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Young women from Gold River and Tahsis get exposure to RCMP tools and techniques

From dispatching their own emergency call to investigating a mock crime scene and watching a take-down scenario, athletes from the Gold River Senior Secondary girls basketball team in School District 84 got to experience and learn about various roles and tools used by police officers to investigate and solve crimes.

On January 27, 2020, fourteen young women ages 13 to 17 years old from Gold River and Tahsis, BC, accompanied by Vice Principal Jeff Rockwell as the teacher sponsor and support, participated in a youth training day at the BC RCMP’s Pacific Region Training Centre (PRTC) in Chilliwack, BC.

Their morning consisted of learning about the tools on police duty belts as well as other tools such as Oleoresin Capsicum spray, batons and conductive energy weapons. Then they moved on to a Physical Abilities Requirement Evaluation (PARE) demo and had an opportunity to try some of the physical exercises themselves.

We are so grateful for the RCMP for being able to accommodate such an incredible learning experience for these young women, some of whom rarely leave the island. The support of the community has also been amazing. A local mining company, Nyrstar made an $800 donation and the Mowachaht-Muchalaht First Nation has donated $2000. The girls had also previously earned $1500 in exchange for leaf raking at the Gold River Lodge. With all of this community support, their trip expenses have been covered, making this experience possible, said the Honorable Brad Unger, Mayor of Gold River BC, who drove the bus for the ladies after their original bus driver broke an ankle.

In the afternoon, the ladies were divided into investigative groups and they began with a mock emergency call into the 911 police dispatch centre. One group of students got to act in the role of a dispatcher and dispatch out their colleagues to a shots fired call for investigation. 

Upon arriving at the mock crime scene, the students learned about how police officers clear the scene of any threats so they can proceed safely with investigating the crime scene. The young women learned about the responsibilities of police officers at a crime scene such as attempting to save a man’s life by administering first-aid and preserving evidence needed to further the investigation. They were also shown a demonstration on locating and seizing fingerprints left behind by suspects at a crime scene.

The final portion of the mock investigation included the search of a venue where a suspect responsible for the shooting was located and the students watched RCMP police officers conduct a high risk take down and arrest.

The students continued on outside where they met with Constable Carey from the Lower Mainland District Integrated Police Dog Service and his Police Service Dog Jedi who demonstrated the various commands police dogs respond to and how their services are used in assisting to track and locate a suspect. The young women also learned what different types of skillsets and portfolios different dogs have and what it takes to be part of such a specialized team.

The day came to an end with target practice with paint simunition rounds which was definitely a highlight for many of the students.  These female athletes have been working hard to perform well on the court, in their classes and most importantly in our communities. It has been our pleasure to provide opportunities for experiences that may help them in shaping their future. If we are lucky some of them may even decide to join the RCMP and we would be proud to have them in our ranks, said Corporal Kimberly Rutherford of Nootka Sound RCMP Detachment and the basketball coach for the Gold River Senior Secondary School girls team.
 

Amazing Video Of Victoria and Vancouver from 1907

Skip ahead to the 2:20 mark to see the Empress hotel under construction and the inner harbour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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B.C. Ferries Wants Your Input For Future Services

Transportation Minister Claire Trevena, along with Courtenay-Comox MLA Ronna Rae-Leonard and Nanaimo MLA Sheila Malcolmson were in Comox today to chat about the future for BC Ferries.

The province wants to know what you would like to see introduced.

An online questionnaire has been created for anyone in B.C to share what they think could, or should be implemented.

Minister Trevena says the time is now to plan for the future of ferry services in the province.

“There’s a significant investment in ferries happening at the moment and its time really to have a sense as a province on the ferry system. To redefine what the service is into the future.”

She added that the province wants to hear what is most important to all residents, whatever it may be.

“At the moment its really to get that vision, the province hasn’t had a vision for the ferry system for many many years. There has been a flux and we really do need to have a sense of purpose and yes we know that ferries connect communities but what is it that’s important. Yes we know that ferries connect communities but what is it that’s important? Is it the whole issue of affordability, the issue of access. What is important for us as a province and people who live in coastal communities and work in coastal communities the businesses that operate in coastal communities. What is important to them?”

The online questionnaire was released today and will allow the public to give feedback for a seven-week period.

From that point, Trevena says the government will be taking in all the feedback it’s received and look at shaping the vision for the future of ferry services in British Columbia.

To fill out the online questionnaire, click here.

Do You Have An Extra Room?

Families, Couples and Individuals invited to apply! We are looking to grow our International Student program for the 2020/2021 school year and are looking for wonderful Gold River residents to join the Homestay program. Find out more about the program right here: http://www.sd84.bc.ca/international-program-schooldistrict84

MP Blaney calls on fisheries minister to ‘listen to west coast fishing communities’

North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney sent a message to the new federal fisheries minister today.

That is, it’s important for Bernadette Jordan to understand the realities that people in coastal communities are facing.

Blaney hand-delivered her office’s report Chinook Public Fishery Restrictions: Impact on the federal riding of North Island – Powell River to Jordan, the new Minister for Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard. 

It was previously sent to the former Minister, Jonathan Wilkinson, on June 4, but Blaney said that she didn’t receive a reply before the election.

“The impacts of not just the restrictions on Chinook themselves, but the timing and tone of the announcement of those restrictions, was profound,” Blaney said.

Blaney said that she hopes this information will help ensure that any restrictions or closures are done in a way that has the least impact on local economies, while still protecting wild salmon and the ocean at large.

