Jeet Manhas running for city council

Jeet Manhas

0828 - Nanaimo needs its credibility and civility restored, says former councillor Jeet Manhas in announcing his candidacy for council in the Oct. 20 election.

“The city’s reputation has taken a serious hit during the past four years, and my experience from my previous six years on city council will allow me to play a major role rebuilding job,” says Manhas. 

“Those aren’t just empty words, during my two terms on city council from 2002 to 2008 the city enjoyed major accomplishments like downtown revitalization, The Nanaimo Ice Centre, Oliver Woods Recreation Centre, and the beginning of the Linley Valley parkland designation.

SEE HIS PLATFORM HERE

Nanaimo's Clay Tree Society has a problem. Can you help?

 Watch their video Click Here

McKay says it's time to move on - won't run for mayor again

Mayor Bill McKay

0828 -  Mayor Bill McKay will not seek re-election in the October 20 general election.

"One of the toughest things for a politician to do is realize it's time to move on. It appears to me the community wants to see a change, they want to take a different direction and that's just fine with me," he told Nanaimo News Now.

McKay is nearing the end of his first term as mayor after winning the seat by more than 2,000 votes in 2014. He previously served one term as a councillor.

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City to sell five lots near Rutherford roundabout

 The City is preparing a subdivision and selling five lots at 5290 Rutherford Rd., near the new roundabout at Rutherford and Linley Valley Drive. Deputy director of community development Bill Corsan said the City will subdivide and prepare what was previously one property, originally bought to allow for the road connection into the Linley Valley subdivision.

The lots are being sold in a request for offers process similar to a sealed bid auction. Interested buyers have until Sept. 27 to submit an offer. Staff will choose the best offers and submit them to Council for approval. Four of the lots have a minimum price of $300,000, with one at $360,000, based on a third-party appraisal.

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Tilray gets contract to supply marijuana to Nova Scotia

0828 - Stocks in Nanaimo-based marijuana producer Tilray hit a new high on news the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation has chosen to shop Canadian.

Tilray announced Monday it was selected to receive an initial purchase order for a variety of adult-use cannabis products to supply the Nova Scotia market.

Tilray is one of 14 producers selected to supply the province with cannabis products and will fulfill the order through its Ontario-based affiliate High Park Holdings, which was created to produce and distribute adult-use cannabis products and brands.

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Mema files racism complaint against city

Victor Mema

0828 - Victor Mema has launched a human rights complaint against the city.

Mema was the city’s chief financial officer until earlier this year. He has filed a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal arguing that the city discriminated against his “ancestry, race, place of origin and colour” according to tribunal documents obtained by the News Bulletin.

Mema, who replied to a number of questions via e-mail, confirmed that he has filed a complaint against the city with the tribunal. He said the filing was made last month and stems from “discriminatory acts” against him since he began working at the city in September 2015.

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Woman dies in swimming mishap at Morningside Park

0828 - Nanaimo RCMP and the B.C. Coroners Service are investigating a swimming mishap that claimed a woman’s life on Monday.

The incident happened Monday when the 38-year-old woman and a family member were at Morningside Park. The victim was in an inflatable boat when she went for a swim.

“She didn’t resurface for a few minutes and when she did, she appeared motionless,” said Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman. “The individual on the beach swam out to her, did emergency first aid [but was] unable to resuscitate.”
 

Sex with a minor nets man 18 months in jail

0828 - Sex with a minor has resulted in an 18-month jail term for a Parksville man.

Wayne Robert Smith, 55, was charged with sexual interference of a person under 16, sexual assault and telecommunicating to lure a child under 18. The incidents occurred in 2016. Smith was sentenced in provincial court in Nanaimo on Tuesday.

During sentencing it was revealed that the charges stem from Smith’s interactions with a girl, 15 years old at the time. There were two acts of sexual intercourse and subsequently Smith sent sexually suggestive text messages.

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Mira Laurence named to Canucks radio broadcast team

0828 - Congratulations to Mira Laurence who has joined the Sportsnet 650 radio crew on Vancouver Canucks games this season. 

Mira is well-known in Nanaimo, having covered the Clippers and VI Raiders and other local sports during her time with CTV in Victoria.

A Sportsnet 650 posting says Laurence will do the rink-side ice-level interviews and updates for all Canucks games this season.

Large amount of garbage dumped on city street

0827 - More than three tons of household garbage was dumped on a city street early Sunday. 

A passerby reported the dump in the 3700 block Shenton Road. City crews cleaned up 3,400 kilograms of waste.

Community Safety Manager Dave LaBerge said it took a city crew with trucks and a front-end loader hours to clean up the garbage.  It appeared that the debris had been compacted, as if it had been transported in a commercial garbage truck. LaBerge said it polluted the neighborhood and posed a risk to blocking storm water drainage and sewer systems. 

Anyone with any information about this crime is asked to contact the City at 250-755-4422, the RCMP at 250-754-2345 or Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-8477. 
 

