A year is a long time and this last one featured a myriad of highs and lows and strikes and gutters. As the community moves into 2016, let's take a look back at some of the issues that defined the Crowsnest Pass last year.
January 7Year in Review
In 2015, an avalanche at the Castle Mountain Ski Resort buried three skiers, they were fine, the Pass was featured on a CBC series, Still Standing, which was a smash, and the Hillcrest Mine Disaster 100-year anniversary was observed. Remember that time?
A river runs through it
Clay pigeons taking fire
On Jan. 5 at approximately 4:30 p.m., a complaint was received of shots fired north of the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre. A patrol was made and the RCMP located two males who said they were shooting clay pigeons and had a proper firearms licence.
Cat skiing at Castle Mountain
The Pass Herald was invited to Castle Mountain to try cat skiing, an increasingly popular way for skiers and snowboarders to get knee deep in untouched powder using repurposed ski hill grooming machines.
“Being purists, we won’t populate our mountain with snowmaking equipment,” said Castle Mountain’s sales and marketing coordinator Ryan Lachapelle. “For those of you who are okay with manmade slush, there’s a 7-Eleven in Pincher Creek.”
Former fire chief sues municipality
The municipality was served as the defendant in a legal claim by Jamie Margetak, the former chief of the Blairmore Fire Department and by members of the Blairmore Smoke Eaters Community Society.
Both claims were initiated after the events of 2012 when Margetak was relieved of his duties by the municipality after 34-years on the job.
According to a municipal release, the claims are currently in the hands of the courts.
“As the Municipality moves through the legal process, we will endeavor to keep the community advised within the constraints imposed upon it,” said the release.
Fire at the Bellevue Inn
On Jan. 30 at approximately 2 a.m., Crowsnest Pass Fire/Rescue Inn responded to a call at the Bellevue Inn and found the front of the structure engulfed in flames. It took four hours to extinguish the blaze. Nobody was injured. Though the first floor and upstairs apartments were badly damaged, the bar was left relatively untouched and the Bellevue Inn officially reopened on Super Bowl Sunday and served fire themed drink specials all day.
First Baby of the new year
A hospital spokesperson confirmed that other Pass residents have already given birth this year but had to deliver their babies at other health centres due to staffing issues.
Local librarian retires after 37 years
Brenda Venier, school librarian, storyteller and educator at both the M.D. McEachern School and Horace Allen School retired after a 37-year career.
At her retirement ceremony on Jan. 30, Venier treated assembled students and staff to a story called The Imagination Hat. It tells of how she used her imagination to forge a career as a Crowsnest educator.
“Whether you are young or old, always find a place and time to wear your imagination hats,” she said. “Please never stop wearing them.”
Berger announces bid for re-election
In front of small crowd at the Blairmore Lions Club, former MLA Evan Berger announced his bid for the Progressive Conservative nomination for the constituency of Livingstone-Macleod.
He was inspired to seek reelection by Premier Jim Prentice, whom Berger referred to as a “common sense, pragmatic, get it done kind of guy.”
He later lost the election to incumbent MLA Pat Stier.
A Q & A with a Castle Mountain random camper
They’d been illegally living in the bush since July until Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD) forestry officers and the RCMP ordered a group of random campers to leave their campsite South of Castle Mountain Resort for violating the Public Lands Act.
“Our officers have talked to them and asked them to move their site, just because you need to let the land recuperate from people being on it for a long period of time,” explained ESRD spokesperson Chara Goodings.
The Pass Herald caught up with one of the random campers named Dean – he declined to give his last name. Dean said he was a father of four in his mid-forties. He said he was originally from Fort McMurray, worked seasonally, enjoyed living off the grid and was homeschooling his children.
Break in at the Bargain Shop
On March 1, there was a smash-and-grab at the Bargain Shop. Police had taped off the area for the active investigation and forensic work. According to one witness, cigarettes had been stolen.
Lots of silliness at 2015 ‘CanDo’ Wintervention
It started with pancakes and ended with skiing but in between there was an unseasonable amount of silliness at the weekend’s dog day themed Wintervention.
Festivities began with a pancake breakfast at Blairmore Lions Pride Hall. Then participants ran a five-kilometer Sole Survivor fun run to work off all that pancake batter and syrup.
