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.

Sunday, Nov. 29

GOOD MORNING – Get ready, it’s about to blow – southeast winds up to 80 km/h are expected to develop this afternoon or early Monday morning. Environment Canada issued special weather statements for the east coast of the Island from Duncan to Fanny Bay and the north Island, advising of potentially damaging winds for Sunday and Monday. Exposed coastal sections of the north Island will see very strong southeast winds near 80 km/h Sunday afternoon, with communities on the east coast of the Island feeling the effects of the strong winds just before midnight tonight.

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.

Ssaturday, Nov. 28

GOOD MORNING NANAIMO – When our local MLA Sheila Malcolmson was named Minister of Mental Health and Addictions by Premier John Horgan, her appointment letter set out an ambitious agenda. Some things really stand out on that list; I made an initial assessment and there’s a lot of promise. Check it out here.

GET A LITTLE SPARKLE – We may not be able to mingle but we can still get into our cars and take a ride down to Ladysmith which is sparkling with thousands and thousands of Christmas lights. It wasn’t easy, but festival president Alex Cook told NanaimoNewsNOW they managed to put up around 100,000 lights despite physical distancing restrictions. He said a lot of well-wishers thanked the volunteers because they were concerned it was going to be cancelled. 

ROTARY PUTS SHOULDERS TO THE WHEEL – The five Rotary Clubs in Nanaimo and Lantzville want all of us to shop and buy locally. They have created a “Sleigh Full of Deals” website which offers coupons with special deals from local businesses – and it’s all free. Businesses can add a coupon to attract more customers. We know small businesses have been faced with unprecedented strain this year. Local business owners, the ones who support youth sports leagues, silent auctions at fundraisers, organizations like the Child Development Centre, and charities such as Nanaimo Loaves and Fishes, are in need. Businesses can participate  by adding their coupon HERE. The program launches Dec. 1, and we’ll have the website link where you can download your “Sleigh Full Of Deals” and cash in on some great bargains.

INDIGENOUS FASHION SPOTLIGHT – Sisters Aunalee Boyd-Good and Sophia Seward-Good of Ay Lelum – The Good House of Design, made their debut at the Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto this week. First Nations designers from across Canada, New York state and New Zealand, showcased their latest garments in a virtual marketplace. The show was postponed from spring and finally went online. Ay Lelum’s latest collection Yuxwule’ Sul’sul’tun – Eagle Spindle Whorl, launched online in September, was in the closing night runway program, Tu Gh’el T’ilhn (Water Carriers). “It’s really an honour to be involved in the event. We were really looking forward to it and we’re just so happy that it’s still going ahead,” Aunalee said. Sophia said it’s great to be recognized in Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto and just to have their pieces showcased.

ISLAND FILM INDUSTRY HIT HARD – When the cameras stop rolling, the money stops rolling in – halting production of Chesapeake Shores due to Coronavirus restrictions cost the central Vancouver Island region a potential $6 million in economic impact. INFilm commissioner Joan Miller addressed the Nanaimo Regional District to seek $50,000 in annual support. A number of productions were lining up to work throughout the region for the rest of 2020, but production was halted in March because of the pandemic. The Resident Alien series began filming in Ladysmith in January with crew staying in Nanaimo. As well, Amblin and Universal Pictures’ Jurassic World: Dominion began filming in February near Parksville-Qualicum and the Screen Siren TV series began filming in Nanaimo in March.

NEW WORKS OF ART – The City's Culture and Events team has commissioned three new works of art: a poem by Youth Poet Laureate Valina Zanetti, a graphic illustration by Sebastian Abboud, and a song by Sonnet L’Abbé. All three of these new works are now highlighted online and attached to this press release. It’s all part of REIMAGINE NANAIMO, the City's public engagement campaign to create a vision for the next 20 years. Find details online at HERE.

