Category Archives: Local Issues

New RV Park Here?

Development Permit 17343It looks like we are getting a new full hookup RV park just across the river. At this point it is hard to say what exactly is going on, but all the truckloads of fill which we have seen going by in recent days were apparently destined for 1500 Blakeburn Road.

Previously there was a development permit for over 60 parcels, but that has since been withdrawn and it would appear that plans have changed. According to the RDOS office, we can expect a guide camp lodge to go up but what else we will see is still a mystery.

As usual we have local rumours. One person said that they were putting in a 70 unit RV park, but no one seems to really have any facts. One thing is certain, it is no small development. There is a foundation poured for what could be a nicely sited little lodge. The eyebrow raiser is that there is more to it than that.

What might be a little worrisome is the rows of RV pads with water and sewer hookup. How many of those can we expect? One would also note that an RV park requires rezoning, and according to the RDOS office there has not been any application for that.

View of presumed RV camp siteRegardless of zoning or development permits, many locals probably think of an RV park as a dubious development for Coalmont. Even just a few dozen more weekenders pursuing off-road motor sports could be uncomfortable for us since the general feeling seems to be that we have already reached our limit.

However, at this point in time we still don’t know what is really coming on Blakeburn Road. It is entirely possible that it will have little impact, or even a very positive one. We’ll just have to wait and see. §

The Busiest Weekend

In these parts, the BC Day weekend is definitely the busiest holiday of the year, but it’s a mixed blessing.

The Tulameen Family Days Festival contributes considerably, but this year that was reported to be quieter. Apparently it was more like the way it used to be. One person was unhappy about the horseshoes rules having changed, but if that was the worst of it then the festival should certainly be counted as a success.

The weekend traffic through Coalmont was also quieter. There was no gridlock at the stop sign and the line up never went past Front Street. That’s not to say that there wasn’t a steady stream of cars, off road vehicles, and campers coming through town, there was, but compared to last year and the year before, it was somewhat diluted.

The quads and dirt bikes make another story though. It is, of course, hard to measure, but there was a lot of noise and dust kicked up around here. The KVR trail was busy and there was a fair amount of racing through town. Most of that seems to be kids having fun in the country. There is probably not much chance for racing around on loud motorized vehicles in their own neighbourhood.

One of the reasons for a quieter Tulameen Days was the increased police presence, and the prohibition of camping on the river. That social segment has been a cause of much trouble in the past. A problem for us is that those people then started coming here to look for a place to party. It was particularly rowdy the last two years but this weekend the worst offenders seemed to stay away and the Granite Creek Camp-ground was more civilized.

Still, the camp-ground was filled to the brim and there was lots of partying. According to one regular resident at the camp site, kids motor sports dominated the environment during the day and made the place very unpleasant for those that prefer a more traditional camping experience. Of course there was the usual alcohol fuelled rowdiness but this year was also better on that account.

Ernie Rice and Sam Clark worked the whole weekend to keep the camp ground under control. Although it was a lot of hard work, Sam said she was quite satisfied with the situation this year and reports that there was only one major incident. On Friday evening the police had to be called and a particularly rambunctious fellow taken away. Perhaps the most significant change this year was that the partyers gathered up all the garbage in one place, and for that she says, “thanks!”

Trucks Trucks Trucks

Truck traffic through town has a number of issues and it varies seasonally as well as from year to year. But what can we do?

Entering Coalmont, avoid using engine brakes signComplaints about excessive speed, and not stopping at the stop sign are common. These are really police matters and there is not much we can do, but they are issues nevertheless. Catching the name on the truck and calling the appropriate company has worked in the past and is probably the easiest, most effective, and cheapest solution.

The amount of dust kicked up by big trucks is another issue, but that seems to be out of our control. For a while it was coal trucks every half hour. That will vary from year to year depending on whether the mine is operational or not. Being managed by a single company who will wish to be on good terms with the community, there is at least some possibility of resolution.

Seasonally, we have logging trucks. These are more of a problem because of the number of companies involved. They also seem to have a small proportion of drivers who will race through town. One notable thing about the logging trucks is the use of engine brakes. It appears they particularly like to use them when deadheading – despite the easy grade. In all fairness though, I should say that I have noticed other trucks using engine brakes as well – notably a couple of local ones. What is interesting is that the coal truck drivers, who carry some pretty heavy loads, claim they have no need for them.

Several people have been asking for improvements and in particular suggested that a “no jake brake” sign could be put on the highway. One Coalmontian took it upon herself to make a difference in our community regarding these problems. Diane Sterne tells me that “Since nothing had been happening with either that or the rock overhanging the road, I contacted Shirley Bond, Minister of Transportation. I sent her photos of the rock and asked for it to come down . . . and the need for engine brake signs. She wrote back to say the rock was going to be taken down (which it has) and the signs would go up.

