Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021

Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021

GOOD MORNING NANAIMO – Some stories never end. B.C.’s information and privacy commissioner won’t block and limit freedom of information requests from former City CAO Tracy Samra. The commissioner dismissed the city’s request to disregard several outstanding Freedom of Information requests. The adjudicator stated Samra made multi-part FOI requests in May, June, August and September last year, mostly related to a forensic audit report prepared by KPMG. The city submitted that “the outstanding requests are frivolous or vexatious” because the city has reason to believe Samra already has some of the requested records.

TRACY RESURFACES – Controversial former Nanaimo city chief administrative officer Tracy Samra has been hired by the Trudeau government to one of the most senior federal public service positions in British Columbia. Now going by the name Tracy Fleck, she is the senior executive director of Indigenous Partnership Office West with the Department of Natural Resources. She will oversee Indigenous relations for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project at an annual salary ranging from $145,000 to $165,000 a year. The job requires a consensus builder to work with Indigenous groups on important issues in the natural resources sector, reads the job posting.

FERRY DECK CONTROVERSY – The BC Ferry and Marine Workers' Union is siding with passengers on whether they should be allowed to remain in their vehicles on enclosed decks while sailing. Union president Graeme Johnston asked Transport Canada for reconsideration of the regulation which prevents people from being in their vehicles on enclosed car decks. "We believe developments related to the spread of more infectious variants of (virus) should, at a minimum, initiate a review of the current risk assessments for Canadian passenger vessels, Johnston wrote. Transport Canada previously allowed a temporary exemption to the car-deck restriction in the early part of the pandemic but that ended in September

ONCE WAS NOT ENOUGH – BC RCMP Winter CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign has wrapped up, but not without some head scratchers. A driver in Ladysmith was stopped by police but drove off when he was asked to pull to the side of the road. Then the same man drove through the road check a second time a short while later, long enough to hand his licence to the officer before fleeing again. In the second instance, he stopped long enough to hand his licence to the officer before fleeing again. With his identification, the cops didn’t want to create a dangerous situation and got him a couple of days later at his home.

CHARTWELL DEATHS – Island Health confirms that two people have died of Coronavirus since the outbreak at Chartwell Malaspina Care Residence in late December. Island Health president and CEO Kathy MacNeil said there have been no new test-positive cases at Chartwell Malaspina since Jan. 6, and multiple rounds of follow-up testing has taken place.

SHELTER ORDER LIFTED – Snuneymuxw First Nation has lifted the shelter-in-place order on the reserve as the number of active cases of Coronavirus declines. The decision was made in consultation with Island Health and the First Nations Health Authority. There are six active cases out of the 36 confirmed since Dec. 30. 

LACK OF TRAINING – The BC Coroners Service has found a lack of training and safe work procedures led to the death of Aiden Webber of Nanaimo at a Port Hardy fish farm last spring. Webber, 18, was crushed to death by a barge on March 10, 2019. He’d jumped to tie off the barge when its forward momentum led the starboard bow to slide up onto the walkway. Webber was pinned and sustained significant crushing trauma, the BC Coroners Service report said. He died on the way to the nearest Coast Guard station. 

DAILY CORONA REPORT – Island Health reported 22 new positive Coronavirus tests in the daily report on Wednesday. There were no additional deaths. A joint statement from the province and public health confirmed 500 new cases, pushing the province past 62,000 total cases. Active cases rose to 4,345 while the number of people in hospital dropped to 320, including 66 people in intensive care. To date, 1,104 people have lost their lives as a result of COVID-19, including 17 in Island Health.

DON’T TAKE OFF your winter tires just yet. It could snow this weekend. We’ve had a taste of spring, but all that is about to change as the weather pattern shifts. Snow is forecast for Vancouver Island this weekend, as cooler Arctic air moves in. “This is going to be our first pulse and it will last a week to 10 days where things are colder or are near normal, which of course they haven’t been,” explains meteorologist Armel Castellan of Environment Canada. Unlike most Arctic outflow situation, this one isn’t very strong and temperatures aren’t expected to dip too far below freezing later this week. But it will be enough for precipitation to fall as snow or a rain/wet snow mix.

Clerk assaulted at Victoria Road store
A store clerk was assaulted by an unknown male who was asked to leave the premises for harassing a customer. The incident occurred at approximately 6:40 pm on Monday January 18, 2021, at the James General Store located at 600 Victoria Road. FULL DETAILS

Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

BY THE NUMBERS ­– Island Health on Tuesday reported 21 more positive Covid tests in the previous 24 hours. Across the province, there were 465 new cases. The total number of positive tests in B.C. is 61,912 while the death toll has climbed to 1,090. The report stated there are 4,331 active cases in the province, 329 people in hospital, 70 in intensive care. 92,369 doses of vaccine have been administered province-wide.

AND MORE NUMBERS – Two flights to Victoria have been added to the BC Centre for Disease Control’s virus exposure list. Passengers on Air Canada flight 195, from Toronto on Jan. 10, are being warned of a possible exposure. WestJet flight 227, from Calgary on Jan. 11, was also added to the list. The warnings come a week after the BCCDC added a flight that arrived in Nanaimo from Calgary to the exposure list as well.

LONG-TERM RESTRICTIONS – Dr. Bonnie Henry is waiting until residents and staff all get their second dose of vaccine before lifting visiting restrictions around long-term care facilities. She hopes that happens in the next two months. Nearly all residents and staff in Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health have received their first shot, Dr. Henry confirmed, but a lot of people outside the Lower Mainland are still waiting.

SOUTH END COMPLEX - Nanaimo city council has approved a development permit for two five-storey apartment buildings at Haliburton and Milton streets. The 79-unit residential complex will include a mix of 45 one-bedroom units, 21 two-bedroom units and 13 studios.

UNCLAIMED MONEY – Small business operators are not falling over themselves to cash in on grants from the B.C. government’s economic recovery plan. Some $235 million is unused at a time when the tourism sector is appealing for additional provincial help. The business recovery grant program offers non-repayable grants of up to $30,000 –  $45,000 for tourism-related businesses. Only $65 million of the $300-million budget has been spent on grants since applications opened in October. The grants are for businesses with fewer than 142 employees – that leaves out some of the largest tourism-related businesses like Butchart Gardens and Harbour Air. Businesses are also required to submit a plan to government that outlines how they will remain viable and open.

NO VACCINE NEXT WEEK – Pfizer-BioNTech will not ship any Coronavirus vaccine to Canada next week and the federal government doesn’t know how many doses to expect over the next month. More than half a million Canadians have been given at least one dose of a vaccine, but the rollout is slowing down. British Columbia is expecting about 60,000 fewer doses over the coming weeks as a result of the delays. Ontario Premier Doug Ford got right to the point. “If I was in (Trudeau’s) shoes, I’d be on that phone every single day. I’d be up (Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla’s) ying-yang so far with a firecracker he wouldn’t know what hit him. I would not stop until we get these vaccines.”

Don't buy counterfeit coronavirus vaccine online

0119 –Warning: Do not buy supposed Coronavirus vaccines online. ImmunizeBC says there have been emails and websites promising to provide vaccines for money – but the products don't work, and could actually harm the people who use them.

"These scams take advantage of genuine fears and worries, targeting those who are most vulnerable in our communities," ImmunizeBC said on Twitter Tuesday. These are counterfeit, may pose risks to health, and are ineffective. The only way to access a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine is through clinics run or approved by a local health authority, and that any other source of purported COVDI-19 vaccine should be reported to Health Canada.

State of emergency extended another two weeks
0119 – Sit tight for another two weeks. British Columbia has extended state of emergency for additional two weeks, to Feb 2. At the end of the two weeks, provincial officials then decide whether to renew it. Among other things, the declaration gives officials the power to enforce emergency-based orders, such as public health orders in the province. The decision to renew a state of emergency is made in consultation with provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

Police investigate threat at Woodgrove Centre
0119 – Customers were not allowed inside Woodgrove Centre this morning while Nanaimo RCMPinvestigated a threat directed at mall.

