Re: “Thompson, Chilcotin Steelhead Trout in danger of extinction” (The Journal, February 22, 2018)
When I sold Steelhead licences in my Shell service garage in Spences Bridge from 1963 to the mid-1970s, each purchaser was allowed to catch 46 Steelhead a season. This included fishermen from the USA and all provinces.
The Fisheries department did nothing when the decline started. They started “catch and release”, and even in 2016, with only 400 returning Steelhead, they didn’t stop it. In 2017 there were only 177 returns, and to my total shock, in the fall there were more fishermen than I have seen in a while.
The problem with catch and release is that the fishermen are lined up, so when the fish is released the next fisherman catches it, and the next and the next, until the fish is dead. My son saw a 30 pound fish going down the river upside down three years ago. I am sure there have been many more over the years since catch and release was introduced.
It is not negotiable that the Fisheries department has done nothing to stop this devastation. They should hang their heads in shame. After all, it is our taxes that pay for them.
Spences Bridge, B.C.
Back in September my wife and I stumbled upon a Facebook post that we had no idea would make our two children look forward to Friday evenings as much as they did.
That post was an offer of a Learn to Play clinic from TCMHA (Thompson Cariboo Minor Hockey Association), Hockey B.C., The Village of Ashcroft, and the Vancouver Canucks. Seven ice sessions, and almost all of your hockey equipment, for $40. How could we pass this up?
We asked our son, who we knew would be all over this opportunity, but as we asked him our daughter said “I want to play too.” How could we say no? My son has always been unsure about the hockey setting, so this seemed to be just the right fit for both of them, as they had not really been on the ice before, let alone played hockey.
We were offered seven sessions of ice time, with all of them on a Friday night with the exception of the first session, which was on a Sunday afternoon. That first Sunday afternoon session back in November was an amazing day, with a tremendous atmosphere in the Drylands Arena. Thirty kids were on the ice, and for most of them it was their first time on skates. Many representatives from TCMHA—including coaches and players—were on the ice to help, along with the Vancouver Canucks mascot Fin and Canucks alumni players Kirk McLean and Dave Babych.
This dad could not help but be a little star-struck himself watching them on the ice, as he grew up watching these two. They were so down-to-earth and amazing with everyone, especially the little skaters. After that it was six more ice sessions; or so we thought. Minor Hockey decided to offer three more bonus skates if the kids were still interested. Needless to say, our two jumped at the opportunity.
My wife and I would just like to thank Hockey B.C., the Vancouver Canucks, and most importantly our local TCMHA. Thank you to TCMHA president Lewis Kinvig, and all of his coaches and minor hockey players who took the time out of their own schedules to be on the ice with all of the kids.
What the future holds for our two as far as hockey goes I don’t know yet, as that will be up to them. I do know that they have the confidence to want to put their skates on, which is something they did not have prior to Learn to Play.
Small rural communities are built on the backs of their volunteers. The numbers are most often small, but it is a dedicated army held together by a passion for their community that goes far beyond what most of us see. Most of the work is done behind the scenes. They ask for nothing in return except to be a valued, respected part of the community that they themselves have played a huge role in building.
Arguably, the two greatest pillars—and certainly the longest serving volunteers—in Spences Bridge have become casualties of a toxic environment that has seen them targeted by a handful of locals and a non-resident property owner.
These two gentlemen started volunteering in Spences Bridge in the 1970s. They took out the fire truck in the dead of winter to flood the old ice rink for the kids of Spences Bridge. If the ice didn’t take they went out the next night and did the same thing so hockey games, ice skating, and barbeques had a place to happen. They set up dances, organized events, became a part of the water board and fire department … the list goes on and on. Nearly 50 years of volunteering to a single community is a legacy of love that needs to be recognized, if not honoured.
I cannot let these two heroes of Spences Bridge pass quietly into the night. I can never thank them enough for all they have done for Spences Bridge, for the many families and friends they have lent a hand to while asking for nothing in return. I hope many extend a hand of thanks to these two gentlemen, whether you like their style, their attitude, or anything else.
Our community lost one of these champions two years ago, when Al Dickenson stepped down a year early in his term as Chair of the Spences Bridge Improvement District, where he did an exceptional job. However, the years of verbal abuse made it clear his staying on meant the town staying divided. As always, Al did what, in his heart, he felt was best for the town. He stepped away.
What prompted this note of recognition, however, was the very upsetting email I recently received from Spences Bridge Volunteer Fire Department chief Arnie Oram, announcing his resignation after an especially relentless, vicious attack on his character, along with many other things.
Al and Arnie: thanks for the labour of love. Spences Bridge is a great place to call home. Thanks for being a part of that; we are lucky to call you our friends!
Spences Bridge, B.C.