Friday, Feb. 26

DRIVER TURNS HERSELF IN AFTER LEAVING ACCIDENT SCENE - Nanaimo RCMP have arrested a woman after a hit-and-run in which a pedestrian was hit in a crosswalk. Police says the driver fled the scene and then turned herself in at the police station. The driver reportedly ran a red light at Terminal Avenue and Commercial Street. Investigators determined the 60-year-old victim was going through the crosswalk when she was struck by an older-model pickup truck that was going north on Terminal Avenue. The driver was arrested for dangerous driving and failing to remain at the scene of an accident and placed in cells.

ALL FERRIES CANCELLED  – All ferry sailings on major routes have been cancelled for the rest of the day. You are advised to check with B.C. Ferries before making any travel plans.

GREEN LIGHT FOR SITE C – The Site C energy development project will go ahead, Premier John Horgan and Energy Minister Bruce Ralston announced Friday, but with an increased budget and timeline. It will be at least $10 billion to complete, with $6 billion already spent, provincial officials revealed in an update on the future of the project. The report was commissioned by the provincial government in the summer, after Crown-owned BC Hydro raised concerns about rising costs and construction delays on the project on the Peace River near Fort St. John. Peter Milburn, former deputy finance minister, finished the report earlier this year, but the findings were not initially made public.

BUSINESS TAX FREEZE – The Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce wants a property tax freeze for Nanaimo’s business sector, keeping the rate at last year’s level. Chamber CEO Kim Smythe told the city’s finance and audit committee that Nanaimo’s business community has faced a myriad of negative impacts over the course of the pandemic. Coun. Jim Turley asked for a report from city staff on the potential of maintaining the commercial tax rate at 2020 levels. That was supported by all councillors except Coun. Tyler Brown. The report will be presented during budget debate in the next two months.

Thursday, Feb. 25

GABRIOLA GETTING BUS TERMINAL – Gabriola’s transit system will have a new place to park buses after getting funding from the provincial government. Gabriola Community Bus Foundation got $187,847 of community economic recovery infrastructure program money to convert the old fire hall to a bus depot, said Steven Earle. The Gabriola fire department moved into a new building several years ago and a retrofit is planned to accommodate the buses. The buses are now stored outdoors, he said. A solar array allow the building can operate with solar power. In the future that could mean recharging electric buses with solar power, said Earle.

CORONAVIRUS REPORT – The province confirmed 37 new positive tests for coronavirus for the Island Health region. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced 395 new cases on Thursday, well below the rolling seven-day average of 512. Across B.C., 4,489 cases remain active including 228 people in hospital with 62 receiving intensive care.  Ten people died in the previous 24 hours, none in Island Health. To date, 1,348 people have died as a result of COVID-19. Dr. Henry said the increased supply of vaccine makes her enthusiastic for the near future, but asked for time as the province gets its ducks in a row.

BEAR SPOTTED AT SCHOOL – Students of Park Avenue Elementary School on Eighth Street have been cautioned to walk in groups after a bear was spotted outside the school this morning. The bear was spotted at 7:30 this morning and the B.C. Conservation Officer Service has been notified, said Dale Burgos, of the school district. Students walking to and from the school are reminded to walk in groups, stick to the roads and not walk through the bushes. Burgos said he hasn’t heard of any other bear sightings in recent weeks.

DENTISTS CAN GIVE COVID VACCINATIONS – Dentists and other medical professionals will be allowed to give COVID-19 vaccines as part of the province’s mass vaccination program. Provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, who gave the order, said this means we’ve expanded our pool of immunizers and people who can provide services. It now includes dentists, midwives, pharmacy technicians, paramedics, retired nurses, and a number of other professions. There are 3,800 dentists, 4,700 pharmacists, and 300 midwives in B.C. 

SCHOOLS REPORT COVID CASES – Nanaimo-area public and independent schools have reported positive coronavirus tests. One case was reported at Mountain View Elementary with the potential exposure date Feb. 16. And Aspengrove School has also had an exposure, with potential dates Feb. 18 and 19. Earlier in the month, exposures were reported at Ladysmith Secondary School with potential dates Feb. 8, 9, 10 and 16, 17 and 18, according to Island Health.

ILLEGAL DUMPING PROBLEM – The Regional District of Nanaimo has had enough with the illegal dumping of garbage and want the provincial government to step in. It is an ongoing and costly problem that should be the responsibility of the province. Little Mountain near Errington is one of the spots where illegal dumping has been common. The Rotary Club of Parksville AM has done a massive cleanup over the past couple of years below. They plan to use helicopters to remove the final bags. Rotary, president-elect Bill Rawlins said Little Mountain had been used as a dumping ground for everything under the sun for probably 25 to 30 years.

B.C. CAMPERS FIRST – British Columbians will be get priority access to campsite reservations when the Discover Camping website begins taking reservations on March 8. Dates are available up to two months in advance. The province expects the reservation system to be busy, particularly with coronavirus limiting travel opportunities. Residents get priority, but starting on July 8, people from other provinces will be permitted to reserve campsites for the rest of the summer. Environment Minister George Heyman said while public health concerns and advice remain, people are advised to pick a campground as close to home as possible to avoid long road trips and non-essential travel.

NEW GABRIOLA FERRY HITS THE WATER – The first of the hybrid ferries destined for the Gabriola route has hit the water and is scheduled to be delivered to Vancouver Island later this year to replace the MV Quinsam by 2022. It's a  two-battery electric-hybrid. Work on the ship will continue until June, when sea trials are scheduled. It is expected to be delivered in late 2021 to Point Hope Maritime in Victoria for final preparations.


Wednesday, Feb. 24

REAL ESTATE MARKET SIZZLES - The real estate market across B.C. is hotter than a two-dollar pistol, and Nanaimo is no exception. The January figures from John Cooper show 93 single family homes sold at an average price of $624,787. That’s up and astounding up 11 per cent in the past 12 months. There were also a lot more sales with single family unit sales up 19 per cent. The average condo sold for $370,851with unit sales up 12 per cent. If you’re thinking of building a new home, lot prices have dropped by three per cent over the past 12 months to date. With an average sale price: $328,356. FULL REPORT HERE

VACCINE DETAILS NEXT WEEK ­– Seniors 80 and older are next in line for coronavirus vaccinations, and now we know when the process will be made public – next Monday. Details will be announced by the provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on Monday when long-term care and assisted care workers and residents have all been vaccinated. Dr. Henry said plans are in place, and health officials will be reaching out to you. In Alberta, 75 and older can already book appointments for both doses.

BREAK ON BOOZE COSTS – Licensed restaurants, bars, and tourism operators will be able to buy liquor at the wholesale price set by the BC Liquor Distribution Branch after the pandemic ends. The government made the temporary change last year to support the hospitality industry. Before the change licensees paid retail prices, including an additional mark-up, on most liquor purchases. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said the reason for making it permanent is to give these businesses certainty and help them recover, and to help the estimated 190,000 British Columbians who work in this sector.

JAZZ FEST COMING UP - Get ready to enjoy that jazzy feeling, the Nanaimo International Jazz Festival kicks off March 1 online. The series has already been filmed at the Harbour City Theatre, thanks to $76,600 from the Department of Canadian Heritage. The 10 virtual performances will be available for viewing on the NIJFA’s social media pages from March 1 to 20, uploaded each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. They are free to watch but viewers are asked to donate or become a member. All performers are from Comox to the Cowichan Valley. They are: the Anderson Jazz Trio, Marty Steele Band, Lucas Smart Quartet, the Brock Meades Trio, Gerry Barnum and Friends, the Narissa Young Trio, the Keanu Ienco Trio, Nico Rhodes, Diana Braithwaite and the Chris Whiteley Quartet. The series concludes with a tribute to pianist, singer and songwriter Shelton Brooks, whom Homzy calls “Canada’s first jazz composer,” featuring all performers on March 20. For more information, visit

MONEY LEFT OVER – While it is common for political parties to spend more than they have, such was not the case for Green Party of B.C. leader Sonia Furestenau. She spent $68,592.95 while getting $117,321.49 in what is labelled “inflow.” Elections BC just released the information for those candidates filing after the filing date. Construction and Specialized Workers' Union Local 1611, International Union of Operating Engineers - Canadian Region, and Teamsters Local 213 each spent $17,000.

Tuesday, Feb. 23

COLDEST NIGHT OVER TARGET - It may be cold but central Island residents have a warm heart when it comes to supporting the Coldest Night of the Year. The fund raising event was a little different this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but surpassed the goal with $53,000 raised, topping its $45,000 goal. Parksville-Oceanside just met its $40,000 goal. 

NEW ON THE MOUND – Men competing with women in sports is one thing, but now the baseball cleat is on the other foot. The VIU Mariners have will have Alli Schroder tossing curves and fastballs for the team. Ali recently committed to the school to pursue her baseball dream and study environmental sciences. She’ll be the first female player in the Canadian College Baseball Conference. She told NanaimoNewsNOW she just wants to be seen as a player and wants to contribute to the team and put the female part aside.

FERRIES NUMBERS WAY DOWN – The coronavirus pandemic has had a major impact on BC Ferries’ operational and financial results. In its third-quarter statement, BC Ferries reports it carried 10.6 million passengers and 5.3 million vehicles, a drop of 42.1 per cent and 26.9 per cent, respectively compared to the same period the year before. Without funding from the federal-provincial Safe Restart program, it would have had a net loss for the three months ending Dec. 31, 2020, of $56.4 million.

