Home ARCHIVE – Front Page Breaking News – August 2017

ARCHIVE – Front Page Breaking News – August 2017

ARCHIVE – August 2017


SD62 has three Assistant Superintendents this year (from left): Dave Strange, Stephanie Hedley-Smith, and Paul Block. [West Shore Voice News photo]
Thursday, August 31 ~ LANGFORD. A growing student population in the bustling expanding west shore region of south Vancouver Island has resulted in the expansion of senior-level management at the Sooke School District (SD62) for 2017-2018. 

Whereas in the past there have been two Assistant Superintendents reporting to SD62 Superintendent Jim Cambridge, as of August 1 a third Assistant Superintendent joined the team.

Introduced on August 29 at the first public board meeting of 2017-2018 was new Assistant Superintendent (A/S) Stephanie Hedley-Smith. She joins Paul Block and Dave Strange who were both new to the position of Assistant Superintendent for 2016-2017.

Three A/S positions makes it a lot easier to assign one ‘family of schools’ fully and directly under the purview of one administrator. The Belmont family of schools in Langford will be overseen by Hedley-Smith. The Royal Bay family of schools in Colwood will be overseen by Block. The EMCS family of schools in Sooke will be overseen by Strange.

Key aspects of their portfolios include Education Standing Committee, Information Technology and Aboriginal Education (Hedley-Smith); Distributed Learning, Curriculum, and Secondary Counselling (Block); and Alternative Education, Comprehensive School Health, and Elementary Counselling (Strange).

Also new at the board table in his first full year as Chair was Ravi Parmar. The overall meeting had an upbeat feeling not unexpected at the start of a school year. But there was an undercurrent of worries about the increasing cost of bus transportation (see Aug 30 article below). And pressure points are looming due to various ‘moving pieces’ having to do with registration tally unknowns and the space to accommodate all students in the schools.

Schools in SD62 are in Langford, Colwood and Sooke. As many as 19 portable classrooms are being set up this week ahead of the September 5 start of the 2017-2018 academic school year. A Proposed Definition Report (PDR) to justify the cost to expand Royal Bay Secondary by 600 seats (beyond the current 1,200) has been submitted to the BC government for consideration; if approved, design of the addition to Royal Bay (which opened in September 2015) could begin as early as this fall.

Wednesday, August 30 ~ LANGFORD. The growing area of Langford and the west shore of south Vancouver Island overall is pushing the population of students in School District 62 up to its highest level yet for 2017-2018.

At last night’s SD62 board meeting, it was stated by senior staff that at least 10,400 students are expected to be registered for classes in schools that operate in Langford, Colwood and Sooke. The SD62 capital plan is calling for five new schools (four elementary and one middle), and expansion to the existing Royal Bay Secondary in Colwood by 600 seats.

A subset problem within that is the upward push on the SD62 school bus transportation budget. Last year, the SD62 board accepted a lump sum of $358,000 from the BC Government on the condition that all ‘in catchment’ students would have access to no-fee ridership on the school buses. There are 38 buses in the fleet, serving 30 routes that each do two to four loops in a day; about 115 to 120 students are served by each route.

In the 2016-2017 academic year there was a shortfall of $114,000 to service the SD62 bussing system. As the $358,000 grant is — so far — expected to remain the same, with more riders this year the shortfall in the overall general budget will be greater. This takes money away from expenditure in classrooms, it was explained at the August 29 board meeting.

When there was a fee system, about one-third of the student population was taking the bus (3,200 students in 2016-2017). Now that there is no bus registration fee, SD62 Treasurer Harold Cull expects that a greater percentage of students will be registered by their families for the bus service as a “just in case” service (i.e. not all who register will be riding the bus daily).

At the June 9 early registration cutoff there were 2,900 students registered for the 2017-2018 bus service. When registration opened again in July another 600 students signed up, and a wait list was created at July 19. With expected increases in Kindergarten registration the bus ridership demand may increase to 3,500 but the system currently is set up to serve 3,300 riders.

SD62 Trustee Bob Phillips itemized that bussing costs include fuel, driver salaries and benefits, and vehicle maintenance.

This is the second year that online registration has been available for bus registration, which seems to really help expedite signups and deadline management.

There was a general feeling around the SD62 board table that an approach to the new BC NDP provincial government for an increase in bus cost support is a step that should be taken.

The West Shore Parkway mid-section was opened Aug 30 at 10am. [West Shore Voice News photo]
Wednesday, August 30 ~ LANGFORD. The West Shore Parkway mid-section is open! You can now drive from Langford Parkway in Westshills over to Highway 14 (Sooke Road).

The low-key 10am opening today was attended by City of Langford Director of Engineering Michelle Mahovlich, who took the opportunity to see traffic going both ways while standing at the peak of the new section that allows traffic to avoid city-centre traffic areas.

West Shore Parkway at Hwy 14 intersection, opened Aug 30 to thru-traffic [West Shore Voice News photo]
Several city and contractor vehicles gave the road a try. But it didn’t take long for regular traffic to start flowing.

The economic boon of this highway is sure to be seen and felt quickly both in Langford and in adjacent regions.

In a few more weeks the full 3.5 km West Shore Parkway will stretch fully to the Trans Canada Highway (Hwy 1). At that time there will be an official ribbon-cutting ceremony.

A new section of West Shore Parkway opens August 30, 2017

Wednesday, August 30 ~ LANGFORD. This morning a new way to travel the west shore will open at 10 am!

The West Shore Parkway mid-section will allow motorists to travel from Langford Parkway (in the Westhills area) over to Sooke Road (Highway 14).

