Voice Extra                                                       Monday March 22nd 2010

Avalanche Safety



RCMP Issue Backcountry Alert

Recent deaths serve as a warning to snowmobilers and others

Staff  Report



                                                                                                                                  Submitted photo

They move faster than a locomotive barreling down the mountainside and wiping out everything in their paths. The sensation of being caught in one has been likened to being hit by concrete. If you're lucky enough to survive the initial onslaught, you have a 66% chance of suffocating or dying of hypothermia within an hour.


If you're unfortunate to be caught in a avalanche you need to take steps beforehand to increase your chances of survival.


On Monday, after a recent spate of snowmobile deaths, the BC RCMP issued a warning for outdoor enthusiasts to be careful in the woods and especially in high risk areas.


Now that the spring is here more people will be out there and it's important to know the country you're getting into.


Spring conditions tend to weaken upper layers in the mountain snowpack, and that leaves slopes unstable, which has been triggering avalanches all across the province.


If you need to be in a high risk area then police are saying that "it is with extreme caution that you enter into the backcountry."


Snowmobilers, skiers and snowboarders are at risk particularly if they run out of bounds and outside of the groomed trails.


“Living in British Columbia we are lucky to have some of the most spectacular outdoor areas in the world, and winter and spring activities frequently bring people into back country areas,” says Inspector Tim Shields, ‘E’ Division Media Relations. “While part of the enjoyment of these activities is being in pristine conditions it is vitally important for everyone to prepare and not put themselves at risk. We would ask that people err on the side of caution when the risks are high. Enjoy the outdoors but come home safely to friends and family.”


Before you head out make sure that you plan for a problem.

• Be sure to check the Avalanche conditions in the area that you plan to be in. If its high risk then just choose a safer alternative area to recreate in.

• Bring and wear safety gear such as an avalanche beacon, probes, shovels, survival kits and first aid kits.

• Plan your trip well and let people know where you are going and when you expect to return.

• When snowmobiling, ride safely and within your experience limits and respect the country and place you are in. Don't litter, take out your trash.





                                                                                                              © Copyright (c) The Valley Voice


Birds Of A Feather

Sometimes don't flock together




                                                                                                                     Joe Reporter/Voice photo

A pair of geese soar by on their way to a landing at the Heron Reserve last week.


Those Hectic Herons

"Hectic Herons" is Sunday, 2 pm at the Reserve. Folks are invited on a leisurely guided walk and see the heron colony up close and watch over 200 Great Blue Herons courting and working on their nests.


The Great Blue Heron Reserve is located at 5200 Sumas Prairie Rd., on the south end of Sumas Prairie Road on the Vedder River dyke. For more information call the Interpretive Centre 604-823-6603 or e-mail here.


                                                                                                                 © Copyright (c) The Valley Voice


March 26 2010

CITY Views
The Joe Report

Voice Local News                                                   Friday March 26th 2010

Community Alert 


Evans Flyover Train Derailment Stops Traffic Dead

CNR's nightmare is a dream

for residents                 Staff report



                                                                                                                              Staff/Voice photos

This train derailment will have Evans Rd closed for a few days until crews move it.


Workers have a headache but neighbours alongside the CN track are breathing a sigh of relief at the sudden quiet they are experiencing. The Voice spoke with some and they weren't upset at all by the road closure which was caused by the derailment.


"We think we might have a neighbourhood barbecue now," said one resident.


According to an employee, stationed at the roadblock, the derailment involved 22 cars and will likely take at least a day to clear. Speculation has that it was caused by a rail separating.                         


Fortunately no one was hurt in the incident and the cars were empty for the most part aside from some grain spillage so there was no biohazard.


A very helpful officer had an interesting question regarding why this reporter doesn't "have a big fancy camera" and why "they send (me) out with that?" 

I guess this camera isn't working because somehow it inverted his smile.  Maybe the officer can kindly locate the guy that took my nice big fancy one without asking.

                                                                                                                  © Copyright (c) The Valley Voice

Voice Local News                                                Saturday March 27th 2010

Flyway reopens 


More Views Of The

CN Derailment

Crews work through night to reopen road   


The photos were taken by local Chilliwack photographer Kirtis Defehr who was there when one of the cars flipped as they were trying to right it. To view his complete gallery of derailment shots go here.


You can contact Kirtis at Kirtus DeFehr Photography (604)-846-3223 or visit his blog at: www.kdefehrphoto.blogspot.com  also e-mail here.


                                                                                    © Copyright (c) The Valley Voice

 Voice Extra                                                                            April 1st 2010

The tail that wags the dog


Renaissance Dog Show something to bark about

Canine classic promises to be Canada's biggest show this weekend at Heritage Park

Staff  Report                                             


An ancient Chinese proverb says that when a dog barks at something, the rest of the dogs bark at him but you can count on the hundreds of dogs that will be at Heritage Park this weekend for the Renaissance Dog Show to be on their best behaviour. All barking aside, the show is being billed as the largest of its kind in Canada and best of all, it's free!


Graeme Ramsden from the Renaissance Dog Show was on StarFm Thursday morning and if you missed it, the following are highlights from that conversation.


What you can expect.

This is going to end up as one of the largest dog shows in Canada. But it's going to be the largest show that's ever been held in Chilliwack. They've got 27-breed specialties together in conjunction with the show.


Dog Types

It's a strong possibility (there will be some at the show) There are a lot of people importing rare breeds and getting recognition in Canada and there could be several breeds there that possibly we haven't seen after 25-years of showing


The actual All Breed Show has about 800 dogs each day on average. There's going to be 175-large Newfoundland and as many Burmese Mountain Dogs. It's a huge dog.


Flighty Pooches

There's dogs coming from France. We don't know if the handlers or owners were coming from France. We actually don't get to know who is there until tomorrow morning an hour before judging starts.


There's judges coming from Belgium, England, Finland, US and Canada. There's a couple coming from the island, there's a couple coming from back east and there's people coming from New Brunswick, Alabama. That's about the farthest they could tell me about over the phone.


Why Dogs?

It's just like any other amateur sport, it's what you do, whether you go out at 4 am in the morning to play hockey or whether you drive all night to get to a dog show.

If you win, it does add to the value to your breeding stocks so you might recoup some money because showing dogs is very expensive but there isn't that much prize money. There will be prize money with the Ultimate Challenge on Monday but it doesn't usually happen.


The Ultimate Challenge

This is the first time it's been done. It's a bit of creative marketing by the Renaissance Dog Association. They're having 27-breed specialties this weekend over the course of the weekend and at the end of it, these specialty winners get to use the prefix before the dog's name, BISS, Best In Specialty Show, they have the same status as the Best In Show Wear.


On Monday at noon, they're going to bring all 27 dogs together in the ring. A judge who's name will be announced after Best In Show, Sunday night, I believe the judge will be sequestered all weekend, they're all going to come together and the judge is going to pick a winner from the 27 Best In Show Winners and Specialty Show winners.


Dog Show Hours

They'll be setting up today. Seventy-five RV's booked in to Heritage Park. Everybody started paying for their space around Christmastime to guarantee a spot and there's probably a bunch of them next door in Cottonwood Meadows because before we moved to Chilliwack that's where we used to stay. Just tow the car out and drive over so we had full hookup.


They're all going to be coming in this morning. They're going to be setting up the building today. There's about twenty-four, I believe, commercial booths all selling dog products. They'll setup first and they can drive their trucks in the building and then they'll set up the rings and the rest of the show at the same time everybody will be arriving on the next slab to setup the grooming area which is going to take up all of one slab I believe.


Tomorrow morning with a show this size I imagine the judging is going to start shortly after 8 am and it just goes 'til it's done. They go through the judging process as everybody is eliminated and they come down to the seven group winners for Best In Show at the end of the day and though they have a speed, the judge judges about two-and-a-half minutes a dog. Best in show comes when everybody is judged.


Admittance is less than a pittance.

There's no admission. There's no parking charge. It's just a time out with the family, as I say it doesn't cost anything except that little chap in the red concession stand in there that looks like Heritage Park in there makes the best coffee that's ever been put in a cup. I don't even make coffee in the motor home anymore.


                                                                                                            © Copyright (c) The Valley Voice


 Voice Extra                                           Wednesday March 31st 2010

Chilliwack BIA Update


Coffee With Kathy

New & established  businesses to note in downtown Chilliwack

Staff  Report


Chilliwack Business Improvement Association Executive Director Kathy Funk dropped by StarFM for an update as to what is going on with the Chamber lately. Here are some highlights from her report.

                                                                                    BIA Exec. Dir. Kathy Funk

On Filming Eureka

We are so proud to have Eureka here. It's so exciting to see those scenes on Eureka shows in downtown Chilliwack. We are building a little pot of funds that will give us an opportunity to do some revitalization downtown right at that area where they're shooting.


