Police trying to locate Jordan Dyer in Nanaimo

Jordan Dyer

RCMP is seeking help to find 39-year-old Jordan Dyer who has not had any contact with his family since February. His family from out of province, contacted the Nanaimo RCMP on May 27. They said he lives a transient-style lifestyle and they believe he may be involved in the drug culture of Nanaimo. They are concerned for his safety and well-being.

Dyer is 5 ft. 11, 200 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes. The picture is recent. He was last seen by police on May 8, in downtown Nanaimo. There has been no further contact.

If anyone knows the whereabouts of Jordan Dyer, please contact the Nanaimo RCMP non-emergency line at 250-754-2345, and quote file # 2021-19298.

Police seek help is finding missing woman

Amy Watts

Amy Watts is missing. RCMP seek public assistance in locating the 27-year-old who was reported missing on May 27 by her mother in P.E.I. She has not had any contact with her family since February. This prolonged period of no contact is out of character and her family is extremely concerned for her safety and well-being.

Watts is Caucasian 5 ft. 4, 120 pounds with brown hair and blue eyes. She sometimes refers to herself as Amy Coady and the picture was taken this year. Investigators believe Watts may be in Nanaimo and they are following up on reports of possible sightings of her downtown.

If anyone has information on the whereabouts of Amy Watts, aka Amy Coady, please call the Nanaimo RCMP non-emergency line at 250-754-2345, and quote file # 2021-19252.

Monday, May 31

GOOD MORNING – Mondays are slim pickings when it comes to developing news. But we can always talk about the weather – things are forecast to be quite nice this week with scattered sun and cloud and a high of 26 degrees by Tuesday. Just sit back and relax, things will pick up and hopefully you’ve got your date for your second Coronavirus vaccination. Oh yes, and tear another page off the calendar. Git ‘er done!

RAISES ON THE WAY – Some British Columbians will get a wage hike tomorrow – the minimum wage goes up to $15.20 an hour, up by 40 cents from $14.60 making it the highest in Canada. The NDP promised during the 2017 election campaign to increase the minimum wage to $15 by 2021. About 400,000 people – largely women, youth and immigrants – will benefit from the uptick. The lower minimum wage for liquor servers comes to an end, increasing their pay to $15.20 from $13.95.

COST OF EDUCATION – It’s going to cost more to get an education, and you can blame at a lot of the increase on the pandemic. Trustees passed the $173-million budget last week. It’s going to mean more educational assistants this year. The number of international students shrank in the past year, but 180 are expected this year and the staff shuffling with take care of that.

Sunday, May 30

GOOD MORNING – Hey, guess what! We’re getting another Dollar store in Nanaimo after city council issued a variance permit last week to allow the new business along Bowen Road. The variance allows the new use in the location of the former End of the Roll flooring store.

GO BY BIKE WEEK – If you’re up for it, Go By Bike Week starts Monday and runs until next Sunday. It’s provincewide promotion, but communities host their own activities throughout the week, such as E-bike demo days, each day Monday to Friday, at points along Nanaimo’s E&N Trail.

THIS YEAR’S CAMPOUT - 137 people have been arrested since a court injunction began last week to allow Teal-Jones Group to resume logging in  the Fairy Creek watershed to the south, near Port Renfrew. Teal-Jones has said it plans to harvest about 20 hectares at the north ridge of the 1,200-hectare watershed out of 200 available for harvest. Have you noticed this is an annual event with a different location each summer but with the same goal – disrupting legal forest harvesting. Anyone want to guess where next year’s standoff will be?

Saturday, May 29

TRUE REVILATIZATION – The heart of downtown Nanaimo is in line for a total facelift if the city’s plans materialize. The city has begun expropriation of the Jean Burns site which is an unsightly hole in the ground at the corner of Terminal Avenue and the Island Highway. The city has also bought two other adjoining properties. The initial concept is for a Regional Transit exchange. The site has been vacant since a fire in 2016. Community Development Director Bill Corson said the city is looking doing public realm and transit improvements in that area, so the whole block, will get rebuilt and as part of that, we’ll start doing some consultation. The old A&B Sound Building across from the areas is not included in those plans purchased. A public consultation process is expected to begin in mid July before concepts for the area are finalized.

MORE RESIDENTS SCAMMEDIt seems no matter how many warnings are issued, residents are still being roped into internet fraud. In the past month, fake tech support, gift cards and bitcoin scams have been making their way through Nanaimo. In one case, $300 was lost to fake tech support, $5,000 in a bitcoin fraud and $2,000 through a gift card scam. Get the details of all the scams that have taken advantage of Nanaimo people recently.

VACCINATIONS PASS HALF A MILLION – 61 per cent of eligible Nanaimo adults have been vaccinated. On the Island as a whole, half a million have had their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The Saanich Peninsula leads the way when it comes to first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine on Vancouver Island, according to data from the BC Centre for Disease Control. As of May 24, three quarters eligible residents on the Saanich Peninsula had received their first doses of vaccine, higher than any other local health area on Vancouver Island. In Port Hardy and Port Alice, and the Southern Gulf Islands are close behind at 73 per cent. The lowest participation is in Cowichan Valley West — which includes Lake Cowichan, Youbou, Mesachie Lake and Honeymoon Bay — with 57 per cent.

INEFFICIENCY TO THE MAX - Health officials may tout the number of vaccinations but first-hand experience this morning demonstrates a screwed up system. First the phone number listed goes to multiple options on 100 languages available. Then after a 19-minute wait it just disconnects. A retry gets a simple message that all systems are busy, to try later. Three hours later, a 29-minute wait, finally an agent comes on line but says he does not have the ability to help and that he has to talk to a supervisor, but he can't transfer me to the supervisor. He ends with they "should" call me back by Monday some time. That's not acceptable with modern technology, somebody needs to have a serious conversation with Telus again.

BEAR ON THE LOOSE – Things got a little exciting at two Nanaimo schools after a bear was seen wandering the neighbourhood Friday morning. A shelter-in-place was issued for the district administration centre and Nanaimo District Secondary and Fairview Elementary schools at around 10 a.m. It was lifted at 11 a.m. B.C. Conservation Service was unable to locate the bear but the city said a bear has been spotted in the Buttertubs Marsh area.

RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL BURIALS - The discovery of an unmarked cemetery in Kamloops with the remains of 215 indigenous children has put the scandal of residential schools back in focus. At least 4,100 children have died while attending residential schools in Canada. And in the wake of the horrific news from Kamloops, the number has grown. There are suspected to be many more sites like this across Canada. Over the years I have heard numerous claims about secret burials in Nanaimo of Indigenous children. If you have any information, please call me to follow up. The National Post has an excellent report on how many of the children died. READ HERE.

FERRY ADVISORY – If you’re travelling by ferry on Monday, two sailings have been cancelled due to maintenance work on the Queen of Oak Bay. The 8:05 p.m. departure from Horseshoe Bay and the return 10:10 p.m. from Departure Bay have been cancelled.

Thursday, May 27

LET’S GO TO GABRIOLA - The Regional District has awarded a contract for construction of a $772,485 skateboard facility on Gabiola. The contract is for $659,100 to Radius Contracting Inc. The project includes a skating area made of concrete as well as gravel parking lot and paths. Work is expected to start Aug. 15 and be completed by the end of the year.

FIRST THE GOOD NEWS – The post-pandemic reopening brought diners to the table, but also new challenges — not enough staff. Brentwood Bay Resort is a good example where they are frantically trying to hire more, says manager Natasha Richardson. She told CTV it’s a non-stop recruiting shortage –  just not getting the volume of needed staff. The pub is open full-time, but despite plans to hire more line cooks and servers, the resort doesn't expect to have enough staff to operate its dining room more than two days a week for the time being.

CASINOS PLAN TO REOPEN – Casinos could open as early as July 1. The B.C. Lottery Corporation is planning for the reopening of casinos and community gaming centres. Casinos have been closed since March 2020. The BCLC said a number of changes will be made to keep visitors and staff safe. There will be at least two metres of space between table games, slot machines and other gambling equipment.

MISSING PERSON SEARCH - RCMP investigators are conducting a major search in two locations for what is described as a case of a “historical missing person” who was believed to have met with foul play. Diver Lake Park is closed and a corner of an apartment building at Rosehill Street and Vancouver Avenue are behind police barricades.  Const. Gary O’Brien said it will be ongoing for two or three days with a search of Diver Lake and area and a unit in an apartment building on Rosehill.

Indoor church services can begin with limits

0527 - Indoor religious fellowship has the green light from B.C. health officials. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updated B.C. reopening guidelines clarifiying how indoor services can be started immediately.

Up to 50 people are allowed at services with detailed COVID safety plans in place. That limit includes all leaders, staff and musicians. An extra two people can be present to ensure everyone is following the safety guidelines.

Those attending indoor service should stay two metres apart from others, unless they're from their own household. Everyone at the service must wear a face covering, including the worship leaders, unless they're speaking and there is three metres between them and anyone else.

Second vaccine now coming sooner

Dr. Bonnie Henry

0527 - Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says the interval between first and second doses of the vaccines used for the age-based cohort — Pfizer and Moderna — will be dropped to eight weeks.

Those at the greatest risk will get their innoculations first including the elderly and extremely clinically vulnerable people. Around 400,000 people over the age of 70 and those who are clinically vulnerable will start getting invitations for second doses immediately, she said.

Second doses to people in long-term care and residents and health care workers are also going ahead. All of long-term care and assisted living residents and staff are expected to receive their second doses within the next few days to weeks.

Mark busy at Coco's glazing the donuts.

OH HOW SWEET IT IS - You want to impress the Mounties? Everyone knows donuts will do it every time. That’s what happened when Mark, an employee of Coco’s Café who made the donuts and delivered them to the cop shop. Each one was individually wrapped in COVID-compliant boxes.

Insp. Lisa Fletcher, Acting Officer in Charge of the Nanaimo detachment, gave her seal of approval calling it without a doubt one of the best apple fritters she’s ever had.

Fletcher accepted that her troops will likely be the butt of a lot of ribbing for this, but gave a big shout out to Coco’s, especially Mark.