It’s a 1.6 km stretch of brand new roadway including bike lanes and landscaping. A beautiful statement of new infrastructure that will serve not only transportation needs of the Langford and west shore region but will underpin opportunities for economic growth including jobs. Getting places faster and more easily just makes things better!

City of Langford engineering staff will be on the roadway at 10am for the opening. An official ribbon-cutting with Langford Mayor Stew Young and other dignitaries will take place in October when other sections of the overall 3.5 km hjighway are complete.

map was released by the City of Langford engineering department yesterday to show the new section of road that opens today.

Fresh landscaping in the mid-section of the new West Shore Parkway this week [West Shore Voice News photo- Aug 28 2017]
Tuesday, August 29 ~ LANGFORD.  The mid-section of the West Shore Parkway — a new roadway access from Langford Parkway in Westhills to Sooke Road (Hwy 14) — will open at 10 am tomorrow morning, August 30. Without fanfare. A formal ribbon cutting will occur when the last remaining sections of the West Shore Parkway are opened in October. 

In addition to breathtaking views at a high elevation, this 1.6 km stretch of brand new roadway will provide quicker access between Langford and Sooke and beyond. Motorists will now be able to avoid going through the main sections of the Langford core particularly the nearby Jacklin Road. To some extent, traffic may also ease up on Veterans Memorial Parkway during rush hour.

As happens probably too frequently, Highway 14 experiences full closures when there are vehicle incidents on that stretch. The West Shore Parkway will be a way to re-route back into Langford rather than sitting in traffic during unforeseen incidents.

Engineering road crew pace out the mid-section of West Shore Parkway, Aug 28 [West Shore Voice News photo]
Even with a high demand for contractors in the south-island region this summer (due to extended good weather but also a need for crews in wildfire areas), the West Shore Parkway project is five months ahead of the original grant schedule and they’re on budget, says City of Langford Director of Engineering Michelle Mahovlich.

The full 3.5 km West Shore Parkway project connecting the Trans Canada (Hwy 1) to Sooke Road (Hwy 14) at Awsworth Road (just east of where the 4-lane stretch of Hwy 14 heads westward to Sooke) was first announced in July 2015, spearheaded by City of Langford Mayor Stew Young. The $22.5 million project has been funded by a 3-way partnership of federal (New Building Canada Fund – Small Communities Fund), provincial, and City funding (the city’s Road Development Cost Charge program) was the creative thrust that moved the project forward.

Mahovlich thanks all the contractors for all the segments of the project, noting in particular the work of BC Hydro crews who also were dealing with wildfires in the interior region of BC this summer.

Artificial grass turf will be maintained in the boulevards on the West Shore Parkway mid-section (segments 3 & 4 in the engineering lingo), as well as hardy shrubs and trees that can withstand the exposure to heat, winds and cold at the higher elevations. Landscaping irrigation is provided through the city.

Great views heading to Highway 14 along the West Shore Parkway [West Shore Voice News photo]
The rest of the work: Segment 1 is the new signal light and turning lanes on Sooke Road at the West Shore Parkway as completed in December 2016.  Segment 2 is the portion within the Glenshire Industrial Park, also completed last December (and as of September 1, 2017). Segment 5 – in Westhills, engineering design by On Point; construction by Windley Contracting, was completed in June of last year.

Segments 6, 7 and 9 – in Westhills and Kettle Creek development area,  includes the railway crossing and then coincidental closure of the railway crossing on Humpback Road. Construction has started as of October 2016 and anticipated completion early October 2017. The public is asked not to entire active work areas and to obey all active construction signage for worker-safety.

Segment 8 – a dual left turn lane on the Trans Canada Highway, opened in November 2016.

Bike lane on West Shore Parkway [West Shore Voice News photo]
Overall, the West Shore Parkway project is a significant contributor to lifestyle and economic development in the west shore region. When the business park at the Highway 14 end of the West Shore Parkway is completed, as many as 3,000 jobs are expected to be generated.

Meanwhile, people can travel more directly and more quickly to jobs and families along the new picturesque corridor. Bike lanes also included, and access to the popular playground in Westhills.

Monday, August 28 ~ NATIONAL. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today issued the following changes to the portfolios held by various of his Cabinet minsters:

  • Carolyn Bennett, currently Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, becomes Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs.
  • Jane Philpott, currently Minister of Health, becomes Minister of Indigenous Services.
  • Kent Hehr, currently Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, becomes Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities.
  • Carla Qualtrough, currently Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, becomes Minister of Public Services and Procurement.
  • Ginette Petitpas Taylor, currently Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, becomes Minister of Health.
  • Seamus O’Regan, becomes Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence.

Trudeau thanked retiring Minister Judy Foote for her exemplary public service and for her enduring commitment to Canada and Canadians. He also thanked Minister of Natural Resources James Carr for serving as acting Minister of Public Services and Procurement.

Sunday, August 27 ~ SOOKE. Beach Art at Whiffin Spit is a creative cleanup combo.

For many years now, the end of summer has been marked by a beach cleanup at Whiffin Spit in Sooke that turns flotsam and jetsam into art.

This year Beach Art is on Saturday, September 2, from 11 am to 3pm. It’s an opportunity to create art of a 3D nature, entirely from what is found on the beach.

Organized by the Sooke Community Arts Council, the annual funky Beach Art event usually falls on the Labour Day weekend. In some previous years when the event was held on the same weekend as the Sooke Fall Fair it was a bit of a time stretch for people to attend both.

