Monday, Jan. 31, 2022

CLUES SOUGHT INTO CAR FIRE – Nanaimo RCMP are looking for information after a car burned in a parkade at 655 Poplar Street early this morning. Nanaimo Fire & Rescue attended where a blue Mitsubishi was engulfed in flames. A man walked out of the smoke he told police he had been sleeping in the parkade and had awakened by the smoke and left. Cst Sherri Wade said the vehicle was destroyed, and the investigation is continuing. If you were near the parkade between 6:30 am, and 7 am, or if you own a vehicle in the parkade with a dashboard camera, please contact the Nanaimo RCMP.

DOG LICENSES – The New Year is in full swing, so don’t forget about Rover – dog licenses are due now. New license fees and charges are effect to align with the Animal Responsibility bylaw adopted in 2021. Fees for sterilized dogs will remain at $30 with a $5 discount for payments made before February 28 of the licencing year while the licence fee for unsterilized dogs is $60 with a $10 discount for early payments. You can register and pay online www.nanaimo.ca/goto/DogLicenceor at the Services and Resource Centre (411 Dunsmuir Street) and the Nanaimo Animal Shelter (1260 Nanaimo Lakes Road). New licences must be purchased in person. MORE 

TRAFFIC STOP TO TRAFFICKING? – The Nanaimo RCMP Street Crime and Community Response wound up with a big haul after stopping a vehicle driven by a man known not to have a driver’s licence. Police found 10 ounces of crystal meth, 2.5 ounces of crack cocaine, 149 prescription pills, 500 ml of GHB, $385 Canadian currency, four cell phones, a digital scale and five replica firearms. Three occupants in the vehicle were associated to the drug trade. Police found 10 ounces of crystal meth, 2.5 ounces of crack cocaine, 149 prescription pills, 500 ml of GHB, $385 Canadian currency, 4 cell phones, a digital scale and 5 replica firearms. All occupants were released pending analysis of items seized for charge approval. PHOTO 

WAIT AND SEE – The City will extend a contract for bus shelters while it sorts out whether to take on their operation. With the intention  of increasing transit ridership over the next 20 years it will need more bus stop benches and shelters. Council has asked for a staff report on a strategy for bus shelters to be co-owned by the City of Nanaimo and Regional District of Nanaimo. MORE

MENDING FENCES –  B.C. Liberals will elect their next leader on Saturday after a long campaign. The campaign was stymied by the COVID-19 pandemic, limited to online debates and virtual events rather than large rallies. Seven candidates are running to replace Andrew Wilkinson. The candidates are legislature members Ellis Ross, Michael Lee and Renee Merrifield; business leaders Gavin Dew, Val Litwin and Stan Sipos; and Kevin Falcon, a former cabinet minister who also ran for the leadership in 2011. Voting online or by telephone will run from Thursday to Saturday. The winner is expected to be announced Saturday evening. MORE

 

Jan. 30, 2022

OH WHAT A WEEKEND ­– Some Canadians turned out in large numbers to voice their opposition to vaccine mandates yesterday and continuing today. Some passed through Nanaimo and a huge crowd gathered at the B.C. legislature building. They demonstrated in solidarity with the self-described Freedom Convoy of truckers and vaccine mandate opponents that converged on Ottawa earlier in the day. The Victoria Police Department estimated that the crowd included between 4,000 and 5,000 people through the afternoon. The main Ottawa event was slated for later today. MORE

JUST BEING JUSTIN – He just could not resist. Our prime minister just had to  level his sanctimonious holier-than-thou judgment on the truck convoy as it headed to Ottawa. He said their beliefs were unacceptable. Now he’s judging our beliefs? VIDEO COMMENT.

ANOTHER DOCTOR LEAVING – Often we react after it is too late. WE already have a shortage of doctors. Doctors in Victoria have closed their walk-in clinics in the past few weeks. It’s spreading. The doctor at Parksville Beaches Memorial Medical Clinic is moving to Alberta. Doctor Jacques Simeonov said he’ll close his practice on Feb. 11, adding he has been unable to find a replacement doctor. The notice said he just couldn't afford to live in BC anymore. MORE

CLEAN UP YOUR ACT – Gary Korpan salutes Errin Holtz in challenging Nanaimo residents to clean up litter from their neighbourhoods as part of Great Nanaimo Garbage Grab. It is a sad commentary that our patch of paradise is polluted with litter, garbage, back road dumping, graffiti and illegal signs. Even sadder is the clear lack of interest by so-called authorities to do something about the abuses. Gary suggests a solution for scofflaws. FULL COMMENT.

Public hearings reset for Sandstone and Green Thumb

HAVE YOUR SAY – Speak now or forever hold your peace. Public hearings for two high-profile Nanaimo developments have been set after they were delayed by the pandemic. Council will hear views on the Sandstone development in south Nanaimo. Feb. 17. Then a week later, Feb 24, the Green Thumb redevelopment will be open for public input. MORE

LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL – That’s what we’ve been waiting for. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has set a target date when restrictions on social gatherings are expected to be gradually lifted – Family Day, Feb. 21. She said that is possible in part because 90 per cent of British Columbians aged 12 and over have had two doses of vaccine. But more people need to get booster shots for longer-lasting protection, she intoned, adding that as new variants will emerge as immunity wanes and respiratory season in the fall again brings an increased risk of transmission. MORE

ELDERLY MOST AFFECTED – Approximated 40 per cent of British Columbia’s COVID-19 deaths in January were related to long-term care outbreaks. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said there are about 60 outbreaks in long-term care, acute care and assisted or independent living facilities across the province. Age continues to be the most important risk factor, she said. MORE

SPELLING IT OUT – Now they should know how to behave – Regional District of Nanaimo has approved a standard-of-conduct policy. The board also endorsed updates to the policy about legal opinions on conflict of interest. Electoral Area F director Leanne Salter didn’t like the statement in the accountability section which implies individual board members are accountable for the actions of other directors and the collective board. CAO Douglas Holmes said the intention of the wording is to reflect the collective nature of the board. MORE

PAMELA IN THE NEWS ­– First it was her fifth divorce, now Ladysmith’s own Pamela Anderson is adding a dock to her property. Town council has approved a development variance to allow for a private dock at her property. Architect Darryl Jonas said Anderson is planning a small-scale residential development to provide suitable accommodation and amenities her family. MORE

Downtown problems need some drastic solutions

Downtown business owners and residents are frustrated that a virtual law of the jungle continues without a solution in sight. Therein lies the problem, no definitive action is being taken. It’s as though those in power are shrugging their shoulders in frustration as well. They are dealing with assaults, robberies, arson and human waste on the streets. VIDEO COMMENT

Island Health Region COVID hospitalizations still climbing

220129 –The number of people requiring hospital care for COVID-19 on Vancouver Island rose over the past 24 hours, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

Island Health reports 112 people in hospital for COVID-19 treatment, up from 101 reported 24 hours earlier. The number of patients in critical care remains unchanged with 11 on Friday, unchanged from Thursday.

Across the province hospitalizations went up by 13 to 990, with 141 in crticial care. Nine virus-related deaths were reported in the province, none in the island region.

Two taken to hospital after shooting in south Nanaimo

Two people were taken to hospital with serious injuries after a shooting south Nanaimo on Friday morning. RCMP, Nanaimo Fire Rescue and BC Emergency Health Services were called to a home on Needham Street at around 10:30 a.m. BCEHS said two people were taken to hospital in serious condition. Another patient was treated at the scene for minor injuries. Police say they believe the perpetrators and victims are known to each other and there is no risk to the public. 

 

British Columbia health-care system needs major overhaul

We have a health care problem and it’s not magically going to go away. The shutdown of three walk-in medical clinics in Victoria in the last couple of weeks is only a symptom. It spotlights the problem – we have too few family doctors and they can’t handle the workload any longer. There are thousands of people in BC who don’t have a family doctor, and have no hope of finding one. VIDEO COMMENTARY

School vaccine mandates go into effect March 28

GOOD MORNING NANAIMO – Well the school district's COVID mandate begins March 28 until at least June 30. Anyone working in or around School District will be asked for proof of vaccination by Feb. 18. The vaxxed ones will be clear to sail at that step. Those who have not had thier shots will have to decide to either undergo rapid testing provided by the District or take an unpaid time off the duration this period. It's not judging right or wrong, it's making a choice within the prescribed boundaries. MORE 

THAT’S ELECTRIFYING – Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools conversion to electrifying its vehicle fleet is on target with two new ones. The larger of the two will service the route for Pleasant Valley Elementary. The smaller one will is designated for students with diverse needs. And to fuel the two vehicles, the district will be able to get charging stations. Two charging stations were initially installed when the first two electric buses arrived in May and two expandible units can be upgraded to service as much as ten chargers. MORE

BATTLE ZONE – Downtown business operators are about as frustrated as they can get with the lawlessness in their section of the city. Agnes Kim is the latest victim after her Nana Sushi on Victoria Cresc. fell victim to a thief who threatened her and her staff. Agnes owns the restaurant with her sister Deborah. A suspect was later rounded up by RCMP, and released with conditions and a future court date. Read her personal struggle of trying to survive. MORE 

MAKING ENDS MEET – Inflation impacts a lot of us these days, leading to changes in shopping practises. More people are turning to consignment and thrift stores get more mileage out of their shopping dollar. With inflation sitting at about four per cent, the highest in 20-30 years, every penny counts. MORE.

GUESS WHAT, A SUB-VARIANT – We all knew it had to come. The COVID-19 Omicron variant has peaked in Canada but no virus was going to capitulate that easily – so here comes the next step, a sub-variant which is rapidly spreading. The BA.2 sub-lineage of Omicron was detected last November. More than 10,000 cases have been reported in 47 countries. So far, 51 cases of the BA.2 variant have been detected in Canada, mainly from international travellers. MORE

CONNECTING TO TOFINO – That long, lonesome road along Highway 4 between Port Alberni and Tofino is getting a boost in cell service. Rogers is expanding service, in partnership with the government. That is expected to improve along an 85-kilometre stretch with six new cellular towers and two existing ones after they are upgraded. No timeline for the work was announced. MORE

OH, THE WEEKEND – Don't plan anything outside over the weekend, your grass will be watered automatically. Let's just say tonnes and tonnes of rain with the temperature hovering around 4C all three day with the low near zero.

Also, make sure you check out the VIDEO COMMENTARY. Hopefully it gets people thinking.

Two new outbreaks at Nanaimo health care facilities

Two new COVID outbreaks have been reported at Nanaimo health care facilities.

Seven new patient cases have been identified at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital, limited to the four floor. No other areas of the hospital are affected by this outbreak declaration. This is a separate outbreak and is not related to the existing fifth floor outbreak.

Two resident cases have been identified related to this outbreak at Woodgrove Manor, operated by Trillium Communities.

Hospital numbers for COVID go up in Island Health

Island Health reports 101 hospitalizations related to COVID, an increase of 14 since Wednesday. Eleven are in critical care, and increase of one, and one death was reported.

Across the province, 977 are in hospital, a rise of 28 while 141 are in critical condition, an increase of five. The province reported 13 deaths related to COVID conditions.

The future of family medical service is changing

CHANGING HEALTH CARE – Telehealth and virtual doctors may be the future of family medicine. The James Bay Medical Treatment Clinic is shutting Feb. 28, the third walk-in clinic in three weeks to announce it’s closing, leaving hundreds of Victoria-area patients without a doctor. Apps such as the Telus Health MyCare set up an appointment with a physician for a number of conditions and is paid for through the Medical Services Plan. When Eagle Creek Medical Clinic announced it would also close its walk-in clinic, it estimated that there are more than 100,000 people in the Capital Region without a family doctor. MORE

TAP TO RIDE – Pretty soon you’ll be able to hop a bus and just tap for your fare. BC Transit is introducing a $23-million electronic fare collection system later this year. It will be implemented in transit systems in two phases, initially enabling mobile app and reloadable smart card payment methods before credit card, debit card, and mobile wallets will be enabled. Victoria will conduct the pilot project this fall and other areas, including Nanaimo, will get it after that. MORE

GABROLA FERRY DOUBLE TODAY – BC Ferries will conduct a trial or two-ship service on the Gabriola Island run today. The Quinsam and the Island Discovery are conducting the trials to make two-ferry service a permanent fixture in spring. The trial period will give crews the chance to monitor travel and loading times and validate the schedule for two-ship service. There’s no change to scheduled sailing times but there will be additional sailing opportunities throughout the day.