CHEQUES ARE COMING – The government is sending B.C. Recovery Benefit cheques for thousands of people on disability, income assistance and seniors’ hardship. The tax-free benefit is for up to $500 for individuals and $1,000 for families, based on 2019 income levels. Disability and income assistance clients are likely to get the full amount, given a single person earns $760 a month on income assistance or $1,183 a month on disability. The money will be added on top of existing income or disability assistance payments, and given to clients in whatever way they already access their assistance –  a deposit, cheque in the mail or in-person pickup at a government office.

WOUNDED WARRIORS - The Vancouver Island Wounded Warriors Run from Port Hardy to Victoria has been rescheduled to April 11–18. COVID-19 restrictions forced organizers to postpone the run to raise awareness and funds for Wounded Warriors Canada. It is planned to take eight runners eight days to run from Port Hardy to Victoria. They hope provincial health orders will allow non-essential travel by then. Mark Blachuras Nanaimo paramedic is one of the runners. Runners hope to raise $250,000; so far they have raised just over $58,000.

WEEKEND CORONAVIRUS SCORE – Provincial health authorities reported Island Health 99 positive tests for Coronavirus over the three-day weekend. They are part of the 1,428 new positive tests in the province. There were 28 new positive tests of the variants that have shown up. Eight deaths related to the virus were reported since last weekend. There are 4,560 active cases in the province, 223 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care — and 7,768 under active public health monitoring due to possible exposure to an identified case. On the Island, there are 16 people in hospital, six in critical care. Since the pandemic began, 2,167 cases have been identified in the Island Health region.

FILM CAMPS OVER SPRING BREAK - Spring Break is just around the corner so finding anything exciting for kids are top of mind for many parents. Spotlight Academy presents its in-person camps for kids and teens during Spring Break. Following strict Covid protocols they’ll learn all of the possibilities of careers in film or film making just for fun. The kids and tweens camp is in Nanaimo March 15-19 on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 10-3 on Thursday. The Teens camp in Nanaimo is March 22-26. Tuition to each camp is $250. You can text 250-714-2555 or email for more information.

Monday, Feb. 22

DRAGON BOATS GROUNDED – Another victim of the Coronavirus is the Nanaimo Dragon Boat Festival. Society announced that this year’s festival, which was scheduled for July, is cancelled. The society says consultation with public health authorities suggested that it will take until at least the fall for all British Columbians to be immunized. The paddling community has put aside dragon boat practices and races during the pandemic.

PROTECTING TREES - The Regional District of Nanaimo will take a greater role in directions tree management if a new policy recommendation if approved by the board. That policy will control tree removals and replacements in parks and trails to ensure no net loss of trees, management of fire risks in the forested parks and trails, and management of invasive species. The tree management plan has an annual budget of $137,000.

ANACORTES FERRY CANCELLED – Ferry service between Vancouver Island and Anacortes, Wash. will not be happening this summer. Washington State Ferries has extended its suspension of sailings on its Sidney-Friday Harbor-Anacortes route for the summer and likely the year due to COVID-19. Until that border reopens, there won’t be any service,” said Ian Sterlingof Washington State Ferries. Washington State Ferries has traditionally operated sailings on that route during spring, summer, and fall and should continue to do so once the border reopens.

VACCINATIONS TO BE 'CULTURALLY SAFE' - Health officials want all the pieces in place before announcing the locations for 172 vaccination clinics, and that it will include a “culturally safe experience” for Indigenous Peoples. Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry told the annual meeting of Metis Nation British Columbia Saturday that “There will be some chaos at the beginning, I know that. So, please be patient.” Metis and other Indigenous people are eligible to get their shots 15 years younger than the rest of the population, meaning they can get their shot at 65 when 80-year-old residents are being called.

THE RUMOUR MILL – Why do we have to verify every news titbit we run into? Rumours spread themselves. There’s a lot of rumours swirling in our community, running in overdrive. They have a common thread – food. First there’s the chit chat that the former Kelsey’s restaurant at North Town Centre will reopen soon as The Driftwood, with a Chinese menu. With all the construction in front of Country Club Centre, it’s easy to come up with ideas, and word is the building permit includes a Popeye’s Chicken restaurant. Other names are also floating around, but one thing is certain, we’ll be well fed. 

DON’T BE SURPRISED if you see road construction crews in the city in the next little while. Public Works Director Bill Sims found a package deal that came under budget for a number of locations. The Victoria Road-Esplanade intersection is getting curb extensions and crosswalks with flashing beacons. Pedestrian upgrades are also in the works at the Waddington Road-St. George Cres and the Haliburton multi-use trail. The low bid was $196,000 below the approved budget, so staff grasped at an opportunity to do all three projects at the same time. Waddington-St. George is getting curb extensions, flashing beacons and bus stop improvements. The Haliburton multi-use path is a 900-metre trailway replacing the sidewalk. All three projects are expected to be completed by the end of April. 

BLUE MONDAY – Your eyes are not deceiving you if you see blue on Monday. Landmarks accross B.C. will be lit up in blue this week to celebrate Girl Guides and girl empowerment. In Nanaimo the Bastion will be lit with blue lights as part of the Guiding Lights Across B.C. campaign. It also marks World Thinking Day, a “day of international friendship” which has often been celebrated by the Girl Guides. More than 90 B.C. landmarks – from stadiums and bridges to statues and buildings – will be lit up.

POLICE SEEK MISSING WOMAN – Port Hardy RCMP seek public assistance to help locate 22-year-old Chaya Dawn Jolicoeur, who has been missing since Thursday, Feb. 18. She was last seen leaving her family home in Port Hardy at 2 p.m. Jolicoeur is 5’4” tall and weighs about 170 pounds. She has dyed bright pink hair that extends past her shoulders and may be wearing a black coat and dark or patterned leggings, police said. If you have seen her, please contact Port Hardy RCMP at 250-949-6335 or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or visit their web site.  
MONITORING THE UNIVERSE - Cam Wipper, a former Vancouver Island University student, who grew up in Nanaimo, has one of the greatest adventure jobs in the world. And he lives on Hawaii to do it.  Cam has a key position at the Canada-France-Hawaii telescope in Maunakea, Hawaii and will talk about his journey at the Nanaimo Astronomy Society’s next meeting. The Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, one of the world’s leading astronomical observatories where he was promoted to observing systems specialist astronomer, a position that combines telescope operator, project management and other roles. READ MORE

Saturday, Feb 20

HATS OFF TO BULLETIN – The News Bulletin has been at the forefront in supporting charitable causes in Nanaimo. The staff at the newspaper recently handed out cheques  to two community causes. Coins for Kids has been around for ages, a year-round charity that accelerates its efforts every December. The Bulletin presented the Great Nanaimo Toy Drive and the Boys and Girls Club with cheques for $1,800 each. Sponsors help make the campaigns successful, thanks to Quality Foods and John’s Bedrooms and volunteers Pete MacDonald and Ian Thorpe. You can donate year round by dropping coins in the jars at Quality Foods or John’s Bedrooms or visit the fund raising page web-hosted by the Nanaimo Foundation at this link

CARONAVIRUS FATIGUE – Only 34 per cent of British Columbians follow pandemic restrictions all the time. A poll by Insights West showed the B.C. compliance rate is far lower than the national average, where 48 per cent of people claim to be following the rules all the time. “I think the difference in British Columbia is attitudinal. When it comes to actual behaviours we do actually better. We are one of the most unlikely provinces to actually hop on a plane,” Insights West president Steve Mossop.

CANADIAN TIRE DEFLATING - Canadian Tire Corp. is closing all 18 of its National Sports stores across southern Ontario to reduce overlap in the company’s sporting goods assortment. The company operates multiple brands across Canada, including Canadian Tire, Mark’s, SportChek, Atmosphere, Sports Experts and Pro Hockey Life.

HERRING QUOTA UNCHANGED – Herring catch quotas in the Strait of Georgia will remain at last year’s levels of about 20 per cent of the estimated fish stock. Fisheries and Oceans Canada says the commercial allocation of 16,330 tonnes ensures the continued health of the stocks, which are an important food source for the marine ecosystem. Some environmental and Indigenous groups have called for stricter limits on the fishery, saying that a potential herring population collapse would have a dramatic impact on the ecosystem, particularly chinook salmon and southern resident killer whales. The federal department says it acknowledges the vital role herring play in the environment of coastal B.C. and the harvest rates ensure the majority of mature fish and younger herring remain to support the overall health of the species.

NEW HOPE FOR ISLAND BUS SERVICE – Tofino Bus and the Vancouver Island Connector may get a lifeline from the province after the pandemic forced the cancellation of their routes. The two island routes planned to resume bus service on Feb. 12, but that was extended indefinitely after revenue fell 95 per cent. John Wilson, President and  CEO of The Wilson’s Group of Companies, which operates Tofino Bus and The Vancouver Island Connector, ran 82,500 bus trips to 29 communities and 21 First Nations and First Nations organizations. Wilson said he had a good conversation with the lower Island MLAs including Tansportation Minister Rob Fleming, adding Fleming gave every indication something would be coming in the next seven to 10 days.

TRUCK STOLEN WITH CHILD INSIDE – Aaron Johnson has just walked into a gas station in Qualicum Beach to buy his 12- and 8-year-old sons gift cards for helping with yard work. In that short time, a woman jumped in the truck and drove away down Old Island Highway at around 3:30 p.m. with Wyatt inside. He banged on the truck windows until the woman let him out down the road. After Johnson called the police, the woman’s mother came and explained her daughter’s struggles with drug addiction. Johnson could empathize, having nearly lost his family during his own struggles with alcohol and drif addiction. It’s also the reason he’s not pursuing charges against the woman. 