So, thanks to Diane Sterne, Coalmont has finally gotten signs which urge truckers to please mind that this is a residential area and to avoid the use of engine brakes. There are signs at both ends of town and they also say “excessive noise prohibited”. Although heeding them is probably not a strict legal requirement, hopefully the signs will make some drivers think twice about making a lot of noise. At least now they know our wishes. §

Weekends and Partytime

The magic tree in JulyThe magic tree has sprouted new fruits again. This time it is even more unusal. To me it is a reminder that summer is here, the long weekend is coming up, and it’s party time. Perhaps this is also a good time to suggest that there are two sides to that story.

Weekends are getting busier and noisier. One person counted over one hundred quads and dirt bikes racing by his place in one day. I’m sure many of those were repeats though. Indeed, people going back and forth, kicking up dust, is one of our perenial problems here. I guess we’ll just have to live with it.

I’ve never liked adding more rules to control our society. The more people sort things out by themselves the better, and to my mind, the more civilized. However I do notice more and more complaints about noise. We don’t have a noise bylaw in Area-H, but judging by the number of times it gets mentioned, my feeling is that there is support for one. I guess the up side is that even though rules like that don’t always get enforced, there are usually also a few people who take them seriously.

There will always be a few rowdies around. I think we have to live with a bit of that. Many people like to party and celebrate once in a while. We also have to realize that the huge number of off road vehicles that we see is the reason that most people come, and why some residents moved here. However, there are times when things get over the top and the rest of the community gets involuntarily volunteered to participate in a way they didn’t want. I notice that the ambulance comes by a couple of times every long weekend. That’s when fun gets to be not so fun.

I also notice the police have been to town a few times recently. I don’t know the details of the issues involved but maybe it’s better that I don’t stick my nose is some of that business anyway. I’m probably not the only person who thinks that way, but I’m probably also not the only one that wishes the police were here when we really need them. My thought is, you can’t win that one, but that there is not any more crime here than elsewhere. It is mostly during the weekends that there is trouble. There is always a problem with drinkers and yahoos on long weekends.

Most visitors are quiet and respectful. There is usually a nice crowd over at the Granite campsite. Some have been coming for years. We also see campers in odd places sprinkled around on crown land. Of course, there is no knowing what they get up to, and we can only assume that they are respectful of the area.

To me the only real solution is to be the best person you can, and encourage others to do the same. Only then can we actually move forward as people, and as community. §

Fire On The Hill

Yesterday we saw smoke billowing up over the mountain from the Blakeburn direction. Since there is now a fire ban in place and we are at a very dry, and the most vulnerable part of the year, this caused quite a lot of concern here in Coalmont.

A call to the local volunteer fire chief, Jody Woodford, did not give us the answers we wanted to hear. Apparently Forestry is calling it a “controlled burn” by Compliance Energy Corporation at their mine site, and that they have a permit – despite the fire ban.

However, according to several eyewitness reports, there was no one on the site yesterday when they went to look, and it appeared to be a slash burn. The word from our Area-H representative, Brad Hope, is that the office is well aware of it and that it is an old fire which flares up during hot weather. Whether this is just what they think, or this is what Compliance told them is not known at this point.

Woodford is personally very concerned about the way the Forestry Service is viewing the situation. She is under the impression that they do not want to hear about the fire unless it is clearly out of control. Hopefully this is not how they normally view large unattended fires near population centres, but if it is then we could be in greater danger from fire here in Coalmont than was previously thought.

Another witness who visited the site this morning, said that it looked like a slash burn and that there were also some trees on fire. They did not see anyone there keeping an eye on it. With no apparent monitoring of the situation, what are we to do here? Certainly the seemingly conflicting information from eyewitnesses and different authorities does not bode well.

Something looks wrong with the way we are managing fires in this area and it needs to be looked into. We need to feel safe and know that there is a system in place to monitor and hopefully control large fires – not just let trees burn close to our town because it is only an “old” fire.

It is hard to tell what the truth really is, but this is a story which needs follow up. Who is responsible? Who is monitoring? Who cares? The first two questions have no answer yet, and the last one is obvious – we do. §

UPDATE

It’s been a while since we’ve had some stories here. Of course this is Coalmont . . . but still.

Dominion day, or Canada Day as they call it now, has come and gone. The magic tree looked good, as usual. It was all decked out with Maple Leaf Flags to commemorate the occasion. Our little park is actually looking pretty good and is a nice place for tourists to stop.

A small indie company was filming a movie at the English ranch last week. “A Land that Forgets” is a “simple love story of a boy and a canoe in a town that is fading away.” From their web site: “Glass Curtain Pictures is a grass roots independent production company from Vancouver, British Columbia. Striving to produce works that respect the intelligence of the audience and challenge ourselves as filmmakers, we work together to co-produce and self-finance our own works.” Check out their website.

The development of 64 cabins across the river at 1500 Blakeburn road, has come to a halt. I believer these were supposed to be 1 hectare lots with water provided. From what I hear they had difficulty finding potable water up there and needed to get it from down here. I wonder just how much water 64 units would suck up. Anyway, I guess it’s a moot point now because I see that the development permit has been withdrawn.

