Vaccine passport program will hurt a lot of people

We’re in for some rocky times in the next month or so as Coronavirus vaccine mandates go into effect. A government-issued proof of vaccination will be mandatory in specific public locations to the point that some people could lose their livelihoods. It’s the workers, moreso than the patrons who are likely to suffer the most. MORE

We have to stand for something, or nothing at all

This is what our law breaking Prime Minister is saying. “Provinces, here’s a billion dollars (borrowed money, of course) if you implement a vaccine passport scheme.” And the sneaky Conservative Leader is saying if the Provinces restrict freedom it is alright with him. What a cop out. Silent on of what he would do otherwise if elected. Trying to falsely show he respects the Provinces. Picked a rather important issue, Provincial jurisdiction over freedom. MORE

Trudeau's wounded pride is well deserved

For more than a year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made himself the face and voice of parliament. He would pop out of his Harrington Lake cottage each day and talk down to the people in his domain, mainly about the latest efforts of his minority government. His commentary, clearly illustrated the wide gap between the federal government and the people it claims to serve. They could live on different planets except that the political class would have no one to tax except themselves, which would never do.

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NO MORE CONTRACTING OUT – The government is taking hospital cleaning and food services out of private hands and returning them to government control. The phased repatriation of housekeeping and food-service contracts will see 4,000 workers becoming public employees, including 687 private workers in Island Health. Health Minister Adrian Dix said the change is good for patients, workers, the health-care team and for recruiting future healthcare workers. 

MISSING PERSON – Nanaimo RCMP seek public assistance to find Mikhail Deyneko who has been reported missing. Deyneko, 30, frequents shelters in Nanaimo and on the Lower Mainland. Police were alerted Aug. 26 and investigators have been unable to locate Deyneko and are concerned for his well-being. See photo

NO DOUBT ABOUT IT – A Port Alberni Dairy Queen customer left no doubt about his anger at being told to wear a mask – he urinated at the counter in front of staff. As will most events nowadays, some was handy with a camera.The video shows the man arguing with staff and refusing to wear a mask before he unzips his pants and lets fly. The video was shared with CTV News. RCMP say the incident happened around 9 p.m. Saturday.

ROCK VIU – Vancouver Island University is gearing up to welcome more students back to campus this fall after a year and a half of online learning. Both first-year and many second-year students have never set foot on VIU campuses before. The RockVIU: New Student Orientation committee has been hard at work organizing two weeks of welcome back events to get students connected to services, supports, their professors and each other. COVID UPDATE – There were 142 new cases of COVID-19 and two related deaths in the Vancouver Island region over the weekend. They were among 1,853 across the province since Friday. There are 5,918 active cases across B.C., including 587 in the Island region. There were seven deaths over the weekend. Since the pandemic began, 1,814 people have died in B.C. due to the virus, including 45 in the Island region. Health officials report 18 active outbreaks in health-care facilities, including one on Vancouver Island.

RESTAURANTS EYE FOREIGN WORKERS – Help wanted signs are all over the place as businesses suffer a labor shortage. B.C. Restaurants are looking at recruiting foreign workers because cooks and servers are shying away from the industry. Ian Tostenson, president of the BC Restaurant and Foodservice Association, says a lot of people, during the pandemic, rethought their lifestyle. Part of the solution is to recruit more foreign workers. "We're going to need immigration. People can't roll their eyes at this. We just don't have enough people."

THE PHANTOM VOTER – Political math. Prime Minister Trudeau was on the telly on the weekend suggesting the government has rescued “tens of thousands” of people from Kabul, adding that 3,700 have been brought out by Canada. Three does not make tens.

 

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PASSPORT ENFORCEMENT –  Enforcing B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccine passport will put on resources that are already stretched thin says the union representing RCMP officers. Premier John Horgan said last week that businesses who have difficulty with patrons refusing to show proof of enforcement can “call law enforcement.” Rob Farrer, Pacific regional director with the National Police Federation, said calling the cops cannot always be the answer. With the passport program applying to thousands of businesses across the province, he said enforcement will pose challenges under current resources.

BOMB THREAT WAS A HOAX – The McDonald’s restaurant in Terminal Park was closed briefly Saturday night after a message in the bathroom claimed there was a bomb inside the building. An employee noticed a man had been in the washroom for a long time prior to leaving the restaurant and discovered a message that warned a bomb could be inside the building. RCMP Const. Gary O’Brien no bomb was found and the investigation remains ongoing. He said there is video footage and officers are still searching for the suspect.

GABRIOLA FERRY PROBLEMS – Gabriola residents can hardly wait until their two new Island-class ferries come into service in the first half of 2022. In the meantime, that’s what they have to do, wait, wait, wait. The MV Quinsam sailing between Descanso Bay and Nanaimo Harbour terminals is constantly running late. Through the last three months, there were at least 50 service notices for sailing delays. B.C. Ferries is trying to patch up the problem by adjusting the schedule without cancelling any sailings. 

Can Jagmeet Singh charm his way to electoral success?

Two weeks into the federal election campaign and some interesting patterns are beginning to develop. There are polls to gauge the mood of the voters, but it has been interesting to see the party leaders glad-handing the electorate, how they perform in front of the cameras, how they come across in public. NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has stood out based on the charm factor. It’s not based on the policies and issues Singh has been espousing, but the way he has presented them. Full column

Aug 28

CALL THE COPS – Premier John Horgan says to call the cops if customers refuse to abide by the province’s vaccine passport system. He gave that advice Friday, amid opposition by some who oppose the new measure. It comes into force Sept. 13. He likened it to the hospitality sector and said if they have a problem with patrons they call law enforcement, and it should be no different with the vaccination cards.

COVID UPDATE – Health officials have reported 63 positive tests for COVID-19 in the Island Health region on Friday. They were part of the 867 new cases for the whole province. There are 555 active COVID-19 cases in the Island region. Vancouver Coastal Health region 165 new cases, 228 in Fraser Health, 350 in Interior Health, 61 in the Northern Health region. Three deaths were reported, bringing the provincial death total from  the pandemic to 1,807. 

COUGAR ON THE LOOSE – If you live in the Rocky Point area, keep an eye open in the outdoors. There have been a number of cougar sightings in the last few days. Stuart Bates, BC Conservation Officer Service, said the have been close to half a dozen reports of a cougar hanging around the area.

NEW PHOTO ISSUED – The RCMP seek public assistance in locating 27-year-old Karlee Pelletier. She had been staying at a local emergency shelter but has not been seen or heard from since August 19,. Her disappearance is troubling to those who know her and as a result, there is concern for her safety and well-being. 

PROLIFIC OFFENDER NAILED – A 30-year-old prolific offender is facing multiple criminal charges after being caught red handed with a catalytic converter stolen from a van owned by the BGC, formerly known as the Nanaimo Boys and Girls Club. The thief was arrestedon August 20 on Extension Road near Country Hills. The theft occurred at the BGC Central Vancouver Island Nanaimo Club, located on Cranberry Ave.

Aug 27

VACCINATION CLINIC CLOSED TODAY – The COVID-19 immunization clinic at Beban Park Social Centre is closed today (Friday) for facility maintenance and transition to new clinic space in the auditorium. People planning to drop in for their first or second COVID-19 vaccine can visit Island Health’s Vax Van at the Canadian Tire at 4585 Uplands Drive between 1-6 pm. The immunization clinic at Beban Park Social Centre will reopen on Saturday for vaccination walk-ins and appointments. Hours will be 9 a..m to 7 p.m. August 28-31. The Vax Van at any of the following Nanaimo locations:
Friday, Canadian Tire, 4585 Uplands Drive 1-6 pm
Saturday,   Port Place Mall, 650 Terminal Ave. 11 am to 4 pm
Sunday,  Quality Foods (Harewood) at 867 Bruce Ave. 11 am to 4 pm

COVID UPDATE – Health officials on Thursday reported 64 cases of COVID-19 with Island Health. Across the province there were 724 new cases. Dr. Bonnie Henry stated 149 are in hospital, the highest total since June 12. Eighty three are in critical care. There are 5,640 active cases in British Columbia. Since Wednesday there were 142 new cases Vancouver Coastal Health, 185 in Fraser Health region, 271 in Interior Health, 62 in Northern Health. Two deaths related to the virus bring the provincial death total over the course of the pandemic to 1,804. The Province’s vaccination program has 7,390,103 doses of COVID-19 immunizations.

HELP WANTED – Businesses are struggling to find staff. There are a lot of jobs available but nobody to take them. Warren Cook at London Drugs at Port Place is one example –  he has a number of positions open. He needs a couple of pharmacy assistants, staff for the tech department selling electronics and computers as well as general to help with cash and merchandising. You can simply drop off a resume at the store or go on line to http://londondrugs.com/.

BRITAIN GIVES GREEN LIGTHT – Canadians have the green light for travel to The United Kingdom, beginning next Monday. Canadians going to the U.K. will not have to quarantine upon arrival, even if they have not been fully vaccinated. The British Department for Transport says they will still need to take COVID-19 tests within three days before leaving for the U.K. and another one for two days after arriving. The change is effective Aug. 30 at 4 a.m.

HWY 4 CRASH SENDS ONE DRIVER TO HOSPITAL  – One driver was airlifted to hospital in critical condition after a head-on crash between a car and a semi-trailer truck on Hwy 4 Thursday morning. The accident along the Cameron Lake section shut down the highway in both directions. B.C. Emergency Health Services reported one patient was airlifted to hospital in critical condition. The air ambulance, based in Parksville, was forced to make a challenging landing on the narrow highway.

