ARCHIVE – Front Page Breaking News – July 2017

ARCHIVE – Front Page Breaking News – July 2017



Monday, July 31. TRAFFIC ALERT. Tonight the new concrete deck for the Galloping Goose Trail bridge will be poured. 
All travellers — including drivers, pedestrians and cyclists — are advised that McKenzie Avenue will be closed while construction crews pour the new concrete deck as part of the McKenzie Interchange Project.

McKenzie Avenue will be closed tonight, Monday, July 31, between Burnside Road West and Highway 1 from 11 p.m. tonight until 5:30 a.m. tomorrow morning, Tuesday, Aug. 1.

Traffic on McKenzie Avenue bound for Highway 1 will be able to turn onto Burnside Road. Traffic heading toward McKenzie Avenue from Admirals will be directed to turn onto Highway 1.

Travellers along Highway 1 will be able to exit at Helmcken, Interurban or Tillicum instead of McKenzie Avenue.

Please plan to use alternative routes and allow for extra time. For up-to-date traffic advisories, visit: www.drivebc.ca


BC Premier John Horgan – July 29 in Sooke [West Shore Voice News photo]

Monday, July 31. Today Monday, July 31, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and BC Premier John Horgan will be in Williams Lake to see more about what’s going on with the wildfire situation including the evacuee scenario.

The prime minister and premier will be joined by Minister of National Defence, Harjit Sajjan, the Minister of Sports and Persons with Disabilities and Chair of the Ad Hoc Cabinet Committee on Federal Recovery Efforts for 2017 BC Wildfires, Carla Qualtrough, and Minister of Justice, Jody Wilson-Raybould.

They will visit the Williams Lake wildfire command centre and the Cariboo Fire Centre, and will also take an aerial tour of the region’s fire zones.

BC Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development Doug Donaldson, and Jennifer Rice, Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness, will join the Premier in Williams Lake.

Horgan, Farnworth, Donaldson and Rice will then travel to Prince George to reach out to people affected by wildfires.


BC Premier John Horgan showed off his Artists Celebration Evening ticket on Saturday evening in Sooke [West Shore Voice News photo]

Sunday, July 30. Last night Premier John Horgan attended the Artists Celebration Evening at the Sooke Fine Arts Show.

Ahead of the 7pm entry to the exhibit area, Horgan (also MLA for the Langford-Juan de Fuca area) chatted with people in the lineup outside.

He was warmly received during the official ceremony that recognizes artists and volunteers. Here’s what he said to the crowd, amidst ample and frequent applause:

“It’s delightful to be here for 31st annual Sooke Fine Arts Show!

For those of you here for the first time, you’re in for a real treat. For those of you here for perhaps the 31st time you’ve seen how this small but vital program has grown to be the premiere event on South Vancouver Island if not the premiere event in BC.

I think I can say that now representing the government of British Columbia, because there’s no place that I would rather be tonight than at the Sooke Fine Art Show. It’s a testament to Geraldine and the board and all of the volunteers that make this happen.

I was talking to a few couples in the lineup from downtown, who made the great pilgrimage out Hwy 14 to come to the program tonight.

And I’ve been in this arena in early mornings for hockey games, I’ve been in this arena for graduation ceremonies, but somehow every year the volunteers and the people that get behind the Sooke Fine Arts Show  turn this dusty dingy arena into a studio to demonstrate the spectacular work of the arts community up and down Vancouver Island and coastal communities.

I’m so excited to be here, on behalf of just me, and also as the Premier of BC, to make a commitment to everyone here tonight that I will do my level best to see that the arts will get the character and attention that they deserve. Not just now but into the future. And that we invest and ensure that we think of Sooke not just as a place to go fishing, not just where the forest industry used to be dominant, but a place that’s diverse and dynamic and can house a premiere juried art show like this.

This year, make it the best ever … and let’s work to next year that Sooke can continue to be the centre of arts in July each year going forward.”


 

BC Premier John Horgan in Ottawa July 25, 2017 [screenshot]

Sunday, July 30 ~ BC. On Monday, July 31, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and BC Premier John Horgan will be in Williams Lake to see more about what’s going on with the wildfire situation including the evacuee scenario.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, at press conference with BC Premier John Horgan, July 25 in Ottawa.

At 10:30 am, the prime minister and premier will be joined by Minister of National Defence, Harjit Sajjan, the Minister of Sports and Persons with Disabilities and Chair of the Ad Hoc Cabinet Committee on Federal Recovery Efforts for 2017 BC Wildfires, Carla Qualtrough, and Minister of Justice, Jody Wilson-Raybould.

They will meet with Canadian Armed Forces and RCMP members from the Williams Lake Wildfire Command Centre at the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex.

Last week, Trudeau and Horgan gave a joint press conference at Parliament Hill in Ottawa after their first meeting with Horgan as Premier. They discussed things their governments have in common including affordable housing, child care, the opioid crisis and the softwood lumber aspect of the NAFTA negotiations.

Trudeau and Horgan had at this early stage of the new federal-BC relationship apparently agreed to not discuss their major differences on the TransMountain Pipeline project (which got federal approval in November 2016), but an accidentally spilled water glass changed all that. During the press conference, Horgan’s slip of the hand causing a glass of water to spill with a clatter to the floor: “Spills can happen anywhere,” Horgan deadpanned. Then Trudeau promptly replied: “We’ll get people to clean that up right away”.  A good chuckle, and some quick thinking by two lucid, relaxed high-profile politicians.


 

Premier John Horgan in the lobby of Govt House, July 18 {West Shore Voice News photo]

Friday, July 28 ~ BC. Premier John Horgan released the following statement about the resignation of Christy Clarkas Leader of the Official Opposition and MLA for Kelowna West, effective Aug. 4, 2017. Said Premier John Horgan:

“Today we thank Christy Clark for her service to British Columbia. We take up the call of public service because we want to make this province a better place. While we represented two different political parties, Ms. Clark and I are united in the belief that, working together, we can build a better future for British Columbia and the people who call this place home.”

Said Horgan: “As an MLA and as Premier, Ms. Clark fought passionately for what she believed in. I know she will take that passion and energy to her next opportunity. I wish her all the best in her future endeavours.”

Also making a statement today on the upcoming departure of Christy Clark, was BC Green Leader Andrew Weaver: 

BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver, July 18 at Govt House [West Shore Voice News Photo]

“I want to thank Christy Clark for her years of service to British Columbians, both as an MLA and as Leader of the BC Liberals,” said Weaver. “She has been a fierce advocate for British Columbia, here at home and around the world. A highlight of my time in the Legislature was working directly with Christy Clark to implement sexualized violence policy legislation for BC’s post-secondary institutions. Her leadership and willingness to work across party lines on this vital issue has made universities and colleges across this province safer for our students – and for this I am grateful.”

Said Weaver: “This experience illustrated what we can achieve when members of this house work together. I wish Christy Clark well in her future pursuits and look forward to developing a productive relationship with the next Leader of the BC Liberal Party.”