Flotsam is debris in the water that was not deliberately thrown overboard, often as a result from a shipwreck or accident. Jetsam describes debris that was deliberately thrown overboard by a crew of a ship in distress, most often to lighten the ship’s load. But nowadays it’s mostly just garbage. Most of the trash and debris that covers beaches and floats in the ocean comes from storm drains and sewers, as well as from shoreline and recreational activities such as picnicking and beachgoing. Abandoned or discarded fishing gear is also a major problem because this trash can entangle, injure, maim, and drown marine wildlife and damage property.

The day after Beach Art, volunteers go back to the Spit on Sunday to cleanup the Spit of any debris, thus keeping our park pristine. Volunteers welcome! To help out on the day after, just show up at Whiffin Spit on Sunday Sept 3 from 11 am to 3 pm. www.sookecommunityarts.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Champion golf Nick Faldo will take part in the 2017 PGA Pacific Links tournament at Bear Mountain in September 2017.

Friday, August 25 ~ LANGFORD. The Pacific Links Bear Mountain Championship will return to Victoria, BC for 2017 during the week of Monday September 11 through Sunday September 17. The event will once again be played at The Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort & Spa.

Last year, the 2016 event was a great success, with 81 of the top PGA TOUR Champions players competing for one of the season’s highest purses of US $2.5 million. Over 27,000 spectators come out to watch the largest event held on Vancouver Island, with the support from over 600 volunteers from the community that made the event possible. All three competitive rounds of tournament play were broadcast live by the Golf Channel to more than 200 million homes in 84 countries around the world.

This week, six-time major champion Sir Nick Faldo has added international star power to the upcoming event. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1997, having one of the best careers of any European player in golf history. With six major championships, more than 40 tournament victories and a total of 98 weeks as the world’s number one golfer, Faldo has cemented his legacy as the most successful golfer that Britain has ever produced. Through the creation of Faldo Enterprises, the 60-year-old has also become a prolific success off the course. Faldo has also launched a new career as a television commentator, which has resulted in lead analyst positions for CBS and the Golf Channel.

Events like this high-profile golf tournament serve to shed light on the south Vancouver Island region, particularly Langford as one of the fastest-growing cities in BC if not in Canada.

Langford Mayor Stew Young addressed the crowd at the memorial for the city’s engineering manager whose vision has shaped the growing city over 20 years. [West Shore Voice News photo]
Wednesday, August 23 ~ LANGFORD. Over 300 people came out this evening to a memorial event to honour the City of Langford’s long-time engineering construction manager Victor Chen, who passed away suddenly of natural causes last weekend in his home.

Senior staff in engineering delivered speeches to a quiet attentive room at the Bear Mountain Westin Resort. Around 7pm Langford Mayor Stew Young addressed the crowd of Victor’s family, friends, Langford staff and associates, and community leaders. His short 5-minute speech honoured the hard work and vision of Chen whose legacy is virtually every major project and development in Langford over the past 20 years.

Here are Mayor Stew Young’s remarks, inspiring to the crowd, in a measured tone:

“On behalf of Council, staff and the residents of Langford, thank you for coming here today. We’re all here today to pay respects to Victor Chen and his family.

Victor was one of those people…., one of the originals that I relied on heavily for the vision and the transformation of Langford. And that is what is seen today. He worked on every large project that Langford has completed. His knowledge and expertise was unmatched.  He was able to work with developers, residents and business people and was considered a friend to all.

Victor has such a great legacy with his can-do attitude, and his impeccable work ethic. And that’s what we should all strive to do, to be like Victor Chen as we get up in the morning and we do things for our community. He was the number one example. And as I said, one of the originals here in Langford, 20 years ago, that’s why we’re all here today and have such a great outpouring of support for the family.

Victor Chen

Joyce, Amy and Andy. You can be very proud of Victor, and his accomplishments as we all are here. We are all here to support your family in this difficult time. You will always be welcome as part of the Langford family. We have a special presentation here. What we do in the city, we give out pins for service. It’s very appropriate, that we have a 20-year pin here for Victor — our very first 20-year pin. Thank you for everything that Victor has done for our community.

Langford’s a great place because of certain people and individuals. I can’t say enough about Victor. He was a great friend. I’m honoured to be here today to tell you we’ll carry on his legacy in Langford in the future. Always make sure that you have respect for your coworkers like Victor did. Have respect for anybody that you work with in daily life. And Victor, he did that. He was such a great guy, and a great friend. Moving forward in Langford, if everybody could do that, we’d all be living in a better community.”

Afterward folks mingled for refreshments and chatter. A book of condolences was available to sign, also available at Langford City Hall.

Wednesday, August 23 ~ WEST SHORE.  A suspicious death investigation is underway following the discovery of a body today August 23 in Metchosin. Around noon, West Shore RCMP were led to a scene where they discovered a deceased adult man in the area of Mallock Rd.

The Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit, with the assistance of the West Shore RCMP’s General Investigation Section and General Duty members, are now investigating this death where foul play is suspected.

This investigation is in its early stages. No further information can be shared at this time. In the meantime investigators would like to hear from anyone who may have information regarding this suspicious death.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact West Shore RCMP at 250-474-2264 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or www.victoriacrimestoppers.ca

Monday, August 21 ~ LANGFORD. Long-time City of Langford employee Victor Chen, Manager, Engineering Construction, died suddenly of natural causes this past weekend.

The City of Langford is holding a Celebration of Life in Victor’s memory on Wednesday, August 23 at Bear Mountain Westin from 4 to 8 pm.