Roberts says goodbye to Senator John McCain

0826 - Former Nanaimo Mayor Graeme Roberts has a final salute for U.S. Senator John McCain. http://www.nanaimonet.com/433324989

 

Vancouver Island drought condition hits Level 4

0826 - Record-breaking hot and dry conditions have elevated the drought to level 4 on Vancouver Island. The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource increased the ratings in Northern and coastal B.C.

Level 4 ratings signify extremely dry conditions, with an inefficient supply of water to meet socio-economic and ecosystem needs. While some cities around the province are levels 2 and 3 none are sitting at a level 1.

The province is encouraging maximum voluntary water conservation and offering tips such as limiting outdoor watering, taking shorter showers, ensuring that the tap is not left running and making sure irrigation and plumbing systems aren’t leaking.

Illegal campers running up the tab on taxpayers' dime

0824 - Taxpayers are getting their first look at how much the large illegal encampment is costing the municipality.

Costs related to the camp were just under $80,000 to the end of July. The information was released in response to a freedom of information request by NanaimoNewsNOW. But the actual total cost is unknown because the City refused to release legal costs for their effort to secure an injunction to remove the camp.

The majority of the costs since the camp opened on May 17 were related to staff time, at more than $53,000.

Litter pick up cost nearly $12,000, while one month of portable toilets supplied to the camp came with a bill of more than $2,500.

After being ordered to do so by the region's medical health officer, the City connected running water into the camp. That cost more than $3,000.

NanaimoNewsNOW

Summer Blues Festival kicks off tonight downtown

0824 - The Summertime Blues Festival kicks off today. The Nanaimo Blues Society stages the annual show in the heart of downtown Nanaimo.

Bring your lawn chairs and picnic blankets to listen to acts that take to the open-air stage in Maffeo Sutton Park for the event of the Summer! The festival is honoring Vancouver Island blues musicians. Artists appearing over the weekend include David Gogo, Layla Zoe, Blue Moon Marquee, and The Paul Deslauriers Band. tonight’s show starts at 5 pm and Saturday and Sunday shows start at 12 pm.

Friday: Blackfish – Paul Black Band – Layla Zoe – David Vest
Saturday: The Deb Rhymer Band – South Island Rhythm Kings – Uncle Wiggly’s Hot Shoes Band
Big Pacific – The Soul Shakers – Bill Johnson – David Gogo
Sunday: Whitey Somers – Renovation Blues – Auntie Kate & The Uncles of Funk – Hank Angel
Mark Crissinger – The Paul Deslauriers Band – Blue Moon Marquee.

ATV stolen from business parking lot

0824 - A red 2000 ATV was stolen from the parking lot of a business at 1531 Estevan Road at approximately 4:45 AM on Wednesday August 22. The suspect male, shown riding off on the stolen ATV, entered the fenced compound through an existing hole. He then removed the ATV from a storage trailer which held two ATVs. The suspect then drove it out of the compound.

If you have information on the theft or the suspect involved, please call the Nanaimo RCMP at 250-754-2345. If you wish to remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at www.nanaimocrimestoppers.com or call 1-800-222-8477.

Mainroad highway maintenance contract renewed

0824 - New maintenance contracts have been awarded for two service areas to ensure better highway conditions for Vancouver Island drivers.

A new 10-tear service contract for provincial roads in the Nanaimo, Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni areas, has been awarded to Mainroad Mid-Island Contracting LP.

The 10-year term has an optional five-year extension, set to begin on Sept. 1, 2018.

The new contracts for all service areas require higher standards and a more proactive approach when a severe weather event occurs. Here are some of the biggest improvements over the most recent contracts:

• Return Highway 19, Highway 4 and other Class A winter highways to bare pavement within 24 hours of a severe weather event. The previous standard was 48 hours at temperatures of -9 C or warmer.

• Expanded sweeping along cycling routes.

• Increased communication with the public to rapidly changing road conditions during severe weather events and other incidents affecting travel on B.C. roads.

• When a weather event is forecasted to occur, increase the patrol frequency to four hours in anticipation of the weather event. The previous standard was 24 hours.

Tire slasher at Aspengrove School caught on camera

0823 - The Nanaimo RCMP is asking for public assistance in identifying a man who slashed all four tires to a passenger van parked at a Aspengrove School, located at 7660 Clark Crescent in Lantzville. The crime was captured by security cameras at approximately 1:18 AM on Wednesday Aug. 15 in the school parking lot.

The attached photo clearly shows a man using a large knife, casually walking around the van and puncturing the tires.

If anyone has information, please call the Nanaimo RCMP non-emergency line at 250-754-2345 and quote file # 2018-29583. If you wish to remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at www.nanaimocrimestoppers.com 

Released by
Cst. Gary O'Brien
Media Relations Officer
Community Policing Services, Nanaimo
Office: 250-755-3257
Email:  gary.obrien@rcmp-grc.gc.ca

Nanaimo man killed in Malahat collision

0822 - Thirty-six-yearold Jonathan Seidel was killed when the work truck he was driving overturned on the Malahat on Wednesday morning

He was headed to Victoria when his sewage truck collided with an SUV in the southbound lanes near Goldstream Provincial Park.
 