Christy Clark leaves BC politics. Photo online: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Friday, July 28 ~ BC. Former premier Christy Clark is stepping down as leader of the BC Liberal Party and is leaving politics. All of this effective Friday, August 4, 2017.

The announcement comes just 10 days after BC NDP leader John Horgan was sworn in as the 36th premier of BC, having formed a historic alliance with the BC Green Party following a provincial election that showed multiple fractures in the direction of politics in the western-most province in Canada.

“Serving as premier and serving the people of British Columbia for the past six-and-a-half years has been an incredible honour and privilege,” Clark said in a statement. “I am so proud of everything our BC Liberal team has accomplished.

“I am certain that British Columbia’s best days lie ahead. Because British Columbians can, through hard work, determination, and perseverance, achieve anything they set their minds to,” Clark stated.

Clark’s Liberals governed BC for over 16 years (5,869 days to be exact), starting with Gordon Campbell as premier and then Clark. It was one of the longest political dynasties in BC’s history during which time much of the province’s systems and assets were privatized.

Christy Clark first headed a majority BC Liberal government in 2013 after the 40th provincial election. While the NDP thought they had it in the bag that year, the BC Liberals were quietly behind the scenes in a state of full confidence to win, and win they did.

The 41st general election in May 2017 provided a split legislature (43 BC Liberal, 41 NDP, 3 Green) that ultimately ended Clark’s run as premier and 16 years of Liberal leadership in BC. The NDP and Greens quickly came to what is effectively a ‘mutual aid’ agreement, which 52 days after the May 9 general election may have helped give Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon some of the political confidence she would have needed to make her decision on June 29 to ask BC NDP Leader John Horgan to lead government going forward.

John Horgan became premier of BC on July 18, 2017, sworn in by Lt Gov Guichon along with his gender-balanced cabinet of 22 ministers in a ceremony at Government House in Victoria.


 

Thursday, July 27 ~ WEST SIDE OF THE ISLAND. The 31st Annual Sooke Fine Arts Show pre-opens with a bang tonight with their Purchaser’s Preview, 7 to 10 pm at the SEAPARC Leisure Complex in Sooke. Tickets $30.

The show runs July 28 to August 7. Schedule and special events: www.sookefinearts.com

West Shore Voice News is again this year a sponsor of the Sooke Fine Arts Show. There are 80 sponsors supporting this amazing annual showcase of coastal-region artworks by local and regional artists.

Over 375 pieces are in the show including paintings, sculpture, pottery, jewelry, fabric pieces, photography and more. Three judges select the showpieces each year. Includes gift shop and live entertainment.


Thursday, July 27 ~ HIGHLANDS.  Today July 27 around 7:30 am West Shore RCMP responded to a two-vehicle collision on Millstream Road near Stewart Mountain Road, in the Highlands.

BC Ambulance Service, Highlands Fire Rescue and other assisting emergency personnel responded and determined the collision involved a SUV and motorcycle. The driver of the motorcycle was transported by ambulance to the hospital where he later succumbed to his injuries. The driver of the SUV was not seriously injured.

The South Island Traffic Services Collision Analyst and West Shore RCMP Traffic Section examined the collision scene and will be interviewing witnesses to further the police investigation. The area of Millstream Road near Stewart Mountain Road was closed to traffic and reopened at 12:20 pm. The cause of the collision remains under investigation, says Cpl. Chris Dovell.

Anyone with information is urged to contact West Shore RCMP, or Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).


Premier John Horgan outdoors meeting the people of BC, on July 18, 2017 [Photo Copyright WEST SHORE VOICE NEWS]

Monday, July 24 ~ BC. Premier John Horgan will stand up for BC’s interests in Ottawa this week, as he meets with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to discuss the wildfire state of emergency, softwood lumber and the opioid crisis. He will also travel to Washington, DC, to fight for BC jobs in the softwood lumber dispute.

This will be his first trip outside of BC to represent the province as its premier. Horgan was sworn-in on Tuesday July 18, along with his new cabinet of 22 BC NDP Ministers.

“Tomorrow I will be meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa to talk about how we can work together to support people and communities affected by BC’s wildfires, fight for B.C. jobs in the softwood lumber dispute, and better support those affected by the opioid crisis,” said Premier Horgan.

“Working with our federal counterparts, we’ll find solutions to the urgent problems facing British Columbians. And we will make sure that the services people count on like childcare, affordable housing, and public infrastructure are also a priority in these discussions.”

Premier Horgan will meet with Prime Minister Trudeau at 10 am eastern time on Tuesday, July 25, after which he will meet with other senior public officials.

The Premier will then travel to Washington, DC, for meetings with key trade officials on the softwood lumber dispute.
“Whether it’s in Victoria, Ottawa or Washington, British Columbians can count on us to work hard every day to get results for people. We’ll stand up for BC’s interests, fight for BC jobs, and work with our federal partners to deliver better services for people,” said Premier Horgan.


Friday, July 21 ~ BC. Two big changes in the first two days of the BC NDP Government.

On Wednesday in his full first day in office Premier John Horgan announced that the evacuee-support funding of $600 per household would be renewed every 14 days for anyone who is still not able to return home to areas affected by wildfires.

The next day, July 20, he announced an increase in disability rates and income assistance — the first such increase in 10 years. The rates go up $100 a month — the disability rate will be $1,133 per person and the income assistance rate will be $710.


 

Thursday, July 20 ~ Premier John Horgan announced four high-profile appointments today, aimed at delivering the government’s commitments to offer relief for families on hydro rates, auto insurance costs and housing affordability.

“For 16 years under the Liberal government, ordinary people struggled to get ahead – nowhere have they seen that more than in out-of-control housing and Hydro costs. We’re tackling affordability and getting government working for people again, starting with Crown corporations and government organizations,” said Horgan.

Premier Horgan has announced the following appointments:
Kenneth G. Peterson was appointed chair of BC Hydro. Mr. Peterson’s 40-year career spans a wide range of assignments in the electricity industry. The last 10 years of his professional career were spent as CEO of Powerex, the marketing and trading subsidiary of BC Hydro. He also served as a trustee of the North American Reliability Corporation since 2006, where he applied his industry experience to the physical and cyber-security reliability challenges facing utilities.
Cassie J. Doyle was appointed chair of the BC Housing Management Commission. Ms. Doyle recently served as the CEO of the Canadian International Resources and Development Institute, and has previously served with both the federal and B.C. provincial government as a deputy minister. She also represented Canadian interests as the Consul General in San Francisco and the Silicon Valley in the areas of innovation of entrepreneurship. She has extensive governance experience and a long track record of serving on boards of directors, and a reputation of partnering effectively with universities, industry, First Nations, and other stakeholders.
* Joy MacPhail was appointed chair of ICBC. Ms. MacPhail previously served several ministerial roles, including Minister of Health, Minister of Finance and Deputy Premier. She is the co-owner of OUTtv, the world’s longest airing LGBTQ+ television network, and she served as a director of Delta Hotels Ltd. and Silverbirch Hotels and Resorts Ltd. and a director and vice-chair of the B.C. Cancer Foundation, in addition to a number of other senior public and private sector roles.
Cathy McLay was appointed a director of ICBC. Ms. McLay brings a wealth of financial expertise, with an extensive background in financial leadership. She is the chief financial officer and executive vice-president, finance and corporate services at Translink. Ms. McLay serves on several boards of directors, including Coast Mountain Bus Company, Providence Health Care, and the BC Rapid Transit Company Ltd., and previously served as general manager for Canadian Forest Products Ltd.