Victor started with the City in May 1997 and was in his 20th year of employment. This afternoon the City lowered their flag to half-mast in Victor’s honour.

“I am deeply saddened to say that the City of Langford lost a long and loyal employee on Saturday when our Construction Manager Victor Chen passed away suddenly in his home with his family,” said Michelle Mahovlich, Director of Engineering.

“Victor worked on virtually all of the City’s construction projects and he touched the lives of all of our local contractors during his tenure at the City. Tributes have already been coming in to the City this morning,” said Mahovlich.

Langford Mayor Stew Young cuts the ribbon at a business event August 18. ~ West Shore Voice News photo by Mary Brooke

Saturday, August 19 ~ LANGFORD.  FEATURE by WEST SHORE VOICE NEWS. Many mountains are moved in Langford on a regular basis, some more quietly than others. Business is always at the heart of it, with jobs and housing as integral components.

The ripping-fast growing city on Vancouver Island’s west shore moves by leaps and bounds, generated largely under the momentum of Mayor Stew Young in one way or another.

A facilitator of business partnerships, just this week Young made the TV news about attracting the interest of Camosun College to bring a post-secondary campus to Langford and seeing Langford end up with an arena and affordable housing or campus accommodation.

If a bid by the Victoria Commonwealth Games committee is successful in achieving funds for its $955 million budget (deadline Sept 30, partnering federal, provincial and municipal funds) that would leave behind both recreational upgrades and an athlete’s village after the 2022 event. Land options are on McCallum Road and Leigh Road. Vancouver-based Seacliff Properties is an interested developer.

The key to Stew Young’s strategies is acting upon the integration of observations, such as seeing transportation congestion problems being alleviated by providing more jobs and education opportunities locally. For years he has talked about bringing government offices to Langford, to save many workers the commute to downtown Victoria. Think big, then do the details.

And for post-secondary, 3,200 students at Camosun (in regular programs and Continuing Education) currently live in the west shore but travel by car, bus or bike to two campuses elsewhere in the region.

“We have had preliminary discussions with Mayor Young to discuss strengthening our presence in Langford and the West Shore,” says Geoff Wilmshurst, VP Partnerships, Camosun College. “We currently run courses at Belmont Secondary with approximately 200 students accessing these courses, but we would like to be able to offer more. “This is all contingent on the provincial government being supportive and at this time we have not had an opportunity to meet with the new government and to learn if they have an interest in Camosun expanding our presence there,” said Wilmshurst on Friday.

Likewise, Langford seeks a commitment from the NDP provincial government regarding funding to start some of those 114,000 affordable housing units that were promised during the 2017 provincial election campaign. About 1,700 units of accommodation could get underway in Langford, starting as an athlete’s village with about half of that then becoming campus accommodation afterward (and the rest available to market as affordable housing). Partnership funding from the BC government would be needed. Langford does know how to build, and it would ably set the stage for launching the NDP government promise with a shining star performance.

To build the 114,000 units province-wide, Young figures it will take about $15 billion. The provincial budget will come in the fall, after the BC legislature resumes. This week NDP Finance Minister Carole James was reluctant to commit BC dollars to the Commonwealth Games bid (a $400 million ask).

Stew Young says it’s important to see “what’s going to be left over in the end”, i.e. the legacy for the community after the Games are done. He sees provincial and federal support for the athelete’s village as important to building Langford where sports are a key activity including training for rugby, cycling, golf and tennis.

“Langford is a place where people and businesses are proud to be a part of,” said Stew Young as part of his remarks at Friday’s move-across-the-street relocation celebration of Expedia CruiseShipsCenters. He thanked the travel agency for choosing Langford for a branch office six years ago and explained that “as businesses grow in Langford, we support you, and that helps Langford be successful”.

Langford has been seen in recent years as offering a welcoming approach to business, such as start-up tax holidays for large incoming retail operations, perpetual (pay only once) business licences for all sizes of business, and amenity fee reductions for developers.

Friday, August 18 ~ BC.  The new BC NDP government is making its first move toward a $15-an-hour minimum wage by announcing a 50-cent increase for September and renewing its commitment to a fair wages commission.

In an announcement August 15, Premier John Horgan said moving over time to a $15 minimum wage is long overdue in making life more affordable for British Columbians. “British Columbia’s lowest-paid workers need a raise,” said Horgan. “The action we’re taking will make life better for working parents, seniors, new Canadians, students and more — these are people struggling to get by.”

Effective September 15, 2017, minimum-wage earners will see their pay increase to $11.35 per hour from $10.85 per hour (something already legislated under the previous BC Liberal government), giving BC the third-highest minimum wage among Canada’s provinces — up from seventh position.

“Our commitment to the $15 minimum wage will benefit almost 100,000 British Columbians who have been getting by on one of the lowest minimum wages in the country,” said Horgan, adding that 62% of minimum-wage earners are women.

Labour Minister Harry Bains said details around a fair wages commission’s composition and terms of reference will be announced in the coming weeks, but that its overarching objective is to get BC to $15 along a planned, responsible path. The commission will submit its first report within 90 days of its first meeting.

“We’ve listened to business owners, who have told us gradual, predictable increases are the way to go to minimize the impact on their businesses,” Bains said. “And they recognize that the move to a $15 minimum wage is good for retention for their businesses, and good for the BC economy.”

At the same time as the general minimum-wage increase, the liquor servers’ wage is also rising by 50 cents to $10.10 per hour. Other minimum-wage provisions in the employment standards regulation will also receive increases in line with the general minimum-wage increase of 4.6%. This includes the daily rate for live-in home support workers and live-in camp leaders, as well as the monthly rates for resident caretakers and the minimum farm worker piece rates for harvesters of certain fruits and vegetables.