DID YOU SAY WINTER?– Nanaimo Parks, Recreation and Culture is getting ready with recreation programs for winter. Registration begins on Dec. 2. Programs available will be found in the same format as the fall season. The Fall and Winter Activity Guide was not produced this year, but you can find programs at the city’s website. Register online through recreation.nanaimo.ca (accounts should be set up in advance of registration date), by telephone at 250-756-5200 or in-person at Bowen Complex, Oliver Woods Community Centre and Nanaimo Aquatic Centre. With limited capacity due to provincial health orders, the City is encouraging you to use the online platform as much as possible. If coming in or calling is an only option, be kind and patient as requests are processed.

IF YOU REALLY, REALLY MUST GO TO HAWAII – WestJet and the Hawaiian government have worked out a pre-flight Coronavirus testing program for Canadians travelling to Hawaii. But it’s not easy. A negative test result, from Alberta laboratory DynaLIFE, is required within 72-hours of travel and and you won’t have to go through the state’s 14-day quarantine upon arrival. The DynaLIFE test is available at participating pharmacies for $150. Testing is available only in Alberta so far, but it is open to all Canadians. First you have to get to Calgary or Edmonton and allow at least 24 hours after the test to get your green light. You also have to fill in red tape for the Hawaiian government on a special website. Other tests are being developed and tested elsewhere, including Vancouver, but so far they are for domestic travel.

PARAPROSDOKIAN – I'm great at multi-tasking: I can waste time, be unproductive, and procrastinate all at once.

Friday, Nov. 27

CONGRATULATIONS SHEILA  – Our Nanaimo MLA Sheila Malcolmson has been given a major cabinet portfolio – Minister of Mental Health and Addictions.

FRONT OF THE LINE FOR VACCINE – Seniors and people with serious health conditions will be the first in line in Canada when the first Coronavirus vaccine doses arrive early next year. The first batch of vaccine is expected to be delivered in the first three months of 2021, but initial supplies will be limited. Essential workers such as nurses, doctors, police officers, and firefighters will be near the top of the list as well. Ottawa has signed agreements with five vaccine makers and is in advanced negotiations with two more. The deals secure 194 million doses with the option to buy another 220 million, said Arianne Reza, the assistant deputy minister of Public Services and Procurement Canada.

RECOVERY AND RESILIENCE – Nanaimo city councillors have asked staff to report on ways to implement two of the recommendations of the mayor’s task force on recovery and resilience. The task force was set up this past spring to find ways to foster Nanaimo’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The report will present options for a pride-of-place campaign, as well as terms of reference for a leaders’ table to generate collaboration among community leaders in business, industry, arts and other economic sectors. Mayor Leonard Krog’s motion calls for a pride-of-place campaign to be a “citizen-directed, City of Nanaimo community-building and reputation-strengthening campaign to generate enthusiasm from all citizens to assist in resilience and recovery through positive dialogue and engagement with each other and the world.” 

AIRPORT FORESEES SLOW RECOVERY – It could take years to return to pre-pandemic passenger levels, says Nanaimo Airport CEO Dave Devana. Travel has been one of the hardest-hit sectors during the pandemic. Thea irport, had experienced years of record growth but saw passenger counts fall by 95 per cent in April and recovery has been slow. Devana projected around 39,000 passengers, and wound up getting 1,900.

RETAILERS LOOKING TO REBOUND – Retailers are banking on a strong finish over the remaining months of this year to survive the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Kim Smythe says about 20 per cent of all businesses in Nanaimo evaporated this year, including losses in retail. This six-, seven-week stretch can be worth up to 65 per cent of a merchants’ annual sales, he told NanaimoNewsNOW. Everybody was caught off guard by swift business shutdowns in mid-March, sidelining many retailers for nearly three months.  They have to make up the revenue that they can get now. And they have to compete with online shopping, making it extremely challenging.

RCMP WELLBEING CHECKS – Nanaimo RCMP respond to 150 to 200 calls for service on any given day. Upwards of a dozen of these calls are Check Wellbeing, and approximately 400 such calls each month. Some originate from relatives who have been unable to connect with a family member. Others may involve marginalized individuals who require necessary assistance for their own safety. Some are humorous, while others are heartbreakingly sad. At the end of the day, and regardless of the nature of the call, officers utilize their training and draw on their compassion and professionalism to treat each person with respect and empathy. RCMP media relations officer Cst. Gary O’Brien gives us an example of a typical 24-hour shift.

