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Friday June 15 ~ BC. Today June 15, 2018, changes to Rules under the Real Estate Services Act that dictate how REALTORS® work with consumers have come into effect. The Rules, mandated by the Office of the Superintendent of Real Estate (OSRE) and finalized on April 27, 2018, have been amended to ensure that REALTORS® make adequate disclosures, so that consumers can make informed decisions. For many Realtors, the changes mean diminished financial returns in their overall sales income.

“BCREA, together with the Real Estate Council of British Columbia (RECBC), has been hard at work to update the Applied Practice Courses for new licensees. BCREA has also been updating its continuing education courses and nearly two dozen standard legal forms that have been impacted by the changes,” said British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) CEO Darlene Hyde. “The new rules governing real estate practices mark a significant shift in how REALTORS® in BC work with their clients. It’s important that consumers know what to expect when the changes come into effect.

”REALTORS®, consumers and conflicts of interest:  One of the changes is a ban on dual agency. Dual agency occurs when a REALTOR® represents more than one party in a real estate transaction. That can be a buyer and a seller, two or more buyers, or a landlord and a tenant. The ban was recommended by RECBC’s Independent Advisory Group in 2016. Exemptions will be possible in limited circumstances. Under the prohibition on dual agency a real estate agent cannot represent two clients with competing interests at the same time.

REALTORS®, consumers and compensation:  From June 15, REALTORS® are required to make more disclosures on the commissions they receive on transactions. Once the amendment comes into effect, a REALTOR® must give the seller a copy of the disclosure form before presenting each offer or counter-offer from potential buyers. This form explains how the commission will be shared with other brokerages involved in the transaction (the buyer’s brokerage) and any other payments the REALTOR® expects to receive as a result of the transaction.

BCREA has worked with its 11 member boards “to make these changes as seamless and as transparent as possible,” says BCREA. Despite that, the BC Green Party issued a statement one day ago (June 14) in response to “ongoing concerns expressed…by realtors across BC”. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver “is once more calling on the Minister of Finance and the Office of the Superintendent of Real Estate to extend the timeline for the introduction of the real estate rule changes”. The changes had already been delayed once — they were to first come into effect March 15, 2018.

BCREA says they are actively working to educate REALTORS® on the implications of these changes so they can continue to serve consumers with integrity and professionalism when the Rule changes come into effect.

“These changes will profoundly alter for the foreseeable future the way consumers initially interact with their REALTOR® and the ban on limited dual agency will have a negative impact on consumer choice with respect to their selection of REALTOR® in some circumstances,” said Hyde. “BCREA has done its utmost to facilitate the transition to the new Rules and we stand behind a strong regulatory regime, informed and knowledgeable customers and professional REALTORS®.”

For more information on the Rule changes: https://knowledge.recbc.ca/


 

BC Premier John Horgan [West Shore Voice News file photo – May 2018]

Wednesday, June 13 ~ BC. On the matter of Nanaimo MLA Leonard Krog deciding to run for Mayor of Nanaimo this fall, Horgan told media today during a teleconference: “Leonard Krog has thought long and hard about it” and that people have been urging Krog to bring stability to Nanaimo council with the longstanding local belief that Krog can bring stability to that municipal government.

Horgan said Krog will stay on until the Fall 2018 municipal  election period, and “I wish him well”. 

Krog would stay on in the BC legislature if he does not win the Nanaimo mayoralty seat.


 

Nanaimo MLA Leonard Krog

Tuesday, June 12 ~ VANCOUVER ISLAND.  What this will do for the fragile state of the BC NDP/Green balance of power in the BC Legislature is what grabs public attention over the expected announcement that long time NDP MLA Leonard Krog will run for mayor of Nanaimo in the October 20 municipal election. His announcement is expected at 5 pm tomorrow June 13 in Nanaimo.

The 41 NDP seats under John Horgan are propped up by three Green seats for a functioning minority government considered ‘progressive’, with the BC Liberals holding 42 seats. If Krog relinquishes his MLA seat, a by-election would need to be called within six months.

Krog was first elected to the BC Legislature in 1991 in the riding of Parksville-Qualicum. He lost in 1996, but regained a seat in 2005 in the Nanaimo constituency. In 2003 he ran for the leadership of the NDP but lost to Carole James who is now the province’s finance minister and who enjoys a degree of immunity from Horgan.

Krog won the Nanaimo riding again in 2017 but was not invited into the Horgan cabinet last year after the NDP formed government. But he is Government Caucus Chair. He previously served as the Official Opposition spokesperson for Justice (Attorney General).


 

Traffic backed up after fatal crash on Hwy 1 about 3.5 km south of the summit, June 9. [Photo posted on Facebook]

Saturday, June 9 ~ MALAHAT.  A head-on collision of two vehicles on the Malahat section of Highway 1 on south Vancouver Island today Saturday June 9 has resulted in the death of a man, and two women injured. At 1 pm, West Shore RCMP, Malahat Fire Rescue and BC Ambulance Service responded to the vehicle incident.

West Shore RCMP this evening have reported that the man driving a southbound vehicle was pronounced deceased at the scene, and that a woman passenger in that vehicle was transported to hospital with serious injuries. A woman who was driving a northbound vehicle was also transported to hospital with injuries.

“The Coroner attended the collision scene and notification of next of kin is being completed with the family. Alcohol is believed to be a factor in this fatal collision and police investigators are gathering evidence as to the level of impairment of the female driver and any driving evidence observed by witnesses,” says Cpl. Chris Dovell.

The highway remained closed for several hours while the West Shore RCMP Traffic Unit and RCMP South Island Traffic Services Collision Analyst conducted the collision investigation. This highway closure was expected to cause delays for travellers and police are asking for patience while investigators complete their examination of the collision scene.


 

Friday, June 8 ~ NATIONAL. The largest-ever Lotto Max jackpot at $60 million was won by a ticket holder in Quebec this evening. The June 8 draw numbers were 12 25 27 29 34 44 45 with bonus number 07.

There were 52 Maxmillion opportunities. On Vancouver Island, there are two winners of half a Maxmillion, i.e. $500,000 each. One of those winners purchased their ticket in Victoria, and the other in Ladysmith.

In Vancouver there is also a winner of $500,000 as a shared prize. In Burnaby there is a $1 Maxmillion winner.


 

Ferry travel includes food service with a view! [West Shore Voice News photo – June 2018]

Tuesday, June 5 ~ COASTAL BC. The Spirit of British Columbia will return to service tomorrow, following its mid-life upgrade and conversion to operate on LNG. The ship services the Tsawwassen/Swartz Bay (Vancouver/Victoria) route.

The vessel is the first of two to be converted to operate on natural gas, which is much cleaner for the environment than marine diesel. The Spirit of Vancouver will undergo a mid-life upgrade from Fall 2018 to Spring 2019.

Other upgrades in the Spirit of British Columbia include the renewal of navigation equipment, propulsion equipment components including gearboxes, rudders, steering system, bow thrusters, propeller blades, LED lighting, more efficient air conditioning equipment to reduce energy consumption and four marine evacuation systems.

The vessel’s passenger areas have been upgraded with new carpeting, furniture upholstery, new table tops, refurbishment of all public washrooms, as well as additional washrooms on Deck 5. A new coffee bar has been added on Deck 6 and the size of the gift shop has been doubled.


 

Saturday, June 2 ~ SHIRLEY, BC. The Sheringham Lighthouse Preservation Society is always looking for new members. Be a volunteer at the lighthouse or at info booths in the community.

A lot of renovations are going on at the lighthouse this summer. The lighthouse is a recognized Canadian Heritage Site.

Preserving a lighthouse is about preserving history and culture.

Donations welcome. Visit www.sheringhamlighthouse.org


Wednesday, May 30 ~ VICTORIA. On Saturday, June 2 the Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, will host a public garden party to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

The lieutenant governor will welcome members of the public on the east lawn to enjoy music and tea service. There will be musical entertainment by the Commodores Big Band, and a craft area will be set up for children to make their own crowns.

This free event is open to everyone. In the spirit of the occasion, guests are encouraged to wear fancy hats and gloves.

Government House is located at 1401 Rockland Ave in Victoria. The event runs 2 to 4 pm.


 

The Swartz Bay Terminal of BC Ferries, near Sidney on south Vancouver Island.

Friday, May 25 ~ VANCOUVER ISLAND. If you have some ideas to improve service at the BC Ferries Swartz Bay terminal, here’s your chance. There’s an public input portal available to June 8 at www.bcferries.com/swbvision

This is part of a broader program announced earlier this month which includes meetings with key stakeholders and pop-up sessions at the terminal in late May and early June.

This program runs through to Fall 2018 to gather community feedback to better understand the important role that the terminal plays in the experience of communities and customer travel experiences within the regional transportation network.

Feedback will inform design concerts for the terminal, taking into account the collective needs of BC Ferries and the community. Customers and the community will be presented with possible design options.

Terminal redevelopment will be done over several years. Public engagement will continue as the terminal is designed and throughout construction which is scheduled to begin in 2021.

Since the previous master plan of 2004, there have been upgrades to ticket booths and traffic flows, and some berth modifications. The new Terminal Development Plan will guide long-term planning and investment in future improvements for Swartz Bay. “The long-term plan is for a more efficient and pleasurable experience for customers while supporting growth in the region by moving people and goods more easily,” said BC Ferries in a news release.


 

Boats clustered in the Victoria Inner Harbour, evening before Swiftsure 2018. [Photo: John Clarke]

Friday, May 25 ~ VICTORIA.  The 75th Annual Swiftsure 2018 International Yacht Race gets the wind behind its sails tomorrow morning, Saturday May 26. 

There will be six race starts at Clover Point: Juan de Fuca Race 9 am; Cape Flattery Race 9:10 am; Cape Flattery Race for Multihulls and Juan de Fuca Race for Multihulls 9:20 am; Swiftsure Ligthship Classic and The Hein Bank Race 9:30 am; Inshore Classic Race (Flying Sails) 9:40; Inshore Classic Race (Legends of Swiftsure, Cruising) 9:50 am. Race officials will use VHF Channel 9 to coundown each race start.

The public comes in droves to watch the race starts, but there is an increasing number of armchair sailors from around the world who follow the races online using Swiftsure’s Race Tracker .

In 2017 over half a million people peered into Swiftsure’s race tracker online. Recent advances in data communication technology enable regular and consistent reporting of boat positions, allowing spectators to boats online.

There are 192 boats registered to sail this weekend. A skipper’s information meeting was held this evening. Most boats will have someone on the bow of most boats during the start. They are watching for opportunities for clean air (not having wind blanketed by sails of other boats that are upwind).

The first boats to finish will likely be the Juan de Fuca multihull fleet. The fastest boats could arrive before midnight on Saturday. The first monohulls racing the Juan de Fuca course could begin arriving after midnight or in the early Sunday morning hours.

Swiftsure appeals to all types of sailors, from experienced amateurs (racers and cruisers) to professional racers. The varied course lengths and uncertain sailing conditions test strategy, tactics, and seamanship.  Swiftsure is considered a grueling test against the elements. Fog, drizzle/rain, heavy winds, strong tidal currents, darkness and the large number of commercial boats in the Strait of Juan de Fuca require a focus on safety and pose a constant challenge to mariner skills.


 

Crash scene investigation and cleanup, evening of May 24, on the Malahat section of Hwy 1 [West Shore Voice News photo]

Thursday, May 24 [10 pm] ~ LANGFORD.  As of 9:35 am this evening, the Hwy 1 Malahat section at Goldstream Provincial Park that has been closed since about 11 am this morning due to a vehicle crash is set to re-open around 2 am on Friday morning May 25, according to DriveBC.

Earlier this evening there were personnel from several agencies at the motor vehicle incident (MVI) site including the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, Ministry of Environment, BC Hazmat, Langford Fire Rescue, Colwood Fire Dept (with their hazmat truck), Mainroad South Island (with huge lights for nightwork), SPR Traffic Services, and the RCMP incident investigator. Among other activities, there was the work of drilling the tank on the tipped-over fuel truck in order to release the fuel.

Meanwhile, northbound motorists not able to get upisland were lined up along West Shore Parkway. Mainroad personnel advised them of the 180 km detour along the Pacific Marine Circle Route (Hwy 14 through Port Renfrew then down to Duncan via Hwy 18) that would take three to five hours.

But many travellers have chosen to wait it out in their vehicles until the road opens. Nearby at that recently developed corner of West Shore Parkway and Hwy 1 were services including a Shell Gas Station and Tim Hortons, and Quality Foods not too far along on Langford Parkway back into Langford.

Motorists parked for many hours on the West Shore Parkway, waiting to go northbound on Hwy 1, Thursday evening May 24 [West Shore Voice News photo]

About 35 flaggers and on-road personnel have been out around Hwy 14 and along the Pacific Marine Circle route for many hours now (especially at the single lane bridges), checking for any stranded motorists (who may have run out of fuel or are in medical distress) and providing water and granola bars if anyone is in urgent need. Porta-potties have been set up in various areas for flaggers and waiting motorists.

Mainroad has about 50 personnel available in total; there will be a shift change at 11:30 pm this evening after a long day.  Some flaggers had to be redirected from construction sites earlier today, to help out with this MVI situation. “We’ve got all resources on this, this is big,” says Mainroad’s road manager Stuart Eaton.


 

Fuel truck collided with a van on Hwy 1 in the Goldstream Park area today May 24, 2018 [CTV Vancouver Island photo, online]

Thursday, May 24 ~ LANGFORD. Police have closed Highway 1 for the afternoon today, Thursday May 24, in Goldstream Park in both directions as a precaution and to further assess a fuel hazard following a vehicle crash. Police estimate a time period of six hours before any potential reopening of Highway 1 (approximately 8 pm). Finlayson Arm Road will remain open for emergency vehicles and local residents only.

Today at 10:54 am West Shore RCMP, RCMP Traffic Unit and Langford Fire Rescue responded to a collision between a fuel truck and a passenger van on Highway 1 just before Finlayson Arm Road.

The passenger of the van was initially reported as trapped inside, however the driver was later removed from the vehicle with non-life threatening injuries.  The driver of the fuel truck is believed to have only minor injuries.  It did not appear that there was anyone else in the van.

First responders including HAZMAT crews have determined that the overturned fuel truck was leaking fuel, which has now been contained.

“The cause of the collision is under investigation,” says Cpl Chris Dovell of West Shore RCMP.  The fuel spill is a risk for motorists and first responders, as well as a potential environmental hazard.  We ask for patience from drivers who are affected by any delays as emergency crews deal with the closure of Highway 1,” says Cpl. Dovell.

There has been a reported three-sail wait at the Mill Bay ferry terminal as drivers tried to detour around the crash through the Saanich Inlet.

Hazmat crews have said it’s the same corner of the Malahat Highway where a fuel tanker crashed in April 2011, spilling 42,000 litres of gasoline and shutting down the route for nearly 24 hours.


 

Wednesday, May 23 ~ VICTORIA. The 2018 GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon was officially launched last night with a Magical Mystery Retro Run in downtown Victoria. New initiatives, including an online training program and floating cheering stations for race day were announced, in conjunction with the launch of volunteer registration and the CHEK Charity Pledge Program (CPP). The 39th Annual GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon will take place on Sunday, October 7.

Olympian Bruce Deacon has been the event’s online coach for nine years, offering training programs for the Marathon, Half Marathon and 8K Road Race. This year will see a free run Victoria Online Training Group which participants can access through Facebook.

On race day, in conjunction with the Victoria HarbourCats, DFH, The Wilson Group and BC Transit, there will be floating cheering buses along the course. “We are excited about these new partnerships and look forward to supporting all of the participants,” said Cathy Noel, General Manager, GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon.

RetroRun on May 22 to kick off the 2018 GoodLife Run in Victoria. [Photo by Brynn Feather]

The online volunteer registration system through Race Roster was launched – a key component of the event organization with 1,600 individuals volunteering every year. “We will be recognizing our returning volunteers through the Team Sales Volunteer Spirit Program, which we launched last year,” added Noel.

The Marathon event has 12 partners in the Charity Pledge Program (CPP). Three of those are official charities: KidSport Greater Victoria, Pacific Autism Family Network and the GoodLife Kids Foundation. Nine of the charity partners are in the CHEK Charity Pledge Program: Autism Speaks Canada, BC Cancer Foundation, Cerebral Palsy Association of BC, Greater Victoria Lifetime Networks, KidSport Greater Victoria, MOVE Adapted Fitness, NEED2 Suicide Prevention, Special Olympics, and the Victoria Hospitals Foundation.

“Since the program’s inception in 2005, over $1.7 million has been raised. The CPP is a great opportunity for large and small charities to raise money and awareness by using the marathon as a fundraising platform,” said Noel.

Since the first Victoria Marathon in 1980, 195,000 participants have crossed the finish line and this year it will surpass 200,000. “The economic impact to this community is tremendous, amounting to millions of dollars each year. In 2001 the economic impact was $2.1 million and in 2010 it was over $7.1 million. We will be conducting another study this year and we fully expect it to have grown even more,” said Jonathan Foweraker, President, Victoria Marathon Society.

To date there are 671 registered for the marathon (cap is 1,500), 1,084 for the Half Marathon (cap 3,500), and 440 for the 8K (cap 2,750). Race fees are currently $110 for the Marathon, $85 for the Half Marathon, $40 for the 8K Road Race and $20 for the Thrifty Foods Kids Run. To register: www.runvictoriamarathon.com


 

View of the Belmont Residences sales centre and surrounding construction site, from the other side of Jenkins Road, May 18. [West Shore Voice News photo]

Monday, May 21 ~ LANGFORD. There is no lack of interest for the opportunity to live in the growing Langford area. As the city grows, people are seeking the west side lifestyle in locations that are convenient and affordable. [View this article on its own page]

It was only May 5 when the Sales Centre opened at Belmont Residences in west Langford and already about 500 groups have come through to see the show suite and find out more about suites available in the 80-unit Phase 1 condo building.

“Currently we are in the preview stage of the program,” says Peter Gaby, sales director with DFH Real Estate Ltd. Sales start in the first half of June; appointments recommended for interest in early purchase.

“People view the sales centre which has the architectural model, wall graphics and digital screens outlining the product offering, the master plan and points of interest in the area as well as a 2-bedroom-plus-flex fully merchandised show suite,” Gaby said this week. The flex room is a popular feature which can be used for a home office, hobby room, exercise room or storage.

Construction for new commercial and residential continues on the Belmont site on Division Avenue in Langford, May 17. [West Shore Voice News photo]

Most comments from sales centre visitors have been positive. “The location, the design layout and functionality of the suites, the quality and attention to detail in the suites in a master plan community is what they are most impressed with,” Gaby says.

People are glad to hear that the 160,000 sq ft of commercial/retail space will be completed prior to Belmont Residences occupancy in early 2020. That includes Thrifty Foods grocery store as the main anchor tenant.

The sales centre is located on Division Ave (just off Jenkins/Kelly) across from the Westshore Town Centre.

www.belmontresidences.com


 

Annual bat count on south Vancouver Island runs June 1 to 21.

Thursday, May 17 ~ SOUTH VANCOUVER ISLAND. Habitat Acquisition Trust (HAT) is seeking volunteers and bat colonies for the Annual Bat Count. This citizen-science initiative encourages residents to count bats at local roost sites. “Bat counts are a wonderful way for residents to get involved in collecting important scientific information” says conservation specialist Paige Erickson-McGee. “No special skills are needed, you can be any age. Relax in a deck chair while counting!”

The Annual Bat Count begins Friday June 1, and will collect baseline data on bat populations before the devastating White Nose Syndrome fungal disease affects bats in the province.

“White Nose Syndrome is estimated to have killed more than seven million bats since it was first discovered in eastern North America a decade ago,” says Mandy Kellner, provincial coordinator of the BC Community Bat Program. “In March 2016, the disease was detected just east of Seattle, and has now spread within Washington State. This has greatly increased our urgency to understand bat populations in BC. We need the public’s help to census local bat populations – we never known when it is our last year to obtain population estimates before White Nose Syndrome causes widespread declines in western North America.”

Counts are easy, say HAT organizers. Volunteers wait outside a known roost site, such as a bat house, barn, bridge or attic, and count the bats that fly out at twilight. They record the final number along with basic information on weather conditions. Ideally, one to two counts are done between June 1 and 21 before pups are born, and one to two more between July 11 and August 5 when pups are flying.

“We know relatively little about bats on Vancouver Island, including basic information on population numbers,” says Erickson-McGee. “This information will be extremely valuable, particularly if it is collected annually. If people want to get involved but don’t have a roost site on their property, we will try to match them with a roost site nearby.”

To participate in the count program on Southern Vancouver Island, contact HAT’s Bat Coordinator at bat@hat.bc.ca or phone the HAT office 250-995-2428.

Funded in part by the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation and private bat-loving donors, with technical support of the BC Conservation Foundation and biologist expertise from the Province of BC. The BC Community Bat Program provides information for people across the province dealing with bat issues on their property or who have questions about how to attract bats. To find out more about bat counts, or to get assistance dealing with bat issues, visit www.bcbats.ca or call 1-855-9BC-BATS.


 

BC Environment Minister George Heyman [Dec 2017 file photo – West Shore Voice News]

Thursday, May 17 ~ BC. As part of keeping its cool in the Trans Mountain pipeline faceoff taking place among the federal government, BC and Alberta, BC sent a letter today to the federal government, including shared priorities. [View this article on a separate page]

BC wants improvements to oceans protection. The federal government says it sees environmental protection going hand in hand with building the economy.

This week Finance Minister Bill Morneau dropped a lead weight of blame on BC Premier Horgan as the reason that the federal government, as part of announcing that it will provide financial support to Kinder Morgan for the challenged pipeline project. The funding is stapled to the project, so if Kinder Morgan bails, a new proponent would have the same advantage.

Federal environment minister Catherine McKenna.

George Heyman, BC Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy sent the 3-page letter (plus 2-page appendix listing several meetings with DFO,the coast guard, environment ministry, national energy board, and more) to his federal counterpart, Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change.

Heyman’s letter, in response to correspondence received from McKenna on April 26, 2018, can be viewed here: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/316322_McKenna_FINAL_SIGNED.PDF

Heyman has outlined differences, as well as individual and shared priorities, of both governments related to protecting BC’s environment and economy from the effects of a catastrophic oil spill.

He has also suggested areas where the federal government needs to do more in areas of its jurisdiction, including improvements to the federal government’s Oceans Protection Plan.

Heyman has also proposed ways both governments can cooperate on their respective research regarding the behaviour of spilled heavy oils, as wells as ways to jointly improve environmental protection.


 

BC Premier John Horgan at the 3rd Annual #BCTech Summit that is hosted by the BC Government. [Twitter photo May 16, 2018]

Wednesday, May 16 ~ BC. To help spark innovation, economic growth and new jobs in BC, the provincial government is investing in tech-based research and advanced training opportunities in all parts of the province, Premier John Horgan announced today at the #BCTECH Summit in Vancouver.

“BC succeeds when British Columbians succeed – and our province’s tech sector is proving that every day,” said Premier Horgan, adding that the sector has over 10,000 companies employing more than 106,000 people.

“Our job is to provide opportunities and partnerships that help companies and individuals innovate, succeed and grow. This approach delivers more jobs and a stronger economy, and helps support health care, education, housing and other public services that make British Columbia a great place to live and work.”

The Province announced that it is investing over $102.6 million in funding for 75 post-secondary research projects, through the BC Knowledge Development Fund (BCKDF). The projects will develop BC’s expertise and innovation in fields such as advanced super-computing and clean technology, to spur job creation, talent development and commercialize innovation.

To attract and retain the best graduate students, $12 million will be invested in graduate degree scholarships over the next three years, to support the priority STEM (science, tech, engineering and mathematics) programs, as well as Indigenous students and regional programs. The Province will also invest in women-in-technology scholarships to inspire a new generation of women to take up science and tech-based professions.

To develop tech talent, $10.5 million will be invested in co-op opportunities and entrepreneurial training for post-secondary students, so they can gain vital hands-on experience to be job-ready when they enter the tech sector.

To help make it easier for tech companies to recruit top international talent to BC, government will expand its Provincial Nominee Program Tech Pilot: priority processing for people in tech occupations (e.g. biotechnologists, software engineers and web developers).

“Investing in innovation is the best thing we can do to set our province up for success,” said Andrew Weaver, BC Green Party leader. “Technology is driving global growth and has the potential to add value to every sector of BC’s economy. This minority government is a unique opportunity to come together to champion a bold vision for the future of our province, and I am proud to be working in partnership with the government to support our tech sector.”

The BC government will unveil a province-wide tech strategy next year that will help provide all people with the ability to work and prosper in the communities they call home. In turn, the Province will invest in health care, education, housing and other public services that make BC a great place to live and work.

The third-annual #BCTECH Summit May 14-16 has been hosted by the BC Government in partnership with Innovate BC (a crown agency) which encourages the development and application of advanced or innovative technologies to meet the needs of BC industry.


 

Saturday, May 12 ~ WEST SHORE. Royal Roads & Brookes Westshore team up for teaching & research

Royal Roads University (RRU) and independent school Brookes Westshore (Grades 6 to 12) have signed a 5-year memorandum of understanding (MOU) to foster a relationship between the two educational institutions through mutual cooperation in teaching and research.

Announced May 10, the MOU sets the foundation for future cooperation and collaboration as Brookes Westshore prepares to open to students in Sept 2018 right next door to RRU on Sooke Road in Colwood. They aim to create a hub to benefit students, staff and faculty at both institutions.

“Royal Roads looks forward to collaborating with Brookes Westshore as it offers a high-quality education next to our Hatley Park campus,” says Royal Roads University President and Vice-Chancellor Allan Cahoon. “We share a common vision of the importance of providing our students with an exceptional educational experience, through enhanced global understanding that supports our local community as well as the labour market needs in British Columbia.”

“Brookes is delighted to collaborate with Royal Roads to create a vibrant learning community on the West Shore,” says Jerry Salvador, Director of New School Development and Director of the Americas for Brookes Education Group. “This partnership extends our commitment to innovative education and will create unique learning opportunities for our students and faculty.”

Royal Roads and Brookes Westshore have agreed to cooperate in several areas, including marketing and recruitment, pathways for Brookes students to transition to university learning at Royal Roads, and teacher training.


 

Line painting has begun on Vancouver Island [photo – Hwy 14, April 2018 – by West Shore Voice News]

Friday, May 11 ~ BC. Crews have started line painting throughout the Lower Mainland and on Vancouver Island, with higher-quality glass beads included in the paint formula, so drivers can see brighter, more reflective road lines.

“Road markings need to not only survive, but shine on B.C.’s West Coast, especially at night and in rainy conditions,” said Claire Trevena, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “The ministry’s top priority is making sure our roads and highways are as safe as possible.

By including larger, higher quality glass beads in our paint mix, it will be easier for people to see our lines when it’s dark and the weather is bad.”

Painting has begun, and this week work is taking place in the Pemberton area, Victoria and Duncan. In total, more than 3,000 km of roads and highways will be painted in the region this year.

Adding glass beads to line paint greatly increases reflectivity. The larger and higher-quality beads to be used in second coats this year in the region will provide 20% more reflectivity than the previous formula.

Also, requests for proposal were recently issued through BCBid for the next Pavement Marking Service Agreements, which will go into effect on December 16, 2018. The following changes are being made to improve on the current agreements:
* 20% more lines painted annually throughout the province
* Use of larger glass beads for increased reflectivity and visibility at night, and thicker paint for longer-lasting pavement marking in coastal areas
* Second coat application in areas that experience premature wear
* Enhanced contractor monitoring and auditing, to maintain consistent performance

There are five pavement marking service areas in the province: Vancouver Island, Lower Mainland, Thompson-Cariboo, Okanagan-Kootenay and Northern Region. Each of the upcoming pavement marking service agreements, which were last tendered in 2013, are for five-year terms, and include an optional two-year extension.

The ministry works closely with contractors to continually test new paint formulations, and products to ensure that high-performing, environmentally friendly formulations are used in BC.

Private contractors are responsible for repainting more than 20,000 km every year, on highways and provincially owned side roads in BC, using close to one million litres of paint and 500,000 kg of glass beads.

This work starts every spring, and continues through the summer and into the fall.  www.tranbc.ca


 

Thetis Lake Regional Park – Pistol Range Remediation Project (CRD)

Friday, May 11 ~ VICTORIA. CRD Restores Former Pistol Range at Thetis Lake Regional Park to Naturalized Park

The Capital Regional District (CRD) has completed a project to remediate and restore the former pistol range at Thetis Lake Regional Park to naturalized park land.

“This former shooting range site was deemed contaminated under provincial legislation and required remediation due to metals from bullets and casings,” said CRD Parks Committee Chair David Screech. “The CRD has now addressed the contamination,” he said in a news release.

The contaminated site was remediated in 2014. Surface soils were excavated, and soil berms dismantled. Restoration work from 2016-2017 improved surface water drainage and soil conditions. Native grasses, shrubs and over 700 trees were planted. Invasive species plants that had spread from illegal disposal of garden waste were removed and continue to be monitored and controlled while trees get established.

For over 100 years, police forces, security companies and gun clubs used this area as a firing range. The site was transferred from the City of Victoria to the CRD in 1994 as part of Thetis Lake Regional Park. Pistol range activities ceased in 1999. The area contaminated by the activities of the pistol range was 0.75 hectares.

The total cost of the project was $736,000. It was funded through CRD project reserve funds and a $75,000 BC Brownfields Renewal grant.

For current photos of the site, as well as the remediation and restoration, visit www.crd.bc.ca/project/capital-projects/thetis-lake-remediation-project


 

Thursday, May 10 ~ VANCOUVER ISLAND. Island Health Celebrates 4 Wins at UVic Nursing Awards. Island Health nurses go above and beyond every day as they provide excellent health and care to patients, clients and residents on Vancouver Island.

During Nursing Week (May 7 – 13), Island Health is celebrating nurses who also teach and are being recognized for their leadership in training nursing students. The 12th annual UVic Nursing Awards were held last night, May 9, and Island Health staff earned four awards.

Nurse Practitioner Preceptor of the Year Award – Lynn Guengerich, a nurse practitioner in pediatrics from the West Shore Health Unit, and Joanna Rippin, a nurse practitioner from the Victoria Health Unit who works mainly with immigrants and refugees, are the co-recipients of the Nurse Practitioner Preceptor of the Year Award. This award is given to nurse practitioners who have made a significant and substantial contribution to nurse practitioner student learning. Nurse Practitioner preceptors work with student nurse practitioners in a one-on-one setting, and allow the students to gain experience in their education.

Preceptor of the Year Award – Laura McDonald, a nurse at the Saanich Health Unit, was awarded the Preceptor of the Year Award. Laura has been a nurse since 2013. She was recognized as Preceptor of the Year for her excellence in guiding fourth year nursing students to reach the full scope of their training.

Collaborative Learning Unit Award of Excellence – Victoria General Hospital’s 6D north acute medicine unit, led by manager Trapper Edison, won the UVic School of Nursing’s Collaborative Learning Unit Award of Excellence. This award is given to units that exceed expectations in promoting student learning, serve as outstanding role models, foster the student nurse role among colleagues and demonstrate excellence in teaching.

Field Guide of the Year Award – Christina Berlanda, the manager of general surgery, women’s health, breast health and the vascular access team, won the Field Guide of the Year Award. When taking on student nurses, Berlanda is interested in giving them a fulsome experience that includes leadership training.

“On behalf of everyone at Island Health we are proud of our award-winners for their leadership in training nurses of tomorrow,” said Dawn Nedzelski, Island Health’s Chief Nursing Officer and Chief of Professional Practice. “They are outstanding role models and they continue to demonstrate excellence in teaching while delivering quality and exceptional care to our patients, clients and residents.”


 

Thursday, May 10 ~ BC. Funding to the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets will increase by about $0.75 million to expand the BC Farmers Market Nutrition Coupon Program, it was announced on May 5. The total coupon amount will increase from $240 per participant household to $336 (as weekly coupons for four months).

The number of participating households is expected to rise from 3,708 to over 3,900 and the number of expectant mothers in the program will be up by 450 by March 2020, it was stated in a Ministry of Health news release.

The coupon program runs June 11 to October 31 at participating farmers’ markets in 57 communities including these in the south Vancouver Island area: Duncan, Esquimalt, Sooke, and Victoria’s James Bay and Moss Street Markets.

The program provides nutrition and skills-building programs which are offered by community agencies associated with each participating market. Coupons help with the purchase of local food including vegetables, fruit, nuts, eggs, dairy, herbs, meat and fish. The program is part of the BC Government’s poverty reduction work.

Program benefits also include improved economic activity through an increased and sustained customer base for local and regional farmers, which in turn has allowed them to grow and diversify.


 

Sunday, April 22 ~ GREATER VICTORIA. The Capital Regional District (CRD) has launched a new set of climate action activity kits in partnership with the Greater Victoria Public Library (GVPL). Climate Action To-Go Kits are available in all 12 branches of the GVPL as well as the Sooke, Sidney/North Saanich and Port Renfrew branches of the Vancouver Island Regional Library, the Salt Spring Island Public Library and the Camosun College Library.

Available to borrow from libraries across the region, these take-home kits contain a range of practical tools and activities that will help residents learn about and take action on climate change in their everyday lives.

“Our Climate Action To-Go program is a highly interactive way for residents to better understand how their household can reduce energy use and prepare for the realities of climate change in the future,” says CRD Director Judy Brownoff, chair of the region’s Environmental Services Committee. “Earth Day is the perfect time to re-launch these kits in our region, building on the past success of this program with a number of new tools focused on transportation and climate adaptation.”

Each updated Climate Action To-Go Kit gives residents the opportunity to:
• Measure their home’s optimal lighting using a digital illuminance light meter
• Measure their household’s appliance electricity use with a Kill-A-Watt meter
• Discover air leaks in walls and around windows using a thermal leak detector
• Tune up a bike or track steps while learning about local active transportation routes
• Test showerhead water efficiency
• Learn about expected climate changes while preparing for both adaptation and emergencies

“These kits provide the public with free tools and information to monitor—and ultimately adjust—the consumption of valuable resources,” says Maureen Sawa, CEO of the Greater Victoria Public Library. “They connect learning with action.”


Brand new bus pullout on Highway 14 (Sooke Rd) at Laidlaw Road was incorrectly sized. Contractor asked to remove and start again. [West Shore Voice News – April 8, 2018]

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.”

Installation of bus pullouts and shelters will be done April 16 to 27 along Hwy 14 (Sooke Rd). Photo: West Shore Voice News April 2018

“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


Hwy 1 westbound to McKenzie intersection [West Shore Voice News photo]

Friday, March 23 ~ GREATER VICTORIA.
TRAFFIC ADVISORY – March 24 to 30 / extended through Easter Weekend to Wednesday April 4
Lane shifts returning to Highway 1 at Admirals/McKenzie
=========================================

Drivers are advised to watch for temporary shifts in the travelling lanes on Highway 1 as work continues on the McKenzie interchange, the BC Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure advised today, March 23.