“I hope the new Minister finds the time to visit the West Coast soon,” Blaney said. 

“The Pacific coast is very different from the Atlantic where she is from, and the more she can hear and learn from the knowledgeable people in our riding, the better equipped she will be to make decisions that benefit everyone.”

The report says that the economic impact of the decision to restrict chinook retention “cannot be overstated.” 

We heard from charters, guides, outfitters, and lodges that, on average, they will be experiencing a 50 percent decrease in revenue this year. The effects, to a lesser degree, will be felt by the tourism industry,” it said.

“Hotels, restaurants, transportation and recreational entertainment providers are expecting a decrease in traffic. Both the fishing and tourism industries will be hiring less, and in some cases no seasonal staff this year, and some will have no choice but to lay off current staff.”

Blaney said there is a “lack of understanding at the federal level of the realities in smaller coastal communities.”

In major urban centres slashing an industry can hurt, but most people can find employment in other industries. For the communities in the riding of North Island – Powell River that is not the case,” she added. 

“Fisheries are the lifeblood of most economies, and any abrupt closures or restrictions leave people with few or no other options when it comes to supporting themselves and their families. This difference needs to be recognized by the minister and department and taken into consideration as part of their decision-making process.”

As part of the report, Blaney requested that the minister take the following actions:

  • Promptly provide a comprehensive response, addressing all concerns outlined in this report… including justifying the closures of Chinook public fisheries… given their low catch rate;

  • Create a bold, comprehensive and fully-funded action plan to support Pacific fisheries;

  • Commit to getting more DFO staff on the ground and in the water as soon as possible;

  • Visit the riding of North Island-Powell River and speak to people affected by these measures;

  • Release the funding for the BC Salmon Innovation and Restoration Fund as soon as possible; and 

  • Purchase the necessary equipment for salmon hatcheries to begin adipose fin-clipping and implement a mark-selective fishery as soon as possible.

Blaney said, “Ottawa needs to know how their decisions affect the people on the coast who live to fish and fish to live, and that it is these people who care more than anyone else about the health of wild Pacific salmon.”

She added, “My job is to protect both the economy and ecology of North Island – Powell River, and I take great pride in representing people such as yourselves who help me.”

Loonies for Loggers BBQ raises thousands for forestry families

A fundraiser BBQ held at Brandt Tractor in Campbell River far surpassed its fundraising goal.

Just under $11,900 was raised after hundreds of donations poured in yesterday, all in support of those impacted by the forestry strike.

Tamara Meggitt, a founding member of the Loonies for Loggers group, says the BBQ was a huge success.

“It’s mind-blowing when I think about it,” says Meggitt. “The fact that we had businesses that rely on forestry dollars, union members, strike captains, striking workers, and contractors. We had such a mix of people in one room supporting forestry families. It was pretty heartwarming and pretty touching to see everybody in one room together.”

Meggitt adds the process of organizing and getting the word out about the BBQ began after she was approached by the team at Brandt Tractor.

“They were thinking of ways to help and really wanted to support the community. They’re definitely community-minded people.”

Loonies for Loggers handled the fundraising aspect, while Brandt Tractor supplied and prepared the hotdogs and hamburgers in its shop on 14th Ave.

Advocates call hospital parking fees a ‘shakedown’ after learning most Island tickets are waived

Activists say that parking fees implemented at B.C. hospitals are nothing short of a shakedown after learning that a majority of parking tickets issued at hospital lots are never paid.

The Hospital Pay Parking organization is a volunteer-based group advocating for the stripping of mandatory parking fees and the installment of better parking solutions at B.C. hospitals, calling the enforcement of paid parking at hospitals “exploitative” of the ill.

In a recent Freedom of Information (FOI) request, the group learned that a majority of the time there is no consequence to not paying parking fees.

“The whole concept over paid parking is predicated on a lot of threats … people don’t understand, when you park at a hospital it’s crown land, it’s public,” said Jon Buss, lead volunteer with Hospital Pay Parking. “There’s no need to pay at all. They are confirming that most tickets are unpaid, and that no one gets towed.”

According to the FOI documents, between April 1, 2018 and March 31, 2019, 13,105 tickets were issued at 11 Island Health hospitals and 4,660 were paid. This translates into a total of $327,625 in parking fines that were handed out, with only $92,428 collected. Sixty-seven per cent of these tickets were to hospital staff, not guests.

ALSO READ: End ‘exploitative’ parking fees at B.C. hospitals, group says

The highest-ticketed hospitals were the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital, the Victoria General Hospital and the Royal Jubilee Hospital.

Additionally, no patients or guests were towed; all 13 cars which were towed belonged to hospital staff.

This, according to Buss, is an example of how the government works with private agencies to gain revenue based on empty threats.

“You can shakedown anyone you want … but you can’t prey on the sick and the elderly,” Buss said. “People are sick, anxious, medicated, and that’s not appropriate, especially when business is approved by the government. That’s the real problem we have here. “

Island Health has a contract with Robbins Parking for the facilities, all of which see a maximum fee of $25.00. Robbins operates the lots and collects the fees, while the hospital takes the funds from the regular pay rates, which vary between $1.50 to $2.75 per hour, with weekly rates available.

READ MORE: Hospital pay parking revenue in B.C. topped $36M last fiscal

In a November conference meeting in Victoria, BC Health Minister Adrian Dix said that the province is reviewing current paid parking policies, noting that hospital parking fees bring in about $40 million in gross revenue annually.

More than $8 million was brought in to Island Health hospitals, a healthy revenue considering that only $1.2 million goes to Robbins.

