Navdeep Sidhu, 24 and Harman Mangat, 22, of B.C. shot dead in Edmonton in connection with drug activity in Lower Mainland
NAVDEEP Sidhu, 24 and Harman Mangat, 22, both residents of British Columbia, have been identified as those found dead in Southeast Edmonton on Wednesday (January 11).
Edmonton’s Medical Examiner confirmed that both victims died from multiple gunshot wounds, Edmonton Police announced on Thursday.
Detectives believe this was not a random act, and that these drug-related murders are connected with drug activity in Lower Mainland B.C.
The two men were found dead in a running, white Dodge Ram truck with B.C. plates on 39 Street, near Charlesworth Drive, on Wednesday at approximately 1:30 p.m. by a member of the public.
Detectives continue to investigate and ask for information about the deaths and suspects.
Anyone with information is urged to contact the EPS at 780-423-4567 or #377 from a mobile phone. Anonymous information can also be submitted to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or online at www.tipsubmit.com/start.htm
South Asians Gary Athwal, Mandy Grewal, Gurpal Mann and Kevin Regie Gnanaseelan among the 26 newest members of Vancouver Police
(PHOTO: Constable Gary Athwal with Vancouver Police Chief Constable Adam Palmer.
THE 26 newest members of the Vancouver Police Department, Recruit Class 153, who were sworn in on Thursday, included four South Asians – three Punjabis and one Tamil: Gary Athwal, Mandy Grewal, Gurpal Mann, and Kevin Regie Gnanaseelan, who becomes the department’s only Sri Lankan-Tamil police officer.
GARY Athwal was born in Vancouver and raised in North Delta, B.C.. He attended Burnsview Secondary School and graduated with French and English diplomas. He has completed the Law Enforcement Studies Program at the Justice Institute of British Columbia. Gary is an active volunteer with the North Delta Community Police Station and has logged over 500 volunteer hours since his start in 2009. Gary was the first full-time community safety officer with the Vancouver Police Department. He is fluent in both French and Punjabi.
MANDY Grewal was born and raised in East Vancouver. She graduated in 2006 from Matthew McNair Secondary School and enrolled at Langara College in the Arts and Sciences Program. Mandy transferred to the University of British Columbia and completed her bachelor of arts degree in 2011 with a major in psychology. Mandy has worked with the Surrey Fire Department and as an administrative assistant with St. George’s School. She is fluent in Punjabi.
GURPAL Mann was born and raised in Surrey, British Columbia. He graduated from Queen Elizabeth Secondary in 2011 and received an athletic scholarship to Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Gurpal is working towards completing his degree in criminology, and is the co-captain of the men’s basketball team. He has worked in the private security industry and has volunteered as a youth basketball coach at Seaquam Secondary School. Gurpal is fluent in Punjabi.
KEVIN Regie Gnanaseelan was born in Romilly-sur-Seine, France, and raised in Vancouver. He graduated from Vancouver College with honours and participated in the Vancouver Police Department Student Challenge, an experience which solidified his desire to pursue policing. Kevin volunteered for the VPD Cadet Program and was hired as a civilian instructor. He has worked as a special municipal constable while pursuing his studies towards a bachelor’s of social work from Dalhousie University. Kevin is the VPD’s only current Sri-Lankan-Tamil police officer.
The others sworn in were: Matthew Allan, Anna Brancati, Frederike Buchmann, Eric Burrell, Nicole Catchpole, Christopher Chan, Michael Derry, Erin Everall, Alexander Frech, Nick Jardine , Evan Lane, Hailey MacDonald, Bradley Maiolo, Samantha Morgan, Cord Reisdorf, James Rodriguez, Patrick Speakman, Katelyn Star, Benjamin Tettamanti, Adrian Thompson, James Weston and Samantha Whiffen.
Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis delivers lesson in diversity with turban-tying and Bhangra
GURDEEP Pandher says he’s “citizen of the universe, born in village Siahar (Punjab), lives in Whitehorse, Yukon (Canada)” on his Facebook – and he has just got that universal recognition with his video teaching Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis how to wear a turban and then dance the Punjabi traditional dance, the Bhangra, in the city council chambers.
The seven-minute video has been featured on a raft of TV news shows.
Pandher, an author and dancer, moved to Canada in 2006 and has been living in the Yukon since 2012.
You can watch the video posted on his Facebook:
Amazon writes to India’s External Affairs Minister, regrets hurting Indian sensibilities
(PHOTO: India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. Photo: IANS)
“A third-party seller, not Amazon, had listed these products for sale in Canada.”
New Delhi (IANS): Amazon has written to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj expressing regrets at hurting Indian sensibilities, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said on Thursday.
Swarup in a tweet said Amazon, in response to Sushma Swaraj’s tweet, expressed “regret at hurting Indian sensibilities” and added that they have removed the offending item.
A copy of the letter was also tweeted by Sushma Swarup in which Amazon said the items – doormats with Indian flag – were posted by a third party and they took it down.
“A third-party seller, not Amazon, had listed these products for sale in Canada. These products were not available in India. After learning of the product’s listing, we immediately removed them from the Canadian website and implemented measures to ensure that these products could not be sold on any of our other marketplaces or websites,” the letter said.
The letter said Amazon remains “steadfastly committed to India”, and referred to its CEO Jeff Bezo’s announcement to invest $5 billion in India.
It said Amazon values “immensely” its relationship with the Indian government, the country’s entrepreneurs and innovators, Indian customers and employees.
“Amazon is committed to respecting Indian laws and customs. To the extent that these items offered by a third-party seller in Canada offended Indian sensibilities, Amazon regrets the same,” it said.
“At no time did we intend or mean to offend Indian sentiments,” it said.
After being tweeted images of doormats featuring the Indian flag being available on Amazon Canada site by two vendors – Mayers Flag Doormats and XLYL – Sushma Swaraj had on Wednesday said Amazon must tender an unconditional apology and withdraw all products insulting the Indian flag, otherwise no Amazon official would get an Indian visa.
Community activist Rachna Singh to run for BC NDP nomination in Surrey-Green Timbers
SURREY community activist Rachna Singh is putting her name forward for the BC NDP nomination in Surrey-Green Timbers after the surprise announcement last week that long-time MLA Sue Hammell is retiring.
“I am honoured and humbled by the outpouring of support and encouragement from grassroots New Democrats who’ve asked me to run for the nomination,” said Singh. “I am going to work hard every day to earn the trust of voters and will do my very best to build on the work of Sue Hammell.
“Surrey has been ignored by Christy Clark and the BC Liberal government for far too long. I want to represent our community in the Legislature as part of a John Horgan BC NDP government so we can build an economy that benefits everyone, not just the wealthy and well-connected.”
Singh is a long-time community activist who brings leadership and organizing experience gained during the past 15 years working with communities. She has worked tirelessly as a union activist to support the rights of workers, on campaigns to raise the minimum wage, and she helped citizens in Abbotsford defeat a referendum that would have privatized their water services.
“I want to build on Sue’s amazing legacy in Surrey-Green Timbers, and do everything I can to defeat Christy Clark’s government and help elect John Horgan as our next Premier,” said Singh.
Suspects arrested after theft of young South Asian golfer’s collection jar in Victoria
Cindy Koira Photo: Gofundme page
The suspects Photo: Victoria Police)
VICTORIA Police say that the two men who are believed to be involved in the theft of a young golfer’s collection jar in the 900-block of Yates Street on December 30 have both been arrested.
One man was arrested, spoken with and later released. The other man was arrested later. At first, the man was released with a court date and conditions; however, upon his release, he allegedly damaged an exterior door of the Victoria Police Department headquarters and was arrested again and held in custody to appear by telebail.
Cindy Koira, 14, a Grade 9 student at Stelly’s Secondary School, had raised $3,000 by selling lemonade, hot chocolate and samosas since the summer and was halfway to her goal to be able to attend a golf tour in Scotland this year.
Cindy hopes to play at the 2017 Kids European Championship at Gullane, Scotland, between May 30 and June 3 and 2017 US Teens World Junior Championship at Pinehurst, North Carolina, US, from July 24 to 28.
On December 30, Cindy, accompanied by her father, Ravi Koira, was raising money in the 900-block of Yates Street. Victoria Police said: “While the youth golfer was getting warm inside, the father stayed behind to mind the table. A man dressed all in black approached the table, reached down, took the jar of money and fled the area. A man dressed all in grey is also believed to be involved in the theft. The father gave chase, but fell trying to catch the suspects. The suspect had attended the table earlier and asked the young golfer what they were raising money for before leaving and later returning to steal the money.”
Police searched the area but were unable to locate the suspects. They later released the surveillance video of the theft:
A generous police officer replaced the money that the young golfer had raised. He wanted to remain anonymous.
According to Cindy’s Gofundme page (www.gofundme.com/CindyKoira), she has been competing internationally for four years now.
