July 31

HANDS UP – When you buy a replica firearm, don’t rush out into the parking lot to load it for all to see. RCMP responded in full force Friday upon a report of a handgun being loaded in a shopping centre parking lot. It was not until police checked it out there was no danger from the gun, but it spelled a ton of possible danger to the young man who had bought it. Full story

CRABBY MOOD - A commercial fisherman is facing 11 additional charges after being found guilty of five counts of illegal fishing activities in May. Scott Steer, a Nanaimo-based commercial crab fishing boat master, was convicted after a March, 2020 incident near North Vancouver. Steer was convicted by Judge Peter Edelman for the 2020 incident in provincial court in Vancouver on May 14, but according to a DFO press release, he subsequently got more illegal fishing charges, including eight on May 31 and three sworn in provincial court in Nanaimo on July 6. Full story

THEY ALL WANT TO COME HERE - Police turned away traffic at Horseshoe Bay Friday, as packed ferries and extreme waits were in store for anyone trying to get in line without a reservation. B.C. Day long weekend is traditionally the busiest weekend of summer for travel to the Island. What’s added to it this year is pent-up demand from the recent easing of COVID-19 restrictions along with forest fires in the Interior making many resorts unavailable. “We are moving customers as quickly as we can but this is the busiest weekend so we’re definitely at capacity,” said Deborah Marshall of BC Ferries. Full story

COVID UPDATE - Island Health reported 13 new positive tests for COVID-19 on Friday, part of the 243 new cases across the province. Interior Health had 131 while Fraser Health had 56, Vancouver Coastal reported 32 and nine in Northern Health. There are 1,231 active cases in the province, with 47 people in hospital and 16 in ICU. Vaccination numbers continue to rise – 81.1 per cent of eligible people aged 12 and up have their first dose while nearly 65 per cent have their second dose. Full story.

FLYERS AT YOUR FINGER TIPS - Fewer retailers are distributing hard copy flyers any more, opting instead for online versions. For your convenience, here is the link to all flyers. CLICK HERE.

Help those who need it during the heat wave

July 30

There’s no immediate break in sight for the scorching hot weather which is forecast to reach the mid- to high-30s this weekend. That can present a serious risk to many in our community falling ill due to excessive heat. 

Some of them are simply unable to leave their homes. During the last heat wave, hundreds of people across the province died from heat-related issues. 

Nanaimo RCMP have a timely reminder to pay attention to others around us. If you have elderly neighbours who seldom leave their homes, take a few minutes to drop by and check on them. If you spot a problem, call 911 immediately. It may be as simple as helping them to set up a fan or opening a window. It could be as simple as putting ice in front of a fan or wetting towels for them or their pets.

Here are some suggestions:
Close blinds to block out heat.
Stay hydrated, drink lots of water, even if you’re not thirsty. Keep a bottle in reach at all times.
Keep your pets indoors and make sure they too have lots of water or cool places’
Wear loose-fitting clothing.

The city has misting stations at Maffeo-Sutton park all summer, from noon to 8 p.m. and Bowen Parks from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

COVID-19 UPDATE – The number of coronavirus cases continues to rise on Vancouver Island with 14 new cases on Thursday, the highest daily total in over two months. The new cases are among 204 cases found across British Columbia over the past 24 hours. There are 1,005 active cases in B.C., including 51 in the island region.

BRAIN INJURY SUPPORT– The Province is providing $65,000 to the Nanaimo Brain Injury Society to enhance and expand programs, education and support. Health and Addictions Minister and Nanaimo MLA Sheila Malcolmson said people living with a brain injury deserve compassionate care. "Nanaimo Brain Injury Society is connecting people with the resources they need.” The Nanaimo Brain Injury Society is a charitable organization providing support, education and connection for people living with brain injuries, including injuries resulting from car accidents and drug overdoses. The funding will help the society continue offering supports to people recovering from brain injuries, with an emphasis on providing access to, and expansion of, brain-injury services by partnering with other non-profit organizations and agencies.

All Duke Point ferry sailings are full until Saturday afternoon

All ferry sailings departing Tsawwassen and Duke Point are at standby vehicle capacity are listed as full until 3 p.m. Only customers with bookings are being ticketed. Customers looking to travel to Vancouver Island without a booking may try to travel via Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay, where limited standby space was available.  

For the most up-to-date sailing and departure information, please follow @BC Ferries on Twitter, visit our Current Conditions webpage at www.bcferries.com, or call us toll free at 1-888-223-3779.

July 29

NO TSUNAMI DANGER - A powerful 8.2 earthquake in Alaska did not lead to a tsunami warning in B.C., though officials evaluated the situation locally for hours overnight. It hit 91 kilometers east southeast of Perryville, Alaska at about 8:15 p.m. Wednesday. Emergency Info BC said it was looking at information specific to the province. At 2:30 a.m., Emergency Info BC said there was no tsunami threat to B.C.

CHILD CARE SPACES NOT READY - Licensed child care at a number of Nanaimo-Ladysmith schools won’t be ready for the start of the new school year as planned. The government announced a year ago that the school district would get 406 new licensed childcare spaces at district facilities. this October. However, Forest Park, Chase River, Rock City and Ladysmith Primary schools won’t be ready this fall. Dale Burgos, school district spokesman, said there are other schools with existing child care service and families can contact those providers directly.

HIT AND RUN PROBE CONTINUES - The investigation continues to into an incident in which a street person was bear-sprayed, run over by a car, then left on the roadway. Investigators have released a photo of the suspect vehicle. The victim, age 45, is currently receiving medical treatment in the Nanaimo hospital. If you have information on the identity of the suspect vehicle or who may be associated to it, please call the Nanaimo RCMP non-emergency line at 250-754-2345, and quote file # 2021-25532.

OKANAGAN OUTBREAK - An outbreak of COVID-19 in the Central Okanagan has led health officials to impose sweeping new measures. The announcement comes after Interior Health, which covers the Okanagan, Thompson-Cariboo-Shuswap and the Kootenays, saw a recent uptick in cases. 323 cases have been identified in the Central Okanagan since July 1, and 97 per cent of those infected were either partially vaccinated or not vaccinated. More than two thirds of them were in their 20s or 30s.

KILLER WHALES ARE BACK - Southern resident killer whales made a splash off the coast of B.C. in the Haro Strait on Tuesday evening, the first major sighting of the endangered orcas in quite some time. Orcas from all three of the southern resident killer whale pods were in attendance.

July 28

A HOT TIME AHEAD – it’s barbecue time, and you’re the guest of honour. That’s what to expect after Environment Canada’s latest heat warning for eastern Vancouver Island, including Nanaimo at least Sunday. Temperatures seven to ten degrees above normal are expected through the remainder of the week and into the B.C. Day long weekend. Daytime highs near 30 degrees Celsius combined with overnight lows in the mid to upper teens are forecast through Sunday morning with slightly cooler daytime temperatures expected near the water. Risks of high heat are especially dangerous for young children, seniors, people with chronic illness or pregnant women. Workers outside for long periods of time are also advised to take extra care. Nanaimo airport’s weather monitoring station hasn’t recorded any measurable rain since June 15, a record stretch for the area.

 EXPECT FERRY LINEUPS - If you’re going anywhere off this Island on this long weekend, you may need a lot of patience baking in long ferry lineups. The best advice is to get a reservation, if you can. 