* In 2016, the percentage of employees earning minimum wage in British Columbia was 4.8%. * The national average for the percentage of people earning minimum wage last year was 6.9%. * The number of employees in BC earning minimum wage in 2016 was 93,800 out of a total of 1,958,600 paid employees (excluding self-employed). * Breakdown of the 93,800 who earned minimum wage in BC in 2016: 50,600, or 54%, were youth age 15 to 24 | 13,100, or 14%, were age 55 or older | 57,700, or 62%, were female | 23,900, or 25%, did not have high school graduation | 12,200, or 13%, had a university degree.

Thursday, August 17 – SKIES OF NORTH AMERICA.  A total solar eclipse will be visible on Monday, August 21 in a narrow path spanning all across the USA and most of Canada from the West Coast to the East Coast. Never look directly at an eclipse — you can seriously if not permanently damage your eyes.

The safest way to watch the eclipse is on the NASA live feed via NASA TV and NASA EDGE, available on multiple popular streaming-video services. NASA’s first stream goes on air at 8:45 am PDT which is about an hour before the darkest shadow of the moon, called the umbra, first touches the west coast: www.nasa.gov/eclipselive

NASA TV has mapped out live video coverage (9 am to 1 pm PDT) for its “Eclipse Across America” segment from 12 different locations on the ground, jets in the sky, telescopes, and dozens of high-altitude balloons.

It’s the first total solar eclipse in 38 years and most North Americans will be able to see it. At its widest, the moon’s central shadow will be about 115 km (71.5 miles) wide. The last time a total solar eclipse was visible coast to coast was almost 100 years ago (June 8, 1918).

Across Canada, the Moon will cover up a portion of the Sun – a partial eclipse. In the Greater Victoria area there will be a 90% solar eclipse that morning, starting at 9:08 am to the maximum at 10:20 am, wrapping up at 11:38 am.
This is the first time since the total solar eclipse of January 11, 1880 that a total solar eclipse will occur exclusively over the continental United States. The Great American Eclipse! Something for the world’s mightiest nation to perhaps use as a symbolic fresh start! It’ll be interesting to see events unfold after that.

In the path of totality, when the eclipse begins (first contact) it will appear as if the Moon is taking a bite out of the Sun. As the eclipse progresses, the sky will get darker and the temperature will drop. Animals and birds will become quieter. At second contact — when totality begins — beams of light (called ‘Baily’s Beads’) will become visible. As the Moon completely covers the Sun’s surface, a ‘diamond ring’ can be seen. Pink spots called prominences appear near the diamond, as caused by gases on the sun’s surface. Totality is the only time when one can see the corona, the sun’s atmosphere. At third contact, Baily’s Beads will once again become visible and a second diamond ring may appear.

“Eye protection is essential,” says Dr Louise Morin, optometrist with Sooke Optometry. Eye care professionals and astronomers advise to not look directly at the sun, before, during or after the eclipse without any protective eyewear. “Looking at the sun with your bare eyes is highly dangerous and can even cause blindness,” says Dr Morin. The safest way to see a solar eclipse is to wear protective eclipse glasses or use a pinhole projector, or take part in one of the astronomical viewing parties where proper glasses and telescopes are provided.

Whether the August 21 solar eclipse is partial or total in your area, protect your eyes from cornea damage and blue light with the right filter. It’s important to prevent eye damage, including corneal burns and future eye disease such as macular degeneration. Whether your geographical location will have a partial or total solar eclipse, you need to protect yourself from eye damage.

We are warned to never look directly at the sun. During a solar eclipse, the light is even brighter. The only ‘safe’ time to look at the sun during a total eclipse is when the moon completely covers the sun. Darkness falls for less than three minutes, and the dangerous light returns suddenly. The sun emits UV light that can cause a “sunburn” on the cornea, the outer surface of the eye.
If you view an eclipse without protection, you may not notice the damage right away; you might just wake up the next day unable to see. Damage can be temporary or permanent.

The sun’s light also contains blue light. Damage from excessive blue light (including from electronics) is cumulative. A large exposure, especially in childhood, it can contribute to future eye disease.
Do not use eclipse viewing glasses that are more than three years old, or that have wrinkled or scratched lenses. Avoid home-made devices.

Improper eclipse glasses have been popping up in the marketplace. Make sure the glasses you might use say “ISO 12312-2 international standard”. They should also have the manufacturer’s name and address. Safe brands include American Paper Optics, Baader Planetarium, Rainbow Symphony, Thousand Oaks Optical and TSE 17, according to the American Astronomical Society.

Do not rely on regular sunglasses or prescription sunglasses, no matter how dark. They allow thousands of times too much light, and they will not safely protect your eyes. Watching the eclipse online or on TV is the safest option and probably even more interesting with commentary and various angles.

Whichever way you look at it, it’ll be one of those “where were you for the August 21 eclipse” memorable moments!

Thursday, August 17 ~ LANGFORD.   A community event in the growing community of Langford… coming up this Sunday, August 20. The weather forecast for Sunday looks good… a high of 20°C and little chance of rain.

The 7th Annual City of Langford Show & Shine, held ‘at the Fountain’ on Goldstream Avenue, will be held from 10am to 3pm. Live band, food trucks on site. As many as 170 classic and muscle cars from 1975 and earlier, on display.