We're hoping to do some green and some fixer-uppers to make it look really cool in that area.         


Shop Lellow

Lellow's is one of my newly discovered stores now that I'm a grandma, is a store for modern kids. I'm telling you that it's like walking into a store in downtown Vancouver. There is everything in there for your young baby and little ones. Michelle and Lisa just bought it in March and boy do they have some wonderful things.


I think the message that Michelle and Lisa wanted to get across was first of all, they're both moms and they said they have some unique things and one of their product lines that's very hard to find, and this I think is cool, is a stroller by Valco and you can take three kids and its inline so it's not wide but it's inline, three kids, can you imagine? So that's a really cool product.


It's kid-friendly, a very comfortable place for moms to come and there's a shower registry, a great place to get gifts and I love it as a new grandma.



The New Logans Hardware Location

A beautiful big space. You have to remember the hardware store has been since 1891 and one of the things that Robin (the owner) has said to me is one of the reasons he stayed downtown                                                                                 Voice file photo

and not looking at   Robin Brunette owner of Logans Home Hardware store.

expanding was the

loyalty of the downtown customers, the ones who have been going there for years and the new ones.


What I like about the hardware store myself is that you can find those (things) like if you break your coffee pot or any little part, I need something for my mixer machine and Robin has been able to find those unique things and his store is lovely, lots of parking, wheelchair accessible, stroller accessible.


So we're really pleased that Robin chose to do that and I think what's really cool is he is training his son, Justin, and so there'll be the next generation and we're going to keep it a good old fashioned regular store downtown and he's been wonderful and generous to give us $100 gift certificate that we'll give away a little bit later.


The Great Canadian Oil Change

Carey and John have a store on Vedder and they built a second store right on Young being in where we midtown downtown and that's on Alexander and they want us to know that in the 9 years they've been in the business the Best Of award and the twice they've been on the A-list of customer service and I think what's cool there, not only are they both in the lowest prices and your coupons are worth more there.



                                                                                              © Copyright (c) The Valley Voice





Voice Local News                                                     Friday March 26th 2010

Every kind of toy for every boy


Chilliwack Sold On Auction Company

Ritchie Bros. almost a

well-oiled machine

Craig Hill/Voice



                                                                                                                            Craig Hill/Voice photos

Ritchie Bros. officials and Acting-Mayor Councilor Ken Huttema (centre) prepare to cut the ribbon at the opening ceremonies Wednesday.


CHILLIWACK, B.C. ––  The smell of diesel was almost as strong as the smell of money and there was truckloads of it being tossed around Wednesday for a precedent-setting auction at the Ritchie Bros. Grand Opening.


Ritchie's is the world's largest auction company and generates $3.5-billion US in annual sales within a worldwide network of 40 sites in the US, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, Australia and Japan.


The amazing thing about the opening sale was that the company set new precedents for itself by smashing all of it's previous records for registered bidders.  That's quite an achievement and Chilliwack was there every step of the way.


A diverse group of local buyers and people from 20 different countries kept the bidding fast and furious. Auctioneers worked the crowd like symphony conductors accentuating their arm-waving and finger-pointing with shouts as bidding heated up in the 500-seat theatre. Bids also came from telephone buyers and the company reported they peaked with over 800 bidders online.


There was every toy for every kind of boy. It was the oddest array of machines and machinery you could find anywhere on earth. Everything from boats to bulldozers. Vintage trucks, Pullmans, golf carts by the dozen and plenty of good old fashioned work trucks. Fire trucks were going for a thousand dollars.


When Ritchie's hit town last year, they did so in a large way after breaking ground on 9.7 hectares of land adjacent to the Trans-Canada Highway. As a result of the corporation's move to the new location from the old one under the Patullo Bridge, the city of Chilliwack has been thrust headlong into the big leagues in the auction world.


"What an exciting day this is to have the Ritchie Brothers Grand Opening in the city of Chilliwack," Acting Mayor and Councilor Ken Huttema told the crowd during the ribbon-cutting ceremony. "It feels like only a few months ago we had the groundbreaking here and we have waited with great anticipation for the first auction. On behalf of Mayor Sharon Gaetz and council, I wish Ritchie Brothers all the best and look forward to a great relationship between them and the City of Chilliwack."


Coun. Huttema said he had been very busy for the last few days in the run up to the auction and said the reception the night before was very well attended. He said that it was a very big day for his city.


"It's incredible. There's a lot of money sitting on this lot here and a lot of money that's going

 to be exchanging hands and

One of the many unique vehicles at the auction.


we're excited that Ritchie Brothers has chosen Chilliwack as their auction site. You can see why Ritchie Brothers is number one in the world. There's an incredible amount of equipment here, something for everybody and you can see they attract the buyers," he told the Voice. "They've got the attention of the world and when a Ritchie Brothers Auction is on, the people of the world are paying attention and Chilliwack is mentioned right with it so it puts Chilliwack on the map as well."


By sale time, the company had over 1700 lots on the block and the crowd was much more than Ritchie's had anticipated and prepared for. Local buyers parked on both sides, bumper-to-bumper, for two kilometers right down past the now-defunct Chapman's Auction on Industrial Way.


At Heritage Park, where people where shuttling to the site from, drivers quickly became overwhelmed by the sheer numbers and Ritchie's nice orderly transportation plan flew out the window, leaving the company to resort to a contingency plan which included hiring almost every available taxi cab in the city.


Even the Coast Hotel helped ease congestion by utilizing their transport vehicles.

It took some time before the chaotic became more methodic and people started getting to the site. Once buyers managed to scramble over the transportation hurdle, they arrived to to face another long line to register. The draw         Buyers had a a great selection to choose from.

was so great, that

three hours after the auction began, the line-up to register was still half a block long.


Ritchie CEO Peter Blake assured reporters at a media briefing that it will be a well-oiled machine next time and any transportation and registration lineup issues will be sorted out and streamlined before the upcoming auction on May 19.

"We're all about customer service," he said. "So what can we do to make the person's experience coming here the best that it can be and standing in lineups is not high on the list of anyone's priority so we'll figure out a way to make sure that that doesn't happen again."


Blake was thankful for the help the company received in overcoming some of the day's logistical problems.


"The Coast Hotel has been terrific and we've been using their shuttles and so there's twenty taxis and five or six buses and we're pushing people back and forth as quickly as we can," he said.


Express Bidder cards are available which Blake says cut down the time to register to about 15 seconds. "Some of the people that have Express Bidder cards, that are long-time customers, have been given a way to express-register and express-pay," he said.


The auction site has only 15-20 permanent staff but despite minimal job opportunities for local residents, the reciprocal economic spinoffs may actually exceed the expectations from the company and the city's business community.


Domestic and international buyers coming in require local services and              supportive amenities like hotels, restaurants and transportation which pumps money into the local economy one big whack, so to speak, at a time.


"We're probably going to do five sales a year here and they'll range anywhere from between $10 and $20-million. That's a lot of product moving through the community and the ancillary things that you have (being used) when you bring in all this equipment, like hotels and taxi cabs and things like that, end up getting used," said Blake.


It was reported that Lisa Caruth, Executive Director of the Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce is looking at the possibility of working with the company to stagger auctions by adding more sale days.


Hopefully the business community and the Chamber won't be ogling this gift horse in the mouth, they'll be galloping off into the sunset on it. The city would be best served to capitalize as much as possible on each auction-related opportunity as it arises.


One way to do this would be to have a series of city-wide events and festivities that coincide with Ritchie's quarterly auctions, giving planners ample time to throw out the welcome mat and create different incentives to bring bidders and their families into the city.


With a world-class company like Ritchie's here, it's an unfettered opportunity for the city to become a world-class destination.


See the photo gallery of the auction here


                                                                                                                   © Copyright (c) The Valley Voice

Voice Views                                                     Wednesday  March 31st 2010

Are you ready?


Train Derailment Highlights City's Need For Disaster Plan

City Hall wants residents to be prepared


It has been said that in an emergency situation when a quick response is necessary, people only use about fifty-percent of their ability to function properly. City Hall wants to increase that percentage.

Last week, 24-cars went off the CN rail at the Evans Road flyover. Luckily no one was hurt during the mishap and the train wasn't carrying any hazardous material at the time, but this isn't always the case.

The accident raised people's awareness of dangerous cargo passing through the city and highlighted the need for a solid emergency plan that residents can rely on.

A city-wide disaster is not something anyone wants to think about but City Hall wants to ensure residents are informed and know what to do in the event of an emergency situation.

On May 7th and 8th, officials will have an Emergency Program display up at the Chilliwack Mall and residents are urged to have a look. The kiosk will impress upon people all kinds of emergency preparedness tips.