CONE ZONE - Increased traffic due to summer travel creates an increased risk for roadside workers in Nanaimo. Louise Yako, of Road Safety at Work and the province-wide Cone Zone awareness campaign, cautions that with regional travel restrictions lifted and more activity on roads, we all need to do our part when driving to make sure roadside workers make it home to their family at the end of their shift without injury.” Between 2011 and 2020, 12 roadside workers were killed and 207 were injured in B.C. Last year, 23 workers were injured because of being hit by a motor vehicle. 

COVID UPDATE - Island Health officials reported three new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, bringing the number of active cases on the Island to 35. The province now has 783 active cases, with 44 in hospital, 22 in intensive care. 6,637,241 doses of vaccine have been administered province-wide and 80.7 per cent of all eligible people over 12 have their first dose while 62.3 per cent have their second dose.

VIU CHANCELLOR IN PLANE CRASH - Vancouver Island University chancellor Judith Sayer was one of five people were taken to hospital after a floatplane flipped on takeoff at Tofino on Mondnay. The Transportation Safety Board said a Cessna A185F was taking off r at around 11:30 a.m. when it flipped into the water. Four passengers and the pilot were on board, all of whom were able to get out of the aircraft and onto a sandbar. They were taken to hospital with minor injuries, according to BC Emergency Health Services.

CHRISTMAS TREES LIT UP - There was a blazing hot time at Mike Gogo’s place on Monday night – about 800 trees burned Mike’s Christmas Tree Farm. Extension Volunteer Fire Department responded late Monday evening and fought the fire all night along with other crews from Cranberry and North Cedar fire departments and B.C. Wildfire Service. Gogo said neighbors alerted him to the fire, in the 1600 block of Nanaimo River Road, and he was able to get there quickly and meet firefighters to direct them to the location.

July 27

MAYOR DUMPED FROM RDN BOARD - Lantzville council voted 3-2 to replace Mayor Mark Swain as the representative on the Regional District of Nanaimo board. Council vote chose Coun. Will Geselbracht to replace Swain. Needless to say, he was just a little more than peed off, saying, “You have a mayor who is willing, able and capable of seeing this through … but you’re cutting me off at the knees.”

WALKWAY PROJECT POPULAR – It may cost $25 to $30 million, but residents like the idea of a walkway linking the ferry terminal to the beach in Departure Bay. Residents supported the concept in the survey in June. It was the latest step in linking the ferry terminal to the beach around the Departure Bay coastline. Community op director Bill Corsanthe project garnered strong support. “They’ve seen the videos, they’ve seen the images, they’ve seen the cost…just under 80 per cent of the public still supports it…so it’s certainly a project that is of interest to the citizen of Nanaimo and might be worth future consideration.”

TALK ABOUT HIPOCRITES – Chop down trees while protesting logging - the Rainforest Flying Squad has been chopping down trees while protesting other logging. Pacheedaht First Nation has condemned what they are calling “the disrespectful and anti-social actions of anti-forestry protesters”. The protest group cut down 18 trees with chainsaws and laid the trunks across a road in the Fairy Creek watershed area. The group says the trees were cut to delay RCMP from enforcing a court-ordered injunction against blockades preventing old-growth logging on southern Vancouver Island.

CITY BUYS JEAN BURNS SITE – A major downtown eyesore may soon undergo major changes – the city has bought the Jean Burns building site. Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog announced the purchased at Monday’s council meeting. The city has also bought the In Print and Black and Blue Tattoo propertie. Krog expressed hopel that the owner of the old A&B Sound building across the street will recognize “it’s a great time to make some changes in our downtown,” Krog added. . . .more

IT’S GOING TO BE HOT – Vancouver Island residents are in for more firecracker heat this week. Environment Canada issued a series of special weather statements on Monday, noting that a high-pressure ridge will bring high temperatures as the week goes on. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, are anticipated to be the hottest, in the high 20s near the water and in the low 30s inland. Inland areas of Vancouver Island are expected to be some of B.C.’s hot spots this coming week. Environment Canada reminds residents to watch for effects of heat illness and recommends that people drink plenty of water, even when they’re not thirsty, and try to stay in cool places where possible.

NO BODY FOUND - Nanaimo RCMP were unable to find a body after a paddle boarder reported seeing one in Westwood Lake on Sunday. The woman told officers, she was paddle boarding near the south end of the lake when she first saw the body. She immediately paddled to the life guard station and called 911. Police, Fire and BC Paramedics responded. Police and Fire, using fire crew’s quick response vessel, searched the area where the body was seen with negative results. The RCMP Under Water Recovery Team also attended and were also unable to locate a body. Officers remained in the area throughout the day to check on any vehicles that were left unattended after the park closed but none were found. 

FOUR HURT IN CRASH - Four people were taken to hospital after a two-vehicle crash near Nanaimo’s Terminal Park Mall monday afternoon. Emergency crews attended at Terminal Avenue, Princess Royal Avenue and St. George Street at about noon after a sports-utility and a hatchback collided. Firefighters had to cut a passenger-side door off the hatchback to extricate one of the occupants from the vehicle. 

COVID UPDATE - Island Health reported 18 cases of COVID-19 in the region over the weekend. They were among 267 cases across the province over the past 72 hours. There are 695 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, including 32 active cases in Island Health. The 32 active cases were located with 24 in the South Island, six in the Central Island and two in the North Island. Since the pandemic began, 41 people have died of COVID-19 in the Island Health region. As of Monday, 80.6 per cent of people aged 12 and older have received their first dose of COVID-19 in B.C., while 61.3 per cent of eligible people have received both doses.

EXPLAIN ME THIS – We’re supposedly in the grip of global warming which is supposed to lead to rising sea levels and flooding. That’s the mystery, we’re also being warned of extreme drought which is drying up the waters in our streams and rivers. Which is it?

July 25

POPPIES AT WORK – If you’ve ever wondered where the money from the Legion poppy campaigns goes, The Lantzville Legion has identified groups and organizations in need of financial assistance. Donations of $2,000 each are being made to the Army, Air, Sea and Navy League Cadet Units in Nanaimo; Meals on Wheels; Salvation Army; Nanaimo Hospital Foundation for Dufferin Place; and the Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services League money all coming from the poppy fund. At the branch itself, things are slowly returning to normal after the pandemic. The ever=popular meat draws are back, how can you resist that? Lantzville Mine Town Day is coming up oin September and they’ll need volunteers. Call the Office if you can spare a few hours.  

CONCERTS IN THE PARK – The first of the summer outdoor music series in the park went off last night at Departure Bay Beach. The City is showcasing a range of local musicians through series this summer. The free community concerts are open to everyone, bring lawn chairs or blankets to each show. The next three concerts will all take place during August at different parks across the city. Keep an eye out for details about the coming shows.

SUMMER COUNTER ATTACK – Police will be out in full force through the rest of the summer, targeting impaired drivers. The annual summer CounterAttack began at the end of June to get alcohol or drug impaired drivers off the road. Great weather and more celebrations can result in more impaired drivers. There are ongoing issues with impairment on our roads and that’s why you’re going to see an increased police presence reminding everyone to make sure you have a safe way to get home.

