trudeau-xmasmessagetv-screenshot-dec2016-webSaturday, December 31, 2016 ~ NATIONAL. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has issued a New Year message to Canadians.

“Happy New Year, everyone. Tonight is 150 years in the making, and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ring in the New Year together. From coast to coast to coast, spectacular events are planned to usher in Canada’s 150th birthday.

Before we leave 2016 behind, I want to thank you. Over the last year, we have accomplished a great deal together to strengthen the middle class and those working hard to join it.

We cut taxes on middle-class Canadians, and put more money in the pockets of nine out of ten families through a new, more generous Canada Child Benefit; we also signed one of the most progressive free trade deals in history that will benefit Canadians across the country.

As we mark Canada 150 over the next year, we will honour the generations of Canadians who have come together to create opportunities for one another. We will celebrate the courage and vision of those who came before us, and the hard work and ambition of Canadians – like you – who have made Canada the success story that it is today.

For my part as Prime Minister, I will always stand against the politics of fear and division, and focus on what brings us together – that is my New Year’s resolution to you.

In 2017, and beyond, our government will take further steps to help the middle class and those working hard to join it. And, together, I know we will continue to build the diverse and prosperous country that we are all so proud to call home. Canada, let’s make this year our year.

On behalf of our family, Sophie and I wish you a wonderful night and all the best in 2017.”

BC Premier Christy Clark at Sept 24th Official Welcome of the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge ~ Photo Copyright 2016: West Shore Voice News

BC Premier Christy Clark at Sept 24, 2016 Official Welcome of the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge ~ Photo Copyright 2016: West Shore Voice News

Saturday, December 31, 2016. BC Premier Christy Clark has issued a New Year’s statement, on the eve of Canada’s 150th birthday.

“New Year’s celebrations give us a chance to spend time with our families, reflect back on the year that was, and prepare for the opportunities ahead.

“In many ways, 2016 was the year the country and the world took notice of what hard-working British Columbians are achieving by sticking to our plan. Together, we have built a solid foundation with Canada’s leading economy, the best job-creation record and lowest unemployment in the country.

“This means we are able to invest more in the future, and take care of those among us who need it most. That includes the largest single-year investment in affordable housing in Canada and strong steps to keep the dream of home ownership within the reach of the middle class with our new BC HOME Partnership Program.

“More than a decade of hard work has resulted in the landmark Great Bear Rainforest Agreement, recognized this year by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth as part of the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy.

“In the year ahead, we resolve to keep working every day to put British Columbians first, and to make sure BC is in a strong position to overcome any challenges and make the most of our opportunities.

“I want to wish all British Columbians a safe New Year’s celebration and all the best for a happy, healthy and prosperous 2017.”

leapsecond-clockFriday, December 30 ~ WORLD. Time fix: At 11:59 pm & 59 seconds UT (3:59 pm PDT) December 31 the next second will be 11:59:60.

The New Year 2017 won’t start for another second. That’s to help take care of the ‘braking’ action of ocean tides, which decelerate the Earth in its orbit by two milliseconds per day per century. That’s according to the Naval Observatory.

About 50 years ago, scientists around the world agreed to stop basing time on astronomy. They instead defined the ‘second’ (the building block of time) on the cesium atom.

Since the world slows by about 2 milliseconds a day, a leap second needs to be added about every 500 days. Civil time must be adjusted so that the world’s atomic clocks do not vary from the Earth’s rotational time by more than 0.9 seconds, according to the observatory.

On the news commentary/comedy show Last week Tonight with John Oliver, this week he invited people to visit www.JohnOliversecstapes.com on New Year’s weekend where people can “waste that time with randomly selected, single-second videos” that are sure to give you a laugh.

topbabynamesbc-2015Friday, December 30 ~ BC.  For the first time, Oliver is the top name for boys born in BC according to the Vital Statistics Agency.

For the past five years (2011 to 2015), Emma and Olivia have been the top two names for girls born in BC. Rounding out the top five names for girls born in the province in 2015 were Emily, Sophia and Ava. For baby boys born in 2015, the remaining top five names include Ethan, Liam, Benjamin and Lucas.

The top names list is traditionally based on the exact spelling of names. However, when looking at different spellings of the same name, there are some new additions. For girls, the top five names are Emma, Olivia, Sophia/Sofia,
Emily/Emilee/Emilie and Amelia/Emelia/Emilia. For boys, the top five names are Jackson/Jaxon/Jaxson, Lucas/Lukas,
Oliver, Ethan and Liam. Only names whose frequency occurs five or more times are listed.

There were 44,405 babies born in BC in 2015: 22,819 boys (51.4% of births in 2015) and 21,586 girls (48.6% of births in 2015).

Preliminary statistics for this year (January 1, 2016 to December 12, 2016) show that the top name for boys is Lucas and the top name for girls is Olivia. Final statistics will be available later in 2017.

More information on baby names: www.vs.gov.bc.ca/babynames/baby2015.html | Information regarding the first birth of 2017 in BC will be shared on the government Twitter account @BCGovNews at 8 am on Sunday, January 1.

fireworks-victoriaharbourThursday, December 29 ~ VICTORIA. Spirit of 150 Victoria – First Night will be held at the Inner Harbour in Victoria on Saturday from 5 pm to 9:30 pm, with the main stage at Government and Belleville Streets.

The event marks the beginning of celebrations for Canada’s 150th birthday and the Victoria party will be one of 19 across the country. Sponsors and federal grants help cover the costs. About 20,000 to 30,000 people are expected to attend in Victoria.

The outdoor evening event will include signing, dancing, a harbour ferry ballet, artwork projected onto building surfaces, a concert by Vancouver band Dear Rouge, and the fireworks show that is scheduled to start at 9pm.

The Weather Network’s forecast for Victoria for that evening is presently a temperature of minus-1°C with a 20% chance of rain, and winds around 45 km/h.

The other 18 fireworks and festival events on New Year’s Eve December 31, 2016 will be held in Vancouver (two fireworks displays over the Burrard Inlet – the first being at 9 pm, and the second at midnight), Whitehorse, Calgary, Edmonton, Yellowknife, Regina, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Iqaluit, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Frederiction, Moncton, Charllottetown, Halifax and St John’s.

quakedec2915-injan0116wsv-webWednesday, December 28 ~ BC.  It’s coming up to one year that the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands experienced an earthquake — it came at 11:39 pm on December 29, 2016.

The 4.7 Magnitude quake occurred 8 km ESE of Sidney (17 km NNE of Victoria). As quakes go, it was deep — between 53 and 59 km below the surface. No tsunami warning was issued.

The quake was felt as far east as the Fraser Valley in the BC interior and as far south as Washington State. Shaking in the Sooke area lasted for about 10 seconds. No damage was reported and “none would be expected” said seismic officials.

To mark the one-year anniversary of that event which was a preparedness wakeup call for many, some earthquake preparedness information and tips have been released by Naomi Yamamoto, Minister of State for Emergency Preparedness.

See longer article with links to emergency preparedness websites,on our VANCOUVER ISLAND page.

Wednesday, December 28 ~ SOUTH VANCOUVER ISLAND. Mainroad South Island Contracting advises motorists to drive with caution today as many locations are encountering black ice. They suggest allowing extra time for travel and to use caution.

Mainroad says that crews have been actively treating these areas around the clock to minimize any problems.

gdp-up-graphicTuesday, December 27 ~ BC.  The BC Government said in a release today that the BC is “on track to remain one of Canada’s strongest economies in 2017 as most private sector economists, banks and economic think-tanks are forecasting the province will continue to record real GDP growth that ranks among the best in Canada”.

Statistics Canada reported that BC’s real GDP grew by 3.3% in 2015, the highest rate of economic growth in Canada and a full 2.4 percentage points above the national average.