Do you know what to do in case of a city-wide emergency? Are you and your family prepared and do you have a contingency plan in place just in case?

Starlee Renton, Public Relations Corporate Services, said in a recent press release, a city emergency is not what they want to think about.

"While emergencies are something we hope will not occur, the City of Chilliwack will continue to prepare and plan for the event that they do," said Renton.

Last year when the city was inundated with floodwaters, Mayor Sharon Gaetz declared a State of Emergency and the City of Chilliwack created an Emergency Operations Centre.

Since then, 44 city employees are on-call and have been fully trained in Emergency Management. For example, two-weeks ago, 39 workers took part in a mock train derailment in preparation for the real thing.

"Emergency plans are in place for every possible emergency or natural disaster situation in Chilliwack. The plans are put into practice through emergency scenarios which enables emergency officials to update the plan and make improvements where required," said Renton.

While relying on others to help in an emergency, the best help comes from residents themselves. It's important that people have a plan in place and know beforehand how to respond.

Here are some things you can do to increase your chances of getting through a disaster in one piece:

Have a family plan so everyone knows and practices:

• Where to meet if separated

• Who collects the kids from school

• What to do in an emergency


Be ready to evacuate your home if necessary with:

• Your disaster survival kit(s)

• Important family documents

• Clothing and Sleeping supplies

• Washing and hygiene needs

• Special needs bag, (medications, baby supplies, etc.)

Getting to know your neighbours is invaluable and making arrangements ahead of time with them could save precious minutes when time is of the essence.

If you can't get down to Chilliwack Mall for the Emergency Program display then you can visit the city's website which has more useful information for residents: www.chilliwack.com/main/page.cfm?id=911 

Be safe not sorry.

                                                                                                                © Copyright (c) The Valley Voice


Voice Community News                                   Saturday  March 20th 2010

Fundraising on Foot


A Twenty-Five Kilometer


Hospital fundraising group successful on quest for cash

Craig Hill/Voice


In an age where people seldom walk long distances, not a lot of cities can boast of a mayor, or anyone else for that matter, who is passionate enough to want to walk any distance for their community, let alone twenty-five kilometers.                                             

Such was the case Saturday when eight enthusiastic individuals assembled just after dawn on the vernal equinox for a hospital fundraising trek from the Agassiz Municipal Hall to downtown Chilliwack.


The weather was clear and crisp for the group which included Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz, her husband Jim, former District of Kent Mayor Sylvia Pranger, Chilliwack city councilor Diane Janzen and Hawk 89.5 radio personality Sadie.


The event was called "Walk Across The Finish Line" and the objective was to raise money for the Chilliwack General Hospital expansion project.


The provincial and federal governments chipped-in $30 million to get the ball rolling for the hospital upgrade but there was still a $5 million funding shortage. That's when Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation stepped in and spearheaded the Campaign For Health Care Excellence in an effort to top it up. After many fundraising events they have whittled those millions down to about $300,000.


The project, which is nearing completion, will see a complete makeover of the ER department as well as a new Ambulance station and consolidated laboratory and imaging centre at the hospital.


Originally, the idea for Walk Across the Finish Line came from the 63-year-old Pranger. While she was away at meetings it came as a surprise to her when she

found out later that her husband had pulled his car over in Chilliwack then got out and walked the rest of the way home to Agassiz. Not to be outdone, Pranger, decided to walk it herself. "That's how it all got started," she said.


As Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation Executive Director, Viki Raw, signed in the walkers, Chilliwack Bingo Community Liason, Wayne McAlpine, handed her an envelope with $3481.00 in it.


Raw said that including the envelope they were up to around $5000 and with more money coming from pledges that figure will likely double.


"I bet we are going to hit the $10,000 mark" said Raw to cheers and applause.

McAlpine had some concerns about the group crossing the Agassiz bridge which isn't designed for pedestrian traffic and offered to drive them across but the group decided to walk it instead.


"The RCMP are going to provide an escort and we have an escort vehicle so everything is on side," he said.


McAlpine brought along a bullhorn and hoped to drum up some roadside donations on the march.


"We'll get as much as we can along the route," he said. "That's why I brought the megaphone, just to let people know what's happening and I've got an ice cream pail and people will be out in their gardens when the sun comes up."


City Councilor, Diane Janzen, trained for the walk in Yarrow where she lives and was raring to go. "I've been walking 5-6 km three times a week after work along the dike there, but I didn't do Sharon's 17 kilometers," she said. "So I might see everyone at midnight."


Janzen and a couple of the others actually pulled ahead of the pack as the group moved through Rosedale.


Hawk 89.5 radio personality, Sadie, was depicted in promotional material for the walk as Wonder Woman and when asked where her outfit was she quipped that "The chafing was way too bad."


As a child she was ill quite a lot and said that every step was worth it. "I was a very sick kid that spent a great deal of my time in hospitals, and of course emergency rooms," she told the Voice later in an e-mail. "This cause hit home with me, and for that reason alone, I would do it again without hesitation."


The escort was provided by Rob Sciotti who used to own a towing company and was already outfitted with lights and signs for the walk.


Mayor Gaetz also told the Voice later in an e-mail that she was surprised and very pleased with the amount of money raised which by Monday had reached $15,000 and was still climbing. She thanked the walkers who were great company. "Most of all I am so thankful to the people who gave and continue to give. What a great community!" she wrote.


For information on how you can help the hospital project go here.

See the photo gallery for most of the walk here


                                                                                                                    © Copyright (c) The Valley Voice



Voice Exclusive                                                        Friday  March 19th 2010

Under the gun


Chilliwack Is Being Robbed Blind

Drug addled crooks leave many in the community living and working in fear

Craig Hill/Voice


Wednesday at about 3:30 am, a guy with a syringe walked into the 7-11 on Yale and demanded money and cigarettes. The thief got away with $180 and about $500 in cigarettes. Staff were unhurt in the incident.

The reason why the robber got that much money was because the staff were between cash drops into the safe. They drop every couple of hours and therefore they usually only have $20 in the till. This brazen thief also had staff fill up some bags with cigarettes before running out. The guy wasn't local. No one had seen him around before.

Two weeks earlier at the same store, a lowlife went in, stole a banana, left the building then turned around and went back in and robbed them using it. Robbed by banana. It's not even remotely funny. It's an indicator of how bad it actually is on the streets at night in Chilliwack.

A unnamed source, who works at the store where the robberies occurred, told the Voice they are being moved to another store in the city to work the night shift by themselves. The person is completely terrified to take the position.

"They are putting me on there at nights alone and I don't want to work it alone," she said. "It's nuts."

Despite recent media reports saying property crime is down, Chilliwack is under fire from thugs walking around robbing residents and businesses at will.

You would be hard pressed to find someone living in Chilliwack who has not been touched by crime in some way. This writer's 90-year-old grandmother, for one, was injured when a thug tried to rip her kangaroo pouch off of her while she was in her electric scooter on the way to Bingo two blocks from home.

I can look out the window and watch almost a constant parade of guys walking up and down the alley casing places. Looking for anything not nailed down. This writer's car is a regular target. They seem to like to take the plates and the papers from it and each time some junkie waltzes through the parkade it costs me $40.

Crimes like the store robberies seem to happen every second day now. What is the city going to do about the problem, hire more police? Not in this budget with policing costs already taking a major bite out of the 2010 financial plan for the city.

The only reasonable thing the city can do is after a certain hour just shut it down. Close it all up with the exception of a couple of gas bars offering prepaid service from behind bulletproof glass. Can people live without their 3 am Hoagies?

Now I take the plates off the car when parking it and roll up the barbed wire for the night. Should Chilliwack follow suit when the bad guys are ruling our streets?

                                                                                       © Copyright (c) The Valley Voice


Voice Editorial                                                       Saturday  March 13th 2010

Media Snobbery


Local Chilliwack Print Media Snubs Torch Relay

The 2010 Paralympics aren't important enough for full coverage

Craig Hill/Voice

Revised March 16th

"Well, the Ides of March have come." Print media in Chilliwack made a big error. Shame on The Times and shame on The Progress because for some reason both rags in town decided not to cover the Paralympics Torch Relay in Hope last Tuesday.

Obviously the torch relay and it's participants weren't important enough to both with or they would have given the story coverage.

The Progress covered Al Hunt talking about seniors being released in the middle of the night. The Times figured dirt was more important. See headline "Dirt Flies in Track Dispute" in Friday's edition. At least The Times did a "Rah-Rah Go Canada" type of editorial.

The Progress sent Jenna Hauk on a Magical Mystery Tour to Whistler and after a week out there, the only photo offering from her, was an interview and a shot of her plodding along the road in a funny hat. What's with that?