NEW COVID CASES AMONG NON-VAXERS – The new cases of COVID-19 between June 15 to July 15 hit people who were only partially vaccinated or not vaccinated at all. Health Minister Adrian Dix said that evidence should encourage more people to get vaccinated – new cases are largely in unvaccinated people. The B.C. government will not require people to get the vaccine, but will not stop private businesses from doing so.

SHAME ON US – One of the greatest environmental challenges facing us is the garbage we keep dumping into our oceans. Our beaches are a bit cleaner thanks to Nanaimo-based Rugged Coast Research Society removing trash from places most people never go. The 13-day cleanup concluded June 28 and 30 tonnes of trash was removed from remote beaches where crews of four to nine people were dropped off by boat and helicopter. That included 9.4 tonnes of plastic floats used for commercial fishing, 2.1 tonnes of Styrofoam blocks used as dock flotation and about 1,400 single-use plastic water bottles. It was hauled to Tofino where it was sorted. Of the debris collected, just 16 per cent will be sent to a landfill and the remaining 84 per cent will be recycled or reused.

July 24

NOTHING STAYS THE SAME – Nanaimo’s live fire training centre is about to get an upgrade. The city’s finance committee approved $275,300 in funding for the three-storey building at this week’s meeting. The facility makes up a large part of training infrastructure for firefighters across the mid-Island. Deputy chief Geoff Whiting says the facility is a crucial part year-round training and education. 

COMMERCIAL STREET FACELIFT – Hey, it’s working for Front Street with the new bicycle lanes, why not look at jazzing up Commercial Street? The city’s Finance Committee has allocated $150,000 to hire a consultant to create a revitalization plan for the downtown area. One of the first issues I covered as a reporter after moving to Nanaimo in the early 1980s was a major downtown revitalization. Now three and a half decades later it’s time to take another go at it. Development Services Manager Dale Lindsay saud several elements of the street are near the end of their life and it’s time to come up with a comprehensive, streamlined plan fitting other area initiatives. 

HELP FOR OSOYOOS FIRE FIGHT - Mid-Islanders are not exactly sitting on their hands while a major section of B. C. is on fire. Two local area (RDN) fire departments have sent crews to help fight the fires in the interior. Errington and Coombs-Hilliers volunteer department have sent reinforcements with Errington sending a spare engine and three crew members and Coombs-Hilliers sending two members and a water tender. They’ll work in Osoyoos for two weeks. The crews have are trained to help in wildfire suppression.

BEWARE SHELLFISH - Health officials say there has been an increase in people getting sick after harvesting shellfish, blaming the heatwave. The heatwave killed up to billions of shellfish, cooking them in their shells. Add another consequence of the heat, vibrio bacteria, which multiplies in warmer weather, and it’s making people sick. Vibrio kicks in 12-24 hours after eating affected shellfish and causes diarrhea, nausea, cramps, and vomiting.

DAILY COVID UPDATE - British Columbia’s COVID-19 fight reached its highest daily total since mid-June as 112 new cases were reported on Friday – five in the Island Health region. There are 22 active cases in the Island region. Dr. Bonnie Henry said across the province 46 are in hospital with 17 in critical care. There are 603 active cases in British Columbia. There were four deaths related to the virus on Friday bringing the provincial death total to 1,767 over the pandemic.

July 23

TOTEM POLE RISES  - The City voted to contribute $50,000 to the cost of a totem pole at Maffeo Sutton Park, by carver Noel Brown of Snuneymuxw and Kwagulth First Nations. As is so often the case, the original price estimate was a tad low, so at Wednesday’s and at a finance and audit committee they doubled that contribution to $100 grand. The Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre is also providing $51,000 from Canadian Heritage, Mosaic Forest Management and Herold Engineering. A city report shows the additional $50,000 is needed to cover construction of the base, raising and installation and contingency items, based on pricing from local firms. The target day for the unveiling has been moved to mid-September.

COOL ONE WAITING AT THE LEGION – Branch 256 Mount Benson Royal Canadian Legion is reopening four days a week. Hours are 4-8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, and Friday is dinner night with music and poker, open from 4-10 that day. Saturday features meat draws and dinner specials. Membership is not required, but members get a deal of food and beverages.

COVID UPDATE - the Island Health region reported three new positive COVID-19 tests on Thursday, while the province had 89 new cases. There 18 active cases in Island Health. Dr. Bonnie Henry said 53 are in hospital, 15 people in critical care. There are 781 active cases in British Columbia.

Vaccination van hits the road in Island Health

VACCINATIONS ON THE GO - Island Health has taken vaccinations on the road, making it easier for people aged 12 and over to get their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. The Vax Van begins service in Nanaimo on Sunday at Maffeo-Sutton Park from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. On Monday the vax van will be at Chase River’s Country Club grocers from 1-7 p.m. and Tuesday at Westwood Lake, 1-7 p.m. Island Medical Health Officer Dr. Mike Benusic said the sun is out and people are active, so they’re meeting them where they are. “Immunization opportunities like this will help us to reach as many young and unvaccinated people as we can before school goes back in session and people move indoors in fall.” MORE

July 22, 2021

GRAB A TRAY . . . PLEASE - Local hotels, motels and restaurants are getting creative to attract employees after the long pandemic shutdown. Dan Brady, executive director of the Nanaimo Hospitality Association, said everyone is hurting for employees now that hotels, events and restaurants are opening. A large number of workers have left the industry during the pandemic and some will likely return once the government wage subsidy ends. Wages have gone up substantially, with entry level positions starting well above minimum wage. In Victoria one restaurant was offering $20 an hour. Brady says some are waiving waiting periods for benefits like medical and dental insurance. Some are even giving signing bonuses, gift cards and tour and travel incentives well as being flexible with hours and days of work.

FLETCHER LEADS RCMP – Congratulations to newly-minted Superintendent Lisa Fletcher who has been appointed Nanaimo RCMP Detachment Commander. She moves up from her previous rank of Insp and acting commander. The native of Ladysmith joined the RCMP at the Nanaimo Detachment in 1992. She brings 29 years of experience, serving in four detachments – Nanaimo, Surrey, Langley, and Chilliwack – as well as the Provincial and National Headquarters. Lisa graduated from UBC with a degree in psychology. She also attended McGill University and completed her French Language training.

LOOK AFTER YOUR DOPE - Five children under age 10 were taken to hospital in Victoria after their parents noticed they were acting strangely at a barbecue. The they discovered the kids had found a bag of cannabis-infused candy ate its contents. The bag of “Stoner Patch” watermelon gummies contained 500 milligrams of THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. The parents called 911 and the children were taken to hospital where they were observed and eventually released. Police are not recommending charges but strongly urge cannabis users to secure cannabis products out of the reach of children.

SEX CHARGES LAID – NanaimoNewsNOW reports that Christopher Robin Beaton, former executive director of the Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre, has been charged with two sex offences involving children. The charges relate to two incidents of luring a child under the age of 18 in December, 2018 and February, 2020 in Nanaimo. He is scheduled to appear in court in Nanaimo in September.

WRESTLING COMEBACK – We have obviously been starved for entertainment throughout the pandemic. That’s evident in the fact that Vancouver Island Pro Wrestling’s grunt and groan game is moving to a bigger venue for its eighth anniversary show on Sept. 25. They’ll be in the Centennial Building at Beban Park which has been a favourite for grappling over many years. Tickets are $15 in advance and 20 bucks at the door. They also have a card at the Langford Legion the night before, and they’re already talking sellout.