Seidel had a new job – he had worked for Nanaimo-based DBL Disposal Services for three months. He was pronounced dead and the other driver was taken to hospital with undisclosed injuries. 

The crash closed the highway in both directions until about 4 p.m. 

Peckford sides with fire chief in safety enforcement

0821 - Brian Peckford says The judge was out of line in denying a safety enforcement order for the illegal tent encampment in the city. Nanaimo Fire Chief Karen Fry has the expertise in this matter, and the judge does not. Read his entire column here: http://www.nanaimonet.com/435676391

 

City to hold candidate information seminars

Two local government candidate information seminars will be held on Wednesday, August 29 and Thursday, August 30, from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Vancouver Island Conference Centre.

MORE information

Local tech companies meet with federal minister

0821 - About a dozen tech company representatives from the region met with federal innovation, science and economic developmen minister Navdeep Bains In Nanaimo on Monday.

The round-table discussed how Canada can be a leader in a digital and data-driven economy.

“We’re looking at how do we compete in the long term,” said Bains. “How do we help companies grow in scale? How do we help individuals get good quality jobs? … This is so critical in terms of the economic opportunities it presents.”
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Another knifing incident at downtown squat encampment

0820 - A second knifing incident was reported at the downtown encampment. First responders were called to the camp last Friday.

A victim walked out of the camp under his own power and across the street, where he sat down at a parking garage. Blood could be seen on his chest. He was transferred to an ambulance.

Police said the victim refused to co-operate with investigators.

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Nanaimo air quality among worst in province

0820 - An air-quality advisory is in place for the Nanaimo and Parksville due to thickened smoke from wildfires.

The B.C. Government listed the mid-island's Air Quality Health Index at a 10+ Monday morning, which is considered a very high health risk.

At risk populations such as children and the elderly should avoid physical outdoor exertion. If you have symptoms like coughing or throat irritation you're advised to reduce or reschedule strenuous outdoor activities.

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Nothing comes of tent encampment expected showdown

-819 - Several hundred people packed the short stretch of Port Drive between the tent encampment and Port Place Shopping Centre for several hours on Sunday afternoon. approxminately 60 per cent of the crowd appeared to be opposed to the camp.

The protest and counter-rally was organized after the Soldiers of Oden reportedly warned they were going to forcibly remove the camp Sunday afternoon. They never arrived and posted a video on Facebook saying they "trolled" tent city organizers and never intended to show up. 

NANAIMO NEWS NOW HAS MORE

More people are seeking help with addictions

0818 - Island Health statistics show 790 people are in some form of treatment for opiate addiction, a 45-per-cent increase from 2015. That was a year before the province declared a public health emergency over the increasing number of fatal overdoses.

Medical health officer Dr. Paul Hasselback told NanaimoNewsNOW the number of those in treatment is going up across the province, but it's rising faster in Nanaimo by roughly 15 per cent.

“I think accessibility to the treatment has improved dramatically,” Dr. Hasselback said. “Certainly because of the devastation this overdose crisis has had in Nanaimo, there's been an intensive level of intervention, support, and public acknowledgment that we have a crisis here. I do think all of that helps develop a community that embraces the challenge and recognizes that family, friends and neighbours may have substance abuse issues.”

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City set to ease restrictions on food truck operators

0818 - The City Council is setting the table for eased food truck regulations. Council gave preliminary approval to three main changes allowing operators more flexibility on where they do business, extending hours and reducing fees.

Interviews with 20 vendors found increased location flexibility is an important issue, said Lainya Rowett, the City's manager of current planning and subdivision. The City also proposed to allow vendors to be designated in locations on a daily basis, as opposed to being given a fixed location on an annual basis.

Kim Smythe, CEO of the Nanaimo and District Chamber of Commerce, said having multiple choices available to the public in a single place better serves the operators and the public.

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Westwood lake reopens for swimmers

0818 - Westwood Lake is again safe for swimming, the City has announced.

The lake had been closed since Aug. 9 due to bacteria in the water, but Island Health has advised the city that E.coli levels in the lake have dropped to an acceptable level.

“We thank the public for their patience and understanding during this closure. We are pleased to reopen Westwood Lake to residents and visitors for swimming and water activities,” said Damon Johnston, the city’s assistant manager of aquatics.

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Downtown condo proposal heads to public hearing

0818 - A 24-storey downtown condo tower is heading to public hearing in Nanaimo as its developer also rolls out plans for a four-storey condo project near Vancouver Island University.

Wertman Development Corp. of Vancouver won praise around Nanaimo’s council table for its proposal which would be located in an area designated for high-rise development.

Coun. Diane Brennan welcomed the project. “It is an area of town that has been waiting for this kind of development.”

Nanaimo has a goal of increasing the number of people making downtown their home and helping to boost vitality in the city’s core.
 
