WHY DOES AN EMERGENCY SERVICE EVEN HAVE A HOLD BUTTON?
A woman was shopping in the south Island last Sunday evening when suddenly she felt intense pressure in her head and weakness in her body. When she called 911 and requested an ambulance, she was told it would be a long wait. After half an hour waiting for an ambulance dispatcher to take her call, she hung up — because by the she’d already arrived at Saanich Peninsula Hospital by taxi. She didn’t hear back from ambulance dispatch until she was being prepped for a CT scan at the hospital an hour and 40 minutes after her initial call. It’s just the latest story of someone on Vancouver Island waiting too long after calling for an ambulance. In August, 72-year-old Parksville resident Harry Charles Blakey died of a heart attack after waiting half an hour on hold. The province committed this summer to hire 30 more dispatchers and additional paramedics across B.C. It's not summer any more. Emergencies don't wait.

HOUSING PRICE INCREASES SHOW NO LETUP
If you’re planning to buy real estate in the next little while, you might not want to wait. There are fewer homes for sale, and that impacts the prices. Vancouver Island Real Estate Board active listings of single-family homes in September were 47 per cent lower than in 2020, while VIREB’s inventory of condo apartments and row/townhouses dropped by 57 per cent and 48 per cent, respectively, from one year ago. Multiple offers on well-priced, quality properties continue to be the norm. Nanaimo’s benchmark price of a single-family home rose by 28 per cent, hitting $745,400, while the Parksville-Qualicum area saw its benchmark price increase by 33 per cent to $869,000.

Carlota Sanz

DOUGHNUT ECONOMICS:
A RADICAL IDEA INTO TRANSFORMATIVE ACTION

The 2021 ‘State of the Island’ Economic Summit features Carlota Sanz, co-founder of the Doughnut Economics Action Lab. She will present the vision of doughnut economics and how it's being turned into transformative action to create ecologically safe and socially just cities and places around the world. Some members of Nanaimo city council have been pushing that concept, and the city is sponsoring this session. This year’s summit is virtual from Oct. 26-28. Click here for more details and to REGISTER.

Was CERB a forerunner to a guaranteed annual income?

The idea of a guaranteed annual income has been bandied about for some time. Now that the election is over, what’s the future for the $1,200-per-month Canada Recovery Benefit? Was it a preview of such a concenpt?

These pandemic emergency programs could well be a precursor to how a guaranteed annual income might impact our economy. From this experience, it’s not a pretty picture. FULL COLUMN.

Do you support the concept of a guaranteed annual wage? Why or why not? Let's talk about it. Click Here.

HUNDREDS OF JOBS AVAILABLE AT MOUNT WASHINGTON
It’s almost winter and for many that means skiing. Mount Washington Resort is looking for workers for the winter, there many, many jobs open. It takes up to 800 employees to staff the resort so they participate in a job fair to seek recruits. It’s short notice, but it’s this Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Comox Valley Visitors Centre. Information on employment can also be found on the company’s website. www.mountwashington.ca

ISLAND REGION COVID NUMBERS LEVEL OFF
The Island Health region reported 59 new positive tests for COVID-19 on Friday, part of the 667 new tests for the province. It’s the second day in a row where the daily increase on the Island has been significantly below recent totals – 70 to 80 per day. Active cases dropped one, now at 484 including 226 on the central Island. Southern Vancouver Island has 204, with 54 in the north. There are 5,128 active cases in British Columbia – 367 are in hospital with 152 in critical care. Since Thursday, there have been 75 new cases in Vancouver Coastal Health, 246 in Fraser Health, 101 in Interior Health, 184 in Northern Health region and two new cases for people who reside outside of Canada. There were 13 deaths related to the virus over the previous 24 hours bringing the provincial death total over the course of the pandemic to 2,055.

HUSKY STATION SET TO BE DEMOLISHED
The Husky Market and gas station on Terminal Avenue, near Maffeo Sutton Park is in the first stages of its demolition process. The station was destroyed in a fire in October 2020. The site has since been fenced and boarded up, however the extra measures aren’t enough for some. Security measures have been repeatedly stripped away in the 12 months with fences opened and used needles on the ground. The neighbourhood sees it as an ongoing problem. 

TURBANS TO THE RESCUE FOR HIKER IN TROUBLE
Necessity is the mother of invention. A group of hikers used their turbans to rescue a man from the Lower Falls in Golden Ears Provincial Park Monday afternoon. Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue responded to a call about two hikers who were in trouble at the falls. However, before the rescue team could get there, another group of five men came upon the scene and sprang into action by taking off their turbans and tying them together to make a long rope to rescue the man.

LAWSUIT LAUNCHED OVER COVID PASSPORTS
Two British Columbia women who say doctors advised them against getting COVID-19 vaccines have filed a constitutional challenge of the province’s vaccine passport. A petition filed in B.C. Supreme Court says 39-year-old Sarah Webb, who lives in Alberta and B.C., developed an adverse reaction from her first dose of a vaccine in May and ended up in the emergency department of a Calgary hospital six days later. The petition filed against the attorney general and the Ministry of Health says Leigh Anne Eliason of Maple Ridge, was told by her doctor that she should not get a COVID-19 vaccine because of the risk of side effects due to her medical history. 

NEWS OUTLET STONEWALLED ON HOSPITAL COVID OUTBREAKS
A CTV News investigation into COVID-19 outbreaks in hospitals in the Lower Mainland has resulted in scant information from health authorities, which have fought disclosure even though hundreds of patients and staff have contracted the virus in hospital and dozens have died as a result. For months, multiple attempts to obtain information and documentation around investigations, responses and fallout from COVID-19 outbreaks in Lower Mainland hospitals have been met with stonewalling, redactions and insistence that no such documentation exists, even though lives were lost.

When will Trudeau install a new federal government?

Has Prime Minister Trudeau been asked by the Governor-General to form a government?
Does he have an agreement with the NDP for support? Are they operating legally now?
I have asked several outlets but I seem to be getting stonewalled.
John Cowan,
Nanaimo

Technically we don’t have a government until a new one is sworn in by the Governor General. After the election, Prime Minister Trudeau said he would go through the formality “in October” but has since given no further indication. In the meantime he continues to govern under executive authority.

Express your views or ask a question. Click Here.

Entries invited for Santa Claus parade Nov. 27

Click on image to enlarge

Santa Claus is coming to Nanaimo November 27 to ride in the downtown Santa Claus parade. There’s lots of room for floats in the parade, so get on the ball as soon as possible enter your float. You can bring the family to Commercial Street to watch the Light Parade that evening. If you’ve got any kind of commercial vehicle, decorate it, light it up, and bring it downtown. Organized by the Lions Club of Nanaimo for the Downtown Nanaimo Business Association.

We're supposed to be in a communications world

I have been spending a lot of time trying to communicate with Island Health in relation to COVID-19 testing. Virtually all the calls have resulted in a hold with the message that it will take “up to 92 minutes” to answer the call if you stay in the queque.