BUSY DAY FOR FIRE AND POLICE - Police and fire officials were kept hopping Tuesday responding to six suspicious fires set around the city. Nanaimo Fire Rescue started responding to small fires set in a wooded area near Townsite Road on Tuesday morning, and more fires throughout the day. Capt. Alan Millbank said there were three suspicious dumpster fires and three brush fires related to homeless camping. He said the department is dealing with increasing numbers of fires related to homelessness and several people who frequent Nanaimo’s downtown are suspected of setting fires. RCMP are now investigating all these fires.

CHILD CARE AWARD - Nanaimo’s Keely Freeman has been awarded the Emerging Leader Award at this year’s B.C. Child Care Awards for Excellence. The founder of Nanaimo Innovation Academy has been awarded the Emerging Leader Award at this year’s B.C. Child Care Awards for Excellence. She was recognized for her “knack for connecting people and mobilizing community members to make a meaningful impact.” 

OLD MATTRESSES A PAIN - Dumping old mattresses at the Regional District of Nanaimo landfill and Church Road transfer station could soon cost more. The RDN is upping tipping fees, resulting in the flat rate on mattress disposal to $20, and increase of $5. The RDN landfill and Church Road facility collect an average of 8,000 mattresses and box springs annually. The RDN redirects 36 per cent to INEO Employment Services in Port Alberni, which recycles them. INEO can take only 3,600 units. Recyclers on the mainland are not a solution because shipping cost would have been prohibitive.

Wednesday, May 26

SECOND DOSES OF VACCINE MOVED AHEAD - Some residents who got their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine will be contacted for their second dose starting later this week, says provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. If you got your first dose in March and April, you’ll get second-dose information in the coming days. The second dose is being moved up for everybody, but particularly for people who are older, have immune-compromising conditions, or are on the clinically extremely vulnerable list.    

WOLF-DOGS ATTACK - A 69-year-old woman helping feed and care for wolf-dog hybrids at a sanctuary south of Nanaimo was flown by air ambulance to a Victoria hospital Tuesday morning after being seriously injured in an attack by several animals – a mixture of wolf and domestic dogs on the property. She entered the pen as she has many times, and the animals attacked her. Her husband provided assistance then walked her to waiting Paramedics. EHS transported her to Nanaimo Airport and she was flown by air ambulance to a Victoria hospital. The animals were subsequently destroyed.  

ISLAND CORRIDOR – Five new members have their railroad engineer caps after joining the Island Corridor Foundation board of directors. RDN chairman and city councillor Tyler Brown is joined by Snuneymuxw councillor Bill Yoachim, and Snaw-Naw-As councillor Brent Edwards. Others are K’omoks councillor Charlene Everson, and Ladysmith mayor Aaron Stone who is also Cowichan Valley Regional District chairman. Stone co-chairs the board with along longtime member Judith Sayers who is the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council president and Vancouver Island University chancellor.

FUNDING FOR HOMELESS - Agencies dealing with the homeless problem in Nanaimo will get more than $775,000 in federal funding. United Way and the Nanaimo Homeless Coalition will get the funding for programs and services that combat homelessness from Canada’s Reaching Home homelessness strategy. The funding will go to supportive housing, tenancy support services, community outreach and more. About $218,000 is earmarked for organizations offering supports to Indigenous people,, including programs for young Indigenous mothers. Part of the money will also support Nanaimo’s co-ordinated access system, which is intended to create efficiencies in directing people to social services.

RECENT COVID FLIGHT -  The British Columbia Centre for Disease Control has added North Cariboo Air flight 2012 from Fort St. John to Nanaimo on May 20 to its COVID-19 exposure list. The affected rows on the flight were 2 to 8. Passengers who were on a flight 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.

Province details Restart Plan

B.C. Restaurants can reopen for full dining, effective today.

BC's Restart is a careful, four-step plan to bring B.C. back together. Starting May 25, we can gradually begin to restart our important social connections, businesses and activities. Getting vaccinated is the most important tool supporting our restart. Please click on the topics related to your interest for the new government regulations. 

Tuesday, May 25

WAITING FOR FREEDOM - What are the new pandemic rules going to look like? Will we be able to go to restaurants and bars? Will we be able to travel within the province? Will we be allowed to host friends and family members indoors? Will churches be allowed to conduct services? Will you be able to go to your fitness centre? Premier John Horgan, Dr. Bonnie Henry, Health Minister Adrian Dix and Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon will outline plans at 1 p.m. today to restart the province. There are several province-wide restrictions that were in effect until midnight last night, including the ban on indoor dining at bars and restaurants. The travel restriction barring people from moving between three designated regions of the province were also set to expire last night.

VACCINE POPULAR IN YOUNGER AGES - There was concern among health officials about the rate of younger people getting the Covid vaccines, but that has been allayed by the latest statistics the show more than 63 per cent of eligible residents between the ages of 18 to 79 had registered to receive a COVID-19 vaccine as of May 18. Dr. Matthew Chow, president of the Doctors of B.C., which represents thousands of physicians in the province, said unlike other provinces and territories, B.C. isn't seeing a typical drop in registration in younger age groups. Data as of May 18 show more than 58 per cent of eligible residents in the 18-24 and 25-29 age groups have registered for a vaccine, with that figure climbing above 60 per cent for those aged 30-34 and 35-39.

WHERE’S THE FLU? In case you had not noticed, the flu season has ended with one detected case of influenza in the entire province. The BC Centre for Disease Control says the 2020-2021 flu season was the “season that wasn’t.” This comes amid the pandemic which showed more than 140,000 cases of COVID-19. According to the BCCDC, there has been “no sign on influenza virus circulation” this past fall, winter and early spring.

GANG LINK TO SHOOTING – Gangster Yasin Khan named as the man killed in the execution-style shooting at Rock City Plaza last week. He is reported to have had strong gang ties with the Kang Red Scorpion group. He was very close to Gary Kang who was shot to death in January in South Surrey inside his parent’s home. Prior to that Khan also had ties to people within the Brothers Keepers gang. 

Monday, May 24

GOOD MORNING NANAIMO – British Columbians are anxiously waiting for provincial COVID restrictions to be eased on Tuesday, but police were still enforcing travel restrictions, turning back more than 100 vehicles. At least two were issued fines. Police said 3,799 vehicles had passed through road checks on four key highways linking the Lower Mainland to the rest of B.C., 103 were turned back. Police stopped vehicles on Highway 99 near Lillooet, Highway 3 in Manning Park, Highway 5 at the old toll booths and Highway 1 near Boston Bar on Friday. Restaurants are making preparations to reopen Tuesday morning in anticipation of dining rules being eased.

TEACHING THE TEACHERS - There’s always a better mouse trap waiting to be designed. A young Nanaimo student taught his teachers about a new way to look at the world. Nolan Penner, a Grade 5 student was intrigued with digital microscopes at Mountain View elementary school. His curiosity resulted in him teaching his teacher to use the microscopes. From there it just grew, first to showing teachers what he’d learned and then taking it on to other students. NanaimoNewsNOW.

CRUISE INDUSTRY ANXIOUS - As if the pandemic hasn’t done enough damage already, the bypassing of Canadian ports by Alaska-bound cruise ships could have a devastating impact on the British Columbia tourism industry, especially in Victoria and Vancouver. The U.S. bill would run until March 2022, when Canada’s cruise ship ban will expire. There are fears among many that the bill will be kept permanently, effectively ending any hopes for the cruise ship industry on our west coast.

Tell us what you think at Editor@nanaimonet.com

Sunday, May 23

GOOD MORNING NANAIMO - We will have to wait a few more days for the official blessing, but the restaurant industry is preparing to reopen indoor dining Tuesday. The province’s pandemic restrictions are set to expire at midnight Tuesday, and Premier John Horgan was blunt when asked Thursday what British Columbians can expect when the government unveils its restart plan. The measures, which came into effect on March 29, include bans on indoor dining and indoor group fitness activities. Ian Tostenson, President of the B.C. Restaurant and Food Association, believes restaurants can open their doors Tuesday morning after the orders expire.

FANCY MEETING YOU HERE - Two Nanaimo intersections stick out as Nanaimo’s worst for crashes last year. The old Island Highway, Bowen Road and Norwell Drive remained atop the list of intersections with the most crashes with 46, but the old Island Highway at Mostar and Rutherford roads had the same number of crashes last year. Nanaimo Parkway at Aulds Road had 42 crashes. The Nanaimo Parkway-Jingle Pot Road-Mostar Road intersection dropped 10 11 from from 46 crashes in 2020. The intersection of the old Island Highway and Enterprise Way also showed improvement to 26 from 41 crashes in 2019.

THE RACE IS ON - The first glove has dropped in the next federal election race. Nanaimo-Ladysmith New Democrats chose Lisa Marie Barron over three other candidates in an online nomination ending on Friday. Barron is a trustee on the Nanaimo-Ladysmith School Board. (See story below).

SHOOTING LINKED TO MAINLAND GANGS - The fatal shooting in the parking lot parking lot of the Rock City Centre on Thursday has ties to the ongoing Lower Mainland gang conflict, say police. Several arrests were made after the shooting in which one man was killed but the three men have been released. Acting Inspector Donovan Tait of the Nanaimo RCMP said police believe the shooting is connected to the ongoing gang-conflict and violence plaguing a number of Lower Mainland communities.

WE’RE GETTING THERE - More than 50 per cent of Canadians have now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. In all, 20.6 million doses have been injected across the country. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization has updated its guidance on second shots, recommending that patients receive the same vaccine in round two as they did the first time.

NDP picks trustee Lisa Marie Barron for federal election

Lisa Marie Barron

School Trustee Lisa Marie Barron will carry the New Democrat banner in Nanaimo-Ladysmith in the next federal election. She was chosen from a field of four candidates in an online nomination that concluded Friday.

Barron is a longtime Nanaimo resident, graduating from Dover Bay High School, before going to Vancouver Island University and now working on her Master of Arts in Community Development at the University of Victoria.   

She works in substance abuse and addictions, conducting community and program development. Her work includes improving access to resources for those with mental illness, addictions, poverty, homelessness, and education opportunities. 