“In 2016 Cindy placed 12th at US Kids European Championship and has qualified again in 2017 to represent Canada. Her dream in 2017 is to win the European Championship, this is a very prestigious junior championship where the best junior golfers from over 60 countries land in East Lothian, Scotland, to compete for the title.
“Cindy also represented Vancouver Island at BC Summer games 2016 winning a bronze medal for the team event.”
South Asian man shot at in Abbotsford’s Flagman Place; not connected to Townline Hill conflict
ON Monday (January 9) at 5:30 am, the Abbotsford Police were called to the 2900-block of Flagman Place for a report of shots fired at a residence.
A man had come out of his home and was walking toward his truck when he heard the sound of a vehicle’s engine nearby. Suddenly a male dressed in dark clothing advanced upon him and began shooting.
The potential victim quickly scrambled back into his residence. He was extremely fortunate not to have been struck by bullets that ultimately hit his home and a neighbouring residence, said Constable Ian MacDonald.
The suspect fled in a waiting vehicle that was described as a dark four-door sedan (see photo).
MacDonald told The VOICE that the incident is not connected to the ongoing Townline Hill conflict that involves two groups of young South Asian men.
The targeted man is a South Asian in his 30s or 40s.
This incident is being investigated by the Major Crime Unit of the Abbotsford Police Department. Detectives believe the shooting was targeted. They are appealing for witnesses and anyone with information to come forward.
Anyone with information should contact the APD at 604-859-5225, text them at 222973 (abbypd) or call CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
Toronto MP Ahmed Hussen is the new immigration minister, Chrystia Freeland is the new Foreign Affairs Minister (update)
AHMED Hussen, MP for York South-Weston, and a Member of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, is the new Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, while Chrystia Freeland, currently Minister of International Trade, becomes Minister of Foreign Affairs, and retains the Canada-U.S. relations file, including trade relations.
Hussen replaces John McCallum, while Freeland replaces Stephane Dion.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement on Tuesday in Ottawa.
Hussen, a lawyer and social activist, was born and raised in Somalia. He immigrated to Canada in 1993 and settled in Toronto.
Ahmed currently serves as the National President of the Canadian Somali Congress – a Somali community organization that works with national and regional authorities to advocate on issues of importance to Canadians of Somali heritage and strengthen civic engagement and integration.
Ahmed is fluent in English, Somali, and Swahili, and earned his B.A (History) from York University and his Law Degree from the University of Ottawa. In 2004, the Toronto Star recognized him as one of 10 individuals in Toronto to have made substantial contributions to the community.
* Maryam Monsef, currently Minister of Democratic Institutions, becomes Minister of Status of Women.
* Patricia A. Hajdu, currently Minister of Status of Women, becomes Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour. She replaces MaryAnn Mihychuk.
* François-Philippe Champagne, currently Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, becomes Minister of International Trade.
* Karina Gould, currently Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development, becomes Minister of Democratic Institutions.
TRUDEAU said that Dion “has served his country in many different roles over the last 21 years with integrity and a fierce love of Canada. I, and all Canadians, owe him a deep debt of gratitude for his service. I know I will be able to continue to count on his wisdom and his tireless service, and look forward to the next chapter of Mr. Dion’s contributions to our country.”
He added that McCallum “has had a distinguished career in public service, holding many different portfolios within government and has had an extensive parliamentary career. Most recently, his work as Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship bringing in over 39,500 Syrian refugees has been an inspiration to Canadians and an example to the world.” He said he will be proposing him to the Chinese government as Canada’s Ambassador to China. He added: “The Canada-China relationship will be well served by such a strong presence from our government.”
Trudeau said that Mihychuk “has served the government with distinction and oversaw a significant expansion of the Canada Summer Jobs program and settled the Canada Post labour dispute as Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour.”
THE four South Asian ministers, appointed in November 2015, retain their current portfolios:
* Navdeep Bains: Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development.
* Harjit Sajjan: Minister of Defence.
* Bardish Chagger: Small Business Minister. Leader of the Government in the House of Commons (August 2016)
* Amarjeet Sohi: Minister of Infrastructure and Communities.
SFU to deepen relationships in India
(PHOTO: Andrew Petter)
SIMON Fraser University President Andrew Petter will lead a delegation to India to further the university’s reputation in the country for academic excellence, research innovation and strong community engagement, SFU announced on Tuesday.
The mission will see the development and strengthening of partnerships with prominent Indian institutions. Petter’s visit will also offer an opportunity to build SFU’s international research network and establish new opportunities for SFU students and faculty with the local academic and business communities.
The delegation will depart for New Delhi this Thursday, January 12 and return to Vancouver on Monday, January 23.
“Through this mission, our relationships with India will continue to deepen and grow as part of SFU’s vision and commitment to become Canada’s most engaged university,” says Petter.
Related to Petter’s trip:
* A Student Mobility Agreement with the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay that sets the framework to exchange students on study, research and co-op placements as well as further enhance SFU’s position as a preferred partner for research collaborations and PhD recruitment
* A Letter of Intent between SFU’s Beedie School of Business and the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi’s Department of Management Studies to outline possible ways in which the two institutions could collaborate on academic and research activities in aboriginal leadership
* SFU’s collaborations with India Oil, the Bombay Stock Exchange Institute and the Tata Institute of Social Sciences
“These agreements and partnerships will build on SFU’s already strong relationships in India, creating new opportunities for our students, educators and researchers to collaborate and innovate on the world stage,” says Petter.
This will be Petter’s fourth visit to India.
Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT Bombay)
IIT Bombay is a public engineering and research institution established in 1958. Over the last 53 years, more than 39,000 engineers and scientists have graduated from the Institute. IIT Bombay has made concerted efforts to align its R&D focus with the national goal of achieving technological self-reliance. Students and faculty conduct research projects in key areas of science and engineering. The institute has ongoing academic and research collaborations with many national and international universities, governments and industries in order to keep pace with expanding frontiers of knowledge and global developments.
Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IIT Delhi)
IIT Delhi is a public research university established in 1961. The Institute is one of the two educational institutes in India, which have been listed in Quacquarelli Symonds’ list of top 200 universities globally in 2015.
Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL), or Indian Oil, is an Indian state-owned oil and gas corporation with its headquarters in New Delhi, India. Indian Oil is India’s largest commercial enterprise, with a sales turnover of USD$ 73.7 billion and profits of USD$ 772.2 million. Indian Oil is ranked 119th among the world’s largest corporates (and first among Indian enterprises) in the prestigious Fortune ‘Global 500’ listing for the year 2015.
SFU signed a Research Exchange Agreement with India Oil in 2014. The agreement supports collaborative research opportunities related to the energy industry, in general and fuel cell, clean energy technology and advanced materials in particular. Under the agreement researchers are able to complete short-term visits at SFU & IOCL, where facilities and host researchers are provided.
SFU also signed a PhD mobility agreement with India Oil in 2014, which allows students to work on low-cost air-cooled fuel cells and photoelectrochemical hydrogen production at SFU and IOCL respectively.
Bombay Stock Exchange Institute (BSEI)
BSEI is a private training institution and learning solutions arm of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE). The BSE Institute Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of the BSE Ltd. BSEI trains students, working professionals and regulators for a career in financial markets.
In 2014, SFU and SF Univentures joined Ryerson University and Ryerson Futures Inc. and BSEI to develop and launch an international tech business incubator and accelerator program. Zone Startups India—the joint incubator/accelerator—aims to accelerate R&D in both countries while training entrepreneurs and developing startups for local and international markets. New global opportunities for SF Univentures and other SFU initiatives are targeted through the student mobility programs, as well as accelerator and angel funding projects. SFU student entrepreneurs benefit from the international incubator program through support for start-up and spinout companies. As of August 2015, when Zone Startups had been running for about 14 months, it had 43 startups in its portfolio, and set a future goal of working with 60-80 startups annually.
Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS)
TISS focuses on four landmark decisions of the Indian Supreme Court and subsequent legislation concerning: food security; involuntary displacement of people; rights of hawkers; and manual scavenging. The vision of the TISS is to be an institution of excellence in higher education that continually responds to changing social realities through the development and application of knowledge, towards creating a people-centred, ecologically sustainable and just society that promotes and protects dignity, equality, social justice and human rights for all.
Delta Police: You can run, but you cannot hide!
StarChase on grill of police cruiser
Tag on plate
Technology-activated launching tag)
DELTA Police announced on Thursday that they now have new technology in their fleet to assist in tracking vehicles that fail to stop.
Early 2016 the Delta Police began to research options to address the increasing number of “fail to stop” incidents that were occurring. It is very frustrating to have limited capacity to capture those that flee from police and we needed to seek out available tools to combat this issue.
One option, StarChase Pursuit Management Technology, caught the attention of the Delta Police. Conversations were initiated with the company but realizing the inherent cost associated to incorporating this technology, the Delta Police Foundation stepped up and agreed to fund the project.
