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 House Fire Leaves 8 Homeless

A house fire in Charlie Lake early on Remembrance Day left a family of 8 homeless. 


The Brown family lived out of the fire coverage area and did not have insurance to cover their belongings. 


However, the community of Fort St. John came together and raised money and collected donations for the family.


Alaska Highway closed between Fort St. John and Fort Nelson

For the first time in recent memory, the Alaska Highway was shut down for almost 24 hours due to bad weather and a collision involving a gravel truck and a Greyhound Bus. 


The collision occurred at KM 381 of the Alaska Highway.


The gravel hauler tractor trailer was travelling northbound along the highway when it slowed down because a vehicle in front of it had lost control and spun into the ditch, says Staff Sergeant Tom Roy with the Fort Nelson RCMP. Roy then says the Greyhound bus – which was travelling in the same direction – was unable to stop and slammed into the tractor trailer.


He says the bus driver was pinned in the bus and was helped by a member of the Fort Nelson Fire Rescue that was passing the scene. The bus driver was eventually cut out of the bus by Fort Nelson firefighters and transported to the hospital in the town with minor injuries. 


Several of the passengers were even given rides into the town by people passing by in their vehicles.


He says there was extreme weather occurring in the area at the time of the collision and the roads were covered with compact ice and snow. He adds that it was particularly bad between the Sikanni Chief Bridge – at KM 256 – and Fort Nelson.


Police say they began receiving reports of several collisions between vehicles and of vehicles sliding into the ditch, around 1 p.m. local time.


Then, one hour later, they received the report of the collision between the Greyhound bus and the tractor trailer.


The highway was closed until 9:30 a.m. the next morning due to weather conditions and because the accident was blocking much of the road.

Fort St. John Tourism board has had enough with Taxi Service 

The Tourism Fort St. John Board was the first local organization to launch a formal complaint to the Ministry of Transportation over inadequate service from the city’s main taxi company.


The lack of adequate service is posing several problems especially during the holiday season, says Darren Thomson, the Board’s chair.


Thomson says the letter outlines numerous criticisms about the company and is addressed to the Passenger Transportation Branch of the Ministry, which is in charge of taxi regulation.


Some of the problems the Board outlines include long wait times to procure a taxi, unclean taxis and drivers that smoke in their vehicles.


Thomson says smoking in a taxi contravenes municipal bylaws that regulate the city’s taxi industry.


With the new drinking and driving laws that have come into effect, he says that not as many people are willing to venture out to various events unless they know they can secure a taxi.


Despite the problems, he says he understands that the current service provider is understaffed due to the difficulty in procuring drivers in the area. He adds that it can take several weeks for a new driver to obtain the required permits from the local RCMP.


Oil and Gas Commission moving engineering office to Kelowna

The Oil and Gas Commission has announced it is opening an engineering office in Kelowna, which has caused concerns among local government in northeast B.C.


Fort St. John City Council has expressed its concerns of what having an office outside of northeastern B.C would mean for the oil and gas industry in the area.


The OGC has chosen to open an office in Kelowna since there are new oil and gas activities and prospects that are occurring in southeastern B.C., in the Elk Valley area, says Lee Shanks, communications manager for the Commission.


Shanks says one reason the Kelowna office is opening is due to problems in retaining appropriate staff in the north, adding that the only team leader position that will be in Kelowna would be a chief engineer.


She also says the Kelowna office will include approximately 12 positions, of which half will be moved from the offices in Fort St. John and Dawson Creek. However, she adds that the engineering capacity in the northeast is consistently increasing.


The City has chosen to write a letter to the Minister of Natural Resource Operations and MLA for Kelowna-Mission Steve Thomson to convey its concerns, says Fort St. John City Councillor Lori Ackerman.


Ackerman says one of the biggest concerns of having an engineering office in Kelowna would be the impact of being able to conduct a successful operation in the North.


Ackerman also says the City has forecast between a $1.6 and $1.8 million decrease in economic activity in the area due to the loss of those worker’s incomes and the work they conduct in the region.


This story is expected to further develop in the new year. 


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