“Nanaimo-Ladysmith residents want real investments in local affordable housing, a real climate action plan and a Canada that works for everyone. It was great to see how many people in Nanaimo-Ladysmith mobilized after being tired of inaction and hungry to get organized around making change," Barron said.

Saturday, May 22

GOOD MORNING – We’re in for some pleasant weather as we enjoy the long weekend with temperatures in the mid to high teens. But a reminder, make sure you adhere to the pandemic rules for just a few more days, the premier has promised things will ease up on Tuesday morning. If we’re lucky we’ll be able to go out and enjoy a restaurant meal again next week.

WILDFIRE ASSISTANCE - Lantzville and Regional District have received $30,000 from the provincial government to deal with wildfire situations. The two local governments announced that they were approved for $30,139 in emergency support services grant money. The money will go toward training and equipment, in particular, locally focused training which will be designed with local procedures, regional hazards that takes into consideration unique needs of the RDN and Lantzville emergency services.

BORDER SHUTDOWN EXTENED - If you’re planning any trips to the U.S. you better be prepared to wait until after June. 21. The Canada-U.S. border will not reopen to non-essential traffic for at least another month. The border has been closed to non-essential traffic since March of last year. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday that lifting travel restrictions will depend on high vaccination rates and low COVID-19 community transmission, adding more than 75 per cent of people need to be vaccinated for us to start loosening things in Canada. To date, 49 per cent of Canadians have been vaccinated.

Alcohol suspected in crash that killed woman

Impaired driving and speeding are believed to have caused a two-vehicle crash that killed a 74-year-old Nanaimo woman Thursday in Chase River. The crash happened before 9 p.m. at Cranberry Road and Hwy. 1, just north of Cedar Road. 

Nanaimo RCMP say the 74-year-old woman who was driving a compact car died at the scene. The 47-year-old man driving a pickup was taken to hospital with serious injuries and was later airlifted to hospital in Victoria. Investigators spoke with several witnesses who said the woman had been legally turning left from Cranberry onto the highway when her vehicle was broad-sided by the pickup, which witnesses said was travelling at a high rate of speed and did not stop for the red light. MORE

One dead in shooting near Rock City Plaza parking lot

One person is dead after a shooting at the Rock City Plaza parking lot this afternoon. RCMP and emergency personnel were at the scene. A number of people have been taken into custody.

Const. Gary O’Brien said police arrested several individuals at the Best Western Hotel on Metral Drive after the incident. A vehicle associated to them has been seized. The Best Western was secured while officers searched the interior for forensic evidence related to the shooting.

“This is a dynamic investigation and at this time we cannot confirm whether there are others not in custody, who may be involved in this shooting. As further information becomes known, the public will be advised,” said O’Brien.

If you have any dash cam video from the area of Rock City Plaza from 3:15 pm to 3:45 pm today, please call the Nanaimo RCMP non-emergency line at 250-754-2345, and quote file # 2021-18372.

Friday, May 21

RESTART COMING TUESDAY - The British Columbia government is poised to announce details of a provincial restart plan to support the post-pandemic economy. Ravi Kahlon, B.C.’s economic recovery minister, told the legislature today a restart announcement is set for Tuesday, but he provided few other details. Kahlon made the comments during the question period, where the Opposition Liberals called for an economic plan that includes targets and timelines.  Kahlon acknowledged the hardships faced by businesses and B.C. residents and urged people to register for vaccinations and get immunized.

WATER PARKS OPENING - City Parks, Recreation and Culture will turn on the taps at its four water parks tomorrow (Saturday), in time for the Victoria Day long weekend. The four parks are located at Deverill Square Park, Departure Bay Kiwanis Park, Mansfield Park and Harewood Centennial Park. The water is available daily from 9 am to 8 pm. Signage will be on site to remind that Provincial Public Orders are still in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

DUKE POINT TRAVEL DISRUPTION - Travel will be disrupted for Duke Point ferry users as the province closes the George Massey Tunnel from 10 pm – 4 am on May 28 and 29.  A detour is available for all regular and commercial traffic via Highway 91 and the Alex Fraser Bridge: Northbound Highway 99 traffic should detour around the tunnel by taking Exit 16 Route 91 toward Alex Fraser Bridge. Southbound Highway 99 traffic should detour via Exit 37 Route 91 toward Alex Fraser Bridge. You can get all sorts of information @BCFerries on Twitter, at bcferries.com, or call toll free at 1-888-BC-FERRY (223-3779). For additional roadway traffic information you can also visit the DriveBC website at drivebc.ca

VACCINE PASSORT ON THE TABLE - A vaccine passport system is being studied by the province. Services Minister Lisa Beare told the legislature her staff are working on a vaccine passport, adding it’s not yet clear if other provinces will choose a pan-Canadian vaccine verification plan, but the province is doing its own groundwork just in case. She said staff are exploring work that leverages investments already in the B.C. Services Card and in the health gateway that was created during the pandemic.

HOSPITAL DESIGN UNDER MICROSCOPE - Vancouver Island University (VIU) Psychology Professor Dr. Lindsay McCunn is working with Island Health on a research project that could help the hospital replacement planning team consider which design features to incorporate into the new Cowichan District Hospital, which is expected to open in 2026. The research project is a long-term commitment that invited employees working at the current hospital to participate in a survey to determine which architectural elements and design features they associate with aspects of employee satisfaction, well-being, productivity and more. After the new hospital is built, employees will be surveyed again to measure the effect of included architectural features.

MORE CHILD CARE OPTIONS – Only a day after announcing supportive funding for 137 childcare spaces in the Lantzville area, the B.C. government more licensed spaces are coming to Nanaimo. The Ministry of Children and Family Development announced 207 new spaces, with Cilaire, Georgia Avenue and Pleasant Valley elementary learning and child care centres each receiving 52 spaces. École Quarterway Elementary will see 24 spaces, Munu Learning Centre will get 11 spaces and Nanaimo Innovation Academy is adding 16 spaces. The Innovation Academy got 15 spaces in January.

CRUISE BYPASS APPROVED – The U.S. Congress and Senate have unanimously approved a bill to allow Alaska-bound cruise ships to bypass B.C. ports. The legislation is now in the hands of U.S. President Joe Biden. That leaves British Columbia’s cruise sector worried about the future. That did not go without some shots across the bow – Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan said Canada could have helped us here when we really needed them. The bill is set to expire in March 2022 or when Canada lifts its ban on foreign cruise ships. But already at least one U.S. Senator has said the 100-year-old law that mandates most Alaska-bound cruise ships have to stop in a Canadian port unfairly benefits Canada and should be scrapped permanently.

Diving accident victim flown to hospital in Vancouver

One person was flown to hospital in Vancouver in serious condition a diving accident in north Nanaimo waters. News NOW reported BC Ambulance, Nanaimo Fire Rescue and RCMP responded to the  Waldbank Road location early Wednesday evening. A critical care team came by air ambulance and landed on the beach access at the end of Waldbank Road. MORE

Thursday, May 20

GOOD MORNING - British Columbians are waiting with baited breath to see what follows provincial health orders which continue until after this weekend. The million-dollar question is whether we’ll escape travel restrictions or the ban will be extended. British Columbians have been patient for the most part, observing the rules, and we’ve seen the active case lists on Vancouver Island drop significantly. The daily positive test rates have also dropped in the past few weeks. It’s anyone’s guess how residents will react if the restrictions are extended as trust in health officials dwindles.

TRAVEL ENFORCEMENT STEPS UP - With the long weekend upon us, police are not letting down on enforcement of travel restrictions. Authorities say they are increasing the number and duration of road checks through Victoria Day. The government banned non-essential travel between designated regions last month, and the RCMP has been setting up rotating road checks at four locations for the past two weeks to intercept drivers. There was a significant spike in traffic last weekend, with officers stopping 2,069 vehicles with 30 drivers turning around voluntarily. By comparison, they stopped 1,412 vehicles from May 6 to 8, and only one driver was turned around.

TRIMMING DOWN TO THE BONE - The city is going to the public for feedback on the design and scale of a boathouse project at Long Lake. The idea is to trim costs on the proposed Long Lake Paddling and Rowing Centre at Loudon Park. There is disagreement over the centre’s appearance, amenities and intended role in the community. The latest design options were aimed at lowering construction costs from the initial design, estimated last year at $3.2 million to be closer to $2.5-2.9 million.

SPILL RESPONSE EXERCISE - Readiness is everything in time of disaster. Spill-response vessels from four bases rushed to deal with a mock oil spill in the Gulf Islands on Wednesday. Twenty vessels from Western Canada Marine Response and Seaspan took part in the exercise off Galiano Island. The exercise simulated a spill of 2,500 tonnes of diesel from a barge. Vessels and crew members responded from Nanaimo, Sidney, Beecher Bay, Port Alberni and Vancouver in the first exercise involving vessels from all five WCMRC bases on B.C.’s south coast. Michael Lowry of WCMRC said Things looked good on the water. All the vessels were able to mobilize in a timely fashion and work in a co-ordinated way, he added.

ROYAL CANADIAN LEGION branches have struggled through the pandemic, but the province's latest restrictions have decimated their ability to generate income. What makes it worse is that the province has cut them out of provincial relief money. The Legion’s BC/Yukon Command has asked the province to be included in the latest round of relief grants to the food and beverage industry.

CHILDCARE SPACES COMING - The B.C. government has announced funding partnership for 137 childcare spaces in the Lantzville area. Of the total, 85 will go to the Snaw-Naw-As First Nation-run Uy’sqwalawun Childcare Centre and 52 to a child care centre at Seaview Elementary School, where a centre is being built by Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools.

SPORTS ACHIEVEMENT - Pandemic or not, Nanaimo’s top performers in athletics were feted at the annual Nanaimo Sport Achievement Awards Tuesday night. Awardscovered women’s volleyball, hockey, baseball, lacrosse and individual honours. 

Wednesday, May 19

GOOD MORNING NANAIMO - Wow, what a load of news we have this morning, so grab a cup of coffee and find out what's happening in our town.

