Recent History – 1998
- Keanan Doucette is Dawson Creek’s New Year’s Baby 1997. Keanan was born at 6:36 a.m. at the Dawson Creek hospital to mother Dana Wilson and father Don Ross. He was 7 lbs. and 14 oz. heavy and 19 1/4 inches tall.
- Dawson Creek’s assessments went up nearly six per cent, including new construction. Council promises to adjust the mill rate down to offset any tax increases.
- The Northern Lights Real Estate Board reports an increase in housing sales in the last three months of the year with 42 per cent in October, 47 per cent in November and 139 per cent in December.
- At 1 a.m. on January 8 the roof of Memorial Arena comes crashing down, narrowly missing Zamboni driver Gary Fellows who escapes with minor injuries, and only 15 minutes after the last players of the night have left the building.
- The regional district board puts its 911 project on hold after directors felt the project will cost too much for municipalities faced with financial constraints this year. The regional district already spent in excess of $50,000 on the project.
- Coming as a complete surprise to herself, Patsy Nagel is named Citizen of the Year 1996 at the annual Dawson Creek and District Chamber of Commerce Gala and President’s Tribute.
- BC Hydro announces it has found the cause of the sinkholes in the Bennett Dam, being an inferior hand-compaction method around the benchmark pipes at the time of construction of the dam.
- Lack of employment opportunities due to poor agricultural seasons, drug and alcohol abuse, mental problems and the fact Dawson Creek is a border town have all contributed to a rise in the city’s transient and homeless population over the last 10 years, says the Salvation Army.
- Housing starts in Dawson Creek increased by 24 per cent in 1996, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation reports.
- Despite a government grant cut of $269,000, Dawson Creek’s city council will go into the new year without raising taxes or cutting services, council announces.
- A preliminary investigation of area schools, in the light of the arena collapse, resulted in the school district closing 11 schools for fears of severe structural deficiencies. Crescent Park and Devereaux schools remain shut following a weekend of roof inspections at 11 schools in School District 59. The schools are to remain closed pending a final assessment of their structural integrity and safety.
- Peace region farmers and ranchers decide to form a united front to champion their fight for relief funds to the provincial government during a meeting at the George Dawson Inn.
- Transportation and Highways Minister Lois Boone announces she will allow 16-foot wide mobile homes and other 16-foot wide loads to be transported on highways in the Peace region.
- The Dawson Creek and District Hospital Foundation kicks of Operation’97, a fundraising attempt to gather $600,000 for hospital equipment.
- Health Minister Joy MacPhail appoints a nine-member new community health council with Sheila Barnes as chair. The health council is to provide direction for all health services in the South Peace.
- Local ski racer, David Johnstone, takes silver in the downhill ski event at the 1997 Special Olympic World Winter Games in Ontario.
- The Peace River Block Daily News writes history by publishing its first color picture, the city’s art gallery at the old grain elevator at NAR Park.
- Mayor Blair Lekstrom says the city is holding on to its plan to lower the city’s property tax rate, despite financial problems due to municipal grants cuts from the provincial government. The city announces its goals and objectives for the coming three years, wanting to (re)establish Dawson Creek as the place of choice to live and work.
- The South Peace Health Council is working full speed with the amalgamation of the region’s societies under the SPHC umbrella, targeting April 1 as a completion date, chair Sheila Barnes says.
- A new youth centre opens its doors in the former Crest movie theatre and bingo hall. The Crest Youth Centre is operated by the Nawican Friendship Centre.
- The public will have less access to the Dawson Creek conservation office after the lay-off of the office clerk in an effort by Victoria to save money.
- Business cards advertising a bootlegging operation came into the hands of local RCMP officers and resulted in a drug bust of several thousand dollars worth of marijuana and cocaine.
- Local dentists make no excuses for not accepting patients on social assistance, saying the money the government is offering doesn’t even cover their costs.
- Peace country resident Jean Leahy is appointed to the board of BC Rail.
- The Peace region deserves more in aid after its farming disaster, says South Peace MLA Jack Weisgerber, commenting on news that the province has received federal money for floods in the provinces south-west and south-east.
- The Treaty 8 Healing Centre Society opens the doors of a new in-patient alcohol and drug treatment centre in Dawson Creek, much to the surprise of existing alcohol and drug treatment facilities.
- Engineer Geoff Cook explains the Memorial Arena roof collapse was inevitable, due to a much-used construction technique at time whereby the roof membrane is not adequately connected to the trusses.
- Mayor Blair Lekstrom likes the idea of a destination casino for Dawson Creek and proposes to put the question to the public in the form of a referendum.
- Contrary to promises only two months earlier to not pull out of Dawson Creek, Air BC announces it is going to do just that, leaving the service to the airport to Central Mountain Air of Smithers.
