Saturday, May 1

FINALLY, SHOTS FOR FRONT LINE WORKERS – It seems to have taken forever, so it’s good news that Vancouver Island frontline workers can start registering today to get their COVID-19 vaccinations, to begin getting them next week. Island Health says that will include teachers and other in-school staff, firefighters, police and RCMP and daycare staff. Workers must register through the Get Vaccinated online portal. Island Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Richard Stanwick said there is an abundance of vaccines coming into Canada in the next week and he hopes to have all front line workers vaccinated by mid-May.

DRIVER COULD NOT STAND UP – A driver was charged with impaired driving after sideswiping an RCMP patrol car on the side of the road near Bowen Road and Dufferin Crescent on Wednesday. “When the driver of the SUV was apprehended he leaned against his vehicle to avoid falling over,” said Const. Gary O’Brien. “He was arrested for impaired driving and taken to the detachment where he provided breath samples of .320, .350 and .350, all of which are over four times the legal limit.” The 44-year-old man was taken to hospital to be treated for possible alcohol poisoning. Upon his release he was handed a 90-day roadside suspension and his vehicle was impounded for 30 days.

NO ROAD BLOCKS - Police won’t wait along Vancouver Island highways to nab people for travelling out of their area. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said Friday that the road blocks implemented until May 25 won’t be established near Island ferry terminals as originally planned. He said questions about essential travel are already asked at the ferry terminals, which seem to be effective. “This past weekend ferry traffic was down on average 30 per cent. Foot passenger traffic was down 40 per cent, that speaks volumes, I think,” Farnworth said.

CLEANING UP OUR SHORELINES - The province will spend $9.5 million to clean up marine debris along our coast, including more than 100 derelict vessels. Abandoned boats were an issue I worked on while on City Council and then later the Nanaimo Port Authority. At the same time, Sheila Malcolmson, then our member of Parliament, pushed the cause in Ottawa. Environment Minister George Heyman says four projects will share the funding to clean up 1,200 km. of coastline. The Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce also had a hand in provincial policy on abandoned vessels in 2018. Since then, the federal government has joined the province in cleaning up our coast.

NETHERLANDS REMEMBER - Canada’s role in the liberation of the Netherlands has been heralded as one of Canada’s greatest contributions in WWII. Now 75 years later, a dedicated Dutch nation remains committed to the Remembrance and appreciation. Nanaimo’s Nick Janicki of the Canadian Scottish Regiment will be featured in a documentary next Wednesday on AMI-tv at 5 p.m. The documentary recounts service and sacrifice allowing aging heroes to recall specific impactful moments while serving in the Canadian Armed Forces during WWII. With an ever-diminishing number of WWII veterans, taking the time to hear their brief stories and honour their legacy and sacrifice is essential to all Canadians. Link to AMI-TV on your computer or go to Shaw channel 888.

TRUCK FLIPS - A recycling truck rollover on Boxwood Road Friday afternoon sent the driver to hospital. Emergency crews said the driver kicked out the windshield to get out of the vehicle and suffered unknown injuries. The truck was transporting yard waste, some of which spilled on the side of the road. 

DRUG DEATHS STILL RISING – Illicit drug use and deaths continue to rise in Nanaimo. BC Coroners Service data shows so far this year, nine people died due to fatal overdoses in Nanaimo by the end of March. At that rate, 2021 could be just as fatal as last year when 38 people died in Nanaimo.  There were 19 deaths by the end of March within central Vancouver Island while the south saw 40. Across the province, a record 498 people died of overdoses during the first three months of the year.

COVID FLIGHTS A RECORD – If anyone cares, there were more flights with COVID-19 on board passing through B.C. airports in April than any other month, a CTV News analysis of B.C. Centre for Disease Control data shows. The BCCDC keeps an archive of such exposures back to March 2020. In that time, there have been more than 1,400 flights added to the list. The vast majority, 1,072 of them, have been domestic.

