made it overwhelmingly clear that this community would like this section to remain mixed use.

During the discussion it was obvious that many see problems with the present motorized use, but felt that addressing them was the best way forward. Those with business interests were particularly eager to deal with the issues rather than, as they see it, delving a blow to tourism in this area which is primarily centered on off road quadding. Furthermore, it was thought that since the motorized use of the trail is also non-recreational, there are cultural and environmental reasons for continuing the current policy of mixed use.

The Trans Canada Trail is a grand vision, and one that everyone likes. However, at this time it seems that it cannot be completely implemented without being at the expense of some of the communities which it goes through. Coalmont is one of those places where the residents stand to lose something if motorized use is banned.

The Coalmont Community Association is a not-for-profit organization working to ensure the interests and well-being of all Coalmontians. Membership is free, and open to all residents of Coalmont and area.

Flood Alert Upriver

Tulameen houses in water

This time of year we are all keeping our fingers crossed that the river will not overflow. At present there are no dangerous levels, but the warm weather and forecast rain could possibly turn it into a dangerous situation. So far, so good.

The people in Tulameen have not been so lucky. Otter Lake is higher than usual. Early this evening the Tulameen Community Club sent out a flooding evacuation alert.

Otter Lake is rising at 2 inches per hour and water has already got to 6th street. Environment Canada is forecasing 2 inches of rain tonight and we have warm temperatures melting the snow pack. A number of families have been relocated to Princeton for food and shelter. If you know anyone who may be affected please call them. Jody Woodford, our Fire Chief, is organizing this situation and can be reached at the Tulameen Volunteer Fire Dept. 250-295-6688

Otter Lake overflowing streets

From a Coalmont perspective, let’s hope that the flow out of Otter Lake does not increase dramatically in the next little while. §

No Law Against Motors On KVR

The very mention of motorized vehicles using the Trans Canada Trail can stir a heated variety of emotions both for and against it. The fact is, at present, there is absolutely no law against the use of motorized vehicles on the Trail. While the Vermilion Trails Society (stewards of the trail from Brookmere to Osprey Lake) does not officially condone such usage, it’s members are committed to supporting the Directions and Laws, as they pertain to the Trail, by the Provincial Government and Trans Canada Trail. As stated, at present, there is no law that bans motorized usage of the trail. Bill Allinott, the Trail Maintenance In Charge and a Director of the society, on Jan. 11, 2012 spoke with Sgt. Clare of the Princeton R.C.M.P. who confirmed the matter had been looked into extensively and that there is no authority to enforce usage by A.T.V.’s or other motorized vehicles – that includes the portion of the Trail in the Town of Princeton. The usage of helmets, proof of insurance, a maximum speed of 20kph, and crossing of roadways (while riding a vehicle) that intersect with the Trail are enforceable.

Trans Canada Trail has eliminated funding in other provinces where the Law is permitting and promoting motorized vehicle usage, but to our knowledge there is no official direction to cut off funding to stewards of the trail that abide by the Laws pertaining to Trail usage in British Columbia, as long as the society is not promoting motorized usage. Until we see an official change of policy from the BC Government and Trans Canada Trail, it is the position of several of our Directors and members that we should maintain our current position with regards to usage, which is neither promoting nor forbidding their use. The recent adoption by the Town of Princeton to designate the urban portion of the trail as non motorized is premature in our opinion. While it’s intention was to ensure funding, and possibly deal with other issues, we agree with statements from the Mayor, Fred Thomas, that the decision was made in haste and more homework should have been done. The request to designate the trail non-motorized did not come from the Vermilion Trails Society, and is not the correct way to proceed in the opinion of several of it’s members.

The society members are stewards of 113 kilometers of trail which they receive funding for. The VTS section of Trail covers various areas – Thompson-Nicola Regional District, Town of Princeton, and Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen. The funding that is received from Trans Canada Trail covers all sections of the trail. Until the government of B.C. officially designates the Trans Canada Trail (in B.C.) as non-motorized, the 5 kilometers of trail (approximately) in the Town of Princeton will have no bearing on whether or not the Vermilion Trails Society receives funding.

