lifejacketsafetyWednesday, August 31 ~ BC. When out on the water, wearing a personal flotation device can save your life. As the last long weekend of the summer approaches, the BC Coroners Service urges residents and visitors to stay safe when boating.

The need for all persons in small vessels to wear a properly fitted personal flotation device (PFD) is highlighted by two cases reported to the BC Coroners Service this week. Both persons were in small boats. In one case,the person fell overboard. In the other, the boat capsized. Neither person was wearing a PFD. Neither survived.

In at least one case, PFDs were aboard the boat but not being worn by the occupants. This reinforces the need for boaters to wear PFDs at all times while on the water, as research has shown that as many as 70% of boating deaths involve persons who have become separated from their vessels.

A study from Washington State showed that the chances of someone dying in a boating accident were 2.6 times higher if they were not wearing a PFD. Another study from Alaska showed that of all those who died in recreational boating accidents, only 17% were wearing a PFD.

Coroners’ statistics show that boating is the most common context in which drowning occurs in BC. In 2015, 36% of all accidental drowning deaths (25 from a total of 70) involved someone who was boating.

The other key boating safety tip offered by the BC Coroners Service: Do not mix alcohol with any recreational water activities. A study specific to boating published in the journal, Injury Prevention, suggests that someone with a blood-alcohol level of 0.10 has about 10 times the risk of drowning while boating, and that even a small amount of alcohol can increase the risk.

Water safety tips

  • Always wear a properly fitted Personal Floatation Device (PFD) when engaged in boating or tubing activities. Children, non-swimmers and weak swimmers should wear a PFD when wading or playing in the water at a river, lake or ocean.
  • Alcohol and water-related activities do not mix any better than alcohol and driving. Alcohol impairs your co-ordination and judgment, substantially adding to the risk inherent in swimming or boating. Impairment by alcohol or drugs is also often a contributing factor in cases in which someone has accidentally fallen into water from shore. BC statistics, as elsewhere in North America, show that between one-third and one-half of those who drown are impaired by alcohol or drugs at the time.
  • Be aware of the water conditions where you are planning your activities. Check the weather forecast before heading out, and do a visual inspection of the area.
  • If hosting visitors from another province or country, ensure they are informed about the conditions that prevail in the lake or river you are visiting. Warn them about steep drop-offs, rapids and any other hazards.
  • Always supervise children anywhere near water. Preschool-aged children can drown in only a few centimetres of water, and the drowning is often silent. Proper supervision for children of this age involves keeping them within arm’s length of a responsible adult.
  • Even those walking along waterside trails or cliffs should take care. About one-sixth of those who drown in BC fell into the water from shore.
  • Never dive into unknown waters. Unexpectedly shallow water or hidden obstacles underwater can easily prove fatal. Diving from cliffs or from other great heights is an exceptionally high-risk activity.



noCampfiresMonday, August 29 ~ VANCOUVER ISLAND – Effective at noon on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016, campfires will once again be allowed throughout the Coastal Fire Centre’s jurisdiction, except on the southern third of Vancouver Island within the South Island Natural Resource District.

So that still doesn’t let the Greater Victoria area, Sooke to Port Renfrew and the southeast side of the island off the hook.

Earlier this month a ban on campfires and open burning was put into effect for all of Vancouver Island (except the fog zone), in effect to October 21.

To help protect public safety, campfires remain prohibited in areas south of Hindoo Creek (just north of Buckley Bay), and south of Strathcona Park and Nootka Sound. However, campfires are still permitted within the “Fog Zone” – a band of land two km wide that runs from Owen Point near Port Renfrew to the district boundary of Port Hardy.

The Lower Mainland and the northern two-thirds of Vancouver Island received rain over the weekend, and much of it fell in areas where the campfire ban is being lifted. More rain is in the forecast, so members of the public are encouraged to visit: www.bcwildfire.ca to get the latest information about open fire prohibitions in their area.

The existing Category 2 and Category 3 open burning prohibitions within the Coastal Fire Centre remain in place. Category 2 open fires are not permitted within the Coastal Fire Centre’s jurisdictional area. Category 3 open fires are only permitted within Haida Gwaii.

The use of fireworks, firecrackers, sky lanterns, burning barrels or burning cages of any size or description, or the use of binary exploding targets, is also prohibited throughout the Coastal Fire Centre’s jurisdictional area.

ShoppersOptimumMonday, August 29 ~ NATIONAL. Good news for Shoppers Drug Mart customers across Canada! The Shoppers Optimum Points system is working again!

About 60 TB of information representing about 30,000 points-transactions between Aug 5 and 15 needed to be manually re-input into the system over the past few weeks. That process continues for a few more days (about 2 MB of data is entered daily). Otherwise, all new transactions at the checkout are being properly recorded now.

But if your balance still seems out of whack still, you can phone the Shoppers Optimum information line at 1-800-746-7737 for specific details; have your Optimum Card number handy.

WorkSafeBC-logoThursday, August 25 ~ VANCOUVER ISLAND. High temperatures have prompted WorkSafeBC to issue a heat stress alert for Vancouver Island. WorkSafeBC said in a release today that with high temperatures forecast for much of Vancouver Island, employers and workers will have an increased risk of developing symptoms of heat stress and heat stroke.

Last year, 24 workers in BC lost days at work because of heat stress related injuries, four of which were on Vancouver Island. This is an increase from the historical average of 19 heat stress injuries in BC annually.

“In 2015, the majority of workers who suffered heat stress related injuries were in the construction sector, followed closely by primary resources and manufacturing,” says Mike Ross, WorkSafeBC’s Prevention Field Services Manager, Victoria. “We need to remember – everyone working in hot conditions is potentially at risk.”