The Goldstream Food bank will be collecting non-perishable food items. The Wounded Warriors Old Timer Race Car will be on site, collecting donations and providing information about their organization.

Road closures on Sunday: Goldstream Ave from Veterans Memorial Parkway, to Peatt Rd. Parking available at City Hall, PM Bikes, & Claude Rd. More: www.langford.ca/carshow

Monday, August 14 ~ BC.  The British Columbia government will end grizzly bear trophy hunting throughout the province after the end of this year’s hunting season — effective November 30, 2017 — and stop all hunting of grizzlies in the Great Bear Rainforest, it was announced today by Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development Minister Doug Donaldson.

This fulfills a BC NDP campaign promise that received high-profile attention during the provincial election campaign ahead of the May 9, 2017 general election. NDP candidate Bryce Casavant in Oak Bay Gordon Head made tracks for the NDP in the home riding of BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver who has long advocated for action on this issue.

“By bringing trophy hunting of grizzlies to an end, we’re delivering on our commitment to British Columbians,” Donaldson said. “This action is supported by the vast majority of people across our province. In particular, we owe it to generations past and future to do all we can to protect the beauty and uniqueness of the Great Bear Rainforest. We believe the action we’re taking goes beyond the commitment to Coastal First Nations made as part of the 2016 Great Bear Rainforest agreements.”

There are an estimated 15,000 grizzly bears in British Columbia. Each year, approximately 250 are taken by hunters. While the trophy hunt will end, hunting for meat will be allowed to continue.

During the fall months, Donaldson said that government will consult with First Nations and stakeholder groups to determine next steps and mechanisms as BC moves toward ending the trophy hunt. Additionally, government will be moving forward with a broader consultation process on a renewed wildlife management strategy for the province.

“The key elements of that strategy will include dedicated funding for wildlife and habitat conservation and a collaborative process in developing short and long-term plans for wildlife resources,” Donaldson said.

Weaver said he was encouraged that “the BC NDP are respecting the wishes of the Coastal First Nations by placing a moratorium on the hunting of grizzlies in the Great Bear Rainforest.” However, he cautioned that during the election campaign he pointed out that “the BC NDP appeared to be trying to have their cake and eat it too when it came to the grizzly hunt” in telling the hunting community one thing and the environmental community another.

Today’s BC government announcement will not fully end grizzly bear hunting in BC, as many environmental groups have advocated for, said Weaver in a news release: “This announcement will create a system in which not all of the animal will be harvested – resident hunters will no longer be allowed to possess the hair, head and hide of grizzlies. This will be viewed as wasteful by the resident hunting community.”

“Foreign hunters will still be able to shoot grizzlies in BrC, take a picture of themselves standing over the dead beast, and head back home without harvesting any of the animal,” said Weaver, adding “I’m not sure how this will appease the concerns of anyone.”

“What we really need in BC is science-based approach to wildlife management, not a populist approach to species management.

“BC is one of the last strongholds of grizzlies in North America. There are a range of issues that affect the health of grizzly bear populations. These include the effects of climate change on essential salmon and huckleberry stocks, as well as road kill rates and poaching incidents. We must focus on broader wildlife preservation if we are serious about conservation and the protection of grizzlies and other species in this province.

“BC and Alberta are the only provinces without Endangered Species legislation. I will work with the government to ensure the introduction of species at risk legislation is advanced in the near future,” says Weaver.

Saturday, August 12 ~ NATIONAL.  Today August 12 is International Youth Day (IYD), as first endorsed by the United Nations (UN) in December 1999. The UN sees youth as agents of change. IYD 2017 is dedicated to celebrating youth people’s contributions to conflict prevention and transformation as well as inclusion, social justice and sustainable peace.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today issued some comments: “Today, on International Youth Day, we celebrate the limitless potential of young people. We put a spotlight on their ideas and aspirations, which have the power to change the world. We are inspired by their courage, passion, and the positive change they make every day. The theme of this year’s International Youth Day – Youth Building Peace – emphasizes how young leaders can help move societies beyond conflict and violence by promoting gender equality, inclusion, and education.”

Trudeau also said that “listening to and appreciating the diverse views of young people will help us turn the vision of a more peaceful and prosperous planet into a reality.” He has created the Prime Minister’s Youth Council to give young people a voice in decisions that will shape their lives, their communities, and their country.

“As Minister of Youth, I know that young people everywhere are trying to make a difference,” said Trudeau. “We must continue to amplify their voices, give them a seat at the table, and connect them with opportunities. Our future success depends on it.”

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall is retiring from politics, he announced Aug 10.

Friday, August 11 ~ BC.  Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been vacationing in British Columbia the past week, but today issued a statement on Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall’s announcement that he will retire from politics.

Brad Wall has served as the premier of Saskatchewan since 2007, but in recent months faced challenges after his government tabled an austerity budget in the spring.

Wall has been known for his straight-shooting style of politics, which seemed to fit well in relations with the Harper federal government. The Liberals came to power in November 2015. “I think renewal will be good for the province,” said Wall, referring to both renewal of the party and the province. He will stay on until a successor is chosen.

Brad Wall and his Saskatchewan Party have won three consecutive provincial elections, the last in 2016 where they took 51 of 61 seats. The party, which formed 20 years ago out of an alliance of disaffected Tories and Liberals, took more than 50% of the popular vote in each round.