Dozens showed up at Blairmore’s Gazebo Park for a frying pan toss and a human dog sled race for the chance to win cash prizes.
The Pincher Creek Huskies attained SPUD League supremacy
With their near perfect season wrapped at home against Picture Butte on February 20, the Huskies were crowned Zone 5 Champions.
The team finished the regular season with a winning 15-1 record. Their only loss came against the Strathmore Storm in their hometown tournament.
“They’re a great bunch of kids that get along and work hard,” said Huskies’ coach Kent Goodreau. “We play our system and they’ve all bought into it and it’s working for us.”
A Q and A with Kirk Muspratt
Crowsnest Pass native Kirk Muspratt was in town adjudicating the music festival. Now living in Chicago, the professional conductor splits his time between the Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra, New Philharmonic and DuPage Opera Theatre.
The Pass Herald caught up with Muspratt to talk about the musical talent found in the Pass, the music industry and the finer points of music.
“I was born here and I grew up here and I’m very grateful because it’s a wonderful place. When I was a kid, every- body was studying music, everyone loved music and almost every kid in my Grade 1 class was taking piano lessons,” said Muspratt. “There were also tons of kids in the community band and the orchestra. It was normal. Your parents were doing it; your friends were doing it, so you did it. It was a perfect time in a perfect place.”
Ruckus in front of Ryp’s
On March 17 at approximately 7 a.m., three intoxicated males were reportedly causing a ruckus in front of Ryp Athletics in Blairmore. Later that day they were located, arrested and charged with causing a disturbance. A hearing was held and they were released on documents to appear in Pincher Creek Provincial Court.
Logging wraps up near Star Creek
The controversial logging project near Star Creek was almost completed by April 1.
Environmentalists opposed the project and purchased ads in the Pass Herald voicing their concerns. Council supported it and more-or-less kept quiet.
The University of Alberta and Environment and Sustainable Resource Development’s (ESRD) forestry division were studying how current and potential future forest harvesting practices and compare it to the impacts of wildfire. Canfor Pulp Products Inc. accepted the contract to log 168 hectares of forest near the Star Creek headwaters.
Loggers used three different harvesting practices including clear-cutting, strip harvesting and shelterwood harvesting.
April Fools! - ESRD moves forward with plan to log
We published a satirical article on the ESRD’s controversial plan to harvest all vegetation from Blairmore that stands higher than shoulder height.
We said the experimental logging project was a collaboration between ESRD, the University of Alberta and Kazak Logging Corp. and aimed to answer several research questions including how different harvesting techniques impacted government make-work logging projects.
Though several local logging companies turned down the contract, ESRD was able to hire Kazakhstan’s national logging company Kazak Logging Corp., to complete the work.
“Kazakhstan has very few trees and our loggers are poor and often restive,” explained Kazak Logging Corp CEO Nursultan Nazarbaye. “For us this is a great opportunity.”
Teck confirms treatment plant responsible for fish death
Teck’s $100-million water treatment plant was responsible for a fish kill in October 2014.
A total of 74 deceased fish were found near the West Line Creek Water Treatment Facility, which was built as part of a $600-million, five-year plan to address the pollution threat to westslope cutthroat trout and other aquatic life in the Elk Valley, between October 16 and November 5.
“We accept responsibility for this unfortunate occurrence and are now working to restart the facility and implement measures to prevent a reoccurrence,” said Robin Sheremeta, Vice President of Coal Operations.” Teck is committed to learning from this incident and implementing the measures necessary to maintain water quality and aquatic health in the Elk River watershed.”
Premier Prentice rolls into town, supports Evan Berger, preaches pipeline
Then Premier Jim Prentice made a campaign stop at the Coleman Seniors’ Centre, shaking hands, pitching pipelines and pushing for an election victory that would never come.
“It’s a great stop because this is a place I grew up and worked,” said Prentice. “It was great to be here with friends and family. It means a lot to me.”
Crude prices had already bottomed out, as had Progressive Conservative fortunes and Prentice lost the election to Premier Rachel Notley and the NDP.
Crowsnest volunteers celebrated
Rudy Pagnucco, Irene Filafilo and Joe Trotz were named to the Order of the Crowsnest Pass.