From Saturday, March 24, through Friday, March 30 while the water main system is connected and tested, traffic will run on the same temporary alignment that was put in place for a limited time in February.

Construction at Hwy1 & McKenzie [West Shore Voice News photo]

For southbound traffic, the highway will have a bend on either side of the Admirals/McKenzie intersection, and northbound traffic will have a minor diversion north of the intersection.

These temporary alignments are designed for motorists to pass through safely at 50 km/h. Drivers are asked to keep moving through the construction site while following signs, watching for workers, and obeying the construction speed limit of 50 km/h.

Traffic advisories: www.drivebc.ca |  Project website: http://engage.gov.bc.ca/mckenzieinterchange/

>> Photos of construction zone on Hwy 1 near McKenzie Interchange [West Shore Voice News – March 23, 2018]


 

Emergency Management BC will conduct a test of Alert Ready on March 21, 2018 at 1:55 pm PDT.

Tuesday, March 20 ~ BC.  There will be a test of the BC Emergency Alerting System at 1:55 pm PDT on March 21, 2018.

The test is being conducted by Emergency Management BC.

This is part of a Canada-wide Alert-Ready system that allows government officials to issue public safety alerts through major television and radio broadcasters. This system will only be used during large-scale disasters or emergencies where loss of life is imminent and possible.

Please note that text messages will NOT be tested at this time. Testing of wireless alerts will begin in May 2018.

You can currently expect to receive emergency alerts via Canadian radio and TV, cable and satellite operators.

Alert Ready is a Canada-wide program that allows government officials in each province and territory to issue emergency alerts.


 

Peninsula Streams Society president Ian Bruce (left) received a $7,500 donation from Esquimalt Anglers Association president Bob Culm on March 14, 2018 [photo by Judith Cullington]

Sunday, March 18 ~ WEST SHORE.  Construction of the new Millstream Fishway to help with salmon preservation is slated to start in July.

The fundraising goal of the Peninsula Streams Society is $205,000 to match the Dept of Fisheries and Oceans RFCPP funds for 2018-19. They are currently one-third of the way there. Some funding is confirmed, some has been requested, and some still needs to be found. Total project cost is about $450,000. Some of that has already been raised and spent in 2017-18 on design work.

“Bottom line, we are within sight of the goal to begin construction in the coming 2018-2019 fiscal year,” says Peninsula Streams Society president Ian Bruce.  On March 14 a cheque for $7,500 was presented to Peninsula Streams by the Esquimalt Anglers Association whose volunteers also donate “a lot of hours” at Goldstream Hatchery.

“People understand that salmon enhancement is truly a regional issue. The Millstream Creek is not in Esquimalt but they recognize that projects of this kind support salmon fishery throughout the south Island.

“Stepping up”, explains Ian Bruce, is a deliberate pun. The Peninsula Streams Society is working with the Goldstream Volunteer Salmonid Enhancement Society and others to build the fishway (a series of concrete steps) that will enable coho salmon and cutthroat trout to get further up the Millstream Creek.

Currently, fish passage is blocked at Atkins Road by a large perched culvert that is too high up for the fish to jump into. The fishway will allow the fish to continue upstream, gaining access to an additional 8 km of habitat.

In total, Peninsula Streams Society is seeking 15 ‘step sponsors’—one per step—who will each contribute $7,500 towards the project costs, as well as smaller donations from groups and individuals. Esquimalt Anglers are the fifth group to contribute. Other step donors include Trotac Marine Ltd and Ralmax.  Municipalities including the City of Langford, as well as Ecoasis at Bear Mountain, and the Pacific Salmon Foundation have also contributed to the project.


 

Wednesday, March 14 ~ COASTAL BC.  BC Ferries will add extra sailings on their busiest routes for the Easter Long Weekend.

From March 29 to April 3, the additional sailings between Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island — on the Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay route and the Horseshoe Bay/Departure Bay and Horseshoe Bay/Langdale routes.

The most popular travel times are expected to be mid-day Thursday March 29 to late morning Friday March 30, with traffic returning on the holiday Monday, April 2 in the afternoon.

Checking the bcferries.com website and making reservations are options for busy travellers.

Early morning and late evening sailings are available on select sailings during the Easter long weekend and Spring Break travel period. From March 15 to April 3, standard under-height vehicles with driver can travel from $39 on the four main routes.


 

Alistair MacGregor, MP (Cowichan-Malahat-Langford) and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh.

Monday, March 5 ~ Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP Alistair MacGregor will be welcoming Jagmeet Singh on Vancouver Island this week, sharing the floor with the national NDP Leader at a community meet-and-greet in Duncan on Wednesday, March 7.

Members of the community are welcome to come and have a conversation with the two politicians about federal government policy and priorities for Parliament.

The get-together will be held at the Ramada Duncan at 140 Trans Canada Highway, from 4:30 to 6 pm.

MacGregor is presently promoting the “Create Your Canada” contest that gives Grade 11 & 12 students in the riding the opportunity to engage in making Canada a better place by creating an idea for a Private Member’s Bill. The winning student(s) will have the opportunity to travel to Ottawa to watch MP MacGregor present their idea to the House of Commons for First Reading.

“I am very excited to give students in my riding the opportunity to learn about the legislative process and participate in law-making firsthand,” stated MacGregor. “The young people of this country are our future, and I am thrilled to have this chance to encourage our youth to get involved in politics and think about how we can create a better Canada.”

The deadline for submissions to the “Create Your Canada” contest is April 30, 2018. Students may enter individually or in groups of two. More info: http://alistairmacgregor.ndp.ca/create-your-canada-contest


 

Many speakers paid tribute to former BC Premier Dave Barrett, on Saturday March 3, 2018. [West Shore Voice News photo]

Saturday, March 3 ~ VICTORIA. The presence of former Premier Dave Barrett loomed large today. Not only on the screen above the stage at the State Memorial in his honour, but in the hearts of everyone there and those watching via livestream.

Nearly 1,000 people attended at the University of Victoria’s Farquhar Auditorium for the 10 am occasion.

By all accounts, this is a man who is now fully and joyfully remembered as both a ‘giant’ of the people and a ‘giantslayer’ of lesser glories. He was BC’s 26th Premier.

Former BC Dave Barrett during a short three-year term in office (1972-1975) is forever in the history books for preserving agricultural land in BC by creating the Agricultural Land Reserve, bringing in public automobile insurance so that all vehicle owners could be covered, and creating Pharmacare drug plan coverage for seniors. His government brought in Hansard and Question Period in the legislature, and abolished corporal punishment in schools. And making all that possible his nimble political fervor brought down a 40-year-run of the right-of-centre Socred government of the day.

Speakers delivering tributes included BC Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon, Premier John Horgan, Retired Roman Catholic Bishop Remi J de Roo, Former BC Minister of Labour Bill King (former MLA Shuswap-Revelstoke), former BC Minister of Lands, Forests and Water Resources Bob Williams (former MLA Vancouver East), Former BC Cabinet Minister and MLA (Vancouver-Hastings) and now Chair of ICBC Joy McPhail, and Marc Elisen who was Barrett’s Deputy Minister and Planning Secretary.

Lt Gov Judith Guichon acknowledged Barrett as BC’s first NDP premier, calling him a champion of the underdog. “He is part of the very fabric of the province,” Guichon said, noting that 357 Bills were passed in the Legislature during his time in office.

BC Premier John Horgan addressed the crowd with this: “He captured the hearts of each and every one of you.”  Remarking further on Barrett’s power of oratory, Horgan noted in particular Barrett’s “passion and power of the message of social justice”. Horgan declared that no one will ever forget Dave Barrett.

Barrett’s three grown children spoke about their father with memories, fondness, and emotion.

The on-stage emcee today for the 1-hour-20-minute occasion was BC Finance Minister and Deputy Premier Carole James.  A powerful rendition of O Canada was led by a Grade 10 student from Esquimalt High School, Isolde Welby. On stage ahead of the formal portion was the Chroma String Quartet.

Visual presentations on the large screen were modest and brief. The entire event was light-hearted, with a good balance of remembering Dave Barrett for both his political contributions and his happy family life. His wife Shirley attended, and was clearly seen by everyone in her husband’s life as a steady, loving source of support.

In the audience was a wide range of VIPs and the general public, many of whom have been long-time NDP supporters. Mayors of many of Greater Victoria’s municipalities were there, as well as several MLAs.

Dave Barrett (October 2, 1930 to February 2, 2018) had Alzheimer’s leading up to his death at age 87.


 

Mainroad South Island reminds drivers to slow down and drive carefully. [West Shore Voice News photo – 2017]

Friday, February 23 ~ A ‘weather event’ has been predicted for the South Vancouver Island area for Friday evening, February 23. Wet heavy snowfall began mid-afternoon.

“Flurries will come and go tonight, tomorrow and tomorrow night,” says Rick Gill, manager, Mainroad South Island. Expect up to 5 cm of snowfall is expected across the area, with as much as 10 cm of snow on roads in certain areas especially higher elevations. The forecast indicates the weather front clearing by Sunday morning.

“This event may have negative impacts on driving conditions in some areas,” says Mainroad. Given that many drivers in this region are unfamiliar with winter driving conditions, all drivers are asked to slow down, drive carefully and use additional caution when driving near road maintenance crews.

Mainroad 24 Hour Emergency Hotline: 1-877-391-7310


 

Thursday, February 22 ~ VICTORIA. Today Premier John Horgan outlined how the BC government will move forward on their action to protect the BC coast. It will start with consultation around four bitumen spill safeguards while at the same time referring to the courts the outstanding issue around BC’s right to protect BC’s coast, Premier John Horgan announced today.

“We believe it is our right to take appropriate measures to protect our environment, economy and our coast from the drastic consequence of a diluted bitumen spill,” said Premier Horgan. “And we are prepared to confirm that right in the courts.”

“We’re proceeding with the four points that are not contentious. The fifth point we’re taking to legal counsel and will proceed in the days ahead,” Horgan announced to media this afternoon.

Consultations will begin soon on the “four remaining safeguards” as announced in January by Environment and Climate Change Minister George Heyman. Those are:

  • Spill response time
  • Geographic response plans
  • Compensation for loss of public and cultural use of land
  • Application of regulations to marine spills

Premier Horgan says his government will be retaining expert legal counsel to ready a reference to the courts, adding that it may take several weeks to bring the reference forward. This reference will seek to reinforce BC’s constitutional rights to defend against the risks of a bitumen spill.

“I am absolutely hopeful that we can get back to a place where British Columbians and Albertans can share our common heritage which is our coast and our mountains and our streams,” Horgan told media today. “There are commonalities between our two provinces. And I would think all of us would want to get back to a place where we can enjoy the absolute privilege of being Canadians, and making sure that we all benefit from the distinctiveness of our individual provinces. That’s my objective, that’s been my objective from the beginning.”

Horgan continued: “But I believe that the federal government and the government of Alberta do not understand the depth of feeling that the transport of diluted bitumen has on British Columbia. I’ve been quite clear about that. It’s not about Rachel Notley, it’s not about Justin Trudeau. It’s about the people of British Columbia and as the leader of the government I want to make sure I’m representing their interests.”

Horgan says the BC right to defend against the risks of a bitumen spill is a safeguard that has “generated disproportionate and unlawful reactions from the Alberta government, specifically their decision to ban the import of wines from British Columbia”.

“The actions by the Alberta government threaten an entire industry and the livelihoods of people who depend on it,” said Premier Horgan. “We have taken steps to protect our wine industry from the unwarranted trade action by the Government of Alberta.”

“It’s not about politics. It’s not about trade. It’s about British Columbians’ right to have their voices heard on this critical issue,” said Premier Horgan. “And it’s about BC’s right to defend itself against actions that may threaten our people, our province and our future.”

The premier said he intends for his government to continuing focussing on “things that matter to British Columbians”, itemizing from this week’s budget the focus on affordability, the housing crisis, and ensuring there are child care opportunities for families and a whole range of other issues. “That’s our preoccupation.”

“To have government of Alberta using these issues as tactics is not of any interest to me. I believe in the rule of law.
We’ve had one province and the federal government making suggestions that they know best, but we’re going to wait to hear from the courts,” Horgan said.


 

Wednesday evening, February 21 ~ West Shore & area. Yes, it’s snowing out there.

About 5 to 10 cm of snowfall in total is what’s in the forecast. Looks like the wet heavy snowflake type — started mid-afternoon and will continue through the evening.

While road crews do get out there to do sanding and application of salt to the roads, driving with extra care (and slower) is a reasonable thing to do. Not everyone in this region is experienced with winter driving, and likely the roads will be slippery and/or visibility can be restricted when snow is falling.

The weather forecast is for temperatures to reach about 4 degrees Celcius on Thursday, so a lot of that snow will melt. Forecasts indicate more snow on Friday.


 

About 900 BC Hydro customers are without power west of Sooke this morning, February 18.

Sunday, February 18 ~ Vancouver Island. Strong winds and snowfall throughout the night have caused extensive damage and multiple outages to customers in the Lower Mainland, Sunshine Coast, Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island.

BC Hydro says their crews are working in all regions and restoration times will be provided once full damage assessments are complete.

There were strong winds overnight, continuing into this morning, along with moderate snowfall which is already melting mid-morning.

As of 10 am this Sunday morning, about 4,000 BC Hydro customers on South Vancouver Island are without power. There are 10 listed outages, showing almost 2,700 customers without power west of Admirals Road in an area that clusters Colwood, Esquimalt, Langford, Saanich and View Royal.

West of Sooke up to Port Renfrew, about 900 customers are without power (which is a significant number in a sparsely populated area).

There are clusters of outages on the Gulf Islands, as well as in North Saanich. A handful of customers are without power in Saanich.

Over 8,000 customers are without power on North Vancouver Island, with over 9,700 without power in the Lower Mainland/Sunshine Coast.


Thursday, February 15 ~ JUAN de FUCA.  Siren testing has been scheduled for earthquake and tsunami early warning systems at Port Renfrew, Pacheedaht First Nation and Jordan River Regional Park between Thursday, February 15 and Sunday, February 18, 2018. People in the area can expect to hear loud intermittent warning sirens while testing is underway.

The systems are in the process of being set up and are not operational at this time. Testing is scheduled as follows:

  • Jordan River Regional Park: Thursday, February 15, 2018 – Testing of the warning system will take place between 11am and 1pm.
  • Port Renfrew and Pacheedaht First Nation: Thursday, February 15 – Saturday, February 17, 2018. The siren will sound intermittently between 9am and 5pm as system settings are adjusted, followed by a full test on Sunday, February 18 at 11:30am.

These tests are in advance of both systems becoming operational in 2018.


 

BC Lt Gov Judith Guichon, February 13, 2018 after the Throne Speech

Tuesday, February 13. The BC Throne Speech this afternoon February 13 delivered in the BC Legislature laid out a preview of what can be expected in BC Budget 2018. Making life more affordable for British Columbians was the expected theme, seen strongly in directions for housing and child care.

“British Columbians have made their priorities clear. After years of rising living costs and stagnant wages, they expect government to make life more affordable,” said Lt Gov Judith Guichon in her introduction. “Too many British Columbians are working paycheque to paycheque. Many cannot pay the bills without going further into debt,” she said.

The Throne Speech is of course composed by the Premier and government of the day. The NDP directions for a social framework and economy that serves the broadest possible range of citizens was evident in the many initiatives that were introduced. Details will come in the Budget on February 20.

Today is was announced that more funds will be put toward training for early childhood education as a way toward increasing the number of licenced child care spaces. As Premier John Horgan explained afterward, this ultimately helps more women, as mothers, to get back into the work force to help boost family income and further their careers.

A creative approach to providing more lower-cost rental accommodation in larger cities is to build more accommodation for students on post-secondary campuses. This will free up a range of accommodations in housing in the general community for other low-income renters.

Further action on the effort to reduce the high cost of housing takes aim at speculation: “Government’s first step must be to address demand and stabilize BC’s out-of-control real estate and rental market. Safe, decent housing is a right that is under threat by speculators, domestic and foreign, who seek windfall profits at the expense of people who work, live and pay taxes in BC. We see the results of speculation in all parts of our province—distorted markets, sky-high prices and empty homes. Too many British Columbians are paying the price,” said Guichon in the Throne Speech.

Horgan spoke strongly in support of the forestry industry, saying that forestry is a 21st-century industry that can benefit from the application of advances in technology. There was absolutely no mention of LNG in the budget, which later BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver said was “refreshing” as LNG is “not profitable” in a world market that is glutted with natural gas (mentioning that the USA and Russia have ample supply of their own).

BC Premier John Horgan

All references in today’s speech to fast-growing communities and transportation challenges were to the Lower Mainland, but oddly (as Langford-Juan de Fuca is the Premier’s own home riding) there was no mention about the west shore of Vancouver Island that is booming and in need of more housing, schools and transportation resolutions.

The BC NDP government says it is working toward a sustainable, diverse economy.  “Your government’s vision for a fair and inclusive society will be built from the foundation of a healthy, growing economy, and from a clear understanding that we must create wealth in order to share it,” it was stated in the Throne Speech.

To media afterward, Premier Horgan reiterated his position about consulting with the people of BC as well as industry, communities and First Nations about the environmental protections that are needed to ensure protection of the environment in BC that is so entwined with the economy of this coastal province.

Horgan said he looks forward to “cooperative not coercive” actions between provinces. “All British Columbians want to see cooperative not coercive federalism. BC will continue to be cooperative equal partners in Canada,” said Horgan this afternoon.

 


Sunday, February 4, 2018 ~ There was a small earthquake at 10:57 pm on south Vancouver Island last night, Saturday February 3. First called a 2.7 quake by Natural Resources Canada Geological Survey of Canada, then upgraded to 2.8 Magnitude, there were no reports of damage, and none would be expected. The quake occurred at 19 km east of Sidney where it was lightly felt, as well as being felt throughout the Saanich Peninsula, Victoria, and Sooke.


 

Thursday, February 1 ~ VANCOUVER ISLAND. The Dogwood Initiative in the south Vancouver Island area is organizing a bus for early in the morning on Friday, February 2 to take their supporters to Nanaimo to attend the town hall meeting that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be holding at 11 am.

 
The town hall will be in the gymnasium at Vancouver Island University, 900 Fifth Street. Registration for attending the meeting begins on-site at 9 am. 
 
This will be Trudeau’s sixth of six town hall meetings held in recent weeks across the country, as “an opportunity for Canadians to discuss ho2 we create more jobs and grow the economy”. This is the only one scheduled in BC.
 
With angst building between the premiers of Alberta and BC over the TransMountain Pipeline, the Dogwood Initiative is expected to hope for a chance to address environmental issues during questions to the Prime Minister.

 

Tsunami Warning on Tuesday, January 23 after 8.0 quake in Alaska at 1:32 am.

Tuesday, January 23 ~ WEST COAST / VANCOUVER ISLAND. An 8.1 Earthquake has occurred south of Alaska at 01:32am.  As of 4:12 am the TSUNAMI WARNING WAS CANCELLED: https://www.emergencyinfobc.gov.bc.ca/tsunami-warning-coastal-areas-of-bc-jan-23-2018-at-0135am/

==== Previous post:A Tsunami Warning has been issued for all coastal areas of British Columbia.  It is believed the waves generated may impact low lying areas under 20 metres.

Follow the instructions of authorities in your area. Do not call police or 911 for updates. Visit Emergency Preparedness and municipal websites as well as Twitter for updates.Minimize phone use in affected areas. For further information go to the emergency management British Columbia website at https://www.emergencyinfobc.gov.bc.ca/

No evacuations for Sooke are ordered at this time, says Sooke Fire Rescue. Fire crews are patrolling Whiffin Spit (CLOSED) and Billings Spit.District of Tofino has advised residents to evacuate to higher ground.

The tsunami is expected to arrive at Tofino at 4:40 am Pacific Time. See Twitter: @TofinoCA

Metchosin Fire Chief Stephanie Dunlop emailed out “this is not a drill”.

The National Tsunami Warning Center has issued a tsunami warning that includes the following zones of coastal British Columbia:• Zone A – the North Coast and Haida Gwaii.• Zone B – the Central Coast and Northwest Vancouver Island Coast, including Kitimat, Bella Coola and Port Hardy.• Zone C – the Outer West Coast of Vancouver Island from Cape Scott to Port Renfrew.• Zone D – the Juan de Fuca Strait from Jordan River to Greater Victoria, including the Saanich Peninsula.“

At this time it is believed that a tsunami has been generated. The tsunami may impact low lying coastal areas in these zones. Local governments in these zones are urged to activate their emergency plans and immediately begin evacuation of identified areas at risk for tsunami impacts,” said Chief Dunlop.

No other zones of coastal British Columbia are at risk.The Township of Esquimalt is monitoring the tsunami warning situation and are setting up a reception centre in case evacuation is necessary – details to follow.


 

Sunday, January 21 ~ SOUTH VANCOUVER ISLAND. Extreme winds have caused extensive damage and multiple outages for BC Hydro customers in the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island, says the utility on their website this morning.

At present, about 65,000 customers throughout the south coast and island areas are without power. at 9 am, BC Hydro said that it expects outages to increase until the winds decrease.

“Restoration efforts are being coordinated in all regions and restoration times will be provided once full damage assessments are complete.”

On Vancouver Island, as of 9 am this morning:
> Vancouver Island South – 22 outages: 14,951 customers without power
> Vancouver Island North – 32 outages: 11,990 customers without power

Hard hit with the most customers out of power are the Gulf Islands including Galiano, Mayne, Ganges, Pender and Saturna.

In Langford/View Royal 764 customers are without power in the Atkins/Millwoods/Strandlund area. As of 9am there are no outages in the Sooke region.

Other areas on the current list of outages: Central Saanich, North Saanich, Sidney, Victoria (Fairfield/James Bay 702 customers without power) and Oak Bay/Saanich (2,072 customers without power).

To report an outage, call 1 800 BCHYDRO (1 800 224 9376) or *HYDRO (*49376) on your mobile or report it online at www.bchydro.com


 

Thursday, January 18 ~ COASTAL BC. BC Ferries vessels and terminals will become a smoke-free environment starting January 22, 2018. This policy change was first announced last summer.

The coastal transportation provider says it is introducing a smoke-free environment to support the health and wellness of customers and employees.

The new policy applies to the smoking of tobacco and any other substance, including the use of e-cigarettes. All vessels and terminal properties will become smoke and vape-free environments, including the interior of all vehicles that are on BC Ferries property.

BC Ferries says it has received many requests from customers to offer a smoke-free environment.


 

CRD Board Meeting January 10, 2018 (screenshot)

Wednesday, January 10 ~ GREATER VICTORIA. The outlying area of Juan de Fuca west of Sooke may yet get their piped water through the Capital Regional District (CRD). 

The CRD Board today January 10 approved a revised draft Regional Growth Strategy (RGS). Approval of the revised draft follows a successful mediation process with the BC Government (from February 2017 until January 5, 2018), to resolve disputed provisions related to managing growth, water servicing, climate action, food systems and transportation.

CRD Board Chair Steve Price (Mayor of Sidney) was in favour of referring the RGS document to municipal councils for acceptance. “The revisions seek to address the interests of all the parties, and set the stage for how the region will approach future growth,” said Price.

Adoption of the RGS bylaw requires all municipalities within the capital region to approve the growth strategy. Mediation was triggered in February 2017 when seven municipalities (Saanich, Central Saanich, North Saanich, View Royal, Highlands, Colwood and Esquimalt) refused to accept the RGS. Provincial legislation provides specific dispute resolution mechanisms to settle an RGS that does not receive unanimous municipal acceptance.

“The mediation process was a very positive experience” says Juan de Fuca Electoral Area Director Mike Hicks. “I hope that all councils will support the mediation compromise that came out of the process so we can put this dispute behind us.” He further explained that OCPs in Juan de Fuca must be consistent with the RGS, and that once the RGS is finally approved that OCP documents in the JdFEA can finally be brought up to date.

Director Hicks said there is a backlog of work and that Juan de Fuca constituents need zoning for development. Ahead of today’s vote at the CRD board table, Hicks appealed to fellow directors to endorse the mediated RGS “to give some neighbouring residents in the Juan de Fuca to connect to CRD water, and give all JDF residents the opportunity to pass their OCPs and be an equal partner in the CRD region”.

The solutions generated by mediation focus on seven topic areas: vision / population projections, economic development, climate action, transportation, food systems, growth management and water servicing. Solutions included revised policy provisions, updated mapping and population projections, updated content related to food systems and climate action, and terminology edits.

The next step in the process is a 60-day referral of the document to municipal councils for acceptance. If all councils accept the revised document, the Board may adopt the RGS as bylaw.

The RGS bylaw will update the existing growth strategy, adopted back in 2003. The RGS guides decisions on regional issues, provides population and employment projections to the year 2038 and updates policy regarding water servicing, growth management, the environment and infrastructure, housing and community, transportation and economic development.

Director Alice Finall (Mayor of North Saanich) at today’s CRD board meeting noted that 2016 census figures were not yet included in the RGS but that waiting for that amendment would delay the RGS approval process. As Director Barb Desjardins (Mayor of Esquimalt, and former CRD Chair) pointed out, that detail can be brought up to speed after the RGS might be passed.

The 2018 RGS also provides new policy regarding food systems and climate action. Visit www.crd.bc.ca/sustainability for more information.


Mike Hicks, Director, Juan de Fuca Electoral Area [West Shore Voice News File Photo – July 2017]

Friday, January 5 ~ GREATER VICTORIA. Fought for long and hard by Juan de Fuca Electoral Area Director Mike Hicks, recently-concluded mediation by the BC Government sees the extension of CRD piped water services made available to residents of JdF areas, including Otter Point to Port Renfrew (East Sooke and Malahat are also in JdFEA).

Until the mediation that concluded Jan 5, seven of the 13 municipalities within the CRD (Saanich, Central Saanich, North Saanich, View Royal, Highlands, Colwood and Esquimalt) had rejected the idea of piped-water extension by rejecting the overall Regional Growth Strategy (RGS).

Over the past year or two, Hicks had the continued support of Langford as well as the neighbouring Sooke municipality. Hicks’ pitch to Premier John Horgan (MLA for Langford-JdF) helped move things along, with Municipal Affairs Minister Selina Robinson then extending the mediation deadline from Nov 30/17 to January 15.

CRD Directors will vote on the mediated solution at their board meeting on Wednesday January 10. If approved by the CRD Board, the RGS goes back to municipal councils for final approval.

The RGS is used as an overall guiding tool for regional development including transportation, land use, water, waste management, environmental services, arts and recreation, hospitals, planning strategies, and protective services.


 

Tuesday, January 2 ~ GREATER VICTORIA. Overall in Greater Victoria the continuing demand for housing in this region retained strong interest in 2017 with those who can afford to own a home. In figures released by the Greater Victoria Real Estate Board today, 2017 saw fewer property sales (8,944 this year compared to 10,622 last year), but prices were higher at this year-end than in December 2016.

In Greater Victoria the overall actual average sale price of a single-family home went up about $50,000 in one year (Dec 2016 to Dec 2017). The HPI (data-adjusted figure based on selected criteria like transportation and proximity to schools and services) went up more than that — an increase of $67,200 between December 2016 and December 2017 which implies an upward trend perhaps for 2018 as well.

WEST SHORE FOCUS: Comparing the 2017 year-end to one year ago, actual house sale average prices were virtually unchanged in Langford ($684,132 this year compared to $685,942 in December last year) although the HPI (data-adjusted prices) jumped $84,000 during 2017.

Colwood prices skyrocketed, with an actual sales average increase of $142,565 in that same one-year period (house sales in December 2017 averaged $728,373 in Colwood compared to $585,808 in December last year).

In Sooke, the overall sale price of homes in one year dropped about $42,000 (from $527,854 in December last year to $485,718 in December this year) though both are still around half a million dollars to live in a fairly remote semi-rural area.

The availability of different types of housing probably contributes to the differences. Langford is consistently building a range of housing types including single-family, townhomes and some condos (as well as rental apartments and affordable housing buildings) while Colwood is seeing a lot of new construction in the higher end of single family homes. In Sooke it’s possible much of the best stock already sold in the very active year that was 2016.

BROADER ISSUES: The new Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) mortgage rules (as of January 1, 2018) that include a ‘stress test’ to determine if a homeowner’s income can withstand interest rate increases, caused a bit of a pre-2018 rush in housing sales in November 2017 in particular. While the government says it hopes to see the housing market cool a bit (and they say they want to protect buyers from over-reaching their ability), the dream of homeownership is increasingly unavailable to many people in Canada — especially in the inflated Victoria/Vancouver markets.

The underlying problem is a precarious job market in which fewer stable long-term jobs are available compared to in decades past. And underlying that scenario is a financial system that has for about 30 years favoured the winners to keep on winning, pushing affordability in all respects further out of the reach of average workers and much of the middle class.

In Canada overall, the crash of 2008 was followed by about nine years of stagnant economic growth. That was compounded in BC by a government whose policies to privatize, use crown corporations as cash-cows, and save at all costs for a rainy day left little fresh energy or opportunity in the economic system for small business and workers alike.

After the second world war, Canada started CMHC and created the housing market as a vehicle for personal and family investment as well as government tax revenue. Now very much an investment tool for those who can afford it, the housing financial system in Canada has completely lost sight of the main purpose of real estate which is to put a roof over people’s heads.

Pushing previous low-end homeowners back into the rental market (and keeping more people renting because they can’t afford to enter the market) is an additional ‘unintended consequence’ of rising house prices. This makes rental availability virtually nil for that new group of renters as well as those who have always rented (which includes most of the Millennials).

All of this is a crisis waiting to burst. It has yet to be seen whether actions by the federal and BC government (with options like affordable housing, as well as the ‘cooling’ of the homebuyer market) will be able to moderate the looming crisis of ‘where are people going to live’? And if people can’t afford to buy high-end or even ‘regular’ homes, the construction industry will have to shift fairly rapidly to building other types of housing to maintain their profitability.


BC Premier John Horgan, Dec 2017 [West Shore Voice News photo]

Sunday, December 31 ~ VICTORIA.  Premier John Horgan has issued the following statement in recognition of New Year’s Day 2018:

“The new year brings new beginnings and new opportunities. It is a chance to look back at the challenges we have faced, and to resolve ourselves to overcome obstacles in the year to come.

“From addressing housing affordability to tackling the opioid crisis, and the ongoing recovery from last year’s devastating wildfires, we have no shortage of important work to do in the coming year.

“On New Year’s Day we are given the opportunity to think about where we are and where we have to go. It is a day to consider the path ahead and to set our minds to meet our goals.

“In 2018, we will be working hard to create a strong, sustainable economy that benefits everyone, to make life more affordable for families and to improve the services people rely on.

“On behalf of the government of British Columbia, I wish you a safe, healthy and happy new year with many more to come.”


 

Sunday, December 30 ~ WEST SIDE of VANCOUVER ISLAND. As you ring in the new year tomorrow night, those who are politically inclined and civic minded are already well aware that 2018 is a big municipal election year in BC.

Elections BC says that the municipal and school board election period starts January 1, 2018, even though election day isn’t until October 20. That’s a lot of months of preparation for exposure to the community!

Candidates for Mayor, Council, and school trustee seats across BC may submit nomination papers starting September 4. The official campaign period begins September 22.

West Shore Voice News will in particular follow the campaign action all year in Langford, Colwood, Metchosin, Sooke, Juan de Fuca and View Royal (and school district 62 on the west shore) as candidates shuffle into place.

In our nearly 10 years of covering political and community news of this region, West Shore Voice News (formerly Sooke Voice News) election coverage has proven to get broad readership and good advertising traction.

This is the first municipal/trustee election after a 4-year term. Previously in BC, municipal and school board terms were for three years.


Two sisters: Chloe Berry, 6, and Aubrey Berry, 4. [web-source photo]

Wednesday, December 27 ~ SOUTH ISLAND. Two children were found dead in an apartment building on Beach Drive in Oak Bay on Christmas Day, Monday December 25. The girls — age 4 and 6 — were found dead and their father found injured with self-inflicted wounds.

The sisters were identified as Chloe Berry, 6, and Aubrey Berry, 4. The father is Andrew Berry, and the estranged wife is Sarah Cotton. They first met when both employed at BC Ferries.

Reportedly there was a custody dispute and support payments from Berry to Cotton may have been in arrears.

RCMP say they are not looking for other suspects, therefore no risk to public safety.

The RCMP’s Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit was called in to investigate. They were on scene again the next day, searching the apartment. Police expect to be on the scene for the rest of the week.

On Saturday, December 30 there will be a candlelight vigil for the loss of these two young girls on Christmas Day by homicide in Oak Bay. The outdoor event will be held at Willows Beach on Beach Drive, 7 pm. Dress warmly, bring a candle. Statement from Mayor and Council of Oak Bay.


 

BC Premier John Horgan, Dec 2017 [West Shore Voice News photo]

Sunday, December 24 ~ VICTORIA. Premier John Horgan has released the following statement in celebration of Christmas:

“Dec. 25 is a special day for Christians around the world. It is a day set aside to recognize the birth of their Saviour, Jesus Christ, and to give thanks to God for the gift of salvation.

“For people of many backgrounds, Christmas is an opportunity for families to gather together and celebrate warmth, good food and good company.

“It offers us a break from the worries of the everyday world and a chance to focus on things that really matter – the people we love and the communities we care about.

“It is also a time to reach out to people in need, and work in a spirit of generosity to help and support each other.

“We hope that British Columbians throughout the province have a safe and joyful Christmas season.

“On behalf of the Government of British Columbia, Merry Christmas.”

To see Premier John Horgan’s interview in West Shore Voice News, click here: December 15, 2017 issue


The Westhills view of snowy roads and hills today, Dec 19. [West Shore Voice News photo]

Tuesday, December 19 ~ WEST SHORE. It’s a snow day! Schools are closed for instruction in the west shore area (SD62) including in Langford, Colwood and Sooke. However, the buildings are open and staff are in the schools. Updates for tomorrow (Dec 20) will be posted on Twitter @SD62_Sooke

For general driving conditions, MAINROAD SOUTH ISLAND says: Drive with care today. Winter driving conditions. Expect snow, slush and slippery conditions. Use winter tires and be prepared to chain up, if needed. Please be aware of snow plows and snow clearing operations. Updates on Twitter: #DriveSafe

In Langford, the CITY of LANGFORD ENGINEERING said this morning: The City of Langford is asking all traffic to please avoid steep slope areas as we work to clear our roads. In particular please avoid Bear Mountain Parkway. Road clearing priorities mimic most other municipalities – we are clearing major collector roads, bus routes and steep slopes first. Please be patient as we make our way to the smaller local roads.  If you do not have to go out, please remain at home. Visibility coming in from the Highlands is very challenging for any drivers coming in from the District of Highlands, several abandoned vehicles Millstream Road at Millstream Lake Road and in the downhill lanes southbound Millstream Road approaching Millstream Lake Road. Snowfall is much more significant in the Highlands and in Langford at the higher elevations.

