June 19

SCHOOL EMPLOYEE INVESTIGATED - Nanaimo RCMP are investigating a School District 68 employee, at one point taking him into custody. Police say they were informed on June 12 of an incident involving the employee. The mother of a special-needs student at a high school said she was contacted by the principal to tell her that her child had been in daily contact with the employee. 

SHIP WASTE BID - A bid to process deep-sea cargo waste from freighters anchored in Nanaimo has been referred to a regional district committee. Vancouver-based Tymac Launch Service, wants to move solid waste to the landfill. The waste, including organics, is considered high-risk international waste by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. The Port of Nanaimo supports the plan which would contribute to economic activity in the port.

ZERO COVID CASES – Friday was a red letter day for Vancouver Island with no positive tests for COVID-19. British Columbia reported 109 new cases for the province with one additional death. Dr. Bonnie Henry said 128 are in hospital with 48 in critical care. There was one death related to the virus on Friday. This brings the provincial death total over the course of the pandemic to 1,740.

FERRIES BOTTOM LINE HIT BY COVID - BC Ferries year-end report ending March 21, shows the pandemic has had a major impact on traffic. BC Ferries says it carried 13.1 million passengers and 6.7 million vehicles, a decrease of 40 per cent and 24 per cent compared to the previous year. In total, net earnings were $21.0 million, a decrease of $7.8 million. That includes the support received from governments through the Safe Restart funding.

BUSINESS AWARDS - Voting is under way for the Chamber of Commerce Nanaimo business awards. Last year nearly 6,000 votes were cast. The 21st annual awards celebration will be televised on CHEK TV to an audience of up to 80,000 viewers! Deadline for voting closes June 28. 

WE’RE CELEBRATING CANADA DAY – If will be scaled down, but Nanaimo will celebrate Canada Day on July 1. Despite restrictions forecast to be relaxed July 1, allowing for festivals and larger gatherings, the City will again scale back the party. Mayor Leonard Krog said there will be entertainment and food trucks in six of our larger parks along with random visits and prizes.

June 18

WALK-INS WELCOME - If you have not had your first Covid vaccine shot yet, you don’t have to wait any more, you can get the first dose at a mass immunization clinic without an appointment. With vaccine supply increasing, Island Health is able to provide a limited number of walk-in appointments each day at mass immunization clinics for adults aged 18 and older for first doses only. People in need of a second dose must book an appointment through the provincial Get Vaccinated booking system.

AN OMEN? - BC Ferries fourth Island Class ferry has run into mechanical problems on its way to British Columbia from Romania through the Mediterranian Sea. Deborah Marshall, BC Ferries spokesman said there is an issue with one of the thrusters. The ship will stop in Cartagena, Spain to have a technician investigate and repair.  

IT KEEPS ON HAPPENING – You can’t be too careful when it comes to scams. Two Nanaimo hotels have been scammed out of nearly $1,700 after employees thought they were responding to legitimate requests from their regional offices. There are numerous ways not to fall for internet scams, but one simple one is when you are asked to send money to Fed Ex and when Bitcoin is involved, run as fast as you can. 

BORDER RESTRICTIONS – If you have any grand illusions about travelling abroad, don't hold your breath. Travel restrictions at the Canada-U.S. border will remain in place for at least another month. Ggovernments are extending restrictions on non-essential international travel until July 21. 

SECOND SHOT OPTION - Pfizer or Moderna are now preferred as the second dose for people previously inoculated with AstraZeneca. In new guidance released Thursday, NACI says that Is based on growing evidence that a second dose of an mRNA vaccine produces a stronger immune response, and because of the low but serious risk of vaccine-induced blood clots associated with getting AstraZeneca. 

IT AIN’T OVER – Coronavirus cases are still showing up. Health officials identified five new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Island region Thursday. They were among 120 cases across B.C. over the previous 24 hours.  One more person has died in the province, bringing B.C.'s pandemic death toll to 1,739. Forty-one people in the Vancouver Island region have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic began. 

CANNABIS DELIVERY - Cannabis retailers can deliver recreational marijuana products to their customers starting July 15. The Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General says it’s another reason for cannabis consumers to “go legal” when buying cannabis in B.C. The announcement follows the government’s decision last August to allow cannabis retailers to sell their products online.

June 17

SMOOTH SAILINGB.C. Ferries is adding six extra sailings for the weekend between Departure Bay and Horseshoe Bay for the June 18-20 weekend. Additional sailings will leave  Departure Bay at 12 p.m. on Friday, June 18 and Sunday, June 20, as well as a 7:25 p.m. departure on Sunday. 


BEBAN POOL TO REOPEN IN OCTOER
 - If you miss swimming, there’s good news on the horizon. The city’s finance and audit meeting has recommended reopening Beban Pool by Oct. 4. Mayor Leonard Krog said the pool’s continued closure has resulted in lots of correspondence to council. A staff report noted that with all indoor swim programming being held at the aquatic centre, user groups have had to adapt to decreased space, less availability of time and reduced number of participants. 

SEWER PIPE REPLACEMENT - The sewer pipe along Departure Bay has had its day and fixing it is going to costs more than $5 million. The 47-year-old steel pipe is the largest force main in the  wastewater collection systemCorrosive sewer gases were building up leading to deterioration. About 400 metres of high-density polyethylene pipe will be installed, while 400 metres will be rehabilitated. 


BACK TO SCHOOL - It will be near normal when school resumes this fall. Dr. Bonnie Henry and Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside announced the plan Thursday morning. Whiteside said officials are expecting all students back in the classroom for full-time, in-person instruction in the fall. Students will no longer be group into cohorts or learning group. It's also expected that restrictions on gatherings, extracurricular activities and sports will be relaxed in time for the new school year. 

June 16

NEW ECONOMICS - City Councillors Ben Geselbrecht and Tyler Brown will share the City’s perspective at the The Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce and Synergy Foundation for an exploration of circular economy and doughnut economics. The City has committed to, and the roles business can play. It’s a virtual lunch on Friday from 12-1pm. Register at the Chamber.