The Island Health website is extremely convoluted and if you are able to find what you are looking for it’s strictly by accident. It’s a typically bureaucratic nightmare to traverse.

One return message was “we’ll send you an e-mail with a link to change your password.” I tried it numerous times but no e-mail link. So I tried one of the multiple telephone numbers listed and got the promise of a call back. Lo and behold, I got a call back. The agent clarified that a lot of e-mails were not going through because anyone with a Shaw e-mail address was giving them problems.

Out of curiousity I asked the agent where she was operating from. After a pause she replied, "ummmm . . . Kansas City.” 

Nothing more needs to be said.

LET’S TALK – I want to hear your views on this or any of the topics in The Daily Buzz. CLICK HERE to comment.

COVID UPDATE
Health officials are reporting 48 new positive COVID-19 tests in the Island Heath region on Thursday and 580for the entire province. There are 625 active cases in Island Health. Dr. Bonnie Henry said that 378 are in hospital with 153 in critical care. There are 5,348 active cases in British Columbia. Since Wednesday, there have been 53 new positive tests in the Vancouver Coastal region, 246 in Fraser Health, 104 in Interior Health, and 129 in Northern Health region.

Dr. Henry and Minister Dix

TOUGHER RESTRICTIONS FOR NORTHERN HEALTH RESIDENTS
Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix announced a new series of restrictions for Northern Health Authority residents amid spiking COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. The new restrictions come into effect at midnight and will last through to Nov. 19. Personal gatherings – both indoors and outdoors – are restricted to those who are vaccinated and in-person worship services are cancelled. For vaccinated people, gatherings will be limited to five people indoors and 25 people outdoors. The Delta variant spreads faster and causes more severe illness, which is being seen in the north where hospitals are filling with young people. Dix said 58 people have been evacuated by plane in recent weeks to other parts of the province, particularly in Island Health. 

TRANSIT WANTS YOUR INPUT INTO EXPANSION
Nanaimo Regional Transit wants users’ views before going further with the idea of a Rapid Line transit route downtown Nanaimo and Woodgrove Centre. This is the second phase of the RDN’s transit redevelopment strategy and is in the second phase of public engagement. Initial work yielded a range of recommendations, most notably the rapid line route that would offer limited-stop service along the old Island Highway, with trips 15 minutes apart. The rapid line would later be expanded to include south Nanaimo.

NEW APP REJECTED BY B.C. SEARCH AND RESCUE
A new app for emergencies is getting a thumbs down from B.C. search and rescue organizations. They say the new What3Words app is not suitable for emergencies in B.C. Dwight Yochim, Senior Manager with B.C. Search and Rescue Association says that the app is a solution for a problem they’ve never had. “There are tools we use to locate a subject with their cell phone which are far more effective You need cell service to use the What3Words app. If you have cell service, we can pinpoint your location using your cell phone within one metre,” Yochim explained. 

POLICE WATCHDOG INVESTIGATING ARREST WHERE MAN WAS INJURED
The Independent Investigations Office is investigating an incident in south Nanaimo last month when a man who was in distress was injured while being taken into custody on Extension Road at about 1:50 a.m. on Sept. 23. Information provided by the RCMP indicated officers responded  and the man sustained a non-life-threatening injury. Paramedics transported the man to hospital. The IIO is asking anyone with information about the incident to contact 1-855-446-8477 or submit information via an online form at http://iiobc.ca.

UNIVERSITY RADIO STATION CELEBRATES 20 YEARS
Hats off to the volunteers who have kept Vancouver Island University’s community radio station on the air for 20 years. The station is celebrating that milestone with a concert featuring local artists and executive director Jesse Woodward said there are tentative plans to apply for city grant funding to put on a downtown concert series. Josef Jacobson has an excellent report in the News Bulletin, a look at the hills and valleys the station has been through.

FATHER SENTENCED TO EIGHT YEARS FOR ABUSING SONS
A Nanaimo man has been sentenced to eight years in jail for sexually abusing his two young sons. Judge Justine Saunders found the man guilty in June and imposed the sentence on Wednesday, saying there are no mitigating factors. The boys testified against their dad and their mother told the court her sons continue to suffer emotional trauma. The man is already serving a sentence for unrelated sex crimes. The judge ruled he must complete that sentence before the new one begins, and he will also be permanently added to the sex offender registry.

FREE IPHONES FOR YOUTHS IN GOVERNMENT CARE
Thousands of youth in government care will get Apple iPhones to provide them with better access to online resources and friends and family. The province will provide nearly 4,000 iPhones over the next two months as it rolls out the Phones4Youth program. Youth in care don’t always have access to the essential technology they need to stay connected to school and key people in their lives, said Minister of Children and Family Development Mitzi Dean.

LET’S TALK – We want to hear your views on any of the topics in The Daily Buzz. CLICK HERE to comment.

Garage Sale Trail

Click on image to enlarge

GET READY FOR A WARM, WET AND WINDY WEEKEND
Everybody talks about the weather but nobody can do anything about it. South Coasters are warned to gird for a wet and windy weekend. Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement covering Vancouver Island, Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Howe Sound and Whistler and the Sunshine Coast. The first of the two systems will move onshore Friday morning with heavy rain at times through Sunday morning. The weather agency is forecasting between 75 and 150 mm of rain over a two-day period.

TECHNICALLY WE DON’T HAVE A FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
I had a note from a Daily Buzz reader about when we will have a legitimate government again. Parliament was dissolved prior to the September election, and technically we don’t have a government until a new one is sworn in by the Governor General. After the election, Prime Minister Trudeau said he would go through the formality “in October” but has since given no further indication. In the meantime he continues to govern under executive authority.

MALCOLMSON UNVEILS NEW ADDICTIONS SERVICES
Mental Health and Addictions Minister Sheila Malcolmson has announced more than 20 addictions beds on Vancouver Island in Port Hardy, Nanaimo, Tofino and Oceanside. They are part of a $132 million plan over three years for new mental health and addictions treatment programs and beds in B.C. Malcolmson says the program will include 65 new or improved services, about 130 more staff and 195 new substance-use treatment beds.

NEW EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATORS INTRODUCED
Sixteen British Columbians are qualified and working as certified early childhood educators, through the Community and Employer Partnerships (CEP) project from the provincial government. That means more safe, affordable, quality child care options when and where Nanaimo parents need them, said MLA Sheila Malcolmson. This new CEP project in Nanaimo helps meet British Columbia's goal of universal $10-a-day child care, working with communities and child care providers, she added. 

IT’S TIME FOR THE GREAT BRITISH COLUMIBA SHAKEOUT
Ready, set, drop, cover and hold – that’s the day for the great British Columbia ShakeOut on Oct. 21. At 10:21 a.m. that day, residents and businesses are asked to “drop, cover and hold on” to practise their safety protocols and prepare for a potential earthquake. Should an earthquake happen, responding quickly and confidently can keep you safe. See the city’s news release HERE.