SEABOLD STAIRS REOPEN – The Seabold stairs, a part of Seabold Rotary Park, are open after being rebuilt. Originally constructed in the 1990s, this aging, winding staircase was damaged by a storm in 2018. Although a popular access point to some of north Nanaimo's beaches, the structure was closed after the storm damage was assessed by City staff for public safety reasons. Construction on the new set of stairs began in September. There are 190 stairs and elevating approximately 40 metres from the beach to the park. The structure was built using yellow cedar that was milled and sourced on Vancouver Island. For extra security and lifespan, the stairs sit on steel screw piles that anchor and support the stairs to the slope.

PARAPROSDOKIAN – Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

Thursday, Nov. 26

TAXING DEBATE – The starting point for the city’s finance and audit committee is a 3.3-per cent tax increase. Water, sanitation and sewer user fees are projected to go up four and seven per cent, so a typical home assessed at $527,000 would see total taxes and user fees go up $132 from $3,110 to $3,242. As stated, this is the starting point, they have until spring to firm things up.

HOW THEY VOTE – You can now easily check how council members vote on issues – it’s all on  a new dashboard on the City website. The new link makes it easier to see how individual councillors voted on items. You can even look back because it includes voting going back to July 1 and will be updated after each council meeting. You can search for items by keywords, date, meeting type, or even by the Council member’s name or vote. 

DRUG CRISIS WORSENS – Five people died every day in October and more deaths were linked to fentanyl. The BC Coroners Service reports that four people in Nanaimo died of overdoses in October, bringing the total in Nanaimo this year to 34. The Coroners Service said 162 people died in B.C. in October, the fifth month this year where overdose deaths topped 160. So far this year, 1,386 people have died due to illicit drug overdoses in B.C. Officials have said that the side effects of the pandemic have led to a more toxic drug supply and more people using alone. More than 80 per cent of deaths take place inside. No deaths thus far have occurred at supervised consumption or overdose prevention sites.

CORONA NUMBERS – Island Health had 21 new cases of Coronavirus on Wednesday, raising the regional total to 526. Throughout the province, 738 new cases were confirmed. Across B.C., 7,716 cases are considered active with 294 people in hospital, 61 of whom are receiving critical or intensive care. Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry stressed the importance of taking the virus seriously, saying the smaller number doesn’t change the fact that we are in a very critical time. She expects vaccine it to arrive in January. The BCCDC logistics teams have been working with the federal government to understand the requirements. The province is hiring hundreds more contact tracers than originally planned. Health minister Adrian Dix said the plan originally was to hire 500 contact tracers but that been dramatically expanded. He said intention is to hire more than 1,200.

Drug decriminalization unanimously endorsed by Vancouver city council
Councillors in Vancouver have voted unanimously to ask the federal government to decriminalize possession of small amounts of illicit drugs. 

Horgan to unveil new cabinet this afternoon
B.C. Premier John Horgan will announce his new cabinet today with the expectation that the pandemic will occupy the duties of many of his ministers. 

Aassignment asked students to name positives of residential schools
A B.C. school district has launched an investigation after an Indigenous parent shared a video about one of her daughter's school assignments on social media.

Vancouver's empty home tax is increasing to three per cent next year
The empty homes tax in Vancouver will more than double next year, the city announced Wednesday.

11,000 condos added to Vancouver rental market thanks to vacancy tax
The Canada Mortgage Housing Corp. says more than 11,000 condos were added to rental market in Metro Vancouver last year, spurred in part by taxes on empty homes.

Mother still fighting for life, but her newborn baby is now home
Fifteen days after his child was born, Dave McIntosh proudly carried his son out of Abbotsford Regional Hospital Wednesday afternoon. 

Fraser Health COVID-19 infections among highest per capita in Canada
The Fraser Health region is seeing the same per capita infection numbers as Alberta and Nunavut, and isn’t far behind Manitoba, where the coronavirus is spreading so quickly there are now “code red” restrictions in Winnipeg and a test positivity rate of 14 per cent.

