Small Plane Crashes near Grandhaven

Everyone survived when a small plane went down on Friday, August 6th in the Grandhaven area, just west of Fort St. John.

An RCMP release says the pilot of the Cessna 182 made a distress call shortly after 2 o’clock, when the aircraft suffered a “major engine failure”.

The aircraft was carrying five skydivers at the time, and at around 5,000 feet, the pilot advised the jumpers to evacuate the faltering plane.

The pilot was then able to successfully land the plane in a field west of the 269 road, in the Grandhaven area. Remarkably, the only damage the aircraft suffered was from the engine failure itself.

All five of the skydivers landed safely in the vicinity of the landfill and no injuries were reported.

Encana Facing Criminal Charges for Sour Gas Leak

The Ministry of Environment has charged EnCana following a sour gas leak in November 2009.

The Ministry has filed two charges against the company. The company is charged with introducing business-related waste into the environment and failing to report a spill of a polluting substance.

On Nov. 22, 2009, an EnCana facility – approximately 12km south of Dawson Creek – began to leak sour gas. A report released by the Oil and Gas Commission in February 2010 states residents noticed ‘sewage’ smells as early as 2:30 in the morning. However, EnCana claims it didn’t receive notification from residents until later that day.

The report also notes that residents did not have contact numbers for EnCana, and so decided to inform the RCMP instead. In part, they say it was because they didn’t understand protocols established in the company’s Public Information Package.

The leak was caused after sand had eroded a piece of pipeline infrastructure, called a ‘Tee’.

The company will be in Court Feb. 8, 2011.

City Releases Audit on Mayor’s expenses

The report was originally presented to council at a closed meeting on July 12, 2010 after a resolution was passed in March to audit the Mayor’s Visa and expense statements from 2009 to date.

The report highlights several expense transactions were a number of meals and other incidental expenses were charged to the City credit card. In some cases the per diem available to the Mayor was also claimed. City policy allows only for a per-diem to be claimed, or meals paid at cost, but not both.

In response, the City Manager says the issue was discussed at the April 12th Regular Council meeting and it was stressed that the per diem is provided in order to cover all meals and incidentals. At the same meeting, Council also discussed that a member of Council can choose to not claim a per diem and then would not have the option to charge personal expenses to a hotel room.

On Monday Council has the option to amend the Employee Allowable Expense Policy to allow valet parking as a reimbursable expense following a visit to Whistler by Mayor Lantz. In June of 2009, Mayor Lantz attended the Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference, where he charged a $128 in valet parking costs. The Mayor stated there was no other reasonable parking option available. According to the report, Mayor Lantz has reimbursed the City for those charges.

The spending audit also states there have been a number of times where the Mayor has not filled out the approved City Travel and Expense claim form, which is required by policy.

City Manager Dianne Hunter states to date the Mayor has reimbursed the City for all expenses that were incurred outside of the City’s policies.

City finally owns the Fort Hotel

News came at the end of September that the previous owner of the eyesore Fort Hotel property was “donating” the property back to the city and was not going to pay the back taxes owing on the property.

Since the taxes owed were not paid, the City must now have all the required paperwork approved by the provincial land title office – a process that could take several weeks – to be able to officially take over the property.

One major problem with the property’s cleanup is asbestos contamination. Asbestos was commonly used in building construction until the early 1980s. As a result, any company employed by the City to conduct the cleanup has to be able to deal with potentially hazardous materials.

The City will put out a tender for the cleanup, however, in anticipation of taking over the property, it brought in a firm awhile ago to give an estimate on how much the remediation would cost. The City has now budgeted $250,000 towards the cleanup.

Once the cleanup is finished, Mayor Bruce Lantz says the City will probably hold public meetings to decide what resident would like to see on the property. He says residents will finally see the culmination to what has been a long process.

Mayor Lantz also said the city would cleanup the property before winter, however it now appears the cleanup activity will be done in the spring.

87 year old killed in hit and run

An 87 year-old woman who was killed after being pinned against her husband’s vehicle by a mobile treatment centre vehicle on September 29th.

Nora Gallifer was a resident of Fort St. John. The incident occurred just after noon when she and her husband, Herb Sandgrett, were getting into their vehicle to go for lunch. The three occupants of the truck apparently got out, saw the woman and then got back into the truck and fled the scene.

In the evening hours of Friday Oct. 1, 2010, police arrested a 36 year-old Fort St. John man.

Gerry Lafleur has pled guilty and will face 30 months in jail following a fatal hit and run.

The Court Registry has confirmed 36 year-old Gerry Lafleur pled guilty Thursday to charges of dangerous driving causing death, leaving the scene of an accident and driving while disqualified.

Lafleur will also face a five year driving ban once he is released from jail.

Enerplex becomes the Pomeroy Sport Centre

The Enerplex is now know as the Pomeroy Sport Centre.

That announcement was made following the official ribbon cutting on October 13th.  The Pomeroy Group has joined 9 other companies to sponsor the facility. In total the City has raised over $2.8 million dollars, that will be paid over the next 15 years through sponsorship that will be used for athletic programs in the facility. The Pomeroy Group has committed $1.5 million over 15 years for title sponsorship of the Pomeroy Sport Centre.

The Facility had a fair share of challenges getting up and running, but now the building is completed and fully operational.