The threat was received just before the Mall was to open at 10 a.m. Police officers, including an RCMP Police Dog, searched the interior of the building and nothing suspicious was found. Customers were not allowed inside during the search, and staff were directed to remain in their businesses.

The search was completed by 11:20 a.m. and the Mall was deemed safe. If anyone has information on this incident, please call the Nanaimo RCMP non-emergency line at 250-754-2345 and quote file # 2021-2187.

Police seek driver in single-vehicle crash

Nanaimo RCMP are looking for the driver or occupants of a motor vehicle that was found abandoned following a crash. The incident was reported 2 am on Tuesday in the ditch of the Nanaimo Parkway, near the Harewood Mines overpass. The  hospital was checked and no one had been  admitted following the crash.

If anyone has information on the crash, please contact the Nanaimo RCMP non-emergency line at 250-754-2345 and quote file # 2021-2158. MORE

Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021

TODAY'S WEATHER

PANDEMIC NUMBERS – We get the Coronavirus numbers but we are not being told the whole story. Brian Peckford takes a look at the Vancouver Island numbers. 

65 VIRUS REPORTS ON VI – Island Health reported 65 people had tested positive for Coronavirus in the previous three-day weekend. There are now 184 active cases on Vancouver Island. Twenty-seven are located in the South Island, 130 in the Central Island and 20 in the North Island. Across B.C., 1,330 positive tests were confirmed during the same time period. Health officials say 31 people died of virus-related conditions over the weekend, two people of them in the Island Health region, bringing the province’s death toll to 1,078.

SUMMER GAMES BID – Nanaimo has a sterling record of hosting B.C. Games events, so it’s natural the city should bid for the 2026 Summer Games. Past games have left a legacy of facilities in the community. The idea will be discussed by council on Wednesday at the finance committee. Council will be looking at allocating $110,000 in cash and in-kind contributions for the bid.

MENTAL HEALTH TRAINING – Vancouver Island University will get a share of $800,000 in funding from the provincial government to expand training for mental health workers. The funding will cover 16 spots for the program at VIU. Community mental health workers promote mental and physical health, provide support at shelters, and counsel individuals who struggle with mental health and addiction issues. Other institutions sharing the funding include Camosun College, Selkirk College and the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology.

FINDING A SOLUTION – Governments continue to provide programs to battle mental health and the attendant problems, but never seem to come up with answers. Former health minister Kevin Falcon has a great article in the Vancouver Sun discussing what is wrong and what needs to be done. Worth reading.

PARK UPGRADE – Environmental work is continuing in Bowen Park for the rest of this month in preparation for trailway and utility upgrade which will happen between May to October. This includes widening an existing multi-use path, adding trail lighting, and upgrading a large sanitary trunk sewer along the south slope of the park. The trailway is being upgraded to current active transportation standards and the capacity of the sewer utility will be increased to meet future growth in the City. A section of the trail requires slope stabilization which will also be completed.

Three hikers rescued from Mount Arrowsmith
0118 – Three hikers were rescued by search teams from Mount Arrowsmith on Sunday. One of them was seriously injured. Search manager Dave Poulsen of the Alberni Valley Rescue Squad said they called for assistance around 3 p.m. They were inexperienced and had not attempted to climb Mount Arrowsmith before. They had taken a popular trail up the mountain but had lost the trail coming back down.

Monday, Jan 18 2021

Monday, Jan 18 2021

TODAY'S WEATHER

WHO’S ON FIRST – Determining who should be at the head of the line for Coronavirus vaccines is turning into quite a challenge. But it may not really matter now that the supply chain has been interrupted. Check it out HERE

BACK TO EMPTY CLASSROOMS – The halls of Rutherford and Woodlands schools will again be echoing to the sounds of students. The school is being reactivated to allow for is being primed to accommodate students during a $19 million seismic upgrades at Pleasant Valley and Cilaire elementary schools. Prepare Rutherford elementary as a swing space is expected to begin in February. Rutherford was closed in 2018. The Rutherford work will consist of heating, ventilation, air conditioning and electrical systems as well as cosmetic work. Busing changes are also being studied.

WANDERING PROBLEM – Dementia is a particular problem for staff in long-term care homes across Canada. They struggle to isolate elderly residents with dementia. These residents wander as well as a need for social connection and physical touch, leading them to enter other patients' rooms or common areas where they could contract or transmit the virus, say doctors and advocates. Overall, in Canada, residents of these homes account for 10 per cent of total cases and 72 per cent of deaths. It’s a significant problem in the time of epidemic and long-term care. Older people with dementia in long-term care are not prisoners. 

SIGN LANGUAGE – Special street signage nothing new. Quebec set the standard before abandoning it in favour of French-only Street signs. The Quebec initiative was not a real challenge, streets are most often named after people and/or regions, and they are the same in either language. Richmond went through this a couple of years ago with dual language signs in English and Chinese, in recognition of the large Chinese presence in the community. Now Duncan businesses and Cowichan Tribes wand bilingual street signs, recommending seven streets also have First Nations names. Station Street is among the streets that would also get a name in Hul’q’umi’num, the first language spoken in the region. The question now goes to city council.

WARMING CENTRES – Two warming centres are operating for Nanaimo's homeless. One is at 489 Wallace St.,and the other is at 285 Prideaux St., operated by the 7-10 Club.  The Wallace Street location is open every day except Sunday, while Prideaux Street is open all week.

0117 – VEHICLES COLLIDE  – One person was taken to hospital after a car and minivan collided in the north end Saturday afternoon. Two-vehicles collided at the old Island Highway and Mary Ellen Drive. MORE

Sunday, Jan. 17,2021

Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021

LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL – The prospect of vaccinations offers hope for an end to the Coronavirus, but experts are warning the public to not expect things to change anytime soon. Dr. Kiffer Card says a vaccine doesn’t necessarily mean you can do without those essential health measures. Even as vaccines are rolled out, there is still a lot unknown. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says the vaccines are effective at preventing symptoms, especially severe symptoms. What we don’t know, is if it prevents you from getting infected at all. People may still carry the virus and pass it on to someone else. Just because you can’t get the virus, doesn’t mean your body can’t become a pathway to your friends and family who could get exposed to the virus, explained Dr. Card. Health officials are still unsure, how long protection from the vaccine lasts.

HURRY UP AND WAIT – If you’re in the market for new appliances, or even a vehicle, be prepared to wait. Vancouver Island showrooms are full but customers may be caught off guard when they’re told how long it’s going to take to get their product from the manufacturer. A Appliance dealers say what used to take between two and four weeks is now taking up to 12 weeks. It all stems from the manufacturing supply chain. All appliance stores get their products from the same manufacturers. Fabrics for furniture is another example. Textiles are imported from across the globe. The delay is in the neighbourhood of three to four months.

Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021

Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021

TODAY'S WEATHER

VIRUS SHOTS ARE ON THEIR WAY – A hot chat topic these days is when and how we'll find out about our spot in the line for Coronavirus vaccine, so I asked the Health Authority. The good news is that the province plans announce details of the distribution plan next week. Nanaimonet asked how residents will find out when their demographic will get the vaccine. Will they be personally notified, a blanket announcement, or any other method? So, the cheque is in the mail, so to speak. 

MORE CORONA FLIGHTS – More than two dozen flights have been added to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control list of Coronavirus exposures.The centre added 13 flights to the list on Thursday evening and 13 more Friday. None landed or took off from Nanaimo Airport.See the FULL LIST of flights affected. 

VACCINE NUMBERS - Health officials on Friday reported 75,914 people have received a Coronavirus vaccine in B.C. Island Health region reported 13 news positive Coronavirus tests on Friday and the province had 509 new cases in the previous 24 hours with nine additional deaths. There are 4,604 active cases in British Columbia, while 7,132 residents remain under active public health monitoring with 349 in hospital, 68 in critical care.