Over the course of the past several months, a team of officers and fleet mechanics have worked with StarChase personnel, which has resulted in eight police vehicles in the Delta Police fleet being equipped with this StarChase technology. The technology essentially launches a GPS projectile from the grill of the police vehicle onto the offending vehicle allowing police to track the vehicle while not engaging in a pursuit and coordinating additional resources to engage with the occupants of the vehicle when it is stationary.
With officers trained, protocols in place and equipment installed, the technology is in place for operational deployment.
Delta Police Chief Neil Dubord says, “We certainly appreciate the support of the Delta Police Foundation in funding this project. We are now looking forward to seeing this technology in action. However, we do recognize there is no one tool that serves as a “silver bullet” to solve any one issue. I do believe it is incumbent on us to employ advanced technology options that may assist us in our efforts to be effective at doing our job while mitigating risk to the public. The Delta Police will be assessing the workability and functionality of the technology in operational environment over the course of this next year.”
StarChase System: The system is comprised of the vehicle mounted compressed air launcher, vehicle mounted operator console, tracking projectiles, key-fob discharge control, web-based tracking software and the handheld 54mm compressed air launcher.
Once adhered to a suspect vehicle the GPS (web based) tracking allows police to fall back and monitor the location of the vehicle and deploy resources once the vehicle is stationary.
Surrey RCMP investigating two incidents of pedestrians being groped
(PHOTO: Cpl. Scotty Schumann
Photo by Jay Sharma of Mahi Photo Studio
SURREY RCMP are investigating two separate incidents of sexual assault that occurred during the last three weeks and is asking for the public’s assistance in identifying the suspects.
On December 22, at 12:40 a.m., a woman was walking near 120A Street and 92A Avenue. She was wearing headphones when she was grabbed from behind and groped by a male. The male fled on foot after hearing police sirens in the distance. The suspect is described as being in his 20’s, 5’10”, with a medium build. He was wearing all black clothing at the time of the incident.
On January 7, at 2:20 a.m., another woman was walking near 72nd Avenue and 196th Street when a male suspect groped her from behind and tried to take her to the ground. The victim fought the male off who eventually fled on foot. This suspect is only described as wearing a dark blue coat and black pants.
Surrey RCMP’s Special Victims Unit (SVU) is leading these two investigations. SVU is a team of specialized officers that focus on sex-related crimes.
“Thankfully neither victim was physically injured during these attacks,” said Cpl. Scotty Schumann. “Investigators at this time have not found any links between the two incidents. We are reminded of the need for all pedestrians to be aware of their surroundings at all times, especially late at night when walking alone.”
Surrey RCMP encourages pedestrians to follow these simple steps to reduce the likelihood of being victimized:
* Walk with confidence. Keep your head up and know where you are going.
* Limit distractions. Store mobile phones and other valuables out of sight and remove your headphones.
* Call a friend. Let someone know where you are going.
* Stay visible. Stick to well-lit areas and don’t wear dark clothing at night.
* Keys ready. Have your car or house keys ready before you reach the door.
Calvin Chi Hang Zhao, 21, of Vancouver shot dead in vehicle in targeted hit in Richmond
CALVIN Chi Hang Zhao, 21, of Vancouver was shot dead in a black Jeep sports utility vehicle in Richmond on Tuesday (January 10).
The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team announced the victim’s name on Wednesday after notifying his family.
Just before 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Richmond RCMP officers responded to several reports of gunshots in the 7000-block of Ash Street. They found the victim in the vehicle. He had suffered gunshot wounds and died on scene. The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) was called to take conduct of the investigation.
Police said that it is early in the investigation, and while investigators work to determine the motive for the shooting, it appears the homicide was targeted.
Investigators have identified a suspect vehicle that was seen fleeing the scene of the shooting, and are working to confirm the make and model. However, it is described as a white sport utility vehicle, and anyone with information about this vehicle, or its whereabouts, is asked to contact IHIT. The area surrounding the scene remains closed for scene processing and evidence collection.
IHIT Cpl. Meghan Foster said: “The selfish act of homicide is one that puts the public at risk, and creates an elevated level of concern for police. For this reason, we need those who have information, to come forward and contact us.”
Zhao was known to police. According to CTV, court records show a man with the same name and age was to face trial on charges of drug possession and flight from a peace officer.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the IHIT Information Line at 1-877-551-IHIT (4448), or email at email@example.com. Should you wish to remain anonymous, contact CrimeStoppers by phone at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).
Lisa Dawn MacPherson of North Vancouver identified as November 28 victim
THE Integrated Homicide Investigation Team announced on Monday that the burned body that was located by North Vancouver RCMP on November 28 in a shelter along the Bridgeman North Trail was that of Lisa Dawn MacPherson, 41, of North Vancouver.
As the circumstances around the victim’s death were suspicious in nature, the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) took conduct of the investigation.
The victim’s family has been notified. MacPherson was last seen in North Vancouver on November 24 and was described as white, 5’04”, 130 pounds with blue eyes and shoulder length blonde hair (see photographs).
IHIT says that there remain many unanswered questions surrounding the events that led up to MacPherson’s tragic death. IHIT investigators, in partnership with the North Vancouver RCMP, continue to gather and process evidence.
IHIT Cpl. Meghan Foster said: “Investigators are working tirelessly to determine what lead up to Ms. MacPherson’s tragic death, and are asking anyone with information about, or anyone who knew, Ms. MacPherson to contact IHIT.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact the IHIT Information Line at 1-877-551-IHIT (4448), or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Should you wish to remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers by phone at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).
Robber finds Vancouver cop on Craigslist
A man is in custody after robbing a police officer of a cell phone on Friday night.
Following a rash of Craigslist cell phone robberies on Vancouver’s South Slope, detectives took matters into their own hands. They posted an ad on Craigslist offering an iPhone for sale on January 5, and on January 6. The crook took the bait, making plans to meet up with his intended victim.
Later that evening, both the undercover police officer, with iPhone in hand, and the suspect showed up at the prearranged meet location to complete the sale of the phone. The suspect approached the officer, hit her in the chest, grabbed the bag containing the iPhone and ran. He was located in a nearby home a short time later, where he was taken into custody without incident.
Twenty-four-year-old Jacob Beck of Vancouver has been charged with three counts of robbery and remains in custody, pending his next court appearance on January 11 at 9:30 a.m.
Police are advising the public to use caution when initiating the sale of high-value items on resale sites, such as Craigslist, and to use the following safety tips to reduce the chances of becoming a victim of crime:
* meet in a public place
* bring a friend
* don’t invite strangers into your home
* take advantage of the public area in and around our police stations to exchange small, higher-risk items
“Scammers and thieves will never know when the person on the other end of an ad is a police officer,” says Vancouver Police Staff-Sgt. Randy Fincham. “Posting an ad to sell fraudulent tickets, or with the intent of committing a robbery or theft, is one way to find a cop on Craigslist.”
Anyone who has information about these robberies, who has not yet spoken to police, is asked to call detectives at 604-717-0613.
BC Coroners Service says carbon monoxide didn’t play part in death of two men in Vancouver
THE BC Coroners Service confirmed on Wednesday that a double fatality occurred in Vancouver on Tuesday (January 10) and added that at this time, it can confirm that carbon monoxide did not play a role in the deaths.
The Coroners Service said that they are in the early stages of their investigation and the cause of death for both individuals is not yet confirmed. Both the Coroners Service and the Vancouver Police Department continue to investigate the circumstances of these deaths.
Surrey RCMP investigating case of uttering threat and possession of weapon at a residence
ON Monday (January 9), at approximately 3:30 p.m., Surrey R.C.M.P. received a 911 call from a male reporting that he had gone to a property located in the 14000-block of 110th Avenue to recover some items that belonged to him from a second male known to the caller. The discussion about the property became volatile, and the second male threatened the caller with a weapon and said that he would be killed. The caller fled from the property and contacted the police.
Police officers along with the Lower Mainland Emergence Response Team contained the residence. The suspect male, a 56-year-old resident of Surrey, came out of the residence and was taken into custody.
There were also other people inside the residence, and they were interviewed.
Surrey R.C.M.P. are seeking the public’s assistance and are asking anyone who may have witnessed the incident involving the two males to call the Surrey R.C.M.P. at 604-599-0502 or to call CrimeStoppers.
Police trying to track down Marek James Anisimowic, 36, of Burnaby for assaulting police officer with weapon
COQUITLAM RCMP are asking for the public’s help to track down a 36-year-old Burnaby man who is wanted for assaulting a peace officer with a weapon, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm and flight from police.
On December 30, at about 4 p.m., a Port Moody police officer was trying to arrest a man at the corner of Mary Hill Road and McAllister Avenue in Port Coquitlam. The man reportedly struggled with the police officer before getting into a car and driving away. The police officer was injured in the process but his injuries are not life-threatening and he’s expected to make a full recovery.