- An overnight dump of snow signals the winter is not quite finished yet for those city residents that have been pumping water out of their basements already.
- Devereaux students move back to their school after spending two months in the Grandview building. The students were displaced because of emergency structural repairs to their school. Defects came to light as a result of inspections following the arena roof ‘s collapse.
- The annual Art Auction nets the South Peace Art Society $14,000 and 10 local artists an award for contributing works to the auction for all those years.
- BC Hydro starts the grout-filling of the two sink holes in the Bennett Dam, thereby starting the final stage of the remediation process of the sinkholes that first appeared in June 1996.
- The Dawson Creek hospital will get a CT Scanner, Health Minister Joy MacPhail announces. The re-deployed scanner comes free of charge and has an estimated three to five years of life left.
- Peace Farmers impatiently wait for warmer and drier weather to start salvaging whatever crop they have left behind in the fields from the 1996 harvest.
- Dawson Creek RCMP say they spend more than three quarters of their time dealing with alcohol related problems, substantially more than in southern B.C.
- Louisiana-Pacific has not been in compliance with its permit due to a mistake in the sampling and processing of samples of formaldehyde. The mistake, however, is not L-P’s fault and permits will be adjusted accordingly.
- Dawson Creek went over the 11,000 population mark, numbering 11,125 people in the 1996 census, an increase of 1.3 per cent over the 1991 census.
- An extension of the licensing-free grain transportation zone in the Peace on both sides of the provincial border, announced by Transportation Minister Lois Boone, will mean increased grain traffic to Dawson Creek.
- Dawson Creek is putting in an application to the Infrastructure Works program to receive 67 per cent funding for paving of 116th Avenue, east of 7th Street.
- The federal elections are called for June 2, and Prince George-Peace River candidates say they’re ready. The candidates are Jay Hill for Reform, Charles Lugosi for PC, Alex Michalos for NDP and Barb Shirley for the Liberals. Julie Zammuto announced her candidacy for the Green Party nearly two weeks later.
- The projected school budget for 1997/98 is up $648,000, due to the expected rise in enrollment, School District 59 treasurer Cathy Esselink says.
- CJDC radio and TV are sold to Okanagan Skeena Group for the sum of $4.5 million.
- Northern Lights College notes a 47 per cent increase in continung education courses over the last year. The increase is partly credited to an increase in specialized training courses.
- A 1939 bulldozer is delivered to the Pioneer Village thanks to the South Peace Oilmen’s Association. The dozer, which worked on the Alaska Highway construction in 1942, was donated to the Pioneer Village, but they had to find a way to get it to Dawson Creek from Gibsons . The Oilmen’s Association said they could do it.
- The Tumbler Ridge mines sign four- and five-year contracts with eight Japanese steel mills. The new contract calls for a 30 per cent decrease in production. Acting Mayor Grant Baron calls the news “a great relief.”
- The Dawson Creek library goes on-line after receiving a $15,000 grant from the Communities Connect program and the donation of a free internet connection from Peace Region Internet Society.
- A July 5th date is set for a casino referendum to decide if Dawson Creek wants to open a destination casino during the tourist season.
- Peace region farmers are concerned that late seeding will result in a poor crop for the second year in a row.
- City council announces it will have to implement a sprinkling ban if area residents don’t start conserving water, due to the failure of several elements in the water supply system.
- South Peace Secondary School graduated 180 students this year and the ceremony to send the young adults on to their future challenges was a terrific success.
- While the Liberals took the counry to form another majority government, Reformers steamrolled through western Canada into the Peace in the 1997 federal election. Incumbent Reform MP had no trouble holding onto his seat in the Prince George-Peace River riding, taking away two-thirds of the popular vote.
- Despite tight finances, Transportation and Highways Minister Lois Boone managed to divert $2.6 million from lower mainland projects to fund emergency road repairs in the Peace.
- Representatives from the insurance company Zurich Canada offered the city a settlement of the claim for the Memorial Arena roof, but Mayor Blair Lekstrom said that’s not good enough. The city estimates the repairs to the roof will cost $2 million. When asked if Zurich Canada offered $1 million, Lekstrom said: “Oh not even.”
- School District 59 is pleased it’s getting its fair share of the $126 million the Ministry of Education doled out for minor capital projects, said school board chair Patrick Michiel. The South Peace School District will be getting nearly $2.3 million as part of the ministry’s capital plan for 1997/98.
- The Dawson Creek hospital will save $155,000 thanks to the willingness of the Ministry of Health to purchase a new C-arm for the operating room.
- Dawson Creek’s Squadron 353 air cadets market their 54th year with the annual inspection at the arena parking lot.