Keep bread tags out of the landfill. Check these tips and tricks of what you can do with these colourful little tags that pile up whenever you buy bread. They have many other uses, see VIDEO

Friday, Feb. 19

ISLAND HAS 22 MORE VIRUS CASES – Island Health region has 22 new positive coronavirus tests over the previous 24 hours as the province reported 508 new cases, The province administered a record high number of vaccine doses in one day. B.C. has 4,486 active cases, while 7,699 residents remain under active monitoring. Dr. Reka Gustafson reported 217 people in hospital , with 61 in critical care. The Vancouver Coastal Health region had 116 new cases, 286 in the Fraser Health region, 59 in the Interior Health region, 25 in the Northern Health region. Six additional deaths brought the provincial total to 1,327.

SANDCASTLE FESTIVAL SHELVED - The Parksville Beach Festival has been shelved for the second year in a row due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It was scheduled to take place mid-July to mid-August, featuring international artists creating sand sculptures alongside Parksville’s beach in the community park. With more than 120,000 visitors yearly over the past five years and the need for international travel, president Cheryl Dill said it was an obvious decision given the persistence of the pandemic. The cancellation includes the Quality Foods Sand Sculpting Competition and Exhibition, Tim Hortons Summer Concert Series, Art in the Park, Quality Foods Lunch with the Castles, Canadian Tire Sculpt like the Pros and the Coast Capital Savings Light-up Show.

HURRY UP AND WAIT – The B.C. government was planning to unveil a COVID-19 immunization distribution plan for those 80 years of age and older but now has to wait for more vaccines from the federal government. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry had expected to unveil the details this week but it has now been pushed to next week. Premier John Horgan said the province will provide the information to the public when it is available and does not want to announce a registration plan without having the vaccines in the province. 

MASS VACCINATION IN PARKSVILLE – Parksville will be the site of a mass COVID-19 immunization clinic next month, Mayor Ed Mayne said Thursday. The Parksville Community Centre is the likely location for vaccinations in mid-March. It would be the second such clinic on Vancouver Island, after Langford Mayor Stew Young confirmed one would be coming to Eagle Ridge Dry Floor Arena earlier this week. The province unveiled its plans for widespread vaccinations in January, saying 4.3-million adults in B.C. would receive their first and second doses of the vaccine by September.

19 NEW VIRUS CASES – The Island Health region reported 19 new positive tests for coronavirus on Thursday, while the province had 617 new cases with four additional deaths in that span. There are 4,348 active cases in British Columbia, with 7,440 under active public health monitoring. Dr. Bonnie Henry said 224 are in hospital with 60 in critical care. The provincial death toll from the pandemic is 1,321.

JEET BACK AT PORT AUTHORITY – Jeet Manhas has been reappointed to the board of the Port of Nanaimo along with Shiva Dean. Manhas is the Federal representative and Dean is the Federal representative for the International Trade Group of Users, each for a three-year term. Manhas previously sat on the Board as the Provincial representative. He has been active in the Nanaimo business community for 30 years. Dean lives in Alberta is a seasoned executive with more than 15 years of international and maritime experience with the A.P. Moller-Maersk Group. FULL STORY 

ROSS SEEKS LIBERAL LEADERSHIP - Ellis Ross, two-term Liberal MLA for Skeena, is the first to announce his bid for the party's leadership. Ross is a former chief councillor of the Haisla Nation, and became the first Liberal to win the Skeena riding in 16 years when he was elected to the Legislature in 2017. He minister for natural gas development and minister responsible for housing before the Liberal government was replaced by the NDP. Ross supports the liquefied natural gas industry and served the remainder of his first term as the Opposition critic for LNG, resource opportunities and responsible development and won re-election in 2020, with 52 per cent of the vote.

Thursday, Feb. 18

CHICKENS KILLED IN DOG ATTACK – More than two dozen chickens have been killed by a neighbour’s dog. The woman who breeds and raises chickens and dogs in Nanaimo found more than two dozen of her birds had been attacked and killed. Maureen Ward, lives on Akenhead Road in Cedar. She came home Monday and found the carcasses of 28 of her chickens. She said it was dusk when she returned to her farm and heard growling from a giant Schnauzer that had gotten itself trapped in a small workshop. She spray painted the dog in order to prove identity.

NDSS AT THE TOP OF THE LIST – Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools’ long-range facilities plan has the 69-year-old Nanaimo District Secondary School at the top of the list for upgrades. The report was tabled at the business committee Wednesday.  The area has rebounded from declining enrolment, with increasing student numbers and potential for 26-per-cent enrolment over capacity in 2030/31. The 10-year facilities plan (2021-31) is expected to act as a guide in addition to priorizing NDSS upgrades. It recommends seismic upgrades with other priorities in the facilities plan, including environmental upgrades and expansions.

 CORONA BREATHALIZER? – A simple breathalizer could offer quick and easy testing for coronavirus. Dr. Renelle Myers – who works at Vancouver General Hospital and BC Cancer and is also a clinician scientist at the BC Cancer Research Institute – told CTV News Vancouver her team had been preparing to study using breath samples for the early detection of lung cancer. "When the pandemic hit, we knew the potential of breath, and thought let's change gears and see if we can diagnose COVID-19 through breath analysis, because it would provide a very rapid, non-invasive way to do it," she said.

SAANICH POLICE arrested 30-year-old Jesse Goodale, originally from Nanaimo, who was the subject of a Canada-wide warrant. Police say he was taken into custody without incident. Nanaimo RCMP issued an alert regarding the warrant for Goodale on Feb. 11, saying he was released from a federal penitentiary last month after serving the majority of his sentence for aggravated assault. Goodale was court-ordered to live at the Salvation Army in Victoria. He did not return and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Horgan looks at buying Canadian-made virus vaccine

Premier John Horgan

Premier John Horgan wants to buy vaccines directly from private Canadian companies to make up for a shortfall from the federal government.

Horgan said Thursday that Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister has taken the first step in cutting deals with private companies to bolster the provincial supply of vaccines.

“Today, there is no vaccine to buy in Canada, if it becomes available, we will be at the front of the line with others trying to get as much as we can to meet the needs of BCers,” said Horgan.

Manitoba got a contract with Alberta Providence Therapeutics in Alberta for the first 200,000 doses of a new Canadian-made vaccine that has yet to be approved by Health Canada. It will cost Manitoba $18 per dose, for a total of $36 million, paid in instalments as the vaccine is approved and manufactured.

Thursday, Feb. 18

HEARD ON THE GRAPEVINE – A sources tells me that Woodgrove Chrysler has been sold to a newcomer "from the Prairies. The dealership was started by Gordon Heys and has remained in the family with his two sons Andrew and Michael operating it. Gordon will retain the property and rent it to the new dealer principle. And the word is that all the staff will be retained. Welcome to Nanaimo, Brendan Mueller. 

SNUNEYMUXW GET SECOND SHOTS – Snuneymuxw First Nation members are getting their second dose of the Moderna vaccine. About 300 members got their second dose yesterday. The clinic continues today. Members got 470 initial doses in January.

MASS VACINATIONS – We may be getting a clue as to how the government is going to administer coronavirus vaccines when they become available to the general public. The Eagle Ridge Community Centre in Langford is preparing to serve as a mass vaccination site, which will operate until the end of August.

FIRE UNDER BRIDGE – There were no injuries after a fire broke in a homeless encampment out under the Pearson Bridge about midday Wednesday. A Nanaimo Fire Rescue spokesman said a propaine canister appears to have ignited a makeshift shelter that had been constructed under a hollow space in the bridge structure. There was no damage to the  bridge.

NEIGHBORHOOD CRIME AUDIT - The RCMP with the City and fourth-year criminology students will conduct safety audits in selected neighbourhoods throughout Nanaimo. For some residents there is an increased feeling of fear that comes with increased crime activity. This has shown to undermine the safety and security of our communities and weakens the cohesiveness of our neighbourhoods, said Christy Wood, RCMP Community Policing Co-ordinator. The goal of the Safety Audits project is to work in partnership with neighbourhoods to find ways to reduce opportunities for crime and incorporate relevant crime prevention programming.  Residents will get to share their experiences and perceptions of crime in their neighbourhoods. This will assist to understanding of how communities are affected by crime and will help guide our efforts to address some of these issues and concerns.

NEW FIRE CHIEF NAMED – Deputy Chief Tim Doyle has been named Chief of Nanaimo Fire Rescue. He was selected after a search that drew dozens of applications from across the country. Doyle has been with department for the last 20 years, serving as Assistant Chief (2014-2017) until his appointment to Deputy Chief in 2017.  He has been integral in the operations and administration of the Fire Department, including overseeing the construction of the new Fire Station No. 1, recruitment, training, the [Vancouver Island Emergency Response Academy (VIERA) and leading emergency operations. His expertise in public safety will be invaluable as he leads Nanaimo Fire Rescue.

 RIGHT ON TARGET – When our Mayor Leonard Krog was asked about the latest federal gun control bill he had the best answer I’ve seen anywhere. “Frankly in the city right now, our issue isn’t handguns, our issue is the 600 homeless people. If the federal government wants to extend a hand to municipal government in this country, let them step up to the plate and provide housing.” 