 

A shredding heads up

Get ready and compile all your paper work – Daybreak Rotary is holding it's annual shredding event Saturday, May 29, a month from now. It will be at Nanaimo North Town Centre (Rutherford Mall). It will cost you ten bucks to get a banker's box full if all your secrets shredded. New this year is a bottle drive for Rotary. Start sorting now.

 

Friday, April 30

MINE DISASTER ANNIVERSARY - Flags at City facilities will be at half mast Monday to mark the anniversary of the coal mining disaster of 1887 that took 150 lives. The explosions of the No. 1 Esplanade Mine are known as the worst mining disaster in British Columbia's history and second worst in Canada (behind 1914 in Hillcrest, Alta which killed 189 miners). A jury blamed the explosion on the firing of an unprepared and badly planted charge that ignited gas fuelled by coal dust. Learn more Nanaimo's coal mining history and the tragic accident at the walk-through coal mine exhibit at our museum.

EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS - Being prepared is important and something the whole family can do. As Emergency Preparedness Week approaches, the City encourages residents to prepare by making a kit, drafting a plan and signing up for the City's Voyent Alert Emergency Notification System. Natural disasters may be beyond our control, but there are ways to reduce the risk and the impact of whatever emergency we might face - whether natural or human-induced ­ by taking a few simple steps, you can become better prepared to face a range of emergencies – anytime, anywhere. 

GIANT FIST PUMP - Josh Cook used to play with the VIU Mariners hockey team when he attended Vancouver Island University. Now he’s a Mountie stationed in Nunavut. After his posting he recognized hockey equipment for kids was nearly non-existent, says Staff Sgt. Donovan Tait, of the Nanaimo RCMP. Cook called on VIU Mariners staff, former teammates and Nanaimo RCMP members to see if some hockey gear couldn’t be donated. That’s when community kicked in. Read the full story.

DAILY REMINDERS keep you up to date on what’s happening in your community. Be in the know, click here to subscribe.

Nanaimo had an increase in positive COVID-19 tests last week. Island Health reported 269 active cases on Vancouver Island, with 79 on the central Island, 172 on the south Island and 18 on the north Island. The BCCDC reports that there were 45 positives in Greater Nanaimo during that week, up from 31 the week before. More

Thursday, April 29

TAX DEADLINE FRIDAY - Tomorrow is income tax deadline day. Ottawa did not prolong the tax season this year despite the Coronavirus pandemic. Filing and paying taxes by the deadline is even more important this year if you’re receiving COVID-19 benefits. April 30 is the cutoff for turning in your income tax return and paying taxes owed. If you don’t file, you could see a delay not just in your Canada Child Benefit (CCB), but also income supports that you may apply for.

MONEY DOWN THE DRAIN - The idea of a vaccination passport is another expensive concept that is totally unneeded. People are arguing the pros and cons of what would be a very costly exercise. A “passport” for proof of vaccination would spawn another bottomless-pit bureaucracy, money down the drain. Check this out. 

$27,000 LOST IN LOTTERY SCAM -  A Nanaimo woman has given up hope of recouping her money that she recently lost in a Lottery scam. In total, scammers made off with almost $27,000 after telling her she had won $750 million and a Mercedes Benz. In March, the senior got numerous phone calls from a man who told her she had won the grand prize, and that all she had to do to claim her winnings was pay some upfront taxes.

NDP CANDIDATES STEP FORTH - The federal political itch is starting – at least one party is getting set for a nomination for the next election. The Nanaimo-Ladysmith NDP will conduct a virtual town hall Saturday with four contestants for the candidacy. NDP members may submit questions for contestants in advance of the town hall. Contestants will also take questions from the floor. Register HERE. To learn and how to sign into the meeting, contact info@nanaimoladysmithndp.ca

RENTAL SHORTAGE CONTINUES – The ongoing low rental vacancy rate continues to challenge the city in getting more rental housing units. The rental vacancy rate still sits at one per cent. Council was updated Monday on Nanaimo’s affordable housing strategy which was adopted in 2018 to increase the supply of rental housing, support infilling of housing in existing neighbourhoods, diversify housing and support low-income and special-needs housing. City social planner Karin Kronstal reported that housing starts in 2020 were 40 per cent rental, which is approaching Nanaimo’s goal of 50 per cent of new housing purpose-built for rental.

