A local woman described as a “bright star” in the Elk Valley has been honoured at a public meeting in Fernie.
Jeri Mitchell was named the 2018 Electoral Area A Volunteer of the Year in March in recognition of her work with various organizations including the Fernie Ghostriders, Fernie Figure Skating Club and cancer support group, Fernie Friends for Friends.
She was formally recognized at a town hall meeting hosted by the Regional District of East Kootenay at the Fernie Family Centre on June 20. Area A director Mike Sosnowski said Mitchell had been aptly described as “a bright start in our Valley” by her nominator.
“Jeri is strongly community-minded,” he said.
“You can often find her volunteering at various events, whether it’s selling 50/50 tickets to raise money for a local organization or doing sales, security and grounds monitoring for the Lions Demolition Derby, you can count on her support and commitment.”
It’s the second time Mitchell has won Volunteer of the Year.
Priority projects outlined
Highway upgrades, increasing recycling opportunities and the completion of the West Fernie servicing project have been flagged as priorities for Electoral Area A.
On June 20, the Regional District of East Kootenay hosted a town hall meeting in Fernie to provide residents with a breakdown of the 2018 budget and priority projects.
The RDEK has hired Northwest Hydraulic Consultants to complete floodplain mapping along the Elk River from the septage ponds upstream of Hosmer, downstream to Morrissey but excluding the City of Fernie, Area A director Mike Sosnowski said this mapping would provide the RDEK with updated flood construction levels for new construction and would be used to develop a plan for mitigating flooding in affected areas.
The RDEK has applied to the Community Emergency Preparedness Fund for $750,000 in funding for erosion mitigation along the Hill Rd dike. The RDEK will chip in $350,000 towards the $1.1 million project and expects to find out if its application is successful by mid- to late-July.
Upgrading a busy section of highway from Dicken Rd to Hosmer has been identified as a priority project. According to Sosnowski, traffic volumes have increased by an average of seven per cent, with peak volumes up to 20 per cent since the last traffic study was undertaken in 2007. The RDEK has budgeted $1 million over four years to help fund turning lanes at the Snowy Peaks mobile home park. It is now waiting for a response from the B.C. Government.
West Fernie servicing project
The RDEK’s biggest construction project in history is close to completion. Project supervisor Elizabeth Ahlgren said an inspection had identified a “long but minor” list of deficiencies but assured West Fernie residents gathered at the meeting, “we really are on the home stretch now”. The RDEK is currently under budget for the $16.4 million two-phase project.
Rural fire update
A medical first responder will join the Hosmer volunteer fire service this fall. RDEK Deputy Fire Chief Michael Hockley said the first responder would provide a valuable service to the community by supporting BC Ambulance Service.
“A lot of time we can get to the patients quicker than BC Ambulance, just because of where they’re at,” he said.
Hockley said the Hosmer Fire Department was in desperate need of new volunteers. Contact the RDEK or visit Rdek.bc.ca to find out about a new benefits program that is available to volunteer firefighters.
Waste management review
The RDEK has embarked on a study to find out what’s in taxpayers’ waste. Starting this month, the waste audit will assess 120 samples of solid waste from various waste streams. It’s part of a wider review of the region’s solid waste management plan, which will also identify increased opportunities for recycling.
“We literally have people going through the garbage and sorting it into various categories… then we do an evaluation to determine what’s in our garbage,” said RDEK Environmental Services Supervisor Kevin Paterson. “That will help drive some of our decision-making processes going forward.” In 2015, the average East Kootenay resident threw away 562kg of waste annually, more than 60kg above the provincial average. “We know that we’ve got some ground to make up and some things to do to enhance and improve our services,” said Paterson.