An extensive investigation by Coquitlam RCMP has not been able to locate the suspect. On Wednesday (January 11), a Canada-wide arrest warrant was granted for Marek James Anisimowic, 36, of Burnaby. He is 180 cm (5’11”), about 100 kg (221 lbs), has dirty blonde or brown hair and could be wearing glasses.
Anisimowicz has a distinctive neck tattoo with cursive writing on the right side of his neck. He was last seen wearing all dark clothing, grey Air Jordan shoes, and a black and white scarf with faces on it. There is a strong possibility that he has left B.C.
If you see Anisimowicz, do not approach him. Call 911 immediately. If you have information that could help locate him, call the Coquitlam RCMP at 604-945-1550 and ask for Cpl. Scott Grimmer. If you wish to remain anonymous, call Crimestoppers at1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or visit solvecrime.ca.
City of Surrey selected as one of Canada’s Top Employers for Young People
THE City of Surrey has been selected as one of Canada’s Top Employers for Young People for 2017. Canada’s Top Employers for Young People competition has been identifying the best employers when it comes to attracting and retaining young workers since 2002.
“We take great pride and are firmly committed in ensuring young people are provided with meaningful opportunities to make a positive transition to the work world,” said Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner. “With one third of the population of Surrey under the age of 19, it’s a smart strategy for the future of our City to help new talent learn, grow and progress as they embark on their careers.”
The City of Surrey has been recognized for its efforts in developing young people within the organization and helping them build and advance their careers. Highlights include:
* The development of a two-year Emerging Leaders program to provide high potential employees with education, work experience and self-development opportunities
* The creation of the Future Leaders Program to help young people between the ages of 14 and 21 develop the relevant skills and knowledge to become successful recreation leaders — at the end of the 8-week program, participants receive a reference letter and certification for their resume
* In support of students working to towards their high school diploma, the City of Surrey partners with Surrey Schools to provide mentoring opportunities with employees — additionally, the City offers practicum opportunities for students that attend local colleges and universities
The City of Surrey joins Calgary and the York Region as the only municipalities to be named among the Top Employers for Young People.
BC home sales post record year
But home sales have fallen back from their lofty peaks early last year
THE British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that a record 112,209 residential unit sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) in 2016, an increase of 9.5 per cent from the previous year.
Total sales dollar volume was a record $77.6 billion, up 18.8 per cent from 2015. The average MLS residential price in the province climbed 8.6 per cent to $691,144 on an annual basis in 2016.
“Broad-based consumer demand driven by strong economic conditions, employment growth, consumer confidence, and an expanding population base pushed home sales to record levels in many BC regions last year,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. “However, home sales have fallen back from their lofty peaks early last year.” The seasonally adjusted annual rate of sales activity was approximately 92,000 units in December.
A total of 4,721 residential unit sales were recorded by the MLS in December, down 28.4 per cent from the same month last year. Total sales dollar volume was $3.1 billion last month, a decline of 33.1 per cent compared to the same month the previous year. The average MLS residential price in the province was $654,699 in December, a 6.6 per cent decline from December 2015.
New campaign reduces non-emergency visits to emergency department
A new campaign aiming to reduce congestion in emergency departments has contributed to a decrease in non-emergency visits to Peace Arch Hospital by more than 1,100 visits in its first year. With up to 40 per cent of visits to Fraser Health Emergency Departments representing non-emergency health care concerns, the successful Use the ER Wisely program is now expanding to Chilliwack and Mission this month, with plans to target additional communities later in 2017.
“Government and the health authorities are committed to easing congestion at emergency departments throughout the province,” said Health Minister Terry Lake. “The success in reduction of non-emergency visits at Peace Arch Hospital is a perfect example of the work we are doing in conjunction with our with partners to raise awareness and help address less urgent health concerns at the community level.”
“It is important for our patients to know that when they have a non-emergency ailment, they have options available to them beyond the Emergency Department, including a same-day appointment in a local clinic,” said Dr. Grace Park, family physician, White Rock-South Surrey Division of Family Practice. “Delivering the right care to our patients in the right place is important because we know the treatment of non-emergency health concerns in a community setting helps strengthen the relationship between a person and their physician.”
Use the ER Wisely uses posters and signage throughout the White Rock-South Surrey community to direct patients to doctors’ offices and walk-in clinics for non-emergency health care needs, ultimately helping to ease the volume of patients presenting to Peace Arch Hospital’s Emergency Department. The White Rock-South Surrey Division of Family Practice partnered with Fraser Health and the Peace Arch Hospital Foundation to launch the program in December 2015. The campaign aims to help people avoid unnecessary visits to the Emergency Department by raising awareness and understanding of primary health care services available in that community.
“Use the ER Wisely has significantly reduced the number of non-emergency visits to Peace Arch Hospital’s Emergency Department over the past year,” said Dr. Neil Barclay, Fraser Health Regional Medical Director, Emergency Medicine. “The successful expansion of this campaign to other communities in our region can have great implications for helping to ease avoidable congestion in our Emergency Departments, while ultimately allowing us to deliver care to our patients in the most appropriate way.”
The posters are placed in doctors’ offices, walk-in clinics, libraries, recreation centres, lab services and even the Emergency Department itself to remind patients of their options when choosing non-emergency care. These efforts are complemented by an ongoing social media campaign supported by Fraser Health and the White Rock-South Surrey Division of Family Practice. The campaign also promotes the Medimap website, a searchable database of walk-in clinics, which will soon be available on-screen in the Peace Arch Hospital Emergency Department.
British Columbians with non-emergency health concerns can also receive trusted health advice by calling HealthLinkBC at 8-1-1, which is available 24 hours / day, 7 days / week. Callers are able to speak with a representative who will help them find health information and services, or connect them with a nurse for health advice, a dietitian for nutrition information or a pharmacist (weeknights 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.) for medication advice.
BBB serving Mainland BC’s Top 10 complaints and Top 10 inquiries of 2016
2016 was another busy year for BBB serving Mainland BC as it received nearly 6,000 complaints, published over 4,000 BBB verified customer reviews, and fielded over 2 million inquiries through their website. That’s a lot of work to stuff into one year, not to mention their other big projects like Top 10 Scams, their coveted Torch Awards, and dozens of public and trade show appearances. Now that the smoke has cleared, they can now show the public the Top 10 industries that get the most complaints, and the Top 10 types of businesses that people inquire about when looking for a service provider.
“Some of the types of business that get the most complaints do so because they are very large businesses. We expect that,” says Evan Kelly, Senior Communications Advisor for BBB serving Mainland BC. “Others have little oversight when it comes to guidelines and regulations.”
Top 10 Complaints by Type of Business:
- Parking lots and garages: 218 complaints
- Stereo systems – dealer (typically big box electronics stores): 200 complaints
- Automobile dealers – New Cars: 144 complaints
- Movers: 141 complaints
- Telephone service: 109 complaints
- Furniture dealers: 107 complaints
- Home décor, accessories & gifts – Online: 105 complaints
- Collection agencies: 103 complaints
- Plumbers: 102 complaints
- Loans: 95 complaints
“There are a lot of complaints in these industries that deal with contract issues, refund issues, and billing or payment problems. In other cases such as the moving industry, we find a plethora of delivery and timing issues,” says Kelly. “Advance fee loan companies are another problem that we deal with on a weekly basis. Those complaints are harder to deal with because these lending companies are fly-by-night and know full well they are scamming people.”
Top 10 BBB inquiries by Type of Business
(Accredited and non-accredited):
- Roofing contractors: 69,613 inquiries
- Movers: 67,637 inquiries
- Plumbers: 65,235 inquiries
- Used car dealers: 56,433 inquiries
- Renovation contractors: 54,580 inquiries
- Heating contractors:33,630 inquiries
- General contractor: 33,447 inquiries
- Car repair: 29,112 inquiries
- Landscape contractors: 27,902 inquiries
- Painters: 25,799 inquiries
“What BBB means by inquiry is that a consumer has searched our database for information on a type of business or particular business,” says Kelly. “The consumer may be looking to hire a service provider and wish to view their BBB Business Profile or they may be looking for information on a company they think might be questionable. With 98,000 BC businesses in our database, there is lots of information to share.”
Home owner grant threshold increased to $1.6 million – 33 per cent increase over last year
THE Province is increasing the home owner grant threshold to $1.6 million, helping keep property taxes affordable for families and ensuring most home owners will continue to receive the full grant this year, Finance Minister Mike de Jong announced on Tuesday.
“This is a 33 per cent increase over last year,” said de Jong. “We are doing our part to help keep housing costs affordable for families. Local governments can also work to keep property taxes at a manageable level for residents by controlling their spending and reigning in the amount of revenue they need to operate.”