Heat stress occurs when your internal temperature increases faster than the body can cool itself. Symptoms include excess sweating, dizziness and nausea. If not addressed quickly, additional symptoms such as heat cramps, or potentially lethal heat stroke can rapidly develop.

Prevention of Heat Stress:
• Drink plenty of water (one glass every 20 minutes)
• Wear light-coloured, loose fitting clothing made of breathable fabric
• Take rest breaks in a cool well ventilated area
• Do the hardest physical work during the coolest parts of the day
• Know your personal risk factors: medications, skin disorders, sleep deprivation, poor physical fitness, pre-existing medical conditions
• Know the signs and symptoms

WorkSafeBC requires employers to conduct heat stress assessments. As appropriate, employers must have a heat stress mitigation plan which provides education and training in recognizing the symptoms of heat stress and heat stroke. Workers are required to participate in monitoring conditions, and checking co-workers for symptoms.
Employers and workers can go to: Preventing Heat Stress at Work or contact the WorkSafeBC Prevention Line with questions or concerns: 1 888 621-7233.

Workers and employers can learn more about heat stress and sun safety at work on WorkSafeBC’s YouTube channel.

Wednesday, August 24 ~ EARTHQUAKE REPORT.

CANADA: An earthquake registering at 4.3 Magnitude was reported 16 km west of Faro, Yukon on Tuesday evening August 23 at 4:36 pm. No reports of damage. Meanwhile, at 4:08 am this morning August 24, there was another quake in Yukon, 72 km SE of Rampart House, measuring 3.5 Magnitude, also with no damage reported or expected.

amatrice-before&after-Aug2416ITALY: Meanwhile, Italy also experienced a strong quake last night. The US Geological Survey put the 6.2 Magnitude quake — with the epicenter at Norci — about 105 miles northeast of Rome where buildings shook for 20 seconds. At least 73 people have been killed in the mountainous area of central Italy, authorities say. The magnitude 6.2 quake struck at 03:36 Italian local time (8:36 pm August 23 PDT). Many of the dead were in Accumoli, close to the epicentre, and a short distance away in Amatrice, where three-quarters of houses were destroyed. Many people are still believed buried under the rubble, and the death toll is expected to rise. [Photo: before and after images of Amatrice]

SasquatchWednesday, August 24 ~ NATIONAL. What’s more strange than the topics themselves, is that Angus Reid would do a Canada-wide survey on what Canadians believe in the way of the paranormal and other unexplained phenomena.

In the poll results, what is ‘believed’ in these areas is not lined up with what has been scientifically proven.

Results of a new public opinion poll as released by the Angus Reid Institute today find that over 75% of Canadians believe that “certain things that happen on Earth cannot be explained by science”.

Apparently four in five Canadians believe intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe, and almost half of all Canadians believe aliens have already visited this planet. Likewise, nearly half of Canadians – with women being twice as likely – believe some people have psychic powers that enable them to predict future events.

However, while most are willing to consider the possibility of extra-terrestrial life, they’re less sold on other paranormal phenomena like ghosts and cryptids (e.g. Sasquatch and Ogopogo).

Poll details: www.angusreid.org/extra-terrestrials-stranger-things/

SDM-logo-webTuesday, August 23 ~ NATIONAL.  Retail giant Shoppers Drug Mart (owned by Loblaw) continues to experience issues with its Optimum Points loyalty points system.Billions of individual customer transactions that have accumulated point-of-sale Optimum points are now being entered manually into a new computer system.

This message to customers is posted on the Shoppers Drug Mart website: “We are currently experiencing a service interruption that is impacting Optimum point balances.  We apologize for the inconvenience. We are working to have this resolved as soon as possible and appreciate your patience during this time.”

From August 5 to 15, points from store transactions were not being updated properly. Starting August 16 points were not being seen by the main system. By August 19 the reason for the IT system failure was determined and now “progress is being made”, according to one company official. “We can see the balances, and totals will be rectified very soon, as points are entered into the system.”

In recent years, the Shoppers Optimum Points system has become an economy unto itself, upon which people may well depend upon to help stretch the grocery budget.  When certain points levels are achieved, the points may be redeemed as a credit toward a next purchase. For example, redemption of 22,000 points produces a $30 discount on your next purchase; redemption of 38,000 points produces a $60 discount; 50,000 points produces $85 and 95,000 points produce a $170 discount on a purchase of that amount or more.  Even just 8,000 points can be redeemed for $10, which for some families in hard times is a welcome bit of extra shopping-day support.

The problem seems to be a highly outdated computer system that became overwhelmed by the increasingly complex digital-coupon offering that was rolled out last year.  Leaving customers without rectification of their points for now 18 days and counting, is likely not good news for individual stores. Customers may be postponing purchases until the computerized points tallying is functioning properly again.

One store manager advises that customers hold onto their receipts, and check with the Shoppers Optimum support centre in Toronto to determine how things are lining up. The contact number of Shoppers Optimum is 1-800-746-7737.

William&Kate&kids-2016Monday, August 22 ~ NATIONAL. Home base for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (William and Catherine) on their tour of BC and Yukon will likely be Government House in Victoria.

Their itinerary for September 24 through October 1 is based out of Victoria, BC and includes stops and activities in Vancouver, Kelowna, Bella Bella, and Haida Gwaii in BC as well Carcross and Whitehorse in Yukon. More specifically, by date: Vancouver (Sept 25); Bella Bella (Sept 26); Victoria and Kelowna, then Whitehorse, Yukon (Sept 27); Whitehorse and Carcross, including a public celebration in Whitehorse (Sept 28); Victoria (Sept 29); Haida Gwaii (Sept 30); and Victoria (Oct 1).