The Province’s independent Economic Forecast Council predicted on November 25, 2016 that BC’s economy will outperform Canada; on average, they forecast real GDP growth at 3.0% in 2016 and 2.3% in 2017.

BC’s nation-leading GDP growth can be credited to its strong growth in retail sales, exports (especially to the United States) housing starts, and Canada-leading employment growth.

For 2016, projections for the province’s economic growth range between 2.9% (Scotiabank) to 3.4% (Conference Board of Canada), well above the Canadian real GDP growth rate of between 1.2% (Scotiabank) and 1.4% (TD Economics).

Next year, BC’s real GDP is anticipated to show moderate growth, increasing between 1.7% (RBC Economics) and 2.5% (BMO). While BC’s growth will be tempered compared with the past two years, most economists and banks are forecasting it will be higher than Canada as whole, which is expected to grow from a low of 1.8% (RBC Economics) to a high of 2.1% (Conference Board of Canada) in 2017.

Looking to 2017 and beyond, TD Economics states that British Columbia’s above-average GDP growth will be spurred by consumer spending and that, “federal-provincial government stimulus (that) will add to growth over the next two years – especially in BC where the government will likely redeploy surpluses in new tax cuts and spending increases.”

The Province says it remains focused on keeping BC diverse, strong and growing. Uncertainty persists in the global economy, which is why BC will continue to create an environment that is welcoming to investment and business so this economic growth continues into the New Year.

BC Premier Christy Clark at SEpt 24 2016 Official Welcome of the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge ~ Photo Copyright 2016: West Shore Voice News

BC Premier Christy Clark at Sept 24th Official Welcome of the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge ~ Photo Copyright 2016: West Shore Voice News

Saturday, December 24 ~ BC. BC Premier Christy Clark issued the following statement on Christmas:

“This Christmas, in communities throughout British Columbia, homes will be filled with warmth, love, and the spirit of giving.

For many of us, Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, the only Son of God. For all of us, the holiday season is a chance to spend time with the people we love.

However you choose to celebrate the season, we can best honour the spirit of Christmas by remembering the less fortunate – our neighbours who struggle to make ends meet, or put a roof over their children’s heads. If you have the time or money to lend a helping hand, you can make a tremendous difference in someone’s life.

From my family to yours, I wish all British Columbians a Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and a very happy 2017.”

trudeau-xmasd2016-ottawaSaturday, December 24 ~ NATIONAL. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today issued the following statement to mark Christmas:

“Merry Christmas, Canada! The holiday season is truly my favourite time of the year. As we come together with loved ones, let us reflect on how fortunate we are to call this beautiful country home.

Living in Canada comes with a responsibility to be there for each other – and not just during this time of year, but each and every day. After all, Canadians helping others – no matter the distance that separates them – is what this country is all about.

When tragedy struck Fort McMurray, and thousands of Canadians were forced to leave their homes, thousands more came together to make sure evacuated families had a place to stay, clothes to wear, and food to eat.

Today, as Canadians continue to welcome Syrian refugees, we open our hearts and homes to those most in need. Together, we demonstrate that better is always possible and that, in difficult times, we are at our very best.

So, during this season of hope, let us reach out to those who are hurting most. Let us give back in whatever way we can, and make sure this holiday season is a happy time for everyone. There is no holiday tradition more timeless than that.

I also ask you take a moment to remember the brave women and men of the Canadian Armed Forces – and their families – who make incredible sacrifices to protect our country.

As we look to the new year, and get ready to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, I know our best days are yet to come.

From Ella-Grace, Hadrien, Xavier, Sophie and me, to your family: Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and all the best in 2017.”

In his televised version of this address, Trudeau also asked people to remember parents who have a difficult time “putting presents under the tree” and reinforced his political message about improving the tax setup to support middle class families in Canada.

ferry-christmas-hollyFriday, December 23 ~ BC. BC Ferries sent cheques of $1,000 each to three worthy recipients this holiday season.

The funds were raised at their annual BC Ferries employee golf tournament, held this year in September. The tournament raised $3,000 this year, with those funds divided equally between the Denman Island Community School, Hornby Island Food Bank, and the Prince Rupert Salvation Army Food Bank.

In previous years, the tournament raised funds for food banks on the Sunshine Coast, Haida Gwaii, Salt Spring, Gabriola and Quadra Islands, as well as in Powell River, Chemanius and the Cowican Valley – all of which assist communities of BC Ferries customers, said BC Ferries in a news release this week.

Friday, December 23 ~ BC.   Skills training as funded by a Federal-provincial partnership was announced today, both urban and rural.

URBAN: Today, the Honourable MaryAnn Mihychuk, federal Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, and Shirley Bond, B. Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour, announced that nearly $10 million has been allocated to 27 post-secondary institutions and service providers to deliver various skills training projects in BC urban areas with populations of more than 25,000.

The funded projects will prepare participants for a wide range of careers in the technology, health care, construction, natural resources, manufacturing, transportation and tourism sectors. The projects are delivered in partnership with different local employers and community organizations. Training dates vary and all programs will be completed by June 2017.

These training projects are part of an investment of more than $12 million for 49 training projects benefiting approximately 2,000 British Columbians, thanks to funding provided through the Canada-BC Job Fund Agreement under the Employer-Sponsored Training stream.

The skills training projects support BC’s regional labour-market demands and provide opportunities to youth, women, Aboriginal people, immigrants and other eligible participants to receive training, as well as industry-recognized certificates or credentials.

Through the Canada Job Fund, the Government of Canada provides $500 million annually to the provinces and territories for investments in skills training. Under the Canada-BC Job Fund Agreement, the Province receives a total of $65 million per year – its per capita share of the available funding.

The Canada-BC Job Fund helps ensure training programs give individuals the skills to enter and succeed in the job market. The Employer-Sponsored Training stream provides funding for project-based, time-limited, employer-driven training that leads to a job at the end of training. This includes targeted projects delivered by Aboriginal service providers, post-secondary institutions, industry associations, community groups, and private trainers that meet regional labour market needs. Employers also provide either financial or in-kind contributions to support the training.

British Columbia is expecting almost one million job openings by 2025. Two-thirds of those will be from retirements and one-third from economic growth. Almost 80% of job openings in BC will require post-secondary education, the BC Government said in a news release today. The BC government invests more than $7.8 billion each year in education and training. Through BC’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint, $3 billion in training investments will be redirected to in-demand jobs over the next 10 years.

RURAL: As well, up to 299 British Columbians from rural communities will receive the training they need for local jobs, thanks to the federal-provincial partnership under the Canada-BC Job Fund Agreement.

Today, the Honourable MaryAnn Mihychuk, federal Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, and Donna Barnett, B.C. Minister of State for Rural Economic Development, Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, announced that more than $2 million has been allocated to nine post-secondary institutions and service providers to deliver various skills training programs to communities with populations of 25,000 or less.

Links: Canada Job Fund |  British Columbia’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint  | BC Labour Market Outlook 2025

2076-protesttankers-dec2116-westshorevoice-webWednesday, December 21 ~ SOOKE. In the wake of the federal Liberal approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, the not unexpected protests to protect the waters of the west coast have begun.

Tonight using the occasion of the winter solstice (from out of the dark comes the light), the Dogwood Initiative organization pulled together a strong crowd for an outdoor protest in the cold this evening.

Gathering at the roadside were over 70 people of all ages, steadfast in their commitment to making sure there is no increase in tanker traffic off the shores of Vancouver Island.

Several commuters in their vehicles on their way home from work honked in support of the roadside protesters who positioned themselves along Highway 14 (Sooke Road) in front of Edward Milne Community School (EMCS) at dusk.

2110-protestcrowd-fromacrossthestreet-dec2116-webBefore the roadside sign-waving, the group heard speeches of varying lengths and intensity from local activists including Diane Bernard, Mark Ziegler and Ralph Hull.

