Recent History – 2003
Tourism down slightly, say operators
The summer tourist industry was down slightly according to local businesses, but work crew visits increased compared to 2002.
“We are down in terms of tourists from last year,” said Kathy Pettit, the desk manager of the George Dawson Inn. “Our bus tours have dropped. We had a lot more cancellations this year,” she added.
Bus tours originating in Canada and the U.S. decreased considerably.
“Some just decided to stay in Grande Prairie or Fort St. John and some just cancelled everything,” Pettit added.
SPCA struggles with overpopulation
The Dawson Creek branch of the SPCA was overrun with felines.
“The cat situation is out of hand,” said branch manager Diane Power. “We have five cats who have to permanently live outside for now. We just don’t know what we are going to do for the winter.”
According to Power, the shelter was in a crucial space crunch right now. The usually tight conditions for the animals were getting unlivable with a recent influx of cats. The shelter was housing 44 cats and 14 dogs, with a long waiting list to boot.
Producers wary of cattle slaughter
Local producers said the beef industry should look at other alternatives before thinking about a mass slaughter of cattle.
Some Canadian beef producers had suggested that a mass slaughter of 620,000 cattle wsa needed to prevent further damage to the sagging beef industry.
“I would be surprised if we didn’t look at other options,” said Connie Patterson, a loans administrator for the North and South Peace Feeder Co-op. “A mass slaughter is not a good vibe for the beef industry now. We have had wonderful domestic support and we don’t want to ruin that.”
Community crime-fighting important, says staff sergeant
Newly appointed RCMP Staff Sgt. Larry Flath was officially introduced to the business community at a Dawson Creek and District Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
“I’m looking forward to living and working and playing in Dawson Creek,” he told the assembled crowd. “So far I have enjoyed a close working relationship with Mayor Wayne Dahlen and with the whole community.”
In his keynote speech Sgt. Flath talked about the importance of regional policing to deal with the rising crime rates in auto thefts, shoplifting and prostitution.
“We must all work together to share resources with each other,” he said. “We have already been successful in this area.”
He cited a case against an illegal taxi service and a recent cocaine seizure as proof that regional policing is working. But, he stressed that community involvement is necessary to continue the trend.
Water upgrades to cost additional $200,000
Updates to Dawson Creek’s water system were going to cost the city an additional $200,000, Peter Gigliotti of Urban Systems told city council.
“At the end of the day it’s going to be about $200,000 more than was approved,” he said.
The city had already allocated $1.5 million dollars towards the first phase of the Water Quality Assurance Plan.
The initial money will be allocated to deal with what the reports says is “a serious concern over the lack of protection against cryptosporidium,” a dangerous pathogen that is spread through animal waste.
The original plan was to combat this pathogen with treatment from Ultra Violet lights. After an intensive study it was found that the water sources around Dawson Creek would not respond to that treatment.
Skate park project gets a boost
A Dawson Creek skate park was well on its way to fruition after an announcement from Rotary member John Kurjata that the charity organization will see the project through.
“We are here to back you up,” he told the Mile 0 Skateboard Club at a meeting at the Kiwanis Performing Arts Centre. “We want to make sure the kids have a place to go.”
The announcement was a great boost to the club, which has been searching for a major supporter for some time.
“Now we are one step closer to making this a reality,” said Const. Craig Douglass, a member of the club’s board of directors.
“This is very necessary for Dawson Creek kids. They need a place to go and practice their skills.”
Stabbed dog searches for new home
Biscuit the dog lived through a nightmare of abuse and callousness and was in search of a new, loving home.
In August, a local child found Biscuit, a three-year-old blonde small breed mix, lying lifeless in a garage with a knife sticking out of his throat and his tail severed.
“He was stabbed repeatedly through the neck,” said Elizabeth Lodge of the Dawson Creek SPCA. “The child took him to the vet who then removed the knife.”
Miraculously, the knife missed every major artery and the dog’s windpipe.
The incident was under investigation by local RCMP.
Somehow, the dog suffered no ill mental effects from the gruesome attack. He is comfortable around people, panting with excitement when a new face arrives and never producing so much as a growl.