With their two young children in tow, the official government residence in Victoria would be suitable for location and security. Prince George is 3 years old and Princess Charlotte will be 16 months old in September.

BC Premier Christy Clark issued a statement today: “I’m looking forward to welcoming the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during their visits to five British Columbia communities as part of their Royal Tour. The tour is an opportunity for their Royal Highnesses to witness the very best of our province – from the Great Bear Rainforest, to the emerging generation of young, tech-minded entrepreneurs, to millennia-old Indigenous cultures. On behalf of all British Columbians, I’m pleased and proud to welcome the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to our province, and the lifestyle, culture and scenery British Columbians treasure.”

The Office of the Minister of Canadian Heritage says in a statement that the Duke and Duchess will “participate in events and activities that highlight the work Canadians are doing to preserve the environment, empower young people, improve mental health, encourage active living and highlight Indigenous culture and heritage.” This will be the first time the Duke of Cambridge has toured Yukon and BC in an official capacity. However, the Duke visited BC once before on a private working visit in 1998, where he joined his father the Prince of Wales and his brother Prince Harry on a skiing vacation at Whistler.

“As celebrations for the 150th anniversary of Confederation draw ever closer, we are delighted to welcome Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on their second Royal Tour to Canada,” said Minister of Canadian Heritage Mélanie Joly in a release.

Trudeau-atHip-Concert-Aug20-2016Sunday, August 21 ~ KINGSTON. Last night at the August 20 end-of-tour concert by The Tragically Hip in their hometown of Kingston, Ontario, frontman Gord Downie gave a strong commentary about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and society:

“Well, you know, Prime Minister Trudeau’s got me, his work with First Nations. He’s got everybody. He going to take us where we need to go,” Downie said on-stage. “It’s going to take us 100 years to figure out what the hell went on up there,” he continued, “but it isn’t cool and everybody knows it. It’s really, really bad, but we’re going to figure it out, you’re going to figure it out.”

Trudeau attended the concert casually dressed, including a Tragically Hip T-shirt. But he was careful not to steal the limelight. It was Gord Downie’s night.

Downie announced earlier this year that he is suffering from a type of brain cancer for which there is presently no cure. His fans across Canada have followed his 2016 tour with interest and compassion. The tour started in Victoria.

Most of the better-known hits by The Tragically Hip were first released between 1987 and 1996, affecting the young generation at that time.

Trudeau said in an interview on CBC TV: “I’m so glad they’re all ours. They really remain so anchored in Canada in so many ways. Their lyrics, their sense of place, the sound, the vibe, the feel. This is something that is a piece of the extraordinarily multi-layered definition of Canada we try to give ourselves. … And tonight we get to say thanks.”

Friday, August 19 ~ OTTAWA. Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced the following changes to his cabinet.

DominicLeblancDominic LeBlanc (left), currently Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, will now be dedicated solely to his role as Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard. LeBlanc will also assume additional responsibilities in the coming days. LeBlanc and Trudeau go back to shared days in youth.

chaggerBardish Chagger (right)becomes Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and retains her role as Minister of Small Business and Tourism. The Waterloo MP becomes the first woman to hold the House Leader post in Canadian history.

Trudeau thanked Minister LeBlanc for his immense contributions as Government House Leader and expressed his confidence in Minister Chagger as a worthy successor.

The former Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard was Hunter Tootoo, who earlier this summer was asked to leave cabinet and the Liberal caucus due to indiscretions. According to CTV News today, the now-independent MP and his campaign spent nearly $100,000 to win the Nunavut riding for the Liberals, in a campaign funded exclusively by the federal party and the local riding association. That includes $10,000 in salary paid to Tootoo for the 78-day election period. He had initially invoiced the campaign for $18,000, but noted it could be paid “as the cash flow of the campaign account allows for”.

SDM-logo-webWednesday, August 17 ~ NATIONAL (updated on August 18).

The popular Shoppers Optimum Points retail loyalty system is having issues this week. The now fully digitized coupon system has been experiencing IT issues since August 5. The points value of coupons has not been accurately recorded to the main corporate servers (if at all), and points balances are out of whack for Shoppers customers across Canada.

Points not lost or deducted, but balances not properly restored yet, according to one Shoppers Optimum Centre rep.

“It’s an IT issue, the points are not visible. The redeemed coupons are not showing, and balances are not correct.” The Shoppers Optimum Call Centre is experiencing higher than normal volumes, with many complaints pouring in. Cashiers at the checkout lines are also having to explain to concerned customers.

The Shoppers Optimum Points loyalty program is an economy unto itself. Significant savings — such as $30 or $60 off entire purchases for redeeming a certain number of Optimum Points — are dependent upon accurate points system management. Families that rely on the Optimum point rebates to help make ends meet are probably now really noticing the pinch.

In the last year or so, Shoppers shifted from sending out coupons that customers would need to print before coming to the store, to instead using a fully load-online system for coupons. Coupons offer points on specific products, as well as bulk point awards for spending certain dollar amounts.

Shoppers Drug Mart is owned by Loblaws.

DontDrink&BoatWednesday, August 17 ~ VICTORIA. BC’s Liquor Distribution Branch reminds British Columbians and visitors that they should avoid any risky or dangerous physical activity when drinking alcohol and remember that spending time in the sun and on the water can accelerate intoxication.

In BC, 48 people die and 160 are hospitalized with injuries on average each year due to water activities and of those, 42% are alcohol-related. Half of these deaths and hospitalizations take place between June and August. As well, they note that alcohol is a contributing factor in 25% of all deaths involving injury in BC, with the highest number occurring in the months of July and August.