“The big takeaway is to think twice before you pay for parking when you have to use the services of a hospital,” Buss said. “We want to put pressure on the ministry [of health] so it takes action before the 2022 election.”

The best solution, Buss said, would be to immediately implement two hours of free parking, as was recently introduced for city streets around the Surrey Memorial Hospital. That would leave time for patients and supporters to settle into a hospital and register with administration for free use of the lot, while anyone who hadn’t registered would still be susceptible for fees.

Immune discovery 'may treat all cancer'

A newly-discovered part of our immune system could be harnessed to treat all cancers, say scientists.

The Cardiff University team discovered a method of killing prostate, breast, lung and other cancers in lab tests.

The findings, published in Nature Immunology, have not been tested in patients, but the researchers say they have "enormous potential".

Experts said that although the work was still at an early stage, it was very exciting.

What have they found?

Our immune system is our body's natural defence against infection, but it also attacks cancerous cells.

The scientists were looking for "unconventional" and previously undiscovered ways the immune system naturally attacks tumours.

What they found was a T-cell inside people's blood. This is an immune cell that can scan the body to assess whether there is a threat that needs to be eliminated.

The difference is this one could attack a wide range of cancers.

"There's a chance here to treat every patient," researcher Prof Andrew Sewell told the BBC.

He added: "Previously nobody believed this could be possible.

"It raises the prospect of a 'one-size-fits-all' cancer treatment, a single type of T-cell that could be capable of destroying many different types of cancers across the population."

How does it work?

T-cells have "receptors" on their surface that allow them to "see" at a chemical level.

The Cardiff team discovered a T-cell and its receptor that could find and kill a wide range of cancerous cells in the lab including lung, skin, blood, colon, breast, bone, prostate, ovarian, kidney and cervical cancer cells.

Crucially, it left normal tissues untouched.    

Exactly how it does this is still being explored.

This particular T-cell receptor interacts with a molecule called MR1, which is on the surface of every cell in the human body.

It is thought MR1 is flagging the distorted metabolism going on inside a cancerous cell to the immune system.

"We are the first to describe a T-cell that finds MR1 in cancer cells - that hasn't been done before, this is the first of its kind," research fellow Garry Dolton told the BBC.

Why is this significant?

T-cell cancer therapies already exist and the development of cancer immunotherapy has been one of the most exciting advances in the field.

The most famous example is CAR-T - a living drug made by genetically engineering a patient's T-cells to seek out and destroy cancer.

CAR-T can have dramatic results that transform some patients from being terminally ill to being in complete remission.

However, the approach is highly specific and works in only a limited number of cancers where there is a clear target to train the T-cells to spot.

And it has struggled to have any success in "solid cancers" - those that form tumours rather than blood cancers such as leukaemia.

The researchers say their T-cell receptor could lead to a "universal" cancer treatment.

B.C. forest industry grasps for hope amid seven-month strike, shutdowns, changes

The crisis facing British Columbia’s forest industry is intensifying as markets decline, mills shut and a strike involving 3,000 forestry workers enters its seventh month.

The multiple threats are deeper than the global meltdown of 2008 and may rival the damage wrought by B.C.’s 1980s recession, setting off massive industry restructuring, says an insider who is hearing from many people on the brink of financial collapse.

“There’s a whole bunch of things swirling around that’s causing a whole world of hurt for people working in this industry,” said David Elstone, executive director for the B.C. Truck Loggers Association.

“Many people are saying this is worse than 2008. Back in 2008, the industry was in rough shape but so was the rest of the world in tough shape with the global financial crisis.”

READ MORE: B.C. puts up $5M for forestry strike, but critics not impressed

Mining Opportunties For Northern Vancouver Island

A new mineral survey set to be released Tuesday in Vancouver could lead to new mining opportunities — and new mining jobs — on northern Vancouver Island.

Geoscience BC is keeping the results of its airborne survey close to its vest for now, but Mineral Projects Manager Brady Clift says the mining industry is likely going to be very interested in what it shows.

“I would expect that right away we’ll see people that will start staking mineral claims in the area,” he says, adding work could begin in the area as soon as the summer. “When geologists and geophysicists look at the data they’ll find lots of anomalies that they’ll find fairly enticing.”

The latest exploration is an update of work done by the group in 2012-2013, spurred by their advisory committee.

“They look at the province, and look at areas that need new work and they looked at Northern Vancouver Island–which has a history of mining–and they decided that it was time to update the work that had been done there.”

According to Geosciences BC, after they published the data from their 2012-2013 survey, over 16,000 hectares of new mineral exploration claims were staked on Northern Vancouver Island, sparking economic activity in the region.

The survey was preceded by consultations with municipalities and First Nations and open houses in Port Hardy and Campbell River, and Clift says their presence was welcome.

“The response that we got from the communities and the other groups on the Island was always very positive.”

The survey itself covered an area of some 6,000 square kilometers on the northern tip of Vancouver Island, where mining jobs are traditionally far fewer than those in the forestry sector.

Province offering $5 million to coastal truck loggers impacted by strike

The province is doling out $5 million to struggling logging contractors impacted by the longest strike in coastal forest history.

Premier John Horgan made the announcement yesterday, during his speech at the Truck Loggers Association convention in Vancouver.

Association executive director, David Elstone, said the funds will help contractors continue to pay for their equipment.

The labour impasse between the United Steelworkers union and Western Forest Products started on Canada Day, and impacts 3,000 coastal forestry workers.