A PLACE TO WARM UP – The Canadian Mental Health Association Mid-Island branch has assumed operations of the Society for Equity, Inclusion and Advocacy shelter after of misappropriation of funds Program director Kiersten Stewart said they recognized the vital importance of the warming centre in Nanaimo and stepped up to help fill the need. MORE

Canadians don't like being told what to do

School trustees’ email boxes are being inundated with opinions on the school board’s pandemic mandate for all staff. The responses are about evenly divided for-and-against the board’s position. It would have mattered which way the board ruled, the same two sides would have taken the same stance. This is likely a glimpse into our future. Once the virus is more or less gone we’ll still be deeply divided about what we deem as our rights. VIDEO COMMENTARY or FULL COLUMN

Five virus deaths reported in Island Health region

Island Health region reported five COVID-related deaths in the previous 24 hours, part of the 21 deaths across the province. The good news is hospitalization numbers are edging down after hitting record numbers. Island reported 13 fewer in hospital at 87 with 10 in critical care, down three. Across the province, the hospitalization number rose to 949, a rise of 19 but critical care numbers dropped to 136, a drop of eight. 

Peckford suing Ottawa over travel restrictions

Peckford launching lawsuit against federal government over mandates and the charter of rights. Peckford is a former premier of Newfoundland and Labrador and a regular commentator on Nanaimonet. CLICK HERE

Vehicle stop leads to guns, drugs, weapons and bomb

Nanaimo RCMP got a surprise Saturday morning when they conducted proactive patrols in the Bowen and Meredith Road area. When they stopped a suspicious vehicle they found a stolen insurance decal, various types of prohibited weapons, drugs, several hundred dollars in Canadian currency, and an improvised explosive device. They found a loaded .12-gauge shotgun and a loaded .12 gauge "zip-gun" improvised firearm, and a prohibited stun-gun flashlight. A homemade improvised explosive device was also found. FULL STORY.

We're getting mixed messaging on the pandemic

220125 – Factual information has been the backbone of the battle against viruses and varients. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry’s regular television updates instilled almost total faith and confidence in the system when the pandemic began. She turned into somewhat of a cult hero. Those appearances are no longer something to rely on. Full comment or see the VIDEO

Government won't yield to Canadian truckers

If anyone had any doubt about whether the isolation orders, lockdowns and vaccine mandates are run by provinces or the Prime Minister’s Office, you need not look further. The Charter of Canadian Rights and Freedoms exists to protect us from government overreach. It is embedded in the Canadian Constitution and cannot be easily ignored.

Two COVID outbreaks at Nanaimo health care facilities

220125 – Island Health has identified new COVID outbreaks at two Nanaimo facilities – Nanaimo Regional General Hospital and Nanaimo Seniors Village. A third one is at Victoria General Hospital.

Five patient cases have been identified at NRGH, limited to the fifth floor and no other areas of the hospital are affected. NRGH remains safe and people should not avoid emergency care.

Two resident cases have been identified related to the NSV outbreak and is limited to the assisted living side of the facility. Long-term care  is not affected. MORE

New rental housing coming for north end Nanaimo

Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2022

AFFORDABLE IN THE NORTH END – A new rental housing building is coming to north Nanaimo for people with a range of incomes. The four-storey wood-frame building at 6010 Hammond Bay Rd. will provide 53 one- and two-bedroom rental homes geared toward low- and moderate-income individuals, families, seniors and people living with disabilities. The development will include outdoor green space with walking paths and meeting areas, and the building's ground floor will have communal space for tenants. MORE

VACCINE PASSPORTS – The province has extended its vaccine passport system for another five months. While community transmission is decreasing the number of hospitalizations remains high, and coronavirus-related deaths have been increasing in recent weeks. Dr. Bonnie Henry said some people are at much greater risk of hospitalizations and severe illness. MORE 

YOUTH SPORTS tournaments will be allowed to resume next week as health officials say COVID-19 case numbers are trending in the right direction. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Tuesday that organized tournaments for people 21 years or younger would be back starting Feb. 1. MORE. 

BAMBI RESCUE – Nanaimo Fire Rescue had one of those days where they get that “warm-all-over” feeling when they combined with the B.C. Conservation Officer Service to rescue a deer. The animal had fallen through the ice on Westwood Lake Tuesday afternoon and had to be put in the boat and brought to shore. Once dried off and warmed, it bounded off into the woods.  MORE

IN HOT PURSUIT – Nanaimo cops are on the trail of a pota-potti arsonist. Four portable toilets were set on fire during a four-hour period last week. RCMP spokesman Const. Gary O’Brien said it appeared that several fires were most likely started by one person and that a vehicle was used. The cops have several people of interest, but no arrests have been made.

YOU’RE NEVER TOO LATE to learn. VIU Elder College has 113 eclectic and diverse courses in the spring session. They had planned to return to in-person classes and only offer 56 courses on-line. But the surge in COVID infections has resulted in many courses going back to Zoom in the spring session. You can register and pay your fees online. To register, go to ELDER COLLEGE or call 1-866-734-6252.

SINGLE AGAIN – Pamela Anderson is heading to the single life again after two years. She confirmed through her representative to Rolling Stone and People Magazine that she has filed for divorce from Ladysmith builder Dan Hayhurst. This was her fifth marriage.

WATER TAXI CRASH – Four passengers were taken to hospital after a water taxi crashed near Tofino on Tuesday. Two were reported in critical condition. The 7.5-metre vessel ran aground with five people in a remote region northwest of Tofino. Paramedics treated the injured while the Coast Guard returned to tow the vessel back to Tofino as it was taking on water. MORE 

THE OTHER SIDE – The owner of more than 200 cows that were seized by the SPCA for alleged neglect says the animals were receiving adequate care. The cattle were seized by the BC SPCA at his property on Jan. 19 and 20. The owner of the cattle, Russ Crawford, says the cows and shelter were recently looked over by a veterinarian who approved of the site. "The public and media should know that these cattle were looked after and if the vet had any suggestion they would have been dealt with immediately," Crawford said. MORE

Refuse sorting falling short in Regional District residences

Tuesday, Jan. 26

GARBAGE SNOOPING – The Nanaimo Regional District is checking on what residents put in their recycling bins, and you are naughty, contaminants are regularly found. Unacceptable items included plastic film, Styrofoam and glass, while poly-lined products and some yard waste were incorrect items in the food waste bin. Approximately 43 per cent of households had at least some contaminants in their recycling bins. MORE

LANTZVILLE QUANDARY – The small 1,600 single family home community is at the crossroads of some major council decisions. With an average house value well over $1 million, the interpretation of the Official Community Plan is at the centre of the controversy. Lantzville’s OCP is a broad-based document trying to please everyone. It is interesting to note the 2017 OCP input survey had a response rate of only 37 per cent. but now it seems everyone is involved. Letter to the Editor

BORDER EFFICIENCY – Oh, this would be a welcome move, allowing travellers to cross the Canada-U.S. border in only seconds. Imagine facial recognition, advance customs declarations, electronic gates. Those are just some of the changes in the works at the Canada Border Services Agency – partly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. MORE

TOWNHOUSES APPROVED – City council has given the green light for 22 townhouses at 497 Menzies Ridge Dr. in the Hawthorne neighbourhood. Some neighbours are not thrilled about the approval. The townhouses will be in seven buildings, two storeys and approximately 1,450 square feet, with two bedrooms, a den and a single-car garage. MORE

LEGISLATURE CLERK ON TRIAL – Most of us remember the scandal in the clerk’s office of the Legislature. The criminal trial for former B.C. legislature clerk Craig James began on Monday. A special prosecutor alleges the former clerk took advantage of his position to use government funds for personal benefit. James pleaded not guilty in B.C. Supreme Court to two counts of fraud over $5,000 and three counts of breach of trust by a public officer. MORE

MISSING PERSON LOCATED ­– Update – Nanaimo RCMP report that 25-year-old Tara-Marie Connor has been located safe and sound. Earlier report: Connor hasn’t been seen since missing an appointment Jan. 11 at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. Caregivers are concerned about Connor’s safety and well-being. Tara-Marie identifies as a male, is 5-foot-5, 180 pounds, with brown hair blue eyes and brown hair. If you have information call the Nanaimo RCMP non-emergency line at 250-754-2345, and quote file No. 2022-1086. PHOTO

FATHER, DAUGHTER MISSING – A Duncan father and his daughter are missing in what may be a child custody dispute. North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP are looking for a 36-year-old man and his seven-year-old daughter who were reported missing on Sunday. Mounties are searching for Jesse Bennet, and his daughter, Violet Bennet, who live in the North Cowichan/Duncan area. Police have been unable to contact the pair since Jan. 20, when a joint custody agreement ruled that Jesse had to return Violet to her mother on that day. MORE

 

Chartwell Malaspina reports COVID-19 outbreak

Chartwell Malaspina Care Residence long-term care home in Nanaimo has reported three residents tested positive via PCR test. “During this time, Island Health will support the sites to take any further actions required and answer questions from staff, residents and family members,” the health authority said in a press release issued Monday.

Island Health says it has implemented a range of protocols including no admissions or transfers to the affected units, ending congregate dining or group activities for residents of affected units and limiting staff movement wherever possible.

Regional garbage collection fees go up three per cent

THAT’S GARBAGE – The cost of garbage collection has gone up in the Regional District of Nanaimo this year – up by three per cent. The solid waste management select committee endorsed the increase between $5 to $10 more per year. The increase comes from Recycle B.C.’s move of its material receiving facility to Chemainus, from Nanaimo and Parksville. MORE

WE’VE GOT US A CONVOY – Hundreds of B.C. truckers are on their way to Ottawa to protest of the federal government’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for cross-border truckers. The so-called freedom convoy gathered in in Delta before rolling out, and will be joined by groups from Vancouver Island and communities in the B.C. Interior as they make their way east. MORE

GETTING SERIOUS – This is outside our regular realm of commentary, but you know things are getting serious when the U.S. orders its citizens to leave a country. The State Department told family members of its embassy staff in Ukraine to leave ASAP due to the threat of military action from Russia. It also advised U.S. citizens in Ukraine to think about leaving now on commercial or other private transportation options. You just had to know when troops left Afghanistan they would find another hotspot, or create one. MORE

Doubling down on the Gabriola ferry staffing problem

JUST A MINUTE – It will be interesting to note how BC Ferries handles two ships on the Gabriola run, begining this week on a test run. VIDEO COMMENT

Part 3: The Canadian constitution and lawless governance

Our political parties are fixated on acquiring the power of governance, so they routinely ignore their constitutional responsibilities when they form a government. If you read through the subjects in Sections 91 to 96, the only real power therein is the power to tax. The rest are responsibilities. FULL COLUMN  

A really crappy situation with portable outhouses

Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022

GOOD MORNING – Somebody doesn’t like port-a-potties – six have been burned during the pandemic. The city keeps putting them up downtown and they just burn. Two more were destroyed by fires in three days last week. Kevan Shaw of the Victoria Crescent Association said businesses and property owners have noticed a big increase in crime around them. And the port-a-potties haven’t reduced the human waste around the downtown. MORE

DEPOSIT ON MILK JUGS – It’s going to cost you more for a jug of milk after Feb. 1.  The province’s bottle-deposit program will expand to include milk and milk-substitute containers. Consumers will pay 10 cents upfront and can reclaim the deposit by returning the empty container. Returns can be made in limited numbers at retailers, or B.C. Return-It site. The program applies to ready-to-drink beverages – coffee cream, buttermilk, whipping cream, infant formula and meal replacements are not included. MORE

THEY ARE COMING BACK ­– international student enrolment is rebounding at Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools despite the continuing pandemic. Restrictions limited the number of students from abroad last year. Board staff said there are 386 international students in the district from 25 countries for 2021-22, compared to 161 in 2020-21. Rob Hutchins, principal of international student education, told trustees at the January education committee meeting numbers have “considerably recovered.” MORE

YOU DON’T HAVE TO PASS THE TEST – Graduation assessments for students in grades 10 to 12 have been shelved due to COVID-19 due to  staffing issues. The education ministry promised that all Grade 12 students will graduate on time, both for early graduation and June graduation, as long as all other graduation requirements are met. The exams will be held in April and June. MORE

GONE SOUTH – All Canadian and non-U.S. travellers wanting to enter the U.S. at land borders or ferry terminals at the U.S.-Mexico and U.S.-Canada borders must provide proof of vaccination whether they are travelling for essential or non-essential reasons. MORE

HAPPY BIRTHDAY – Rob Bye January 23

Seaspan cargo shipping strike ends before it begins

 SEASPAN STRIKE AVERTED ­– The strike was over before it began. Seaspan Ferries says the company has reached an agreement with the union and says the strike action has been called off. The company says a tentative agreement has been reached, and it will be put to union membership for a ratification vote. Service will resume over the weekend and is expected to be back to a full sailing schedule on Jan. 24. MORE