The Order of Crowsnest Pass Youth Award was given to 10th grader Stephanie Duarte Pedrosa. The community’s volunteers were celebrated during the 2015 Crowsnest Pass Volunteer Appreciation Dinner April 16 at the M.D. McEachern Community Center with a catered meal from Chris’ Restaurant and a magic show.
KRA Pro Rodeo
The 33rd KRA Pro Rodeo saw three sold out days of non-stop rodeo action that featured bull riding, steer wrestling and much more. Saturday’s KRA Cabaret at the Coleman arena featured mechanical bull riding, the country sounds of Montana’s Copper Mountain Band and a goodly amount of two stepping.
Orange crush: NDP sweeps away 44-year PC dynasty
On May 5, voters handed the Alberta NDP the keys to the province in a historic election that brought an end to Progressive Conservative party’s 44-year dynasty.
The NDP won 53 ridings, the Wildrose remained the official opposition with 21 seats. The PCs imploded, lost several high-profile cabinet members, their leader Jim Prentice and won only 10 seats. The Liberals won a seat, as did the Alberta Party.
“My friends, I think change has finally come to Alberta,” said Premier Rachel Notley.
Random campers cause brush fire on Turtle Mountain
A group of random campers almost ignited the west-face of Turtle Mountain when their campfire got out of control.
“It was a quick knockdown but it could have been a lot worse,” said fire chief Jamie Wilkinson. “If it had been windy, that would have been a whole different story.”
As it happened, only a small section of ground and a makeshift shelter belonging to three campers burned.
Three men at the scene, who appeared to be in their 30s, said they were from Lethbridge and had been camping at the site.
Two of them had gone to the Tim Hortons in Blairmore and got back at their camp shortly after the blaze was extinguished. One of the campers, who refused to give his name, explained that his colleague had stayed to guard the camp.
A true love story at the chapel
Lethbridge couple Belle and Kris Peterson completed renovated the Wayside Chapel and then got married in it.
“When I first saw this place, I thought they were crazy,” said Kris’ mother Wendy.
The chapel had been covered in graffiti and peeling paint.
An independent contractor, Kris is the owner and operator of Kris’ Projects Inc. He took time off work to get the job done.
The Christian Reformed Church in Granum, which owns the Wayside Chapel, donated building supplies.
A group of volunteers showed up to help the Petersons tie the knot including Derwin Bonney of Bellevue.
“It’s a neat thing to do,” said Bonney. “I’m retired, I’ve got the time so I came down and offered my services. Kris and Belle are great people and it’s been fun.”
Marriage commissioner Jenine Trotz performed the ceremony and about 10 people packed into the tiny church.
“Every wedding is unique,” said Trotz. “But they all take a lot of planning, never mind fixing the church before you get married in it.”
“I think it’s marvelous.”
Elkview Mine Rescue team wins
All five of the Elk Valley’s mine operations took part in the 94th East Kootenay Zone Surface Mine Rescue and First Aid Competition at the Elkford Arena May 9.
First place overall went to the Elkview Mine Rescue Team.
The East Kootenay Mines Industrial Safety Association (EKMISA) hosted the event. Mine rescue teams were judged on how they would deal with five skill challenges — first aid, fire, bench, rope and an extraction.
Out of a tent, into a cell, Lowe gets nine months Crowsnest resident Kenneth Lowe, 44, pleaded guilty to all charges and was sentenced to 270-days in jail for assault with a weapon, breach of probation, failure to attend court and breach of conditions for attacking Coleman Subway manager Prabha Sharma.
The Crown and defence factored in this history of mental illness, substance abuse and poverty at his trial May 12, in Pincher Creek Provincial Court.
“For some unknown reason, while [Sharma] was behind the counter, Mr. Lowe entered the restaurant holding a section of lumber,” said Crown prosecutor Clayton Giles of the March 9 attack. “He came behind the counter where she was and struck her. He first hit her in the head and then she brought her arm up to defend herself and then he struck her again all without uttering a single word.”
Sharma suffered a broken forearm.
Grant ‘Tanziki’ Collings put the winter behind him as he lined up a shot at the Crowsnest Pass Golf & Country Club on opening day. The driving ambitions of an experienced grounds crew, dedicated volunteers and a new head chef meant the golf season was strokes above par.