“It’s been seven months without earning any income and their current financing is being stretched,” Elstone said. “Obviously, we don’t know when the strike is going to end. Hopefully it ends… next week, maybe it’s going to end in two months from now. We don’t know.”

In a statement, the province says that “we know how difficult the ongoing labour dispute is for workers, contractors, families and coastal communities. This dispute has taken a toll on everyone in the community, and has been an especially long, difficult and stressful time for forestry workers.

Our government is committed to supporting forestry workers, contractors and their families. That’s why we have created the $5 million Coastal Logging Equipment Support Trust that will provide financing to eligible coastal logging contractors to help avert foreclosure of logging equipment on the coast.”

Through the Coastal Logging Equipment Support Trust, eligible independent coastal logging contractors will be able to borrow bridging funds, allowing them to continue making payments on their logging equipment.

Coastal logging contractors who access funds through the Coastal Logging Equipment Support will be required to pay back those funds plus interest.

Port McNeill Mayor, Gaby Wickstrom,  was at the convention in Vancouver. 

She said something is better than nothing.

“But at the end of the day, the guys want to get back to work,” Wickstrom said.

Wickstrom added that she was disappointed to hear Horgan state that the government won’t get involved, and that the best agreements are reached at the bargaining table.

“My argument would be, ‘best for whom at this point after seven months?’” Wickstrom said. “It’s certainly not best for people in our communities.”

Wickstrom doesn’t see a resolution happening anytime soon.

“The premier did allude to the fact that he had hoped something would be reached by next week but I really don’t want to get my hopes up because he had said that before and then nothing’s happened,” she said. 

“He did mention that he is intensely frustrated, and that this is a ridiculous length of time for them for them to be out, but he didn’t commit to any sort of action that would help the two get back at the table and help them find a solution to this bargaining predicament that they’re in.”

Wickstrom said she agrees in the bargaining process when it works, “but this one is not working and it’s very evident after seven months.”

“I believe that the two sides won’t reach an agreement on their own and I think that they will need some help, but I don’t anticipate, honestly, for that to happen until the House goes back into session.”

More details are expected to come from the province next week.

BC Ferries’ new hybrid electric vessels arriving in island waters

BC Ferries’ new Island Class ships are expected to arrive tomorrow.

They’ll be docked at the Breakwater District at Ogden Point in Victoria. 

The Island Class are battery equipped ships designed for future full electric operation. 

The ships are fitted with hybrid technology that, BC Ferries says, “bridges the gap until shore charging infrastructure and funding becomes available in B.C.”

From the exterior details to the engines, the design of the new vessels reduces underwater radiated noise, lowers emissions and improves customer service. 

These ships will be put into service on the Powell River–Texada Island and Port McNeill–Alert Bay–Sointula routes by mid-2020. 

The company will hold events to celebrate the ferries’ introduction into service with both employees and the communities. 

“It’s an exciting day for BC Ferries and coastal B.C. communities as we welcome these ships to their new home,” said Mark Collins, BC Ferries’ president and CEO. 

“The anticipated arrival of these battery hybrid-electric ferries marks a major milestone in our plan to progressively lower emissions across our fleet and be a leader in transitioning to a lower carbon future.” 

The vessels left Constanta, Romania on Nov. 20 on a semi-submersible transport vessel. 

They’ll spend five days at Ogden Point while preparations are made to unload and deliver them to Victoria’s Point Hope Maritime.

To do so, the semi submersible transport ship will partially submerge and the two ships will be floated off and maneuvered by tugs to Point Hope Maritime. 

The shipyard that built the ferries has an agreement with Point Hope Maritime of Victoria to provide technical and warranty support for the new vessels, ensuring repair and maintenance activities will be performed in B.C. 

Point Hope Maritime is re-commissioning the ships, as is required after the transport. 

This work includes starting up all of the systems and final inspections. 

BC Ferries will take ownership following this process. 

The ships will then be christened before BC Ferries moves on to crew training, ship familiarization and dock fits. 

“We are proud to support the environmental leadership investment that BC Ferries has made in these new hybrid vessels, and we welcome our service agreement with the shipbuilder that has resulted in capacity development and new specialized jobs here at Point Hope,” says Riccardo Regosa, General Manager at Point Hope Maritime. 

“We have a dedicated team of skilled employees who have been training for the ships’ arrival. We look forward to playing an integral role getting these vessels ready for service, and to providing ongoing reliable, quality services ensuring that BC Ferries’ next generation vessels perform optimally. Point Hope Maritime has enjoyed a positive and productive working relationship with BC Ferries that has grown over many years, and is very excited to be a vital part of their future generation of ships.” 

Travel Not Recommended

January 15, 2020

From the recent pictures we have seen on the highway to Campbell River, it's a good day to stay home.

The folks in Vancouver and elsewhere on the island are being told the same thing.   

Because of extreme winter weather, motorists are advised to avoid all but essential travel throughout the Metro Vancouver region today, including the Fraser Valley.

A travel advisory also applies to Vancouver Island on Highway 1 from Nanaimo south to Victoria, as well as Highways 14, 17 and 18.

Persistent snow, high winds and cold temperatures are causing poor road conditions. Those who must travel are asked to use extreme caution and drive to the conditions. The ministry advises travellers to expect winter conditions for the rest of the week.

All motorists are encouraged to plan ahead and drive according to weather and road conditions, slowing down when they encounter bad weather or limited visibility. 

Winter tire regulations are in effect, and drivers are encouraged to get the best tires they can. People should ensure their vehicles have tires with the mountain/snowflake or mud and snow (M + S) symbol when travelling on designated routes.  