- It started as a surprise for many Dawson Creek residents in mid-March, but the Treaty 8 Healing Centre, the first in-patient alcohol and drug clinic in the Peace has already seen 60 patients in six 10-day sessions.
- The Dawson Creek Community Forest Society has big plans for its $25,000 share of the FRBC grant approved for enhancement projects in the city. The society’s president, Dave Leoppky, said this summer the community forest on Loran Drive and 16th Street will see the construction of an information and education kiosk at the forest entrance at the end of 16th Street.
- A plan by Tourism B.C. to amalgamate the two northern tourism districts is cause for concern, says the Peace River Alaska Highway Tourist Association.
- Dawson Creek residents had a chance to view some of the world’s finest classic rally cars as drivers from all over the world descended on the city to complete the Alaska leg of the Panama to Alaska rally race.
- The Northern Lights College First Aid team beat six of the province’s top competitors at the Workers Compensation Board’s 40th annual first aid competition. They are scheduled to compete in September against teams from all over the world in England.
- The first annual Artwalk was held in downtown Dawson Creek and although attendance was not overwhelming, those who did come enjoyed the event.
- Dawson Creek city council presented its plans for the renovations on Memorial Arena, unveiling the design of the new roof and upgrades to the building to make a better facility. The city will spend about $550,000 for upgrades to the front end of the arena with more accessible dressing rooms and larger washrooms.
- Peace region farmers are bracing themselves for another farming disaster this fall after spring combining of 1996 grain and a wet spring have pushed seeding dates well into this summer.
- Dawson Creek voters said no to a casino at Pioneer Village, with 62 per cent of voters against the idea. Only 900 people — 13.4 per cent of eligible voters — voted in the referendum.
- The Peace harvest failure last year is a true disaster and that message should be driven home to Victoria and Ottawa, regional district directors agreed after poring over a report from Dawson Creek’s Canadian Agricultural Services.
- The Fall Fair board chooses to apply a moderate price increase for the fair itself and the rodeo events. It was either that or scaling back the event, said Dawson Creek Exhibition Association president Larry Marchel.
- Golf ball sized hailstones fell from the sky in the evening. Because there was no wind, there was very little damage to farmers’ crops.
- Delegates from regional farming and political organizations put their names to a letter to accompany a report on the previous growing year’s harvest disaster. Local representatives will soon head to Victoria in an attempt to convince the government of the seriousness of the situation.
- The city’s insurance company, Zurich Canada, is now refusing to pay to bring the collapsed Memorial Arena up to building code specifications, says Mayor Blair Lekstrom. And that, he says, is a violation of the company’s contract with the city.
- A barbecue was held at Sudeten Hall to welcome 23 visiting students from Tezukayama University of Osaka, Japan. This is the eighth year the university has sent students to Dawson Creek to learn English as a second language at Northern Lights College.
- The Dawson Creek Restoration project starts this week. A crew of four students has been hired to pull garbage out of the creek. The project is financed by a $50,000 FRBC grant.
- Dawson Creek’s crime rate is down 15 per cent overall in the first seven months of the year compared to the same period last year. Staff sergeant Gerry Falk credits the Dawson Creek community for much of that success.
- Del Folk, owner of Pouce Coupe’s Hart Hotel, announces his intent to apply for a Casino in his hotel. He has already collected more than 250 signatures on a petition in favor of the casino.
- The 300 house development along the dangerous goods route is delayed by at least a year, leaving the soured partners in the project engaged in finger pointing.
- Federal approval was given for funds for northern paving projects, funding which would allow for the continued paving of 116th Avenue.
- A delegation from the South Peace was to meet with Ministry of Agriculture representatives in Victoria about recognizing the Peace Region as a disaster area.
- It was announced that the city hospital had received funding for a third operating room, a process which would necessitate a review of surgical needs.
- Nine months after the collapse of the arena roof, the city was readying to sue its insurance company which was refusing to honor the city’s claim.
- The Peace would be declared a disaster area following two years of bad growing and harvesting conditions, deputy minister of agriculture Catherine Read said.
- City manager Harald Hansen said the society currently running Pioneer Village should continue to do so despite overtures from some members of the Rotary Club to take over operation of the popular tourist attraction.
- Underfunding of the city hospital’s orthopedic service resulted in a $208,000 deficit, the hospital CEO reported.
- Rotary Manor is unsuitable by today’s standards for a long-term care facility according to a physical assessment report but a replacement for the manor could be four to five years away, said the hospital CEO.
- A $10,000 grant from Victoria will ensure the Northern Lights College aircraft maintenance program has aircraft to maintain, it was announced.
- An amalgamation plan drafted by the South Peace Community Health Council resulted in the cutting of management positions from 22 to six while creating five new positions at the community health council level.