MOVING DOWNTOWN – For ages revitalization of downtown Nanaimo has been tied to getting more people to live there. That has been happening over recent years, and a new project on the drawing board now could bring as many as 200 more residents to the area. A six-storey apartment building at the corner of Campbell and Wallace streets downtown is going through the hoops at city hall. It envisions 15 live-work units at street level, plus 32 studio suites, 70 one-bedroom apartments, 38 two-bedroom apartments and eight three-bedroom apartments.

SENIORS WANT FEEDBACK - The city adopted an age-friendly plan in 2019 but it has been more or less stuck in the mud due to the pandemic and now the volunteers on the project look to get back into high gear to create an age-friendly community. So far, they’ve developed a community website that serves as a directory for community programs, services and businesses, along with social media outreach and consultation with stakeholders. They want seniors to become involved in the process, asking seniors if they have access to employment and volunteer opportunities, if they are accepted in civic participation, and if they have opportunities for social inclusion. As well, Nanaimo Age Friendly Community wants to know if seniors are accessing the Facebook page and the website and other seniors directories.

WHITELAW LATEST HONOREE - Christine Whitelaw has been awarded a city Culture and Heritage Award for Honour in Culture. Mayor Leonard Krog hand-delivered the 2021 Awards to this year’s winners and he city released online video profiles of the recipients. It was her love of music and appreciation for its value to adults and children that moved Christine Whitelaw to devote her time to supporting the Port Theatre, Vancouver Island Symphony and Nanaimo Conservatory of Music. After more than 20 years in multiple roles, she is being recognized for her service. She was overwhelmed: “I didn’t expect such a thing and it’s a big honour,” she said. See the FULLY STORY.

INDIA VARIANT HERE - Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 curve isn’t just flattening, it’s heading down in the right direction despite an increase in cases of the variant from India. About half of new infections are a variant of concern and the India variant (B.16117) is now the most prevalent one on the Island. Island chief medical health officer Dr. Richard Stanwick said 138 total cases of the variant have been identified in the region. Since April 6, active coronavirus test on the Island have declined 70 per cent. “The curve is not just flat, it’s heading down and that is fantastic because that means the virus is not particularly effective at spreading at this point in time. It’s becoming more and more difficult for the virus to find people to infect,” he said.

TAKE YOUR PICK ON SECOND VACCINE - If you had AstraZeneca for your first COVID-19 vaccine you now have a menu to choose from for your second dose – Pfizer, Moderna or any other approved vaccine. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says studies suggest it is safe to take two different doses. Officials also said those who got AstraZeneca for their first shot and choose to take it again for their second may be able to get their next dose before the end of June. B.C. has about 20,000 doses of the vaccine set aside for second doses, which will expire at the end of next month.

MUSIC AND DEMENTIA - The Alzheimer Society of B.C. continues to provide Nanaimo residents affected by dementia with practical tips and information through its regular webinar series. June events include sessions on music and dementia, as well as the opportunity to hear directly from people living with dementia as they reflect on what they have learned through their experience of the disease. 

HOW SWEET IT IS - Sugarloaf Mountain is safer after safety concerns about insecure boulders were addressed at the park. Municipal Services Inspector Pete Entwhistle says crews secured a section of the mountain. That involved embedding anchors into a six-metre-wide over-hanging rock, supporting it with concrete and wire mesh.

IT’S FINALLY HAPPENING - Work is happening on the first in a slate of supportive and affordable housing complexes in town. A 66-unit supportive housing complex is under way at 702 Nicol St. It will have 14 units for vulnerable women. The facility will be operated by the Island Crisis Care Society, who run a similar facility in Parksville and the since-closed Samaritan House women’s shelter.

Tuesday, May 18

TAX BILL IS IN THE MAIL – Keep your eye on your mailbox. If you own property in Nanaimo expect to get the tax bill in the mail in the next few days. Mayor Leonard Krog is quoted in a news release saying council has approved a conservative budget that also recognizes the need to maintain the $3 billion in infrastructure assets during these difficult COVID times. If you make up a typical household you can expect to pay $68 more this year than last year. Remember, that’s the city portion of the tax bill, school taxes, public libraries and regional district are on top of that, based on their own tax rates. The tax bills are due July 2.

BUSINESS AS UNUSUAL - Doctors and staff of the Family Practice Clinic will temporarily work from home and alternative offices after a fire destroyed the clinic on the weekend. Seven doctors and two UBC graduates doing their residencies worked at the clinic, plus five support staff. The clinic serves approximately 15,000 patients. Dr. Nick Schulson said patient records were all on an electronic database and are intact. Phone answering services were transferred to some employees’ homes. Patients are advised to call the phone numbers they would normally use to contact the clinic for appointments and other clinic services.

CONE ZONE - Over the last 10 years in B.C., 12 roadside workers died and 207 were injured. The BC Cone Zone campaign, now in its 11th year, sets out to remind drivers, employers, and workers to do their part to prevent injuries and deaths of roadside workers in the Nanaimo area. Last year, 23 workers were injured because of being hit by a motor vehicle. The campaign is a reminder to Nanaimo area drivers to slow down when approaching a Cone Zone and to pay attention to instructions from traffic control persons, temporary road signs, and traffic control devices. 

FALLING ON DEAF EARS – City council on Monday rejected a plea from delegation of Opal Road residents to reverse a decision to remove safety measures from the street. They are concerned that more speeding will return. Counci had voted 5-4 on May 3 to tear up the turn-control measures at Opal Road and Rock City Road and return the intersection to its previous alignment, going against staff’s recommendation. Long-time Opal Road resident Tony Dobson said residents were so pleased with the peace and tranquility that happened and Opal was not supposed to be a thoroughfare to Rock City.

BORDER OPENS A PEEK – Canadians can go to the United States for vaccine and not have to quarantine on return. There are conditions including having a note from a health care provider in Canada that the inoculation is medically necessary and written proof from the licensed U.S. vaccine provider. Quarantine regulations passed by the federal government contain an exemption for essential medical services obtained abroad. A coronavirus shot, the agency says, falls under that definition. Supplies are ramping up in Canada, but distribution in many areas remains tenuous and age and other eligibility limits remain in place. 

TELL US what you think at editor@nanaimonet.com

Monday, May 17

 GOOD MORNING – The May long weekend is typically a popular travel time, but BC Ferries reminds customers that travel restrictions remain in effect and travel is limited to essential reasons only. No additional sailings are scheduled this long weekend. Customers travelling on these routes are asked if their travel is essential, and denied passage if it is not essential.  The Province defines situations that qualify as essential travel here.

NO PETS IN CARS - We love the warm weather, but again it’s time to remind pet owners not to leave them in their cars, not even with windows opened a crack. A car can become an oven even when you are comfortable outside. While the temperature only 16 C on the weekend, cops in Victoria police were called to different incidents involving dogs left in hot cars. In one case a dog was seized by animal control.

WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT it would come to this? Trees of all sizes and descriptions are being poached as lumber prices hit record levels. Forestry experts and officials say reports of people sneaking into public forests to illegally saw down firs, cedars and maples are rising. Recent prices for B.C. softwood lumber reached $1,600 for 1,000 board feet compared with about $300 a year ago. Government natural resource officers have investigated situations where the poachers have caused environmental damage by taking down large Douglas fir or red cedar trees near sensitive waterways, he said.

FERRY CREEK ACCESS RESTRICTED - RCMP have set up a restricted-access zone at the Fairy Creek watershed. The B.C. Supreme Court granted the injunction to forestry company Teal-Jones on April 1. Protesters have been blocking logging roads in the watershed near Port Alberni since last summer in an effort to protect old-growth forests.

VACCINE FOR ALL – All registered B.C. residents 18 and older are now getting vaccine appointment invitations. A series of drop-in clinics will also open in Surrey this week which will be open to Surrey residents aged 18 and up.

Fire heavily damages Family Practice Clinic

Nanaimo Fire Rescue employs snorkel on medical office fire – Photo courtesy Arla Vander Voet

Developing story - 0516 - Nanaimo Fire Rescue personnel and RCMP remain at the scene of a fire this morning at the Nanaimo Family Practice Clinic at 104th Street and Victoria Avenue. 

Initial reports are are that the building was extensively damaged. Six fire units were on the scene with about two dozen 25 firefighters.

The clinic's web information lists three doctors in the practice.

NanaimoNewsNOW has an excellent video of the fire at its height.

Sunday, May 16

GOOD MORNING NANAIMO – News-wise it’s rather quiet on the western front this morning. This is what the mainstream media refer to as a slow news day. If you skim the television news you’ll likely see social engineering issues from the day before being laid before you again. And there used to be the heart-tugging cute pet story – now there are often two or more. Of course, the so-called viral reports of people acting silly but making the headlines. But mostly it is political diatribe being repackaged and rehashed. That is partly understandable due to the impact of the Coronavirus, a lot of activities are grounded.

Our politicians are shoveling BS as they seem bereft of intelligence. They are all too busy with other things than running the country. The federal Conservatives are battling over selecting a leader who doesn’t appear to be Conservative and the NDP is trying to close its eyes to a leader who badmouths the Liberals out of one side of his mouth while keeping them in power with his support. This left wing extremist babbles about right wing extremist groups. As for the Liberals, they live in a world where the rules don’t apply to them, they make their own as they stumble along, with NDP support.

Here in our own province, I’ve been trying to find one, just one, positive proposition from the B.C. Liberals, but the only thing they’ve put on the table is harping about the party in power. It’s come to the point that I can quote each Liberal news release before ever seeing it. They always start with “John Horan (fill in the blank negatives)” Surely they must have some positive ideas to offer.

The pandemic has created a lot of opportunity for protagonists on all sides to engage in linguistic gymnastics. The U.S. face mask regulation dispute is a classic example. One day the medical chief declared the "science" proves the need to continue wearing masks. The very next day she said "science" has proven masks are no longer necessary. It seems to be the cover all excuse.

That is possibly one of the most misused words in the English language – in the pandemic and the climate debate and any unwinable argument. The meaning of the word is to study and search for facts. Climate zealots claim that "the science is settled," Science is never definitive – if a subject is totally confirmed or proven, then the science is done, there's no longer a search for the truth. Science is never proven – it can be an opinion at best.