Wing Night Jan 15th At The Ridge

Take in the best deal on Vancouver Island...bring your family and your appetite,

Free Dental Care

Compass Dental in Campbell River is offering free dental care Sunday Jan 26th.

First come, first servced.  Fillings and extractions to those over 18 yrs.

Last patient to be seen at 3 p.m..  arrive early, registration begins at 8 a.m.

Good Report On CHEK TV about dismal highway webcam service

People who drive Highway 28 between Gold River and Campbell River are used to seeing a wide range of weather conditions during the winter.  scroll down to see the video of "click here"

 

“If it’s raining here in Gold River there’s no guarantee it’s raining on the highway,” said Gold River resident Barb Wilson. “It could be snowing and blowing and sometimes it is.”

 

That’s why people in places like Gold River or Port McNeill and Port Hardy would like to be able to rely on the Ministry of Transportation highway cameras. They’re accessed through the DriveBC website and show current conditions of highways around the province.

 

However, in some remote locations like Highway 19 north of Campbell River or Highway 28 west of Campbell River where the cameras rely on solar power, there are some camera feeds that are unavailable for extended periods of time.

 

“The cameras are operational very little of the time,” said Gold River Mayor Brad Unger. “I would say very little to never right now in the winter when they’re needed the most.”

 

“With the cameras, of course, you can have a picture of the highway and you can see if it’s plowed or not,” he added.

 

There isn’t a grocery store in Gold River anymore so people have to go to Campbell River and weather dictates whether they can or not.

 

“Every single community member that lives here relies on going to Campbell River for medical treatments, for appointments or any number of reasons and on that highway if you head out, it’s so easy to end up in the ditch when the weather is bad,” said Kevin Kowalchuk, Administrator for the Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation.

 

People in these northern communities share road conditions on social media instead of relying on the cameras.

 

People who use Highway 19 say the Tsitika camera, 101 km north of Campbell River is rarely working in the winter.

 

“So the Tsitika, in particular, is very important for us to be able to see what the conditions are like because that’s usually where it’s the worst,” said Port McNeill Mayor Gaby Wickstrom.

 

Wickstrom and Unger say they’ve raised the issue with the Minister of Transportation Claire Trevena but have not received a satisfactory response.

 

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure released this statement:

 

“The ministry is aware of the Tsitika camera outage, and we have heard residents’ concerns. We sympathize with the frustration this causes and thank travellers for their patience while we resolve this. Typically a camera outage can occur due to a loss of power or a loss of communication with the camera, and cameras in remote areas can face challenges. The Tsitika camera outage occurred in late December and ministry staff are currently working to diagnose the issue. We look forward to getting these cameras back up as soon as possible.”

Vancouver Island Makes CNN's Top 20 Best Places

You don’t have to leave the Island if you want to see one of CNN Travel’s 20 best places to visit in 2020.

In the annual list, CNN’s travel editors described Vancouver Island as a treasure chest with “pristine forest and beaches punctuated by small, artsy towns and a cosmopolitan capital city.”

 

“You could easily occupy an adventure-packed month there backpacking, camping and eating well. More manageable is an itinerary between two towns — the southern coastal paradise of Tofino and the capital, Victoria — with a five-hour, bear-sighting, picturesque drive in between,” David G. Allan wrote.

 

Allan describes Tofino as a pretty fishing village with excellent but affordable dining options.

He also recommends the Atleo River Air Service  “milk run” route, the Royal BC Museum in Victoria, the Common Loaf Bake Shop in TofinoTacofino in Tofino the Pink Dishrack, also in Victoria.

 

“Or orient your Vancouver Island visit by activity or theme: romantic getaway, rugged outdoor adventure, First Nation art and culture, foodie pilgrimage, nature nirvana, surf safari or a combination,” Allan wrote.

Here is the full list of CNN Travel’s 20 places to visit in 2020, in alphabetical order:

1. Chile Lake District
2. Copenhagen, Denmark
3. The Dead Sea
4. Dominica
5. Estonia
6. Galway, Ireland
7. Jamaica
8. Kyrgyzstan
9. Kyushu, Japan
10. Paraty and Ilha Grande, Brazil
11. New Caledonia
12. São Tomé and Príncipe
13. St. Petersburg, Russia
14. Sri Lanka
15. Tunisia
16. Vancouver Island
17. Washington, D.C.
18. Wuppertal, Germany
19. Wyoming
20. Zambia

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Removal of MSP premiums a highlight of 2019 for Claire Trevena

As we enter a new decade, Claire Trevena is reflecting on an eventful 2019.Changes made over the past year will continue into the new year, as the North Island MLA was quick to mention the Medical Services Plan bill.

“We’re going to see the effect roll into 2020 when people no longer have to pay MSP premiums,” Trevena says. “This is putting us in line with the rest of the country as we’re not having this extra burden on families.”

The first step towards the elimination of MSP premiums began with a 50% cut as part of the Budget 2017 update.

Budget 2018 and Budget 2019 provided the road map to one of the largest tax cuts for middle-class British Columbians in B.C.’s history, and as of Jan. 1st, 2020, MSP premiums were fully eliminated.

When further reflecting on 2019, Trevena mentioned that a substantial amount of money was invested in childcare.

“The North Island has had, through our government, more than $9 million dollars spent on childcare. We’re extraordinarily proud of that.”

Another focus of 2019 for Trevena was housing and development, with over 22,000 new affordable homes across the province.