The real story, about real people, was in Hope B.C., not Hauk or spoon fed elitist athletes backed up by teeny bopper expressions like "Own the Podium." They had their share of coverage. I mean come on, really, where are these newspapers' priorities? Both must think that the torch relay and celebrations were best left to the Hope Standard. It's too late for them to wake up and smell the napalm. 

On another note the Voice recently took issue with the costs of the torches that relay runners were forced to pay a lot of money for (see "Torchbearers Burned By Torch Cost"). It's an important community issue and I wrote both papers an e-mail in an attempt to raise the issue but it wasn't important enough because it never saw the typesetter's keys. Sometimes its about page space, other times its someone's call whether something gets coverage.

The beauty of the Voice on the other hand is that because we're not confined to the pages of a printed newspaper we can give better story background and coverage without cutting the story to pieces.

The Paralympic Games, as with any Olympic sport, are based on three elements: speed, strength and stamina. To be one of the top 1200 disabled athletes on the planet you have to have those elements going for you.

Paralympians train equally as hard as their able-bodied counterparts do and just as often. They're the best in the country and they'll be going against the top athletes from other countries and winning medals. Both fans and athletes will be having the best times of their lives.

The unpatriotic and unsociable camp are the 2010 Paralympics naysayers who have been coming up with primordial comments like "It's only the Paralympics, it's not important"  should know that the Federal government would beg to differ with you because they've invested over 20 million of "your" dollars in the 2010 Paralympics Winter Olympics.

So even if Prime Minister Stephen Harper doesn't attend the games and doesn't prorogue Parliament like he did with the Olympics so MPs could attend the games in Vancouver, and even if Harper calls the them back to session in the middle of the games beginning March 12th with his own adaption of the 2010 Parliamentary Games, they're still just as relevant as the Olympics.

Most important of all was the lack of coverage that the Paralympics Torch Relay had in Chilliwack which meant so much to so many and didn't get so much as a sideways glance from local print media. I spoke with quite a few people that day who travelled across the country to be there. One was a young fellow who flew out from Toronto with his dad and were giving out collector pins from Ontario. It cost the kid and his dad hundreds of dollars to be there and they were just two of a couple of thousand in Memorial Park. It was an awesome thing to see.

The Olympic Torch Relay participants marked each step as an experience that will be etched into their hearts and minds forever. So did the Paralympic torchbearers.

                                                                                                                      © Copyright (c) The Valley Voice

Voice Views                                                           Tuesday  March 16th 2010

Gwynne Vaughn Park


It's Official, Winter's Over!

Without winter, spring wouldn't be this good

Staff report



                                                                                                                                       Staff/Voice photo

 Gwynne Vaughn Park's community garden shows signs of activity last week.


Officially the equinox isn't until Sunday even though we've been enjoying early spring-like climes for several weeks in Chilliwack.

                                                                                                                    © Copyright (c) The Valley Voice

Voice Community News                                      Monday  March 15th 2010

Signs of the times


Hey Neighbor, Please Slow Down!

Speed merchants get glimpses of enlightenment

Staff report


With spring just around the corner, more people will be out on the streets and it's time once again for the Safer City program. The initiative aims to make neighborhood streets safer for everyone, especially children, by raising driver's awareness of the their speed they're going.


Residents that have a problem with speeders can apply for signs from the city to put in their yards warning drivers to watch their speed and slow down if they are traveling too fast for conditions and in excess of the posted speed limits.


Safer City is a City of Chilliwack, RCMP and ICBC joint initiative which was launched in 2003 and works with communities to identify problem areas where speeding is commonplace and develops a road safety plan for all users including pedestrians and cyclists.


It's part of an awareness package they call the "3 E's"; engineering, enforcement and education. The engineering aspect of the plan calls for safer street designs with more traffic circles, speed bumps and signs. Enforcement looks at aggressive drivers, speedsters and impaired drivers and education looks at how to get the point across to drivers who rocket past signs asking them to slow down.


The program works to pepper neighborhood streets with the signs on every second yard for one to two weeks. Each neighborhood appoints a block captain who petitions residents and then takes the list of supporters to city hall where Public Safety Specialist, Samantha Piper and others to be evaluated before signs are issued.


There are rules for sign posters to adhere to such as not putting an "approved" sign directly on the road, boulevards, pavement or sidewalks.


If you have a speeder problem on your block you can get the proper sign submission form and some background information on Safer City on the City of Chilliwack's website: www.chilliwack.com/main/page.cfm?id=859  or by calling Samantha Piper at: 604-793-2766


                                                                                                                       © Copyright (c) The Valley Voice

Voice Local News                                            Wednesday  March 17th 2010

Footin' it for funds


Walking The Talk

The final CGH fundraising leg

Staff report


The talk is raising money and the walk is from Agassiz to Chilliwack. Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time and the will.

                                                                                                                    web photo

This Saturday, Mayor Sharon Gaetz, Councilor Diane Janzen and former district of Kent Mayor Sylvia Pranger are making time and definitely have the will when the energetic trio takes on a grueling 25 km (15 mile) trek as part of a fundraising push for the final $300,000 needed for completion of the emergency room expansion project at Chilliwack General Hospital.


The CGH project has involved building a larger ER, expanding the ambulatory care and outpatient services as well as a streamlining of Laboratory/Diagnostic services.


The Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation has almost fulfilled it's commitment to raise $5 million for the project and finding the money for the project has been a long haul for the city. Many fundraisers have taken place in Chilliwack and you would be hard pressed to find residents and businesses who have not contributed in some way to bringing the project to fruition. Envision Financial sped up the process recently with a $100,000 donation. 


Gaetz and her husband Jim have been preparing themselves for the walk and were reported earlier this week to have logged 17 km (just over 10 miles) in a training walk.


For Gaetz, this final segment will be a memorable one. "This is my last attempt at fundraising for our hospital redevelopment project but I am going to work for your money this time!" she said in an e-mail to the Voice. "We are only $300,000 away from reaching our fundraising goal for the CGH redevelopment project. We are so close to the finish line we can almost see it."


The inspired group of walkers will be leaving Agassiz at 7:30 am on Saturday. If can't join them and you can only talk the walk, it's not too late to pledge, but if you can walk the talk then the inspired group will be leaving Agassiz at 7:30 am on Saturday.


"Thank you for your support of the Chilliwack Chapter of the Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation, in its quest to raise $5 million," said Gaetz.


Drivers will need to be extra cautious and aware of the foot traffic Saturday morning on the roads..


For more information you can call City Hall: 604-792-9498. To pledge for the "Walk to the Finish Line" fundraiser call: 1-877-661-0314 or visit the website: here  Donations are also being accepted at Prospera Credit Unions. Tax receipts will be issued. The walk starts at Agassiz District Hall and ends at the Bradley Centre at Chilliwack General Hospital.

                                                                                                                     © Copyright (c) The Valley Voice



Voice Community Report                                      Friday  March 12th 2010

Made in Canada


I'd Walk A Million Miles For One Of

Your Smiles

2010 Paralympics Winter Games torch relay stokes up Hope




Two torchbearers celebrate a Canadian connection at the Paralympics Torch Relay in Hope's Memorial Park on Tuesday.


The 2010 Paralympics Games torch arrived a flicker and left a flame Tuesday afternoon in Hope B.C. on Day 7 of a 10-day run across Canada. The torch relay stopped at only 10 cities on it's way to the opening ceremony at BC Place Friday.


The goal of the Paralympics Torch Relay is to raise awareness and inspire Canadians by highlighting and sharing inspirational stories of achievements, passions and courage.


Memorial Park downtown was chock-full of just that kind of elation when illuminated by the torch and the cheery smiles of 30 torchbearers who walked, ran and wheeled the flame around the park's parameters.


The Central Valley Fiddlers got the crowd warmed up on a secondary stage prior

to the main stage events.      Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart talks with Vancouver

                                           ex-mayor Sam Sullivan at the torch celebrations in Hope.


Hope's flame was kindled on the banks of the Fraser River earlier in the day in a ceremonial blessing by members of the Chawathil and Sto:lo Bands and later delivered to the park by First Nations performers and dignitaries.


Ashes from the 10 fires will form the base for the final fire to be lit by a Musqueam First Nation fire keeper at which time the flame will be passed along until it reaches the cauldron.


The day's festivities began with comments from Chief Peter John and with a prayer and song from his wife Yvette.


John welcomed the audience to Sto:lo territory. "For the people of the Chawathil I'd like to thank you for inviting us to participate and take care of the torch and we hope for the best for all the athletes who are participating for all the young people to have something good to see with deep passion."


A few years ago, Leonard George appeared at a conference in Vancouver and he told a mostly non-native audience that the First Nations were glad to see the first white settlers. "We waited for the white man to come. We rejoiced when he came," said George.


