The opening of the Lytton Chinese Museum in May. Photo: Barbara Roden.

The opening of the Lytton Chinese Museum in May. Photo: Barbara Roden.

2017 in review part two

Fire chief Clayton Cassidy lost as flooding again batters Cache Creek.


Funding for Clinton seniors’ housing

There were tears of joy in Clinton when it was announced that the provincial government would provide $2.9 million for the construction of a 10-unit living facility for seniors in the Village and surrounding area.

The Clinton and District Assisted Living Society had been working for more than five years to establish a seniors’ facility in the community, to allow people to age in place and not have to leave. The Society had long had its eye on the former Clinton Elementary School site, and Rich Coleman, Minister Responsible for Housing, said that he hoped B.C. Housing could obtain some or all of the site for the seniors’ housing.

“Having this facility in our community will be a boost to our economy, employment, the medical clinic, and the ambulance system,” said Hampton. “Although on a small scale, it’s a big deal for such a small community.”

Grants for Ashcroft

The Village of Ashcroft received federal and provincial grants totalling $502,576 for upgrades to its sewage treatment plant and the Drylands Arena. The federal government said it would contribute $265,000 to the sewage treatment plant upgrades, with the provincial government contributing $175,000 and the Village contributing $105,000.

The federal government grant for the arena was $32,756, with an additional grant of $30,000 from the Northern Development Initiative Trust. The Village’s share of the arena upgrades—including new LED lights in all public areas and over the ice surface and replacement of the aging heating units over the bleachers—came to $1,156.

Water system upgrades for Clinton

The Village of Clinton was told it would be receiving federal and provincial infrastructure grants totalling $975,250 to replace between 10 and 12 kilometres of water mains extending between the water treatment plant and town, as well as the pressure reducing valve on Carson Crescent. The Village’s share of the project was pegged at $224,750.

Clinton mayor Jim Rivett said “This is a big chunk of cash for the Village to receive. Our asset management plan identified this as the number one infrastructure project in the Village. The mains are 20 years past their lifespan, and we’re living on borrowed time.”

Grants for Ashcroft Museum, historic fire hall

The Village of Ashcroft was able to make upgrades to the museum, and received funds to make improvements to the historic fire hall at the foot of Railway Avenue, thanks to grants received from Canada Cultural Spaces, Northern Development Initiative Trust, and the BC/Canada 150 fund.

The museum grants allowed upgrading to the building’s heating, venting, and air conditioning system, as well as replacement of stairs at an emergency exit at the back of the building, while a grant for the fire hall meant the building could be refurbished with new siding, new doors and windows, and minor electrical upgrades.

Work at McAbee site scheduled for 2017

The McAbee working group received $48,000 in funding from the BC/Canada 150 program to begin preliminary work at the site east of Cache Creek. The funding would allow preliminary work—including site mapping, digging a well, installing toilet facilities, and putting up a temporary shelter and picnic tables—to begin, in advance of a soft opening of the site to the public in the fall of 2017.

McAbee working group member Deb Arnott said that it was important for members of the community to know that plans for the site were moving forward. “The community has heard for a long time about the site, but didn’t know what was going on… . People can expect to see a lot happening at the site.”

Thompson River death

An Ashcroft-area woman was the single occupant of a vehicle that entered the Thompson River 15 kilometres west of Ashcroft on April 15. Her body was recovered by members of the RCMP Underwater Recovery Team on April 16.

Highway 1 death

An elderly Cache Creek man was killed, and two other people were injured, in an accident on Highway 1 at Highway 97C on April 28.

A red pick-up truck with Washington plates heading north on Highway 1 struck the southbound car containing the Cache Creek resident—the vehicle’s only occupant—as it attempted to turn left onto Highway 97C. The driver of the southbound vehicle succumbed to his injuries before he could be transported to hospital.