- Businessman Joe Tremblay said he anticipated creating as many as 60 new jobs over five years in Dawson Creek with the opening of his Hartech Products North Ltd. hardwood processing facility.
- Lake View Credit Union announced it was ready to proceed to tenders for the building of its new home at the corner of Ninth Street and 102nd Avenue.
- Photo radar made its first appearance in the city snapping pictures of 41 vehicles in the school zone in Pouce Coupe.
- The city Kiwanis Club met to celebrate its 40th anniversary.
- Arras residents concerned about a possible gas gathering plant at mile seven of the Old Hart Highway met with AEC West officials to air their concerns.
- The area’s housing market is improving, figures for the Northern Lights Real Estate Board show. The board remains the only one in B.C . where the average house price is still less than $100,000.
- Mayor Blair Lekstrom said it was unclear if Victoria fully understood the crop disaster in the Peace, hoping a deputy minister’s visit to the region would clear up that misconception.
- Peace River North B.C. Reform MLA Richard Neufeld announced he was crossing the floor in the Legislature to sit as a Liberal leaving Peace River South MLA Jack Weisgerber as the only Reform MLA.
- Northern B.C. Winter Games regional director John Calderwood told city council the local organizing committee is very organized and has some really good people in charge.
- Farmer Nick Parsons parked his combine at the traffic circle in Dawson Creek in protest of lack of action from Victoria in the face of the continuing farm crisis.
- About 100 farmers met at Farmington Hall and struck the Farm Crisis Committee to lobby for addressing farmers’ concerns.
- The Dawson Creek and District Hospital Foundation had a successful year, president Dan Seyl told the group’s annual general meeting. He said two of the group’s major goals, securing a CT scanner and a C-arm had been realized.
- The Northern Lights College first aid team returned from international competition in England where they took sixth place in the world
- Only one combine accompanied by several buses would be making its way to Victoria as part of a farming protest the Farm Crisis Committee announced.
- Peace farmers returned home from the Premiers Northern Summit in Prince George after being told by the premier there would be no bailouts for farmers. Peace River MLAs Jack Weisgerber and Richard Neufeld were asked to leave a meeting held between ministers and the farmers.
- The torch for the 1998 Dawson Creek Northern B.C. Winter Games was lit in Dawson Creek following a run with the flame from Pioneer Village by Shelley Kirk, Day Roberts and Wayne Plenert.
- Gene Wilkinson and Anna Stuber were named citizens of the year at the annual Chamber of Commerce gala.
- Businessman Joe Tremblay said he was confident his hardwood processing plant would proceed. after council approved a land and building swap.
- It was announced that Louisiana Pacific was examining the option of using the city’s long-vacant industrial park as the site of a composting operation.
- Agriculture Minister Corky Evans announced an aid package for farmers in the Peace and also other areas in B.C. The package received a lukewarm reception.
- Joe Judge announced he would not seek another term as chair of the Peace River Regional District.
- It was a case of going from Carnegie Hall to City Hall for world famous tenor Ben Heppner as he was honored by his hometown of Dawson Creek Monday. As he stood in the warm, Chinook-like wind, Heppner unveiled as street sign declaring the road leading up to city hall as Ben Heppner Way.
- A five-year-debt, owed by the South Peace Mile Zero Park Society to the City of Dawson Creek, is hampering the society’s ability to make capital improvements to Pioneer Village, Sudeten Hall, the Mile Zero Campground and Rotary Lake, the society says.
- Still hopeful. That’s how Dawson Creek Mayor Blair Lekstrom characterized the regional district’s point of view on the Fair Share proposal that should give the region the same ability to tax the area’s industry that the rest of the province enjoys. The Peace River Regional District discussed the outcome of a meeting the PRRD had in Victoria with representatives from the government and industry regarding the proposal. In case the Peace experiences another heavy winter and wet spring which damages North and South Peace roads, the Ministry of Transportation and Highways is spending an additional $700,000 on stockpiling gravel.
- Government response to the agricultural crisis has been grossly inadequate, and to add injury to insult, the ministry put on stress seminars for those farmers that realize the aid package will not prevent their business from going under, says Farmington farmer Nick Parsons.
- B.C. Peace farmers met with their Alberta counterparts to find producers across the border share the same frustrations when dealing with their respective governments in dealing with the ongoing farm crisis.
- Health Minister Joy MacPhail announced the city hospital will be receiving $900,000 in replacement equipment as part of a provincial hospital investment scheme.
- Council said it was going to do something about loitering and panhandling in the downtown core with a proposal for fines and community service as penalties. City crime statistics showed a downward trend in 1997, Staff Sgt. Gerry Falk told city council.
- Farmer Nick parsons announced he was leaving the Farm Crisis Committee citing differences of opinion. Parsons said he still intends to take his combine to Victoria in protest.