So when Yvette John sang a song that she said "was done by Chief Dan George and given to his son Leonard", it was fitting for the occasion. "This is the National (Native) Anthem," she said.


Coquihalla Elementary School children's choir's sang a lovely rendition of the Canadian National Anthem on the main stage.


One-time Vancouver Mayor, Sam Sullivan, took the stage and spoke about what it was like to be there and part of the Paralympics' celebrations.


"It feels wonderful to be here in Hope representing the Prime Minister of the Federal Government and finally say 'We made it', the games are about to happen," said Sullivan.


Sullivan related his 2006 Winter Games experience when meeting dignitaries in Torino saying they often mistook his driver for him and when they found out he was the mayor they didn't understand how a handicapped person could be the mayor.

"This can only happen in Canada, wow," exclaimed Sullivan.


Chilliwack-Hope MLA Barry Penner was also in Hope for the ceremony and took the stage following Sullivan.


"It's a pleasure to be here," said Penner. "I figure any day that I don't have to be at the legislature and get to be in Hope is a very good day indeed."


Penner said the government is very proud of the athletes. "We think that the games are really what represents the best about British Columbia and all of Canada," he said.


The flame was brought onto the stage by RBC Olympian Ann Marie Lefrancois who competed for team Canada over 10-years on the Alpine Ski Team with her last competition in the 2002 Winter Games.


LeFrancois was pumped for her leading run. "I'm so happy to be here and I'm so proud to be here on behalf of RBC," she told the lively crowd. "I've been part of the Olympian program for 4-years and to share my Olympic experience. I'm so excited for the Paralympics coming. These athletes are super athletes. I'm always amazed at what they do, they overcome challenges and I think we should all be there and support them."


Barb Bell, an inaugural member of the Hope region Spirit of BC initiative and active community volunteer, was the first torchbearer to leave the cauldron with the flame where she trotted off, torch in hand, to start the relay and kiss torches at an exchange point with one of the waiting runners.


The final torchbearer who lit the cauldron was community volunteer Heather Strewin, creator of "Story Time in the Park."


A wood carving demonstration took place by popular Spirit of BC First Nations artist Carl Stromquist.


Stromquist was working on his latest creation, a tall monolithic-like sculpture which he calls "Walking with the light." It has a porthole in the centre which symbolizes the sun and moon with rays of light carved into the wood overtop a hand that will eventually be holding a walking stick.


"It will be embracing the light," said Stromquist. "This is actually my first piece of public art. It's all more of a personal endeavour."


The wood used for the carving most likely came from Harrison but Stromquist hand-picked the log at a Mission yard and was there while they milled it to his specifications.


The sculpture will be placed in the park and there will be a Native blessing at that time. "There is a ceremony that goes with the raising of a public piece," said Stromquist.


Two-time Grand Champion at the Canadian Bluegrass competition, Jason Homey, could be called the Leo Kottke of banjo playing after he tore up the stage with his unique style of banjo playing and later Debbie Bergeron sang 3 songs from her cd.


In the end the crowds left feeling happy, the torchbearers had bigger smiles and the flame left a little brighter than when it arrived.

                                                                   For the photo gallery go here.


                                                                                                                     © Copyright (c) The Valley Voice

Voice Local News                                                    Friday  March 19th 2010

Keeping everyone safe


Local Police Nab 18 In "Slow Down Move Over" Blitz

Some drivers still aren't getting the message




Upper Fraser Valley RCMP conducted a  one-day blitz last Friday and nabbed a total of 18 drivers who didn't want to slow down or move over when they passed emergency vehicles and were ticketed.


The project was part of an awareness campaign for the "Slow Down and Move Over" legislation which went into effect June 1, 2009. The law came in response to an increasing number of emergency responders who were getting hurt and killed on BC roadways.


The regulation applies to drivers passing police, fire, ambulance and towing vehicles, as well as vehicles used by commercial vehicle safety and enforcement personnel, passenger transportation inspectors, conservation officers, park rangers, and special provincial constables employed in the Ministry of Forests and Range.


When approaching those vehicles, drivers must slow to 70 km/h on highways where the speed limit is 80 km/h or higher, and to 40 km/h where the limit is below 80 km/h, when approaching a stopped emergency vehicle that has lights flashing. If possible drivers need to swing over to a parallel lane out of the way of any emergency vehicle they are approaching.

The $173 fine and victim surcharge is stiff plus drivers are additionally nailed with three penalty points.


Drive safe this spring and summer. Keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes upon the road. 

                                                                                       © Copyright (c) The Valley Voice


Voice Views                                                           Sunday  March 21st 2010

Cashing in on trash


Bin There Done That

Dumpster Diver of the Week #1




                                                                                                                                Staff photo/Voice

This binner winner was selected as "Dumpster Diver of the Week" for using his head and also for being well organized and having this customized dual-axel rig. Ideal for heavy hauling.


Who's trash and who's treasure is it? With the numerous recycling programs and initiatives, this is testament to the careless people out there who still don't recycle.


Voice Community News                                     Thursday  March 11th 2010

Community Party


Hope Outshines Chilliwack When It Comes to Community Parties

Hundreds fill Memorial Park for Paralympics Torch Relay




                                                                                                                                Craig Hill/Voice photos

A bear chainsaw carving was decked out in a custom-made Team Canada jersey at Memorial Park on Tuesday during the Paralympics torch relay in Hope.


CHILLIWACK, BC — Hope outdid itself in the 2010 Paralympics Torch Relay last Tuesday and in doing so, it also outdid Chilliwack in their Olympic Torch Relay community party. If you missed the Upper Fraser Valley Olympic torch relay celebrations last month, you had one more chance to get a taste of the torch and an extension on the patriotic spirit that swept through the country a month ago.


The Paralympics torch party at Memorial Park in downtown Hope was largely the same community-style event as it was in Chilliwack with one difference – less people.


Enthusiasm and flag waving were identical in both venues. Ditto with lots of interesting people decked out in red and white. In Chilliwack, there was a great lineup of local entertainers. The same at the Hope festivities and the music was every bit as loud. But what Hope lacked in voluminous crowds, it more than made up for in small-town-friendliness.


As good as the community celebrations were in Chilliwack for the relay, it has to be said that it was better in Hope and here's why.


For starters, Hope's party was in amongst the beautiful Memorial Park's old growth forest and gorgeous sculptures. Chilliwack's party was in a parking lot.                           Country flags were both educational and colourful.


Speaking of 'park', I drove and parked across the street from the site an hour from party time. Not so in Chilliwack. You couldn't park near the Prospera Arena or Leisure Centre sites. Heritage Park might have been a better choice for locations.


The torch was more accessible in Hope. It wasn't surrounded by black-suited bodyguards who know karate. The flame encircled the crowd in an Olympic-like ring and never left your sight as it was passed from person to person at each corner of the park. In Chilliwack you had a fleeting glimpse of the flame in transit.


There was more aboriginal participation in Hope. There was a lot of First Nations torch relay participation in Chilliwack but there was just more in Hope. More artisans, singers and dancers doing their thing in the 7-acre park. First Nations embraced the torch and had free healthy salmon barbeque with bannock. All you could get were sugar-coated elephant ears in the kid's zone in Chilliwack..


The Salvation Army gave out hot chocolate and coffee to folks. So did Chilliwack. But I ran around Prospera Centre and the Leisure Centre three times chasing the possibility of a refill before locating the coffee in the children's zone next to the bouncy castles. No wonder the kids were having so much fun bouncing off the walls. In Hope, The Salvation Army had people with thermos backpacks offering it out in the crowds. Everybody got some.


In Barkerville, there was the "Street of Flags" with one from every country. In Hope there was a walkway with the flags of dozens of countries represented. In Chilliwack there were three flags – the city's flag, the Olympic flag and the maple leaf.


Last but not least, the politicians were accessible in Hope. If you wanted to talk with MLA Barry Penner or ex-Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan or even Coquitlam's mayor, Richard Stewart, they were mingling.  In Chilliwack they all vanished like smoke with the exception of our Mayor who was one of the last people at the venue and Coun. Pat Clark who worked at the Ice Rink late.


In more ways Hope's celebration was better and a type of community celebration that Chilliwack could pick up a few tips from. It's true, Chilliwack knows how to have a great family community celebration and it was the best yet for this city. We proved that. Now it's time to take it to another level.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                 © Copyright (c) The Valley Voice


Voice Editorial                                                      Thursday  March 11th 2010

On the hook


Torchbearers Burned By Torch Cost

Bombadier, the Federal Government or VANOC are ripping people off – or all three are.



                                 Promotional photo

Why gouge relay runners? We're sure that Shania Twain and the Wayner can afford torches but what about Joe Torchbearer? Take for instance the guy pictured in the wheelchair here. Maybe he wasn't living on disability income but there were plenty of others in wheelchairs toting torches for their country who are.