SUSPICOUS FIRES More than 20 suspicious fires have been set in downtown Nanaimo. Many were minor and often involved cardboard and other flammable materials found in dumpsters being set on fire. Recently though, a fire on June 4, that started outside a business on Cliff Street, caused significant damage. The fire could have spread to the interior of the business if not for the quick efforts of attending fire crews. The map shows a number of the fires that were reported and attended to.

EIGHT BELLS AND ALL’S NOT WELL - A lot of British Columbia events are charging up for this summer, but the Nanaimo Marine Festival remains on hold. The Loyal Nanaimo Bathtub Society, which hosts and co-organizes the larger Nanaimo Marine Festival, announced on Tuesday there won’t be any festivities this July. “With the remaining uncertainties around holding events in British Columbia this Summer, we are suspending the scheduled Bathtub Weekend events for July 2021 including the Great International World Championship race until further notice.”

June 15

UPDATE - BC Ferries website is back up and running. You can now make reservations for sailings in the next few days.

FERRIES WEBSITE CRASHES - People appear anxious to travel – BC Ferries website crashed Monday due to high traffic. The outage happened shortly after the province confirmed its non-essential travel ban between select health authorities would be lifted Tuesday. BC Ferries said it was working to restore service to the website. The company was also recommending those rushing to book travel after Monday’s announcement call its Customer Service Centre at 1-888-223-3779 as an alternative. 

LIFEGUARDS WILL BE BACK on duty at Westwood Lake Park daily from noon to 6 pm from June 29 until September 5, including Canada Day, BC Day and Labour Day. Besides daily lifeguarding at Westwood, staff will also lead registered camps, including Junior Lifeguard Summer Camp, Mermaid Camp and Survivor Camp for ages 8 to 12. Swimming lessons will also take place between July 6 and September 2. Check the City of Nanaimo's online Activity Guide or call 250-756-5200 for information on these programs and others being offered at other locations.

DO NOT STOP HERE - We knew the legalization of wacky tobacky would impact on Vancouver, but nobody would have guessed they would go completely over the edge with their climate obsession. Owners of higher-polluting vehicles, such as gas-powered luxury sports cars, large SUVs or full-size pickup trucks 2023 or newer would have to pay an annual pollution charge of $1,000 for a residential parking permit. Moderately-polluting vehicles, such as most gas-powered sports sedans or more efficient small SUVS would have to pay $500. The proposed changes are part of the city’s Climate Emergency Action Plan, which council passed last November. 

Former Mayor Graeme Roberts has died

Graeme Roberts

Flags are at half staff today at Nanaimo city hall in recognition of former Mayor Graeme Roberts who died on the weekend, weeks short of his 90th birthday. 

Statement from Mayor Leonard Krog

On behalf of Nanaimo City Council, and City Staff, I extend my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Graeme Roberts, who served as the Mayor of Nanaimo from 1984-1986.

During Mr. Roberts' tenure, the City's waterfront transformed through development. It was also during his term, in 1986, that Prince Charles and Princess Diana made a trip to Nanaimo to help then-mayor Roberts proclaim the new slogan for our City - The Harbour City. At the welcoming ceremony, Mr. Roberts presented the Prince and Princess of Wales with a hand-carved native mask after they unveiled the Harbour City plaque and cairn in Maffeo Sutton Park.

And, of course, who could forget when Mr. Roberts declared the ultimate Nanaimo bar recipe was to go to Joyce Hardcastle for her recipe of a traditional style bar after beating out many other contenders. 

While we mourn the loss of Mr. Roberts, we also reflect on the legacy that he left behind as Mayor of Nanaimo, which has helped make Nanaimo the spectacular Harbour City it is today.

From the B.C. Games website

Graeme Roberts has served in senior executive and Board of Directors positions for a succession of public and private sector entities, local, regional, and national.

He is a past Chairman of the British Columbia Public Service Commission and also served on the Boards of Air Canada Jazz, its predecessors and the B.C. Ferry Corporation.

Graeme is Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Motor Vehicle Sales Authority of British Columbia, and serves on the Board of Directors of the Victoria Airport Authority. 

Among his private passions has been more than 20 years of volunteer work in amateur sport for youth, seniors, and people with disabilities with the BC Games Society.  In this cause he has attended close to 100 Games and associated events in approximately 40 communities throughout BC. Graeme lived in Brentwood Bay with his artist wife Kathryn Amisson.

June 14

REOPENING PLAN THIS MORNING - Premier John Horgan will announce details this morning (Monday) about the next step in the Covid reopening plan. He will be joined by Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon, Health Minister Adrian Dix, Tourism Minister Melanie Mark, and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry at 10:30 a.m. They are expected to detail Step 2 of the reopening plan would going into effect on Tuesday. It will ease the non-essential travel ban between select health authorities, maximum allowable outdoor and indoor gathering sizes and limited crowds at outdoor sporting events.

GOOD NEWS STORY - A woman was airlifted from Mt. Benson on Saturday after sustaining non-life threatening injuries. Nanaimo Search and Rescue led efforts to retrieve the woman, part of a family of five hiking on the mountain, around 5:30 p.m. on Saturday.

TALLY HO - Ironclad developments is proposing to build multi-family housing on the western portion of 1 terminal Ave at the former Tally Ho and Howard Johnson site. The proposed housing will appeal to seniors, young professionals and families. It is hoped to become a part of downtown Nanaimo’s urban centre and enjoy adjacent natural amenities such as the waterfront, Barsby Park and Bowen Park. Plans call for a six-storey building with underground vehicle and bicycle parking 

SO LONG CUSTOMER SERVICE - Walmart is converting its Terrace store to only self-serve checkouts this summer, as a test with a number of other outlets in Canada. I have never used Walmart’s self-checkout and can’t see me changing at my age. In an emailed statement to The Terrace Standard, Walmart Canada said its Terrace store was selected because a large number of customers are using self-checkouts. Company spokesman Felicia Fefer said customers have embraced self-checkouts as they’ve rolled out across the country over the past few years. 