CITY MARKS HOMELESS ACTION WEEK
The first Homelessness Action Week began in 2006 to raise awareness about homelessness and engage the public, governments and institutions around finding solutions. The 2020 Nanaimo Point-in-Time Homeless count found that a minimum of 433 people are living unhoused in Nanaimo, and it is estimated the number is far greater. City Council has been working on a number of fronts over the past year to address the long-term housing and the daily needs of unhoused and vulnerable residents. READ MORE.

POLICE SEEK HELP IN FINDING MISSING HOMELESS MAN
The Nanaimo RCMP is seeking help in finding 44-year-old Jason Diraddo. Investigators were contacted by his mother on October 8 and told she has not heard from her son since July. Diraddo has no fixed address and is known to utilize emergency resources in Nanaimo. Officers have attended to the various homeless encampments and areas where the homeless are known to gather but with no success or leads on where he may be.

NEW POSITIVE TESTS REPORTED, BUT ACTIVE CASES UNCHANGED
Island Health reported 92 new positive COVID-19 tests on Wednesday, but the number of active cases is unchanged. Thirty of the positives came from the central Island region with 21 in the south and eight in the north. An interesting number of note is that since the start of the pandemic, 45 per cent of all cases have come from the central region – Nanaimo, Parksville, Qualicum, Port Alberni and Tofino-Ucluelet. 

START YOUR CHRISTMAS SHOPPING EARLY
If you find something you want for Christmas, don’t hesitate, just get it. That’s the advice from retailers as pandemic restrictions ease and the demand for products surges. What you see in the store today may not be available later due to the pandemic and a global supply chain bottleneck. Many parts of the world are still struggling, including overseas factories where products that are sold here are made.

FINAL HYBRID FERRY ON THE WAY TO GABRIOLA ROUTE
The sixth and last Island Class hybrid ferry for BC Ferries’ fleet has left Romania en route to British Columbia. This is the second ferry planned to service the Gabriola-Nanaimo route. The new ferry left the Damen Shipyards in Romania on Monday, and is expected to take 60 days to sail to B.C. under its own power. The Island Class ferries are diesel-electric hybrids, and BC Ferries says this one will complete about a third of its voyage under electric power. 

NO EVIDENCE THAT TRAIN SPARKED LYTTON FIRE
The Transportation Safety board says it has found no evidence that railway operations sparked the deadly and destructive wildfire in Lytton that happened this summer. The fire raced through the town on June 30, days after a record-setting heat at the end of June. Two people were killed and few buildings were left standing after the fire.The Insurance Bureau of Canada estimated the wildfire caused about $78 million in insured damage. The wildfire is still being investigated by the BC Wildfire Service.

LET'S TALK
 – We want to hear your views on any of the topics in The Daily Buzz and Nanaimonet.com. CLICK HERE to comment.

We're being sold a bill of goods on coronavirus statistics

It’s hard to find, but 36 per cent of new Covid cases in B.C. are among the vaccinated, according to a government that has not been open with the facts. Shocking numbers when one thinks what we were sold. And can you believe them? Based on the Government of B.C. statements, getting vaccinated almost guaranteed you were protected from the COVID virus. And now they are beginning to admit the vaccinated are getting infected. FULL COLUMN

FERRY SAILING DELAYED DUE TO MISSING PERSON REPORT
The Queen of Oak Bay sailing from Departure Bay was held in dock this morning after a report of a possible person overboard. Crewmembers discovered a vehicle with personal effects and the vehicle's keys still inside, leading them to believe someone had entered the water. Police and the coast guard searched the water around the Departure Bay terminal until they were notified by police on the mainland that the missing passenger was found ashore at Horseshoe Bay safe. The ship was scheduled to depart for Horseshoe Bay at 8:25 a.m., but was delayed by 104 minutes.

U.S. BORDER TO OPEN FOR CANADIANS IN EARLY NOVEMBER
Fully-vaccinated Canadian vacationers and day-trippers will be allowed to drive into the United States beginning in early November, the first glimmer of hope in nearly 20 months for the families and businesses that depend on two-way traffic across the Canada-U.S. border. New York congressman Brian Higgins welcomed the news. “At long last, there is action by the United States to open the doors and welcome back our Canadian neighbours,” he said.

CABINET MINISTERS ON THE MENU FOR ONLINE CHAMBER LUNCH
You can lunch with two cabinet ministers at Friday’s Chamber of Commerce online Zoom luncheon meeting. Our MLA, Mental Health and Addictions Minister Sheila Malcolmson will discuss the opioid and toxic drug crisis, growing concerns over social disorder, and rising mental health issues. Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon will provide an update on policies and programs to aid business that we might see from the current sitting of the legislature. It’s free to join in, just bring your own brown bag. This free event is presented by the Nanaimo Chamber for members and friends of all Vancouver Island Chambers. Register here.

NANAIMO-TO-DUNCAN TRANSIT SERVICE GETTING CLOSER
We know how much, but not when and where about a transit service between Nanaimo and Duncan. A one-way $7.50 fare will get riders from Nanaimo to a Duncan transit hub. Work continues to define the exact route and number of stops. RDN Tyler Brown said they’ve heard this is a connection people want. “We’ll give it a try here and see how it goes. But in order to make it a success we have to build upon it, make sure the individual systems are functioning really well and provide a viable service to get people to where they want to go.”

ANTI-VAX RESISTANCE SUSPECTED IN VANDALISM
The push back against provincial vaccine mandates has been strong at some Nanaimo restaurants. Windows were smashed in three restaurants last week. Melange Restaurant, the next door Modern Café and The Nest Bistro, a few blocks away, were all vandalized. Gaetan Brousseau who owns the Melange, believes they were targeted because they respect the regulation asking for people for vaccination cards. Nick Braun, of The Nest, says the push back against vaccine mandates has been strong by a vocal minority. Nanaimo RCMP is now examining surveillance video and are looking for witnesses to the vandalism on Commercial Street and Skinner Streets late Thursday night into Friday morning. Anyone with information is asked to contact the detachment at 250-754-2345.

LOCAL AQUACULTURE COMPANY HITS THE BIG TIME
A Nanaimo company has quietly climbed on the world stage after joining forces with Blue Star Foods Corp of Miami Fla. in June. Taste of B.C. Aquafarms now plans to ramp up its operations to land-based farms that can each produce 1,500 tonnes of steelhead a year. Steve Atkinson, managing director of Taste of B.C. Aquafarms, says it is the only such company in the world that has met its pilot facility target. The research and development facility on Jameson Road raises and sells steelhead under the Little Cedar Falls brand and meets or slightly exceeds its production target of 100 tonnes of market-quality two-kilogram fish every 12 months. Chris Bush has an excellent report on this local company in the News Bulletin.