NO FLU THIS YEAR – Tom Fletcher of Black Press reports there have been 30,000 tests for the influenza virus up to the first week of January, with no cases of infection from community transmission. The B.C. Centre for Disease Control reports testing up to Jan. 9 has had seven positive results in 30,000 tests. Last winter at this time there were 19 influenza outbreaks in B.C. long-term care facilities, where the seasonal respiratory virus can be fatal. This year there are no reported cases in care homes, many of which have dealt instead with COVID-19 infections. Tests for influenza have accompanied COVID-19 tests as health care staff strive to protect vulnerable elderly people.

SWEET MUSIC – Nanaimo schools superintendent Scott Saywell is not going anywhere, the school board has awarded him a four-year contract renewal. Among Saywell’s efforts, says board chairman Charlene McKay, are commitment to the district’s reconciliation framework and positive working relationships and regular conversations with partner groups,” including education support workers’ and teachers’ unions and the district parent advisory council.

Friday, Jan. 15, 2021

Friday, Jan. 15, 2021

VACCINE DELIVERY DELAYED – Pfizer’s is temporarily reducing deliveries of Corona vaccine because of problems on its European production lines. Procurement Minister Anita Anand said while the company says it will still be able to deliver four million doses by the end of March, that is no longer guaranteed.

CHOPPING TREES – Work will large Monday of removing hazardous trees and invasive plants from Kinsmen Participark, located in Beban Park. It’s all designed to to enhance the health of the forest ecosystem. Replanting will follow in the spring. The project is a precursor to further planned improvements to the park that will include new educational interpretive signs and replacement of old workout stations with a new workout station circuit.

IS THIS YOUR BIKE? – Nanaimo RCMP have recovered a relatively new and expensive mountain bike which was seized on December 24, on View Street.  A patrol officer noticed a man riding a bike without a helmet on the wrong side of the road. The bike was a green/grey Giant Reign with an estimated value of $2,500-$3,000. Photo and MORE

THAT’S GARBAGE – New solid waste curbside collection routes are being added and existing routes modified. Transitions to new routes are taking place over two weeks, including weekends, between Jan. 16 and 30. Check your curbside collection schedule carefully for January, as some collection days may not follow a regular pattern. Residents who wish to get a simplified version of the schedule are asked to email SortTossRoll@Nanaimo.ca or call 250-758-5222. To view an online version of the curbside collection schedule, visit www.nanaimo.ca/goto/GarbageCalendars or download the Nanaimo Recycles app for free from the App Store or Google Play.

NO VISITORS WANTED – The province is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit non-essential travel to the province during the pandemic. Premier John Horgan said Thursday there is concern about people coming from other provinces or territories and spreading Coronavirus. He said the issue has been discussed for months and it’s time to determine if the government can act. Public health orders are in effect until Feb. 5, and tell B.C. residents not to travel for vacations, recreation or social visits. A number of elected and government workers are catching flak for travelling over the Christmas holidays. To be clear, they did not break any laws, they thumbed their noses at recommendations from health officials. As long as we are free to travel, and airlines are allowed to fly, it’s impossible to do more than shame people who went. 

WHEELCHAIR CRASH VICTIM DIES – A woman has died after a collision between a vehicle and a motorized wheelchair in Nanaimo on Dec. 31. The crash occurred in the 1800-block of Bowen Road. Police said that a woman operating a motorized wheelchair was trying to cross the street when an SUV struck her. The 63-year-old woman was rushed to hospital for treatment. RCMP closed the road Thursday afternoon so investigators could take measurements of the crash scene. Police earlier said they were seeking any witnesses or dashcam footage of the area around the time of the crash. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Nanaimo RCMP’s Municipal Traffic Services at 250-754-2345.

File photo

Vehicle tires slashed in Central Nanaimo
0114 – Tires on about a dozen vehicles parked in Central Nanaimo were slashed between Tuesday and today. Nanaimo RCMP received 10 reports from vehicle owners. In almost all cases the tires were destroyed. The incidents occurred overnight at various locations and the areas targeted were Country Club Drive, Ross Road, Bournemouth Road, Meredith Road and Boxwood Road. MORE.

Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021

BUS TO DUNCAN – Regional District of Nanaimo transit committee is set to vote today on establishing bus service between Nanaimo and the Cowichan Valley. The service, beginning by September 2022, would run six round-trips daily from Village Green Mall in Duncan to the downtown Nanaimo bus exchange, with 15 proposed stops, said a staff report. Buses would run between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. on weekdays and 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays.

PANDEMIC REPORT – Island Health reported 28 new positive Coronavirus tests over the previous 24 hours. There are currently 185 active cases on Vancouver Island – 39 in the south Island, 130 in the central Island, and 27 in the north Island. Since the last update on Jan. 12, there are four more active cases in south Island, 10 more in central Island and two fewer in north Island. Over the course of the pandemic, the Island Health has reported 1,182 positive tests. There are 4,810 active cases in the province, 360 people in hospital and 76 in intensive care.

AIRLINES CUT BACK –Air Canada is making job cuts and reducing flights.  Is is cutting flights by by an additional 25 per cent and cutting 1,700 jobs. The hit to business is being felt in Atlantic Canada, Yellowknife, and B.C. towns like Prince Rupert and Kamloops. There has been no impact at the biggest airports on Vancouver Island. Dave Devana, chief executive officer and president of Nanaimo Airport said if Air Canada reduced flights further the airport would have to reduce our hours of operation, then we have to look at potential layoffs. “Our cash flow is negative every month,” said Devano. “All of our money is going to just keep the doors open.” 

Michael Bonson

WARRANTS ISSUED – Warrants have been issued for 33-year-old Michael Bonson after he failed to appear in Nanaimo Provincial court on charges of Assaulting a Police Officer, Resisting Arrest and Flight from Police. The original charges arose from an incident on Sept. 21, in downtown Nanaimo. While attempting to arrest Bonson, a violent struggle ensued and the officer was assaulted. Bonson is 5 ft.11, 180 pounds with short blonde hair and blue eyes. He has a moustache and goatee. Anyone with information is asked to call the RCMP non-emergency line at 250-754-2345 and quote file # 2020-34702.

JOGGER SERIOUSLY INJURED  A 22-year-old woman was seriously injured after being struck by a motor vehicle at approximately 10:15 pm on Monday, near the intersection of Estevan and Departure Bay Road. Police, Fire and EHS attended. Investigators spoke with the 43-yeaar-old driver and several witnesses. The driver remained at the scene and co-operated with police and was ticketed for driving without a license. The victim sustained serious but non-life threatening injuries and was transported to the Nanaimo hospital. MORE

Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021

WINDSTORM DAMAGE – More than 20,000 customers are without power on southern Vancouver Island this morning. A windstorm downed power lines, causing more than 100 separate outages in the Greater Victoria region alone as wind gusts topped 100 km/h in the Victoria region. More than 2,000 customers on the North Island were also in the dark Wednesday morning and outages are being reported across the southern Gulf Islands.

CASE COUNT DOWN – Island Health reported 17 positive Coronavirus tests on Tuesday, the lowest in a reporting period. The province the province reported 14 new cases as the accounting process can overlap. The number of active cases dropped to 185 with 120 in the central Island region. South Vancouver Island reported 35 active cases with 30 in the northern portion. The number of active  cases in British Columbia dropped Tuesday as recoveries outpace new infections. Health officials confirmed another 446 new positive tests cases over the previous 24 hours. The new cases and recoveries brought B.C.’s total number of active cases to 5,045 — a drop of more than 1,000 since Friday.

MANSLAUGHTER VERDICT ­– John Buchanan of Nanaimo has been convicted of manslaughter for the beating death of Richard Sitar in 2017. The conviction was the lesser of two possible verdicts as a second-degree murder conviction could have resulted in a life sentence. The verdict on Tuesday came after a three-week trial.

SHOPLIFTER WANTED – The Nanaimo RCMP are looking for a shoplifter who stole a $150 blender from Real Canadian Superstore on Jan. 9. Details and photo.

CHECK IT OUT – Our recent feature story on the Spitfire war-time aircraft at the Vancouver Island Military Museum is drawing a lot of interest from readers. If you haven't seen it, check it out.