Local filmmaker wins ‘Telly’ for video production
Local resident Hank Bridgeman was recently awarded one of the most prestigious video production awards for his 15-minute look at the scenic beauty of Northern B.C. and the Yukon.
“My passion is for nature,” said Bridgeman who owns and operated Northeast Productions based in Dawson Creek. “It was a joy to put the film together.”
The video, entitled Spell of the North, was originally produced for a Skagway, Alaska tour company. Bridgeman, who always retained ownership of the film, was urged by family and friends to enter it into competition for the well-known Telly awards.
“I totally forgotten about it,” he said. “Then one day I got a letter in the mail that said ‘congratulations’. I was really surprised.”
Job creation top priority for residents
According to the interim report of the Dawson Creek visioning project, residents’ top priority is to establish more employment opportunities in the city.
“The surveys showed a need for strong support for more job opportunities,” said Duncan Holmes of ICA Associates Inc, the consulting company commissioned by the city to perform the study.
Record gas sale to benefit South Peace: Lekstrom
The largest monthly sale of petroleum and natural gas rights in the province’s history will be a boon for the South Peace according to Peace River South MLA Blair Lekstrom.
“This is just the beginning for Peace River South,” he said at a press conference in his Dawson Creek office Tuesday afternoon. “We are probably talking about billions of dollars of investment.”
The record sale of $418 million occurred last Wednesday and matches the record previously set for the entire fiscal year in 2000-01. Approximately $409 million of the sale is for rights in the South Peace. A large portion of this land lies between Dawson Creek, Chetywnd and Tumbler Ridge.
“This is a world class sale,” he said. “At the end of the day this is going to benefit all of B.C.”
Sheep sale better than expected, says organizer
This year’s annual sheep sale at the Peace Country Livestock Auction was a rousing success according to Nancy Peterson, the chairperson of the Peace Country Sheep Sale.
“Our prices were better than expected,” she said. “It was a tough sale because of the weather, but we did sell close to 5,000 head of sheep.”
The sheep auction is the biggest in Western Canada and one of the biggest in the country. This year the sheep market has been greatly affected by the B.S.E. crisis. Foreign borders have been closed to Canadian sheep products as well as cattle.
However, the ban did not stop a substantial purchase by Eldon Townsend of Oregon.
“He bought 640 head,” said Peterson. “He intends to put them out to pasture in Saskatchewan until the border reopens.”
Frustration at Haven meeting
Frustration and anger pervaded the Elks Lodge at a meeting of the Peace River Haven Gatekeepers to discuss the future of seniors’ care in Dawson Creek.
“We have to keep putting the pressure on,” Gatekeeper member Paul DeCosta told the standing-room-only crowd. “It’s the only way we are going to make change.”
Tension was high because of the uncertainty surrounding the Peace River Haven long-term care facility.
The Haven is being phased out as a complex care facility, and the health authority is reviewing it to determine other potential uses for the building.
Man injured in bow attack
A bizarre bow and arrow attack sent a Prince George man to the hospital.
Paul Serup, 43, was driving along Highway 97 when he noticed a truck overturned in a ditch about 12 km south of Chetwynd. Serup pulled over to offer help to the driver of the vehicle. It was then that things took a turn to the horrific.
The driver of the rolled over vehicle produced a compound bow and shot an arrow directly at Serup’s face. The arrow pierced just under Serup’s lower lip breaking a tooth and cutting through his throat before partially exiting through his neck.
Stunned and shocked, Serup was somehow able to remove the arrow himself and drive to Chetwynd Hospital.
Police arrested and charged a suspect following the incident.
Hotels booked solid for conference
There was no room at the inn, at least during the Oil and Gas Conference in Dawson Creek.
“We are all full,” said Mavis Peterson who works the desk at the George Dawson Inn. “We have 60 rooms and they have all been booked since the end of last month.”
The 2003 Oil and Gas Conference ran between Sept. 29 and Oct. 2 and was expected to host more than 300 delegates.
This article is taken from the Peace River Block Daily News, Dawson Creek, with the permission of the publisher. The Daily News retains all rights relating to this material. The information in this article is intended solely for research or general interest purposes.