Monday, March 8

COVID APPOINTMENT LINES JAMMED – British Columbia opened call-ins this morning to book COVID-19 vaccine appointments for people over the age of 90 and Indigenous people over the age of 65. Shortly after call centres opened at 7 a.m., reports came in suggesting lines were jammed. Bookings for seniors aged 85 and up will open on March 15, while bookings for seniors 80 and older will open March 22. The Island Health number is 1-833-348-4787. Please do not call if you are not eligible for that time period.

BIG SLATE FOR TOFINO BYELECTION – When all is said and done, Tofino will have two new council members following a weekend byelection in which former councillor Dan Law elected as the new mayor. It’s kind of involved since previous mayor Josie Osborne was elected to the Legislature in the provincial election. That saw Law and Andrea McQuade resign as councillors in order to unsuccessfully run for mayor. Cathy Thicke and Jacky Challenger were elected to the two council seats besting five other candidates.

March 7, 2021

Vaccination details made public by Island Health
0307 - Island Health has announced the 19 community clinics where more than 40,000 eligible residents will receive their first COVID-19 immunization over the next month. Clinics in Nanaimo will be at Beban Park and Chase River Community Centre. The Beban site will begin inoculating March 15 with the clinic open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily until Oct. 31. The Cedar site will be open March 31 until Oct. 31, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. FULL REPORT.

Come on man, do the right thing, give them back - 0306 - A man in a pickup truck saw someone giving away golf clubs at the Salvation Army thrift store in North Nanaimo, so he objiged and took them. There’s only one problem, one of those sets of golf clubs was not intended to be donated. Adam Ali was getting rid of some old stuff, but due to a misunderstanding he also gave away his daughter’s glubs which were not meant to be donated. Now he is hoping the man who got the clubs will do the right thing and return them.

Putting on a better face - 0306 - The Nanaimo Community Archives is sponsoring the city’s first-ever Heritage House Renovations Awards. If you did some of the exterior renovation projects in 2020 during the pandemic you have a chance to win an award. Submissions don’t have to be from homes on the City of Nanaimo’s heritage register and the project simply has to have been any exterior renovation that enhanced the overall heritage character of a home within the Nanaimo city limits. Projects must have been completed in 2020 and be within Nanaimo city limits. Deadline for submissions is March 31 and winners will be announced April 15.

Don’t mess with our Nanaimo bars - 0306 - Even when you’re as big and influential as the New York Times, you had better not mess with Nanaimo bards. The bar recipe made headlines again this week after the New York Times, on its cooking section Instagram account, posted a photo of a dessert square with a meagre amount of custard and an overly thick bottom layer.  The city of Nanaimo wasted no time replying on its own Instagram account.

Just too much garbage - 0306 – The Regional District has a big problem on it hands – it doesn’t have enough big garbage cans. When the new pickup system was initiated residents had an choice to upgrade the size, and it turns out more homeowners want their new 100-litre default garbage bins replaced with bigger ones. Between 1,000 and 1,500 exchanges from 100L to 240L bins were already made but the number is expected to increase to 2,000 during the next few months. Now the RDN can’t get enough of the big ones from the supplier. Manager of solid waste services, Larry Gardner, said he did not know to what extent that supply problem will remain. And, of course, that will result in a surplus of 2,000 100L carts.

No long-term vision - 0306 - They spent $4.3 million on a taxi-way extension at Victoria International Airport – and then they discovered it is in a blind spot and can’t be seen from the airport’s control tower. They expanded the taxi-way on the east side of the airport by approximately 366 meters. The answer seems to  be to move the control tower, but revenue has plummeted due to the coronavirus pandemic, putting the move on hold for now.

Shannon Lettington

Can you help to find missing woman? – Shannon Lettington of Nanaimo has been missing since last October and RCMP would like public help in finder her. This is out of character for the 35-year-old. Nanaimo RCMP were contacted by her family on March 4 to assist in locating her and determining her well-being. She has no fixed address and has been known to stay at homeless encampments throughout Nanaimo. To date, all transition shelters in Nanaimo any many of the encampments have been checked without success. Shannon is five feet tall, 100 pounds and has brown hair and hazel eyes. The picture was taken within the last year. If anyone has information on her whereabouts, please call the Nanaimo RCMP non-emergency line at 250-754-2345, and quote file 2021-7423.

Province on alert for tsunami after New Zealand quakes

0304 -  The province is evaluating potential tsunami risk locally after a series of strong earthquakes hit New Zealand. Three earthquakes have so far been recorded in New Zealand on Friday, local time. The latest was an 8.0 quake in the Kermadec Islands.  At about noon today, the province tweeted it was evaluating any potential risk, adding. "Stand by for B.C. specific info," the post said. MORE

Are you a poet and didn't know it?

0304 -The City invites applications for the position of Poet Laureate. Nanaimo’s next Poet Laureate will be appointed by City Council for a two-year term and will serve as a literary ambassador for the City, charged with creating and presenting poetic works and engaging activities for the benefit of our community.  Nanaimo’s next Poet Laureate will have a track record of engagement with the literary community and will bring their own artistic objectives, experiences and networks to this dynamic civic role. Over the course of their term, they will collaborate with City staff, and with other community partners, producing and sharing work with diverse audiences. Review the guidelines including eligibility requirements and details on how to apply on the City’s website at www.nanaimo.ca/goto/poetry. MORE

March 4, 2021

Destructive wind warnings for Vancouver Island
0304 - A wind warning has been issued by Environment Canada for North and West Vancouver Island beginning Thursday morning. Winds of up to 90 km/h are expected to build by Thursday afternoon, before easing Thursday evening.

