FRONT PAGE BREAKING NEWS
News in support of successful living: business & economy, health & wellness, education, youth, the arts, politics, sustainability & social trends. Featuring news of the west side of Vancouver Island.
Wednesday, April 18 ~ VICTORIA. Today in Victoria, Premier John Horgan announced his government’s new Building BC Community Housing Fund with an investment price tag of $1.9 billion. The funding is for building 14,000 new rental homes throughout BC to help make housing more affordable for seniors, families, and low- and middle-income seniors.
“Too many people struggling to find a place to live,” said Premier Horgan, with a further explanation that improved housing opportunities also helps businesses because then employees can find places to live. As a way of putting the new funds into context, Horgan said that this is “not about building individual condos, stratas, or a house but a systematic and methodical plan” to help those with middle incomes, who are homeless, and “those who are struggling to make ends meet”.
The announcement was made along with Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, on Wilson Street in the VicWest area of the Victoria core. Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps was on hand to support the announcement as well where new housing will be built. The project has three target components: 30% of the units will be for households with moderate incomes, 50% for low-to-moderate income at market-driven rent levels, and 20% for low income on deeper subsidy (such as income assistance).
“It will capture the continuum of housing needs in the community,” said Premier Horgan, adding that it’s first time that the coop housing sector can access funding. Horgan identified Pacifica Housing, M’akola Housing, and communities (municipalities) with new opportunities now to meet the broad range of needs.
“We’re building British Columbia by investing in homes for people who live and work in our communities,” said Premier Horgan. “Fixing the housing crisis is not just about ownership. It’s about making sure that British Columbians who rent rather than own can find homes they can afford and have a future in.”
The $1.9 billion investment over 10 years is set to deliver safe, secure and affordable housing for BC renters. This housing will be built through partnerships with municipalities, non-profits and co-ops.
“People are struggling in the midst of this housing crisis. We need to do everything we can to make housing more affordable,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “Through the Community Housing Fund, people who have been squeezed out of the tight rental market will be able to find a place to call their own, so they can stay in their community.”
BC Housing is issuing requests for proposals (RFPs) to identify prospective partners, including non-profit societies, housing co-operatives and municipalities, that want to develop and operate mixed-income rental housing projects.
“Providing new affordable rentals for low- to moderate-income families and individuals keeps them living and working in our city,” said City of Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps. “We look forward to working with the Province on developing new, affordable housing for the city.”
Projects will be prioritized based on a number of criteria, including targeted clients and the impact the project would have in reducing the community’s affordable rental housing need.
“Non-profit housing providers have been anxiously awaiting this day – the launch of a historic investment in affordable housing,” said Dean Fortin, executive director, Pacifica Housing. “We all know the fundamental importance of decent housing to enable the building of strong and resilient families and children and how important quality housing is to individuals in determining a quality of life every citizen deserves.”
Each project built under the Building BC: Community Housing Fund will reflect the following mix of incomes:
* 30% of the units will be for households with moderate incomes. These are defined as household incomes up to $71,200 for homes with fewer than two bedrooms, or up to $104,000 for homes with two or more bedrooms.
* 50% of the units will be for low- to moderate-income households. These are defined as household incomes below the Housing Income Limits, which range from $21,000 to $95,000, depending on the community and the unit size.
Housing Income Limits represent the income needed to pay the average market rent. Average rents are derived from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) annual Rental Market Survey.
Rents for these units will be targeted at the CMHC definition of affordability, at or below 30% of the household income. 20% of the units will be for households with low incomes. Households requiring a deeper level of subsidy, such as those receiving income assistance. These are incomes below $15,000 to $30,000, depending on unit size.
Budget 2018 launched the biggest investment in housing affordability in BC history: more than $7 billion over 10 years. The Province has set an overall target of creating 114,000 new homes, including affordable market rental, non-profit, co-op, supported social housing and owner-purchase housing through partnerships.
LINK: Homes for B.C.: 30-point plan to address housing affordability for British Columbians: bcbudget.gov.bc.ca/2018/homesbc/2018_Homes_For_BC.pdf
Sunday, April 15 ~ SOOKE. More funds for road improvements in the Premier’s riding!