Eight teams took to the links May 20 at the Crowsnest Pass Golf & Country Club for the first day of men’s league competition. Bedecked in golf apparel, driving carts and swigging beverages, the men looked like the harbingers of summer as they shot a quick nine before heading to the clubhouse for a buffet and the handing out of prizes.
Update on AltaLink and the effect it would have on the Pass
After deciding not to build the $500 million Castle Rock Ridge to Chapel Rock (CRRCR) power line through Bellevue, the AltaLink held a number of information sessions in Cowley, Pincher Creek and Calgary to present their refined routes to the public.
“We determined that the constructibility of that line and the fact that we’d be drilling into hard rock faces didn’t make sense from a cost point of view so that was dropped as a viable route,” said Peter Brodsky, manager of external communications for AltaLink, on the decision to bypass Bellevue.
Brodsky said the company would be presenting alternate and preferred routes to the Alberta Utilities Commission in a facilities application. If approved, construction would start in early 2017 and be completed in the fall of 2018.
Fish and Wildlife Officers thwart out-of-province poachers
On June 2, in Pincher Creek Provincial Court, Shawn Earl, Dustin Zuffa and Andrew Storey from Fernie, British Columbia, pleaded guilty to hunting wildlife during a closed season. They were ordered to pay fines totalling $12,000 and were suspended from hunting for two years.
The investigation began on October 1, 2014, after Blairmore Fish and Wildlife Officers received a tip from a landowner in the Crowsnest Pass. The investigating officer found a mule deer had recently been killed at the reported location. The officer collected a DNA sample and found other evidence that suggested the perpetrators were from British Columbia.
Cutting hair for a cause
Courtney Cann, a Crowsnest Pass resident and Pincher Creek educator, started growing out her hair three years ago so she could donate it to make a wigs for cancer sufferers.
She got cutting, after learning about Joceyln, a young mother who tragically died of cancer at a young age, leaving two young children, Eloise, 2, and Peter, 4.
Her kind act raised over $5,500.
Darcy’s Nature Walk a success
The eighth annual Darcy’s Nature Walk took place was a success, with nearly 300 participants showing up for the walk at Fireman’s Park in Bellevue. The 5 kilometre nature walk was open to anyone of any age, and there was no obligation for fundraising or donations in order to participate. At the end of the day, $9,000 was raised with proceeds going to the Crowsnest Pass Health Region’s efforts to educate and support people dealing with mental health issues.
CBC show about the Pass screened at Rum Runner
Many patrons viewed a live broadcast of the CBC’s “Still Standing,” at the Rum Runner in Coleman on June 30.
In his time in the Pass, Still Standing host Johnny Harris toured the Frank Slide, the Bellevue Underground Mine, ate at Chris’ Restaurant and hobnobbed with locals including the Herald’s very own editor Bud Slapak and publisher Lisa Sygutek: the two discussed cougars and underwear.
He later put on a comedy show at the Polish Hall in Coleman where he and fellow comics Chuck Byrn and Pete Zedlacher put on an excellent performance that both celebrated and poked fun at the Crowsnest Pass and its people.
Local youth showed that they care about the community with generous donations to the Crowsnest Pass Health Foundation and the food bank.
“We all donated food for the food bank, it took a while to get [the food], and then we donated it to the food bank for money. Now we’re going to donate [that money] to the hospital,” said Julia Goosen.
Julia and her friends Morgan and Halie MacDonald, Shayla Duff and Riley Leborgne had collected a number of foodstuffs, which they donated to the food bank. For their efforts they were given $100, which they donated to the hospital.
Grassy Mountain Coal Project and the golf course
Riversdale Resources is proposing to locate the rail load out for the Grassy Mountain Coal Project on the community golf course.
The proposed load out would be bordered by the 11th hole and would be about 18 meters below the fairway. Riversdale would compensate the golf course for the loss of nine holes and the clubhouse.
“In my view the offer from Riversdale, pending the development of their project to rebuild the impacted holes and clubhouse, is a windfall for the club, and an opportunity most clubs could only dream of,” said Crowsnest Pass Golf & Country Club (CNPGCC) superintendent Waren Geitz.