June 13

A BURNING ISSUE - Residents in Nanaimo’s Cinnabar Valley have expressed alarm over a bush fire behind their homes they tackled last weekend without help from firefighters. When 911 was called the dispatcher wouldn’t alert Nanaimo Fire Rescue because the location is under B.C. Wildfire Service jurisdiction. The B.C. Wildfire Service operator passed information along, but couldn’t say what resources would respond. Wildfire Service firefighters arrived about 1:15 a.m. Sunday.

KW’UMUT LELUM THANKS – Kw’umut Lelum thanks organizers of a May 31 vigil that resulted in more than $4,000 in donations to the child and family service agency. Snuneymuxw Chief Mike Wyse and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris said they were grateful to Tsatassaya White and Anna McKenzie for organizing the event and including Kw’umut Lelum. Those attending were invited to donate plush toys with donations pinned to the stuffies. The idea came from Musqueam Elder Gina Grant who told her children in residential schools weren’t allowed toys.

VICTORIA STATUE VANDALIZED - Protesters vandalized a statue of Queen Victoria at the legislature on Friday splashing red paint on the statue and scrawl the “Land Back” on the podium. The incident occurred when protesters converged on the legislature to oppose old-growth logging. The organizers of the rally told CTV News they do not condone the vandalism and feel betrayed by those who defaced the statue. 

GLUCOSE MONITORS COVERED - If you have diabetes you can claim coverage of the life-changing Dexcom G6 continuous glucose monitor through PharmaCare. Health Minister Adrian Dix announced Friday that the program would cover the device which monitors blood sugar levels in real-time through a sensor attached to the skin, and transmits the information to an app. It is also capable of sending push notifications if a person’s blood sugar levels rise too high or drop too low, potentially putting them in danger.

RIDING THE BUS - The Regional District of Nanaimo wants to know what you think about public transit in the region. The RDN has posted a survey asking residents what would help improve and transform transit services in the region over the next five years. They want to know every aspect of service, including routes, scheduling, service to new areas, connections, accessibility and customer amenities at bus stops. Respondents will be able to post ideas and examples from other transit systems that they wish the RDN to consider. To get to the survey, check here. 

SUPPORTING DECRIMINALIZATION - Mayor Leonard Krog is part of a group of seven mayors supporting a plan by Vancouver to decriminalize small amounts of illicit drugs. A statement signed by the mayors of Nanaimo, Victoria, Saanich, Kamloops, Burnaby, New Westminster and Port Coquitlam says they support the so-called Vancouver Model to eliminate criminal penalties for simple possession and they want the federal government to do the same. 

IF YOU’RE FEELING LUCKY this might be a good time to pick up a ticket for Tuesday’s Lotto Max jackpot which will break another record. There was no winner in Friday’s draw for $70 million so a $70 million jackpot and an estimated 47 Maxmillion prizes of $1 million each are available. Friday there were 13  winning $1 million tickets from Ontario, four in the Prairies, three in Atlantic Canada, three in Quebec and one in British Columbia.

SASKATCHEWAN MOUNTIE KILLED – A man and a woman have been arrested after 26-year-old Const. Shelby Patton of the Indian Head RCMP detachment died Saturday morning after being hit by a vehicle. Saskatchewan RCMP Commanding Officer, Assistant Commissioner Rhonda Blackmore said Patton was following two suspects who were allegedly driving a stolen truck from Manitoba. Patton initiated a traffic stop on the vehicle in Wolseley and Patton was struck and killed while outside his police vehicle. Patton died on the scene around 8 a.m., despite medical efforts from a member of the public. He leaves his wife and other family members.

SPREADING THE NEWS – Congratulations to Nils Haugland who retired recently at age 71 after delivering the News Bulletin for 33 years. Nils moved to Nanaimo when he was six years old. He had his first paper route when he was 13 beginning his News Bulletin in the summer of 1988s. Haugland stepped down due to health reasons and said he was always treated well by customers. Among the residents Haugland delivered papers to was Gary O’Brien of the Nanaimo RCMP, who says Haugland is a very dear friend whom he has known for 15 years. Everyone in the neighbourhood loved Haugland, said O’Brien, who even hired him for yard work.

Saturday, June 12

HAVE YOUR SAY - The City has come up with $25-30-million concept to extend the Harbourfront Walkway from the ferry terminal to Departure Bay Beach, and you can have a say. Over recent years proposals for the walkway have changed and notions of an elevated walkway have been put aside.

WOMAN LOCATED - The 40 year old Nanaimo woman whom police were attempting to locate has been found. The woman had not been reported missing however, on June 10, out of an abundance of caution, the Nanaimo RCMP asked the public for their help in locating her. 

MORE MONEY COMING – ICBC is issuing a second round of COVID-19 rebate cheques due to fewer crashes during the COVID-19 pandemic. ICBC will start sending out the new rebates in mid-July, returning approximately $350 million to nearly three million ICBC customers. The new rebates are estimated to be worth an average of $120 per policy holder.

MANDATORY VACCINATIONS - The province is considering mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for long-term care home workers, along with other policies. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry was asked whether the province would look at mandatory vaccination for long-term care workers or policies that would allow care home operators to reassign staff who have not been vaccinated. "Absolutely, we're looking at all of the options around how we ensure that residents in long-term care are protected to the fullest extent possible," she said.

BC FERRIES IS GEARING UP in preparation for the end of recreational travel restrictions expected to come next week. BC Ferries manager of corporate communications Astrid Chang said the company is preparing to meet the pent-up travel demand, anticipating more sailings further into the summer season. Ferries introduced cheaper saver fares and free reservations to encourage economic recovery after the ban is lifted. CEO Mark Collins said the fare options and free reservations will provide more value, flexibility and certainty by spreading traffic across the day.