The Province is projected to spend $821 million on home owner grants in 2017-18, compared to an estimated $809 million in 2016-17. The Province reimburses municipalities for the full cost of the home owner grant to ensure municipal revenues are not affected.
“The threshold increase to $1.6 million helps ensure virtually everyone who received the grant last year will also receive it in 2017. The strength of the Province’s economy and sound fiscal management have put us in a position to raise the threshold by such a large amount this year to help home owners,” said de Jong.
The increase to the 2017 home owner grant threshold means that provincewide, 91% of homes will remain below the threshold and if eligible, their owners will receive the full grant amount. In many communities throughout the province, most or all homes are covered by the threshold. In Metro Vancouver, 83% of homes will be below the threshold. For properties assessed above this threshold, the grant is reduced by $5 for every $1,000 of assessed value in excess of the threshold.
There are two types of home owner grants:
* The basic grant can reduce residential property taxes on an owner’s principal residence by up to $570, or if the home is located in a northern and rural area, up to $770.
* An additional grant is available to home owners 65 years of age or older, or who qualify under the persons with disabilities category, or who are the surviving spouse of a veteran who received certain war-veteran allowances. This additional grant can reduce residential property taxes on an owner’s principal residence by up to $845, or if the home is located in a northern and rural area, up to $1,045.
Low-income home owners who would have received the additional home owner grant can apply for a low-income supplement, which replaces any reduction in the grant caused by having a property valued over the threshold. The low-income supplement is available to qualifying seniors, certain veterans or their surviving spouse and persons with disabilities.
Property tax deferment is another option that can help make home ownership more affordable. Property tax deferment is a low-interest loan program that allows qualifying B.C. home owners to use the equity in their homes to defer payment of their annual property taxes. Qualifying home owners can defer all, or a portion of, the annual property taxes on their principal residence.
* Decisions about the threshold are based on BC Assessment data, and are made in the context of setting priorities within a balanced budget.
* Home owners who qualify for the home owner grant are Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada who live in British Columbia. Grants are only available for an owner’s principal residence.
* Home owner grant thresholds in recent years:
* 2016: $1.2 million
* 2015: $1.1 million
* 2014: $1.1 million (threshold lowered as a cost-savings measure)
* 2013: $1.295 million
* 2012: $1.285 million
* 2011: $1.15 million
* 2010: $1.05 million
Trans Mountain Expansion project granted environmental assessment approval
(PHOTOS: Mary Polak / Rich Coleman)
ENVIRONMENT Minister Mary Polak and Natural Gas Development Minister Rich Coleman have issued an environmental assessment certificate to Trans Mountain Pipeline ULC for the B.C. portion of the Trans Mountain Expansion project, which is an interprovincial pipeline approximately 987 kilometres long between Edmonton, Alberta and Burnaby, B.C., the Province announced on Wednesday.
The ministers acknowledge that the National Energy Board has the primary responsibility for ensuring the project is developed, constructed and operated in a manner that is safe and secure, and protects people, property and the environment. The environmental assessment certificate’s 37 conditions are in addition to and designed to supplement the 157 conditions required by the National Energy Board.
These additional conditions respond to concerns that have been raised by Aboriginal groups during consultation undertaken for the project and address key areas of provincial jurisdiction and interest, such as: vegetation and wildlife, parks and protected areas, greenhouse gas emissions and terrestrial and marine spills.
The provincial decision was made after considering the environmental assessment undertaken by the National Energy Board and its proposed conditions, as well as the Joint Federal / Provincial Consultation and Accommodation Report for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project, the Environmental Assessment Office’s Summary Assessment Report, submissions from Aboriginal groups, supplemental information submitted by Trans Mountain, and the recommendations of the Environmental Assessment Office’s Executive Director.
Key additional provincial conditions for the project would require Trans Mountain to:
* consult with the Aboriginal groups and provincial agencies when developing and implementing relevant plans and programs required by the National Energy Board and the provincial environmental assessment certificate;
* develop wildlife species at risk offset plans and a grizzly bear mitigation and monitoring plan for all impacted Grizzly Bear Population Units;
* prepare and implement access management plans to avoid or mitigate disruption to the access by members of Aboriginal Groups carrying out traditional use activities and by provincially authorized trappers and guide outfitters;
* prepare and implement a worker accommodation strategy that describes the potential environmental and social-economic impacts of construction camps on Aboriginal Groups and communities and includes a plan to provide medical and health services for employees and contractors using the construction camps;
* prepare offset plans for any provincial parks, protected areas and recreation areas that would be impacted by the project;
* report greenhouse gas emissions consistent with B.C.’s Greenhouse Gas Industrial Reporting and Control Act and offset the greenhouse gas emissions from project construction in British Columbia through the B.C. Carbon Registry;
* conduct a research program regarding the behaviour and clean-up of heavy oils spilled in freshwater and marine aquatic environments to provide Trans Mountain and spill responders with improved information on how to effectively respond to spills;
* develop emergency response plans that include guidelines for incident notification and communications; oiled wildlife care; volunteer management; environmental sampling and monitoring and describe how Trans Mountain would coordinate emergency response participation of first responders, agencies, municipalities and regional districts, and Aboriginal Groups;
* increase Trans Mountain’s emergency preparedness and response exercise and training program to include full scale exercises or deployments of emergency equipment for certain pipeline rupture and tank fire scenarios before operations begin;
* implement an Aboriginal marine outreach program along the marine shipping route to address the impacts of increased project-related tanker traffic in the Salish Sea; and
* provide opportunities for Aboriginal Groups to participate in construction and post-construction monitoring, including training for Aboriginal monitors.
The Environmental Assessment Office will co-ordinate compliance management efforts with the National Energy Board and other government agencies to ensure that the office is satisfied that certificate conditions are met throughout the life of the project.
The ministers were required to render a decision on the project in keeping with a January 2016 B.C. Supreme Court decision that found that although the Province could rely on the National Energy Board process and assessment report through its agreement with the National Energy Board, a decision under the British Columbia’s Environmental Assessment Act was also required.
Polak and Coleman said in a statement: “Today we issued an EA Certificate for the project, understanding that all inter-provincial pipelines are under federal jurisdiction. We have looked at areas where we can improve the project by adding conditions that will build upon those already established by the federal government.
“The Environmental Assessment Office recommended 37 new conditions be attached, to address concerns raised by communities and Aboriginal groups during its consultation. We have agreed to all 37 conditions, ensuring the project meets the high standards we demand in British Columbia.
“The conditions we have attached will make sure ongoing consultation with First Nations occurs and also provides further protection of wetlands, wildlife habitat and caribou and grizzly populations. They are all legally enforceable, and will help to minimize or avoid altogether potential issues within areas of provincial interest.
“Clearly, the project will have economic benefits for British Columbia workers, families and communities. However, we have always been clear economic development will not come at the expense of the environment. We believe environmental protection and economic development can occur together, and the conditions attached to the EA certificate reflect that.”
Trans Mountain says it’s pleased to receive B.C.’s support and approval for expansion
KINDER Morgan Canada on Wednesday welcomed the B.C. government’s announcement that the Trans Mountain Expansion Project has received its environmental certificate from the Environmental Assessment Office, subject to 37 conditions, and has met the Requirements for British Columbia to Consider Support for Heavy Oil Pipelines (B.C.’s 5 Conditions). The provincial certificate is another important milestone needed for the project following the National Energy Board and Government of Canada’s recent approval of it.
“Trans Mountain shares the values and priorities of safety, environmental protection and prosperity for communities that B.C.’s 5 Conditions represent. The Province has been clear from the very beginning and today’s announcement is the culmination of many years of work to demonstrate to British Columbians that our Project meets both the regulatory requirements and the B.C. Government’s Conditions to move forward,” said Ian Anderson, President of Kinder Morgan Canada. “We believe this represents a positive outcome for our company, customers and for British Columbians and all Canadians who will benefit from the construction and operation of an expanded pipeline.”
In a negotiated commitment, Trans Mountain has agreed to contribute a minimum of $25 million to a maximum of $50 million each year depending on shipments in excess of contracted volumes, over the 20-year life of the Project. Proceeds will be dedicated to a newly formed B.C. Clean Communities Program to be accessed by communities for local projects that protect, sustain and restore B.C.’s natural and coastal environments.
Trans Mountain has also committed to a “British Columbians first” policy for hiring and contracting work within B.C., giving qualified and competitive B.C. companies the first opportunity at the jobs building, operating and maintaining the pipeline system. The project is expected to generate a total of more than 800,000 person years of employment over its life, including an anticipated workforce of the equivalent of more than 15,000 jobs per year during construction each year between 2017 and 2019.
In addition to contribution to the B.C. Clean Communities Program, the project is delivering to British Columbians over 20 years:
· $5.7 billion to the Province of British Columbia in economic contributions from project development, operations, higher netbacks and increased investment in BC’s oil and gas industry
· More than doubling local government taxes along the pipeline, including more than an additional $23.2 million each year to communities in B.C.