Either Bombadier, the Federal Government or VANOC are ripping-off ordinary Canadians or all three are with a stiff price tag of $400 on the torches. Torch runners were grossly overcharged for those torches and there should be an inquiry because when you multiply 12,000 torches by the price of each one, that's almost $5 Million.

The best propane lamp at Canadian Tire is $89.99 and you can reuse that one. The Olympic and Paralympics' torches were disabled with a snip the moment the flame was snuffed out. Is there a hidden VANOC handling fee here that we don't know about or are these people paying for the design?

They're nice looking torches but are nothing more than a glorified decorative propane torch similar to what you can find in any backyard barbecue, less the stick to poke it into the ground with. They should be refillable and fully reusable. Why not?

Bombadier should be ashamed to call itself a Canadian company, be cut-off from any more government handouts and made to refund at least $300 to torchbearers. Many of whom were low income and just wanted a memento of their special event but with true British capitalistic verve, the powers that be made the peons pay dearly for something they loved.

Many had to sacrifice dearly and pay plane fares across the country to be there running in the relay let alone buy that torch for the exorbitant asking price. Some even had to sell brownies to earn enough money to buy something that they already earned by way of privilege, pride and participation.

When this is all said and done and you look under the surface at bottom-rung things like torches for torchbearers, you can hazard a guess that there's probably more to look at then just torches. Maybe the Feds quietly paid off Quebec to keep them happy like we've seen them do in past with the Great Canadian Sponsorship Scandal? It's yet to be seen what kind of fallout there will be over the financial and social costs of being a host country for the Olympics.

You can be sure of one thing, Bombadier is busy wiping it's chops with sales receipts.

                                                                                                                      © Copyright (c) The Valley Voice

Voice Community News                                       Tuesday  March 9th 2010

The sound of silence


There'll Be Peace In The Valley

Residents see end to Columbia clamour after 3-year battle

Staff report/Voice

It might not be as peaceful in the valley like in the old Elvis gospel standard but it's a lot quieter now that a court ordered injunction was issued against a loud property owner in the Columbia Valley.

Neighbors of Bradley Van Geel, at 50721 O'Byrne Road, had enough of his racket disturbing their tranquility. For more than 3-years after the first complaints, the parties still happened , the dogs still barked all night and the heavy traffic still came and went.

The neighbours wrote letters and filed complaints with city noise bylaw department. For 3-years Van Geel operated with impunity and in total disregard for the community, thumbing his nose at the FVRD and even refusing to pay fines for bylaw infractions. The FVRD responded to the pugnacious Van Geel by taking him to court January 29th.

The city noise bylaw section 4(b) of states that: "No person being the owner or occupier of any private land or premises, or being for the time being in charge thereof, shall suffer or permit to be made thereon or therein any noises or sounds which disturb or which are liable to disturb, the quiet, peace, rest, enjoyment, comfort or convenience of the neighbourhood or of persons in the vicinity."

That's fairly plain English but Van Geel still didn't get it. So the courts helped change his mind with the lawsuit going against him.

In the judgment, Honourable Mr. Justice Sewell, agreed that there was a problem and acknowledged the complaints from Van Geel's neighbors.

"It is not disputed that there are a number of dogs penned up outside on the property and left largely unattended for long periods of time. There is ample evidence that, as one would expect, these dogs bark and howl throughout the day and night. In addition there have been numerous occasions when parties or celebrations have created excessive noise which has unreasonably disturbed the peace and enjoyment of the Snerles and Reimers," wrote Justice Sewell.

Van Geel obtained affidavits from other neighbours in the area indicating that they have rarely if ever heard noise coming from his property. But Justice Sewell noted that "These neighbours live a considerably greater distance away from the property than do the Snerles and the Reimers."

In a letter to the FVRD dated February 28th, 2010, the Snerle and Reimer families wrote they have their serenity once again and the letter also thanked staff for the more than 3-years work involved.

"We do have our historically peaceful lifestyles back and we are extremely grateful to all involved," the letter read. It also went on to say that "No doubt, this action has also re-enforced, both to residents and visitors, that that there is a sense of law and order, or decorum, to be kept in the Valley."

In the future, Van Geel faces being arrested if he continues to disregard the noise complaints. He is prohibited from making more racket which would disturb the neighbourhood but that probably won't happen because he has bought another property and plans on moving there.

Pity his new neighbors.

                                                                                                                    © Copyright (c) The Valley Voice


Voice News                                                               Monday  March 8th 2010

Canadian Forces

Water Under The Bridge

Sappers train at Island 22

Craig Hill/Voice


The Fraser River with it's variable currents and

    conditions is an ideal place to learn to assemble rafts

        on the water and for just over a week that's

            what a squadron of Sapper Engineers, sent

                from the Department of National Defense,

                    has been doing at Island 22.























                                                                                                                        Craig Hill/Voice photos

Sappers in training leave land behind after lunch at Island 22 Park Monday. Sapper Nicholas Cressman is in the upper photo.


This week from March 2nd -10th a squadron of Sappers from the Canadian Forces School of Military Engineering (CFSME) in Gagetown, New Brunswick has been in Chilliwack learning how to erect bridges and rafts at Island 22 and the weather couldn't be nicer compared to the east coast right now.


CFSME was originally located in Chilliwack because the mild, short winters provided year-round training opportunities. In 1997 they relocated to Gagetown after CFB closed here.


On Monday, the combat engineers worked with four specialized bridge erecting boats, called "BBEs", each one towing a section of floating bridge decks that are hooked together into raft flotillas.


It's the Sappers who go into a combat zone first and often have to work under enemy fire.            


The BBEs facilitate movement and support of friendly forces by ferrying equipment and traffic across rivers and lakes while impeding the enemy's movement. Usually, a combat engineer is also trained as an infantry rifleman.


ICER Sapper Nicholas Cressman, who was on radio sentry duty, told the Voice that he gets his basic training and combat engineering at the CFSME in Gagetown but comes from Edmonton. "It was nice to get away to the west coast. I'm enjoying the change," he said. "It's lovely."


Master Cpl.Troy Van Tassell who is an instructor from the military school also said the change was good. "They decided to change the pace and they sent us here where I teach 'Boat Ops'," explained Van Tassell. "We'll be here until the 16th and then we're going back to Gagetown."


For more information on how to join the Sappers go here.

                                                               For the photo gallery go here



                                                                                                            © Copyright (c) The Valley Voice

Voice News                                                               Sunday  March 7th 2010

Breaking news


Car Cooks On Cook St.

Early morning car fire

destroys vehicle

Staff report/Voice



                                                                                                                                Craig Hill/Voice photo

Fire crews douse an early morning car fire in the 9400 block of Cook Street. The fire, which started about 6 am, destroyed the car's interior. It's not known how it began but speculation was that it started from an electrical short in the wiring. No one was hurt in the blaze. The firefighter holding the hose is female!


                                                                                                                     © Copyright (c) The Valley Voice

Voice Local News                                                   Saturday  March 6th 2010

Community Investments


Fighting Fire With Paper

Columbia Valley Fire Department gets $30,000 boost from local developer

Staff report/Voice



The Cottages at Cultus Lake are served by the CVFD. Photo courtesy of CCI Ltd.


In January, Cultus Country Investments Ltd. made a cash contribution to the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) specifically for the Columbia Valley Fire Department (CVFD) and at the last FVRD board meeting they were officially recognized for their charity.


Cultus Country Investments Ltd. designed and built the $100-million gated Cottages at Cultus Lake community on 45-acres on the Columbia Valley Road next to Aquadel Golf Course.


The residential land investment company, headed by Development Manager Jon Van Geel and partner Dave Baslor, recognized that their newly constructed 218-unit cottage development in the resort would put an additional load on the current system and on the volunteer fire fighters.


"The CFVD is an important amenity to our area," Van  Geel said in an e-mail to the Voice. "Fire Chief Brad Henderson and his wife Darcy are very committed to the safety of the Columbia Valley residents. Darcy, a driving force, has been in contact with us many times over the past several years asking for our corporate assistance where we can. They regularly                                                                          Staff/Voice photo

have fund raising events for      The Cultus Lake FD backs up the Columbia Valley FD.

their equipment needs and we

have provided old buildings to simulate house fires for their volunteer training."


Brad Henderson, CVFD Fire Chief, expressed the department's appreciation in a  letter to Van Geel dated February 11, 2010.


"This donation will be treated with great consideration as the tanker is one of two substantial purchases on our plates," wrote Henderson. "The second is the replacing of our rescue truck, which we have been postponing for as long as possible. Your generosity will help to speed the process, and will be treated with the utmost respect." Henderson added that "Our department also wishes to compliment the efforts your company has made in assisting us by way of installing hydrants for us to use. Your commitment to building safe and attractive homes, with an overall commitment to "community" is noted and applauded."


