This day in history: Nov. 26, 1997

City cops to work APEC conference in Vancouver

Six officers from the Dawson Creek RCMP detachment travelled to Vancouver as part of a province-wide security detail for the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation conference in Vancouver, the Peace River Block News reported on this day in 1997.

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The officers were sent without a cost to local taxpayers, Staff Sgt. Gary Falk told the newspaper.

"The province and the federal government are paying, not the City of Dawson Creek," he said. "They requested members that we can spare."

Most of the six Dawson Creek RCMP members were on their regular off-days and were working overtime at the Vancouver event.

Falk said it wasn't unusual that the RCMP would recruit officers throughout the province to assist with providing security at large events, including the 1984 visit of Pope John Paul the Second, and the Commonwealth Games in 1987, and 1994.

"When there's a major event, they will take members from throughout the province," Falk said.

The event sparked student protests, and security forces were criticized for using pepper spray to contain demonstrators.


Town hall meeting poorly attended

Only about 40 people turned out for a town hall meeting hosted by the City of Dawson Creek in 1997, a dozen of which were city staff and media.

Designed for the city to receive feedback on how council was doing, those in attendance had nothing bad to say. Those with a bone to pick apparently stayed home.

Still, there was lots to mull over, the News reported. Then-mayor Blair Lekstrom said 1997 was "by far the hardest" budget year during his four-year tenure.

The city faced several challenges, including the collapse of Memorial Arena and an associated legal battle with the city's insurance company, along with problems with the city's water reservoirs, an airline strike in March, and an unexpected paving project for 116th Avenue.

Lekstrom explained to those in attendance that the city was not allowed to borrow money to pay for these large capital expenditures since they hadn't budgeted for them.

Instead, money from the Fair Share natural gas deal was used.  

The issue of parking meters in the downtown was discussed briefly. Then-finance chair Coun. Dale Bumstead said the city's finances were tight and that he was not prepared to eliminate meters as an option, as it was the cheapest way for the city to deal with parking issues in the downtown core.

"If I hear from everybody here, 'jump my taxes by one or two per cent,' so I can raise $100,000 and get rid of the parking meters, that's exactly the kind of things we're here for to listen to," Bumstead said.

No one took him up on that offer, the paper reported.


Local ski hills delay opening

The sun was shining, and the weather was mild, forcing Bear Mountain to delay its opening due to a lack of snow, the News reported.

"Great for sun worshipers, not so great for skiers," sports reporter Rick Davison noted.

"As soon as we get enough snow, we will be open. Everything is ready to go," said Tom Tyron, president of the Dawson Creek Ski and Recreation Association.

"We spent the last month or so making sure everything is geared up and ready. It is just a matter getting the snow on the ground."

In past years, the hill had enough snow and opened in late November, he added.

He also said making snow for the hill is not economical unless temperatures are around -20 C or colder.

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