Here is Prime Minister Trudeau’s statement: “On behalf of the Government of Canada, I thank Premier Brad Wall for his many years of service to Saskatchewan and our country.I have had the privilege of working closely with Premier Wall for more than a year and a half. In that time, we have made important progress on the issues that matter most to middle class Canadians, including pensions, health care, growing our agricultural industry, and promoting our natural resources to the world. Premier Wall has worked tirelessly to promote Canada and Canadian exports with our international trading partners. His efforts will benefit the people of Saskatchewan for years to come. Sophie and I thank Premier Wall for his many years of public service, and we wish him and his family the very best in the future.”

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

Passengers on the incoming Alpine Sidney Spit ferry had about 30 seconds heads-up as to why they would see a lot of police and security when they offloaded from the 41-seat catamaran at about 10:30 am.

Justin Trudeau and Sophie had already been milling around for about an hour already, with people hanging out on the spit for the day, as well as with boaters moored along the dock.

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

Justin Trudeau & Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau strolled the beach at Sidney Spit, August 5 [WEST SHORE VOICE NEWS photo by Mary Brooke]
There was a short media scrum with the TV cameras rolling … about 4 questions, including about humanitarian issues in Venezuela, and refugees. “I have confidence in the integrity of our borders and controls,” he told the media and about 75 members of the public surrounding the brief media interface. And being on a beautiful nature reserve like Sidney Spit — which is part of the Gulf Island National Park Reserve — Trudeau was of course promoting the preservation of parks. Park fees are waived to visitors throughout all of 2017, as part of celebrating Canada 150.

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

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

Justin Trudeau stopped to chat with boaters and their dogs [Gord Fulcher photo for WEST SHORE VOICE NEWS]
In response to a question about Kinder Morgan, Trudeau emphasized the need to “grow the economy in ways that protect the environment” and that both can be done at the same time. He emphasized that “the positions we take are in the national interest”.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gives a quick thumbs up, departing from his quick trip to Sidney Spit. [WEST SHORE VOICE NEWS photo by Mary Brooke]
The prime minister — relaxed in T-shirt and shorts with a backpack, barefoot in sandals — gave accolades to the first responders who have been dealing with the wildfires in the BC Interior. “They are doing an amazing job. The abilities of firefighters is really to be commended.”

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

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

Wednesday, August 2 ~ LANGFORD.  With hot pavement and the crunch of gravel underfoot, federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Amarjeet Sohi and Langford Mayor Stew Young today took a short infrastructure site tour where two roads intersect. Not just any two roads, but where the urban Langford Parkway intersects with the almost-ready West Shore Parkway — a road to many things.

[Read this fullarticle in the Aug 4, 2017 issue of West Shore Voice News or continue below…]

Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Amarjeet Sohi and City of Langford Mayor Stew Young at the West Shore Parkway extension site August 2, 2017 [West Shore Voice News photo by Mary P Brooke]
Indeed, August 2 broke temperature records as the hottest day of the year on Vancouver Island so far, if not for this day on record. Together with the haze and thick air of smoky skies from wildfire debris, and at high noon under very high UV conditions, it was a symbolic statement of the effort that a city – partnered with other levels of government and coordinated with the private sector – will make to foster economic development and security for its community.

The West Shore Parkway is set to open by early October. It will be a corridor for traffic from the TransCanada (Highway 1), across the top of Langford, over to Sooke Road (Highway 14). Industrial and residential developments along the route point to future jobs, economic opportunities, and further housing supply in the rapidly growing City of Langford and surrounding regions.

“The West Shore Parkway extension will improve traffic in Langford’s downtown core and the West Shore,” says Mayor Young. “It will promote further residential development with a variety of housing options, and provide existing and new residents with a number of alternative transportation choices via the new bike lanes, sidewalks and transit stops,” he said.

At full build-out the industrial park under construction at West Shore Parkway and Highway 14 is expected to produce up to 3,000 jobs. Langford and nearby Sooke are considered two of the most affordable areas to live on south Vancouver Island. The Housing Price Index in July showed $592,300 for a single family home in Langford [actual sales average $670,299], while in Sooke the HPI was $479,100 [actual sales average $519,392], compared to an HPI of $700,800 in overall Greater Victoria [$868,008]. This lower price-point for housing in the west shore region helps when it comes to attracting employees to the region for those new jobs.

The West Shore Parkway extension project (first announced in July 2015) carries a price tag of $22,352,570 as funded in thirds … the Government of Canada and Province of BC are each contributing $7,450,856 with the City of Langford pitching in the other nearly $7.5 million with the support of regional developers.

Under the new BC NDP government, a promise of 114,000 new housing units in BC over the next 10 years is now open to be fulfilled. This is of interest to the Langford municipality that has proven their expertise with fast-tracking permits (48-hours) and zoning/rezoning applications (within three months), and to get cracking with increasing housing supply, including rental units. For over a decade, almost no rental units were constructed in the core areas of Greater Victoria; Langford has in the last couple of years taken the lead in fleshing out the availability of apartment units and multi-family housing (such as townhomes, condos and duplexes).

“BC’s new Premier John Horgan has seen Langford’s housing development up close,” says Mayor Young. “We can work with his government to help him fulfill his government’s housing goals in a region that needs and is ready to support the creation of more jobs and housing supply.” Young also appreciates that Premier Horgan is supportive to expanding Highway 14 – the road to Sooke – to the desired four-lanes all the way between the two communities. Effective transportation underpins the creation of jobs and a variety of housing options.

In the summer sunshine today, Minister Sohi said: “I’m happy to be visiting Langford. The federal government is interested in economic opportunity for jobs and a stronger middle class,” said Sohi. He was keen to get boots on the ground to further understand how municipalities, BC and the federal governments can work together. He was impressed to see how the federal government’s investment in road infrastructure would contribute to community growth, and new residential and commercial development.

