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Thursday, Dec. 3

IT TAKES ALL KINDS – A family in Revelstoke reportedly tried to contract Coronavirus to “build their natural immunity” at a time when his city is discouraging visitors and grappling with a slew of active coronavirus cases. Revelstoke has 32 active COVID-19 infections and a population of only 13,500 people, which is more than double the active cases per capita that in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, said Revelstoke Mayor Gary Sulz. “We’ve become a little complacent because we haven’t seen this through the community in a big way over the last eight months so what we’re saying now is ‘it’s here, it’s not just those who are travelling in who are bringing this in, it’s here in our community,’” he said. 

CHEQUE IS (ALMOST) IN THE MAIL – Premier John Horgan wants Coronavirus relief payments to British Columbians as soon as possible, once the legislature returns next week. The premier promised the $1,000 payments during the Oct. 24 election. The benefit will be a one-time, $1,000 direct deposit to families whose household income is under $125,000 annually, with a sliding scale up to $175,000. Individuals earning less than $62,000 annually would be eligible for $500, with a sliding scale up to $87,000. The premier has not committed to a firm delivery date, but said he hoped to have them by Christmas, or “very, very early in the new year.”

HYDRO CREDIT COMING – Residential customers will get an average one-time credit of $4 early next year on their bills to reflect a change to its rates. The BC Utilities Commission requested that Hydro amend its rate reduction for 2020-21 to reflect last year’s results and its latest financial forecast. That dropped the rate decrease to 1.62 per cent from 1.01 per cent.

REAL ESTATE SETS RECORD – Last month was a record setter for real estate north of the Malahat, the best November on record. Kevin Reid, president of the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board, said the average home is now priced at $540,000, an increase of four per cent from a year ago and the number of properties for sale is also at a near-record low. The data is all part of brisk real estate sales seen across Vancouver Island this fall. Reid said the pandemic has driven a lot of activity, with people retiring earlier than anticipated. “We have all kinds of buyers who have pulled their retirement plans ahead,” explained Reid. “They were planning on retiring in the next few years and having the reality of the pandemic and how life can change in a moment. They’re rolling their plans ahead. Josh Wynia of 460 Realty, said Nanaimo is becoming an attractive place for more and more people, with its relatively affordable housing market.

‘ISLAND GOOD’ IS THE WAY TO GO – More than ever, people are shopping local for gifts for the holidays. Think ‘Island Good’ when holiday shopping and send a ‘taste of Vancouver Island’ to isolated friends and relatives anywhere in the world, advises the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance. The Island Good brand and website is a simple, headache-free way to source Island Good products and retailers.  For example, order an Island Good Gift Box—a ‘taste of Vancouver Island’ shipped anywhere in the world. Current boxes include the Breakfast Box with Level Ground Trading CoffeeStonehouse TeasSaltspring Kitchen Co. fruit spread Gathering Place Trading dried fruit and Singing Bowl Granola and the Pantry Box with Saltspring Kitchen Co.Spread, Singing Bowl Granola Paleo Bites, Gathering Place Trading spices, Ed’s Soup Shack+Pixie Chicks Spicesand Yeshi Dressing. There’s a big list of things and places to do your Christmas shopping, check out their link.

Wednesday. Dec. 2

END OF THE LINE – Another era is coming to an end, BC Transit is parking Victoria’s double decker buses, an iconic symbol of the city for many tourists. The double deckers were the first be used in a North American public transit system. They’ve been part of Victoria’s bus fleet since 2000. 

ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST – While we’re talking about icons fading into history, former Winnipeggers in our midst will be interested to hear that the Hudson's Bay store in downtown Winnipeg has shut its doors permanently. The store and building had faced problems over the last several years and a recent appraisal from a real-estate evaluator said the building was worth $0, saying it would cost millions to sell the building. On a side note, the Hudson Bay store in Coquitlam was taken over by the landlord last week for delinquent rent.

MAARTMAN ELECTED IN AREA H – They may call him “Landslide Ben” – Ben Maartman is the new Cowichan Valley Regional District director for North Oyster/Diamond, winning by eight votes over Murray McNab after a recount. He will be sworn in on Dec. 8. After his orientation, he will dive into the deep end with a full day of CVRD budget meetings on Dec. 9.

CURTAIN COMES DOWN FOR PORT THEATRE – The Port Theatre has shut down for the rest of this year. The province-wide restriction on social gatherings is set to expire on Dec. 7, but theatre management anticipates the order could be extended due to rising Coronavirus numbers. Concerts featuring Eric Harper and Ken Lavigne, originally set for Nov. 27 and Dec. 6, have been rescheduled to Feb. 19 and March 13. A performance by ballet dancer Jillian Vanstone Dec. 12 will also be rescheduled to a later date.  General manager Bruce Halliday said the venue has been offering events in ways that adhere to the virus guidelines. Refunds will be available for all cancelled and rescheduled events. If you have questions you can e-mail tickets@porttheatre.com.

