Staff, parents, and students at Cache Creek Elementary celebrate the news that the school had won $100,000 for playground improvements. Photo: Christopher Roden.

Staff, parents, and students at Cache Creek Elementary celebrate the news that the school had won $100,000 for playground improvements. Photo: Christopher Roden.

2018 in Review: Cache Creek Elementary receives BCAA Play Here funding

Plus a flood warning for Cache Creek, Citizens of the Year, recycling changes, and more


Early start to fire season possible cause of concern

By the first week of April, the BC Wildfire Service (BCWS) had already had to respond to two human-caused fires near Lytton. Kevin Skrepnek, chief fire information officer for BCWS, said that while fires at this time of year are not uncommon, he urged the public to be cautious when burning, particularly in light of the disastrous 2017 wildfire season in B.C. Read more at

Clinton council removes museum support

In April, it was revealed that Clinton council had voted in February not to give a Grant in Aid of $10,000 to the Clinton Museum. The decision prompted Andy May, president of the South Cariboo Historical Museum Society (which operates the museum), to step down from the position. He was angered by the lack of forewarning about the move, and concerned about what it would mean for the future of the museum.

Clinton Councillor Wayne Marchant said that council had no intention of closing the museum, and noted that the Village already provided close to $7,000 in indirect funding to the museum each year, in the form of rent in lieu, Hydro, Internet, and more. He added that the Village was planning to work with the Society in order to obtain grants for the museum.

Rotary Citizens of the Year

The Rotary Club of Ashcroft-Cache Creek held a dinner honouring the 2018 Citizens of the Year: Sue Peters of Cache Creek, Joyce Beddow-Buckland and Phyllis Rainey of Ashcroft, and youth recipient Khiara Archibald.

Beddow-Buckland was cited in particular for her work with the Boston Flats Relief Society, which she set up after that community was destroyed in the Elephant Hill wildfire.

Peters was nominated by the entire Cache Creek Volunteer Fire Department. Fire chief Bill Elliott noted how Peters had “come to the table” after last year’s fires, working tirelessly with a group of volunteers to make sure the emergency personnel stationed in Cache Creek were kept well-supplied with food.

Archibald was nominated for her efforts during last year’s wildfires. Khiara was only 11 years old, yet helped out making sandwiches at the Ashcroft Legion for firefighters and other emergency personnel. She then made and sold jewellery and lemonade to raise money for a resident of the Ashcroft Reserve who had lost her home, and—with the help of Interior Savings—raised $6,000 for the Ashcroft Volunteer Fire Department.

Cache Creek residents urged to prepare for floods

Tim Giles, a geomorphologist with the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resources, and Rural Development, had a blunt message for Cache Creek residents at a public meeting on April 16: the devastating floods that had happened in the Village in 2015 and 2017 could likely happen again.

“Residents need to be proactive,” he said. “Now is the time to take action.” He noted that a sandbagging bee in Cache Creek that had taken place on April 14 was a good proactive step. He explained the causes of past flooding events, and added that the extensive burning during the 2017 wildfires had reduced the capacity of the soil to absorb water. He also raised concerns about the amount of sediment in the gullies along Old Cariboo Road, saying that it posed a risk to the trailer parks on the other side of the road.

Recycling changes

At a community forum in Ashcroft, EHS operations supervisor for the Thompson-Nicola Regional District Curran Chrunik told residents that “Recycling as we know it is changing.” He noted that China, which takes the bulk of North American recycling, had recently cracked down on the high levels of contaminated recycling they were being sent.

Chrunik said the TNRD would be joining the Recycle BC program in summer or fall of 2018, which would cause major changes to recycling in the district as the program moved from single-stream to a self-sort multi-stream system. “Brace for change,” he said. “We need to get better at recycling.”

Bad news at 10 Mile Slide site

More movement at the 10 Mile Slide site 15 km northeast of Lillooet on Highway 99 meant that 50 per cent weight restrictions on the highway would prevent tour buses from using the route; a move that had Lillooet mayor Marg Lampman worried about what that would mean to the economy of Lillooet and the region.

“Last summer we lost out on a lot of tour traffic because of the fires and closure of the highway and now this year we’re being faced with the 10 Mile Slide not being open to commercial traffic and tour buses.”