There were some other Coalmont real estate sightings this year. Nic’s Cabins were seen for sale on Craig’s List for a very large sum of money. There’s other real estate for sale around here for large sums of money. That may be why they are for sale. A Langley RE/MAX office by the name of Treeland Realty is listing the Hotel for $675,000. Since the company mysteriously keeps a very low profile on the net, I’ll give a link to Vanislebounty’s local food Blog which does a much better job and is where I found the information. With all the talk about real estate around here, it’s interesting to note that our population is almost exactly the same as it was in 1940 when the mine closed. Zero growth in 70 years. That’s pretty impressive, and to many people one of the best things about this place. §

Coalmont Road Closed

Red Bluffs Slide October 21 2009The Red Bluffs is probably the most exciting part of the Coalmont Road, and has given more than one tourist pause for concern. Coalmontians are used to dodging rocks, and know that one of these days the whole road will continue on down. Still, when direct access to Princeton gets cut off, everyone pays attention. Although bigger than usual, this slide on Wednesday October 21 was already cleared by 2:30 pm. Kudos to the road crew who manages to keep our road drivable all year round. (Bob Sterne photo)

COMMUNITY PLAN REVIEW

The Regional District is currently conducting a review of the Official Community Plan (OCP).

Christopher Garrish, the planner for RDOS, informs me that so far, Coalmont has the lowest return on the survey. In fact it is at a piddley 2.7%! We can do better.

Everyone should have gotten a copy of the survey in the mail. If you’re like me and don’t check your mail every week, then do it now. This is important to the future of our area and the control we have over it. Anyone who didn’t receive a copy can participate on-line, or call to get involved. Here is the press release which RDOS issued.
Continue reading COMMUNITY PLAN REVIEW

Meeting Highlights Need For Change

Our problem is that the new law can provide a loophole for excessive development. That is what would lead to health concerns and subsequent water and sewerage expenses beyond our means and desires.

It was an exciting meeting we had regarding wells, septics, and future development. There was a full house and it soon became clear that there was a lot of animosity in the community toward the new regulations. All the invited guests showed up. Harry Lally came in a bit later and gave a very encouraging speech from the floor. The minutes of the meeting are available here, but the main result was that our concerns were heard. Continue reading Meeting Highlights Need For Change

MEETING WITH OFFICIALS

Coalmont Town Meeting 7 p.m. April 21, Coalmont Hotel.

Citizens have organized a town meeting at the historic Coalmont Hotel with officials from the Ministry of Healthy Living and Sport, the Regional Health Authority, the District planning and engineering staff, the local elected representative, and a representative from the Canadian Institute of Public Health Inspectors and Sewerage System Regulation Improvement Coalition.

Everyone with an interest in BC’s septic regulations and a concern for Coalmont’s future is invited. This is also an opportunity for press to learn more about this regulatory failure which is sure to be an election issue.
Continue reading MEETING WITH OFFICIALS

RDOS COMMUNITY PLAN

The RDOS Area H Official Community Plan is written to ensure that development is done with regard to the aspirations of the people and for the benefit of the whole community. How that applies to Coalmont is not exactly clear – especially after reading it. I know that many people won’t bother to read it themselves even though there is a handy link on the Webmont page, so here are some interesting parts – from a Coalmontian’s point of view.
Continue reading RDOS COMMUNITY PLAN

COALMONT WATER THREATENED

When regulations trump drinking water safety and quality, then what? The recent letter from Interior Health regarding our concerns highlights this problem.

Everyone in Coalmont has been concerned about the development of 25 foot lots on the old Works Yard. People have different views and are concerned about various aspects, but the real stickler is how can a developer get away with putting septics and wells that close together?

That is indeed a serious issue and we now know that the septic rules and regulations have changed to accommodate that kind of development. It turns out that this is a “tip of the iceberg” kind of issue. There are likely problems in other communities which just haven’t surfaced yet. Our concerns here have been presented to various authorities with little result other than they now know that Coalmont exists. Oh well. That’s a start.
Continue reading COALMONT WATER THREATENED

Truck Traffic Concerns

updated
Truck traffic through town is an ongoing concern. Both coal and logging trucks kick up a lot of dust, and make noise around the clock. They also pose a safety hazard when they speed, especially going through the stop sign.

The issue of dust does not have an easy solution as it is part of the normal operation of big trucks. Perhaps another route is better, and perhaps Argo could clean up the winter sanding better. To deal with noise and speed, we may get signs at the entrances to town asking truckers to consider our community. Not all issues can be solved overnight but it does look like our concerns are meeting with some response, and things are looking up. Continue reading Truck Traffic Concerns

Interior Health Septic Review

Not everyone is aware of the septic rules, and how they are changing. Some people who have unnescessarily sold property because they thought they couldn’t put a septic on it, when in fact they could, feel they have been wronged. Other situations exist where things have gone awry. The government administration’s lack of communication, clarity, and coherent operations, is causing hardship for some people.

When it comes to government regulations, history will show us that foresight is often lacking. However, if you read the following story, I think you will agree that in this case, hindsight is lacking as well. The regulations in question appear to be neither properly researched nor carefully considered. What can we do about it? Bob Sterne has been working on this for awhile and gotten nowhere – until now. Continue reading Interior Health Septic Review