The proposal goes to public hearing Sept. 6.
 

Nanaimo housing construction continues at record pace

0816 - New residential housing onstruction is running at a record pace in Nanaimo.

City staff report the value of residential construction is booming at nearly double the 10-year average. Through the first half of 2018, residential construction permits accounted for $104 million, well above the 10-year average of $66 million.

Dale Lindsay, director of community development, said Nanaimo is on pace for a fifth straight year of total construction values over $200 million and is likely to hit a new record high.

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Samra now CAO of Musqueam Indian Band

Tracy Samra

0816 - Tracy Samra, former Nanaimo chief administrative officer, has a new job. She s listed as chief administrative officer with the Musqueam Indian Band, according to an Aug. 2 letter accompanying a National Energy Board filing.

The letter, which is signed by Samra and lists her title as chief administrative officer, is attached to documents representing the Musqueam First Nation’s input into Trans Mountain pipeline routing. The filing asserts aboriginal rights and title and raises archaeological and environmental concerns.

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City approves $65,000 for Deep Discovery project

0815 - City council approved $65,000 to help the  Nanaimo Deep Discovery Association undertake two feasibility studies and help cover other current costs.

City councillors had recommended the expenditure at a finance and audit committee meeting last month.  

The City will get progress reports as the group continues work on the project.

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Snuneymuxw lease Woodback School

0815 - Snuneymuxw and Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools have announced an agreement for the old Woodbank Elementary School site.

SFN has leased the Woodbank site for programs in their community, such as mentorship, youth and elder programming, a wellness gym, computer lab, support groups, cultural camp and the ability to hold soccer tournaments. The partnership will help provide much-needed space for community resources.

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RCMP investigating multiple thefts from seniors

0815 - RCMP are investigating multiple thefts of jewelry from residents at a south Nanaimo seniors care facility.

A letter, obtained by NanaimoNewsNOW, was sent to families of residents at Wexford Creek on July 31 informing them the facility's management was in the process of co-operating with an RCMP investigation into the unexplained loss of some resident's jewelry.

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Marijuana zoning set to go to public hearing

0815 - Marijuana legalization is coming to town, and Nanaimo residents will have a chance to voice opinions before that happens.

The City will hold a public hearing prior to adoption.

The city cannabis task force and staff have recommended zoning criteria for cannabis retail stores – provincially-licensed stores where marijuana is sold, but not consumed on site. 

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WestJet expands schedule to Calgary and Vancouver

0814 - WestJet is adding additional daily flights to Calgary and Vancouver. The additional flights are seasonal and will be operated by WestJet Encore, the airline’s subsidiary.

The airline’s Nanaimo-Calgary route will increase to three flights per day. WestJet’s Nanaimo-Vancouver route is currently one flight daily, but will increase to two times daily beginning on Aug. 17. Both seasonal flights will end on April 27.

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Court denies application for encampment fire enforcement

0814 - Police won't be allowed to arrest people at Nanaimo's large tent city for not obeying a provincial fire order.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Ronald Skolrood denied a City request for an enforcement order allowing them to make arrests and remove structures for non-compliance with the fire order. Skolrood ruled the “broad and sweeping” application from the City appeared to be an effort to dismantle the tent city while its legal status remains undecided. 

“Frankly, an order authorizing the arrest of someone for refusing to remove a tarp or for positioning a tent too close to a neighbouring tent, which is what the order sought to permit, is in my view excessive.”

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Federal cabinet meeting in Nanaimo next week

0814 - The federal cabinet will be in Nanaimo for a three-day retreat next weej.

The PMO announced the gathering from Aug. 21-23 and will include international trade, eliminating trade barriers between provinces and territories, and security issues with Canada's borders.

The retreat will be the first meeting of the new cabinet before Parliament resumes in September, the PMO's office said.

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Nanaimo Lakes fire evacuation orders lifted

0812 - The Regional District has lifted evacuation orders and alerts as crews continue to get the upper hand on the Nanaimo Lakes fire.

The evacuation alert for 77 homes east of the fire is no longer in effect. An evacuation order for a large area mainly consisting of camping sites to the west and north of the fire has been downgraded to an alert.

In an update issued at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, the BC Wildfire Service said containment of the fire increased to 40 per cent and its size is holding at around 450-acres (182 ha).

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Yoachim not running for re-election in October

0811 - Councillor Bill Yoachim has reportedly decided not to seek re-election. He issued an announcement to Dominic Abassi of Nanaimo News Now.

No word yet from Councillors Bill Bestwick, Jerry Hong, Gord Fuller or Mayor Bill McKay.

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Green Thumb plans to remain in business for decades

0811 - Green Thumb Garden Centre and Nurseries will remain at its current location for years to come, says one of the owners.

The Green Thumb 18-hectare property was sold earlier this year. Jarrett Gerke, Green Thumb co-owner, confirmed that the property has sold, describing the transaction as an “estate sale.” He said the new owners are from within the Gerke family and that the business will remain at its current location for at least two decades.

