ARCHIVE – Front Page Breaking News – April 2018

ARCHIVE – Breaking News – April 2018

 

MORE APRIL ARCHIVE TO COME

Thursday, April 5 ~ LANGFORD. The West Shore RCMP Detachment will be unveiling a Wall of Honour today April 5 in memory of fallen West Shore RCMP officers.

On this 2nd anniversary of the on-duty death of Cst Sarah Beckett, the ceremony will be held in the lobby at the West Shore RCMP Detachment in Langford at 12 noon.

Beckett will be recognized and remembered on the Wall of Honour.

West Shore RCMP Cst Sarah Beckett

As space will be limited, it is requested the public respectfully provide space within the foyer for family, RCMP members, and invited guests.

“We cannot thank the community enough for the outpouring of support they have given us since Sarah’s death. Sarah was killed two years ago but it seems like yesterday for us. This is a chance to give her the honour she deserves,” says Constable Matt Baker of the West Shore RCMP.

The lobby will be remain open throughout the day and during business hours for anyone who wishes to view the Wall of Honour and offer their respects.


Wednesday, April 4 ~ BC. There’s only one day left to contribute your opinions to the proposed changes to ICBC auto insurance rates. The BC Government’s aim is to make rates more fair for all vehicle owners (excluding those with fleet vehicles).

Feedback is being accepted online to  4pm on Thursday, April 5 at https://engage.gov.bc.ca/ratefairness/

Input from this survey will help inform ICBC’s application on Basic insurance rate design to its regulator, the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC). The survey was launched March 5.

Changes to the current system would make all drivers more accountable for their decisions and driving behaviour, says the government on the survey website. The survey takes about 15 to 20 minutes to complete. You will be asked things like how long you’ve been driving (and how much of that time in BC) as well your opinion on a range of questions about penalties, rate increases, and discounts.

“The model ICBC uses to help determine insurance rates is more than 30 years old. While it has seen some improvements over the years, it is out of date. This means that right now some drivers are paying more and others are paying less than the risk they represent,” the government says. Adding: “British Columbians have been saying for years that the system would be more fair if lower risk drivers paid less for their insurance, and higher risk drivers paid more. We agree. Currently, most high-risk drivers are not paying enough to cover the future risks they represent on our roads.”

Submissions on the proposed changes by organizations and experts will be posted online.


Wednesday, April 4 ~ LANGFORD.  A groundswell of discontent has arisen in Langford over the BC NDP Government’s housing policy. 

Set off by a public and political vocal backlash about the BC Speculation Tax that was allowed room to grow for about five weeks between rollout of BC Budget 2018 and a fuller explanation of tax implementation, now the complaints are widespread about housing. The cost to build housing and the prices at which market homes must sell… these are economic issues of supply and demand.

The pushback is coming not just from those who will be directly affected by the tax that sees vacant homes. It’s also from the developers who produce homes and rely on a marketplace that can afford them, including Realtors who will feel the squeeze in trying to sell continually more costly homes. In Langford, about 70% of residents are homeowners. The Westhills area alone sells about 150 homes per year.

Now the City of Langford — the fastest growing municipality in BC — has broken ground at a formal level, their Council agreeing at their April 3 regular council meeting to write a letter to the BC Ministry of Finance requesting that Langford be exempt from the Speculation Tax. Further to that, Langford Mayor Stew Young on behalf of the city was authorized by his council to write a letter to the Minister of Finance Carole James and BC Premier John Horgan expressing concerns over the tax.  And on top of all of that, Council hopes that the entire Capital Regional District (CRD) will be excluded from the Speculation Tax or that the Province will consider allowing municipalities within the CRD to opt-in or opt-out of the tax on a case-by-case basis.

Clearly leading Langford in its fast-paced economic growth in recent years, Langford Mayor Stew Young said at council last night that Langford attracts investment from outside the region as a way to help the economy. The Speculation Tax is already spooking would-be buyers from Alberta and beyond. Young feels that other Canadians should not be pushed away from BC, that the tax was supposedly originally intended to eliminate speculation by foreign buyers.

At the council table, Mayor Young suggested that perhaps those who have written the new tax details at the Finance ministry are missing the impact of the consequences of their policy-driven paperwork, that “they don’t understand, or perhaps they don’t own homes”. Langford Councillor Lillian Szpak pitched out “what happened to co-op housing and rent control?” as two examples of “housing choices that are missing in their plan”.

After hearing presentations from developers, the president of the Victoria Real Estate Board (VREB), and others on the supply-side of the housing equation, Langford Council readily adopted this break-rank move to be the first municipality in BC to formally oppose the Speculation Tax. However the part about getting the CRD on board -– not so much, said Councillor Denise Blackwell, who reminded fellow councillors that due to the governance structure of the CRD board that Victoria and Saanich (which of all CRD municipalities are probably feeling the most pressure on housing affordability and supply) have the majority of votes at the CRD board table.  And Mayor Young said that in his recent meeting with the Finance Ministry that there didn’t appear to be much room for sway.

Keeping in mind that this was in March at the tail-end of the winter season in which the housing market is in its usual pre-spring quiet zone, Westhills reports a 20% drop in visits to their show homes (detail update since last night) and a 15% drop in visits to their website in recent weeks . “The market doesn’t like uncertainty,” said Dale Sproule, Manager of Real Estate Sales & Marketing , Westhills Land Corp.  “The best way to keep the housing crisis in line is to have more product, not more taxes,” he told Council.