MAN INJURED, TWO ARRESTED IN SOUTHEND SHOOTING
A man and a woman were arrested and then released after a man was shot in a targeted incident in the south end on Sunday. The targeted residence is known to be used by those involved in the drug culture. Police searched the home but found it empty. A man went to Nanaimo hospital with injuries thought to have been caused by a gunshot. His injuries were non-life threatening and he was treated and later released. Police later arrested a man and a woman driving southbound along Nicol Street. Both are known to police. If you have information on this incident, please call the Nanaimo RCMP non-emergency line at 250-754-2345, and quote file #2021-38031.

WORKER INJURED IN CONSTRUCTION PROJECT
A construction worker was taken to hospital by BC Ambulance Service Tuesday after he became trapped by a water main off Hammond Bay Road. He sustained lower body injuries in the incident. Nanaimo Fire Rescue assistant chief Stu Kenning said worker had fallen in a wide hole and was wedged under a pipe. Kenning suspected the man had broken both legs. A stretcher and manpower got him out of the hole, approximately 15 feet wide by seven feet deep.

MASKS MANDATED FOR FIVE-YEAR-OLDS AND UP
Children five years and older now have to wear masks in public spaces. The province is also preparing to vaccinate about 340,000 children up to age 11, pending Health Canada approval as early as next month, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Tuesday. Priority will be given to the northern region, where COVID-19 transmission rates are highest due to lower vaccine uptake. The rapid spread of COVID-19 in the north is causing serious illness, including among younger residents, as hospitals are pushed to the limit.

NORTHERN PATIENT TRANSFERS IMPACT SURGERIES HERE
Health Minister Adrian Dix said 55 critically-ill people have been transferred from the the north to intensive care units elsewhere in the province and that 43 of them were infected with COVID-19, all but one of them was not fully vaccinated. Those transfers have an impact on surgeries across the province, he added, including on Vancouver Island. From Sept. 26 to Oct. 2, 241 non-urgent surgeries were postponed, 157 were in Island Health.

ISLAND ADDS 292 POSITIVE COVID TESTS OVER WEEKEND
Health officials on Tuesday reported 292 positive COVID-19 tests in the Vancouver Island region over the long weekend. Across the province, 2,090 new positive tests were recorded over the past four days. There are 622 active cases in the Island Health region. Twenty-eight COVID-related deaths were reported across the province over the long weekend – five in Island Health. As of Tuesday, 88.8 per cent of people aged 12 and older had received one dose of vaccine in B.C., while 82.6 per cent of eligible people have received two doses.

COVID OUTBREAK AT TOFINO HOSPITAL
Island Health has declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Tofino General Hospital after evidence of transmission on the inpatient unit. Four patients have tested positive. The outbreak is limited to the inpatient unit. The emergency department and the rest of the hospital remains open. There has been no impact to other areas of the hospital at this time.

A real honest-to-goodness 'Cookie Monster'

A great big salute to the anonymous “cookie guy” who came through for the fourth time in two years with a humongous order of more than $4,000 in Girl Guides cookies. That helps the Cedar branch of Girl Guides for activities through the rest of the year. By the way, that’s 864 boxes, or 17,280 individual cookies. The cookies will go to Tillicum Lelum, Loaves and Fishes Food Bank and the Nanaimo Non-Profit Housing Society to hand out to their respective clients. FULL STORY

Do you know of anyone or an organization that deserves recognition? Please forward the information to THE DAILY BUZZ.

OFF TO WORK WE GO
We’ll have to put in some serious effort to work off all that turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy over the weekend. Looking ahead in the calendar, the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance Economic Summit is coming up October 27-28 via your desktop. The pandemic has played havoc with a lot of schedules, so VIEA made it a virtual event where you can participate right from home or office. Check it out HERE.

REGIONAL DISTRICT LOOKING FOR ADVISORY BOARD MEMBERS
Here is your chance to have your say and impact governance. The Regional District is looking for citizens to sit on several advisory committees. You can make an impact on parks and recreation, agriculture, waste management, planning, or drinking water and watershed protection. If you have experience in those areas or interest in the committee work you’ve got until Nov. 15 to apply. RDN Chairman Tyler Brown says volunteering on advisory committees is a meaningful opportunity to get more involved in their community. 

COST OF WATER PIPE FIX RISES BY $500,000
Referendum approval of expenditures on water pipes in 2014 no longer fits the budget in 2021. Now the RDN has increased the budget for a Nanoose Bay water pipe replacement project by more than half a million dollars. The board approved a deal with Milestone Contracting Ltd. for work at Outrigger Road and Dolphin Drive for $517,203. The contract was seen as favourable because the work can coincide with other work being done by a developer in the area, avoiding cutting into fresh asphalt, the staff report said.

CEDAR FARMERS MARKET CLOSING OCT. 31
If you like your produce fresh from the fields, you have a limited window to get in on the Cedar Farmers Market before it wraps up Oct. 31. Naturally, there will be a Halloween theme to the final day. Visitors are encouraged to come in costume and “trick or treat” at vendor stalls. More visitors, more vendors and more tasty treats led to a record year for the market which attracted in the neighbourhood of 2,500 people each Sunday, a 25-per-cent increase over previous years. 

THE POLITICS OF PROFESSIONAL SPORTS 
Politics has taken over professional sports. You know, it started with kneeling for the U.S. and Canadian national anthems. Then came the political correctness drive to rename teams – Edmonton Eskimos, Washington Redskins, Cleveland Indians and many more. Somewhere in there we also got Black Lives Matter, and on our side of the border, the Reconciliation campaign. There’s no argument with the messages, but do they belong in sports? Whatever happened to just turning on the TV and watching a game without being lectured? What do you think? Send your comment to  DAILY BUZZ

Trudeau's era of chaotic instability

Justin Trudeau’s handicap is a lack of life experience. He has led a sheltered life with people of influence, money and power. He has never had to concern himself about the affordability of education or seeking employment to afford necessities. Consequently, he has no idea how the middle class breathes, lives and survives. We're in deep trouble as long as the 'village idiot' remains in charge of our government. FULL COMMENTARY.

Donation boosts ocean shoreline cleanup society

A great big salute to David Stanley, co-founder of the Stanley de Vos Fund, for writing a big cheque to help the Rugged Coast Research Society to buy a new boat for ocean shoreline cleanup. Stanley checked in with $80,000 for the 32-foot locally-built landing craft with a $145,00 price tag. “All these guys are volunteers, there’s no money being siphoned off for executive salaries, and they do a great job,” Stanley said. "They’re working with local communities, First Nations, all sorts of people. They’re working to clean up the coast of British Columbia and I can’t see how anybody could be against that.” FULL STORY.

If you know of anyone or an organization that deserves recognition, please forward the information to THE DAILY BUZZ.

Good morning, welcome to the Turkey Day edition of your Daily Buzz.