“These new executives are ready to get to work for British Columbians. They were all chosen for their strong track records of delivering effective leadership that benefits the public,” said Horgan.

“Each of them will face significant challenges because of the choices made by the previous government. All will play a key role in making life more affordable for British Columbians. They will work hard to ensure the organizations they are responsible for are well managed, properly governed and well-aligned with the government’s mandate, and I know they are ready to get to work building a better BC for everyone.”


Wednesday, July 19 ~ BC NEWS from out of VICTORIA. With a west side of the island twist.

BC Premier John Horgan and BC Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon during the swearing-in ceremony at Government House on July 18 [West Shore Voice News photo]

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. He 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.

Of the many people who have expressed how they were moved by watching the experience streamed live on Facebook on Tuesday afternoon was the evidence of how far-reaching this event was. After 16 years under a BC Liberal government that boasted balanced budgets but privatized-away the wealth of the people and undermined the performance of public education for generations of children, there was a mixed sense of both awe and a bubbling up of realized liberation in the grand ballroom at Government House that afternoon. The room was packed with over a thousand people… standing room only, including on the stairways and balconies.

Leading this journey to a changeover in government has been John Horgan, who turns 58 next month. From humble beginnings in then small-town Langford, he did well in government policy positions earlier in his career, and then as a management consultant before running to become MLA on the west shore in 2005. He was apparently advised by some family and friends: “Don’t do it John, you might win!”. And win he did, time and again, securely holding the seat through several elections and becoming BC NDP leader after the 2013 election that the NDP thought they had in the bag under then-leader Adrian Dix.

The ballroom on Tuesday afternoon holding a ceremony that started a bit after 2pm vibrated with the drum beat of the Coast Salish as their dancers swept up some energy and lifted most of those in the room into a unison of near-rapt attention.

BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver (right) and Green MLA Adam Olsen at Government House, July 18 [West Shore Voice News photo]

The audience was filled with all who could come, from many walks of life and all ages. Guests started filing in around 1:40 pm, finding seating amidst hugs and handshakes. Among the crowd was a wide range of community leaders including BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver seated with fellow Green MLA Adam Olsen, NDP MP Randall Garrison, now-retired BC NDP MLA Maurine Karagianis, all the MLAs who were not this-round destined for the initial cabinet swearing-in on stage, and Mayors of various CRD municipalities including Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, Langford Mayor Stew Young, and Sooke Mayor Maja Tait, as well as Juan de Fuca Electoral Area Director Mike Hicks.

Present from the First Nations community were Chief Russ Chipps of Beecher Bay and Chief Gordon Planes of T’Sou-ke Nation, as well as T’Sou-ke Nation elder Shirley Alphonse who gave a blessing at the start of the event.

BC Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon seemed genuinely excited to be heading up such a momentum event. Beneath the lighthearted banter of Horgan and others on the stage, it was a significant transfer of power, the bloodless coup that is expected in the British-based democratic parliamentary system. A gender-equity cabinet set up by John Horgan — 11 men and 11 women — arrived in procession through the wall of Coast Salish drums. Notable by its absence was the sound of the traditional highland bagpipes heard at many official events in BC. This was a distinctive nod to reconciliation with indigenous peoples. The integration of First Nations culture into the day seemed new for a lot of people in the room that afternoon, though not so much for the people who’ve backed John Horgan in his years building his political grounding in the Sooke area, where almost every event is attended by if not opened by greetings from the T’Sou-ke leaders.

Judy Darcy, new Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, at July 18 swearing-in [West Shore Voice News photo]

In his brief speech from the podium after becoming Premier, Horgan thanked all who had helped him get to this position from which he says he hopes to lead in a way that support and open opportunities for the widest possible range of British Columbians. He notably thanked his wife Ellie, his sons Nate and Evan, his brothers Pat and Brian, and his sister Kathy. He said it was his mother’s influence that largely sculpted the philosophy that has guided his way through some difficult challenges to where he is today: “If you help people today, they will be there to help you tomorrow.” Adding to those gathered: “I’m here because of you.”

And despite the distinctly political philosophy that now leads British Columbia, no one could argue with this: “We live in the most spectacular place on the planet Earth.” And in particular, Vancouver Island — God’s country, it’s been called.

Premier Horgan described his government and new cabinet as one that will be “caring, that listens, and shares information in the interests of all British Columbians”. About his cabinet: “This government, these people, will deliver that in the weeks and months ahead.” He talked about living up to campaign commitments and reducing costs to people who struggle to get by in BC. “We will be working not just for the few but for everybody,” declared Horgan on that first day of his premiership.

After the official events there was a reception that spilled from the ballroom, onto the outdoor balconies and into the dining room, featuring wine and lemonade, and some very tasty and creative hot and cold hors d’oeuvres. Horgan made his way down to the front entry of Government House with the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II as his backdrop, to greet folks as they made their way to the front door and pose with people for lots of memory-of-the-day selfies.

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

Ahead of 5 pm, Premier Horgan was whisked over to the BC Parliament Buildings for a brief statement to a cheering crowd in the stately Hall of Honour. People were packed in tight, so tight you had to excuse yourself three times to make any move through the crowd. There was hooting and non-stop applause for several minutes before Horgan could manage to speak. His brief speech — in a more casual scenario than at Government House and with his cabinet behind him — focussed on his intended service to the people. Premier Horgan was introduced by now-Deputy-Premier Carole James with this: “I would like to introduce my friend, a colleague, our leader and your Premier of British Columbia.”

Horgan led with this in his brief five-minute speech at a single microphone in the middle of the floor. “It’s great to see you in the people’s house, with all the people. It’s an honour and privilege to stand before you as the 36th Premier of British Columbia.  BC is one of the most spectacular places in the world.” He spoke supportively of those dealing with wildfires in the BC interior.

“I believe government can be a force of positive change in people’s lives. My colleagues believe government can be a post force in people’s lives. We can’t wait to get started on making life better for you and making life better for British Columbians,” Horgan told the crowd that just kept applauding even as he spoke. Horgan summarized the swearing-in held just hours earlier: “We’ve had a very extraordinary day. We swore in 11 men and 11 women. Together the 41 of us as well as our friends in the Green caucus form the majority of votes in our legislature, and we are going to work every single day for the same purpose, the same objectives.”

