December 2007 Newsletter

Posted by: Johnny Smoke  /  Category: Archived Posts

Fire Brigade Established

A group of Apex residents has recently stepped up to the challenge of providing fire protection for the property owners and businesses of Apex Resort. Bob Thompson, a retired fire fighter with over 30 years experience, spent numerous hours reviewing the village layout, analysing requirements, and developing the equipment requirements and fire fighting strategies needed to protect our homes. By far the most experienced member, Bob is the fire brigade’s training officer and “the guy in charge” at any fire. Bob began training a small group of volunteers this summer.

You may have already noticed some of the group’s handiwork: three green huts that now provide improved winter access to some of Apex’s fire hydrants. Construction of the huts was the work of Dave Anderson, Bill Auld, Rick Felker, Wes Gano, Bob Thomson, and Gary Vollet. Building material was donated or provided at discount by Tom Higgins, the volunteers, Home Hardware, and P&E Lumber, with John Davis providing use of his shop, equipment, and materials.

With legal help from Larry Halbaurer, the group registered a not-for-profit society to provide organizational structure and fundraising capability. The Apex Fire Brigade Society is independent of the APOA, although obviously it will receive our full support. Fortunately, the society will receive close to $12,000 of initial funding from a trust account established by a group of Apex residents in 1994. Many of these original supporters remain Apex residents today, and their hard work enables the newly formed Fire Brigade to purchase equipment to immediately and significantly improve fire protection in the village. Later this season residents can anticipate the revival of fundraisers such as the highly successful “Firemen’s Ball” to provide ongoing support for the Fire Brigade.

The executive of the Apex Fire Brigade Society are Gary Vollet (president), Steve Sheridan (vice-president), Jeff Brown (treasurer), and Debbie Vollet (secretary). If you would like additional information please contact Gary at 250-292-8257

Prepared by Jeff Brown

Planning Update

APOA members were briefed on the process for updating the Apex Mountain Resort (AMR) Master Plan which was presented by James Shalman on behalf of Apex Mountain Resort at our March 2007 Annual General Meeting. James gave an overview of the analysis done by Brent Harley and Associates. It provides a combination of visioning and feasibility analysis that examines development potentials and expansion scenarios for the resort. Under BC’s “Commercial Alpine Ski Policy”, an approved Resort Master Plan must balance lift capacities, skier/boarder use, base development and accommodation capacity.

Harley’s work was used by Apex Mountain Resort as a basis for commencing necessary consultation with the Penticton Indian Band (PIB) on the evolving conceptual plan for the resort. Recognizing it is the Province’s responsibility to undertake First Nations consultation, the Resorts Development Branch of the Ministry of Tourism, Sports and the Arts is now actively engaged. A Ministry representative stressed that Grand Chief Stewart Phillip considers that PIB and Apex have a good relationship.

The Ministry advises they recently met with PIB, and work is to commence on developing a “consultation framework”. That framework will endeavour to define scope (interests of each party), timelines (start, milestones, completion), funding arrangements, and terms and conditions for the consultation process. The hope is to facilitate full discussion of the identified issues leading to development of recommendations on an “accommodation agreement” which responds to the identified interests and concerns of PIB relative to the Apex Master Plan.

The consultation framework will identify ways for Apex to participate in the discussions and accommodation process. The potential development scenarios created by Brent Harley can then be adapted to respond to First Nations interests.

Much of Apex’s future depends on the results of the above consultations. Certainly efforts to identify the issues and ways to accommodate them is presenting an opportunity for constructive steps forward in a practical and respectful way. Hopefully it will succeed and pave the way for completing the overdue updating of the Apex Resort Master Plan. The updating process will provide opportunity for pubic input but timelines are not yet known. An updated and approved Master Plan should help with the economic, social and environmental viability of the resort and with it the Apex community. It will also form a basis for updating the Official Community Plan.

APOA’s Board will endeavour to stay abreast of developments on this topic and report, as possible, on progress.