Robert Sharkey, chair of the board of the Friends of Historic Hat Creek Ranch, was worried about the potential impact on the historic site if tour buses continued to be unable to use the route through the summer.

Cache Creek flooding

Mayor John Ranta declared a state of local emergency in Cache Creek in the wake of flooding on April 27–28 and the anticipation of more flooding when the Bonaparte River crested.

A higher than usual snowpack, combined with sudden high temperatures, caused Cache Creek to breach its banks and overwhelm culverts. Floodwater and debris swept through sections of the Village, damaging some buildings and flooding parking lots and roads. Highways 1 and 97 were temporarily closed in the wake of the flooding.

Sandbags had been placed in front of the fire hall on Quartz Road, and more were deployed to prevent flooding. Village crew, firefighters, local contractors, and volunteers worked through the night to prevent further flooding.

Historic Spences Bridge house destroyed

Morens House, at Hilltop Gardens north of Spences Bridge, was completely destroyed by fire in the early morning hours of April 26. The building was unoccupied at the time of the fire, and there were no injuries. However, for the first time in decades the house was uninsured, as the owners—whose Hilltop Gardens business suffered financially during the 2017 wildfire season—could not afford the insurance and cancelled the policy.

Morens House was built around 1878, and was one of the oldest buildings in the Southern Interior.

Slo-pitch success

The Ashcroft Slo-pitch Showdown Volume 2, hosted by the Ashcroft Volunteer Fire Department, was a success. Twelve teams took part, raising $3,500 for training and equipment for the AVFD.


Ashcroft student wins writing award

Vivian McLean, a Grade 10 student at Desert Sands Community School in Ashcroft, received the Marg Van Duesen Award for top secondary school entry at the 39th annual Young Authors Conference in Kamloops.

Conference organizer Tricia Persad praised McLean’s work, “A Poem for Chocolate”, as “very sophisticated. Vivian is an exceptional writer.” The powerful poem describes the commodification of chocolate and the children who harvest it, as well as the very real dangers those children face.

Historic Hat Creek and Bonaparte Band move forward

A dinner hosted by Historic Hat Creek (HHC) on May 3 brought together council and band members from the Bonaparte Band, representatives from the Heritage Branch in Victoria, Fraser-Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart, and staff and board members of Historic Hat Creek to begin looking at a renewed partnership with the Bonaparte Band.

HHC board chair Robert Sharkey said “We want to move on to making this joint effort happen. We’ve laid out a good, solid first step. We want to work with the Bonaparte Band and do things to enhance and grow Historic Hat Creek and add Indigenous elements to the tourism aspect. We need to move together into the future.”

Ashcroft Terminal receives federal funding

The Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, was at the Ashcroft Terminal on May 16 to announce that the inland port was receiving $9.2 million in funding under the National Trade Corridors Fund, to make improvements to terminal infrastructure, construct a rail link with the Canadian National mainline, build extra rail track and an internal road network within the terminal, and construct a multi-commodity and storage warehouse. Fraser-Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart described the announcement, and the terminal’s plans, as a “game-changer” for the region.

The federal funding represents approximately one-third of the expected development cost of $28.2 million. It was estimated that the construction would create more than 250 jobs and take three years once work started.

More recycling changes

The TNRD announced that due to recent changes enacted by the Chinese government regarding what recycling they would accept, and the fact that the TNRD would be joining the Recycle BC program, the municipal recycling depots in Ashcroft, Cache Creek, Chase, and Merritt would be closing, with Ashcroft and Cache Creek slated to close on Aug. 31, 2018.

The TNRD said that the closures were necessary because single-stream (mixed) recycling would not be accepted by Recycle BC. Instead, the system would switch to a multi-stream one which would require separation at all solid waste facilities. Recycling from Ashcroft and Cache Creek would be accepted at the transfer station at the Cache Creek landfill site, but the TNRD said they were committed to building a new Eco-Depot and transfer station right off the highway between Ashcroft and Cache Creek.