  • Diane Bernard, who operates a company dependent on seaweed from the ocean, said to the crowd: “I expect to have him (Prime Minister Trudeau) change his mind. The battle is not over.” She feels that Justin Trudeau “as a young west coaster” has let down the people of BC.  She lauded Sooke Mayor Maja Tait for taking the protest against increased tanker traffic to the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) to bring province-wide attention to the issue.
  • 2073-frederique-protest-dec2116-westshorevoice-webMark Ziegler, who used to work in Ottawa as an economist, said in a short speech: “I don’t think it’s fair that our coast is a bargaining chip,” saying that Trudeau has chosen Alberta over BC — oil economy over environment.
  • Ralph Hull, a fisherman and boat captain — who long ago was instrumental in helping generate a 30-year-moratorium on tanker traffic off the BC west coast (working with then Fisheries & Oceans Minister David Anderson) — inspired the crowd to keep on fighting.
  • Another speaker, one of the Dogwood organizers, said: “It’s the beginning. It’s going to be a long process. Watch this space there will be more.”

2063-girl-protest-dec2116-westshorevoice-webPeople held candles in the dark and a song sheet was distributed for people to sing along to inspirational songs before ‘hitting the road’ to stand in the cold along the highway.

Singing along to live guitar, some in the group sang along to “Take Back This Land” lyrics by Bill Henderson. On the flip side of the sheet, the lyrics to the perennial Beatles tune Here Comes the Sun (lyrics by George Harrison).

Other community leaders among the crowd: Jeff Bateman, Jo Phillips, John Boquist, Frederique Philip, Sinclair Philip, Heather Phillips, Rosemary Jorna, Dana LeComte, Gord Fulcher, Lis Johansen, Deb Wood, and Nicky Logins. Several youth from the local high school had made signs and took part in the event.

Signage included messages like: Climate Change, No Pipeline, No More Tankers; Think outside the oil barrel; Who will speak for us; Because our coastline supports many lives; Taking Back our Ocean; Justin: Water and life, please protect it; Keep it in the ground; we vote no.

crd-sookereservoirlevels2016-todec1816-westshorevoice-webWednesday, December 21 ~ GREATER VICTORIA AREA. In a season when there’s plenty of rainfall (or snow), water supply is not necessarily top of mind for residents of the Greater Victoria area. But keeping an eye on the pattern of reservoir level refill is important.

The Sooke Lake Reservoir is used by the Capital Regional District (CRD) to supply water to most of the Greater Victoria area, serving over 350,000 residents. The reservoir normally refills nicely each year, though dry summers in 2015 & 2016 have presented more dramatic drops. More water is used by residents and farmers to keep landscaping and crops sufficiently hydrated in hot weather. As well, dry soils and forested areas in the CRD watershed area that feeds the reservoir soak up needed moisture, reducing runoff into the reservoir.

The reservoir does refill each fall and winter and remains full through to spring. The full pool level of Sooke Lake Reservoir is 186.75m.

Sooke Lake Reservoir and the top of the Dam’s spillway. ~ CRD photo Dec 12, 2016

Sooke Lake Reservoir and the top of the Dam’s spillway. ~ CRD photo Dec 12, 2016

In 2015, refill to 100% was achieved by December 20. In 2016, the reservoir was last full to 100% capacity at April 3, dropping to its lowest point this year on October 9 — showing 64.6% of capacity in the CRD’s water watch reports.  At last check (December 18) the reservoir was back up to 96.5% of capacity.

Last weekend’s water main burst that saw a significant amount of water gushing onto Highway 1 for several hours (see page 1 in December 16, 2016 West Shore Voice News) would have taken a bite out of the expected refill pattern for year-end 2016.  Full restoration of the Sooke Lake Reservoir level to 100% is likely by year-end 2016.

The average 5-year (2011-2015) daily demand for December is 96.8 million litres per day (MLD). For December 2016 so far, the demand shows as 98.7 MLD, with a one-day maximum this month showing as 107.9 MLD.

The reservoir was last expanded in 2004. CRD maintains an ongoing target of deferring expansion of the water supply system for 50 years or to around 2067 before expansion of the reservoir is required.

In 2012, CRD articulated a number of challenges are facing the Water Supply System then and for coming decades:
• Climate change
• Reliance on an unfiltered water supply
• Reliance on Sooke Reservoir
• Lack of redundancies in the transmission system
• Monitoring trends in water use
• Managing outdoor water use
• Level of service policy for wholesale water customers
• Factors affecting the price of water
• Workforce demographics
• Increasing residential development adjacent to the Water Supply Area
• Legacy of past human activities in the Water Supply Area
• Potential establishment of undesirable species in the Water Supply Area

Santa and Elf, Gizelle flanked by (L-R): Paramedic George Madden, Helijet Capt. Bob Neve, Helijet Capt. Kim Carswell, Paramedic Darrel Hunsbedt. Photo as posted on Helijet.com

Santa and Elf, Gizelle flanked by (L-R): Paramedic George Madden, Helijet Capt. Bob Neve, Helijet Capt. Kim Carswell, Paramedic Darrel Hunsbedt. Photo as posted on Helijet.com

Tuesday, December 20 ~ VICTORIA. Thanks to the ‘magic’ of helicopter travel by Helijet, Santa was able to make some quick trips to visit children at Victoria General Hospital and Nanaimo Regional General Hospital this morning, with air support from BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS).

Each stop of the pre-Christmas Toy Run was for 45 minutes so Santa had time to meet with children at the hospitals. the event is coordinated and supported by Island Health.

The trip then carried on to Vancouver, New Westminster, and Surrey. Santa and one of his elves, Giselle Manese, flew between each stop in an air ambulance helicopter, with the help of BCEHS Infant Transport Team parademic George Madden and his partner.

“We’re thrilled to once again assist Santa on his air ambulance toy run to visit children in hospitals this holiday season,” said Helijet President and CEO Danny Sitnam. “Throughout the year our dedicated Helijet staff works closely with BCEHS paramedics to provide 24/7 helicopter service for hundreds of critically-ill patients across BC. Many of our patients are children, so all of us at Helijet are happy to help make this Christmas season special for these courageous kids and their families.”

For paramedics and flight crews, who often meet patients and their families during medical emergencies, the annual toy run is a special opportunity to interact with children and their families in a much happier environment.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did a live interview online with the Vancouver Sun.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did a live interview online with the Vancouver Sun.

December 20, 2016 ~ BC. 2:15 pm.  Prime Minister Justin Trudeau just wrapped up a good long chat (about 45 minutes) with the Vancouver Sun editorial board, fielding a number of questions on expected topics.

While Trudeau gave his answers on the issues of pipelines/environment, immigration, federal health care funding, marijuana legalization, the fentanyl crisis, and more, the Facebook interface allowed for ‘Likes’, ‘Loves’, ‘Wow’, and Angry/Sad emoticons to be posted in real time over the live stream.

Public comments ranged from support to rage — with some of them insulting on a personal level (ah, the agony of social media!), all of them publicly posted in real time.

Trudeau did not back down on his position to approve the Trans Mountain pipeline for which BC would take the most environmental risk. He said he expects public protest on the environmental front but that he supports the public process of engagement on all sides of an issue.

Trudeau fielded challenges about the cost of welcoming large numbers of immigrants to Canada, by defending the policy including a note that immigration becomes even more important as the population of Canada ages. He noted that some immigrants will bring skills that are helpful and useful to the Canadian economy.

At its peak, the live stream of this public interface reached over 3,300 viewers.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau toured a tugboat in the Burrard Inlet and took a brief ride in English Bay Photo by CTV News.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau toured a tugboat in the Burrard Inlet and took a brief ride in English Bay. Photo by CTV News.

Tuesday, December 20 ~ VANCOUVER.  Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced that the second of two emergency towing vessels promised in the Oceans Protection Plan will operate on Canada’s West Coast. He made the announcement during a short tour in a tugboat in the Burrard Inlet with a brief ride in English Bay.