Indeed, by informing the public of false positions on usage, it can lead to problems such as Mr. Hassell reported about a child being slapped for riding an A.T.V. on the Trail. Current signage present in many locations that show motorized vehicles other than snowmobiles being banned already creates friction. These signs are posted under the direction of Trans Canada Trail who oversees the trail system. Although they are not reflective of the current law, they mandate they be posted on the trail system. Encouraging the public to police the trail with a mistaken understanding of the Law encourages some vigilantism, which will only result in well meaning members of the public being charged for trying to enforce a law that doesn’t exist. This is a position no one wants to find themselves in, and one we personally would hate to see develop.

Education and common sense is the key to ensuring a harmonious usage of the Trail. When walkers, bike riders, or riders on horseback are present, slow down, pull over, or stop and show some courtesy. Hikers should walk single file when bikers approach so there is room for all to pass safely. Noise levels should be kept to a minimum to allow all users to be able to enjoy the natural wonder of the trail. The trail surface should not be damaged by irresponsible actions. Litter should be placed in trash cans or packed out. Dust should be kept to a minimum.

It is hard enough for our police to try to enforce the current laws to control discourteous drivers on our highways, so enforcing the remote and urban areas of the Trail would be a daunting challenge, especially when we are asking them to enforce a law that doesn’t exist. It is even more absurd for us to encourage the general public to police the trail against those who use it within the letter of the law. It is still important for the general public to observe and report anyone they see vandalizing the trail, or endangering others.

It is our hope that the Town will reconsider this issue and abandon their position until the Government of BC officially changes their designation on the remaining (and much larger) section of the trail outside of the Town of Princeton. We feel this will alleviate a lot of the tension that is being felt by the diverse user groups of the trail, as they will not be given confusing information that leads them to believe the rules of usage are different from what the law actually states.

This letter reflects the opinions of the undersigned in response to the recent information and actions that have resulted in the mistaken perception that the request to ban motorized vehicles came from the Vermilion Trail Society.

Sincerely
~ Ken Davidson, VTS Director
~ Faye Davidson, VTS Director
~ Bill Allinott, VTS Maintenance In Charge and Director

Coalmont Community Association

The second meeting of what was first called the “Coalmont Ratepayers Association” was held at the Coalmont Hotel tonight. One of the first things on the agenda was choosing a name and, since inclusivity was on the top of everybody’s list, it was decided that the organization should be called the Coalmont Community Association.

From this meeting it was obvious that there is a desire for people to be in touch regarding things that effect us which are happening in the regional district and beyond. There was no talk of local contentious issues. In fact the discussion was quite lively and upbeat.

When the meeting started, there was a cheer for Bob Sterne who has, amazingly, just come back from a sudden death experience. (See previous article.) That set a nice caring tone for the evening.

Most of the agenda was necessarily administrative because of the newness of the association. There is now a basic mission statement and constitution. Becoming a registered society will be the next step.

Present at the meeting were about 25 people, including Ole Juul (chair), Ernie Rice (vice chair), and Penny Goodfellow (secretary/treasurer). Our local Area ‘H’ representative, Brad Hope, was also there to answer questions and, as it turns out, get some input from those present which he can take back to the RDOS board. This specifically regarding the Princeton Landfill which we pay (probably more than) our share of. A number of people reported being charged extra fees. This was surprising news to Hope and it is now looking like the cost of the landfill is not being distributed fairly – neither between Area ‘H’ and Princeton, nor between individual users. This obviously warrants looking into.

There was also a lively discussion about Trans Canada Trail usage and recent events. Bill Allinott, Faye and Ken Davidson, the Sternes, and Brad Hope, had much to report on this subject. It appears that there are a lot of complications, as well as diverse points of view. Almost everyone has a stake in this so we can expect to see the subject on future agendas.