In case you want to play more word games, try today's flavours of the day – racist, bigot, hate, white supremacy and others that are not definable but forefront in keeping our society on edge.

Saturday, May 15

A ROYAL SALUTE  – Congratulations to Dr. Steve Beerman for being awarded the King Edward VII Cup by Queen Elizabeth in a virtual meeting on May 6.  The cup is presented to members of the Royal Life Saving Society for outstanding contributions to drowning prevention. Beerman called it a humbling honour to receive the award and be on a video call with the Queen.He founded the Canadian Drowning Prevention Coalition in 2016 of which he’s co-chair. He was a key advisor in a United Nations resolution about drowning prevention, acknowledging it’s one of the biggest causes of preventable death in the world.

CALLING YOUNG PEOPLE - Island Health chief medical health officer Dr. Richard Stanwick says the biggest issue for the Island is convincing young people to get the Covid vaccine shot. “Certainly, our numbers are not as impressive early on as we have seen with our older-age populations,” he said. The federal government announced a record number of weekly doses of COVID-19 vaccines are coming to Canada next week. Approximately 4.5 million total doses of Pfizer and Moderna are expected to arrive in the country, some of that to B.C.

UPDATE - MISSING NEWCOMER TO NANAIMO HAS BEEN FOUND - The Nanaimo RCMP seeks public assistance in locating 30-year-old Miriam Baribeau who has not been seen since Sunday. Investigators have been unable to contact her by phone or on any social media platforms. She recently moved to Nanaimo from Quebec and speaks only broken English. She is a white female, 5 ft. 4, heavy set, with brown hair and green eyes. No clothing description was provided and the picture of her is recent. SEE PHOTO

Friday, May 14

WEAPON SIGHTING CLOSES SCHOOLS - It had all the elements of a major police incident as they set up containment and emergency response team members and a police dog after a report of a man with a rifle behind the Nanaimo Ice Centre Thursday morning. Const. Gary O’Brien said police set up containment and emergency response team members and a police dog searched the marsh. Police came upon a man at about 10:30 a.m. who said he’d been in the area earlier with an airsoft rifle. Nanaimo District Secondary School and Fairview School were locked down during the incident.

VACCINES ARE WORKING - Vaccines have forced B.C.’s COVID-19 curve downward, says Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. She told a media briefing that 120 people who received their second dose between Dec. 27 and May 1 contracted the virus, out of nearly 80,000 cases. “It’s making a difference at a healthcare facility level, at a community level, at a population level. But we need to keep it up,” Dr. Henry said of the province’s vaccination program. Residents 30 and can book their appointment at mass vaccination clinics effective yesterday. Text and email invitations will be going out shortly, so take two minutes to get yourself registered. The province is reserving supply of the AstraZeneca vaccine for second doses only with existing bookings through pharmacies continuing.

MASKS STILL REQUIRED - It is too soon to know if our province can follow the latest relaxing of pandemic restrictions in the U.S., but we should start to learn more soon, says Dr. Bonnie Henry. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised Thursday that fully-vaccinated people do not need to wear masks outdoors and can avoid wearing them indoors in most places. That will allow life to begin to return to normal. Fully-vaccinated people will not need to physically distance in most places, but masks should still be worn in crowded settings such as buses, planes and hospitals. Dr. Henry said B.C. is not quite ready for that step yet, but more information will be coming in the re-start plan, expected after the May long weekend.

THAT’S A BIG HAUL - Commercial truckers are steaming after learning BC Ferries rates for oversized loads will rise 56 per cent this spring. The increase has come out of the blue in a pandemic that’s already created difficulties, say the truckers. Oversized loads include bridges and culverts, to heavy equipment and house kits that will be shipping in big numbers this summer. Rate increases on BC Ferries’ entire fleet rose an average of 2.3 per cent in 2021. It applies to loadsmore than nine feet wide.

Thursday, May 13

PAY UP OR PARK IT – If you’ve been wondering how the government will collect unpaid Health Order fines for any residents with outstanding COVID-19 fines, they’ve got you covered. Under the proposed legislation, introduced Wednesday, scofflaws won’t be able to drive any more – people who leave COVID-19 fines unpaid may be denied a B.C. driver’s license or vehicle license. The proposed amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act will extend “refuse to issue” (RTI) restrictions to fines issued under the Emergency Program Act and COVID-19 Related Measures Act. The RTI will apply to all outstanding fines under these acts and will be applied retroactively.

GET A BUZZ IN DUNCAN – The city to our south used to labor under an uncomplimentary nickname, and is now looking to be the place with a buzz. The city wants to become Vancouver Island’s first designated Bee City. Council has instructed staff to apply to participate in the Bee City Canada program, which encourages communities to support pollinator protection through public awareness campaigns and policy decisions. As a designated Bee City, Duncan would have to create and maintain pollinator habitats throughout the community, educate residents about the importance of pollinators, and participate in International Pollinator Week. There are 50 Bee City communities in Canada, but only six of them – Kamloops, Delta, Revelstoke, Clearwater, Xwisten Bridge River, and T’it’q’et First Nation – are in B.C. 

MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS – The Pacheedaht First Nation has told the Capital Regional District board to stay out of the debate over logging in the contested Fairy Creek area near Port Renfrew. The First Nation urged the CRD directors to "show an appropriate level of respect to the sovereignty and wishes of our nation" and "respect our desire for self-determination." A resolution at the CRD board’s meeting recommends the board work with the Pacheedaht and the province to defer logging in old-growth forests on southern Vancouver Island. Logging in the Fairy Creek area, which is within the traditional territory of the Pacheedaht, has been a hotly contested issue, with protesters blockading roads through the forest for months, despite an injunction ordering their removal.

THE FLYING VIRUS – The B.C. Centre for Disease Control has added another Nanaimo flight to its list of COVID-19 exposures so far this week. The May 5 WestJet flight from Calgary to Nanaimo was listed with passengers in rows 16 to 20 being at risk. Anyone who was on that flight should self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19, seek testing and self-isolate says the BCCDC. Studies suggest that the risk of COVID-19 transmission on airplanes is low, though there have been some examples of it happening. 

IF AT FIRST YOU DON’T SUCCEED, try, try again . . . until you get arrested.  A 34-year-old man is in custody after a series of botched Robberies. First it was Sport Chek, after stealing some clothing, and was seen in the parking lot trying to remove security tags from the stolen clothes. He wasn’t successful so left the clothing behind and moved on to Coast Capital Savings on Aulds Road. He demanded money but gave up and left empty-handed.  As he was leaving the bank, he attempted to take money from an elderly man making a withdrawal from an ATM. The victim refused to hand over his cash.  Then it was on to Staples where Mounties had him in handcuffs.  No weapon was produced in either incident. 34-year-old William Joseph Lesieur was charged on Wednesday with two counts of robbery and one of theft under $5,000. 

Wednesday, May 12

 IF AT FIRST YOU DON’T SUCCEED, try, try again . . . until you get arrested.  A 34-year-old man is in custody after a series of botched robbery attempts. First it was Sport Chek, after stealing some clothing, and was seen in the parking lot trying to remove security tags from the stolen clothes. He wasn’t successful so left the clothing behind and moved on to Coast Capital Savings on Aulds Road. He demanded money but gave up and left empty-handed. As he was leaving the bank, he attempted to take money from an elderly man making a withdrawal from an ATM. The victim refused to hand over his cash, so, once again, the suspect left empty-handed.  Then it was on to Staples where Mounties had him in handcuffs. No weapon was produced in either incident, but threats were made. 34-year-old William Joseph Lesieur was formally charged on Wednesday with two counts of robbery and one of theft under $5,000. Read the RCMP REPORT. 

MENTAL HEALTH PANEL - The Nanaimo Chamber will present a panel discussion on mental health and wellness on Friday. The virtual panel will examine and discuss the impact of the pandemic on the mental wellness of our community – in our homes, our workplaces, on our streets and in the community around us. Experts include Psychologist Dr. Leanne Campbell, Nanaimo Medical Health Officer Dr. Sandra Allison and Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, Sheila Malcolmson. Questions and ideas are invited in advance and will be moderated through the virtual platform. Chamber Members attend for free; the non-member admission price is $20. Register at nanaimochamber.bc.ca Kim Smythe of the Nanaimo Chamber will moderate.

POLICE CRUISER BROADSIDED - A Nanaimo RCMP officer was injured when his police vehicle was broad-sided by another vehicle. The officer and the other driver were both taken to the Nanaimo hospital with minor injuries. The collision occurred on Monday afternoon, at the intersection of Third Street and Howard Avenue. The officer was driving west along Third Street when he was hit by a sedan operated by a 25-year old woman travelling north on Howard Avenue. Witnesses later told investigators she did not stop at the stop sign and struck the police vehicle.

WELCOME HOME JOHN – Former Nanaimo City social planner John Horn is back as the new executive director at the John Howard Society with the aim to provide more housing and resources. John was a social planner in Nanaimo at the height of the 2018 tent city and then spearheaded a project in Cowichan to install single occupancy cabins to those in need. The society is set to move onto its largest housing project with the Community Services Building on Prideaux Street being rebuilt as a 50-bed supportive housing complex. 

CENSUS DEADLINE DAY – Have you filled out your 2021 Canada Census form yet – today is the deadline. Statistics Canada collects the data every five years to gain insight into Canada’s population trends to help shape the delivery of numerous public services such as healthcare, education and transportation. If you don’t submit your information they have a lot of nasty things they can do to you.

THEY GOT ONE – B.C. RCMP issued their first ticket for non-essential travel on May 1. The travel restrictions, which limit movement between three regions in B.C., are in place to help stop the spread of COVID-19. They were ordered by Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth, but RCMP are responsible for enforcement. A vehicle was stopped for more than one driving offence on southern Vancouver Island by a Traffic Services officer. wrote Cpl. Mike Halskov of RCMP Traffic Services in a May 11 email to CTV News Vancouver. A conversation with the driver, from North Vancouver, revealed he was travelling for non-essential purposes. He was directed to return to the Lower Mainland immediately.