Local soloists take on the Sinister 7 Ultra
It took them almost 30-hours but Crowsnest runners Sasha and Craig Harriott and Susan Lowe-Wylde ran through the night and into the morning to run all 161 kilometres of the Sinister 7 Ultra.
Rumhead Enduro & Bootleg Bikefest
Seventy-two mountain bikers competed in the 2nd Annual Rumhead Enduro and Bootleg Bikefest put on by the UROC bike club. The event was a five-stage race over a two-day period with winning based on cumulative scores.
The event included a festival in the ski hill parking lot, bike demos by companies and a barbeque.
Local cyclist Darcy Neniska took the pro men’s competition while Karey Lee won the pro women’s competition. Steve Atkinson topped the podium for the 40+ men’s competition.
War on weeds continues
Eighteen volunteers from a coalition of local organizations met along the Crowsnest River in Hillcrest to see off dangerous threats including scentless chamomile, toadflax, tansy and spotted knapweed.
“Weeds are opportunistic,” explained seasonal weed inspector Ashley Lema. “They like to use the river, the highway and the railway to transport their seeds, which can cling to recreational vehicles, clothing and pets.”
Where have flowers gone?
On July 23, flower baskets were reported stolen from a backyard in Coleman.
New owners at Blairmore Precision
Blairmore Precision Machining and Welding is under new ownership, with brothers James and Will Arbuckle at the helm.
According to James, “when former owner Eric Muff decided to sell the business he offered first rights to purchase to James who then decided to ask his brother Will to come on board as joint owners.
James started with Precision 10 years ago as a labourer, eventually apprenticing himself to a journeyman welder.
Will, also a welder, worked at Elkview Coal for 12 years, until he decided to become part owner with his brother. Will has now been with the company for the past nine months.
Both brothers have lived in the area since 1991.
A friend indeed for seniors in need
A new company opened its doors in the Crowsnest Pass.
Fittingly referred to as Crowsnest Companion, Terri Lorrain, owner and operator explained, “Crowsnest Companion is dedicated to supporting independence in seniors. Particularly those that want to age in place or at home.”
The company provides non-medical services.
“We just try to pick up the slack,” she said. “So many seniors need someone to come in and help them with their domestic needs such as; meal preparation, yard work, laundry, transportation, hair and nail care and of course companionship.”
Bellevue gets some fancy new chefs
New York Chefs Shawn and Andrea Massingham opened Chefs On 2 Thirteen in Bellevue.
Chef Shawn’s signature dishes have received many accolades and awards over an amazing 48 years in the industry. He has also prepared dishes or was the personal chef for an astonishing list of dignitaries, celebrities and even royalty. John Gotti, Sarah Mclachlan and Prince William are just a few of the names on the list.
His partner and wife, Chef Patisserie Andrea prepares savory treats at the most professional level. With fresh hearty breads, desserts and a perfected New York style Cheesecake.
Wildrose leader Brian Jean came to town
On Aug. 19, residents sat down at the Stone’s Throw Cafe with Brian Jean, leader of the Wildrose Party and Livingstone-Macleod MLA Pat Stier.
“I’m trying to visit as many communities as I can,” said Jean on the Southern Alberta tour. “Not to deliver a message but to listen to a message and that is, the priorities of Albertans.”
Jean also talked about the decline of optimism he felt was occurring with Albertans under the NDP government. He added, “We are trying to be optimistic, we are trying to work with the NDP on eliminating corporate union donations because individuals should decide the future of Alberta, not big companies or unions. We were upset because we thought we could work together and make Alberta better for Albertans and not just for the NDP.”
Star Creek logging
Our reporter took a tour of the Star Creek timber harvest
The controversial plan to log near Star Creek raised concerns about both the watercourse — home to the threatened westslope cutthroat — and the landscape around it.
Residents took out a full-page ad in the Herald opposing the project back in November 2014 and in January we mistakenly reported that Canfor, the company hired to complete the controversial project halted operation due to regulatory concerns. Oops!
Corinne Stavness, Canfor’s director of Public Affairs and Responsibility, gave us an earful for that one.