Aug 26

WATERING RULES UNCHANGED – The City is staying at Stage 3 water restrictions until October 1 despite the province declaring a Level 5. Nanaimo has an adequate amount of surface water stored in the reservoirs in the Nanaimo River Watershed to sustain the community's needs throughout this drought, including necessary environmental flows. Water conservation efforts are always essential to ensure this supply continues to be available for fire protection and future daily needs. 

A PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS – The great minds sitting around the city council table are trying to dream up concepts for the former Jean Burns building site. But they want you to chime in with your thoughts.  Council wants your feedback on options for the area that it is calling “the Hub” at the intersection of Terminal Avenue and Commercial Street. The city’s options include three transit exchange options which would close Commercial Street to vehicles and put a two-way cycle track there. Another option sees that section of Commercial Street changed to a single lane of one-way traffic next to a multi-use path. Check out the rest of the story HERE.

MORE LINING UP FOR VACCINES – There has been a surge in bookings and vaccinations on Vancouver Island, an early indication that B.C.’s new vaccine card requirement may be driving up vaccine numbers. There’s been a significant increase in vaccine registrations, particularly among people under age 40. There were 8,909 new registrations and 7,347 new appointment bookings on Monday, a 174.8-per-cent increase in daily registrations compared to the previous Monday. Tuesday saw 10,175 new registrations and 9,486 new appointment bookings, a 201.3-per-cent increase in registrations and a 124.4 per cent

COVID UPDATE – Island Health has reported 69 new positive tests for COVID-19, with 698 new cases and one death since their last update on Tuesday. New cases in other health regions were 129 in Vancouver Coastal Health, 203 in Fraser Health, 252 in Interior Health, and 45 in Northern Health.  The death was recorded in the Fraser Health region. There are 5,356 active cases in the province, 139 people in hospital, 75 are in intensive care. There are 470 active cases on Vancouver Island.

ACCIDENT WAITING TO HAPPEN – A car that was reportedly travelling 125 km/h in a 90 km/h zone near Nanoose Bay drew the attention of the B.C. Highway Patrol in Parksville. RCMP used their vehicle to stop the car which had no foot brakes or hand brake. The 33-year-old woman driver gave police a false name and Mounties determined she was prohibited from driving and was also wanted on unrelated warrants. It was not her car, the license plates did not belong to the car or the driver, and the vehicle was uninsured. Mounties got a roadside breath test from the driver, which she failed, resulting in an additional three-day driving ban. The woman was issued a number of driving tickets and has since been released from custody until her next court date. The vehicle was impounded.

Evacuation alerts lifted for Mount Hayes wildfire

A state of local emergency and evacuation alerts have been lifted with Mount Hayes wildfire under control.

B.C. Wildfire Service reports the 73-hectare fire, about five kilometres northwest of Ladysmith, is being held. A joint evacuation alert by both the Cowichan Valley Regional District and the Regional District of Nanaimo have been lifted. The fire continues to be classified as being held and the containment line has successfully aided the efforts of BCWS crews.

Ongoing suppression efforts are focused on the area to the south where the fire is dug in and continues to burn.

Aug 25

WAITING FOR GABRIOLA FERRIES ­– Campbell River has its two new Island-class ferries named earlier this week, so Gabriola can’t be too far behind. They were christened the Island K'ulut'a and the Island Nagalis after a community engagement process. They are scheduled to go into service next year. They are the latest additions to the ferry service’s fleet of Island-class hybrid-electric ships. In both Kwak̓wala and Lik̓walakw dialects, Nagalis means ‘dawn on the land’ and K'ulut'a is the name for porpoise.

BREAK-IN SUSPECT SOUGHT – The Nanaimo RCMP seeks public assistance in identifying the man shown in the photo. At 5:36 am on August 10, the Gold and Silver Guy jewelry shop at 619 Townsite Road was broken into, and jewelry pieces and other small items were stolen. Details and photo

COVID UPDATE ­– Health officials on Tuesday reported 53 new positive tests for  COVID-19 cases  on Vancouver Island and 641 province wide and no deaths since their last update. There are 5,357 active cases across the province, 138 people in hospital  with 78 in intensive care. Of the other cases reported on Tuesday, 125 were in Vancouver Coastal Health, 149 in Fraser Health, 273 in Interior Health, 39 in Northern Health. People who were not fully vaccinated accounted for 83.4 per cent of all new cases and 85.6 per cent of hospitalizations between Aug. 9 and Aug. 22. Since the pandemic began, there have been 6,039 cases, 43 deaths, 276 hospitalizations on Vancouver Island.

KEEP YOUR CLOTHES ON – Here’s a new internet scam – Campbell River RCMP warn of an internet extortion scheme. It begins with an “attractive” person contacting the victim on Facebook or a similar website. They request a video chat which leads to the scammer disrobing and inviting the victim to get naked. Soon after the victim disrobes the scammer tells them that they are being recorded and demands money or else the video will be released to all of the victim's social media contacts. 

Golf For Life tickets now on sale
The 28th Annual Golf for Life ticket sales and online auction are now open. Register before Sept. 1 to for the early bird prize. All Proceeds will support the purchase of all the state-of-the-art medical equipment required for our Hospital’s new Intensive Care Unit. Register at www.golfforlife.net

Masks are mandatory on ferries and terminals

Masks are again mandatory on BC Ferries vessels and at terminals, regardless of vaccination status, effective Aug. 25 for customers 12 years of age and older. At this point, proof of vaccination will not be required.

Additional preventive measures allow customers to remain in their vehicles on open or upper car decks during the sailing, enhanced cleaning, sanitization stations and physical barriers.

Some exceptions will apply, such as if a customer is inside a vehicle or consuming food or drinks in designated areas. Also exempt are customers with an underlying medical condition or disability. MORE

New health order goes into effect Wednesday

Masks are back for British Columbians in public, indoor spaces throughout the province, effective Wednesday to combat the fourth wave of COVID-19. The mask mandate is designed to help slow the transmission of COVID-19 in preparation for the fall and respiratory illness season. This will include malls, shopping, grocery, libraries, community centres, pubs and bars as well as in workplaces where people interact with larger parts of the public.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said this is to address situations where we are with people who may not have been vaccinated. “This temporary order will be re-assessed as the vaccine card is reassessed.”

“We need to continue doing the things that protect us, including wearing masks in indoor, public areas, practising hand hygiene regularly, staying away if we are sick and keeping a respectful distance from people. And most important of all, every person should get vaccinated to protect themselves, their loved ones and their community.” MORE

Full list of settings included in mask mandate

  • malls, shopping centres, coffee shops and retail and grocery stores
  • liquor and drug stores
  • airports, city halls, libraries, community and recreation centres
  • restaurants, pubs and bars (unless seated)
  • on public transportation, in a taxi or ride-sharing vehicle
  • areas of office buildings where services to the public are provided
  • common areas of sport and fitness centres when not engaged in physical activity
  • inside schools for all K-12 staff, visitors and students in grades 4-12
  • All BC Transit vehicles, including Nanaimo buses.
  • BC Ferries vessels and terminals

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SOUNDING OFF – Our commentators are really loaded with opinions today. Merv Unger says Canada’s Afghan rescue efforts are embarrassing. Brian Peckford is no fan of vaccine passports. John Feldsted says federal party leaders are promising way above their jurisdiction.

COVID UPDATE – Vancouver Island Health region reported 133 new positive tests for COVID-19 over the three-day weekend. Across the province, health officials reported 1,711 new cases. Of the new cases, 768 were in the Interior region, 290 in the Vancouver Coastal Health, 419 were in Fraser Health, and 100 in Northern Health.

FERRIES WI-FI SHUT DOWN ­– BC Ferries could not provide satisfactory Wi-Fi quality on vessels so it shut it down after numerous complaints. The internet service was powered down on July 5 for the Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay, Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay, and Horseshoe Bay to Langdale routes. The Ferries website says extensive research and analysis of various technology solutions has shown it is not possible to improve the Wi-Fi service to the level expected. 

MILITARY MUSEUM OPEN – Brian McFadden informs us The Vancouver Island Military Museum is open after being on restricted hours for the past couple of months. The construction of the new hotel has created some hurdles to access to the museum but contractors have set specific schedules for deliveries allowing the museum to open 10 a.m.to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Saturday hours are 11 a.m.. to 3 p.m.

TWENTY BUCKS AN HOUR – A local restaurant is offering $20 an hour plus tips for a dishwasher, with Food Safe certification. Apply in person with resume at Pirate Fish and Chips. Two positions available. Whatever happened to minimum wages?

THEY CAN’T HELP IT – The federal NDP in their campaign material just can’t stop in engaging in class warfare, pitting groups against each other. The favorite seems to be “the super rich”. Jealousy can be so dangerous.

Soon you'll need proof of vaccination in B.C.

Premier Horgan

Proof of vaccination will be required for some non-essential businesses in B.C. starting next month. There is no exemption for people who can't get vaccinated for medical reasons or those who choose not to get immunized for religious reasons.

B.C. vaccine card will be required at restaurants, fitness centres, casinos, organized indoor events like conferences and weddings, movie theatres, ticketed sporting events and indoor concerts.

Proof of one dose of vaccine will be required to enter those businesses and events as of Sept. 13 and full vaccination will be required by Oct. 24.

The card will be available to download on cell phones and details on how to do so will be released before Sept. 13, officials said. A secure option will also be provided for those who can't access their proof of vaccination online through a call-in centre. Individuals will need to show their proof of vaccination alongside valid government photo ID. MORE

RCMP seek help to find missing woman and teen

Shannon Lettington

MISSING WOMAN – Nanaimo RCMP seek public assistance in locating 36-year-old Shannon Lettington of Nanaimo who was last seen on August 14. Lettington's family reported her missing to the Nanaimo RCMP on August 17. She told her family that she was planning on hitchhiking to Ontario. Investigators have reason to believe she is still on Vancouver Island. MORE DETAILS 

MSSING YOUTH – Nanaimo RCMP is asking for the public's assistance in locating 16 year old Brandon Sheldon, who was last seen at 2:30 pm on Tuesday August 17, 2021. Sheldon did not return to his home that evening. For the next two days, his caregivers searched throughout Nanaimo but with no success. On August 19th he was reported missing to the Nanaimo RCMP. Details and photo.