Melanie Mark is the new Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, shown here outside the BC Legislature to greet the public [West Shore Voice News photo]

Some of the notable cabinet appointments included former Health critic Judy Darcy to the new Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions. David Eby is now Attorney General. Long-time MLA and former BC NDP party leader Carole James is now Deputy-Premier and Minister of Finance. As the new Minister of Agriculture, Lana Popham got the biggest hugs during the official swearing-in from Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon, a former rancher. The new Minister of State for Child Care is Katrina Chen who will face the challenge of dealing with the NDP promise for $10/day child care. Long-time NDP critic Rob Fleming is now Minister of Education. Michelle Mungall is the Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources. George Heyman heads up the challenging Environment and Climate Change portfolio (the Lieutenant Governor spoke emphatically about climate change in her brief speech, as something that needs to be tackled). Amdist the current wildfire state of emergency, Doug Donaldson now heads up the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations, and Rural Development. Former BC NDP leader Adrian Dix is now Minister of Health. The critical economic issues under Municipal Affairs and Housing now fall to Selina RobinsonClaire Trevena gets Transportation and Infrastructure which comes with big investment challenges. Melanie Mark is the new Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training in a time period where education and jobs are highly intertwined. Bruce Ralston is now the Minister of Jobs, Trade, and Technology.

Six members of the new cabinet are MLAs from Vancouver Island ridings, which historically makes up for a lack of attention to the needs of Vancouver Islanders in governments past.

At both events, but particularly at the legislature, security was notably far more lax than usual. “We have more or less free reign,” said Horgan as he announced there was ice cream. People could tour various parts of the building including the library, though most eventually just shuffled out (a 15-minute exercise) to the sunlight on the steps of the front of the legislative building, where Horgan was surrounded by hundreds of people, waiting for a turn to shake hands and take selfies.

Premier John Horgan outdoors meeting the people of BC, on July 18, 2017 [Photo Copyright WEST SHORE VOICE NEWS]

“Thank you for having confidence in our ability to deliver on the commitments we made during the election campaign,” he said to wrap up his five-minute talk inside, continuing: “… to make sure the services you depend on are there for you, and make sure our economy is there for everybody.” Then people mingled in the packed room and hallways with MLAs of the NDP caucus, supporters and friends.

MLAs who stayed to chat in the crowded hall included Attorney General David Eby who posed for a lot of selfies, new Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Minister Michelle Mungall, and first-time MLA Mitzi Dean. Mungall says she is ready to take on the BC Hydro portfolio. Dean said her constituency office in Esquimalt-Metchosin will be set up in the next week or so.

Horgan will soon be heading to Ottawa to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and also to Washington, DC to sort out details about softwood lumber and other trade issues. Several of his cabinet ministers will travel to wildfire-ravaged areas of BC this week to see the work of emergency workers and evacuation centre operations firsthand.

Among the first order of business on Wednesday, July 19 was dealing with the state of emergency of people who have become evacuees due to wildfires in southeast and interior BC. Horgan held a morning press conference to announce that the current $600-per-household funding will be renewed every 14 days on an ongoing basis until evacuees return home.

~ This special firsthand report by West Shore Voice News editor Mary P Brooke.


 

BC NDP Leader John Horgan will be sworn in today as the 36th Premier of BC.

Tuesday, July 18 ~ VICTORIA. Today Tuesday, July 18 John Horgan be sworn in as the 36th Premier of British Columbia by BC Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon. 

Today British Columbians will also learn who is in Horgan’s NDP cabinet, who will also be sworn in today. 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 at the BC Legislature from 5 to 7 pm to meet the Premier and mingle with the new cabinet. There will be tours to areas of the legislature that are usually accessible, such as the library and the speakers hallway around the chamber. The doors will be open, no high-level security required today. It’s a sign of a fresh new approach by the BC NDP.

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

Speculation on who will be in Horgan’s cabinet includes high-profile MLAs with some experience under their belt.

Notably one-time BC-NDP leader Carole James (Victoria-Beacon Hill) who is rumoured to become the Finance Minister, bringing further island-based support to the lead team. David Eby (Vancouver-Point Grey) brings strength from the Lower Mainland area particularly in areas like transportation; he was the ‘giant slayer’ for taking down Christy Clark in that riding in 2013. Rob Fleming (Victoria-Swan Lake) will probably hold the Education portfolio after years in that critic role, and would also shore up the south-island strength of a Horgan cabinet. While new to provincial politics, Mitzi Dean (Esquimalt-Metchosin) is likely to be featured in the cabinet for a couple of reasons — her career involvement in social services, her connections to rural Metchosin where Horgan has had a long-time following, and part of the gender equity thing to bring more women into high-profile political positions.

As part of the transition from BC Liberal to BC NDP, yesterday more than 100 Liberal political appointees (staffers) at the legislature were let go from their jobs.


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

Sunday, July 16 ~ VICTORIA. John Horgan be sworn in as Premier — along with his BC NDP cabinet — by Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon on Tuesday, July 18 at Government House. 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 the speakers hallway around the chamber.

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


A new live-work multi-family development in Langford. [Photo: West Shore Voice News, July 2017]

Sunday, July 16 ~ LANGFORD. HOUSING INNOVATION FEATURE ~ WEST SHORE VOICE NEWS  by Mary P Brooke

Click here for: DIRECT LINK TO THIS FEATURE ARTICLE, on its own page

Another stride forward for Langford took place this weekend. A seminar on community innovation and sustainability through a focus on housing was held on a sunny summer Saturday morning, July 15, at which the enthusiasm for action was palpable.

The presenter for this Economic Forum 2017 was Avi Friedman, Ph.D., a world-renowned Montreal-based Canadian architect whose ideas in housing and design are applied in many cities in a range of development projects. Housing innovation is often the backbone for cities to take the next step forward for improving livability and economic sustainability.

Such is the case for Langford. Friedman had been invited back to Langford this week to once again feed some ideas into the municipal leadership process and development community. In the west shore area of south Vancouver Island, Langford is a fast-growing city with now over 40,000 residents. It is one of 13 municipalities in the Capital Regional District (CRD).

Architect Dr Avi Friedman, speaking in Langford, July 15 [Photo: West Shore Voice News]

Friedman speaks highly of Langford, its municipal leadership under Mayor Stew Young, and the degree of uptake that developers have done with leading-edge housing options. Housing supply is lagging behind in BC overall (particularly in urban areas), and in the west shore area (both Langford and Sooke) there is high demand for places to live. Affordably.

The 1.5 hour presentation followed by questions was an opportunity for learning and exploration for a broad-spectrum audience of elected officials, developers, school board reps, business people and the general public. The gathering of over 100 people viewed a slide show of innovative housing examples from Friedman’s travels around the world, dressed around the edges with Friedman’s missives of inspiration about the changes in today’s society and economy.

Changes in today’s society and economy – notably demographics of people living longer and the upcoming power-surge of the Millennial generation — are driving progressive communities to rethink how people live in increasingly densified communities. And more specifically, about types of housing design that work in a multi-family development framework.

