By Abigail Popple, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, RMG

The Board of Directors for the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George held their monthly meeting on the 22nd.

The Board discussed an ongoing study on geohazard risks, correspondences with the provincial government, and awarded a number of grants. McBride Mayor Eugene Runtz also offered an update on the Village’s ongoing drought.

Competitive Bid Process
The McBride District Volunteer Fire Department asked for authorization from the Board to enter a competitive bid process for the development of an alternative water supply site, estimated to cost $125K. Because the Village has been in a drought since September, the Department is working to find an additional water source.

Director Dannielle Alan asked whether it would be feasible to situate a buried water tank near the Robson Valley Recreation Centre, so that runoff from the Centre could be directed into McBride’s water supply.

“We’re really not boxing ourselves into a buried water tank or any particular option,” said Manager of Public Safety Operations Melanie Perrin. “This really was to get in front of the board so we have the steps in place to offer competitive pay once the final design is chosen.”

The motion carried with all in favour.

Emergency Preparedness
Kris Holm, a consultant from BGC engineering, and Kim Menounos, Regional Manager of the Fraser Basin Council’s Northern Interior Region, presented information on the ongoing Collaborative Disaster Risk Reduction & Climate Adaptation Project.

The Project is led by the Regional District, its municipalities, the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation, and the McLeod Lake Indian Band. It aims to estimate the risk of geohazards, such as floods and landslides, throughout the Regional District. Hazard mapping is projected to be completed by November of this year at the latest, and the final assessment report is scheduled to be done by July of 2025.

Grant Money
The Board approved increasing the maximum amount of the Regional District’s Arts, Culture and Heritage grant program from $5K to $10K.

Additionally, the board approved a number of requests for Community and Recreation Grants. Among the approved grants are $500 to the Dunster Mushroom Society for the organization of a weekend-long mushroom festival on September 28th and 29th. The festival will feature Robson Valley-based experts on the field identification of mushrooms who will hold workshops on topics such as mushroom dying, wild foraging, and growing mushrooms.

The McBride Daycare Society was awarded a $5K grant to build a childcare centre. Tabatha Reis, Director of the McBride Daycare Society and owner of Little Munchkins Daycare, wrote a letter to the Board explaining how the grant money would be used.

“Currently we are working on building our own childcare center,” Reis wrote.

She continued that the Society is applying for the ChildcareBC New Spaces Fund, but needs to fundraise 10 per cent of the project’s $50K budget before applying to the Fund. The $5K contributed by the Regional District meets this requirement.

Renshaw Snowmobile Area Closure
Runtz told the board that the Renshaw snowmobiling area was suddenly closed by the Ministry of Forests, causing a devastating impact on the Village’s tourism economy. In August, a natural resource engineer from the Ministry of Forests declared a bridge to the area to be unusable, cutting off all access to snowmobilers. The Province has not yet offered any guidance as to how the infrastructure of the bridge ought to be improved, Runtz said.

During the first three weeks of January, 294 riders used the Renshaw snowmobiling area, comprising nearly half of the 657 riders McBride saw in that time. Runtz presented a letter he sent to Recreation Sites and Trails BC and the Ministry of Forests on February 14th.

“These figures represent a 70% drop in total ridership since the Renshaw closure which, in turn, is having significant negative impacts [on] the local and regional tourism sector,” Runtz wrote.

According to Runtz, the Village is working to arrange a meeting with the Ministry of Forests to discuss how the Province expects to resolve the bridge’s structural issues so that the snowmobiling area can become operational again.

McBride Drought Update
During the general information session, Runtz said that the Village’s drought is “no better and no worse” than it has been in previous weeks. However, he is optimistic that the region will receive more snow in coming weeks.

Because of the drought, the McBride Council decided to drill a test well in Dominion Creek to see if an additional water supply could be found there. While a hydrologist had told Council there was a high probability of finding water in the new site, the test well did not yield any water.

“We drilled right where we thought water would be, and we got nothing. We went down until we hit bedrock,” he said.

Runtz later told The Goat that the McBride Council would make a decision on its next steps for drought management at the next Council meeting.