Aug 23

ELECTIION TREND – Now that we’re into the second week of the federal election some numbers are starting to take shape. I have always found 338 Canada as the most accurate poll because it is an average of the larger polls. After week one, The NDP sits with a projected gain of about a dozen seats while the Liberals show a drop of 11. According to the poll, expect the Conservatives to gain two seats. Keep in mind, it’s all fluid and can change at the slip of a tongue.

DIEF WAS RIGHT – One of my first federal election campaigns included hearing John Diefenbaker challenging the Liberals, “Why didn’t you do it when you were in power?” That was in the 1950s, but still a good question today with all the promises been tossed around.

 VIEX CUTS TICKET PRICES –≠ The fair is a little condensed this year, so admission prices will shrink. Tickets are $5 each and children six and under are free. All of the amusement rides carnival games will be available at the VIEX. About a dozen food trucks will have mainstays like hot dogs, burgers and mini donuts, while international choices like Mediterranean and Brazilian cuisine will be on the menu.

TOUR de ROCK WITH A DIFFERENCE – This year's Tour de Rock, beginning on Sept. 20, will see cyclists riding in their own communities rather than the 1,200-kilometre ride down Vancouver Island. The Tour raises funds for pediatric cancer. They got a little taste Saturday of what it’s like this year as they pedaled through the Ladysmith Show and Shine car show to raise awareness about the tour. The first events will be held in Port Alice, Port Hardy and Port McNeill and over the following 12 days, events will be held in communities progressing south on the island, culminating in Victoria on Oct. 1. They hope to raise $600,000 for pediatric cancer research and programs like Camp Goodtimes that serve children with cancer. Since the first ride in 1998, Tour de Rock has raised more than $26 million. MORE.

FAIR STILL NEEDS VOLUNTEERS - If you’ve got time on your hands next weekend, you can make yourself useful at the VIEX. The fair begins Friday and ends Sunday, and they need more volunteers. It’s a toned down this year, what with coronavirus. That means extra hand sanitizing and hand washing stations, capacity limits and recommending masks for all indoor spaces, extra cleaning practices on high use or high touch areas. And if you’rfe not feeling well, stay home. If you can’t go, you can see the virtual fair online with contests and live streams from the fair on the VIEX website. If you want to volunteer, here are the contacts – Elissa: emiranda@viex.ca. Vendors can call Stephen: skass@viex.ca. You can even become a sponsor, call Karen: kstreeter@viex.ca. For any other information Phone: 250-758-3247 or email info@viex.ca

PUT YOUR ARTISTIC TALENT TO WORK – So you think you have artistic talent. Well, you could make some bucks out of the city’s Urban Design Roster program which will register artists who want to beautify public spaces like utility boxes, civic buildings, manholes and other small-scale urban street objects. Allison Collins, the City’s culture co-ordinator, says projects will be assigned for different kinds of public image-making projects, like murals and graphic design. You can apply until Monday, Aug 30 and successful applicants will be informed next month.While their work will come to fruition next year and in 2023, Collins hopes it will be around long-term. MORE

EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT SHUT DOWN – Staffing shortages seem to plague more and more facilities. BC Ferries has had a problem getting enough qualified staff from time to time, and now Saanich Peninsula Hospital closed its emergency department to new patients Saturday night due to a staffing issue. The Vancouver Island Health Authority did not elaborate on what the staffing issue was, but hospitals across the province have been struggling with a shortage of nurses and other medical staff. Emergency patients were redirected to Victoria General Hospital or Royal Jubilee Hospital.

OH THOSE DOGS – Some people seem to have too much time on their hands. A study from the University of British Columbia shows that feeding a large dog commercial dog food could release more than 2,500 kilograms of carbon dioxide over its lifetime. It’s all about those emissions and how they change the climate. There are an estimated one billion dogs in the world, and researchers are investigating their carbon paw print and challenging pet owners to opt for sustainable foods, toys and activities. It used to be cattle flatulence that was to blame, but now we know dog farts are the cause of climate change. Who knew?

Mt Hayes forest fire now under control
The Mt. Hayes wildfire south of Nanaimo is now classified as "being held”, says the BC Wildfire Service. This designation means the fire is not likely to spread beyond its current boundaries under the forecasted conditions. Gordon Robinson, fire information officer for the Coastal Fire Centre, told CTV News crews would likely continue working on the fire for a while, noting that much of the blaze inside the perimeter that crews have established is burning in dry fuel underneath the forest floor. He said there's still going to be a lot of work for ground crews.

 

Aug. 22

FIRST-HAND LOOK AT THE FIRE – Nanaimo Regional District chairman Coun. Tyler Brown took a hands-on approach by visiting the Incident Command near the Mount Hayes fire. Weather has co-operated for he past few days. The fire has not grown in recent days but is still classed as out of control. The blaze had grown significantly by Friday morning, prompting evacuation orders for the liquefied natural gas storage facility to the fire's west and the fish hatchery to its east. Brown was impressed by the fire response by the BC Wildfire Service. Suppression and containment measures are well under way with 56 firefighters are still on-site, including specialized crews.  

JAIL GETS THE GO AHEAD – If you happen to go to jail in Nanaimo in the future, you’ll have much nicer accommodation. City council has approved a building permit for the redevelopment of the Nanaimo Correctional Centre. Council approved variances which included increasing the maximum building height to 18.7 metres from 14 m and to reducing the water course setbacks along Brannen Lake and the Millstone River for upgrades to an existing road, security fence and utilities. The province is spending $167 million to rebuild the jail next to Brannen Lake.

ON THE HUSTINGS – It’s beginning to look a lot like we won’t have a housing crisis after the Sept. 20 federal election. All parties are promising affordable (whatever that means) housing across the country. So, that leaves the race tied at this point, they’re all going in the same direction, regardless of their own way to get there. Jagmeet is waving $5,000 rent subsidies and taxing foreign investors. Erin promised to create one million homes in the next three years by repurposing 15 per cent of federally-owned buildings, converting unused office space, reigning in foreign investors who live outside the country from buying property for at least two years and changing the mortgage stress test. Justin promises $20 billion in social infrastructure that will focus on affordable housing and long-term care facilities and increase the residential rental property GST rebate to 100 per cent, aimed at eliminating GST on capital investments in affordable rental housing. Annamie of the Greens wants “affordable housing for all” Sounds awfully like a poker game . . . “and I’ll raise you $1 million or ten.” It’s all with our money. 

WHO IS GETTING COVID? – B.C. doctors want to know the vaccination status of the new COVID cases in B.C.. The latest data, ending July 24, showed 94 per cent of new cases were in people who had not been vaccinated. B.C. is behind all the other provinces, said Dr. Anna Wolak, spokesman for This Is Our Shot. Ontario releases case and hospitalization data by vaccination status daily. Wolak wants B.C. to follow that model, arguing the information will help convince people who are still on the fence about vaccines to get the shot.

FLYING VIRUS – Coronavirus numbers keep rising here on our Island, but airlines are still transporting passengers who test positive. The British Columbia Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) has added seven Vancouver Island flights to its coronavirus exposure list since Monday, including three involving Nanaimo flights.
• WestJet 3175 from Calgary on Aug. 15. (rows 11-17)
• Air Canada/Jazz 8277 from Calgary on Aug. 14. (rows 2-8)
• Air Canada/Jazz 8257 from Vancouver on Aug. 11. (rows 9-15)
That brings the total number of Island flights with reported exposures to 24 this month.

VICTORIA IN THE DARK – Some might argue that’s nothing new, but many islanders from Victoria and up-island lost power Saturday morning. BC Hydro explained that more than 120,000 customers briefly lost power just before 10 a.m. unrelated to weather or forest fires but due to work on a transmission cable serving the Island, causing overload protection equipment to initiate, resulting in the large outage. Those who lost power were primarily in Victoria and the surrounding areas, but the outage stretched to some customers in the Cowichan Valley and Port Alberni. But it wasn’t really such a big deal as most had their lights on in less than half an hour.

You can get involved, VIEX needs volunteers
it take a lot of people to put on the fair, so there’s lots of opportunity for voluteers in various departments. You can contact Elissa: emiranda@viex.ca. Vendors can call Stephen: skass@viex.ca. You can even become a sponsor, just call Karen: kstreeter@viex.ca. For any other information, questions, comments, or concerns you may contact us at the Office: Phone: 250-758-3247 or email info@viex.ca

Bank employees will be required to be vaccinated 
Royal Bank of Canada, TD Bank Group, Bank of Montreal and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce will require employees working in their offices to be fully vaccinated protect staff and abide by a government request. Their policies come a week after Ottawa asked federally-regulated industries, including banks, telecoms and airlines, to require workers to get vaccinated because COVID-19 cases in Canada are climbing again and vaccinations have slowed from their pace earlier this year. The federal government issued an order to its 300,000 employees that they must be vaccinated by the end of October, and all crown corporations will be expected to follow.

News 1130 photo

Mount Hayes wildfire still out of control
A joint evacuation alert by the Nanaimo and Cowichan Valley Regional Districts remains in effect for the Mt Hayes area near Ladysmith. The B.C. Wildfire Service and the CVRD ordered evacuation for an industrial property to the west of the fire and fish hatchery. The good news is the fire has not grown and remains at 70 hectares and continues to be classified as out of control by the B.C. Wildfire Service. The evacuation alert remains in effect for 20 properties on Takala, Ivey and Davis roads, said B.C. Wildfire Service, and the CVRD also issued an evacuation order for an industrial property and the fish hatchery. 