Without exactly specifying this domino effect, Friedman was essentially outlining how design informs function, function informs action, and action is taken by community leaders and ultimately the people. Ultimately, it’s not just about lifestyle options, but that when clustered in larger cities there is a supportive tax base for other services that enrich the region, such as enhanced transportation networks.

In response to the affordable housing challenge, Dr Friedman has written much and designed a lot. The author of 18 books on housing and community design, he is known for concepts like the ‘Grow Home’ concept (offering about 1,000 sqft living area) and the live-work housing style.

In recent years, live-work housing has popped up in Langford. One example is workshop or office space on the full main, with loft-style condo above.  As well, there are several apartment buildings going up in the Langford core area, slightly set back to help keep a human-scale walkability in the downtown core along Goldstream Avenue and sidestreets immediately off that main avenue.

So after seeing Friedman invited back to reinspire Langford to the next level – he led a meeting with the City of Langford and west shore developers ahead of presenting to the public – it was important to ask: How much of what you spoke about or recommended five or six years ago have you seen come to pass in Langford on your revisit this week?

Said Friedman to West Shore Voice (WSV): “Many of the ideas and the direction that I suggested in the area of affordable housing have been followed. Langford is one of the most affordable communities in the region. Ideas regarding the urban renewal of the core have also been followed such as maintaining good urban scale, having a strong mixed use aspect, and attractive streetscaping.”

And some other questions for the effusive architect with the showman style (you can almost see the ideas spinning in his head!):

  • WSV: Will you be providing specific design ideas to developers in the Langford area, in-line with the concepts you spoke about today (and showed on the slides from other cities)? Friedman: In the past few day I demonstrated several points of reference.  I regard these as a “menu” of ideas from which the developers can select the ones most relevant to their sites and capacity to build.
  • WSV: When you met with developers yesterday, what sort of designs or other community concepts did they seem most interested in? Friedman: They were very interested in the “green” concepts such as net-zero buildings. We had a long discussion about adopting these ideas and bringing them to Langford.
  • WSV: Some of the new live-work homes in Langford are vertically-oriented, i.e. with lots of stairs. In your overall live-work concept, how does that jive with the long-living aging generation … with people still working toward or past the traditional retirement age?  Friedman: That’s a good point. All projects can be build with ground floor accessible units for seniors. They may have a ground level floor units without stairs.

And here’s why Avi Friedman speaks so highly of Mayor Stew Young and the progress made in Langford. It’s a mutual playing field of respect and innovation:

Langford Mayor Stew Young [Photo: West Shore Voice News, 2017]

“What Avi provides is innovative ideas for the many different housing types required for  the residents that fit their needs based on income, family size, environment /sustainability and proximity to work,” says Mayor Young. “What I like is that we can use his knowledge from his teachings and actual visits around the world to bring actual physical proof of what may work for the City of Langford.”

In this region, people know that Stew Young is about getting stuff done. “We as politicians and bureaucrats will be able to do more for our community than wasting more money on studies, regional strategy documents, cumbersome regulations that every municipality does and for the most part collect dust on a shelf,” said Young.

“We need to change the old ways if we are to tackle affordability and sustainability,” says Young. “With regular seminars on housing innovation and  planning from world renowned professionals like Avi Friedman, this will bring fresh ideas directly to the people of Langford and to the development community.”

“As politicians we can better provide change at a local level along with support from the provincial government to tackle affordability and sustainability,” Mayor Young told West Shore Voice News after seeing – not surprisingly – the level of interest in the seminar and among developers the day before.

“Langford is looking to the future and this weekend’s session is the start of the new way forward. Innovation with action is our future,” said Young with his trademark visionary energy.

The City of Langford has established a pattern of offering tax breaks to developers who innovate and create housing in a more affordable price-range, including rentals. Construction of new rental apartment buildings had come to a virtual standstill in Greater Victoria area in the past 15 to 20 years. In the last couple of years once that long post-recession period finally settled down apartments are being constructed in Langford as fast as they can go up (including some distinctly developed as affordable housing). There is also a range of other multi-family types of development including duplexes, townhomes and condos.

The application process is handled quickly. And recommendations through the Langford Planning, Zoning and Affordable Housing Committee are well-considered then promptly sent on to Langford Council for consideration and approval. By the time proposed zoning and permits have reached Council, all of Council is familiar with the details and benefits to the community based on full reports from planning and engineering staff, and most projects are approved quickly.

Construction of single-family homes and multi-family developments dropped dramatically in Langford during the recession in 2009 and really only started picking up in 2014 (with notable of multi-family in 2011 and 2014, much of that by Keycorp Developments in their various project areas on the west shore). Of the housing built in 2016, over half was single-family homes but a big chunk was multi-family. In terms of volume, construction of new commercial-industrial buildings was fairly consistent during 2009-2016 (with a bit of an uptick in 2011 and 2014).

In fact, the word ‘affordability’ may not always be associated with the housing side of development in Langford, said Mayor Young after Avi Friedman’s presentation this weekend.  He proposes that the Langford region can work toward having a range of housing that covers off all price ranges, without having to stigmatize one area of housing or type of housing as ‘affordable’ compared to others.

Architect Avi Friedman and Langford Mayor Stew Young, July 15 at Economic Forum [Photo: West Shore Voice News]

Saturday’s seminar was hosted by Mayor Young. He introduced the presentation both as a followup to Friedman’s last visit to meet with Langford leaders and developers in 2009, and as an energizing force for housing progress in Langford for the next five to 10 years.  He encapsulated his mantra of keeping families in communities, and to do that by providing housing and jobs. An industrial tech park is one project underway in Langford that will attract tech companies and through that future residents to higher-paying jobs. All of it supports a strong tax base.

There was some discussion in the question period following Friedman’s presentation about economic models and how a tax base is structured to provide broader community amenities.  While always trying to lower taxes is a political philosophy subscribed to by some, the new way forward will count on people being willing to pay a bit more taxes in taxes if they can see enhanced services from that.

In his closing remarks, Mayor Young thanked Avi Friedman for the presentation and inspiration. As well, Langford’s long-time mayor really honed in on Premier-designate John Horgan’s promise of 114,000 new housing units in BC through an NDP government over the next 10 years.  On the campaign trail, Horgan said back in April of this year that the new housing initiative would include new rental, co-op, social, and owner-purchase homes. The housing development funding and opportunities would be created through partnerships with business and developers, and other levels of government.

Premier-designate Horgan has already seen the leading edge of that sort of development up close, as he lives in Langford where he’s been the MLA of what is now the Langford-Juan de Fuca electoral area since 2005.

Says Stew Young: “This is a provincial government that Langford can piggy-back on.” Over 60% of jobs in the Langford area are blue-collar jobs that are directly in or associated with the construction industry, he says.