DAILY REMINDERS keep you up to date on what’s happening in your community. Be in the know, click here to subscribe.

Wednesday Covid report

Wednesday, April 28

MISSING PERSON LOCATED - Nanaimo RCMP report that 20-year-old Simon Baker who has been missing since April 21 has been located safe and sound.

KETTLES JINGLED A MERRY TUNE  – The Salvation Army Kettle Campaign battled Covid but still surpassed the target and raised $287,000. A new innovation this year, the tap machines brought in $18,000. Envoy Dawne Anderson thanks all those who volunteered. Some people have asked if there are other areas for volunteers, and the answer is yes – Thrift Stores are always looking for volunteers to help in different areas (testing small appliances, sorting clothes, books and brick a brack) and the Salvation Army is lunching a weekly outreach to our community to help feed those who don’t come downtown to the New Hope Centre. You can reach Dawne at 250-740-1004 or 250-716-6595. Full story. 

THE NERVE OF SOME PEOPLE - Volunteers cleared 25 tonnes of other people’s messes from forests south of Nanaimo on the weekend. They tackled illegal dumping sites, including Spruston Road in Cassidy. Dave Judson, of the Ladysmith Sportsmen Club, organizes annual cleanups of forest lands in the area. Dave Judson, organizes annual cleanups of forest lands in the area. He says illegal dumping could occur for several reasons, but he suspects that it has a lot to do with hours of operation at waste facilities, cost of disposal and plain laziness. “I have picked up five tonnes up past Peerless Road dump,” he said. “What happens is people go there with a full truckload and the dump is closed. 

MULTIPLE DRUG CHARGES - Two Nanaimo men arrested in 2019 are now facing multiple charges of drug importation and trafficking. Gerhard “Gary” Laufer and Gerry David Allen Grieve were arrested in November 2019 connection with alleged drug importation following a lengthy, complex investigation. Police say the investigation resulted in the seizure of the vehicles and 10 kilograms of cocaine from an electronically-controlled compartment.

NO BCJHL PLAYOFFS – British Columbia Junior Hockey League teams will complete their season without playoffs. Due to the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, the league determined it was not feasible to conduct a postseason,” the league announced Tuesday. The top teams and players as the first place team from each of the five pods will be declared champions. Individual awards will be given to the MVP, top defenceman, top goalie, top rookie and top scorer in each pod.

OVERDOSE ADVISORY EXTENDED - Island Health has extended an overdose advisory first put in place on April 20. It was extended on Tuesday after a spike in overdoses in the Nanaimo, Victoria, Campbell River and Comox Valley areas. It warns of an increase of overdoses from opioids and stimulants with a risk from injections and inhalants. 

MORE COVID FLIGHTS - The British Columbia Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) has added two more Vancouver Island flights to its exposure list. An Air Canada/Jazz flight 8261 from Vancouver to Nanaimo on April 21 was added to the list. BCCDC says passengers who were on a flight that has been added to the province’s COVID-19 exposure list 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 due to their proximity.

CAR SALES BOOST HAVEN - It always brightens the day when we can report on the good guys in our community. Steve Marshall Ford earmarked $100 from every vehicle sold in December and January. That added up to thousands of dollars for Haven Society. The campaign raised $12,600 for Haven which promotes the safety of women, children, youths, and families. Way to go, gang.