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) will upgrade approximately 2 km of Otter Point Road, a key access point for Highway 14 (Sooke Road), and an important alternative route when the highway is closed.
“Over my years as MLA, I have heard many safety concerns from the community about Otter Point Road and many suggestions on how to make it better for people. These upgrades will help keep drivers, cyclists and pedestrians moving safely,” said Premier John Horgan, MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca in a news release.
The project and its funding of $2.5 to $3 million was announced by Juan de Fuca Electoral Area (JDFEA) Director Mike Hicks on behalf of Premier Horgan at the AGM of the Otter Point, Shirley and Jordan River Ratepayers Association (OPSRRA) today April 15 at the JdF Services Building in Otter Point.
More intersection upgrades, passing opportunities, improvements for transit, highway shoulder widening and alignment improvements are under development in consultation with the community. Existing lanes will be resurfaced and lanes will be widened wherever possible for cyclist/pedestrian safety, said Ryan Evanoff, Operations Manager, MOTI, at the Otter Point AGM today. The cost to move utility poles is a large part of the project cost, Evanoff told the 30 people in attendance at the AGM. He added that there are no “property take” costs (no private lands will be required or purchased to compete these road improvements).
The proposed improvements will widen and pave approximately 2km of Otter Point Road between the municipal boundary and Kemp Lake Road. Once survey and design work is complete, the ministry will provide an estimated project cost and schedule for the construction of these improvements.
“Community input has been vital to enabling the ministry to get to work quickly on planning work for safety improvements on Otter Point Road, and I look forward to continuing this engagement on more essential upgrades to the Highway 14 corridor,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Claire Trevena.
The Otter Point Road project funding and project work is in addition to the suite of Highway 14 corridor improvements that were first announced in January (i.e. transit pullouts and a queue jump lane, safety signs, new Gillespie Road 2-lane bridge, Sooke River Road intersection upgrade, Muir Creek slow-moving vehicle pullout, and Sombrio rest area).
Work will get underway once the list of specific improvement requirements and possibilities are finalized, said Evanoff.
Sunday, April 15 ~ OTTAWA. “The Prime Minister is taking over the file, Ottawa will be the lead,” said BC Premier John Horgan this morning around 9:25 am (PDT), as he addressed media in Ottawa after meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley.
The Trans Mountain pipeline will go ahead, but it sounds like with stricter conditions in the Oceans Protection Plan which Horgan pushed hard for. In particular, those protections would be about cleaning up any spills of diluted bitumen.
Legislative and financial measures will be brought forward by the federal govt in the days ahead, said Horgan. Prime Minister Trudeau is scheduled to address media shortly (10 am PDT).
Horgan said that “all three parties to this morning’s discussion have common values on a whole range of issues”. He said he gives “full credit to Trudeau for bringing Premier Notley and I together.”
Seeing not much room for more he can do on the pipeline file, Horgan turned comments to his mainstay governance in BC: “My concerns are for the people of BC, including balancing the budget over the next two years and delivering services for people,” said Horgan. He articulated overall lifestyle affordability and the importance of affordable accessible child care.
Sunday, April 15 ~ OTTAWA. BC Premier John Horgan is about to make a statement to the media (8:30 am PDT) about his conversation this morning with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, about the Trans Mountain pipeline project. West Shore Voice News is attending (teleconference) live. More to come.
[Editorial] In the hot seat this Sunday will be Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. On Thursday he had headed off to Lima, Peru for a long-planned trip to represent Canada at the Summit of the Americas. But brewing here at home is a calamity that is ready to boil over.
BC and Alberta are at loggerheads over the twinning of the Trans Mountain pipeline (project activity now suspended to May 31 by its corporate owner Kinder Morgan), and their political positions seem immovable now.
The remarkable people skills that Trudeau has exhibited in other high profile situations (e.g. the much-noted in-control handshake with Trump at the White House last year) will probably be put to their greatest test yet in this, his first term in office. How does one get two NDP Premiers to capitulate even an inch from their understandably entrenched positions that are essential for political survival past their own first terms in office — John Horgan to protect the natural environment that is the soul of BC, and Rachel Notley to resurrect the oil-rich economy of Alberta.