COVID-19 UPDATE - Two new COVID-19 cases were reported in Island Health Wednesday, part of the 78 new cases for the entire province. There are 14 actives cases in Island Health. Dr. Bonnie Henry says that 48 are in hospital with 16 people in critical care with 729 active cases across the province. The Lower Mainland continues to dominate the statistics with 23 new cases in Vancouver Coastal Health, 21 in Fraser Health, 31 in the Interior Health region, one in Northern Health region with the two in Island Health. There have been no new reports of deaths the provincial death total now at 1,763.

RODENT POISON BANNED - The government has put a hold on the sale of rodenticides to protect owls and other wildlife from poisoning. The Environment Ministry will review alternatives during the 18-month ban of “second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides,” which are more powerful than other rodent controls and increase the risk of poisoning of creatures that eat these animals. Agricultural production, food safety and health services like hospitals, food processing storage facilities, restaurants and grocery stores are exempt from the ban.

July 21

EMERGENCY DECLARED - After waiting to get all his ducks in a now, Solicitor General Mike Farnworth has declared a provincial state of emergency due wildfires and worsening weather conditions. Word came Tuesday after the province previously declared that a state of emergency wasn’t necessary. Farnworth said this will address the potential for a mass evacuation scenario and provide the government with the means to secure the accommodation spaces necessary to support evacuees. This ensures that the Province has the power to do what is necessary moving forward as wildfires continue to spread, putting communities at risk. He added “we’ll be facing a few days of very difficult weather in the Interior.”

THREE NEW POSITIVE TESTS - British Columbia recorded three new positive Covid cases on Vancouver Island while there were 76 across the province. There are 692 active cases in the province, 50 people in hospital – 12 in intensive care. Health officials said 3.7 million, or 80 per cent, of all eligible individuals over 12 have had at least one dose of vaccine while 54.4 per cent have their second dose.

ELECTRIC TAXI STALLS - The grand experiment in running an electric-vehicle taxi company has shorted out in Victoria roughly a year and a half after it launched. Current Taxi, which originally brought a fleet of Teslas to the Victoria region in December 2019, is now offering service only in Kelowna, the city where the company was founded. The company originally billed itself as a luxury alternative to traditional taxis that were still roughly the same price, while producing lower emissions.

BONE DRY - Do you realize it’s been 35 days since we had rain in our part of the planet? The last recorded precipitation was 4.4 millimetres at ouro Airport on June 15. It’s the longest stretch without showers since 2013. Though we’ve been in a heat wave, we did not set any records in that department, but we got close.

July 20

NEW FOCUS FOR ARTWORK - Lauren Semple doesn’t give up – after her downtown art piece recognizing pride was vandalized earlier this month she and fellow artists painted over the graffiti and created a tribute to children of the Indian Residential School system. She said she felt the space would honour the confirmations of lost Indigenous children to the residential school system. It’s a visual statement that every child matters and done in a way to impress upon those who see it the sheer scope of the issue, she said. The new artwork features hundreds of orange handprints on a black wall represent the children.

CHANGE COMING – Preparations are well under way to erase the community services building on Prideaux Street off the downtown map to make way for a new permanent supportive housing project. The city has has been issued a development permit for new housing units. The site is one of several locations identified in an agreement with B.C. Housing for permanent supportive units, and has agreed to a 60-year lease with B.C. Housing.

CORFIELD REAPPOINTED – Michelle Corfield has been reappointed as the municipal representative on the Board of the Port of Nanaimo for another three-year term. She has served six years on the Board and was an integral part of the team bringing federal funding to Nanaimo, including $6.3 million to develop the Vehicle Processing Centre and $46.2 million for the Duke Point Terminal expansion.  She participated in the renewal of the Port’s protocol agreements with Snuneymuxw, the City and the Regional District.

WEEKEND COVID NUMBERS - Island Health reported four new positive tests for Coronavirus over the weekend, with 156 new cases and two more deaths across the province. The two deaths brought the total to 1,763 since the pandemic began. The total active cases is 653, with 49 people in hospital and 12 are in ICU across the province. Lower Mainland regions had the highest number with 63 in Fraser Health, 58 in Interior Health, 27 were in Vancouver Coastal Health, and in Northern Health. Nearly 80 per cent of all eligible people aged 12 and over have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, while 53.2 per cent have received their second dose.

THERE’S NO ESCAPE – The last vestages of true wilderness are disappearing. If you’re going to Tofino expect to pay for parking this summer. The District is implementing pay parking at its beaches in August. Day parking will cost $12 and hourly passes for $3 for the first two hours and $3 for every hour after that. Annual parking passes will be available for $120. Business vehicles can get a business pass for $120 per year. Robbins Parking will operate the pay sites at various beaches and other areas between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m. Overnight parking will be prohibited unless you have a special permit. Tickets will be issued for parking violations.

Downtown adding some zing to summer

Downtown Nanaimo is coming alive again, casting off the Covid doldrums. The Downtown Nanaimo Business Association is launching a Corner Concert Series to put a little extra step into lunch crowds and passersby. It connects people to the gathering spots like Diana Krall Plaza, Museum Way, and National Land Building steps are going to be the most popular corners to serve as Corner Concert venues 11:30 am to 1:30 pm on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays with a variety of performers.

Kim Smythe, spoke for the Downtown Nanaimo Business Association, outlining how solos and duos will take over downtown corners near patios to add a new live music vibe to downtown to celebrate a more normal social setting with the pandemic fading from everyday life and welcoming the new hospitality season. “It’s been a very challenging couple of years for downtown businesses – retailers, restauranteurs, tourism operators have all struggled to survive,” he said. 

There are all sorts of promotions in the works, including advertising in publications distributed on B.C. Ferries. Dig out your camera or cell phone and enter the local social media photo promotion all summer, with $2,000 in prizes. www.downtownnanaimo.ca

CARE HOME RULES EASED - Families can now visit loved ones in B.C.’s care homes without strict scheduling and time limits, and with more relaxed mask rules. This week’s change marks the third time since the start of the pandemic that visiting rules in B.C. have been eased. Greeters will remain at the front doors to check in visitors and to make sure of proof of vaccination. Visitors will have to wear masks while walking through all common areas, but can remove them once in their loved one’s room.

MORE WILDFIRE EVACUATONS - The Thompson-Nicola Regional District expanded an evacuation order to include a total of 110 properties in Electoral Area “I” (Blue Sky Country) due to the Tremont Creek wildfire. The district has put another 675 properties in the area and in Electoral Area “J” (Copper Desert Country) on evacuation alert. Full story.

FINALLY, CLEAN DRINKING WATER - The Lhoosk'uz Dené First Nation has water, cool clear water. The nation has been importing water for 20 years, but now a partnership with experts at the University of British Columbia shut off that tap. Chief Liliane Squinas says it’s a milestone that took years of work to achieve. It seems like forever, she said. "We've never had drinking water." The UBC team worked with the community to make sure the system can be locally operated and maintained without specialized or expensive equipment.