Earlier this year, the BC Rental Housing Coalition released a report saying $1.8 billion per year would be needed to be invested over 10 years to address the provincial housing crisis. In particular, the group’s report suggested that 7,000 rental units per year would be required over the next decade. At the time, the NDP indicated that new revenues to handle big new expenditures from the public purse could include a 1% hike in the corporate tax rate, reinstatement of a high-income surtax that at one time generated $250 million per year, and a 2% speculation tax.

Discussion at Economic Forum, July 15 [Photo: West Shore Voice News]

The Economic Forum on Saturday was co-hosted by the City of Langford and the West Shore Developers Association. Among those attending were economic development leaders from Langford (including Langford EDC Chair Hugh MacDonald) as well as from Sooke (including Randy Clarkson, David Evans and Doug Wittich) where Mayor Young sees further growth potential for the broader west shore region.

Attending from Langford city council were long-time Councillors Denise Blackwell, Lanny Seaton, Winnie Sifert, and Lillian Szpak. From the SD62 school board was their new chair Ravi Parmar, and Trustee Dianna Seaton.

There were several business and development community players including Patrick Marshall of Capital EDC and Cathy Noel of Bear Mountain property sales. Several senior staff from the City of Langford attended and helped host the event which was held in the ballroom at the Four Point Sheraton, 10 am to 12 noon.


 

Wednesday, July 12 ~ SOOKE to LANGFORD. Due to a brush fire, Highway 14 (Sooke Road) has been closed to through-traffic both eastbound and westbound since about 3:30 pm this afternoon, July 12. The wildfire was being dealt with in the forest around 4700-block Hwy 14 (near West Coast Tire), just east of Kangaroo Road. One house went up in flames. But no persons, pets or livestock have been harmed.

Five fire departments have sent crews to deal with the brush fire, accompanied by six BC government forestry workers — all with the support of two helicopters. By 6 pm this evening the fire was contained but still active.

The traffic detour along Happy Valley Road, Rocky Point Road and Gillespie Road was still in effect as of 6 pm.

The cause of the brush fire is not confirmed. However, some drivers in the area reported that a motor home was dragging something along the highway, giving off sparks. Langford firefighters reportedly have discovered several little spot fires along a 2km stretch of the highway. Highway 14 is heavily travelled by daily commuters, mobile business service providers, transport trucks, and tourist vehicles.

The fire departments of Sooke, Langford and Metchosin just this week agreed to provide mutual aid to each of the others’ municipal areas, in case of a personnel shortfall. Due to a high number of wildfires in the BC interior (on the mainland), some firefighters may be called to deal with that, leaving Sooke, Langford and Metchosin potentially short-staffed.

Some firefighting personnel left the island yesterday for the BC Interior. Firefighters from North Saanich, Sidney and View Royal will be doing shifts of 6 to 14 days in the interior region.

Today in a daily update from the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations it was announced that one of the reasons 300 firefighting personnel have been brought in from other parts of Canada is to give BC firefighters occasional breaks. That’s to help pace the firefighting resources (equipment and personnel) through what is expected to be a high-incidence summer fire season.

As of today, 183 wildfires are burning in BC. That’s down from over 200 on the weekend. Of the current fires, about 20 are ‘of note’ (large enough to cause concern for possible danger to persons and property, and potentially requiring evacuation).


Sooke Fire Chief & Emergency Program Coordinator Kenn Mount

Monday, July 10 ~ SOOKE.  Firefighting resources are in high demand in this hot dry summer in BC.  Wildfires in the BC Interior are commanding fire resources from wherever they can be spared. About 300 firefighting support personnel are coming to BC from other regions of Canada, to help out with the BC wildfire load.

Yesterday it was also announced that the BC Government is issuing $100 million to the Canadian Red Cross to deal with fire evacuees and related emergency support.

When it comes to Sooke firefighting resources, says Sooke Fire Chief Kenn Mount: “At the beginning of each year the Office of the Fire Commissioner has a request for resource list that is meant for backup during a state of emergency. At this time we have not been requested for any resources. We are short-staffed ourselves at the moment and have been very busy the last few weeks that we need members in our own area.”

On Sunday July 9 the Sooke Fire Rescue Service responded to two kitchen fires that occurred at the same time.

Discarded cigarette butts are the frequent cause of brush fires and wildfires. “With the fires in the province it is very troublesome to look at the statistics that show how many were human caused. The lack of awareness from the smoking community is very difficult to comprehend in this day and age,” says Chief Mount.


Forest fire in the BC Interior

Sunday, July 9 ~ BC. [UPDATED/CORRECTED at 11:40 pm] It’s not easy doing live media coverage on the fly. But there are times when careful attention to detail does matter.

Today there were a lot of confused and/or frustrated viewers of TV news in BC, with coverage of both Christy Clark and John Horgan as speaking for BC out of Kamloops. They were both in the BC Interior town where emergency operations centres are open for people affected by the wildfire situation there.

There is a province-wide state of emergency due to the forest fires in this hot weather. Some people have lost their homes to the blaze, others are living out of vehicles or staying in the temporary emergency operation centres.

Premier-designate John Horgan in Kamloops, July 9

We should all remember that on June 29 the Lieutenant Governor of BC asked then-Premier Christy Clark to resign. Within hours that same June 29 evening at Government House in Victoria, NDP Leader John Horgan was asked by Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon to form government, after he told her he would have and maintain the confidence of the house. Clark remains as Premier until July 18 and her ministers remain in place.  John Horgan on June 29 became Premier-designate.

Nonetheless, it was misleading for Ms Clark to be referred to in at least three different titled ways in TV news coverage throughout this day — she was referred to as former Premier, outgoing Premier, and Premier.

Clark announced a $100 million donation to the Canadian Red Cross which has proven to act quickly and effectively to assist people in emergency situations.  Premier-designate Horgan visited with the BC Wildfire service at the Kamloops airport, to discuss how they’re deploying their resources.

Horgan also explained: “I took a phone call from the Prime Minister while I was there, on speaker phone from Ottawa,” he said. “The federal government will have our back in BC once we get a handle on this crisis,” said Horgan to the TV cameras.

Outgoing Premier Christy Clark.

Horgan says it would be important to move personnel and people out of evacuated areas, but that he would have to wait for John Rustad (presently serving as Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations until the new cabinet is sworn in), to make that call.

“The Federal govt stands ready,” said Horgan. He added: “The outgoing government has been very cooperative. This is British Columbian’s coming together to help each other — as they often do, in times of distress.”

Premier-designate John Horgan will be sworn in as Premier on July 18, 2017 along with his new cabinet (names yet to be made public). The swearing-in will take place at Government House at 2pm.

Yesterday Horgan’s office issued a released saying that Minister Rustad had agreed that this was not a time for politics [see July 7 post below].


Wildfire in the BC Interior, July 2017

Sunday, July 9 ~ BC.  Today Premier-designate John Horgan will be forgoing his participation in the Victoria Pride Parade in order to attend the wildfire situation in the BC Interior (which has been declared as a province-wide emergency). Horgan will be going to Kamloops.