Three in hospital after serious Duke Point Hwy crash
0112 – Three adults have been taken to hospital with serious injuries following a 3-vehicle collision this morning along the Duke Point highway, one km from the Highway 1 intersection. It appears a westbound van crossed over the centre line and collided with an eastbound semi-tractor, causing the semi-tractor to go off the roadway. A female passenger in the van was ejected onto the roadway. Immediately afterwards, a westbound pickup collided with the van.  MORE DETAILS.

Body found in front yard on Uplands Drive
0112 – Police are investigating after a body was found in the front yard of a home the 6000-block of Uplands Drive. Investigators have been on scene gathering evidence at the scene. RCMP say so far there is no sign of foul play. (developing)

Land border shutdown extended to Feb. 21
The land border shutdown between Canada and the U.S. for non-essential travel has been extended for another 30 days. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the restriction will last until at least Feb. 21. Trudeau said the closure extension will keep people on both sides of the border safe.

Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021

TODAY'S WEATHER

CHAMBER ON THE MOVE ­– The chamber of commerce is looking to return downtown. President & CEO Kim Smythe said the move opens many opportunities for the Chamber and its future activities. The Chamber owns the Bowen Road premises, built with the help of the business community in 2003. It has been used as a training centre and boardrooms over the years. Smythe said to remain relevant, the timing is right to reinvent how the chamber delivers services to the community. The space will be sold or leased.

HERDING CATS – Nanaimo city councillors really want to go there – they have recommended a bylaw that will keep cats from roaming. They voted on possible changes in a draft animal responsibility bylaw based on public feedback. That was initiated when it was brought before council last fall. Councillors voted for a complete ban of cats roaming on public and private properties. Approximately 400 people expressed their views on the topic and 57 per cent were opposed and 43 per cent in favour.

NOT THAT SMART AFTER ALL – Sometime it can be costly to prove how clever you are. Quebec is in a full Coronavirus curfew at 8 every night. The only exception is taking your pets for a walk after that hour. One couple taunted the rules. Sherbrooke police came across a woman and her husband out for a walk past the 8 p.m. curfew. The man was wearing a leash around his neck. When questioned by officers, the woman said she was out walking her dog. The couple received $3,000 in fines. Now who’s laughing?

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry reported 59 positive tests for Coronavirus in Island Health region during the three-day weekend. Island Health reported 186 active cases, with 117 in the central Island region. The Island Health figure and public numbers differed, with Island Health showing 58 and the CDC reporting 59. The virus has been a contributing factor in more than 1,000 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. The number of confirmed positive tests in B.C. reached 58,107. There are 358 people in hospital — 72 in intensive care — and 7,313 under active public health monitoring due to possible exposure to an identified case. Both columnists Brian Peckford and John Feldsted comment on the ongoing discussion of rights. 

SHUFFLING THE DECK ­– Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has rearranged the deck chairs of the Good Ship Trudeau in a minor cabinet shuffle today. Navdeep Bains, minister of innovation, science and industry, has said he won’t run in the next election which could come as early as this spring. Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne replaces Bains while Transport Minister Marc Garneau takes over Foreign Affairs and Toronto-area MP Omar Alghabra will take on Transport.

WHO IS ESSENTIAL? More and more people are taking family members out of long-term care due to visitation restrictions. Access to patients is determined by your status with the care facility, whether you are deemed an “essential” or “social” visitor for someone in long-term care. An essential visitor can come by daily to help with care. A social visitor can only come by as often as each facility allows. Seniors advocates say a big part of the solution is to allow the family to come in and help. B.C.’s seniors advocate Isobell Mackenzie says “We really need to do a better job of actually embracing the caregiving role that family members play for our residents in long-term care. It’s not just about keeping someone’s spirits up, they are doing essential care tasks.”

Monday, Jan. 11, 2021

TODAY'S WEATHER

GOOD MORNING NANAIMO – Snuneymuxw First Nation recorded the first two-day period without any new cases of Coronavirus on Sunday. Twenty five people have tested positive for the virus since the outbreak was declared and a shelter-in-place order was issued until Feb. 5. The outbreak also forced the First Nations Health Authority to change its vaccination rollout plan and deliver an emergency supply of 470 doses for those living on-reserve. 

RAGS TO RICHES – Gabriola Island Recycling Organization  is looking for $103,000 for the Nanaimo Regional District to establish a clothing recycling operation on Gabriola Island. The operation could divert 23,600 kilograms of textile waste from landfill. RDN’s solid waste management select committee supports the grant application. The region hass earmarked $300,000 for zero waste recycling initiatives. The GIRO estimates the 10-year, three-phased project could see a yearly decrease of about 23,600 kilograms of cloth waste at the landfill. It also projects about $118,000 in revenue after the first year.

MAYOR IS PISSED OFF – North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring is "pissed off" and disappointed by online reaction to a cluster of Coronavirus at Cowichan Tribes First Nation. Ranting on his Facebook page, Siebring writes that he has been extremely concerned with posts on social media reacting negatively to the shelter-in-place order in effect on the reserve. As of Friday, 39 cases had been detected in 19 households. Siebring stated some of the posts are vile; racist and an “us/them” mentality. “They are fear-based, and they are inappropriate," the mayor said.

RESCUE THE RESCUER – Janet Rygnestad has helped a lot of people with Nanaimo Search and Rescue since 2013 and now it’s time to help her. She was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.  Janet will start undergoing chemotherapy this month. Not all of the treatment is covered by insurance so the SAR is stepping forward.  The goal of the “Rescue our Rescuer” campaign is to raise $20,000. Nanaimo News Now has the whole story.

MORE CORONAVIRUS FLIGHTS - The BC Centre for Disease Control added 19 more flights with Coronavirus exposure to its list on Friday. That comes after adding 40 flights in four days earlier last week. Several of the flights were international, but all of them landed in B.C. before Thursday, when the federal government's new rule requiring international passengers to provide proof of a negative test before boarding took effect. If you’ve been on any flights recently, check the list HERE.

THAT'S HOW IT WORKS – In December alone, 4,200 people travelled to Hawaii from Canada, 1,600 of them from Vancouver. In one month, during a supposed shutdown. In my simplistic reasoning, why are airlines, ferries, etc. allowed to operate at all when the rules say nobody is supposed to travel?

WELCOME BACK –  Our readership numbers took a nosedive over the holiday period, but they’ve turned around, and our regulars are now back. Hopefully you had a great Christmas and New Year, and the best is yet to come.

Sunday, Jan 10

TODAY'S WEATHER

CORONAVIRUS FLIGHT ­– The Centre for Disease Control has added Air Canada/Jazz 8261 from Vancouver to Nanaimo on Jan. 3 to its virus exposure list. The affected rows are 13 to 19. Passengers who were on a flight that has been added to the exposure list should self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days and those who were sitting in rows identified are considered to be at a higher risk of exposure due to their proximity. Symptoms include fever, chills, cough or worsening of chronic cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, loss of sense of smell or taste, runny nose, headache and fatigue.

Marianne Turley

TRIBUTE TO MARIANNE TURLEY – Nanaimo has lost one of its great citizens, Marianne Turley died on Thursday after a long illness. Mayor Len Krog paid tribute to her as a woman of extraordinary energy and drive. “Marianne gave back to Nanaimo tirelessly with a particular passion for culture and the arts. She personified in all she did over decades, an amazing example of exemplary citizenship at the same being a successful businesswoman, mother and wife.”

ECONOMIC STRATEGY – The newly-minted draft city economic development strategy focusses on infrastructure, pointing to waterfront investment, including at 1 Port Drive, where the city should “continue to work on the phased development by supporting re-zoning, subdivision and disposition of the property to create a signature waterfront development”. A transportation, cargo and a logistics hub is also high on the list as it was in a recent report from the mayor’s task force on recovery and resilience. “Nanaimo could position itself as an extension of the Lower Mainland transportation network, providing economic benefits locally but also contributing to reduced traffic congestion and emissions for the entire region,” the document notes, adding that some specific projects include a distribution/logistics facility at Duke Point and expansion of the vehicle processing centre at the Assembly Wharf.