The private meeting on Sunday April 15 at 10 am EDT in Trudeau’s office at Parliament Hill will be relatively short, as media will be addressed by Premier Horgan at 11 am EDT (8 am Pacific) and by Trudeau at 1 pm EDT, followed by Trudeau’s departure to Paris, France at 2 pm. pm.
The fact that Trudeau announced the relatively awkward shift in his itinerary literally moments before he boarded the plane in Ottawa on his way to South America on Thursday, somehow indicates the difficulty he had in making a decision about how to finally step into the pipeline issue boxing ring. Trudeau has been criticized of late for remaining passive while Alberta and BC duked it out in Alberta’s brief trade war tactics and BC’s sidestep move to let the courts decide.
Among media who follow the PM’s daily itinerary, there was puzzled chatter about why he took a ‘personal day’ off mid-week, ahead of his trip. Given Trudeau’s load, a day off ahead of a long international trip for contemplation about larger issues is not unreasonable. In fact, it shows good judgement and a deeper awareness of how significant the BC-Alberta issue is, than people give him credit for.
The BC-Alberta crisis leans close to being a constitutional one, over and above the significant impacts for politics in BC and Alberta and for the Canadian economy (jobs and investor confidence). That’s enough of a challenge to tackle. But Canadians may also witness the ‘Ottawa summit’ of western NDP premiers with their prime minister as a moment in which Trudeau demonstrates his most masterful problem-solving yet.
These are tough times for leading Canada — NAFTA negotiations with the Trump-led USA, taking a bit of a back seat in the USA-led attack on Syria Friday night, legalizing cannabis in a somewhat frenzied hurry, and a true housing affordability crisis. On top of this, brokering a successful outcome from his meeting with Horgan and Notley would be a helpful shining star in Trudeau’s leadership cap.
Friday, April 13 ~ INTERNATIONAL. This evening Friday April 13 at 9 pm Eastern Daylight Time (6 pm Pacific), the Pentagon announced that the US military together with the UK and France as Allies, had this evening launched a targeted missile strike on chemical weapon research and development sites as well as command post locations in Syria.
US Military officials said that targets were chosen that would minimize risk to innocent civilians – which likely means not having destroyed actual stores of chemical weapons.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, has issued the following statement today on airstrikes in Syria: “Canada condemns in the strongest possible terms the use of chemical weapons in last week’s attack in eastern Ghouta, Syria. Canada supports the decision by the United States, the United Kingdom, and France to take action to degrade the Assad regime’s ability to launch chemical weapons attacks against its own people. We will continue to work with our international partners to further investigate the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Those responsible must be brought to justice.”
The aim of the strike was to deter the Syrian regime from using or producing more chemical weapons. The most recent chemical agents used in an attack in Syria this week were determined to have included the use of chlorine, and possibly the nerve gas sarin.
The US Military told media that more information would be provided tomorrow morning, April 14, approx 9am Eastern Time.
[This summary compiled from watching live coverage of the Pentagon’s media conference and followup live news commentary on CBC TV, and the Prime Minister’s website.]
Thursday, April 12 ~ NATIONAL. Worldwide attention has been paid all week to the tragic crash of a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team. Of the 29 passengers on the bus, 16 died.
The bus collided with a semi-trailer unit include 10 players, the bus driver, two coaches, the athletic therapist, a volunteer statistician and a broadcaster. The truck driver had two weeks driving experience for driving a truck of that size. The driver of the semi was not injured but is now receiving trauma counselling.
RCMP had initially indicated 14 fatalities having occurred as a result of the Friday April 6 crash. But by the next afternoon, police said in a news release that another person had died (due to a mixup in identities by medical personnel). This week, on Wednesday April 11, athletic therapist Dayna Brons, 26, who had been injured in the crash, died in hospital. She had been the only woman on the bus.
The 13 others on the bus were injured, some of them critically. At least one has a broken back and will not be able to walk, but he is already talking about taking up Paralympic hockey.