STATE OF EMERGENCY EXTENDED – It’s no surprise, British Columbia remains in a state of emergency. The government announced Tuesday that it has extended the provincial state of emergency until March 2, nearly one year since the original declaration was made. By extending the state of emergency, health and other provincial officials are able to continue using extraordinary powers under the Emergency Program Act in order to deal with the ongoing pandemic. Premier John Horgan said we need to keep following public health orders, knowing they will keep us safe as we work to end the pandemic in B.C.

SPEAK UP – Everyone has an opinion, so let us hear your thoughs on the daily happenings in our community. Send your comment to

Wednesday, Feb. 17

ANOTHER VIRUS AT NDSS –Nanaimo District Secondary School has reported another virus case at Nanaimo Senior Secondary school. The school board announced the exposure date as Feb. 8. The Vancouver Island region on Tuesday confirmed 58 more cases of COVID-19 and two deaths related to the virus. The update was over a four-day period, from Saturday to Tuesday. Island Health has now seen 2,009 positive test cases since the pandemic began, while the death toll is 22. There are 180 active cases in the Vancouver Island region.

OLD CITY QUARTER PLAN GETS SUPPORT – The city’s design advisory panel has issued its support for a proposed 197-apartment project in the Old City Quarter. The applicant Omicron wants to build six- and seven-storey apartment buildings on the land owned by Telus at Wallace, Wentworth and Richards streets. The plan is for one 146-unit building and one 51-unit building, with both consisting of a range of studio apartments and one-, two- and three-bedroom suites.

WHERE IS STEVIE PIRART? – Do you know where Stevie Daniele Pirart is? Police are looking for her on more than a dozen charges under the Criminal Code offences, including possessing stolen property and fraudulent activity. Arrest warrants were issued after she missed a Jan. 26 appearance. She’s charged with seven counts of possession of stolen property over $5,000, and a range of fraud and related charges and breaching conditions for offences in 2019.

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Tuesday, Feb. 16

NEW BORDER RULES – If you are coming to Canada from the U.S. by land, new rules are in effect as of this morning. People driving into the country must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken in the U.S. within 72 hours. Alternatively, they must offer proof of a positive test result between 14 and 90 days before arrival, which is long enough for the illness to have passed, but not so long that immunity might have waned. As of Feb. 22, they will also be required to take COVID-19 tests upon arrival. That is also the date that air travellers will be forced into a mandatory three-day hotel quarantine at their own expense and required to take multiple COVID-19 tests.

HOME DELIVERY FOR VACCINE – Some British Columbians 80 years of age and older may get their coronavirus vaccinations at home. Health Minister Adrian Dix says there are some people living at home who will not be able to get to an immunization clinic and the vaccine will be delivered to them. Starting as early as the end of this week, the province will start contacting people in the 80-plus demographic to book immunization appointments. The shots are scheduled to start the first week of March and everyone who is eligible will be directly contacted by the province with information around community clinics. 

ISLAND COVID FIGURES – The Vancouver Island region on Tuesday confirmed 58 more cases of COVID-19 and two deaths related to the virus. The update was over a four-day period, from Saturday to Tuesday. Island Health has now seen 2,009 positive test cases since the pandemic began, while the death toll is 22. There are 180 active cases in the Vancouver Island region. 

LATEST COVID FIGURES – British Columbia health officials reported 1,533 new cases and 26 deaths from COVID-19 on Tuesday. There are 4,189 active cases in the province, 231 people in hospital, 74 of whom are in intensive care — and  7,136 people under active public health monitoring due to possible exposure to an identified case. Additionally, there are 15 active outbreaks in long-term care and assisted living and six outbreaks at acute units, involving 561 residents and 349 staff members. More than 100,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C.

Monday, Feb. 15


ONE MORE POSTITIVE TEST – Another Coronavirus test has been reported at Eden Gardens long-term care home in Nanaimo. A staff member at the dementia care facility tested positive earlier and on Monday the health authority said an elderly resident tested positive for the virus. The new case is someone who was a contact of the staff member. All 127 residents and 246 staff at Eden Gardens will be tested, says Island Health.

MOUNTIE SERIOUSLY INJURED – A Nanaimo Mountie was admitted to hospital with serious but non-life threatening injuries after his police vehicle hit a patch of ice, went off the road way then flipped several times at about 9 am today, on Highway 19A, near the Oliver Road and Highway 19A intersection. When his vehicle came to a rest upside down, he managed to crawl out of the vehicle and request emergency assistance. See photo at NEWSNOW

MAIL DISRUPTION – Canada Post is suspending some deliveries today on Vancouver Island due to snow. Red and yellow delivery service alerts have been issued for several major island communities. Canada Post will not deliver during a red service alert due to safety concerns. A yellow alert means that drivers will attempt to make deliveries, though there may be delays. More than a dozen communities are under red or yellow alerts. Nanaimo, Ladysmith and Parksville are under yellow alert. "The safety of our employees is our number one priority," said Canada Post in an announcement Monday. Canada Post encourages everyone to clear walkways, stairs and driveways of snow and ice.

LATE COVID ALERT – Passengers have been notified two weeks after a Covid 19 exposure on a West Jet flight from Calgary to Comox on Jan. 31. The British Columbia Centre for Disease Control added West Jet flight 3315 to its exposure list on Sunday afternoon. BCCDC says passengers should self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days and those who were sitting in rows identified are considered to be at a higher risk of exposure. Hmm, two weeks after the fact?

Sunday, Feb. 14

WHERE ARE THE SNOW PLOWS? – Don’t panic if you haven’t seen a plow down your street, it could take up to 96 hours or more to start clearing some residential areas. The city’s fleet of snow clearing equipment is out in force with more than 1,500 km of city streets to clean.The City also maintains public access to City facilities by clearing sidewalks, parking lots, bridges, the Waterfront Walkway and the E&N trail.  

PRIORITY LIST FOR SNOW CLEARANCE –  The public works department has a three-tier strategy which has emergency routes and all major roads as top priority. Secondary roads are next and the last priority are residential culs-de-sac and dead ends. As long as it is snowing, crews will focus on Priority 1.

IT’S YOUR DUTY – Sidewalk clearing is not just a request – it's a bylaw. Residents, occupants, tenants and businesses are required to clear snow and ice in front of their property within 24 hours of a snow event as per Bylaw 5000, Section 22 (1). The City clears sidewalks around parks, bridges and major City facilities. Not everyone can physically clear the snow in front of their own residence or business, but that doesn't change the importance of clearing it. Make arrangements if you need help, and also if you expect to be away from home or work during the winter season. Some people may have difficulty clearing snow and ice and could use a helping hand.

SNOWING UNTIL MONDAY – Snow is forecast to continue over the Malahat into Monday, with 15 to 20 cm is projected to fall over the five-kilometre stretch of Highway 1. Adjust your driving with changing road conditions. Surfaces on highways, roads, walkways and parking lots may become difficult to navigate. Weather in the mountains can change suddenly resulting in hazardous driving conditions, says Evnironment Canada. For the latest road conditions in B.C., visit the DriveBC website.

Saturday, Feb. 13

TRANSIT ROUTES AFFECTED – As the snow continues to blanket the Southern tip of Vancouver Island, many major bus routes have been cancelled. Check HERE for all the Nanaimo routes and how they might afffect you.

ISLAND HAS 15 NEW CASES – The Island Health region reported 15 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, part of the 445 new cases for the entire province. Ten more deaths were linked to the virus. British Columbia has 4,347 active cases with 7,035 under active public health monitoring. There are 226 in hospital, with 61 in critical care, said Dr. Bonnie Henry. Health officials also said 162,982 people have been vaccinated of which 17,562 are second doses. Immunization data is available on the COVID-19 dashboard at: The first phase of the immunization program –vulnerable residents of long-term care homes as well as frontline workers – will wrap up in the coming weeks. Dr. Henry said the vaccination program will soon expand into the community, particularly seniors and elders.

WANTED MAN IS MISSING – A man wanted on a Canada-wide warrant may be in the Mid-Island area. Comox Valley RCMP say Peter Ludvigson may be living in, or frequently visiting the Comox Valley. The 45-year-old, originally from Nanaimo, is wanted for failing to comply with his release conditions. Ludvigson was released in Nanaimo  in December. One of his release conditions included that he live with a family member in Nanaimo. However, on Jan. 25, Nanaimo RCMP said that he was no longer living at the residence, and that his whereabouts were unknown.

Friday, Feb 12

PRELIMINARY HEARING DATE SET FOR BACON – A preliminary hearing date of Nov. 1-5 has been set for Steven Michael Bacon, the man charged with first-degree murder in the death of Makayla Chang. Bacon, 61, is in jail at a maximum-security prison in North Bay, Ont. since he was arrested in 2019 on unrelated charges. The preliminary hearing will be the first time Kerry Chang, Makayla’s father, will see his daughter’s accused murderer since Bacon left Nanaimo. Chang attended the telephone conference, and said he is pleased with how the investigation has gone.

CHECK THIS OUT – Nanaimo’s single-use bag-banning bylaw has the green light from the Environment Ministry. By July 1 even compostable and biodegradable bags are banned. The bylaw sets a price for paper and reusable bags. Coun. Ben Geselbracht says it’s more than just banning single-use plastics, it’s regulating all single-use bags, anything that’s not necessary. Who decides? “We’re trying to get people to reuse as a priority,” he adds. There will be certain exemptions to the bylaw, for example, plastic bags for bulk foods and produce will be allowed.