Stopping Coronavirus in Nanaimo goes high tech
0304 - We wash our hands dozens of times a day, we wear masks and physical distance to make sure we’re avoiding Coronavirus germs. All that, and guess what? We put our cell phones to our mouth dozens of times a day. All of our electronic gadgets, tablets, keyboards, notebooks and even car keys are major germ carriers. I recently spotted a UV device at Wingren Nufloors on Northfield Road. Check out the whole story here.

Police seek help in finding Comox Valley woman
0304 -Comox Valley RCMP are looking for help locating Chelsea Harry, 30, who was last seen in Courtenay on Feb. 21. She has connections to Nanaimo and Powell River and police believe she could be in there or another community on the Island.  If you’ve seen her or or know where she is, contact the Comox Valley RCMP at 250-338-1321 or anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or online at comoxvalleycrimestoppers.bc.ca.

Two vaccination locations set for Nanaimo
0304 - Vancouver Island’s health authority has revealed the locations of two COVID-19 vaccine clinics in Nanaimo – Beban Park and Cedar Community Hall. The mass vaccination program begins in full next week, and will allow seniors to begin booking their immunization appointments on March 8 when the window opens for people over age 90, and then will open for younger people in five-year increments. People living in the Island Health region can call 1-833-348-4787 to book a vaccine appointment. 

Increased care-home visits expected by month end
0303 - Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry expects increased visits to long-term care homes may be possible by the end of this month. She explained science has shown just how effective the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been after one dose. The province will now space out first and second doses to as long as four months in order to give out more first doses.

March 3, 2021

OPINION - What’s worse, Covid-19 or the shutdown?
0303 - Texas governor Greg Abbott formally ended his state’s Covid lockdown Tuesday, announcing “Texas is now 100-per-cent open”. Mississippi quickly followed suit. No more mandatory masks, no more distancing, all businesses open with no restrictions, and all other gatherings, including churches and all schools are back in business. Florida did something similar earlier and their virus numbers have gone down. That raises the question, what’s creating more suffering – the virus itself or shutdown? We’ve been getting daily figures in B.C. of “positive” tests for the virus but no indication of how many listed as active cases are actually stricken. Insurance companies in the U.S. are claiming almost double the number of mental-health-related claims, predominantly among youth. And education has suffered immensely. B.C. has now vaccinated more people than have tested positive since the beginning of the pandemic and that raises the question of whether it’s time to let the foot off the gas. We’ll be watching those southern states with keen interest. 

Increased care-home visits expected by month end - 0303 - Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry expects increased visits to long-term care homes may be possible by the end of this month. She explained science has shown just how effective the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been after one dose. The province will now space out first and second doses to as long as four months in order to give out more first doses. She said evidence shows that high-level of protection is there, at least in the short term, after one dose. So that does move up the timeline for us to be able to increase visits to long-term care. Henry said the impact of most long-term care residents and workers being vaccinated is already being noticed.

B.C. Ferries introduces new reduced fares
You can now save on ferry fares if you travel at special times. BC Ferries has introduced new fare options for the three Vancouver – Vancouver Island routes. Now you can get a ‘Saver’ fare and a ‘Prepaid’ fare, which are available for essential travellers and will become available for all passengers once it’s safe to resume non-essential travel. The Saver fare will be a discount option for passengers, described as the most affordable fare. The company says this new Saver fare will be available on select, less-busy sailings throughout the year. See full details. 

Get set for a wet and windy spring season - 0303 - Forget about global warming, it’s going to be a lot wetter and a bit cooler in our region this spring. AccuWeather senior meteorologist Brett Anderson says if the seasonal forecasts are right, the next two months will be pretty stormy. Temperatures are forecast to be near normal for Vancouver Island but cooler through the rest of the province. He forecasts several storms in spring, which would bring heavy rain to the coast in March and into April, along with possible flooding. How much rain? Forecasters say the south coast could see 125 to 200 per cent of our typical rainfall this month. Coastal areas could see a lot of wind, says Anderson.

Council to use negative-petition to decide on BIA _ 0303 - City council voted Monday to begin the process for downtown businesses and property owners to decide on a new business improvement association. Business owners will have to vote against it or it will come into force though a petition-against process. That will determine whether downtown business and property owners want a BIA and the tax levy that would come along with it. The BIA will operate autonomously for its five-year term with no grants or other financial commitments by the city.

Auditor general not buying into budget process - 0303 - Auditor general Michael Pickup says the province’s accounting process does not present a true financial position. His office has had a nine-year accounting difference of opinion with the way federal funds for capital projects are added to the province’s annual budget totals. That accounting difference means the 2019-20 budget deficit of $321 million should actually have included accumulated revenue of $5.7 billion, producing a surplus of $5.4 billion. He uses generally accepted accounting principles but the province uses the Budget Transparency and Accountability Act.