Slo-pitch tournament a success

A slo-pitch tournament organized and hosted by the Ashcroft Volunteer Fire Department over the weekend of April 29 was a huge success, raising $4,700 to enable the department to purchase equipment for its new primary engine.

Nine teams took part in the tournament, which event organizer Captain Jonah Anstett said was a busy but satisfying weekend. “We had a great turnout, and we had a blast. Everything turned out well.” He said the department was already planning another tournament for next year. “I had so many people from the community come up and say how great it was to see the event, and how glad they were to have slo-pitch back. It was just a great weekend.”


Cache Creek flooding

After a one-in-200-year flooding event in Cache Creek in May 2015, the Village suffered another flood starting on May 4, when a sudden snow melt caused the culvert at Quartz Road to overflow, flooding the Cache Creek fire hall. The fire hall was severely damaged by floodwater in 2015.

Water and debris spread throughout the downtown area, and the highways through the Village were closed for a time. Village of Cache Creek crew members and private contractors worked through the morning of May 5 to clear the debris and place rip rap adjacent to the creek to prevent erosion of the bank. Volunteers continued to place sandbags around and in front of the fire hall through May 6, in case the creek overflowed once more. A call for volunteers to help fill sandbags brought more than 30 residents of Cache Creek and Ashcroft to help out on the morning of May 6, to fill, transport, and place the bags.

Search for missing Cache Creek fire chief ends in tragedy

Search and rescue efforts were ongoing starting on the morning of May 5 to locate missing Cache Creek fire chief Clayton Cassidy; efforts that were changed to a recovery mission as of the evening of Saturday, May 6.

Cassidy went missing early on the morning of May 5. He was last known to be checking creek water levels east of the Village near the Brookside Campground in the early hours of May 5.

A member of the Cache Creek Volunteer Fire Department who was out for a walk at 7 a.m. on May 5 spotted the department’s crew cab parked near the creek. A check with a neighbour showed that Cassidy had not been seen for several hours, and calls to his cellphone went to voice mail. Cassidy was radioed without success, and a phone call to his home confirmed that he had not returned home.

Kamloops Search and Rescue (KSAR) was called in at 9 a.m. on May 5, and were joined by members of the RCMP and the Cache Creek and Ashcroft Volunteer Fire Departments. On the morning of May 6 they were joined by search and rescue teams from Pemberton, Chilliwack, Ridge Meadows, Vernon, and the Nicola Valley, as well as members of Kamloops Fire Rescue and local volunteers.

Despite an intense search, no trace of Cassidy was found in waters that had risen by more than a foot in 24 hours. The search was officially called off on May 14, although KSAR continued to send personnel out as they were able, while local RCMP, firefighters, and volunteers continued the search, with daily morning and evening patrols.

Family spokesperson Patrick Cassidy, one of Clayton’s brothers, said that Clayton had been out doing what he always did in such events: helping out. “If someone was in need, he was there, whether it was family, it was a friend, or if it was someone he never even knew. He was never there for the honour or the praise. He just did what he thought was right. He had a very strong sense of community, and a huge heart to go with it.”

Patrick also acknowledged the huge outpouring of support. “We certainly appreciate everything everybody has done. It’s been absolutely amazing. We would like to thank all the contributing agencies for their tireless support and effort, and all the businesses and volunteers who have donated their food and themselves in our time of need. Our gratitude and love goes out to each and every one of you.”

Late in the evening of Saturday, May 27, Cassidywas found by two members of the Ashcroft fire department during the daily evening patrol of Cache Creek. Ashcroft RCMP, KSAR personnel, and members of Ashcroft Fire Rescue worked through the night on the recovery effort, battling frigid water temperatures in the creek. On Sunday morning personnel from 100 Mile Search and Rescue arrived, and Cassidy was recovered a short time later.

“We’re happy in one way, sad in another,” said Patrick Cassidy. “The family is happy that we found him and could bring him home.”

