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2022 Year in Review: June

2022 Year in Review: June
Tony Harris, founder of the Cycle 16 Trail Society, was all smiles as the Smithers to Telkwa multi-use trail project finally broke ground June 10 after 11 years of dedicated effort. (Deb Meissner photo)


Crown proceeds with criminal charges against 15 Coastal GasLink pipeline opponents

The Crown decided to proceed with criminal charges against 15 of 27 protesters arrested last fall near a Coastal GasLink (CGL) pipeline worksite in the Houston area.

Prosecutor Trevor Shaw told B.C. Supreme Court Justice Marguerite Church on June 1, that the BC Prosecution Service (BCPS) would be charging the 15 with criminal contempt for breaching the Court’s 2019 injunction by participating in blockades and other anti-pipeline activities between September and November 2021.

Among the 15 is the Likhts’amisyu Clan’s Chief Dsta’hyl (Adam Gagnon), who was arrested Oct. 27, 2021 and charged with theft over $5,000 for allegedly decommissioning Coastal GasLink equipment while serving an eviction notice to company employees.

BV Taxi shuts down again

The return of a taxi service to Smithers proved to be short-lived.

Less than two years after Paddy Hirshfield and Patrick Hibbitts resurrected Bulkley Valley Taxi after Joyce Pottinger walked away from the business, they are turning off the medallion lights again.

“It’s been a hard decision to make,” they said in a Facebook announcement.”Ultimately, we achieved our goals of providing a key community service and good jobs, however, the market has not been strong enough to maintain our operations.”

The owners acknowledged the service and dedication of their staff and expressed pride that they were able to provide continuous service through the COVID-19 pandemic.

When Pottinger closed the doors in January 2020, she cited an inability to find staff as the main reason for stepping away.

Smithers conservation officer chases down armed robbery suspect

A Smithers conservation officer (CO) chased down and apprehended an armed robbery suspect last week after the man allegedly tried to hold up Salt Boutique on May 24.

People don’t often think of COs as police officers, but essentially that is what they are. Consequently, when Smithers CO Ron Leblanc and his partner heard a call Tuesday on their police dispatch radio about an armed robbery in progress at the Main Street store, they sprang into action. The COs hit their lights and siren and joined the RCMP in the search for the suspect who had fled the scene of the alleged crime on foot.

They spotted him moments later, according to the Conservation Officer Service, and Leblanc jumped out of the patrol truck and chased the man down.

“It was just like out of a movie,” said Leblanc. “As he’s running, the cash is falling out of his pocket as we’re chasing him.”

Leblanc caught up and apprehended the man, who now faces robbery as well as other unrelated charges.

Beaver takes down tree and Northwest B.C. phone and internet service

Officials identified a beaver as the cause of a June 7 outage that left many residents of northwestern B.C. without internet, landline and cellular service for more than eight hours.

The beaver gnawed its way through an aspen tree which then fell on both BC Hydro lines and a Telus fibre optics cable line strung along BC Hydro poles between Topley and Houston.

The resulting power outage affected just 21 BC Hydro customers but the fibre optics damage affected Telus customers in Burns Lake, Granisle, Haida Gwaii, the Hazeltons, Kitimat, Prince George, Prince Rupert, Smithers, Terrace, Thornhill, Houston, Topley, Telkwa, Fraser Lake and Vanderhoof.

BC Hydro official Bob Gammer said crews identified a beaver as the culprit becauuse of chew marks at the bottom of the downed tree.

Smithers wildlife shelter struggles amid gas price spike

The Northern Lights Wildlife Society (NLWS) stepped up fundraising to continue the shelter’s conservation work amid rising gas prices.

Up until June, the cost of running the shelter had already added up to more than co-founder Angelika Langen expected. “We are currently in the process of releasing 71 black bears and five grizzlies that we raised from last year, all over the province. We are looking at travelling 33,000 kilometres, plus having three helicopter flights,” said Langen.

The shelter estimated the helicopter flights would cost a total of $25,000, plus $8,000 for gas and oil changes.

Former chef of Coastal GasLink camp sues for sexual battery, unsanitary workplace

A woman who worked as an executive chef at one of Coastal GasLink’s remote camps is suing the company and her direct employer for allegedly failing to prevent or take action against harassing and abusive behaviour.

The 30-year-old, who Black Press Media is identifying by her initials J.M., filed her claim with the B.C. Supreme Court on May 11. She claims that during her time cooking for pipeline workers near Houston, B.C., from June 2021 to April 2022, she endured “harassing and abusive behaviours by inebriated employees, agents, and guests,” including one instance of sexual battery.

Cycle 16 breaks ground on Smithers to Telkwa multi-use trail

Cycle 16 broke ground on Phase 1 of the Smithers to Telkwa multi-use trail today (June 10) after seven years of planning, fundraising, approval processes, and consultations with landowners, the municipalities and the regional district.

Construction of Phase 1 from Bulkley River bridge in Smithers to Laidlaw Road is expected to be completed this summer. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, the entire trail, from Smithers to Telkwa’s Tyhee Market, is scheduled to be completed by 2024.

Total cost of the pathway is estimated at $7 million.

Smithers Special Olympics athletes strike gold

Two Smithers Special Olympics athletes combined for six gold medals at a June 4 regional meet in Smithers.

Andrea Forbes was in five events (100m, 200m, 400m, javelin and running long jump) taking three first-place finishes and two second-place finishes.

Torben Schuffert competed in four events (1500m 5000m, shot put and standing long jump) finishing first three times and second in the 1500m race, which ended in a photo finish.

Man charged following ambulance theft from Granisle

A Smithers man was charged following the theft in the early morning hours of June 18 of an ambulance from Granisle.

David Schmidt, 39, faces several counts of break and enter and possession of stolen property.

The ambulance subsequently rolled over near the entrance of the Lions Beach Campground south of the village and one person was seen leaving the area.

Police say they then located an adult male walking alongside the highway who was suffering from injuries consistent with being in a crash.

The ambulance was understood to have been damaged beyond repair from the rollover. A spare ambulance from Burns Lake was brought in immediately and no disruption in service was reported.

Northwest B.C. First Nation creates dictionary to save Witsuwit’en language

The Witsuwit’en Language & Culture Society is one group fighting to preserve their language.

On June 17, the society launched the Official Witsuwit’en-English Dictionary with a clear goal in mind: increase the number of people fluent in Witsuwit’en, Lucy Gagnon told Black Press Media.

“We have about three per cent of our nation that are fluent speakers.

“That adds up to about around 100 speakers, and for a nation of about 3,500, that’s very, very sad. So that’s been our goal, and the dictionary is one piece of the puzzle.”

Marisca Bakker

About the Author: Marisca Bakker

Marisca was born and raised in Ontario and moved to Smithers almost ten years ago on a one-year contract.
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