 LONG-TERM CARE OUTBREAKS –  Island Health has declared three additional long-term care outbreaks, one each in Parksville, Port Alberni and Victoria. The affected facilities were Mount St. Mary Hospital in Victoria where two resident cases have been identified related to this outbreak. Arrowsmith Lodge in Parksville has two resident cases. Seven cares were identified in Echo Village in Port Alberni. MORE

 TWO-SHIP TRIAL ON GABRIOLA RUN – BC Ferries will put two-ship service to the test on the Gabriola Island ferry next Tuesday to Thursday. The Quinsam and the Island Aurora will run the trials with plans to make two ferry service a permanent fixture in spring. Dock fitting will take place Tuesday with trial service starting Wednesday. During the trial, there is no change to scheduled sailing times although customers will have additional sailing opportunities throughout the day. There may be a reduction in the number of pay parking spaces at Nanaimo Harbour to accommodate the additional crew. MORE

 SCHOOL DISTRICT MANDATE – Nanaimo Ladysmith school district employees will soon have to be vaccinated against COVID-19.  The district is developing a procedure to put a mandate in place. The school board has decided on implementing “a vaccine mandate to help protect the health and safety of both students and staff,” with staff directed to create applicable guidelines. MORE

 OVERDOSES – Nanaimo has had a particularly bad week for overdoses. Island Health issued an Overdose and Drug Poisoning advisory after recording more than a dozen in one day. The BC Coroners Service is investigating four deaths which are potentially from illicit drugs. MORE

 CATTLE SEIZED BY SPCA – More than 200 beef cattle were seized by the SPCA from a Vancouver Island property. The owner reportedly left them in distressing conditions. A total of 216 cows, including approximately 80 calves, were seized from the property on Wednesday and Thursday. The SPCA was granted a warrant to remove the animals after the cows were found to be in poor condition, with issues at the property including lack of sufficient feed and water, lack of veterinary care, inadequate shelter, and poor living conditions – including areas where some cows were being kept in knee-deep mud, according to the SPCA. MORE

 DEMOLITION BEGINS – Work has begun on tearing down the fire-damaged Husky gas station on Terminal Avenue. The shuttered remains quickly begame a trouble spot for the neighbourhood. Damage was limited to the storefront and did not threaten the pumps. MORE

 A MILLION IN FINES – The province has issued more than $1 million in health-order and quarantine violation tickets since the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in the province. Fines for breaking public health orders were introduced in August 2020. The amounts of the tickets vary, depending on the offence. Over nearly 17 months –Aug. 21, 2020 to Jan. 14, 2022 – police and other enforcement officers issued $1,630,700 in fines. More than 60 per cent of the value of those fines went to businesses and event organizers who broke health orders on gatherings and events. MORE

COVID hospitalization numbers keep climbing in B.C.

Jan 21, 2022

Nine more COVID-related deaths were reported in British Columbia on Friday, as the number of people in hospital with the virus topped 900 for the first time. Island Health region reported 65 in hospital, an increase of nine. Eleven were in critical care, an increase of four. Across the province, there were 924  patients in hospital, an overnight increase of 33, 130 people in critical or intensive care, an increase of 11.

In a major change, Henry does away with contact tracing

Dr. Bonnie Henry

220121 – The province has made a major shift in COVID strategy, treating it more like the common cold. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said everyone should assume they’ve been a close contact and that contact tracing is no longer effective.

“We cannot limit all risk. It is part of what we will be living with. We can use all the layers of protection,” she said, such as following public health guidance, getting vaccinated, washing hands, wearing good quality masks indoors, keeping groups small and using the vaccine card program to manage risks. MORE

Missing Nanaimo man found dead on beach

220121 – Ben Ricard, who was reported missing, has been found dead. The body of the 32-year-old was discovered at approximately 1:30 PM on Wednesday by people walking along a beach just north of Nanaimo. Foul play is not suspected. Police and the BC Coroners Service attended and confirmed the identity of the man. His family has been notified and the BC Coroners Service is continuing with its investigation.

Pay parking returning to health care facilities

Jan. 21, 2022

HOSPITAL PAY PARKING – You will have to pay for parking at hospitals, beginning March 4. Parking fees have been waived since April 1, 2020. Health Minister Adrian Dix said non-hospital users park free while conducting business that’s not hospital-related. Free parking will continue for dialysis patients and those undergoing cancer treatment in acute-care programs, and for parents or caregivers of children staying in the hospital overnight. MORE

SURGERIES ON HOLD – Cancelled surgeries should resume by the end of January at all Island Health sites. Ongoing staff shortages, combined with a spike in admissions for COVID patients over Christmas, led to the cancellation of hundreds of elective surgeries. Dr. Elin Bjarnason, of Island Health, said staff who would be normally working in operating rooms are deployed to other areas of the hospital experiencing shortages due to illness. She suggested that those surgeries could be back on by the end of this month. MORE

DUFFERIN OUTBREAK GROWS – The COVID-19 outbreak at Dufferin Place has been expanded to the entire site which now has 27 resident cases. Residents are being closely monitored and, in general, are experiencing mild symptoms. Three new outbreaks were reported on Vancouver Island Thursday at Fir Park Village in Port Alberni, The Summit in Victoria and Parkwood Court in Victoria. MORE

FERRY SCHEDULE CUT BACK – You’ll have to study your ferry schedules carefully if you’re travelling next week and into the end of February. Beginning Jan. 28, the last ferry to Nanaimo from Horseshoe Bay will at 3:45 p.m. Monday to Thursday. That cuts the number of sailings until the end of February on the Departure Bay – Horseshoe Bay route because of continued crew shortages. The last sailing from Nanaimo will be at 5:55 p.m. There will be additional sailings on weekends, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, leaving at 8:45 p.m. and 10:10 p.m. along with Family Day long weekend. Go to the Ferries website or see the revised schedule HERE.

SUPPLY CHAIN DISRUPTED – The Vancouver Island supply chain will be impacted after Seaspan reduces its service between Vancouver Island and the Mainland. Seaspan informed to customers on Thursday that it will operate limited commercial sailings with 30-per-cent carrying capacity starting at 3 p.m. today. The disruption comes after the Canadian Merchant Services Guild issued 72-hour strike notice. One daily round trip between Tilbury and Duke Point will operate seven days a week and one return sailing between Surrey and Duke Point will run six days a week. MORE

SCHOOL VANDALISM – Damage totals several thousands dollars after a dozen windows were smashed at a Nanaimo elementary school earlier this month. At least 12 windows were broken Jan. 8-9 at the school at the corner of Millstone Avenue and Townsite Road.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY – Diane Brennan.

 

When the cure becomes worse than the disease

220121 – Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has a tough row to hoe. She’s a medical expert but not an economist. The latest extension of her shutdown Health Orders has many British Columbians scratching their heads. One word from her impacts many lives. At times she appears to be in over her head as the pandemic spins out of control. More balls in the air than she can handle? As this drags on, more and more people are questioning her orders. FULL COLUMN

Hospital COVID cases remainalmost unchanged

220120 – The hospitalization numbers for COCID-19 continue to hold steady. Island Health reported a decrease of patients, bringing the total to 56. There are seven in critical care, unchanged. Across the province, there are 891 in hospital, aa drop of four and 114 in critical care, up four. There were 15 deaths in the province, with four in Island Health.

Vaccine mandates violate Canadian Charter of Rights

An open letter to Mayor and Council, City of Parksville. I oppose your mandatory policy of requiring all your employees to be vaccinated in order to hold their jobs. This violates The Charter of Rights and Freedoms of the Constitution Act of 1982 that I helped craft.  You are travelling in the wrong direction of fact, the Constitution and history. FULL COLUMN  

Police seek public assistance to find Ben Ricard

220121 – The Nanaimo RCMP is asking for the public’s assistance in locating 30-year-old Ben Ricard who did not return to his north end Nanaimo residence after finishing his work day on Tuesday. Based on this and some other issues, his friends and family are extremely concerned for his safety and well-being. MORE DETAILS

Canadian Constitution, contradicted and ignored

Although there are many critics of our Constitution, few have read it, and fewer still understand it. The primary culprits are our political parties. They ignore provisions of the Constitution because they inhibit their actions and focus on political partisanship and power struggles. They have no intention of serving Canadians or our society. Each party is fixated on acquiring and wielding power. FULL COLUMN

Alberta disciplinary hearing set for Mema

Victor Mema

A Discipline Tribunal will be convened to conduct a hearing into allegations of unprofessional conduct regarding Victor Mema. The Complaints Inquiry Committee alleges that Victor Mema is guilty of unprofessional conduct. The online posting outlines three main complaints, with seven detailed charges.

All of which is contrary to the provisions of the Chartered Professional Accountants Act, SA 2014, c. C-10.2, the Regulated Accounting Profession Act, RSA 2000, c. R-12, or the regulations, bylaws, Rules of Professional Conduct enacted pursuant thereto or standards of practice, constituting unprofessional conduct. FULL RELEASE.

Support for bars, lounges and night clubs up to $20,000

Jan. 20, 2022

MORE FINANCIAL SUPPORT – With bars, nightclubs and lounges ordered to remain shut until at least Feb. 16, the provincial government has doubled the relief grant to ease the financial burden on those businesses. Initially, the relief grant offered businesses impacted by the health orders – including venues that had to close because of event cancellations – up to $10,000. Now, they can get up to $20,000. 

TALK ABOUT DEVOTION – Hollywood icon Betty White’s death on Dec. 31, just weeks short of her 100th birthday, initiated more than $10,000 in in donations in her memory to the Nanaimo and district branch of the SPCA. In total, $400,000 was donated to the BC SPCA. MORE

MAJOR OVERHAUL ­– The failure of an underground watermain on Bowen Road in April 2020 resulted in the loss of approximately 22 million litres of water in a few hours. That has propelled the overhaul of water supply infrastructure to the top of the City’s to-do list. City manager of engineering and public works, Bill Sims said it resulted in a refocus of the capital plan. MORE

MONEY, MONEY, MONEY – The consumer price index in December was up 4.8 per cent compared with a year ago, says Statistics Canada. The annual inflation rate climbed to its highest rate since 1991. Driving the faster pace of price growth in were higher prices for food, passenger vehicles and housing. MORE

DON’T HOLD YOUR BREATH – The parliamentary budget officer is questioning whether the federal government needs to spend tens of billions in planned stimulus. Yves Giroux says the federal guardrails designed to guide spending decisions appear to have been met, suggesting any stimulus should be wound down before the fiscal year ends in March. MORE

HOSPITAL PROJECTIONS REVISED – The surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations may not be as bad as anticipated. New modelling shows that rather than a possible peak occupancy of 4,000 in B.C. hospitals, it will likely be half that if the current trajectory continues. “The hospitalizations have been growing but not as fast as we would have predicted had Omicron continued to rise at a rate of 20 per cent per day,” said modelling group member Sally Otto. The 20 per-cent per-day growth in December has now dropped to 10 per cent, even accounting for reduced testing rates. MORE

Island hospital COVID count goes up by two patients

Jan. 19, 2022

Island Health reported an increase of two COVID-10 patients in hospital, with seven in critical care, a decrease of three.

Province-wide, there were 895 in hospital, an increase of 41 and 115 in critical care, a rise of three.

Island Health has declared one outbreak over in long-term care facilities, while four additionaloutbreaks have been declared. The outbreak at Clover Point long-term care home in Victoria has been declared over, but there were four new outbreaks – one each in Victoria, Sidney, Port Hardy and Comox Valley.