As of 1 pm today, December 19, the City of Langford reports: “There are several power outages in the City right now including in the Millstream Corridor (Costco and Millstream Village). This is affecting our signal lights because the back up batteries typically last 2 to 4 hours and with Hydro crews swamped our signal lights are going down. We are likely going to send traffic control to the north side of the Highway to help out in the Millstream corridor.”

There are seven City of Langford snow plows out on the roads. One is dedicated for clearing on Bear Mountain Parkway.

The weather is warming slightly so there is now some pooling and minor flooding. “In these instances we typically go out and proactively clear catch basins so we are sending our staff out as we speak to do that all over the City in the major corridors,” says Michelle Mahovlich, Director of Engineering, City of Langford.

“Residents are also asked to clear their catch basins and sidewalks. The temperature will drop over night so we need to minimize slip/fall hazards as well as contain any flooding,” says Mahovlich.


 

Sunday, December 17, 2017 ~ Randall Garrison’s seasonal constituency open house will be held on Monday, December 18 from 4 to 6 pm at the Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke constituency office, 2904 Tillicum Rd.  Here is Garrison’s seasonal letter to constituents:

“As the year comes to an end and the holiday season begins, I would like to extend my warmest wishes to all residents of Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke and their families.

It is an honour to represent you. In the New Year, I am committed to continuing to work for a fairer and greener Canada. As your Member of Parliament, I know that many of you are struggling with the housing crisis, affordability issues, and that you want our environment to be better protected.

I will continue to advocate for improvements to housing, Pharmacare, childcare, and affordability. I will also continue to stand with the majority of my constituents in their opposition to Kinder Morgan.

I hope that your holiday season is joyful and that the New Year brings you success and happiness.”


Tuesday, December 5 ~ BC.  Today December 5, the Province of BC has released a number of key decisions on cannabis regulation in BC. 

The following policy decisions were shaped by feedback provided by individuals and municipalities who participated in the engagement (48,951 British Columbians, and 141 local and Indigenous governments):

  • Minimum age – British Columbia will set the minimum age to possess, purchase and consume cannabis at 19 years old. A minimum age of 19 is consistent with BC’s minimum age for alcohol and tobacco and with the age of majority in BC.
  • Wholesale distribution of cannabis – Like other provinces, BC will have a government-run wholesale distribution model. The BC Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) will be the wholesale distributor of non-medical cannabis in BC.
  • Retail of cannabis – The Province anticipates establishing a retail model that includes both public and private retail opportunities and will share details regarding the model in early 2018.

Legalization of non-medical cannabis in Canada is anticipated to start July 1, 2018 following the passage of federal legislation in the new year.

“Looking at the responses received, it’s clear that British Columbians support the priorities of protecting young people, health and safety, keeping the criminal element out of cannabis and keeping roads safe, which will guide the Province in developing BC’s regulatory framework for non-medical cannabis,” said Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth.

From September 25 to November 1 of this  year, the public and stakeholders were asked to share their input and expertise on a range of issues related to the regulation of non-medical cannabis in BC, including minimum age, personal possession, public consumption, drug-impaired driving, personal cultivation, wholesale distribution and retail models. Most of the public input was received online.

The policy decisions announced today also reflect the feedback received from the local government members of the Joint Provincial-Local Government Committee on Cannabis Regulation (JCCR) and are endorsed by the Union of BC Municipalities executive.

“We thank all British Columbians who provided their input during the important public and stakeholder engagement process,” said Farnworth.

“We will continue to consider your opinions as we further develop policy and legislation that is in the best interests of this province, ensuring a made-in-BC approach to the legalization of non-medical cannabis that will keep our roads and communities safe, protect young people, and promote public health and safety.”

The provincial government says it “still has a number of key decisions to make as it prepares for the legalization of cannabis”. These decisions “will be informed by the feedback collected through the public and stakeholder engagement” but there will be further consultation with local and Indigenous governments and other key stakeholders.

Link: Cannabis Regulation in B.C.: What We Heard report on public and stakeholder engagement: http://engage.gov.bc.ca/BCcannabisregulation/


Friday, December 1 ~ VICTORIA.  November 2017 saw the highest number of property sales of any November in the Greater Victoria area since 1996 — 671 in total (12% more than sold last November). The number of active listings for sale dropped 7.4% in one month from October to November.

The Victoria Real Estate Board (VREB) predicted last month that buyers might accelerate their purchase timeline to buy a home ahead of ‘stress test’ rules set for January 2018.  Overall in Greater Victoria there were 307 single family home sales in November selling at a raw average price of $902,985.

It should be understood that VREB’s data-adjusted HPI figures show $693,200, which means people are paying far above what most people hear as the selling price.

In the west shore, the real price of a house in Langford last month was $696,933 (61 sales) while the HPI was given as $593,800. In Colwood there were 15 sales averaging out at $725,290 while the HPI was $658,100. In Sooke there were 18 house sales in November at a real average sale price of $509,418 while the HPI was $483,300.

So that’s almost a million dollars in overall Greater Victoria for a house and over half a million in Sooke where housing is considered to be affordable.

Condo sales rolled in like this: 219 in Greater Victoria averaging $437,822; Langford 26  sales averaging  $330,298; Colwood 5 sales averaging $396,900; and one sale in Sooke at $229,000. All stats: www.vreb.org


Osborn Pond at Hole #15 at the Bear Mountain Golf Course [West Shore Voice News photo – Nov 29/17]

Wednesday, November 29 ~ LANGFORD. As of 11 am this morning November 29, there are more 5,000 fish in the pond at Hole #15 at Bear Mountain Valley Golf Course.

On this cool Wednesday up at Bear Mountain about 5,000 coho parr were released into Osborn Pond at Hole #15. Skies were grey but the rain held off.

The morning activity was the 6th annual coho release into the ecofriendly habitat. The juvenile salmon will stay and feed in the pond for several months before heading out through Millstream Creek to Esquimalt Harbour and out to the open ocean in the Juan de Fuca Strait. Coho live half their lives in fresh water, and half in the saltwater of the ocean.

Juvenile coho released into Osborn Pond [West Shore Voice News – Nov 29/17]

About 1,400 of the original batch will make it to the ocean for a long swim to Haida Gwaii and then return, arriving back in Millstream Creek about 18 months from now. They will be about 2.5 feet long at that point, coming back to spawn, said Peter McCully, technical advisor, Goldstream Volunteer Salmonid Enhancement Association.

The fish each have one of their fins clipped, as a way for identifying them upon their return. It’s an unused adipose fin that is clipped a bit, not a fin that is required for the action of swimming. About 700 to 800 released fish are identified upon return. They don’t make it as far back as Osborn Pond, but for the time being get only as far as some small ponds near Atkins Road. Presently a culvert perched high above the stream presents too much of a jump even for powerful salmon.

Gr 3 & 4 students from Lakewood Elementary learned about fish and watched the release [West Shore Voice News – Nov 29/17]

There is now a plan to build some fish ladders (concrete ‘steps’) for the returning fish as a way of enabling their jump into the culvert. The hatchery needs about $205,000 more toward a total goal of $245,000 (an amount that will be matched by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans). So far, large donations have been contributed by the City of Langford and Ecoasis Developments, and the Peninsula Streams Society is doing more fundraising.

The fish were transported out to the pond today in a large container, then directed into the pond through a large plastic hose. It took barely a minute for all the fish to arrive in the pond. Well, except for a handful of stragglers that at the end were dumped into their new habitat from a bucket.

A class of Grade 3 & 4 students from Lakewood Elementary with their teacher Sherri Fawcett were keen observers, gathered on the soggy grass. Between arriving pondside in a fleet of golf carts, watching the small fish being hosed into the pond, and enjoying hot chocolate and cookies, the kids had an exciting and probably quite memorable experience.

The event is sponsored each year by Ecoasis Developments which owns Bear Mountain Resort. Ecoasis Chief Financial Officer David Clark was in attendance, as well as Bear Mountain staff, several volunteers from Goldstream Volunteer Salmonid Enhancement Association, and media.

Young coho assisted from net to pail [West Shore Voice News – Nov 29/17]

Turning Osborn Pond into a nursery for these parr is an integral part of a larger conservation initiative to strengthen the numbers of coho, chum and chinook salmon in the waters off the south-easterly tip of Vancouver Island. McCully says it’s quite significant that this environmental initiative is occuring through mostly an urbanized area.

The parr weight about 8 to 10 grams. The eggs were harvested last November and volunteers have been overseeing their rearing.

The hatchery has over 90 active volunteers. “It’s a model of how public involvement in wildlife conservation and preservation can provide environmental rewards without costing the taxpayers large sums of money,” explains McCully. He says that recent survival rates for South Vancouver Island streams are as low as one-half of 1%. “Giving these young fish a fighting start is extremely important”.

Improved salmon stocks will support food fishery for First Nations communities, the sport fishing industry, and local and charter fishing operations. Prior to the introduction of parr to Osborn Pond, there were no salmon in Millstream Creek.


 

Friday November 24 ~ LANGFORD.  A Shift into Winter information booth about winter driving safety will be at the Victoria Royals game in Victoria this evening, 6 to 10 pm. It’s an opportunity presented by Mainroad South Island to share road safety information with the public.

The main depot for Mainroad South Island is in Langford, conveniently located as a large facility on the new West Shore Parkway near Hwy 1.

Today Mainroad South Island manager Rick Gill and Operations Manager Leon Bohmer spoke to media about their preparations for the winter season. Weather is expected to be about the same as last winter, including snowfall and icy road conditions.

“Safety of the travelling public is of utmost importance,” said Rick Gill, manager, Mainroad South Island. “It’s a challenge when winter comes. But it does snow in this region. So we try to educate the public about safe winter driving,” said Gill.

By de-icing roads with brine ahead of expected snowfall, Mainroad South Island hopes to get ahead of any major road condition problems this winter.

Look for a full article coming up in the November 24th print/PDF issue of West Shore Voice News (being posted this weekend on this website ). | More about winter driving: www.shiftintowinter.ca

Photos (from top):
>> Snow plough in winter storm [Mainroad South Island]
>> Mainroad South Island Operations Manager Leon Bohmer (left) and Manager Rick Gill, with the newest of four 4-ton sander trucks, at their main facility in Langford [West Shore Voice News photo, Nov 24/17]
>> Salt can be loaded up into trucks on short notice, from a ready supply on hand at the West Shore Parkway location [West Shore Voice News photo, Nov 24/17]


 

 

BC Premier John Horgan

Friday, November 17 ~ LANGFORD/SOOKE.  BC Premier John Horgan — MLA for the Langford-Juan de Fuca area through which Highway 14 (Hwy14/Sooke Road) runs, has told Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) staff to go back to the drawing board.

Horgan has recently reviewed a long-awaited report intended to improve driving and safety conditions on the winding, through-the-hills provincial highway that connects Sooke and westerly beyond to the rest of Greater Victoria. The Premier has asked for more details and options, to work harder on finding a solution, it was learned from government officials on November 17.

The first draft apparently has some “good projects” within it, but “not sufficient scale that the MLA wants”. While this delays the timeline for seeing improvements on Hwy 14, it will likely come as good news to Sooke residents, commuters, and the regional tourism industry because it means the Premier (who is directly familiar with details of the road) is watching out for his constituents and the region, toward a better result. It also makes sense to use taxpayers’ dollars wisely, and if the improvements will leave some things undone, then it’s prudent to further develop some meaningful improvements.

Highway 14 heading west to Sooke [West Shore Voice News photo, Summer 2017]

Apart from a short 4-lane stretch from the West Shore Parkway intersection west toward Sooke, Hwy 14 (Sooke Road) is single-lane. Until a person has driven it many times, for various reasons including road line (some tight angles), sight lines (especially with headlights from oncoming night traffic), lack of lighting and no opportunity for passing, the road presents a challenging drive. Even for seasoned drivers of the Sooke Road, at night and/or in inclement weather, it’s still a drive that could be considered difficult and risky.

Premier Horgan has asked senior officials to engage in a very focussed consultative process with an informal regional group of business people (that sometimes refers to itself as the Sooke Economic Development Commission) who focus on Hwy 14 issues and also Sooke Mayor Maja Tait.

District of Sooke Mayor Maja Tait addressed UBCM delegates in Vancouver (Sept 2017) ~ Photo credit: UBCM

Mayor Tait was been awaiting the transportation report along with everyone else. Today she said: “Premier Horgan as our MLA is well aware of needed improvements to Hwy 14, and while MOTI staff have worked to have the draft completed, I’m grateful that our MLA  and Premier is taking the time to ensure the study fully captures the necessary improvements for the safety of our residents and visitors.”

City of Langford Mayor Stew Young [West Shore Voice News photo]

Langford Mayor Stew Young sees opening up the Sooke region as a benefit to regional economic development. Regarding the now further delay of the MOTI plan for improving Hwy 14, Mayor Young said today: “I am hopeful the provincial government will keep the solution to Hwy 14 and the E&N corridor into Victoria as high priorities”. “I will be reaching out to Transportation Minister Trevena to see what opportunities we have to find a solution for Westshore and Sooke residents,” he said.

In recent years some improvements have included wider shoulders including bike lanes in some stretches, as well as the roundabout in Sooke town centre. Otherwise, there remain several sections that obviously require left-turn lanes for improved safety (such as at 17 Mile House, and at Manzer Rd) and improved lighting all along the highway — Sooke to Langford — that would produce immense improvements in safe use of the road for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.

And here’s what MOTI had to say about their rejected report today: “BC is working hard to build roads and highways that support growing communities and help encourage economic development across the province. For Hwy 14, we want to make the corridor between Langford and Sooke as safe and as accessible as possible – not just for people in cars, but for people who take transit and people who bike and walk.”

The ministry also says that it focused the corridor study on safety upgrades “because people who frequently travel the route told us they were concerned about reliability and wanted to see it closed less frequently.”  Apparently the study also looked at ways to promote greater transit use, and how to encourage more cycling over the short and medium timeframe. “The initial findings identify several safety and transit improvements that could be implemented over the next year or two in addition to the work that is already underway,” said a statement by MOTI.

New lines were painted on Hwy 14 in summer 2015 [West Shore Voice News photo]

And now they have heard from Premier Horgan that the review “doesn’t go far enough to improve mobility along this corridor and to meet the demands of the increasing population, as more and more people make their homes and establish their businesses in the Sooke area.” It’s clear that authors of the report either don’t drive Hwy 14 themselves or did not consult with Sooke-area businesses, community leaders or daily commuters who could have identified very specific needs.

“The ministry is going to take the report a step further, looking at ways to make travel along this route more reliable and to increase mobility, such as adding future passing lanes and potential short road re-alignments to straighten out some of the curves,” said MOTI officials on November 17.

“We’re going to expand the study to go all the way to Port Renfrew and we’re going to hear from stakeholders in the region to get their ideas for long term improvements on this corridor.”  MOTI concluded: “This government cares about building strong, connected communities and is committed to solving the broader transportation challenges and needs in the South Island region.”

On Monday, November 20 a presentation about Hwy 14 and broader transportation issues will be hosted by Transition Sooke at Edward Milne Community School, 6218 Sooke Rd, at 7 pm. The event is open to the community and is expected to be well-attended.

This article first published in the November 17, 2017 issue of West Shore Voice News.


 

BC Premier John Horgan placed a wreath at the Remembrance Day ceremony in Langford, November 11, 2017 [Photo by Mary P Brooke – West Shore Voice News]

Saturday, November 11 ~ LANGFORD.  BC Premier John Horgan (MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca) laid a wreath and made some brief remarks at the podium during the Remembrance Day ceremony in Langford today. In total, 62 wreaths were laid.

VIPs arrived in a parade. At Veteran Memorial Park, about 1,000 people were gathered under threat of rain, standing or seated in some bleachers in the cold for the one-hour event.

Service personnel in uniform stood in formation for the entire hour. Music by the Westshore Community Concert Band, Gordon United Church Choir and Westshore Girl Guides.

Roads were closed in central Langford, including by large trucks positioned horizontally across roads. Helicopters and airplanes flew overhead at various points. On-the-ground security was present but not overtly obvious.

Four mayors from the west shore area laid wreaths immediately after Premier Horgan: Langford Mayor Stew Young, Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton, Metchosin Mayor John Ranns and Highlands Mayor Ken Williams.


 

Children at the Sooke Cenotaph after the Remembrance Day ceremony (2013). Photo: West Shore Voice News

Friday, November 10 ~ BC. Premier John Horgan released the following statement in honour of Remembrance Day tomorrow.

“On Remembrance Day, people around British Columbia honour veterans, armed forces members, merchant marines and families who have sacrificed in service of our country.

“For many of us, it’s impossible to imagine the courage it takes to put on a uniform and go into harm’s way. Yet for generations, Canadians have bravely risked their lives to protect ours.

“Today, in moments of silence all around the province, we pay tribute to loved ones lost, and to those who have returned with injuries, both visible and invisible.

“We cannot forget the tragedies of war, and we must all work together to build a more peaceful world. Lest we forget.”


 

Mayor of Sidney Steve Price is the new CRD chair, with View Royal Mayor David Screech as Vice-Chair.

Wednesday, November 8 ~ GREATER VICTORIA. New chairs have been announced today for the Capital Regional District (CRD) and Capital Regional Hospital District (CRHD) Board of Directors. The two Boards elect a Chair and Vice Chair each November.

Heading into 2018, CRD says in a news release that their organization’s focus will be on enabling sustainable growth, enhancing community well-being, and developing cost-effective infrastructure while continuing to provide core services throughout the region.

CRD Director and Mayor of Sidney Steve Price is the new 2018 CRD Board Chair, and began by chairing today’s board meeting. Price has been a member of the CRD Board since 2015, serving on various CRD standing committees. He was first elected to Sidney Council in 2008 before election as Mayor in 2014.

CRD Director David Screech is the new 2018 CRD Board Vice-Chair. Screech has served on the CRD Board since 2015 and on various CRD standing committees. He was first elected to View Royal Council in 2002 and then as Mayor in 2014.

Director Marianne Alto has been re-elected for a second year as the 2018 CRHD Chair. Director Alto has been a member of the CRD and CRHD Boards since 2011. She has provided leadership for the CRD’s First Nations Task Force and serves as a member of various CRD committees.

Director Susan Brice has been elected as the 2018 CRHD Vice-Chair. Director Brice has served on the CRD and CRHD Boards for several years, including as CRD Board Chair in the late 1980s.

The CRD and CRHD Boards share the same directors and officers. A corporation of the CRD, the Capital Regional Hospital District partners with Island Health and community stakeholder agencies to develop and improve healthcare facilities in the region, including replacing buildings that have reached the end of their economic and functional life.

Representation on the CRD and CRHD Boards balances varying population bases with community interests. In accordance with Provincial legislation, each municipality appoints one director for every 25,000 people and directors are elected to represent electoral areas. Voting units are assigned based on one unit for every 5,000 people.

Name, Title  Municipality or Electoral Area Role Assigned votes
Steve Price, Mayor Sidney CRD Chair 3
David Screech, Mayor View Royal CRD Vice-Chair 3
Marianne Alto, Councillor Victoria CRHD Chair 4
Susan Brice, Councillor Saanich CRHD Vice-Chair 5
Richard Atwell, Mayor Saanich Director 5
Denise Blackwell, Councillor Langford Director 4
Judy Brownoff, Councillor Saanich Director 4
Barbara Desjardins, Mayor Esquimalt Director 4
Alice Finall, Mayor North Saanich Director 3
Carol Hamilton, Mayor Colwood Director 4
Lisa Helps, Mayor Victoria Director 5
Mike Hicks, Director Juan de Fuca Electoral Area Director 2
David Howe, Director Southern Gulf Islands Electoral Area Director 2
Ben Isitt, Councillor Victoria Director 5
Nils Jensen, Mayor Oak Bay Director 4
Wayne McIntyre, Director Salt Spring Island Electoral Area Director 3
Dean Murdock, Councillor Saanich Director 4
Colin Plant, Councillor Saanich Director 5
John Ranns, Mayor Metchosin Director 1
Lanny Seaton, Councillor Langford Director 4
Maja Tait, Mayor Sooke Director 3
Ken Williams, Mayor Highlands Director 1
Ryan Windsor, Mayor Central Saanich Director 4
Geoff Young, Councillor Victoria Director 4

A standing committee structure, including appointing committee Chairs and Vice-Chairs, will be announced on or before the next CRD Board meeting on December 13.

In 2017, under Chair Barb Desjardins, the CRD Board continued to make progress on the 2015-2018 CRD strategic priorities which outline the direction and priorities of the CRD Board. The corporate plan, multi-year service plans and progress reports can be found at https://www.crd.bc.ca/about/how-we-are-governed/strategic-priorities-plans


 

National NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh addressed a full house at the Victoria Convention Centre November 4, 2017 [West Shore Voice News photo]

Sunday, November 5 ~ VICTORIA. Yesterday it was pretty much a full house at the BC NDP convention in downtown Victoria, giving a rousing clamor of applause for the new leader of the national NDP party, Jagmeet Singh. Singh was elected by NDP membership to head up the party,

just over one month ago in Toronto. Since then he has gained a unique flavour popularity in the NDP camp and attracts a curious level of fascination across the country.

Bounding onto the stage at the Victoria Convention Centre on November 4, Singh was accompanied on stage for the duration of his 20-minute speech by elected members of parliament and party leaders.

He began with accolades for BC Premier John Horgan and the BC NDP for “changing the course of 16 years and bringing in an NDP government”. He commended the new BC NDP government for their comprehensive strategy to tackle poverty in BC, and for working to re-establish a Human Rights Commission. In followup to a final point about raising the corporate income tax “so that everybody pays their fair share”, Singh said to Horgan and the provincial NDP: “Thank you for showing us the way.”

Singh came right out to say that the national NDP party experienced a “pretty significant setback” in the 2015 federal election, but was upbeat about the NDP MPs holding six of seven seats on Vancouver Island.

As for his fast-track to the 2019 election campaign, he is already challenging the federal Liberals for “not implementing any strategy to fight climate change”. Singh says the NDP are opposed to the infrastructure bank set up by the Liberals, though perhaps not realizing the jobs and community growth that it supports.

Singh got two spontaneous standing ovations during his speech… once for his statement that no Canadian should have “less of a sense of self worth” because of the colour of their skin, and again with his statement of the obvious that “poverty, mental health issues and addiction are social justice problems, not a criminal problem”. As a former criminal defence lawyer, that last statement really had some punch.

It is always evident how the NDP across Canada rally together to support new stars on their team. The only chink in that armor is the differential between Alberta’s NDP Premier Rachel Notley and BC Premier John Horgan over the pipeline issues.

Singh wrapped up his articulate, in-depth yet buoyant speech with “yes we can”.


 

Mike Farnworth, BC Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General

Thursday, November 2 ~ BC. After a final push to invite public input, the number of people filling out the BC Cannabis Regulation Engagement survey online saw about 18,000 engagements in the last of five weeks.

As of October 25 about 30,000 British Columbians had participated, and by the November 1 closing, 48,151 individuals had provided feedback on on topics about non-medicinal cannabis such as minimum age, personal possession limits, public consumption, drug-impaired driving, personal cultivation, and distribution and retail models.

The Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General says “an unprecedented number of people shared their opinions to help shape the way non-medical cannabis will be regulated in BC”.

In five weeks (September 25 to November 1) the BC Cannabis Regulation Engagement website saw 127,952 visits, with 48,151 British Columbians filling out the feedback form. As well, through a random survey by phone, 800 opinions were received from a representative cross-section of British Columbians. Government also received over 130 written submissions from organizations including local governments, school districts, cannabis industry, advocacy groups and law enforcement.

Engagement with local governments, Indigenous governments and organizations, and stakeholders from law enforcement, health, agriculture and other sectors is ongoing. In addition, the Province and Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) have established a Joint Provincial-Local Government Committee on Cannabis Regulation made up of 12 representatives from UBCM and provincial representatives from the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General.

The BC Government says the feedback collected through this engagement process will help ensure the provincial regulatory framework for non-medical cannabis reflects the needs and values of British Columbians, while prioritizing the protection of young people, health and safety, keeping the criminal element out of cannabis and keeping roads safe. Over the next few weeks, the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General will review and analyze the feedback received and create a summary report on what was heard that will be made available to the public.

Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, said: “I’d like to thank everyone who participated in our various engagements regarding cannabis legalization over the last five weeks. It’s now our job to do the hard work, take your feedback and perspectives and use them to develop a responsible, made-in-BC approach to regulating non-medical cannabis that maximizes public health and safety.”


 

Tuesday, October 31.  BC Premier John Horgan wrapped up his weekly news conference at the legislature today with “Happy Halloween everybody” after he had touched on various important matters that media queried him on.

Regarding the BC NDP convention coming up this weekend November 3 to 5 at the Victoria Convention Centre, he said that delegates will be discussing a range of policies and initiatives, with debate on each. “People are passionate about issues on the convention floor,” said Horgan. He identified contentious issues as things people are discussing across BC in every community including “the transforming economy, and the carbon constrained economy. Attending to matters of climate change is “now mandated by the federal government” along with many other countries, “to change the way we’re doing business”. On that Horgan said: “I want to lead a government that’s enabling that change in a positive way.”

Premier Horgan says his government will “take every step to protect rural representation” during the process of riding redistribution. In his 12 years in the legislature he says he’s seen in the three redistributions that rural representation is being lost through a deviation of seat sizes.  And with a tip of the hat to proportional representation, Horgan says he will “not shy away from changing a system that gives 100% power to 50% of the voters.”

BC Premier John Horgan and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (July 2017).

The matter of BC Hydro billing rates came up. The BC NDP government hopes to be “protecting rate payers from rate shock,” Horgan said, noting that hydro rates under the previous government went up “far faster than rate of inflation and far faster than in other jurisdictions”. The BC Liberal government set a five-year rate increase of 28.5% in motion in 2014 that has burdened families and households with a significant increase to the cost of living.

On provincial budget: “We have a team working now through the Minister of Finance, to get to some solution on deferred debt. It’s just not sustainable.” The previous BC Liberal government used BC Hydro rates “as a cash cow … borrowing money and deferring debt to make the budget look balance,” Horgan explained. His government will try to “reduce the long term costs on rate payers”.  “(Former Energy Minister) Bill Bennett said it was under control, it’s far from under control,” said Premier John Horgan.

The opioid problem is across BC. “It’s not acceptable to the public and not to me,” said Horgan. “All British Columbians want this to get this wrestled to the ground.” He says the federal government has given the “right language, but not sufficient resources it seems to me”. A formerly strong and high profile Minister of Health Jane Philpott in August was moved to another file, with Horgan saying it’s taking time for the new Minister of Health Ginette Petitpas Taylor to bring things up to speed.  In BC, Horgan says there are more safe injection sites and replacement programs in place.  “I’m personally disappointed at the numbers of deaths going up right across the province.” Horgan says later this week he expects to be talking with the federal government on other issues and that whenever he gets the chance he’s ‘pushing’ for more attention to the opioid crisis. “It’s not moving fast enough,” he said, but feels that his “positive working relationships with Ministers here in BC and with the Prime Minister” will help.


 

Sunday, October 29 ~ BC.  There’s still time to have your say on how BC should regulate the use of non-medical cannabis when the federal government legalizes marijuana in July 2018.

The BC government says its goal is to build a provincial regulatory framework for non-medical cannabis that “prioritizes the protection of young people, health and safety, locking criminals out of the industry, and keeping roads safe”.

Specifically, to help ensure that BC’s provincial cannabis regulatory system reflects the needs and values of British Columbians, government is seeking feedback on the following issues:

  • minimum age;
  • personal possession limits;
  • public consumption;
  • drug-impaired driving;
  • personal cultivation; and
  • distribution and retail models.

It’s an opportunity to “become a part of history and help ensure the framework best represents their interests and priorities”, it was stated in a release from the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General on October 25.

The deadline is 4 pm on Wednesday November 1 to comment on issues such as minimum age, personal possession limits, consumption in public, drug-impaired driving, personal cultivation, distribution and retail models. See: http://engage.gov.bc.ca/BCcannabisregulation/

Since September 25, over 30,000 British Columbians have completed the survey and provided feedback.


 

Deer in an urban area of Greater Victoria.

Wednesday, October 25 ~ BC. Funding from the BC Government is available to manage urban deer, it was announced today by the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.

Up to $100,000 will be provided to local governments and First Nations communities (that are involved in urban deer activities or research into population control methods) to help fund urban deer management projects under the 2017-18 Provincial Urban Deer Cost-share Program. Applications due on or before November 17, 2017, info: 2017-18 Urban Deer Cost-share Program Application Guide

Eligible proposals will be evaluated by members of the Provincial Urban Deer Advisory Committee which includes reps from the Province,  local governments, the Union of BC Municipalities and the BC Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Successful proponents will be advised in December.

Projects that address human-deer conflict in areas where traditional deer management techniques are not appropriate will be given priority. Matching funds are required from any local government or First Nation that applies.

There are about 135,000 mule deer, 128,000 black-tail deer and more than 100,000 white-tail deer in BC. Deer are managed in BC by the BC Government which authorizes municipalities to undertake urban deer management actions. Provincial support includes technical advice, regulatory authority, necessary permits, specialized equipment and other management tools.


Jennifer Rice, BC Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness

Friday, October 13 ~ BC. “ShakeOutBC is a great opportunity to break from our routines, practice our earthquake response and take a moment to reflect on our level of preparedness,” says Jennifer Rice, Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness.

“We each have a duty to prepare our family and our community for emergencies.” We encourages people to participate in the Drop, Cover and Hold On drill on Oct 19.

BC sits in one of the world’s most seismically active regions, with more than 3,000 earthquakes recorded every year. Most are too small to be felt, but the risk of one being big enough to cause damage is real.

The best immediate response in an earthquake is to Drop, Cover and Hold On. Thousands of people practice this life-saving technique every year as part of the Great BC ShakeOut which is Canada’s largest earthquake drill.

Families, schools, businesses or organizations can register for ShakeOutBC at www.shakeoutbc.ca/register


 

Tuesday, October 10 ~ BC. BC Premier John Horgan is visiting Alert Bay today following an invitation from Chief Bob Chamberlin of the Kwikwasutinuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation. Premier Horgan will hear from local First Nations leaders, elders and community members on a range of topics and particularly on the challenging issue of Atlantic salmon aquaculture. The meeting will run from 10:15 am to 2:30 pm at the ‘Namgis Traditional Big House.

Two Atlantic salmon fish farms in the region are currently being occupied by protestors. The industry generated $787 million in annual value in 2016 and supports about 5,000 rural and coastal jobs. BC’s new government is committed to implementing the recommendations of the Cohen Commission and working with Indigenous communities, the federal government and industry on the issue of Atlantic salmon aquaculture.

With Premier Horgan today in Alert Bay will be Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation as well as Agriculture Minister Lana Popham and Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure and MLA for North Island Claire Trevena.

First Nations participants include: ‘Namgis First Nation, Dzawadaenuxw First Nation, Kwikwasutinuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation, Mamalalikula First Nation, and Kuterra land-raised salmon farm.

There were similar problems with Atlantic salmon acquaculture on the west side of Vancouver Island this past summer where an enclosure lost containment, allowing for the possible cross-contamination with natural Pacific salmon as well as competition for natural food sources.


Saturday, October 7 ~ WEST SHORE. Duality in Greater Victoria real estate this fall season.  Real Estate Analysis by Mary P Brooke ~ West Shore Voice News

There’s been a stone-cold drop in activity and a significant cooling in prices in many average-price areas of the Greater Victoria real estate market in recent weeks.

But in three areas actual sales price averages jumped dramatically between August and September: Langford was up by $55,150, East Saanich was up by $42,565 and North Saanich prices skyrocketed by $152,407. Prices in high-end Oak Bay notably dropped by almost $94,000 (only post-peak stock may have been available).

In September there were 18.1% fewer properties sold than a year ago. East Saanich is normally the bell-weather of pricing trends, and Langford seems to be following suit.

The Victoria Real Estate Board says the market is “trending slowly towards more balanced conditions and overall price increases are levelling”. But their own stats tell a different story. The trend is not slow. prices are ‘acting out’, and the most stable areas (East Saanich and Langford) show distinct upward pressure.

Two Bank of Canada interest rate hikes this summer cut the legs out from under the lower end of the market, hurting entry-level buyers and sellers of modest homes.

Housing inventory rose in September 2017 (up 3.1% from August) as properties have become more difficult to sell. In the fast-growing City of Langford the actual sale price of single family homes surpassed $700,000 last month while Colwood and Sooke prices plummeted.

This article was first published in the October 6, 2017 issue of West Shore Voice News.


 

The Coastal Rennaissance vessel in the BC Ferries fleet.

Friday, October 6 ~ COASTAL BC. This morning was the first of several 6am sailings by BC Ferries vessels between Metro Vancouver and Victoria. The additional sailing time (sailings normally start at 8 am) is part of accommodating heavier ferry traffic on the busy Thanksgiving Long Weekend.

“It was a good load from Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen this morning on the Coastal Renaissance,” said BC Ferries communications rep Deborah Marshall. There were 250 vehicles on board the Super C-Class vessel, which is about 80% of the ship’s 310-vehicle capacity.

There was also good use of the 6 am sailing from the Vancouver side over to the island. The Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay sailing on the Queen of New Westminster carried 150 vehicles which is 60% of the 250-vehicle full capacity.

There will be another set of 6 am sailings on Saturday October 7 and on Thanksgiving Monday October 9 plus Tuesday October 10.

There will also be some midnight departures on October 6 and 9 from both terminals on the Metro Vancouver-Victoria route (Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay) as part of the additional 90 sailings on BC Ferries for this long weekend.

The most popular travel times are expected to have been yesterday afternoon (October 5) and this afternoon Friday October 6, as well as tomorrow (Saturday) morning.

BC Ferries says the busiest day of the long weekend is likely to be Monday, October 9, with traffic returning to the mainland from the Departure Bay, Swartz Bay and Langdale terminals. Duke Point terminal tends to be less congested than Departure Bay, so customers returning to Vancouver from the Nanaimo area may consider travelling through the Duke Point terminal.

Parking lots at the major terminals may reach capacity at the height of the weekend, so public transit is suggested as an option for foot passengers.

Route info and sailing conditions: www.bcferries.com


 

Thursday, October 5 ~ VICTORIA & WEST SHORE AREA. One lane of travel in each direction returns to the Malahat.

Meridians have been added to more sections of the Malahat (on Hwy 1) in recent years.

 

Now that the summer peak travel period is over and traffic volumes are lower, the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) says it will be reducing the Malahat section of Highway 1 (Trans Canada) to one lane in each direction. That’s in the Malahat Village area between Aspen Road and Shawnigan Lake Road.

That traffic pattern change will take effect after the Thanksgiving long weekend and remain in place 24/7 until the May long weekend in 2018.

MOTI says this will help ensure that blasting activities can be completed safely and to provide clear and consistent lanes for drivers through the project during the winter months when visibility is often reduced by weather conditions. Intermittent traffic stoppages are also required for blasting but will occur outside peak periods (6 a.m. to 9 a.m. southbound and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. northbound).