July 17

A PIECE OF THE PIE - Nanaimo’s growing population is expected to put the pinch on school expansion over the next decade, and that has the school board asking that cost included in new housing projects. The school district has asked the city to develop a school site acquisition charge on new developments of four or more units. Based on anticipated growth over the coming decade, up to 4,569 residential units will be built, which will draw an estimated 1,006 additional school students to the city. The district seeks site acquisition charges ranging from $600 to $1,000 per unit. The city has discretion to apply the charges as it already does for development cost charges. The bottom weighing factor translates, as it always does, on housing affordability due to every cost that is added.

A MILITARY OPERATION – The wildfire fight in the Interior has turned into a military operation with an airlift equipment from Vancouver Island. A Hercules cargo plane made multiple trips Friday from Canadian Forces Base Comox to Kamloops, B.C., delivering wildfire trucks and much-needed supplies to firefighters and military personnel on the ground. British Columbia’s emergency management office estimated there were more than 300 wildfires burning in the province Friday afternoon, forcing thousands to flee and putting thousands more on alert to leave at a moment's notice. 

ONE MILLION JABS – More than one million doses of Coronavirus vaccines have been injected by Island Health, many being second doses. That translates into 48 per cent of eligible people aged 12 and up have received two doses of vaccine and are considered fully vaccinated. Island Health’s Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Richard Stanwick, said based on the rates of transmission and hospitalizations in Island Health, it’s clearly working.

MASKING THE SMOKE - You may have had all your Covid vaccine, but you should take a deep breath before you discard your masks. Wildfire smoke can be a concern, especially for those with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, says Dr. Bonnie Henry. Wearing a mask may offer a form of protection from some particulate matter. The masks we’ve been using for Covid, can help prevent the inhalation of some of the larger particulate matters. The BC Centre for Disease Control has advice on masks and wildfire smoke. To date, the smoke from the B.C. Interior has not swept to Vancouver Island.

PRETTY AS A PICTURE - The Nanaimo RCMP are looking for a pair of camera thieves and could use some help identifying them. Two women in a surveillance photo are believed to responsible for the theft of a camera at 11:45 am on Wednesday near Seto Sushi, 4286 Departure Bay Road. The owner of the camera told police he he is an insurance adjustor and he was taking pictures of the restaurant. He forgot something in the restaurant and placed the camera on the ground for less than one minute, while he went inside. When he returned the camera was gone. He immediately called the police and reported the theft. More with photo.

THEY GOT THEIR MAN - Police engaged in what appears like a Looney Tunes movie on Thursday afternoon while chasing a stolen U-Haul truck through the southend. After a lot of daring and crafty manoeuvring, avoiding danger, and temporarily halting the chase, police finally got their man after tasering him and taking him into custody. The Whole story.

DIRTY DRUG WARNING - Island Health has issues a warning to drug users with toxic drugs leading to increased overdoses in Nanaimo recently. The overdose advisory warned of the use of bright and dark purple opioids for injection and inhalation. Alerts are issued after a number of factors including ambulance callout volume, reports from overdose prevention sites and recent fatalities.

July 16

OPENING THE BORDER - There's good news in sight for those of us waiting for friends and family being allowed to visit from the United States. Fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents may be allowed into Canada by mid-August, says our prime minister. That could be extended to allow travellers from around the world by early September. The news was quietly disclosed in note from the Prime Minister’s Office of his call with the provinces and territories to discuss the pandemic. He noted the ongoing discussions with the United States on reopening plans, and indicated that we could expect to start allowing fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents into Canada as of mid-August for non-essential travel.”

MONEY TO BE HAD - The money is there, and the city would like some of it. The City is applying for grants from the province to help pay for transportation and infrastructure projects in north Nanaimo, downtown and Harewood. Approval for two B.C. Active Transportation Infrastructure grants, could help pay for costs of the second phase of the Metral Complete Street Corridor project and for the fourth phase of the Fourth and Albert Street project also known as the VIU bike route. The grant program, offers funding up to 50 per cent of eligible project costs to a maximum of $500,000.

BONE DRY – We have not seen rain for ages, it seems. The last reported amount was 4.4 mm on June 15. There’s the possibility of rain some time this weekend, but it won’t be much, say forecasters. “I would expect a couple of millimetres at most,” said Bobby Sekhon of Environment Canada. “If anywhere on Vancouver Island’s going to get measurable precipitation it’s going to be Port Hardy or the western coast of Vancouver Island.” 

SAFER DRUG SUPPLY - The Province has launched a phased-in plan to provide prescription drugs to street users. The province is earmarking $22.6 million to health authorities over the next three years in order to lay the foundation for this initiative. Mental Health and Addictions Minister Sheila Malcolmson said B.C. provided access to some prescribed safer medications at the start of the pandemic to save lives from overdose and protect people fromthe virus. “Once fully implemented, more people who use illicit drugs can be prescribed a broader range of safer alternatives covered by Pharmacare, including a range of opioids and stimulants as determined by each program and prescriber,” said Malcolmson who is also MLA for Nanaimo.

FERRY FARES RISING – The price at the gas pumps also affects BC Ferries and it’s no surprise the company is raising fares on August 1. Besides the 10-cents passenger increase, 30 cents more for a vehicle on the Vancouver – Island routes. It’s five cents more for an adult and 20 cents more for a vehicle on the inter-island routes. Ferries has five vessels operating on liquefied natural gas, a cleaner and less expensive fuel, said Mark Collins, BC Ferries’ President and CEO. Two hybrid-electric ships are in service and four more on the way. 

CRUISES TRAFFIC CLEARED – Cruise ships will be allowed in Canadian waters this fall. Federal Transportation Minster Omar Alghabra and B.C. Transportation Minister Rob Fleming made the announcement Thursday morning at Ogden Point cruise ship terminal in Victoria. The ban was previously set to expire next March. It is not known what the immediate impact will be because new schedules are being developed. In Greater Victoria alone, cruise ships help pump in around $180-million into the economy.

July 15

 FERRY FARES GOING UP - The price at the gas pumps also affects BC Ferries and it’s no surprise the company is rasing fares on August 1. Besides the 10-cents passenger increase, it's 30 cents more for a vehicle on the Vancouver – Island routes. It’s five cents more for an adult and 20 cents more for a vehicle on the inter-island routes. Ferries has five vessels operating on liquefied natural gas, a cleaner and less expensive fuel, said Mark Collins, BC Ferries’ President and CEO. Two hybrid-electric ships are in service and four more on the way. 

CRUISES TRAFFIC CLEARED – Cruise ships will be allowed in Canadian waters this fall. Federal Transportation Minster Omar Alghabra and B.C. Transportation Minister Rob Fleming made the announcement Thursday morning at Ogden Point cruise ship terminal in Victoria. The ban was previously set to expire next March. It is not known what the immediate impact will be because new schedules are being developed. In Greater Victoria alone, cruise ships help pump in around $180-million into the economy.

WHAT’S PAUL UP TO? – If you want to know what our member of Parliament is up to, you can find out directly from him tonight. Paul Manly has an online town hall meeting tonight on his web page www.paulManlyMP.ca at 7 pm. First he’ll update constituents on what he’s been doing and then open the floor to question about federal issues.

OVERDOSE PROJECT - In May 2021, Island Health 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. The campaign is aimed at men, primarily those employed in skilled trades and transport. Check this out, it’s worth reading.

