Aerial footage of the flooding over Grand Forks, taken on May 19. (Kathleen Saylors/Grand Forks Gazette)

Presenting a Year in Review: Part Two

The second installment in the Gazette’s Year in Review issue.

Every year, the Grand Forks Gazette presents our Year in Review issue, a look back at some of the best, important, and compelling stories in our pages this year. This is the second installment of this series, in print on Jan. 2, 2019.

April

A long-debated hotel tax will be going forward in the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary after the district got approval from the provincial government in March. The two per cent tax was approved by the Ministry of Finance, according to a news release distributed by the RDKB. Commonly termed a “hotel tax”, the Municipal Regional District Tax can be up to three per cent and applies to short term accommodations in participating municipalities and regional districts province-wide.

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Urban Systems, an engineering consulting firm on contract with the city, won an award earlier this month for its Service Sustainability Assessment Tool, which it designed for the city. The Microsoft Excel-based program is designed to measure the long-term sustainability of city-provided services, like water and wastewater treatment, parks and recreation, and fire protection.

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A mere 12 people in Grand Forks were responsible for nearly 400 RCMP calls last year: this was among the information presented by Grand Forks RCMP Sgt. Jim Fenske at the detachment’s annual report to city council on Monday morning. Overall criminal offences were up seven per cent over 2016, Fenske said, while the number of overall calls for service was up 12 per cent. Property crime specifically was up 16 per cent.

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Whispers settles into new store location but a location for the community kitchen remains elusive. According to Whispers coordinator Melissa Shulga, the store opened in its location on Third Street off Central Avenue on April 3, after a city council order to vacate the Riverside Drive location that formerly housed the community kitchen, as well as the thrift store, by the end of March.

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Thirty years and going strong Choral Society celebrates anniversary with spring concert changed over the years. From its beginning as a 20-odd person choir pulling together a few songs, to a large-scale choral ensemble that has performed on one of the world’s most famous stages, it’s been 30 years of growth – and they’re just getting started.

May

“We were ready for a flood, but no one was ready for this.” That is the sentiment that has echoed across thousands of conversations over the last week, as Boundary residents grapple with what is being described as historic and catastrophic flooding.

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The organizing committee of the 2018 Grand Forks International announced on Wednesday the tournament has been cancelled for this year. In a statement posted to Facebook, organizers cited a severe lack of accommodations for teams, as well as volunteer burn-out after flooding earlier this month.

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Robb’s Ride, the annual cycling fundraiser in support of children’s causes that takes place in the Boundary, has been cancelled and postponed for the fall in the wake of recent flooding. In a post to Facebook on Monday, organizers confirmed the event had been pushed to Sept. 21-23, 2018. The event was originally scheduled for the first weekend in June.

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The Grand Forks Gazette, like most of the businesses in the downtown area of Grand Forks, was impacted by flooding last week. Our staff evacuated our building on Second Street on Thursday. In the newspaper business, that is when the real work begins. We at the Gazette are dedicated to seeing the community through this disaster.

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A tiger dam is one of many flood-mitigation strategies used by the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary last week. The dam is a series of water-filled tubes that create a barrier over a metre in height. The dam must be anchored into the pavement at regular intervals along the length of the dam.

June

Greyhound service in Grand Forks has been significantly altered as of last week, with freight service suspended and the company no longer offering in-person ticket sales. According to a notice issued by Greyhound Canada last week and posted on the door of the depot, the Greyhound agency across from James Donaldson Park closed effective Friday.

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Elementary school students across the Boundary are creating banners of encouragement for flood-affected areas in Grand Forks. The program started with the After School Art Group, a program for youth arts that runs throughout the school year for Perley and Hutton students. Coordinator Carol Mitchell said hundreds of flags have been created so far – and more are on the way. The flags are hanging from many downtown businesses and in Ruckle.

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There’s a new market launching in Grand Forks this weekend, one that is hoping to attract the family crowd. The Travelling Rainbow Market is launching on Saturday, in time for Father’s Day weekend. The market will run 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday this summer, but organizers are hoping some added twists will encourage crowds to come out.

***

All that flood-damaged garbage has to go somewhere – and it turns out, it’s expected to shorten the lifespan of the Grand Forks landfill by about four years. After the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary and the province reached an agreement to have the province pay tipping fees for flood-affected homes, garbage and debris has been coming into the landfill at record rates.

***

Over 100 volunteers suited up on Saturday to join a community clean-up of flooded areas. The clean-up began at 7:30 Saturday morning. Local volunteers teamed up with volunteers from Samaritan’s Purse in the area. After some training, they got set to the task of cleaning out flood-damaged homes.

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