Clinton resident Andrew May (left, with Fraser-Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart and Clinton mayor Jim Rivett) has been named Community Futures Sun Country’s Volunteer of the Year. Photo: Barbara Roden.

Clinton resident Andrew May (left, with Fraser-Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart and Clinton mayor Jim Rivett) has been named Community Futures Sun Country’s Volunteer of the Year. Photo: Barbara Roden.

Local News Briefs: Community Futures recognizes Volunteer of the Year

Plus a chance to have a say in hunting regulations, cuts to MSP premiums, and more.

Community Futures Volunteer of the Year

Community Futures Sun Country (CFSC) has recognized Clinton resident and CFSC board member Andrew May as its 2017 Volunteer of the Year.

May is very engaged in the community of Clinton and the surrounding region. He currently sits on the South Cariboo Historical Museum Society and is an executive member of the Clinton and District Economic Development Society.

He is also an advocate for small businesses in the community and in the region, and has served on the boards of several community groups, including economic development and historical societies in the Okanagan and South Cariboo.

Community Futures resources

Did you know that the CFSC office in Ashcroft has a business resource library, which features hundreds of books on nearly every aspect of business? The books can be borrowed for free by clients and members of the public, and arrangements can be made to have books delivered to communities within the service area, which include Ashcroft, Cache Creek, Clinton, Hope, Lillooet, Logan Lake, and Lytton, as well 27 First Nations from the Seabird Island Band in the south to Canoe Creek in the north.

The office also has several e-books from Blue Beetle Books available for free on the CFSC website at http://www.cfsun.ca/ebooks.

Topics covered include marketing, business strategies, customer service, crowd funding, sales, succession planning, and starting a business.

A computer in the office’s reception area on Railway Avenue is available for use by clients and the general public free of charge to assist with business research and business plan development.

Reduce the spread of illness at care homes

Interior Health sites are experiencing a rise in contagious illnesses, as is often the case during the winter months.

These infections are also common in the community at this time of year.

To limit the spread of illness and protect those receiving care, Interior Health asks people with loved ones in health-care sites to be aware of the location of respiratory or gastrointestinal outbreaks.

All sites with an outbreak are listed on the IH public website (www.interiorhealth.ca) on the Communicable Disease Control page, Alerts & Reports at http://bit.ly/2Cbkwd5. The list is updated regularly.

Those who want to visit sites with outbreaks are asked to postpone their visit to a later date. Sites with outbreaks also post written notices at the entrance and contact family members directly. Guests are encouraged to watch for these notices and delay their visit to a time that will be safer for their loved ones, themselves, and the community as a whole.

Join Team Power Smart

BC Hydro is encouraging customers to start 2018 off right by joining Team Power Smart and participating in a challenge to reduce their home electricity use by 10 per cent over the next year. If successful, customers can earn a $50 reward.

Customers can join Team Power Smart and start a Reduction Challenge by logging into their online account and committing to reduce their household’s electricity use by 10 per cent over the next 12 months. After 365 days, customers will receive the $50 reward if they are successful in meeting their goal.

Follow these simple tips to help achieve energy savings throughout the year:

Use heat smarts: Set the thermostat to the ideal temperatures (16°C while away from home or asleep, and 21°C when relaxing at home) to save up to 10 per cent.

Leave incandescent bulbs in the past: LED bulbs use at least 75 per cent less energy than incandescent lighting, and can last up to 25 times longer. One LED bulb will translate into $100 in energy savings over its lifespan.

Make a commitment to wash with cold water: Switch from hot to cold water for an average of three loads per week and save up to $27 per year.

To join Team Power Smart, visit bchydro.com/jointheteam.

Top baby names in B.C. in 2017

The race for the top baby name for boys born in B.C. in 2017 is close. Benjamin was out front, according to the Vital Statistics Agency’s preliminary statistics from January 1 to December 15, 2017.

Liam, Logan, and Lucas are just as popular, with each name just a few places behind Benjamin in the current rankings. If Benjamin can keep its lead, 2017 will be the first year it is the top boys’ name. It also appears that Ethan and Oliver might not make it into the top five this year; possibly being replaced by Logan and James.

Final statistics on the top baby names of 2017 will not be available until later in 2018.

After topping the list of most popular baby names for girls born in B.C. in 2016, it is looking like Olivia is back on top this year with a good lead over Emma, which is in second place.

For the past six years, Olivia and Emma have been the top two girls’ names. So far, the other names for girls in the top five remain Sophia, Charlotte, and Ava.

There were 45,399 babies born in B.C. in 2016: 22,188 girls and 23,210 boys.