TRAPPED WHALE RESCUED - There’s one lucky humpback whale enjoying freedom after being entangled in commercial fishing gear near Nanaimo. Fisheries officers working near Entrance Island on Thursday following up on reports of suspected whale entanglements, when an emergency call came in from a commercial fishing vessel just five minutes away that had discovered an adult humpback whale entangled in its prawn trap line. had become so entangled it was anchored in place, possibly for as long as 24 hours, when it was discovered. Paul Cottrell, Department of Fisheries and Oceans Marine Mammal Response Program co-ordinator, said it was a 50-string trap line with anchors on either end on 3,000 feet of rope.

PREMIER NOT BUYING IN – Cancellation of Canada Day celebrations in Victoria does not sit well with Premier John Horgan who says he does not want other cities to follow suit. The premier said June 21, National Indigenous Peoples’ Day, would be a more appropriate time for us to collectively focus on how we can redress the wrongs of the past, and build a brighter future together. Victoria city council voted to abandon virtual Canada Day festivities, following the discovery of children's bodies on the site of a former residential school in Kamloops. 

Second phase of recovery plan expected to start Tuesday

Health Minister Adrian Dix

More pandemic restrictions are expected to ease next week Tuesday June 15 as the province enters Step 2 of its COVID-19 recovery plan. Health Minister Adrian Dix, Premier John Horgan and Dr. Bonnie Henry will address issues on Monday around Step 1 and Step 2. Dr. Henry also presented the latest modelling data on Thursday and said it shows B.C. will be in a good position to continue safely moving forward with our restart plan.

Rules for gatherings
Personal indoor gathering rules don't change. The same rules from Step 1 will apply: up to five visitors are allowed at a personal residence.

Rules for outdoor personal gatherings will shift. Outdoor personal gatherings can have up to 50 people. Those can include birthdays, backyard barbecues and block parties. Playdates are encouraged.

For organized events, indoor seated gatherings of up to 50 people are permitted with a safety plan in place. 

Travel restrictions ease
Provincial travel restrictions will lift, allowing residents to travel recreationally throughout B.C. Transit services, including BC Ferries, will increase their operations as needed.

New guidelines for restaurants and workplaces
Restaurants and bars will be allowed to serve liquor until midnight, instead of until 10 p.m.

Banquet halls will also be allowed to operate with limited capacity and with a COVID-19 safety plan in place. Health officials say they'll start consulting with that sector to come up with next steps on easing restrictions.

For other workplaces, a gradual return to work will continue and small in-person meetings will be permitted.

Sports and recreation
Indoor high-intensity group fitness will be allowed with reduced capacity and indoor games and practices for both adults and youth can be held. Spectators won't be allowed at indoor games, but as many as 50 people can watch outdoor games.

After that, the earliest more restrictions will ease is July 1. That will include removing the mask mandate and instead making masks recommended in indoor public settings, increasing indoor social gatherings, removing group size limits at restaurants and reopening casinos and nightclubs. 

Step 2 rules for gatherings
Personal indoor gathering rules don't change. The same rules from Step 1 will apply: up to five visitors are allowed at a personal residence.

Rules for outdoor personal gatherings will shift. Outdoor personal gatherings can have up to 50 people. Those can include birthdays, backyard barbecues and block parties.

As well, playdates are encouraged.

For organized events, indoor seated gatherings of up to 50 people are permitted with a safety plan in place. 

Travel restrictions ease
Provincial travel restrictions will lift, allowing residents to travel recreationally throughout B.C. Transit services, including BC Ferries, will increase their operations as needed.

Restaurants and workplaces
Restaurants and bars will be allowed to serve liquor until midnight, instead of until 10 p.m.

Banquet halls will also be allowed to operate with limited capacity and with a COVID-19 safety plan in place. Health officials say they'll start consulting with that sector to come up with next steps on easing restrictions.

For other workplaces, a gradual return to work will continue and small in-person meetings will be permitted.

Sports and recreation
Indoor high-intensity group fitness will be allowed with reduced capacity and indoor games and practices for both adults and youth can be held. Spectators won't be allowed at indoor games, but as many as 50 people can watch outdoor games.

After that, the earliest more restrictions will ease is July 1. That will include removing the mask mandate and instead making masks recommended in indoor public settings, increasing indoor social gatherings, removing group size limits at restaurants and reopening casinos and nightclubs. 

Friday, June 11

COMING HOME - Doug Holmes is coming home. The former assistant city manager for Nanaimo has been named chief administrative officer for the Regional District of Nanaimo. Holmes is the CAO for Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District, and will take over his new post on Aug. 23. “As a long-time resident of Nanaimo, I am familiar with both the opportunities and challenges we face as a region and appreciate the opportunity to help shape the future of the RDN,” Holmes said.

THEN THERE WERE TWO – Canada’s Green Party is down to two members of Parliament after MP Jenica Atwin left to join the Liberals. Party representation is now down to Vancouver Island members – Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Paul Manly and Saanich-Gulf Islands MP Elizabeth May. They released a statement that Atwin left mainly because of ongoing internal rifts among the Greens over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

CRUISES IN JEOPARDY - A U.S. Senator has introduced a bill that could kill the cruise ship industry in B.C. Senator Mike Lee’s bill aims to repeal and reform the Passenger Vessel Services Act of 1886 which requires all ships transporting passengers between U.S. ports to stop at a foreign port as part of each journey. Ships sailing from Washington to Alaska are required to stop in Vancouver, Victoria or Nanaimo as part of their itinerary. Transport Canada has closed off all ports to foreign ships during the pandemic impacting not only the cruising industry but also the tourism on Vancouver Island and other ports along the Alaskan routes.

NO CANADA DAY – Victoria City Council has cancelled a planned virtual Canada Day broadcast. Instead the city will produce a broadcast later this summer that focuses on reflection. The future broadcast will be guided by the Lekwungen people and will feature local artists in order to explore the idea of what it means to be Canadian. The decision was made in light of the revelations about the former Indian residential school in Kamloops.