Prepared by Denis O’Gorman

Community Wildfire Protection

Readers will recall that Richard Swanson, a forestry consultant to the Regional District (RDOS), prepared a preliminary assessment of forest wildfire risk. It focuses on the interface between the Apex community and surrounding forest land. The previous edition of this newsletter, which is available on the APOA website, summarizes Swanson’s conclusions (known as “forest treatments”) and provides links to the report on the RDOS website.

To encourage follow up on this preliminary work, APOA representatives met again with RDOS Area Director Bill Schwarz and Emergency Services Coordinator Mark Woods. They advised us that responsibility for allocation of funding for wildfire protection has moved from the Forest Service to the Union of BC Municipalities, and that funding is available for preparing and implementing detailed operational plans.

In early October, Mark Woods advised APOA that RDOS would be applying for funding for the Apex area, with work
likely to be done in two separately funded phases, namely:

  1. Create an Operational Plan which will define the overall strategy, resources, costs, and timelines required to implement the recommended treatments.
  2. Field implementation, which would likely include active roles by Forest Service fire suppression crews in their non-peak periods.

In late November Mark Woods informed APOA that concerns about fire hazard in Mountain Pine Beetle affected forests has recently resulted in federal money becoming available to be used in conjunction with the funds held by UBCM. The good news is that this arrangement increases funding; the bad news is that it will likely delay action into the 2008-09 fiscal year. RDOS is preparing a significant funding request for action around Apex, Naramata and the McKinney Road area near Oliver. RDOS will be hiring appropriate staff and/or contractors for the planning and implementation phases. The major companies with forest harvesting licenses in the area have expressed willingness to cooperate in the operational planning and  implementation.

Woods further indicated that based on what was learned during the Kelowna fires the operational plan will cover a full two kilometres around each community. The plan will consider habitat and recreation values as well as forestry considerations. Importantly, he also confirmed there will be public input and review of protection plans and strategies.

RDOS’s proactive approach on this issue is welcomed by APOA. We have offered to assist in the consultation process by setting up information meetings, workshops, etc. Woods has kindly agreed to participate at our AGM and provide a verbal status report. Other updates will follow as APOA receives new information.

Prepared by Denis O’Gorman

Emergency Contacts

In an emergency situation calling 911 should always be your first step, especially if it is a police matter. But we all know that in a critical situation Apex Resort feels like a very long way from Penticton and Keremeos. Fortunately for medical or fire emergencies there may be local volunteers available to help.

Once the Apex Volunteer Fire Brigade is fully functional, calling 911 will alert the fire brigade. In the interim the Fire Brigade has established a telephone call-out tree to alert volunteers. During the daytime start with a call to Apex Resort at 250-292-8222. Even during the off-season there is typically resort staff available. Off-hours if you have a fire emergency call one of the following fire brigade volunteers:

  • Bob Thompson 292-8399
  • Gary Vollet 292-8257
  • John Davis 292-8118 (h), 490-7952 (c)
  • Dave Anderson 292-8752
  • Rick Felker 292-8135

Spruce Beetle Update

Weyerhaeuser recently informed APOA and other parties of their intention to remove trees infected with Spruce Bark Beetle. Three cut-blocks of 2.9, 2.8, and 0.6 hectares are planned on the eastern flank of the Nickel Plate Nordic Ski area in the approximate vicinity of the Bay Trail where Powerline Road and Hedley Nickel Plate Roads meet. Their forester indicated that these are localized attacks and tree removal is intended to help contain the infestation.

APOA Board Activities

Activities undertaken and completed by the APOA this year:

  • Fire Department
  • Solid Waster Transfer Station

The board is continuing its focus on:

  • Resort and Community Planning
  • Community Wildfire Protection Planning
  • Recreational Trail Management
  • Road Maintenance
  • Communication with membership

Details concerned closed and ongoing activities, including who to contact if you would like more information or would like to participate can be found on our website.

Comments are closed.