ECONOMIC REPORT COMING - It’s no secret, the world has changed. The question is “what does this mean and what will this mean in the Island region?” The 2021 ‘State of the Island’ Economic Report is in development for release at the 15th annual Economic Summit Oct 26-28. Produced by VIEA since 2015, this will be the seventh edition enabling decision-makers to chart trends in our local economy. If you haven’t seen or used the Economic Report, you should check out its reader-friendly, info-graphic design that puts top level information at your fingertips while giving access to ‘the data behind the data’. And all six editions starting in 2015 are available. MORE

A TIME TO DREAM – The city has long wanted to extend the waterfront walkway, but it costs money, a whole lot of money. The dream has evolved into a beach walkway that would function as a park instead of just an elevated walkway. Plans have been around for years – an implementation plan was approved by city council in 2017. Two years ago, the price tag for the project was pegged at around $10 million, but staff are anticipating it would balloon to $20 million or more. A referendum could be in the offing. MORE

DAILY REMINDERS keep you up to date on what’s happening in your community. Be in the know, click here to subscribe.

 

Active Covid cases continue to go down

Tuesday, April 27

GOOD MORNING - Coun. Zeni Maartman was in a tizzy when council procedure did not allow her to introduce a motion unannounced. It was well intentioned, to give temporary residential permits for RVs on private property. But the way the system works, you have a topic you get it placed on the agenda for the next meeting so fellow councillors can study and do research to reach informed decisions. It would have been simple – give a notice of motion, putting the topic on the agenda for the next meeting. When she was apprised of this procedure she argued it had been created by “old white men” and therefore outdated. In this age of enlightenment and labelling, some would see that as racist, sexist and ageist all rolled into one. 

SALUTE TO THE GOOD GUYS - It always brightens the day when we can report on the good guys in our community. Steve Marshall Ford earmarked $100 from every vehicle sold in December and January. That added up to thousands of dollars for Haven Society. The campaign raised $12,600 for Haven Society, which promotes the safety of women, children, youths, and families. Way to go, gang.

OUR MAN IN OTTAWA – Member of Parliament Paul Manly will meet with constituents in a townhall-style get together – online on Youtube on Wednesday, 7 to 8 p.m. It will go on for about an hour to talk about Paul’s initiatives in Ottawa and an opportunity for you to ask questions. You can send questions in advance to Paul.Manly@parl.gc.ca. Please indicate that your question is for the town hall meeting and include your full name and postal code in your email. https://www.paulmanlymp.ca/events-1/online-town-hall-meeting-4

FEW DENIED FERRY TRAVEL - Only about half a dozen non-essential travellers were denied passage on BC Ferries over the weekend as passenger numbers between Vancouver Island and the mainland declined under the new health orders. Ferries president Mark Collins said British Columbians appear to be getting the message about the province’s new restrictions on non-essential travel between health jurisdictions, which came into effect on Friday. 

VIU LITERARY OUTREACH - For 30 years Vancouver Island University has amplified voices of emerging writers and showcased the works of up-and-coming illustrators, photographers and artists through Portal, its nationally-distributed literary magazine. Portal is hosting a Zoom virtual launch on Friday, April 30, 7-9 pm, to celebrate its anniversary, expanded 108-page full-colour edition, featuring contributor readings, a slideshow, recognition of faculty and awards. The magazine has a renewed mandate and website, which features an inclusivity statement and a commitment to have an annual Portfolio Spotlight section showcasing under-represented voices.

GET READY TO GET IN SHAPE – After what we’ve been through, many of us should get in line to register next Wednesday, May 5 for Parks, Recreation and Culture programs and activities for the summer season. This includes day camps at a variety of locations throughout the community, adult outdoor courses, swimming and skating lessons.There will be plenty of free activities, including the Playground Program, the Golden Bucket Search and swimming at Westwood Lake Park with lifeguards on duty. You can see the Summer Activity Guide online, starting on Friday. You can register at  recreation.nanaimo.ca and choose "Register for a Program" to search programs by categories and key words (Please use Chrome as the browser)

DAILY REMINDERS keep you up to date on what’s happening in your community. Be in the know, click here to subscribe.

Monday, April 26

GOOD MORNING - Another week in lockdown. The latest regulations or "suggestions" from the province have created some confusion about what's legal and what's not. Rules are meaningless without enforcemeny. The province is expected to do some further explaining this week.