Jan. 19, 2022

Using racism to achieve a political agenda
Racism is never acceptable, but it is often used to serve a particular agenda. Using racism to defeat racism isn’t a defeat, it’s a replacement of  one by the other. Racism for convenience sake is social engineering at its worst. VIDEO

Second envolope of money found in north end Nanaimo

Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022

MORE FOUND MONEY – For the second time, a significant amount of money has been found in Nanaimo. Both instances came on the same day. A large sum of money was found on a sidewalk Dec. 31 in north Nanaimo. It is encouraging to note that in both cases the finders turned the money over to RCMP. MORE

THANKS FOR NUTHIN – The Fraser Institute has ranked Canada the sixth-most miserable country in the world. Its Misery Index is an economic measure based on inflation and unemployment rates. A Misery Index score of 10.88, put us as the sixth-most miserable country, thanks to our 3.15 per cent inflation rate and 7.7 per cent unemployment rate in 2021. Spain was the most miserable. Japan and Switzerland were the least miserable countries. READ AND WEEP

EXCUSE ME! – Police are looking for a man who broke into a woman’s bedroom and then apologized when the woman caught him in the act. It happened about 6 a.m. Dec. 14 when a man broke into the apartment on Prideaux Street. The woman had been sleeping on the couch in her living room and heard noises coming from the bedroom and came face-to-face with the thief who demanded money. She gave him a small amount of money and as he fled he apologized. MORE

CANDID CAMERA SEES ALL – Don’t lose your patience when waiting for your coffee at Mickey D’s. The good thing is there were no serious injuries after a man attacked another man with a shovel at the McDonald’s parking lot at Terminal Park on Monday. Const. Gary O’Brien said one driver took exception with how slow the other driver was going and honked several times. “The next thing you know there’s a guy coming out of the car chasing him with what looks like a shovel,” O’Brien said. Police have video of the incident, and identified a licence number and a clear image of the suspect. MORE

THREE STRIKES ­– The third attempt to get a development permit for a cabin on an islet off Protection Island was denied by a city council on Monday. A man from Comox had bought the property with the thought of building a cabin with raised walkway to connect sewage, water and electricity from Protection Island. Previous applications were denied in 2015 and an application made by a previous owner in 2004. MORE

HAPPY MOTORING – The Coquihalla Highway will open to regular vehicle traffic between Hope and Merritt today. That’s much earlier than expected. More than 100 km of the road was destroyed and closed to regular vehicle traffic on Nov. 14. The repairs are temporary while the Ministry of Transportation plans permanent repairs to the damaged sections. 

Save-On-Foods limits occupancy to 50 per cent

Save-On-Foods is limiting the number of customers allowed in its British Columbia stores "until further notice" in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19. All  will operate at 50-per-cent capacity for the foreseeable future.

Signs detailing the maximum occupancy of each store will be posted outside and the company says it is working to alleviate customer congestion around its cashiers, deli counters and bakeries. MORE

Warrants issued for failure to appear in court

Warrants have been issued for the arrest of 32-year-old Dayton Anderson of Nanaimo for Break and Enter and Assault. The warrants were issued after Anderson failed to appear in Nanaimo Provincial Court. The charges stem from an incident on October 8, 2021, in which Anderson allegedly entered the home of a 52-year-old man and then assaulted him. MORE

Police seek help to find missing man
The Nanaimo RCMP is asking for the public’s assistance in locating 74-year-old Perry Blois. At approximately 2:30 PM on Monday January 17, 2022, multiple 911 calls were made from Blois’s cell phone. Investigators managed to trace the calls to the area of downtown Nanaimo but were unable to locate Blois. Police have also learned that Blois has a significant speech and hearing impediment. MORE

Mema to face tribunal on financial misconduct complaints

Victor Mema

From the Coast Reporter
Nanaimo’s former chief financial officer Victor Mema will face a hearing before the Chartered Professional Accountants of Alberta over alleged misconduct while working for Nanaimo and Sechelt.

He was employed by Sechelt from April 2013 to August 2015 and the City of Nanaimo in March 2016 until October 2017. Complaints were filed with chartered professional accountant (CPA) associations in Alberta and B.C. about his alleged inappropriate use of corporate credit cards for personal expenditures while he was employed with each of those municipalities. FULL STORY

Henry extends shutdown rules until Feb. 16

Jan. 18, 2022

Bars and clubs remain closed after Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry extended the health order on public events and gatherings, including the 50-per-cent capacity limit for all venues, until they are reviewed Feb. 16.

But the province is allowing a gradual reopening for gyms and fitness centres effective Thursday, based on strict COVID-19 safety plans, Dr. Henry said Tuesday. The plans include occupancy limits, up to a maximum of 25 people per space.

Fifty-eight people are in hospital for treatment of COVID-19 on Vancouver Island, 10 in critical care. That’s a slight decrease from Monday, when 60 people were in hospital in Island Health. The number of patients in ICU remains unchanged. There were no COVID-related deaths in Island Health. MORE

See the full Provincial Health Orders on dining, bars and seniors facilities HERE.

Island Health cuts elective surgeries for patient safety

Island Health announced Tuesday that elective, scheduled surgeries will continue to be postponed at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital, until at least the end of the month.

“Omicron-driven COVID-19 staffing challenges significantly impact the ability of Island Health staff and medical staff to provide safe, quality care for those whom we are responsible to support. While temporarily pausing or changing services has a real impact on those who have to wait longer for care, we recognize it is necessary at this most extraordinary time,” said Kathy MacNeil, Island Health president and CEO. FULL STORY

Horgan completes cancer treatments, back to work soon

Jan. 18, 2022

JOHN IS ALMOST ready to return to work. Premier John Horgan has completed his cancer treatment and expects to be in his office in the coming weeks. The premier posted on Twitter that he has undergone 35 radiation treatments since his throat cancer diagnosis in November. MORE 

BUY LOCAL – Did you buy something from a local business yesterday?  ShopLocalNanaimo.ca, is a free online directory of local businesses to connect businesses with local customers and for customers to look up local vendors of goods and services. The website was developed by the chamber of commerce with a grant from the federal government to reinforce shop local promotions. DETAILS 

THIEF APOLOGIZES – Police are looking for a man who broke into a woman’s bedroom and apologized when the woman caught him in the act. It happened about 6 a.m. Dec. 14 when an unidentified man broke into the apartment on Prideaux Street. The woman told police she had been sleeping on the couch in her living room and heard noises coming from the bedroom and came face-to-face with the thief who demanded money. MORE 

DOCTORS PACK IT IN – Two doctors at a walk-in medical clinic in Victoria have informed patients they will stop practicing family medicine in the city. The Eagle Creek Medical Clinic announced it will shut down after Dr. George Zabakolas and Dr. Chelsie Velikovsky confirmed they would not book new appoints at the clinic after April 15. That will leave about 3,000 patients MORE

RAINWATER MANAGEMENT – Regional District residents can participate in developing a regional strategy for rainwater management. They can give feedback through a survey until the end of this month by submitting questions online and registering for an virtual open house on Jan. 25 by visiting http://getinvolved.rdn.ca/rainwater-management-strategyMORE

PAYING THEIR SHARE – Nanoose Bay property owners will be included in the cost of District 69 aquatic services after the Regional District of Nanaimo board approved the move. The approved District 69 swimming pool service amendment bylaw now goes to the Inspector of Municipalities for endorsement. The bylaw was approved after extensive debate. MORE

HAPPY BIRTHDAY – Brian Rodgers is 84 today.

Three-day death toll from COVID hits 22 in B.C.

Click to enlarge

The three-day weekend COVID report listed 22 deaths as the number of patients in hospitals continued to rise. Three of those deaths were in the Island Health region.

Hospitalization numbers jumped over the weekend, from 649 on Friday to 819 on Monday. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has noted that number is an "overestimate" as it includes so-called incidental cases – people who were hospitalized for reasons unrelated to the virus but tested positive during routine screening. In December, for example, 45 per cent of Vancouver Coastal Health COVID-19 hospitalizations were incidental.

Dr. Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix are scheduled to address B.C.'s current COVID-19 restrictions at 1:30 p.m. today.

Businesses caught off guard by closure extensions

Many British Columbia businesses are in limbo after the government ordered the closure of gyms, fitness centres, bars and other facilities until further notice. The next moves should come this afternoon when provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix hold their weekly briefing this afternoon.

The restriction, aimed at curbing the spread of the Omicron variant, had been set to expire at 12:01 a.m. today. But on Monday afternoon, the province removed that end time from the official public health order. That will be live-streamed on BC1 and on the Global BC Facebook page.

Our constitution is maligned and misunderstood

The Canadian Constitution is a unique document that deserves to be revered. It came into being to resolve bitter political rivalries that rendered the Province of Canada, formerly Upper and Lower Canada, ungovernable. Full Column.

Dr. Bonnie Henry

All eyes are on Dr. Henry for restrictions
220117 – What will she do? Some of the COVID restrictions are set to expire on Tuesday, but it's unclear what will change. Last week it seemed likely that restrictions prohibiting certain indoor activities would be extended. 
Last week, Dr. Henry said the Omicron wave is expected to last several more weeks. She said officials are looking at which activities paused in December are able to resume, now that all businesses are required to have safety plans in place. FULL STORY

Six arrested after shots-fired incident
220117 – Six adults are in police custody following a report of shots fired, at approximately 6:40 am today in the 300 block of Hillcrest Ave. 
The home which is known to police, was entered and six persons were arrested without incident. There were no reported injuries from the shots fired. FULL STORY 

Drug overdose advisory issued by Island Health
Island Health issued a drug poisoning and overdose advisory, effect for one week. It warns that overdoses are increasing in Nanaimo. Friends, family and community members using opioids and stimulants face increased risk from both injection and inhalation. If you see someone overdoses, call 911, stay with them, give naloxone if available, and give one breath every five seconds. MORE

Health Canada approves pill to fight Coronavirus
220117 – Health Canada has approved Pfizer’s pill for use in the fight against COVID-19. The regulator posted on its website that the drug has received authorization. Paxlovid is for adults 18 and older who are positive for COVID-19 and are experiencing mild or moderate illness, or who are at high risk of becoming more seriously ill, Health. The pill, which has to be prescribed, is the first COVID-19 treatment approved for at-home use in Canada. MORE

Jan. 17, 2022

Vaccine mandates violate Charter of Rights
AN OPEN LETTER
to Mayor and Council, City of Parksville. I oppose your mandatory policy of requiring all your employees to be vaccinated in order to hold their jobs. This violates The Charter of Rights and Freedoms of the Constitution Act of 1982 that I helped craft. What you are doing violates Section 6 (2)(b)  Full letter

Christmas Kettle Campaign was a real winner

Monday, Jan. 17, 2022

GOOD MORNING, we're off to another great week. We can be proud of ourselves because Nanaimo lived up to its reputation again during the Salvation Army Christmas Kettle Campaign. The 20 locations between Ladysmith and North Nanaimo brought in $293,200 in donations. The credit card tap option was also a big winner with donors – they tapped in with $18,000, about $3,000 higher than their target. MORE

CHECK AHEAD – If you’re planning a trip on BC Ferries it would be a good idea to check online to see if the one you want is even running. Ferries spokesman Dan McIntosh says a number of factors can lead to sailing cancellations, including employees being sick, seasonal cold and flu or severe storms. Sailings can proceed as long as there’s a full key ship operating crew. But you might have to expect less cafeteria service. Service notices are posted online as soon as possible when schedules change because so many customers rely on the service to get to work, school and medical appointments.

CANCELLED SAILINGS – The Queen of Cowichan has cancelled the following sailings today, January 17 due to a crewing issue.
6:15 am departing Departure Bay
8:25 am departing Horseshoe Bay
10:40 am departing Departure Bay
1:00 pm departing Horseshoe Bay

A LITTLE LEVITY is always good for the mind. The sign outside a strip bar in Vancouver boldly states “Clothed until further notice.”

Bailey wins school district byelection in a landslide

Naomi Bailey

220116 – Naomi Bailey took 78 per cent of the vote and will be the new Nanaimo Ladysmith School District trustee when byelection results become official. 

Bailey got 859 votes to easily defeat former trustee and chairman Steve Rae who polled 236.  A total of 1,096 ballots were cast, with one spoiled. Results will become official next Thursday.

The byelection was called after trustee Lisa Marie Barron was elected to Parliament for Nanaimo-Ladysmith last fall.

Virus outbreaks end at two health-care facilities

Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022

GOOD MORNING NANAIMO ­– The good news is that the Vancouver Island Health Authority says the COVID-19 outbreaks at two care facilities in Nanaimo have ended. Outbreaks were declared at Kiwanis Village Lodge and Eden Gardens long-term care homes on Jan. 5. Four resident cases at Eden Gardens were attributed to the outbreak in a second floor unit. One resident case was attributed to Kiwanis Village Lodge, limited to the first floor. Five new outbreaks were reported in Victoria.

NO WINTER GAMES – This year’s B.C. Winter Games in Vernon next month have been postponed. The B.C. Games Society and the Greater Vernon 2022 B.C. Winter Games Society announced the decision Friday, blaming the pandemic, coupled with external factors such as wildfires and floods in many parts of the province this past year. The two organizations said they are exploring options to see if the region can host the multi-sport event next year instead. This year’s Games were slated to run Feb. 24-27. MORE

NO-NO TEUNIS –Qualicum Beach council has censured Coun. Teunis Westbroek for conduct unbecoming of a member of town council. Westbroek acknowledged that he requested staff deal with an issue that he should have discussed with council first, he said. “My mistake which I have apologized for. No excuses. I know better.”