LIFELABS LOCATIONS REMAIN OPEN IN NANAIMO
All seven LifeLabs locations in Nanaimo are still in daily operation. A labour shortage has led to unplanned closures of some locations on Vancouver Island, specifically in Greater Victoria. The latest company information on its website shows all Nanaimo location hours. A LifeLabs representative told CHEK News that higher retirement rates and greater turnover due to the impacts of COVID-19 has created shortages that have resulted in unplanned closures in the Victoria area. The company says it is hoping to reopen those locations in early 2022.

JOB MARKET WIDE OPEN, TAKE YOUR PICK
If you’re looking for a job it’s easier than “Go see Tom”. It’s an open market, a matter of taking your pick. Employers are looking for almost anyone with a pulse. Statistics Canada says the economy 
added 157,000 jobs across the country last month, bringing employment back to pre-pandemic levels for the first time. In B.C., the unemployment rate fell to 5.9 per cent in September. Employers are still struggling to find workers.

BRANCH 10 LEGION CELEBRATES 95 YEARS
Congratulations to Branch 10 Royal Canadian Legion as it gets set to celebrate 95 years in our community. Branch 10 is one of Canada’s first legion branches, chartered in 1926. It was located for many years at 345 Wallace Street before moving to its present location at 129 Harewood Road. There will be a celebration on Saturday (Oct. 16) 
with a barbecue, an open lounge and live music. And of course, no celebration is complete without a birthday cake, enough for 200 guests, a piper and Celtic music starting at 3 p.m. Check out Legion events at Facebook.

KIDS CAN REGISTER FOR COVID SHOTS
Children age five to 11 can now be registered to get the COVID-19 vaccine through the Get Vaccinated portal. It is  not clear when the shot for children will be approved, but spokesman Jeffrey Ferrier said registering in advance is a great step in advance of approvals of the vaccine from Health Canada. Vaccinations are scheduled based on when it’s their turn, not when they register.

DRIVER IN CUSTODY AFTER MULTI-VEHICLE CRASH
The driver of a pickup truck was in police custody after drugs are believed to have contributed to a multi-vehicle crash on Highland Blvd Saturday morning. The 43-year-old Nanaimo driver’s pickup truck crashed into multiple vehicles parked on the side of the road. Cst. Gary O’Brien said the man had five outstanding arrest warrants, including one for an assault in March and four for failing to attend a court hearing.

WOMAN SENT TO JAIL FOR DEFRAUDING EMPLOYER
Jill Margaret Braun, 57, was sentenced to 22 months in jail and two years probation for defrauding her employer out of $31,247 between 2008 and 2009. Provincial Court Judge Ronald Lamperson said Braun’s fraud was not a one-off, but committed over a period of about one year and involved writing 40 fraudulent cheques. Her offending continued and ended only when her employment was terminated. Braun had three prior convictions for defrauding different employers involving $57,000 in unpaid restitution, court was told.

FIRE DESTROYS LEGAL GROW OP
Firefighters from the Cranberry and North Cedar fire departments battled a fire at a legal grow-op south of Nanaimo. When crews arrived on scene they encountered heavy smoke and flames coming from the building, just down the road from the Cranberry fire hall. A tin roof on the building made it hard for crews to get at the flames and made it unsafe to fight so a ladder truck was brought in to pour a continuous stream of water and foam inside.

LANTZVILLE VIEWS HUGE HOUSING EXPANSION
Lantzville council has takeN the first step in approving a major housing development that could involve ads many as 700 residences. Council voted 3-2 
for first and second readings to official community plan and zoning bylaw amendments. The plan calls for mixed-use buildings and a grocery store near the village core and a range of housing types. The project includes lots on Ware Road, Lantzville Road and Wiles Road, are currently vacant. The application was prepared by Barefoot Planning and Design on behalf of Lantzville Projects Ltd., the same developer behind Lantzville’s Clark-Medd project.

39 COVID PATIENTS IN HOSPITAL IN ISLAND HEALTH
Thirty-nine COVID patients are in hospital for treatment of COVID-19 in the Island Health region, including 25 patients in critical care. Island Health data identified the locations of 510 active cases ­– 244 in South Island, 213 in Central Island and 53 in North Island. Officials reported 70 new positive tests in the Island region Friday, among 743 cases found across B.C. over the previous 24 hours.

 MANLY SAYS THANKS, BUT NO THANKS, TO LEADERSHIP
Thanks but no thanks. Former Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Paul Manly is taking his time deciding what his political future holds, but the national leadership of the Green Party is not one of his goals. In and extensive discussion with Karl Yu of the News Bulletin, Manly doesn’t rule out running for office again. He feels “there’s still a lot of work to do.”

ISLAND REPORTS 79 POSITIVE COVID TESTS
Forty-three people are in hospital for treatment of COVID-19 in the Island Health region, including 22 in critical care. The island reported 79 new positive tests on Thursday Across the. Province, there were 624 new positives. There are now 5,929 active cases in B.C. including 770 active cases in the Island Health region. Four people died, including one death reported in the Island Health region.

HORGAN PASSES THE BALL ON SCHOOL VACCINE MANDATES
Premier John Horgan is leaving the decision on COVID vaccine mandates up to school trustees. Parent groups and the BC Teachers' Federation have called for all school districts to introduce a COVID-19 vaccine mandate in the absence of a provincewide order, while the New Westminster board of education has asked for a legal opinion on making the shots mandatory. Horgan says he understands the anxiety parents have to protect their children and to make sure that governments and school boards are doing everything they can to keep kids safe.

ISLAND HOTELS AND RESORTS ARE TOPS
Vancouver Island has some of the bewst hotels and resorts in the country in a new ranking by travel website Condé Nast Traveler. Three island establishments cracked the lists of most highly reviewed hotels and resorts in Canada for 2021. The Oak Bay Beach Hotel was ranked the #1 hotel in Canada, The Wickaninnish Inn, in Tofino, was named the second best resort in Canada for 2021, and the Brentwood Bay Resort & Spa in the South Island took home seventh place.

PROLIFIC TAGGER FACES CONSEQUENCES
The City of Nanaimo has settled a legal dispute with a prolific graffiti artist. The city says he. sprayed roughly 450 times on properties across the city. He has agreed to  $10,000 in fines to the city, as well as an additional $5,475 fee for damages. Under the consent order, he also has to remove all tags on public property, must attend counselling or therapy sessions and is barred from possessing spray paint for the next two years.

ECONOMIC SUMMIT GOING COMPLETELY VIRTUAL
THE VANCOUVER ISLAND Economic Summit is going completely virtual in light of the recent rise in COVID cases. The Summit features panel sessions, roundtables and keynote presentations October 27 and 28 online.

NEW COVID CASES CONTINUE HIGH ON THE ISLAND
Health officials reported 76 new positive COVID-19 tests in the Vancouver Island region Wednesday. They were among 752 positive tests across the province over the previous 24 hours. Nine people died during that period, including one in Island Health. There are 5,945 active cases across the province, 743 in Island Health. Officials identified the locations some of the active cases –  342 in the South, 264 in Central Island and 53 in the North. Thirty-nine patients are in hospital in the Island Health region, 22 in critical care. 