HELP FIND SARAH DUGUAY - Nanaimo RCMP seek public assistance in locating 40-year-old Sarah Duguay of Nanaimo. On the morning of Monday June 7, a woman who identified herself as Duguay, callled the Nanaimo RCMP non-emergency line. The nature of the call left investigators with the sense that the caller may be experiencing a personal health crisis.

Thursday, June 10

BONNER HAS RESERVATIONS - Coun. Don Bonner, who says he is Indigenous, has a problem with the design of a new city facility. He repeated his earlier objections to the design of the Long Lake Paddling and Rowing Centre which city council has added to the draft 2022-2026 financial plan. Bonner says it looks like an “Asian temple” instead of a structure with Indigenous styling to house canoes. Coun. Sheryl Armstrong had a different slant on it, saying Snuneymuxw Chief Michael Wyse and council support the design. Chief Wyse thought it was reminiscent of a wave, as well as Indigenous cultures, and it’s almost the same as the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre in Whistler. Bonner has said in the past he’s a member of an Ontario First Nation.

NEW CLASSROOMS – The province has loosened the purse strings with $2.6 million for four new classrooms in 2022 at Dover Bay Secondary School. The B.C. Ministry of Education is providing the money “existing, under-used space” at the high school, with the district providing $400,000 of its own money for the project. In addition, a “project-based learning hub, a fitness area and a gender-neutral washroom,” will be included, which would mean the school would no longer need the use of four portables. Work is expected to begin in September and classrooms are expected to be ready in March 202.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN – Seniors are getting out now that increased immunization is leading to a relaxation of safety protocols is leading to a slow return to normal including the return of bus trips. Some of the residents of Dufferin Place were able to go for their first bus rides Wednesday. Bus trips were suspended when the pandemic began.

CAR PRICES SOAR – If you’ve been thinking about trading in your vehicle, better recalculate, high demand and a microchip shortage are driving up prices to historic levels. David Robins, of Canadian Black Book, says it’s due to the lack of new cars being made as the pandemic led to auto plant shutdowns and a microchip shortage. He also said car companies underestimated the demand for vehicles during the onset of the pandemic, but the demand to buy has proven to be strong with no sign of it slowing down.

I DON’T MAKE THIS STUFF UP - Licensed marijuana stores in Washington state can offer free joints to promote on-site Covid-19 vaccine clinics. The state Liquor and Cannabis Board is calling the effort the “Joints for Jabs” program. The board says licensed adult-use marijuana retail shops can give away a single pre-rolled joint to anyone over 21 who gets a shot at an on-site vaccine clinic held by July 12. Meanwhile, Premier John Horgan doesn't think incentives are necessarybut he's not ruling them out. Manitoba announced a lottery offering nearly $2 million in cash prizes and scholarships to those who roll up their sleeves and get their shots.

Wednesday, June 9

TWO FIRES IN FOUR DAYS - Ajac’s Equipment on Cliff Street has been hit by fire twice in one week. Early Friday a fire was set in a dumpster behind a business at 140 Terminal Ave. shortly after 2 a.m. Then on Tuesday morning, June 8, another fire ignited in the space between Ajac’s Equipment and a business next door shortly after 2:30 a.m. 

FINALLY, COMMON SENSE - Vancouver’s city manager has called for a one-year step-back on ‘net-zero’ regulations on new detached houses and duplexes. It’s meant to reform the city’s backlogged residential permit process reports The Western Investor. A staff report also says the city has so many new policies layered on to old ones that it’s reaching a breaking point. A tree protection bylaw, for instance, requires any new detached house or duplex to include an arborist report, which can cost up to $1,500 and delay construction. Vancouver home builders claim it can take more than two years to process a residential building permit.

EMERGENCY EXTENDED - The state of emergency in British Columbia is now in its 15th month even though COVID-19 cases are on the decline and inter-provincial travel restrictions may soon be lifted. The provicnce formally extended the state of emergency until June 22, allowing government and health management officials to continue using “extraordinary powers” under the Emergency Program Act. The state of emergency was first declared in March, 2020 and renewed every two weeks. 

LOOSENING QUARANTINE - Ottawa is expected to announce today that fully vaccinated Canadian travellers will no longer need to spend 14 days in quarantine upon arriving home, effective in early July. It will apply to Canadian citizens and permanent residents who have had a full course of a COVID-19 vaccine. Travellers will be required to take a COVID-19 test upon arrival in Canada, and remain in isolation until the test comes back negative. That will also eliminate the the three days quarantining in an authorized hotel upon arriving in the country.

Ten positive Coronavirus tests on Vancouver Island were reported Tuesday by health officials. That's an increase over recent daily numbers, in double digits for the first time since May 28.  The new cases were among 165 positive tests found across the province in the past 24 hours.

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MAYFAIR MALL IN THE FOLD - The owner of Woodgrove Centre has added Victoria’s Mayfair Shopping Centre to their portfolio. Weihong Liu and her family business Central Walk concluded the sale on June 1 for an undisclosed amount. Liu is an investor from China who has lived here for six years. “Everyone treats everyone else in a friendly and respectful way here.  Because this community has accepted me with open arms, I am committed to continuing to work with local leaders to build the communities that we have invested in so that, together, we can make them the very best places that they can be,” Liu said. She has a long-term vision for Mayfair that includes redevelopment. 

 YOU CAN HELP FIRE VICTIM - Sandra Hill of Gabriola Island lost her home in a suspicious fire recently, and now friends are pitching in to help her get back on her feet. A GoFundMe fundraiser has been created. There were no injuries. Gabriola RCMP are continuing to investigate the fires. Anyone with information about the fires is asked to call the Gabriola RCMP detachment non-emergency line at 250-247-8333 and refer to file #2021-312. If you want to pitch in a few bucks to help Sandra, GO HERE.