PRECRIPTION FOR HEALTHY EATING – Nanaimo Foodshare and Island Health have a prescription for better health, a new Good Food Box Prescription for healthy food in our community. A $28,250 grant from The McConnell Foundation’s Patient Food Security Fund helped the program get off the ground. The new Good Food Box Prescription initiative will see local physicians, dietitians and health professionals be able to “prescribe” a weekly box of fresh fruits and vegetables to their patients to aid their recovery. Registered Dietitian and Foodshare Executive Director Jen Cody says diet has a huge impact on health, for good and for ill. NRGH will be a key partner in the program. Chronic Disease Management and Nutrition Therapy manager Heather Tant says access to adequate and healthy food can reduce the need for hospital admission.

Tuesday, Dec. 1

GOOD MORNING – Prime Minister Trudeau promised to plant one billion trees in Canada, and Nanaimo is doing its share by putting 600 plants in green spaces in November. During About 250 trees and 350 shrubs were planted, including Douglas fir, red alder, big-leaf maple, giant sequoia, Nootka rose, Oregon grape and snowberry. Planting trees highlights the city’s commitment to sustainability.

TRAVEL COMMISSION PAYBACK – The federal government is weighing the idea of a bailout package for airlines. But there’s always a catch – travel agencies might have to refund commissions they earned for trips that were later cancelled and refunded by the airlines. CHEK TV’s Joe Perkins talked to Cathy Scott of Departures Travel, about the impact the proposed bailout plan will have on travel agencies. She says the airlines are now asking for commission recalls, money the agencies simply don’t have. “The problem is eight or nine months later after we been paid for these trips, they are asking for us to repay them and the problem for us is that is what we have been using to pay staff and rent and keeping our lights on,” she said. 

$1 MILLION FOR NEW ICU – Nanaimo Regional General Hospital’s new Intensive Care Unit campaign got a real shot in the arm ­– $1 million from the Windsor Plywood Foundation. The Nanaimo & District Hospital Foundation is raising $5 million toward state-of-the-art medical equipment in the new ICU. While our ICU is one of the oldest in B.C., an external review in 2013 found NRGH’s ICU ranks near the top nationally for positive patient health outcomes. 

CAMBIE PARK COMPLETE – Cambie Park in Harewood now has a playground, a half sport court and fencing. Park development was made possible by community volunteers and a number of generous donations, in-kind donations and volunteer labour through local businesses and community groups with a City grant of $25,000 through the Partners in Parks Program. Planning was guided by community volunteers and championed by Cambie Road Block Watch Captain Shirley Gremyachev.  FULL STORY 

Monday, Nov. 30

GOOD MORNING – Eleven pages off the 2020 calendar in this eventful year, and there’s no end in sight. We’re hoping the best for the Christmas season with family and friends, but that may have to be different this year. Even in family units there have been cases of Coronavirus. All the regulations we abide by now, in most cases, can be confusing. For instance, a report about a young school child “in isolation” at home while three other family members go about their everyday routines outside the house. Explain me that. 

FERRIES CANCELLED – Gale force winds forced B.C. Ferries to keep ships in port for a number of morning sailings. The wind also caused numerous power outages. Environment Canada predicted damaging strong winds already this morning along both the west and east coast of Vancouver Island. The Pacific frontal system is bringing southeasterly winds of 70 – 90 km/h over the exposed coastal sections of Sunshine Coast, as well as the Central and northern sections of East Vancouver Island.

RONA ADVISES ON VIRUS CASE – Rona posted a notice on social media over the weekend, advising that a worker at the Nanaimo store tested positive for Coronavirus. “To protect the health and safety of our associates and customers, we proceeded to an extensive cleaning and disinfecting of the premises on Nov. 28 after closing the store. These actions were in addition to the enhanced cleaning and disinfecting measures already in place”, the notice read. The store was open Sunday. The employee’s most recent shift was Nov. 26 and Rona says other staff members deemed to have been in close contact have been put on paid quarantine.

TRAVEL RULES EXTENDED – Travel restrictions and rules to curb the spread of Coronavirus will be extended into January. Public Safety Minister Bill Blair and Health Minister Patty Hajdu said the measures would be in effect until Jan. 21, for travellers entering Canada from a country other than the United States. The ministers said restrictions for visitors crossing the border from the U.S. are in place until Dec. 21, but may be extended. Among the new rules is a requirement for anyone entering the country to self-isolate for 14 days.

MASKS NOT UNCONSTITUTIONAL – Some inconsiderate people are still refusing to wear masks, even arguing mandating them is unconstitutional. Victoria criminal lawyer Michael Mulligan says the constitution does not give people generalized right to do whatever they want. He says ordering everyone to wear masks is no different than any other laws that protects the public. Just like mandatory seat belts, bike helmets and posted speed limits, the government is allowed to implement laws to protect the public and public interests. There are those who still don’t want to wear masks, but it’s the law, he says.

C O M M E N T – Michael Mulligan is quoted about the constitutionality of mandatory mask wearing. I note he is a criminal lawyer. No reference to his constitutional qualifications. His quoting other health matters as precedents to bolster his case like set belts and helmets are likely not relevant in that many years of debate (in Newfoundland at the time we had special parliamentary committees) and many studies were available proving the benefits of those measures before legislation  then debated) were elected. In the case of masks there has been no legislative activity and the science is anything but clear. Funny how non experts can suddenly get quoted as if it was gospel.
Brian Peckford