2016 year in review: Garbage Gobblers make a return to B.C.’s highways

Plus Cornwall fire lookout is saved, work starts on a water treatment plant at Bonaparte, a prestigious award for Gerry Wong, and more.

An original Garbage Gobbler at Ashcroft Manor. The Gobblers are making a comeback throughout the province.

An original Garbage Gobbler at Ashcroft Manor. The Gobblers are making a comeback throughout the province.

OCTOBER

Five blooms for Cache Creek

Cache Creek earned its highest award ever at the provincial Communities in Bloom competition: five blooms, the top honour. The award came in the village’s fifth year of competition, and was accompanied by a special mention of the community’s floral displays. Cache Creek CiB committee chair Carmen Ranta said that “I went to the awards ceremony knowing whether we win or lose, we’ve done our best for Cache Creek.”

Best bloomin’ business

The Ashcroft Communities in Bloom committee presented its Best Bloomin’ Business award to Community Futures Sun Country. The award recognizes the work that businesses put into making their buildings and sites attractive, and Sun Country was praised for the colourful planters and floral displays in front of, and beside, the building.

Grant for Ashcroft Indian Band

The AIB received a grant of $99,620 under the provincial government’s new rural dividend grant program. The band plans to use the funds for a commercial greenhouse project, to be constructed on the site of the former race track, which closed permanently in April 2016.

Water treatment plant for Bonaparte

Ground was broken for the official start of the construction of a water treatment plant on the Bonaparte reserve north of Cache Creek. The reserve currently has no water treatment capacity, and the plant will mean clean, treated water for residents. Work on the plant is scheduled to be complete by June 2017.

Visitor centre success

It was a record-setting year for numbers at the Cache Creek visitor centre, which saw 8,300 people come through the door; an increase of 1,900 visitors over last year. The centre was managed by the Gold Country Communities Society for the 2016 year, and the society has put in a proposal to manage the centre in 2017 as well.

Reprieve for fire lookout

The historic Cornwall fire lookout tower atop Cornwall Mountain near Ashcroft was saved when the Four Wheel Drive Society of B.C. stepped in to take over its management. The tower—which has not been used as a fire lookout since 2003—was scheduled to be torn down by BC Parks in September 2015 unless someone stepped in to take it over. The society’s regional director said they were alerted to the tower’s plight by a story in The Journal in July 2015, which reported the plans to tear it down.

The historic Cornwall fire lookout was saved from demolition. Photo by Grahame Rainey.

Equality Project marks anniversary

The Equality Project, based in Cache Creek, celebrated its second anniversary. Since moving to a permanent home at the former Jehovah’s Witness hall on Stage Road in Cache Creek, the Project has been able to expand the services it offers to the less fortunate in the village and surrounding area.

NOVEMBER

TNRD to step in at landfill

The Thompson-Nicola Regional District said that it would be operating the residential drop-off (RDO) at the Cache Creek landfill once the landfill stopped accepting garbage on December 31, 2016. Area residents and municipalities would still be able to take garbage to the RDO, but as of January 1, users would be charged for any non-recyclable items they took to the site. Jamie Vieira, manager of environmental services for the TNRD, noted that tipping fees are charged at all other TNRD waste facilities, and said “There will be no place to take garbage unless the TNRD steps in. If we stepped in and didn’t charge fees it would be unfair.”

Timmie’s coming to travel centre

Greg Blain, chief of the Ashcroft Indian Band, confirmed that a Tim Horton’s outlet was coming to the Esso travel centre at Cornwall Road and Highway 1 near Ashcroft Manor. He said that there will be inside service and a drive-through at the site, which he hoped would be open in early January 2017.

New record at Hat Creek

For the first time, attendance at Historic Hat Creek Ranch topped the 20,000 mark, with 21,000 visitors in 2016. The site’s manager, Don Pearse, noted that changes were coming to the site in 2017: a new gift shop, a new service building, and a new name. The board decided to drop the “Ranch” portion of the site’s name, as it is not really talked about or interpreted; the focus is on the gold rush and Victorian/Edwardian period, before the site became a ranch.

Visitors to Historic Hat Creek topped 20,000 for the first time. Photo courtesy Historic Hat Creek.

Five blooms bronze for Ashcroft

Competing in the “Class of Champions” category at the national Communities in Bloom competition, the Village of Ashcroft received five blooms bronze, and received its highest-ever rating of 85.13 per cent. Special mention was made of the glass mosaics that have gone up in the town, with the judges stating that “There are many communities throughout Canada that have gained recognition through various displays of art. Ashcroft will be one of these communities advancing their recognition and tourism through their Glass Mosaic displays.”