CONGRATULATIONS CHRISTINE – Hats off to Nanaimo Community Archives manager Christine Meutzner. She was recognized by the British Columbia Historical Federation this past weekend. Christine has been an advocate for Nanaimo heritage and history for nearly 25 years and her career has been marked by professionalism and exceptional community service that has allowed researchers and community members to gain increased perspective and appreciation for the city’s historic roots.

NOT ALWAYS WHAT IT SEEMS - The information we are spoon fed on a regular basis often takes on a different light upon closer examination. Tk̓emlúps te Secwépemc First Nations Chief Rosanne Casimir has told reporters that the remains claimed to have been discovered at a former residential school near Kamloops are “not a mass grave” according to preliminary findings. “This is not a mass grave. These are preliminary findings. We will be sharing the written report in the middle of the month,” she said. Also see Peckford and Feldsted and my commentaries.

HANDS IN THE COOKIE JARAir Canada’s senior executives will return their 2020 bonuses after public criticism, the airline said Sunday. Air Canada paid $10 million in COVID-19 bonuses to top execs while negotiating the gov’t rescue plan. The company confirmed that its executive vice-presidents, president and CEO all volunteered to return their bonuses. The airline said that the bonuses were going to be returned as a result of unintended consequence arising from the payments. The release also said that former Air Canada President and CEO Calin Rovinescu would donate his 2020 bonus and share units to the Air Canada Foundation.

  • Hit and run driver charged with impaired driving

    A 34-year-old Nanaimo man was arrested for impaired driving following a hit and run motor vehicle incident on Monday on the Nanaimo Parkway. The 18-year-old driver of the car that was hit was taken to hospital with serious but non-life threatening injuries. Her 19-year-old male passenger was not injured.

  • Missing woman has been found

    EARLIER - The Nanaimo RCMP seeks public assistance in locating 31-year-old Jolene Scott. A family member reported her missing on June 5. Investigators were told she has had no contact with any of her family since last summer. Suddenly, in April, Scott sent a photo of herself getting on board a B.C. Ferry.

  • No foul play found in death of woman

    Foul play has been ruled out in the death of a 21-year woman. Deanna Williams was located in a tent on the morning of June 2. Investigators did not find anything suspicious relating to her death. Investigators spoke with numerous persons and conducted a forensic examination of the scene. An autopsy determined Williams had no physical injuries that contributed to her death.

B.C. set to move into Step 2 of restart plan

The province is on target to begin Step 2 of its restart plan, which is expected to include opening up travel throughout the province and expanding the number of people allowed at outdoor gatherings. Deputy provincial health officer Dr. Réka Gustafson said cases, hospitalizations and critical care admissions are declining. When the province enters Step 2, officials said the following activities will be allowed:

  •  Private outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people
  •  Private indoor gatherings of up to five people or one household
  •  Playdates
  •  Organized seated indoor gatherings of up to 50 people
  •  Recreational travel through all of B.C.
  •  High-intensity indoor fitness classes at reduced capacity
  •  Indoor team sports for all ages, but no spectators
  •  Up to 50 spectators for outdoor sports
  •  Continued returning to the office 

June 7

WHAT WERE THEY THINKING? - When politicians have something to answer for they cleanse their conscience with token penance. Take for instance, their responsibility for their inaction on Truth and Reconciliation with Canada’s indigenous people. Last week members of Parliament and the Senate, to make up for past injustices, voted unanimously to create a national statutory holiday with pay. It never occurred to them that this benefits mostly white people? And still no action on bringing promised drinking water to reserves.

MAYFAIR MALL IN THE FOLD - The owners of Woodgrove Centre has added Victoria’s Mayfair Shopping Centre to their portfolio. Weihong Liu and her family business Central Walk concluded the sale on June 1 for an undisclosed amount. Liu is an investor from China who has lived here for six years. “Everyone treats everyone else in a friendly and respectful way here.  Because this community has accepted me with open arms, I am committed to continuing to work with local leaders to build the communities that we have invested in so that, together, we can make them the very best places that they can be,” Liu said. She has a long-term vision for Mayfair that includes redevelopment.

HANDS IN THE COOKIE JAR - Air Canada’s senior executives have decided to return their 2020 bonuses after public criticism, the airline said Sunday. Air Canada paid $10M in COVID-19 bonuses to top execs while negotiating gov’t rescue plan. The company confirmed that its executive vice-presidents, president and CEO all volunteered to return their bonuses and share appreciation units. The airline said that the bonuses were going to be returned as a result of “unintended consequence” arising from the payments. The release also said that former Air Canada President and CEO Calin Rovinescu would donate his 2020 bonus and share units to the Air Canada Foundation.

FERRY PASSENGER OVERBOARD - If you were riding the 1 p.m. Queen of Cowichan out of Horseshoe Bay on Sunday your trip was delayed about an hour after a passenger went overboard, resulting in an extensive search and rescue effort on the water. Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue recovered the man and the search was called off shortly after 2 p.m. The man was taken to hospital in critical condition.

WHAT’S UP DOC? – A note to Dr. Bonnie Henry, I’m still getting calls about the daunting vaccine registration process. Calling the phone number or the web link have proven very challenging with the operators on the lines not being able to perform what callers are asking for. Many centre around inability to register when the operators are unable to find records about initial vaccinations despite callers being able to provide all information given with the first shot.

TAKING A CHANCE - There could be lineups at lottery booths this week after no one won the grand prize for Friday night’s $70 million Lotto Max draw. There were eight tickets sold across the country which were worth $1 million. One was sold in B.C., four went to Ontario, two on the Prairies and one in Nova Scotia. In case you haven’t checked your ticket, Friday’s numbers were 02, 03, 16, 28, 31, 42 and 47, and the bonus number was 12. Tuesday’s jackpot will again be an estimated $70 million, but the number of Maxmillion prizes will increase to 47, making for enticing odds.

 

WOUNDED WARRIORS CANADA - 77 years ago today some 14,000 Canadians secured Juno Beach as part of the largest seaborne invasion in history. Total Allied casualties on D-Day reached more than 10,000, including 1,074 Canadians. We will remember them.