The first funeral of more to come was held today April 12 in Humboldt.
A crowd-source funding page on Go Fund Me — for victims and those impacted by the crash — is at https://ca.gofundme.com/funds-for-humboldt-broncos .
The page was started by a hockey mom with the Humboldt Broncos Jr Hockey Association Inc within hours of the crash. Now just over five days later, the $4 million goal on that page has been immensely exceeded, reaching $9,888,498 by about 3 pm PDT.
There have been 117,258 donors contributing to the support fund as of this afternoon. The list includes families, individuals, hockey clubs and sports teams, businesses (including a bank branch, car dealerships and travel agency, a couple of Tim Hortons franchises, health associations and schools, professionals including a financial services company and the Canadian Council of Criminal Defence Lawyers, and the Toronto & Area Road Builders Association.
The donations made today range from $5 to $5,000. Most are in the $20 to $250 range. Many are made in a person’s name but some are anonymous whether the amounts are large and small.
Hockey sticks are being laid to rest against walls, porches and public places. It’s a gesture of empathy and support has been adopted worldwide following this tragedy, showing support for the families, friends and team-sport community that has been impacted by the crash. Today April 12 people were asked to wear hockey jerseys to demonstrate their support.
Weather conditions were bright and clear on the day of the accident. But the corner at Hwy 35 and Hwy 335 in northern Saskatchewan has been considered by locals for years to be a dangerous one due to crossing management (a stop sign for one highway but through-traffic for the other) and a tall stand of old-growth trees that might be found to have blocked the sightlines for traffic from one or both directions.
Monday, April 9 ~ SOOKE. All six bus pullouts that have been under construction for several weeks along Highway 14 to/from Sooke are now in a temporary phase of deconstruction. Then to be rebuilt. The cost to make revision is about $90,000. About 10 cm in height was incorrectly measured in the height of the bus pullout feature.
The contractor and design team have been asked to identify how this error occurred. The pullouts are to be restored to meet accessibility standards for all transit users.
The necessary road widening for these pullouts has been completed at all three bus pullout locations — 1 pad on each side of the highway at West Shore Parkway, Laidlaw Road, and Harbourview Road.
The pullouts are for the purpose of allowing buses to move fully out of the way of traffic. It’s one measure that the BC Government feels will help reduce interruptions in vehicle traffic flow on Highway 14, as first announced by Premier John Horgan in Sooke on January 19. Horgan is MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca.
Highway 14 (Sooke Road) is pretty much the one way in and out of the town of Sooke, population about 13,000. At least 70% of Sooke residents leave Sooke daily for employment and post-secondary in more central regions of Greater Victoria.
The BC Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure (MOTI) says: “It was discovered that the elevation of the concrete pads for the bus shelters was a bit too high. The discrepancy in height is quite small (less than 10 cm), but there is still potential for the curb to be bumped by the bus bumpers when using the pullouts.”
“The Ministry explored all possibilities for addressing the concern with the pads, and determined that the best option for getting the pullouts operational as quickly as possible is to remove and rebuild the concrete pads at a lower height,” it was confirmed today by MOTI.
“The bus pullouts are still expected to be completed and ready for use this spring as originally announced.”
Roadside marquee signage shows April 16 to 27 as the traffic-interruption dates during bus pullout reconstruction.
Those signs have been up for at least two weeks, so this problem only discovered after the six pullouts were completed.
“A number of groups were involved in design and construction, and the ministry continues to work with them to determine the cause of the issue and address the resulting cost increase,” says MOTI.
“Own or rent: caught in between”
Housing Analysis by West Shore Voice News
First published in our April 6, 2018 print/pdf/subscriber edition
With the continued price increases in the Greater Victoria housing market combined with stricter mortgage-borrowing requirements, a chunk of would-be buyers are deliberately prevented from becoming homeowners. In the financial world it’s referred to as ‘cooling the housing market’.
That strategy ends up targeting those at the cusp of home ownership … first-time buyers, and the home sellers with lower-end properties that appeal to the entry-level buyers. Individuals and families in that sector are generally the ones who can least afford the costs associated with the risks and overhead costs of dealing with real estate transactions.