Driving any type of motor vehicle while intoxicated – whether on the road, on the water or on a trail – is illegal and can have deadly consequences. According to ICBC, nearly half of all of BC’s impaired driving fatalities happen during the summer months (June to September).

This month, BC Liquor Stores are reminding British Columbians that if your plans include drinking, they must not include driving. The campaign includes in-store decals and posters urging people to think before you drink and stay safe on the road.

William&Kate&kids-2016Tuesday, August 16, 2016  UK.Kensington Palace has announced that young Prince George and his baby sister Princess Charlotte will be on the BC/Yukon trip with their parents Prince William (Duke of Cambridge) and Catherine (Duchess of Cambridge), this fall. Apparently William and Kate were reluctant to be without their children during the trip.

Reportedly the family of four and their team will fly first class on a commercial flight to Vancouver, rather than take a private jet.

The itinerary for the trip has not yet been announced but is reportedly going to include outdoor wilderness time (possibly in the BC mainland Interior) and one private day away from the media spotlight.

The young Royal family will be greeted on behalf of Canada by the Governor General David Johnston.  “[My wife] Sharon and I will be delighted to welcome Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to Canada,”said  Gov. Gen. David Johnston in a statement. “Our true Canadian pride and spirit will shine and be at the very heart of this visit so they can feel at home.”

The young Royal couple was invited to Canada by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, earlier this summer.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016 ~ VICTORIA. Due to hot temperatures and little rain in the forecast, effective at noon on Wednesday, August 17 campfires and Category 3 open fires will be prohibited throughout the Coastal Fire Centre which includes Vancouver Island — with the exception of Haida Gwaii and the area known as the “Fog Zone”.

  • That includes BC Parks, Crown lands and private lands.
  • The Fog Zone is a band of land two km wide that runs from Owen Point near Port Renfrew to the district boundary of Port Hardy.
  • The existing Category 2 open burning prohibition remains in place.
  • The bans do not apply within the boundaries of a local government that has wildfire prevention bylaws in place and is serviced by a fire department.
  • A poster explaining the different categories of open burning is available online at:http://ow.ly/jdO5301kS32

The Coastal Fire Centre is implementing the additional prohibitions due to increasing temperatures and because there is no precipitation currently forecasted for the region. This prohibition will remain in effect until October 21, 2016 or the public is otherwise notified.

The following activities will not be allowed:

  • campfires, as defined by the Wildfire Regulation (burning of woody debris)
  • open fires (using woody debris) in an outdoor stove
  • tiki torches
  • the use of fireworks, firecrackers, sky lanterns, burning barrels or burning cages of any size or description
  • the use of binary exploding targets (e.g. for rifle target practice)

The campfire ban and Category 3 prohibition cover all BC Parks, Crown lands and private lands within the Coastal Fire Centre, with the exception of Haida Gwaii and the Fog Zone. They do not apply within the boundaries of a local government that has wildfire prevention bylaws in place and is serviced by a fire department.

These prohibitions do not apply to CSA-rated or ULC-rated cooking stoves that use gas, propane or briquettes, or to a portable campfire apparatus that uses briquettes, liquid or gaseous fuel, so long as the height of the flame is less than 15 centimetres.

Anyone found in contravention of an open burning prohibition may be issued a violation ticket for $1,150, required to pay an administrative penalty of $10,000 or, if convicted in court, fined up to $100,000 and/or sentenced to one year in jail. If the contravention causes or contributes to a wildfire, the person responsible may be ordered to pay all firefighting and associated costs.

The Coastal Fire Centre covers all of the area west of the height of land on the Coast Mountain Range from the U.S.-Canada border at Manning Park, including Tweedsmuir South Provincial Park in the north, the Sunshine Coast, the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and Haida Gwaii. A map of the affected area is available online:http://ow.ly/cL6L303gphO

To report a wildfire or open burning violation, call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone. For the latest information on current wildfire activity, burning restrictions, road closures and air quality advisories, go to: http://www.bcwildfire.ca

You can also follow the latest wildfire news on: Twitter at: https://twitter.com/BCGovFireInfoand on Facebook at: http://facebook.com/BCForestFireInfo

130845-Horgan-talkatBBQ-Aug1416-web400August 14, 2016 ~ SOOKE. Right down to the orange stripes on his brand new runners, John Horgan, MLA (Langford-Juan de Fuca) has begun the countdown to the NDP success that he’s counting on in the May 2017 provincial election.

The BC NDP Leader and Leader of the Official Opposition addressed a crowd of over 100 people at his annual summer BBQ in Sooke this afternoon. The weather was warm and bright with a light breeze, and the political enthusiasm was already starting to mount.

For Horgan, overall the reason people will want to vote NDP is because the BC NDP believes in “reducing barriers for people in this province, not creating more,” he told West Shore Voice News. Horgan says the BC Liberals in the last 15 years have been making it harder for working people to achieve educational and financial goals.

Horgan was first elected to the BC Legislature in 2005 when the riding was called Malahat-Juan de Fuca, and then in 2009 and again in 2013 when the riding was called simply Juan de Fuca. With the riding becoming Langford-Juan de Fuca for the 2017 election, Horgan loses a chunk of voters from the primarily rural Metchosin area.

Education was top of mind for Horgan today, given his long-standing belief that education is the great equalizer but also in the wake of the BC Liberals providing provincial funding to school boards across BC this past week, to help fund school bus fees for parents and families. Among those attending the BBQ today were SD62 School Board Chair Bob Philips and SD62 Trustee Neil Poirier.