HATS OFF DR. STEVE BEERMAN - Dr. Steve Beerman is being recognized for his work in our community. Now retired, Dr. Beerman has been awarded the Dr. David M. Bachop Gold Medal for his contributions to organized medicine and community service. He was also awarded the King Edward VII Cup from the Royal Life Saving Society, recognizing outstanding contribution to life-saving. Dr. Beerman helped to establish the UBC family practice residency program in Nanaimo in 2007, an apprenticeship for new doctors. The program was launched as the community was struggling to recruit and maintain family physicians. It places 16 medical residents in Nanaimo for two years, with eight graduating each year.

STILL FLYING - Passengers on two Nanaimo flights are being warned of possible Coronavirus exposure. The Centre for Disease Control has added Air Canada/Jazz flight 8261 from Vancouver to Nanaimo on April 20, WestJet flight 3109 from Calgary to Nanaimo on April 14 to its exposure list. Passengers who were on a flight that has been added to the exposure list should self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days.

SCHOOL TRUSTEE SALARIES – Our readers sound off. What do you think about raising school trustee salaries? Have your say, tell us what you think HERE.

DAILY REMINDERS keep you up to date on what’s happening in your community. Be in the know, click here to subscribe.

Active cases of Coronavirus continue to drop in B.C.

Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix

Active Covid cases continue to drop in B.C. along with positive tests across B.C. Monday’s update listed 8,199 active cases, 623 fewer than on Friday, despite 2,491 new positive tests.

Health officials reported 17 deaths since Friday. Island Health had 82 positive tests over the three days. Fraser Health continues to lead with 1,632 positive tests over the weekend, 466 in Vancouver Coastal, 206 in Interior Health, and 104 in Northern Health.

The report listed 484 people in hospital, down two from Friday. The 158 in intensive care was also down by two. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said all of the deaths were aged 50 and above.

Sunday, April 25

TODAY'S HOT TOPIC Nanaimo-Ladysmith school trustees earn below the average of similar-sized districts. Now they are looking at adjusting their pay to make up part of that difference. The chair earns $21,329 a year while trustees get $19,329. A committee of district staff and stakeholders examined remuneration. Nanaimo is comparable to Chilliwack, Maple Ridge, Prince George, North Vancouver and Kamloops-Thompson. The average for chairs is $25,472, vice-chairs $23,940 and trustees $22,627. Matching that would add about $25,000 to the total budget, peanuts in the big picture. What do you think? Reply here.

SOME PEOPLE NEVER LEARN -  Emergency 911 operators are being inundated with calls from people asking about the new Covid travel restrictions. That prompted a reminder from E-Comm, the province’s largest emergency communications centre, about what types of calls are acceptable to 911 – legitimate emergencies. Keep emergency lines free for people who need help from police, fire or ambulance.

CUSTOM FIRE TRUCK - Extension Volunteer Fire Department has a bright, shiny new $735,000 custom-made fire truck. The rear-mount pumper is designed to fight fires in rural settings and will enable firefighters to respond to a greater variety of emergency and non-emergency incidents. The rear-mount pump allows for set-up on narrow roads and a Class-A foam system will help prolong the on-board water supply and reduce the use of water where property damage is of concern, an RDN news release stated.

DRONE ALERT AT AIRPORT - A private plane leaving Nanaimo Airport came in close contact with a drone on Monday. RCMP and Transport Canada are investigating after the pilot of a single-engine Cessna 208B reported a drone flying approximately 500 feet below him on Monday. All drones, commercial and recreational, are responsible to fly safely, in accordance with the rules, and not flown in a reckless or negligent manner.