SNUNEYMUXW GET VACCINE –71 per cent of Snuneymuxw residents got the Moderna vaccine during a two-day clinic this week. SFN was moved up the priority list for the vaccine after an outbreak in late December.  Chief Mike Wyse stated he is confident they have sufficient herd immunity that will help reduce spread of the virus. He said they have a way to go to get out of the cluster of active cases but are moving forward cautiously and steadily.

VICTORIA COMES CLEAN – Victoria has cleaned up its act after 124 years flushing raw sewage into the ocean. A $775-million sewage plant now treats the equivalent of 43 Olympic-sized pools of waste daily. Political and environmental leaders celebrated online after decades of effort to get a sewage treatment plant. Premier John Horgan told Washington Gov. Jay Inslee that Victoria started dumping its raw sewage into ocean waters that flow towards Puget Sound in1894. Inslee called the treatment plant a remarkable achievement. The plant was British Columbia’s payback for Washington’s support of Vancouver's bid to host the 2010 Winter Olympics.

HOUSING SOLUTION – Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps hopes to place homeless people in tiny home clusters at Royal Athletic Park. The tiny homes would be made of converted shipping containers to house 30 unsheltered people. They already live in tents at the park after the city after BC Housing moved them to the parking lot due to recent flooding. The project would be part of the city’s plan to house all unsheltered people in Victoria by the end of March. The tiny homes would be in place from March 2021 to September 2022. The plan will be discussed at the city’s community of the whole meeting on Jan. 14.

ISLAND BUS SUSPENSION – The Wilson Group transportation company has extended it suspension of the B.C. Ferries Connector, The VI Connector and Tofino Bus until Feb. 12 in response to the Coronoavirus. In an open letter, CEO John Wilson said the the Mount Washington Ski Buss will resume service on Jan. 15.

Strong wind warning for northern Vancouver Island

0109 – A strong-wind warning has been issued by Environment Canada for north Vancouver Island on Saturday. A storm system that is approaching the coast of British Columbia is creating extremely strong winds that could reach 110 km/h. It is expected to ease later this evening.

Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021

TODAY'S WEATHER

SPITFIRE HISTORY – The wild blue yonder has been a lifelong passion for Pat Murphy. He’s had his head in the clouds since he was a four-year-old living on a wartime military base in Nova Scotia – if he was in the house and heard an aircraft, he’d drop everything and rush outside to watch planes take off and land.  It began there and sparked an interest that led to a hobby building models and creating one of the largest Spitfire dioramas in Canada, at the Vancouver Island Military Museum in Nanaimo.

COMMENTARY  It is always encouraging to see some of our younger Nanaimo councillors advocate for more progressive legislation to deal with our social and environmental challenges. At the same time an overreach could stretch the limits of the possible. But no everyone agrees. The recently adopted the “Doughnut Economic Model” as a cohesive vision for all the city initiatives and planning processes, is unreasonably ambitious, says Jack de Jong. MORE

NANAIMO RCMP want to identify two people of inerest for a theft from a parked vehicle Dec. 14, in a parking lot on Cavan Street.  PHOTOS AND MORE.

ORCAS ARE BACK – After more than 20 years a celebrated orca family near the North Island has returned to the Broughton Archipelago, their traditional winter hunting ground, with a new baby. They had spent time around the North Island in places like Blackfish Sound and the Johnstone Strait but avoided going further north into the archipelago and the long inlets on the mainland. Department of Fisheries and Oceans researcher, Jared Towers was trailing them on Jan. 5 through Blackfish Sound south of the archipelago when the family of nine swam up Fife Sound.

CORONAVIRUS COUNT – Island Health added 27 more positive coronavirus tests on Friday. The new infections bring the total number of cases in the Island Health region to 1,080 since the pandemic began. There are 164 active cases in Island Health, including 41 in the South Island, 96 in the Central Island and 27 in the North Island. Eight are in hospital, two people are in critical care. Twelve people have died in the region since the pandemic began.

Friday, Jan. 8, 2021

TODAY'S WEATHER

HEALTH RESTRICTIONS EXTENDED – Provincial health orders restricting gatherings and events across the B.C. will continue until at least Feb, 5. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said there has been an increase in the daily virus numbers over the last few days so she extended the restrictions, which were set to be lifted today. This means the same limitations on gatherings in homes, suspension of events in public and private venues, and the restrictions on sports activities will continue to apply.

VACCINATIONS NOW HERE – Central and northern Island Health regions now have 3,900 doses of Pfizer vaccine, allowing clinics in Nanaimo and Campbell River to step up vaccinations. Care-support and medical staff working in long-term care are eligible to be vaccinated. Those who qualify will be contacted to set up an appointment. Dr. Richard Stanwick, Island Health chief medical officer, said about 1,900 doses are for Nanaimo and 950 for Campbell River and the rest to Victoria due to demand. Shipments of vaccine will come weekly and there will be consistent availability. Stanwick said the vaccine is safe and will likely be one of the most-studied vaccines in the history of medicine and results and impacts will be tracked.

23 MORE ISLAND CASES – Island Health region reported 23 positive Coronavirus tests in the previous 24 hours. The new positives come one day after a new daily record of 28 cases was announced on Wednesday. There were 761 new positives across the province with eight more deaths related to the virus. There are 8,849 residents under active public health monitoring. Dr. Bonnie Henry said 372 are in hospital, a decrease of seven from Tuesday, with 74 in critical care. There were 94 new cases in Vancouver Coastal Health, 484 in Fraser Health, and 64 in the Northern Health.

CULINARY ARTS – Ottis Crabbe knew he wanted to become a chef the day his parents opened a restaurant in Ucluelet. Last year he signed up for Vancouver Island University’s Culinary Arts program, earning two awards in his first year. He will graduate with his Culinary Management diploma this spring. Now he’s off to the oldest culinary competition in the world, the IKA/Culinary Olympics in Germany, in 2024. Over the next four years, the Canadian team will train at the Culinary Institute of Canada in Vancouver under the guidance of Chef John Carlo Felicella, Manager of the Canadian youth team. 

WEBINAR FOR BUSINESS – Federal funding programs have been developed to assist businesses and individuals with the pandemic. The Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce is organizing a one-hour webinar to outline all programs at 10 a.m. Jan. 26. Businesses are encouraged to take advantage of the programs available, while taking steps to avoid placing yourself or your business in a tax liability position as a result of participating in these benefits programs. Register Here 

BASEBALL FANS hit a home run when they delivered one and a half tons of food to the Nanaimo NightOwls and Victoria HarbourCats combined food drive on New Year’s day. Jim Swanson Managing Partner and GM of both teams who play in the West Coast League said the scene was impossible to describe. Food drives in both cities netted a $2,654.00 in cash donations and 3,178 pounds of donated food, which translates into a total food value of $8,326.36. In Nanaimo, food and cash donations were given to Loaves and Fishes and in Victoria to the The Mustard Seed.

YOU CAN’T BLAME THEM – People from around the country are moving to B.C. during the pandemic. U-Haul’s stats for 2020, indicate B.C. is the tops when it comes to provincial growth for incoming one-way truck trips, along with New Brunswick. Nanaimo/Coombs showed the highest growth in one-way truck rentals at a 52-per-cent. Chilliwack had 32 per cent, Abbotsford 26, Vancouver at 16 and North Vancouver seven per cent.

RULES ARE VERY FLEXIBLE – Coronavirus rules have been extended for another month and we have to stay away from gatherings and events. But whom do those rules apply to when countless public officials are jetting all over the globe? See MY TWO BITS HERE.

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY to my wife, Marge. On Jan. 8, 1960 we walked up the aisle on a bitterly cold winter day in Manitoba and it's been a great trip, four children, plus one who joined later, fantastic daughters-in-law and marvelous grandchildren. And countless friends along the way.