“The plan is to keep the garden centre here for at least 20 to 25 years,” Gerke said.
 

City takes down encampment near Ice Centre

0811 - The City has removed a sizable homeless encampment snear a popular walking trail.

Bylaw officers moved in Friday to disband and clean up the camp in bushes along the trail through Third Street Park, near the Nanaimo Ice Centre. A large industrial garbage bin was needed to remove garbage from the area.

An estimated 20 people with "lots of belongings" were living in the well-established camp.

"Human feces, cigarette butts, garbage, shopping carts. It's a mess," she said. "I felt like I had to be very, very aware when I walked through in the mornings."

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Nanaimo red light cameras now working 24 hours a day

Island Highway at Bowen/Norwell

Nanaimo's two red-light cameras on the Island Hwy. at Aulds Road and at Norwell Drive, are 24-hours-a-day. They were previously only used in six-hour shifts daily.

"For too long, cameras with a proven record of curbing red-light runners and the serious crashes they cause were not operating at full capacity," Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said. "The full activation of these cameras is overdue and an important step for safety on some of our busiest roadways."

The province announced the transition to increased monitoring last September but the 24-hour change wasn't put into effect until the end of July.

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Employee dies while working on Nanaimo Lakes fire

Darrell Drake

0808 - A logging company employee has died while working at the Nanaimo Lakes wildfire.

A family menber identified the man as Darrell Drake, of Nanaimo. WorkSafeBC confirmed a TimberWest employee was found dead in a vehicle south of Nanaimo around 10 p.m. on Monday.

WorkSafe's Trish Knight Chernecki said a WorkSafe investigator was sent to the scene. She added the death was not related to a crash but could not give any more details. MORE

Westwood Lake closed for swimming until further notice

0809 - Island Health has informed the City that the E.Coli count at Westwood Lake exceeds the allowable limit and swimming is not recommended due to poor water quality. A follow-up test will occur Friday, August 10 with results expected to be received on Saturday, Aug 11. 

The Hawaiian Holidaze event scheduled at Westwood Lake Friday, August 10 has been cancelled.

For updated information on water conditions at Westwood Lake, please visit the City's website at www.Nanaimo.ca, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or read Island Health's Beach Report.

Westwood Lake Park remains open for hiking and walking.

To find alternative places to swim, use the City's "Park Search" tool on the city's website website.

VIHA Reports https://cnan.ca/2M85nya

Victoria steals the 'goofy award' from Nanaimo

0809 - Oh, oh, Nanaimo no longer has the distinction of having the goofiest city administration on Vancouver Island – Victoria snapped up that dubious ranking.

Nanaimo residents can rest assured that the statue of Frank Ney is not coming down from its perch on the waterfront after Victoria’s attempt to rewrite history by removing the statue of Sir. John A Macdonald, Canada’s first prime minister. Mayor Lisa Helps said Sir John represented the past history of colonialism in B.C. and therefore had to go.

The statue will be removed on Saturday and the plaque installed immediately. After an appropriate amount of time (as determined by Elders from the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations) a cleansing, blessing and healing ceremony will be held in the space where the statue now stands, until saturday.

Read Brian Peckford's view

Snowbirds put on fantastic show over Nanaimo

Merv Unger photo

See slide show CLICK HERE

 

Crews making headway in Nanaimo Lakes Fire

0808 - Fire information officer Donna MacPherson says the Nanaimo Lakes fire was 25 per cent contained as of late Wednesday afternoon. As well, she said the fire is moving north, away from homes, and the three other flanks of the blaze are holding well.

"Crews are making great progress. They're securing the sides of the fire that are posing the larger risk to structures. The north side is being problematic because it is uphill and difficult ground to get into. They're working at it from both sides to pinch it off at the top."

MacPherson said the estimated size of the fire is up to 440-acres (179 ha), partly because of growth to the north and better tracking from crews on scene.

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RDN seeking feedback on garbage collection

0808 - The Regional District of Nanaimo wants  public input about the preferred method of waste, recycling and organics collection.

It launched a survey online that the regional district hopes will encourage residents to engage in determining their choices as well as the associated costs attached to them. The consultation process runs August to September.

Zero waste co-ordinator Vivian Schau said residents’ feedback will be instrumental in determining the future of curbside collection.

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Three arrested after RCMP takedown

0808 - Three people well known to RCMP face charges after being found in a car with drugs and weapons inside.

RCMP Cst. Gary O'Brien said a neighbour's tip prompted police to pull over the car on Bing Kee Street near Bayview Elementary School just before 5 a.m. Wednesday.

Charges of drug possession for the purpose of trafficking are pending against a 32-year-old man, as well as two women, ages 35 and 38, O'Brien said.

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Snuneymuxw Elder Dr. Ellen White dies at 95

Dr. Ellen White

Snuneymuxw elder Ellen White died earlier this week in Nanaimo. She was in her mid-90s.