SNOWBIRDS RETURING TO COMOX - The Snowbirds are coming back to Vancouver Island in a few weeks for training before their 2021 tour schedule. The Canadian Forces aerobatics team will be in the Comox area from May 4 - 26 for training ahead of the team's 50th anniversary. The Snowbirds were grounded for much of 2020 due to COVID-19 and a fatal crash in Kamloops last May. Capt. Jennifer Casey, the team's public affairs officer, died after trying to eject. The pilot of the plane, Capt. Richard MacDougall, survived the crash but sustained serious injuries. Performances are scheduled in Canada and the U.S. 

DAILY REMINDERS keep you up to date on what’s happening in your community. Click here to subscribe.

Saturday, April 24

GOOD MORNING NANAIMO – Island Health officials have issued an open letter to the community about the heavy pressure on front line workers in health care during the pandemic. 

STAY AT HOME MESSAGE – Tourism officials in government and the travel industry have released a statement asking all British Columbians to stay local unless it is absolutely essential: "As the number of people with COVID-19 in B.C. continues to rise, we are asking British Columbians to not travel outside their local communities in order to help stop further spread of the virus." Tourism Minister Melanie Mark, Brenda Baptiste, Indigenous Tourism BC; Walt Judas, Tourism Industry Association of BC; Ingrid Jarrett, president and CEO, BC Hotel Association; and Richard Porges, interim president and CEO, Destination B.C. were all part of the plea.

ISLAND COVID NUMBERS DROP – Vancouver Island Health Region’s number of active Covid-19 cases dropped by six in the previous 24 hours, down to 354 cases. There are 30 patients in hospital, with two in intensive care. On the testing side, the region reported 26 positive tests for the virus. Province-wide, there were 1,001 positive tests, with 8,842 active cases, up by 109 from the previous report. Hospitals across the province are challenged with 486 patients, 160 of them in critical care. B.C. reported another four deaths.

LET'S PULL TOGETHER - Invasive plants are not native to Nanaimo and can take over our ecosystems. We all have an opportunity to make Nanaimo an even better place than it already is, by joining work work parties to bring invasive plants to drop zones to protect parks and natural spaces. Plants, such as English Ivy, Scotch Broom and Himalayan Blackberry, are well established in Nanaimo. Others, such as Knotweed and Giant Hogweed are spreading.  Invasive plants can lessen the diversity of our ecosystems and destabilize them, increasing further invasion of non-native plants. 

A NEW LEASE ON LIFE - Most of the residents of the run-down Sanala affordable housing complex have been relocated. 23 households at the townhouse complex on Fifth St. have been relocated into subsidized housing. Ten more tenants are still to be moved. Sanala was geared to income and rents will remain the same at their new subsidized housing.

SIMPLE RULE – STAY HOME  – Travelling outside your provincial health region could be expensive. Solicitor General Mike Farnworth restricted non-essential travel in a formal way Friday, and anyone caught breaking the rules can be fined $575. Farnworth said the restrictions run through the May long weekend and expire on May 25. "I'm restricting non-essential travel into or out of all health authority regions effective immediately," he said. "This is a legal order, under the emergency program act."

BC FERRIES RESTRICTED – If you don’t have a legitimate reason to travel, you’re not going on BC Ferries. Effective immediately, non-essential trips between health authority zones are banned. Customers travelling on these routes will be asked if their travel is essential, and will be denied if it doesn’t fall within the provincial exemptions. Travelling within the same health authority zone, like the Gabriola ferry, is still allowed. While ferry workers can deny boarding, other jurisdictional authorities will assistant with enforcement.

Friday, April 23

STIFF TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS - Solicitor General Mike Farnworth said the time has come to restrict non-essential travel in a formal way and anyone caught breaking the rules can be fined $575. The legal restrictions limit travel to curb the spread of COVID-19. Farnworth said the restrictions run through the May long weekend and expire on May 25. "I'm restricting non-essential travel into or out of all health authority regions effective immediately," he said. "This is a legal order, under the emergency program act."

BC FERRIES RESTRICTED - BC Ferries will not allow travellers on non-essential trips to board sailings between health authority zones, effective immediately. Customers travelling on these routes will be asked if their travel is essential, and will be denied if it doesn’t fall within the provincial exemptions. Travelling within the same health authority zone, like the Gabriola ferry, is still allowed. While ferry workers can deny boarding, other jurisdictional authorities will assistantwith enforcement.