Money from heaven for woman on her daily walk

File photo

0107 – We all know about pennies from heaven, but it was raining dollar bills this week when a Nanaimo woman was showered with money while on her daily walk. Her name is being withheld. She told police a vehicle went flying past her and seconds later, money floated from the sky falling around her. She could not provide a plate or description of the vehicle. She picked up all the money and called the Nanaimo RCMP. See FULL STORY

Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021

TODAY'S WEATHER

CTV VANCOUVER ISLAND has a great story about a 74-year-old senior who has conquered Mount Benson 259 times. After ascending 1,019 metres over two to three hours, the views from the summit — across Nanaimo and the Gulf Islands — are breathtaking. But he was dismayed to see a tattered Canadian flag attached to a broomstick at the peak. Well, he fixed that and has been keeping watch over the flag for almost 20 years.

CAR COLLIDES WITH WHEELCHAIR – A 63-year-old woman using a wheelchair was taken to Nanaimo hospital with serious injuries when it collided with a vehicle on Bowen Road Dec. 31. The woman, using a motorized wheelchair, was struck by a compact vehicle driven by a man  as she was attempting to cross over the two northbound lanes. Police are looking for any one with dash cam footage who has not already spoken with investigators to contact the Municipal Traffic Services of the Nanaimo RCMP detachment at 250-754-2345 and quote file No. 2020-46146.

SURGERY BACKLOG – 90 per cent of patients who had their surgery postponed during the first wave of Coronavirus have since had it completed. Non-urgent scheduled surgeries were postponed in March to ensure hospitals had the capacity for Coronavirus patients. Scheduled surgeries resumed May 18. Health Minister Adrian Dix said the latest monthly report is “a remarkable story of achievement in the number of patients called, surgeries delivered, operating room hours extended, waitlists reduced, and staff hired and trained.”

ISLAND HEALTH on Wednesday reported 28 new Coronavirus cases in the previous 24 hours. Island Health says there are 142 active cases – 55 in the central Island region, 58 to the south and 29 to the north. The province reported 625 new positive tests across the province yesterday.

SNUNEYMUXW FIRST NATION moved to the front of the line for vaccine as the number of active cases rose to 21. The province and First Nations Health Authority fast-tracked Snuneymuxw for the Moderna vaccine.

MORE CHARTWELL CASES – A staff member at Chartwell Malaspina Care Residence has tested positive for Coronavirus. Island Health reported two new positive tests, saying one additional resident and one staff member have tested positive. Island Health has performed 360 tests on residents and workers at the facility since the outbreak was declared.

Help RCMP find Shai Ilan on 10 arrest warrants

Shai Ilan

0106 – Nanaimo RCMP seek public assistance in locating 26-year-old Shai Ilan ten outstanding arrest warrants. Ilan failed to appear in court on October 20 and a warrant was issued for his arrest. His current whereabouts are unknown.

The warrants range from trafficking under the CDSA x 2 (heroin, fentanyl), possession for purpose of trafficking x 4 (heroin, fentanyl, methamphetamine, cocaine), and breaching the terms of his release conditions x 4. The drug charges and subsequent breaches, stem from numerous interactions and investigations with Ilan, which took place during 2019 and 2020.

Ilan is 5 ft. 11, 180 pounds. The picture was taken within the last year. If you have information on the location of Shai Ilan, please call the Nanaimo RCMP non-emergency line at 250-754-2345 and quote file number 2020-1472.

Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021

TODAY'S WEATHER

NEVER TOO OLD TO LEARN – If you are fifty-plus, you can Zoom yourself toward learning at Vancouver Island University’s College ElderCollege. The winter-spring semester starts Jan. 11 with 72 courses online via Zoom. A Friday Forum pilot project, a series of seminars on mental health, is being launched this spring with the intention of supporting residents of seniors’ care facilities. You can also get a close-up look at money laundering with Peter German, the author a report on money laundering in B.C. casinos.  VIU ElderCollege memberships are $20, with course fees ranging from $10 to $94. For more information, call 1-866-734-6252 or find the course calendar and more at http://viu.ca/eldercollege

GOODBYE GOD – The United States House of Representatives launched its 117th Congress on Monday, and the goings-on attracted the attention of our favourite commentator, Rex Murphy. In this “woke” age nothing is sacred anymore. Pious Congressman Rev. Emanuel Cleaver conducted the opening prayer and took the progressive elevator even further. We may gauge how moved Cleaver was by the curious formulation he gave toward the end of his prayer: “We ask it in the name of the monotheistic God, Brahma, and ‘god’ known by many names by many different faiths.” He ended his invocation with “Amen” and “Awoman.” Read Rex’s column. 

NO FOUL PLAY – RCMP investigators have ruled out foul play after a man was discovered dead on Boxing Day. The Nanaimo RCMP Serious Crime Unit began its investigation on Dec. 26 after a 59-year-old man was found dead in his home in the 400-block of Fitzwilliam Street. A forensic autopsy helped determine that no foul play was involved in his death. The BC Coroners Service is continuing its own investigation 

POSITIVE CORONAVIRUS TESTS – Island Health reported nine more positive Coronavirus tests on Tuesday. The brings the total since the beginning of the panic to 1,001. Reports do not break out the number of people who became sick, only the over-all total, including those placed in isolation. There are 122 active cases, 40 in the central Vancouver Island region. The province reported 428 new positive tests on Tuesday, the lowest daily update since Dec. 26-27. Eight people died from covid-related cases. Three more members of the Snuneymuxw First Nation have tested positive for Coronavirus, bringing the total to 19 since Jan. 1. Everyone who has tested positive is in isolation. Island Health nurses and the Snuneymuxw health team members continue to support those who are isolated as a shelter-in-place order remains in effect until at least Jan. 15.

Four more Coronavirus positive tests for Snuneymuxw

0105 – Four more members of the Snuneymuxw First Nation have tested positive for Coronavirus, bringing the total to 16 since Jan. 1. Everyone who has tested positive is in isolation.

Island Health nurses and the Snuneymuxw health team members continue to support those who are isolated as a shelter-in-place order remains in effect until at least Jan. 15MORE

Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021

TODAY'S WEATHER

FERRY SAILINGS CANCELLED – B.C. Ferries has cancelled sailings on Tuesday following high wind forecasts. Ferries issued a service notice Monday night advising cancellation of all sailings between Departure Bay and Horseshoe Bay from 10:40 a.m. until 5:55 p.m. on Tuesday. The notice says the safety of passengers and crew is of primary importance and decisions to cancel sailings aren’t taken lightly.  For more information, visit www.bcferries.com

LIVELIHOOD STOLEN – Eleanor Hickey fends for herself and her special-needs son as a self-employed landscaper. But that changed over the New Year’s weekend someone pried open her storage shed on her Kennedy Street property and stole all of her gardening tools. Thieves made away with Stihl and Echo weed eaters, hedge trimmers, and brush cutters valued at over $2,000. She doesn’t have insurance to cover the loss and now she can’t do her job.  RCMP reported 14 thefts in the city on the night of Hickey’s break-in. Thefts have substantially risen throughout the last year and a lot of it can be related back to the drug market, explained Const. Gary O’Brien. So if you run into any bargains, call the police.

DOYLE ACTING FIRE CHIEF – Tim Doyle has been named acting chief for Nanaimo Fire Rescue. He replaces former chief Karen Fry who has taken over as chief of Vancouver Fire Rescue Services. The city is looking for potential replacements from within the department and elsewhere. The hiring process closes Jan. 8.

FIRST-HAND EXPERIENCE – You can get a small degree of university experience through Vancouver Island University’s online inside look. The University is holding open house events for prospective students this month. Discovery Days, and Experience VIU, are interactive, virtual days of exploration and discovery. These drop-in online events will include chances to chat one-on-one with recruiters and educational advisors, student resources and how to pay for school; videos; downloadable resources; and fun games to help you get to know VIU. 
Saturday, January 16 from 9 am to 2 pm
Wednesday, January 20 from 1 pm to 6:30 pm
Thursday, January 21 from 1 pm to 6:30 p.m.

ISLAND HEALTH LEADS THE WAY – Island Health reported the best record with 64 positive Coronavirus tests over the four-day weekend. Health officials on Monday reported 2,211 positive tests across the province with 45 related deaths since the last update on Dec. 31. Island Health continues to show best results while there were 389 positives in Vancouver Coastal Health, 1,301 in Fraser Health, 288 in Interior Health, and 169 in Northern Health. There are 351 people in hospital, 67 in intensive care. Dr. Bonnie Henry said the majority of the deaths related to the virus were elderly people, the majority being seniors and elders in long-term care.