Tuesday, May 11

SNOWBIRD EMERGENCY LANDING - A member of the Canadian Snowbirds made an emergency landing Monday after a suspected bird strike. The aerobatics team is at 19 Wing Comox for its annual spring training session and are conducting flights twice each day. Capt. Gabriel Ferris said the incident happened as the team was lifting off for the 9:30 a.m. practice. The pilot followed normal procedures and called an emergency for a suspected bird strike. The pilot put the aircraft safely on the ground and the remaining eight team continued on with the practice.

THE TOUR DE ROCK BOTTLE DRIVE is Saturday at 3200 Island Highway – Country Club Centre next to Dairy Queen. All money raised goes to help children battling cancer. You can drop off your pop and alcohol cans and bottles or you can arrange pickup by calling Norm Smith at 250-756-1245. 

WALK FOR ALZHEIMER’S - It’s not too late to join the thousands of British Columbians walking their own way for the IG Wealth Management Walk for Alzheimer’s. Simply set yourself a walking or fitness challenge throughout May, while fundraising to support Alzheimer Society of B.C. programs and services. Participants are encouraged to get creative and ensure their plans to participate adhere to current provincial health guidelines. An online celebration on the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s Facebook account at 4 p.m. Sunday, May 30 will end the month of activity. 

HOMELESS ORDERED TO PAY – Two of the co-conspirators in the vandalism takeover of Rutherford School in 2018 have been handed conditional sentences and placed on probation for 12 months. Ivan Drury and Tingchun Chen were ordered to pay the school board $1,000 in restitution and perform 50 hours of community service. 

SURPRISE! – It didn’t take very long for graffiti vandals to deface the city’s new Nanaimo sign in Maffeo Sutton Park. Parks crews monitor the sign since it was installed on April 29 and have twice removed writing from the face of the letters. Both instances involved writing from a Sharpie-style marker. While the sign doesn’t feature a specific anti-graffiti covering, its finish is designed to be able to withstand marking.

FORGET THE SIX PACK - Four island breweries have joined forces to create a special summer offering to help support B.C.’s wild salmon population. A four-pack of beers from four breweries is now available in "Pod Packs," with some proceeds going towards the Pacific Salmon Foundation. The cans highlight Victoria’s southern resident killer whale population with black and white themed boxes that are complete with a dorsal fin. One dollar from each pod pack sold goes directly to the Pacific Salmon Foundation and helps island communities preserve wild salmon stocks.

CHANGING THE LANDSCAPE - Electoral boundary changes could add up to six new ridings while eliminating the protection of rural ridings, says Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad. 

59 cryptocurrency fraud reports totalling more than $600,000 recorded
Mounties in Surrey are warning the public to be mindful of investment scams after dozens of incidents have been recorded since the start of the year totalling more than half a million dollars in loss. 

All of B.C. will eventually ease out of COVID-19 restrictions at same time: doctor
Dr. Bonnie Henry said Monday that two previous attempts last year to lift restrictions regionally did not work because people travelling from one area to another brought the illness along or took it back home with them.  

Vancouver airport shooting: Victim of deadly incident identified
Homicide investigators have released the identity of the victim killed in a shooting outside Vancouver International Airport over the weekend. 

Monday, May 10

2021 CITY BUDGET IS FINAL - Well, it’s set, you’ll pay three per cent more on your tax contribution to the city. The 2021 budget was locked in at a special meeting on Monday. That comes from a two-per-cent increase in general property taxes and one per cent for asset management, funding infrastructure upgrades and repairs. Adding on water, sewer and sanitation fees, the average Nanaimo home, assessed at $544,227, will day 4.3 per cent more (or $135) to the City, a total of $3,267.

NOT TOTALLY SAFE - Immunization is not absolute, says Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam – those who are fully vaccinated are not completely immune to COVID-19.  Dr. Tam says the risk of asymptomatic infection and transmission is far lower for anyone who receives two shots of the vaccines. She says vaccination “reduces the amount of virus in the back of your nose,” which in turn dials down the risk of spreading COVID-19 to others, especially after the second dose. Tam also says young people, who sit at the bottom of vaccination priority queues, now have the highest case rates and can transmit the virus despite showing no symptoms.

RISING CULTURAL LEADER - Eliot White-Hill, Kwulasultun, is this year’s City of Nanaimo Culture and Heritage Award for Emerging Cultural Leader. He has gone from displaying his work in a Nanaimo coffee shop to the Nanaimo Art Gallery. He said he’s honoured to get the award and thankful to those who have supported him as he’s developed his artistic practice. “This year has been just so amazing,” he said. “How difficult it’s been with COVID, I just feel like it’s provided an opportunity for my art to flourish in ways that I had never expected.” Aside from being featured in the Nanaimo Art Gallery’s Rain Shadow exhibition, this past year White-Hill also painted murals inside the Beban Park pool, designed stickers for Tourism Nanaimo.

THEY KEEP COMING – One more flight has been listed on the BCCDC Covid exposure list.  A May 3 Harbour Air Seaplanes flight from Vancouver to Nanaimo was added to the list. Two earlier flights between Nanaimo and Calgary were reported last week. April 29, WestJet flight 3109 from Calgary to Nanaimo and April 30, WestJet flight 3304 from Nanaimo to Calgary (rows one to seven)

PARKING PERMITS - Designated parking is now available for disabled motorcycle riders after special motorcycle parking permits were introduced in Nanaimo. The program was created five years ago by the Social Planning and Research Council of B.C. allowing motorcycles to use designated parking spots in parks, recreational facilities and other services. The Nanaimo Disability Resource Centre has limited decals available on a first-come, first-served basis. Applicants must already have an active permanent disability parking for their car, van or truck and there is no fee for the motorcycle decals. For more information about the decals and how to receive them, contact the NDRC at 250-758-5547 or e-mail parking@ndrc.info.

Sunday, May 9

HENRY STANDING FIRM - Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has shot down a suggestion from Island Health’s chief medical health officer Dr. Richard Stanwick to ease some restrictions for Islanders. Case numbers are down to about 19 a day and transmission and test-positivity rates are lower than those in B.C.’s other health regions. The battle against COVID-19 on Vancouver Island is going better than it has since last fall. “The response is, we are functioning as one health system and islanders continue to observe the same restrictions that are being asked of all British Columbians,” Stanwick said. However, that doesn’t apply to restaurant workers in Vancouver who will start getting vaccines this weekend while that isn’t happening for restaurant staff on Vancouver Island. 

CONGRATULATIONS - Village on Third project won the Judges’ Choice award as best overall entry at the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board’s Commercial Building Awards. The 14th annual awards were announced virtually on Friday. The Third Street project, designed by D-Architecture and built by Westmark Construction, also won the Award of Excellence in the mixed-use category.

JUST SO YOU KNOW – Two more flights to or from Nanaimo Airport have been added to the Centre for Disease Control list for possible Covid-19 exposures. Both were WestJet flights, coming to Nanaimo April 20 (flight 3109) and going to Calgary April 30 (flight 3304). BCCDC says passengers who were on either of those flights should self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days.

 Massive fire displaces family in Gold River,

 Calgary mayor says anti-mask rallies are ‘thinly veiled white nationalist’ protests 

 B.C. government to give more than $8 million for programs to curb gang violence

 COVID-19: Vancouver International Airport lost $380M in 2020

 Medical supplies from Canada arrive in India as COVID-19 cases, deaths surge

 Woman shot multiple times by RCMP at Ucluelet First Nation

 Tam warns that full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Duke Point ferry schedule changes in effect

The Coastal Renaissance has cancelled all sailings on the Duke Point route for May 8 and 9. Instead, the Coastal Inspiration will service a limited schedule, with some changes. Look up the revised sailing times at www.bcferries.com

Missing Cedar woman located safe and sound

Stepahnie Walker

UPDATE - 0509 - Nanaimo RCMP report that  50-year-old Stephanie Walker has been found, safer and sound.

0508 - Nanaimo RCMP is asking for the public’s assistance in locating 50-year-old Stephanie Walker, who has not been seen since Thursday May 6. Investigators have learned from a family member that Walker, who lives in Cedar, may have been assaulted and injured. As a result there is extreme concern for her safety and well-being.  

Walker is Caucasian, 5 ft.7, 180 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes. The picture of her is recent. Of note, she has a tattoo of an eagle on her upper right arm. If anyone has information on the whereabouts of Stephanie Walker, please call 911 or the Nanaimo RCMP non-emergency line at 250-754-2345, and quote file # 2021-16475.


Saturday, May 8

NO TICKETS AT ROADBLOCKS - The Mounties were out in full force ensuring that residents abide by travel restrictions due to COVID-19. RCMP reported 127 vehicles were stopped at a roadblock in the Manning Park area with no fines handed out. Three other roadblocks will be set up over the weekend on Highway 1 in the Boston Bar area, Highway 5 in the Old Toll Booth area, and at Highway 99 in the Lillooet area. Motorists breaking travel rules can be fined $230 for failing to follow instructions at a road check or $575 if the reason for travel violates the essential travel health order.

TRIAL UNDER WAY – The trial for the driver in a crash that killed retired police officer Shinder Kirk of Abbotsford got under way in Nanaimo on Friday. Conrad Nikolaus Wetten was charged with driving a vehicle without due care and attention in a December 2018 car crash on Cedar Road. Kirk was known as the  spokesman for Abbotsford police department, as well as RCMP Integrated Gang Task Force and Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit.

HOT REALTY MARKET – We’ve heard of real estate offers over the asking price, but a two-bedroom, three-bathroom condo in Tofino fetched $1 million over the listed price. It was listed for $1.4 million but attracted a bid of $2.4 million. Details about the buyer were not disclosed. The 1,206-square-foot condo includes south facing decks, a no-maintenance yard, carport and storage.

FRESH PRODUCE - The Cedar Farmers Market opens tomorrow for the summer season. Kate Poirier of the market says she’s optimistic for this year, the community is on side and supporting all the safety precautions

MENTAL HEALTH WEEK - The Nanaimo Chamber is recognizing Mental Health Week in BC, with a panel discussion on mental health and wellness next Friday, (May 14). The virtual panel will examine and discuss the impact of the pandemic on the mental wellness of our community – in our homes, our workplaces, on our streets and in the community. Panelists will be psychologist Dr. Leanne Campbell, Nanaimo Medical Health Officer Dr. Sandra Allison and MLA Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions.