NDP protects Castle Wilderness Area, nobody tells the mayor
Shannon Phillips, Environment and Parks Minister, announced that commercial forestry in the Castle Special Management Area had been stopped and the process to designate the entire area under parks’ legislation had begun.
The Castle area, which encompasses virtually all the land south of the municipality and west to the B.C. border and then southeast all the way to Waterton Lakes National Park, is to be divided into a provincial park and a wildland park.
The two proposed parks would total more than 1,000 square kilometres, about doubling the amount that would have been protected under the previous Conservative government’s plan.
The murders of Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette and Terry Blanchette
On Sept. 14, Terry Blanchette was found dead in his home on 21st Avenue in Blairmore.
Crowsnest Pass RCMP issued an AMBER Alert for his missing daughter Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette that would eventually span three provinces and the U.S. state of Montana.
Police said an unknown person took two-year-old Hailey from her home and fled the residence heading west, at a high rate of speed. The vehicle was described as a newer model white van, with a large rear antenna, with a flag attached.
On Sept. 15, about a hundred citizens were gathered in Lion’s Park for a candlelight vigil, praying for Hailey’s safe return. An RCMP victim services official approached the crowd and made the devastating announcement.
“They have found some human remains,” the woman said, speaking on behalf of the family.
“That’s why the Amber Alert has been cancelled.”
Many in the crowd, including Hailey’s mother Cheyenne Dunbar, were overcome with emotion and wept openly at the news.
Derek James Saretzky, 22, of Blairmore would eventually be charged with two counts of first-degree murder.
Hannah Meketech found dead in Coleman
Hannah Meketech, a resident of Coleman, was found dead inside her home on the morning of Sept. 9. An autopsy conducted by the Medical Examiner’s Office in Calgary determined that her death was a homicide. The case remains unsolved.
Communities across the country show support for slain father and daughter
Over 300 motorcyclists from across Southern Alberta gathered in Longview, Alta., and rumbled down the Cowboy Trail to the Pass bearing well wishes and support for the families of two-year-old Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette and her father Terry Blanchette.
The motorcycle convoy arrived at the Pure Country Saloon in Frank, where Blanchette worked as a cook, at about noon, snarling traffic along Highway 3 though passing motorists seemed understanding.
They helped raise over $10,000 to purchase a memorial bench and playground equipment for Blairmore's Lions Park, where Hailey and her dad often played.
Hillcrest Fire Hall back in business
On Sept. 28, after months of preparation, the Hillcrest fire hall was officially reopened in front of a small crowd of local officials, volunteers and fire/rescue personnel.
“The Hillcrest fire hall has served this community for many years,” said Mayor Blair Painter. “Most notably during the Lost Creek Fire of 2003 where members of the department stayed in the hall for 30 days because that’s how long it took to get the fire under control. Volunteers would visit to give them gourmet meals and encouragement. We have great volunteers in the Crowsnest Pass and I welcome everyone to do their part to be a volunteer.”
Poachers get hefty fine for catching threatened trout from Oldman River
In what was called a significant poaching case, six Lethbridge men pleaded guilty to poaching threatened fish from the Oldman River in June.
They were fined $1,000 each for taking four bull trout and 25 cutthroat trout.
The accused — identified by the province as Harka Gurung, Sunny Gurung, Dhan Gurung, Sha Subba, Suk Subba and Kanchan Subba — appeared in Pincher Creek Provincial Court Sept. 29, were unwilling to comment on the case but one of them referred to the experience as frightening.
Hundreds gather at memorial for Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette and Terry Blanchette
Hundreds gathered at a public memorial service for slain two-year-old Hailey Dunbar Blanchette and her father Terry Blanchette at Crowsnest Consolidated High School.
Hailey's grandmother, Terry-Lynn Dunbar, said her granddaughter was known for her signature scrunched-up nose.
"She had lots of friends and loved ones who surrounded her day and night," she said. "You couldn't help but love her."
Terry's sister, Amanda Blanchette, delivered a tearful eulogy for her brother and said Hailey changed his life. He told his sister that he had big shoes to fill when he found out he was going to become a father,
"You filled those shoes and you became the man and the father that we were proud to call brother, father, uncle, son, and most of all, dad," she said.
The ceremony was concluded with the release of white and purple balloons outside the high school.