Closer to home, Trevena says changes made to B.C. ferry routes are in everyone’s benefit.

“We returned routes that were cut by the B.C. Liberals and we made sure that those came back on stream. We’ve kept fairs lower while maintaining the free seniors’ fairs Monday to Thursday.”

Trevena added that while looking forward to the new decade, she is proud of the work done in 2019 to make life better and more affordable.

Seismologist says it’s best to be prepared after cluster of quakes off Vancouver Island

It’s not a matter of if, but when the big one hits the south coast of B.C.

That’s what earthquake seismologist, Alison Bird, is saying, with a whole lot of shaking going on during the Christmas week.

It’s been a busy few days on the earthquake front, with a number of quakes of varying magnitudes happening off the coast of Vancouver Island from Dec. 23 to 25.

The most recent was a 4.9 quake that happened at 12:38pm on Christmas Day, about 200 kilometres west of Port Hardy.

It came after a 3.6 quake at 8:25am Christmas morning, 153 kilometres west of Port Alice.

This was considered an aftershock from a 6.2 quake that happened on Christmas Eve in the general vicinity.

That one was felt by people on the northern tip of Vancouver Island, which Bird said “is not surprising, even though it was quite a distance away.”

Bird, who is with Natural Resources Canada, said this kind of earthquake activity is very normal: “We often see earthquakes in this area and often they sort of flare up like this in sort of like a swarm of activity, so you have a lot of earthquakes in a short period of time in the same location.”

She added that these are part of our normal tectonics.

“We have active tectonics all along the west coast of British Columbia,” Bird explained. “So we’ve got the Cascadia subduction zone from about midway down Vancouver Island, down into Northern California, so a lot of people focus on that because that’s the source of the potential ‘big one.’”

Then, she says, there’s the Queen Charlotte transform fault in the north “but between that there are a whole bunch of smaller plates and faults where you get a lot of activity, and that’s where this is happening over the last few days.”

Looking down the road, Bird said the odds are actually quite high that we will experience a major earthquake in our lifetime.

“We have a 100 percent certainty that there will be a large damaging earthquake,” she said. “Whether it will happen within the next decade is harder to tell. In the southern half of Vancouver Island, you have about a one in three chance of experiencing a damaging earthquake within the next 50 years.”

With that in mind, Bird said you have to view earthquakes in the same context as house fires and car accidents.

“These are things that we prepare for,” she said. “We have our smoke detector, we put on our seatbelts, and an earthquake is just another hazard that we have in this region,” she said.

“That’s why we need to prepare for those.”

Bird said the recent earthquakes are not happening in conjunction with the Cascadia subduction zone, so there is not really a link there, but we will have earthquakes in that area.

Earthquakes are ruptures in the crust of the earth and the tectonic plates.

Often, as two plates slide past each other, this causes larger earthquakes. But earthquakes can also happen within the plates because of the stress they are under.

“We see a lot of activity within the North American plate,” Bird said. 

“We’re living on top of the North American plate and then also within the subducting Juan de Fuca Plate as it bends and goes beneath us and down into the mantle so earthquakes can happen in both of those plates as well as on the fault between them.”

Make that four earthquakes

The series of seismic events all happened off the northwest coast of Vancouver Island today. Although none of them led to a tsunami warning, they did get progressively stronger.

Each one originated roughly five kilometres deep and more than 100 kilometres away from Port Hardy. Earthquakes Canada says the first happened at 8:44am west, registering a magnitude of 5.1.

The second, a 5.6 hit at 11:13am, the third was a 5.8 at 11:49am, and the fourth, which came in at 6.0, was detected at 12:56pm.

There are no reports of any damage. 

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Escape of non-native salmon on B.C. coast puts farm phase-out plan in spotlight

The escape of an estimated 20,000 non-native fish off Vancouver Island demonstrates the urgent need to phase out ocean-based farming and calls into question the federal government's own five-year deadline, say wild salmon advocates.

Stan Proboszcz, science and campaign adviser with the Watershed Watch Society, said the salmon escape may have ecological impacts on already struggling wild stocks.

"It's incidents like this that make it pretty clear that we really do need the federal government to move on removing farms from British Columbian waters. This is just another stressor on wild fish, so we just hope that we see a plan very soon," he said Monday.

He said Atlantic salmon can compete with wild Pacific salmon for food and habitat, as well as spread parasites and viruses.

When more than 200,000 Atlantic salmon escaped from a Washington state farm in August 2017, Proboszcz said some fish were later found with wild salmon in their bellies, demonstrating they can also act as predators of Pacific stocks.

Fish farm company Mowi, formerly known as Marine Harvest, said in a statement that it has notified federal regulators and area First Nations about the fire that damaged its net pen in the waters near Port Hardy, B.C.

The damaged pen discovered Friday will be towed to land and an investigation will be undertaken to determine the cause of the fire, it says.

But the company suggested the exotic species won't survive in Pacific waters long.

"The escaped fish are farm animals unaccustomed to living in the wild, and thus unable to forage their own food and easy prey. Judging by the number of sea lions congregating near the involved farm it is likely many have already been eaten by predators," it says.

Phasing out net-pen fish farming in B.C. waters was a Liberal campaign promise in this year's federal election, and the mandate letter for newly appointed Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan directs her to work with the B.C. government and Indigenous communities to create a plan for a transition by 2025.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also tells Jordan to begin work to introduce Canada's first ever Aquaculture Act. The existing Fisheries Act was designed for wild fisheries and the new legislation will aim to increase regulatory consistency across the country with an environmentally sustainable approach, the government says online.