Aug. 21

WHAT'S UP WITH THE FAIR? – Hey, let's start out with some good news, the Vancouver Island Exhibition is back Friday to Sunday, Aug. 27-29. It has a disease prevention plan which means extra hand sanitizing and hand washing stations, capacity limits and recommending masks for all indoor spaces, extra cleaning practices on high use or high touch areas, reminding folks if you are not well to stay home. The fair is toned it down a bit, and if you can’t go, they have a virtual fair with video content, contests, and live streams from the fair on the VIEX website.

YOU CAN GET INVOLVED – it take a lot of people to put on the fair, so there’s lots of opportunity for voluteers in various departments. You can contact Elissa: emiranda@viex.ca. Vendors can call Stephen: skass@viex.ca. You can even become a sponsor, just call Karen: kstreeter@viex.ca. For any other information, questions, comments, or concerns you may contact us at the Office: Phone: 250-758-3247 or email info@viex.ca

WILDFIRE STILL OUT OF CONTROL – A joint evacuation alert by the Nanaimo and Cowichan Valley Regional Districts remains in effect for the Mt Hayes area near Ladysmith. The B.C. Wildfire Service and the CVRD ordered evacuation for an industrial property to the west of the fire and fish hatchery. The good news is the fire has not grown and remains at 70 hectares and continues to be classified as out of control by the B.C. Wildfire Service. The evacuation alert remains in effect for 20 properties on Takala, Ivey and Davis roads, said B.C. Wildfire Service, and the CVRD also issued an evacuation order for an industrial property and the fish hatchery. 

COVID UPDATE – The province may not advance to the next step in its COVID-19 restart plan as case counts surge in the Interior Health region. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced tighter restrictions to cover all of the Interior Health regions, adding it won’t be a surprise if the province doesn’t advance to Step 4 in September.  Restrictions in the Central Okanagan, such as mandatory mask-wearing and reduced limits on indoor and outdoor events, will be expanded across the region to limit the rise in COVID-19 cases. There were 54 new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Island region Friday. There 663 cases across the province over the previous 24 hours. The Island Health region as 325 active cases – 170 in South Island, 115 in Central Island and 40 in North Island.

MANDATORY VACCINATIONS – The Royal Bank of Canada the first of Canada’s major banks to require all their staff in Canada and the United States to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of October. The bank, which operates in more than 30 other countries and the mandate may be introduced in places beyond Canada and the U.S. in the near future. The federal government issued an order to its 300,000 employees that they must be vaccinated by the end of October, and all crown corporations will be expected to follow.

Ferry sailing cancelled due to crewing problem
The Queen of Cowichan has cancelled the following sailings due to a crewing issue.
12:25 pm departing Departure Bay 
2:45 pm departing Horseshoe Bay
Customers with bookings on the cancelled sailing exiting Departure Bay will have their bookings cancelled and reservation fees refunded. Travel will revert to being on a first come, first served basis.

Aug. 20

SCALING BACK – Island Health is scaling back its coronavirus vaccination clinics this weekend. Almost three-quarters of Vancouver Island residents 12 and over are fully vaccinated. Anyone in need of a first or second dose will still be able to stop by a clinic without an appointment, and people may book an appointment if they wish to do so. As of Aug. 19, 81 per cent of Vancouver Island residents 12 and over had received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine and 74 per cent had received two doses. The Nanaimo clinic will continue on a smaller scale at Beban Park.

STATE OF EMERGENCY –The Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) has declared a State of Local Emergency and The Nanaimo Airport has cancelled flights due to a wildfire just west of Ladysmith. The 20 hectare fire, about two and a half kilometres west of The Island Highway near Mt. Hayes, was reported Thursday afternoon and it still growing. It was considered out of control. The airport is providing water to fire crews. There are two other wildfires burning on Vancouver Island.

BODY OF MISSING DIVER FOUND - The body of a missing diver was found by members of the RCMP dive team Wednesday  while they were searching the area where he went missing Aug. 13. The man’s next of kin have been notified, foul play is not suspected and the matter is now in the hands of the B.C. Coroners Service.

POLICE INVESTIGATING SUSPICIOUS DEATH - RCMP found the body of a man  identified  him as Ryan Mosher, a 30-year-old who recently moved to Nanaimo from Kelowna. The death is being considered suspicious, so Nanaimo RCMP’s serious crime unit has taken over the investigation with assistance from Kelowna RCMP. Police say they have already spoken to numerous people both from Kelowna and Nanaimo to assist in establishing what may have occurred.

COVID UPDATE - British Columbia health officials reported 42 positive COVID-19 tests linked to the Island Health region. There were 689 new cases in the province on Thursday. There are 346 active cases in the Island region. Province-wide there are 121 are in hospital, 56 in critical care and 5,982 active cases. Since Wednesday, there have been 123 new cases of COVID-19 in Vancouver Coastal Health, 219 in Fraser Health, 42 in Island Health, 278 in Interior Health and 27 in Northern Health.

BORDER CLOSURE EXTENDED – Canadians won’t be able to drive into the United States for vacation for another month. A spokesperson with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) told Global News Friday America’s land and ferry crossings with Canada and Mexico will be closed until at least Sept. 21.

 

Aug. 19

AMAZON MOVING IN – You may not have to wait as long if you’re an Amazon shopper. The company has announced it’s building a 115,000-square-foot facility on Victoria International Airport lands near Sidney. The building, described as a "last-mile" delivery station, will get Amazon packages and sort them before they're picked up by delivery trucks for local shipping. Site preparation is expected to begin in September, and construction is slated to be complete in fall 2022.

SEARCH FOR DIVER CONTINUES - The search continues off Winchelsea Island for a recreational diver who didn’t resurface last Friday. RCMP Cst. Derek Balderston said the the search has focused Winchelsea area off Lantzville. He said the search could evolve as new information comes to light. Dozens of military and search and rescue units joined police in the search on the water and shoreline.

HOUSE CALL – It has been great having two doctors at our house for the past several days. A year and a half of having no face-to-face with a family doctor has left a lot of loose ends. Our son and daughter in law, doctors from the U.S., finally, got to travel to Canada with our two granddaughters. Their visit also gave an insight to the mountainous obstacles one has to travel between our two countries.

OUR PUNDITS SPEAK OUT – We have the first of our columnists’ analysis of the federal election campaign. Former Newfoundland and Labrador Conservative Premier Brian Peckford is not enamoured with the Conservative party of Canada, saying it’s really liberal to the core. Meanwhile John Feldsted makes his case of why we need to have another minority government.

COVID UPDATE – Health officials reported 38 new positive tests for COVID-19 in the Vancouver Island region Wednesday. The tests were among 553 new cases found across the province over theprevious 24 hours. There are 5,580 active cases across B.C., including 337 in the island region. There are seven people in hospital in the Island Health region, and five more are getting critical care. One person in the Fraser Health region has died. Since the pandemic began, 42 people have died in the Vancouver Island region. Details

Aug. 18

VIU DRUG BREAKTHROUGH – A Vancouver Island University-developed drug-checking system is getting a funding boost from the B.C. government to help reduce the number of poisoned drug overdoses. Nanaimo MLA and Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, Sheila Malcolmson, announced $305,000 in provincial funding on Tuesday. HarmCheck is a developing technology which can quickly identify substances such as fentanyl and carfentanil in street drugs. The technology was developed by Dr. Chris Gill and his team at VIU. It involves testing a tiny sample of a drug for known contaminants before a person uses them. It not only identifies various types of fentanyl, benzodiazepines and other toxins that are in drug supplies, but it does it quickly, sensitively and provides information about how much, Dr. Gill said. “This was a missing key component in early drug testing both here and elsewhere on the planet.”

COVID UPDATE – The Vancouver Island Health Region reported 28 new positive test for Coronavirus on Thursday, along with one death. Across the province there were 501 over the previous 24 hours. There are 307 active cases in the island region and 5,296 across B.C. Island Health data identified the locations of 282 active cases Tuesday, including 159 in the South Island, 96 in the Central Island and 27 in the North Island. There are seven people in hospital in the region, and in critical care.

Aug. 17

GOOD MORNING – We’re full of news this morning – A Nanaimo company has stepped in to rescue Lady Rose Marine Services, assuring the MV Frances Barkley passenger and cargo vessel will continue operating between Port Alberni and Bamfield. Greg Willmon and Barrie Rogers, of Devon Transport, announced Monday that Lady Rose Marine owner Mike Surrell accepted their letter of intent to buy the business.

CANDIDATES HIT CAMPAIGN TRAIL - All major parties have named their candidates for the Sept 20 federal election. Paul Manly of the Green Party is seeking re-election, Tamara Kronis represents the Conservative Party, Lisa Marie Barron is the NDP candidate and Michelle Corfield is running again for the Liberals.

HOWARD JOHNSON PLANS – Oakwood Park Estates has submitted a rezoning application for 1 Terminal Ave., which includes the closed Howard Johnson Hotel. The application calls a comprehensive development, including mixed-use residential, retail and a hotel development.

WILDFIRES STILL BURNING – Evacuating alerts are continuing throughout the province with 6,707 more properties being added to the list. Weaather in the Central Okanagan fanned the flames of the massive White Rock Lake Fire. It’s estimated to be 64,720 hectares and is classified as out of control. At least a dozen properties on the Osoyoos Indian Band Land were also damaged or destroyed.