The nostalgic-style cottages have current fire protection standards built into them however the infrastructure still needed "fire-flow hydrants" to provide faster access for the Freightliner pumper truck which is coming and also a burling pond water reservoir. The CVFD also needed new hydrant fittings, hoses and updated emergency equipment.


Van Geel's company also has employees who volunteer at the CVFD and so the company has been made aware through them what the department needs in terms of equipment.


"Funding for public amenities is always a challenge and is magnified when these amenities require volunteer help. We believe Columbia Valley is a tight nit community in which Cultus Country Investments is a part. They have few amenities and it is our duty to help out where we can," said Van Geel.


The CFVD, which falls under the jurisdiction of the FVRD, serves the resort area and the Soowahlie First Nation community. Their volunteers are trained and continually update their training as First Responders to stay on top of the latest fire fighting techniques. They were fairly busy with 43 calls last year.


Additionally, if you are thinking about joining the CVFD as a volunteer please call: 604-858-8426 Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm or visit the Fraser Valley Regional District website: www.fvrd.bc.ca 


Cottage buyers can find more information at the sales office: 1785 Columbia Valley Rd., Lindell Beach or by visiting their website: www.cultuslakecottages.com


                                                                                                                     © Copyright (c) The Valley Voice


Voice Community News                                       Saturday  March 6th 2010

Planet Stewards


Vedder River Crew Gets Special Recognition

Keeping it clean and green

Staff report/Voice




                                                                                                                                          Submitted photo

From left to right: Sharon Gaetz Mayor Chilliwack, Don Langford CVRCC director, Lew Chater CVRC, Jack Short CVCC, Patrica Ross FVRD board chair, Chris Gadsden CVRCC, Gerry Dickey CVRCC, James Atebe Mayor Mission, David Lamson FVRD  Area "E " director and Randy Tancock South Coast Conservation Officer.


After the weekend warriors and the parties, after the bottle smashers and butt flickers and even after the illegal dumpers, comes a group of volunteers devoted to a clean, green and healthy Chilliwack Vedder River. Thoughtful people who clean up the mess left behind by a few thoughtless river users.


Last week the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD), the City of Chilliwack and the Ministry of the Environment wanted to show their appreciation to the Chilliwack-Vedder River Cleanup Coalition (CVRCC) for the mostly unsung work they do which frees up city staff to look after other things like the dikes and drains.


So at the regular board meeting on February 23rd, a plaque was presented to the group for their volunteer work and for the organizing of 3 to 4 river cleanups a year since 2002.


Coalition Director, Chris Gadsden, was grateful for the acknowledgement. "The directors were pleased to receive this recognition on behalf of the Adopt-A-River groups and the great volunteers that take part in these cleanups each year," he said.


The beautiful cedar plaque is emblazoned at the top with the FVRD logo and in the lower corners with the Provincial Government and the City of Chilliwack logos.                   Larger view of Coalition plaque.


It reads:


"Presented to Chilliwack Vedder River Cleanup Coalition. On behalf of the Fraser Valley Regional District, The Province of British Columbia and The City of Chilliwack, We wish to sincerely thank you for your volunteer efforts in promoting a clean river environment and fisheries habitat for the Chilliwack Vedder River. February 2010."


The plaque was ordered through Elite Trophies in Chilliwack who then had it carved by Wood Adventures in Kamloops. It features an interesting fish inlay with offsetting natural wood panels.


Doug Wilson, FVRD Parks Manager, said he wasn't sure what kind of fish was on the dedicatory plaque.


"As far as the fish on the front it is simply that, I don't think anyone can say whether it is a Steelhead or salmon, other than a fish. We wanted to make sure however that it didn't look too much like an Orca," he said.


During the river cleanups people walk along the river picking up trash that careless campers and park users leave behind. Garbage bags are provided and the Coalition parks containers for people to toss the garbage into. The cleanups are based out of the Heron Reserve off of Keith Wilson Rd. in Sardis.


Adopt-A-River is designed to improve the state of Chilliwack River by combining river stewardship and community effort. The idea is inspired by the successful Adopt-a-Highway program that has kept many roadways clean in North America. CVRCC has broken the Lower Chilliwack River into many small segments (1 to 2km long) that can be adopted by the general public.


It enables civic clubs, individuals, garden clubs, businesses, churches and other organizations to maintain them. Volunteers perform litter pick-up approximately four times per year. This program helps to reduce the cost of cleanup and allows more freedom for the City Public Works crew to do jobs that can't be done by volunteers such as drainage maintenance.


Ultimately this program will help citizens develop a sense of ownership and pride in their community, and participants will build camaraderie with their fellow volunteers. In recognition of the service being provided to the community, the City will install a sign on the adopted river segment with the group's name.


Currently there are 22 groups involved in the Adopt-a-River program.

If you're interested in helping clean up the environment and get some exercise at the same time, visit their website: www.cleanrivers.ca


                                                                                                                      © Copyright (c) The Valley Voice

Voice News Release                                                    Friday  March 5th 2010

Spring Fishing


It's Angling Season!

Ministry of Environment reminds fishers to get licenced for the 2010 opening

Staff report/Voice


The Ministry of the Environment

sent out a reminder to fishermen           Vedder River fishermen.  Voice file photo

across BC to remember to renew

or buy their 2010-11 angling licence now that the April 1 to March 31 season is just a couple of weeks away. The Non-Tidal licences can be bought prior to the opening and also after the fishing season starts.



When you purchase an e-license (online licence) for the first time the system will give you the number. Remember to write this number down and store it in a safe place. When you are buying it make sure you select the correct year for the licence. If you forget your angler number, contact the Help Desk by phone at 1-877-855-3222 Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. See below for link.


Returning Anglers

Anglers who have bought an e-licence in the past will just need their angler number, date of birth and the phone number used at the time of registration. To pay online you will need a valid credit card. VISA, MasterCard and American Express are accepted.


Basic Licence Prices

Annual Angling Licence $36

One Day Angling Licence $10

Eight Day Angling Licence $20

Annual Licence for Disabled $1

Annual Licence for Age 65 Plus $5


You can buy a licence in Chilliwack at: Fred's Custom Tackle - 5580 Vedder Rd. Chilliwack 604-858-7344


Licences can be bought online at: www.fishing.gov.bc.ca.


Freshwater Fishing Regulations Synopsis at: www.env.gov.bc.ca/fw/fish/regulations

                                                                                                                      © Copyright (c) The Valley Voice

Voice Community Arts News                              Monday March 2nd 2010

"Hats Off" Gallery Show



Spinning Their Wheels

Guild weaves some homespun happiness

Staff report


Rumplestiltskin has nothing on these ladies and that's no yarn.


Chilliwack Spinners and Weavers have a gallery showcasing dozens of handmade fashion items and accessories from 22 artisans at the City Hall gallery until April 18th.


There will be an opening reception on March 4th at 7 pm where you can meet and greet the spinners and weavers.


Spinning and weaving has been around since the pioneering days and one of the reasons behind the Guild's show is to pass on their traditions to interested youth. This colourful and interesting show is not to be missed.


The Guild meets from September through June at the Arts Center on the first Thursday of every month. They also hold drop-ins Thursday mornings at 10 am


For more information call the Chilliwack Community Arts Centre at: 604-792-2069 by e-mail to: info@chilliwackartscouncil.com or visit their website: www.chilliwackartscouncil.com


                                                                                                                  © Copyright (c) The Valley Voice


Voice City Hall News                                           Thursday  March 4th 2010

2010-11 Budget


City Seeks Public Input On "Lean and Mean" Budget

Policing costs shoot through the roof in latest financial plan

Craig Hill/Voice


Chilliwack's 2010 Budget plan is in and it's described by Mayor Sharon Gaetz as a "Lean and Mean" one.


Council gave the revised 2010 Operating Budget a first reading. Also, in a first for the city, a Public Information meeting will be held at the next council meeting on March 15th. The purpose is to allow residents the opportunity to voice concerns or pose questions regarding this year's budget draft.


Chris Crossman, General Manager of Operational Services delivered the 2010-11 Budget package to City Hall at Monday's council meeting saying that the financial outlook is improving for Chilliwack.


"Chilliwack is well positioned for the economic slowdown that we're now seeing signs of coming out of," said Crossman.


The highlight of the budget was that property taxes will only increase 3.9% this year and next. Occupants of the two largest slices of the fiscal pie were school and police.


Out of the 3.9% tax increase, a significant chunk of that (2.7%), was from inflationary policing costs which the municipality had little control over and didn't intentionally download the increase onto taxpayer's backs. The new PRIME BC rates are also reflected in the increase which unexpectedly cost the city an additional $50,000 after the Solicitor General Kash Heed's announcement last November.