FIRE DRILL WAS SAFE – A fire drill at Nanaimo District Secondary School last week did not spread Coronavirus, says Dale Burgos of the school district. Virus clusters were reported at three schools, but NDSS isn’t one of them. He acknowledged community concern about the fire drill, but said he hasn’t heard school administrators concerned about continuing with fire drills. B.C.’s Fire Services Act mandates six fire drills per school year, and last week’s drill at NDSS was the fourth of 2020-21. 

WIND AND SNOW TONIGHT – A storm off the Pacific coast will make landfall over southern Vancouver Island tonight and dump snow with strong winds. Environment Canada meteorologist Armel Castellan said southeast winds gusting up to 50 km/h and then the moisture meets the cold and that’s when things get messy.

SICK PEOPLE GET THE BLAME – The worrisome spread of Coronavirus in the Nanaimo region is largely due to sick people going about their normal daily activities. The major share of active infections on Vancouver Island are in the Nanaimo region, approximately 68 per cent of all active cases. Mid-Island Medical Health Officer Dr. Sandra Allison said people are going to work when they just have mild symptoms and that leads to them being identified as contacts in work places, she added.

Thursday, Feb. 11

MORE SNOW ON THE WAY – Yesterday’s dusting of snow was just the beginning, forecasts Environment Canada. A winter storm watch is in effect for much of Vancouver Island. Between 15 to 25 centimetres of snow could fall Friday evening through Saturday morning. The area covered by the storm watch includes southern, western, inland and eastern Vancouver Island. The Greater Victoria area and southern Gulf Islands also remain under a cold-weather warning with wind chill values ranging from -10 to -25. But the end is in sight by next week with temperatures returning to normal. 

NANAIMO COVID HOTSPOT – Greater Nanaimo is the latest hotspot for Coronavirus in the Island Health region with the total number of new cases increasing for four consecutive weeks. January 31 to February 6, the 93 new cases in Greater Nanaimo were nearly double the number from the previous week. The risk is present in every community on Vancouver Island, but the Central Island region continues to see the highest number of active cases. As of February 10, 157 of the 230 (68%) active cases were in the Central Island region, including Greater Nanaimo, the Cowichan Valley, Oceanside, and Alberni-Clayoquot. 

DRUGS OUTPACE COVID DEATH TOLL – The death toll in B.C. from illicit drug overdoses is considerably higher than the Covid-19 death toll. Last year was British Columbia's deadliest on record for drug deaths. The province's chief coroner Lisa Lapointe said 1,716 people died in 2020 due to toxic illicit drugs. In the last 12 months, there have been 1,278 Coronavirus related deaths. Drug deaths were up 74 per cent from 2019 at of 984, two deaths a day higher than in the previous year. "This represents the most deaths ever in a single year in this province due to an unnatural cause, a death rate of 33.4 per 100,000 people," Lapointe said. Deaths due to drug toxicity far surpass the number of deaths due to suicides, car crashes, homicides and prescription drugs. 

SPRING BREAK UNCHANGED – Spring break is not changing, it will still be March 13-28. Premier John Horgan said Wednesday that there are no plans to amend the scheduled spring break. Ontario is deliberating whether to cancel the break in March. “When it comes to school-aged children, we’re trying to keep a sense of normalcy when it comes to our K-12 system,” Horgan said. “When spring break arrives, our advice will be, as it has been for months and months, stay close to home. Try and stay within known bubbles.”

SMOKED SALMON RECALL – The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has issued a recall, of a smoked salmon product sold in British Columbia due to risk of bacterium listeria monocytogenes. The recall was triggered in late January, following an inspection and was expanded Wednesday. One Ocean brand Sliced Smoked Wild Sockeye Salmon is being recalled. It is made by Orca Specialty Foods and has the UPC 6 25984 000053, and the code 11253. It should not be eaten. So far there have been no reports of listeriosis, but those who think they may have become sick from eating a recalled product should contact their doctor.

MANITOBA HAS MADE its own deal to buy two million doses of a Canadian-made COVID-19 vaccine if it gets approved for use in Canada and is delivered by the end of the year. The province has made the deal for a vaccine under development by Calgary-based biotechnology company Providence Therapeutics, which has just started to put its product through human clinical trials, Premier Brian Pallister said at a news conference on Thursday. Pallister called the availability of vaccines from the federal government to Manitoba the most limiting factor in immunizing its population. "We can't do our job if the federal government isn't doing its job," Pallister said.

Wednesday, Feb 10

WE’RE A BIG CITY NOW – Nanaimo has passed a major milestone, reaching 100,000 population. And we’re not done growing, says Mayor Leonard Krog. “I know that for some it is a difficult adjustment from the small town they may have grown up in or their grandparents knew, but there is much to be positive about in this city’s future.” It’s unofficial, but it will be confirmed when this year’s census is completed. Economic Development Officer Amrit Manhas is comfortable that the 100,000 mark has been reached. In 1874 when the city was incorporated there were 1,000 residents, and today Nanaimo considers itself B.C.’s fifth-largest urban centre after Vancouver, Victoria, Kelowna and Abbotsford-Mission.

25 MORE CASES ON ISLAND – The Island Health region reported 25 more cases of COVID-19 Wednesday. That brings the total confirmed positive tests to 1,917 since the pandemic began. Active cases now stand at 269. Island Health has released the approximate locations of 230 of those cases. Sixty-two are in the South Island, 157 in the Central Island, and 11 in the North Island. Across the province, 469 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed over the past 24 hours. Meanwhile, six people died of the virus, bringing B.C.’s death toll to 1,269.

Please help our homeless with clothing during this freeze

The bitter cold sweeping our area could be life threatening for people living on the streets. They could use some help. Now is a good time for all of us to check our closets for heavy clothing we could provide. Heavy jackets and coats could be a lifesaver, but any other heavy clothing would also make a big difference. Sleeping bags would prove very helpful, and there’s never too many winter socks. The Warming Centre at 489 Wallace Street is one of the places you can drop off anything items or at the 7-10 Club at 285 Prideaux Street. If you have items to donate but can’t drop them off, please phone me and I’ll see what I can arrange – 250-616-0416.

 BABY, IT’S COLD OUTSIDE – The weatherman has some chilling news for Vancouver Island – records may be broken this week as a polar vortex continues to move across North America. Be prepared for freezing weather all week, accompanied by winds which will make it feel even colder. It’s the same chill that hit the Prairies with temperatures close to -50 Celsius over the weekend. Our region is forecast to dip down to -6 and -7 on Wednesday and Thursday, breaking the records of -5.8 and -5.5. With the wind chill that could feel as low as -15 degrees and that’s life threatening for people living on the streets.

HAMMOND BAY SCHOOL EXPANSION – Hammond Bay Elementary school is growing with a 12-classroom expansion project which is under way. It will increase the school’s capacity by 295 students and is expected to be completed in February 2022. It will cost slightly more than $15 million, with $14.6 million in funding coming from the province and $1.25 million coming from the Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District.

COVID CASES REPORTED – More Covid cases have been reported at Nanaimo retail businesses. Loblaws reported today that an employee at the Real Canadian Superstore, who last worked Feb. 6, tested positive for the virus. That comes after Sobey’s said two employees at Thrifty Foods at Longwood Station recently tested positive. Lowe’s in North Town Centre reported an employee testing positive, having last worked Jan. 27. 

SCHOOLs REPORT COVID EXPOSURES - Schools are also reporting exposures to the virus. Brechin Elementary School and John Barsby Community have also reported possible exposures, while Rock City Elementary School, Qwam Qwum Stuwixwulh School and Bayview Elementary have been dealing with clusters. If a parent or guardian has not been contacted by public health, then the student has not had a high-risk exposure, according to Island Health. In that case, the child should continue to attend school as long as they do not have any symptoms.

MORE TREATMENT BEDS – Nanaimo is slated to get 20 more treatment beds as part of provincial investment of $13 million fot treatment and recovery facilities across British Columbia. Mental Health and Addications Minister Sheila Malcolmson said, “There’s more to do, but we are working hard to build up a strong system of addictions and mental health care.” They will be a mix of new spaces and conversion of privately-funded to fully-funded public beds instead. In Nanaimo, Edgewood Treatment Centre will get five beds and the John Howard Society will get 15. 

AIR CANADA LAYS OFF 1,500 – New travel restrictions has resulted in Air Canada laying off 1,500 of its workers and shutting down a number of routes. This comes on the heels of last week’s temporary grounding of all Rouge flights. CUPE, the union representing Air Canada staff said this is due to the federal government’s introduction of a mandatory quarantine on arrival as well as the continued suspension of flights to Mexico and the Caribbean. Included in the cancelled routes from Vancouver are Seattle, London and Tokyo.

Tuesday, Feb. 9

HOUSE FIRE DISPLACES SEVEN – Seven people were displaced after a residential fire on Portsmouth Road on Monday. Fire crews from four stations responded to the fire in a duplex over the noon hour. The fire was quickly knocked down after significant damage to the building. Neighbours and passersby alerted the family living in the suite and adjoining unit and everyone evacuated unharmed. The seven displaced people included five children.  

SUSPECTS FLEE CAR CRASH – RCMP found a significant amount of drugs after a car rolled over on the Parkway on Saturday. There were multiple witnesses to the crash, including an off-duty RCMP officer when a sports utility struck a concrete curb and rolled several times on the Parkway near Third Street. Two occupants fled. Police found a significant amount of suspected fentanyl and cocaine and pills in the car along with two machetes, an ice pick and a collapsible baton. Upon finding the contents, RCMP brought in the dog unit and one of the fleeing occupants of the car was tracked up Pryde Avenue, suffering from serious injuries in the rollover. He was taken to hospital. Const. Gary O’Brien said the man was “less than forthcoming” about sharing information with investigators. He said there is a possibility of charges. 