COVID UPDATE ­– Health officials reported 112 positive tests for COVID-19 in the Island region over the weekend, as active cases and hospitalizations climb. They were among 1,434 positive tests found across B.C. since Friday. There are 5,090 active cases across B.C., including 307 active cases in the island region. Since the pandemic began, 41 people have died of COVID-19 in the Island region. Seven people are in hospital with the disease in the region, and four more in critical care.

Aug. 16

COQUIHALLA CLOSED The highway was closed in both directions Sunday evening between Hope and Merritt. Drive BC says the best alternate route was by Highway 3 and Highway 5A to Merritt and then Highway 5. The July Mountain blaze, estimated at 7,476 hectares, forced the closure. The fire was out of control, and there has been growth on the south end and the northeast flank, adjacent to the highway, in the past 24 hours.

MARINE RESCUE - Fourteen people were rescued from a sinking vessel north of Gabriola Island on Sunday afternoon. The Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre got a mayday call at 1:48 p.m. from a vessel north of the island. A fleet of vessels assisted, including the Queen of Alberni, Nanaimo Marine Search and Rescue Station 27 and the Canadian Coast Guard’s hovercraft was dispatched from Richmond. The Queen of Alberni was delayed for 30 minutes due to assisting in the marine rescue. 

MORE COVID FLIGHTS - Multiple flights linked to Vancouver Island have been added to the province’s coronavirus exposure list in less than a week. The British Columbia Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) has added 12 Vancouver Island flights to its coronavirus exposure list since Wednesday (Aug. 11), with the majority of flights either departing or arriving at Victoria International Airport.
– Air Canada/Jazz 8261 from Vancouver to Nanaimo on Aug. 8 (affected rows not reported).
– Air Canada 8261 from Vancouver to Nanaimo on Aug. 2 (affected rows 10-16).

ELECTION COVERAGE – Candidates have been hitting the bricks and glad-handing as the election campaign kicks off. Nanaimonet.com election coverage has begun with the launch of a special section. We invite all parties and candidates to please forward their campaign information including campaign managers and contact information. We have some of the preliminary material. If you have any questions, please call me at 250-616-0416 or email editor@nanaimonet.com

CHAMBER ELECTION FORUM – The Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce didn’t waste any time to get on board the federal election campaign. CEO Kim Smythe announced a one-night All Candidates Forum on Septe. 15. The Chamber has been organizing such presentations over the years, and they’ve become a mainstay on the election scene locally. It will be a little different this time a mix of a limited live audience and live-streaming coming from the Shaw Auditorium at Conference Centre, says Kim. They’ll invite questions in advance, and from the audience on-site, like usual. They’re hoping to have all parties to present their candidates for consideration in this forum. We’ll have further details as they evolve right here on Nanaimonet.com

Aug. 15

THE RACE IS ON – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed the worst-kept secret that we’re now in a federal election campaign, culminating with voting day Sept. 20. Now we’ll hear the parties discussing issues and non-issues until the cows come home, but leave us no more enlightened. The first public foray was on television where three representative argued whether the snap election was called for. This is one of those “it doesn’t matter” debates. The date has been set, it can’t be changed, the election is happening, so go with the flow. That is one of the non-issues we’ll be putting up with.

ELECTION COVERAGE – Nanaimonet will cover the election from the get-go. We are contacting all the local candidates to arrange for each of them to have a specified spot on our web news outlet.  We haven’t heard from all the parties yet, so if you represent a candidate, please forward details to editor@nanaimonet.com

MANLY LAUNCHES TONIGHT – And with that in mined, Green Party member of Parliament Paul Manly will launch his re-election campaign tonight (Sunday) for the Nanaimo-Ladysmith riding. He will be joined via Zoom by environmental activist David Suzuki  and Green Party MP Elizabeth May (Saanich-Gulf Islands). The launch, open to the public,at the Maffeo Sutton Park bandshell at 6 p.m.

0814

NO SUCCESS IN SEARCH FOR DIVER – An extensive search has been launched for a diver who disappeared while on a recreational dive earl Friday. The incident occurred at approximately 10 am in  the Winchelsea Islands area. Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre is searching the area with their hovercraft and helicopter, while a Canadian Coast Guard vessel is in the water, along with a Volunteer rescue crew. Ground based Search and Rescue personnel are searching the immediate coastline. MORE

HEAT AND SMOKE WARNING - Roll over, it’s time to roast the other side. Not only have we had the heat to contend with, now it’s smoke from the Interior wildfires that’s wafting over Vancouver Island. Victoria had the poorest air quality early Friday morning an air-quality index of four, or moderate. Duncan and Nanaimo both recorded a low-risk two two. All regions are expected to reach an index of four through the weekend. Environment Canada says the smoke will linger through Saturday and possibly Sunday. People with pre-existing health conditions, respiratory infections such as COVID-19, older adults, pregnant women and infants, children, and sensitive individuals are more likely to experience health effects from smoke exposure. Health Minister Adrian Dix said staffing at acute-care facilities is being increased and the BC Ambulance Service is increasing staff, and nurses at HealthLink BC are ready to handle higher call volumes. MORE

MONEY FOR HOMELESS COSTS - The federal and provincial governments have stepped up to the plate to alleviate some of the problems related to homelessness. The two senior levels of government have granted $2.5 million to Nanaimo for homelessness response. The majority of the money will go to housing and hygiene supports for vulnerable populations, but some will go to housing for “small-scale homelessness response” and some will pay for temporary shelter. Mayor Leonard Krog said the money can be used to recoup costs of existing programs. “We have a reasonable amount of discretion as to exactly how we’re going to use it … it can and will be used within our current program structure,” he said.

AN HONEST PROMISE – This could be an interesting federal election campaign. NDP leader Jagmeet Singh was the first out of the gate with an honest promise – to raise taxes on the rich. His honesty is refreshing, but not his politics.

COVID UPDATE - Island Health reports 40 more positive COVID tests in the region, part of the 717 reported across the province on Thursday. It’s the highest number of new cases reported since early May. There are 4,277 cases in the province with 82 people in hospital, 39 in intensive care. Island Health has 245 active cases. There were 140 new case in Fraser Health, 101 in Vancouver Coastal Health, 376 in Interior Health, 60 in Northern Health and 40 in Island Health.

MAJOR FIGHT BREWING – On the heels of the B.C. government mandating COVID-19 vaccines for some workers, the federal government is making vaccines mandatory across the federal public service, requiring all commercial air, interprovincial train and cruise ship passengers to be fully vaccinated no later than October. It will require employees in the federally-regulated air, rail, and marine transportation space to be fully immunized against the virus. Right or wrong, this will get the pushback to end all pushbacks when it sinks in. The vaccine mandate is expected in the private sector as well. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Thursday that if you choose not to be immunized, then you don’t necessarily have the right to go into a higher risk environment with a bunch of people who have been immunized and are protected.

MANDATORY VAXING - The federal government has announced new requirements for people to board planes, trains and cruise ships, under federal jurisdiction, even for travel within Canada. That raises the question of whether BC Ferries passengers will be included. BC Ferries, which operates some sailings with overnight accommodation, said it needs more information about the vaccine requirements before it can comment. WestJet and Air Canada said their companies welcome the new regulations and look forward to further details on the rollout. 

WORTH NOTING 

– The speed limit has been reduced to 30 kmh for the entire length of Front Street.

It’s not smooth sailings for B.C. Ferries this summer as they continue to be plagued by mechanical and staffing challenges.

– Travellers are being blindsided with the price tag of a car rentals these days, up to $500 a day.

– The push for mandatory vaccinations has many asking is if it is legal for employers to demand double vaccinations.

The B.C. government has issued a travel warning to avoid visiting the Interior region due to the current wildfire situation.

 

Aug. 13

FEDERAL ELECTION – All that’s required is Prime Minister Trudeau’s walk to Rideau Hall on Sunday to make it official – we’re in an election set for Sept. 20. The Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce has wasted no time setting up an all-candidates meeting. Chamber CEO Kim Smythe says will be a hybrid event, both in person on via Internet. And they’ve saved the date for late in the campaign so voters will be more enlightened by the time – Wednesday, Sept. 15.

FAMILY RESCUED FROM SINKING BOAT - A family of three was rescued from a rocky outcrop after their boat was destroyed in rough seas on Thursday near Snake Island. Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue and the Port Authority marine unit rescued them shortly after midday. Rescue technician Ward Clapham told NanaimoNewsNOW the boat was three-quarters submerged and the soaked family was stranded on the rocks upon arrival.

PHILANTHROPY AND THE ECONOMY - Andrew Chunilall, CEO, Community Foundations of Canada will be one of the key presenters at the 'State of the Island' Economic Summit, October 27-28 at the Vancouver Island Convention Centre and online. He will lay out how trickle-down philanthropy has been perpetuating economic inequality through its business models and culture of donor centricity. He will examine how philanthropy can adopt the principles of equitable, sustainable, just and inclusive to help deploy capital to resolve economic inequality.

MANDATORY VACCINES ORDERED - B.C. long-term care and assisted living workers will have to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 12 as a condition of their employment, health officials announced on Thursday. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said this will be enforced by an incoming public health order, noting that while B.C. had hoped to avoid mandating vaccinations, new factors like the more infectious Delta variant had forced the province’s hand. Until the Oct. 12 deadline, unvaccinated workers will have to wear additional personal protective equipment and be tested frequently. Those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons will be worked with on a one-on-one basis, she added.

IT WASN’T FUNNY – RCMP say a joke about a bomb threat at a north Nanaimo business was not a laughing matter. A woman thought it would be funny to call in a bomb threat to get out of working with another employee  Aug. 11. The woman texted another worker, jokingly telling her to call in the threat, but rather than phoning it in, the worker reported the incident to police. As a result, a police officer and a police service dog and its handler responded, doing a search of the store until it was determined there were no explosives on site.