· Agreements with 51 Aboriginal communities (41 communities in B.C. worth more than $350 million)
The next steps will include a final investment decision by the Kinder Morgan Board of Directors. Trans Mountain is planning to begin construction in September 2017, with an in-service date for the twinned pipeline system expected in late 2019.
City of Burnaby “extremely disappointed and concerned” about Province’s approval of Kinder Morgan Pipeline
(PHOTO: Derek Corrigan)
THE City of Burnaby is surprised and extremely disappointed and concerned, to hear that the provincial government has given environmental approval, with conditions, to the Kinder Morgan pipeline proposal, Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan said in a statement on Wednesday.
Corrigan said: “The government has acknowledged the significant adverse effects the project will cause to vegetation, old growth forest and wildlife habitat and falsely suggests that these effects, including the crossing of 538 wetlands, can be satisfactorily mitigated. In their Summary Assessment Report they even note the NEB’s admission that even without a spill “the operation of Project-related marine vessels is likely to result in significant adverse effects to the southern resident killer whale”. Shockingly, the provincial government has given environmental approval in spite of these facts.
“Unlike the Premier of Alberta [Rachel Notley], Christy Clark has done absolutely nothing to achieve commitments from [Prime Minister] Justin Trudeau that might help to protect the interests of British Columbia. Once again, B.C. is playing second fiddle to Alberta. We take the risks while Alberta takes the cash.
It is clear to me that Rachel Notley was working very hard in Ottawa to get what she wanted. Christy Clark was nowhere to be seen. In late November, Prime Minister Trudeau made the announcement approving the Kinder Morgan pipeline without even referring to British Columbia’s supposed opposition.
“It is embarrassing that B.C. has had such weak representation on such a critically important issue. Christy Clark has been out-gunned, out-muscled and out-thought by Rachel Notley and British Columbia will pay a heavy price.
“Luckily, we have a provincial election coming up in May, so the people of B.C. can be heard. British Columbians don’t like weak leaders and Christy Clark has shown herself to be among the weakest in Canada.”
Government workers in B.C. paid 7.4 per cent higher wages than comparable private-sector workers
GOVERNMENT workers in B.C. receive 7.4 per cent higher wages on average than comparable workers in the private sector, and enjoy much more generous non-wage benefits, too, finds a new study by the rightwing Fraser Institute.
As the B.C. government prepares to table its 2017 budget, and facing mountain financial pressure from increased education spending and a cooling off in the housing sector, staff compensation—which accounts for about half of annual government program spending—should be scrutinized, says the institute.
“Bringing public sector compensation in line with the private sector would not only help governments in B.C. control spending without reducing services, it would also maintain fairness for taxpayers,” said Charles Lammam, director of fiscal studies at the Fraser Institute and co-author of Comparing Government and Private Sector Compensation in British Columbia.
The study finds that government employees in B.C.—including federal, provincial and municipal workers—received 7.4 per cent higher wages, on average, than comparable workers in the private sector in 2015, the most recent year of data from Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey.
And that wage gap takes into account differences between workers in the two sectors, such as their age, gender, education, tenure, and type of work.
But wages are only part of overall compensation. Government workers in B.C. enjoy much more generous benefits, too.
* Pensions: Nine of 10 government workers in B.C. (87.9 per cent) are covered by a defined benefit pension plan—which offers a guaranteed level of benefits in retirement—compared to just one of 10 workers in the private sector (8.7 per cent).
* Early retirement: Public-sector workers in B.C. retire 2.5 years earlier, on average, than the province’s private-sector workers.
* Personal leave: Government workers in B.C. are absent from their jobs for personal reasons 55 per cent more often than private sector workers—12.4 days compared to eight days.
* Job security: Public-sector employees in the province enjoy much more job security, and were nearly eight times less likely to experience job loss than private-sector workers—0.4 per cent compared to 3 per cent.
“Of course, governments in B.C. need to provide competitive compensation to attract qualified employees, but the fact is wages and benefits in the government sector are out of step with the private sector,” Lammam said.
How much did we fork out for the Royal Tour 2016?
(PHOTO: Their Royal Highnesses are officially welcomed to BC at the Parliament Buildings in Victoria.
Photo: BC Government)
THE B.C. government released the costs on Thursday for the Royal Tour 2016, when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, William and Kate, and their children, visited British Columbia during their second official tour of Canada.
Through a cost sharing agreement with the Government of Canada, B.C.’s share of expenses relating to the Royal Tour 2016 totalled $613,363.93, which also includes the costs of site reconnaissance at each location as well as media transportation, accommodation, and tour.
From September 24 to October 1, 2016, the Duke and Duchess visited Victoria, Vancouver, Kelowna, Bella Bella and Haida Gwaii, attracting large crowds throughout their tour, including 15,000 British Columbians for their official welcome to Canada at the Parliament Buildings in Victoria.
The royal couple also participated in more than 25 engagements, highlighting the significant work being undertaken to support parents with substance issues, enhance services and supports for mental health and conserving the Great Bear Rainforest.
* Sheway, a Pregnancy Outreach Program in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, which provides health and social service supports to women who are pregnant or parenting, who are dealing with drug and alcohol issues;
* The Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre, which offers information and resources on a wide range of mental-health and substance-use issues affecting children and youth in the province;
* Jack.org, a national charity dedicated to supporting student leadership in mental-health promotion and advocacy work across Canada; and
* The Great Bear Rainforest being recognized under the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy Initiative, the only project in Canada to receive this honour. As a lasting legacy related to the royal tour, the Province created the $1-million Great Bear Rainforest Education and Awareness Trust.
The royal couple experienced the true West Coast lifestyle on their tour, including salmon fishing in Haida Gwaii, sailing in the Inner Harbour of Victoria, taking a float plane to Vancouver and walking through the largest intact temperate rainforest in the world.
The royal tour attracted global attention to British Columbia with more than 435 accredited media, including 64 from United Kingdom outlets, and 31 from international outlets. Earned media coverage included media such as Vogue, Allure, Hello Magazine, CNN and the Today show with a reach of almost 106 million people.
Metro Vancouver’s management class could be leaving in droves
ACCORDING to a new study conducted by Insights West for Resonance Consultancy, a global advisor on real estate, tourism and economic development, a staggering 34% of Metro Vancouver homeowners say they are planning to sell their homes and move to more affordable markets in the next five years—the highest percentage compared to homeowners in other regions of the province.
Even more alarming is the sentiment that 40% of Gen-X (aged 35 to 54) homeowners in Metro Vancouver are considering selling their home and moving to a more affordable market. This decreases to 35% among Millennials and 28% among Boomer homeowners.
Local business leaders leaving?
“Potentially losing 40% of the management-age population in the city of Vancouver could have serious implications for the future of Vancouver’s economy,” warns Chris Fair, president of Resonance Consultancy. “Even if half of that divestment is re-allocated to more affordable housing in the Lower Mainland, there is the threat of thousands of middle managers and senior leaders leaving local companies already struggling with finding staff.”
“More than a quarter of local Boomers are certainly looking to cash out of Vancouver, but it’s the fact that two-in-five Vancouverites in their peak earning years are planning to do so that really surprised us,” says Fair.
Resonance Consultancy’s findings in the Future of B.C. Housing study are contrary to the long-held belief that it’s the Boomers who will lead a Vancouver exodus.
Among those who are looking to move to a more affordable market, Metro Vancouver homeowners aged 35 to 54 (Gen-X) lead this Greater Vancouver group (at 47%), followed by Boomers (32%) and Millennials (21%).
So what do the city’s 35- to 54-year-olds want from their next home?
The recent rise in house prices has had a significant impact on Metro Vancouverites’ house price-to-income gap. When asked about the most important features a future home should possess, four-in-five Metro Vancouver residents (82%) indicate cost of housing, while nearly two-thirds (60%) focus on having a private outdoors space (a yard or balcony). For Gen-Xers, cost of housing (83%), private outdoor space (68%) and proximity to work (62%) are most important.
As a result, most Gen-Xers living in Metro Vancouver (89%) feel that the region is unaffordable, followed by Millennials (86%) and Boomers (85%). Compared to Boomers (22%), Gen-X (30%) and Millennial (28%) respondents who are likely to move in the next 5 years say they dedicate a larger portion of their household income to mortgage or rent payments, on average. When asked about their maximum income allocation to housing, on average, Gen-X (34%) and Millennials (33%) would dedicate a larger proportion to shelter than Boomers (24%)—percentages higher than the 30% national affordable housing ratio.
Results are based on an online study conducted by Insights West from October 13 to 31, 2016, among 1,714 adult British Columbians. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region. The margin of error – which measures sample variability – is +/- 2.4 percentage points.