BCFerry-fromBCFerriessiteSaturday, August 13 ~ VANCOUVER. A few BC Ferries sailings between Vancouver and Victoria were cancelled for this evening after a man went overboard from the Spirit of British Columbia.

Members of the crew reportedly rescued a man from the water just after 3 pm about four miles out of Vancouver’s Tsawwassen ferry terminal. The man’s condition is not known.

The Coast Guard was apparently called in to assist with the rescue, but in the end a life craft was used to retrieve the passenger.

The 5 pm Spirit of British Columbia sailing from Victoria’s Swartz Bay terminal and the 7 pm sailing from Vancouver’s Tsawwassen terminal have both been cancelled.

The 9 pm sailing leaving Swartz Bay is expected to run normally.


Friday, August 12 ~ VICTORIA. The all-party Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services announced its public hearing schedule for the Budget 2017 consultation process. This year, the committee will travel to 15 communities to hear from interested individuals and organizations about their fiscal priorities. Videoconference opportunities are available for an additional eight communities.

Public hearing registration will open on Tuesday, September 6, 2016. Further information regarding the budget consultation process and how to participate is available at:www.leg.bc.ca/cmt/finance

The consultation period opens in conjunction with the release of the Budget 2017 Consultation Paper prepared by the Ministry of Finance. British Columbians are invited to participate by presenting at a public hearing, making a written, audio or video submission, or completing an online survey.

“Public hearings are a vital component of the committee’s work,” said committee chair Wm. Scott Hamilton, MLA. “We need to hear from British Columbians on how they would prioritize fiscal sustainability with spending on health, education, and social programs, and investments in critical infrastructure, among other priorities.”

The committee will hold public hearings in the following locations: Vancouver (Monday, Sept. 19)   Cranbrook (Tuesday, Sept. 20)   Kamloops (Tuesday, Sept. 20)   Kelowna (Wednesday, Sept. 21)  Richmond (Wednesday, Sept. 21)  Surrey (Thursday, Sept. 22)  Victoria* (Monday, Sept. 26)  Prince Rupert (Monday, Oct. 3)   Dawson Creek (Tuesday, Oct. 4)   Prince George (Tuesday, Oct. 4)   Quesnel (Wednesday, Oct. 5)   Port Hardy (Wednesday, Oct. 5)   Courtenay (Thursday, Oct. 6)   Delta (Thursday, Oct. 6)   Victoria* (Tuesday, Oct. 11)  Video/teleconference opportunities for Fort St. John, Fort Nelson, Williams Lake, Smithers, Castlegar, Vernon, Terrace, and Penticton.

“The committee wants to ensure that Budget 2017 represents a collaborative process and reflects input from a broad cross-section of British Columbians,” says deputy chair Carole James, MLA. We look forward to hearing from many individuals and groups about their fiscal priorities.”

Budget consultations are held annually in accordance with the Budget Transparency and Accountability Act. The deadline for public input is Friday, Oct. 14, 2016 and the committee will release a report on the results of its consultations by Nov. 15, 2016.

The members of the committee are: Wm. Scott Hamilton, MLA Delta North (chair); Carole James, MLA Victoria-Beacon Hill (deputy chair); Dan Ashton, MLA Penticton; Robin Austin, MLA Skeena; Eric Foster, MLA Vernon-Monashee; Simon Gibson, MLA Abbotsford-Mission; George Heyman, MLA Vancouver-Fairview; Jennifer Rice, MLA North Coast; Jackie Tegart, MLA Fraser-Nicola; John Yap, MLA Richmond-Steveston.

Trudeau-with-flagsFriday, August 12 ~ OTTAWA.  Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has today issued the following statement on International Youth Day:

“International Youth Day is an opportunity for people around the world to reflect on contributions by youth – both past and present – to making the world a better place.

“The theme of this year’s International Youth Day is eradicating poverty and achieving sustainable production and consumption. These global challenges demand fresh thinking and renewed vision. No one is ever too young to be a leader, and seek the answers that could combat climate change, build fairer, more inclusive societies, and change the world.

“Canadian youth have innovative ideas and new perspectives on how we should address the opportunities and challenges of our day. That is why we established the Prime Minister’s Youth Council to ensure we hear, at the highest level of government, what young people have to say. Youth issues are everyone’s issues, and youth should have a voice in decisions that will affect them for the rest of their lives.

“On this day, and every day, I encourage young people to initiate and lead the change we seek and need now. Be the leaders of today. There is no reason to wait until tomorrow.

“On behalf of the Government of Canada, Sophie and I wish all those marking the occasion a happy and inspiring International Youth Day.”

Trudeau has been spending personal holiday time in BC the past week or so.


BCMinistryofEducation-logoWednesday, August 10 ~ DAWSON CREEK.  Almost $15 million in BC Government support funding is available to school districts around BC, so that no families need to pay for bussing to school. The funding is in response to a ‘handful’ of school district levying fees for bus service to school.

The announcement that will “benefit students and parents throughout the province”was made by BC Minister of Education Mike Bernier in Dawson Creek this afternoon, August 10. Minister Bernier was joined by school district officials at the Dawson Creek School Board (SD59 – Peace River South) office to make the announcement. Bernier is the MLA for Peace River South.

Students and families throughout BC will soon have access to expanded and more affordable transportation options thanks to $14.7 million, under the new Student Transportation Fund. School districts can apply for the funding to help parents with transportation costs and services, whether they use the usual yellow bus program or work with local transit operators.

The handful of districts that currently charge families a transportation fee for a student’s local or catchment area school must eliminate those fees to be eligible for the funding. All districts need to use the funding for transportation services to be eligible.