In June 2016, Clayton Cassidy became the first person in the Fraser-Nicola riding to receive the B.C. government’s Medal of Good Citizenship, which recognizes outstanding citizens for their “exceptional long-term service, and contributions to their communities without expectation of remuneration or reward. The medal reflects their generosity, service, acts of selflessness, and contributions to community life.”

He had been a member of the CCVFD for more than 30 years, serving as chief for 10 of those years. He served on myriad community committees, coached minor hockey, softball, and soccer, and played a key part in recovery efforts after the May 2015 flooding in Cache Creek. Acting Cache Creek fire chief Tom Moe said on May 6, “Anytime something happened, Clayton was there until the end.”

Tegart wins close race in Fraser-Nicola

Liberal incumbent Jackie Tegart narrowly defeated NDP rival Harry Lali in Fraser-Nicola in the May 9 provincial election. However, which party would form government remained in limbo, as the final results on the night were the Liberals with 43 seats (one shy of a majority), the NDP with 41 seats, and the Green Party with three. Tens of thousands of absentee ballots remained to be counted, and the results in two close seats were being challenged.

Lytton Chinese Museum opens

A new museum honouring the Chinese community in Lytton and the surrounding area opened in Lytton on the site of the historic joss house, which stood on a piece of land at the south end of town from 1881 until 1928. The land was acquired by Bernie and Lorna Fandrich, and when Lorna learned of the site’s significance she vowed to build a museum there.

Work began at the site in April 2016, with the money to construct and fill the museum coming from the Fandrichs. There were 140 people in attendance when the museum opened on May 14, with a Buddhist monk blessing the site and a colourful dance by the Shao Lin Hun Gar Lion Dance team from Vancouver.

150th Clinton Ball a success

More than 250 people attended the 150th Clinton Annual Ball; the longest-running such event in the country. The BX Express stagecoach from Historic Hat Creek was on hand to transport dignitaries to the Clinton Arena, which had been transformed into an elegant ballroom for the evening. Comedian Clinton W. Gray performed an entertaining set of magic tricks, and dancers took to the floor to the music of the Evergreen Drifters.

Citizens of the Year

The Rotary Club of Ashcroft-Cache Creek named its Citizens of the Year at a dinner on May 27. The honorees were Andrea and Bruce Walker of Ashcroft; Mavourneen Varcoe-Ryan of Spences Bridge; and Maryn William, the youth recipient for the District. All the recipients were recognized for their volunteer efforts in their communities and making them better places for everyone.


Memorial service for Clayton Cassidy

Close to 1,500 people, including 400 firefighters from around the province and from Alberta and Manitoba, gathered at the Cache Creek Park on Saturday, June 3 to honour Cache Creek fire chief Clayton Cassidy. A procession of family members and firefighters made its way from the fire hall to the park, where family members and friends recalled a man of integrity and honesty who loved his family, always tried to do the right thing, and was game for anything. Chief Ryan Day of the Bonaparte Band said of Cassidy, “He watched over many of us in human form, in one place at one time. In spirit form he will be in all places at all times, and I know he is watching over us.”

At the end of the service a bell tolled three sets of three chimes, to show that fire chief Clayton Cassidy had been brought home to quarters.

Augmented reality history tour launches in Ashcroft

Anyone who wondered what it would be like to stroll Ashcroft’s streets and see the way some of them looked a hundred or more years ago was able to do just that, when the QuestUpon augmented reality walking tour of the Village was launched in June. Augmented reality injects something virtual into the real world; and those taking the free tour only needed a smartphone to tour Ashcroft and see long-gone buildings in a real-world setting.

New government

With Green Party leader Andrew Weaver throwing his party’s support behind John Horgan and the NDP — giving them a total of 44 seats to the BC Liberals’ 43 — Lieutenant-Governor Judith Guichon asked the NDP Party to form the province’s next government, sending the Liberals into Opposition after 16 years in office. The decision came on June 30, nearly two months after the May 9 election, with the new government expected to be sworn in in mid-July.

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