Drivers can still expect delays of up to 20 minutes during construction. The ministry asks motorists to please be attentive for workers and obey the construction speed zone of 60 kph at all times. Drivers are asked to use both lanes up to the merge point and then alternate when merging (like a zipper) for best efficiency. For current conditions and up-to-date traffic advisories: www.drivebc.ca

Improvements to the Malahat have been taking place in phases for the past couple of years. Adding meridians to separate northbound and southbound traffic has been a significant part of the work. In July 2016, $34 million was committed for the Malahat Safety Improvements project ($20,000 from BC and $14,000 in federal funds). An $18.5-million construction contract was awarded to Emil Anderson Construction Ltd for construction that began in spring 2017 and now runs through summer 2018.


 

Thursday, October 5 ~ COASTAL BC. Wow, travel takes time, especially on the busy Thanksgiving weekend!

And for some ferry customers there is the incentive to make it an early start on Friday and Saturday (October 6, 7) and Thanksgiving Monday plus Tuesday (October 9 and 10) when BC Ferries will be running 6am sailings. There will also be some midnight departures on October 6 and 9 from both terminals on the Metro Vancouver-Victoria route (Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay).

There will be 90 extra sailings overall on BC Ferries shops for the Thanksgiving long weekend.

The most popular travel times are expected to be this afternoon, October 5, and Friday afternoon October 6, as well as Saturday morning.

From experience, BC Ferries notes that the busiest day of the Long Weekend is likely to be Monday, October 9, with traffic returning to the mainland from the Departure Bay, Swartz Bay and Langdale terminals. Duke Point terminal tends to be less congested than Departure Bay, so customers returning to Vancouver from the Nanaimo area may consider travelling through the Duke Point terminal.

Parking lots at the major terminals may reach capacity at the height of the weekend, so public transit is suggested as an option for foot passengers.

Route info and sailing conditions: www.bcferries.com


Wednesday, October 4 ~ LANGFORD. The full West Shore Parkway officially opened today. Feature by Mary P Brooke.

A significant achievement for the City of Langford, a milestone for Langford Mayor Stew Young, and a boon for the economy of the entire west shore region… today the opening of the full West Shore Parkway celebrated all that. Under bright skies on this crisp fall day, about 300 people gathered along the brand new roadway and up close for the formal announcement. That was at 10 am. And around 11 am the full West Shore Parkway from the Trans Canada Highway (Hwy 1) over to Sooke Road (Hwy 14) saw its first through-traffic.

But not before a motorcade of classic cars took a symbolic first-drive on the newly-opened 3.5 km road. Leading the pack was Mayor Young, cruising in his pale blue 1956 Buick Special, nicely appointed and car-show ready. That was the end of the long-awaited, much-anticipated October 4 official opening event. Ahead of that there were speeches, acknowledgements and the ribbon-cutting.

Foremost was the reminder to all that the key success of this new roadway was an infrastructure partnership by three levels of government. The Government of Canada (by the work of then-MLA for Courtenay—Alberni, John Duncan), the Government of BC (under then-Minister of Transportation & Infrastructure Todd Stone), and the City of Langford (by way of developers in Langford) each contributed $7.5 million to the $22.5 million project.

First announced as a go-ahead infrastructure project in July 2015, Stew Young was proud to proclaim today that the major engineering feat was achieved on budget and on time. He acknowledged the massive undertaking this project was for the late Victor Chen, former engineering manager with the City of Victoria, who passed away suddenly in August. Victor’s widow Joyce was part of the ribbon-cutting ceremony today, leading the 3-2-1 countdown of the ribbon cutting in Chinese.

“Thank you to the business community for stepping up and funding the Langford portion,” said Mayor Stew Young as part of his remarks at the microphone. “Opening this road creates a great economic opportunity for Langford. It gets people in car from workplace to home earlier, spending more time in your community with your families. And that’s what infrastructure is all about,” he said, as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions with cars not idling as much in traffic congestion.

Mayor Young says the “next big project” is to “start to push to get that highway fixed into town” Young is promoting the need for high-occupancy lanes on Highway 1, to improve commuter travel times. “Let’s get some pressure and some support, and fix that highway for people living in the west shore.”

“This is a complete community job,” said Stew Young about the completion of the West Shore Parkway. “We’re so excited about having this open and the cooperation with everybody—that’s how you get things done — working with business, working with government. And that’s how we’re going to continue doing things in Langford.”

“Enjoy the road. It’s a fantastic road. You’re going to like all the improvements,” said Young in wrapping up. “It’s one of the best connectors you’re going to drive in BC right now, with all the aesthetically beautiful things we’ve done with our roadways including artificial turf that we don’t have to water, saving the environment.” And with his trademark showmanship: “ Let’s get this thing open!”
City of Langford Director of Engineering Michelle Mahovlich set the vehicle procession in motion.

Also taking part in the event was Mitzi Dean, MLA (Esquimalt-Metchosin) representing Premier John Horgan (MLA, Langford-Juan de Fuca), saying “our government is committed to solving broader transportation challenges in our region”.

Federal Infrastructure and Communities Minister Amarjeet Sohi was in Langford earlier this summer to see the West Shore Parkway construction in progress. On August 2 (one of the hottest days of the year) he took a tour of the construction site with Mayor Stew Young, saying it was an opportunity for him to see up close how federal infrastructure dollars are being spent.

Today Stew Young told media that “infrastructure dollars are coming west”. He noted how traffic growth in the region is increasing by about 2% to 3% per year, adding that the provincial government taking action to improve Highway 1 with HOV lanes and other improvements is action required now, not to be delayed with further studies.

Today’s official opening of the parkway was held by the non-used E&N Railway line where it crosses the parkway. To media, Young reiterated a view he’s held for some time, that shifting transportation issues from the non-profit area (presently E&N Railway issues are handled by the Island Corridor Foundation) to the provincial level is the right way to go now. And the federal government has funding for this, he added. “Getting the business community on side to show the importance of improved transportation” is important now.


Tuesday, September 5 ~ VICTORIA AREA. There are overcast skies in the south Vancouver Island area today September 5, as the skies are filled with smoke from wildfires occurring in Washington State and the BC Interior. The sun appears red through the haze.

Environment Canada issued a smoky skies advisory about it this morning.


 

Alistair MacGregor, MP (Cowichan-Malahat-Langford)

Wednesday, August 30 ~ VANCOUVER ISLAND.  The issue of abandoned vessels is a Vancouver-Island wide problem. This Friday, two NDP MPs will host a town hall meeting on abandoned vessels in Cowichan Bay.

Alistair MacGregor (Cowichan–Malahat–Langford) and Sheila Malcolmson (Nanaimo-Ladysmith) will host a town hall meeting on abandoned vessels and protecting the coasts.

There are hundreds of abandoned vessels along BC’s coasts that pose serious risks to the environment and economy of coastal communities.

The town hall meeting will be held on Friday, September 1 at Oceanfront Suites at Cowichan Bay, 1681 Cowichan Bay Rd, at 6pm.


Saturday, August 26 ~ BC. No smoking on BC Ferries starting January 2018.

Giving five months notice, BC Ferries announced August 22 that as of January 22, 2018 there will be a smoke-free environment on board all their vessels and at terminals.

Last year, the Province amended regulations for no smoking buffer zones around any doorway, intake or open window to any public or workplace from three metres to six metres. Due to the physical space available from doors on the outer decks of BC Ferries’ large vessels and on the vehicle decks of smaller vessels, the new regulation means all vessels will need to become smoke-free environments. In reviewing their policy on smoking in remaining areas, BC Ferries says they have chosen to introduce a smoke-free environment on all BC Ferries properties, including vessels, terminals and other operations, to support the health and wellness of passengers and employees.

Although the health benefits of being a non-smoker are entirely clear, what this means for the remaining many smokers in BC is unclear. Going a long while without a cigarette will for some can be or seem like a hardship.

“This new policy supports the health and wellness of our customers and employees, as it helps control their exposure to second-hand smoke,” said BC Ferries President and CEO Mark Collins.

BC Ferries says they are providing advanced notice of the policy change to provide passengers and employees who smoke time to adjust to the change.

The new smoke-free policy applies to tobacco, marijuana and e-cigarettes, and is expected to reduce the number of complaints BC Ferries receives from customers related to second-hand smoke. Announcements regarding the new policy will be made on board vessels and at the terminals, and signage will be placed on board the vessels and on shore as a reminder of the new policy.

“Smoking tobacco continues to be one of the single-largest threats to the health of British Columbians and our visitors,” said Island Health’s Dr Dee Hoyano, Medical Health Officer, in a BC Ferries release this week. “By going smoke-free in its terminals and on its vessels, BC Ferries is supporting healthier, cleaner and safer environments for everyone.”

To coincide with the introduction of the new policy, BC Ferries has launched a comprehensive employee smoking cessation program. Support is also available for members of the public who wish to quit smoking, including the BC government’s Smoking Cessation Program.

http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/health-drug-coverage/pharmacare-for-bc-residents/what-we-cover/drug-coverage/bc-smoking-cessation-program


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau at Sidney Spit, August 5 [WEST SHORE VOICE NEWS photo by Mary Brooke]

Saturday, August 5 ~ SIDNEY, BC. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau took a bit of time to relax at Sidney Spit this morning, August 5, under still-hazy skies from wildfire smoke but a slightly cooler temperature than of recent 30°C days.

Passengers on the incoming Alpine Sidney Spit ferry had about 30 seconds heads-up as to why they would see a lot of police and security when they offloaded from the 41-seat catamaran at about 10:30 am.
Justin Trudeau and Sophie had already been milling around for about an hour already, with people hanging out on the spit for the day, as well as with boaters moored along the dock.

Justin Trudeau & Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau strolled the beach at Sidney Spit, August 5 [WEST SHORE VOICE NEWS photo by Mary Brooke]

Last night at a Liberal event in Victoria at the Ocean Pointe, the prime minister was already talking about his federal Liberal team being out and about door knocking in neighbourhoods. Finding out what the public is thinking about things in Canada is a key Liberal strategy which paid off in spades for Trudeau and his almost entirely-fresh batch of MPs in the 2015 federal election. However, on Vancouver Island there are no Liberal MPs, and it seems Trudeau is putting some effort into changing that, one beach visit at a time.

There was a short media scrum with the TV cameras rolling … about 4 questions, including about humanitarian issues in Venezuela, and refugees. “I have confidence in the integrity of our borders and controls,” he told the media and about 75 members of the public surrounding the brief media interface. And being on a beautiful nature reserve like Sidney Spit — which is part of the Gulf Island National Park Reserve — Trudeau was of course promoting the preservation of parks. Park fees are waived to visitors throughout all of 2017, as part of celebrating Canada 150.

As a “grandson of BC all my life” he told the crowd about sailing in English Bay as a youth, and coming out to Sidney Spit and other beach areas with his aunt who lives in Brentwood Bay.

Justin Trudeau stopped to chat with boaters and their dogs [Gord Fulcher photo for WEST SHORE VOICE NEWS]

Trudeau took a moment to mention the importance of protecting the South Island Resident Killer Whales (orca) pod that is so precious to the BC ecosystem as well as economy and tourism. He said his government has “an adequate spill response”.

In response to a question about Kinder Morgan, Trudeau emphasized the need to “grow the economy in ways that protect the environment” and that both can be done at the same time. He emphasized that “the positions we take are in the national interest”.

The prime minister — relaxed in T-shirt and shorts with a backpack, barefoot in sandals — gave accolades to the first responders who have been dealing with the wildfires in the BC Interior. “They are doing an amazing job. The abilities of firefighters is really to be commended.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gives a quick thumbs up, departing from his quick trip to Sidney Spit. [WEST SHORE VOICE NEWS photo by Mary Brooke]

Trudeau reiterated a message from days earlier that “we will be there as a federal government” to support the wildfire-affected area and the people there. He encouraged people to donate to the Canadian Red Cross by text #20222 to donate $10.

And with that the quick trip was done. The Trudeaus made their way back to a Gulf Islands motorboat, of course stopping all the way for a number of selfies with cheerful fans.


 

Premier John Horgan greets the people in the Hall of Honour at the BC Legislature, July 18 [West Shore Voice News photo]

Wednesday, July 19 ~ VICTORIA. Vancouver Islanders now have their own home-grown Premier. John Horgan (MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca) was sworn in as the 36th Premier of BC on Tuesday, July 18 at Government House in Victoria.

Horgan has worked hard to become widely known throughout the province, and seemed notably relaxed, humbly inspired and clearly excited in this new role during the swearing-in ceremony.

The new cabinet includes Ministers in new portfolios such as Mental Health and Addictions as well as an expanded Ministry called Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations, and Rural Development. David Eby is now the Attorney General. Carole James is the Minister of Finance and Deputy-Premier. Heading up the Education ministry is Rob Fleming.

An event at which the public could meet and mingle with their new premier was held at the BC Parliament Building after 5pm that afternoon.

See full feature article about the July 18 swearing-in ceremony on the BC news page of this website (July 19 entry).


 

John Horgan greeting people on Canada Day 150 in Sooke. [Photo: West Shore Voice News]

Sunday, July 16 ~ VICTORIA. John Horgan and a BC NDP cabinet will be sworn in by Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon on Tuesday, July 18. There will be a live feed of the ceremony starting at 2pm on John Horgan’s Facebook page .

As well, there will be a public open house from 5 to 7 pm at the BC Legislature to meet and mingle with the new cabinet and Premier. including tours to areas of the legislature that are usually accessible, such as the library and speakers hallway around the chamber.

As Premier, John Horgan will briefly speak just after 5pm in the legislature’s Hall of Honour.


Premier-designate John Horgan greeting folks at Sooke Canada Day 2017 [West Shore Voice News photo]

Thursday, July 6 ~ VICTORIA. BC Premier-designate John Horgan and his cabinet will be sworn in at Government House on July 18, 2017 at 2 p.m.

No MLA names for the new cabinet have been released yet. However it is widely expected that the cabinet will not be comprised exclusively of NDP MLAs, but will also include one or more BC Liberal and BC Green MLAs.

This is part of Horgan’s effort to demonstrate — as he told the Lieutenant Governor — that he has the confidence of the legislative assembly.

Carole James at Horgan launch in March 2017, flanked by Maurine Karagianis (left) and now MLA Mitzi Dean.

“We are excited to deliver on our commitments. That’s why we are working as quickly as possible to give British Columbians the new leadership they voted for,” said New Democrat MLA and transition spokesperson Carole James.

“We’re going to make life more affordable, deliver the services people count on, and create good paying jobs around the province in a sustainable economy that works for everyone.”

Premier-designate John Horgan is the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca on Vancouver Island.


Wednesday, July 5 ~  As of noon tomorrow — Thursday, July 6 — all open fires (including campfires) will be prohibited throughout the Coastal Fire Centre’s jurisdiction (including Vancouver Island), with the exception of Haida Gwaii and the area known as the “Fog Zone”.

The Fog Zone is a 2km strip of land along the outer coast of Vancouver Island, stretching from Owen Point (near Port Renfrew) north to the tip of Vancouver Island and around to the boundary of the District of Port Hardy. This strip extends inland 2km from the high tide point [ map of the Fog Zone ]

The Coastal Fire Centre is implementing this prohibition due to increasing temperatures and no precipitation in the weather forecast. This prohibition will remain in effect until October 21, 2017 or until the public is otherwise notified.

This prohibition covers all BC Parks, Crown lands and private lands within the Coastal Fire Centre (with the exception of Haida Gwaii and the area known as the “Fog Zone”). It does not apply within the boundaries of a local government that has wildfire prevention bylaws in place and is serviced by a fire department. Please check with local government authorities for any other restrictions before lighting any fire.

The following activities are prohibited within the specified area: * campfires   * Category 2 open fires  * Category 3 open fires  * fires burning woody debris in outdoor stoves * the use of tiki torches, 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)

A poster explaining the different categories of open burning is available online at: www.gov.bc.ca/openfireregs

This prohibition does 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 cm.

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.

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: www.bcwildfire.ca


Saturday, July 1 ~  BC. Premier-designate John Horgan will be on both the mainland and Vancouver Island this Canada Day 150. He will be celebrating Canada Day with people at community events in Port Moody, Surrey and Sooke.

11:00 am – Port Moody Canada Day, Rocky Point Park, 2800 Murray St, Port Moody

1:30 pm – Surrey Canada Day, Bill Reid Millenium Amphitheatre, 17728 64 Ave, Surrey

8:00 pm – Sooke Canada Day, Sooke River Campground, 2259 Philips Road, Sooke

On Thursday evening, June 29, Horgan was asked by the Lieutenant Governor if he had the confidence of the legislature, and he said that he does. He and the cabinet he is assembling will be sworn in probably this coming week.

Check out the front page of the June 30, 2017 issue of West Shore Voice News for a summary of how the last few days went down for Horgan in his final steps to the Premiership.


BC NDP Leader John Horgan in the BC Legislature last week.

Thursday, June 29 ~ VICTORIA.  BC NDP Leader John Horgan (Leader of the Official Opposition) arrived at Government House around 7:40 pm this evening, presumably to meet with Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon.

This follows Guichon’s hour-long meeting with BC Liberal Leader Christy Clark whose government lost a confidence vote in the BC Legislature around 5:30 pm this evening. Clark simply said afterward that the Lieutenant Governor had “retired to make her decision”.

Horgan could very well be the next Premier of BC. A coalition with the Greens could last a while, or another election could happen soon.

Update to come.


Thursday, June 29 ~ VANCOUVER ISLAND.  Kids everywhere are invited to head to their library to “Walk on the Wild Side” during Summer Reading Club (SRC) 2017.

Each summer, the Summer Reading Club is a way for kids up to age 12 to help build and maintain their reading skills during the summer.

“It’s really important for kids to get outside, get active, and have fun during the summer,” says Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) Executive Director Rosemary Bonanno. “But it’s also so important for them to maintain their reading skills while they’re not in school. With SRC, we make it fun to keep reading right through the summer break — and a little bit of reading each day goes a long way.”

SRC registration includes a package with a reading record, bookmark, stickers, and other goodies. Every time one page of the reading record is completed, a weekly prize draw can be entered. Readers who finish their entire reading record are eligible to receive a special SRC medal and enter a grand prize draw.

This summer, VIRL also offers Read Down Your Fines.  For every reading record page a child completes during SRC, they’re eligible for up to $5 in fines (to a $35 total) to be removed from their library card.

Summer Reading Club and Read Down Your Fines run July 4 to August 22. Registration is free at the library, or online at www.virl.bc.ca/summer-reading-club .


Monday, June 26 ~ COASTAL BC. BC Ferries has issued an update on two vessels out of service.

Southern Gulf Islands Service

  • BC Ferries announced today that the Queen of Nanaimo remains out of service on the Tsawwassen – Southern Gulf Islands route. Repairs progress on control issues for the starboard controllable pitch propeller. Specialized technicians and engineers are working around the clock to complete the repairs. As a result, the Queen of Nanaimo’s sailings have been cancelled until the end of day Thursday, June 29. The newest vessel in the fleet, Salish Eagle, will provide over 50% capacity to this route while these repairs are completed on the Queen of Nanaimo.
  • BC Ferries has added 12 additional sailings above the service provided by the Salish Eagle. These sailings will be offered on Tuesday, June 27, Wednesday, June 28 and Thursday, June 29. Further updates will be provided over the coming days. Additional sailing times: www.bcferries.com
  • In addition to the Salish Eagle, customers can also travel through Swartz Bay to connect to the Southern Gulf Islands. BC Ferries will provide complimentary reservations on the Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay route to assist with travel. Customers are asked to contact BC Ferries’ Customer Care Centre at 1-888-223-3779 to book travel arrangements. Note that customers booked on the Salish Eagle do not need to re-book. To determine which ship you are on, visit www.bcferries.com/current_conditions/actualDepartures.html

 Nanaimo and Langdale Service

  • The Coastal Inspiration, which was also out of service for propeller repairs, departed the dry dock this morning and is expected to be back in service on the Tsawwassen – Duke Point route this Thursday, June 29. The full summer schedule will be in effect for the Canada Day long weekend.

Sunday, June 25 ~ BC. The BC Liberals Throne Speech on June 22 was so-thoroughly-NDP that a snap election this fall would not entirely be a surprise.

Well, ya know, the NDP did ‘put it all out there’, and it got grabbed up. People might be surprised by the recent BC Liberal moves, but not that many are fooled. However, now BC has a bit of a political crap-shoot on its hands.

The NDP are expected to call for a confidence vote in the BC Legislature tomorrow, June 26.

The landscape changes daily, but here’s a bit of analysis, as first published in the June 23, 2017 print/PDF issue of West Shore Voice News (see pg 1 & 2).


Thursday, June 22 ~ TRAFFIC ADVISORY Highway 1 overnight closure – The BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure reminds drivers that Highway 1 will be closed overnight between McKenzie Avenue/Admirals Road and the Helmcken interchange while crews install the temporary bridge for pedestrians and cyclists over the highway.

The closure will begin at midnight tonight June 22 and the highway will re-open by 5:30 a.m. tomorrow morning (Friday, June 23).

Traffic travelling westbound on Highway 1 will still be permitted to turn off the highway onto McKenzie Avenue or Admirals Road. During this time, please use alternative routes and allow for extra time.

The Galloping Goose Trail will remain open but pedestrians and cyclists are asked to please watch for signs and workers.

Current traffic advisories at www.drivebc.ca


Wednesday, June 21 ~ COASTAL BC. BC Ferries is doing their usual add-on of additional sailings for the busy summer travel season. Extra sailings will be on routes serving Vancouver-Victoria (Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay) and Vancouver-Sunshine Coast, as well as the inter-island routes.

Fare promotions this summer include a break on the rate for private passenger vehicles longer than 20 ft (that’s to Oct 1), and passenger vehicle and driver fares at $39, $49, and $59 on select morning/evening sailings (to Sept 15).


Wednesday, June 21 ~ NATIONAL – from the west coast.   It’s finally the first day of summer, which seems to have taken longer to arrive due to a dreary long winter and a spring with much more rain than usual. It’s almost as if winter lasted right up until it became summer!

The summer solstice officially marks the first day of summer. This year the solstice arrived at 9:24 pm Pacific Time last night on June 20, making today June 21 the first full day of summer.

On the west side of Vancouver Island it was also quite a windy day yesterday, as if to usher in summer with a bang and with a reminder that the climate is not following stable patterns as it used to.

For health in summer, people are reminded to wear sunscreen for their skin when outdoors, and UV-protective eyewear. Remember to stay hydrated and wear a hat when exposed to sunlight.

Most people’s veggie and herb gardens are well underway already. But now that warm weather is assured it’s a good time for planting any remaining vegetable or herb plants as well as flowers.

On the national political scene, Prime Minister Justice Trudeau has renamed National Aboriginal Day — as recognized each year at the summer solstice —  as National Indigenous Peoples Day.


Thursday, June 15 ~ VICTORIA/Vancouver Island. A recall of Island Farms milk products is open to all affected consumers. Products can be returned with or without a receipt. the recall also applies to products with the brand names Lucerne and Natrel.

Today June 15, the manufacturer — Agropur Dairy Cooperative — initiated a voluntary recall of numerous items in BC that were produced at the Victoria facility. The company said foreign material had been found in some of the products. No injuries or illnesses have been reported. The company said the recall is a precautionary measure.

Customers are advised not to drink the milk and are being asked to return the products to the store for a full refund.

The voluntary recall comes three days after Foremost-brand four-litre milk jugs from two Real Canadian Superstores on Vancouver Island were recalled due to sharp metal objects being found in the milk.

These are the affected Agropur products:

Brand Product Format UPC Distribution
Island Farms 1% Partly skimmed milk 2L 0 57726 00203 0 British Columbia
Island Farms 1% Partly skimmed milk 4L 0 57726 00139 2 Vancouver Island only
Island Farms 2% Partly skimmed milk 2L 0 57726 00202 3 British Columbia
Island Farms 2% Partly skimmed milk 4L 0 57726 00119 4 Vancouver Island only
Island Farms 1% Chocolate partly skimmed
milk
1L 0 57726 00166 8 British Columbia
Island Farms 3.25% Homogenized milk 2L 0 57726 00201 1 British Columbia
Island Farms 3.25% Homogenized milk 4L 0 57726 00109 5 Vancouver Island only
Island Farms Skimmed milk 2L 0 57726 00204 7 British Columbia
Island Farms Skimmed milk 4L 0 57726 00129 3 Vancouver Island only
Lucerne Skimmed Milk 2L 8 21954 07890 3 British Columbia
Lucerne 1% Partly skimmed milk 2L 8 21954 07892 7 British Columbia
Lucerne 2% Partly skimmed milk 2L 8 21954 07894 1 British Columbia
Lucerne 1% Chocolate partly skimmed
milk
2L 8 21954 07898 9 British Columbia
Lucerne 3.25 % Homogenized milk 2L 8 21954 07896 5 British Columbia
Natrel 1% Partly skimmed milk 4L 0 64420 44115 7 Vancouver Island only
Natrel 2% Partly skimmed milk 4L 0 64420 44317 5 Vancouver Island only
Natrel 1% Chocolate partly skimmed
milk
1L 0 64420 00199 3 British Columbia
Natrel 3.25% Homogenized Milk 4L 0 64420 44117 1 Vancouver Island only
Natrel Skimmed milk 4L 0 64420 44417 2 Vancouver Island only

 


Wednesday, June 14 ~ BC. Coastal Naturalists are on board again this summer on BC Ferries.

BC Ferries is again operating their Coastal Naturalist Program on select vessels this summer. On the Vancouver-Victoria route (Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay) and Vancouver-Nanaimo route (Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay), naturalists will engage with customers during 20-minute presentations, June 28 through September 4.

About 150,000 passengers participate in these presentations each year, and this is the 12th year. Again this year, travellers on BC Ferries can learn about the ocean, BC’s unique wildlife and marine life, coastal, nautical and cultural history.

The service is provided in partnership with Parks Canada. There is free entry to all of Parks Canada places in 2017.
The info sessions will be presented seven days a week on these vessels: Spirit of British Columbia, Spirit of Vancouver Island, Coastal Celebration, Queen of New Westminster, Coastal Renaissance, and Queen of Oak Bay. The Coastal Naturalist schedule is at www.bcferries.com/onboard-experiences/Coastal_Experiences

The educational backgrounds of these young naturalists can be an inspiration to high school graduates of 2017!

  • Michelle – Vancouver Island University grad (Anthropology and Geography)
  • Katie – BA in Environmental Studies & French, passion for sea slugs
  • Rachel – double major in Environmental Studies & Geography, in 4th year at UVic
  • Colin – sciences at Thompson Rivers University, and now in the education program at UVic
  • Hilary – finishing M.Sc. at Thompson Rivers university studying intertidal animals
  • Janna – studying Natural Resource Sciences at Thompson Rivers University
  • Jessica – 3rd year Psychology student at UBC with a focus on mental health
  • Joe – Bachelor in Environment and Health Studies from York University; plus Applied Coastal Ecology at Northwest Community College in Prince Rupert

Construction continues along Hwy 1 for the McKenzie Interchange. [Photo May 23, 2017 by West Shore Voice News]

Thursday, June 8 ~ VICTORIA AREA. The BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) has issued a traffic advisory about McKenzie Avenue and Highway 1 construction closures coming up next week.

Between Monday June 12 and Friday June 16, travellers are advised of overnight closures, detours and delays on McKenzie Avenue and Highway 1 as part of the McKenzie interchange construction.

The following closures will allow crews to install the Galloping Goose Trail bridge over McKenzie Avenue and the temporary pedestrian/cyclist bridge over Highway 1:

> Monday, June 12, from 11 p.m. to Tuesday, June 13, at 5:30 a.m. McKenzie Avenue will be closed between Burnside Road W and Highway 1.
Tuesday, June 13, from 11 p.m. to Wednesday, June 14, at 5:30 a.m. McKenzie Avenue will be closed between Burnside Road W and Highway 1.
> Friday, June 16, from midnight to 5:30 a.m. Highway 1 will be closed between McKenzie Avenue / Admirals Road and the Helmcken interchange.

MOTI says that every effort will be made to open these routes as quickly as possible, as soon as it is safe for both the construction crews and the travelling public. The work schedule may change due to weather and other conditions.

All travellers including drivers, cyclists and pedestrians are advised to plan alternative routes and to allow for extra time. Please also obey traffic control personnel and construction speed limits, and watch for workers and highway message boards. For up-to-date traffic advisories: www.drivebc.ca

The interchange, when complete, is expected to improve travel times between core areas, Saanich and the western communities of Colwood, Langford and beyond to Sooke.


Monday, June 5 ~ VANCOUVER ISLAND. Alistair MacGregor, MP (Cowichan-Malahat-Langford) in the news this week.

Improving access to healthy food for every Canadian, ensuring sustainable agricultural communities and resources, and promoting food in Canada and around the world will be discussed at a town hall meeting with Alistair MacGregor, MP (Cowichan-Malahat-Langford) and Ruth Ellen Brosseau, MP (NDP Critic for Agriculture) on Fri June 16 (5:30 pm) at Island Savings Centre – Heritage Hall, 2687 James St, Duncan.

“We need to look at the whole picture and bring an integrated approach to federal policy that connects agriculture, rural development, health and income security,” says MacGregor.

“Lack of support, attacks on supply management, struggles of small and medium farms, threat of NAFTA renegotiations, safety and sustainability, are daily concerns for farmers and agriculture workers.”

A program to clean up abandonned vessels along the coast was announced this week by the federal Liberals, but the NDP says it barely scratches the surface, calling it “a rudderless plan that cannot address the thousands of vessels abandoned on our coasts”. Says Alistair MacGregor: “The plan lacks any measures to improve vessel registration, build a vessel turn-in program, get taxpayers off the hook for clean ups, or support local marine salvage businesses. Additionally, the lack of resources included in the plan is dwarfed by what’s required for vessel removal. The cost of removing just one vessel last year off Vancouver Island was more than the annual budget for vessel removal.” Last month, the NDP tabled Bill C-352 in Parliament to create a comprehensive coast-wide strategy to clean up abandoned vessels which pose significant economic and environmental risks to coastal communities.


 

Friday, June 2 ~ VANCOUVER ISLAND. Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) is announcing new initiatives this summer, in recognition of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, and in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary. VIRL’s Read for Reconciliation offers a curated list of titles by indigenous authors that stimulate awareness, foster discussion, and facilitate a culture of learning.

June is National Aboriginal month and VIRL branches are hosting a range of programs and events in recognition and celebration of the vital role of indigenous communities. VIRL is also running a social media campaign, with the hashtag #Read4Reconciliation, as part of the campaign.

“As community hubs, libraries have an important role to play in both celebrating all that makes our country great, and in the healing and reconciliation that must occur so that we can all move forward under a common umbrella of understanding and unity,” said VIRL Executive Director, Rosemary Bonanno. “VIRL is committed to embracing and learning from our indigenous communities. We are also very excited to be part of the celebrations that are sweeping the country on Canada’s 150th anniversary.”

For Canada’s 150th, VIRL is launching a booklist of 150 titles from across the country and a mobile library that is travelling to events across Vancouver Island to promote library services. The mobile library will allow people to sign up for a library card, check out library materials (from the Read for Reconciliation and Canada 150 lists, and materials related to each event), purchase library swag, and test out VIRL’s new Virtual Reality.

At the mobile library, everyone will have an opportunity to be part of an exciting oral history project that aims to tap into and curate the rich tapestry that is our Island, and celebrate the stories and histories that unite us all. We will be recording 150-second stories at the community events and at all 39 branches.

The VIRL mobile library will be at the following events:

  • Port Alberni – Farmer’s Market – Saturday, June 17 – 9am–1pm
  • Nanaimo – Multiculturalism Day (One Community: Our City. Our Stories) – Tuesday, June 27 – 7–9pm
  • Downtown Duncan Day – Saturday, July 15 – 10am–6pm
  • Vancouver Island Exhibition – August 18, 19, 20

The complete Read for Reconciliation Booklist is available at virl.bc.ca/rfr and the Canada 150 materials are available at virl.bc.ca/150 .


Tuesday, May 30 [12:30 pm] ~ BC. The foundations of government in BC are shifting rapidly, in the wake of the BC election results and aftermath of an NDP-Green agreement to work cooperatively.

  • Today May 30 at 1:30 pm Premier Christy Clark will address media from her office in Vancouver.
  • At 2 pm, John Horgan, Andrew Weaver, and all MLAs-elect from the BC NDP and BC Green caucuses will pledge their support for the agreement “to form a stable new government that works for people”, at the BC Legislature. Their Confidence and Supply Agreement document will be discussed.

 

Thursday, May 25, 2017 ~ BC. News analysis. So you’d think the dust would have settled after the BC Election final count yesterday. But stay tuned for further action.

BC NDP Leader John Horgan is pushing an agenda for the public good… that the NDP with their 41 seats be given the lead by Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon to form government with the support of the Greens and their 3 seats.

That still pulls in only 44 seats. That’s the required number to form a majority (though one MLA would sit as speaker, leaving still 43 votes in the house). But it’s not all about numbers.

This is one of those starkly evident moments in the political life of a democracy where the values, insights, and positive intention of leaders must shine through.

Voters in BC obviously did not want the status quo, but they also didn’t want to lose stability. Hopefully wisdom prevails, and a coalition that works for the people of this province prevails.

During the 28-day election campaign, Horgan was the only leader of the three parties willing to actually articulate the frustration of the people. Remarkably, the fracture lines of that articulation has shone through, regardless of first-past-the-post riding count results.

Here is John Horgan’s statement from May 24 after the final results were announced by Elections BC:
“British Columbians have voted overwhelmingly to replace Christy Clark’s Liberals with a new government that works better for families. They voted for better schools, shorter wait times for health services, to defend our coast and to fix our broken political system. The newly elected BC NDP team will be working hard every day to ensure British Columbians get a new government that works for them instead of just the wealthy and well-connected.”


Wednesday, May 24 ~ BC. That official recount that everyone has had their eye on in Courtenay-Comox has produced a final victory for the BC NDP, by 189 votes. BC NDP candidate Ronna-Rae Leonard  is now the confirmed winner of that riding, over BC Liberal candidate Jim Benninger.

That leaves BC with the same election result as on Election Night, May 9: BC Liberals with 43 seats, NDP with 41 seats, and Greens with 3 seats.

Over 176,000 absentee ballots were counted during May 22 to 24, to determine the final election results in all 87 ridings in BC. There are 87 seats in the BC Legislature.

At this time, BC Liberal Leader Christy Clark continues as Premier of BC as first requested on May 10 by BC Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon. However, by a self-imposed deadline of May 31, BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver says he will announce which party the Greens would work with — BC Liberals or BC NDP — to form a coalition government. It will be up to Guichon to make the final call.

The percentage of popular vote was determined as BC Liberal 40.36%, BC NDP 40.28%, BC Green 16.84%, Libertarian 0.40% and Other 2.12%. Together, the BC NDP and BC Greens captured 57.12% of what could be called the progressive vote. BC NDP Leader John Horgan thereby says the people voted for a progressive government, and hopes that the 41 BC NDP seats plus the 3 BC Green seats will — as a combined 44 seats — be more representative of the will of the people.