A decorated and celebrated author, storyteller and educator, White was renowned locally for her work at Vancouver Island University. She was known for her dedication to traditional ways, and her dedication to education as an important element in social change and community-building.

White, also known by her Coast Salish name, Kwulasulwut or Many Stars, was honoured with the Order of B.C. in 2011, the Order of Canada in 2017 and was given an honorary doctorate by VIU in 2006.

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Nanaimo River Road fire continues to grow

0807 - The Nanaimo River Road fire continued to grow Tuesday, but firefighters gained some containment on the blaze and officials are pleased with the direction it's moving.

The BC Wildfire Service's Natasha Broznitsky said the fire jumped about 75-acres Tuesday, nearing 400-acres (160-hectares). However, crews on scene were able to gain 10 per cent containment, the first progress in the battle against the fire which began at just five-acres on Sunday.

Broznitsky said Tuesday's growth was mainly north towards Barsby Lake and west towards Nanaimo Lakes, with "minimal growth" east.

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Losing Saudi Arabian students a big hit for VIU

0807 - Vancouver Island University's dean of international students called the pending departure of nearly 100 Saudi Arabian students a significant loss for the school and community.

Graham Pike said it is his understanding all 93 Saudi Arabian students slated to study at VIU for the fall semester will be forced to leave Canada shortly. It's believed more than 15,000 scholarships for Saudi Arabian students studying at colleges and universities across Canada will be cancelled, following a spat over human rights between Canada and the Middle Eastern kingdom.

Pike said it's hoped VIU advisers and counselors can meet with their impacted students this week.

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See Brian Peckford's comment

Evacuation ordered in Nanaimo Lakes fire area

0807 - Residents close to a wildfire in the Nanaimo Lakes area have been ordered to evacuate.

The Regional District of Nanaimo declared a state of local emergency on Monday, and issued an evacuation order and alert due to the growing fire southwest of the city.

“The fire potentially threatens the life and property of persons resident or present in this area,” notes the evacuation order. “Please leave this area immediately; the RCMP will be enforcing this order.”

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Nanaimo River Road fire remains out of control

The battle continues on the fire front on Nanaimo River Road.
/ JanaMarie on Facebook

0806 - A wildfire burning near Nanaimo River Road grew overnight and is still considered out of control.

The BC Wildfire Service's Natasha Broznitsky told NanaimoNewsNOW the blaze was estimated to be 123-acres (50 hectares), up from Sunday's estimated size of five-acres.

Broznitsky said crews worked through the night to establish control lines and performed controlled burns to eliminate fuel for the fire.

The team working the scene grew significantly as well, with 36 firefighters now working the area, as opposed to just eight on Sunday when it was first reported. Air tanker support may be called in Monday, Broznitsky said, to join five helicopters and two pieces of heavy machinery.

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Housing protest confrontation more smoke than fire

A Russian flag flies above supporters at the the housing protest. /Merv Unger photo

0805 - A face-to-face confrontation between the Soldiers of Odin and supporters of Nanaimo's illegal tent camp was heated, but remained non-violent.

The Soldiers of Odin Vancouver Island announced last week that they, along with others upset at the tent city’s existence, planned to protest the illegally formed camp. That resulted in a  counter-rally by supporters of the camp who pledged to protect the camp.

On Sunday afternoon, Soldiers of Odin, and members of AADC marched along Front Street where they were greeted by about 150 tent supporters, the Nanaimo RCMP and a smaller contingent of people opposed to the camp’s existence.

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Marathon swimmer makes double crossing of Georgia Strait

While it wasn't where she planned to finish, nobody has swum further in B.C. than Jill Yoneda.

Her astonishing 79.6-kilometre swim finished early Saturday evening after conquering the often unforgiving sea separating Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland. Yoneda told NanaimoNewsNOW it's believed 35-kilometres was the previous record for the longest non-stop swim in provincial waters.

Her swim spanning the Salish Sea twice between Nanaimo and Sechelt ended on Lasqueti Island early Saturday evening, lasting 25 hours and 16 minutes.

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Microsoft plugs in to Nanaimo security venture

0804 - Nanaimo-based Hyas announced it raised $6.2 million, led by a huge investment from Microsoft.

"When (Microsoft) heard what we were working on and how unique it was they got really excited, hopped on a plane and were up here the next day after we talked to them," Chris Davis, Hyas' founder and CEO, told .

The venture-backed startup specializes in attribution intelligence, basically helping other cybersecurity professionals identify and understand attacks on their networks. Davis said their technology is about helping companies understand how they're being attacked, by whom and why in order to prevent future problems.

Davis said Hyas has ramped up growth in the last 18 months and the investment from Microsoft will allow them to expand from about 14 employees to 30 in the next six-to-eight months. 

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McRae case going to mediation

0804 - A human rights complaint involving former city senior manager and the City of Nanaimo is headed to mediation.

Brad McRae, the city’s former chief operations officer, filed a human rights complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal earlier this year, claiming the city violated his human rights by firing him without cause following a termination hearing that he could not attend.