A former Edmonton city councillor for eight years, Minister Sohi sees infrastructure as a catalyst for growth. He likes to tour projects in local communities. “We need to be at the grassroots, to meet with local leaders,” he told West Shore Voice News.

Ahead of seeing the road construction, Minister Sohi had met with Langford Mayor and Council in the morning to discuss the impact of infrastructure and what Langford might be seeking to do next. Both Minister Sohi and Mayor Young found the meeting productive. Sohi was excited about how sewer and water infrastructure could rapidly open up the region to supply more affordable housing.

Langford Mayor Stew Young says there are always shovel-ready projects that Langford can proceed with, when grant funds come through for partnership with other levels of government. A priority goal is to receive a grant funding partnership contribution for sewer and water servicing to the business park and residential areas underway for development at West Shore Parkway and Highway 14. “This is important for affordability and the economy in the west shore,” says Young.

Stew Young takes a regional view. Adjacent to Langford are several municipalities with flavours of their own. Metchosin maintains itself as rural with farming. Highlands has its trees and mountains. Sooke offers the getaway lifestyle and overall affordability. In Mayor Young’s view, the two expanding communities of Langford and Sooke are well-suited to accommodate growth where it supports jobs and more housing supply. And that comes back to infrastructure.

“Minister Sohi thinks like we do out here,” said Stew Young. “As a former municipal councillor he understands how hard it is to get things done. He knows how infrastructure contributes to jobs and economic opportunity.” Says Mayor Young about his municipality that is always ready: “We’re not afraid to take anything on,” he said, adding that municipalities are often the biggest hindrance to affordable housing and housing supply development. Young enthusiastically pitched to the federal minister that Langford is a desirable place for federal infrastructure investment, putting some dollars into western Canada where the economic spin-offs could be strong, high-profile and quick.

Also discussed by Minister Sohi and Langford’s mayor and council on Wednesday morning were possibilities for rapid transit (along the E&N) that is “green and sustainable”, said Sohi. “I respect that decisions are made at the local level and that it’s appropriate to understand the realities,” he said regarding infrastructure partnerships with local governments. He says the federal Liberal government is investing close to $20 billion in public transit across Canada, to help build sustainable communities.

Just two days ago, the nearby Irwin Road extension was opened without fanfare. But City of Langford Engineer Michelle Mahovlich says there was a lot of cheering and waving to engineering staff from ‘happy residents’ driving through for the first time. Mahovlich acknowledges and appreciates the hard work of all the local contractors to make that project happen. The extension connects Irwin Road from Humpback Road east to Meridian and then east to the West Shore Parkway.

Opening of the West Shore Parkway right through to Sooke Road may be delayed into October. That’s to await BC Hydro crews that are presently working in the BC interior wildfire zone.

Sohi continued on his infrastructure tour on Wednesday afternoon, heading with his staff to Duncan and Nanaimo. His upisland trip included meetings with new BC Ministers Claire Trevena (Transportation and Infrastructure) and Selina Robinson (Municipal Affairs and Housing). All part of the grid for smart expansion of communities for jobs and economic growth and sustainability. Mayor Stew Young says Langford is open to working on joint island transportation projects with the province, and chatted yesterday with Minister Trevena about that.

Wednesday, August 2 ~ SOOKE. Early morning, already a hazy smoky sky in the area due to wind bringing over particulate from the BC Interior wildfires. Already 16°C by 7 am, the forecasted high today is as high as 30°C and The Weather Network says the UV Index is very high.

People with heart and lung health challenges are advised to stay indoors (in cool, air filtered conditions if possible), according to an Island Health release yesterday. If outdoors, stay hydrated and avoid over-exertion, and seek shade where possible. Wear sunscreen, hat and UV-protective eyewear.

The new sign replaces the old. No longer the 7-days-a-week promise. [West Shore Voice News photo]
Tuesday, August 1 ~ SOOKE. It’s a sign of the times! One of the five major banks is cutting back on its promise of 7-days-a-week service, at least at the Sooke branch. And evening hours are being cut back as well. The amount of business at the local branch at 6670 Sooke Road just doesn’t warrant the long hours and all that staff time.

So on July 31 the writing was no longer on the wall (er, the sign). The old sign across the front of the branch that said open daily was replaced with a sign bearing just the TD logo and name.

The convenience to customers with the longer hours, including Sundays, obviously is no longer the draw that it once was. The major domination of Internet banking is probably a large part of that decrease in demand for in-branch service. Additionally, in Sooke, once people are home from the long commute to employment elsewhere in the region, taking a trip out for banking in the evening is probably not top of mind.

The new branch hours were posted on the main door of the branch last week. Starting Monday, August 14 the branch hours will be Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm, Saturdays 9am to 4 pm, closed on Sundays.

Due to a motor vehicle incident on McCallum Road (in front of Home Depot), please avoid the area of
McCallum road from Staples to Millstream Road as both lanes are closed to traffic at this particular time

The TD Bank in Sooke was new construction in the middle of town centre, opening in 2012 based on an expectation of increased demand in what was thought to be a town growing rapidly enough to sustain the costs of opening a new branch here. Until that time, the next nearest TD Branch was (and is) in Langford.

TD — which is fully TD Canada Trust — has for many years distinguished itself from the other four major banks with it’s extra-long and 7-day-a-week branch hours as well as pitching to small businesses which usually operate with long and variable hours.

There are three other financial institutions in Sooke: CIBC, RBC, and Coast Capital Savings.