Regardless of which party or combination of party seats forms a majority, one of the 44 MLAs will have to serve as Speaker, still leaving 43 MLAs to vote and that’s not a majority. As Premier Christy Clark seems to have newly discovered … the people of BC want all parties to work together.

The newly formed BC government may have to move forward by agreement on one legislative bill at a time. Any which way you look at it, it’s a fragile setup. Another election will eventually be called when whatever minority/coalition arrangement ends up happening then begins to fall apart.

In total 1,973,914 people cast counted ballots in BC for this 41st General Election.


Monday, May 22 ~ BC. That official recount that everyone has had their eye on in Courtenay-Comox has produced four more votes for the NDP. The BC NDP candidate there — Ronna-Rae Leonard — therefore still holds the win by a margin of 13 votes over BC Liberal candidate Jim Benninger.

Absentee ballots totaling 2,077 still need to be counted in that riding… the results of that count could be known by tomorrow May 23, or perhaps stretching into Wednesday, May 24.

In the initial results of the general election on May 9, the BC Liberals won 43 seats, the BC NDP won 41, and the BC Green Party nabbed three. That left the Liberals are one seat short of a majority government, and both the BC Liberals & BC NDP scrambling to line up discussion pathways with the BC Greens that appear to presently hold the balance of power.

On May 10, BC Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon asked BC Liberal leader Christy Clark to continue as Premier of BC until the final seat count is known.

A recount has also been completed in Vancouver-False Creek on the mainland. BC Liberal incumbent Sam Sullivan’s lead has grown from 560 votes to 569 votes over BC NDP candidate Morgane Oger. Officials in the riding will now be counting the 2,814 absentee ballots.

Officials have been counting absentee ballots all day this holiday Monday, in the 85 other ridings. There are now 87 seats in the BC Legislature for the upcoming session.


Monday, May 22 ~ VANCOUVER ISLAND. A team of volunteers will gather at the Empress Acres farm in Nanaimo June 3 and 4 to plant 20 acres of trees as part of an initiative to tackle climate change. The specially selected Empress Splendor trees will be provided by World Tree, a Victoria company, as part of their Carbon Offset Program.

The Empress Splendor is a non-invasive, hybrid species, that can grow in most the United States and Canada where it’s primary use is lumber. Empress trees grow best in places with summer temperatures of 70°F (21°C) and higher for at least 5 to 6 months a year at an altitude of less than 2,200 ft. The trees typically grow 10 to 20 ft in the first year and reach maturity in 10 years.

“Most people have never heard of the Empress Tree, even though there is a mature tree on the grounds of the legislature building in Victoria,” says Wendy Burton, CEO of World Tree. “This will be the first large-scale planting of these trees on Vancouver Island and we hope that it will attract more local farmers to the program.”

The project is backed by Canadian investors who want to offset their carbon footprint. The exceptional growth rate and large leaves of the trees makes them carbon sponges, absorbing 11 times more carbon than any other tree.

In addition to the environmental benefits, the trees will provide an important revenue stream to Empress Acres farm. The trees will be harvested at maturity and the income will be shared with all the stakeholders: the farmers, the investors and World Tree.

“The Empress Splendor has many benefits for the environment and for us as farmers,” says Angela Nauta, one of the Empress Acres owners. “The carbon capture is important for our sustainability, and we are also very happy to get the benefit of extra income in 10 years.”

Once they are harvested, the trees will re-grow from the stump providing ongoing benefits to the environment and the growers for many decades to come.

World Tree has been promoting the properties of the Empress Tree since 2002 and launched their Carbon Offset Program in 2015. This year they have planted over 100,000 trees with farmers in Canada, United States and Costa Rica which will offset over 5 million tons of carbon over the next 50 years. They are expanding their program and are actively seeking farmers.


Sooke Lake Reservoir at the top of the dam’s spillway, May 15 (CRD photo).

Friday, May 19 ~ GREATER VICTORIA.  The annual mid-year CRD reservoir decline has begun.

And as of May 1, the Capital Regional District (CRD) Stage 1 water conservation bylaw is in effect (to Sept 30). It’s part of an annual strategy to maintain water supplies for Greater Victoria through the drier months of the year.

In 2015 and 2016 in which warmer drier weather came earlier than it has this year, the level of water in the Sooke Lake Reservoir began its annual seasonal decline as of April 19 (99.8%) and April 10 (99.5%), respectively. This year, the first measurement below 100% was seen a bit further into spring, on May 7 (99.6%). The full pool level of Sooke Lake Reservoir is 186.75m, serving a CRD-region population of about 380,000.

According to weather forecasts, this Victoria Day long weekend will offer the first couple of sunny days in 2017 with temperatures in the high teens. In warmer weather, there tends to be more water usage.

Stage 1 conservation allows residential lawn watering twice a week (even addresses on Wed/Sat and odd addresses Thurs/Sun). Established plantings and vegetable gardens may be watered by a hand-held hose with shut-off or hand-held container, or micro/drip irrigation system, on any day at any time. Municipalities may water lawns and boulevards on Monday and Fridays [1am to 10am & 7pm to 10 pm]. www.crd.bc.ca/water

Photo: Sooke Lake Reservoir (at top of the dam’s spillway), May 15. | This article was first published in the May 19, 2017 issue of West Shore Voice News.


Tuesday, May 16 ~ BC. This afternoon May 16 in a news conference from her office in Vancouver, Premier Christy Clark emphasized that the final election results are not counted yet. So she started by thanking everyone who ran as a candidate in the 41st General Election that brought out about 60% of registered voters to the polls on May 9.

On election night the BC Liberals won 43 seats, the NDP won 41 and the Greens 3. All party leaders were returned to the legislature: Christy Clark for the BC Liberals, John Horgan for the BC NDP (Leader of the Official Opposition), and Andrew Weaver as the BC Green Party leader.

“All of us share a profound love for this beautiful province that we call British Columbia,” said Clark, adding that she “heard loud and clear” that people want the government to work across party lines. “We share so many goals in common,” said Premier Clark.

“They want us to do that regardless of what party we were elected to represent,” said Clark. Her critics might ask why cooperation was not forthcoming in the last 16 years of BC Liberal majority governments. The May 9 election results pushed that point and it seems to have stuck.

“We are listening. We have heard your voice, you want change. You want government to deliver on what matters to you,” the Premier said in the short media session.

Clark announced that Brad Bennett (son of former premier Bill Bennett and grandson of former premier WAC Bennett) will lead the BC Government transition team for the next few weeks.

“British Columbians want to get on with the things that are important to them. But they said they want us to remember the things that are important to them.  They want us to see past politicians and see them — that is the message in this election,” said Clark. “It’s a message we have heard and are determined to reflect back.”

BC’s Official Opposition Leader John Horgan met with media at 4pm today. 

When asked about his stand on the TransMountain pipeline, he said “we need to defend our coast from a seven-fold increase in tanker traffic” and that he would discuss the issue with Prime Minister Trudeau if the NDP becomes the majority government in BC after the BC Election recount (results expected May 24).

Horgan said he is eager to see the final election results involving over 170,000 absentee ballots after which “I can’t wait to get started”.

The BC NDP won 41 seats in the May 9 BC General Election. Final count comes May 24.

Meanwhile, Horgan aims to continue focusing on services that people in BC want such as improvements in health care and services for seniors. “My whole objective of my getting into politics was to make life better for people,” Horgan told media today. “I’m still involved and still want to do that.”

Regarding Premier Clark’s comments today about working to improve services for people in BC, Horgan said. “That message clearly has been lost on the liberals for the last 16 years.” He said there have been “no shortage of opportunities” for the government to work on behalf of the people.

Horgan said that almost 60% of those who voted were saying to the government they the people haven’t believed the government is working for them, that they were “more focssed on fundraising than on governing”.

“Almost 60% of the ballots were cast against the sitting government,” said Horgan, referring to the combined voting results of the BC NDP and the BC Greens.

And on proportional representation: “What we have is a real opportunity to demonstrate why proportional representation can work here in BC. We have an outcome that allows two parties with vast majorities to work together with opportunities for the people,” said Horgan today. “People are satisfied with the election results and want to make sure this minority situation works.”

Post-election analysis (‘Part One’, ahead of final vote count on May 24) is on pages 1 & 2 in the May 12, 2017 issue of West Shore Voice News.


Tuesday, May 16 ~  GREATER VICTORIA. BC Transit is looking for drivers — customer-focused and safety-conscious individuals who are passionate about serving the local community to join the Transit Operator team in Victoria.

A paid 9-week training program is provided for learning how to operate every kind of bus in the fleet. Trainees will be supported to earn a Class 2 commercial license with air brakes.

“Bring your passion for driving, and we’ll do the rest,” says one BC Transit rep. The career opportunity is considered to be challenging and rewarding, with competitive compensation and comprehensive benefits.

The six core values for employees are safety, customer service, sustainability, collaboration, integrity and innovation.
www.bctransit.com/careers


 

Sombrio Beach on Vancouver Island, BC

Monday, May 15 ~ WEST SIDE of VANCOUVER ISLAND. Over the May long weekend, access to the parking lot at Sombrio Beach will be temporarily restricted for safety measures, as in previous years, to discourage illegal activities such as parties and vandalism, as announced today by the BC Ministry of Environment.

Unauthorized activities within the park can impact the social, economic, cultural and ecological sustainability of both the park and the local communities.

The 2.5-kilometre gravel access road off Highway 14 to the parking lot at the Sombrio Beach trailhead will be closed to vehicle traffic from 7 am on Friday, May 19 to 12 am (midnight) on Monday, May 22.

All locations within Juan de Fuca Provincial Park, including the designated campsites at Sombrio Beach and the Juan de Fuca Marina Trail, remain open to the public.

The three remaining trailheads to the Juan de Fuca Trail at China Beach, Parkinson Creek and Botanical Beach are still accessible by vehicles.

BC Parks wants all park users to peacefully and safely enjoy recreational activities that Sombrio Beach and Juan de Fuca Provincial Park are known for, such as hiking, camping and wildlife viewing.


Thursday, May 11 ~ COASTAL BC. BC Ferries is adding over 85 extra sailings on the most popular routes for the Victoria Day long weekend: Thursday May 18 through Tuesday May 23.

That includes the Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay route (60 extra sailings), Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay, Horseshoe Bay-Langdale, Earls Cover-Saltery Bay.

The most popular travel times are expected to be Thursday and Friday afternoon, and Saturday morning. Monday is usually the busiest day for return trips.


Wednesday, May 10 ~ BC.  BC Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon has requested that Premier Clark continue to govern as Premier of British Columbia. Clark made the announcement at noon today from her Premier’s office in Vancouver.

Christy Clark has been asked by the Lieutenant Governor to carry on as Premier.

 

The vote count from last night’s General Election tally sits at 43 BC Liberal, 41 BC NDP, and 3 Green until a final count is produced on May 23 (which will include the absentee ballot count from around the province and any BC military/residents abroad).

Many people didn’t realize that if they took advantage of the “28 days of voting” at District Electoral Offices and by other means, that their vote would not be included yet in election-night tallies. The preliminary count of certification envelopes containing absentee ballots province-wide is 176,104.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has congratulated Clark for being the first woman to be re-elected as a provincial premier.

The NDP and Greens could bring down the present BC Liberal government and form a new one when the legislature meets. Much of the punditry is enthused about Green Leader Andrew Weaver holding the power card. He could decide to go along with the BC Liberals and the existing setup or side with the NDP to consolidate the progressive vote. Either way, all this is a potential powder keg for seeing another BC election ahead of the usual four-year schedule.


BC NDP Leader delivered a speech that emphasized waiting for definitive election results.

Wednesday, May 10 ~ BC. While in a sense there can only be one winner, the leaders of BC’s three main political parties each delivered an acceptance speech after midnight on Wednesday May 10.

And technically speaking, at the moment, a minority government is what is presently the case with no one party in the May 9 BC General Provincial Election having the required 44 seats to form a majority. The BC Liberals have 43 seats, the BC NDP have 41, and the Greens have three.

The late hour was all about waiting for definitive results from the Tuesday night election. But that was not to be. With so many advance votes and absentee votes still to be counted (as well as an official recount required in Courtenay-Comox due to a very close results), final results won’t be known until May 23.

Under those circumstances, BC Liberal Leader Christy Clark is still Premier, and said in her speech that the voters asked for new considerations. BC NDP Leader John Horgan claimed the moral victory in his speech out of Vancouver, saying voters have asked for change. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver knows that he has a powerful hand to play, in that his new group of three MLAs in a sense hold the balance of power.

More to come.


Tuesday, May 9 ~ BC.  Provincial election voting results will start rolling in from across BC after the polls close at 8 pm.

Over 614,00 thousand people (19.5% of registered voters) had already voted in six days of advance voting (April 29-30 and May 3-6) before the General Election Day voting opened today at 8am.

Polls are open tonight May 9 across BC, to 8pm Pacific Daylight Time.

WEST SIDE of VANCOUVER ISLAND FOCUS: Click here to see the detailed results for Langford-Juan de Fuca and Esquimalt-Metchosin as well as our followup with the candidates in both ridings.


Tuesday, May 9 ~ BC. EDITORIAL [West Shore Voice News]. Too busy, too tired, too ‘principled’, or think that you’re too under-informed to vote? Forget all that. Barring the severest of personal circumstances, today there is no reason to sit out this election.

Not only is this province, this country and the world at a critical turning point in terms of doing what’s right for people and the planet, many people over the decades, years, and centuries have fought, suffered and died for your right to vote and live in a free society.

Yeah, yeah, the political system is less than perfect. But if you ‘protest’ by intentionally not voting, you’re not only naive you are letting the pros who work the system shine their best.

Reasons people don’t vote [Ref: 2008 US election]

YOU shine your best today. Be part of the collective force that ushers in the next phase of living in BC. A lot of drops in the bucket will fill the bucket to overflowing.

Voting Places are open 8am to 8pm throughout BC for this 41st General Provincial Election. Take your Voter ID card and two pieces of ID. Or just show up with what you’ve got, as you’re probably on the list anyways.

What you’ve got is RIGHTS. Non-voters waive their right to whine later.

[Pie chart shows the reasons that people didn’t vote in the 2008 US election. “Too busy” counted for 17.6%. 18.4% had some ‘other reason’, didn’t know or refused. And 26.4% were ‘not interested’ or did not like the candidates. Only 6% had registration problems, and 2.6% forgot. Don’t forget.]


Monday, May 8 ~ BC. This final day of the BC election campaign saw BC Liberal Leader Christy Clark and Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver campaigning on Vancouver Island. Both of those parties hope to pick up seats from what has for a long time been an NDP stronghold.

BC NDP Leader John Horgan was taking the same tack, over on the mainland where he’s working to see the NDP grab seats in Surrey, Richmond and Delta. NDP ground-teams were out and about on Vancouver Island, taking voting reminder cards door to door.

This evening, Christy Clark will be joined by BC Liberal Fraser Valley candidates Simon Gibson, Darryl Plecas, Mike de Jong, John Martin, Laurie Throness, Mary Polak and Rich Coleman for a rally in Abbotsford.

To achieve a majority, one party will need to win at least 44 seats. There are 87 ridings in BC. A minority government could be formed by either major party (BC Liberal or BC NDP) that achieves fewer than 44 votes but can convince the Lieutenant Governor that they have the confidence of the House. That would likely mean the support of Andrew Weaver and the BC Greens.

Voting in the 41st BC General Election on May 9 will be open 8am to 8pm at all Voting Places throughout the province.


Monday, May 8 ~ Full results are in from the six days of Advance Voting in the BC provincial election. During those Advance Voting days, 614,389 registered voters cast their ballots, as reported by Elections BC. That’s a turnout of 19.46% (round up to 19.5%) — almost double the advance turnout seen in 2013.

Advance voting for this 2017 Provincial Election was held April 29 & 30, plus May 3 to 6, throughout BC. The full BC General Election is tomorrow on Tuesday, May 9.

Drilling down into action on this west side of Vancouver Island:

  • The advance voter turnout was 29.3% of registered voters in Esquimalt-Metchosin; in that riding BC Liberal candidate Barb Desjardins has name-factor recognition, up against the ground-game power of the BC NDP behind their candidate Mitzi Dean. The Greens are running a strong candidate in Andy MacKinnon.
  • The turnout was 24.3% in Langford-Juan de Fuca where the incumbent is BC NDP Leader John Horgan. The BC Liberals are running a tough race against Horgan, trying to unseat the NDP party leader in his own riding; fronting that is BC Liberal candidate Cathy Noel. Also getting definitive local support — especially in the Sooke end of the riding — is BC Green Party Brendan Ralfs.

Leaders: The 24.3% advance vote draw in BC NDP Leader John Horgan’s riding (Langford-Juan de Fuca) was stronger than the 19% turnout in BC Liberal Leader Christy Clark’s riding of Kelowna West. Advance voter turnout was 24.7% in Andrew Weaver’s riding of Oak Bay-Gordon Head.

Some other ridings to watch:

  • On the mainland: In Vancouver-Point Grey where high-profile NDP candidate David Eby is running in Christy Clark’s previous riding, the advance turnout was almost 26%. In Kamloops-South Thompson where incumbent Todd Stone (Minister of Transportation & Infrastructure under Christy Clark) the advance turnout was just 16.8%.  In Vancouver-Mount Pleasant where incumbent Melanie Mark (BC’s first First Nations MLA) is running for the NDP, the advance turnout was 16.9%.
  • On Vancouver Island: Turnout was 26.7% in Saanich North and the Islands where one of the tightest three-way races is taking place (in 2013 it was in fact the tightest race in all of BC election records); Green Party candidate Adam Olsen is running there against NDP incumbent Gary Holman, with Stephen Roberts edging in for the BC Liberals. In Courtenay-Comox the turnout was high at almost 27%.  The Comox Valley riding has been held by the BC Liberals since 2001, but Don McRae, the MLA since 2009, is not running for re-election, instead the Liberal candidate is Jim Benninger a former base commander at Canadian Forces Base Comox. The Greens are running Ernie Sellentin who operates an environmental restoration company. The NDP are running 3-term Courtenay city councillor Ronna-Rae Leonard. The Conservative candidate is Leah McCulloch, who has worked in health care.

Getting out to vote: So with that 19.5% advance turnout last week, still now 80.5% of registered voters could still make their way to the polls on General Election Day, May 9. Will that include you?  Take along your Voter ID card. Or if you don’t have that card, be sure to take along two pieces of ID (with at least one showing your current home address).


Monday, May 8 ~ BC.  EDITORIAL.  Still undecided? Here’s a flavour of the current BC Government that a lot of people don’t see, but it indicates how people have been treated in this province by their own government.

People who pay their MSP premiums through payroll won’t see this, lucky you. But others who pay direct to the BC Government for their health care, will know… if you fall behind, you get the squeeze. Ending up in the worst of cases with a lien on your property, or action through your bank. Not seeing the reasons why people fall behind, and helping them back out with a fair economy… that’s the underlying problem.

In every other province in Canada the provision of health care is not handled in such a punitive manner. Payment for health care in other jurisdictions is done through the income tax system, in many provinces based on a sliding scale of ability to pay.

The BC NDP have a grasp on the punitive collection system of the privatized government of the past 16 years.

We’re not coming out with a full endorsement of any one party, but if you’re a single-issue voter, use this issue as your reason to back the BC NDP with your vote on May 9.


And this is where it all ends up … at voting stations across the province.

Sunday, May 7 ~ BC. With only two days left for active campaigning in this 41st BC General Election, party leaders are out and about in strategic areas for their goals.

BC Liberal Leader Christy Clark will be in Surrey and Maple Ridge today, promoting jobs. One of her appearances will be at a construction site.

BC NDP Leader John Horgan will be in battleground ridings in Vancouver, Coquitlam and Delta today. And likely the Lower Mainland tomorrow as well, says their campaign team.  He’ll also be holding an evening Facebook Live event tomorrow (Monday May 8) from Delta North. The BC NDP captured the entire front page of the Times-Colonist newspaper on Saturday May 6, with a full page ad, pitching for not another four years of Christy Clark.

BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver will be on the mainland today in New Westminster, Creston and Nelson. One of the events will include another appearance with David Suzuki. On Monday, Weaver will be in Victoria, his home base. The BC Greens captured the entire front page of the Times-Colonist newspaper today Sunday May 7, with a full page ad asking people to read the Green Party platform.

Advance voting has been robust throughout BC over six available days, particularly in hotly contested ridings. Monday May 8 is the last active day of campaigning. The election is on Tuesday May 9. www.elections.bc.ca


BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver works the crowd at a Green Rally in downtown Victoria, May 6 [West Shore Voice News photo]

Saturday, May 6 ~ VICTORIA. BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver (incumbent, Oak Bay-Gordon Head) didn’t really have to work the room at a Green Party rally tonight in Victoria at the Ocean Pointe Resort. The room already had his back.

But for someone who says that politics is not his career choice, he has clearly learned the key moves. Humble introduction, rousing speech, thank-yous to people in the room.

Weaver was preceded to the podium by several other speakers including candidates Adam Olsen (Saanich North and the Islands), Sonia Furstenau (Cowichan Valley), Brendan Ralfs (Langford-Juan de Fuca), Kalen Harris (Victoria-Beacon Hill), and Chris Maxwell (Victoria-Swan Lake). Weaver’s speaking style is polished and relaxed at this point in the 28-day campaign with only two more days remaining to be out persuading voters to tip the desire for change to the direction of Green.

About 400 people filled the room for the Facebook-live event. Compared to other political rallies, this one was calm, with keen committed supporters who didn’t need wooing but didn’t mind it either. If the energy of a room can be described as clean and fresh, this crowd really did exude that.

BC Green Party candidate Brendan Ralfs (Langford-Juan de Fuca) at rally in Victoria May 6. [West Shore Voice News photo]

Weaver told the crowd that support for the Greens “has been overwhelming in every town… I’ve never seen anything like it before,” he pitched. “People love the Green Party because they’re so sick of the status quo.” He repeated the campaign theme that the Green Party platform is “grounded in evidence”.

While self-professed as quite new to politics, the most eloquent speech of the evening was delivered by candidate Brenda Ralfs (Langford-Juan de Fuca). After getting past the obligatory ‘rah rah’ stuff at the start of his speech, he obviously didn’t need notes. He described his background as a forest firefighter in BC as a backdrop to saying that BC’s natural areas are” not just beautiful, they’re sublime”. That natural wilderness interface for Ralfs created in him a “fierce desire to protect our home”.

Ralfs has quickly learned to justify his move into politics. When he first signed up, some of his friends told him “we didn’t know you were a politician!” Ralfs says that “politics matters in BC, and that politics can change lives”. He seems imprinted with the power to change things: “People in politics have an obligation to change lives for the better — not just for the few or the majority or many, but for all, for everyone.” To this there was a rousing cheer and more waving of Green Party signs throughout the comfortably carpeted ballroom.

“People are exhausted with politics in BC being divided and divisive,” said Ralfs, proposing to conclude that voters, therefore, have only a single choice, and that’s Green.

Adam Olsen, who was the interim leader of the party before Weaver stepped into that role as the only Green MLA in the BC Legislature after his win in 2013, said a few words too. He congratulated candidates for running “good clean local campaigns”. He was wearing a jersey with the number 17 on it, to help nudge along a victory in 2017. “It’s an honour to walk alongside Andrew Weaver,” said Olsen.

The rally set for 6 pm had finally gotten underway around 6:40 pm (after people found parking once the hotel parking lot was full), and wrapped up just before 8pm on a bright spring evening. And the rain had stopped.

Mallard in flight after Green rally in Victoria, May 6 [West Shore Voice News photo]

Weaver proposes that at least a handful of Greens will make it to the BC Legislature after the 41st BC Provincial Election on May 9, which he says will make a big difference for the people of BC. He’s spending Sunday and Monday in a few more towns, including one more visit to the Vancouver area and wrapping up on Monday in Victoria.

And so if you believe that life imitates art, check this out: a lone mallard duck (with a green head) was sitting outside the hotel after the rally, looking at the Green Party bus that was already revving up its engine to take Weaver to the next stop. Then the mallard took flight.

The rally was broadcast on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/BCGreens/videos/10158698505335215/


Friday, May 5 ~ BC.  In these last few days ahead of the May 9 general election, leaders of the three main parties are busy paying attention to any yet-unvisited sectors of their target voter base as well as visiting or re-visiting the ridings with tight races. And of course, finding precious-little time to romance the converted and keep them on track.

While every election is important, this one does plant BC at the precipice of a number of critical socioeconomic and environmental realities that require effective solutions.
The role of principled media during an election in an active democracy is to provide key insights from within the information overload, so that voters may be assisted in their voting choices.

We hereby present some thoughts about how things might work out, depending on which way you vote in the BC provincial election on May 9. Our three-part editorial starts with coverage on page 1, then splits out on page 2 this way:

  • The BC Liberals have been in power for 16 years now. / …
  • The BC NDP collective has been thirsting for ‘the top job’ for over 16 years now. / …
  • The BC Green Party has — until now — been one and the same as the face of their party leader and standalone MLA Andrew Weaver. / …

Read the full coverage in the May 5, 2017 “Election Eve Edition” of West Shore Voice News.


Friday, May 5 ~ VANCOUVER ISLAND. Starting at 11 am on Saturday morning May 6, the BC Green Party campaign bus will start a long day with a stop in Campbell River, then heading to Courtenay-Comox, then by 1:10 pm to Parksville-Qualicum, and by 2 pm to Nanaimo.

After that, the team will head on their bus to Shawnigan for 4pm in the south island area.

Then that evening to the Victoria Conference Centre for a Green Party Island Rally at the Delta Ocean Pointe Resort which starts at 6pm.

The Greens have been promoting their “evidence-based and fully costed” 2017 election platform, at www.bcgreens.ca


Friday, May 5 ~ BC. This is the last weekend of BC election campaigning, coming up May 6 and 7. Then on Monday, May 8 will be the last day of campaigning before the BC General Election on May 9.

Details on how to vote in the Advance Voting today and Saturday (May 5 & 6), and on election day May 9, are at: www.elections.bc.ca and locally on the EVENTS page of this website.

The Langford-Juan de Fuca race is one to watch, where BC NDP Party Leader John Horgan is the incumbent. The slate in that riding is: John Horgan (BC NDP Party Leader & incumbent); Cathy Noel (BC Liberal); Brendan Ralfs (BC Green); Willie Nelson (Vancouver Island Party); and Scott Burton (Libertarian). The area includes Highlands, Langford, Sooke and the Juan de Fuca area up to Port Renfrew. It’s the fast-growing area of BC (only Surrey on the mainland is growing faster), encompassing urban and rural.

The Esquimalt-Metchosin race is one to watch, this time without its long-time NDP incumbent and now a high-profile BC Liberal candidate. The slate in that riding is: Mitzi Dean (NDP); Barb Desjardins (BC Liberal); Andy MacKinnon (BC Green); Josh Steffler (Libertarian); Tyson Strandlund (Communist Party); and Delmar Martay (independent). The area has key transportation issues, as the area provides both employment and ‘bedroom community’ as well as rural lifestyles.


Government House Photo:
[Sept 2017 ~ West Shore Voice News]

Friday, May 5 ~ VICTORIA. Government House will be hosting its monthly public tours on Saturday, May 6 in celebration of Neighbour Day which, this year in Greater Victoria, is being celebrated on Sunday, May 7, 2017.

Neighbour Day is an opportunity to meet and greet the people with whom we share our neighbourhood, fences, and walls. It’s an invitation to meet your neighbours, be creative and bring neighbours together to deepen connections and strengthen neighbourhoods, lend a helping hand, or host a neighbourhood event.

“Anything goes, as long as it involves you and the people in your building or on your street,” it was stated in a news release from the Lieutenant Governor’s office today.

The one-hour public tours on May 6 at Government House (1401 Rockland Ave) will start at 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. Free admission, no registration required.  There is a maximum capacity of 100 people per tour, first-come, first-served basis.


Thursday, May 4 ~ BC.  BC Ferries is offering savings on over 1,600 select early morning and late evening sailings on routes between Metro Vancouver – Vancouver Island and Metro Vancouver – Sunshine Coast all summer long.  The “Sunrise and Sunset Savings” promotion runs from May 18 to September 15, during which time the passenger vehicle and driver fares will be offered at $39, $49 and $59 on select sailings between Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay, Tsawwassen – Duke Point, Horseshoe Bay – Departure Bay and at $39 return-trip between Horseshoe Bay – Langdale.

The idea is to provide discounts on less crowded sailings, and gives customers a choice of fare price if they have flexibility with the time-of-day they choose to travel. “With more traffic moving to less busy sailings, we make more space available for other customers during the rest of the day,” says said Janet Carson, BC Ferries’ Vice President of Marketing and Travel Services.

Space on the selected sailings is on a first-come, first-served basis. Reservations will guarantee a spot on one of the reduced-price select sailings. Reservations are $10 if booked seven days or more in advance.  www.bcferries.com


 

BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver with environmental activist David Suzuki, last month at a rally.

Wednesday May 3 ~ VANCOUVER ISLAND.  “Today, I am officially endorsing Andrew Weaver and the BC Green Party for the May 9 provincial election,” says David Suzuki.

“I have never endorsed a political party before and I never expected to. But the need for real change in BC is so great, I have decided I must do everything I can to help elect the party that represents the right kind of change.” He goes on to say that only the Green are “speaking to the greatest issues of our time with solutions that are practical and evidence-based”.

“The economy and environment are inextricably linked, and only the BC Green Party has taken that seriously,” said Suzuki in a statement to media. “Their platform is a real vision for the health and well-being of British Columbians, from education to housing affordability to the environment.”

BC Green Party leader Andrew Weaver together with David Suzuki and Sonia Furstenau (BC Green candidate for Cowichan Valley), will be hosting a campaign event tonight May 3. Doors open 6 pm, program 7 to 9 pm at S’amuna’ Big House, 5589 Club Road in Duncan.

Weaver was already a leading climate scientist when he was recruited in 2007 by then-BC Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell to provide advice on a climate action plan. In the 2009 provincial election the Opposition NDP promised to “axe” the carbon tax, but lost the election. The carbon tax survived.

BC Liberal premier Christy Clark has professed support for climate action and the carbon tax but her energies have gone into developing a new industry based on the export of liquefied natural gas.

Polished as a status-quo disruptor, in a rally mid-April with Weaver, environmental activist David Suzuki pitched for Greens to become a “dominant force” in provincial politics.


Wednesday, May 3.  As advance voting in the BC Election gets underway again today (May 3 to 6, 8am to 8 pm in all ridings), we can take a look at the trends from the first round of advance voting on the weekend of April 29 & 30.

On this west side of Vancouver Island:

  • Esquimalt-Metchosin brought in 4,226 votes last weekend (2,428 on Saturday and 1,798 on Sunday) out of a total number of 37,692 registered voters. That’s 11.2% of voters. Candidates in that riding are Mitzi Dean (BC NDP), Barb Desjardins (BC Liberal), Andy MacKinnon (BC Green), Josh Steffler (Libertarian), and Delmar Martay (independent).
  • Langford-Juan de Fuca saw 3,722 votes last weekend (2,087 on Saturday and 1,635 on Sunday), out of a total of 39,176 registered voters. That’s a 9.5% advance poll turnout. Candidates in that riding are BC NDP Leader John Horgan, incumbent (NDP), Cathy Noel (BC Liberal), Brendan Ralfs (BC Green), and Willie Nelson (Vancouver Island Party).

The highest turnout on Vancouver Island April 29 & 30 was in Courtenay-Comox with 4,260 votes cast; Esquimalt-Metchosin came in a close second with 4,226; Parksville-Qualicum saw 4,018; Victoria-Beacon Hill logged in with 3,773 votes; and Langford-Juan de Fuca came in fifth with 3,722.

On the mainland, Vancouver-Fairview delivered 4,106 votes, Penticton delivered 4,029 advance votes, Vancouver-West End saw 4,007 votes cast, and Vancouver-Point Grey (where the NDP’s David Eby beat out Christy Clark in the 2013 election) logged in with 3,787 votes.

This is the first time that voting has been available on a Sunday, and in many ridings the turnout was strong on April 30, in some cases with most votes cast than on the Saturday. Most of the polling stations were open on those first two days; on the west shore only Gordon United Church (in the Langford-Juan de Fuca riding) wasn’t available due to the Sunday factor.

It would seem that the ridings where party leaders are running are getting voters out with relatively equal strength. Premier Clark (BC Liberal leader) is running in Kelowna West, where 3,749 advance votes were cast this past weekend. In John Horgan’s (BC NDP Leader) riding of Langford-Juan de Fuca there were 3,722 votes cast. BC Green Leader Andrew Weaver is running Oak Bay-Gordon Head where 3,264 advance votes were cast April 29-30.

Advance voting results will be updated daily during this May 3 to 6 advance voting period.

All advance votes will be counted on the night of the general election Tuesday May 9. Any advance votes that are cast over the 28-day campaign at District Electoral Offices will be counted on May 22 in the home ridings for those votes. Final vote results will be provided by Elections BC on May 23.


Tuesday, May 2 ~ LANGFORD. Two custom bus services launched by the City of Langford have been cancelled.

Soon to go is the in-town trolley that has been servicing local shoppers and residents in the commercial areas of Langford since 2007. BC Transit services to and around the Langford area have improved over the years (apparently up 76%), so the trolley is no longer needed.

Also wrapping up (as of June 30) is the Langtoria Greenline bus, launched last fall to help ease commuter traffic round trip between Langford and Victoria. Low ridership was the main reason there. People still like travelling in their own cars despite the time in commuter traffic and the cost of parking in Victoria. Some of those who have used the Langtoria bus service may now carpool.

The idea for the Greenline came up when construction of the McKenzie-Admirals Road Interchange was announced, with the advent of even more traffic slowdowns during the construction period. Operated by Wilson’s Transportation, it has been following a route that stops at 21 spots in the West Shore.

Langford Mayor Stew Young says he will now push for high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes on Hwy 1 that would also accommodate buses, and continue to work with the province on getting to yes with transportation options along the E&N Rail corridor.


 

Tuesday, May 2 ~ WEST SIDE of Vancouver Island. Advance voting starts up again in the morning throughout BC! Advance voting Places will be open 8 am to 8 pm for the next four days: May 3, 4, 5 and 6.

On the west side of Vancouver Island:

  • Advance Voting is available in Langford at Belmont Secondary School, Four Points Sheraton, and Gordon United Church.
  • Advance Voting places in Sooke are at SEAPARC Leisure Complex and Sooke Community Hall.
  • Advance Voting for Esquimalt-Metchosin is at Colwood Pentecostal Church, Esquimalt United Church, Metchosin Community Hall, Songhees Wellness Centre, View Royal Town Hall, and West Shore Parks & Rec.

Ballots cast during Advance Voting will be counted on election night, after the main ballot boxes are counted on general election night May 9.

In this 2017 election, Elections BC has been promoting “you have 28 days to vote”, without vigorously clarifying that votes cast at District Electoral Offices that are open daily for 28 days will be counted in their home ridings (on May 22) after the paper ballots are distributed to the 87 ridings around the province.