MARS WATER BOMBER FOR SALE – Vancouver Island’s famed Hawaii Mars water bomber is for sale with a seven-figure price tag. The listing for the 1945 Martin JRM-3 Mars says its interior and exterior as in 9 out of 10 condition, and says it last underwent annual flight inspections in 2016. Just five of the aircraft were built — two of which remain today, both owned by Coulson Aviation and stored at Sproat Lake near Port Alberni. MORE

MORE VARIANTS FORECAST – Don’t get comfortable with the down trend in the Omicron variant. Every infection provides a chance for the virus to mutate, and Omicron has an edge over its predecessors: It spreads faster despite emerging on a planet with a stronger patchwork of immunity from vaccines and prior illness. Experts say there’s no guarantee the sequels of Omicron will cause milder illness or that existing vaccines will work against them. They urge wider vaccination now, while today’s shots still work. MORE

HAPPY BIRTHDAY – Dr. Todd Unger.

RDN byelection is a totally unnecessary expense

Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022

JUST A MINUTE – The Nanaimo Regional District is required to have a totally unnecessary byelection for director in March. The vacancy came with the death of long-time director Maureen Young. The RDN is applying for an exemption because the next general election is in October. Charles Pinker is the alternate director, so it should not be a great big stretch to call off the costly byelection. VIDEO 

Search under way for missing Nanaimo man

An extensive land and water search is under way for a missing 32-year-old man. At approximately 8:30 a.m. on Friday, his vehicle was located in the parking lot next to the Nanaimo River bridge. His cell phone, wallet and keys were found in the vehicle. The man’s family members are extremely worried for his safety and well-being. Shortly after locating the vehicle, Nanaimo Search and Rescue (NSAR) and RCMP Police Dog Services were contacted and began searching the immediate area including the Nanaimo River. MORE

Some Sunday ferry sailings cancelled due to staffing

The BC Ferries Queen of Cowichan has cancelled morning shift sailings on Sunday due to a staffing issue.

6:15 am departing Departure Bay
8:25 am departing Horseshoe Bay
10:40 am departing Departure Bay
1:00 pm departing Horseshoe Bay

Public Works crews did a great job under the circumstances

Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022

Now that the great big snow event of the year has melted we need to recognize the staff at the public works departments. Being a once in 25 years event, the regular rules don’t apply. Crews worked 24-7 to clear the main and emergency routes. The rest of us had to wait – it was really a no-win situation. They all deserve a great-big thank you. VIDEO.

School board byelection polls open until 8 p.m.

Polls are open until 8 p.m. today for the school board byelection. The two candidates are Naomi Bailey and Steve Rae. They are vying for the seat vacated by Lisa Marie Barron, who resigned her position after being elected to Parliament. You can vote at Dover Bay, NDSS, Cedar and Ladysmith secondary schools.

Tofino shuts beaches in face of tsunami alert
Tofino closed all of its beaches and officials up and down Vancouver Island's west coast warned people to stay away from the water amid a tsunami advisory on Saturday. Emergency Management B.C. issued a tsunami advisory for the coast and Vancouver Island after a volcano erupted Friday near the Tonga Islands. No significant inundation is expected, but low lying coastal areas and beaches may be at risk, stated the alert issued by Environment Canada. Mike Farnworth message

Thousands of dollars found at shopping centre

Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022

BUNDLE OF CASH – Did you lose a bundle of cash? A cleaning crew at a north end shopping centre found the money on Dec. 31 – in the thousands of dollars, and turned over to the RCMP. An elderly man may have put the money down and forgotten about it. He is between 75 and 85 years of age, 5 ft. 2 to 5 ft. 4, and was wearing a distinctive Irish hat and a grey scarf. It is more than a $1,000 and less than $7,000, said Cst. Gary O’Brien. Anyone who knows whom the money belongs to call the non-emergency line at 250-754-2345 and quote file # 2021-47805.

COMMUNITY POLICING – Nanaimo RCMP Community Policing volunteers contributed more than 3,000 hours to crime prevention initiatives in the past year. The number of volunteers keeps increasing and now sits at 42. “We are so pleased with the skill-set and diversity each and every volunteer brings to the program. It’s all done through the leadership of Christy Wood, the Community Policing Co-ordinator. RCMP Cst. Gary O’Brien says Christy is a driving force in moving the program forward. MORE

NO PROBLEM HERE – Public services, especially in health care, have been challenged by absences due to the pandemic. But not so for the Nanaimo RCMP, says Cst. Gary O’Brien. They’ve got plans in place to address any shortages. But thankfully at this time, there have not been any significant outbreaks. Of course, this could change at any time, but at this time it’s business as usual.

BARGAINS ARE WAITING – If you love a bargain, you’re in luck, you can get special offers and notices from local businesses. Shop Local Nanaimo is an easy, searchable directory designed to help you find local businesses – producers, processors, artisans, retailers and restaurants. It’s really quite simple, you go to SHOP LOCAL and sign up.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY today to that purveyor of fine automobiles, Bob Saunders.

Pandemic numbers game does not compute

Jan. 15 2022

Canada documented more cases of COVID-19 during the first 40 days of the Omicron wave than it did during the entire first year of the pandemic, according to data from CTVNews.ca’s case tracker. This would be news only if it were accurate. It is sensationalized trash. FULL COLUMN

A ray of hope in pandemic trending, it's going down

Click to enlarge

The worst may be over in the battle against COVID-19 led by the Omicron variant. Health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said it’s not back down to previous levels yet, but on a downward trajectory. She said the peak has been reached and we are starting on a downturn,.

Friday’s report showed a big drop in Island region hospitalizations to 37, a decrease of 28, with nine in critical care. 

The province again set a record for hospitalizations Friday, but the jump of more than 100 cases came as the province changed the way it accounts for the virus. Officials reported 646 people with COVID-19 in hospital, along with 95 people in critical or intensive care. There were six deaths. 

The new method amounts to a census of all positive cases, regardless of their reason for admission, Dr. Henry explained, acknowledging it was an overestimate.

Island names tell a long First Nations history

Jan. 13, 2022

Historians have told glowing stories about Snuneymuxw Chief Coal Tyee, who introduced the first settlers here. That played a large part in the creation of the first village here. But in the eyes of modern-day Snuneymuxw he’s a villain, a traitor for inviting and bringing in colonializing European settlers. Indegenous names have a long history here – Qualicum, Cowichan, Saanich, Ucluelet, Tilicum and more. The name of the first village here was Bocas de Winthuysen, then Colvile Town and then, thankfully, Nanaimo. FULL COLUMN

Friday, Jan. 14, 2022

IF YOU BLEW A TIRE in one of the many potholes on the Island Highway, PQ MLA Adam Walker offers help. Motorists can contact his constituency office if they had tires and vehicles damaged recently by hitting potholes in the Nanoose flats area. He says his office is helping them get the support they need to get compensated where possible. He’s been working closely with the Ministry of Transportation and is looking for a permanent fix when the weather permits. MORE

NANAIMO IS STILL GROWING, but where are all those people coming from? Deaths outnumbered births on Vancouver Island in 2021, but the population continued to rise, thanks to people moving here from other provinces. Statistics Canada’s latest growth estimates show Nanaimo with the second highest population growth at 1,177 with 1,116 of them coming from interprovincial migration – people from outside the province. Nanaimo had negative international growth, down by 247. Victoria had the largest increase on the Island with growth of 5,876, the majority from outside the province at 5,235. MORE

BYELECTION EXEMPTION SOUGHT – A byelection is scheduled for a Regional District director, unless Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne waives the requirement. A March 26 vote is required to replace Electoral Area C director Maureen Young, who died last fall. With the timing of the next local government elections in October and pandemic health and safety concerns, the RDN board directed staff to inquire about options. Nanaimo director Sheryl Armstrong said it’s worth a try to ask. Brian Wiese, Qualicum mayor and director, said it is a significant cost for a six-month posting. MORE

IN THE SWIM – The main Beban Park Pool will reopen Jan. 17. In addition, aquafit classes will resume at both Beban Park Pool and Nanaimo Aquatic Centre, and some winter swimming lessons will be available. The opening of the Beban Park main pool comes after a series of repairs. During that time, the Aquatic Centre accommodated the vast majority of public swimming sessions and provided space for user groups and rentals. Now that both pools are fully operational, citizens can enjoy more swimming opportunities. MORE

DRUG TOXICITY CRISIS – BC Emergency Health Services points to a worsening drug overdose crisis in B.C. Paramedics and other front-line emergency responders in Nanaimo handled a record 891 drug overdose call-outs in 2021 (2.4 per day), up 26 per cent from 664 in 2020. Across the province, a record 35,525 overdose and poisoning calls were placed to emergency responders in 2021, representing a 31-per-cent increase. MORE

LADYSMITH DELAYED MANDATE – The Town of Ladysmith adopted a wait-and-see attitude before implementing a COVID-19 vaccination policy for its staff. It will go into effect March 14. CAO Allison McCarrick said they wanted to assess how a vaccine policy would work in larger municipalities before introducing one of their own. The town implemented all of the PPE, close contact restrictions, hygiene measures, and staff are well protected, she said. MORE

No new COVID hospitalizations in Island Health

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The Island Health Region has maintained a steady course over the past few days with 65 patients in hospital,  nine in critical care, a decease of two. There were two related deaths in the region.

Across the province, there were 534 in hospital, an increase of 34 with 102 in critical care, unchanged from Wednesday.

Seven more deaths were reported in B.C. over the previous 24 hours, including the two in Island Health. Since the pandemic began, 2,462 have died of COVID-19 in B.C., including 151 in the island region.

COVID outbreak reported at Dufferin Place

220113 – Island Health has declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Dufferin Place, active since Tuesday. in the Cedar unit where nine patients tested positive. There are outbreaks at three long-term care homes in Nanaimo, including Eden Gardens and Kiwanis Village Lodge. Two outbreaks were reported in Island care facilities, including one in Victoria.

Peckford defending the rights which he helped to craft

Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022

Former Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Brian Peckford is the last living member of those who crafted the Constitution Act in 1982 which included the Charter of Rights. Now he’s a crusader, defending those charter rights. Through his online blog he has been in overdrive concentrating on what he terms “the unbelievable, undemocratic, unscientific measures by governments everywhere.” FULL STORY

Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022

JUST A MINUTE – You can't blame Snuneymuxw for feeling deply insulted by BC Ferries naming the second of two new ferries on the Gabriola Island route. Instead of recognizing the Snuneymuxw First Nation’s traditional territory, the ships were named in collaboration with the ’Namgis First Nation. See VIDEO COMMENT. And the FULL STORY HERE.

COUNCIL MEETINGS GO ONLINE – The City continues to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic. All Council and Committee meetings for January will be held virtually. In addition, Public Hearings that had been scheduled for January 20 and January 24 have been postponed until February.  MORE

SPEND YOUR BUCKS AT HOME – The Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce has launched a shop local campaign with a  grant from the federal government. The Chamber has begun registration for a free online directory of local businesses at ShopLocalNanaimo.ca. “More than 90 per cent of Nanaimo businesses are locally owned,” says Chamber CEO Kim Smythe. “It’s the Chamber’s goal to identify and promote as many of then as possible in a free, online, searchable directory – Chamber member or not.” MORE

DOUBLE DOSE –What if you have the flu and Coronavirus at the same? There’s a name for that – flurona. The catchy term describes a co-infection of the influenza virus and the coronavirus simultaneously. It’s not a new phenomenon or uncommon to be infected with the two viruses. But with COVID-19 infections surging in the midst of the annual flu season, cases of flurona are only inevitable and bound to be reported, experts say. MORE

REAL ESTATE FRENZY – When the supply goes down pent up demand drives up prices. That’s the case now with real estate, there is a shortage of listings. Even during a year of COVID-19, the number of homes sold in British Columbia broke a record, as did the sales dollar volume. A total of 124,854 residential units were sold in 2021, states a report from the B.C. Real Estate Association, based on data from MLS. That's up 32.8 per cent. The average price went up 18.7 from the previous year. Homes across B.C. sold for an average of $927,877, compared to $781,572 in 2020. MORE

NANAIMO NOT AFFECTED – Nanaimo LifeLabs locations are not affected by the temorary shutdown in other locatons as COVID-19 impacts staffing. The company said 11 of its patient service centres are closed for at least two weeks because of the spread of Omicron and related protocols which have resulted in severe employee impacts." Another five locations have adjusted their hours.