THIS IS THE WEEKEND – All that stuff you’ve been storing and see no future use for can be valuable to someone else. The City’s Reuse Rendezvous is set for this weekend – Saturday and Sunday. People can place unwanted toys, sporting goods, furniture and bikes at their curb, allowing other people to pick them up and reuse them. Mark the items at the curb with a ‘free’ tag but don’t block sidewalks or bike lanes. "Shoppers" should drive slowly, watch for children, park carefully, obey all traffic signs and speed limits, and respect public and private property. Remember to remove left over items by Monday.

COVID UPDATE – Island Health reported 29 new positive tests for  COVID-19 on Thursday. They were among 513 found across the province over the previous 24 hours. There are 3,834 active cases in B.C., including 220 active cases in the Island Health region. Island Health identified the locations of 193 active cases Thursday, including 111 in the South Island, 69 in the Central Island and 13 in the North Island.

DOGS SNIFFING OUT COIVD – Sniffing dogs have now been trained to help identify Coronavirus. For more than five years, Vancouver Coastal Health’s canine scent detection team has helped track Clostridioides difficile in healthcare settings. Allison Muniak, executive director of quality and patient safety, said in a statement Thursday (Aug. 12) that it was a “natural evolution” to add the infectious respiratory disease to the dog’s scent detection roster.

Federal election expected to be called for Sept 20

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau plans to ask Gov. Gen. Mary Simon for an election within days, say sources.

Global News has confirmed reporting originally published by Reuters that Trudeau plans to ask for an election on Aug. 15. A tight five-week campaign is expected to follow, with Election Day on Sept. 20.

August 12

WEEKEND TRAVEL ALERT – BC Ferries is expecting heavy traffic over the weekend so the company is offering travel tips for travel between Friday and Sunday. Historically, the middle weekend in August is popular as families take the first two weeks or the last two weeks of August as vacation. Some travellers will be heading home and others will be starting their holidays. The middle weekend of this month is dubbed the unofficial “change-over” weekend of the summer. 

UP THE CREEK – A Nanaimo man doesn’t even have a paddle after he was scammed while trying to buy a kayak. Nanaimo RCMP issued a warning after a July 27 incident in which the man responded to a Craigslist ad for a kayak and e-transferred a $150 deposit so that the seller would hold the kayak for him. When he went to view the kayak, the address was a vacant lot and the phone number that had been given was out of service. “When using online advertising sites, there is a degree of buyer beware,” noted RCMP in a press release. “If possible, to obtain the full name of the seller and do a social media search of the name and address.”

BOIL WATER ORDER -  Port McNeill has issued a boil water advisory after trace amounts of E. coli bacteria were found in the local water system. The Town advised residents to boil water for at least one minute before using it for drinking, making ice, cooking, washing food or brushing teeth. The bacteria was detected during routine testing. More information can be found on the town's website, and those with questions are advised to call the town office at 250-956-3111 or to email reception@portmcneill.ca. 

COVID UPDATE – Health official reported 26 new positive COVID tests in the Island Health region on Wednesday. Province-wide  there were 536 new positive tests and one death since the last update on Tuesday. Of the new cases, 105 were in Vancouver Coastal Health, 135 in Fraser Health, 26 in Island Health, 258 in Interior Health, and 12 in Northern Health. Officials report 3,585 active cases — including 222 in Island Health — and 72 people in hospital, 29 in intensive care. There are two people in hospital in Island Health, both in critical care. In the previous 24-hour period, there were 1,013 tests performed on Vancouver Island with 4,918 doses of vaccine administered.

KEEP IT CLEAN - The west coast of our island is a popular tourist destination for Canadians, and now that travel restrictions have been relaxed they are coming in droves. But not every one is respectful of the spectacular environment, so some Ucluelet community members have set up a blockade on the West Main forestry road to Kennedy Lake. Tim Masso lives in the area and is a member of the Tlaoquiaht First Nation. He says the number of tourists and squatters who have come into the area is devastating for the land. Garbage and human waste are often left in the bush. Some visitors have been camping along a salmon-bearing river, and says he's spotted several campfires despite B.C. being under a province-wide campfire ban. "This is a recipe for a forest fire," he said.

QUALICUM CONNECTION – Qualicum Beach lost it’s schedules airline service 16 months ago, and now a new venture will fill the void. Indigenous-owned airline Iskwew Air will launch its first scheduled service next week between Qualicum Beach and Vancouver International Airport. Teara Fraser is the founder of Iskwew Air. A news report states Indigenous Tourism BC seeded the launch of the new airline with $5 million. It will use is a twin-engine Piper Navajo Chieftain, which is named “The Sweetgrass Warrior.” It can carry up to eight passengers.

Aug. 11

GOOD MORNING - Environment Canada has issued a heat warning for parts of Vancouver Island. Temperatures hovering around 30 degrees are expected for the next four days, reaching as high as 34 degrees in the mid-Island tomorrow. Meanwhile, overnight lows will reach nearly 16 degrees for the same stretch of time. So stay hydrated and pretend you are in Palm Springs.

PLANNING AHEAD - When living with dementia requires full-time support due to complex needs, moving to a long-term care home may be the next step for caregivers or family. Researching long-term care can be an overwhelming process. The Alzheimer Society of B.C. offers free weekly webinars, including “Considering the transition to long-term care.” It’s for caregivers considering arranging a move and finding out how to access long-term care and what other factors need to be taken into account. The hour-long webinar is on Wednesday, August 25 at 2 p.m.

SAD TO HEAR – It seems no matter how often the warnings go out, people still fall for scams and get defrauded out of a lot of money. RCMP report two recent cases where a man lost $8,000 by giving a scammer access to his computer. In another, a woman lost $1,400 to the grandson scam despite being warned by her bank that it was a fraud. See full details here.

GOODBYE LADY ROSE – Another piece of West Coast history is sailing into the sunset. The only ferry linking remote communities in the Alberni Inlet is set to take its last voyage at the end of the month. The Lady Rose will make its final sailing up the Alberni Canal on Aug. 31. be it’s last sailing, marking an end to a company that has been in business since 1937. Lady Rose Marine Services has been in business since 1937. The ship delivers services, tourists and goods but has fallen victim to lost business due to the pandemic, its owners said in a Facebook post Monday. But stay tuned, some community leaders say the service is too valuable to the region to let go.

COVID UPDATE - Health officials reported 31 positive COVID-19 tests in the Island Health region Tuesday, a three-month high. There were 395 cases  across the province. There are 3,284 so-called active cases across the province, 218 in the Island region, the highest peak since early May. Island Health identified the locations of 175 active cases Tuesday, including 92 in the South Island, 70 in the Central Island and 13 in the North Island. One person is in hospital and two more are in critical care, according to the latest data from the BC Centre for Disease Control. 

Aug. 10

COVID UPDATE - Health officials reported 62 new COVID-19 cases in Island Health over the three day weekend with 145 active cases. Across the province, there were 1,079 new cases. Active cases across the province climbed to 3,036 – 68 are in hospital with 20 in critical care. Meanwhile the province has reduced the time between first and second vaccine doses for B.C. residents. People will be invited to get their second dose 28 days after their first dose, instead of after 49 days.

IT TAKES ONLY A SECOND - A pick-up truck was destroyed and a semi-tractor ended up in the ditch after the two vehicles collided this morning. The driver of the semi and driver of the pick-up, including the driver's 18-month-old son, escaped without injury. The collision occurred at approximately 8:40 am on Monday August 9, 2021, at the intersection of the Island Highway and the Nanaimo Parkway. The pick-up drive took his eye off the road for mere seconds to check on his son.

CONGRATULATIONS – A note from Ron and Deb Hopper of the Friends of HMCS Nanaimo who attended a change of command for the ship last week. Cdr Jason Bergen will be promoted to Commanding Officer, MARPAC Headquarters. Cdr Bergen has the distinction of serving on all 12 of the Maritime Coastal Defense Vessels on both coasts of Canada. He gave a glowing tribute to his crew, his mentors on his career, and the Friends of HMCS NANAIMO for their support during the difficult time working with Covid protocols.  His ships took part in Operation Caribbe, successfully interdicting drugs in the South and Operation Laser, providing coastal security during the Covid crisis.  

FRUSTRATION TO THE MAX – The elation of having our family from the U.S. coming for a visit after two years turned into frustration in a real hurry. American residents returning home to the U.S. must show a PCR Covid test within a specified time before boarding a U.S. flight. 

Now the challenge, where can you get that test? Island Health only referred to a recorded message that leads to the Covid Hotline recording which pretty well tells you they don’t offer tests. 

Then a switch to Life Labs, a private company, but you cannot talk to a human at that company either. Their website has some information, an application form to be filled out by the traveller. That follows with information that they don’t actually do the tests, they are contracted to select Shoppers Drug Mart stores. Try getting a human on the phone there; it's impossible. Only some stores provide the extended Q-Tip tests, but you cannot find out which ones. The phone numbers for local stores go directly to a recording. 

Then comes the shocker, the cost of a PCR test is $199 per person. Family of four, 800 bucks. Can’t get worse? A friend told me his American relatives paid $300 each for their tests.

Does anyone remember that quaint old practice we used to have? I think it was called customer service.

KIDS RIDE FREE - Children 12 years old and younger won’t have to pay fares on any BC Transit or TransLink starting Sept. 1. British Columbia’s youngest residents will be able to ride all forms of public transit for free starting next month. The initiative is part of the government’s “Get on Board” program, revealed in the provincial budget in April. The program will also encourage a new generation of transit riders.

Aug. 9

GOOD MORNING ­– Get ready for another scorcher – the forecast is for more hot temperatures, heating up to the mid thirties by Thursday.