On the west side of Vancouver Island, Sooke School District 62 (SD62) — which serves Langford, Colwood, and Sooke to Port Renfrew — has been levying bus fees on families for the past few years. The bus fee went up $50 per rider for 2016-2017. It is not yet known if SD62 will roll back those fees and apply for the provincial funding. Applications are due to the Ministry of Education by September 30, 2016, outlining how they will use the funding to boost transportation services for students and families.

Minister Bernier said that the funding can also be used in a variety of ways, including:

  • improving service by adding new or amended routes;
  • improving access to local transit services;
  • providing accessible services for students with disabilities;
  • reducing ride times;
  • boosting student safety by relocating bus stops and improving bus supervision; and,
  • funding existing transportation services and investing the savings in enhanced student services.

The amount of funding a district is eligible for is based on a formula tied to the Ministry of Education’s student location factor, which is used to determine the rural makeup of a school district. Districts will also be required to report back on the outcomes and the benefits they achieved as a result of the funding.

“As a result of BC’s strong economic growth and fiscal discipline, government is able to make key investments like the Student Transportation Fund to improve the lives of British Columbians,” it was stated in a news release.

“This past June, government returned $25 million in administrative savings to districts — and many of them had found those savings in their transportation money. With close to $15 million more funding flowing to districts parents will see districts enhancing services and eliminating fees,” says Bernier.  Opposition Leader John Horgan was quick to point out at the time that the $25 million was not a payout, but simply a redistribution of funds that school boards had worked hard to extract from other budget areas. School boards are required to file balanced budgets (no deficits) in order to qualify for per-pupil provincial funding each year.

The Ministry of Education claims that the Student Transportation Fund builds on government’s recent investments to further strengthen BC’s education system and support student learning, including:

  • $25 million of administrative savings returned to school districts to invest in students;
  • $2 million Rural Education Enhancement Fund to help keep schools open;
  • $28 million to ensure enrolment increases and labour settlements are covered; and,
  • $6 million to train teachers on coding and new curriculum and to buy computers.

Tuesday, August 9 ~ KELOWNA. The BC Coroners Service has confirmed the identity of a woman  who died following a jet-ski accident in Osoyoos Lake on Aug. 5. She is Taylor Anne Jessop, 24, of Coquitlam.

Ms Jessop and a companion were driving separate rented jet-skis on Osoyoos Lake on Friday afternoon. The two jet-skis collided and Ms Jessop died from the injuries she sustained in the collision before she could reach a hospital.

The BC Coroners Service and RCMP continue to investigate this death. Ms Jessop’s family has been notified.

WRS-groupshot-winnersBRONZETuesday, August 9 ~ RIO. The Canadian Women’s Rugby Sevens team captured Olympic bronze on Monday night, August 8, at the 2016 Olympic Summer Games in Rio, Brazil.

After a series of uneven performances in the first-ever Olympic rugby sevens tournament — including a 17-5 loss to Australia in the semifinal game earlier on Monday — Team Canada raged against Great Britain (the fourth-ranked team in the world), achieving 33-10 to take the bronze. They scored early and often.

To those who follow the sport, there was an inclination to ask where this level of performance had been earlier in the tournament. But they won, which is what counts in sport.

The Women’s Rugby Sevens have trained in Langford, BC over the past couple of years.

This brings Canada’s medal count to four, all medals won by women athletes so far.

CarShowSooke-July1616-web400Monday, August 8. Collector cars will be able to drive on the open roads in BC!  It’s part of the BC Government’s recent commitment to making changes to the modified collector vehicle program to allow specialty cars and trucks, up to and including 1974, into the program.

ICBC currently has a modified collector vehicle program that allows
individuals with vehicles registered as a 1958 model year or older to apply for modified collector vehicle status.

At the request of the Specialty Vehicle Association of BC, the threshold for eligibility will be expanded from 1958 to 1974 to allow eligible modified vehicles within the “muscle car” era into the program.

“The collector car industry is very important to B.C. and we want to open up the opportunity for more people to join in the experience of owning a true ‘classic car’ and to be able to participate in classic car shows,” said Todd Stone, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “We want to see this specialty vehicle program remain viable, preserve vehicle history and evolve with the times. That’s why we are opening up the opportunity to owners of specialty cars within the ‘muscle car’ era.”

In addition, the program will be expanded to include replica (non-original) vehicles resembling North American production-built 1942 model year or earlier. People will be able to register the replica as it looks (for example, registering it as a 1937 Ford rather than 2014, when it was built).

The number of collector vehicles has nearly doubled to 26,000 over the last decade in BC, according to the Insurance Corporation of BC (ICBC).  ICBC will be incorporating these expansions to the modified collector vehicle program in B.C. upon completion of its Transformation Program, a modernizing of ICBC’s technologies and processes, improving customer service. ICBC will look to accept applications early in 2017, allowing pre-approved motor enthusiasts to register and obtain their modified collector plates in summer 2017.

Last month, BC Premier Christy Clark announced an amendment to the Motor Vehicle Act Regulation, which makes it possible for owners of specialty cars without mud flaps or fenders to operate legally on the roads, where the highway is dry and paved. Qualifying vehicles must have been built in 1940 or earlier, or be replicas of this vintage.

In spring 2015, a new collector car registration process came into effect, streamlining the process for registering an unfinished collector vehicle imported from outside of B.C. The new process allows vehicle owners to register their collector or vintage vehicles purchased from out of province before completing restorations to their vehicle, saving vehicle owners time, money and effort, and creating peace of mind for owners that proper paperwork has been filed.

