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"Celebrating 20 Years In B.C."

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BC Ferries launches new 'mobile-friendly' website

ravellers looking to plan a trip aboard a BC Ferries vessel can now book, plan and pay for their ferry ticket on BC Ferries’ new “mobile-friendly” website.

The new website launched Tuesday and has been streamlined for customers, especially those looking to book their trip on a mobile device.

The website will update in real-time and will list current travel conditions at all major terminals.

A new trip planner tool is also available which can help customers book their sailings more efficiently, as well as calculate their fares.

Starting Tuesday, customers along Northern and Central Coast routes will be able to book and pay for their vehicle or passenger fares online, incluging special resident fares. Cabins and seats can also be reserved in advance along northern routes.

BC Ferries notes that under the new website, sailings will list how much space is available by percentage. Previously, BC Ferries listed how full a sailing was by percentage.

“As British Columbians return to safely travelling within B.C., BC Ferries’ new website will make it easier for customers to get where they need to go,” said the company in a release Tuesday.

Gold River Part Of Group Demanding COVID 19 Locations To Be Made Public

An investigation into the provincial government holding secret the locations of COVID-19 outbreaks by B.C’s privacy commissioner is being welcomed by a group of First Nations and information freedom advocates.

The groups said in a Sept. 15 application to commissioner Michael McEvoy that B.C.’s government must disclose COVID-19 infection locations by law.

 

“If COVID-19 proximate case information does not represent information about a risk of significant harm to our communities, we don’t know what does,” Heiltsuk Nation chief councillor Marilyn Slett said as the complaint was filed.  So, McEvoy said Sept 18, he would initiate an investigation and proceed with a written hearing followed by a written decision.  

In the hearing notice, McEvoy said there have been “extensive communications between the complainants and the Ministry, which suggest that an attempt to resolve the complaint informally would be unlikely to succeed.”

The notice said the communities involved are Port Hardy, Haida Gwaii, Klemtu, Ocean Falls, Denny Island, Nanaimo, Campbell River, Prince George, the Metro Vancouver Regional District, Williams Lake and Quesnel, Bamfield, Port Alberni, Uculelet, Tofino, Campbell River, Duncan, Tahsis, Zeballos and Gold River.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has been among those resistant to such information release and has maintained the risk is everywhere.

“It would be irresponsible to mention only a few communities and give people outside those areas a false sense that they are not susceptible or at lower risk. Every health region in British Columbia has people with COVID-19,” Henry said in an April 6 opinion article. “Every community and home town – no matter how large or small – is at risk.”

However, the Heiltsuk Nation, the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council and Tsilhqot’in National Government and other First Nations, civil society groups and doctors assert the government’s refusal to share information violates Section 25 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

That section says information must be disclosed in the public interest whether or not a request for access is made. It says the information must be disclosed without delay to the public or affected group of people “about a risk of significant harm to the environment or to the health or safety of the public or a group of people, or the disclosure of which is, for any other reason, clearly in the public interest.”

However, the nations said B.C.’s own Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act requires that government “take all measures necessary” to ensure the laws of B.C. are consistent with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
That declaration includes rights to self-determination, self-government and to develop and determine programs for maintaining the health and well-being of Indigenous people.

BC Ferries to get $308 million in federal-provincial funding

Federal and provincial cabinet ministers have announced more details about how the money from the Safe Restart agreement will be used to support transit systems and BC Ferries.

The joint funding totals $1.08 billion, with the province and the federal government each contributing $540 million.

“This significant one-time funding will cover the operational losses that happened to date, and the losses we project through the current and next fiscal years,” B.C. Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said during Friday’s funding announcement.

“It will ensure service levels for transit and ferries are maintained across the province, and that fares remain affordable,” she said.

“The province will formalize the Safe Restart funding relief through contribution agreements with each transportation agency.”

BC Ferries president Mark Collins said the ferry company has already submitted a detailed plan to the government that will “meet the public interest and the interests of customers in the provision of safe, reliable and affordable ferry service.”

He said BC Ferries looks forward to working out the formal agreement with the province, “so we can maximize the benefit of the Safe Restart Funding Program for ferry users, and help restart the B.C. economy.”

BC Ferries has just wrapped up an online engagement to be followed by meetings with a 20-person working group to develop “a practical list of solutions that can be implemented in the near term, including potential changes to operational procedures, schedules, reservation policies and communications” to improve service to the Sunshine Coast.

Asked by Coast Reporter whether the Safe Restart funding would assure BC Ferries is able to implement any recommendations the working group puts forward, Trevena said the money is specifically to help BC Ferries and the transit agencies deal with the impacts of COVID.