Successful year for Cache Creek market

An average of 13 vendors were at each Saturday outdoor market in Cache Creek throughout the summer, with a season high 22 vendors there on opening day in May. Market manager Wendy Coomber said that it was a good year for the market, despite having rain almost every Saturday from June onward, and added that the number of vendors has been growing steadily each year since the market’s inception in 2011.

New plaques for Ashcroft

The Village of Ashcroft has ordered 12 more historic plaques, which will be available for display on sites of historic or architectural significance throughout the community. An initial batch of 12 plaques was ordered in 1996, and are currently on display at residential and commercial buildings throughout the downtown.

The Village of Ashcroft has ordered 12 more historic plaques, which will be available early in 2017. Photo by Wendy Coomber.

Loon Lake clean-up

Brothers Marcus (12) and Adam (13) Battistel, who live in Langley but spend a large part of each summer at the family cabin at Loon Lake, spent some of their vacation time this summer cleaning up more than 1,000 feet of lakefront, both beside and underneath the water. The boys had noticed large quantities of garbage in and around the water, and decided to do something about it. They plan to continue their work next summer.

Gift for Clinton

The Village of Clinton received an unexpected gift: a cheque for $150 from Herb and Faye Pannekoek of Williams Lake, who wanted to show their appreciation for the clean, warm, and well-lit public washroom maintained by the village, which they use when passing through Clinton. “We applaud your community for making [these facilities] available.”

Theatrical success

The Winding Rivers Arts & Performance Society’s production of the classic black comedy Arsenic and Old Lace played to packed houses during five performances at the Ashcroft HUB. “Teamwork and talent are alive and well in Ashcroft,” wrote Esther Darlington in her review.

Stop of Interest signs are coming back

Transportation Minister Todd Stone spoke with The Journal about his ministry’s decision to refurbish (and in some cases replace) the iconic Stop of Interest signs around the province, and also add up to 75 new signs by summer 2017. Stone also said that Garbage Gobblers—an original one of which can be seen at Ashcroft Manor—are making a comeback along the province’s highways.

Members of the public have until January 31, 2017 to nominate a person, place, or event to be commemorated by a new sign (http://engage.gov.bc.ca/stopsofinterest/).

Happy 125th for Ashcroft church

St. Alban’s Anglican Church celebrated its 125th anniversary, with dozens of people gathering to reminisce about the white church with the red doors, and some of the people associated with it over the decades. Bishop Barbara Andrews, responsible for the Anglican parishes of the Central Interior, said “When I look at those bright red doors, all I see is welcome.”

DECEMBER

Life sentence for Shane Gyoba

After being found guilty in June 2016 of second-degree murder in the death of his uncle Ed Gyoba, 30-year-old Shane Gyoba was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 10 years. Shane killed his uncle outside their Ashcroft home in June 2014.

Green Party candidate for riding

Art Green, a film technician from Hope, received the Green Party nomination for the Fraser-Nicola riding. Protecting water resources, increasing tourism in the area, and getting a soundstage built in the region are among his campaign platforms.

Mining award for Gerry Wong

It was reported that long-time Ashcroft resident and Highland Valley Teck worker Gerry Wong received the Chief Inspector’s Recognition Award for his outstanding contributions to health and safety in the B.C. mining industry. It was the second time Wong received the award; in 2010 he shared the award with a number of others who helped rescue a trapped worker at the Graymont Pavilion quarry in 2007.

Gerry Wong with the Chief Inspector’s Recognition Award. Photo courtesy Teck Highland Valley.

Running for NDP nomination

Chief Aaron Sam of the Lower Nicola Band announced that he would be seeking the NDP nomination for the Fraser-Nicola riding. Sam, a lawyer, is challenging former four-time MLA and cabinet minister Harry Lali for the NDP nod.

Early closure for landfill

It was announced on December 8 that the Cache Creek landfill would cease accepting garbage as of December 15, rather than December 31 as originally announced. Jamie Vieira said that the TNRD was ready to step in and begin accepting residential and municipal waste at the residential drop-off and newly constructed tipping pad as of December 16.

The TNRD also announced that prepaid Eco-Cards were available for sale at various businesses in Ashcroft and Cache Creek, as well as both village offices, for anyone who would need to pay tipping fees at the site (which cannot accept cash, debit cards, or credit card