TASTE OF THE BIG TIME - Dylan Coghlan of Nanaimo lived every young Canadian’s dream on the weekend, but he was not able to share it in person with his family. Coghlan made his National Hockey League debut with the Vegas Golden Knights. He played a little more than 13 minutes in a pair of victories Friday and Sunday against the Los Angeles Kings. Pandemic protocols restrict from from attending at the normally-packed and raucous T-Moible Arena in Las Vegas. He talked to NanaimoNewsNOW after the experience and said what he missed most was not having parents, brother and grandpa there.

WEEKEND COVID NUMBERS – Island Health reported 86 new positive tests for Covid-19 over the three-day weekend. Health officials remain concerned about variants as they reported 1,236 new cases and 13 deaths from the virus on Monday. There are 3,976 active cases in the province, 234 people in hospital, 69 in intensive care. About 6,000 people are under active public health monitoring due to possible exposure. There are 22 active outbreaks at long-term care or assisted living and nine outbreaks at acute care facilities involving 786 residents and 441 staff across the province. So far, 154,496 people have received the COVID-19 vaccine. The latest count includes 40 confirmed cases of the U.K. and South African COVID-19 variants, five of which are not connected to international travel. Only three of those cases are considered active.

Monday, Feb. 8

LIVING LIKE ROYALTY – Or at least the Queen’s representative. Most Canadians were not aware of the largesse bestowed on governors-general when they leave office, or in the most recent case, leave office in disgrace. Taxpayers will continue paying Julie Payette a pension and expense account, nearly $150,000 in pension and up to $206,000 a year in expenses — for life and even six months after death — to cover expenses incurred as a result of ongoing responsibilities related to her former office. I took a look at more than half a dozen former GGs and what they contributed after they left Rideau Hall. The entitlement syndrome is a recent phenomenon.

AISLE 3 AT WALMART – Federal officials continue to assure us that Ottawa plans to distribute more than 70,000 Pfizer-BiotNTech vaccine doses this week, but no Moderna doses are on the schedule. They don’t have the vaccine yet but they are hopeful they’ll be able to deliver to the provinces starting today, followed by about 336,000 and 396,000 doses in the final two weeks of February. Confusion over deliveries deflates Canadians’ confidence in the vaccine rollout. Pfizer and Moderna are the only two companies to have vaccines approved by Health Canada, though the department is reviewing vaccines from three others: AstraZeneca, Novavax, and Johnson and Johnson. Weekly projections on distribution are fluid and subject to change. Meanwhile, while we’re up in the air, in the U.S. vaccines are now available to the public at Walmart, Walgreen and other pharmacies.

NURSES TO PRESCRIBE – Registered nurses in B.C. are on track to begin prescribing addiction treatment medications for opioid use disorder. as part of the province’s overdose response plan, 30 RNs and registered psychiatric nurses (RPNs) are on their way to completing their training this month to prescribe buprenorphine/naloxone (commonly known as Suboxone), which is a first-line opioid agonist treatment (OAT) medication. It’s the first step in a phased approach to expand RNs and RPNs’ scope of practice to include prescribing addiction treatment medications.



Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021

SLOW NEWS DAY – There were times during my journalism career that there were times when “nothing happened”. That’s when little titbits would see the light of day that they would ordinarily never have seen. For instance, birdwatchers in Victoria have begun a campaign to lift the status of the Canada Jay to the status of the beaver and the maple leaf. Team Canada Jay wants the federal government to ratify its request to make the Canada Jay the official bird of Canada. The says the bird is uniquely Canadian because it breeds in every province and territory. Avian experts say the range of the little grey bird is from coast to coast to coast and mirrors our national borders. It breeds in really cold temperatures, is really friendly and also extremely intelligent, exemplifying what a Canadian is all about.

CELL PHONES FOR MENTAL HEALTH - The United Way and Bell Canada will distribute 10,000 cellphones to people across the country with mental health challenges. The Victoria United Way is working with 40 partner agencies to distribute 850 phones to those in need locally. The initiative is part of the Bell Let’s Talk campaign that works toward removing the stigma of mental health issues, improving access to care and supporting research. The United Way says the free cell phones are a necessary tool for positive mental health.

DIFFERENT LUNAR NEW YEAR – The year of the ox which arrives Friday, it will look completely different than any lunar new year before. In Vancouver, the 3,000-strong Vancouver Chinatown Spring Festival Parade with its 100,000 spectators will be absent, thanks to the Coronavirus ban on events and social gatherings. There will be no lion dancing or fireworks in the street, no police band marching and no politicians glad-handing. They’ve pivoted to virtual; In this case, a dance video shot in the streets of Chinatown that will be made available online.There will also be a “virtual parade,” complete with performances and greetings from community leaders

PRICE OF ISLAND LIVING – Residents who live within the the Islands Trust can expect a considerable tax bite this year, in part due to the pandemic. Gabriolans will see a 3.3-per cent increase, with some of that going to new measures to protect island ecosystems. The Islands Trust is a union of local governments for islands in Georgia Strait. It has an $8.8-million budget for 2021-22, with a 9.2-per-cent increase ($742,000) in operating costs.  Gabriola trustee Scott Colbourne said that during the COVID-19 pandemic, with staff unable to travel, there have been “really disturbing land-use decisions by property owners,” including clear-cutting, trespassing on rights-of-way and unregulated development and reduction of housing options with Airbnb suites.

Saturday, Feb. 6

GET READY TO BUNDLE UP – We’re in for a cold stretch over the next few days. Environment Canada warns that areas of B.C. including Nanaimo, will begin to change from the mild temperatures seen in the area to much colder conditions. Cold arctic air is pushing toward the area. The cold air is expected to cover much of the province by Monday and remain for the week. Temperatures will be five to 10 degrees below seasonal. Low temperatures between zero and -6 C are forecast for Nanaimo between tonight and Thursday night. Keep tabs on the weather at the Environment Canada website.

KEEPING AN EYE ON SUPER BOWL – WorkSafeBC and environmental health inspectors will step up their monitoring and enforcement during the Super Bowl this afternoon. Health officials will keep a close eye on bars and restaurants during the celebration. Pubs and sports bars have been allowed to stay open in through most of the pandemic, provided they have COVID-19 safety plans in place, which require tables to be two metres apart, limit groups to six people and ban mingling and self-service of liquor. Provincial Health Office Dr. Bonnie Henry said the province was stepping up enforcement, but also called on the public to respect the spirit of the rules.

BACK TO THE FUTURE ­– The Morden Mine headframe and tipple is back to the way it once was. The structure in South Wellington, built in 1912, has been restored to replace sections of concrete that had been crumbling away, in danger of collapsing. It’s the culmination of nearly a year of restoration to replace sections of concrete. The provincial government contributed $1.4 million to restore the tipple, one of just two of its kind left in North America. The concrete used was a mix of the same types of aggregates used to form the original structure to match the texture and appearance of the original construction materials. 

MILITARY COVID OUTBREAK – A COVID-19 outbreak at Esquimalt naval shipyard is not expected to delay or otherwise affect a a joint training exercise with the U.S. Participants in that exercise have been quarantining in area hotels for two weeks in preparation for their departure Monday. The outbreak began Wednesday when a single case was detected at a navy fleet maintenance facility. All maintenance work at the facility was scaled back Thursday and a second case was detected Friday in a civilian who had worked with the person who previously tested positive. A third civilian case was reported late Friday.

VIRUS TRENDING DOWN - The coronavirus curve is sloping downwards, according to the latest epidemiology modelling. The overall cases are descending, but going up on the Island. Every other health authority’s latest numbers have trended downwards from November, except Island Health, but still remain relatively low, averaging 27 new cases per day in the last two weeks. November was the most difficult time, with 948 cases recorded on Nov. 14. The daily case count in the last two weeks averaged about 450 new cases per day. The latest modelling data shows COVID-19 is most prominent in people aged from 20-29, followed then by those 30-39, 40-49 and 50-59 years old.

Friday, Feb 5

SOCIAL BAN EXTENDED – British Columbia’s ban on social gatherings and events, has been expanded. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the move this morning, asking residents to continue staying apart for the time being. "Right now we need to stay the path," Dr. Henry said. "We need to buy time to understand how these variants of concern – whether these variants of concern – are going to affect transmission in our community, and we need to buy time to get our immunization program back up and running at full speed."

VIRUS TRENDING DOWN - The coronavirus curve is sloping downwards, according to the latest epidemiology modelling. The overall cases are descending, but going up on the Island. Every other health authority’s latest numbers have trended downwards from November, except Island Health, but still remain relatively low, averaging 27 new cases per day in the last two weeks. November was the most difficult time, with 948 cases recorded on Nov. 14. The daily case count in the last two weeks averaged about 450 new cases per day. The latest modelling data shows COVID-19 is most prominent in people aged from 20-29, followed then by those 30-39, 40-49 and 50-59 years old.

SENIORS VISITATION – Confusion and inconsistency is still a problem in visitation policies for seniors, says interim Liberal leaders Shirley Bond. She wrote to Health Minister Adrian Dix Thursday, calling for better family access to social visits for elderly people who have been locked down for a year. “We continue to hear stories of confusion across the province, where we have seen discrepancies, even between care homes in the same health authority, where people are unclear about what the rules are, who gets to visit, that kind of detail,” Bond told Black Press Media. “We’re not at all suggesting that we want to put the residents of long-term care at risk of people transmitting the virus by visiting, but there does need to be clarity.”