Cache Creek asks people to Play Here

Cache Creek Elementary School was one of 10 province-wide finalists in the 2018 BCAA Play Here initiative. That moved the school into the final round, where three winners would be chosen to receive $100,000 each for a playground revitalization. Entering the school in the initiative was the idea of teacher Millie Cumming, who saw an ad for it on TV and enlisted her Kindergarten/Grade 1 students to help her with the application.

Members of the public were encouraged to cast their online votes for Cache Creek Elementary in up to four different ways, every day until June 17, and staff, students, and parents got creative in reminding people to vote, and vote often, to increase the school’s chance of winning the funds.

Ashcroft Band working on many projects

Trees were planted on the Ashcroft Reserve, as part of Tree Canada’s #OperationReLeaf BC Fires initiative. They were just one of many projects underway or in the planning stages at the Reserve, which was hit hard by the Elephant Hill wildfire. Houses were in the process of being constructed, two new ball diamonds and a walking trail were nearing completion, a 12-site campground with playground and picnic area was planned, as were upgrades to the nearby washroom building, and a new hayfield had been planted and a five-pivot industrial sprinkler purchased.

A firepit had been constructed, work was slated to start soon on an Elders’ building containing six self-contained living units, and funding had been obtained for construction of a community training/healing centre overlooking Cornwall Creek. Restoration of the Church of St. John at the Latin Gate was nearly complete, and restoration of the badly-damaged cemetery was planned.

“It’s very community-based,” said Chief Greg Blain of the projects. “This place will look very different in six months’ time.”

Ashcroft Band members receive filmmaking funds

Young filmmakers Shalyn Pigeon and Mackenzie Pittman, members of the Ashcroft Band, and Merritt area filmmaker/cameraman Michael Auger, won $10,000 in the Telus Storyhive competition, to produce a short documentary film about the Elephant Hill wildfire and its effect on the community, particularly youth.

The trio had made a one-minute pitch video for the competition, called The Fire Within Us. They also planned to produce a second short documentary about the impact of the fire, and its aftermath, on the community.


New community paramedic welcomed

The community paramedicine program came to Ashcroft, and Philip Schuberg—who grew up in the area and graduated from Ashcroft Secondary School—said that when the opportunity to come to Ashcroft as a community paramedic came up, “I went for it.” He had worked part-time out of Station 303 in Ashcroft, but left to become a full-time paramedic in the Lower Mainland.

He says that he saw the potential benefits of working as a community paramedic in a rural community. “I’ve seen the increased difficulties in receiving health care in rural areas. I like being part of a program that will allow me to offer better access to primary health care, particularly for seniors.”

The community-based model is meant for non-urgent settings, in patients’ homes or in the community, in partnership with local health care providers. Community paramedics help improve access to health care in rural and remote communities by providing services to primarily older adults living with chronic conditions. These services, identified by referring health professionals, are intended to help patients live safely in their homes and avoid extra trips to the hospital.

Cenotaph honours Walhachin soldiers

A new cenotaph that was unveiled behind the Soldiers’ Memorial Hall in Walhachin on June 16 commemorates the more than 100 settlers, First Nations, and Chinese men from that community who enlisted in World War I. It is the first such memorial of its kind in the community.

It is widely believed by historians that the tiny community had the largest per capita enlistment of men in WWI of any community in the British Commonwealth. Walhachin resident Lt. Gordon Flowerdew was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross, the British military’s highest honour, for his “most conspicuous bravery” at the Battle of Moreuil Wood in March 1918.

Ash-Creek TV Society moves forward

Although the Ash-Creek TV Society no longer produces any TV programming, Damian Couture—the society’s president—said the radio station was still going strong, and there were plans to change to a community radio format, which requires a minimum of 10 hours of programming a week. The main stumbling-block to the plan was the lack of people trained to use the station’s equipment.

Couture also said that the society hoped to be able to make more use of the radio station during an emergency such as last year’s wildfires, admitting that they weren’t prepared in 2017. “In the future, if we have people with information [about an unfolding emergency], then tech-minded people could help set something up.”

Board votes to close Lytton Elementary

At its open board meeting on June 5, the Board of Trustees of School District No. 74 (Gold Trail) voted to close Lytton Elementary School by a vote of 4–3. “School Closure Bylaw No. 2018-01, Lytton Elementary School” stated that the school would close effective the later of either June 30, 2018 or the completion of the renovation of Kumsheen Secondary School, which is slated to be turned into a K–12 facility similar to those in Ashcroft and Clinton.