Federal Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson was asked whether the federal government was considering Premier John Horgan’s request to pull back from plans to reinstate the Transport Canada rules against passengers staying on the lower car decks on many BC Ferries routes.

“When a premier makes a request, of course we look at that request,” Wilkinson said.

However, he added: “At the beginning of the pandemic we didn’t really understand a lot about the virus, so there was a decision taken to allow people to remain within their cars. We now know a lot more about the virus [and] about the protocols that need to be put into place to keep people safe, including the requirement to make people wear masks on BC Ferries.

“There is a risk for people to actually remain in their cars in a ferry or other boat and at this stage the federal government’s view is that risk is higher than requiring people not to be in their cars.”

The Langdale-Horseshoe Bay route will be exempt from the rules when they go back into force Oct. 1, but they will apply to routes such as Powell River-Comox and Horshoe Bay-Nanaimo.

Mount Washington to open Dec. 4 with COVID-19 protocols in place

When Mount Washington Alpine Resort revs up the ski lifts for its planned opening date on Dec. 4, face coverings will be required to access the mountain.

The new rule is part of a number of regulations the ski hill announced to email subscribers in a letter from General Manager Dean Prentice on Sept. 11. The letter has since been posted to Mount Washington’s website.

“There has been so much uncertainty since the COVID-19 pandemic first upended our lives. Among the many lessons learned is the importance of clear and consistent communication, the setting of realistic expectations, and the need for tolerance for unexpected changes,” writes Prentice. “The embrace of all these lessons is going to be critical to a successful ski season, as is the recognition we’re all in this together.”

In addition to requiring face coverings to access the mountain, in lift lines, while loading, unloading and riding chair lifts, they will also be required in the base area, inside all buildings and during all ski and snowboard lessons.

READ ALSO: Mount Cain planning a modified winter season for north Island ski and snowboarders

“We are asking everyone to support these necessary changes and cooperate with resort workers who are in the challenging role of ensuring everyone’s safety,” he said. “Guests who don’t comply with the guidelines will be asked to leave.”

The resort will be designing lift lines to allow for physical distancing, and food will available for take-out, grab and go and via online ordering. The resort is also asking visitors to be prepared to spend their time at the resort outdoors, entering facilities when necessary.

While there’s still uncertainty of what capacity may be this winter, the resort said its main way of controlling the number of people on the mountain will be by limiting the number of daily lift tickets it sells. The resort said it intends to allow season pass holders access to the mountain any day it’s open without needing reservations.

However, reservations will be required for equipment rentals and all lessons and programs.

READ ALSO: Mt. Washington opens Island’s longest zip line

“There is no avoiding the fact that navigating your way around the resort will be different this winter,” said Prentice. “Compared to the alternative of no season, I hope you’ll agree the changes are manageable and worth any inconvenience.”

The resort is offering anyone who purchased a 2020/21 season pass to defer it to next season.

But for those who opt to keep their pass for this season, weather allowing, the resort will open Friday, Dec. 4.

“As always with our coastal climate, this depends on the weather,” said Prentice, “but our snow-making system is ready to blow, and we hope for cold temperatures as we as Mother Nature’s support for an on-time opening.”

Get Your Flu Shot This Year

Please note the following regarding flu shots.

We will not be taking any names or appointments until we have confirmed dates for flu clinics. Please also watch for updates from the Gold River Clinic, as their public health nurse will be doing flu shots around that time as well.

North Island MLA Claire Trevena says she won’t run in next provincial election

Another B.C. politician has no intention of running in the next provincial election, whenever that may be.

 

Claire Trevena, North Island MLA, announced in a press release Sunday that she will not seek re-election in the next provincial election.

 

“I will not be seeking re-election in the next provincial election. It is time to move on and take on new challenges,” she said in the release, adding. “It has been a great privilege to be the representative of the North Island for 15 years and to have the trust of people across the constituency.”

 

Trevena, a former journalist, was first elected in 2005 and is currently the province’s minister of transportation and infrastructure.

 

“As a minister, I have had an incredible team dedicated to making B.C. better,” she said.

North Island area timber supply under review

he provincial government is reviewing the timber supply for the northern part of Vancouver Island, which will inform how much timber can be harvested from the area over the next ten years.

Timber Supply Reviews (TSRs) are mandated by the Forest Act to occur every 10 years. However, since the North Island Timber Supply Area was created out of the Strathcona and Kingcome supply areas in 2017, this will be the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development’s first real look at the area in its current form.