ICBC is conducting a survey this summer to help inform future changes to the collector and vintage vehicle program.  The Specialty Vehicle Association of BC will be distributing the survey to its members.

BCWildifre-forestfire-pic-web400Friday, August 5 ~ CASTLEGAR. Some BC Wildfire Service radio communications equipment was deliberately vandalized sometime between July 29 and August 2, 2016, putting the safety of firefighting personnel at risk, says the BC Wildfire Service, Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

The communications equipment is located on Thompson Mountain in the Southeast Fire Centre and is accessible from the Thompson Rim Trail. The equipment was damaged beyond repair and it will cost between $80,000 and $100,000 to replace the radio gear and install it in a more secure area.

“At this time of the year, when wildfire behaviour can be both aggressive and unpredictable, it’s crucial for BC Wildfire Service personnel to be able to communicate with each other quickly and effectively,” says a BC Wildifre news release . “Radio repeaters and related equipment are vital for ensuring the safety of firefighting crews and for protecting the public and infrastructure from harm.”

Radio repeaters used by the BC Wildfire Service are located throughout the province. Anyone who comes across this equipment in the backcountry are expected to leave it alone.

  • Anyone who has information about the vandalism that occurred at Thompson Mountain is asked to contact their local RCMP detachment or call Crime Stoppers at 1 800 222-TIPS.
  • To report a wildfire, unattended campfire or open burning violation, call 1-800-663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone.
  • For the latest information on current wildfire activity, burning restrictions, road closures and air quality advisories, visit www.bcwildfire.ca

Thursday, August 4 ~ VICTORIA. Grants supporting safety and services benefit local governments have been announced today by the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development.

Local governments throughout BC are sharing almost $108 million in provincial funding to support policing and safety measures, as well as community services and projects, said Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development. Minister Peter Fassbender in a BC news release today.

PeterFassbender-headshotProvided from Small Community Grant, Regional District Grant and Traffic Fine Revenue Sharing Grant programs, the funding allows local governments in BC to meet local needs in various ways, including more policing, restorative justice, increased community safety initiatives, infrastructure, administrative support and service delivery priorities. See: complete list of 2016 approved unconditional grants

Since 2009, funding from these three grant programs has provided over $922 million to help support services that benefit BC residents, businesses and communities.

“Local governments can direct the funding from the Small Community and Regional District Grants according to their community needs and priorities. These grants help provide local services, programs and infrastructure in smaller and rural communities in every region of British Columbia,” says Fassbender.

On the west side of Vancouver Island, over $3 million was received into seven municipal budgets, comprising about 2.8% of the total $108 million distributed throughout BC [table by West Shore Voice News]:

Municipality (West Side of Vancouver Island) Small Community and Regional District Grants ($) Traffic Fine Revenue Sharing Grants ($) Total Combined ($) 
Colwood $232,881 $155,795 $388,676
Esquimalt $241,873 $353,437 $595,310
Highlands $364,649 $364,649
Langford $297,395 $297,395
Metchosin $515,347 $515,347
Sooke $341,965 $85,240 $427,205
View Royal $371,110 $62,925 $434,035
TOTAL $3,022,617

For 2016, the Small Community Grant, Regional District Grant and Traffic Fine Revenue Sharing Grant funding is allocated as follows:

  • Communities will receive almost $53 million in Small Community Grant and Regional District Grant funding. These grants are specifically meant to help address infrastructure, administration and service delivery priorities. Since 2009, the Small Community Grant and Regional District Grant programs have provided over $437 million to small- and medium-sized communities, British Columbia’s regional districts and the Islands Trust.
  • Communities will receive about $55 million in Traffic Fine Revenue Sharing Grant funding. Traffic fine revenue comes from ticket fines and court-imposed fines on violation tickets. The B.C. government delivers 100% of collected net traffic fine revenues and responsibility for paying for policing to communities with populations over 5,000 people. Since 2009, more than $485 million has been provided to fund policing and community safety.
  • Small Community Grants aid communities with populations of less than approximately 20,000.
  • Communities with populations of 5,000 or greater pay for policing services and are therefore qualified to receive a Traffic Fine Revenue Sharing Grant.
  • Communities with populations between 5,000 and 20,000 qualify for both the Small Community Grant and the Traffic Fine Revenue Sharing Grant programs.

Previous years’ unconditional grant funding has been applied in these sorts of ways: Supporting the addition of two RCMP officers in Chilliwack. Providing talks on various topics including Internet and cellphone safety in West Kelowna. Contributing towards sewage treatment and disposal capacity by the Sechelt Indian Government District. Purchasing of four police cars in Lake Cowichan. Planning and flood control in Houston.

“I have said time and again that I would rather see net traffic fine revenues that are substantially smaller amounts, because it would mean nobody was behaving dangerously behind the wheel. We know there are still people who text and check their emails while driving, people who speed, and people who drink and drive,” says Public Safety and Solicitor General Minister Mike Morris. “As long as people continue to accumulate traffic fines, we can continue to share these revenues to support community safety initiatives and local policing priorities to help make BC communities safer.”

Rio-Athlete-WaterThursday, August 4 ~ BC.  Some health-risk concerns about athletes attending the games in Rio have been debated in the news for several months. That includes the level of sewage and debris contamination in the waters in which or upon which some of the games will be held. Swimmers have been asked to hold their head out of the water when they’re competing; that may not be too practical for attempting to swim-to-win.

As well, there are concerns about exposure to the mosquito-born Zika virus that causes brain malformation in fetuses. Over half (about 57%) of Canada’s Olympic athletes are women.

There is no vaccine or treatment for Zika. People with Zika virus disease can have symptoms including mild fever, skin rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise or headache. These symptoms normally last for 2-7 days.