Saturday, June 6

GOOD MORNING NANAIMO – Try something this weekend that you haven’t done in ages – have a night out and go to a restaurant in Nanaimo. Most of them are open now, and the top item on the menu is A Taste of Freedom. 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ACE – Second World War flying ace Stocky Edwards is celebrating his centennial – he’s 100 years old today. He flew 373 combat missions and with 19 confirmed aerial victories, making him Canada’s highest-scoring ace in the Western Desert Campaign. Two CF-18 Hornets will conduct a flyby over Comox at 11 am today to honour his birthday. A live stream of it can be found here.

BODY BELIEVED TO BE MISSING WOMAN - The Nanaimo RCMP is investigating the discovery of abody in downtown Nanaimo believed to be 27-year-old Amy Watts who had been missing since May 27. The body was discovered by police on Thursday in the vicinity of Albert Street and Victoria Crescent.The body was found in a small wooded ravine, and the BC Coroners Service has been advised. 

ISLAND LABOUR SHORTAGE - The latest job numbers show B.C.’s unemployment rate of seven per cent is also well below the national average of 8.2 per cent. Now the challenge for some restaurants is getting enough part-time workers. Bruce Williams, CEO of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, says even before the pandemic, we had a worker crisis. We had a situation here where we had the lowest unemployment rate in the country. We had employers who were looking for workers, but couldn’t find them. That meant reduced capacity in their ability to be all they wanted to be. That’s still the case, he says.

SCHOOL HOLD AND SECURE – NDSS and the District Administration Centre adjacent to the school placed under hold-and-secure procedures Friday after a report of a youth with a weapon. RCMP said the youth involved is known to police. The order was lifted around noon. SD68 explained that hold-and-secure emergency procedures indicate a security concern in the neighbourhood. Students and staff members are brought indoors and no one may enter or exit the building, but classes continue as normal inside.

MORE HELP FOR SMALL BUSINESS - The B.C. government has added additional funding to help small and medium businesses until the third step three of the province’s reopening plan. The money will fund the Small- and Medium-Sized Business Recovery Grant until July 1. The government says the grant program has helped 10,000 B.C. businesses, with more than 41 per cent of the money going to tourism-related businesses. Tourism Minister Melanie Mark encouraged tourism-related businesses to see if they’re eligible.

Friday, June 4

STILL A MESS – I posted the problems I had with registering for the second Covid shot and then was surprised by the number of people who responded that they were having similar or worse problems getting appointments for their second shots. One caller complained of having had a first shot and then was told she was not registered so therefore could not get an appointment for a second vaccination. Others tell similar stories related to computer foul-ups. Somebody at Telus and/or the Health ministry better figure this out before people stop trying to get registered.

VACCINATION NUMBERS - Nearly 72 per cent of British Columbians 18 and older have their first dose of one of the three vaccines available in the province. That includes 229,585 second doses. Immunization rates are a key factor in the restart plan. The 70 per cent threshold is a prerequisite for moving to step three of the reopening plan, but Health Minister Adrian Dix said the province would not move to further steps of the plan ahead of scheduled dates.

COLORFULL GUN DISPLAY - RCMP responded in force to reports of shots fired in south of Nanaimo Wedneday evening in what turned out to be a legal paintball gun. No other weapons were found on site and police determined the gun was being used in a safe and responsible manner and did not confiscate it or file charges.

TEEN STABBER SENTENCED - A teenage boy who stabbed a defenceless woman has been sentenced to two years of intensive supervision. The 32-year-old Indigenous woman was sleeping under a blanket on a bench along the seawall. She was stabbed more than 20 times, causing extensive and life-threatening injuries which includes slashes across her body and two punctured lungs. The attacker was described asa  suffering from what experts concluded was a psychotic episode.

Beware, Yogi Bear is on the prowl for picnic baskets

To protect bears and other wildlife, the City of Nanaimo, Regional District of Nanaimo, and the Central Island Zone of the BC Conservation Officer Service are urging all residents to stop placing their carts out the night before collection day. Carts should be properly secured on residential property for all non-collection days.  

Leaving garbage and organic waste unsecured is a safety threat to both bears and humans. Garbage lures bears, and is the attractant for half of the bear-related problem calls made to the BC Conservation Officer Service. Other attractants include bird seed, fruit trees, pet food and livestock. Once a bear becomes food-conditioned to garbage and other attractants, they associate people with food, and lose their fear of people. Every year in our province, hundreds of bears are destroyed due to human-wildlife conflicts. DETAILS.

Thursday, June 3

HELP FOR LEGIONS – Great news for local branches of the Royal Canadian Legion. The two legions in Nanaimo and in Lantzville will benefit from $1.5 million in one-time provincial grant to help offset the impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic. There are about 47,000 members in B.C. The Legion has 145 branches that serves veterans, ex-service personnel, seniors, youth and many aspects of community life. The $1.5 million mirrors the average grant provided to businesses under the Circuit Breaker Business Relief Grant and aligns with support from the federal government. Premier John Horgan said Legions generate a significant portion of revenue from food and beverage service, which was disrupted by public health orders.

SLOW AND EASY - British Columbia is not about to relax any more pandemic restrictions despite vaccination targets for the third step of the restart plan being ahead of schedule. The vaccination rate is only one of the metrics the province will be monitoring while determining when to advance to the second, third and fourth steps of its plan, says Health Minister Adrian Dix. He said we have to continue to see cases decline. "We're doing well and things are improving, but there's still 80 people in critical care related to COVID-19,"Dix said.