Red October: Liberals win majority
In October, the Liberals captured 184 of 338 seats and secured a majority government after the country’s 42nd federal election.
“Sunny ways my friends, sunny ways,” Trudeau told a jubilant crowd in his Montreal riding of Papineau, invoking former Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier.
After the last election in 2011, the Liberals held just 34 seats and fell to third place for the first time in their history.
Justin Trudeau, 43, became the country’s second youngest prime minister and the first to follow a parent into office; it had been about 47 years since his father Pierre Elliott Trudeau was first elected.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party’s nine-year reign had come to an end.
The Conservatives were reduced to 99 seats from 159 and formed the Official Opposition.
“The disappointment you all feel, is my responsibility and mine alone,” said Harper in his concession speech.
The NDP won 44 seats and fell to third place.
Elections Canada reported that 68.5 per cent of the country’s 25.6 million eligible voters cast their ballots in this election making for Canada’s highest voter turnout since 1993.
Barlow wins Foothills
Former newspaper editor John Barlow was elected the first ever Member of Parliament of the newly created Foothills riding.
“It’s a little PC history,” said Barlow.
After a redrawing of boundaries, Barlow easily defeated his five opponents to win the new riding that stretches from the TransCanada Highway and Springbank in the north, to Waterton National Park and the U.S. border in the south.
This was Barlow’s first general election. A newspaperman by trade, Barlow was the editor of the Okotoks Western Wheel before he was elected MP to represent what was then the federal riding of Macleod in a by-election resulting from the retirement of former MP Ted Menzies in June 2014.
On October 21, a report was received of a bear attacking a vehicle, which was parked on an acreage just west of Coleman. The complainant had put garbage in the trunk of the vehicle the previous night to take to a garbage bin that day. It appears the bear tried to get into vehicle as the rear bumper was partially ripped off.
Cows loose on main street Blairmore
Evening traffic took a strange turn on Thursday, October 22, when two cows were on the loose on Blairmore’s main street.
Crowsnest Pass Fire/Rescue, The RCMP and Fish and Wildlife were called in to capture them.
“We had a few members working that night when they observed the two cows running around,” said Crowsnest RCMP Cpl. Shayne Gudmundson.
After a number of telephone calls, the RCMP were able to contact the owners who advised that they’d been looking for the cows for sometime.
Pumpkins in the Park
Crowsnest Pass residents and visitors made their way through Flumerfelt Park on Monday, November 1 during the annual Pumpkins in the Park display. The Coleman Community Society put on the event.
Mine messes of the past blamed for Gold Creek tailings release
Alberta’s energy regulator continued investigating Riversdale Resources for an incident in July when coal tailings fell into Gold Creek.
Environmental consultants hired by the Australian based company said it occurred because many piles of waste rock remain at the site, the result of decades of poorly managed mining.
Dane McCoy, an environmental consultant with Millennium EMS Solutions Ltd., said the incident that led to the investigation occurred in July when a large pile of coal tailings from an earlier mine site located on Crown Land near Grassy Mountain collapsed into Gold Creek after a heavy rainfall.
Millenium and Hatfield Consultants have investigated Gold Creek and some of its tributaries and determined that this type of event has been happening since mining ceased on Grassy Mountain sixty years ago.
“Traditionally Alberta hasn’t held anybody responsible for those legacy-mining activities,” he said. “The old legacy open pit mining activities were abandoned because that was alright in the 1960s, we know better now.”
The AER is using a three-phase process to investigate Riversdale to determine whether the company failed to comply with the rules.
“We are currently in the evidence collection phase of the investigation,” said Ryan Bartlett, senior advisor with the Alberta Energy Regulator.
$20,000 raised in honour of Hailey and Terry will go to Lions Park
Over $20,000 was handed over to the Blairmore Lions to make improvements to Lions Park where murder victims Terry Blanchette and his toddler daughter Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette would often play.
The Ride for Terry and Hailey, where about 300 bikers gathered in Longview and made the 130-kilometre ride down the Cowboy Trail to the Pass, brought in about $9,000. A Mountain Radio fundraiser, the recent Harvest of Memories and donations from local businesses garnered another $4,000.
Tammy Tracey, Pure Country’s manager, was handling the donations. She said she’s received donations from as far away as Newfoundland and the U.S. state of Florida.