During a 2:00 to 6:00 pm time slot, Premier-designate Horgan will be visiting the Provincial Regional Emergency Operations Centre, Emergency Social Services, the Group Lodging Facility at Thompson Rivers University, and the Thompson-Nicola Regional District Emergency Operations Centre.

The most affected areas of the BC interior have been 28 days without rain, and in the last 53 days there has been just “a thimbleful of rain”, says one Environment Canada climatologist. Temperatures have been frequently reaching over 35°C in the past week. All of this makes the forests extremely dry and easily susceptible to fire. Big fires can produce their own winds.

Yesterday, Premier-designate Horgan issued this statement:
“Like all British Columbians, I’m increasingly concerned about the grave situation confronting the residents of Interior communities like Cache Creek, Ashcroft and Williams Lake in the face of worsening wildfires. Today I contacted John Rustad, the minister in charge of firefighting operations, to offer my unqualified support for his efforts to confront this crisis. He has spoken with the federal government and they are prepared to do whatever they can to help. I am also scheduling a complete briefing with response officials.”

Horgan continued: “The people already evacuated or facing evacuation, as well as our front line fire fighters and first responders, need to know everyone in the province is behind them. John (Rustad) and I agree this is no time for politics – we have to work together to provide whatever support and resources are required to help people in the affected communities in the face of this crisis.”

Horgan is otherwise occupied with selecting his first cabinet. He has indicated the cabinet will be comprised not entirely of NDP MLAs, but also one or more MLAs from the BC Greens and BC Liberals. That’s part of his effort to show and maintain confidence of the house.


Friday, July 7 ~  Premier-Designate John Horgan has this evening issued the following statement about the wildfire situation in the BC Interior:

“With serious wildfires threatening several important communities in the BC Interior, my thoughts are with those in the affected communities, and the brave firefighters and emergency responders who are working hard to contain the fires and protect homes and lives.

“To those who have lost their homes and to those who are under evacuation order, I want to send my comfort at this difficult time. Emergency response teams are doing everything possible to meet your needs and I am being updated on the efforts to fight the fire and assure your safety.

“I urge everyone to follow the instructions of local emergency response officials and to do their utmost to avoid interfering with firefighting efforts. People are putting their lives on the line to save our neighbours and our communities, we have to do our part to make their jobs easier.

“I know British Columbians across the province stand ready to lend a helping hand. Whatever these wildfires throw at us, we will overcome it.”


Friday, July 7 (evening) ~ BC. A provincial state of emergency to ensure a coordinated response to the current wildfire situation and to ensure public safety has been called this evening, July 7.

Today alone there have been 56 new wildfire starts throughout the province, says the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastruture. Evacuation alerts and orders have been issued for Ashcroft, Cache Creek and Princeton. These are in addition to the evacuation orders and alerts issued yesterday for 105 Mile House and 108 Mile House. The extended weather forecast is calling for continued hot, dry weather, with risks of thunderstorms in many parts of the province.

Given the current wildfire situation and the expected increase in wildfire activity, the Province is taking this extraordinary measure of declaring a provincial state of emergency. This is an urgent situation and public safety is the top priority. The Province will continue to keep the public informed in this rapidly evolving situation.

The state of emergency gives agencies such as Emergency Management BC, the Fire Commissioner, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and the RCMP authority under the Emergency Program Act to take every action necessary to fight these wildfires and protect residents and their communities.

Declarations of provincial states of emergency are issued by the minister responsible under the Emergency Program Act. The last provincial declaration of state of emergency was issued in August 2003 to deal with wildfires.


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.


 

Thursday, July 6 ~ The City of Langford is hosting an Economic Forum next weekend. The featured speaker to lead a discussion on innovation, sustainability and action on housing is world-renowned architect Avi Friedman, Ph.D.

The presentation is free and open to the public, at the Four Points Sheraton, 10 am to 12 noon on Saturday July 15. Light refreshments will be available.

The event is being sponsored by the City of Langford and the West Shore Developers Association. Both sponsors have been active in the forefront of facilitating and developing more housing in the fast-growing Langford area of Vancouver Island’s west shore.

The actual average house sale price in Langford in June was $679,155 (compared to the data-adjusted HPI figure of $579,900). That is still considered more affordable within the overall Greater Victoria area where the average sale price last month was $885,281 (HPI was $691,100).  Stats from www.vreb.org


McKenzie Interchange construction continues along Hwy 1.

Wednesday, July 6 ~ Drivers are advised that Hwy 1 (Trans Canada) will be closed overnight between McKenzie Ave/Admirals Rd and Six Mile Rd.  The closure will begin Thursday, July 6 at 11 p.m., and the highway will re-open by 5:30 a.m. on Friday, July 7. 

Traffic travelling westbound on Hwy 1 (heading out of Victoria) will still be permitted to turn right off the highway onto McKenzie Ave or left onto Admirals Rd.

That’s to ensure the safety of drivers and construction crews while the old pedestrian-cyclist bridge is removed. This is part of the ongoing work for the McKenzie interchange project.

During this time, drivers are asked to use alternative routes and allow for extra time. The signed detour route for traffic, including trucks, will be via Admirals Rd, Island Highway and Six Mile Rd.

The Galloping Goose Trail will remain open for pedestrians and cyclists who should stay alert for signs and workers.

Traffic advisories: www.drivebc.ca


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


Wildfire on Mount Quimper Manuel, 9km east of Sooke town centre. [Photo by Rick Armour for West Shore Voice News]

Tuesday, July 4 ~ SOOKE.  Smoke above the Sooke Hills was visible this afternoon, with helicopters overhead.  A wildfire on Mount Manuel Quimper was well underway by that time.

The sight of smoke was first called in to Sooke Fire Rescue around 1:15 pm, says Sooke Fire Chief Kenn Mount. The half-acre forest fire was considered partially contained by about 4 pm today, Tuesday July 4.

On-scene to extinguish the blaze were Sooke firefighters (seven members) and crews from the BC Wildfire Service (nine members) and Capital Regional District Parks (7 members).

Including integrated command, there were over 23 personnel plus the two helicopter teams called out to deal with the Rank 2 blaze, which by 5 pm had come close to being Rank 3.

Rank 2 presents as a vigorous surface fire that is starting to move into the ladder fuels on the tree.  Rank 3 means there are signs of crowning — i.e. the fire jumping from treetop to treetop.

It took 30 minutes for Chief Mount and one other fire official to reach the site of the blaze, to determine the extent of fire and how to handle it. Crews had to make their way up the hill on this hot day (over 23°C), dragging fire hoses behind them. There is no fire hydrant at Harbourview Rd. Water has had to have been trucked in by the Sooke Fire Department.

Ahead of that, initial crews on site built a hand guard … they built a line with tools where the surface fire can creep along, getting down to the mineral soil so the fire can no longer grow. A wet guard was not possible until water could be brought up the hill, says Chief Mount.

At 6 pm crews were doing a bit of rehab, said Mount, before retackling the fire this evening.  “People can still expect to see smouldering by Wednesday morning,” says Sooke Fire Chief Mount.