The question of closing LES had been an ongoing subject of discussion at the board table since 2005. Several presenters at the meeting made it clear that while the community understood the need to close LES, they would prefer a new K–12 facility in Lytton, rather than see KSS refurbished.

Work on new water treatment plant starts

On June 13, a ceremonial ground-breaking was held near the Legacy Park in Ashcroft, as work began on construction of the Village’s new water treatment plant. It is the largest infrastructure project in Ashcroft’s history.

“It’s been close to 10 years since Interior Health put us on notice that our water system was inadequate, and didn’t meet the terms of the permit,” said Ashcroft CAO Michelle Allen. “I’m excited and relieved, and happy that users of the Ashcroft water system will finally have safe, clean water.”

Harmony Bell project unveiled

On Saturday, June 23, close to 250 people gathered at the Heritage Park in Ashcroft to see the unveiling of the Harmony Bell project and hear the Harmony Bell ring out for world peace.

The project—the brainchild of architectural glass architect Marina Papais and her husband Daniel Collett, who are responsible for many of the glass mosaic artworks throughout Ashcroft—celebrates the First Nations, Chinese, Japanese, and European settlers who founded Ashcroft and contributed to the growth of the community. The four mosaics are housed within an attractive wooden structure at the south end of Ashcroft’s Heritage Park, which also contains the Harmony Bell, which can be rung by anyone visiting the structure.

Collett said that “Some people may say that achieving world harmony is impossible. But the effort is important and worthwhile. Developing harmony takes work. It’s not easy, but this is a start: one day, one moment at a time. This will inspire people to keep harmony close to their hearts, and help to heal past hurts.”

Cache Creek wins $100,000 for playground upgrade

There were cheers, smiles, and hugs at Cache Creek Elementary School on the morning of June 21, where a small group of parents, staff, and students had gathered to learn that the school was one of the three top finalists in the BCAA Play Here initiative. It meant that the school would receive $100,000 for playground improvements.

Residents from all around the region had voted often to put the school in the top three of 10 finalists, and CCES principal Brooke Haller said that it had been awesome watching the momentum build. “I don’t think any of us expected this level of rallying of support for Cache Creek. We know we’re strong together and that it’s a community that comes out, but it was pretty wild, in such a good way. We were all doing this together. And the kids were so excited. It’s a really cool opportunity to have.”

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(from left) Rotary Citizens of the Year Sue Peters, Joyce Beddow-Buckland, Phyllis Rainey, and Khiara Archibald. Photo: Barbara Roden.

(from left) Rotary Citizens of the Year Sue Peters, Joyce Beddow-Buckland, Phyllis Rainey, and Khiara Archibald. Photo: Barbara Roden.

Cache Creek experienced severe flooding in late April, with volunteers sandbagging to protect the fire hall. Photo: Wendy Coomber.

Cache Creek experienced severe flooding in late April, with volunteers sandbagging to protect the fire hall. Photo: Wendy Coomber.

Historic Morens House near Spences Bridge was destroyed on April 26. Photo: Bruce Merkley.

Historic Morens House near Spences Bridge was destroyed on April 26. Photo: Bruce Merkley.

The newly-restored Church of St. John at the Latin Gate on the Ashcroft Reserve. Photo: Barbara Roden.

The newly-restored Church of St. John at the Latin Gate on the Ashcroft Reserve. Photo: Barbara Roden.

New Ashcroft community paramedic Philip Schuberg. Photo: Barbara Roden.

New Ashcroft community paramedic Philip Schuberg. Photo: Barbara Roden.

A cenotaph honouring the Walhachin men who served in WW I was unveiled in June. Photo: Barbara Roden.

A cenotaph honouring the Walhachin men who served in WW I was unveiled in June. Photo: Barbara Roden.

The Harmony Bell project, honouring the people who settled the area, was unveiled at the end of June. Photo: Barbara Roden.

The Harmony Bell project, honouring the people who settled the area, was unveiled at the end of June. Photo: Barbara Roden.