Costs include legal fees, Realtor commissions, property purchase tax, and extended dual costs while waiting for homes to sell — like higher rates for vacant home insurance and requiring the cash flow for temporary renting or couch-surfing in the meantime (which contributes to productivity loss and lifestyle stress).
The big chill served to hurt that vulnerable sector of would-be buyers and entry-level homesellers who literally live on the edge of the market — in or out of homeownership, which will it be?
Last fall and in early 2018, as the list price of lower-end homes frequently dropped in order to find buyers who could qualify, those who tried to make the most of having owned a home may have suffered the most.
With qualification for mortgage financing becoming tougher, these previous homeowners often now end up as renters — and usually at the top end of the renter food chain where houses rent for as much as $2,500 per month in Greater Victoria or more. That may be the only portion of the rental market with a relatively higher vacancy rate, due to the price point.
Seeking input from resources like www.readytorentbc.org where their goal is to help with housing stability and successful tenancies, or dealing directly with a property management firm, are two ways to manouevre in the complex waters of housing decisions for those who will not ever, or cannot now, afford to buy.
FEATURE ADVERTISERS [West Shore & Sooke]:
>> George Holmes, Sutton Advantage Property Management – 250-216-4684
>> Clive & Kirsten Greenaway, Greenaway Realty – 778-352-4771
Sunday, April 8 ~ BC. Trans Mountain pipeline expansion was put on hold today April 8 as Kinder Morgan Canada suspended all non-essential activities and related spending on the project in the face of mounting opposition from both the government of British Columbia and environmental protesters.
Kinder Morgan said its decision is based largely on the BC government’s legal challenges to the pipeline and the need to protect its shareholders. The company will consult with various stakeholders in an effort to reach agreements by May 31, 2018.
BC Premier John Horgan issued a statement around 4:30 pm this afternoon, regarding Kinder Morgan’s decision to suspend non-essential spending on the Trans Mountain expansion project:
“British Columbians expect their government to stand up for their interests and our coast, and to do everything we can to protect our land and waters, our coastal communities and our local economies. The federal process failed to consider BC’s interests and the risk to our province. We joined the federal challenge, started by others, to make that point. We believe we need to grow the economy, while protecting the environment. We want to work to address these challenges together. But we will always stand up for British Columbians, our environment and the thousands of jobs that depend on our coast.”
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said her government would consider taking on an equity stake in the pipeline if Kinder Morgan investors are considering backing away. “If we have to, Alberta is prepared to do whatever it takes to get this pipeline built,” said Notley, without discussing the dollar value of such a significant investment.
While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has seemingly been waiting for the cards to fall one way or another, today federal Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr issued a statement: “The government of Canada calls on Premier Horgan and the BC government to end all threats of delay to the Trans Mountain expansion. His government’s actions stand to harm the entire Canadian economy.”
Saturday, April 7 ~ SASKATCHEWAN. Junior hockey team in crash: 15 fatalities. Mid-afternoon on Friday April 6 a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team was hit by a semi-trailer truck in northern Saskatchewan (about 300 km north of Regina). Of 29 people on the bus, 15 died: 10 players (ages 16 to 21), the bus driver, two coaches, a volunteer statistician and a broadcaster. The other 14 were injured.
As of 9:15 pm on April 7 a GoFundMe page at https://ca.gofundme.com/funds-for-humboldt-broncos had raised $2,743,903 of their $4 million goal (raised by 40,705 people in one day) to help support families of the victims. Additionally, WestJet has offered Bronco hockey family members assistance getting to Saskatoon by plane.
The Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team was on their way to a playoff game against the Nipawin Hawks in northeastern Saskatchewan.
Former NHL player Sheldon Kennedy recalled to TV media about a team — oddly enough also with a Broncos name (Swift Current Broncos) — that in 1986 had a bus accident in which four of his teammates were killed. His team’s bus had hit a patch of ice and crashed while the hockey team was en route to Regina. Kennedy said the collective trauma is far-reaching and residual.
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