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September Year in Review

Jimmy Fitzmaurice, 13-year-old Grade 8 Smithers Seconday School student steered a school bus to safety while another student pulled the emergency brake after the driver suffered a medical incident. (Deb Meissner photo)


Art gallery pulls back from gallery/library building project

The new library and art gallery building project is off the books.

The Town of Smithers, Smithers Public Library and Smithers Art Gallery have been working together for many years trying to bring a new library/gallery building to the town.

While the Central Park Building does have significant limitations, the gallery is now content with their current spaces and the ability to continue to grow their offerings related to the visual arts in the community and beyond.

Meanwhile, the library and the town intend to continue working toward a new library building to meet the current needs of the community. They will look into exploring alternative models that may increase the likelihood of receiving the necessary financial support from senior levels of government.

Grand re-opening of Main Street in Smithers celebrated

The re-landscaping of Main Street in Smithers was completed in September. Following a summer of closed roads and limited parking, it was completed on time, but not on budget.

After town council agreed to increase the Downtown Landscaping Revitalization total project budget to $1,260,000.00 from $1,160,000.00, with the additional funds to come from the Northern Capital Planning Grant, the project could be completed.

“This project will help the Town of Smithers ensure we have a vibrant and strong Downtown core, making it one of the most inviting spaces in Northern British Columbia,” said Mayor Gladys Atrill at the time.

Family claims RCMP said man who died in Smithers jail was on ‘suicide watch’

The family of a man who died while in Smithers RCMP custody spoke out in September, saying RCMP told them he was on “suicide watch” before his death.

Family members told Black Press Media that the man who died was 34-year-old Barrett Jack of Witset.

They stated they were informed by police on Sept. 4, that Jack had died while in custody, by “taking his own life.”

According to the BC Independent Investigations Office (IIO), RCMP notified the police watchdog immediately following the death.

Block party held to celebrate Alex Cuba Grammy

Approximately 1,000 people took part in a block party Sept. 17 to honour Smithers’ own Grammy Award winner Alex Cuba.

The event at Bovill Square featured bands from around the region, the Ewk Hiyah Hozdli Witsuwit’en drummers from Witset, speakers, food vendors and a beer garden.

Entertainment included Mark Perry, Rachelle Van Zanten, Earthchild and Elijah Quinn.

Cuba himself was not on the bill, but performed a surprise set at the very end of the concert to the delight of the gathered crowd.

Cuba’s Grammy for “Best Latin Pop Album” is distinct in honouring him not only for his work as a musician but for the full gamut of “Artist/Producer/Engineer” for his most recent album, Mendó which he recorded in his living room in Smithers, BC – a first for him – during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Skaters celebrate more space

Construction was completed on the Smithers Skatepark expansion in September.

The new park is more than double the size of the current one, which was built more than 20 years ago.

While this is just the first phase, if the Skateboard Society meets its fundraising goals it should be able to break ground for phase two of the expansion next summer, which will involve adding a bowl element to the park.

Then the final step of the expansion, phase three, is to add elements such as lighting, accessible seating and a shaded picnic table area to improve the aesthetics to the area.

Familar face returns to regional district as area A director

It was a game-time decision for Stoney Stoltenberg.

After no one put their name forward to run for the director of Area A in the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako, the nomination deadline was extended and just before the extension ran out, Stoltenberg threw his hat into the ring.

The 79-year-old was the director for two terms, two terms ago and said he came out of retirement to make sure someone was in the position who cared about the area.

If no one ran, the board would appoint someone and Stoltenberg said the area might be represented by someone who didn’t really want the position, or even live in the region.

Smithers teens hailed as heroes for stopping runaway school bus

Two quick-thinking, fast-acting young teens recognized their bus driver was having a medical incident and jumped into action in Smithers on Sept. 23.

The two students noticed the bus driver having what they originally thought was a “panic attack” of some kind on their regular route after school, and one jumped up to apply the brakes of the school bus. The other grabbed the wheel, steering them away from a treed area they were heading into. Once stopped, the teens used the bus radio to call for help.

The bus driver was transported to the hospital for assessment and observation and was released the next day.

RCMP seize drugs and cash from travel trailer

Police arrested two people and seized illicit drugs, cash and drug trafficking paraphernalia on Sept. 17.

As the result of an ongoing investigation, the Smithers RCMP obtained a search warrant for a travel trailer, which was parked on Crown land in the Bulkley River area known as Dohler Flats.

During the search, officers located a “significant quantity” of illicit drugs, Canadian currency, and paraphernalia consistent with drug trafficking behaviour.

Officers arrested a man and woman while executing the search warrant, both of whom were been released without charges pending further investigation.

Adam Kingsmill wins silver in Czech Republic; selected for Canadian Olympic team

Smithers’ own Adam Kingsmill was once again chosen to represent Canada in international competition in September.

Canada’s National Para Hockey Team went undefeated at the International Para Hockey Cup, Sept. 24-30 in Ostrava, Czechia until the championship game.

In the final they were defeated by the USA 4-0.

With twice the amount of room, people enjoyed every part of the new skateboard park in Smithers. (Deb Meissner photo)

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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