Ashcroft mayor Jack Jeyes (left) cooking hamburgers at a village barbecue in June 2017. Photo: Barbara Roden.

Ashcroft mayor Jack Jeyes (left) cooking hamburgers at a village barbecue in June 2017. Photo: Barbara Roden.

July 7 was a ‘black cloud’ for Ashcroft, says Mayor Jack Jeyes

In the wake of this summer’s wildfires, the Village is taking steps for emergency preparedness.

Before getting to the “black cloud” of July 7, Ashcroft mayor Jack Jeyes notes that it was a busy and productive year in the Village, albeit one that started with a CP derailment west of town. “Ashcroft was the base for the major response, and I was impressed with CP’s response,” he says.

In February he attended a Logistics convention in support of the Ashcroft Terminal, and in March the historic Chinese cemetery received provincial recognition. “Lots of kudos to the Lions, Rotary, and all those who helped get that together.”

Spring also saw a pilot project for the new water treatment plant membrane filters. The filters were in the river during a two-month spell when turbidity levels went as high as 49, triggering a Boil Water Notice, but Jeyes says it was a good test for the new system, and very successful.

The Village was successful in applying for, and receiving, several grants. These included $42,000 for HVAC and other improvements at the museum; $24,000 to restore the historic fire hall; $440,000 for upgrades at the sewage treatment plant; and more than $80,000 for upgrades at the Drylands Arena, including new lights and heaters. Work at the museum and the arena was completed in 2017.

Ashcroft Terminal also received $150,000 in provincial funding for a strategic access infrastructure study.

“The transit service has expanded to 100 Mile House, and the OCP and zoning bylaw review is underway,” says Jeyes. “The surveys we sent out were hugely successful in getting a response. We’ve struck off-leash dog park and curling club select committees, and produced a subdivision guide that is a step-by-step how-to for anyone looking to subdivide a lot.”

Jeyes also notes that the Visitor Centre opened and was once more staffed by volunteers, although unfortunately the season had to be cut short due to the fire.

The Village purchased a new dump truck with a belly plough and new sander to replace the old one, and also purchased new heritage plaques for qualifying buildings. Some existing businesses carried out façade improvements; a new gas station opened; a new restaurant is soon to open beside the Bundus building; and talks are ongoing with the Ashcroft Indian Band about suppying them with water.

He notes that the Village added the QuestUpon augmented reality walking tour of Ashcroft at the start of the summer, the town featured in a radio road trip promotion in the Lower Mainland, and that the Village was awarded Five Blooms Bronze and a special award for heritage conservation at the national Communities in Bloom convention and awards.

“And we recently had the Vancouver Canucks organization here, and have some new hockey players as a result.

“We had some very productive meetings with the Premier and various ministers at UBCM, and brought to their attention several matters, including funding for emergency preparedness improvements, health care, safety concerns at the junction of Highways 1 and 97C, and the potential economic impact that development of the McAbee fossil beds will have on the region. And we continue to develop and maintain good relationships with MLA Jackie Tegart and MP Jati Sidhu.”

Talk turns to the events of July 7 and the aftermath. “We learned a lot,” says Jeyes. “It was a devastating thing that built a great amount of fear amongst residents. We’ve undertaken a review of procedures, and taken delivery of signage [for use in future emergencies], and are looking at backup power for critical systems such as the fire hall, the Village office, and the water and sewer systems.

“Kudos to those who stepped up during a time of need in the fires and helped their community: members of the Ashcroft Volunteer Fire Department, the Ashcroft Legion, and others. And kudos to Hydro and Telus for getting us back online as quickly as they did.”

Asked about 2018, Jeyes says he is looking forward to being as close as possible to completion of the new water treatment plant, if not completion of the project, and to the completion of work at the sewage treatment plant.

“And we’re blessed to now have more than 30 glass mosaics in town, which add to the attractiveness of the Village.

“Kudos to the artists for providing such vibrant works of art; and I’m looking forward to the construction and completion of the Harmony Project.”

He notes that 2018 is an election year in municipal politics. “I’m looking forward to some good debate during the election process.” Asked if he plans to run again in 2018, Jeyes laughs. “That’s still a long way away,” he replies.

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