NOT ALL GOOD DEEDS ARE REWARDED - All that glitters is not necessarily gold - A Nanaimo man found that out when he lent  money to a family, accepting fake gold jewelry as collateral. Police say the victim was approached by a well-dressed couple with two small children in a newer-model vehicle. The couple asked for money, saying they had lost their wallet. They gave the victim several pieces of gold jewelry as collateral and said they would phone him in “couple of days” to arrange repayment. All information was false and so was the gold. Nanaimo RCMP this week warned of several scams that have happened this spring.

Friday Covid update

Dr. Bonnie Henry questioned reliability of figures in February. SEE VIDEO
Brian Peckford on being misled on pandemic numbers.

Friday, May 7

GETTING HIGH ON VANCOUVER ISLAND - Work is under way on Vancouver Island’s newest tourist attraction, the Malahat SkyWalk, scheduled to open by July. It’s described as “the ultimate natural high” with views from the lookout at 250 metres above sea level. Visitors on the lookout will be able to see 360-degree views of both the Canada and U.S. coastlines, the Finlayson Arm, Saanich Peninsula, Gulf Islands, and multiple mountain ranges. It is a spiral ramp, with an elevated boardwalk leading to its 10-storey spiral tower — the first of its kind in North America. If you get tuckered out by the climb, the viewing platform will have an optional 20-metre spiral slide to the bottom.

FORTIES GET THEIR SHOTS - The vaccination eligibility age is dropping to 46 years and older, starting today. Then on Sunday the province plans to start booking people who are 43 and older. As early as Tuesday, the aged drops to 40 to book immunizations at clinics in their area.

ELECTRIC SCHOOL BUSES – The Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district has it first electric school buses in a pilot project. The new buses were unveiled Thursday morning at the school transportation facility. The buses are scheduled to hit the road by May 25, servicing the Lantzville/north Nanaimo area and the Ladysmith/École North Oyster area. The 76-passenger Type C electrical buses come with a price tag of $350,000 each. Nanaimo-Ladysmith has been picked for a pilot project to fit the buses with seatbelts. 

END OF AN ERA - Bill and Jean Carter are writing the final chapter of a part of downtown history as they close Bastion Jewellers and retire after 36 years. The store will close permanently at the end of June. Bastion Jewellers set up shop on Commercial Street in 1985 and the family business has become part of many residents’ most important events. For 36 years, Bill has crafted jewelry in the back of his Commercial Street shop. “It’s awesome, it’s been just a beautiful experience. We’re a part of a lot of people’s lives and special moments and that is hard to describe. We’ve made a wonderful life in this little room behind us,” he said.

SEEKING AN ARSONIST - The Nanaimo RCMP need public assistance in identifying a person leaving the Dollarama, at 609 Bruce Ave, just minutes after a fire was reported inside the store. The fire caused considerable damage to one section of an aisle, at approximately 9 p.m. on March 29. The store was about to close for the day when an employee noticed there was a fire in one of the aisles. 

WHITE SPOT CLOSES PERMANENTLY - The White Spot restaurant at 130 Terminal Avenue in Nanaimo has closed permanently. The shutdown was posted on the company website.

POLICE SEEK DASH CAM VIDEO - Nanaimo RCMP Municipal Traffic Unit is asking for dash cam video of a collision between two transport trucks, which sent one of the drivers to hospital with life threatening injuries. The collision occurred at approximately 7:40 am on Wednesday May 5. near the intersection of Northfield Road and the Nanaimo Parkway. The injured 35-year-old driver remains in hospital, with her condition being upgraded to stable. 

Thursday, May 6

HOW TO SLOW 'EM DOWN - Motorists appear to be treating a stretch of Departure Bay Road like the Indianapolis Speedway, and city staff want to do something to slow them down. It’s especially worrisome in summer when there are more pedestrians passing Departure Bay Beach and Kinsman Park between Wingrove and Bay streets. City data shows about 13,000 vehicles pass that way daily, but in summer more cyclists and pedestrians are sharing the road or crossing to and from the beach. They have looked at numerous options, including speed bumps which are not desirable.

VACCINES FOR KIDS - B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has welcomed the approval of Pfizer vaccine for children as young as 12. She said the approval is good news and the province is planning on integrating that into the current vaccination program. Dr. Henry says approximately 300,000 children in B.C. should be vaccinated by the end of the school year. The other provinces moved quickly to also approve the vaccine, including Alberta.

PREGNANT WOMEN GET SHOTS - Expectant women 16 years old and up are now eligible for Covid vaccines and they are a priority in the immunization plan. "All Health Canada-approved vaccines are safe and effective, and I encourage everyone to register and receive their vaccine as soon as they are eligible. This includes women who are pregnant," Dr. Bonnie Henry said. Prioritizing their vaccination adds another layer of protection, she said, for those people as well as their babies.

HORSESHOE BAY DISTRUPTION - Cliff maintenance work at Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal until June 20 will cause some disruption. Public washrooms and the Karma Café on that side or the parking lot will be closed. Traffic patterns may be modified to accommodate the work, so customers are asked to follow the direction of staff.

Pandemic statistics

Figures provided by BC Centre for Disease Control

Nanaimo Parkway reopens after crash site cleared

UPDATE - The Nanaimo Parkway opened this afternoon after the wreckage was cleard.

A 35-year-old woman driving one of the trucks was taken to Nanaimo Regional General Hospital with life-threatening injuries.

The 71-year-old male driver of the other truck was not injured. He remained at the scene and co-operated with investigators.

EARLIER REEPORT - The northbound lane of the Nanaimo Parkway is closed to traffic after two northbound semi-trailers collided at approximately 7:40 a.m. The collision occurred approximately 200 meters north of the Island Highway and Northfield Road intersection. 

One of the two drivers involved in the collision was injured and was taken to the hospital with unknown injuries. Northbound traffic is being re-routed eastbound at the Northfield Road to Bowen Road. Southbound traffic has not been interrupted. If at all possible, motorists are asked to avoid this area and take an alternate route.

Nanaimo business man Norman McNabb dies

Norman and Edna McNabb

Nanaimo business icon Norman McNabb died Tuesday morning. A family member said he had suffered from congestive heart failure. Norm was predeceased by his wife Edna on December 8, 2020. They had been married for 65 years.

Norman was born in Canwood, Saskatchewan in 1933 to Dalton and Pearl McNabb. He had all of his schooling in Big River and was always active in sports.

Hockey was his passion and after leaving school he played for the Prince Albert Junior Mintos. He graduated to senior hockey in Saskatchewan and Alberta before returning to Big River, where he married Edna Sundby. He was a playing coach for the Big River Braves in the '60s, as well as coaching younger teams.

Norman and Edna had six children, all born in Big River: Darcy, Lance, Shelley, Terry, Tanis and Gwen. They all moved to Nanaimo with their parents.

Norman was yard manager and production supervisor of the Saskatchewan Timber Board and sawmill operations.

He was an active member of the B.P.O. Elks and served as Exalted Ruler and District Deputy Grand Exalted Ruler. He was also an active member on the Board of the United Church and served on the Board when the United Church was being built.

Norman and Edna left Big River in 1969 and moved to Nanaimo, where Norm managed a hardware and retail lumber store. Sun Glo Lumber later became a family business before it was sold.

Norman was semi-retired but still dabbling in land development.

Early history of Norman McNabb from Family Histories website.

May 5 Coronavirus report

Wednesday, May 5

THE JOYS OF MAYORHOOD – Our fearless leader Sir Leonard of Krog has a vast lineup of duties including herding pets, it seems. Dogs are not allowed on our public beaches from May to the end of September. And you’d better adhere to the rules, there’s a $150 fine if you take Rover on the beach during that time. And if you see someone flaunting the law, you can report them to Animal Control at 250-616-0233. But fret not, dogs are more than welcome at one of Nanaimo's other parks, including our 12 off-leash areas found throughout the City, says His Worship.

DRUG SUPPORT LAUNCHED - Island Health has launched an awareness campaign for men who use drugs to help prevent overdose deaths and support men to break the silence about their drug use. Last year in the Island Health region, 263 people died from illicit drug toxicity. Of those people, 225 were men - and 126 of them were in a private residence when they overdosed. 

BOY DO WE CREATE GARBAGE – We’re producing so much garbage the fleet of trucks has to be enlarged. City Council has approved borrowing up to $460,000 for a new automated garbage truck. It will be the second new truck introduced as we grapple with more waste and how garbage, recycling and compost are collected. It will take until the new year for the new truck. Since late January, crews collect both landfill and recycling each day from two zones in the City. This cuts down on wasted time waiting in line at the landfill to increase the amount of garbage and recycling collected.

WE’RE GETTING THERE - Slightly more than 40 per cent of those within the Island Health region have got their first dose of virus vaccine. The data, to May 2, shows that 40.7 per cent of eligible people received their first shot, and 1.8 per cent have their second. That’s similar to other health authorities like Fraser Health (41.7 per cent), Northern Health (40.5 per cent), and Interior Health (40.2 per cent) while Vancouver Coastal is slightly behind with 38.5 per cent of its eligible population vaccinated.

Pandemic numbers continue to decline

Three escape early-morning fire on Departure Bay Road

The owner and two tenants escaped an early-morning fire today at a home in the 3100 block Departure Bay Road. Nanaimo Fire Rescue responded at about 5:30 a.m. MORE

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

GOOD MORNING NANAIMO - If you felt awfully dry in April you were right. Nanaimo Nanaimo had only one third of its usual April rainfall – 22.2 mm. It was the same over the rest of Vancouver Island. In Victoria there was unusually dry weather and an early spring heat-wave led to the tenth driest and warmest April on record. The normally wet West Coast fell far short of the 270 mm Tofino usually gets, 31 per cent of normal. Environment Canada says the seasonal forecasts for late spring and summer are still inconclusive. 