To see the full list of the most popular baby names in B.C. for 2016, visit http://bit.ly/2lqAsNp. Only names whose frequency occurs five or more times are listed. [Editor’s note: Barbara did not make the list of names chosen for girls born in B.C. in 2017. Insert sad emoji here.]

Cut to MSP premiums

Medical Services Plan (MSP) premiums were cut by 50 per cent as of January 1, 2018, with Finance Minister Carole James saying that it marked an important step toward improving fairness for all British Columbians.

“MSP premiums are unfair and place a significant burden on British Columbians,” James said. “I’m proud that we are moving away from these regressive fees and creating a more equitable system by eliminating MSP premiums entirely within four years.”

In addition to the 50 per cent rate cut, the income threshold for full exemption from MSP premiums under the premium assistance program was also raised by $2,000 as of January 1.

Enhancements to premium assistance, effective January 1, 2018, mean that an individual earning up to $26,000 per year, a couple earning up to $29,000 per year, a senior couple earning up to $35,000 per year, a single parent with two children earning up to $32,000 per year, and a couple with two children earning up to $35,000 per year will pay no premiums.

Find out if you are eligible for premium assistance by using the online edibility calculator at http://bit.ly/2lifwJ4.

In November 2017, the Minister of Finance established a task force to examine the best approach to replacing the revenue lost by eliminating the MSP premiums.

The task force is comprised of respected experts in economics, law, and public policy, and will advise on the best path to eliminating MSP premiums. Government will receive its report by March 31, 2018. For more about the MSP Task Force and to submit your ideas, go to http://bit.ly/2BWUvdr.

Public input sought on hunting regulation changes

Proposed hunting, trapping, motor vehicle restriction, and firearms restriction regulation changes for 2018 to 2020 are now online, and available for public review and feedback. A complete list of the regulation change proposals can be viewed at http://bit.ly/2DwyIcL.

Based on regional requirements and conditions, the intent of these regulation adjustments is to promote the conservation of wildlife and wildlife habitat and optimize sustainable hunting/trapping opportunities.

Web-posting the proposed regulation changes gives hunters and trappers who are not affiliated with stakeholder groups, as well as members of the general public, a chance to have input into the regulatory process. Feedback collected through the website is used to inform that final decision making.

The opportunity for public comment ends on January 19, 2018. Final regulations will be in effect between April 1, 2018 and March 31, 2020.

Gift cards do not pay tax bills

When asked by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to pay a tax bill with any type of gift card, be aware that it is a scam.

The CRA will never ask for payment via gift cards; but unfortunately, people are still falling victim to this scam, where the victim is often threatened with court charges, jail, or deportation. The caller pressures the potential victim into paying a non-existent tax debt with iTunes gift cards.

In June 2017 the North Vancouver RCMP were alerted by a local retail store of someone requesting to purchase thousands of dollars’-worth of iTunes cards. When the astute clerk asked why they required such a large number of gift cards, the would-be victim said they owed the CRA money. Police attended the store, and while talking to the clerk and victim another person came to the counter claiming they owed money to the CRA, and wanting to purchase several thousands’-worth of iTunes cards as well.

Staff at retail stores are encouraged to be suspicious of any unusually large requests for the purchase of gift cards. Alert management, and notify the police immediately. People who receive a call purporting to come from the CRA should know that if the call is legitimate, the CRA will not ask for information about your passport, health card, or driver’s licence.

To better protect yourself against becoming a victim of fraud via telephone or e-mail, police recommend asking the following questions: Is there a reason that the CRA may be calling? Am I confident that I know who is asking for the information?

Do I have an outstanding tax balance? Is the requester asking for information I know the CRA already has on file for me?

If you receive such a fraudulent call, hang up and report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501. Contact the Canadian Anti-fraud Centre at http://bit.ly/2Dy0zJr to obtain more information.

Atlas Obscura

Atlas Obscura (www.atlasobscura.com) is a website that bills itself as showcasing “Curious and Wondrous Travel Destinations” from around the world. Now and then one of the sites is within striking distance of our region, so travellers might want to check them out next time they visit.

Have you ever wanted to visit the Athabasca Glacier in Alberta’s Jasper National Park, but haven’t got round to it yet?

If that’s the case, you’d better hurry up and visit; due to climate change the glacier—one of the most accessible in Canada, and the most-visited glacier in North America—is disappearing at a rate of five metres (16 feet) a year. If this rate continues, the glacier could be gone within a generation.

The edge of the glacier is still accessible via guided tours and hikes, which operate from April/May through October. To learn more, go to http://bit.ly/2CpnMhU.