However, if you can’t make it to an Advance Voting Station during May 3-6, these DEO offices make it convenient to vote on May 7 and 8 (as well as on election day May 9):

  • District Electoral Office for Langford-Juan de Fuca is at 111-2787 Jacklin Road in Langford. Inquiries: 250-952-5014.
  • District Electoral Office for Esquimalt-Metchosin is at 3-1905 Sooke Road in Colwood. Inquiries: 250-952-4408.

Tuesday, May 2 ~ BC.  Where you vote does count, for timing! Ballots cast at Advance Voting stations (April 29 & 30; May 3 to 6) will be counted on election night, after the main ballot boxes are counted, toward the May 9 general election night tally and results.

However, any votes cast at the District Electoral Office (one central office for each riding) will get counted on May 22, toward a final vote announcement on May 23.

In this 2017 election, Elections BC has been promoting “you have 28 days to vote”, without clarifying that votes cast at District Electoral Offices that are open daily for 28 days will be counted in their home ridings after the paper ballots are distributed to the 87 ridings around the province.


 

Monday, May 1 ~ SOUTH VANCOUVER ISLAND. Additional tech-related seats for the University of Victoria, Camosun College and Vancouver Island University were announced today. The goals is “to develop home grown talent to help British Columbia continue to be a leader in the innovation economy”, as announced by BC Liberal candidates David Calder, Alex Dutton and Paris Gaudet.

The BC Liberals say they have made a commitment to increase the number of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) graduates by 1,000 per year by 2022. UVic will receive 80 new seats and both Camosun College and VIU will receive 30 to contribute to that goal.


BC Liberal candidate Barb Desjardins (Esquimalt-Metchosin) at a business mixer in the west shore April 24. [West Shore Voice News photo]

Monday, May 1 ~ SOUTH VANCOUVER ISLAND. The BC Liberals today say the Capital Regional District (CRD) governance model needs modernizing to ensure decisions are being made effectively, residents are getting the services and accountability they deserve, and in the most efficient manner possible. The statement cam  from Barb Desjardins, BC Liberal candidate for Esquimalt-Metchosin.

In the BC Liberals Island Platform, they are stating a commitment to a full review of Capital Regional District governance – and working with any community that is in support of possible service integration and amalgamation.

“The model hasn’t been reviewed in decades, and it doesn’t reflect how the region delivers services today, or the associated challenges in delivering those services in the most effective manner,” said Desjardins, a three-term Esquimalt Mayor and past CRD chair.

“One practical example is housing development – an issue that I hear about from builders and the general public. Under the current governance structure, each municipality within the CRD has its own development charges, each interprets the building code differently, and the time it takes to move an application through each municipality differs. As a result, there is no consistency for builders, it means additional costs, and those costs are ultimately borne by the home purchaser or renter.”

“The other reality is that we have communities on the West Shore that have different needs than those in Victoria and the current structure doesn’t always recognize those views or needs – because of the CRD model,” Desjardins said in a release.

In an interview with West Shore Voice News today, Desjardins said that the small business sector grows in a municipality that has good governance. She cited the City of Langford as a good example.

The BC Liberals say they’re been clear that any community not wishing to participate in amalgamation or other governance changes will not be forced to participate.


Sunday, April 30 ~ WEST SIDE of VANCOUVER ISLAND.  People have been dropping by steadily to vote at District Electoral Offices (DEOs) for Langford-Juan de Fuca and Esquimalt-Metchosin in the past week, say staff at both locations.

Personnel hired specifically to execute all the many responsibilities of operating a Voting Station have taken training at each DEO. Being responsible for a ballot box during the Advance Voting days includes overseeing the whereabouts of that box when it’s not in active ballot-receiving mode, says David Garvey, Deputy District Electoral Officer for Langford-Juan de Fuca.

There is a step-by-step process to ensure secrecy of the ballots and their retention between the six advance voting days, explains Garvey.

Ballots that are cast at any DEO in BC are sent after 8pm on the General Election Day (May 9) to the riding where the vote belongs. Due to the time this takes, there is a final vote count on May 23, once all ballots have been received in their home ridings. Potentially this could swing a vote result in any given riding.

With the increased number of advance voting days (six days this election — April 29 & 30, May 3-6) and voting throughout the 28-day campaign period by any voter at any DEO in the province, that theoretically increases the number of ridings where final counts on May 23 could make a difference in the overall result.

The DEO for Langford-Juan de Fuca is at 111-2787 Jacklin Road in Langford. The DEO for Esquimalt-Metchosin is in Colwood at 3-1905 Sooke Road.

Visit the April 28, 2017 issue of West Shore Voice News to see photos of both DEO office locations plus hours and list of candidates, (page 6). List of all voting stations in both ridings, and open hours (page 8).


BC NDP party leader John Horgan (left) with Oak Bay-Gordon Head NDP candidate Bryce Casavant.

Saturday, April 29 ~ SOUTH VANCOUVER ISLAND.  The BC NDP say they will announce strong measures to clean up and protect waterways, at an event tomorrow Sunday April 30 in Cadboro Bay at Gyro Park.

On hand will be BC NDP Candidates Gary Holman (Saanich North and the Islands) and Bryce Casavant (Oak Bay-Gordon Head) with special guest Sheila Malcolmson, Member of Parliament for Nanaimo-Ladysmith.

They will talk about how John Horgan and the BC NDP would be the only government committed to keeping waterways pristine in BC.

The event on Sunday will start at 3 pm. Gyro Park is at 2625 Sinclair Rd in the Cadboro Bay area of Oak Bay.


 

BC NDP Leader John Horgan at his April 28 rally in Victoria.

Friday, April 28 ~ SOUTH VANCOUVER ISLAND. BC NDP Leader John Horgan held at upbeat rally in downtown Victoria this evening, stirring up and maintaining momentum for followers as the last leg of the 28-day BC election campaign period reaches the Advance Voting phase (April 29 & 30, plus May 3-6) and closes in on the May 9 election day.

On Saturday he will cast his vote in the Advance Voting station at Belmont Secondary School in his home town of Langford.

Then he will head to Duncan to make an announcement about health-care facilities that could be built there under an NDP government. The afternoon and evening for Horgan wraps up in Surrey and Burnaby where the voting base is large.


BC Leaders Debate was televised on Global TV tonight, April 26, from Vancouver.

Wednesday, April 26 ~ BC.  There was the usual wrangling expected in a leader’s debate.  However, in the 90-minute televised BC Leaders Debate on Global TV tonight, there were few moments that would have tipped the decision of the undecided voter.

Moderated in a competent and organized manner by Global TV’s Jennifer Burke, the audience heard statements, rebuttals and questions from and between BC Liberal Leader Christy Clark, BC NDP Leader John Horgan and BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver.

Clark appealed to her audience of those wanting lower taxes, and hammered home about the importance of putting job creation first. Horgan appealed to his audience of workers and families who’ve not been able to get ahead in a economy with an endlessly increasing cost of living over the past 16 years. Weaver appealed to the disciplined thinker who knows there are better ways to do things, but unfettered by a long party track record.

Weaver was not wrong to suggest that a party trailing third can come out with a majority government. In recent years it happened for the NDP in Alberta and the federal Liberals.  Clark used the fear card to warn British Columbians of what an inexperienced new government might not be able to handle in tough trade disputes with the US, or with the provincial budget that the BC Liberals have kept under tight rein to achieve their five balanced budgets and a triple-A credit rating. Horgan appealed at every turn for voters to remember the hardship experienced by families and many low-income workers over the past 16 years as many BC government interests and services became privatized and used first as a source for generating government revenue over and above providing appropriate or affordable services.

The point of these debates is to help voters either be reassured about their committed choices, or to provide new insights for the as-yet-undecided.  Absorbing the details of policy platforms is a lot of work for voters in a short campaign, and most people don’t go in that direction amidst their busy lives. Many undecided voters go with their gut… looking to who has the chops, the vision and the commitment to lead the province in turbulent times of change in the economy, technology and society.

While Horgan was challenged with a media-formulated question about being ‘mercurial’ (a term which was not, by the way, correctly defined by the moderator – she completely missed the intellectual curiosity and quick-footed aspect of being mercurial), it was clear that Canadians have almost lost the awareness of the passion it takes to truly lead from the heart. Facts are facts, and processes must be followed, but if the passion is not from a true place in politics, then a population is no farther ahead.

Clark was challenged on her own record and her government’s record, but in most cases simply dodged any pointed challenges and fell back to party talking points about jobs and balanced budgets. Money management is essential for a stable economy, but it is not only about that.

Weaver again (as in the April 20 radio debate on News1130) showed his strengths as a fact-based organizer of progressive thought. In a perfect world, this would be the calm road to take.  In a less than perfect world it might still be the road to take toward a revision of the political fabric in BC.

After tonight, it would seem that the BC population is still no farther ahead in grasping where BC might head after May 9. If everyone votes along party lines, that leaves a precious few who will tip the vote. The wild card in producing a surprise result in this 2017 provincial election might well be from among youth ages 18 to 25. That demographic tends to vote left on the political spectrum, which would give favour to the NDP and/or the Greens.

For some listeners, Donald Trump’s name got too much air time in this debate. And, as this publication is on the west coast of Vancouver Island, we note that none of the 1,300 public questions as received by Global were (as chosen for airtime) from Vancouver Island residents.

So this event was 90 minutes of a Wednesday evening that in many ways puts few of us any farther ahead toward a clear and bold vision for BC. There are just too many areas of mistrust or disbelief, and certainly a level of frustration among voters. The world is in crisis mode in many respects. To itemize just a few key problems: there are skyrocketing health care costs, a large aging population who will require adequate pension support (a topic not even mentioned in tonight’s debate), and high-impact climate change affecting crops, water supplies.

A final word … voters need to choose one of these party leaders based on who can really, truly lead. Not just pander to their own party, but put the provincial as a whole as their top priority. ~ Editor, West Shore Voice News


Tuesday, April 25 ~ BC. The BC NDP commitment to create urgent care centres across the province will benefit small communities, it was announced by the BC NDP today. 

Retired MLA Maurine Karagianis represented John Horgan at an All Candidates debate in his home riding April 25 in Sooke.

Representing BC NDP Leader John Horgan at an All Candidates debate in Sooke this evening, retired MLA Maurine Karagianis said Sooke would be one of the communities that could dearly use an urgent care clinic. There is a private medical clinic in Sooke town centre, and an old (analog) xray clinic open about 2 days a week; the nearest hospital is Victoria General Hospital about 30 minutes drive away along the winding Hwy 14.

“I am committed to taking real action to help families access the health care they need by opening Urgent Family Care centers in communities across the province,” said Horgan in a release.

Urgent care centres bring together doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, dieticians, pharmacists, mental health workers, midwives, occupational therapists and other health care providers to offer the right health services from the right provider at the right time. “We know that prevention and early interventions are the best way to protect people’s health and bring down health care costs,” it says in the NDP release tonight.

On Horgan’s behalf, Karagianis went to bat tonight for the hardest-hit sectors of BC society who have seen consistent erosion of services under the BC Liberals, including education, children and families, health care and seniors.

John Horgan is the incumbent NDP candidate in Langford-Juan de Fuca. He has held the riding since 2005.


 

Tuesday, April 25 ~ WEST SHORE of VANCOUVER ISLAND.  Last night there was a sparse turnout for a mixer co-hosted by the West Shore Chamber of Commerce and Esquimalt Chamber of Commerce.

The idea was to provide a casual opportunity for the community to meet provincial election candidates of two west-side ridings.

Candidates, campaign personnel and displays of election materials were on hand: BC Liberals, BC NDP, BC Greens. and the Libertarian Party for Esquimalt-Metchosin, as well as NDP, Green and BC Liberal for Langford-Juan de Fuca.

Each candidate gave a short 3-minute speech.  Visit the Langford-Colwood-Metchosin page for more…


Monday, April 24 ~ BC. Today BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver released the BC Green Party’s full election platform.

“Our platform highlights the fundamental differences between us and the other parties,” said Weaver. “Both the BC Liberals and the BC NDP are more focussed on advancing short term election strategies than they are on advancing a vision for the province. Our platform offers an ambitious plan to position British Columbia for success at the forefront of the emerging economy, through promoting sustainable business development and innovation, making historic investments in education, and modernizing income security.

“A BC Green government will ensure that people have the knowledge, skills and abilities to seize opportunities in the 21st century economy. We will ensure that the benefits of a strong economy flow to everyone,” Weaver said in a news release. “The BC Greens have a vision for British Columbia where government puts people’s interests first. We are putting forward a vision where policies are based on principles and evidence.”

Highlights of the BC Green Party platform include:
New economy: Positioning B.C. to succeed on the forefront of the emerging economy through investments in innovation and sustainable business development.
Lifelong learning: Making historic investments into education, providing free early childhood education and daycare; investing in public education and supporting post-secondary students.
Income security: Modernizing income security for the new economy, through moving towards livable incomes, raising social assistance rates and piloting basic income.
Climate action: Taking strong action to tackle climate change and reach our carbon emissions targets.
Affordable homes: Targeting speculation in our real estate market and investing in increasing the supply of affordable homes.


Monday, April 24 ~ VICTORIA. The BC NDP are holding a “Rally the Vote Victoria” event in downtown Victoria this coming Friday, April 28 from 6:00 to 7:30 pm. The event is expected to pack to overflowing the Alix Goolden Performance Hall at 907 Pandora Ave.

“Before British Columbians go to the early polls, we’re rallying the vote in Victoria. Come join John Horgan and special guest Nathan Cullen at Victoria’s iconic Alix Goolden Performance Hall.” It’s likely to be a high-powered, memorable event, now mid-way into the 28-day 2017 BC election campaign.

The BC NDP have been proposing various measures to boost affordability for families, seniors, and those on social assistance and other fixed incomes including a freeze on ferry fares, elimination of MSP premiums (blending it into the tax system), $10/day child care, and an increase in the minimum wage to $15.

Those wishing to attend are encouraged to RSVP, to assure a spot:  https://www.bcndp.ca/rally-the-vote


An NDP government would freeze ferry fares, says BC NDP Leader John Horgan.

Sunday, April 23 ~ BC. As the BC election campaign progresses, BC NDP Leader John Horgan has been issuing various policy announcements aimed at making BC more affordable for BC families, seniors and people on social assistance.

On April 20 surrounded by supporters, Horgan announced a plan to make seniors weekday passenger fares free on major BC Ferries sailing routes. “Life on Vancouver Island has been getting more expensive under Christy Clark. The increase in fees and hidden costs are hurting seniors on fixed incomes. We’re going to make life more affordable by bringing back free weekday ferry fares for seniors on major routes,” said Horgan on the shores of the Swartz Bay ferry terminal near Sidney, BC.

Under the BC Liberals, BC Ferries fares have increased by about 80% on the major ferry routes, and have more than doubled for the Gulf Islands, Sunshine Coast and North Coast routes. An NDP government would also freeze ferry fares on major routes for all passengers and cut fares on the smaller routes by 15%.

“After 16 years of Christy Clark and the BC Liberals the cost of ferries has gone through the roof while sailings were cut for many communities. John Horgan will make life more affordable for island families, boost tourism, and grow the economy,” it was stated in a BC NDP news release.

Specifically for seniors, Horgan said the BC NDP will make life more affordable for seniors by:
• Bringing back free weekday ferry rides on major routes for seniors
• Cutting ferry fares on minor routes by 15 per cent
• Freezing ferry fares on major routes
• Providing a $400 renter’s rebate, while maintaining the existing Shelter Aid for Elder Renters (SAFER) supplement
• Eliminating unfair MSP premiums within our first term in office


Wednesday, April 19 ~ BC. ‘Where to Vote’ cards are being delivered across British Columbia starting today. Elections BC is reminding voters to bring their card with them when they vote, to make the process faster and easier.

Chief Electoral Officer, Keith Archer says registered voters will receive a card that includes the dates, times and locations for advance voting in their electoral district. Each voter’s card also shows their assigned voting place for General Voting Day, May 9.

Elections BC will also be distributing the cards to addresses with no registered voters. These cards will inform eligible voters of the voting opportunities available to them and that they can register when they vote.

New for this election, is that the cards will be colour-coded to help election officials determine the electoral district in which a voter resides.

Over three million cards will be delivered up until advance voting starts on April 29. Advance voting takes place on April 29 and 30 and from May 3 to May 6. A complete listing of advance voting places is available at www.elections.bc.ca/2017-provincial-general-election/where-to-vote

Voters can also use Elections BC’s Where to Vote app to find voting places close to them and in their electoral district; it can be found at www.elections.bc.ca/wtv . Eligible voters can vote at any voting place in BC.


Wednesday, April 19 ~ BC.  A BC NDP government under John Horgan would eliminate interest on BC student loans and offer a $1,000 completion grant to people who complete their studies.

“At a time when more and more people are struggling to get by, Christy Clark and the BC Liberals have made it harder than ever for people to upgrade their skills and get ahead in life,” said Horgan at a news event in Vancouver today.

“We’re going to fix that. We will ensure every British Columbian has the opportunity to pursue post-secondary education and skills training programs by eliminating interest on BC student loans and offering $1,000 in student loan relief for people who complete their studies.

“We have a growing tech sector that is already employing more than 100,000 British Columbians, and they need more skilled employees. We’ll help them grow and help British Columbians succeed by making post-secondary more accessible and affordable,” said Horgan.

John Horgan and the BC NDP will train skilled workers and create opportunities for people by:

  • Making all current and future BC student loans interest free.
  • Providing a $1,000 completion grant for graduates of college, university and skilled trades programs to help pay down debt when they finish their programs.
  • Investing $100 million to expand technology-related post-secondary programs and investing in talent in information and communications, digital media and entertainment, life sciences and health, clean-tech, IT and engineering and more.
  • Eliminating fees for Adult Basic Education and ESL and keeping a cap on tuition fees at colleges and universities.
  • Introducing a new graduate student scholarship fund to encourage excellence in BC’s graduate programs.

BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver with candidates (in Vancouver last week).

Tuesday, April 18 ~ VICTORIA.  Andrew Weaver, leader of the BC Green Party, released the party’s health platform today in Victoria. He unveiled the platform at the campaign office of Dr. Chris Maxwell, BC Greens candidate for Victoria-Swan Lake, where tonight Maxwell’s campaign office launch event will take place at 7 pm.

“BC’s demographics are shifting. Already, many British Columbians are not getting the health care services they need in a timely fashion,” said Weaver. “British Columbians need an integrated, fiscally sound plan that invests in their health at every stage of life.

Weaver says the Green Party healthcare strategy “supports British Columbians to live healthier lives, and transitions BC towards preventive care”. He also outlined the idea to make strategic investments to increase access to primary care and focus on addressing mental health and addictions.

In the face of stiff competition from BC Liberals and deep-rooted momentum from the BC NDP, It’s a long shot that the Greens will have any substantial wins for MLA seats in the upcoming May 9 BC provincial election. So platform ideas are just that (and not all of them are new, for example ‘create a Ministry responsible for health promotion’ already exists). But discussion about them can tip the discourse of election debate and provides an important service to pushing forward social progress.

Dr Chris Maxwell, BC Green Party candidate, Victoria-Swan Lake.

Key components of the BC Greens health care platform include:

Promoting wellness

  • Create a Ministry responsible for health promotion, disease prevention and active lifestyles.
  • Invest $35 million in nutrition and physical activity programs to promote learning readiness and improve student health in the K-12 public education system.

Prioritizing prevention and primary care

  • Establish a task force to develop a plan to transition the balance of resources between acute/chronic care and primary/preventative care.
  • Allocate $100 million for the expansion of support for inter-professional, integrated primary care by healthcare professionals such as physiotherapists, nurse practitioners and midwives.
  • Develop a proposal to implement an essential drugs program.

Providing effective and efficient acute care

  • Invest $40 million in new long term care facilities to increase the availability of beds in acute care facilities.
  • Establish an innovation task force to reduce surgery wait times across the province.

Addressing mental health and addictions

  • Establish a Ministry responsible for mental health and addictions, which will be responsible for developing and implementing a Mental Health and Addiction strategy and a Youth Mental Health for early detection of mental health illness.
  • Allocate $80 million to fund early intervention, youth mental health initiatives, supervised injection sites and community based centres for mental health and rehabilitation.
  • Implement an Integrated Primary Care model specific to Youth and Mental Health.
  • Develop an immediate response to the fentanyl crisis based on successful programs in Europe that invest in treatment on demand, drug substitution, early-winning monitoring systems and coordinated response.

Supporting seniors and providing end-of-life

  • Invest $35 million over four years in home care to enable seniors and other people who need assistance to stay in their own homes.
  • Ensure the staffing at public and private care homes meets government guidelines and provide $200 million over four years to address staffing levels at public facilities.

Protecting children

  • Invest an additional $100 million over for years to enhance child protection services.
  • Identify strategies to address child poverty in the province, including specific actions to address poverty affecting Aboriginal children and families.
  • Work with stakeholders, including front line service delivery agencies, Indigenous people, local governments, educators, and community not-for-profit agencies to address recommendations made by the Representative for Children and Youth and the Select Standing Committee on Children and Youth.

Sunday, April 16 ~ EASTER SUNDAY.  Many Canadians are making a 4-day long weekend out of the Easter weekend. Good Friday was on April 14. There were many community activities including Easter egg hunts for kids, and stores were open and bustling on Saturday, April 15. Easter Monday is a Statutory holiday across Canada.

Ferry travel on the BC Coast is busy on Easter weekends. BC Ferries added 50 extra sailings on the Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay route carrying travllers between the Vancouver and Victoria areas.

For Easter Sunday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement to Canada on Easter:

“This weekend, millions of Canadians and people around the world will gather with friends and family to celebrate the Easter holiday. This year is special, as Christians in both the Eastern and Western churches are celebrating Easter on the same day.

“Easter, also known as Pascha, is a sacred time of year in the Christian tradition, and celebrates Jesus Christ’s resurrection and triumph over death.

“The Easter story reminds us of the sacrifices made for us, and of the forgiving power of compassion. It is also a call to hope, especially when hope feels most impossible.

“This year, as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation, let us take the opportunity to honour the many cultures, traditions, and beliefs that make Canada such a wonderful place to live. Christian Canadians of all backgrounds help make Canada the strong, diverse, and inclusive country it is today.

“As we gather with those most important to us, let us put into practice what it truly means to love our neighbours as ourselves, and do what we can to make the world a more just, compassionate, and peaceful place for all.

“On behalf of our family, Sophie and I wish all those celebrating a blessed and joyful Easter. We hope all Canadians, no matter their faith, find this a time of renewal and promise.”


Saturday, April 15 ~ ESQUIMALT-METCHOSIN.  The BC Sustainable Energy Association is holding an all-candidates debate for the riding of Esquimalt-Metchosin. “Energy is a pivotal issue in the upcoming provincial election and deserves a strong public airing and meaningful debate,” the organization says. “Voters need to know which candidates and parties are presenting the most sustainable path for British Columbia’s future.”

The Esquimalt-Metchosin riding includes Esquimalt, View Royal, Colwood and Metchosin. BC NDP candidate is Mitzi Dean. BC Liberal candidate is Barb Desjardins. BC Green candidate is Andy MacKinnon.

The Esquimalt-Metchosin riding also includes Colwood and View Royal. Esquimalt is home to a large Department of National Defense base on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Also along this coast travel tankers carrying oil products. Marine wildlife in coastal waters is integral to the ecosystems of the west coast, as well as economy and lifestyle.

The All Candidates debate on BC’s energy future will be held on Tuesday April 18 from at 6:30pm to 9 pm at Esquimalt High School Theatre, 847 Colville Rd.   www.bcsea.org/events/esquimalt-metchosin-all-candidates-debate


BC NDP Leader John Horgan in Comox: remind his island stronghold about how the Vancouver Island economy has struggled under the BC Liberals.

Friday, April 14 ~ Vancouver Island.  BC NDP Leader John Horgan says the BC NDP will roll back ferry fares and make life more affordable for people in coastal communities. In Comox on April 14, Horgan said improved services, creating sustainable jobs and fighting climate change are part of his plan to build a better BC.

“Life on Vancouver Island and in coastal communities has been getting more expensive under Christy Clark. Families need good sustainable jobs, a break on rising costs, and a government that works for the people who live here,” said Horgan.

Horgan’s plan includes rolling back ferry fares on small routes by 15%, freezing fares on major routes, and restoring the 100% seniors weekday discount.

“We will create good jobs in every community and make life more affordable by rolling back ferry fares, freezing hydro rates, stopping Christy Clark’s 42% ICBC rate increase, and improving the public services people count on, like healthcare and education,” said Horgan.

There is also an NDP plan to build 114,000 homes, create 96,000 good jobs with better wages in every corner of BC, and build a sustainable economy while tackling climate change.

“We should and can be a world leader in creating the jobs of the future. We’ll take action to create tens of thousands of new, sustainable jobs while reducing BC’s climate change emissions and growing the low-carbon economy. Our plan includes energizing the BC tech sector, taking action for BC forest jobs, and revitalizing tourism,” said Horgan.

“Christy Clark is looking out for the people at the top. My priority is making life better for people in every region, including our coastal communities,” said Horgan.

The NDP 3-year fiscal plan includes putting the corporate tax rate back up by 1% for those making over $150,000 per year (a tax break brought in by the BC Liberals).

Horgan says the NDP would have fiscal balance and live within their means but “not on the backs of kids and seniors and those who need help”. The NDP say they would reduce the small business tax rate down from 2.5% to 2% if they form government after the May 9 election.


Thursday, April 13 ~ Coastal BC.  BC Ferries has added 60 extra sailings for this Easter Long Weekend, to meet the demands of holiday travel.  The sailings will be during peak travel times between Vancouver and Vancouver Island on the Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay and the
Departure Bay – Horseshoe Bay routes.

  • 50 extra sailings are scheduled on the Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay route
  • 10 extra sailings are scheduled on the Departure Bay – Horseshoe Bay routeThe most popular travel times are expected to be mid-day Thursday to late morning Friday,
    with traffic returning on the holiday Monday afternoon. BC Ferries reminds customers with
    reservations to inform the ticket agent that they have a reservation when they arrive at the ticket booth.
    This self-identification helps expedite the check-in process.

Check the BC Ferries website for current conditions at popular times. For the most up to date travel information. They’re at @BCFerries on Twitter.


Tuesday, April 11 ~ West side of Vancouver Island. The 2017 BC provincial election campaign is on, officially as of today April 11. Party leaders were already slinging barbs and policy missives for the TV media to report out to the public.

As a policy of West Shore Voice News, we will *not* be reporting on election season polls. No matter how unbiased the pollsters try to be, there is no way of knowing the true attitudes of those being polled, and whether the methods of reaching poll participants are reliable (e.g. very few people have home phone lines anymore). The disastrous misjudgement of polls in the 2013 BC provincial election (predicting an easy win for the NDP, who ended up losing badly) should be lesson enough.

News coverage by West Shore Voice News will be focussing on the actual activities of the campaigns in two electoral areas on this west side of the island:

  • Langford-Juan de Fuca (includes voters in Langford, Sooke, and Juan de Fuca area): John Horgan, NDP (incumbent); Cathy Noel, BC Liberal; Brendan Ralfs, BC Green; Willie Nelson, Vancouver Island Party.
  • Esquimalt-Metchosin (includes voters in Esquimalt, View Royal, Colwood and Metchosin): Mitzi Dean, NDP; Barb Desjardins, BC Liberal; Andy MacKinnon, BC Green; Josh Steffler, Libertarian.

There will be two major All Candidates Forums for these two ridings.  One is on Monday, April 24 at the Royal Colwood Golf Course, 5 pm (for candidates of both Langford-Juan de Fuca and Esquimalt-Metchosin). The other forum for Langford-Juan de Fuca is on Tuesday, April 25 at the Prestige Oceanfront Resort in Sooke at 7pm.

The election date is Tuesday, May 9.  There will be a few Advance Voting dates ahead of May 9.


The Sheringham Point Lighthouse Preservation Society has received $550,000 for restoration and preservation.

Tuesday, April 4 ~ VICTORIA. A Vancouver Island lighthouse preservation group has received the largest private donation to a lighthouse restoration project in Canada.

The Sheringham Point Lighthouse Preservation Society (SPLPS) has received a multi-year financial commitment totaling $550,000 from the Ontario-based Westaway Charitable Foundation. Sheringham Point Lighthouse, located near the little town of Shirley — 57 km west of Victoria — is now owned by the society, one of 21 heritage lighthouses in BC. There are also 27 staffed lighthouse stations on the BC coast.

“Lighthouses are popular heritage sites in coastal Canada as well as being symbols of guidance and protection,” said SPLPS board member John Walls. “The Westaways’ supremely generous donation offers us a beacon to help us navigate through our ambitious restoration project, a gesture that is outstanding in Canada. As the recipients, we are honoured that the Westaways have such confidence in our plans. Their donation allows us to proceed with a major restoration to both the lighthouse and the lighthouse reserve property.”

The relationship between the Westaway Charitable Foundation and the SPLPS started with a small donation of $1,000. “We heard about the group and thought it deserved some financial support, so we sent a cheque,” said Foundation President Peter Westaway. “Later when I met the board members and volunteers, I was impressed with the planning expertise and their vision of this site as a coastal asset open to all. I am proud to be able to partner with SPLPS and magnify the substantive community-based financial support they have been given to further this important maritime heritage project.”

Westaway himself lives in the Old Cut Lighthouse on Lake Erie which he and his wife restored in 2000. Their restoration project won the Ontario Home Builders Award as well as the Canadian Home Builders Association Award in the Most Outstanding Home Renovation category.

Walls added that the total gift requires approximately half the required funds to be raised through the community, a large portion of which has been already completed.

Currently the SPLPS is working to restore power to the lighthouse and improve public safety. Then restoration of the tower and engine room will begin, including metal re-fabrication, re-glazing, painting and rustproofing, as well as concrete repairs. The plan is to have interpretive displays and educational programs at the heritage site.

The Westaway Charitable Foundation was formed in 1986 by Peter Westaway and his sister, Lynn, to support primarily the arts, medical research, and heritage projects. Major ongoing gifts have been made to further both ovarian and prostate cancer research, and to support theatre. Ellis Chapel, built in 1861 in Puslinch Township (in south-central Ontario) was completely restored with Foundation help. The Sheringham Point project is the first major gift by the Foundation to a lighthouse restoration project.

The Sheringham Point Lighthouse Preservation Society was formed in 2003 to protect, preserve and restore the heritage lighthouse and act as stewards of the surrounding property, located in Shirley (57 km west of Victoria). Ownership of the lighthouse was transferred to the society in 2015. The Lighthouse View Trail and Jennie’s Trail were created on private property and managed by the society for the first five years under an agreement with the Capital Regional District. The 3.4-km loop trail provides access to the lighthouse and the surrounding area.


BC-NDP campaign bus launch in Vancouver, April 4

BC-NDP campaign bus launch in Vancouver, April 4

Tuesday, April 4 ~ BC. BC NDP Leader John Horgan revealed his campaign bus that will carry his leader’s tour from now until the May 9 election day.

The campaign “for a better BC” kicked off in Vancouver this morning as Horgan was greeted by supporters and a team of Lower Mainland candidates at the BC NDP’s Vancouver regional campaign office. “This campaign is about building a province that works for real people, not just the wealthy and well-connected,” said Horgan.

“While Christy Clark spends her time with big donors and the people at the top, we’ll be travelling to communities across BC, meeting with real people and talking about our plan to make life better for families,” the leader said in a news release.

“After 16 years of BC Liberal neglect, families are paying more fees than ever for fewer services. Good jobs are harder to find. And they’re waiting longer for the services we all depend on, like health care and education. Throughout this campaign, you can count on us to be tough on Christy Clark’s record. We will remind voters of the choices she made that have hurt people, and we’ll contrast that with our vision for a better BC that works for you.”

“As we kick this election campaign into high gear, I’m looking forward to meeting people from all walks of life and sharing our vision for building a better BC,” said Horgan.


If elected in the May 9 BC provincial election, the NDP will ban grizzly bear trophy hunting. [John Horgan, left with Oak Bay-Gordon Head candidate Bryce Casavant]

If elected in the May 9 BC provincial election, the NDP will ban grizzly bear trophy hunting. [John Horgan, left with Oak Bay-Gordon Head candidate Bryce Casavant]

Saturday, April 1 ~ VICTORIA. A rally to ban the grizzly bear trophy hunt in BC will be held today Saturday April 1 outside the BC Legislature. The rally, hosted by Justice for BC Grizzlies, will run from 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm and feature a number of speakers.

Former conservation officer and BC NDP candidate in Oak Bay-Gordon Head, Bryce Casavant, will be speaking at the Rally for BC Grizzlies, in front of the BC Legislature. April 1 marks the beginning of the spring Grizzly bear hunt in most regions of British Columbia. Casavant will be speaking about the BC NDPs pledge to ban the grizzly bear trophy hunt in BC.

“I’m working hard to ensure that the BC grizzly bear, a species of special concern, is properly cared for now, and for all generations to come,” said Casavant, a former Conservation Officer who made international headlines when he refused to follow an order to kill two healthy bear cubs.

“An overwhelming majority of British Columbians, First Nations, and resident hunters oppose the killing of these bears for sport,” he said.

“As British Columbians, we have a proud outdoor heritage that includes hunting, fishing and a growing eco-tourism industry. Bear viewing creates more jobs in local communities and generates millions of dollars more than trophy hunting,” said the NDP candidate this week.

“If elected in May, John Horgan and an NDP government will ban grizzly bear trophy hunting in BC while ensuring decisions about the grizzly bear and all wildlife are science based with proper funding for habitat management.”

Bryce Casavant is a Vancouver Islander. After serving with the Canadian Forces (including in Afghanistan), Casavant worked in various environmental consulting capacities in BC and eventually joined the BC Public Service as a Conservation Officer. In 2015, he earned international attention when he respectfully declined an order to destroy two bear cubs. Bryce followed the law and stood up for BC’s wildlife. His actions inspired a dialogue about the sustainable conservation and safe treatment of animals in our province. The cubs he saved were released back into the wild in 2016 where they continue to grow and thrive.

Bryce is currently a Doctoral Candidate with Royal Roads University, where he is researching wildlife conservation and management. As a Natural Resource Officer with the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Bryce sees firsthand the impacts human action has on our lands and waters. He is standing with John Horgan because he knows that John will take real action to defend our environment and invest in sustainable, renewable energy solutions that create good jobs with good wages.


SpecialCrimeUnitFriday, March 31. Anti-gang police on Vancouver Island say that up to 200 motorcycle riders will be taking part in a ride from Nanaimo to Langford on Saturday, April 1. The event is in honour of a Hell’s Angel prospect murdered earlier this month.

Michael Gregory Widner, 39, of Sooke went missing earlier this month, and his remains were discovered days later along the Pacific Marine route near Port Renfrew. RCMP later confirmed that Widner had known connections to the motorcycle gang. The death continues to be investigated by Vancouver Island’s Integrated Major Crime Unit as a homicide and anyone with information is asked to call 250-380-6211 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

BC’s Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit says the memorial ride is expected to take place Saturday afternoon.