HAVE IT YOUR WAY – Traffic calming measures had their effect on Opal Road, but that’s not what the public wanted. So city council voted 5-4 on Monday to return the intersection at Rock City Road to the way it used to be by removing turn controls there. Coun. Zeni Maartman’s motion went against staff’s recommendation, as general manager of engineering and public works Bill Sims said staff had hoped Monday’s meeting would be the last time the Opal Road intersection would come to the council table. He said the traffic-calming efforts have had the desired effect. 

HOT REALTY MARKET CONTINUES - There were more single-family homes and condos on the market in April but there was little relief for home buyers across the island. The Vancouver Island Real Estate Board reports prices are still rising throughout the Island, with a single-family home having an average benchmark price of $659,300. That is up by four per cent from March and 22 per cent higher than in April, 2020. And it will also cost you more for an apartment as prices are up four per cent from March and 14 per cent over 12 months. The benchmark price hit $345,200 last month. In Victoria you pretty well have to be a millionaire to get into the real estate market. The Victoria Real Estate Board benchmark price for single-family home in the city core was at $996,500, a 2.9-per-cent increase from March, and a 12.6-per-cent-increase from last year.

ALERT FOR AN ALERT - Expect to get an emergency alert on your cell phone this week officials conduct a test. Emergency Management BC said alerts are expected to go out at 1:55 p.m. Wednesday. The message cell phone users may see at that time is a test of the province's wireless alerting system, part of the national Alert Ready system. The alert will also be broadcast on radio and TV stations. Messages will read, "This is a TEST of the British Columbia Emergency Alerting System, issued by Emergency Management British Columbia. This is ONLY a TEST. If this had been an actual emergency or threat, you would now hear instructions that would assist you to protect you and your family. For further information go to www.emergencyinfobc.gov.bc.ca. This is ONLY a TEST, no action is required."

RECORD HIGH SEAS DRUG HAUL - The Victoria-based HMCS Calgary seized $23 million in heroin and methamphetamine off the coast of Oman on April 23 and 24, a record-setting haul for the multinational Combined Maritime Forces coalition. The first seizure was 1,286 kilograms of heroin – the most ever seized by a coalition vessel. A search of the second boat yielded 360 kilograms of methamphetamine. The U.S.-led maritime coalition says the combined value of the drugs is over $23.2 million, adding that drug-trafficking profits in the region are often used to finance terrorism. participating navies from Europe, Australia, the United States and the Middle East have racked up more than a dozen successful anti-trafficking operations.

Monday, May 3, Coronavirus report

Morning Duke Point ferry sailing cancelled

The Coastal Renaissance has cancelled the morning sailing from Duke Point due to a mechanical difficulty. The ship is experiencing a problem with a propeller and divers are required. 

Cancelled are the 5:15 am departing Tsawwassen and the 7:45 am departing Duke Point.

Monday, May 3, 2021

GOOD MORNING - It's one of those days, so grab your britches and hang on to your store-bought teeth Nellie, sit tight and let 'er rip, this is your Monday morning buzz.

THANKS, BUT NO THANKS – Nanaimo-Ladysmith school trustees resisted temptation and turned down a pay increase for themselves for this summer. They’ll wait until a new board in the next term after the next election. An ad hoc committee made eight recommendations including one that would see trustee pay based on an average of comparable school districts, effective July 1. The board rejected a recommendation to raise the salaries this summer.

WHAT ELSE COULD GO WRONG? – If you got an AstraZeneca injection in a pharmacy ignore an invite from the province's vaccine registration system to book an appointment. Tens of thousands got their shot at a pharmacy, which did not require them to book through the province’s vaccine registration portal. Now, in an apparent glitch, many of those people may get an electorinc invitation through the central registry to book a first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. If you’ve had a shot and get an invitation, don’t book that appointment.

STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES, to quote Forrest Gump. Some people like to tell the world about their Covid vaccine shots by posting vaccine-card selfies – "vaxxies". There's a risk to posting a photo of a personal document on social media. Fraudsters could use photos of vaccination cards to produce fake documents, something is likely to happen as more people get vaccinated and proof of immunization becomes a requirement for participation in certain events or travel to certain destinations.

FLYING COVID  - The Centre for Disease Control keeps adding flights to its COVID-19 exposures list and planes keep flying – 53 in the past week. Ten flights were added on Wednesday, eight on Thursday, four on Friday and eight on Saturday. Coupled with the 23 flights added between Sunday and Tuesday. For the month, B.C. had more flights with coronavirus cases on board than in any other month of the pandemic. However, no data is available on the total number of confirmed or active cases from any of those flights, they were simply exposures, not even tests. The BCCDC is also warning passengers who were on a charter tour bus trip on April 23 that they may have been exposed. The bus ran from Surrey to Prince George with stops in Cache Creek and Williams Lake.

A REAL LIFESAVER – Arrowsmith Search and Rescue volunteers learned just how valuable Project Lifesaver can be. They used the technology to find a missing 79-year-old Parksville man with dementia. The system broadcasts a specific frequency for each user, and that can be traced. Volunteers drove around for a couple of hours before they picked up a signal and were able to find the man. Project Lifesaver is a non-profit organization that provides education to first responders and caregivers and offers transmitting technology to help locate individuals with cognitive disorders if they go missing. Nanaimo Lifeline administers the program and can be reached at 250-947-8213.

BE READY FOR ANYTHING  – The most important aspect of Emergency Preparedness Week is to not put off doing what needs to be done. There’s no guarantee when an emergency will strike and emergency responders may not be available immediately, so be ready. The city and regional district offer reminders about the importance of being ready for different kinds of emergencies. It’s the same message, but it remains relevant – know the risks, have plans in place, and have emergency kits. The RDN is conducting a series of Zoom webinars this week to provide information and prizes as incentive to sign up. The webinars will be held today, Tuesday and Wednesday. For times and registration information, visit http://getinvolved.rdn.ca/nepp.

THEY ARE BACK OUT THERE – A man and a woman are back out on the street upon release after they were arrested in a fraud and identity theft investigation in Qualicum Beach. Oceanside RCMP officers searched a hotel room and discovered stolen identification and a large quantity of physical and digital evidence suggesting that the fabrication of identification and other fraudulent activities were taking place in the room. A 40-year-old man and a 25-year-old woman were arrested and released with a promise to appear in Nanaimo Provincial Court.

PURPLE PEOPLE EATERS  – Canadians are seeing more unidentified flying objects while night sky gazing. The pandemic has people spending more time outdoors, which has led to a growing number of unusual calls to RCMP and 911 dispatchers. They are getting a lot of calls with the SpaceX satellite launches. They’re a very specific pattern in the sky, they’re not hitting the ground, and it can be explained quickly to people that there are actual satellites. SpaceX is a U.S. aerospace company.

Late Marianne Turley awarded Honour in Culture

Marianne Turley

The late Marianne Turley has been named the recipient of a City of Nanaimo Arts and Heritage Award for Honour in Culture.

And that’s no surprise, Marianne immersed herself in the Vancouver Island Symphony in the final decades of her life.

A nice touch this year was Mayor Leonard Krog personally hand-delivering the awards in the categories this year.

Marianne died Jan. 7 before this year’s winners were announced, but the mayor let her know in advance that she was one of the honourees.

The News Bulletin has an excellent tribute to Marianne’s contribution to our community. 


Sunday, May 2, 2021

SURGERY CANCELLATIONS – Twelve non-urgent surgeries were cancelled last week in Vancouver Island hospitals. That is due to more than just the virus pandemic. Health Minister Adrian Dix said there is ongoing significant pressure on the health-care system, partly related to COVID. He acknowledged the strain of fighting the virus was a factor in the delays, in what was described as staffing and capacity issues. Christine Sorenson, president of the British Columbia Nurses’ Union, says burnout is a real problem and has triggered some staffing shortages.

WHAT’S NEW? – Passengers from a recent flight that landed in Nanaimo are being warned about possible exposure to COVID-19. The BCCDC has added Air Canada/Jazz flight 8261 from Vancouver to Nanaimo on April 27 to its exposure list. Passengers who were on a flight on the exposure list should self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days.

THE WORD IS COLLABORATION – It would be humorous if it were not so serious. We have travel restrictions between Vancouver Island and the rest of the province. No trips by land (ferry). However, there are almost-daily notices of Covid contacts on flights to and from our island paradise. Meanwhile, people travelling between Canada and the U.S. can’t fly into Canada without government-overseen quarantine imprisonment, but you can walk or drive across the Canada-U.S. border without a hitch. For one part of the problem, see the next item.

INTERPRET THIS ONE – The following quote is attributed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. If you can decipher it, I am sure there are many, many travelling Canadians would like to know.
“There is a fundamental difference between someone arriving at a land border and someone arriving at an airport. Someone arriving at our land border has been in the United States, has a PCR test from the U.S. even if they travelled internationally before, because of U.S. quarantine, has been in the U.S. at least two weeks. And therefore, the measures we put in place at the border and we’re following very closely — the numbers and data we collect on these tests have been an extremely low and manageable number of cases.”

‘NOTHING MUCH TO FEAR – Brian Peckford has submitted a report from The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, a new Charter analysis outlining why Canadians need not fear Covid to the extent the federal and provincial governments’ draconian restrictions would imply. The Report: “Covid in Canada: Nothing much to fear” explains why the ongoing violations of Charter rights and freedoms are not justified by facts and evidence. The report presents ten reasons why government lockdowns and restrictions are not proportionate or reasonable in light of the facts about Covid. You might find it interesting, check it out here.

CONFUSION REIGNS - About the last thing that food and beverage businesses need now is uncertainty, but that’s what they feel they’re getting. The newest rules from the province create a lot of confusion about how to interpret them, and there’s confusion from the inspectors about how they’re going to interpret. More importantly, it’s just more pressure and anxiety for those just trying to get by, said Ian Tostenon, president of the British Columbia Restaurant and Foodservice Association (BCRFA). “They wrote it in a way that needs an engineering degree, frankly, to understand it.”

Saturday, May 1

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.

WATER RESTRICTIONS - The City's watering restriction restrictions go into effect today, restricting the use of outside watering to a maximum of two hours per day between 7-10 a.m. and 7-10 p.m.

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.

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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



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.