“When you combine units, you end up with slightly different numbers, so with the combination, that’s why we’re doing it now,” explained Erin Moore, the timber supply forester who will be in charge of the review. “The TSRs basically review all of the legislation and all of the data to make sure that they use the best of the available data to assess what the timber supply should be.”

Initial attack crew from Campbell River a part of 206 B.C. firefighters headed for the U.S.

An initial attack crew from Campbell River is a part of a contingency of 206 firefighters from across the province headed to Oregon to help battle out of control wildfires.

A total of 37 crew members from the Coastal Fire Centre will be deployed, with crews headed to Chilliwack for briefing today.

The crews will depart for Redmond, Oregon, most likely tomorrow.

“It’s a mix of a unit crew, some initial attack crews, and then a single resource that will be operating as a task-force leader,” said Forrest Tower with the B.C. Wildfire Service.

“More personnel may be deployed in the coming days and weeks depending on how things go,” Tower said.

Smoke from the wildfires has shrouded much of the Pacific Northwest in a thick haze for more than a week.

For the latest smoke predictions, click here.

Respondents weigh in on future of coastal ferry services

The province is using feedback from thousands of British Columbians to help shape its vision for future coastal ferry services.People weighed in during a two-phased public engagement process.

“What we heard from the public is that while the current ferry service works well for some, there’s lots of room for improvement for those who most depend on it – those who live in ferry-dependent communities,” said transportation minister, Claire Trevena. 

“Our vision is that travel by coastal ferries is seamless, equitable and compatible with the needs of coastal communities and our natural environment. These may sound like basic principles for any transportation service, but these are all areas where we’ve heard improvements need to be made.”

Survey respondents generally say their greatest concern is affordability, followed by scheduling and reliability. 

They also expressed an interest in travelling without a vehicle if there were improvements, such as better parking at terminals or improved connectivity to public transit, taxi, ride hailing or cycling, or dedicated passenger-only ferry services in more accessible locations.

According to the province, they showed “strong support” for four themes 

The themes indicated that coastal ferry services should:

  • support efficient end-to-end travel of people and goods;

  • be equitable and accessible;

  • mitigate and be responsive to climate change; and

  • reflect the values of coastal communities.

Trevena will be meeting with BC Ferries Board, the BC Ferry Authority, its shareholders and the BC Ferries commissioner to discuss the feedback.

The province is using a portion of the federal Safe Restart Agreement funding, along with its own matched funding commitment for BC Ferries, to improve ferry service on the coast. 

This includes ensuring affordable fares, as well as access and reliability of service. 

For more on the feedback report, click here

B.C Premier working to allow passengers lower deck access on BC Ferries ships

Premier John Horgan says he’s doing what he can to reverse the decision made by Transport Canada to not allow BC Ferries passengers to stay in their cars. 

Transport Canada announced earlier this week that Starting September 30th, you’ll have to leave your vehicle if you’re parked on a lower deck when taking a BC Ferry.

On larger ships, you’ll still be able to remain in your vehicle on the upper, or open, deck.

Premier Horgan says he is working with officials in Ottawa to try and reverse the decision because he, along with others, feels it doesn’t quite fit British Columbia. 

“I am concerned about it and I did formally request through the minister of intergovernmental relations and the deputy Prime minister that Transport Canada continue to have the exemption in place that we requested at the beginning of the pandemic,” explained Horgan. 

“(Provincial health officer) Doctor Bonnie Henry supports that initiative. We’ve made a public health argument and we believe that the current circumstances should put aside the safety regulations that govern B.C Ferries.”

The Premier added that not only do government officials feel it’s not the right thing to do, but many British Columbians share that idea as well. 

“I think those regulations of course are being administered from Ottawa, they don’t understand I guess some of the subtleties of the BC Ferries system.”

“The vast majority of the travelling public I think would prefer to stay in thier vehicle then go to common areas so I’ve been making a pretty forceful argument this week to two ministers of the Trudeau government. I haven’t heard a positive response yet from the minister of transportation but I’m going to keep pushing on it,” he added. 

When Transport Canada rescinds the temporary flexibility at the end of the month, it will impact the following routes:

  •  Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay  

  • Tsawwassen – Duke Point  

  • Horseshoe Bay – Departure Bay  

  • Powell River – Comox  

  • Tsawwassen – Southern Gulf Islands

Access restrictions to enclosed vehicle decks will not apply when passengers are directed by an announcement to return to their vehicles before the vessel docks. 

To learn more about the changes visit the BC Ferries website

When opportunity calls, Gold River, Tahsis are ready to answer

On the western edge of Vancouver Island, two former resource hubs see bright prospects for improved safety and economic resilience after connecting to the TELUS wireless network earlier this year. 