ACTIVE COVID CASES DOWN – The Island Health region reports 360 active Covid-19 cases, down from 367 on Wednesday. The region reported 37 new positive tests and 32 in hospital and four in critical care. Locations of active cases shows 191 in the South Island, 84 in the Central Island and 32 in the North Island. Across the province, there were 8,733 active cases, a decrease of 173 from the previous day. There were 1,006 new positive tests and a record 502 in hospital, 161 in critical care. One and a half million vaccine doses have been administered. The record number of hospitalizations has led to 1,750 non-emergency surgeries being cancelled in Lower Mainland hospitals. No surgeries have been cancelled on Vancouver Island.

INDIA, PAKISTAN FLIGHTS BANNED - Canada has shut down passenger flights from India and Pakistan for 30 days due to rising COVID-19 cases and a new virus mutation. More than 100 international flights landing in Canada have carried at least one positive COVID-19 case on board, according to the federal government. At least 32 of those flights were from India.

NEW HYBRID FERRY LAUNCHED - BC Ferries’ sixth battery electric-hybrid Island Class ferry has been launched at Damen Shipyards Galati in Romania. When in operation, it will be one of two Island Class vessels assigned to the Gabriola Island route. Work will continue on the new ship until scheduled sea trials in August. The vessel will be delivered to Victoria in late 2021 for final preparations. Two-ship service is scheduled to begin in 2022, replacing the Quinsam.

TOXIC DRUG WARNING - There is an increase in toxic drug overdoses on Vancouver Island leading the health authority to issue a warning in Nanaimo, Victoria, the Comox Valley and Campbell River. Drug users are urged to use strategies to stay safer when using drugs offering the following steps if someone overdoses – Call 9-1-1 right away, provide rescue breathing and give Naloxone. The advisory is in effect until April 27.

BIKER FLEES POLICE - The Nanaimo RCMP is asking for the public’s assistance in identifying the rider of a dirt bike who fled a police stop. The incident occurred at approximately 6 p.m. on April 10, 2021, near the intersection of Nanaimo River Road and White Rapids Road. Full story and photos.

DARWIN AWARD? – Sometimes you wonder how some people survive. A local man was injured when he tried to pour gunpowder on an open fire, resulting in an explosion Wednesday night in Harewood. He was taken to hospital for treatment of significant lacerations on his hand. Police also had a chat with him about a still for making alcohol found in his backyard. RCMP spokesman Const. Gary O’Brien said the still was dismantled and the owner duly warned.

DAILY REMINDERS keep you up to date on what’s happening in your community. Click here to subscribe.

Government may be creating a two-tier pension system

April 22, 2021

A lot of seniors were looking forward to getting a $500 cheque from the federal government this August, and a 10-per-cent raise in their monthly Old Age Security payments next year. After all, usual pension increases range in the area of a buck or two per month.

Don't go on a spending spree just yet. First, not all seniors are eligible, only those 75 years of age and older will get that. That will frost a lot of seniors between 65 and 74 years old.

A cynical view is that this creates a two-tiered retirement age. The Liberals complained loudly when the Harper government raised pension age to 67, but that's essentially what the Liberals are doing but much worse.

Then the big one – it's a political promise, it has not been passed by Parliament. That's important because there's talk of a federal election and the budget to this point is a sales document to entice voters. If an election is called before the budget is passed, it's all smoke and mirors, and everything goes out of the window. The same holds true for proposals to provide more daycare support to families. A great menu laid out, but will we get a nibble?

Thursday, April 22

GOOD MORNING NANAIMO – Goodbye sunshine, hello clouds. The good news is you won’t have to water your lawn for the next few days.