ISLAND WILDFIRE - A local state of emergency remained in effect Sunday in the Cowichan Valley Regional District, as fire crews continued to battle a 32-hectare wildfire. The fire has been renamed the Copper Canyon wildfire, according to Dorothe Jakobson, fire information officer for the Coastal Fire Centre. Firefighters dealt with 40-kilometre-per-hour wind gusts overnight, and the area where the blaze is burning saw no precipitation on Saturday. Despite these challenging conditions, the fire had not grown as of Sunday morning.

STOCK THE LOCKERS – Hey, the kids are heading back to school in September, eager for the challenges that lie ahead after the disruptive period they have been through. For some of them it’s not all that easy, their major challenge is financial. Money raised goes toward supplies, meal and student support programs and other school-related expenses. The Stock the Lockers campaign runs until Aug. 31. The goal for this year is $50,000, says executive director Crystal Dennison. Last year’s campaign was affected by COVID-19, and not as much money was raised. You can donate to Stock the Lockers at Coastal Community Credit Unions in Nanaimo and on Gabriola Island, as well as Nanaimo-area Staples and Country Grocer stores. For more information on the campaign, or to donate online, go here.

ISLAND BLIZZARD FORECAST – It’s one of those catch phrases that gets your attention, and Dairy Queen has done exactly that with its Blizzards on Dairy Queen’s Miracle Treat Day, Oct. 28. Aportion of proceeds from each Blizzard bought that day will go to one of 12 Children’s Miracle Network member hospitals in Canada. What’s raised locally stays here, so every dollar donated will go directly to the hospital serving that community. In British Columbia, the majority would support BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver.

B.C. LIBERAL LEADERSHIP candidates are flooding the province like the smoke from the Interior wildfires. Deemed the front runner, Kevin Falcon visited the Island in the past few days and the message from party members in Nanaimo was around homelessness and mental health and addiction. They’re topics that come up wherever he goes and no one seems to think the problems are getting any better, he said. He says the party needs a different approach. One that is based on compassion, but also based on the reality that many of the folks on the streets are there with severe mental illness and they need really long-term, 24-7 care to look after them, stabilize them, with the goal of streaming them back into the community some years down the road.

AMERICANS ARE COMING – and thank goodness. In our household we have not seen our two granddaughters for two years. Now they’re on their way – Canada allowing U.S. citizens and permanent residents back into the country for non-essential travel, provided they've been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Canada's ban on non-essential travel across the land border was lifted at midnight. However, the Americans have yet to relax their rules for Canadian travellers.

HAPPY TAIL WAG to the Nanaimo SPCA for raising more than $16,000 for its annual Lock-in for Love event. That way more than the $10,000 they raised last yearCommunity spirit is helping the Nanaimo SPCA pay medical bills for animals in need.  Executive director Leon Davis said it was a struggle without in-person events and engaging supporters but the new approach was an opportunity to come together and raise money a different way.

August 8, 2021

GOOD MORNING ­– While we were grateful for the miniscule amount of rain we got yesterday, it was a different story in Campbell River where they got a deluge followed by flooding and massive power outages. While there may be a sprinkle or two in our neck of the woods, the forecast is for more scorching temperatures, warming to the mid thirties by Thursday.

ECONOMIC SUMMIT - Registration is now open for the 15th annual State of the Island Economic Summit. The Summit returns to the Vancouver Island Conference Centre with a hybrid event Oct. 27-28 in-person or online. Many of the topics and speakers have been announced on the VIEA website. The impact of the Coronavirus pandemic will be a featured topic. It created one of the biggest disruptions to modern life and economy that most of us have ever experienced, says Graham Truax, a technology and entrepreneur shaper and one of the presenters at the Summit. The impact of these disruptions varied greatly depending on your positioning within our economic system. At the same time, we've struggled to better address a long list of social and cultural issues, not to mention the existential threat of climate change.

ARE THESE YOUR TOOLS? ­ The Nanaimo RCMP seized tools that are believed to be stolen. They were seized just before on June 26, during a vehicle stop in south Nanaimo.  The investigating officer initially attended for a female who appeared to be slumped over in the driver’s seat of a parked vehicle. After waking the woman and establishing that she was not in medical distress, the officer turned his attention to the tools lying on the backseat of the vehicle. The officer noted a brand new battery powered Ryobi pressure washer, a Stihl weed wacker and Black and Decker blower and vacuum. MORE DETAILS.

TOO FEW MARINERS – B.C. Ferries has been experiencing more staff shortages of late, resulting in cancelled sailings. Exacerbating the problem is a global shortage of experienced mariners, says president and CEO Mark Collins. "We are actively recruiting for approximately 60 officer and 50 other key positions to create even greater redundancy in the system," he said. "Unfortunately, the global shortage means qualified mariners are very difficult to find."

BUSINESS AFTER BUSINESS – Hey, the Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce Business after Business networking gatherings are returning this fall if all goes according to plan. The chamber is scheduling live networking events to bring hundreds of Nanaimo businesses together on a regular basis. Keep and eye out for details.

Aug 7

OKANAGAN UNDER RESTRICTIONS - British Columbia has reinstated strict COVID-19 restrictions for the Central Okanagan, including limits on personal gatherings, organized gatherings and restaurant capacity. bars and nightclubs have also been shutdown in the region, which includes the municipalities of Peachland, West Kelowna, Kelowna, Lake Country, parts of the Central Okanagan Regional District and First Nations within the area. 

COVID UPDATE - Island Health reports 27 new cases of COVID-19 in the region in its Friday report. They were among 464 new cases found across the province over the past 24 hours. There are 2,411 active cases in the province, including 145 in the Island region. By Friday, 81.8 per cent of British Columbians aged 12 and older have their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine., while 68.9 per cent of eligible people have both doses.

WALK-IN VAX POPULAR – Island Health reported 4,002 people on Vancouver Island got their vaccinations VOVID-19 during the Walk-in clinics on Wednesday, 293 at Beban Park for either a first or second dose. The Nanaimo clinic was the fifth busiest within Island Health. About 7,600 people got a dose of vaccine on Wednesday with more than half of them walk-ins, a high numbers of them under 30.

Aug. 6

MISSING PERSON - The Nanaimo RCMP seeks public assistance in locating 69-year-old Robert Knight.His immediate family recently learned that his vehicle was found abandoned on Fry Street. All efforts by his family to locate him have been unsuccessful, and as a result, they are extremely worried for his safety and well-being. He is 6 ft. , 177 pounds, and has white hair and blue eyes. If anyone has information, please call the Nanaimo RCMP non-emergency line at 250-754-2345, and quote file # 2021-27947.

BUILDING PERMIT BOTTLENECK - The building permit process has long been a major irritant to builders, – the Regional District of Nanaimo is an example. For Mark Jones of Nanoose the processing has been slow due to resource constraints at the RDN’s building department. The delays, he said, have an impact on thousands of people particularly at time when the region faces housing issues. “It’s a terrible social and economic impact for thousands of people. I am here because it doesn’t need to be this way. It shouldn’t take this long to get a permit as it does to build an entire house,” said Jones. Building and Bylaw Services Manager Tom Armet said applications take at least 10 weeks to process, similar to other municipalities. The RDN has hired two more staff members, but training is required. Armet said with the two new staff members, he hopes to speed up the process and work through the backlog of permits.

FUNDING FOR BRAIN INJURY - Nanaimo Brain Injury Society has received a $65,000 boost from the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions. The non-profit offers support, education and connection for people with brain injuries. It will use the money to 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. The community navigator program gives non-medical support to those suffering from brain injury and their caregivers via personalized recovery and action plans, access to community resources and case management and network building. 

COVID UPDATE – Island Health reported 25 new cases of COVID-19 in the region Thursday among 402 cases found across the province. There are 2,066 active cases across B.C., including 127 active cases in the Island Health region. Island Health  has 108 active cases – 56 in the South Island, 47 in the Central Island and five in the North Island. One person is in hospital and one more receiving critical care in the Island Health region.

IN CASE YOU DRIVE BY THERE, The Nanaimo Bakery and Cafe is open again at Bowen Road, under new management. Drop in any day between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, closed on Sunday.

Aug 5

TRACY SAMRA - THE UNENDING SAGA - Former city manager Tracy Samra isn’t going away. She filed notice of civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court on May 31. The notice states she intends to sue the city and former and current council members, citing bullying, harassment and wrongful dismissal. They city chief administration officer from March 2016 until she was dismissed in May 2018, named former mayor Bill McKay and Coun. Sheryl Armstrong and the City of Nanaimo in a notice of civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court on May 31. The News Bulletin has the full details.

HIGH-RISK RESCUE - A woman was airlifted to hospital after an injury in the Nanaimo River on Tuesday. B.C. Ambulance Service, RCMP and other emergency services responded after the 47-year-old woman suffered, what Nanaimo RCMP described as, serious, but non life-threatening injuries after she fell or jumped into the river. Nanaimo Search and Rescue called in a helicopter and long-line rescue team from North Shore search and rescue to lift the woman from the site to an ambulance.

REUSE RENDEZVOUS - Nanaimo’s longest running reuse event, is back August 14 and 15. The event is designed to keep useful items from going to waste by providing Nanaimo households an opportunity to give old household items a new lease on life. You can put unwanted toys, sporting goods, furniture, books, bikes and other items to the curb so that others can take and reuse them.  You should mark items with a "FREE" tag and make sure to remove any leftover items by August 16. 

COVID UPDATE - Island Health reported 32 new Coronavirus cases on Wednesday, part of the 342 cases reported across the province.  Interior Health still leads in new cases with 171 while there were 66 in Fraser Health, 57 in Vancouver Coastal Health and 13 in Northern Health. There are 1,764 active cases in the province and 55 people in hospital — 23 in intensive care.