AVERAGE ASSESSMENT UP FIVE PER CENT – The highest residential property in Nanaimo is assessed at $4,038,000, according to latest figures released by B.C. Assessment. The average single-family home is up about five per cent to $527,000 from $504,000 the previous year. Strata homes had a smaller percentage rise to $324,000 from $314,000 – approximately three per cent. Woodgrove Centre remains the highest-assessed commercial property at $208,438,000. Be glad you are not living on northern Vancouver Island. Tahsis recorded a 36-per-cent increase, and Zeballos had an 18-per-cent increase. 

UPDATE - Missing man located

Kale Nystrom

UPDATE - 0105 Nanaimo RCMP report that 42-year-old Kale Nystrom has been located safe and soound.

 0104 – RCMP seeks public assistance in locating 42-year-old Kale Nystrom who was reported missing on December 14. Investigators have learned that Nystrom had been saying things and was acting in such a way that the people closest to him are extremely worried for his safety and well-being.

Nystrom is 5 ft.10 and 160 pounds. The picture is recent. He is of no fixed address and has been known to find shelter in various parks, wooded areas and abandoned buildings throughout Nanaimo. Patrols of all of these areas and local shelters have been unsuccessful. If you have any information on the whereabouts of Kale Nystrom, please call the Nanaimo RCMP non-emergency line at 250-754-2345 and quote file # 2020-44501.

Monday, Jan. 4, 2021

GOOD MORNING NANAIMO – It's hard to believe but we're already well into the new year and our daily routines should return to near normal now that we're over the holiday disruptions. So, settle in for a rainy week ahead.

SNUNEYMUXW VIRUS COUNT 12 – Snuneymuxw reports more Coronavirus test-positive cases, bringing the count to 12 since New Year’s Eve. Chief Mike Wyse has been updating members daily via written correspondence and video. Wyse said they have made a request to the medical health officer for expedited access to vaccinations and have been told that the request has been forwarded to the B.C. Minister of Health. Chief and council issued a shelter-in-place order on New Year’s Day, effective for two weeks, asking members to remain in their households and try to limit trips off reserve to once a week for essentials.

NO MORE AUXILIARY COPS – The Nanaimo RCMP auxiliary police program has come to an end. The program was terminated in December, due in part to budget restrictions and safety concerns. RCMP spokesman Const. Gary O’Brien said a lot of issues went into the decision, including the $40,000 annual budget. That covered training and uniforms and the detachment had to look at that and how it could be better used, which included supporting two new positions within the detachment – a forensic digital analysis specialist and a discovery specialist who gathers and prepares files for cases that are being forwarded the Crown – that have recently been approved by Nanaimo city council.

ADDING MORE COSTS – Rising housing prices are a major concern, but vrious levels of government keep finding ways to increase costs. The Regional District of Nanaimo is seeking input on a proposed regional parks development cost charges program. Those charges are invariably added to the price of homes. A regional parks DCC program has been in the works since 2007. That included studies conducted by HB Lanarc Consultants in 2007 and a funding service review by Neilson-Welch in 2017. The RDN did not adopt any of them. Nanaimo, Parksville, Qualicum Beach and Lantzville already charge parks DCCs.

DEADLINE NEARING - Jan 8 is the deadline for the Building Resilience to Thrive program for businesses how to re-engage their customers, adjust their workplace cultures, and adapt their business models This is the second cohort of the  six-week online training program, developed in partnership with UVic's Gustavson School of Business, offers an opportunity for business leaders to obtain professional development from award-winning educators at a time when budgets are tight.

Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021

FLOOD EVACUATIONS – The Nanaimo Regional District has issued evacuation alerts for residents living on Wilkinson Road in Nanaimo and Martindale Road in Parksville due to rising water levels on the Nanaimo and Englishmen rivers. Wilkinson Road is located south of the Duke Point Highway, near the Nanaimo River. Arrowsmith Search and Rescue crews are evacuating residents along Martindale Road in Parksville  on Saturday.
Cowichan Tribes has issued an evacuation alert in areas of Quw’utsun Territory due to rising river water levels. Heavy rain is expected for much of Vancouver Island today and Environment Canada has warned people to stay away from rivers and culverts as some areas have already received 110 mm of rain in the past 48 hours.

OUR MLAs STAYED HOME – British Columbia MLAs have stayed home during the pandemic. The B.C. NDP says none of caucus or cabinet members have travelled out of the country since the pandemic began in March. The B.C. Liberals also said no Liberals have violated any travel restrictions. The B.C. Green Party MLAs have not travelled since the pandemic began. It comes after it was learned that multiple Alberta politicians travelled to the United States for vacation and Ontario’s Minister of Finance was caught spending his holidays abroad in St. Barts and has resigned. Federal NDP MP Niki Ashton went to Greece to see her ailing grandmother.

WHERE THERE'S A WILL - Some Ontario residents have found a way around the lockdown. Can't cross the border? Well hop over it. A Toronto area helicopter company shuffles them to Buffalo while their car is transported on an auto carrier, waiting there for their arrival. Then off it is to their winter haunts in Florida, pets and all.

B.C. Assessment
Latest property assessments now available.

Flood watch issued for Nanaimo to Fanny Bay

0102 – The B.C. River Forecast Centre has issued a flood watch for parts of Vancouver Island from Nanaimo to Fanny Bay including the Englishman River, Nanaimo River and surrounding tributaries. The centre says there has been significant rainfall with more than 110 mm falling in some areas alone.

Rivers are forecast to reach their highest flows late Saturday or into Sunday. In estuary areas on Eastern Vancouver Island, high tides this evening may coincide with high flows and add additional challenges. The centre urges people to stay away from fast-flowing rivers and potentially unstable riverbanks during the high-streamflow period.

Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021

SNUNEYMUXW SHUT DOWN – A shelter-in-place order has been issued by Snuneymuxw First Nation after reporting five active coronavirus cases in the community with other members being symptomatic. Chief Mike Wyse issued a letter to members Jan. 1 saying that Snuneymuxw “has declared a cluster of active cases” and is automatically activating emergency and safety measures, which will remain in effect for 14 days as of 9 p.m. Jan. 1. The emergency operations centre has been activated and the office is working closely with Island Health, the First Nations Health Authority and provincial and federal agencies.

MEANWHILE – Cowichan Tribes says an undisclosed number of members within their community have tested positive for COVID-19 and are now isolating.

WELCOME TO THE WORLD ­– Gerald Patrick Doughty is Vancouver Island’s first baby of the year, born 1:54 a.m Friday morning at the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. He is also the first boy born in B.C. in 2021. Happy parents are Chris and Taylor Doughty with their nine-pound 12 ounce son. B.C.’s New Year’s baby girl was born at 12:21 a.m. at Women’s Hospital in Vancouver, weighing 7 pounds 4 ounces. 

ASSESSMENTS ARE OUT – B.C. Assessment has released the 2020 property tax assessments for British Columbia. Property owners will view their listings with amazement and/or disappointment when they see the valuation. Keep in mind, the amount of increase or decrease in assessment does not mean a taxation change by that amount. Once you determined the average change in assessment for the entire city you can get an idea of whether you are below or above the average. Check yours out at https://www.bcassessment.ca 

SPEAKING OF ASSESSMENTS, Realtor Janine Sedola has a heads up about changes in property taxes for the new year. It wouldn’t be government if there were no changes. The homeowner grant application process has changed, you will no longer apply to the city, but go directly to the province. They’re setting up a new online system that they say will be easy to use and will process applications faster. You can’t apply yet, they’ll let you know when the system goes online in the near future. CHECK IT OUT.

ONE FATALITY IN FIRE – One person has died a result of the apartment fire in Duncan earlier this week. The BC Coroners Service said there was one death relating to the fire about midday Dec. 31. The fire engulfed the top level of the four-storey apartment building on Lewis Street, beside the B.C. Ambulance Emergency services building in Duncan.