Policing takes up 29% of the total budget and School taxes account for 36%. The city's hands were tied when it came to the RCMP cost increase who loaded a 2.7% inflationary increase directly onto local taxpayer's backs which totaled a whopping $1,243,000 over the previous budget while overspending and what some see as mismanagement by the the District #33 School Board led to increased school taxes. Transportation is also a major expense and eats up 20% of the budget.


During the speedy slide presentation, Crossman told council that there are other items that fall under the "Transportation" budget. "Transit, drainage, dikes and the maintenance of the roads and the rehab program are all in there," he said.


Crossman described this year's budget as a "lean operation" with a "pay-as-you-go philosophy" that results in lower taxes for Chilliwack property owners and also that tax relief is given every year.


With the Cheam Centre and the Cultural Centre coming online there was another $630,000 in costs associated with those two projects slated to finish this year.


Mayor Sharon Gaetz said the planned session for public input on the budget is a brave new approach for council to take and she welcomes anyone who wants to speak on budget issues to do so either in person then or to submit their comments and questions in writing.


"This is something new for council," said Gaetz. "Council hasn't usually provided an opportunity for people to come and speak in a public information meeting about it and we will entertain any questions at the end of a session. So we're looking forward to that happening and we just really hope that people appreciate the fact that we've worked really hard to keep this as a lean and mean budget that will be presented to our public."


The meeting is slated for 7 pm at the City Hall on March 15th. Citizens can speak to the budget in person or submit comments in writing to: Mayor and Council, 8550 Young Road, Chilliwack, BC V2P 8A4 Fax: 604-793-1813 or e-mail to: budget@chilliwack.com 


*Slides were taken from the City Hall presentation.

                                                                                                                    © Copyright (c) The Valley Voice

Voice Archives March 2010

Voice Environment News                                     Monday March 2nd 2010

To outstrip the wind



The Eagles Have Landed

Bird count numbers down from 2008





There are only two top eco viewing sites in North America; the Squamish estuary and Eagle Point Community Park at Chehalis. At last count, there were about 70,000 bald eagles worldwide and approximately 20,000 of those reside in BC.

The Fraser Valley Eagle Festival (FVEF) has been counting the diurnal birds of prey since 1995. The group was formed after the Habitat Conservation Trust Fund and the Wild Bird Trust created the Harrison/Chehalis Bald Eagle Festival. Later they became a registered society and their name was changed "to broaden the scope of the Festival."

Jo-Anne Chadwick, owner/operator of Fraser River Safari, a company that coordinates exploratory river tours guided by David Hancock and work with the Festival said they also work toward preservation and conservation of the estuary and increase awareness through fun activities like the eagle count.


"We work with all our (viewing) sites to create a better experience for guests while working to protect the environment at the same time," she told the Voice in an e-mail.


Last year was a banner year for people showing up to count at the Chehalis River Estuary. Over 1200 visitors counted 1,208 eagles from the viewing platform with "clickers" over two days last November. Even though that number seems like a lot, the figure is actually down from the 2,185 birds counted in 2008.


The FVRD last week reported 2,108 eagles were counted in 2009 however the birds were enumerated after the Festival was over.


"The 2,100 eagles were counted later in the season as the numbers usually peak in
mid December or even January in some years," said Chadwick. "Saturday's numbers were higher as the weather was better. We count at each site with our clickers and average out the numbers."


The park is home to a range of other waterfowl and bird species like trumpeter swans herons which the group also counts during the 2-day festival. A park ranger with two spotting scopes is on site and visitors have access to a tent and patio heater where they can warm up on those chilly November days.

                                                                                                                      Submitted photo

                                                 David Hancock gives interpretive tours on the river.


Park activities include jet boat eco-river tours; walking tours and environmental presentations. Naturalists and interpreters are usually on hand to present historic and ancient aboriginal sites as well as displays from local artists are featured.


Once you've witnessed an eagle rocket down on a spawning salmon like an F-14 jet locking on a target, you'll know then and there that you have seen one of natures most wondrous sights.


This year's festival is on Nov 20th & 21st and the count will be done by David Hancock first thing in the morning or each day.


How to get there

Eagle Point Community Park, Morris Valley Road between Sandpiper Golf Course and Tapadera Estates. Take Morris Valley Road off Lougheed Hwy. It is located just past the Sand Piper Golf course on your right. Watch for FVBEF signs and Harrison with #4 on it. Because of the sensitive wildlife habitat, pets are not permitted within the park.


www.fraservalleybaldeaglefestival.ca  To join in the Festival this year.

www.fraserriversafari.com  To book river tours.

www.hancockwildlife.org  To view some live eagle nests online.


                                                                                                                    © Copyright (c) The Valley Voice

Voice Event News                                                     Monday March 1st 2010

No bufords allowed pawdnuh!


The Wild Wild West of the New Millennium

PBR runs roughshod over Heritage Park

Craig Hill/Voice

Thirty wild west wizards knew how to git 'er done Friday night as they bucked, bounced and bailed from the tops of thirty rank animals in the Pacific Bull Riding Association Championship at Heritage Park. And nobody "kissed a bull."

A solid following of bull riding fans filled much of Cannor Arena stands to watch their cowboy hero's ride through 8 seconds of hell on bulls with names like Big Bopper and Junior for a handful of prize money and an extra helping of prestige.


Today's contemporary riders bear little resemblance to their early counterparts who struggled to survive on a small cash prizes from the dusty rodeos in unnamed towns exemplified in movies like John Huston's, The Misfits.


Far more than just local barnyard legends, these guys are on the A-circuit in the wild wild west of the new millennium. They wear reinforced helmets, kevlar vests and they travel in $100,000 tour buses and the good ones can make $1 Million a year on today's rodeo circuit.


But when they explode out of the chute on top of animals that weigh as much as a car, it's still the same old bones being broken as it was 60-years-ago.


When it comes to choosing the bulls that the PBR uses, they typically look for ones that buck, kick real hard and have good spinning action.         


Riders get extra points if they spur or kick the bull and also when their arms wave and feet fly around. It's simple, you just look like your riding through hell even when you get a "Buford" (a bull that just runs around and wont buck.)


Harve Stewart, an Aussie cowboy, is the current national bull riding leader and he also took first place in the championship at Cannor Arena Friday. The year is still young but so far he's won almost $18,000 and has 1201 points.


Merrit's Ty Pozzobon, 18, came in second in the championship which was his first win of the year. "He is currently in the first year of a 4-year Scholarship in Texas," said his mother, Leanne Pozzobon, who was at the show cheering her son on. "He won about $4000 tonight maybe."


Randy Quartieri, from Los Alamos New Mexico, told the Voice after the show. "I rode tonight, didn't do very good," he said.


Carey Victory from Mission was fairly new at the sport when he "kissed a bull" and hurt his arm pretty badly but he shrugged off the injury as part of the job. "I broke my humerus bone but they took a nerve out and nerves take longer to heal then bones," he said. “I'll be back in a few months.”


Victory said the training bulls were easy on him as a student.


"I went to bull riding school in Alberta for 3-days. We were on a bull in 2-hours. The contractor would bring bulls out that maybe they used in high school rodeos, they were kind of mediocre, they came from the schools and they came from the juniors. Just a little less rank so that when 16-year-olds or 14-year-olds are getting on bulls then every bull rider is getting taught first. Different levels of bulls kind of like rider's (ability), “ he said.


For those that aren’t aware, bull riding is without a doubt the most dangerous event in rodeo and probably in all of sport. To stay aboard the bull, the rider holds onto a flat braided rope, which is wrapped around the bull's chest just behind the front legs and over it's withers. The tail of the rope is threaded through a loop on the other end and tightened around the bull. The rider then wraps this tail around his hand, sometimes weaving it through his fingers to further secure his grip. In order to score, the rider must not allow his free hand to touch the bull or himself, and he must keep from being bucked off before the eight second time limit has been reached.


For more information and to follow your favourite riders visit:

www.pbrcanada.com or www.wwerodeo.com 

                                                                For the photo gallery go here.

                                                                                                                     © Copyright (c) The Valley Voice

Voice Views                                                           Sunday  March 28th 2010

Cash for trash


Bin There Done That

Dumpster Diver of the Week #2




                                                                                                                                Staff photo/Voice

This binner winner was selected as "Dumpster Diver of the Week" because he is using a scooter powered by pop cans at this dumpster drive-thru.


Who's trash and who's treasure is it? With the numerous recycling programs and initiatives, this is testament to the careless people out there who still don't recycle. www.rcbc.bc.ca

 © Copyright (c) The Valley Voice