PATIENT TRANSFERS CANCELLING SURGERIES ON VANCOUVER ISLAND
Coronavirus patients in intensive care in Northern Health have been transferred to Island Health, impacting services here. Health Minister Adrian Dix said that out of the 32 patients who were transferred, 22 were sent to ICUs on Vancouver Island. None of the patients transferred had been vaccinated for COVID-19 and Dix notes that transfers have had an impact on surgeries across the province. From Sept. 26 to Oct. 2, a total of 241 non-urgent surgeries were postponed across B.C. 157 of those were in Island Health.

FIRE DESTROYS LANTZVILLE PROPERTIES
An overnight fire forced people from their homes after a blaze at a workshop on Southwind Drive in Lantzville spread quickly to other buildings. Lantzville fire chief Neil Rukus said when they arrived the workshop at the back of the property fully involved spreading to the neighbours’ garage and carriage home as well as two RVs.

PRICE AT THE PUMP PREDICTED TO SOAR AGAIN
It’s a holiday weekend and it looks like oil companies will cash in again. Dan McTeague, president of Canadians for Affordable Energy, suggested that prices could soar to $1.629 today from $1.549, and there’s nothing drivers can do about it. McTeague says that because we import most of our gasoline from the U.S., the falling Canadian dollar is causing a rise in fuel prices as well. He says Vancouver Island drivers are losing at least 14 to 15 cents a litre because of the weak Canadian dollar, adding we could be pushing into the 1.70 a litre range in the next few weeks. 

Trudeau decrees vaccinations for travellers, federal staff

Prime Minister Trudeau

All Canadian travellers on planes, trains or vessels will have to be fully vaccinated by the end of the month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced this morning.
 
That includes mandatory vaccinations for all federal employees, including RCMP and federal prison workers.
 
Those federal employees who don’t comply will be put on unpaid administrative leave.
 
Travel by car is not included in the new mandate. BC Ferries are exempt from the program, but BC Ferries could institute future travel rules.

Unvaccinated make up 70 per cent of new COVID cases

People who are not fully vaccinated accounted for 70.7 per cent of COVID-19 cases from Sept. 27 to Oct. 3 and 78.1 per cent of hospitalizations from Sept. 20 to Oct. 3. 

Island Health reported 107 positive tests on Tuesday, part of the 593 in British Columbia. Interior Health region had 128, there were 68  in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 203 in the Fraser Health region, and 87  in Northern Health.

After remaining largely unchanged over the weekend, the number of people in hospital rose by 19 to 345, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control’s COVID-19 dashboard. Of those patients, 144 are in intensive care. 

FERRIES EXPECTS BUSY THANKSGIVING WEEKEND
If you’re planning a Thanksgiving trip to the Mainland you might have to put up with delays. A mechanical issue is forcing BC Ferries to modify the sailing schedule for one of its busiest routes. The Spirit of Vancouver Island is having mechanical problems so the Coastal Renaissance is being deployed to the Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route. The modified route schedule is available here. Victoria travellers are encouraged to consider alternate routes between Vancouver Island and the B.C. mainland, such as Tsawwassen-Duke Point or Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay routes.

POLICY BEING SET FOR MANDATORY VACCINES IN SCHOOL STAFF
The B.C. Education Ministry covering its bases on mandatory vaccines for teachers and school staff. Health Minister Adrian Dix said Tuesday there is a desire for a vaccine mandate in schools and Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside is setting up a group to make sure the issue is addressed. This follows the edict for long-term care homes in the province to be vaccinated by next Tuesday. Provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry said Tuesday for anyone hired between Oct. 12 and 26 they must have a single dose of vaccine and be at least seven days post-vaccine to work and get their second dose within 35 days after their first dose in order to stay employed.

HOMELESS MAN BEATEN IN CITY’S DOWNTOWN
A man with no fixed address was taken to hospital with head and facial injuries after being beaten last weekend in downtown Nanaimo. The incident occurred Oct. 2, on Museum Way. Witnesses said the 24-year-old man had been sitting at Museum Way when he was approached by three male suspects who asked him a question before striking him. The suspects fled in the direction of Gordon Street. RCMP Const. Simon Gallimore said the incident appears to be an unprovoked attack  and police are seeking information about the incident, whether it be eyewitness accounts or any dashcam video footage from the Museum Way-Commercial Street-Terminal Avenue-Gordon Street area from 9-10:30 p.m. on Oct. 2.

PUBLIC SERVICE EMPLOYEES HAVE TO BE VACCINATED
British Columbia’s Public service employees 30,000 employees will have to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 22. The provincial government said public service employees working in core government or ministries will have to provide proof of full vaccination using the BC Vaccine Card. The province said the Nov. 22 deadline gives employees who are not yet fully vaccinated enough time to meet the requirement.

REGIONAL DISTRICT EMPLOYEES RATIFY NEW CONTRACT
The Regional District of Nanaimo and CUPE Local 401 have ratified a four-year deal, retroactive to Jan. 1 and running until Dec. 31, 2024. It includes a two-per-cent wage increases each year and will improve benefit coverage and access to free bus passes for workers and their immediate families. The deal also sees scheduling efficiencies across multiple departments, which include extended hours of work at the landfill and evening and weekend hours for bylaw enforcement.

LANTZVILLE DEVELOPING NEW MARINE WATERFRONT PARK
Lantzville is getting a marine waterfront park. The District has bought an eight-acre property on Sabre Road for $1.4 million, and will christen it Pierce Woods Marine Park. Mayor Mark Swain said the new park will be the second largest and will benefit the community for years. He added the Park will provide additional beach access and increase capacity to enjoy and share Lantzville’s waterfront.

 

ISLAND HEALTH HAS 640 ACTIVE COVID CASES
The provincial government says there are 640 active cases of COIVD-19 in the Island Health region which recorded 218 new positive tests over the weekend. There were no deaths in the region. The province reported 1,986 new COVID-19 positive tests and 10 deaths over the weekend. The number of confirmed cases in B.C. is now at 189,680 since the pandemic began.The death toll is 1,983, which is one per cent. There are 5,986 active cases in the province and 326 people in hospital, 142 in intensive care. 

PASSPORT ENFORCEMENT COMING
Three bars and restaurants have been handed ticketed for not checking customers’ vaccine status, and that’s only the start of it, says Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth. He said there are those who think the rules don’t apply to them. Most establishments are following rules. “They assess the complaint and do an investigation and they can decide on the appropriate level of enforcement. Enforcement for establishments or restaurants could be a $2,300 or loss of the liquor licence, or potentially the business licence.”

GABRIOLA ARTS STUDIO TOUR IS BACK
The Gabriola Arts Council’s Thanksgiving Studio Tour is back for its 25th year from Oct. 9 to 11. This year 67 artists are showcasing their work in 58 studios. Starting Oct. 7, tour central will be open at Folklife Village, offering a day-long preview gallery and musical performances in the evenings.