Pumping iron is good for the heart, UBC researchers show
JUST one session of interval weight-training can decrease the risk of Type 2 diabetes complications, according to a UBC Okanagan study. This is encouraging news for those starting the New Year with good intentions.
Jonathan Little, an assistant professor in the School of Health and Exercise Sciences at UBC Okanagan’s campus, says the study demonstrates that a series of simple leg exercises, involving weights, can improve blood vessel function of people with and without diabetes.
“Individuals with Type 2 diabetes are up to four times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than those without,” says Little, the study’s senior researcher. “After completion of just one bout of exercise, we saw an improvement in blood vessel function, an indicator of heart health and heart attack risk.
“With further study, this information could provide a new safe and cost-effective tool to help people manage their disease.”
In the study, Little and his research team compared the effect of two types of interval training—resistance (leg press, extensions and lifts) and cardiovascular (stationary bicycle) exercises—on blood vessel function. Both of these alternated periods of high- and low-intensity effort, in a one-to-one work/rest ratio.
Thirty-five age-matched study participants were assigned into one of three groups; people with Type 2 diabetes, non-exercisers, and regular exercisers without diabetes. Each group performed a 20-minute exercise routine, which included a warm up and seven one-minute, high-intensity efforts with a one-minute rest between each interval.
“All exercisers showed greater blood vessel function improvement after the resistance-based interval training,” says Monique Francois, a UBC graduate student and the co-author of the study. “However, this was most prominent in the Type 2 diabetes group.”
“Resistance training was introduced to this group because it’s relatively easy and can accommodate individuals who are new to exercising. This study shows that resistance-based interval training exercise is a time-efficient and effective method with immediate effects.”
According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, there are 11 million Canadians living with diabetes or prediabetes.
Diabetes is a chronic, debilitating, and sometimes fatal disease, in which the body cannot produce insulin or cannot properly use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that controls the amount of sugar in the blood.
The study, published in American Journal of Physiology: Heart and Circulatory Physiology, was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
Money makes the world go around
BY DERMOD TRAVIS
AFTER 15 months on the job, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is embarking on a cross-Canada tour, ostensibly to reconnect with Canadians or at least those that can’t afford $1,525 to bend his ear in private.
It seems Trudeau – and other federal cabinet ministers – have a fondness for political fundraising events held behind closed doors, far away from prying eyes.
In political slang better known as cash-for-access, not to be confused with its kissing cousin pay-to-play.
When news of Trudeau’s private dinners broke in November – first reported on by The Tyee – the prime minister assured Canadians that nothing untoward was taking place.
Little more than dumpling making demonstrations, as Trudeau is seen doing in a number of photos from a Toronto dinner last May.
Everything was peachy-keen as far as the prime minister was concerned, until one host spilled the beans.
In November, when Trudeau was in the Lower Mainland to announce his five-year, $1.5 billion ocean protection plan, there was a $1,525 cash-for-access event on his private itinerary.
Unpublicized at the time, Trudeau broke bread at the home of Miaofei Pan, a Vancouver property developer.
Shock of all shocks, some of the 80 guests saw the dinner as an opportunity to talk shop with the prime minister.
Up for discussion that night was the proposed acquisition of Vancouver-based Retirement Concepts, a chain of retirement homes believed to be worth more than $1 billion, by China’s Anbang Insurance Group.
If Anbang’s bid is approved by the federal government it would become a major service provider to B.C.’s health ministry.
It wasn’t long before calls for an investigation by federal ethics commissioner Mary Dawson – who had already called cash-for-access “not very savoury” – started flying across Ottawa.
Last month – still labouring under the mistaken impression that everything is on the up-and-up with these fundraisers – Trudeau told the Vancouver Sun editorial board that one just had to use Google to find a list of names of those in attendance.
Not so. Both The Tyee and Globe and Mail have requested the names from the prime minister’s office and the Liberal Party of Canada without success.
Paradoxically, the federal Liberal party returned donations from the Cannabis Friendly Business Association after representatives of the group attended a reception last spring with Trudeau’s point person on pot, Bill Blair.
All to avoid any misconceptions that the event violated the government’s own ethics guidelines that advise cabinet ministers and parliamentary secretaries to avoid an “appearance of preferential access.”
But then it is easier to refund a handful of $150 tickets, than it is to return $1,525 to each of 80 ticket holders.
Lost in the federal kerfuffle are some upcoming cash-for-access events in B.C. with Premier Christy Clark.
At three times his going rate of $1,525, the prime minister would still be a bargain compared to Clark.
In December Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick sent out a private email to what he called “leaders such as yourself,” offering 21 individuals “an outstanding dinner experience” with Clark on January 26 for all of $5,000 a plate.
Too rich for your blood? Letnick had another “outstanding dinner experience” to offer with backbench MLA Linda Larson for a mere $2,500.
One frequent participant at these exclusive dinners is Toronto-based Borealis Infrastructure, a subsidiary of the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System.
At least they’re upfront about their motivation in buying tickets, noting in their official policy that “Participation in the political process may be directly relevant to minimizing risk and achieving (our) investment objectives.”
B.C. NDP leader John Horgan isn’t immune to intimate evenings with well-heeled donors either.
In November, the party charged up to $10,000 a head at its resource industry dinner.
Only B.C. Green party leader Andrew Weaver refuses to attend or host cash-for-access events.
The B.C. Liberal party held 142 fundraising events in 2015, the NDP 46 and the Greens one.
But there’s a far cry between the Green Party’s $10 film screening in Kelowna, the NDP’s $50 belt it out for equality karaoke night and the $10,000 that 10 guests paid to share dinner with Clark at the home of Simon Fraser University Chancellor Anne Giardini.
Liberals seek popularity boost by padding the numbers
BY KAREN VECCHIO
Official Opposition Critic for Families, Children and Social Development
THE holiday season is finally over. The decorations are back in their boxes, the kids are back at school, and Canadians are looking forward to receiving their first Canada Child Benefit cheque of 2017 on January 20. But while the Government has made many impressive claims about the Canada Child Benefit (CCB), the truth is that this program may not be as impressive as they would have you believe.
As the National Post reported on December 22 in an article titled, “Liberal government oversold child benefit’s impact on poverty rates, documents suggest” information was uncovered that demonstrates this Government’s willingness to jeopardize transparency in order to salvage a hastily drafted program. The Government has manipulated statistics to make the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) seem more effective than it truly is. While the Liberals have claimed that their new CCB will reduce child poverty by 40% by 2017, in reality, the CCB only accounts for one-fourth of the total reduction.
This attempt at a popularity boost attempts to cover up the reality that the CCB, a hasty Liberal campaign promise, turned out to be more expensive and less helpful than they originally claimed. In fact, the independent Parliamentary Budget Officer released a report in September of last year outlining that the CCB will see fewer families receiving less benefits over the long term.
While assisting low-income families is undoubtedly important, it is clear that additional, more extensive modes of poverty reduction, such as employment and retraining programs, ought to be among the foremost considerations for any poverty reduction measures.
Instead of doing the hard work to reduce child poverty through a multi-faceted, jobs-centred approach, the Liberals have misrepresented the effectiveness of the CCB in a vain attempt to increase their political popularity. It may be that the government is seeking this boost to their approval ratings as they begin to act on unpopular policies which will lead to higher burdens on Canadians through the imposition of a carbon tax, expanded payroll taxes, and the delay on small business tax cuts. Even more worrisome is the recent discovery of a hidden financial analysis that all but confirms that the government will not be able to balance the budget by the end of their mandate, skyrocketing the national debt to $1.5 trillion by 2050-2051, possibly forcing Canada to run unbalanced budgets until 2055.
It is time for the government to recognize the flaws in their reasoning, and re-evaluate their policies with the sole purpose of helping Canadians, instead of playing politics with child benefits that families depend upon.
Karen Vecchio is the Conservative MP for Elgin-Middlesex-London
B.C. marks Canada 150 with cultural legacies
TO mark the 150th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation, the Province is launching a funding program to celebrate B.C. communities and their contribution to Canada. The Government of British Columbia will invest $8 million in museums and heritage sites throughout the province.
British Columbia | Canada 150: Celebrating B.C. Communities and their Contributions to Canada will create meaningful legacies honouring the province’s unique and diverse histories, culture, heritage and contribution to the nation. This program offers one-time grants of up to $100,000 for:
* Developing infrastructure: Projects that develop or improve museum spaces and facilities (including historic places).
* Conserving historic places and heritage sites: Projects that preserve, rehabilitate or restore formally registered, designated or recognized historic places.
* Building lasting legacies: Projects that physically represent B.C.’s unique and diverse histories, culture and heritage, such as permanent exhibitions, monuments, public art, statues, interpretation infrastructure, plaques or signage.
* Sharing our history: Projects that promote the sharing of collections and expertise between the Royal BC Museum and the wider museum community to reveal the diverse historical narratives of British Columbia.