FUNDING FOR GRAVE SEARCH - Vancouver Island Indigenous leaders are raising funds to search the Island’s five residential schools with the same technology used to discover the mass grave site in Kamloops last week. Filmmaker and journalist Steve Sxwithul’txw, renowned carver Tom LaFortune and educator and producer Michelle Mundy launched a GoFundMe campaign Tuesday to purchase their own searching technology. As of Wednesday morning, the fundraiser has raised more than $28,000, surpassing its original goal of $25,000. This is what will be needed to buy one ground-penetrating radar unit. The units consist of a small antenna shaped like a box, which is dragged along the surface of the ground while sending a signal into the soil. If the soil has been disturbed, as it would have been to dig graves, the unit’s signal will change. Sxwithul’txw is a survivor of the Kuper Island Residential School. 

HOTEL QUARANTINE STRENGTHENED - A federal panel recommended the end of the quarantine program for air travellers into Canada, but the government has done the exact opposite by raising the fines for air travellers who refuse to quarantine in a designated hotel for three days after arriving in Canada. The panel suggested travellers be required to quarantine in a hotel only if they fail to present a credible quarantine plan. Travellers who had faced a $3,000 fine if they didn’t abide by the requirement now face a $5,000 penalty starting today.

Wednesday, June 2

MAKING BABIES - You’re shut in by the Covid-19 pandemic, so whadda ya do? A lot of people made babies during that time. A mini baby boom could be happening on Vancouver Island. Elisabeth Gugl, an associate professor in economics at the University of Victoria, says the Island is seeing an increase in births this year compared to last — and that might have to do with the unpredictability of the pandemic. Island Health figures show there were 5,384 babies born in 2020, which is lower than the 5,669 born in 2019. However, between January and March of this year, there were 1,423 babies born on the Island, compared to 1,338 babies born during the same period last year, indicating a small baby boom.

DRUG NUMBERS STILL RISING – BC Coroners Service figures shows six people died in Nanaimo due to the toxic drug crisis in April. The number of fatalities has increased every month in 2021, from two fatalities in January to three in February and four in March. The Nanaimo area had returned to pre-pandemic levels of the drug crisis in January and February, but those trends didn’t hold in following months. Across the province, arecord-number died from drugs in April. At least 176 people fatally overdosed, 11 deaths every two days. This brings the total number of deaths from January to April to 680. The 176 lives lost are a record for the month of April and roughly 43 per cent higher than in April 2020.

GET READY FOR A SCORCHER – The beginning of the week was a hit of what’s to come this summer – It's going to be a scorcher in B.C. The Weather Network's Summer 2021 Forecastsuggests that much of the country is in for warm weather. On the West Coast, the agency expects the season will be warmer and drier than usual, including on Vancouver Island. The temperature should be "above normal," and the precipitation will be below normal for all of B.C. except for across the north. While those sick of rain may feel this is good news, it also comes with a risk. The Weather Network reminded British Columbians that these conditions increase the chances of wildfires. Additionally, there's a higher risk of poor air quality through the summer.

SUPPORTIVE HOUSING UNDER WAY - South Nanaimo is taking on a new look – assembly has begun on supportive modular housing at 702 Nicol St. It is the first permanent supportive housing built for those once homeless since Discontent City closed in December of 2018. BC Housing says the project will have 52 individual studio suites, with another seven, with two beds, for vulnerable women as a bridge to housing.

VACCINATIONS TOP 70 PER CENT - Approximately 70.4 per cent of all adults in B.C. have been vaccinated for COVID-19. Approximately 67 per cent of people aged 12 and older have been vaccinated. The more people who are fully vaccinated, the less risk there is that the virus can spread in our communities, and the more quickly we’ll be able to confidently put the COVID-19 pandemic behind us,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a statement Tuesday.

Tuesday, June 1

GOOD MORNING - Welcome to June, and summer. Even the weatherman is co-operating today. Guess what. It was Mayor Leonard Krog's birthday yesterday. Happy birthday sir. And Chris Bush at the News Bulletin edged another year closer to Canada Pension.

NEW LOOK AT TRANSIT - If you’re going to convince people to take the bus you’re going to have to provide the services needed rather than maps and charts. The Regional District is looking to find out how the public envisions transit in the coming years. RDN chairman Tyler Brown says the RDN will take a comprehensive five-year view and see how transit is fundamentally improved, and that will include public consultation to begin in the coming weeks. 

TRAILER FOR SALE OR RENT - Recreational vehicles could possibly be one solution for affordable housing. City staff have been tasked at looking for options which could see recreational vehicles as permanent homes. As it stands now, RVs can only be a temporary living solution with the exception of three zoned areas within the city. But it’s not an easy magic solution as Director of development approvals Jeremy Holm pointed out granting campers, fifth wheels and motor homes with expanded full time living status in residential areas could be problematic.

HELP FIND TWO MISSING PERSONS - RCMP are trying to find two missing individuals who have been out of touch for some time. Amy Watts is 27 years old and was reported missing on May 27 by her mother in P.E.I. She has not had any contact with her family since February. Another out-of-province family has reported Jordan Dyer has not had any contact with his family since February. See full details and photos on our RCMP page.

OVERKILL ON FURNITURE - Canadian furniture manufacturers fought back against competition from low-priced imports and now retail furniture prices are soaring. Island furniture dealers say they are getting clobbered by the solution – an almost-300% tariff on imports. Effective May 5, provisional tariffs of 296.5 and 101.5 per cent were imposed. This is going to have a huge impact on the whole industry across the country,” said Love Dodd of Dodd’s Furniture. “If you were here three weeks ago looking at a recliner worth $698, get ready to pay $2,498 for that recliner,” said Dodd. The CBSA says there is an investigation into the dumping and subsidizing of imports, with a decision to be made by August 3, 2021. 

BONNIE STILL WARY – Coronavirus numbers continue to fall, but provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry is still cautious that the pandemic is far from over. “We are in the middle of step one (of our re-open plan). Part of me of course is pleased we’re making progress. We’ve seen a dramatic decline in cases and great progress in our immunization program. But we need to continue to watch closely. Active outbreaks and new cases make me concerned.” There were 708 new positive tests over the weekend reporting period, There are 2,953 active cases with 248 people in hospital, 78 are receiving critical care.