FOCUS ON BIKES – Nanaimo RCMP have their attention on a motorcycle that was found earlier this week. And while you’re at it, you could keep an eye out for a a recently stolen E-bike. (See photo) A black Honda PGM F1 motorcycle was recovered on a trail in the area of Ninth Street on July 13. The key was in the ignition, which appears to have been tampered with. The vehicle identification number had also been tampered with and because of that the owner could not be located. The motorcycle has not been reported stolen. The second incident, an E-bike was stolen from a residence on Railway Avenue. It’s a men’s CCM Dimmer Hardtail mountain bike. If you know anything on either incident call RCMP non-emergency number at 250-754-2345, quoting file numbers 2021-25865 and 2021-25901.

AMBULANCE OVERHAUL  – British Columbia’s emergency health service has been stretched past the limit for some time now, and finally the government is providing a cure. Health minister Adrian Dix announced 85 paramedics and 30 dispatchers will be hired full-time. The province will also buy 22 new ambulances and convert 22 rural stations into enhanced sites. Six are scheduled to be running with plans for another 16 by October. Dix said confidence in the 911 system was tested as wait times escalated during the heat wave.

ONE COVID CASE ON ISLAND - The Vancouver Island region heath officials identified one new case of COVID-19 on Wednesday. Across the province, there were 41 positives tests. There are 639 active cases across the province, including 24 in the Island region. Two people are in Island hospitals, one in critical care. There were nine active cases in the Central Island, 11 in the South Island, and three in the North Island. Since the pandemic began, 41 people have died of issues related to the virus in the Island Health region.

ABOUT ‘MASS GRAVES’ - Why do the media and activists keep pushing the “mass grave” narrative, even though chiefs from the Tk’emlups and Cowessess nations insist the burial sites are not mass graves? True North’s Lindsay Shepherd covers the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship and Frontier Centre for Public Policy event “Can We Discuss Those Unmarked Graves?” Here’s another view.

July 14

FREE RIDES – Nanaimo Regional Transit is preparing for a big change this fall ­– children across the province will ride free. The government committed to free public transit for children 12 and under. B.C. Transit said the government will compensate participating local government partners for revenue lost by the provision of service. B.C. Transit will provide $62,653 to RDN Transit between Sept. 1 and March 31. 

A BREAK TODAY – Liquor establishments in Nanaimo will soon get a break on their business licenses. Councillors reviewed staff information at a governance committee meeting this week about proposed amendments to the business licence bylaw and fees and charges bylaw. The measure now goes to full council to decide on a motion to rduce the $1,100 annual licence fee to match the $165 paid by restaurants and other establishments that earn their primary revenue from serving food.

A PLACE TO CHILL - The cooling centre at the 7-10 Club in the Community Service Building will stay open to serve the vulnerable population. It has been tabbed to close but city staff said it will stay open on a conditional basis. When temperatures soar past 28 degrees the cooling centre will have refreshments, fans and shade. 

July 13

Mayor Krog

IT IS GRATIFYING to see Mayor Leonard Krog and city council express outrage over the vicious and unwarranted assault on a vulnerable individual last weekend. The mayor expressed shock, horror, and sadness.

“What makes this act the worst of its kind, is that it appears to have been undertaken for no apparent reason. I think this heinous event has left our community both embarrassed and ashamed that individuals who would perpetrate this kind of act, may actually live amongst us,” stated a written comment from city hall.

All of us are supportive of the RCMP as they investigate to bring the culprits to justice. Krog said he looks forward to seeing justice done, not just for the sake of the victim, but for the sake of this community and all the compassionate citizens who are also appalled that such a horrible attack would occur in our City. 

WATERING RESTRICTIONS - City of Nanaimo has moves to Stage 3 watering restrictions. Pproperty owners are encouraged to voluntarily reduce the amount of outdoor watering. Permitted watering times are between 7- 10 a.m. or 7 -10 p.m. for no more than two hours total per day. The same watering schedule as Stage 2 will be maintained, even days for even numbered houses and on odd days for odd numbered houses.

GET A CHARGE OUT OF THIS - Nanaimo Airport’s new electric vehicle chargers are remaining free for the rest of the year. Four stations were installed in February in the airport’s parking lot and rental car area in a bid to capture some of the 25,000 vehicles driving past the airport on a daily basis. They’ll stay free to use through the rest of 2021.

July 9

BUTTERTUBS COUGAR ALERT - Be careful where you tread. Conservation officers warn residents to be alert after numerous cougar sightings in the Buttertubs Marsh area. If you should happen to come upon a cougar, the most important thing is to stare him down and maintain eye contact, advises. Sgt. Stuart Bates, of B.C. Conservation Officer Service. He says if you do run into a cougar, stay calm and whatever you do, don’t scream and don’t run. Running from a cougar is like rolling a ball in front of a cat.

SHOW ME THE MONEY – It’s the familiar story – an election is in the works so politicians take the gravy train for a little test run. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $9.2 billion in annual funding for daycare spaces across the country, including $3.2 billion for B.C. Not now, but over the next five years. The election teaser will see 30,000 new childcare spaces created in British Columbia, with average fees cut in half by the end of 2022. Regulated spaces would be an average of $10 per day for children under six, with more than 12,000 such spaces. $10 per day childcare was the tantalyzer which John Horgan dangled in the 2017 provincial election. Horgan said the province was unable to get there without the full participation of the federal government. So now we'll all rush out to vote for Trudeau and the Liberals?

CAPTAIN OBVIOUS - Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh smells a rat. He is reported to have labelled the childcare scheme a pre-election ploy. No kidding. By the way, The Jagster will be in Nanaimo pressing the flesh at Departure Bay Beach Saturday (July 10) from 4:15 to 5:15 p.m. Probably a fantastic opportunity to escape the day’s hot temperatures. 

A SILVER LINING – Last week’s heat wave played havoc with some fruit crops in B.C. but there’s good news from Vancouver Island winemakers and distillers paying careful attention to their grape crops – there were no major negative effects. In fact, the cooler start to the season had put them behind and the heatwave caught them up. “So now we’re even with an average year, if not a little bit better,” says Cowichan Vallley winemaker Daniel Cosman.

BUT CAN YOU SUPER-SIZE IT? – Guess what! You can order a cocktail from your favourite restaurant without dressing up for a night on the town. The provincial government is allowing food-and liquor-primary licensees to package and sell single-serving, pre-mixed drinks for takeout with the purchase of a meal. The government says the decision is in response to industry feedback and will not only give consumers more options but also provide an additional revenue stream for businesses. Ontario and Alberta have permitted them since last December and have not noted any public safety issues.

CARE HOME VISITS EASIER NOW – If you’ve been held back visiting Granny in a long-term care home or seniors-living facility, the rules will soon ease. This includes no longer needing to schedule visits in advance, no more limits on the number of visitors and facility-wide social events can happen again. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said these changes will bring joy and relief to many people. She acknowledged some people will be nervous, feeling the changes are coming a bit too quickly, she said, adding the changes have been considered very carefully and watched.

NO WORD ON BORDER RESTRICTIONS – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was glad-handing in B.C. Thursday but did not offer specifics about non-essential travel restrictions between Canada and the U.S. The border restrictions are set to remain in place until July 21 at the earliest. All he would say is we are not there yet. We’re getting much closer. White House and American partners on co-ordinating as much as possible.