RELIEF ON THE WAY ­– The COVID-19 Closure Relief Grant has been fast-tracked and is ready to accept applications from businesses ordered to temporarily close due to new public-health measures. Jobs and Economic Recovery Minister Ravi Kahlon says the program is ready to accept applications from businesses ordered to temporarily close due to public-health measures. Businesses that were ordered to fully close as of Dec. 22, including bars, nightclubs and lounges, gyms, fitness and adult dance centres as well as some event venues, can apply for relief grants of $1,000 to $10,000, in addition to existing federal supports.  MORE

HAPPY BIRTHDAY today to Carolyn Hancox-Barr.

Island reports two pandemic deaths in 24 hours

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The Island Health region reported two COVID-19-related deaths on Wednesday, part of the six deaths in the province.

There was no change in the number of people hospitalized in Island Health with 65 patients in hospital and 11 in critical care.

Provincially there were 31 more people in hospital at a total of 500, with 102 in critical care, up five.

Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022

SURGERIES CANCELLED – More than 500 scheduled, non-urgent surgeries were postponed last week to ease the work load on hospitals and health-care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Health Minister Adrian Dix announced in December that elective surgeries would be delayed, as the Omicron variant surged throughout the province. “No one in health care, no member of any surgical team, no one who has trained and whose life’s work it is to get patients the surgery they need, wants to call a patient and tell them their surgery is postponed,  Dix said in a Tuesday briefing. FULL STORY

COVID OUTBREAKS have been declared at long-term care homes on Vancouver Island. The new outbreaks are at Saanich Peninsula Hospital long-term care, and at Oyster Harbour long-term care home in Ladysmith. MORE 

FINAL HURDLE – You’ll soon be able to take the bus to Duncan. Nanaimo and Cowichan Valley regional districts and BC Transit are set to sign a memorandum of understanding to launch the Nanaimo-Cowichan Express route on March 28. The new route has been a priority in the CVRD’s transit plans for years – the three parties began a feasibility study in 2012. Stops would be in downtown Nanaimo, at South Parkway Plaza, Nanaimo Airport, Ladysmith, Cowichan Commons, Beverly Street at Canada Avenue, downtown Duncan and Village Green Mall. MORE

OPPOSING VIEWS OF HISTORY – History, it appears, is in the eye of the beholder. Ki-et-sa-kun, also known as Coal Tyee, has a school named after him in Nanaimo, but that could change. He has been revered for introducing our coal to the Hudson’s Bay Company in the mid-19th century. His name represented a story of collaboration between the colonial and Indigenous peoples and Nanaimo’s coal mining heritage. However, the Snuneymuxw see him as a tragic figure given his interaction with the colonial peoples led to colonization of the area. Now the school board is looking at changing the name of the school. MORE

NEW FERRY NAMED GWAWIS – The second ferry for the Gabriola Island route has been named the Island Gwawis, a Namgis First Nation word meaning raven of the sea. The first ferry was named Kwigwis, eagle of the sea. Island-class ferries can carry 47 vehicles and up to 450 passengers and crew. They are battery-equipped, capable of full electric operation in the future when charging infrastructure and funding become available. MORE

A WHALE OF A YEAR – Last year was a record breaker for Bigg's killer whales in B.C. waters. The Washington-state-based Orca Behavior Institute reported there were 1,067 unique sightings of the transient whales during 329 days in 2021, up considerably from the previous record of 747 in 2019. Unlike the endangered southern resident killer whale, Bigg's primarily feed on marine mammals, such as seals and sea lions. MORE

HAPPY BIRTHDAY – Levi Sampson is 41 today and former Premier Gordon Campbell turns 74.

COVID numbers holding steady in Island Health Region

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Island Health held steady with only one additional COVID-19 patient in hospital but two fewer in intensive care. B.C. Centre for Disease Control reported 65 people are in hospital with 11 getting critical care.

Hospitalizations across the province climbed to an eight-month high of 469 on Tuesday, including 97 patients in intensive care. Three COVID-related deaths were reported, none in Island Health.

Health officials say 2,239 new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed across the province, including 562 in the Vancouver Island region. But those figures do not present an accurate picture, says Dr. Brian Conway, medical director of the Vancouver Infectious Diseases Centre. With testing capacity at its limits, the actual total is several times higher than what is being confirmed, at least five times higher, he said.

Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022

SHALL WE GATHER AT THE RIVER ­– Another “atmospheric river” is scheduled to hit Vancouver Island later today and continue into Wednesday. Environment Canada has issued rainfall warnings starting Tuesday morning through to Wednesday night with those areas expecting 50 to 150 millimetres of rain. Rising freezing levels and melting snow will increase river flows and prompt localized flooding, the weather office says. FULL STORY 

ON THIN ICE – Some people should not be out without a chaperone. Nanaimo Fire Rescue was called out Sunday afternoon as people were reported walking on ice on Long Lake. Stu Kenning, Nanaimo Fire Rescue assistant chief operations, said the message from the fire department and the city is don’t go on the ice. MORE

HOME INVASION – A 20-year-old man suffered minor injuries and four people were arrested after a home invasion last Thursday. The incident occurred in the 500 block of Second Street. Police located a suspect vehicle attempting to flee and four men, all from Nanaimo, were arrested. A 35-year-old Nanaimo man was released from custody on criminal court appearance documents for Assault with a Weapon. The other three were released without charges. MORE

NO INJURIES IN CRASH – There were no injuries when a school bus collided with an SUV on Cedar Road Monday afternoon. Crews on scene said there were two students on the bus, but no one was injured, The crash closed that stretch of Cedar Road and the Transit Route was detoured. MORE

3,000 RESTAURANTS CLOSED – The food industry has suffered badly during the pandemic with 3,000 B.C. restaurants shutting down. Ian Tostensen, president of the BC Restaurant and Food Services Association, said he believes that number could surge in the immediate future. January and February are going to be tough months. “It is a dangerous time because all the federal supports which were wage supports and rent supports are gone,” he said. MORE

FERRY SERVICE DISRUPTIONS – BC Ferries is anticipating that a combination of issues may result in unplanned service disruptions on all routes, and particularly on inter-island routes, over the coming months. There is no single factor driving service interruptions. It is a combination including the Omicron variant’s potential to impact employees, regular cold and flu season, severe winter storms, vaccination policies that have reduced crew availability and the global shortage of professional mariners making it difficult to hire replacement staff. MORE

NOW A FOURTH SHOT – Boosterism at it’s finest, Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends that moderately or severely immunocompromised Canadians may get a second booster or fourth shot at least six months after their last dose. Besides long-term care homes, Ontario is making fourth doses available to residents of the province’s retirement homes, elder care lodges and other congregate settings.

Ferry sailings cancelled due to staffing issues

The Queen of Coquitlam has cancelled the following sailings for January 11 due to a staffing issue.
6:15 am departing Horseshoe Bay
8:25 am departing Departure Bay
10:40 am departing Horseshoe Bay
1:00 pm departing Departure Bay
3:45 pm departing Horseshoe Bay
5:55 pm departing Departure Bay
MORE

Fully-vaccinated make up 82 per cent of new COVID cases

Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022

Monday’s COVID-19 report shows disturbing statistics – 82.2 per cent of all new cases between Dec. 31 and Jan. 6, were fully vaccinated while the unvaccinated accounted for 15.1 per cent. Also, from Dec. 24 to Jan. 6, fully-vaccinated patients accounted for 61.1 per cent of all hospitalizations while the unvaccinated were 35.6 per cent.

On an evening town hall meeting, on Global TV, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry confirmed that more mandates will be coming soon for various sectors.

Over the weekend, the province had 6,966 new positive tests, with 3,821 in the Island Health region. There were seven deaths, none in Island Health. Island Health has 3,821 active cases with 64 in hospital, 12 in intensive care. Across the province there are 34,551 active cases, with 431 people in hospital, with 95 in intensive care.

Mayors repeat call for provincial action on housing

Mayor Leonard Krog

22-01-11 – Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog is one of 13 mayors representing more than 55 per cent of British Columbians are again calling on the Provincial Government for the urgent implementation of complex care housing solutions to support the most vulnerable residents in their communities. Today they are releasing a video to reiterate their call. WATCH VIDEO

The BC Chamber of Commerce and Business Improvement Areas of BC support  the BC Urban Mayors’ Caucus call for complex care housing.

Since being formed in the summer of 2020, the mayors have been in conversations with the Ministries of Mental Health and Addiction, Health, Housing, Municipal Affairs, Social Development and Poverty Reduction, and Justice, advocating to see appropriate housing and supports for people with complex needs to be operational in a matter of months, not years. MORE

Monday, Jan. 10, 2022

CRY ME A RIVER – No more rain, now it’s an “atmospheric river". That’s the latest word from Environment Canada with its rainfall warning expected to hit Tuesday afternoon and last through Wednesday night. It says the heavy rain is part of a warmer and wetter weather pattern that is headed towards the area this week. The warning includes possible localized flooding and high stream levels. MORE

OPEN DOOR POLICY? – Apparently the Employment and Income Assistance office on Labieux Road was left unlocked the Jan. 3 long weekend. Nanaimo News Now reports Ministry of Social Development officials are looking into how that happened. Shawn Zboyovsky, said he went to fill out monthly paperwork thinking it would be another routine outing, but the building was unstaffed and empty. He said two other ministry clients were also there also unsure what was happening. MORE

BACK TO SCHOOL – Students from Kindergarten to Grade 12 are heading back to school in the shadow of the Omicron virus which is spreading at an alarming rate. The return to school was delayed for a week by the provincial government, but teachers, students and parents aren’t sure how the school year will look amid the Omicron wave. The low vaccination rate among that age group is a major concern. MORE

NORTH ISLAND POWER BACK ON – Power has been restored on Vancouver Island's northwest coast, nearly a week after it went out due to heavy snow and wind. BC Hydro crews have completed repairs on a power line serving Tahsis and Zeballos and two First Nations. The outage lasted several days because of the amount of damage, the remoteness and the continuing bad weather. MORE

ROAD BLOCKS COMING – In case you were not aware, be prepared for closed roads this morning, and it’s got nothing to do with construction work or weather conditions. Old-growth logging activists plan to block the Trans Canada Highway in several places. The group said it will begin by blocking Highway 1 off-ramps in Vancouver, Victoria, Nanaimo and in the Interior near Revelstoke today, continuing multiple times per week. Too much snow in the woods so they have to hit the pavement? MORE

Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022

GETTING BETTER – Though it won't be sunshine, lollipops and rainbows, things are definitely looking up on the weather front. Environment Canada offers rain for the next few days, and that should do much to wash away most of the piled-high snow. It's forecast that we'll have five degrees by noon todays and it will continue comparatively warm with up to eight degrees by mid week.

APPEALING ASSESSMENTS – Many people were shocked when their assessment notices arrived. The average increase for Nanaimo was 34 per cent. Some of our readers report increases more than 50 per cent due to soaring land values. It’s hard to fight the land value because that’s what lots sell for these days. The good news is you don’t have to accept it – this is where the appeal process comes in – use it if you think they misjudged your property. APPEAL. See the assessment process EXPLANED.

The provincial government cashes in big with the increased assessments.

GET USED TO IT – Some public health officials are revising their view of COVID-19, acknowledging that the virus may be here to stay. Nova Scotia's chief medical officer Dr. Robert Strang says at some point we are going to have accept that the virus is going to be with us. The goal should be to manage COVID-19 "based on having good levels of immunity from both vaccination and infection so that we no longer have to have these wide restrictive measures and this huge focus of trying to identify as many cases as possible," he said on CBC's The House. FULL STORY

LATE NIGHT FERRY NOISE – BC Ferries will complete a dive inspection at the Nanaimo Harbour Terminal Monday and Tuesday nights. The work is required to extend the life of the marine infrastructure. The two-day work period begins after the last scheduled sailing departs the terminal each night, and will continue overnight. There will be noise from a work boat, generator and water pump.

CLIPPERS’ SCHEDULE ON ICE – The Nanaimo Clippers suspended all team activities in the past five days in accordance with the BCHL’s health and safety protocols. The Clippers’ scheduled game last night against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs was called off and the Victoria Grizzlies on Jan. 12 has also been postponed. The Cowichan Valley Capitals, Langley Rivermen and Penticton Vees all put all team activities on hold until today, postponing numerous games. MORE

GASOLINE PRICES continued to rise in Nanaimo yesterday, ranging from $1.519 to $1.559 late last night. Greater Victoria saw prices as high as $1.769 last week. GasBuddy.com forecasts the prices will drop next week. 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY – A late shout out to our Member of Parliament Lisa Marie Barron who turned 42 on Saturday. And today, Rob Grey begins another trip around the sun. Happy Birthday all.

Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022

PHYSICAL FITNESS – One thing that used to be a real concern after the holiday season was people heading to the gym to get back in condition physically. Well, gyms are not operating at this time, but guess what. Many people are getting their fitness exercise by shovelling snow – tons of it. I knew there was something good to say about the weather. 

HOW MANY DAYS did we go without a public protest of some type in Nanaimo? Whatever it was, the streak was broken Friday when about 50 people gathered in front of city hall to protest mandatory vaccination for all city employees. That mandate is effective on Monday. The protesters decried the destruction of freedom and rights. Mayor Leonard Krog faced the protest and replied to one man who challenged why city staff have to be vaccinated but not city council. Krog said it was not necessary because all council members are vaccinated.

MISINFORMATION CLEARED UP - The City has set the record straight on the recent dispersal of homeless people from an encampment under the Bastion Street Bridge, and the Bastion Parkade. Mayor Leonard Krog said misinformation following the cleanup was misleading. The inclement weather saw emergency shelters filling to capacity, and a small group set up tents under the city facilities.  Enforcement officers did not disrupt the gathering through the most inclement weather. Instead, they asked them not to move into the parkade facility. When the weather eased and they did not move city staff went in and cleared the site. FULL CITY STATEMENT

CLEAR OFF THAT SNOW – Make sure you clear that snow off your car before your hit the road. RCMP are on the lookout for drivers who have not cleaned snow off their vehicles. It can cause significant damage and threaten others on the road. Cops have stopped several vehicles in recent days, although no tickets were issued and the officers treated it as an educational experience.

WHILE YOU ARE AT IT pay attention to keeping your storm drains clear. Crews have worked around the clock removing snow and ice from city streets, and now the focus is making sure drainage basins aren’t plugged. We certainly don't need any flooding. FULL STORY

TOUGH ARREST – A 31-year-old Nanaimo man remains in police custody after he tried to grab a Mountie’s firearm, and threatened to shoot the officer. The incident occurred Dec. 28,  when the officer responded to reports of a shoplifter at London Drugs, threatening to use bear spray and then fled. The suspect was located by the officer and the altercation ensued. A civilian helped the officer until reinforcements arrived. The officer was not seriously injured and continued duty. FULL STORY

A NOTE FROM old wrestling acquaintance Ed Giovannetti that Nanaimo Bars are a big hit in Hidden Valley Lake, California. The fame continues to spread far and wide! Thanks Ed.

Businesses ordered to bring back COVID safety plans

Dr. Bonnie Henry

220107 - British Columbia businesses have to revive their pandemic safety plans under a new health order issued Friday by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. She said individual safety plans worked well for businesses earlier in the pandemic.

Dr. Hendry said safety plans are a measure to allow businesses to keep operating in the face of a significant portion of workers who may be unable to come in because they're ill. The Health Ministry is working in partnership with WorkSafeBC to ensure businesses bring back their won  COVID-19 safety plans and to answer any of the questions.

Children heading back to their classrooms on Monday

220107 – It's back to school Monday for all students in the province with enhanced protocols to keep students safe from COVID-19. The province is moving ahead despite a record-high surge in COVID-19 cases fuelled primarily by the more-easily-transmissible Omicron.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said it is essential and it’s a priority to keep schools open and functioning for children. Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside said a steering committee has been taking the additional week to implement additional safety measures and policies to ensure a safe return to class Monday. MORE

Multiple ferry sailings cancelled due to wind conditions

High winds on Georgia Strait continue to impact multiple BC Ferries sailings resulting in a number of cancellations.  The 10:40 a.m. and 1 p.m. sailings between Horseshoe Bay and Departure Bay were cancelled in both directions. The 10:15 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. sailings between Tsawwassen and Duke Point were also cancelled in both directions. It was the same story between Victoria and  Tsawwassen where multiple sailings were cancelled.

Jan. 7, 2022

NOT SINGING IN THE RAIN – Environment Canada has more messy weather ahead for us even as we battle the thousands of power outages from the winter storm. Get ready for freezing rain. Meteorologist Armel Castellan said: “We’re transitioning to rain but we are going to see temperatures dip Friday night into Saturday morning, so it’s not over." BC Hydro reported 23,400 customers on Vancouver Island experienced a blackout. The hardest-hit areas were Victoria, Courtenay, Ucluelet, Duncan and the Gulf Islands. MORE

NORM AT THE STARTING LINE – This is civic election year and Norm Smith has already declared he’s running for city council in October. He was in early four years ago and finished just outside the top eight vote getters and feels he can make up the deficit.

A DIFFERENT BUZZ – The doors are opening today on BC Cannabis Stores second store in Nanimo at Country Club Centre. The store will have 13 full-time and auxiliary employees. If you look under 30 you’ll have to present two pieces of identification. All customers and visitors, regardless of vaccination status, are required to wear a face mask while in the store.

CHAMBER LUNCH DELAYED – It came as no big shock when the Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce delayed its monthly meeting to Feb. 11. Nanaimo Community Hospice and the Canadian Home Builders' Association will provide a sneak peak at the 2022 Dream Home being built in the Foothills in Lantzville by Momentum Design Build. FULL STORY

HOW CHIPPER CAN YOU GET – Things haven’t really settled down since Christmas, but the tree has to go. The Nanaimo and District SPCA (NDSPCA) and the Nanaimo Search and Rescue (NSAR) are holding Christmas tree chipping events on Jan. 8-9 from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. NSAR’s event is at Country Club Centre parking lot. It’s their largest fundraiser of the year, bringing in almost $3,000 in donations in 2020. The SPCA has held its event at the Nanaimo office, 154 Westwood Rd. for two decades. They raised more than $10,000 last year. FULL STORY

SEVERE GAS PAINS – As if we haven't been hammered enough, oil companies have their sights on our wallets. Victoria’s price hit a record $176.9 cents per litre at one station Thursday and prices started rising in Nanaimo this morning. Gas Buddy showed a range from $1.449 to $1.559. Diesel drivers can shop around from $1.499 to $1.689. Experts say the latest surge at the pumps is related to slowdowns caused by cold weather at the refinery in Burnaby. GAS BUDDY.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TODAY – Darrell Mayzes, Kelly Ackeral

Storm notebook

NO MAIL TODAY – Due to remnants from a winter storm impacting large portions of the South Coast, Canada Post announced it suspended mail delivery service on Jan 6. The ‘red alert’ was issued as the latest dump of snow has made it unsafe for their employees to do their job on Vancouver Island, Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.

WOMAN KNOCKED OVER BY FALLING TREE – Tree brought down communication lines and several utility poles, but woman unhurt

Jan. 6, 2022

GOOD MORNING Today can be summed up to two words, stay home. The forecast calls for rain beginning early this afternoon and continuing through the weekend into next week. Nothing makes the snow disappear faster than a good dose of rain.

COVID-19 STILL DOES what it wants. Island Health has reported five outbreaks among residents and staff in care homes in Nanaimo and  Victoria. Outbreaks were reported at Kiwanis Village Lodge and Eden Gardens long-term care homes in Nanaimo. Island Health reported Wednesday morning that the Kiwanis Village outbreak including one resident and three staff is restricted to the first floor, and the outbreak at Eden Gardens of one resident and three staff infections is restricted to the second floor.

RECORD NUMBERS – Island Health region reported a record 566 new positive tests for COVID-19 on Wednesday while the whole province has 3,798 new  positives. The Island Health region has 3,631 active cases. Dr. Bonnie Henry says 317 are in hospital with 83 people in critical care as a result of the virus with 29,967 active cases in British Columbia. There were no deaths related to the virus in the past 24 hours. B.C. has administered 9,502,325 doses of vaccine, 92 per cent of all eligible people 12 and older. The federal government will deliver 140 million rapid COVID-19 tests to provinces and territories this month as the Omicron variant continues to spread.

PROOF OF VACCINATION – The City of Parksville is requiring staff to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19. The City has announced a mandatory vaccination policy for all employees, contractors, volunteers and on-call firefighters. Specifics will be finalized in the next few days. A news release stated “staff have been diligent in adhering to the City’s WorksafeBC Communicable Disease Plan which has greatly reduced the risk for our workforce.” MORE

HOMEOWNER GRANT CEILING RAISED – The provincial government has increased the annual homeowner grant threshold to $1.975 million for this year. The new cap means 92 per cent of residential properties are covered, lowering the taxes on principal residences. Those who own and live in their homes are eligible for the $570 basic grant, or up to $845 for those with a disability or who are 65 and older. MORE

NOISE IN THE HARBOUR – BC Ferries is completing a dive inspection at the Nanaimo Harbour Terminal during the tonight. This work is required to life extend the marine infrastructure. To avoid affecting ferry service, this two-day work period is planned to begin after the last scheduled sailing departs the terminal each night, and will continue during overnight hours. Work includes use of a work boat, generator and water pump. Residents living in the adjacent area may experience construction noise from generator use; crews will minimize noise as much as possible. 

HOMELESS CAMP CLEANED OUT - The City has shut down a homeless encampment. Bylaw manager Dave LaBerge said sanitation crews cleaned up under the Bastion St. bridge and adjacent City-owned parkade on Wednesday morningl. About 30 people had been living there. He said some people people were occupying parking stalls and obstructing pedestrian stairwells.

Nanaimo weather alerts

CITY OF NANAIMO – Issued 7:04 a.m. – With the overnight winter storm, road conditions this morning are hazardous. Please stay off roads unless absolutely necessary to allow plows time to clear. In addition City facilities are closed at least until noon today. FULL DETAILS

Primary roads are being maintained but side streets are hazardous. Visit our Snow and Ice Control webpage for information on the City's response to snow and what residents and commuters can do to stay safe.

For updates link to the City of Nanaimo web page at www.nanaimo.ca or follow us on facebookand on twitter @cityofnanaimoFull Details

VANCOUVER ISLAND UNIVERSITY CAMPUSES CLOSED –  Nanaimo campus, Cowichan campus and Trades Centre, Powell River Campus, Parksville Centre, and G.R. Paine Horticultural Centre are CLOSED today (January 6) due to severe weather. Milner Gardens & Woodland is closed today as regularly scheduled. The next update will be at 6 pm  for the status of Friday, January 7. Please do not start to travel to VIU until you receive this update.

SNOW DAY FOR SCHOOLS – Nanaimo Ladysmith School District has called for a snow break today. There will be no regular classes, but students were not scheduled to return until next week due to COVID concerns. 

FERRY CANCELLATIONS AND DELAYS

Vancouver (Tsawwassen) - Nanaimo (Duke Point)
The Coastal Inspiration has cancelled the following sailings due to adverse weather conditions affecting our crew attending the vessel:  
5:15 am departing Duke Point
7:45 am departing Tsawwassen

Vancouver (Horseshoe Bay) - Nanaimo (Departure Bay)
The Queen of Oak Bay has been operating up to an hour behind schedule due to an unexpected delay in service today. Heavy snow conditions delayed our crew from attending the vessel.

Nanaimo Harbour - Gabriola Island (Descanso Bay)
The Quinsam is operating behind schedule due to an unexpected delay in service today. Further contributing factors were heavy snow.

AIRPORTS - Airports across the province are reporting delays or cancellations Thursday.

Tahsis and Zeballos isolated due to heavy snow

ROADS IMPASSABLE - The roads to Tahsis and Zeballos are nearly impassable, and residents are urged to stay off them. The road to Zeballos also connects to a number of First Nations. Much of the region has a power outage since the early Tuesday. Wet, heavy snow has damaged transmission lines and infrastructure in several places, which are only reachable by helicopter. B.C. Hydro says it hopes to restore power on Thursday, but that repairs are weather-dependent. 

Snow causes power outages for thousands

220106 – Tens of thousands of people on Vancouver Island are without electricity this morning as a result of the snowfall. Nearly 22,000 Vancouver customers had lost electricity because snow broke tree branches down onto wires.

On southern Vancouver Island, a little more than 10,000 customers lost power, with the largest outages occurring on the Southern Gulf Islands and in Saanich. Crews have been assigned to many of the major outages with the exception of one affecting nearly 2,400 customers on Galiano, Mayne and Saturna islands.

British Columbians urged to prepare for winter conditions

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220105 – A heavy snowfall is forecast across southwestern B.C. so now is the time for British Columbians to prepare for cold temperatures, power outages and slick streets. 