Athletes heading to Rio will be given mosquito repellent and many of the official uniforms cover up as much of the body as possible without restricting athletic movement.

Zika-mosquito-1Zika was declared as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) earlier this year. In June 2016 WHO confirmed that Zika can be sexually transmitted, saying men should wear condoms during sexual relations for up to 2 months after possible exposure to the Zika virus.

Transmission of the virus to mosquitoes in North American seems to have begun. This week it was announced that ‘home-grown’ Zika infections have occurred in one identified area of suburban Miami, Florida. Insecticide has been sprayed over that region by airplanes in recent days.

A doctor at UBC — Dr Babak Shadgan, who is overseeing the health of 300 athletes at the Rio Olympic Games — has a warning about the risks of the Zika virus to Canadian athletes and visitors in Brazil.  “It’s the first time that we’re actually holding a Games during pandemic conditions,” Shadgan told media in Vancouver this week.

The risk of getting the virus is lower than it was a few months ago, due to cooling temperatures in Rio, according to Dr Shadgan, but there is a risk the virus could be transferred back to Canada.

“If somebody is bitten by a mosquito (in Rio) and there’s virus in their body just before coming back, if they come back and there’s another mosquito that bites this new person — which is a carrier of the virus — that mosquito will go and bite another person. This is the way the virus can be transmitted,” he said.

“Especially for the two weeks after returning to the country (Canada), try to be in the proper situations far away from any mosquito bite risk,” Dr Sahdgan was quoted by 24 Hours Vancouver.

Brazil Olympic Games EmblemThursday, August 4 ~ VICTORIA. British Columbia will be represented at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games by 142 athletes with a connection to BC, making up 45% of Team Canada.

These local athletes, who have been living and training in BC, will take part in 18 sports with the majority competing in athletics, rowing and swimming, says the BC Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development. There are 314 athletes on the Canadian Olympic team.

Of the 142 athletes with a BC-connection, 68 of them have a hometown in British Columbia and 128 are training in BC or receiving support services from either Canadian Sport Institute (CSI) Pacific or PacificSport centres. The BC contingent in Brazil will also include 23 coaches, 12 CSI Pacific sport scientists and 11 medical practitioners with a connection to the province.

Since 2001, the Government of British Columbia has invested more than $1 billion in sport. This support includes funding for B.C.’s provincial sport organizations that are instrumental in providing training and development for athletes and coaches on the high-performance pathway as they progress from provincial competitions to national development programs and national teams.

The Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games take place August 5-21, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“Every two years, the world comes together to celebrate athletes competing in the Olympic Summer and Winter Games. In BC, we’re fortunate to have some of the best athletes and training facilities in the country to ensure they can compete with the best in the world,” says BC Premier Christy Clark. Congratulations to our athletes representing Canada this summer and, on behalf of all British Columbians, good luck.”

“We have many high-performance athletes who live and train in British Columbia and we are extremely proud of those who have been chosen to represent Canada at the upcoming Olympic Games,” says Peter Fassbender, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development. “There is no higher achievement in sport than competing against the best in the world and I know that all British Columbians share my enthusiasm in wishing them all the best in their pursuit of the podium.”

“With a record number of athletes choosing to live and train in British Columbia, we are proud to be standing by our BC-based Olympians as they get set for the start of the Rio 2016 Summer Games,” says Wendy Pattenden, CEO, Canadian Sport Institute Pacific. “We believe the winning combination of a climate conducive to year-round training, terrific facilities and the social legacy of Vancouver 2010 has been clearly elevated by the Government of British Columbia’s investment in sport development.”

Of Canada’s Olympic athletes, 74 benefit from services provided by Canadian Sport Institute Pacific or a PacificSport centre in the province.  On the Olympic Team there are 37 alumni of the BC Games and/or Team BC alumni (24 are BC Games alumni, 13 are Team BC alumni and 10 competed at both).

In 2012, Canadian athletes won 18 medals at the London Olympic Games: one gold, five silver and 12 bronze. Half of those medals came from athletes with a connection to BC.

Map-CastlegarTuesday, August 2 ~ CASTLEGAR. The BC Wildfire Service responded to 32 abandoned campfires over the BC Day long weekend in the Southeast Fire Centre. The public is being urged to be more careful with fire use to help reduce the risk of human-caused wildfires, says the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations BC Wildfire Service.

Abandoned campfires can easily spark wildfires. Human-caused wildfires are completely preventable and unnecessarily divert firefighting resources away from naturally occurring wildfires.

Since Friday, the BC Wildfire Service has responded to nine lightning-caused wildfires and one human-caused wildfire in the Southeast Fire Centre. Since April 1, 2016, it has responded to 82 wildfires in the region that have burned 329 hectares. Forty-six of these fires were lightning-caused and 36 are suspected to be human-caused.

Anyone found in contravention of an open burning prohibition may be issued a violation ticket for $1,150, required to pay an administrative penalty of $10,000 or, if convicted in court, fined up to $100,000 and/or sentenced to one year in jail. If the contravention causes or contributes to a wildfire, the person responsible may be ordered to pay all firefighting and associated costs.

To report a wildfire, unattended campfire or open burning violation, call *5555 on a cellphone or call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free. For the latest information on current wildfire activity, burning restrictions, road closures and air quality advisories, visit:www.bcwildfire.ca

Wildfire news on Twitter http://twitter.com/BCGovFireInfo and Facebook athttp://facebook.com/BCForestFireInfo


BC & NATIONAL Breaking News Archive: July 2016

BC & NATIONAL Breaking News Archive: February through June 2016