July 12

THIS IS REALLY SICK – Reporting the news is mostly rewarding, letting your readers know what’s happening in our community. Then every once in a while something comes along that should sicken every civilized human. RCMP report the driver of a car ran over a homeless man before a passenger pepper sprayed victim Saturday on Victoria Road. Police have reports from numerous witnesses that the victim was pushing a shopping cart when a black car with several occupants stopped next to him. Words were exchanged and then the driver sped up and drove over the man knocking him to the ground. Witnesses said one of the occupants pepper sprayed the victim as he lay on the ground before fleeing like cowards. B.C. Paramedics transported the 45-year-old victim to hospital with serious injuries. Oh how I would love to be a sentencing judge for just one case. . .

DON’T LET IT HAPPEN - It’s sad any time a community loses part of itself – a business, volunteer or other dedicated group. That’s the case with the Kiwanis Club of Nanaimo Sunrisers, which will have to toss in the towel unless they can get a bunch of new members. The Club hosts major events each year for children. Kiwanis secretary Sue Carlson said they often hear from parents and caregivers that the Special Needs Children’s ChriClub is the only large event for children with developmental difficulties. If you’ve ever thought about joining a worthwhile community organization, this could be the one to check out.

A BIT OF NORMAL – The Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce is gearing up for its annual members golf tournament Aug. 19 at Cottonwood Golf Club. The Nanaimo NightOwls baseball team which is also seeking a path to normalcy is the primary sponsor. It’s always a fun event for Chamber members, guests, and “future members.” It’s followed by a dinner, prizes and awards. It’s some time off yet, but you can register as an individual or a team. It’s great to get out and play – after we beat the pandemic, says the promo note.

SEND YOUR BOSS OVER THE EDGE – How many employees have entertained the thought of shoving their boss over the edge. Guess what, now you can do that. The Nanaimo and Victoria Brain Injury Societies are joining forces with WildPlay Elements Park for a FUNdraising event that challenges teams to raise money in support of acquired brain injury survivors. Businesses and groups can form teams and nominate their boss to bungy jump in October. Register your team (including the boss) and raise a minimum of $500 over the coming months for the exciting opportunity to watch your boss go over the edge. There’ll be prizes and all sorts of other enticements. It’s a family-friendly event with barbecue, bands and more. 

STILL INVESTIGATING – RCMP are still investigating the disappearance of 35-year-old Sidney Mantee last October. An RCMP dive team was in the water off Neck Point and Pipers Lagoon parks Saturday and Sunday, as part of an ongoing homicide investigation. Police conducted searches at Diver Lake Park and on Rosehill Street as part of the investigation and police are conducting the searches to further “exhaust all remaining investigative avenues, said Cont. Gary O’Brien.

GOODBYE GEORGE – Sorry to learn this morning that former Nanaimo broadcasting icon George Lawler died Sunday at the age of 95. George`s radio career started in Moose Jaw and he and his partners eventually bought CHUB Radio In Nanaimo in the1960s and continued with it until 1986. He was active with former media friends until just a few weeks ago.

July 8

IT’S NOT A PRETTY PICTURE if you’re a renter in Nanaimo. The report of a series of surveys shows almost 80 per cent of renters spend more than 30 per cent of household income on rent and 28 per cent spend more than 50 per cent of income to keep a roof over their heads. Mayor Leonard Krog described the survey results as shocking. See all there details here.

TIME TO SLEEP IT OFF – The fellow tried to shoplift at Real Canadian Superstore and then pulled out a knife when he was confronted by store security on Wednesday morning. Police caught up with the suspect in a parking lot a short distance away and arrested him without incident. During the arrest investigators found a knife and a machete. He was under an existing court order not to possess weapons and he also appeared to be under the influence of an unknown intoxicating substance. Const. Gary O’Brien said “he was high. He was booked into cells and when sober he will be released,”

WHAT’S THAT AROMA? Hold your nose if you travel by Baynes Sound – there’s more in the air than you bargained for after extremely low tides at the hottest time of the day for about five days in a row left the thousands of shellfish literally baking in their shells on the beach. Joe Tarnowski, owner of Baynes Sound Oysters, said it basically cooked the oysters, clams and mussels. He said clams were hit hard and sand dollars and stuff are all dead everywhere.

TRAFFIC DISRUPTION – If you have to travel south on the Malahat in the next few days, the highways ministry is making upgrades near Bamberton in advance of the opening of the new Malahat Skywalk visitor attraction. The skywalk viewing platform, which opens July 15, is expected to draw more than 200,000 visitors annually. The province is currently installing median barriers near the Malahat Skywalk to restrict left turns across traffic into the visitor area and an existing U-turn area. Check out all the changes here.

July 7

GOOD MORINING NANAIMO - I love the development proposals that filter into newsrooms at the dream stage. Some actually get to the approval level and some fade away never to be heard of again. We have two projects on the dream stage now. The Diver Lake Inn and Suites, a 72-room hotel 3679 Shenton Rd. It has passed first and second readings of an official community plan amendment application and a re-zoning application. The City has started the rezoning process for a commercial and residential plaza at Boxwood and Northfield roads. It involves five properties on Northfield and one on Boxwood as mixed-use corridor. The application from Island West Coast Developments Ltd. also includes site-specific zoning for a 40,000-square-foot supermarket.

FOR ART’S SAKE - It is said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder so it will depend on your taste when it comes to graffiti. The city is placing the onus property owners This could get interesting.

FOUR TEST POSITIVE FOR VIRUS - Vancouver Island region reported three new positive tests for COVID-19 on Tuesday, part of the 46 cases found across the province. There are 602 active cases in B.C., including 12 in the island region. Six people are in hospital and one is in critical care. Island Health's real-time tally shows there are 13 active cases of the virus, including 10 in the Central Island.

BONNIE AND ADRIAN SHOW IS HISTORY – Keith Baldrey looks at on of B.C.’s most popular television programs. The daily briefings by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix started more than a year ago, in February 2020 and they gripped an information-starved public stunned by the deep impact the pandemic was having. At first, the briefings were fascinating, tense and almost dramatic. As the pandemic began to alter society, the briefings increased in frequency and eventually they were held six days a week (they were eventually reduced to three, and then two days a week).

DEVELOPING – The city has approved a development permit for a 51-unit supportive housing complex at the city-owened supportive services building. The project was approved despite concerns over the number of parking spaces for the project. The building is home to the 7-10 Club and a shelter.

July 6

GAS PAINS – Gasoline prices keep climbing almost by the hour and the end it not yet in sight. It reached a record $165.9 in Nanaimo on Monday. “You’re going to be touching prices you’ve never seen before,” warns Dan McTeague of gasbuddy.com said. Across B.C., the previous record high in the average of the last 10 years was roughly $1.44 in the summer of 2019. The average for the province is $1.49.

CORONER PROBES ATV DEATH - B.C. Coroners Service investigating the death of a 38-year-old Nanaimo man in an ATV crash Sunday morning.  Nanaimo RCMP  reported they were informed by the B.C. Ambulance Service about the death at about 6:30 a.m. Sunday, July 4. The crash happened on a large property in the 1600 block Nanaimo River Road sometime overnight.