Rides like this serve as a reminder about the presence of the gang while at the same time they are paying respects to the deceased, according to the BC Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit. RCMP and gang unit members will monitor the ride from start to finish, ensuring public safety. The ride is expected to wind up at a club house on Spencer Road in Langford.

Motorists travelling on the Island Highway on Saturday afternoon might find themselves delayed due to the ride, police said.


film_training-generalThursday, March 30 ~ VANCOUVER ISLAND. A new pilot project to train North Island residents and First Nations to work in the film and TV industry has been backed by$488,000 from the BC government.

The funding was announced yesterday for a new pilot project at North Island College (NIC) that will train North Island residents and First Nations to work in the film and TV industry, and meet the growing labour need for locally trained crews in the region.

Michelle Stilwell, MLA for Parksville-Qualicum and Minister for Social Development and Social Innovation, made the announcement at North Island College’s First Nations Gathering Place in Campbell River on behalf of Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour. Stilwell was joined by representatives from NIC as well as local stakeholders in the film and TV industry, local First Nations and employment organizations, who are partnering in this project.

NorthIslandCollege-logoBritish Columbia is one of the top centres for screen-production excellence in North America, with a long history of producing award-winning feature films, television series, documentaries and commercials. Vancouver Island is a key destination for producers who are looking for diverse, spectacular scenery.

The purpose of this new pilot project is to provide innovative, short-term training to tradespeople and Aboriginal residents on Vancouver Island, so they can pursue local jobs in the film and TV industry, which, in turn, will provide the industry with the skilled crews it needs for future productions on the Island.

The project will pilot two separate courses, each with classes offered in Port Alberni and Campbell River. The new specialized trades program will help train carpentry and electrical journeypersons and apprentices to work in the film industry in areas such as set construction. The First Nations production assistant program will train First Nations students to work on productions taking place within the region.

The courses are expected to start in late September 2017, with course completion in early spring 2018 so students can be ready to work on productions planning to come to the Island next spring. The industry and training partners involved in this project also will evaluate the programs, once complete, for possible expansion into other areas of BC.

With 297 film and television productions, and direct spending of $2 billion in 2015-16, the BC Government says this province is one of the top production centres in North America. BC’s motion picture industry supports about 25,000 direct and indirect quality jobs that make up a talented, highly experienced and knowledge-driven workforce.

With over 60 studio facilities and over 2.5 million square feet (230,000 square metres) in stage space, BC’s motion picture industry can service over 50 productions at once and accommodate all sizes and types of production.

Foreign-made series accounted for $790 million in spending in BC out of a total $2 billion in production. That compares to $618 million for feature films. Foreign production account for three-quarters of total production spending in BC.

BC pursues a Creative Economic Strategy.


After 5 summer concerts, Rock the Shores is taking a year off in 2017 [Photo: by Taylor Caspersen for West Shore Voice News]

After 5 summer concerts, Rock the Shores is taking a year off in 2017 [Photo: by Taylor Caspersen for West Shore Voice News]

Wednesday, March 29 ~ South Vancouver Island. Competition bites! A popular south Vancouver-Island rock concert series called Rock the Shores is facing competition for suitable headline talent in this Canada 150 year. So they’ve announced they will take a year off, promising to return in 2018

The Atomique organizers for Rock the Shores (RTS) say they have enjoyed building the event to what it has become. “We are proud of every artist we have booked, and we are so grateful to everyone who has helped us along the way, first and foremost our ticket buyers!”

Atomique says their goal from the beginning was to “build *the* annual rock festival for Islanders”. This year apparently there are multiple challenges towards pulling off the weekend-long outdoor concert that has been held the past five years outside the Juan de Fuca Rec Centre in Colwood.   The challenges apparently include limited availability of suitable headline talent coupled with increasing market saturation and competition in a year of national celebration.

Rock The Shores 2017 ticket holders may visit www.rocktheshores.com to view their options. Full refunds are available for all pass types already purchased, and for those that want to hold onto passes for 2018, Atomique is providing free, generous upgrades in all ticket classes.


bCFreshwaterFishing-2017to2019-Mar2917-webWednesday, March 29 ~ BC.  A new, updated guide to freshwater fishing rules and regulations in BC was announced today by the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson.

The 2017-2019 Freshwater Fishing Regulations Synopsis has been posted on the BC government fishing regulation website and print copies will soon be available at Front Counter BC, Service BC and stores that sell fishing licences. Use this direct link to download the regulations for Vancouver Island .

This synopsis is a comprehensive guide to the regulations, policies, and practices that guide freshwater fishing in BC. The Province updates the synopsis every two years, and regularly posts updates online.

The synopsis also includes important angling-related articles including information on stopping the spread of invasive aquatic species, catch-and-release best practices, and tips on how to help keep aquatic ecosystems natural, intact and healthy.

Freshwater fishing generates almost $1 billion towards the provincial economy annually. The Province collects $10 million each year from licence fees, money which goes directly to the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC. The Society supports angling-related research, conservation, stocking, access and education programs.

Under the federal Fisheries Act, the Province is responsible for non-salmon freshwater fisheries, including sea-run steelhead, trout, and char. The federal government is responsible for commercial and recreational fisheries in tidal waters, and salmon fisheries.

Find out more about the Freshwater Fisheries Society at: https://www.gofishbc.com


TravelAlert-BCFerries-Mar30&31&Apr2-2017-webTuesday, March 28 ~ BC SOUTH COAST.  BC Ferries says one of their large vessels the Spirit of Vancouver Island remains out of service until approximately April 7. The large ship was first taken offline effective last Saturday, March 24.

The Spirit of Vancouver Island which operates on BC Ferries’ Metro Vancouver – Victoria (Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay) route, remains out of service due to a hydraulic issue with the port side controllable pitch propeller. The vessel will dry dock on March 31 for approximately one week for repairs.

As a result of the mechanical issue, the following modified sailing schedule will be in effect for March 30, 31 and April 2:

Thursday, March 30 Friday, March 31 Sunday, April 2 
From From From From From From
Tsawwassen Swartz Bay Tsawwassen Swartz Bay Tsawwassen Swartz Bay
7 am 7 am 7 am 7 am 7 am 7 am
9 am 9 am 9 am 9 am 9 am 9 am
11 am 11 am 11 am 11 am 11 am 11 am
1 pm 1 pm 1 pm 1 pm 12 pm 1 pm
2 pm 3 pm 2 pm 3 pm 1 pm 2 pm
3 pm 4 pm 3 pm 4 pm 3 pm 3 pm
5 pm 5 pm 5 pm 5 pm 4 pm 5 pm
7 pm 7 pm 6 pm 7 pm 5 pm 6 pm
9 pm 9 pm 7 pm 8 pm 7 pm 7 pm
9 pm 9 pm 9 pm 9 pm

During the above dates, 11 of the 57 Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay sailings are cancelled. Customers with reservations on these sailings are being notified by BC Ferries’ Customer Care team and accommodated on the next available sailing.

There is the Nanaimo (Tsawwassen – Duke Point) route for customers who may wish to consider travelling that route as an alternative on Sunday, April 2:

  • From Tsawwassen 5:15 am and 7:45 am
  • From Duke Point  5:15 am and 7:45 am

Heavy traffic is expected on several sailings between Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island this weekend. BC Ferries anticipates Thursday, Friday and Sunday afternoon and evening to be busy. In particular, late Sunday afternoon at Tsawwassen will be extremely busy. Customers may wish to consider travelling earlier from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay on Sunday to avoid heavy traffic.

Customers travelling on the Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay route this weekend with a specific sailing time in mind may wish to make a reservation by calling 1-888-BCFERRY. Customers travelling on this route without reservations may wish to consider travelling via the Metro Vancouver – Nanaimo (Tsawwassen – Duke Point) or West Vancouver – Nanaimo (Horseshoe Bay – Departure Bay) routes.

Southern Gulf Islands Thru Fare. Customers are reminded there is another direct route to travel to the Southern Gulf Islands via the
Queen of Nanaimo. See www.bcferries.com for more info.

BC Ferries says they appreciate customers’ patience and will provide an update on the Spirit of Vancouver Island when more information is available.


DropCoverHoldonTuesday, March 28 ~ WEST SIDE of VANCOUVER ISLAND. Funding to support a wider tsunami warning range on the west side of Vancouver Island has been announced today by Emergency Management BC (EMBC).

Residents of Port Renfrew and the Pacheedaht First Nation will receive increased capability for tsunami warnings and the potential to provide earthquake early warnings, thanks to a $550,000 contribution from the BC Disaster Mitigation Program to the Capital Regional District (CRD), it was announced today March 28.

The funds will replace existing obsolete tsunami sirens with new warning technology to help residents to be quickly informed in the event a tsunami threatens the region. The tsunami siren upgrades will include voiceover capability and remote activation, expanding the audible warning zone to include the Pacheedaht First Nation community. The proposed system will have the potential to provide early warning prior to an earthquake actually occurring. This could allow residents time to drop, cover and hold on, and head to high ground.

The funding is all a part of a broader set of more than $80 million invested in emergency preparedness and mitigation. Some of these investments, which will have positive benefits throughout the province, include:

  • $32 million to the Community Emergency Preparedness Fund to be administered by UBCM that will include items like $3 million for flood risk assessments, floodplain maps and flood mitigation plans, $20 million to fund flood mitigation projects, and $4.2 million emergency social services.
  • $5.5 million for the BC Search and Rescue Association for essential supports to search and rescue (SAR) volunteers, the SAR prevention program AdventureSmart, the acquisition, maintenance and upgrading of rescue equipment, and deployable communication systems to assist in communication in BCs backcountry.
  • $500,000 to Avalanche Canada to support public education and avalanche alert throughout BC.
  • $100,000 to PEP Air to support capital purchases and recognize the effort of the volunteer air search and rescue teams throughout the province.

Mike Hicks, Director, Juan de Fuca Electoral Area [Photo 2017: West Shore Voice News]

Mike Hicks, Director, Juan de Fuca Electoral Area [Photo 2017: West Shore Voice News]

“͞This investment will provide a much needed replacement of the current tsunami warning system. It will be critical to the safety of the residents and visitors to Port Renfrew and the Pacheedaht First Nation,”‘ says Mike Hicks, director, Juan de Fuca Electoral Area. “This new world-class, state-of-the-art warning system will help to protect the community from the very real threat of tsunamis.”

“The over $80 million in investments in community emergency preparedness will help us better withstand floods, fires, or earthquakes that could impact our province. Emergency preparedness is a shared responsibility that begins in every home, in every business and across all levels of government. This funding is another of many provincial investments and initiatives to help keep British Columbians safe,” said Naomi Yamamoto, Minister of State for Emergency Preparedness.

“͞The threat of earthquakes and a resulting tsunami is part of Pacheedaht community life,” says Chief Jeff Jones, Pacheedaht Nation. “It is not a matter of if, but when the event will occur; this has been a part of Pacheedaht͛’s history since time immemorial. We are grateful for the upgrades to the tsunami warning system, and hope this builds momentum for other emergency preparedness initiatives in Pacheedaht traditional territory.”


TravelAlert-BCFerries-Mar25&26-2017-webFriday, March 24 ~ VANCOUVER ISLAND SOUTH COAST & MAINLAND.  BC Ferries has advised has the Spirit of Vancouver Island vessel has been temporarily removed from service with modified schedules on the Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay <Vancouver-Victoria> route for Saturday March 25 and Sunday March 26.

The interruption is due to a hydraulic issue with the port side controllable pitch propeller. Engineers continue to troubleshoot the issue and will determine early next week the further status of the vessel. This removal from service means only three vessels are available
to operate on the route on Sunday as opposed to four. There is no change in number of vessels operating the route on Saturday.

Heavy traffic is expected on some sailings between the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island this weekend. BC Ferries advises customers travelling on the Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay route this weekend with a set travel time in mind to make a reservation by calling 1-888-BCFERRY. Customers travelling on this route without reservations are advised to consider travelling via the Tsawwassen – Duke Point or Horseshoe Bay – Departure Bay routes.

As a result of the mechanical issue, the following sailings have been cancelled on the Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay route:

  • Saturday, March 25 – From Tsawwassen 2 pm | From Swartz Bay 12 noon
  • Sunday, March 26  – From Tsawwassen 12 noon & 4 pm |  From Swartz Bay 2 pm & 6pm
  • Customers with reservations on the sailings above are being notified by BC Ferries’ Customer Care team and accommodated on the next scheduled sailing.

To assist customers travelling between the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island and due to the reduced capacity, the Queen of New Westminster will perform additional sailings on the Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay route as follows:

  • Saturday, March 25 – From Tsawwassen 12 noon & 4 pm |  From Swartz Bay  2 pm & 6 pm
  • Sunday, March 26 – From Tsawwassen 10 am | From Swartz Bay 8 pm & 11 pm* (* by Coastal Rennaissance)

There are additional sailings on the Tsawwassen-Duke Point route:

  • Sunday, March 26  – From Tsawwassen 5:15 am & 7:45 am | From Duke Point 5:15 am & 7:45 am

BC Ferries says they appreciate customers’ patience and will provide an update when more information about the status of the Spirit of Vancouver Island is available.


EarthHour-lightbulbThursday, March 23 ~ BC. Most people are pretty good at conserving electricity nowadays, so Earth Hour doesn’t have the same megawatt-punch as it did when the one-hour worldwide event started in 2007, as most people actively conserve electricity nowadays.

In fact, the BC Government now sees it as a symbolic gesture: “While the one hour without lights is intended to be a symbolic act encouraging people to consider conservation throughout the year, the collective impact of this global action is significant. I encourage everyone to participate,” says Mary Polak, Environment Minister.

So here we go again — this Saturday night March 25, there will be Earth Hour 2017 activity between 8:30 pm and 9:30 pm (local time) around the world. People are encouraged to reduce their electricity usage as much as possible during that evening hour, particularly ‘lights out’ so as to make a visual impact.

The BC government says it will be demonstrating its on-going support for climate action by joining the worldwide grassroots movement, most noticeably by turning off the Jubilee Lights at the Parliament Buildings in Victoria and the Lions Gate Bridge lights in Vancouver to celebrate the 11th-annual Earth Hour. Where possible, more than 170 provincial government offices will power off non-essential lights and electronics.

Earth Hour is a global event in support of climate change action. Participants from six continents, over 170 countries and 24 time zones will be united as a global community through individual action.

The global event started in Sydney, Australia in 2007 by the World Wildlife Fund to raise awareness about the effects of climate change. Earth Hour has grown to engage more than 7,000 cities worldwide and continues to be recognized as a leader in uniting people all over the globe to combat climate change.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, Earth Hour is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m because it is the closest hour to sunset in both hemispheres, allowing for the biggest visual impact of lights out everywhere. Last year Earth Hour 2016 took place in more than 7,000 cities, in more than 24 time zones.

After Earth Hour, BC Hydro usually publishes the percentage reductions in electricity use for each town and city in the province.


WSV-ReadershipSurvey-March2017-webSPRING 2017 WEST SHORE VOICE NEWS READERSHIP SURVEY ~ March 22, 2017.

We invite all West Shore Voice News readers to take part in a 3-minute survey about reading our publication (print / online).

Your input will be anonymous, but only one set of responses per IP address will be accepted.

We appreciate your input. We are always striving to reach and serve our many readers in the best ways possible — technology, content, and marketing support.

Here’s the survey link. Responses will be accepted up to April 5, 2017. Thank you!


The Salish Eagle will service the Twassassen - Southern Gulf Islands route.

The Salish Eagle will service the Tsawwassen – Southern Gulf Islands route.

Monday, March 20 ~ VICTORIA.  The newest vessel in the BC Ferries fleet — Salish Eagle — is arriving in BC today. The vessel took 38 days to travel 10,440 nautical miles from Remontowa Shipbuilding S.A. in Gdansk, Poland.

This ship will make its way to Ogden Point in Victoria, where the public can take exterior photos of the vessel today. Once Salish Eagle clears Canadian Customs and final inspections are complete, the vessel will be officially handed over to BC Ferries. On Tuesday, March 21, the ship will proceed to BC Ferries’ refit facility in Richmond to prepare for operational service. The vessel will move to Tsawwassen terminal in mid-April for crew training and familiarization, and to continue to ready the ship for regular operation.

“We are proud to welcome Salish Eagle, our second natural gas-fuelled ship, home to BC and into our fleet,” said Mark Wilson, BC Ferries’ Vice President of Engineering. “The Salish Class are well-built vessels that will help reduce our environmental footprint and our operating costs.”

The artwork created to adorn Salish Eagle, designed by Stz’uminus First Nation’s John Marston, will be applied on the ship here in BC. The winter weather in Poland has temperatures below ideal for the application.

Salish Eagle will enter service on the Tsawwassen – Southern Gulf Islands route at the end of June. Her sister ship, the Salish Orca, will start service on the Comox – Powell River route late next month. Salish Raven, the third Salish Class vessel, will depart Poland for BC in April.

The 107-metre Salish Class ships will carry 145 vehicles and up to 600 passengers and crew. The vessels feature two car decks and have a service speed of 15.5 knots. Each ship is powered by three Wartsila 8L20DF engines. Gross tonnage of each ship is 8,728 tonnes.


ferry-TRUCKFriday, March 17, 2017 ~ VANCOUVER ISLAND.  BC Ferries rates for commercial vehicles that are 13 feet wide (or wider) will more than double on April 1, 2017 from $6.50/ft to $13.24/ft, to reflect that they take up two lanes, said BC Ferries in a news release March 16.

Probably in short order, this increase in shipping overhead will spill over into higher costs of consumer goods that are being transported by truck to Vancouver Island. It will also impact the cost of shipping raw products from the island.

It’s yet another way that the cost of living on Vancouver Island is expensive in unique ways compared to other parts of BC and Canada.


FerryFares-SouthCoastRoute-Apr0117-webThursday, March 16 ~ BC. Vehicle fares are going up on the Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay, Tsawwassen-Duke Point, and Horsehoe Bay-Departure Bay routes on BC Ferries sailings by 1.9% on April 1, 2017 — that’s up to $55.80 (from $54.80) for vehicles up to 20ft in length. There will be no increase in passenger fares on these routes. The current adult passenger fare on these routes is unchanged at $16.70 per person.

Effective April 1 there will also a $5 reduction in reservation fees (from $15 to $10) if you book seven days in advance on reservable routes. Reservations made less than seven days and up to one day prior will decrease to $17 (from $18.50). Reservations booked day of travel will go down to $21 (from $22).

Rates for commercial vehicles that are 13 feet wide (or wider) will increase from $6.50/ft to $13.24/ft, to reflect that they take up two lanes. In time, this increase will likely spill over into higher costs of goods that are being shipped by truck to the island.

Cancellation fees on northern routes will double, to discourage customers from booking space they don’t need, and to allow more customers access to the vehicle deck space.

BC Ferries says the increases are necessary to cover operating costs and major capital replacement projects. The company needs to replace one ship per year on average in order to maintain safe, efficient and reliable service, it was stated in a BC Ferries news release today.


Monday, March 13 ~ SOUTH VANCOUVER ISLAND. Another week on the BC provincial election campaign trail on this west side of the island.

BC Green Party leader Andrew Weaver will be meeting with homeschool students at the BC Legislature (Wednesday). Then on Thursday evening March 16 Weaver will be at Andy MacKinnon’s campaign launch (Green Party candidate for Esquimalt-Metchosin) at the Royal Colwood Golf Club in Colwood.

NDP MLA Maurine Karagianis (green scarf, black suit) got big thanks from John Horgan. Photo: West Shore Voice News

NDP MLA Maurine Karagianis (green scarf, black suit) got big thanks from John Horgan. Photo: West Shore Voice News

Towards the May 9 provincial election, the Esquimalt-Metchosin electoral area sees a race between Mitzi Dean (NDP candidate), Barb Desjardins (BC Liberal candidate), and Andy MacKinnon (BC Green candidate). Dean is a social services administrator, Desjardins is currently the mayor of Esquimalt and CRD Chair, and MacKinnon is a nature-study author.

The current BC NDP MLA for the Esquimalt-Metchosin riding that covers a voter base in Esquimalt, Colwood and Metchosin is Maurine Karagianis — she is retiring from politics. Karagianis was given upbeat accolades this past weekend at John Horgan’s campaign launch in Langford. Karagianis will be campaigning alongside NDP candidate Mitzi Dean to toward maintaining that side of the south island as part of the NDP stronghold.


BC NDP Leader John Horgan at his local campaign launch in Langford, as the candidate for Langford-Juan de Fuca [Photo Copyright 2017 West Shore Voice News]

BC NDP Leader John Horgan at his local campaign launch in Langford, as the candidate for Langford-Juan de Fuca [Photo Copyright 2017 West Shore Voice News]

Saturday, March 11 ~ LANGFORD.  BC NDP Leader John Horgan held his local Langford-Juan de Fuca campaign launch today, Saturday March 11, at the Langford Legion.

Over 400 people were there for the event including long-time supporters from throughout the riding, several MLAs (including Melanie Mark and Jodie Wickens who came over from the mainland), two local NDP MPs (Randall Garrison and Alistair MacGregor), some local municipal leaders, many campaign workers and some media.

Horgan cut into Christy Clark’s BC Liberals and chastised the current government for the hardship imposed on regular working British Columbians. Horgan urged teachers, health-care workers and seniors not to forget how the last 15 years in BC have been hard on them and most British Columbians who are not “wealthy or well-connected”.

Horgan promised to work on bringing in a $15 minimum wage if the NDP is elected to government, as one way to offer a bit of a break to struggling workers. He resurrected remembrance of the ground-breaking work of 1970s NDP premier Dave Barrett for having started ICBC as an affordable auto insurance entity, not as it is used today as a ‘cash cow’, said Horgan.

First Nations elder Shirley Alphonse gave her absolute support to “her friend Horgan”, as part of her opening blessing.

The upbeat event included Horgan’s 30-minute speech as well as remarks from NDP finance spokesperson Carole James and education spokesperson MLA Rob Fleming, along with NDP candidate for Esquimalt-Metchosin Mitzi Dean.

Horgan was invited to the podium by his nominator, SD62 School Board Trustee Ravi Parmar.


BCFerries-vesselFriday, March 10 ~ VICTORIA – The regular passenger fare will be half price fleet-wide on over 2,000 BC Ferries sailings during March 11 to 30. Youth age 11 and younger will travel free during that promotion period.

The 50%-off promotional discount is applicable on regular passenger fares for adult, BC senior, student and persons with disabilities. The complimentary travel for children 11 and under is applicable on a child’s fare.

On the Tsawwassen-SwartzBay route that means an adult will travel on available sailings for $8.60 and seniors for $4.30.

  • South Coast Routes: the promotion will be in effect Monday through Thursday, Saturdays and Sundays on select sailings March 11 – 30.
  • North Coast Routes including Port Hardy – Prince Rupert, Prince Rupert – Haida Gwaii and Alliford Bay – Skidegate routes as well as the Discovery Coast Connector: the 50% discount and kids-travel-free applies on every sailing March 11 – 30.

Experience™ Card users who receive a year-round discount that is less than 50% will have their discount increased to match the promotional fare. “This promotion allows those customers who do not participate in the Experience™ Card program an opportunity to travel at a discounted rate,” says BC Ferries.

Space on the select promotional sailings is on a first-come, first-served basis. Reservations are recommended. The discount is also available on select BC Ferries Vacations packages for customers looking for a Spring Break getaway.  www.bcferries.com


Candidates in two key west shore ridings on Vancouver Island. Click on image to enlarge.

Candidates in two key west shore ridings on Vancouver Island. Click on image to enlarge.

Thursday, March 9. And so the race card is firming up! West Shore Voice News is covering two electoral areas (ridings) on the west side of Vancouver Island during the election campaign toward the May 9 BC provincial election.

The main slate for the key riding of Langford-Juan de Fuca (which now includes Langford, Sooke and Juan de Fuca up to Port Renfrew — but no longer Metchosin) includes three candidates.  BC NDP Leader John Horgan has built and held a stronghold in the riding since 2005.

  • Long-time MLA John Horgan is the BC NDP incumbent candidate for Langford-Juan de Fuca.  Horgan is holding his local campaign launch this weekend on Saturday, March 11 in Langford (Langford Legion, 761 Station Ave, from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm). As party leader, he will be travelling all over BC during the campaign toward the May 9 election.
  • The BC Liberals are running Cathy Noel as their candidate in Langford-Juan de Fuca. Noel has a broad reach in the sport-fitness community.
  • The BC Green candidate for Langford-Juan de Fuca is Brendan Ralfs, a provincial emergency manager on southern Vancouver Island.

Another electoral area on the west side of South Vancouver Island long held by the NDP is Esquimalt-Metchosin (which includes Colwood). The current NDP MLA Maurine Karagianis is retiring from politics.

  • The BC NDP candidate is Mitzi Dean, a long-time advocate for well-funded social services through the Pacific Centre Family Services based in Colwood.
  • The BC Liberal candidate is Barb Desjardins, who is presently serving as both Mayor of Esquimalt and Chair of the Capital Regional District (CRD) board.
  • The BC Greens today announced Dr Andy MacKinnon as their candidate for Esquimalt-Metchosin. He is a  Professional Forester and Professional Biologist in BC, and author of books about plants of western North America.

 

Canada150-logoTuesday, March 7 ~ NATIONAL. Write it, snap it, draw it!

Are you age 8 to 18 and feeling creative? Try the Canada Day Challenge by submitting a story, essay, poem, photo or drawing in celebration of Canada 150. Deadline Friday March 31, 2017.

Winners will have their work displayed as part of a special summer exhibit at the Canadian Museum of History.

Check it out! http://canada.pch.gc.ca/eng/1449088858795


Firefighters Memorial at the BC Parliament Buildings, March 6, 2017 [BC Government Photo]

Firefighters Memorial at the BC Parliament Buildings, March 6, 2017 [BC Government Photo]

Monday, March 6 ~ VICTORIA. The 2017 Fallen Firefighters’ Memorial was held today at noon at the BC Legislature. Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour, issued the following statement on the observance of the 2017 Fallen Firefighters’ Memorial:

“Firefighters work tirelessly throughout the province to save lives and protect property for all British Columbians. The job they perform is difficult and dangerous, yet vitally important. Their skills, dedication and courage are touchstones of a profession that deserves our highest commendation,” said Bond in a government news release.

“That is why I was honoured to stand with provincial firefighters and their families today at the Fallen Firefighters’ Memorial to remember all who gave their lives to protect others,” she said. “We paid tribute to 14 firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty. Their sacrifice is an unimaginable loss for their families, friends and colleagues.”

“On behalf of the Province, we honour the sacrifices of the fallen, and we thank the BC Professional Firefighters Association, and all firefighters in British Columbia who continue to serve, for the work they do to keep our communities safe.”


BCElectionUpdate-Graphic-webMonday, March 6 ~ South Vancouver Island. Well, Saturday March 11 is ramping up to be a politics-of-the-left sorta day on the south island.

  • BC NDP Leader John Horgan will be holding his local campaign kickoff, in his home riding of Langford-Juan de Fuca. That’s at the Langford Legion from 10:30am to 12:30pm.
  • BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver will be holding a BC Green Party rally at the Grand Pacific Hotel in downtown Victoria, from 2 to 4pm.

The official BC provincial election campaign period (i.e. when the Writ drops and the current session of the legislature is dissolved) is expected to start April 11. The election is on Tuesday, May 9 (with plenty of Advance Voting opportunities ahead of that).

Voter registration notices went into the postal mail on February 14, says Elections BC. Registering to vote can be done online at www.elections.bc.ca/ovr or by calling 1-800-661-8683.


Click on image for larger view.

Click on image for larger view.

Friday, March 3 ~ WEST SHORE. Housing prices continue to surge upward in Greater Victoria, showing a raw average sale price of $852,111 in February.

The low number of properties listed for sale in February at 1,537 (very low compared to 2,562 a year ago) is only one pressure on prices. Buyers also hope to ‘beat the clock’ before super-low interest rates someday go up.

The raw average sale price of homes in getaway-lifestyle-Sooke has almost reached the half-million dollar mark ($495,789 in February). That’s up over $100,000 in one year.

In an economy where it’s mostly part-time and non-benefits jobs on the rise, the financial stability required for ownership of a single family home is increasingly beyond the reach of many.

This month’s MLS stats at www.vreb.org


Friday, March 3 ~ CAMPBELL RIVER. Building on the economic benefits and jobs created by getting to yes on major projects and provincial investments in infrastructure, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson today announced immediate investments and a long-term action plan outlined in BC’s rural economic development strategy that will create jobs and economic opportunities in Campbell River.

Building on our Rural Advantages: BC’s Rural Economic Development Strategy outlines the Province’s three-pronged approach to build, strengthen, and diversify rural communities. These investments are expected to support up to 26,600 direct and indirect jobs with an overall impact of $2.8 billion to provincial GDP. Targeted initiatives include $40 million to expand and enhance high-speed Internet and an extension of the $25-million Rural Dividend Fund to reinvigorate and diversify more local economies. These will ensure British Columbians in all regions of the province have the opportunity for good-paying jobs and a high quality of life in their community.

To strengthen the Province’s commitment to supporting rural communities and in recognition of the unique challenges and opportunities they face, Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett was recently appointed Minister of State for Rural Economic Development. Building on our Rural Advantages delivers on a key priority in the minister of state’s mandate letter.

“With the release of Building on our Rural Advantages, the Province is also making targeted investments that will benefit rural communities throughout BC, including Campbell River”, a release on March 3 stated:

  • $15 million over three years for trades equipment in BC secondary schools so students can explore the trades earlier in their education, including $716,400 in Campbell River.
  • $7.5 million over three years to upgrade BC Wildfire Service facilities throughout the province, including the Quinsam fire base, creating jobs and improving safety in rural communities.
  • More than $871,700 under the Rural Dividend Fund for projects in six communities, including:
    * $500,000 for the Regional District of Mount Waddington to develop a strategic economic development plan to create jobs in the forestry sector,
    * $100,000 for the Nanwakolas Council Society to deliver job readiness and skills training to youth,
    * $91,720 for the Village of Zeballos to develop local trails,
    * $90,000 for the Dzawada’enuxw First Nation to hire and train local workers and develop an overnight accommodation business in Kingcome Village,
    * $80,000 for the Village of Port Alice to support the redevelopment, expansion, and increased services for a campground, and
    * $10,000 for Port McNeill Kids in Motion Society to develop a summer camp geared for local youth with a focus on physical activity, health, and nutrition.

The rural strategy is a key commitment of the 5-Year Jobs Plan Update, which recognized the need for focused action to support rural communities. The new targeted actions outlined in the strategy build on the significant investments in Balanced Budget 2017 and respond to what government heard directly from British Columbians living in rural communities. To that end, the strategy includes immediate investments that will lay the foundation for economic diversification in rural BC:

  • A significant $40 million investment to extend high-speed Internet access to rural and remote BC communities, bringing faster broadband speeds that will create new economic opportunities and lay the foundation for new investment and jobs in BC’s burgeoning tech industry.
  • Extending the $25 million per-year Rural Dividend Fund for a fourth year to support the strength and sustainability of small rural communities.
  • $150 million for the Forest Enhancement Society of British Columbia to plant tens of millions more trees, which will help fight climate change and create over 3,000 jobs in rural British Columbia.
  • Begin phasing out provincial sales tax (PST) on business electricity purchases by reducing it to 3.5% on October 1, 2017, and eliminating it by April 1, 2019. The aim is to improve business competitiveness and economic performance, especially for resource industries that are key to rural BC such as commercial agriculture, forestry and mining.
  • Reduce the small business tax rate to 2% from 2.5%, effective April 2017, giving BC the second-lowest small business tax in Canada.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau jogging in Victoria, March 2, 2017 [Canadian Press photo]

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau jogging in Victoria, March 2, 2017 [Canadian Press photo]

Thursday, March 2 ~ VICTORIA.  [Posted at 5 pm]. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted out at 9:03 am this morning that he had arrived on the West Coast with Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan for a visit to Victoria today, March 2.

Trudeau and Sajjan started off the day with a jog from the Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt near Victoria, along with about 300 military personnel on their monthly timed 5K run. Trudeau reportedly achieved the five-kilometer jog in under 25 minutes.

He toured the HMCS Ottawa and HMCS Chicoutimi including a battle control room, calling those activities “a real treat”. There was a photo op meet-and-greet with military families. The HMCS Ottawa will soon be setting off for a 6-month tour in the Asia Pacific.

After 1 pm, Trudeau met with Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps at Victoria City Hall. Their discussion reportedly included aspects of affordable housing, innovative technology including green tech, and local opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, as well the opiate crisis and local infrastructure projects such as Crystal Pool and the Victoria fire hall. There was a large crowd – numbering in the hundreds – comprised of both anti-pipeline protesters as well as well-wishers.  There was heavy police security.

Some of the protest signage included messages like “We Vote No” and “You Promised Us Change”. Trudeau said briefing to media that “the environment and economy need to work together”, emphasizing the need for economic growth “while protecting the extraordinary natural inheritance” in BC.

In  the Greater Victoria area there are several shops selling marijuana products, ahead of changes to federal legislature that would make pot sales legal. Trudeau answered a media question about marijuana, saying the current law remains in place “until we have a framework to control and regulate marijuana”.

Mayor Lisa Helps said the meeting with Trudeau today was the beginning of a relationship. The last sitting Prime Minister to visit Victoria City Hall was Lester B Pearson in 1965. Trudeau was gifted with a pair of Converse runners, with orca images on one side, as a way to ‘take a walk in our shoes’.

After the brief meeting at Victoria City Hall, Trudeau headed by air to Vancouver to meet with BC Premier Christy Clark at the downtown Fairmont Hotel at 5:30 pm. They are expected to discuss the upcoming BC Election, the fentanyl crisis and softwood lumber issues.

On Friday (March 3), Trudeau will visit Vancouver’s Downtown East Side to get a firsthand look at the drug overdose situation.


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan [Photo taken in Poland, July 2016]

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan [Photo taken in Poland, July 2016]

Wednesday, March 1 ~ VICTORIA. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be in Victoria tomorrow, Thursday, March 2.

Trudeau and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan will be at Canadian Forces Base in Esquimalt, BC. They will tour the base later in the morning and meet with sailors, and be available to media at 12:30 pm.

Around 1:20 pm Trudeau will meet with Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps at Victoria City Hall.

The Dogwood Initiative group has called an ‘Emergency Town Hall’ to “make sure he hears the voices of real British Columbians”. They will be assembling at Centennial Square outside Victoria City Hall for 12:30 pm. Dogwood members have for several years been protesting any increase in oil tanker traffic off the coast of BC.

Trudeau is scheduled to meet with BC Premier Christy Clark at 5:30pm on Thursday, at the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel in downtown Vancouver, to discuss the opioid crisis and softwood lumber. On Friday, Trudeau will take a first-hand look at the drug crisis in Vancouver.