The vessels will help the Canadian Coast Guard tow large commercial ships – including tankers – that are in distress and that pose a hazard to safe navigation, the marine environment, public health and local economies.

This is one of many measures included in the $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan that the Government of Canada announced in November 2016 which will make Canada a world-leader in marine safety. The plan is also an important step towards the co-management of our coasts with Indigenous and coastal communities in order to keep them healthy, clean, and safe for generations to come.

“In November, the Government of Canada announced a new Oceans Protection Plan that will help make Canada a world-leader in marine safety and keep our coasts healthy, clean and safe,” said Trudeau in a news statement. “Part of that plan is to lease two new emergency towing vessels to help ensure that the Coast Guard has sufficient towing capacity to help commercial ships in distress. Both of these vessels will operate on Canada’s West Coast and help to keep large disabled vessels off BC’s pristine coasts. ”

The Oceans Protection Plan will include over $1.5 billion in funding over five years, starting in 2017-2018. Under the Oceans Protection Plan two new vessels will be leased with the ability to tow large commercial ships, including tankers. The vessels will be operated by the Canadian Coast Guard on Canada’s West Coast. In addition, towing capacity will be added to major Canadian Coast Guard vessels on the East and West coasts.

Marine trade employs approximately 250,000 Canadians and injects more than $25 billion to Canada’s economy.

The federal government says new research into the impacts of increased shipping on marine ecosystems will be funded. “The Government of Canada will work with provincial and Indigenous partners to develop a plan for the best location and most effective use of these new vessels and resources.”

Other “notable measures” the federal government has and will take include the reopening the Kitsilano Coast Guard base, the forming of new Indigenous Community Response Teams in British Columbia, strengthening the Polluter-Pays Principle, and the building of four new lifeboat stations in BC.

BCFerry-fromBCFerriessiteTuesday, December 20 ~ BC. BC Ferries plans to ban smoking on all of its vessels and to not allow passengers to remain in vehicles on lower fully enclosed decks while vessel sailings are underway. 

BC spokesperson Deborah Marshall says:  “With regards to car decks, we are working to fully implement Transport Canada regulations limiting passenger access to closed car decks while ships are underway.” Closed decks are the lower vehicle decks on the larger ferries. Transport trucks and buses are parked on the lower deck; cars are also parked there when the upper deck becomes full. Customers will continue to be permitted to stay in vehicles on the upper (open) car decks.

“We will be fully implementing Transport Canada regulations to limit passenger access to closed vehicle decks while ships are underway. “Closed” decks are the main car decks. Customers will continue to be permitted to stay in vehicles on the upper (opened) car decks.”

With regards to smoking: “We are currently reviewing our policy with an aim to offer a smoke free environment in the future. The Province recently changed regulations regarding smoke free zones to from 3 to 6 metres away from a door or opening window. This proves challenging ‎on a ship.”

A formal announcement on these two new BC Ferries developments is expected in early January.

Copyright 2016 West Shore Voice News

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the Official Welcome of the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge, Sept 24, 2016

Tuesday, December 20 ~ BC. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be doing a whirlwind media tour in Vancouver today. But not before touring a towing-capable vessel at 10:30 am with Canadian Coast Guard representatives.

At 1 pm (Pacific Time) Trudeau will be interviewed live by an editorial board of the Vancouver Sun, which will be streamed on Facebook live.

Then at 2:15 pm Trudeau will do a live radio interview with News Talk 980 CKNW followed by a live news interview at 3:05 pm on News 1130.

This close to Christmas, Trudeau may also be spending time with those of his extended family who live in BC.

Photo Copyright 2016 West Shore Voice News: Trudeau at the official welcome ceremony for the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge in Victoria at the BC Legislature September 24, 2016


Sunday, December 18 ~ SOOKE. Not unexpectedly, it hasn’t taken long for an environmentalist activist movement to rise up following the announcement of pipeline approvals by the federal Liberals. 

dogwoodinitiativelogoA local organizing group called Dogwood Initiative is inviting Sooke residents to gather on Wednesday, December 21 “to support and protect the west coast’s still unspoilt ocean, intertidal zones and beach fronts”.

The Sooke team of Dogwood has organized the “Protect Our Coast: Gathering of the Light Celebration”. It will be held outside the local high school: Edward Milne Community School, 6218 Sooke Rd, starting 4 pm. “Bring a light (candle or flashlight), a sign (optional) and your resilient spirit.”

“Having voted strongly against increased tanker traffic in the District of Sooke’s 2014 plebiscite, local citizens can serve notice to both Kinder Morgan and the federal and provincial governments that Sooke remains steadfast in its opposition to the expansion of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline (TMX),” says a Dogwood Initiative release.

The evening vigil on Wednesday will include guest speakers and an open mic for public comment. Then they will set up alongside Sooke Road (Hwy 14) to demonstrate their concerns to homebound commuter traffic as the winter solstice (shortest day of the year) marks the return of the light.

Dogwood says the TMX would channel raw diluted bitumen (aka dilbit) from the Alberta tar sands to supertankers in the Port of Vancouver. From there, large vessels will sail under the Second Narrows Bridge and out into the Salish Sea, travelling past Victoria and then into the Strait of Juan de Fuca en route to the far east. A growing body of scientific evidence indicates that, unlike conventional crude (light) oil, bitumen will sink in a marine spill. There are no current techniques or processes to recover bitumen after a marine spill.

“No matter the skills of emergency workers, a single human or mechanical error in the Strait of Juan de Fuca could prove to be a calamity for our precious ocean and inter-tidal zones — devastating the richly diverse marine ecosystem and causing untold harm to businesses that rely on the ocean, our region’s tourism appeal, local real estate values and the overall quality of life in this magnificent part of the world.”

msp-hikesSaturday, December 17 ~ BC. Medical Services Plan premiums for 2017 will provide sticker-shock increases for some, and decreases for others in BC.

Determining factors for premium rates primarily rest upon income level and marital status. While the government says the number of children in a family (i.e. on an MSP account) no longer impacts the premium, income thresholds may vary for families who claim child care expenses on their taxes. [Click on chart for larger image of MSP Premium rates for 2017, with a comparison to 2016]

Individuals with income under $42,000 or couples with income under $45,000 will see decreases in their MSP premiums in 2017 compared to 2016. Single parents with two children and an income of $48,000 will see a decrease as well as couples with two children with combined income up to $51,000. Individual seniors with income up to $51,000 will also see varying decreases in MSP premiums in 2017.

This week BC NDP Leader John Horgan has come out fighting for couples with a combined income of $45,000 or more, who will see increases in their MSP premiums in 2017. If $45,000 is a combined income for two people, that really sets those persons equivalently with individuals earning about $22,500 each (which is a level that is premium-exempt for single individuals. Horgan says over 500,000 BC families will be hit with an MSP increase in the new year.

Effective January 1, 2017 there are no premiums for children under the age of 19. MSP premium rates are to now be determined by the number of adults on an MSP account (i.e. the MSP account holder and, if applicable, a spouse.) See 2017 premium rates posted on the BC Government website at http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/health-drug-coverage/msp/bc-residents/premiums

The BC Liberal government increased the MSP premiums for several years and has only in the past year or so appeared to have bowed to public and political pressure to pay attention to the financial structure of collecting health care premiums. What isn’t often mentioned is that if people default on MSP premium payments that a collection agency will be sent after them for payment, with interest and penalties also involved. In BC it’s still a business attitude toward medical services rather than as a public service to all.

In many other provinces in Canada, there is no penalization for low income or inability to pay. In Ontario the premiums are handled through the income tax process for each person as an individual regardless of marital status; there is no billing of medical program premiums. In Manitoba and Saskatchewan all residents are automatically covered through the tax system, for persons of all incomes and with no billing involved.