No one from the Department of Fisheries was immediately available to comment on the transition plan. 

Among the feedback the federal government has received through early consultations on the legislation is a need for a more effective risk management framework and support for Indigenous involvement and rights in the sector, it says.

NDP fisheries critic Gord John said in a statement the recent Atlantic escape is proof that the time table for the removal of open net-pen farms from Pacific waters needs to be accelerated.

Others found the deadline daunting.

Dianne Morrison, managing director for Mowi Canada West, said the company was disappointed to see the campaign commitment. It came at a time when industry was already in discussions with government about alternative technologies that could quell some concerns about the risks facing wild stocks through a technical working group.

"That group was to investigate how, and which method makes most sense from both a business, ecological and social points of view," she said. "But the statement in the election platform flew in the face of that."

Morrison said the company is still interested in exploring alternatives with the government to an outright ban on ocean-based farms, including closed-containment farms in the ocean.

"My fear is that if we take it to the extreme of land-based (farming) by 2025, that's not currently possible from a technical point of view. It would also put the relationship we have with First Nations in rural communities in jeopardy," she said, adding that the business case isn't there for closed-containment farms in remote locations.

Bob Chamberlin, a long-time wild salmon advocate and former elected chief with the Kwikwasut'inuxw Haxwa'mis First Nation, said he hopes the government doesn't make the phasing out of open net-pen farms dependent on the establishment of a new industry of closed containment farms.

Closed containment farms, which can be either on land or self-contained in the ocean, could require extensive consultations, land negotiations and other delay-causing steps, he said.

"With a 2025 timeline, we have to start work right now," Chamberlin said.

Chamberlin said he plans to travel the province next year to discuss the changes with other First Nations.

A plan announced by the provincial government is already underway to phase out 17 fish farms in the Broughton Archipelago by 2023, in partnership with the Kwikwasut'inuxw Haxwa'mis and two other First Nations.

"Every industry evolves and it's time for this industry to evolve out of the ocean. There are far too many questions about the impacts about the environment and wild salmon, and it's time. It's time to get them out of the ocean, period," Chamberlin said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 24, 2019.

B.C. mayor calling for internet access on stretch of Vancouver Island highway

(Editors Note:  We will definately keeping any eye on this story, wouldn't t be nice if the Gold River highway had camera's that worked too?!!)

The mayor of Ucluelet, B.C., is calling for wireless internet to be installed along a stretch of highway that connects the west coast community to the rest of Vancouver Island.

Mayor Mayco Noel says ongoing upgrades on Highway 4 are forcing residents to sit in their vehicles for long stretches of time with no way to communicate because there is no cell service in that area. Noel says installing Wi-Fi at both ends of the construction zone could make it less frustrating for locals who rely on the road as the only access route in and out of Ucluelet and Tofino.

The Ministry of Transportation is responsible for the upgrades near Kennedy Lake, about 12 kilometres northeast of the Ucluelet/Tofino junction on Highway 4. Construction began in 2018 and Noel says it is expected to last for another 12 to 18 months.

"We are just nervous there are going to be continuous, unplanned shutdowns of the highway and we'd like to get some better communication when we are sitting in the lineup for sometimes hours on end," said Noel on CBC's All Points West.

A Message From Kaitlyn Nohr

To anyone that was impacted by the fire Wednesday night at Parkview****

For those that don’t already know, I am the social worker at the health clinic in gold river. For those that have been displaced, your applications through emergency management services with the province will take care of accommodation and meals until Saturday (72 hours after incident). If you are in need of FURTHER assistance past Saturday, this includes accommodation and basic needs, I have arranged for the Red Cross to come provide needs assessments and support.
In order to access this, those impacted by the fire MUST attend in PERSON to :

The Chalet Social Room, tomorrow Saturday December 21st 2019, between 9:30am-11:00am. Please bring a copy of your ID if you have it with you, if you don’t please attend anyways.

If you do not attend we will assume you have found support through family/friends or other means.
Anything further I can be reached on Monday at the health clinic 8:30-4.
Thank you

Mount Washington Is Open!

s of Saturday, open lifts in Alpine will include Whiskey Jack, Eagle and Hawk chairs, as well as all carpets in the entire Easy-Acres beginner. Download our new mobile app to stay current on open terrain and what runs have been groomed.

For Nordic operations, Westland Passage, Jutland, The Grind and Upper West are open for both classic and skate. Lower Marmot is open for skate only, and for snowshoeing, Old Cabin Trail and Crooked Creek are open

Forests minister says ‘frustration is high’ as strike nears six-month mark

The province isn’t going to wade into the labour impasse that’s keeping 3,000 workers in the forestry sector off the job. Negotiations stalled between the United Steelworkers union and Western Forest Products earlier in the week, meaning the strike could hit the six-month mark.

B.C. forests minister, Doug Donaldson, said the province wants bargaining to take its course: “Our approach is that this is a labour dispute between a private company and a private union, and those disputes are best settled through collective bargaining.”However, he said the province is strongly urging both sides to make a deal.

“I made a commitment that I would get in touch with Labour Minister (Harry) Bains. He had met with senior members of the United Steelworkers yesterday afternoon and he had met with the CEO and senior managers of Western Forest Products the day before.”

According to Donaldson, Bains “delivered the message that our expectation is that we want to see a deal get done as soon as possible. They were receptive to that message. That was the approach that we’ve been taking and we hope to see them bargaining a negotiated agreement.”