The meeting ended with refreshments and friendly discussion. Michelle, who runs the Coalmont Hotel, was very kind to provide the use of the facility and the evening was indeed a great success.

For detailed information, such as minutes and mission statement, there is a web site. It is hoped that www.coalmont.net/cca will become a handy place to keep in touch with CCA events and notices. However, for those without internet who would like paper notices, the Sternes have donated a metal mail box which is located by the town bulletin board.

The next meeting will be on April 17 and anybody would owns property, lives here, or would otherwise call themselves a Coalmontian, is welcome to attend. §

A Community Association

Coalmont has had several attempts at a community organization in the past, but there is none now. Lately there has been talk of setting up a ratepayers association so that we can speak with one voice when needed or wanted. A meeting was called and, although an official name has yet to be chosen, the results were very encouraging.

Following is a report on the proceedings at the inaugural meeting 7pm November 22, 2011 Coalmont Hotel. Chris Goodfellow chaired the meeting and our Area ‘H’ director, Brad Hope was on hand. There were 26 people present.
Continue reading A Community Association

Talk of Septage

There has been a lot of talk around here recently about the dumping of septage in the area.

At the core of the discussion is a facility on private land which is situated up the hill from the old Granite Creek townsite. The accusations are that the Princeton Septic Service and Keremeos Septic Services trucks are driving up there and illegally dumping sewage. On the surface, if true, these accusations are fairly serious and can have some ramifications. So, what is really going on here?

First of all, these pumper trucks are used primarily for pumping out septic tanks when maintenance is required. The material itself is properly referred to as “septage”. In an area like ours this is a required service and is stipulated by health regulations.

There are several permitted places in Area ‘H’ where septage can be disposed of. There are also strict regulations set out for this by the Ministry of Environment, and all facilities must be approved and have a permit. Closest to us is the one at Granite.
Continue reading Talk of Septage

Questions to the Candidates

On November 19 we will be voting on the position of director for Area ‘H’. Although this position carries less weight in the district than the municipal mayor, it is nevertheless our only voice. Please take the time to understand what this means for our future here and how your choice will impact our independence, taxes, and quality of life, in the future.

By now we have all seen some of the general material put out by the two candidates, Charles Weber and incumbent Brad Hope, but it was felt that some more direct answers were needed. Therefore we posed some questions so that everyone could see where they both stand on some of the concerns that relate to Coalmont and Area ‘H’ in general. Here is the e-mail which was sent and the answers we received.
Continue reading Questions to the Candidates

Regional Trails Master Plan

RDOS (Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen) and its member municipalities will be developing a Regional Trails Master Plan (RTMP). Various user groups will be meeting to discuss the future of trails such as the KVR corridor. The new master plan will decide how the trails will look over the next 10 years and who will be allowed to use them. You can share your ideas by completing an online survey at: www.clickhikebike.com. Scheduled meetings will be posted at: www.rdos.bc.ca. We will try to keep you posted here as well.

If you use the trails in this area, this is the time to add your input to this plan which will affect your use of the trails. §

WE WON!

The Princeton Aquatic Centre Referendum is over. The first numbers to come from the Chief Election Officer are listed below. We are still waiting for the official announcement and until then these numbers are not set in stone. Although it is not expected that there will be any change, we will however update promptly if necessary.

Princeton
474 YES
507 NO
FAILED

Area ‘H’
269 YES
968 NO
FAILED

There are several things which can be inferred from these numbers. One is the relative lack of interest, one way or the other, shown in the Town of Princeton. Not a lot of voters showed up there. Another is the unusually large number of voters who showed up in Area ‘H’ and the large majority of NO votes there. This is not just a no – it is a NO!

Although this aquatic centre project and referendum has been described by a few people as being a two sided issue, the reality is that there has not been any controversy in our town. The bottom line is that the referendum has failed to show significant interest in funding this large project. Certainly from a Coalmont point of view – we won. §

UPDATE: The OFFICIAL results have now been confirmed and they are the same as we have above. You can see the details on the Official Referendum Results RDOS page.

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