Flights involving airports across B.C. added to list of virus exposures list
The B.C. Centre for Disease Control has added more than a dozen flights to its list of COVID-19 exposures since Sunday, and many of them involve smaller airports around the province. 

Wednesday, Nov. 25

COVER UP OR PAY UP – It might cost you $230 if you fail to wear a mask indoors in a public setting. Masks are required to be worn in indoor public spaces by those ages 12 and over. That includes malls, shopping centres, coffee shops, retail and grocery stores, liquor and drug stores, airports, city halls, libraries, community and recreation centres, restaurants, bars and pubs, and places of worship. The new measures are being implemented under the province’s Emergency Program Act. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said additional steps need to be taken to protect our health.

CITY WANTS YOUR INPUT – The city wants the public to have a say in the final design of a major sewer line upgrade through Bowen Park. A major sewer line runs under a trail in Bowen Park, and infrastructure upgrades will result in significant work in the park. The Millstone Trunk Sanitary Sewer, built more than 40 years ago, extends 12 kilometres from Brannen Lake to Nanaimo Harbour and increasing demand for its services has outpaced its capacity, handling about 40 per cent of Nanaimo’s sewage. Portions have already been replaced as the city upgraded the highest-priority sections. This project will replace almost one kilometre of the 600 mm (24-inch) sewer line with a 900mm (36-inch) line under Bowen Park between next May and September. See the information page HERE.

FERRY TRAVEL WAY DOWN – People appear to be heeding a call from the provincial government to reduce non-essential travel. Vehicle and walk-on passenger traffic on major routes fell by more than half last weekend compared to the previous weekend. BC Ferries says walk-on ridership fell by 65 per cent, while vehicle traffic decreased by 50 per cent. Deborah Marshall of Ferries said it has seen significant drops in ridership throughout the pandemic, but the decline in this past week has been historic.

LANTZVILLE GETS DOWN TO NITTY GRITTY ­– Lantzville council has given three readings to its 2021-25 financial plan bylaw which calls for a 7.6-per cent tax increase next year. That will amount to an $81 tax increase for an average $724,500 single-family home in Lantzville. It was a big come down from the 24.2 per cent first projected after staff rescheduled road work funding for the next few years.

VIRUS CURVE BENDS UPWARD – British Columbia recorded 941 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, the highest ever in a single day. Eleven of those cases were Island Health, bringing the total to date to 505. The central island has a majority of active cases with 95. Thirteen cases are in the north and 44 in south Vancouver Island. Hospitals in the province are treating 284 patients, 61 of them in critical or intensive care.

Victoria police issue COVID-19 violation tickets to restaurant-goer
Police in Victoria say they handed out two tickets for failing to follow COVID-19 safety protocols after a group left a restaurant without paying Monday. 

NDP caucus sworn in ahead of fall legislature session
On Tuesday afternoon, 57 MLAs, including Premier Horgan, were sworn in as members of the NDP caucus. 

Indigenous chief warns after COVID-19 outbreak
Alert Bay was one of the first remote areas in B.C. to be hit with COVID-19, and the elected chief hopes no one has to live through what they did. 

Victoria surgeon fined after calling preteen patient a 'loose woman'
A Victoria-area surgeon has been fined several thousand dollars and reprimanded for using sexualized language during a consultation with a preteen patient. 

B.C. women are more impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic than men
A new report into the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic has found that women in B.C. are far more negatively impacted than men. 

No more charges related to investigation in Bountiful
A special prosecutor in British Columbia has declined to approve any further charges against people associated with the community of Bountiful where a fundamentalist Christian sect practises polygamy. 

B.C. negotiates COVID-19 vaccine rollout as Canada waits in line
Health officials in B.C. are working with provincial and federal counterparts on who will receive the COVID-19 vaccine and how – even as the prime minister revealed Canada will not be at the front of the line for approved vaccines. 

 

Tuesday, Nov. 24

GOOD MORNING NANAIMO – Why are family doctors not essential during this pandemic? Health care by telephone doesn't exactly cut it. If it’s fine for Walmart to be open, shouldn’t our doctors be even moreso?