Donaldson and North Island MLA, Claire Trevena, spoke to those affected by the strike at the the Kwa’lilas Hotel in Port Hardy yesterday.

“I was very happy to meet in Port Hardy, privately with contractors and then generally at an open meeting where there were contractors and members of the business community, and local government,” he said. 

“I also had met in Port McNeill previous to that with local government and United Steelworkers, as well.”

Donaldson said that the frustration was “heard and definitely understood.”

He added that he and Bains had met with members of the contractor community who had come down to Victoria, “so the level of frustration is high and it’s not just among contractors, but among union workers as well.”

“It was good to hear directly from people at the meeting, how the impacts of this strike is affecting everyone in the community and the words they used was the collateral damage that was happening, and that was something that was brought up by many people.”

Donaldson said the government is putting a bridge financing program in place for contractors who are at risk of having their equipment repossessed or have had their equipment taken, already.

“We know when this strike ends, we need a healthy contracting sector in order to get the harvesting done and getting the logs moving, once again,” he said. “We’re developing that program and that will be rolled out in the near future.”

Meanwhile, he said the forest sector “needs changes.”

“We heard that in both Port McNeill and in Port Hardy that people want to see a change in policies and management of the forests that surround the communities so that communities benefit first and foremost from the trees that are growing on the lands close to him,” Donaldson added.

He said one step is to review stumpage fees.

“The policies that we put in place beginning last April with the Coast Forest Sector Revitalization Initiative was to try to drive more logs on the island to domestic mills and to bring more of the fibre out of the forest that we left behind,” Donaldson said.

“However we understand the current situation and so what I announced (was), the annual update of the coast stumpage system has been conducted and we’re factoring in the lumber-based factor more than we have in the past to reflect what the system is in the interior.”

He said that will mean a drop in almost half in stumpage to an average of $8.82 per cubic metre from the rate of $18.73. 

“That will make a difference on some of the economics around harvesting some of the sales and stands that are out there,” Donaldson said. 

“We’ve also deferred the fee in lieu changes for six months on the coast that we had anticipated putting in place this month, and also revised the fibre recovery zones. We got cost data back from industry so we’re able to make the boundaries of those zones a little more precise.”

The province is attuned to the industry’s concerns, Donaldson said, “and we’re putting in place policies that will make a difference.”

Campbell River Donates $20,000

The City of Campbell River is giving Loonies for Loggers a huge financial gift, just in time for Christmas.

Last night, council members approved a $20,000 donation to the grassroots group, that delivers food and Christmas hampers for forestry families up and down the island, as well as in Powell River.

Rona Doucette and Tamara Meggitt started Loonies For Loggers in September, to show their support to the families on Vancouver Island impacted by the forestry workers strike.

With the funds coming from the city, they’ll have raised about $100,000. 

The help is needed, with the impasse between Western Forest Products and the United Steelworkers Union Local 1-1937 is approaching the six-month mark.

Councillor Charlie Cornfield said he fully supports the initiative. He said the impacts of the strike is far reaching.

“This strike issue has affected some people since July of this year,” he said. 

“That changed about a month ago and it now affects everyone in the forest sector on the coast. We’re starting to see that trickle-down effect and spin-off to the supporting companies, manufacturers, suppliers… everyone that comes into play.”

Cornfield said the impacts of the strike is starting to hit home.

“We’ve been insulated because we’ve had some companies that were working and there was lots of work out there,” he said. “But right now it is hitting down low and it’s going to get worse before it gets better, and I think we need to support the industry that helped build this community.”

Mayor Andy Adams said for those who have been out of work since July, this is normally the time when they are doing the last bit of work for the year before a traditional four-month shutdown.

“So that means that six months is really 10 months that some people will be out of work which is already having a devastating impact, but will continue to do so until there is some resolution,” he said. “And we do understand that Mr. (Vince) Ready is trying to work out a mediation today and they’re continuing talks tomorrow and we wish them well, but even if they do come to a resolution, that’s not going to help people until four or five months from now before the paycheques start rolling in again.”

The funds will come out of the 2019 council contingency budget.

Add Your Cell Number To Strathcona Emergency Services

Don't forget to add your cellphone number to your Connect Rocket account. Connect Rocket is the emergency mass notification system used by the Strathcona Regional District. Voice messages are sent to landlines, voice and text messages to mobile devices within a cell coverage area.

I urge people living within the Strathcona Regional District to save the Connect Rocket community number (778-762-3201) in mobile devices – under a such as Emergency Notifications.

Residents and visitors can sign up and manage their contact details at the Strathcona Regional District’s Connect Rocket web page

Well Hello Cell Service!!!!!

It's official! We now have cell service in Gold River.

Congratulations on the rollout and a big thanks to the team members who made it happen.

By having cell service in our community can open up many opportunites that simply weren't possible before.

It's going to be fun!  Your first tip,  when you're watching netflix on your phone, make sure you are connected to your home wi-fi and not using your data!  Click here for a few more tips on smartphone use.

Brown’s Bay Packing Co. denies claims of contaminated effluent

Claims of bloody wastewater with piscine orthoreovirus flowing into Brown’s Bay are being denied by Brown’s Bay Packing Co. In a new video posted on YouTube, the company says the statements made by salmon farming critics are simply not true.

It gives a brief unedited look at what is happening both above and below the water.

The video is a response to an activist’s video showing the company discharging blood effluent into the water, two years after originally bringing the issue to light.

Brown’s Bay says it has made a significant capital investment in a cutting edge water treatment system that went online in May.

In the same time period, its regulators modernized the permit process with strict standards.

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