2016 News highlights: January – March

Here's the first part of the annual year in review, highlighting significant news events from the first three months of 2016.

  • Dec. 29, 2016 7:00 a.m.

Do Your Part Recycling employee Max Kurz holds up items that contributed to the contamination of the recycling stream

Here’s the first part of the annual year in review, highlighting significant news events from the first three months of 2016. More to come.

January

The federal and provincial governments is downloading a portion of costs for police DNA testing to municipalities, and for the City of Terrace that means local taxpayers have to come up with $11,400 annually beginning this year.

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A Terrace legal aid lawyer received the honourary title of Queen’s Counsel. Judith Kenecan is one of 39 lawyers across B.C. to receive the acknowledgement based on merit and contributions to the legal profession.

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Inspector Dana Hart, the commanding officer of the Terrace RCMP detachment, announced his retirement, after nearly 30 years in the national police force, which included serving with security for former prime ministers Jean Chretien and Stephen Harper. His service was capped by four and a half years as the head of the Terrace detachment.

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Sandy Watson was chosen in a Jan. 9 byelection to represent Thornhill on the Coast Mountains school district board. She defeated two other candidates to fill a vacancy created when longtime Thornhill trustee Gary Turner passed away in October 2015.

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Officers from the Lisims/Nass Valley RCMP detachment continue to make seizures of liquor with the goal of stemming bootlegging in the Nass Valley. The latest seizure took the form of 16  bottles of hard liquor, taken from a vehicle that officers stopped on Hwy113, the main route leading into the Nass Valley from Terrace.

February

It’s the end of an entertainment era in Terrace with the closure of the last video/DVD rental store in town – Video Stop located in the Gobind Mall. Owner Harminder Dosanjh had hopes of finding a buyer but in the end there were no takers. The store can trace its roots back to 1983 when Video Stop opened on the corner of Lakelse and Emerson.

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After 50 years in business, the accounting firm of McAlpine and Company merged with the national accounting and consulting firm MNP, effective Feb. 1. MNP then has four offices in northern B.C. and 20 in B.C.

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Pacific Future Energy announced plans to build a multi-billion dollar oil refinery near Kitimat to produce gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and butane. It would bring in the raw product by rail from Alberta to be processed at a facility it says will use the latest in green technology. But the plan does not include either a marine export terminal nor the pipeline network to carry the refined products from the refinery to the terminal.

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Regional carrier Hawkair has stopped being an independent entity and is flying under the umbrella and schedule of Central Mountain Airlines, which is owned by the same parent company. The move, prompted by a decline in passenger travel, means a closure of Hawkair’s reservations office at the Northwest Regional Airport.

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The City of Terrace had good news from the federal government saying it was receiving  $4.3 million, essentially a return of some of the 10 cents a litre in taxes being charged for gasoline. It means a long-planned extensive renovation and rehabilitation of the aquatic centre can be done all at once. The city had at first been planning to do the work in stages, beginning in several years.

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Unintended consequences arose after the southern end of the Sande Overpass was redone, adding lights and a second turning lane left onto Keith Ave. More than six collisions were reported between vehicles coming from Keith turning left onto the overpass, and vehicles crossing straight through on Keith from the east. Authorities warned drivers to pay close attention.

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The falling Canadian dollar compared to the American greenback is helping keep construction costs down at the Brucejack gold mine, being built by Pretium Resources of Vancouver. The mine is expected to open in late 2017 and bring economic benefits.

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One of the more promising, albeit small, LNG projects contemplated for the Kitimat area was shelved. AltaGas, the lead company for the Douglas Channel project, says market conditions just don’t make it viable. That decision is in spite of the project’s one advantage, with plans to use natural gas transported through the existing Pacific Northern Gas pipeline also owned by AltaGas.

March

Terrace city council is opposing any move by the RCMP to eliminate the inspector’s position at the detachment here. The number of officers has fallen below what the national police force requires for an inspector to be in charge. The position went vacant with the retirement of Dana Hart, and it is standard to review vacant administrative positions, but the city said there’s enough police activity to justify keeping the position.

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There’s not going to be a referendum asking citizens whether they want fluoride in the drinking water, council decided after hearing a presentation from Northern Health Authority medical health officer Dr. Raina Fumerton. The issue arose after a 400-signature petition – 260 of those signing lived within the city boundaries – called for a vote.

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A civil case against a former Terrace RCMP officer alleged to have assaulted a man after an arrest in 2012 has been settled out of court. Heather Prisk says her husband Robert Wright has a permanent brain injury that requires full-time care following an incident after he was arrested for impaired driving and placed in cells by then-Terrace RCMP Constable Brian Heideman. Prisk, acting as Wright’s advocate, sued for damages in a civil case filed in 2014. Wright’s lawyer, Scott Stanley, announced a settlement in a release March 10. While in custody, Wright struck his head and was taken to Mills Memorial Hospital several times over one night before finally being flown to Vancouver for treatment.

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An imposing procession headed from Thornhill to Terrace March 16, with close to 50 work trucks and construction vehicles including a front-end loader decked out with pro-liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry and jobs signs. It was one of three rallies that day, with others in Fort St. John and Fort Nelson, and Terrace saw more than 120 people gather at the west side of the Skeena Mall parking lot to voice a “yes” for the proposed LNG industry promised for the north.

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Northwest Community College is negotiating with the provincial government about an extensive renovation of its trades building in Terrace. Built in 1970, the 75,000 square-foot structure was consistently tagged by the college as out-of-date and insufficient to meet the kind of trades training needed. The college originally had conceived a plan in 2012 for a complete replacement at a forecast cost then of $45 million. But that was sidelined in favour of a renovation of the existing building.

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