Back on September 15, 2016 the BC government cancelled a previously announced 4% MSP premium rate increase. As a result, the government says that the full premium rate for one adult will not increase and will remain at the 2016 rate of $75. In addition, they say that the rates for those receiving Regular Premium Assistance are reduced by about 4% beyond what was announced with Budget 2016.


crd-watermainbreak-dec1616Friday, December 16 ~ 8 pm Update VICTORIA. CRD Water Supply Main Break along Trans Canada Highway (Southbound) between Burnside Road West and Helmcken Road

As a result of a large diameter CRD water supply main break located along the Trans Canada Highway (TCH) between Burnside Road West and Helmcken Road, southbound traffic flow is expected to be impacted through late Friday evening.

The CRD with the assistance of the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and its contractors have repaired the water supply main and are returning the system to service this evening. Highway repair work is also proceeding with paving work planned for late Friday evening. Single lane southbound traffic continues to be maintained at this time. All three southbound lanes are expected to be open to traffic Saturday morning.

The break occurred at approximately 11:50 pm on Thursday, December 15. The CRD Water Supply Main #3 is a 990 mm diameter steel pipe that serves the municipalities of Saanich, Victoria and Oak Bay.

There are no major water service interruptions expected as municipalities are being served via CRD Water Supply Mains #1 and #2 during the repair.

However, customers in the Victoria West, Tillicum, Esquimalt and View Royal areas may experience lower water pressure and notice a slightly increased level of turbidity in the tap water as a result of fine sediments in the pipe being disturbed through the sudden change in flow and pressure. If turbidity is noticed, it is recommended to run taps until the water is clear. In consultation with Island Health, the CRD confirms the water remains safe to drink.

The CRD Integrated Water Services apologizes for any inconvenience this event may have caused. [Photo by CRD]

Hwy 1 in the Burnside Area. [Google maps]

Hwy 1 in the Burnside Area. [Google maps]

Friday, December 16 ~ VICTORIA.  A water supply main break has occurred at the Trans Canada Highway (Hwy 1 / Southbound) between Burnside Rd W and Helmcken Rd in the Greater Victoria area.

As a result of the large diameter CRD water supply main break, southbound traffic flow is expected to be impacted through to the evening tonight, December 16. Repair of the steel pipe is estimated to take until late Friday evening, December 16 to complete.

The CRD has coordinated with the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) to maintain single lane southbound traffic through the site while crews complete repairs. Motorists are advised to use alternate routes into the Victoria area and to expect traffic delays in the area while CRD crews work as quickly as possible to conduct the repairs currently underway.

crd-watermainbreak-dec1616The break occurred around 11:50 pm last night, Thursday, December 15. The CRD Water Supply Main #3 is a 990mm diameter steel pipe that serves the municipalities of Saanich, Victoria and Oak Bay.

There are no major water service interruptions expected as municipalities are being served via CRD Water Supply Mains #1 and #2. However, customers in the Victoria West, Tillicum, Esquimalt and View Royal areas may experience lower water pressure and notice a slightly increased level of turbidity in the tap water as a result of fine sediments in the pipe being disturbed through the sudden change in flow and pressure. In consultation with Island Health, the CRD confirms the water remains safe to drink.

Relocating a main CRD water line has been the first task of many as part of constructing the McKenzie/Admirals Interchange on Hwy 1.

Around 3 pm, repair work on the large pipe was still underway (see CRD photo above). At 5:30 pm, CRD says work is still underway, and that another update will be issued around 8 pm this evening.

new-4559_conversationwithdejong_webbannerFriday, December 16 ~ VICTORIA. The BC Government says it is is “creating a budget to echo the voices of the people of BC” as announced today by Finance Minister Michael de Jong in a news release.

People in BC may participate in a conversation “to share their values and priorities for Balanced Budget 2017” using a website that presents financial strategies under three categories:

  • housing affordability which it says includes Incentives that support expanding supply of housing, rental and other shelter;
  • government priorities which it says includes increasing social assistance, reducing PST, and reducing MSP premiums;
  • economic growth which it says includes making post-secondary more affordable (including loans/grants), increased access to child care, and increased support for small business.

budget101The public can submit ideas for the budget and a three-year fiscal plan. The next provincial election is in May 2017 (less than six months away). So whatever gets set in place with Budget 2017 will be carried — at least initially — by whichever party leads the next government in BC.

The Budget Consultation website allows for questions to the Finance Minister as well through telephone town halls that a participant must register for. There are open dialogue forums. The website portal opened today December 16, 2016 and remains available to 4 pm on Monday, January 30, 2017.


The telephone town halls give British Columbians a direct channel to de Jong, who will take questions directly from callers. Citizens without a landline need to sign up on the website to participate in the telephone town halls if they want to participate. The technology is able to access only publicly listed phone numbers or numbers provided through
the website.

The BC government says in their release today that they remain “committed to maintaining a balanced budget that reflects the values and priorities of the province’s population. Everyone is encouraged to take part in the conversations that help shape Balanced Budget 2017”.

“The provincial budget is a collective effort between the people of British Columbia and the government,” says Minister of Finance Michael de Jong. “I want to know what matters most to the people who live in our province and get their feedback on what kinds of investments they would like government to make with Balanced Budget 2017. BC is currently in an enviable fiscal position, and we want to make sure we maintain a responsible and balanced budget.”

ccs-logoWednesday, December 14 ~ SURREY, BC. Members of the Coast Capital Savings credit union have voted for that financial institution to become a federal credit union and operate outside the province of British Columbia.

The voting results were announced at a Special General Meeting on December 14, 2016 following a six-week membership voting period that ran October 17 through November 28. The outcome means that Coast Capital Savings may seek regulatory approval to offer its products and services across the country.

Of the 79,726 members who voted (representing about 20% of the membership), 79.2% of members cast their ballot in favour of the Special Resolution to become a federal credit union.  A two-thirds vote in favour was required for the Special Resolution to pass.

Normally only about 5% of members vote on issues pitched to them by the Board. The fact that a contest with cash prize was available to everyone who voted may well have increased the voter turnout. There were two winners, who each will receive $5,000: Mark H. of Richmond and Bruno B. of Langley.

“I’d like to thank all members who took the time to participate in this important vote, which has not only determined the future direction of Coast Capital Savings but also will provide Canadians with additional banking choices,” said Board Chair Bill Cooke. “With such a high turnout of voting members, it’s clear the vote represents the broad will of the membership.”

“Becoming a federal credit union will allow Coast Capital Savings to serve members better, enter new markets, attract new members, better manage risk through diversification, and compete more effectively in a rapidly changing marketplace,” said a Coast Capital Savings release today. “Growing outside the province will give the credit union more resources to invest in products and services, and to develop technology to serve members’ growing online and mobile banking needs. It will help the organization to support more communities and give more Canadians a co-operative option to national banks.”

President & CEO Don Coulter says this decision is the right one for Coast Capital Savings. “Our members are owners of this credit union and when our business grows, they benefit,” Coulter said in a release. “Existing members will continue to receive the friendly, helpful service we’re known for in BC and in future, they’ll also have the convenience of banking with us elsewhere in Canada. As a federal credit union, we’ll continue to improve the financial well-being of our members and retain our award-winning culture. And we’ll share the great things our members love about Coast Capital Savings with more Canadians.”

Coast Capital Savings is not a federal credit union yet. It must first seek regulatory approval from the Credit Union Deposit Insurance Corporation, Financial Institutions Commission, Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, and Federal Minister of Finance. This process is anticipated to take a year, with continuance, if granted, coming in 2018.