Gold River Mayor Brad Unger knows exactly how important connection can be, especially when you’re all alone and badly injured.

In the winter of 2013, a slip outside his car on a harrowing stretch of mountainous highway on the outskirts of his small community on the western edge of Vancouver Island left Unger bleeding from three crushed temporal arteries. Worse, with no cell service to the area, Unger had no way to call for help. Luckily, the fates were with him that day.

“When you live through an accident like that, you sit back and you think, ‘You know, it’s very fortunate another car was right behind me. It might have been a very different story,’” he recalls, adding he still bears the scars from 120 stitches to the head.

It’s critical moments like this that propelled Unger’s tireless support of a plan to connect Gold River, and its 1,500 residents, to the TELUS wireless network. The ease of contacting family, friends, employers or work colleagues, wherever you may be, is undoubtedly important in this all-connected age. But in a remote region, where the nearest hospital is 89 kilometres away, Unger knows from painful experience that the ability to use a cell phone within the village will help save lives.  “It’s all about safety,” he says.

The new cell tower lit up in Gold River early in 2020 following a two-million-dollar investment by TELUS to connect the community to its world-leading 4G LTE network. A second tower was installed at the same time in the neighbouring village of Tahsis, population 300, with talks underway with the Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation to upgrade wireless services in the community of Tsaxana later this year. 

Along with cell service, the towers enable fast and reliable internet service to the region with speeds similar to those achieved in downtown urban centres.

For TELUS, Gold River marks a critical milestone: It is the last BC town with a population of over 1,000 to connect to the network. Since 2017, TELUS has invested $4.7 billion into connecting British Columbians, at no cost to taxpayers. It’s part of the technology company’s ongoing commitment to increase wireless capacity in rural and urban communities across Canada, ensuring all citizens have the access to the personal, educational, health and economic resources they need to participate fully in our global digital society.

And it’s already making a big difference. Recently, Unger found himself marvelling at the immediacy of today’s communication tools when a player collapsed during a high school basketball game.

“Someone shouted, ‘Call 9-1-1’ and I looked around and everybody had their phone out. Five minutes later, help was there.”

Peace of mind

Preparing for the risks of adventuring is life-as-usual for Tahsis’ residents. It’s why they live on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, surrounded by lush rainforests and steep mountains. The village is more than a two-hour drive from Campbell River, the nearest urban centre, much of the journey over gravel roads. And that’s just how residents like it.

That said, the new wireless connectivity brings more peace of mind.

“Safety can be a real issue if there’s a serious health emergency here because of our remoteness and the fact that we have very unsettled weather systems for a good chunk of a year,” says Mayor Martin Davis.

Now, along with landlines and other traditional methods locals have relied on to look after each other, instant communication over a smartphone can alert neighbours to a potential problem -- whether that’s a bear rambling through a nearby yard or the location of a dangerous patch of black ice on the roads.

Critically, residents can also now easily access tools such as Babylon by TELUS Health, a free downloadable app that enables British Columbians to have one-on-one virtual consultations with a B.C.-licensed physician at the touch of their phones. Wireless connectivity means the town’s elderly residents can also access the LivingWell Companion, a medical-alert service that can be used in the home or outdoors.

Visiting boaters have also been delighted to see the bars on their smartphones light up as far as seven kilometers up Tahsis Inlet.

“That’s good news to anyone who's run out of fuel and trying to make their way into town. You’d be surprised how often that happens,” says Davis.

Building business

The timing of the network connection couldn’t be better. Public health measures enacted to limit the spread of the coronavirus this year have meant even small towns such Gold River and Tahsis are feeling the pressures of social distancing. In particular, improved connectivity has better enabled local children to keep connected to teachers and friends when schools were closed, and for older residents to stay in contact with loved ones while safely staying home.

“It’s been so much easier to communicate with each other,” says Mayor Unger.

Business, too, has received a shot in the arm. 

In a region where seventy-five percent of the economy is dependent on tourism, wireless connectivity is a modern must-have as visitors increasingly rely on smartphones to access maps, find accommodation and restaurants, and book tours and services with local operators.

Often, it’s simply a matter of comfort.

“After a long drive out here, people just appreciate being able to make a quick phone call to a loved one and say, ‘I’m here and I’m safe’,” says Unger.

Looking forward, both mayors see a fresh opportunity to draw more families and entrepreneurs out to their communities for more than just a visit. And that may be the best outcome of all.