Riversdale files EIA with regulators
Riversdale filed applications with the provincial and federal governments to move the Grassy Mountain Coal Project to the development stage.
In Aug. 2013, Benga Mining, a Riversdale Resources Ltd. subsidiary, purchased 35,000-acres of coal properties and freehold land assets, including the Grassy Mountain Project, from Devon Energy and Consol Energy for a total of $49.5 million US.
At peak production, the proposed mine would extract 4 million tonnes of coking coal - primarily used to manufacture steel - annually over 25 years.
The project will undergo a joint federal and provincial review process, which is anticipated to take anywhere from 15 to 18 months. Permitting, licensing and construction are expected to take an additional 18-months.
If approved for development, Riversdale wants to have the Grassy Mountain mine deliver its first shipment of product in 2019.
Finning in Sparwood to close its doors
Finning in Sparwood announced it would be closing its location as a part of the shutdown of 11 facilities across Western Canada sometime mid-2016.
The closures are expected to result in the layoff of about 450 people, part of a round of layoffs that will have seen 1,100 Canadians lose their jobs across the country in 2015.
The heavy equipment dealer has felt the effects of falling coal and oil prices, and the closures form part of a strategy to weather that storm, reporting a drop of 27 per cent in sales of new equipment between its second and third quarters of 2015, along with a 10 per cent drop of revenue from the same time in 2014.
Teck cuts 1,000 jobs
Teck Resources said it was shedding jobs and cutting costs in response to stubbornly low commodity prices.
The Vancouver based mining company is eliminating 1,000 jobs and withdrawing its Coal Mountain Phase 2 project from the environmental assessment process as part of a plan to reduce spending next year by $650 million.
The latest cuts bring the total number of jobs lost at Teck in the last 18 months to 2,000. The job cuts will come through a combination of layoffs and attrition and even senior managers might not be spared, said the company in a statement.
Derek Saretzky found fit to stand trial
On Nov. 26 in a Lethbridge court, Saretzky, 22, was deemed psychologically fit enough to stand trial though a judge had not ruled on the matter.
He appeared via closed-circuit television from the Calgary Remand Centre in a Lethbridge courtroom on. He said little during the brief appearance.
The matter was adjourned to give defence counsel time to review his psychological assessment, which has not been made public.
Saretzky is charged with first-degree murder in the September deaths of two-year-old Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette and her father Terry Blanchette.
He is also charged with committing indignity to a body in connection to Hailey.
Coal Association of Canada backs council’s stance on coal
The president of the Coal Association of Canada applauded council’s decision to oppose the provincial government’s plan to phase out coal fired power plants.
“I think it’s important for all small towns and counties that depend on coal to understand the damage this is going to do to their communities,” said Coal Association of Canada president Robin Campbell.
Campbell said the NDP government should instead invest in research and development to allow the power plants to continue to burn coal.
“To shut down coal generation will affect Alberta’s ability to supply electricity to industries, it’s going to affect normal residents’ power bills,” said Campbell. “I think the government is being very short sighted.”
The Pass has joined a handful of other communities opposed to Premier Rachel Notley's plan for an accelerated phasing out of coal-fired plants in Alberta.
Annual Seniors’ Supper
On Dec. 8, over 200 senior citizens were treated to a turkey dinner at Crowsnest Consolidated High School (CCHS) by the graduating class of 2016 at the annual Seniors’ Supper.
Ian Baxter, the vice-principal at CCHS, said the annual event has become a highlight of the school year.
“The senior Grade 12 class serving the senior citizens of the Pass,” he said. “It’s nice to see how much younger the senior citizens look at the end of the night. They really get rejuvenated.”
Highway 3 to get wildlife fencing
This spring, Alberta Transportation plans to construct about 1.5 kilometres of wildlife fencing along both sides of Highway 3 east and west of the Emerald Lake vehicle overpass.
The fencing will help encourage wildlife, especially bighorn sheep, to cross back and forth under the highway, which could make the roads safer.
12925 20th Ave, Box 960, Blairmore, Alberta, Canada T0K 0E0 | firstname.lastname@example.org | 403.562.2248 | 403.562.8379 (FAX)