McRae was fired while on medical leave in January. McRae is hoping for the tribunal to declare that his rights were violated and that he should be reinstated as chief operations officer with the city.

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Protest counter rally planned – police ready

0804 - A rally is planned in response to a scheduled march by the Soldiers of Odin this weekend in Nanaimo.

Organizers and advocates of the illegal housing protest have scheduled a rally for 1 p.m.Sunday. The rally is in response to a planned march by the Soldiers of Odin of Vancouver Island and others.

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Who are the Soldiers of Odin?

Soldiers of Odin display their logo. Google photo.

0803 - The local chapter of the Soldiers of Odin have announced they will march this weekend to city hall and the housing protest campsite and clean up discarded needles along the way.

As a public service to Nanaimonet readers, here is a look at the organization, published by  Wikipedia. 

Soldiers of Odin is an anti-immigrant vigilante group founded in KemiFinland, in 2015. The group was established as a response to thousands of migrants arriving in Finland amid the European migrant crisis.

SOO has denied claims of being a racist or neo-Nazi group in interviews and on their public Facebook page. 

Read the full uneditted Wikipedia report HERE

Heads up

0803 - What if the shoe was on the other foot? Brian Peckford takes a look at selective racism and the New York Times. http://www.nanaimonet.com/435676391

 

Fuller posted confidential information on Facebook

Coun. Gordon Fuller

0803 - Councillor Gordon Fuller has says he posted confidential letters from a law firm to the city on his Facebook page, contrary to provincial privacy rules.

A report by B.C. information and privacy commissioner reports sources of two other leaks of confidential city information could not be determined during a lengthy investigation by the privacy commissioner’s office. The probe of all three matters was carried out after Sheila Gurrie, City of Nanaimo corporate officer, contacted the privacy office. Council members and senior staff were interviewed under oath.

Privacy commissioner Michael McEvoy’s seven-page report did not identify the councillor who posted the December 2015 legal letters, but the Times Colonist reported Fuller said in an interview that he had posted the letter. 

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Cougar sightings reported in Long Lake area

Google photo

0803 - A conservation officer has issued an alert after a pair of cougar sightings in a heavily populated Nanaimo neighbourhood.

Stuart Bates, acting sgt. for the central island for the BC Conservation Officer Service, said what appeared to be a mother and her kitten were seen in the area of Ross Rd. and Barons Rd. Thursday at 1:40 a.m.

Bates said another caller reported a cougar nearby in the Woodhaven Dr. area Thursday at 9:30 a.m. MORE

Port of Nanaimo celebrates results-fuelled summer

Port of Nanaimo Chair Michelle Corfield and Western Stevedoring President Brad Eshleman complete the paperwork. NPA photo

0802 - The Port of Nanaimo is basking in the glow of a highly-successful summer, concluding a number of projects.

The most notable was the long-term lease with Western Stevedoring for the Vehicle Processing Centre and the attendant marine work at the Nanaimo Assembly Wharf. The first carrier ship loaded with vehciles is scheduled to arrive in January, 2019. Western Stevedoring will operate the processing centre.

A lease agreement has also been reached to allow Western Canada Marine Response Corporation to take the next steps toward construction of their warehouse-office and marine terminal on the Nanaimo Assembly Wharf for their Nanaimo headquarters for marine-related pollution response.

The Nanaimo Yacht Club has signed a long-term lease and the Protection Island Neighbourhood Association has signed a long-term lease with the Port.

“These projects and the generous $6.3-million funding announcement by Minister of Transport Marc Garneau in mid-June will put major dollars to work for our Vancouver Island community," says Ewan Moir, President & CEO of the Port of Nanaimo. "It will generate key long-term benefits for local residents, businesses and visitors.” 

“We cannot overlook DP World Nanaimo putting through its 100,000th container this week at our Duke Point Terminal – a major milestone for that facility. What a positive way to celebrate our summer and the start to a third quarter!” Moir adds.

Moir said the Port will continue to reveal details about these projects as they develop so residents, community partners and stakeholders recognize the benefits in numerous areas.

The Port of Nanaimo is one of 18 Port Authorities across Canada, established under the Canada Marine Act and Letters Patent to promote and support the national, regional and local economies and to ensure a safe and secure harbour for cargo operations. See more at www.npa.ca 

Privacy commissioner finds city hall privacy breaches

0802 - An investigation by B.C.'s privacy commissioner has found personal City of Nanaimo information was released illegally on multiple occasions.

However, the commissioner failed to discover who leaked the two most sensitive documents, saying investigators could not conclusively determine who leaked a human resources report to a national newspaper or how a private email to a consultant ended up on a citizen's windshield.

Privacy commissioner Michael McEvoy said "In reviewing the evidence, I can see that some officers of the City, including some members of council, lack a basic understanding of their privacy obligations under FIPPA (Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act). The City needs to remedy this to prevent future abuse."