Jan. 1, 2021

HAPPY NEW YEAR – A lot of people awoke this morning to discover what it’s like to wake up without a hangover on New Year’s morning.

IT’S OUR BIRTHDAY – Today is the third birthday of Nanaimonet, three years of keeping readers informed. During that time Nanaaimonet has been viewed more than two million times. Whether it’s breaking news or local events and people, that’s what we’re here for. By presenting brief snippets with links to full stories, we give you a choice of a quick glance before deciding whether to follow an event or story. It has been a pleasure keeping the site up to date, including times when I was out of town – even from the southern U.S. The internet is magic in that way. We’d love to see comments from our readers. Your views matter, go ahead, tell us what you think. So, here we go with 2021, it has to be better than the year we just left behind.

IRRESPONSIBLE TO THE MAX – One Vancouver man spent Christmas Day in jail for multiple violations of the public health order banning parties and social gatherings. Police had issued multiple warnings and tickets to the man over several weeks, said Sgt. Steve Addison. He had violated the health order at least 12 times since September and was arrested on Christmas Day and released on a number of bail conditions on Dec. 26. Charges are pending.

FIRST VIRUS REPORTED – Snuneymuxw has told its members that a community member has caught Coronavirus. A letter from Chief Mike Wyse, dated Dec. 30, stated the person who tested positive is isolating and is being supported by Snuneymuxw staff. Health officials are conducting contact tracing.

SERIOUS FIRE IN DUNCAN –Eight people were taken to hospital after a fire broke out at an apartment building in Duncan on Thursday. The Duncan Volunteer Fire Department and crews from nearby fire departments were were called to the apartment on Lewis Street.Ten ground ambulances and one air ambulance also rushed to the scene, according to BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS). Paramedics tended to eight people. Six people were taken to hospital in stable condition, one person was in serious condition and an eighth person was flown to hospital in critical condition by an air ambulance.

683 positive coronarvirus tests in province

1231 – British Columbia reported 683 positive tests for COVID-19 across the province in the last 24 hours with eight deaths in that span, eleven in Island Health region. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said 374 are in hospital with 76 in critical care.

There have been 901 deaths related to the virus since the start of the pandemic. The total number of positive tests in British Columbia to date is 51,983.

Dr. Henry said there are three new health-care facility outbreaks – Williams Lake Seniors Village, one at Ridge Meadow Hospital and one at Langley Memorial Hospital.

Thursday, Dec. 31, 2020

A REMINDER – The Nanaimo NightOwls are holding a food drive New Year’s day to fill RVs for local food banks.  Arbutus RV is working with the NightOwls by accepting donations, following all health rules. Loaves and Fishes will accept donations at Third Street Ballpark parking lot, a block west of Serauxmen Stadium, noon to 4 p.m. A lot of other organizations are pitching in – Panago, Save On Foods, Chamber of Commerce and the City, along with local youth and college baseball programs.

BUILDING RESILIENCE TO THRIVE teaches businesses how to re-engage their customers, adjust their workplace cultures, and adapt their business models. This six-week online training program, through the Chamber of Commerce was developed in partnership with UVic's Gustavson School of Business, with an opportunity for business leaders to get professional development from award-winning educators.

PANDEMIC FATIGUE – More and more people are resisting pandemic regulations as they fight to survive. They are flouting the rules to survive. That’s especially small businesses that see the big box operators thriving while they go under. It’s also true for the food and beverage industry. They suspect the daily pandemic reports because they feel they are the only ones shut out. The daily numbers have too many hidden twists. Those are positive tests, not active “cases,” as we are told. Among those positive tests are many asymptomatic cases, not showing any illness but being isolated. It’s also hard to buy into the label of epidemiological cases where people who have never been tested but have been in contact with someone who tested positive. That puts them on that daily list. 

CLAMPING DOWN ON FLYING – New flight rules are expected to come into effect in the next few days as Canada moves to require all air passengers to have a negative virus test on incoming flights three days before arriving in the country. The number of Canada Border Service Agency agents will be increased at border crossings and airports to ensure Canadians understand the newly-tightened rules. The test must be a PCR test — considered the gold standard. These tests need to be processed in a lab and usually take at least a day to provide results.

MORE FLIGHTS ADDED – Three recent WestJet flights to Vancouver Island have been posted for possible exposure to COVID-19. BCCDC) listed — WS 3315 from Calgary to Comox on Dec. 23, WS 3335 from Calgary to Comox on Dec. 27 and WS 335 from Edmonton to Victoria on Dec. 28 — to their COVID-19 exposure list on Wednesday evening. Prior to the addition of three flights on Dec. 30, the last time a flight had been added to the list was on Dec. 26.

PARTING THOUGHTS as 2020 skulks into the rear-view mirror. 
• Does anyone know if we can take showers yet or should we just keep washing our hands?
• The dumbest thing I ever bought was a 2020 planner.
• I never thought “I wouldn’t touch him/her with a six-foot pole” would become a national policy.
• I need to practice social-distancing from the refrigerator.
• Never could I have imagined I would go up to a bank wearing a mask and ask for money.

So, farewell to 2020, good riddance. May the new year restore much of what we lost this year.

Dec, 30, 2020

NANAIMO DID IT AGAIN – One thing we have learned is never doubt Nanaimo's spirit of helping out. The Great Nanaimo Toy Drive had some anxious moments when faced with the pandemic and how it would affect their Christmas charity drive this year. But in true Nanaimo fashion, 2020 was the biggest year ever for donations in the 38-year history of the drive. Virus precautions cut back the standard 150 volunteers to about 70 who worked within family and social network bubbles to sort and select toys for more than 400 Santa sacks for needy families. Publicity director Carolyn Iles said the response from the community was absolutely phenomenal. She lauded the caring and concern that Nanimoites have for those in our neighbourhood who are struggling.

CORONAVIRUS OVER FIVE DAYS – Island Health reported 44 positive tests for Coronavirus in the past five days with 2,206 positive tests province-wide. To date, 50,815 British Columbians have tested positive and the province’s death toll linked to the virus is 882. There are 373 people in hospital — 80 in intensive care – and 9,414 under active public health monitoring due to possible exposure. By Tuesday, 11,930 people had been vaccinated. One person on Vancouver Island tested positive for the United Kingdom variant of the virus. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the person arrived home from the U.K. and was in quarantine after developing symptoms of the virus and later tested positive. Dr. Henry said it is likely others have been infected.

CHARTWELL ADDS THREE MORE CASES – All residents and staff who have worked or live at Chartwell Malaspina Residence will be tested for Coronavirus immediately after three more tests returned positive, bringing the total to five. All five residents are in the same unit, the only one affected by the outbreak. They are isolating in their own rooms and the unit has been isolated from the rest of the building. The new cases were detected through mass testing on Monday. 

AVALANCHE ALERT – With everyone telling us what we can and cannot do these days, why should the mountains be any different. A Vancouver Island Avalanche Bulletin shows the alpine slide threat elevated to high today. The avalanche risk above or below the tree-line is also being bumped up. Avalance forecaster Ryan Shelly said a winter storm over night and into today will lead to more dangerous conditions in the backcountry. “You’re looking at large size two, three avalanches that absolutely have the capacity to fully bury and ultimately potentially kill someone. It’s pretty dynamic weather in terms of a great deal of new snow and high winds", he said.

CELEBRATE WITH SCOTLAND – CeltFest Vancouver Island is sponsoring a virtual Scottish fest on New Year’s day, at 11 a.m. Pacific time, featuring the band Skerryvore streaming world wide from Scotland. Norrie (Tago) MacIver is a special guest, and the show includes an exclusive virtual tour of Robert Burns' Cottage. You can get your tickets and more details at Eventbrite.

CLIPPERS ON ICE – Nanaimo Clippers can finally hit the ice as a team after the provincial health office relaxed rules to allow junior hockey teams to practise together. The previous provincial health order banned players overage18 from practising with teammates. Though they can practice, the teams are still not cleared to play games. The policy will remain in place until at least Jan. 8, at which time health officials will determine whether it needs to be extended.