“It’s been an interesting year; and it’s interesting that it’s the 50th anniversary year of the Village of Cache Creek incorporation in 1967,” says Cache Creek mayor John Ranta. “It’s certainly been a signature year for Cache Creek.”
Flooding in the desert—for the second time in three years—was once again a major event for Cache Creek. “In my opinion, it was caused substantially by the cool spring that we had, which allowed the snow that was under trees up in Back Valley to remain in place until all of a sudden somebody turned the heat on. It went up to 29 C. or something like that on May 4. All the snow melted and came down Cache Creek. It was quite a devastating event for the Village.”
In March the Liberal government announced a $150,000 grant for flood plain management and study in Cache Creek, and Ranta says a consultant has been hired to study how the Village should—or whether it needs to—do any flood mitigation matters prior to the spring, or to the next flooding event. “The study will see if we’re at risk of a repeat of 2015 or 2017.”
Ranta describes the disappearance and death of Cache Creek fire chief Clayton Cassidy—who was swept away by floodwaters in the early morning of May 5—as “awful. He was a friend to everybody who knew him, and even to people who didn’t know him. He was such a wonderful man. It was tragic for his wife and children, and for the entire community.
“He was a selfless person who stepped up always in times of need. To lose someone like that in the community and the local area is a blow to everyone.”
Ranta adds that from the point of view of a small community, he thinks that it was wonderful that then-Premier Christy Clark made a visit to the Village following Cassidy’s disappearance. “We had the flood on May 4 and she was here on May 6. She went and visited Rose Cassidy, and expressed a desire to ensure there was no media present. She took time out of the campaign to come and visit a family that was obviously devastated by the loss of Clayton.”
There was hardly time to recover before the events of July 7. “A bit of a bonfire started on July 7, and it seemed to last interminably,” says Ranta, who is also chair of the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. “It’s not a topic of conversation for most of us who didn’t lose anything, but I’ve spoken with lots and lots of people throughout the region who are still devastated by the loss; certainly not the least of whom are the people who lived in the Boston Flats Trailer Park.
“It was just devastating for so many families, whether local residents or people with summer cottages in the area. It continues to be a huge challenge.”
Ranta says that while he has never had to issue an evacuation order for Cache Creek before, he has been involved with other evacuation orders in the region. “You need to do what needs to be done in order to protect the people that live here and, to the best of our ability, their properties. The right thing to do at that time was to evacuate the Village for their own security.”
Asked if he received any blow-back from people who felt the evacuation order was unnecessary, Ranta says the impression he got was that most people understood it was the right thing to do at the right time.
He has nothing but praise for members of the Cache Creek Volunteer Fire Department. “They were here throughout. I don’t think a single volunteer firefighter left the community, even though it was evacuated. The fire hall was used as the nerve centre for the RCMP and many visiting structural protection firefighters from as far away as Vancouver Island who were staying in the local community during the evacuation.
“The fire department had 24-hour-a-day patrols going on, and during the 11 days we were evacuated they discovered a number of hotspots that needed to be addressed so they didn’t get carried away and cause extensive damage in the community. At the public meetings, every time you mentioned the volunteer fire department they got a standing ovation.
“And I think that standing ovation also belongs to the Ashcroft fire department. Josh White and his department were certainly instrumental in the search for Clayton Cassidy and in the security of the Village of Cache Creek during the wildfire event.
“We do really appreciate the working relationship that has evolved between our fire department and the Ashcroft department, and the support of Ashcroft in allowing that to happen.”
He also has praise for Ashcroft RCMP detachment commander Sgt. Kathleen Thain. “She demonstrated her value to our local area during the crisis situation, and everybody has embraced her after such a short time on the job here. I think it’s wonderful to have somebody who’s so engaged in the communities.”
A dance to commemorate Cache Creek’s 50th anniversary of incorporation took place on the anniversary—November 25—and Ranta says it was great. “There were lots of people up dancing. So often at the Community Hall there’s a handful of people dancing and a lot of people sitting and watching, but this particular dance was wonderful because of the people who were there. I think everyone was looking forward to a reason to celebrate, and certainly the dance gave them an opportunity.”
Ranta also notes that in spite of the flooding in May, this year’s Graffiti Days weekend went ahead as scheduled. “That event went ahead, and certainly required everyone to get going with the volunteerism that’s required to pull off an annual event like that.”
Regarding the four-laning of the bridge at the north end of the Village and a section of highway 97 north of that, which was announced by the Liberal government in March, Ranta says that a consultation process is, at the request of the Ministry of Highways, in-camera at this point. “Our administrator is participating in that. Hopefully in the new year we’ll see some plans and have an opportunity for the broader community to comment on them.”
Ranta says that the events of the past year set the Village back a little bit, and some projects were not completed that they hoped to get done in 2017. “We have a number of carry-over projects into 2018, and we’ll make sure we address some of the issues that have been raised to council during the past year. We’ll be having a strategic planning session in I think February, and laying out the agenda for 2018 at that time.”
John Horgan has visited the Village since becoming Premier, and Lieutenant-Governor Judith Guichon paid a visit to Cache Creek Elementary School in October. “To have this sort of profile, that draws the senior decision-makers in the province to our community, is of great value going forward.”
Asked about next year’s municipal elections, Ranta says that he fully intends to run. “It’s a job that I still find ever so invigorating and exciting. I feel I’ve gained a lot of experience over the last 26 or 27 years, and I’m motivated to run again for sure.”