Brendan Ralf, BC Green Party Candidate in Langford-Juan de Fuca

Brendan Ralfs, BC Green Party Candidate in Langford-Juan de Fuca

Wednesday, March 1 ~ West side of Vancouver Island. The BC Green Party has announced their candidate for Langford-Juan de Fuca.  Brendan Ralfs — a provincial emergency manager on southern Vancouver Island — will be running on the same ballot as BC NDP Leader John Horgan and BC Liberal candidate Cathy Noel.

“After spending 20 years as a forest firefighter in BC I am passionate about seeing our province protected for future generations,” Ralfs said today in BC Greens news release. Ralfs has helped communities respond to a broad array of weather-influenced emergencies, including floods, storms and drought.

“I am honoured to welcome Brendan to our team. His experience managing emergencies across the province means he has a firsthand understanding of the impacts of climate change,” says BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver.

Ralfs calls Weaver a “clear choice to lead us in working together to ensure our home is a place where social justice prevails, the natural environment is protected and everyone has the opportunity to pursue their dreams while leading safe, productive lives”.


BC NDP Leader John Horgan will officially launch his campaign on March 11.

BC NDP Leader John Horgan will officially launch his campaign on March 11.

Monday, February 27 ~ West side of Vancouver Island. BC NDP leader John Horgan will kick off his 2017 re-election campaign in his home riding of Langford-Juan de Fuca on Saturday March 11.

The big-crowd event will be held at the Langford Legion, 761 Station Avenue starting at 10:30am.

Horgan has held the Langford-area riding (by various electoral area names, including Sooke and up to Port Renfrew) since 2005. He has also built an NDP stronghold on Vancouver Island that has repeatedly proven for him to have a far-reaching and deep reach into many communities and economic sectors.

For this election, the reboundaried riding has lost the largely rural area of Metchosin. Ridings are rebalanced over the years based on population numbers. Both Langford and Sooke have seen population increases in recent years, due mainly to the relatively lower cost of housing on the west side of south Vancouver Island.

The BC provincial election is set for Tuesday, May 9.


BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver

BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver

Monday, February 27 ~ VICTORIA. BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver, MLA (Oak Bay – Gordon Head) will be out campaigning in his riding on Saturday, March 4.

Ahead of that, this week he’ll be attending an all-candidates listening session on March 2 in Victoria. Then to Vancouver on March 3 to take part in a senior executive roundtable at the Business Council of BC, and a BC Chamber of Commerce Leaders’ Power Lunch in downtown Vancouver.

Weaver is presently the only Green Party MLA in the BC Legislature.


AlistairMacGregor-headshotSaturday, February 25 ~ VANCOUVER ISLAND. Alistair MacGregor, MP (Cowichan-Malahat-Langford) is elated that after several years of public pressure, the BC Liberal government has finally and permanently this week revoked the permit for the toxic soil dump near Shawnigan Lake.

MacGregor has stood in solidarity with the Shawnigan community and has supported its work in the fight against the toxic soil dump over the years. As a new MP, MacGregor introduced a bill (his first) in the House of Commons in Ottawa which would have brought federal protection to Shawnigan Lake under the Navigation Protection Act.

“Not only was the entire process that allowed the toxic soil dump permit flawed from the onset, but during the first serious rain event of its existence the project failed and discharged contaminated soil directly into the watershed,” said MP Alistair MacGregor.  “It shouldn’t have taken this long for the BC Government to put an end to this irresponsible and dangerous soil dump that risked inflicting irreparable damage to the Shawnigan watershed and its aquatic life,” MacGregor said.

“I want to specifically thank the Shawnigan Lake Residents Association and the Cowichan Valley Regional District for their hard work and diligence on this issue,” said MacGregor. “Our collective action is what makes our communities vibrant and strong, and this has finally forced the BC Liberal government to correct their mistake.”


The new AED installed in the waiting room at Long Harbour terminal. {Photo by BC Ferries]

The new AED installed in the waiting room at Long Harbour terminal. {Photo by BC Ferries]

Thursday, February 23 ~ VICTORIA.  BC Ferries has announced the installation of an additional 24 Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) at minor terminals for customers to use in the event of a medical emergency.

Heart disease and stroke take one life every seven minutes. February is the Heart and
Stroke Foundation’s ‘Heart Month’, a key time to reach millions of Canadians and alert them to the risks of heart disease and stroke. The Heart and Stroke Foundation has supplied BC Ferries with the signage and cabinets for this potentially life-saving equipment through the BC Public Access to Defibrillation Program (BC PAD).

With the advent of increasingly easy to use AEDs, BC Ferries saw an opportunity to improve the possibility of treating a customer or employee at remote locations in a timely manner. Training is not required to use the AEDs that BC Ferries has installed at the minor terminals as the devices are fully automated. The company has registered the locations of all the devices with the BC PAD AED registry so that in the event of a 9-1-1 call from a site with an AED, the dispatcher will be able to direct the caller to the location of the equipment.

“BC Ferries has been pleased to work with the Heart and Stroke Foundation over the past
year to implement an enhanced level of access to the devices for the public,” said Corrine Storey, BC Ferries’ Vice President of Customer Services.

“The safety of our customers and our employees is a top priority at BC Ferries and with 20 million people travelling throughout our system each year, this is another important way we are striving to become a world-class safety organization.” and CPR, the chance of survival from sudden cardiac arrest decreases by seven to 10 per cent for each minute that passes,” says Adrienne Bakker, CEO, Heart and Stroke Foundation, BC & Yukon. “It’s wonderful to see employers like BC Ferries take the initiative to ensure increased safety for their customers and employees by placing AEDs in their terminals.”

The major terminals (Tsawwassen, Swartz Bay, Horseshoe Bay, Departure Bay, Duke Point, and Langdale) as well as the vessels have had AEDs available for use by BC Ferries’ Occupational First Aid Attendants for a number of years. The AEDs for Denman Island East, Denman Island West and Hornby Island terminals will be installed later this year due to construction on the waiting rooms, which will bring the number of terminal locations up to 37. BC Ferries was not able to install the equipment at some minor terminals that do not have a secure waiting room.

Automated external defibrillators now available in the event of an emergency at the following terminal locations: Tsawwassen | Swartz Bay | Horseshoe Bay | Departure Bay | Duke Point | Langdale | Port Hardy | Prince Rupert | Skidegate | Bella Bella | Ocean Falls | Klemtu | Port McNeill | Sointula | Alert Bay | Campbell River | Quathiaski Cove, Quadra Island  | Heriot Bay, Quadra Island | Whaletown, Cortes Island  | Buckley Bay  | Litte River | Westview, Powell River | Blubber Bay, Texada Island | Saltery Bay, Powell River | Earls Cove | Nanaimo Harbour |  Descanso Bay, Gabriola Island |  Chemainus | Long Harbour, Salt Spring Island | Fulford Harbour, Salt Spring Island | Otter Bay, Pender Island | Village Bay, Mayne Island | Sturdies Bay, Galiano Island | Lyall Harbour, Saturna Island

Automated external defibrillators will be available in the event of an emergency at the following terminal locations later this year: Denman Island East | Denman Island West | Shingle Spit, Hornby Island.


Saturday, February 18 ~ WEST SHORE.  Last week the BC Liberals made a bit of a media splash with a Vancouver Island huddle to focus their island candidates on winning a few more seats on the island. It’s the first time they’ve had a platform focused on Vancouver Island, under the guidance of Don McRae, MLA (Comox Valley).

LangfordJdF-candidates-webThe BC NDP have for decades held Vancouver Island as a stronghold in BC politics. Juan de Fuca MLA John Horgan became their party leader in May 2014.

On this west side of the island there are two ridings gearing up for a robust race.

In the present Juan de Fuca riding (re-named and reboundaried as Langford-Juan de Fuca for the election and beyond) John Horgan is considered the frontrunner in his home riding. Meanwhile, brought in by the BC Liberals to give Horgan a race is entrepreneurial sport-enthusiast Cathy Noel. She announced her candidacy last fall and has been getting to know various aspects of the riding which includes Langford, Sooke and Juan de Fuca up to Port Renfrew.

EsquimaltMetchosin-candidates-webIn the present Esquimalt-Royal Roads riding current NDP MLA Maurine Karagianis is retiring from politics. The riding has been renamed and reboundaried as Esquimalt-Metchosin for the 2017 election and beyond. Running for the BC NDP in Esquimalt-Metchosin is long-time social services organizer Mitzi Dean. And as announced just this week, Esquimalt Mayor & CRD Chair Barb Desjardins is now running as the BC Liberal candidate in Esquimalt-Metchosin.

The Writ is scheduled to drop April 11 to officially start the election campaign period. The election is on Tuesday, May 9, with advance polls ahead of that.

The BC NDP is saying it’s time for change. Under the BC Liberals since 2001, the wealth gap has widened under near-relentless privatization. Families have struggled under the burden of increasing rates and fees including for hydro, ferries, and MSP.
The BC Liberals are saying they have strengthened the economy, and provided more job opportunities. They held back on adequate education funding until recently.


 

Thursday, February 9 ~ REGION. Due to the change in weather, there are multiple areas of flooding and pooling on highways in the South Island area. Drivers are advised to slow down and drive for the conditions of the road. There is the possibility of hydroplaning.

Trees and hydro lines are down in some areas. Road access will not be available for road clearing equipment until downed lines are cleared says Mainroad South Island Contracting.


Wednesday, February 8 ~ South Vancouver Island. Snow is forecasted to develop mid-afternoon today February 8, increasing this evening.

Snowfall over the Pacific Marine Route (including Sooke Road / Hwy 14 / West Coast Road), Lake Cowichan and the Malahat may be quite heavy, as well as featuring some freezing rain.

Mainroad South Island winter operations will be in effect on all highways. That includes additional personnel and equipment. The priority is highways, bus routes and school bus routes as well as main corridor roads. Side roads are done after that. Clearing access for police, fire and ambulance gets priority. Motorists are reminded to drive safely around highway maintenance vehicles.


MultiMaterialBC-depotsinCRD-Feb2017-webTuesday, February 7 ~ Greater Victoria area.   “Winter conditions on the Saanich Peninsula have made many roads icy and unsafe for recycling trucks to access safely,” says the Capital Regional District (CRD).

Blue box collection was cancelled in the Dean Park area of North Saanich yesterday. Recyclables will be picked up instead on Saturday, February 11 when CRD recycling contractor, Emterra Environmental, is planning to collect recyclables (weather permitting).

Residents whose collection was missed on Monday, February 6 but do not live in Dean Park, are advised to hold on to their recyclables until their next collection day or to drop items off at a depot listed here: https://www.crd.bc.ca/docs/default-source/recycling-waste-pdf/mmbcdepotsincapitalregion.pdf

For current updates on blue box service, please contact the CRD Information Line at 250.360.3030 or hotline@crd.bc.ca , or visit the CRD website at www.crd.bc.ca


Tuesday, February 7 ~ A relatively low number of BC Hydro customers –– 683 — are without power at this hour (11:45 am), with most of those in the Duncan and North Cowichan areas, as well as 71 in the Willis Point area near Brentwood Bay.

About five BC Hydro customers are without power in the 2800-block of Sooke River Road as of 11:16 am, with snow storm given as the cause. Crews have been assigned, no arrival time yet given.


Snow-on-Cars-webTuesday, February 7 ~ WEST SHORE of VANCOUVER ISLAND.  A few weather-related tips have been issued by Juan de Fuca Emergency Program Coordinator Jeri Grant:

“Make sure your vehicle is completely clear of ice or snow before starting the trip. Flying snow from cars causes accidents.

People really need to slow down when driving in this kind of weather/conditions and be mindful children are not at school and will be out playing in the snow, sometimes on the road.

The trees are weighed down with snow so be prepared for possible power outages, make sure your mobile phone and electronics are fully charged. If you see downed power lines stay back 10 m (30 feet) and call BC Hydro Call 1 800 BCHYDRO (1 800 224 9376) or *HYDRO (*49376) on your mobile.”


snowdayTuesday, February 7 ~ SOOKE. Schools in Sooke, Colwood, Langford and Metchosin are closed today in School District 62 (SD62) due to challenging road and sidewalk conditions.

Recent snowfall has piled up. “All Sooke schools closed due to ice & uncleared sidewalks,” was the official Tweet out from Sooke School District 62 (SD62) today.

Schools are also closed in Saanich (SD63) but are open in Victoria (SD61).


wsv-mpoweroutages-webMonday, February 6 ~ SOUTH VANCOUVER ISLAND ~ 5pm. POWER OUTAGE REPORT. While there has been a lot of snow falling steadily for about 24 hours (with the forecast indicating continued overnight snowfall), winds have been very light. Therefore, damage to power lines has been relatively minimal.  

Overall at this hour (approx 5 pm), 1,345 BC Hydro customers in the South Vancouver Island region are without power, mostly in the Duncan area.

In the Highlands/Saanich area a wire came down around 9:18 am this morning, leaving 205 customers without power all day. Crews are expected on site around 7pm.

In Metchosin, 19 customers have been without power since about 4:15 pm. Crews are expected to arrive around 5:30 pm.

BC Hydro says for all regions (right across BC): “Crews have made progress restoring remaining outages caused by the recent snow storm, including many smaller pocket areas. We’ve encountered widespread damage and access issues, but we’ll continue working into the evening to restore remaining outages tonight. Estimates will be provided as they become available so please check back for the latest updates. Please take caution as weather conditions remain poor. Thanks for your patience.”


Highway clearing is top priority for road crews. Photo: Feb 6 on WEst Coast Road, [ Copyright 2017 West Shore Voice News]

Highway clearing is top priority for road crews. Photo: Feb 6 on West Coast Road (Highway 14). Photo: Copyright 2017 West Shore Voice News

Monday, February 6 ~ SOUTH VANCOUVER ISLAND.  Snow that has been falling lightly but steadily since Sunday night, through today –with about 15 to 20 cm forecasted for overnight into Tuesday February 7 — sees Mainroad South Island doing operations on all highways.

The roads contractor announced this afternoon that regular winter crews are on shift 24/7 with additional personnel and equipment brought in as conditions warrant.

This 24/7 winter road crew status will continue “until the conditions change and highways are back to normal”, it was stated in a Mainroad news release.

Motorists and residents are reminded that during a snow event, winter operation services are provided on a priority basis. That means starting with highways, bus routes and school bus routes and main connector roads. The crews begin servicing side roads when the snowfall stops.

‘The public can be assured that in emergency situations where police, fire and ambulance are requiring assistance that our crews will assist them to reach their destination,” says Mainroad in their release.

During winter driving conditions everyone is reminded to drive safely, especially when approaching a highway maintenance vehicle.

“For visibility, It’s a good idea to keep your headlights fully on during the day in snow or rain, which also lights up the tail lights on your vehicle,” says Juan de Fuca Emergency Program coordinator Jeri Grant.

Highway conditions or issues can be reported to the 24-hour communications centre at 1-877-391-7310.

[Photo Copyright 2017 West Shore Voice News: westward view on West Coast Road on Monday, February 6]


082556_snowyforest-Feb0617-WestShoreVOICENews-webMonday, February 6 ~ WEST SIDE of VANCOUVER ISLAND.  Snow continues to fall today on south Vancouver Island (Greater Victoria area), though not nearly as heavily as what the BC mainland Metro Vancouver area is experiencing.

Our current issue of West Shore Voice News carries an editorial about how lucky we are to get “a bit of snow” each winter (as published on page 2, February 3, 2017 issue of West Shore Voice News):

“A little bit of snowfall on this lovely west side of the island this week, and people are rattled enough to change plans. Road safety is of course of the utmost importance, and if people’s driving skills or vehicles are not up to snuff for handling snowy, slippery roads then cancelling or changing travel plans is of course the responsible thing to do.

But it’s a reminder (perhaps an annual one) that we enjoy the blessing of mild weather virtually year-round. Unprepared as most of us are for snow or cold weather produces a chuckle (or chagrin) for most of the rest of Canada where sub-zero temperatures and months of weather-imposed inconvenience is the name of the game every winter.

This region is flocked to by many, but how many truly handle well the cost of it? South Vancouver Island is one of the costliest of Canadian regions. In the island cost-of -living (takes bucks to ship or fly things here) we pay dearly for the breathtaking views, the mostly non-interruptive weather, the long garden/crop growing season, the wonderful seaside air, the opportunity for outdoor recreation on a moment’s notice, and remoteness from the mainstream.

During a lengthy power outage in New Brunswick this past week several people died. Died right there in their homes, from the extended cold (well, mostly from the fumes of generators and gas BBQs that were being inadvisedly used for heating and cooking). If there were ever an extended power outage on this west side of this island in winter, well… it would be mighty uncomfortable, but if prepared, people could survive the temperatures for a week or more if properly sheltered and prepared with their emergency kits and stocked pantries.

Canada is a country of shared values of fairness, compassion, and oh yeah our worldwide reputation to be oh-so-polite. But regional economic disparities are becoming starkly clear — whether as seen in astronomical housing prices in the most sought-after cities (Toronto, Vancouver and Victoria), or evidence of failing infrastructure that challenges the basics of living (as seen in the NB outages). Stabilizing people’s economic well-being and building up community infrastructure hopefully remain as top priorities for leaders across Canada.”


 

1953-Hwy14-snowy-Dec0616-WestShoreVoice-webFriday, February 3 ~ 3:40 PM Pacific Time. Environment Canada has issued a snowfall warning for Greater Victoria. Total snowfall amounts of 15 to 25 cm are expected by Saturday morning.

“A low pressure centre is bringing heavy snow to the inner south coast tonight. 5 to 10 cm of snow has fallen since this morning. An additional 5 to 15 cm of snow is expected by early Saturday morning. The snow may become mixed with or change to rain at lower elevations especially near the Strait of Georgia tonight.”

“Be prepared to adjust your driving with changing road conditions. Surfaces such as highways, roads, walkways and parking lots may become difficult to navigate due to accumulating snow.”

Further Environment Canada alerts and forecasts are likely to be issued. To report severe weather, send an email to ec.tempetepacifique-pacificstorm.ec@canada.ca or tweet reports to #BCStorm.

[Photo by West Shore Voice News: Highway 14 after a light snow fall, December 2016]


BCFerry-fromBCFerriessiteFriday, February 3 ~ VICTORIA. BC Ferries has added sailings during peak travel times on the BC Family Day weekend. Heavy traffic is expected on some sailings between Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island.

The added sailings are on the Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay and the Departure Bay – Horseshoe Bay routes starting February 10. The extra sailings are:

Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay route:

  • Fri Feb 10 – 10:00 am, 2:00 pm and 6:00 pm depart Tsawwassen
  • Sat Feb 11 – 8:00 am and 12:00 pm depart Tsawwassen
  • Sun Feb 12 – 2:00 pm and 6:00 pm depart Tsawwassen
  • Mon Feb 13 – 10:00 am, 2:00 pm, 6:00 pm depart Tsawwassen
  • Fri Feb 10 – 12:00 pm and 4:00 pm depart Swartz Bay
  • Sat Feb 11 – 10:00 am and 2:00 pm depart Swartz Bay
  • Sun Feb 12 – 4:00 pm depart from Swartz Bay
  • Mon Feb 13 – 12:00 pm and 4:00 pm depart Swartz Bay

Departure Bay – Horseshoe Bay route:

  • Mon Feb 13– 7:00 p.m. depart Departure Bay
  • Mon Feb 13 – 9:00 p.m. depart Horseshoe Bay

As usual, travellers are advised to check the website for current conditions.

BC Ferries reminds customers travelling in vehicles with reservations to inform the ticket agent that they have a reservation when they arrive at the ticket booth. This self-identification helps expedite the check-in process.


Tuesday, January 31 ~ VANCOUVER ISLAND.  The Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) Board of Trustees held its Annual General Meeting on January 21. Officers and Executive Committee members were elected for 2017. The VIRL board — comprised of elected representatives from 28 member municipalities and 10 regional districts — administers a budget of over $20 million.

Barry Avis, VIRL Chair

Barry Avis, VIRL Chair

Barry Avis (Town of Qualicum Beach) was elected as Board Chair. A VIRL board member since 2015, Avis had also served on the Board and Executive in previous years. Elected as Vice-Chair, Brenda Leigh (Strathcona Regional District) has also served the Board in previous years on both the Executive and as Vice-Chair.

Brenda Leigh, VIRL Vice-Chair

Brenda Leigh, VIRL Vice-Chair

Nine members at large were elected to serve on the Board of Trustees Executive Committee (* = new to the board):

• Gordon Waterman (Village of Gold River)
• Bill Beldessi (North Coast Regional District)
• Howard Houle (Regional District of Nanaimo)
• Kerrie Reay (District of Sooke)
• Diane Brennan (City of Nanaimo)
• Jason Thompson* (Village of Masset)
• Steve Arnett (Town of Ladysmith)
• Ron Kerr (City of Campbell River)
• Tom Duncan (City of Duncan)

In addition to  executive member Jason Thompson (Village of Masset) being new to the board, newly appointed board members are: Hugh MacKinnon (Town of Comox), Frank Johnson (Central Coast Regional District), Rod Nichol (Comox Valley Regional District), Heidi Soltau (Regional District of Mount Waddington) and Fred Robertson (District of Port Hardy). More info: www.virl.bc.ca


Thursday, January 26 ~ Free Trade, Rural Canada and How to keep Canada from being Trumped ~ Op Ed submitted by Jan Slomp, President of the National Farmers Union. He farms near Courtenay, BC

NationalFarmersUnion-2015logoOver the decades since the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and later, NAFTA, was signed, Canadian agriculture has undergone a significant shift. There was once a multitude of diverse local and regional economic drivers, but now we have a “one size fits all” export-driven, low-priced commodity production model. Farm capital needs have sky-rocketed as illustrated by the massive $90 billion farm debt. Off-farm investors control more and more of Canada’s farmland. Production – per farm, per acre and per worker — continues to go up. And that production became increasingly export and transport dependent as NAFTA-driven deregulation accelerated consolidation and transnational ownership of handling and processing facilities. Farmer numbers are ominously declining, yet governments, and most farm commodity groups and agri-business corporations remain euphoric over each signed trade agreement and growing exports.

What is missing in this picture is a few very sobering facts.

The once mighty farmer cooperative handlers and processors have been dismantled and absorbed into a handful of transnational corporations. Eighty percent of Vancouver’s terminal capacity used to be owned and operated by prairie Pools. Now the private trade owns it all. With the Canadian Wheat Board gone there is no real economic participation by farmers beyond the farm gate, nor any referee to discipline the railroads. Prairie farmers, who once ran the majority of Canada’s grain industry, no longer have a direct connection to the customers and end-users that pay the real market value for their product.

Under NAFTA, Canada’s regulatory system facilitated North American integration of pork and beef slaughter, processing and marketing at the expense of regional and local processors, marketers and the jobs they provided. Despite trade agreements, Canadian exports are still disadvantaged due to transportation costs

Apart from supply management sectors and a brief spike after 2009, overall inflation-adjusted net farm income is dismal. Farm communities across Canada are suffering from chronic economic decline. This was camouflaged by off-farm manufacturing jobs in Central Canada and resource sector jobs in Western Canada, but those jobs are no longer easy to get. The decline of Canada’s rural economy is not often discussed, but four decades of loss — of elevators, rail service, machinery dealerships, manufacturing, processing, input suppliers, essential community services and retailing outlets — has steadily diminished the quality of rural life. Government cutbacks to agricultural research facilities, public plant breeding, the PFRA and government extension services have further aggravated prospects. The decline of rural Canada is stark and given little attention compared to the rural quality of life in other developed countries.

Canada’s growing dependence on food imports is another sobering fact. We can grow many of these products, but have lost our own market because trade agreements help integrated food companies operate across borders, depressing prices for producers while controlling the consumer price. Trade agreements also reward over-processing of foods by substituting basic ingredients with cheaper fats, vegetable oils, soy lecithin, corn starch, fructose and modified milk ingredients, hence North America’s infamous over-consumption of processed foods. If free trade facilitates efficiency, as claimed, why is the spread between prices at the farm gate and the grocery store constantly getting larger?

President Trump vilifies Mexico for the loss of US jobs, but fails to mention the American companies that flocked to the Mexican maquiladoras to take advantage of low labour and environmental standards. NAFTA allowed the US to flood Mexico with its heavily subsidized corn, pork, chicken, beef and dairy, destroying the livelihoods of millions of Mexican farmers. Many subsequently migrated (often illegally) to become super-exploited labour in American fields, factories and meat packing plants.

President Trump will likely find reasons to reject Canadian product coming across the border, so it is very important that Prime Minister Trudeau is prepared for the worst and applies the utmost diplomacy in dealing with the Trump administration.

It is important to understand that NAFTA was never the golden egg its promoters pretended it to be, and neither are the other free trade agreements signed since. NAFTA has caused a lot of damage to the Canadian rural economy and President Trump is likely going to add more trouble. The last thing rural Canada needs is more giveaways to the US in an attempt to persuade the Americans not to back out of the deal. It is time for our Prime Minister to stop trading away the livelihoods of Canadian farmers and to start repairing the damage these deals have done so our domestic and international markets can function in a way that will make farming profitable again.

The decline of the Canadian rural economy must be turned around. If Prime Minister Trudeau wants to prevent the election of a Trump-like Canadian leader in three years he will have to start fixing things in rural Canada. We need an agenda for agriculture that makes rural quality of life and viable family farms the priority.


Pacheedaht-mapTuesday, January 17 ~ PORT RENFREW. After three weeks, the identity of a man whose remains were found in a burned vehicle on Pacheedaht First Nation in Port Renfrew has been released. The deceased was Bruce Edward Carlson, age 49.

Sooke RCMP are calling the death suspicious but have not released details on suspects or whether the case is considered a homicide.

Carlson was a mechanic, carpenter and carver.  A memorial service and scattering of Carlson’s ashes is planned for January 28.

According to a report in the Times Colonist, in 2013 Carlson had been sentenced to 12 months in jail for an aggravated sexual assault that took place in Esquimalt. Carlson was ordered to produce his DNA and was on the national sex offender registry.

Carlson’s body had been found in the late morning on Tuesday, December 27, after a person called Sooke RCMP to report a burned grey 2004 Pontiac Grand Am with human remains inside.

Sooke RCMP, the Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit, the B.C. Coroners Service and a forensic identification team continue to investigate. Anyone with information is asked to call Sooke RCMP or anonymously through Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477)


islandhealth-LOGOSaturday, January 14 ~ VANCOUVER ISLAND.  Island Health is asking Island residents to do their part to ensure they are using Emergency Departments appropriately, particularly at this time of year when patient visits increase due to influenza and other seasonal illnesses.

“When people use our Emergency Departments wisely it goes a long way in helping dedicated emergency room physicians, nurses and clinical staff provide timely, quality care to patients who truly need emergency care,” said Jeremy Etherington, Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at Island Health.

“People are reminded that emergency rooms triage patients and those in need of emergency or urgent care are seen first, meaning potential longer waits for those with non-emergency or urgent needs, such as a prescription refill.”

While emergencies are unavoidable, some simple steps to avoid unnecessary trips to the hospital emergency room include:
• If you need non-urgent care, book an appointment with your family doctor or visit a walk-in clinic;
• Get a flu shot;
• Wash your hands frequently to avoid getting sick and spreading germs;
• See your doctor before the weekend and/or holidays, if necessary, to avoid long wait-times in the Emergency Department;
• Note the weekend and holiday hours of your local pharmacy/drug store, and ensure your prescriptions are up to date;
• Make sure you have basic pharmaceuticals on hand to control children’s fever and pain;
• Become familiar with walk-in clinic locations in your area, and their hours of operation;
• Wear a seatbelt when operating or riding in a motor vehicle;
• Don’t drink and drive; and
• Wear the right footwear to avoid falling or slipping.

Should you feel you or someone in your care is in need of emergency medical treatment do not hesitate to go to the Emergency Department or call 911. If you are unsure about whether Emergency Department care is needed, call HealthLink BC at 811 to speak to a nurse, 24 hours a day.


WearingMaskFLUFriday, January 13 ~ VANCOUVER ISLAND.  Island Health says there has been an increase in respiratory illness bringing people to hospital on Vancouver Island in recent weeks. “It’s too soon to tell if we have reached the peak of influenza/influenza-like activity,” says Kellie Hudson, Island Health Manager, Media Relations/Issues Management.

As of January 10, a total of 181 influenza patients had been diagnosed between September 1, 2016 and January 10, 2017 as were admitted to an Island Health acute care facility (180 influenza A and 1 influenza B). The influenza A strain this year is H3N2.  As of January 10, there were still 66 patients in hospital.

“We are aware of five people who have died with confirmed influenza in Island Health facilities,” says Hudson. “While they were diagnosed with influenza, it may not necessarily have been the cause of death.”

As a result of increased patient volumes, Island  Health has opened up some overflow areas. The seasonal spike in respiratory illness has also led to a number of surgical postponements last week and into this week as well. Last week, approximately 13 surgeries were postponed across the island due to bed availability, says Island Health. “Surgical postponements are always considered a last resort as we work together to manage the capacity at the site.”

People are asked to wash their hands frequently, sneeze/cough into their sleeve, stay home if ill, and wear a mask if you must be out in public when you have a cold or flu.

Island Health facilities continue to have capacity to respond to critical and emergency cases. No one is turned away, but depending on urgency there may be a longer wait.


oystersFriday, January 13 ~ VANCOUVER. The BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) is warning the public following a spike in acute gastrointestinal illness associated with the consumption of oysters.

Since early December 2016, over 70 cases of oyster-related illness have been reported to BC health authorities. Illnesses have been reported to Island Health, Vancouver Coastal Health, Fraser Health and First Nations Health Authority. The outbreak is ongoing and more cases are expected.

People who have been ill have reported eating raw oysters or lightly-cooked oysters in restaurants or prepared at home.

“Testing in several of the cases confirmed the presence of norovirus, and we suspect norovirus in the others,” said Dr. Eleni Galanis, epidemiologist at the BCCDC. “In order to kill norovirus and other bugs, people need to cook oysters thoroughly, to an internal temperature of 90 degrees Celsius for 90 seconds.”

Dr. Galanis says oysters can make people sick at any time during the year. While raw oyster consumption during the summer months is linked to an increased risk of illness from “Vibrio” (Vibrio parahaemolyticus), other microorganisms like norovirus can be present all year, The investigation is ongoing.

Anyone becoming ill with diarrhea and vomiting after eating shellfish should call BC HealthLink at 811. If symptoms are severe or persist, they should see their physician.

About Norovirus: www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/norovirus-norwalk-like-virus | Safe consumption of fish and shellfish: www.bccdc.ca/health-info/food-your-health/fish-shellfish


brokenwatermainFriday, January 6 ~ SAANICH/VICTORIA. Highway Maintenance Advisory at 7pm this evening. 

Mainroad South Island Contracting is working with the District of Saanich to locate and repair a broken water line in the 5200-block of the Pat Bay Hwy (Hwy 17). That’s south of Saanich, opposite Elk Lake. Hwy 17 enables traffic to/from the peninsula (including airport and ferry terminal).

Fast lane closures will be in effect both North and South bound on Hwy 17 while scheduled maintenancee (6am to 3pm) is undertaken on Saturday, January 7.

“We encourage motorists and residents and the travelling public to avoid the area,” says Mainroad South Island general manager Rick Gill. The Mainroad 24 hr Hotline is 1.877.391.7310. Observations and concerns will be passed along to road crews.


Commons area at Royal Bay Secondary in Colwood.

Commons area at SD62’s Royal Bay Secondary in Colwood. Photo Copyright West Shore Voice News.

Thursday, January 5 ~ BC.  School Districts in British Columbia are in total receiving $50 million to hire more teachers for the remainder of the 2016-2017 school year.

BC Minister of Education Mike Bernier made the announcement today, explaining that it’s up to each school district in discussions with local BC Teachers Federation (BCTF) representatives, to determine what sorts of teacher or staff support hiring will be done with the additional 2016-2017 funds. Province-wide, the $50 million will allow for the hiring of about 1,100 teachers, said Bernier.

Bernier says that the $50 million announced today comes on top of the $5.1 billion already invested in public education in BC. The $50 million is a portion of what will finally be determined in negotiations between the BC Government and BCTF.

Most school districts already know where the needs are, so the additional funds are likely welcome.  The funds will be included in the 2017 provincial budget (coming in February), and so will carry forward into hiring considerations for school boards in 2017-2018.

The funds issued at this time are in response to the Supreme Court of Canada decision that reversed a decision made by the BC Government in 2002 that effectively cut back on teachers and funds available for schools to operate over the past 15 years. Since 2002 the continued cutbacks have impacted not only the teachers but the entire delivery of education in BC, as school boards were obliged to find all available funding (including teacher salaries) from per-pupil funding ratio revenues and other miscellaneous revenue sources.

In Sooke School District 62 (SD62) — which serves families and students in Langford, Colwood, Sooke, Highlands, Metchosin, Juan de Fuca and Port Renfrew — about 14 teachers (full time equivalents) will likely be hired pending discussions with the Sooke Teachers Association on January 6, says SD62 Superintendent Jim Cambridge.

Cambridge says that in SD62 the additional funds will probably be used to hire additional secondary school teachers, as well as additional special needs support for the elementary schools. He identified those as top priorities. He also mentioned the options of hiring educational assistants (EAs), additional half-time teachers for full classrooms, teacher-librarians and counsellors.



bchydro-outagemap-langford-jan0317Tuesday, January 3. It’s been windy the past few days on south Vancouver Island, with temperatures at or below zero today.
Winds picked up again this evening.

For BC Hydro customers in the utility’s south Vancouver Island region, the impact of weather on power lines presently (9:44 pm) sees 6,590 customers (about 19,000 people) without power. Several of those outages happened in the last one to three hours.

In a section of Colwood/Langford (see map) 1,297 customers have been without power since 8:30 pm.

In Duncan, 493 customers are without power, and the customer outage tally in Central Saanich at this hour is 187 in Central Saanich and the Highlands. The remaining 4,513 affected customers are various of the gulf islands.

Check for updates at www.bchydro.com


wsv-mpoweroutages-webSunday, January 1, 2017 ~ South VANCOUVER ISLAND.  About 1,988 BC Hydro customers in the south Vancouver Island area were without power this afternoon. And while some customers saw power restored, others lost power: still 1,502 had no power as of 11 pm this evening.

There was some light snowfall last night, with trees down on wires in some cases. Temperatures have been hovering around zero since last night. Wind speed picked up mid-evening.

AFTERNOON (2pm): Although the weather is calm and skies are bright, around 1:15 pm 673 customers lost power west of Otter Point Road in the Sooke area; also in the Sooke area about 135 customers lost power around Belvista Place. In the Highlands/Langford area 674 customers are without power west of Millstream Road. Power is also out for some customers on Ganges and in Duncan.

EVENING (11pm): At 11 pm tonight there were still 1,502 BC Hydro billing customers without power (that’s about 4,500 people). That includes 115 in Metchosin, a few in Langford, 828 in the West Coast Road area west of Sooke, 107
in the Blythwood/Woodlands area east of Sooke, 384 in the Lochside Drive area of Saanich, and a few on Galiano Island.

Updates: www.bchydro.com


 

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