NEW TREATMENT SERVICE FOR NANAIMO 
The B.C. Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions is seeking proposals for service providers to operate eight “sobering and assessment beds” in Nanaimo, four of which would be new to the community.  Sobering and assessment beds allow stays of up to 23 hours a day for people, with services such us health assessment and support and food and laundry. Supportive recovery beds are substance-free spaces allowing stays up to 90 days, with services that include counselling, case management and community re-integration support. Nanaimo MLA and Health and Addictions Minister Sheila Malcolmson said when people seek help with substance use, we want health care for them without delay. The services are expected by spring.

Diane Brennan

Brennan honoured with Freedom of The City

The City will formally bestow the Freedom of the City honour tonight to Diane Brennan to recognize her years of service to the community. The recognition was announced some time ago, but COVID restrictions delayed the event. Diane is a former city councillor, school trustee and Vancouver Island Health Authority director, among numerous other contributions during her amazing years of service. Tune in to Shaw Cable 4 at 7 p.m. for the ceremony. See the FULL STORY.

GET SHOT BEFORE THANKSGIVING
If you have any plans for Thanksgiving this coming weekend, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has a bit of advice – get vaccinated before getting into any group activities. “My advice is get vaccinated right now so you can get together safely with your family,” Henry said. “This virus is still out there and if you’re going to have older members of your family coming together, you want to make sure that everybody who comes into your household is immunized.”

CHAMBER SCORES WITH TV BUSINESS AWARDS
Hats off to the Chamber of Commerce and CHEK for a first-class presentation on the first-ever live telecast Nanaimo Business Awards. It was a job well done all the way around. See the COMPLETE LIST OF WINNERS.

THIRD COVID SHOTS IN SENIOR CARE HOMES START TODAY 
Residents of long-term care and assisted living homes will start getting their third COVID-19 vaccines today. Residents are being offered the booster shots because of the risks of living in group settings and that older people do not develop as strong of an antibody response to their first two doses. Mike Klassen, vice president of the BC Care Providers Association, says the vaccines are badly needed. There are more outbreaks, operators who've been able to get through the entire pandemic without a single case of COVID are now starting to get them. Hen also wants the province to require visitors to be fully vaccinated. 

PARENTS WANT SCHOOL STAFFS VACCINATED
Students must mask up when they head to school today as the province expands its mask mandate to everyone in the school system. And now pressure is mounting for mandatory vaccination for staff, including teachers. New Westminster school district voted to seek legal advice on the possibility of a mandate. Six B.C. school district parent advisory councils, including Vancouver, Surrey and Burnaby, have also called for mandatory vaccination for teachers and staff.

FERRY OVERFLOW SENT TO NANAIMO
The Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal in Victoria was so busy Sunday with extremely heavy traffic that customers without reservations were advised to seek other routes –  via Duke Point to Tsawwassen or Departure Bay to Horseshoe Bay.

You may have noticed some blips and burps on this site recently. The all-knowing techs at Apple decided to upgrade my computer operating system, so it’s a bit of a relearning process. Hang in there.

COVID UPDATE – 56 NEW POSITIVE TESTS ON ISLAND
Health officials say 88.5 per cent of all eligible adult British Columbians and 88 per cent of all eligible people 12 and older have had at least one shot of vaccine. Island Health had 56 new positive test results in the last briefing of the week. Across the province there were 714 positive tests. As of Friday, there were 214 active cases in the central Island region with 286 in the south and 36 in North Island. There are 33 people in hospital in the Island Health region, 21 in critical care. B.C. has 6,317 active cases with 328 of them in hospital. Eleven deaths were reported.

THE COVID FLIGHTS KEEP COMING
Two more flights linked to Nanaimo Airport have had COVID-19 exposures onboard. The British Columbia Centre for Disease Control has added five Island flights to its coronavirus exposure list since Sept. 27. Four of the flights linked to the Island either departed or arrived from Calgary.

The two Nanaimo flights with exposures are:
– WestJet 3153 from Calgary to Nanaimo on Sept. 22 (affected rows are 4-10)
– WestJet 3175 from Calgary to Nanaimo on Sept. 19 (affected rows are 15-19)

SEEING PURPLE IN OCTOBER FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AWARENESS
If you see a number of purple buildings around the city in the next little while Nanaimo’s first annual Purple Light Nights campaign to shine a light on domestic violence and its impacts. The station, city hall, the Bastion, homes and businesses will glow purple light at night throughout October. Nanaimo RCMP members respond to about four calls per day for conflict or violence within an intimate partnership. RCMP’s intimate partner violence investigator Const. Sherri Wade said they are excited to be a part of this international campaign, crediting Community Policing and Victim Services. Purple is a symbol for domestic violence awareness and is also used to represent courage, creativity, wisdom, dignity and peace. 

NEW PLANS FOR SOUTH WELLINGTON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
The old South Wellington Elementary School which has been vacant for eight years, could become a community centre if all the blocks fall into place. The school board is seeking education ministry approval for a 25-year lease to the Regional District of Nanaimo. Action on the project was begun in June and if approved by the ministry the board will have to pass a disposition bylaw. The plan is also contingent on RDN approval which has to seek feedback of its own in an alternate approval process. A report is set to go before the RDN board sometime this fall, he said. The alternate approval process will begin either later this year or early in 2022.

Some of the long-serving and dedicated Crime Stoppers Board members: from left, Brian Godfrey, John Hough, Brian Cornborough, Karen Linterman and Roy Fisher.

A salute to Nanaimo's active Crime Stoppers program

Thank you to Nanaimo & District Crime Stoppers for their role in keeping our community safe. They recently held their shredding event to raise money for the Nanaimo RCMP Victims Services program. More than three tones of materials were confidentially disposed of and more than $6,000 came in. Crime Stoppers Coordinator Const. Gary O’Brien said it was a really good day and nice to see so many repeat customers supporting wonderful causes. Thanks also to the event sponsor Save On Foods at the Woodgrove Centre, with Best Shredding at the helm.

Nanainmonet is proud to focus on people and events who deserve recognition for their contribution and dedication to our community. We welcome any suggestions or nominations so we can give them a public thank you. To submit, CLICK HERE.

NOT FEELING SAFE – People living in central Nanaimo don’t feel safe with increasing crime in the area. Nanaimo Community Policing has released a series of neighbourhood safety audits for downtown, the south end, the Old City Quarter, Harewood, and the Newcastle and Brechin Hill neighbourhoods. The project was a partnership with the City and Vancouver Island University criminology students. About 750 residents and business owners were engaged.

CLEANING UP ­– Local school teachers point to the need for more cleanliness in schools. Teachers’ Association president Jeremy Inscho welcomed the new mask mandate but added the need for better sanitizing. Effective Monday, K-12 students are required to wear masks. What is still missing is that extra level of cleaning that we had last year, said Inscho. Cold and flu season is on us and we don’t have that level of cleaning that was in place, he added.