MORE DETAILED REPORT by Dominic Abassi

0801 - A FREE WORKSHOP presented by the Alzheimer Society of B.C. hopes to help caregivers learn to cope with the dementia their loved ones face and find ways to relieve much of their burden. They'll learn the different facets of dementia, how to handle the changing behaviours and how to plan for the long-term care of both the dementia sufferer and their caregivers. MORE

A VICTORIA WOMAN will attempt a 70-km non-stop return swim across Georgia Strait. Jill Yoneda, 43, plans to leave Neck Point Park Friday afternoon and  return to the park from Sechelt about 24-hours later. She is adding a 10-km detour to Ballenas Island in order to double a 35-km swim she completed last summer from Port Angeles to Victoria. See NanaimoNewsNOW.

ISLAND HEALTH recommends people avoid taking a dip in a section of Lantzville's waterfront after tests showed higher-than-acceptable amounts of fecal bacteria. A sign advises people not to swim in the area due to contaminated water. Island Health medical health officer Dr. Shannon Waters said the advisory for the Lantzville beach was posted Monday and could be removed by Friday, pending new lab results. Common exposure symptoms are gastrointestinal illnesses, along with ear, nose and throat irritation. MORE

THE PATRICIA HOTEL is no more. The hotel which has operated at 525 Haliburton St. since the 19th century, was torn down this week to clear the lot for sale. A local businessman bought the property in a foreclosure sale for $385,000. Demolition costs will total about $120,000. The lot has been listed on the real estate market for $649,000. MORE

FIREFIGHTERS tackled a fire in a garage behind a home on Portsmouth Road in north Nanaimo Tuesday morning. The fire was confined to an area beside the garage entrance at the property in the 6000 block of Portsmouth. MORE HERE

Groups set to protest against housing protest camp

0801 - A group calling themselves Action Against Discontent City, and others are planning to march to the steps of Nanaimo’s city hall this weekend.

 Action Against Discontent City, a group of residents in Nanaimo who are upset by occupants of the housing protest camp was posted on social media. The Soldiers of Odin Vancouver Island, are also planning to march past Discontent City and city hall on Sunday.

“We are planning a citizen patrol/march and needle cleanup through downtown past city hall toward Discontent City with our friends of the Soldiers of Odin Vancouver Island chapter,” states the Action Against Discontent City post, which has garnered more than 300 comments since it was published on July 30.

RCMP are preparing to monitor all activities.

Soldiers of Odin Wikepedia link

Parks and Rec set to launch new registration program

0802 - Nanaimo Parks And Recreation will launch a new registration and facility booking system – Recreation Nanaimo – on Aug. 22. A software launch, open to the public, will be held  Aug. 16 at the Beban Park Pool Lobby from 2-4 p.m. 

"We are doing our best to ensure all our clients have their accounts set up properly and ready for registration, so the transition will go as smoothly as possible", said Elizabeth Williams, Manager Recreation Services. "If anyone is still unsure whether staff have transferred their information or if they are to do it themselves, this is a great time to come in and get help in person," Williams added.

Most Parks and Recreation clients will need to create a new account in the system. At the event there will be an opportunity to chat with Nanaimo Parks and Recreation staff, ask questions about setting up their new online registration account and pick up a copy of the new Fall and Winter Activity Guide.

MORE  or email registration@nanaimo.ca phone 250-756-5200.

Recreation Nanaimo https://cnan.ca/2Mau20M

Snowbirds are winging their way to Nanaimo next week

0801 - The Canadian Forces Snowbirds are coming back to Nanaimo, performing over the harbour next Wednesday, (Aug. 8) at 5:30 pm. The aerial show will be centered above and in front of the boat basin by the historic Bastion, but crowds should have a good vantage point anywhere along the waterfront between the Nanaimo Yacht Club and Cameron Island.The show is expected to last 45 minutes to an hour and is being put on in support of Children with Intestinal and Liver Disorders (the C.H.I.L.D Foundation).

Airspace is restricted during the show, including a ban on drones within the Nanaimo Harbour Aerodrome. Boat access in the harbour is also restricted during the show. 

There are plenty of free parking options downtown including the Bastion Street Parkade, Wallace/Wentworth parking lot, Maffeo-Sutton Park and two-hour on-street parking.  Maffeo-Sutton Park's parking lot is often busy and quickly full during downtown events. 

0801 - FIREFIGHTERS tackled a fire in a garage behind a home on Portsmouth Road in north Nanaimo Tuesday morning. The fire was confined to an area beside the garage entrance at the property in the 6000 block of Portsmouth. MORE HERE

SMOKING is the likely cause of a fire that destroyed a 19th-century house in Nanaimo last week. Four people escaped the early morning fire Thursday when a skateboarder spotted the flames and alerted residents. MORE HERE

A LANTZVILLE woman whose vehicle crashed into massive sinkhole earlier this year is taking legal action. Karena Donnelly was driving along Rumming Road in Lantzville in January when her vehicle suddenly plunged 20 metres down an embankment after heavy rains and a landslide had washed out the road and created a sinkhole. MORE HERE