Mount Manuel Quimper is a popular hiking destination in the Sooke Hills, just east of Sooke (about 9 km from the town core). No residences or other buildings in the area were threatened.

This is the 39th human-caused fire on Vancouver Island this summer so far. The carelessness of hikers and others in the woods is beginning to exasperate firefighting services, who feel that most of these fires could have been avoided.

The Fire Danger Rating for most of Vancouver Island is now High (up from Moderate on the Canada Day long weekend).


A new courtesy vehicle is available at the Prestige Oceanfront Resort.

Monday, July 3 ~ SOOKE. The Prestige Oceanfront Resort is of course in their busy season. A full summer house for the six-year-old hotel: weddings, guests from around the world, and regional visitors out to enjoy the on-water and hiking recreational opportunities.

A new amenity at the 122-room hotel is a large upscale passenger vehicle with the Prestige brand name. The grey 2008 Bentley Continental Flying Spur is prominently parked just out front of the hotel doors, ready for use.

“The car is used to transfer guests if requested, at a cost,” says Prestige Oceanfront Resort general manager Jacob Cramp.

The Sooke public boat launch is at the foot of the Prestige driveway. Overflow parking for the boat launch is provided by the District of Sooke off Maple Ave South (with a bit of a hike along a trail, back to the hotel and docks). Parking there is free (though the cost to Sooke taxpayers for that parking area is $24,000 per year). Parking along West Coast Road continues, despite challenges for pedestrians and cyclists to get past the parked cars, trucks, and boat trailers.


Sunday, July 2 ~ SOOKE. The District of Sooke has initiated a new committee to look at how to streamline the process of development applications and building permits. It’s the municipality’s way of trying to support the development of more housing in Sooke.

The Sooke area is considered to be more affordable than other regions of south Vancouver Island. In the real estate statistics for the Greater Victoria area, Sooke certainly does come in lower than almost any other area. This is attractive to those with lower incomes, or people seeking to retire.

The actual raw average single-family home sale price in Sooke in May 2017 was $512,752 (HPI $465,100), compared to $675,843 in Langford (HP $555,300) and $876,910 in Greater Victoria overall (HPI $681,800).

For working commuters, the Sooke area still poses the cost of travel back-and-forth to the core areas of the Victoria area and beyond. Many military families reside in the Sooke area, many of whom commute to the dockyard and naval base in Esquimalt.

Three members of the public will be appointed to the committee by Sooke Mayor Maja Tait. More information is available at www.sooke.ca . The deadline to apply is 4:30 pm on Friday, July 7.

An overly complex or unnecessarily slow process of handling the intake, paperwork and approvals for development and housing construction has been determined to be an impediment to effective housing development in many communities, not just Sooke. For Sooke, this process of streamlining has now been set as a priority by Mayor and Council.


 

John Horgan surrounded by fans in Sooke on Canada Day evening, [Photo West Shore Voice News]

Saturday, July 1 ~ SOOKE. Premier-designate John Horgan was in his home riding this evening, milling with the crowds and getting settled in to listen to the live band and watch fireworks coming up after dusk.

There with his wife Ellie and security in tow, he had flown back by helicopter from his day of politicking at other Canada Day community gatherings in the Lower Mainland, to be in Sooke. Sooke holds an annual Canada Day festival, at ‘Sooke Flats’ down by the Sooke River. It’s an old stomping-ground from younger days for Horgan, and he relaxes, in his element.

Horgan grew up in nearby Langford where he still lives, raised his family, and has served as the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca since 2005.

The evening air was cool but the skies had been bright all day. When Horgan first arrived at 8pm there were about 200 people on the grounds, listening to the band. By 9 pm about 1,000 people were on site.

John Horgan playing football on Canada Day in Sooke. [Photo: West Shore Voice News]

Horgan had a chance to throw a football with a young fan on the grounds at Sooke Flats tonight. He did not drop the ball.

Horgan was happily swarmed by groups of young people, even children. He was ably conversant with all of them and posed for selfies. All the political ‘old guard’ was there, for the natural rounds of congratulatory handshakes.

Horgan says he is eager to get down to business. Next week he will be establishing his Cabinet.  He has said since Thursday night after being asked by the Lieutenant Governor to form government, that first things on the list are to eliminate tolls on bridges in Vancouver, add one cent to gasoline for an increase in the carbon tax, start things in motion to increase the minimum wage, and quickly set up a review of the Site C hydroelectric project.

Tonight he told West Shore Voice News that the 50% reduction in Medical Services Plan (MSP) premiums would still go into effect in January 2018 (as first promised by the BC Liberals), and that within four years the MSP system will be revamped. A review committee to look at which model of health premiums would work for BC will be established soon, Horgan said. He says there are nine models — i.e. every other province in Canada — to look at. BC is the last province with a fee-based system. All other provinces deal with revenues for health care through the income tax system in one way or another.


 

Home with attic fire in Langford, July 1 [West Shore Voice News photo]

Saturday, July 1 ~ LANGFORD. For one family it was not a very happy Canada Day. Their small home in Langford somehow caught on fire.

About a dozen firefighters from the Langford Fire Department, several fire engines and rescue vehicles, a few RCMP officers, and other resources were on scene and required to deal with the mid-afternoon fire today.

A neighbour had seen smoke and called the fire department. The blaze apparently started in the attic of the older home.

The elderly owners sat in lawn chairs with their dog, watching their house continue to burn. They said they were sure their back yard garden would never be the same, after being exposed to the necessary fire-retardant chemicals and impact of the firefighting action. Several neighbours were standing around in support.

Several Langford Fire Dept engines, rescue vehicles, brush truck and command vehicle were on scene. [West Shore Voice News photo]

At one point, a hole had to be cut into the roof of the house, to fully deal with putting out the fire.

The location of the house on Lequesne Ave near the intersection of Knotty Pine Rd is just one block from BC NDP Premier-Designate’s office on Jacklin Road near Goldstream Avenue in central Langford.

There were at least a dozen vehicles parked in close proximity to the burning home, around which firefighters did their work.

Firefighters were on scene for at least an hour, going through a lot of bottled water in the heat in all their heavy gear.


Saturday, July 1 ~ BC. Canada Day Sooke is underway, being enjoyed by hundreds of people under bright blue skies.

Activities continue through the afternoon, with a feature live band 7 to 10 pm, followed by extra-special Canada Day 150 fireworks after 10 pm.

Parking is available in the SEAPARC Leisure Complex parking lot (2168 Phillips Road). The festivities are at the Sooke River Campground (2259 Phillips Road).

Speeches in the noon official ceremony were delivered by Randall Garrison, MP, Juan de Fuca Electoral Area Director Mike Hicks, Sooke Mayor Maja Tait, and T’Sou-ke Nation Chief Gordon Planes.

BC NDP Leader John Horgan (MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca) will be arriving at the event for 8pm this evening.

More about today’s noon-hour speeches and the event, on the Sooke page in this website.


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.


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