NEW OUTBREAK - Island Health on Wednesday afternoon declared an outbreak of COVID-19 at the Discovery Harbour, a long-term care home in Campbell River, after three staff members tested posted for the virus.

COVID FLIGHTS RISING - The number of exposures to COVID-19 on flights in and out of the province is rising. The B.C. Centre for Disease Control  reported 143 flights involving B.C. airports that had at least one confirmed case of the coronavirus on board in July. That's the highest monthly total the BCCDC has reported since April, when provincial airports saw a record 261 exposure notifications at the height of the pandemic's third wave.

Aug 4

FORWARD MOVE - Nanaimo is treating economic development seriously by creating a new economic development corporation which will include community partners. City council has unanimously approved a framework to set up the Nanaimo Prosperity Corporation. The economic development function has operated haphazardly for years but the new framework should broaden the scope. A consultant recommended economic development would be better served with both an internal city department and an external corporation. The Nanaimo Prosperity Corporation will be city-owned and base operations funded. There will be five stakeholders  as “shareholders” in the NPC – Airport Commission, Port of Nanaimo, Chamber of Commerce, Vancouver Island University and Snuneymuxw.

STREETS TAKE ON NEW GLOW - BC Hydro is replacing old high-pressure sodium (HPS) lights with newer light-emitting diodes (LED) throughout the city. In Nanaimo, there are both City-owned and BC Hydro-owned streetlights, which are leased to the City. The City began upgrading to LED in 2018, while the majority of streetlights on BC Hydro poles remained the older HPS style. From now until the end of this year, Hydro crews will update 4,276 streetlights within Nanaimo's neighbourhoods.

BLAME IT ON THE BIRD - A wayward bird Nanaimo caused a substantial power outage and traffic delays in Downtown Nanaimo Tuesday morning. The incident occurred on Front Street in front of the Gabriola Island ferry terminal, cutting off power to 1,200 BC Hydro customers. Power was restored at 1 p.m.

NDP CADSHING IN - The best public opinion poll comes from the list of contributions to our pollical parties. Elections BC shows the NDP having almost triple the donations as compared to the B.C. Liberals from April to the end of June this year. B.C. NDP backers gave $834,575,67. B.C. Liberal contributions were $313,514,42, barely ahead of the BC Green partyat $278,826.80. The Conservatives reported $22,475. See the detailed reports by clicking on the party links. 

BLAME IT ON THE BIRD - A wayward bird Nanaimo caused a substantial power outage and traffic delays in Downtown Nanaimo Tuesday morning. The incident occurred on Front Street in front of the Gabriola Island ferry terminal, cutting off power to 1,200 BC Hydro customers. Power was restored at 1 p.m.

COVID UPDATE - Health officials on Tuesday reported 42 new cases of COVID-19 on Island Health region, with were in 742 new cases provincewide since the last update on July 30. Of the new cases, 395 were in Interior Health, 165 in Fraser Health, 115 in Vancouver Coastal Health and 24 in Northern Health. There are 1,544 active cases in the province, 53 people in hospital with 19 in intensive care.

Aug 3

MOTORCYCLIST SERIOUSLY INJURED - A man suffered life-threatening injuries and has been air-lifted to a Victoria hospital after crashing his off-road motorcycle earlier todayon Rock City Road. Witnesses said they heard a crash and found the man and a bike lying in the ditch. It appears the rider was going west bound on Rock City Road when he lost control and drove off the roadway. While it is only early in the investigation, it appears that speed may have been a contributing factor. Investigators would like to see an dash cam video from motorists who were in the area at the time. If they have video of the crash or any pre-collision driving, please contact the Nanaimo RCMP non-emergency line at 250-754- 2345, and quote file # 2021-28904. 

BACK TO NORMAL – The weekend visitors are gone except for the last few stragglers who couldn’t get a ferry. All Monday sailings between Duke Point and Tsawwassen were sold out for the day and the Departure Bay sailings were packed.

WALK-IN WEDNESDAY – Getting your COVID shot is getting more convenient all the time. “Walk-in Wednesday” is for you if you’ve procrastinated on your first or second dose, you can drop in at local vaccine clinic any time on Wednesday. The Vax for BC program, has 20,000 doses reserved exclusively for walk-in patients at all vaccine clinics on Wednesday, Aug. 4. You don't need to register online or phone before you arrive – just go.

ORDER OF B.C. – Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry is one of 16 people named to the Order of British Columbia this year. Lt. Gov. Janet Austin announced the latest recipients of the province's highest honour on B.C. Day. All but one was from Vancouver or Victoria. See the full list of Order of B.C. recipients. 

GOVERNMENT GIVETH AND GOVERNMENT TAKETH – Local seniors got letters last week informing them that their GIS payments have been cut, says member of Parliament Paul Manly and he wants the government to take urgent action to protect seniors in this situation. They've been cut off from the federal Guaranteed Income Supplement by Canada Revenue Agency, says Manly. Low-income seniors who lost work during the pandemic became eligible for the CERB but that extra income pushed some of them over the GIS eligibility threshold ­– $18,984 individual, and up to $45,504 couples. The CERB income helped eligible seniors through the pandemic, but in most cases that money has been spent, Manly added. 

ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST - Just down the road a bit, Duncan has decided to mothball another remnant of colonial history. The city has eliminated its Town Crier post and will look to another form of ambassador for the future. “As we move into the future, the City of Duncan looks forward to working with our neighbours and community to create a new city ambassador role to represent the city at events and greet our many visitors,” said Duncan Mayor Michelle Staples. Wouldn't that be a good role for the mayor or her councillors?

READER COMMENT - "Visitors to our waterfront saw filthy walkways. There are stains of dog pee, spilled food, and gosh knows what else. Power wash, for heavens sake! The $50,000 sign doesn't make up for the poor upkeep."   – Kathy Reilly, Nanaimo

Up the creek without a ferry for paid reservation

There were more than a few tavellers hot under the collar when they arrived for their ferry sailings only to learn they did not exist. BC Ferries online reservation system booked passengers on sailings that never existed, leaving some families stranded and unable to return home on Monday.

The ghost sailings were Monday between Salt Spring and Tsawaassen, leaving passengers on both sides stranded in spite of having prepaid.

Passengerssaid they booked their return sailing like any other, through the BC Ferries website. CTV News reported that BC Ferries has apologized online and told passengers that sailings were "incorrectly built into our system. We sincerely apologize to all customers affected and are giving full refunds for the inconvenience." the company wrote on social media. Full story.

Aug. 2

WHAT A WEEKEND - Quite the weekend, ferries clogged, accommodations booked solid from Victoria to Tofino. No doubt, part was pent up business from the pandemic shutdown and a considerable amount from the smoke and wildfires in the Interior which had people coming to Vancouver Island instead.

HOT WEATHER WARNINGS LIFTED – but it will still be warm for the rest of this week, rising to about 27 degrees. Relief in the form of rain is predicted. The concern now is the wildfire smoke drifting in from the Interior and Washington state. If you’ve still got some of those COVID masks, you might want to keep them handy to assist your breathing.

MINETOWN DAY is back Sept. 18 at Lantzville’s Huddlestone Park, though scaled-down due to COVID-19 safety protocols. Chairman Bob Colclough said the popular event faced challenges and almost didn’t return this year until recent announcements from the province. Minetown Day has been an annual event in Lantzville for over 40 years until last year, when it was cancelled due to the pandemic. He said there will be fewer big rides this year. While some of the rides will be missing, he says many of the classic activities will be there, including the climbing wall and bicycle painting event. He also says there may be some new events.

DIFFERENT STROKES - I got a number of notices about an event coming up somewhere near Nanaimo in the next few days where attendees will have to verify that they have NOT been vaccinated for COVID. Since it is not an open event I won’t list the location as the landlord might face repercussions from some of his regular clients. 

LANTERNS ON DISPLAY - The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom’s annual Lanterns for Peace ceremony on Friday at Sway A Lana Lagoon at Maffeo-Sutton Park. Peace songs will begin at 8:30 p.m., with speeches from elected officials and more music at 9 p.m. At dusk, dozens of lanterns will be floated on the lagoon.

FREEDOM DAY – Yesterday was the first Emancipation Day in British Columbia as announced last week. It marks the end of slavery in the British Commonwealth.

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.

Aug. 1

SHORTING OUT - Some of our readers will get a charge out of this. Social media reported long lineups in Hope of drivers wanting to charge their electric vehicles. It seems they couldn’t quite make it from Okanagan to Vancouver on a single charge – now that's what you call shorting out. 

A BOOST FOR AIRPORTS - Nanaimo Airport will get just over $1 million as part of the federal grants to help 11 regional airports recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Nanaimo Port Authority float plane facility will get several hundred thousand dollars while Victoria gets just under $3 million. Like Nanaimo, airports in Comox, Prince George, Kamloops, Fort St. John and Terrace get $1 million. Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said $38 million will be available to Vancouver International Airport for projects such as extending runways and protecting the sea-level facility from mythical rising ocean levels. 

MORE EVACUATIONS - Fires crews were battling more than 240 fires on Saturday, while 60 evacuation orders had forced people from 3,120 properties across the province. The Thompson-Nicola Regional District issued an evacuation order for another 125 properties late Friday night due to the Flat Lake wildfire.The massive Flat Lake fire has grown to an estimated 45,526 hectares (450 square kilometres) in size. BC Wildfire Service crews said they were hoping to conduct planned ignitions about 25 kilometres southwest of 100 Mile House, on Saturday, in a bid to remove unburned fuels and bring the fire’s perimeter into more accessible locations.

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.