BUTCHART CHRISTMAS SHOW ON HOLD – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has temporarily suspended the Butchart Gardens outdoor light display and all events at hotels, restaurants, bars, movie theatres. Dr. Henry reported 48 new Coronavirus cases in Island Health over the last 72 hours. The province had 1,933 new cases since Friday with 17 deaths. There are 7,360 active cases in the province and 277 people are in hospital, 59 in intensive care. There were 1,304 in the Fraser Health region, 414 in Vancouver Coastal Health, 104 in Interior Health, 61 in Northern Health. Dr. Henry stressed that British Columbians must find a way to dramatically reduce the level of transmission within the coming weeks. 

NO MILNER LIGHTUP – Milner Gardens and Woodland has cancelled its Milner Christmas Magic 2020 event. Executive director Geoff Ball said they recognized they were not going to be able to put together something safe and successful. So, they decided to postpone this year and expect to be running next year.

NANAIMO FLIGHT ON VIRUS LIST – If you were seated in rows 4-10 on the Nov. 18 Air Canada flight from Vancouver to Nanaimo you could be in danger of Coronavirus exposure. That flight was added to the Centre for Disease Control’s Coronavirus public exposure list. Also, WestJet flight WS491 from Calgary to Comox on November 15, has also been added to the list. Air travellers who have travelled to or from other parts of Canada and are concerned about potential in-flight exposure, should check provincial public health web sites or the federal government web site.

HELP WITH CHRISTMAS DINNER – The Salvation Army is planning Christmas dinner with all the trimmings – and you can lend a hand with preparing, packaging, serving and delivering dinners in the days leading up to Christmas. They need people to help with food preparation and packaging from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. or 2-6 p.m. Dec. 21-22, serving from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. or 2-6 p.m. Dec. 23 and prep, packaging and delivering on Dec. 24. For the Dec. 24 deliveries, volunteers are asked to pick up and deliver the meals to seniors in isolation. Delivery volunteers will be screened and must have a clear criminal record and also have a driver’s licence and a vehicle. For more information, contact Porsha at 250-714-1142 or e-mail Porsha.paladini@sananaimo.org.

LIGHT UP THE SEASON – The Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce annual Spirit of Christmas light has a new name and a new lead organizer this year. The Newcastle Community Association invites neighbourhoods to participate in this year’s event, called Illuminight. Karen Kuwica, president of the neighbourhood association, said the Newcastle area’s location ensures maximum viewing exposure for people moving through central Nanaimo by vehicle, bus, bike and even boat. All neighbourhoods are encouraged to participate. Judges will view displays Dec. 13 and acknowledge their favourites on social media.

NANAIMO FLIGHT ON VIRUS LIST – Air Canada flight 8261 from Vancouver to Nanaimo on Nov. 18 has been added to the BC Centre for Disease Control’s Coronavirus public exposure list. Passengers seated in rows 4-10 should be considered at higher risk of exposure due to their proximity to the case, says the BC CDC. WestJet flight WS491 from Calgary to Comox on November 15, has also been added to the list. Air travellers who have travelled to or from other parts of Canada are concerned about potential in-flight exposure, should check provincial public health web sites or the federal government web site.

SABRE-TOOTH RETURNED – A 400-pound wooden sabre-tooth carving that was stolen from a business has been returned less than 72 hours after it went missing. Carver Dan Richey shared a video on Facebook on Monday morning showing himself with the carving and thanking everyone for its return. Two thieves stole the carving from Walkers Saw Shop on Shenton Road at around 6 a.m. Saturday.

BETTER CASH IN NOW – If you’ve been sitting on some old Canadian paper money, now is the time to use it. The Bank of Canada says $1, $2, $25, $500, and $1,000 banknotes will have their legal tender status removed on Jan. 1. Most Canadians will not be affected because these bank notes have not been produced in decades and are rarely used in transactions. The bills will not lose their value, you can redeem them at any financial institution or decide to keep them. Some rarer bills could be worth significantly more than face value to collectors.

OVERHEARD – Some people should use a glue stick instead of ChapStick.