VREB president Kyle Kerr said that a 10% drop in housing values would result in a $90 billion loss in equity across the province. However, he reiterated what housing analysts have long surmised, that housing values in south Vancouver Island will always see high demand due to desirable geographical factors. Indeed, house prices went up again in March 2018 to now an average sale price of $903,052 in overall Greater Victoria (up over $26,000 in one month from the February overall average sale price of $876,397). The west shore breakdown for March 2018: $754,867 in Colwood (12 sales), $723,450 in Langford (53 sales), and $554,704 in Sooke (27 sales).

In that light, like all the other speakers, Kerr concluded that increased supply is the way to maintain an active market. He noted that some homeowners are now not able to renew their mortgages under present market conditions. Since last fall, the dampening effect of the mortgage qualification ‘stress test’ effective January 1, 2018 coupled with now three interest rate hikes since summer 2017 has had the Bank of Canada’s desired impact of putting the brakes on an overheated (over financed) housing market. Naturally, the developers and Realtors are going to squeal at the impact.

The BC Real Estate Association in their April 4 Market Intelligence report calls the BC Government’s attempt “ to drive down the price of homes through demand-side policy” would cause home construction activity to “fall dramatically” and that home builders would cut back production 25%. “That’s 10,000 fewer housing starts in the first year alone,” says BCREA, saying the overall impact of the new housing policy will have a “negative shock” on home prices that would impact both homeowners and renters. BCREA reports are penned by their chief economist Cameron Muir and economist Brendon Ogmundson.

Last week, Finance Minister Carole James clarified that the speculation tax applies only to non-residents with multiple properties that are sitting empty in major urban centres. “Home prices didn’t spike overnight, and our housing problems can’t be fixed with a single budget,” she said.

In the BC Government’s 30-point Plan for Housing Affordability in BC  a $6.6 billion investment over 10 years to deliver 114,000 affordable homes is listed, intended to “fill gaps in the market including homes for growing families, home for seniors, housing options for women and children fleeing violence, and homes for students”. Rental units for “the missing middle” defined as “skilled workers” are being addressed with $378 million over three years and over $1.8 billion over the next 10 years.  None of this directly addresses the supply side of the traditional mainstream real estate market that the developers and Realtors are calling the alarm on.  But if the provincial government fully intends on dampening house prices (hand in hand with federally-imposed efforts that seem to be working), it seems they have indeed already stepped on the toes that make housing happen.


The Alert Ready system will be able to send messages to wireless devices in BC effective April 6, 2018.

Tuesday, April 3 ~ BC. Effective April 6, 2018, emergency alerts in British Columbia issued through the national Alert Ready program can also be sent to compatible wireless devices, such as smartphones, to ensure more people have the information they need to act quickly in an emergency.

To find out if your wireless device is compatible with the Alert Ready system, visit: www.AlertReady.ca

Wireless alerts will be publicly tested for the first time in BC on May 9, 2018, at 1:55 p.m. (Pacific time), alongside routine television and radio tests. Emergency Management BC (EMBC) is the sole agency responsible for issuing emergency notifications on the Alert Ready system in the province, and will initially issue such alerts for tsunami threats only. The Province is considering expanding the use of Alert Ready beyond tsunamis to include other hazards and emergencies in the future.

“Accurate and timely information in an emergency situation can save lives and livelihoods, and we need to deploy every tool available to alert people of potential public safety threats,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “As technology improves, we are always looking for new ways to broaden our reach and reduce the time it takes to communicate critical safety information. Wireless alerts will help us achieve both of those objectives.”

Wireless alerts will contain instructions for a safe response, and all British Columbians are urged to abide by these instructions without delay. In order to receive alerts, mobile phones must be connected to a cellular network, be alert-compatible and within the alert area. They will be broadcast automatically at no cost to the user. Wireless-compatibility information is available at: www.alertready.ca

“Wireless alerts are a welcome addition to our current alerting tools,” said Jennifer Rice, Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness. “These alerts will complement the Provincial Emergency Notification System (PENS), social media and, at the community level, sirens, subscription-based text message alerts and other mechanisms,” says Rice.

“As the Province continues to refine its emergency management system, it is equally important that all British Columbians take their own steps to prepare by understanding the risks where they live and work, creating an emergency plan and assembling an emergency kit,” Rice said.

The National Public Alerting System (NPAS), publicly branded as Alert Ready, is a collaborative initiative between federal-provincial-territorial governments and industry partners. It provides a standard alerting capability to rapidly warn the public of imminent or unfolding hazards to life.

Currently, in accordance with a 2014 Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) decision, all radio and television broadcasters in Canada are mandated to broadcast public alerts. On April 6, 2017, the CRTC mandated wireless service providers to be capable of sending wireless public alerts in Canada by April 6, 2018.


 

Lots of advance notice on Hwy 14 (Sooke Rd) about bus pullout construction traffic slowdowns set for April 16 to 27. [West Shore Voice News photo]

Monday, April 2 ~ WEST SHORE & SOOKE. The traffic marquee signs are already up on Highway 14 (Sooke Road), advising drivers about bus pullout installations coming up April 16 to 27.

Given the lead time — and that one of the messages on the Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure sign board says “thank you for your patience” — it appears the traffic delays are something that commuters and on-road business travelers will want to accommodate in their scheduling.

Three bus pullout locations have been developed since the January 19 Hwy 14 improvements announcement by Premier John Horgan who is MLA for the Langford-Juan de Fuca area through which Hwy 14 runs.

There is a bus pullout almost ready in the four-lane section just west of the West Shore Parkway, and two just east of town as you’re heading westbound into Sooke.

 


 

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