OVER-30 BOOKING NOW OPEN - British Columbians 30 and older can now register for a vaccine through the province’s age-based program. Residents 40 and older can get the AstraZeneca vaccine through the separate immunization stream at local pharmacies. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry strongly urge you to book your appointment as soon as you can. This is one of the important ways for you to do your part, they added. 

ACTIVE COVID CASES DROP AGAIN - There are 8,906 active cases of Covid-19 in B.C., 239 fewer than Tuesday’s report. Health officials reported new 862 new positive tests and seven deaths province wide. Vancouver Island reports 376 active cases, 54 fewer than Monday. Island Health had 25 positives out of 924 tests reported Wednesday. Thirty-one people are in hospital in Island Health, four in critical care. Fraser Health had 557 positives, Vancouver Coastal Health had 200, Interior Health 54, and 26 in Northern Health. There are 483 people in hospital, 164 in intensive care. More than 1.45 million doses of vaccine have been administered province-wide. 

PHARMACIES OUT OF ASTRAZENECA – Vancouver Island pharmacies are out of the AstraZeneca vaccine, and Health Minister Adrian Dix says if you haven’t booked an appointment yet you’re out of luck for now. Dix said once a pharmacy is out of the vaccine, it’s hard to say when it will get a new supply. This comes just days after Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced people over age 40 were eligible to get the AstraZeneca vaccine in pharmacies.

MORE CORONA CASES AT NRGH - Island Health has identified two additional positive tests for coronavirus related to the outbreak in the High Intensity Rehab Unit at NRGH on April 14. There have now been six positive tests as part of the outbreak. One patient and one staff member in the high-intensity rehab unit have tested positive.

FLIGHTS FROM INDIA IN SPOTLIGHT - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday that Canada would "look carefully" at suspending flights from India. Eight of 13 international flights to Vancouver with COVID-19 cases on board since April 11 have been from India. B.C. health officials have added 11 more flights to their list of possible COVID-19 exposures. The most recent additions took off from or landed at a B.C. airport between April 5 and 18. Four of the flights were international, including three from India, where a surge in coronavirus variants has prompted travel restrictions from some countries.

ELECTRIC BUS BEGINS SERVICE - John Wilson, president and CEO of Wilson’s Group, is an innovator – his latest venture bears that out. Wilson’s Vancouver Island Connector and Tofino Bus is launching a new electric bus pilot project, in partnership with battery-powered electric bus manufacturer BYD Canada. The new coach makes its debut today (Thursday) in time for Earth Day. The 41-passenger coach, powered by a 313-kilowatt battery, begins a three-month trial today on the Vancouver Island Connector’s daily route between Nanaimo and Victoria.

DRIVER SKIPS ACCIDENT SCENE - Oceanside RCMP are looking for the driver who left the scene after a car flipped upside-down on Dolphin Drive in Nanoose Bay. Police spoke with three persons who claimed to be passengers. They reported that the driver had left prior to police arrival, stated Sgt. Stephen Rose of the Oceanside RCMP. No one was injured and RCMP ask that any witnesses contact police at 250-248-6111, #2021-3783.

SCHOOL LIBRARIAN’S FIRING CONFIRMED - The BC Commissioner for Teacher Regulation has confirmed the firing of a Nanaimo secondary school librarian with a troubled history in the school district. NDSS teacher-librarian Matthew Lettington was fired in December, 2019 for having an inappropriate book in circulation, following numerous disciplinary actions by the school district. Lettington was fired from the school for introducing a graphic novel called “La Lesbienne Invisible” and checking it out to a Grade 8 student whose parent complained. 

ARE YOU MISSING A RING? - Nanaimo RCMP have a men’s gold ring that was turned in after being found in downtown Nanaimo. The front is stamped with a picture of an animal and the inside is engraved with how many karats it is. If this is your ring or you know whom it may belong to, call the Nanaimo RCMP non-emergency line at 250-754-2345, and quote file #2021-13287.

DAILY REMINDERS keep you up to date on what’s happening in your community. Subscribe to our daily e-mail reminder of what's buzzing today.