A pair of American Goldfinch were a highlight of the 2021 Christmas bird count. (Dave Heberlein/Wikimedia Commons)

A pair of American Goldfinch were a highlight of the 2021 Christmas bird count. (Dave Heberlein/Wikimedia Commons)

2022 Year in review: January

NEW YEAR’S BABY BORN JAN. 1

2022 kicked off with a bright light for the Devries family.

Nathan Devries was born at 12:08 p.m. on New Year’s Day at the Bulkley Valley District Hospital, the first baby of the year for Smithers.

He was welcomed into the world by mom Arianne and big brother Lucas.

CN WINS RIGHT TO SUE HAZELTON BLOCKADERS

Nearly two years after Coastal GasLink pipeline opponents shut down rail service at New Hazelton with a blockade of the tracks in February 2020, the B.C. Supreme Court decided the company could pursue criminal contempt charges against three of the blockaders.

A total of 12 people were arrested associated with the New Hazelton blockade for breaching a previous injunction agains rail blockades, but the BC Prosecution Service (BCPS) declined to prosecute any of them in April 2021.

In his decision to allow CN to pursue the charges, Justice Ward Branch said, “Failing to maintain the possibility of a finding of criminal contempt may undermine the administration of justice.”

The judge did agree with the BCPS that for nine of the 12 individuals there was not enough evidence to prove a prior knowledge of the injunction.

LIMITED OPENING FOR BULKLEY VALLEY SCHOOLS

School District 54 announced in the first week of January schools would open Jan. 10, but only for certain students according to provincial COVID-19 guidelines.

Students who were in the classrooms the second week of January were: those with disabilities who required additional support; those who were considered vulnerable; and those whose parents were deemed essential workers.

CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT DOWN

Participants in the annual Smithers Christmas Bird Count recorded the lowest numbers ever with 4,244 individuals of 45 species.

The low count was attributed mainly to severe cold weather in December 2021. Highlights included two American Goldfinch, a first time for the count.

HAZELTON SECONDARY SHUT DOWN

Hazelton Secondary School opened Jan. 10 only to be closed two days later due to a staff shortage. The school district would only say it was a “functional closure” due to not having enough staff “to provide a required level of student safety” amid speculation there was an outbreak of COVID-19.

The school opened again January 17.

REAL ESTATE SALES INCREASE

In mid-January, the BC Northern Real Estate Board released its statistics for the previous year.

In 2021, 261 properties worth $98.6 million sold in Smithers compared to 252 properties worth $83.5 million in 2020.

Of those 2021 sales, 105 were single-family homes with the median value being $400,000.

TELKWA MAYOR RESIGNS

Following months of being absent from council meetings, Telkwa Mayor Brad Layton stepped down .

In a press release Jan. 13, the Village of Telkwa only cited “health issues.”

Layton was first elected as a councillor in 2011 and served in that capacity until he was elected as mayor in 2019.

It was later discovered Layton had been charged with possession of Fentanyl and was scheduled to appear in court in March.

SMITHERS WASTEWATER NOT IN COMPLIANCE

In January, town council applied, for a second time, for a grant to address a problem with the Wastewater Treatment Plant that could end up costing the Town up to $6 million in fines.

In 2020, the Town was issued a warning in April 2020 for exceeding the authorized concentration of suspended solids in effluent.

At its Jan. 11 meeting council directed staff to re-apply for the 2022 Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program grant stream, offering this time to contribute 30 per cent of the total project cost from the Capital Spending Budget rather than the minimum of 26.67 per cent.

“We are doing absolutely everything we can to secure funds for this project,” Mayor Gladys Atrill said.

The Town is still not compliant.

BETTY WHITE CHALLENGE RAISES $11K FOR WILDLIFE SHELTER

The Betty White Challenge raised $10,827 on Jan. 17 for the Northern Lights Wildlife Society (NLWS), a very unexpected and welcomed financial support, according to staff.

“What an incredible way to help beyond your lifetime,” Angelika Langen, owner of NLWS, said.

Donations flowed into the society’s shelter, and at animal shelters everywhere, to commemorate what would have been the 100th birthday of Hollywood actor and animal rights activist Betty White. She died just before reaching the century mark.

WOMAN SHOT IN NEW HAZELTON HOME INVASION

A New Hazelton woman was injured by a gunshot Jan. 16 in an incident police characterized as a “home invasion.”

According to an RCMP press release, three suspects, two carrying firearms entered a residence in the 2100 block of 23rd Avenue at around 2 a.m. and attempted to gain entry into a room in the home.

Witnesses said shots were fired resulting in non-life-threatening injuries to an adult woman, the release stated. She was taken to hospital for treatment.

In October, New Hazelton RCMP issued a release seeking help in finding 19-year-old Kasey Snider, one of the suspects in the incident.

SMITHERS SHOWS SOLIDARITY WITH TRUCKER CONVOY

As a huge convoy of truckers settled into the nation’s capital, Smithers demonstrated a huge show of support Jan. 29.

Hundreds of vehicles of all shapes and sizes, lights flashing and horns honking, wound their way east out of Smithers on Hwy 16 in solidarity with a massive rally being held on Parliament Hill to protest vaccine mandates and restrictions stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vehicles carried Canadian flags and signs with various messages as part of a public movement that began gathering steam the previous week when convoys left to be in Ottawa for today’s rally.

 

Hundreds of vehicles paraded through Smithers Jan. 29 in solidarity with the trucker convoy that converged on Ottawa that weekend to protest vaccine mandates and COVID-19 related restrictions. (Deb Meissner photo)

Hundreds of vehicles paraded through Smithers Jan. 29 in solidarity with the trucker convoy that converged on Ottawa that weekend to protest vaccine mandates and COVID-19 related restrictions. (Deb Meissner photo)

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