THE MEN’S CENTRE in Nanaimo has seen an estimated 25-30-per cent increase in service provision since fall. Mark Busby began at the Fitzwilliam Street centre, at the end of November, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The centre provides mental support services to men. COVID has affected clientele, as well as brought in people who probably wouldn’t have come in the past, he said. It’s a challenge, he says, because they are not able to see people in face-to-face situation. Some of our more senior clients aren’t necessarily what we might consider to be tech-savvy, so there’s support that’s needed there to help our senior members of the community to engage.

TEACHERS WANT MORE PROTECTION – The province expanded mask rules for students yesterday, but Nanaimo-Ladysmith teachers’ union is not satisfied. Masks are now mandatory in indoor areas for middle school and secondary students, but they will be exempt when they are at their seat, if a barrier is in place and while drinking or eating. Elementary school students are still not required to wear masks. Jeremy Inscho, of the union said he is pleased standards are becoming incrementally more in line with others, but it falls short of other provinces. The district has reported COVID-19 exposures at schools in the last week, and Inscho said union members are worried as they are under “deep pressure to maintain a healthy, safe environment to the best of their ability to perform their jobs.” 

MORE COVID AT SCHOOLS – There are more coronavirus exposures at five Nanaimo schools. New cases were confirmed at Bayview, Brechin and Rock City elementary schools, along with NDSS and the Learning Alternatives program at John Barsby secondary. Exposure events range from Jan. 26 through Feb. 2. The cases are on top of existing ones announced by the school district over the last four nights with exposure events also in late January and early February.

CRUISESHIPS GROUNDED – Transport Canada has extended the national ban on cruise ships for an additional year until February 28, 2022. The ban means cruise vessels carrying more than 100 people will be prohibited from operating in Canadian waters. The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority said cruises represent more than 70 per cent of its annual revenue, which it estimates more than $12.5 million in 2020. 

MORE UNEMPLOYED – Unemployment climbed for the second month in a row as the province managed its second wave of COVID-19. Statistics Canada's monthly labour force survey reported B.C.'s unemployment rate at eight per cent in January – up from 7.2 per cent the month before. Nationwide, the unemployment rate rose to 9.4 per cent, the highest rate since August. B.C. enjoyed steady improvement last year, after unemployment reached a high of 13.4 per cent in May, related to economic slowdown from the province's COVID-19 response, and it gradually decreased as businesses reopened in the spring and summer.

CHARTWELL OUTBREAK IS OVER – An outbreak at Chartwell is over. Social visits for residents resumed yesterday and the facility will resume new admissions and patient transfers while residents can dine together with appropriate safety protocols in place. Island Health had 28 new positive tests for Coronavirus in the previous 24 hours with 234 active cases in the region – 168 in the central Island region. The province had 465 new cases to go with 4,447 active cases. Hospitalizations continue to drop, and 76 people are in intensive care. There were six deaths. The province has administered 145,567 doses of vaccine, including more than 8,000 second doses.  

WALKING TO VICTORIA – Nanaimo Parks, Recreation and Culture and New Balance Nanaimo bring the “Walk On” Winter Wellness Challenge to the community – a walking journey from Nanaimo to Victoria and beyond. The challenge will take place from Feb. 8 to March 19 and participants can join any time between those dates. You can even win prizes. Prizes are based on participation rather than total distance walked. The more times walkers input their data, the more ballots are entered for a chance to win weekly and the grand prize draw.  The first 20 people to email will get a pedometer to keep and use.

STILL TAKING THE BAIT – Bicycle thieves are not catching on. Two bait bikes were stolen within an hour of being placed on Thursday in downtown Nanaimo. Both were stolen by individuals well known to Nanaimo cops. Cops were monitoring the first bait bike when a man rode off with it. Within nine minutes, the 37-year-old was arrested taken to the slammer. Less than an hour later, another man also decided to help himself to the bike. Twenty minutes later, the 41-year-old was arrested and escorted to the cells. Both were released on an undertaking for one count of Possession of Stolen Property. They are scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday April 6.

INDIGENOUS HEALTH REPORT – An updated report into anti-Indigenous racism in British Columbia’s health-care system finds that Indigenous people have less access to primary care doctors than non-Indigenous British Columbians. The report is part of a broader investigation into anti-Indigenous racism in the health-care system by independent investigator Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond. The initial report found hundreds of examples of prejudice and racism in health facilities across the province when its findings were released in November. The report was the result of an investigation into allegations that emergency room staff were playing a game to guess the blood-alcohol level of Indigenous patients. Thursday’s update revealed that a lack of access to primary care physicians is contributing to poorer health outcomes for Indigenous people.

Thursday, Feb. 4

Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021

WARNING TO SHOPPERS – Grocery stores and pharmacies across B.C. are posting Coronavirus exposure notices in their stores warning customers that at least one employee recently tested positive for the disease. In Nanaimo, Thrifty Foods on Turner Road posted a notice Feb. 2; the employee last worked on Jan. 30. At some locations across the province, multiple employees tested positive. 

OCEAN DISCOVERY CENTRE SHELVED – The Nanaimo Deep Discovery Association is stepping back from the OceanEXP Centre for Ocean Exploration project. The project was envisioned as a world-class ocean discovery centre on our waterfront. Chairman Bill Nadeau said after seven years of committed efforts, the volunteer group needs to step back. The city gave the association $65,000 in 2018 for an economic feasibility study. The association thanked the City, Snuneymuxw and others, including volunteers and Nanaimo residents who “stood behind the project.” 

MASKS ARE MANDATORY – Mask rules are now mandatory for students in middle school to Grade 12 and there will be stricter measures for high-intensity activities. Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside said Middle and high school students will have to wear non-medical masks whenever inside the school, even in their learning groups. Masks will not have to be worn when sitting at your desk or workstation, when there is barrier in place, or when eating or drinking. Mask use is still a personal choice for elementary school children. High-intensity physical activities must be held outside as much as possible, and shared equipment such as weight machines, treadmills or musical instruments, must be cleaned between use.

VACANCY RATE DWINDLES – There are construction cranes wherever you look, but Nanaimo’s rental housing crunch is becoming more severe as availability shrinks and rents rise. Our vacancy rate dropped to one per cent in October, down from two per cent a year earlier. The Canadian average is 3.2. It’s a real challenge to find a place to rent for those on limited incomes. Violet Hayes, executive director of the Island Crisis Care Society, describes the situation as desperate.

A BREAK ON LIQUOR LICENSES – Liquor establishments in Nanaimo are getting a break on their business licenses this year to soften the pandemic blow. City council has reduced the fees for 2021 to $165 from the regular $1,100 and will now be the same as all other businesses. Coun. Sheryl Armstrong said the reduction was needed to offset the cost of the Bar Watch program and policing officers and overtime, which isn’t happening right now. Basically they’re running the same as a restaurant, she argued, and should be paying the same fees as a restaurant and that’s only for the year 2021. Coun. Ian Thorpe questioned lowering the fees, fearing the possibility that establishments now in Bar Watch might opt out permanently when restrictions are lifted.

VICTORIA BREAKS A MILLION – If you want to live in Victoria you better be well heeled. The average single-family home prices in Greater Victoria broke the million-dollar ceiling in January, partly due to a surge in luxury home sales. The average price of a home sold in January was $1,220,626, up from $992,202 in December. In January 2020, four homes sold at over $1,000,000, said VERB president David Langlois. This January there were 25 in the bracket. In January, 297 homes were sold compared to 200 a year ago, an almost 50 per cent increase. Condo sales also soared this year, with 216 sold, up from 118 last year, or approximately 83.1 per cent more.

Wednesday, Feb. 3

Compiled Feb. 2

HELP FOR SMALL BUSINESS - Small business owners looking to the internet for sales during the pandemic have a new way to get involved – a new $7,500 grant from the province. Economic Recovery Minister Ravi Kahlon said the grants will allow businesses to hire B.C. tech companies to develop websites, create e-commerce capabilities, train staff and fund online advertising for up to a year. Kahlon said he wants business in B.C. to be on the cutting edge. Now is the time for them to build their online sales so they can have the opportunity to be more competitive and grow, said. David Nicholls, general manager of Vancouver Island Brewing, said the grant money will help improve their online store so that customers see fewer errors, timeouts and frustrations when trying to complete a purchase.

MINI-HOUSING OPTION – City council is looking into the idea of mini-housing to solve our homeless problem. Council has ordered a staff staff report on the possibility of setting up two or three pilot locations. Some councillors recently met with former social planner John Horne who is now executive director of the Cowichan Housing Association. Eight-by-eight sleeping cabins were set up at two locations in Duncan last month.

PLEASE HOLD – If you need to call Island Health to book a COVID-19 test, your patience may be tested. The health authority says there are longer wait times or a dropped call when transferring to an agent. Technical issues at the COVID-19 testing call centre are nothing new. Island Health reported wait times of up to 50 minutes because of technical issues at the call centre yesterday and on Jan. 29. However, in both those cases, they said people could expect a call back within 24 hours. 

BUS SERVICE STALLED – Tofino Bus and the Vancouver Island Connector have suspended operations and may not reopen due to revenue lost to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Wilson’s Group operates the crucial transportation links for communities on the island’s north and west coasts. The company said Tuesday that the service would not resume on Feb 12 as previously scheduled. The service provided 82,500 trips between 29 island communities and 21 First Nations in 2019. The pandemic and related travel restrictions have cut revenue on those routes by 95 per cent since March 2020, the company says. Nuu‐chah‐nulth Tribal Council president Judith Sayers says the loss of the bus service poses a safety risk for the community, particular women and girls. 

