Great Fire remembered
July 5, 2016 marked the 100th anniversary of the Great Fire, which broke out shortly before 7 p.m. in the Ashcroft Hotel. The flames quickly spread northward, consuming most of the business district and almost all of Ashcroft’s Chinatown. The alarm was sounded from the Ashcroft fire hall (later destroyed in the blaze) at 7 p.m.; and at 7 p.m. on July 5, 2016 the siren that sounds before each fire practice sounded out extra-long to mark the solemn anniversary.
Because of provincial legislation governing timelines for referendums and by-elections, Ashcroft village staff had to work hard to ensure that both the referendum on the borrowing bylaw and the by-election for a new councillor could be held on the same day. Voting day for both was eventually scheduled for September 17.
Bringing the past alive
Historic Hat Creek Ranch partnered with the award-winning tech company QuestUpon to create an interactive, virtual reality tour of the site. Visitors who downloaded the free app were able to take a self-guided tour of the property and take part in games and quizzes along the way, as well as take photographs of 3-D animated figures such as a bear and a camel in the real-time landscape.
Grand rapids grandma
Hazel Amos—better known as Grandma Hazel—rafted the rapids of the lower Fraser River. It was not her first rafting trip on the river; but at 94 years old, she may be the oldest person to raft a class IV river in B.C., Canada, or even the world. After the 2016 trip, Grandma Hazel said it was “probably my best trip ever”.
Grandma Hazel (third from left) gets ready to ride the rapids in July. Photo courtesy Kumsheen Rafting Resort.
Water public forum
Ashcroft mayor and council, representatives from Urban Systems, Interior Health, and Corix Utilities Inc., and former mayor Andy Anderson were on hand to explain the need for a new water treatment plant and answer resident’s questions at a water public forum. Nearly 100 people attended the meeting.
No plans to rejoin transit
Despite an invitation to rejoin the local para-transit system, with free membership for the first year, Cache Creek council announced that there was “no immediate consideration” for the prospect. The village was looking for some form of local transportation, but had not decided on one.
Medal of Courage winner
Cache Creek resident Delila Chenery was selected to receive the Canadian Cancer Society’s most prestigious volunteer award, the Medal of Courage. Chenery, a cancer survivor, has been a CancerConnection volunteer for more than seven years, providing an understanding and sympathetic ear for those who have just been diagnosed with cancer.
Back in time at Barkerville
Ashcroft resident Martina Duncan—who earlier in the year was ordained as a traditional deacon—said that she was loving her summer position at St. Saviour’s Anglican Church in Barkerville, where it is always 1869. However, this meant that an adjustment had to be made to reflect the fact that women were not ordained as ministers in the Anglican Church until late in the 20th century. Instead of being the minister there, Duncan explained to visitors that she was Mary Page Reynard, wife of the minister who established St. Saviour’s, and that she was filling in while he was away.
Martina Duncan in character at St. Saviour’s Church in Barkerville. Photo by Jim Duncan.
Judges from the provincial Communities in Bloom visited Cache Creek, while national judges visited Ashcroft, as both communities were taking part in this year’s competitions. Ashcroft’s CiB committee celebrated its 10th anniversary with a party in the Heritage Park, which included the unveiling of four new glass mosaics.
First anniversary for HUB
The Ashcroft HUB celebrated its first anniversary, and a small celebration was held at the HUB building (the former Ashcroft Elementary School) to mark the occasion. HUB organizer Vicky Trill spoke of the dedicated band of volunteers who were determined to keep the school building open for the community, and the wide range of services and facilities now offered there.
Landfill extension gets closer
The Village of Cache Creek received a notice of intention to issue an operational certificate for the landfill extension. While Cache Creek mayor John Ranta felt there was still a chance that the liner could go into the extension this year, he acknowledged that it was more likely not to happen until 2017.
The Pokémon Go digital craze swept the globe, sending people out with their smartphones and devices to “capture” the virtual reality critters. However, the craze also caused safety and privacy issues, and led to warnings from police for people not to “Pokémon and drive”. In Australia, a driver playing the game lost control of his car and crashed through a fence and into a school (no one was injured).
Traffic up at visitor centre
The new site of the Ashcroft visitor centre—which in 2015 was moved to the Heritage Park on Railway—proved to be a hit with tourists. The centre was not open in 2015, but a team of volunteers under coordinator Val Parks kept it open seven days a week from June through August in 2016, and reported that numbers were well up over previous years.
New signage first of its kind
Village of Ashcroft staff worked to ensure that when new official highway signage from the Ministry of Transportation was put up on Highway 1 near the two roads into Ashcroft, the Communities in Bloom logo appeared on them. It’s the first time in the province that a community has had the CiB logo added to signage, and may be a first in the country.
One of the new signs with the Communities in Bloom logo. Photo by Barbara Roden.
Record attendance at Desert Daze
The seventh annual Desert Daze festival in Spences Bridge saw more than 300 people take in all or part of the two-day event, up from 200 people in 2015. Coordinator Mavourneen Varcoe-Ryan said she hoped that the festival would eventually get to the point where it is self-supporting, and there is no admission charge.
A taste of the arts
The fourth annual Fine and Dramatic Arts Camp, sponsored by the Winding Rivers Arts & Performance Society, attracted more than 50 participants aged four to 15. Those taking part had an opportunity to explore art, drumming, singing, acting and video, and their efforts were showcased in a performance at the end of the week-long program.
Online health records
Interior Health announced that its new MyHealthPortal program, which allows patients to access some of their health records online, would be coming to the Ashcroft and Cache Creek area in fall 2016. Among the records patients can see are lab and diagnostic imaging reports, hospital visits, and upcoming appointments.
Century Farm Award
Scotty Creek Farm north of Cache Creek was presented with the province’s Century Farm Award. The awards honour agricultural organizations that have been active for 100 years or more. The ranch was founded by Archibald Hunter in 1916, and is still run by his family.
The most serious area wildfire in a relatively quiet season was the South Spencer Road fire in Lytton. Several residents had to be evacuated from their homes, and the annual Lytton River Festival was almost postponed. BC Wildfire Service crews were on the ground for several days, battling the blaze. No structures were lost and no one was injured.
Attendance up at Fall Fair
More than 800 people attended the Ashcroft and District Fall Fair; a big increase over 2015, when 500 people attended. The number of entries was also up substantially, with 117 people entering 776 separate items for judging. Fall Fair committee president Jessica Clement said she hoped the fair would be back in 2017, but added that would depend on how many volunteers they had.
Filetta Fish returned to entertain young and old at the Ashcroft Fall Fair. Photo by Barbara Roden.
Approval for borrowing bylaw
At a referendum on September 17, residents of Ashcroft voted in favour of approving a bylaw to borrow up to $4.1 million for the construction of a new water treatment plant. When the votes were tallied, 313 had voted in favour of the bylaw, with 106 opposed.
Also on September 17, residents elected former councillor Helen Kormendy to a seat on Ashcroft council. Kormendy—who served as councillor from 2005 to 2014 and did not run in the last election—took the seat vacated by former councillor Al Mertens in June.
The fourth annual geocaching event put on by the Gold Country Communities Society was a big success, with 400 people braving the inclement weather to take part. Terri Hadwin, chief operating officer of the society, said that “all things point to us having another one” in 2017.
New playground equipment
A project to bring some new playground equipment to the Ashcroft pool park—spearheaded by the South Cariboo Elizabeth Fry Society and organized by local volunteers—came to fruition, with the new equipment unveiled on September 17. Unlike the equipment already there, which was only suitable for young children, the new equipment is designed for children up to the age of 16.