COVID UPDATE – Health officials say 88.5 per cent of all eligible adult British Columbians and 88 per cent of all eligible people 12 and older have had at least one shot of vaccine. Island Health had 56 new positive test results in the last briefing of the week. Across the province there were 714 positive tests. As of Friday, there were 214 active cases in the central Island region with 286 in the south and 36 in North Island. There are 33 people in hospital in the Island Health region, 21 in critical care. B.C. has 6,317 active cases with 328 of them in hospital. Eleven deaths were reported.

HATS OFF TO management staff for staging a morale booster for hospital staff in response to a boisterous protest earlier this month. Operations director Marci Eckland said the vast majority of people in our community support the hospital and that’s what we just need to focus on – positivity. Wendy Wearne, retiring co-ordinator of site operations at NRGH, helped co-ordinate the event. “We knew that we had to balance it and so the word got out that we were actually doing something and everybody jumped on board.”

BE THANKFUL – We’ve begun featuring people and events who deserve a “thank you” for their contribution and dedication to our community. We welcome any suggestions or nominations so we can give them a public thank you. To submit, CLICK HERE.

Very little truth and even less reconciliation

Truth and Reconciliation – that’s what it was supposed to be all about. The truth part was exemplified by our Prime Minister who created the big nation-wide event and then didn’t bother to show up. He didn’t give a rat’s ass, instead he was strolling the beach in Tofino. Truth and Reconciliation day had all the feel-good trappings of a great virtue-signaling event. Everything I saw was a white guilt trip and a pitty party directed at the victims. MORE

Masks mandatory for all students in B.C. schools

MASKING THE PROBLEM – Beginning Monday, all students in B.C. schools will have to wear a mask when inside a school building, including at their desks and on buses. The provincial government updated its K-12 education health and safety guidelines today.
That comes after increasing public pressure and a rise in COVID-19 cases among children. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the new measure on Friday, citing the recent spike in cases involving children between the ages of five and 11.
Henry was joined by Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside, who said the new masking rule will help ensure children can continue going to school in-person full time.

HEALTH OFFICIALS reported 64 new positive COVID-19 tests and two death in Island Health region on Thursday compared to 84 on Wednesday. Province-wide there were 749 new positive tests with nine deaths and 145 people in critical care. 
On a per-capita basis, Northern Health had by far the largest number of new infections, with 52 per 100,000 residents. Fraser Health had 14 per 100,000, Interior Health had 19, Island Health had eight and Vancouver Coastal Health had nine. From Sept. 15-28, unvaccinated people accounted for 80.6 per cent of hospitalizations.
Officials were unable to give accurate numbers of hospitalizations or active cases  – these numbers will be available in today's report.

BUSINESS AWARDS ON TV – The Greater Nanaimo 2021 business awards will hit television screens on Sunday (Oct. 3) at 7 p.m. on CHEK TV. It's been a challenging year for most but our local business community has demonstrated incredible resilience and commitment by serving our region over the last 15 months. It's also the start of Small Business Month. 

GIVING MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY THE BOOT – A great big shout out to Nanaimo Professional Firefighters IAFF Charitable Society whose members spent last weekend collecting donations for the annual Muscular Dystrophy Boot Drive. They came away with about $18,000, the highest amount raised in recent memory. Last year they didn’t do a full-fledged boot drive because of the pandemic, but the previous year they raised $12,000. Firefighter Jared MacLeod said virtually all of the amount was collected at the boot drive sites Sept. 18-19 with a small percentage of the total donated online.

BARRON STEPS DOWN – Nanaimo-Ladysmith school trustee Lisa Marie Barron has resigned from the School District board after her election to Parliament. That will necessitate a byelection. Under the B.C. School Act, if a trustee gives up a seat prior to Jan. 1 of a general school election year, a byelection must be held. The district must name a chief elections officer within 30 days of the vacancy, and must set an election date for a Saturday no fewer than 80 days after being appointed.

BARRED FROM FERRIES – Three Lower Mainland men are barred from any BC Ferries property after they were arrested last week after refusing to wear face masks and creating an altercation on a ferry. The incident occurred on the Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay run on Sept. 24, according to Sidney-North Saanich RCMP. The men had become aggressive toward other passengers after refusing to wear masks. They were released and are scheduled to appear in court in December. Their release conditions include a ban on entering any BC Ferries properties.

 ONLINE DEMENTIA WORKSHOP – The Alzheimer Society of B.C. will launch a new online education workshop initiative for caregivers and people living with dementia in October. These free virtual workshops are a smaller format, which allows more opportunities for in-depth discussions on a variety of topics related to dementia. Anyone in Nanaimo who is affected by dementia can benefit from the more interactive setting, which provides more opportunities for participants to be heard and connect with others. 

DRUG DEATHS RISING – Sixty one people on Vancouver Island died from toxic drug use between January and July 2021, including 25 in Nanaimo. And the toxic drug crisis shows little sign abating. The BC Coroners Service reported nine deaths in the central Island region in July alone. The numbers are down on record highs in recent years, however still well above established patterns from 2011 through 2015. Suspected illicit drug toxicity deaths in B.C. in July were the second-highest ever recorded in a single month. The findings show 184 deaths in July. 

NEW HOTEL PLANNED – There could soon  by a new hotel on Shenton Road, facing Diver Lake. An application for the 72-room hotel cleared a public hearing last week with only one written opposition lodged. The proposal is for the hotel with three storeys facing Shenton Road and four storeys facing Diver Lake. The application cleared the public hearing with 7-0 approval with two councillors absent.

IN THE SWIM – Anxious to take a plunge into Beban Pool? You’ll have to wait a little bit longer. The highly re-opening of the pool has been delayed two weeks, Oct. 18. City staff used the extensive pandemic downtime to conduct upgrades and repairs including tiling of the change rooms, a fresh coat of paint and a new art installation. The pool experienced after being empty for so long. An expansion joint in the pool appeared fine, but when the pool was filled the weight caused it to separate a bit.

COVID UPDATE – The Central Island region has 220 active COVID cases, part of the 704 cases Island-wide. That’s part of the 6,185 cases across the province, an increase of 187. The Centre for Disease Control reports 82 new positive tests in the Vancouver Island region Wednesday. They are among 813 new positives found across the province over the past 24 hours. There are 31 people in hospital in Island Health, 17 of whom in critical care. The latest BCCDC data indicates that 11 people have died in B.C. in the previous 24 hours, including three deaths in the Island Health region.

EXPERIENCE VIU ­– Vancouver Island University is holding an Experience VIU virtual open house on Saturday. And you could get lucky – there’s a $1,000 tuition prize up for grabs along with a video tour of Deep Bay Marine Field Station, a chance to talk with program chairs and downloadable resources. Experience VIU is for anyone interested in learning more about post-secondary and how VIU can help them achieve their career goals. This includes those still in high school as well as those who have been out of school for a while and are now looking to further their education. This free online event allows people to participate from anywhere in the world. Registration details here.