In 2012, the federal government proclaimed legislation that enabled credit unions to operate outside their provincial boundaries by continuing to a federal credit union. In July 2016, UNI in New Brunswick became Canada’s first federal credit union, and other credit unions have indicated their plans to follow suit. Coast Capital Savings was the first credit union in BC to put this opportunity to a member vote.

food-agriculture-cropwebWednesday, December 14  ~  Greater Victoria area. The Capital Regional District (CRD) Board has today approved their Regional Food and Agriculture Strategy (RFAS) which they say identifies the top issues facing the region‘s food and agriculture sector and provides recommendations for addressing challenges.

“The Strategy aims to enhance awareness of local agricultural issues and opportunities and increase local food production. The Strategy has been developed with the intent of complementing existing local agricultural area plans and provincial legislation/policy,” says a release from CRD today.

“Local food production is very important to our food security, local economy and environment. The Regional Food and Agriculture Strategy recognizes the benefits of developing local food systems and sets out concrete steps to support individuals, businesses and First Nations in accessing and adopting local options,” says CRD Board Chair, Barbara Desjardins.

Regional districts, municipalities and electoral areas do not have a specific mandate over food and agriculture. However, the food and agriculture sector is impacted by CRD services such as water delivery, environmental protection and conservation, watershed education and drinking watershed protection and management, liquid and solid waste management (including rural septic programs), invasive species eradication / native plant restoration, and more recently, wildlife (deer, geese, beaver, bullfrog) management. The RFAS identifies how these services relate to food and agriculture and provides recommendations.

The RFAS document identifies approaches to key issues such as:

  • increasing access to farm land through a potential land bank or farmland trust,
  • increasing farmers’ awareness of tools to address wildlife damage,
  • working with partners to increase economic development opportunities, and
  • addressing storm water and drainage issues.

Implementation will start with the formation of a regional food and agriculture task force. The task force will provide input to the Planning Transportation and Protective Services Committee to help set priorities and advance the Strategy recommendations. Task force members will represent non-profits, municipalities with significant agricultural land holdings or interests in food and agriculture, First Nations and the Ministry of Agriculture. “Task force appointments are intended to reflect the geographic and sectoral diversity of the Capital Region food and agriculture economy,” says CRD.

CRD says they had strong support and input from the agricultural sector, with the intent of complementing existing local agricultural area plans and provincial legislation and policy. They add that First Nations interests were strongly represented throughout the development of the Strategy.

Wednesday, December 14  ~ BC.  The BC government has distributed compensation for municipal property taxes to 56 communities around the province, totaling almost $16 million.

Grants-in-lieu of property taxes are distributed every November and reimburse municipalities for services that benefited government properties, such as municipally run sewers, roads and fire protection.

On south Vancouver Island, there were three communities in receipt of grants: Victoria $3,261,970.92; View Royal $184,724.03; Saanich $413,560.99. In the mid-island area Port Alberni received $49,292.33. In the north island area Campbell River received $75,497.34 and Courtenay received $36,051.13. The remaining funds were received by mainland municipalities.

Grants are issued in accordance with the Municipal Aid Act and are payable on land owned by the provincial government such as courthouses, provincial government office buildings and warehouses.

Schools and hospitals are exempt from paying municipal property taxes and are not part of the grants-in-lieu calculation. Other provincial assets such as highways, forests, parks or land under the control, management or administration of a Crown corporation are also excluded from compensation under the act.

Since 2002, the Government of British Columbia has distributed more than $254 million in grants-in-lieu to BC communities. A portion of the funds is paid by each community to its regional district, and both levels of local government use grants to help pay for local services.

The funds are distributed electronically on behalf of government by the Ministry of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services.

ferry-christmas-hollyMonday, December 12 ~ BC. 

BC Ferries is adding over 135 extra sailings on major routes to ensure smooth sailing over the holiday season. Of those, 98 sailings have been added to the Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay route (the busiest route in the fleet), and 38 have been added to Horsehoe Bay and Departure Bay routes.

Based on previous years, the busiest pre-Christmas day is expected to be December 23. After Christmas, there is heavy traffic on December 26 to 28, with December 27th usually the busiest.

Starting December 22, schedules will be expanded on routes using the Horseshoe Bay terminal (Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay, Horseshoe Bay-Langdale, Horseshoe Bay-Bowen.

BC Ferries reminds reservation-holders to identify that they have a reservation, to speed up flow-through at the arrival areas.

There will be sailings on Christmas Day.  See schedules and other info at www.bcferries.com

features-houseprices-westsidevancis-westshorevoice-dec0916-webSunday, December 11 ~ WEST SIDE of VANCOUVER ISLAND. For anyone who’s out shopping for a home at Christmas, or who otherwise just follows the real estate trends in Greater Victoria, this is for you.

A look at the MLS numbers (Nov 2016, Greater Victoria Real Estate Board) shows the trend for best-value right now in Colwood and Metchosin (narrow margin between benchmark and actual raw sale average). Where there’s a considerable margin between the Greater Victoria MLS benchmark (data-adjusted) value and what you actually pay is in Langford and Sooke.

Compare: Benchmark for a single-family home in Colwood is $561,700, with the average of actual sales being pretty close at $551,720. In Sooke the benchmark is $420,900 but the actual sales average works out to $502,775.

Yes, this is a look at one month’s figures, but the trend has been heading this way for a while. West Shore Voice News continues to follow real estate trends in detail with custom little insights that stand apart from regular news coverage.

Click on the above image to see the prices for Langford, Colwood, Metchosin, and Sooke as compared to the overall Greater Victoria area. Or find the original article on page 1 in the print/PDF December 9, 2016 issue of West Shore Voice News.


cdnbloodservices-sooke-dec1916-webSunday, December 11- ~ SOOKE. “It’s in Sooke to give!”  That’s why Sooke was chosen by Canadian Blood Services to host a mobile blood donor clinic so close to Christmas.

“Bring a friend, family member or colleague along and help us meet the holiday need,” says Canadian Blood Services rep Patricia Willms. “This Holiday Season, give a gift that can’t be bought – give someone their holidays back!”

Blood supply is always needed, especially in the holiday season. Sooke donors have proven themselves to answer the call.

The usual location at the Sooke Legion (6726 Eustace Rd) will be set up for the clinic from 11:30 am to 6:30 pm on Monday, December 19.

Regular donors and new donors are encouraged to take part. Appointments should be booked at www.blood.ca or by using the GiveBlood app. Or phone 1-888-236-6283.

Interruptions of the holiday season can contribute to a shortage of blood products that are vital to the treatment of cancer and trauma patients. As donors are often busy over Christmas with shopping and travel, there is often a drop in donor numbers.

Cancer patients are the biggest users of donated blood and rely on platelets during chemotherapy. Blood supplies are also used during and after surgeries.

8282-deer-on-drivewayFriday, December 9 ~ BC. Four BC municipalities have been approved for grants to support local governments that are experiencing challenges with urban deer.

Under the Provincial Urban Deer Cost-Share Program, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations is providing up to $100,000 in cost-share funding, to a maximum of $20,000 per eligible community, for projects that focus on deer culls and research into population control methods such as relocation and immuno-

Successful grant applicants for this round of funding are Invermere,
Grand Forks, Elkford and Cranbrook. A fifth application from Oak Bay is still under consideration and ministry staff are working with that municipality to refine the proposal.

Grand Forks will receive $16,000 to cull 80 deer in the community, Invermere has been approved for $10,200 to cull 51 deer and Elkford’s application for $10,000 to cull 50 deer has also been approved. Cranbrook will receive a $19,900 grant that will be used to study the feasibility of relocating problem deer that have taken up residence in urban environments. Cranbrook’s study will build upon research that Elkford started last year, which involved urban deer in Cranbrook, Elkford, Invermere and Kimberley.

Oak Bay’s proposal involves the use of immuno-contraceptive drugs designed to prevent deer from reproducing, however this is a complex undertaking that requires further research into the availability of drugs and careful planning to ensure the drugs are delivered in a humane and effective way.