LACK OF PRIDE - Nanaimo RCMP are trying to locate the person responsible for damaging Pride crosswalks in Nanaimo and are treating it as a hate crime. A security camera captured images of a man carrying a can of paint and a paint brush between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. that morning. The suspect is Caucasian, in his mid 30s with short hair, wearing a black face mask, black shoes, light-coloured shorts and a black T-shirt. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the Nanaimo RCMP non-emergency line at 250-754-2345, and quote file No. 2021-24453.

CAR FLIPS ON PARKWAY - Emergency crews were called out at about 9:30 a.m. Monday to a car crash on the Nanaimo parkway between Third and Fifth streets. The car came to rest upside-down on the median and crews on scene said the driver was transported to hospital with minor injuries.                          virus

VIRUS CASE LOAD STILL DROPPING - The province's active COVID-19 caseload has dropped to 652, the lowest it’s been since Aug. 14. That includes 85 patients in hospital, 22 of whom are in intensive care. Over the weekend, B.C. reported the lowest number of positive COVI-19 tests in a year, with 87 new cases.  The active caseload has dropped to 652, the lowest it’s been since Aug. 14. That includes 85 patients in hospital, 22 of whom are in intensive care. B.C. has administered 5,281,638 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines, including enough first doses to cover 78 per cent of people age 12 and up across the province. Thirty-six per cent of eligible B.C. residents have received both doses of vaccine.

July 5

BACK IN BUSINESS – The lifting of provincial health restrictions has opened the way for many business to return to normal. Not the least if the Branch 257 Legion in Lantzville. At what is more old soldier camaraderie than meat draws which return on Saturday along with the 50-50 draws. Membership revewal at the Lantzville Legion is 85.6 per cent, so there’s some catching up to do when members return to regular events.

WHY IS IT that while we’re in a high fire season some people insist on flipping cigarettes out of their car windows?

LEVELLING THE PLAYING FIELD - The Parks, Recreation and Culture department wants to make it easier for everyone to fit from 12-4 pm in the Bowen Park Auditorium with an eye to reduce leisure barriers through access to appropriate gear.
Organizers are hoping to level the playing field for youth by sharing, swapping and trading athletic clothes, shoes, jackets, recreation and sporting equipment. The idea is to drop off used but in still good condition recreation equipment allowing children and youth to participate in the fall sports season. Not only does this foster youth sports participation, it also reduces environmental impact by reusing, recycling and reducing equipment in the landfill or having it collect dust in the garage.

July 4

YOU’LL GET A CHARGE OUT OF THIS – If you are part of the ever-growing herd of electrical vehicles owners, you’ll soon have more options to get charged up. The provincial government is giving $210,000 to Nanoose Economic Development Corporation for four new EV charging stations at Snaw-Naw-As Market at Lantzville Road and the Island Highway. Environment Minister George Heyman said the new charging stations build on the province’s efforts to make zero-emission vehicles more affordable, accessible and practical and will help B.C. meet climate and clean economy goals.

LONG DISTANCE SUPPORT - Nanaimo’s emergency support services volunteers are helping evacuees from Lytton and other areas in the Interior wildfires. The pandemic has taught us a lot, and so it is with the virtual registration on the provincial emergency registration system and guide them to sources of support and current information. The ESS team is recognized as a leader in using the online provincial registration system and for developing a virtual response model for COVID-19. The city says its emergency support services team continually explores methods to modernize and streamline their ability to respond.

Happy Independence Day to our American friends

July 3

THE FAIR IS BACK – It will be later than ususual but the Vancouver Island Exhibition will be back from Aug. 27-29 with a required communicable disease plan. The fair will be modified and scaled down but the website shows rides, food trucks, animals and music will be included. “Being that we have now less than two months to do a year’s worth of planning, there is only so much the board and team of volunteers can do but we assure you we are working around the clock to bring as much fun and excitement as we can this summer,” says the VIEX website. There will be one entertainment stage in the main parking lot, fewer food trucks than usual and no beer garden due to the exhaustive permitting process. Treasurer Stephen Kass said admission fees to this year’s fair will be reduced. He expected the event will include abbreviated hours on Friday, Aug 27 to kickoff the event.

SHE GOT HER BOOKS – A car crashed into the front of the Christian bookstore Friday morning. Emergency crews were called to the crash Princess Royal Avenue a little after 9:30 a.m. The driver was being checked by B.C. Ambulance Service paramedics at the scene but crews said she appeared uninjured. No store staff were hurt in the incident. The customer said got the book she had been there to get.

DRIVING TOURISM – What’s the speediest way to resuscitate Nanaimo’s tourism sector while recovering from the COVID pandemic? The city’s parks and rec department will will try to maximize sports tourism to fill that role. Parks and Rec director Richard Harding; Dan Brady, executive director of the Nanaimo Hospitality Association; and Jacquelyn Novak of Toa Consulting presented a draft sports tourism strategy at a governance and priorities committee meeting this week. The draft report looks trends in sports in Nanaimo, across Canada and internationally, the current status of Nanaimo’s sports facilities and venues, local sport organizations, volunteer capacity, hotel capacity and tourism in general in the region.

VIRUS FADING - The Vancouver Island region has found no new positive tests for COVID-19 in since Wednesday. There are 11 active cases in the Island region, including six people in hospital and one more in critical care. Across B.C., there were 84 new cases identified over the two-day period ending Friday, the health ministry has announced. The new cases include 49 cases found on Thursday and 35 new cases identified on Friday. B.C. has reported 147,705 positive tests since the pandemic began, including 5,160 found in the island region.

July 1

THE FADING THREAT - The COVID-19 pandemic is not quite a relic of history, but the daily reports continue to improve. The Vancouver Island region reported only one new positive test on Wednesday while 44 were found across the province. B.C. has now reported 147,621 positive tests since the pandemic began, including 5,160 in the island region. There are 18 active cases in the Vancouver Island region, including six people in hospital and three more in critical care. There were 12 active cases in the Central Island, four in South Island and none in the North zone. B.C. entered Step 3 of its restart plan today. That includes the reopening of nightclubs and casinos, an endorsement of travel within the country, the removal of mandatory masks in indoor public spaces, and the removal of limits on the size of personal gatherings.

FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS - Tony Harris has been elected chairman of the Nanaimo & District Hospital Foundation for a two -year term.  A true Nanaimo boy, Tony was born and raised here, and is the sixth generation Harris to call the Nanaimo his home. Tony is a philanthropist and community builder. He joined the Hospital Foundation in 2017 and has been the Vice Chairman for the past two years. Tony’s Father, Tom Harris, was the first chairman from 1993 to 1996. Tom’s tireless work to advance healthcare in the central island inspired Tony to become a vocal advocate for a new tertiary hospital in Nanaimo.

WELL, HERE IT IS – The time has come to bring your own bags when shopping – the City’s new bag bylaw kicks in today, banning plastic checkout bags and setting mandatory minimum charges for paper bags. Local businesses are not permitted to provide plastic bags at checkouts, and must either sell paper bags for at least 15 cents or reusable bags for at least $1. The city notes that for the bylaw to have the desired impact on the environment, reusable bags need to be looked after and reused as many times as possible – generally, at least 100 uses per bag.

BENDING THE CURVE - Fatal overdoses in Nanaimo and central Vancouver Island dipped slightly in May. Data from the BC Coroners Service showed four people lost their lives to the toxic drug crisis. This is down from six the month before, which was believed to be the most for any month on record. Nineteen people have fatally overdosed in Nanaimo this year.

July 1