“We are confident with improved connectivity that we will have people looking for office space and considering relocating their lives to our small town,” says Unger.

Davis agrees. Tahsis once had a population of 2,500 people. When the last of the sawmills shut in the 1990s, the town shrank to one-tenth that size. Reliable network connection -- combined with affordable housing prices, virtually no crime and near-endless outdoor access -- adds one more good reason for someone looking for a change of pace to make the region home.

“It’s becoming more and more possible with cell service and the internet for people to work remotely,” he says. “It will be good for our community’s resilience in the long run.”

A Message From Clair Trevena

Our government’s Old-Growth Strategic Review is now available.

This process brought together environmentalists, industry, labour, and Indigenous groups to work towards creating a new, collaborative strategy to preserve old-growth forests and biodiversity, while still supporting forestry workers. It also saw thousands of people from across B.C. contribute their thoughts by surveys and emails.

As a part of this new approach to old-growth Forests, our government is deferring harvesting across 352,739 hectares of old-growth forest.

To learn more, click here:

https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2020FLNR0058-001711

Don’t shoot the messenger, BC Ferries says

Be kind to ferry workers.

That’s what BC Ferries executive director of fleet operations Darren Johnston is saying, with news that passengers will soon have to leave their vehicles parked on enclosed desks.

Johnston said Transport Canada has “essentially directed” BC Ferries to comply with the re-implementation of the closed car deck measures, starting Sept. 30th.

“We appreciate that many people will find the timing less-than-ideal given what’s going on globally with the pandemic,” Johnston said. 

“However, Transport Canada’s mandate is vessel safety and they’ve decided that this is necessary and that will be the date. So we’re required now to get into compliance.”

He said a key message is that the decision ultimately lies with Transport Canada.

“We really would request the cooperation of the public in handling this sensitively, and not bringing their frustrations to bear on our front line staff, because it really has nothing to do with them.”

BC Ferries says that Transport Canada is rescinding the temporary flexibility “now that measures are in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

Transport Canada granted it in the spring in response to the pandemic. 

Johnston said they’re “working hard behind the scenes” to make sure that as we get closer to the 30th, they’ll have all safety measures in place to ensure when people leave their vehicles and go into the passenger areas, that “it’s just as safe as it is today.”

He pointed to BC Ferries implementing a mandatory mask policy where the passengers are responsible for bringing their own masks.

“That’s been quite successful,” Johnston said. “We do have masks on hand if somebody inadvertently has forgotten to bring one along, that we can hand out.”

He added, “We’re not contemplating an issuance of masks to all passengers because our mask policy is going along quite well, but what we are doing is several other measures to ensure that we don’t get too crowded and increase the density in the passenger areas to the point where physical distancing is no longer possible.”

He said BC Ferries is doing that by opening areas of certain vessels that up to now have been closed off for the past six months, such as the buffet seating in the Spirit Class vessels.

Meanwhile, North Island-Powell River MP, Rachel Blaney, has added her voice to those opposed to the decision.  Blaney delivered a letter today to federal Transportation Minister Marc Garneau, urging him to extend the exemption allowing passengers to remain in their vehicles.

She also wants him to show coastal residents the data and research that suggests ending the exemption at the current time is in the best interests of public safety.

“The people in my riding use [ferries] to access vital services including seeking medical attention, sometimes as far away as Vancouver” wrote Blaney. “No one in that vulnerable position should be forced onto the passenger decks in close proximity with others.”

Blaney said she’s frustrated that the decision came as a surprise to the B.C. government and those in ferry-dependent communities. 

“We are ferry people. The Minister in Ottawa needs to talk to us before he makes decisions that specifically affect us.”

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"Celebrating 20 Years In B.C."

The Ridge
Now Open At Noon
6 Days A Week
Beginning Sept 1st. The Ridge is closed on Sundays

We are open for dine-in.

The Kitchen is open

Mon- Tues 12-7 & Wed-Sat 12-8.

DELIVERIES WILL BE FROM

5 – 7 PM WED-FRI ONLY

Click Here For Ridge Menu

Grocery Service List: 

Updated List

Please place orders between

10-2 Sunday thru Friday. 

All  products come directly from our wholesale suppliers and are  premium quality.

Please Note:

The list does not contain prices. The prices from the wholesalers can change at anytime. When you call and place your order we are able to give you pricing for that day.If you don't see an item on the list, it may be available, just ask.  Call Jerad for pricing and ordering information (250) 283-7526.  This  number is reserved for orders only.   You can email your order to

 

rrgroceries2020@gmail.com 

(If you are opening the list on your phone, you may have to swipe left to right to see the full list)