The Provincial Urban Deer Cost-Share Program follows through on a commitment made by government at the 2015 Union of BC Municipalities annual meeting. The program offers matching funds, and support varies for each region. Interior culls are eligible for $200 deer, while on the Coast, the rate is $300 per deer. Interior deer are less expensive to cull because winters are cold in the Interior, there is less food available and deer are more willing to come to baits.

The ministry’s call for proposals was issued October 26. Grant agreements with the successful applicants are scheduled to be finalized later this month and project completion reports from the recipients are due on or before March 17, 2017.

Urban deer management in BC factsheet

SD62-SOOKE-logoFriday, December 9 ~ SOOKE. For Vancouver Island where we can go several winters in a row without snow, there was a relatively big snowfall last night, but not enough to grind things to a halt.

Schools are still open in the SD62 School District (Sooke, Colwood, Langford, Metchosin), except in the Port Renfrew area. School buses are still running but might be behind schedule.

SD62 says it’s always up to parents whether it’s safe enough to send their children to school. www.sd62.bc.ca

Nighttime temperatures started falling below zero a few nights ago, so the snow does not really come as a surprise.

violadesmond-forbanknoteThursday, December 8, 2016 ~ OTTAWA. The image of Nova Scotia civil rights activist Viola Desmond will appear on new $10 Canadian bank notes, it was announced this morning in Ottawa.

A beautician by profession and a business woman, Desmond stood up to racial discrimination in her community. She was also an advocate for education as one of the most important components of a successful life.

The image of Viola Desmond already appears on a Canadian postage stamp. She is also featured in a one-minute Historica Canada ‘Heritage Minute’ film about how she stood up to racial injustice. violadesmond-stamp

During the official announcement today, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said it was a tough for him to make the final choice. He said Desmond’s courage, strength and dignity are a positive influence.

Viola Desmond was chosen from among five finalists. Perhaps to the surprise of some, the five finalists did not include Nellie McClung who is a household name as the woman who made possible the vote for women in Canada.

One of Viola Desmond’s younger siblings, Wanda Robson, 90, was part of the official announcement ceremony on live TV this morning. She said she hoped her sister would be remembered for her passion about caring for people and about the importance of education.

un-securitycouncilThursday, December 8 ~ OTTAWA. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has released a joint statement from the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States on the situation in Aleppo (Syria).

“A humanitarian disaster is taking place before our very eyes. Some 200,000 civilians, including many children, in eastern Aleppo are cut off from food and medicine supplies. Aleppo is being subjected to daily bombings and artillery attacks by the Syrian regime, supported by Russia and Iran. Hospitals and schools have not been spared. Rather, they appear to be the targets of attack in an attempt to wear people down. The images of dying children are heart breaking. We condemn the actions of the Syrian regime and its foreign backers, especially Russia, for their obstruction of humanitarian aid, and strongly condemn the Syrian regime’s attacks that have devastated civilians and medical facilities and use of barrel bombs and chemical weapons.”

“The urgent need now is for an immediate ceasefire to allow the United Nations to get humanitarian assistance to people in eastern Aleppo and to provide humanitarian relief to those who have fled eastern Aleppo. The opposition have agreed the UN’s 4-point plan for Aleppo. The regime needs to agree (to) the plan too. We call on the Syrian regime to do this urgently to alleviate the dire situation in Aleppo; and call on Russia and Iran to use their influence to help make this happen.”

“We urge all parties in Syria to adhere to international humanitarian law, including the Geneva Conventions. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has spoken about war crimes being committed in Syria. There must not be impunity for those responsible. We call on the UN to investigate respective reports and gather evidence to hold the perpetrators of war crimes to account. We are ready to consider additional restrictive measures against individuals and entities that act for or on behalf of the Syrian regime.”

“At the same time, Russia is blocking the UN Security Council, which is therefore unable to do its work and put an end to the atrocities. The regime’s refusal to engage in a serious political process also highlights the unwillingness of both Russia and Iran to work for a political solution despite their assurances to the contrary. We support the efforts of the UN Special Envoy (Staffan) de Mistura to resume the political process through negotiations. Only a political settlement can bring peace for people in Syria.”

westshorercmp-logoWednesday, December 7 ~ WEST SHORE of VANCOUVER ISLAND.  In mid-September 2016, the West Shore RCMP Detachment’s Street Crime Unit and the Crime Reduction Unit joined forces to become one. This amalgamation aims to efficiently deploy resources to conduct targeted investigations against prolific offenders, those that are contributing the most to crime in the community.

The Crime Reduction Unit was created to proactively target property crime offenders, prolific offenders, and execute apprehensions on people with outstanding arrest warrants. The unit also proactively investigates and targets street level drug offenders.

“The unit’s message is clear: Crime is not welcome in the West Shore. We want West Shore to be safe and the unit is relentlessly going after those involved in crime, says Cpl Bryson Hill of the West Shore RCMP’s Crime Reduction Unit.

In the 10 weeks since the amalgamation, the Crime Reduction Unit has arrested 18 individuals and a total 34 charges have been recommended against them. Those charges range, but are not limited to: Breach of Recognizance, Possession of Property Obtained by Crime, Possession of Drugs for Purpose of Trafficking, Prohibited Driving, Theft, Breach of Conditional Sentencing Order, and Unlawful Possession of Firearms.

During this time, the Crime Reduction Unit has also seized substantial quantities of cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, OxyContin, fentanyl, steroids, cash, handguns and vehicles from the streets.

With an approximate population of 72,000 and growing, the residents in the communities that are served by the RCMP West Shore detachment (Langford, Colwood) play a major part in the fight against these criminals, says RCMP Media Relations Officer Cst Alex Bérubé. “It starts by providing an extra set of eyes and ears. Together, we are working together to make our family-oriented communities, a safe place to be.”

Anyone with information about drug trafficking or any other criminal activity in the West Shore is encouraged to contact West Shore RCMP at 250-474-2264 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

westshorecrd-creatememories-webTuesday, December 6 ~ GREATER VICTORIA AREA.  Need some Holiday Recycling Tips, Green Gift Ideas, or Green New Year’s Resolutions? The Capital Regional District (CRD) wants to contribute to this being a “green” holiday season.

At the www.crd.bc.ca/memories website you’ll find information on holiday waste reduction, gift ideas that will help create memories – not garbage, tips on properly preparing recyclables at the curb, Christmas light recycling locations and much more!

While the winter holiday season brings good cheer and great times with friends and family for many people, it also brings a lot more consumer purchases and waste.

CRD says that the quantity of recycling generated during this time period increases dramatically as people shop more. Discarded items include holiday wrap, cards and ribbon, in addition to the enormous quantity of cans, bottles and plastic containers tossed after holiday celebrations.

dec6-dayofremembrance-webTuesday, December 6 ~ NATIONAL.  Today marks the 27th anniversary of the murder of 14 women at their college in Montreal. On this occasion, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has issued the following statement on the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women:

“Twenty-seven years ago today, 14 young women were murdered at l’École Polytechnique de Montréal simply because they were women. On this somber anniversary, let us reflect on what Canadians – women, men, and youth – can do to rid the country and the planet of the scourges of misogyny and gender-based violence.”

“The statistics on violence against girls and women are unacceptable. Far too many girls and women, here in Canada and around the world, suffer physical and psychological harm at the hands of others – often people they love and trust.”

“On this day – and every day – we recommit ourselves to finding solutions that help prevent future acts of violence. Men and boys are a vital part of the solution to change attitudes and behaviours that allow for this violence to exist. There must be zero tolerance for violence against women, and only with everyone’s support can we build a Canada that is safe for all.”

“That is why the Government of Canada is investing in several programs, both in Canada and around the world, to help promote gender equality by supporting education and prevention efforts, as well as helping those who have been targeted by gender-based violence. For example, we will continue to grow and maintain Canada’s network of shelters and transition houses, so no one fleeing domestic violence is left without a place to turn.”