STATE OF EMERGENCY – British Columbia has renewed its record-breaking state of emergency. This is the 24th extension related to the state first put in place in the early days of the pandemic. The declarations grant extra powers, including allowing authorities to enforce emergency-based rules, such as public health orders. Dr. Bonnie Henry will make another decision this week on whether to extend restrictions which include a ban on most gatherings with people outside an individual's household. That announcement is expected Friday.

CORONAVIRUS CURVE EASES – The province confirmed 429 new cases across B.C., lessening the recent curve. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said it’s an encouraging trend. Island Health had 29 new cases and the number of active cases dropped by one to 239, rising slightly in the central Vancouver Island area to 175. There are 294 people in hospital and 82 receiving intensive care, relatively unchanged.

OKAY, ALL YOU COOL CATS – Nanaimo City Council trod where no men/women have trodden before – herding cats. There was no hissing and scratching as council passed three readings of its controversial animal responsibility bylaw on Monday. It sets fees and charges for dog licences and impoundment and boarding maintenance fees for cats, dogs and livestock. SPCA Nanaimo branch manager Leon Davis said the bylaw will lessen the number of stray cats in the city and reduce the burden on hundreds of community volunteers who are trying to stem the tide of suffering of outdoor and stray cats. He said the SPCA deals with about 500 stray cats a year. Mayor Leonard Krog tried to sidetrack the bylaw but recognized council was intent on passing it, “and make changes later”.

IT'S OFFICIAL NOW – Work began Tuesday on the multi-million dollar intensive care unit at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. The new $41.57-million ICU will have 12 single-patient rooms and be around triple the size of the current ICU. Equipment and facilities including patient lifts, family consultation room and staff rest area are also included. Nanaimo MLA, Sheila Malcolmson, said the community has been advocating for a new ICU for years, and she is glad  the government is delivering the services the community needs.

Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021

NO RCMP WRONGDOING – Nanaimo RCMP have been cleared of wrongdoing when the Independent Investigations reported on a complaint. The investigation found that a woman injured while being jailed in Nanaimo didn’t suffer serious harm. Oct. 1 at about 4:30 a.m., police responded to a disturbance at a residence on Ninth Street where a woman was arrested and taken to RCMP detachment cells. Video evidence from the detachment shows the woman was not co-operating with officer requests and attempted to pull away. Two officers each gained control of one arm and as the woman continued to pull, all three fell to the ground. The woman did not report any injury to police and video evidence showed no overt signs of discomfort or uses of force during the rest of her time at the detachment. 

PLEA FOR MENTAL HEALTH HELP – Nanaimo Regional District board members want more than just housing to tackle the homelessness crisis. Chairman Tyler Brown got the go ahead to contact Mental Health and Addictions Minister Sheila Malcolmson for treatment levels beyond housing. He will ask for adequate levels of treatment, recovery, detox and after-care facilities to be built in the region, along with complex care housing for people requiring more than just supportive housing. He termed it heartbreaking and shameful that there are people who are homeless in a province like B.C. with some left to suffer with addiction and mental illness on the streets. He said he was thankful for the province’s efforts with affordable housing options, but an entire continuum of support is required.

DIFFERENT STROKES – Delta Air Lines and American Airlines have no plans to stop offering service to sun destinations from Canada. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday that Canadian airlines had agreed to suspend flights to Mexico and the Caribbean until April 30, to combat the spread of COVID-19 in Canada. Canadians flying out of major cities will still be able to book trips to Mexico and the Caribbean as normal, provided they are willing to stop over at another airport. American and Delta, for example, are selling tickets for flights from Toronto to Cancun, connecting through Atlanta, Charlotte, and Philadelphia. Delta suspended its flight from Minneapolis to Winnipeg, in keeping with government restrictions limiting which airports can receive international flights, but planned to continue its scheduled service to Canada.

78 VIRUS CASES ON VANCOUVER ISLAND – There were 78 new cases for Coronavirus over the weekend as part of the 1,158 cases for the province. There were seven cases of the U.K. variant in British Columbia over the past 72 hours. There were 408 cases on Saturday, 473 on Sunday and 277 new cases from Sunday to today. The province’s death toll rose to 1,210.Vaccine has been administered to 138,892 people have received one dose while 4,491 have received two doses. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said there are now 18 cases in British Columbia that are “variants of concern” after seven cases of the U.K. variant were identified over the weekend.

YOU’LL GET A CHARGE OUT OF THIS – The longer you wait the more the government entices you to go electric for your transportation needs. The latest is for businesses who may be eligible for thousands of dollars in rebates for switching their fleet vehicles. The new rebates and supports are now available for businesses and municipalities. Those eligible can get money back for installing level 2 and direct-current fast-charging stations for fleets of one or more electric vehicles. The province is promising up to $4,000 back for such installations.  Additionally, businesses buying electric vehicles for a fleet can now get the a rebate of $3,000 rebate for new electric vehicles. The government earlier doubled the maximum amount of cash back for heavy-duty vehicles to $100,000 from $50,000.  

ICBC REFUND COMING – B.C. drivers can expect the government to unveil a COVID-19 rebate for ICBC drivers on today at 12:30 p.m. British Columbia has been the only jurisdiction in the country where drivers did not get a COVID-19-related rebate. The government announce how much the rebate will be and when drivers should expect to get it. Insurance companies around the world have seen a reduction in risk due to a decrease in drivers on the road. Premier John Horgan, Solicitor General Mike Farnworth, and ICBC CEO Nicolas Jimenez will unveil the benefit this afternoon. 

COST OF DEMOCRACY – The provincial election last fall cost taxpayers more than $4 million in expenses to political parties. Elections B.C. released the figures on Monday. Normally, they show how much political parties raised and spent in their campaigns, but parties and candidates are now also eligible to claim up to 50 per cent of their expenses from the province, as part of a 2018 law that bans corporate and union donations. 
$300,744.59 to the B.C. Greens
$1,552,198.27 to the B.C. Liberals
$2,151,258.25 to the B.C. NDP
The funding is on top of more than $15 million paid out to political parties using a per-vote funding formula that was also part of the 2018 election finance reform law. 

MISSING MAN WITH MEDICAL ISSUES – UPDATE - Mr. Newell has been found and is in good health. EARLIER - Nanaimo RCMP seek public assistance in locating 26-year-old Darian Newell who was reported missing by caregivers to the Nanaimo RCMP on January 29. Newell has significant medical issues and investigators and his caregivers are concerned for his safety and well-being. Newell is a Caucasian male, 5 ft. 10, 160 pounds. The picture provided is recent. Newell is of no fixed address and has been known to frequent downtown Nanaimo and Maffeo Sutton Park. If you have information on the whereabouts of Darian Newell, please call the Nanaimo RCMP non-emergency line at 250-754-2345 and quote file # 2021-3457.

DRIVER FLEES ACCIDENT – Nanaimo RCMP are on the lookout for the driver involved in a two-car crash on Departure Bay Road Sunday night. A patrol spotted compact car travelling at 84 km/h along Departure Bay Rd. around 10 p.m. By the time the patrol car turned around to pursue, the car was gone, said Cst. Gary O’Brien. The officer came across a motor vehicle accident involving what he believed to be the suspect vehicle. The other vehicle involved, sustained significant damage and trapped the female driver inside. She was eventually removed and taken to hospital. Police said the driver of the small car left the scene, prompting an investigation.

Monday, Feb. 1, 2021

Monday, Feb. 1


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ONE TAKEN TO HOSPITAL AFTER CRASH – Firefighters used the Jaws of Life to cut the the door off one of two vehicles in a crash on Departure Bay Road on Sunday night. An SUV and a car were wrecked in the crash about 10 p.m. near Doctors Road. The driver’s-side door of the SUV was removed and a woman placed onto a stretcher and taken to hospital with unknown injuries. The crash is under police investigation. Firefighters cut into the hood of the car to power down the vehicle before it was towed. MORE

WORKSAFEBC has issued more than 1,500 orders after 21,813 COVID-related inspections related to Covid rules. The orders issued 470 in the service sector, 373 in construction and 325 in the trade sector which includes retail and wholesale operation and supermarkets. Manufacturing, including meat processing, breweries, sawmills, and pharmaceuticals, recorded 263 orders. 3,449 COVID-related claims have been submitted to WorkSafeBC as of Jan. 22. Of these, 1,777 have been allowed, 954 disallowed, with 449 still pending. The vast majority of allowed claims are in the service sector, which saw 1,328 claims.

COVID REPORTS AT TWO SCHOOLS – The school board has reported COVID-19 exposure at two Nanaimo schools – at Bayview Elementary School on Jan. 27 and Jan. 29 and Qwam Qwum Stuwixwulh School Jan. 28. Families are advised not to send their students to Qwam Qwum Stuwixwulh Monday or Tuesday, while a deep clean is conducted. Check here for the Island Health has a school exposures web page. A list of schools with exposures in the Island Health region is hereMORE

MORE FLIGHTS ADDED – A WestJet flight from Calgary to Nanaimo on Tuesday, Jan. 26 has been added to the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control COVID-19 exposure list. The BC Centre for Disease Control has added seven more flights its list of COVID-19 exposures, warning travellers on those flights to monitor themselves for symptoms of the coronavirus. Details of the most recent flight exposures came as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday that there are new measures to restrict non-essential international travel ahead of spring break. MORE