Organizations with a culture or heritage mandate responsible for a museum, archive or historic place are eligible for this funding, including not-for-profits, First Nation Band Councils, Aboriginal Friendship Centres, local governments and post-secondary institutions.
As a collaborative partnership, the British Columbia Museums Association will administer the program on behalf of the Province. The deadline for applications is February 10, and online applications will open at http://museumsassn.bc.ca on January 16.
Premier Christy Clark said: “2017 is a special year in our country’s history, and you only get one chance to celebrate such a milestone. Communities throughout British Columbia will honour Canada’s 150th anniversary, creating legacies to enjoy today, and for generations to come.”
Erica Mattson, Executive Director, British Columbia Museums Association, said: “Canada’s 150th anniversary provides an opportunity for B.C.’s museums, heritage sites and cultural organizations to create experiences that help us learn about and understand the diverse histories and cultures that bring us together as British Columbians and Canadians. We are thrilled to see the government investing in this important work.”
Paul Gravett, interim executive director, Heritage BC, said: “The British Columbia | Canada 150 fund will have a far-reaching and lasting effect. The investment will stimulate work and creativity throughout the province, allowing B.C.’s museums, galleries, heritage and cultural organizations and related institutions to realize many of their aspirations. Our heritage and culture will be honoured today and enjoyed by future generations. Above all, we will take pride in our achievements, as we celebrate our contribution, as proud British Columbians, to the cultural fabric of Canada.”
* 2017 marks the 150th anniversary of the Confederation of Canada.
*A range of activities are planned across the country at local, regional and national levels throughout 2017 to celebrate Canada 150.
* Federal funding related to Canada 150 is supporting local, regional and national celebrations, small-scale community grants, and community infrastructure projects.
* The main themes of the Government of Canada’s vision for the 150th anniversary of Confederation are diversity and inclusion, reconciliation from nation to nation with Indigenous peoples, the environment and youth.
* In addition to British Columbia | Canada 150: Celebrating B.C. Communities and their Contributions to Canada, the Province is also marking Canada 150 by committing $2 million to the Royal BC Museum to support interested Aboriginal peoples in B.C. seeking the return of their ancestral remains and belongings of cultural significance.
* The British Columbia Museums Association is the professional association for the museum and gallery sector. It has an extensive membership across B.C. ranging from major museums, to historic and heritage sites, to independent galleries and local and city archives, as well as industry connections nationally and internationally.
BC takes significant step forward in preventing cancer with HPV announcement
THE Canadian Cancer Society calls the recent BC Government announcement to provide the HPV vaccine to all genders through schools a significant move forward in public health policy. The Society believes this change, which will take place in September 2017, will have an enormous impact in reducing children’s future risk of HPV-related cancers.
The Society has been a vocal advocate for expanding BC’s HPV vaccination program to all genders. In October, the Society released the Canadian Cancer Statistics 2016 publication, which revealed cancers of the mouth and throat caused by HPV are rising dramatically among Canadian men and are poised to surpass the rate of cervical cancer in females. This new evidence points to the growing need for vaccination for all genders, not just females.
“We are very pleased with Premier Christy Clark and Minister Terry Lake’s decision to expand HPV vaccination coverage to include Grade 6 boys,” said Sandra Krueckl, Vice President, Cancer Control, Canadian Cancer Society. “BC joins six other provinces in the country that have already expanded their HPV vaccination programs to all genders. This will make a significant difference in preventing cancer and is something we can all be proud of.”
Until now, the HPV vaccine was publicly funded and available in school for females in Grade 6. Males did not have equal access to the vaccine and were only offered it if they were considered at an ‘increased risk’ of contracting HPV.
An estimated 75 per cent of Canadians will have a HPV infection in their lifetime and some of these infections can lead to cancer including anal, penile, cervical, vagina, vulvar, mouth and throat cancers as well as anogenital warts. Men are two to four times more likely to be diagnosed with an HPV oral cancer than women.
“The HPV virus does not discriminate based on gender,” adds Krueckl. “Every person, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation and social status should have an equal and affordable opportunity to protection from HPV.”
Under the old policy, males were reliant on females for protection from the virus. This was concerning because of BC’s varying vaccination rates. According to the BC Centre for Disease Control, a third of the girls eligible for the vaccine have not been vaccinated.
“It’s troubling that so many females eligible for the vaccine are not getting vaccinated,” said Krueckl. “No one should have to rely solely on their partner for protection from a cancer-causing virus. With more Grade 6 males vaccinated, all genders will be protected and fewer people will be infected with HPV, which means fewer people will be at risk for developing cancer. That’s a clear win.”
Massey replacement preliminary works go to tender
TWO contracts for preliminary construction work on the George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project are going to tender. The contracts are for site preparation in order to improve ground conditions for future lane widening.
The ministry will award one contract for work in Delta and one for work in Richmond. Work will begin only after the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure receives the project’s Environmental Assessment and Agricultural Land Commission certificates.
Both early works contracts will operate under an environmental management plan to ensure the work is in line with the project’s environmental obligations.
This site preparation work includes ditch improvements and the placement of pre-load material on soft soils immediately adjacent to the existing highway. Pre-load work is standard practice on most major highway construction projects. Soil is piled to compress the existing ground in advance of the main work, which will minimize settlement following construction. Pre-load work requires long timelines which is why the work needs to start as soon as all approvals are in place.
Information gathered from these two contracts will be provided to the three short-listed proponents for the major construction contract so they may better assess technical conditions in the preparation of their designs. The ministry expects to have its preferred proponent chosen by summer 2017.
The new bridge and associated highway improvements, including dedicated transit lanes, will cut some commute times in half and also improve travel-time reliability for the 10,000 transit passengers and more than 80,000 vehicles that use the tunnel each day.
Safety benefits of the project include a design that meets modern seismic standards, additional lanes that make merging safer for all vehicles while reducing collisions by an estimated 35%, and wider lanes and shoulders that will improve safety and emergency response times.
It is estimated that about 9,000 direct jobs will be created over the life of the George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project. Construction will begin this year with the bridge opening in 2022, followed by tunnel decommissioning.
B.C. phone tech company dials up success overseas
IMAGINE a world where every dated desk phone has been transformed into a smartphone; where cordless handsets connect to Wi-Fi; and where home phones can be taken anywhere without long distance or roaming fees.
One B.C. company is doing just that – revolutionizing the Internet phone industry and showcasing its innovative technologies on the global stage.
Based in Richmond, Apivio Systems Inc. is a leader in Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) communications equipment and software. Recently, the publicly traded company has made several lucrative deals with firms located in Korea, Japan and the U.S.
“Companies like Apivio are helping to create strong and enduring trade relationships,” said Teresa Wat, Minister of International Trade and Minister Responsible for Asia Pacific Strategy and Multiculturalism. “We want every B.C. business to experience the same kind of success. That’s why we organize trade missions and establish trade and investment offices overseas – to diversify our export markets and help B.C. firms to reach new customers.”
In October 2016, Apivio announced that Texas firm TeleDynamics will distribute Apivio’s Wi-Fi, Android and other VoIP devices in the United States, with an initial purchase order for 2,000 of Apivio’s Liberty L2 Wi-Fi phones. Last December, Apivio also signed a global distribution agreement with NEC Japan to distribute Apivio’s Android-based desk phones under the NEC brand. These agreements are just two examples of the success the company is experiencing here and overseas.
“There’s no reason why regular desk phones can’t be multimedia devices with access to apps and a camera and other technologies that are readily available for cell phones,” said Rob Bakshi, President and CEO, Apivio Systems. “It’s our focus on pioneering new VoIP technologies for the enterprise phone industry that has captured the interest of companies from around the world.”
During a 2016 provincial trade mission to Japan and Korea, Apivio signed one of 17 deals between B.C. companies and Asian firms. With 75 employees and $60 million in annual revenue, Apivio’s expansion to key markets demonstrates how B.C.’s export and trade relationships provide a vital source of economic growth and job creation in British Columbia.
“Our mission is to go beyond the notion that an office phone is simply to talk on, to go beyond the idea that a desk phone can’t be portable, and to go beyond the assumption that upgrading devices in an office environment is impossible or expensive,” said Bakshi. “Innovation is key and we have consistently demonstrated that our solutions are cutting edge and affordable. This has greatly contributed to our export success.”
Apivio also has a subsidiary company based in South Korea and continues working to expand to new markets in Asia and North America in their effort to turn every enterprise office phone into a smart phone.
* In November 2016, total British Columbia goods exported worldwide totalled $35.4 billion, an increase of 7.7% over the same period in 2015.
* Goods exported to the United States in 2016 were up 11.6% to $19.3 billion compared to 2015.
* Goods exported to Japan in 2016 were up 2.4% to $3.3 billion compared to 2015.
* Goods exported to South Korea in 2016 were up 8.9% to $1.8 billion compared to 2015.