“As we mourn today with the families and friends of those bright and talented young women who were victims of that senseless act of hatred, I encourage everyone to think about how their own personal actions matter. Start by joining the conversation online using the hashtag #ActionsMatter. Together we can change minds and stop gender-based violence before it starts.”


Monday, December 5 ~ COLWOOD. Police are confirming a 53-year-old Langford man is dead following a crash in Colwood.

At approximately 10 pm last night, December 4, West Shore RCMP, along with Colwood Fire and BC Ambulance, responded to a single vehicle collision at the intersection of Veterans Memorial Parkway and Latoria Rd in Colwood.

The vehicle, a blue Chevrolet pickup, was seen travelling at a high rate of speed on Veterans Memorial Parkway towards Latoria and crashed head on against the rock wall. The man was pronounced deceased at the scene.

The BC Coroner’s Service and an RCMP Traffic Analyst were called to the scene to assist with the investigation.

The name of the driver is not being released, pending his Next of Kin notification.

If someone has not travelled that road before, it’s possible the rock wall — with options to turn right or left — is not readily seen, especially at night at high speed.

215841-roundaboutnighttreelit-dec0316-westshorevoice-webSaturday, December 3 ~ SOOKE. Just in time for all the Christmas parties going on in town tonight, and of course for the Santa Parade tomorrow night December 4… a brand new aluminum-strand Christmas tree, shiny and bright in Sooke town centre. Right in the middle of the roundabout! Nicely reflected by the wet pavement in the rain tonight.

The supports in the roundabout that are used to secure the tree will stay in year-round, to avoid extensive setup in the years ahead.

Town centre along Sooke Road has a lot more lighting this year, and also along Wadams Way. There are 18 banner stands with decorative lights and birds-in-snow banners.

The District of Sooke has spent about $30,000 on completing the new setup. It’s an investment for the years ahead.

cathy-noel-headshot-webThursday, December 1 ~ LANGFORD. Running as the BC Liberal Candidate in Langford-Juan de Fuca for the May 9, 2017 provincial election is Cathy Noel. She is a local entrepreneur and charity event organizer.

She will be running head to head with long-time Juan de Fuca MLA John Horgan, NDP who has served the region since first being elected in 2005. Horgan became the province-wide party leader of the BC NDP in 2014. Horgan lives in Langford. Horgan has years of background in handling key province-wide issues including energy, education, the environment and the economy.

“I’m ready to take my experiences as an Island business owner, entrepreneur, and mother and use them to make a real difference in our community,” said Ms Noel. She says that a growing riding needs “a strong champion for this growth in the Legislature who understands that the best way to look after the people we love is with a strong economy that creates good jobs on the Island and across BC”,” as stated in a BC Liberal news release.

Noel owns and operates a small business that has organized local charity events for dozens of not-for-profits across the Island. She is also the Race Director of two of the largest races on the Island: the GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon and the Victoria Goddess Run, and is past race director of the Times Colonist 10k, and past president of the Vancouver Island Runners Association.

Noel says her top priorities for the region are to grow the local economy to create jobs and opportunities in the South Island, and to get to the government table to deliver on regional needs such as health care, education, and transportation infrastructure.

Noel joins a team of 66 BC Liberal candidates already nominated province-wide.

snowtiresThursday, December 1 ~ VANCOUVER ISLAND. Snow is forecasted to sea level on all of Vancouver Island with snow as early as Sunday December 4, but with forecasts for significant snowfall Wednesday, December 7.

Winter tires are mandatory on the Trans Canada Highway (Hwy 1) Malahat section, and on Highway 18 in the Cowichan Valley area, as well as on West Coast Road (Hwy 14) west of Sooke.

  • The Malahat on Highway 1 is well known for challenging driving conditions even in good weather. It is an unavoidable section of highway if travelling to/from the Greater Victoria area to/from upisland.
  • Highway 18 is a short, 42 km long main vehicle route in the Cowichan Valley Regional District on Vancouver Island, connecting the city of Duncan on the Trans-Canada Highway with the community of Youbou, on the north shore of Lake Cowichan.
  • Highway 14 (Sooke Road / called West Coast Road in the section that is west of Otter Point Road in Sooke town centre), requires winter tires anywhere west of the Grant Road West intersection (heading west to Kemp Lake and beyond).

In anticipation of this weather event, Mainroad winter operations will be in effect on all Highways. Their regular winter crews are on shift 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. “Extra manpower and equipment are brought in as conditions warrant and will continue until the conditions change and highways are back to normal,” says Leon Bohmer, Operations Manager, Mainroad South Island Contracting LP.

“During winter driving conditions we’re reminding everyone to please drive safe especially when approaching a highway maintenance vehicle,” says Bohmer. “Our 24 hour communications centre will pass on all your observations and concerns to our crews when contacted.”

The Mainroad 24hr Hotline is 1.877.391.7310.


westshorercmp-logoThursday, December 1 ~ WEST SHORE. West Shore RCMP officers have arrested two suspects after an ordeal that shut down Sooke Rd in Colwood last night, November 30.

At around 3:30 pm, West Shore RCMP received a report that a small red vehicle had rear-ended another vehicle while approaching the four lane portion of Sooke Rd (Highway 14) eastbound in Langford. The suspect vehicle then continued travelling eastbound at a high rate of speed.

“During that time, multiple calls were received reporting that same vehicle hitting several other vehicles. The suspect vehicle finally came to a stop in the 2600 block of Sooke Rd after it became disabled. No one was injured during those collisions,” says Cst Alex Bérubé. The two suspects jumped out of the red vehicle, which had been stolen in the Comox Valley earlier, and fled into a wooded area after unsuccessfully attempting to car jack another vehicle. Police arrived shortly after and were able to locate and arrest the two suspects without further incident.

The two suspects, a 40-year-old man of Courtenay and a 28-year-old man of no fixed address were taken to hospital to be treated as they appeared to be under the influence of an unknown substance. They were later released and taken into police custody. They will both appear in court this afternoon to face numerous criminal charges.

The Colwood Fire Department and the Capital Region District HAZMAT team assisted with the investigation.

“Initial observation of the content of the suspect vehicle led police to contain the area as a precautionary measure,” states Cst Bérubé, spokesperson of the West Shore RCMP. The content of the vehicle turned out to be harmless and posed no danger to the occupants or the public.

Police would like to particularly thank all bystanders who helped officers locate these two suspects in this chaotic incident.

Anyone with information regarding this incident is urged to contact the West Shore RCMP at 250-474-2264 or CRIMESTOPPERS at 1-800-222-TIPS.


alistairmacgregor-headshotWednesday, November 30 ~ OTTAWA.  The MP for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford on Vancouver Island, Alistair MacGregor, says he is dismayed at Trudeau’s broken promise on Kinder Morgan. 

“Yesterday, Justin Trudeau and the Liberals betrayed a clear commitment that they made to British Columbians during the campaign that the Kinder Morgan pipeline would not be approved under the Conservative’s broken review process,” said MacGregor in a news release today .

“I think it’s clear that Justin Trudeau has betrayed the trust of British Columbians after totally backtracking on his promises,” he said. “Many in my province of British Columbia actually voted Liberal because they were led to believe that this pipeline would not go forward under a Liberal government. That turned out to be untrue.”

MacGregor says that several Liberal MPs were elected stating that Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion could not be approved because it had not undergone a credible public review process. “The government’s hand-picked cabinet panel admitted that this project faces strong opposition from First Nations and local communities. The recent Bella Bella oil spill demonstrates that the BC coast is not prepared for a 7-fold increase in tanker traffic,” says MacGregor.

“The Prime Minister admitted that the environmental process was not credible under the Conservatives and then approved the project anyway,” said MacGregor. “They should have brought in a new review process to address environmental concerns rather than just following Stephen Harper’s lead on climate change,’’ added MacGregor.



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