From this evening into Thursday morning, Environment Canada is calling for heavy snow and freezing rain for the Malahat. Heavy snow is forecast across Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, with freezing rain expected in the Fraser Valley and the eastern sections of Metro Vancouver. Drivers are reminded to plan ahead and drive according to weather and road conditions if they must travel during this storm. Commuters should expect delays and service disruptions on transit routes. FULL STORY

Parkade at Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal remains closed

220105 – The parkade at Horseshoe Bay terminal is closed until further notice due to safety concerns. On January 2, a minor rock slide spilled into the parkade. One vehicle was damaged.There were no injuries. FULL STORY

Property value increases a bonanza for government

Jan. 5, 2022

The massive property assessment increases are opening a lot of eyes as it relates to housing affordability. It’s a main mantra of politicians of all political stripes – affordable housing. It sounds so great, but they need to look in the mirror. When house prices soar by 30 to 40 per cent you immediately disqualify many young families from ever buying their first house but the government benefits due to the higher value taxed in the property transfer tax. COLUMN 

January 5, 2022

A TAXING QUESTION – Will you be paying more in property taxes this year? The big number that taxpayers have been looking for is the average assessment increase for the city over all. That determines approximately how much the tax increase, or decrease, will be when the bills come out from the city. Nanaimo’s average single-family property rose to $704,000 from $527,000 last year, a 34-per-cent hike. Strata homes rose 25 per cent, to $402,000 from $323,000. Just because property values take a big leap it doesn’t mean higher property taxes. SEE MORE.

MORE OF THE SAME – I don’t have to write this anymore, it’s virtually the same every day. Environment Canada is warning for between 10 to 20 centimetres of snow beginning this evening and continuing until Thursday. The weather warning says a low pressure system is forecast to approach the B.C. coast later today. Due to the recent cold temperatures, snow will develop this evening ranging from 10 to 20 cm by midday Thursday.

CURBSIDE GARBAGE COLLECTION resumed yesterday, but is moving at a slower pace than usual. Due to snow and ice build up creating slick and sometimes narrow roadways, pickup will only happen where it is safe to do so. the City will accommodate missed collection. If you missed recycling collection you’ll will be able to put extra recycling out on the scheduled recycling collection day. For missed garbage collection, you will be able to put an extra bag of garbage out for pickup on your next scheduled garbage collection day (one extra bag per account). MORE DETAIL. 

GENERATOR STOLEN – The Nanaimo RCMP seeks public assistance in locating a large emergency generator that was stolen from Nanaimo Lifeline on Bowen Road, sometime between Sunday and Tuesday. Const. Gary O’Brien says suspects entered the commercial property, detached the large Generac brand generator and left the area. Given the size of the generator, a large vehicle and at least several individuals would have been required to remove the device. FULL STORY.  

MISSING PERSON UPDATE – Nanaimo RCMP report that 44-year-old Jolene Nass who has not been seen since Sunday afternoon has been found safe. A 911 emergency call was made from a phone registered to her and OCC operators made numerous unsuccessful attempts to call that number back. The phone appears to have been turned off or the battery died shortly after the 911 call was made. MORE,

PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY – More than 80 per cent of the new Coronavirus cases in B.C. are the Omicron variant. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry tells residents and businesses to take personal responsibility to slow the spread of COVID-19. She cautioned measures like case and contact tracing aren’t enough to keep new infection numbers down. “Our challenge across the board over the next few weeks will be dealing with a high number of people who are off ill. That may mean for work, out of school, it means health care workers and educators who aren’t able to go to work because they are ill. FULL STORY

COVID BY THE NUMBERS – Island Health reported 360 new positive test results on Tuesday, with 3,113 active cases. There were 61 people in hospital, 15 in critical care. In the province, there were 2,542 new recorded cases, bringing the active case list to 27,106 with 298 in hospital, 86 in critical. These are not the actual numbers because personal testing has resulted in not all cases being registered by the Centre for Disease Control.

 

Pandemic response unravelling across the country

The pandemic response is unravelling across the country and governments appear helpless to bring it to conclusion. The testing program is in disarray. Merv UngerJohn Feldsted and Brian Peckford share their view on www.nanaimonet.com. Check them out.

Jan. 4, 2022

MORE SNOW ON THE WAY – Environment Canada has issued a heavy snow and cold weather warnings for parts of Vancouver Island on Wednesday evening. The weather statement includes for East Vancouver Island including between Courtenay and Campbell River, Duncan and Nanaimo, Nanoose Bay and Fanny Bay. Snow is expected to begin falling on Wednesday evening and last overnight into Thursday morning. We can expect two to four inches of snow.

BONUS GARBAGE PICKUP – Check your regular garbage pickup calendar and be ready on your appointed day. Because there was no collection last week, you can put out an extra bag of garbage and an extra recycling container. Staff will manually toss extra garbage and recycling, so place garbage in a tied bag one metre to the side or behind the black cart and not in front of it. An extra garbage bag can be any size that would normally fit into the black cart. The city will update its website  and through the Nanaimo Recycles app. Residents can also contact the Public Works department at 250-758-5222. 

WELCOME BACK ALL THAT JAZZ – The Friends of Nanaimo Jazz Society is presenting a pair of concerts as part of its Welcome Back concert series at the Shaw Auditorium On Jan. 11 and Feb. 15. The series offers in-person music for fans and in-person learning for students. The January show will feature Vancouver saxophonist Cory Weeds and his quartet along with New York trumpeter Joe Magnarelli and in February New York-based vocalist and trumpeter Benny Benack III and his quartet will perform. MORE

Jan. 3, 2022

WELCOME TO THE WORLD – The one thing a lot of people look forward to is the arrival of the first baby born in the New Year. The wait was a little longer this year, but Amaya Tran was born at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital at 4:09 p.m. on Jan. 1, a healthy seven pounds. Proud parents are Alice Kong and Jimmy Tran, and two older siblings Ahri,4 and Adaline, 3. MORE

YOU WOULD THINK people would learn, but no, five people were rescued after getting stuck in the backcountry in Strathcona Park. Comox Valley Search and Rescue to help locate the three missing skiers — and their two dogs. The missing skiers had no working phone and no supplies. The terrain was difficult to traverse due to extreme snow and avalanche conditions. As rescuers met the missing trio, they got another call for help nearby. They located the other two and brought them, along with the three skiers and the two dogs to safety. FULL STORY

THE LATEST COVID UPDATE will come this afternoon showing how many people tested positive over the weekend. The latest data will cover three 24-hour reporting periods since Friday but it won't offer a clear picture. The latest case counts also won't factor in the number of people who decided to forgo testing, following the provincial health officer's current recommendations. B.C. recorded thousands of new cases daily last week. MORE

FERRIES PARKADE DAMAGED – The parkade at the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal has been damaged by a rock slide leaving the parkade closed until further notice. At least two columns in the parkade were knocked over. There was minor damage to one vehicle. The shutdown will affect walk-ons heading to Nanaimo from the Lower Mainland. MORE

Horseshoe Bay terminal parkade closed indefinately

220102 - B.C. Ferries has issued a new service notice for the following routes: Vancouver (Horseshoe Bay) - Nanaimo (Departure Bay) , Vancouver (Horseshoe Bay) - Bowen Island (Snug Cove) , Vancouver (Horseshoe Bay) - Sunshine Coast (Langdale). The  parkade at Horseshoe Bay terminal will not be accessible until further notice due to a security issue.

Duke Point ferry sailings cancelled due to weather

The Queen of New Westminster and Coastal Inspiration have cancelled the following sailings due to adverse weather conditions - high winds:  

3:15 pm departing Tsawwassen
3:15 pm departing Duke Point
5:45 pm departing Tsawwassen
5:45 pm departing Duke Point
8:15 pm departing Tsawwassen
8:15 pm departing Duke Point
10:45 pm departing Tsawwassen
10:45 pm departing Duke Point

Due to adverse weather conditions, and in order to proactively position vessels for the following day, schedule modifications have been made on the Horseshoe Bay - Departure Bay route this evening. The regularly scheduled 10:10 pm sailing departing Horseshoe Bay has been modified to sail at 10:50 pm. 

Customers with bookings on the impacted cancelled sailings will be contacted to advise their bookings have been cancelled and fees refunded.

Follow @BCFerries on Twitter, visit our Current Conditions webpage at www.bcferries.com or call us toll free at 1-888-223-3779.

My crystal ball view of what's in store in this new year

Jan. 1, 2022

There’s a reason why the windshield is larger than the rear window – you cannot change hindsight, so keep your eyes to the future. British Columbia got kicked in the teeth as never before, it is one year we won’t soon forget. And it’s not over. We endured a heat wave, forest fires, floods, winter storms and the coronavirus all in one year. What lies ahead? COLUMN

Property assessments show some massive increases

Jan. 2, 2022

PROPERTY ASSESSMENT notices arrived yesterday, and they will be a shock to many people. A few Nanaimo properties I checked have a 30-plus per cent increase in assessed value. Keep in mind, our civic governments are raising tax rates. Before you suffer cardiac arrest, the two increases do not translate into that amount of tax increases. You can look up your assessment HERE

THAT’S JUST PART of what we will have to live with this year. It’s costing more to feed ourselves and a lot more items are costing more. Surprisingly, some could cots less. See the FULL STORY

RESTRICTIONS TOUGH ON SENIORS ­– Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry’s restriction on long-term care visits has created a hardship for many seniors and their families. Marguerite Bell is 90 years old and lives at the Eden Gardens in South Nanaimo and relies on visits from her two daughters for both her mental health and daily needs. Her daughter Jeanette Harper says, “I’m my mother’s emotional support. We sit, we look at pictures. I make a cup of tea. I often help her with lunch,” she told Global News on Saturday. FULL STORY.

PACIFIC COASTAL AIRLINES has suspended operations because of a rapid spread of Omicron variant among staff at its operational control centre in Richmond. All network operations are suspended on Jan. 2 and 3, the regional airline confirmed Friday. The company posted a statement on its website.

THERE'S LOTS OF WATER standing on many streets now that the melt is under way. Coun. Don Bonner has sent numerous reminders to make sure you find the storm drains on your street and keep them clear of ice. Good advice.

JUST A MINUTE – Employer-paid sick days are in force in B.C. and the BC Liberals are calling on the provincial government to cover the costs to businesses during the pandemic. Hey, the wallet is already very slim, nothing left to hand out. MORE

More foul weather on the way for East Vancouver Island

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220101 -You might have thought that our crappy weather was behind us, but Environment Canada says an approaching Pacific frontal system will create strong winds of up to 70km/h for East Vancouver Island and Metro Vancouver regions. However, those conditions are expected to ease overnight. Lower winds will also bring much warmer air into the area, resulting in a chance of flurries that will change to rain overnight. MORE

Weather conditions lead to ferry schedule adjustment

211231 -Weather conditions anticipated this afternoon and evening have resulted in ferry schedule modifications on the Horseshoe Bay - Departure Bay route. The regularly scheduled 10:10 p.m. sailing departing Horseshoe Bay has been modified to sail at 10:50 p.m. 

Happy New Year, let a smile be your umbrella

January 1, 2022

WELCOME TO 2022, no matter how it turns out it cannot help but be better than what we’ve left behind. Let this be the year we take our lives back, breathe, enjoy, celebrate, smile and be happy. And if I were a Brit, I’d encourage you to “keep yer pecker up.” (It's okay to ask someone to explain that one for ya). Happy New Year!

WHAT'S WHAT, WHERE IS WHERE – Nanaimo was hit with the heaviest snowfall of the season this week with the possiblilty for more snow, and even rain, in the forecast over the coming days. City crews have been clearing snow focusing on priority routes such as main roads and emergency routes. See the complete roundup of city services active now. HERE

SMILE, YOU'RE ON CANDID CAMERA ­– Nanaimo RCMP made quick work of two thieves who broke into a local sporting goods store and stole upwards of 70 sporting items, including almost three dozen NHL youth hockey jerseys. The theft occurred 2:30 am on Friday, at Kirby’s Source for Sports on Bowen Road. Owner Zack Gilbey had the surveillance video for police. Here’s the whole story. MORE

NO EXTRA BUSES – The Nanaimo Transit System is extending the current holiday service schedule and not adding additional school runs through January 7. School for most students will be delayed until January 10. As well, Vancouver Island University has confirmed the resumption of in-person classes on January 10. For up to date information, customers are encouraged to visit NextRide.

LAWYER SUSPENDED ­– The Law Society Tribunal has suspended Parksville lawyer John Aaron Hossack. The Law Society of B.C. stated a hearing panel had ordered Hossack suspended for one month, starting Jan. 1, for “failing to provide the quality of service expected of a competent lawyer while acting as executor and trustee for his client’s estate.” MORE

LONG-TERM CARE VISITS – Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has restricted long-term care home visits to essential visitors only. As well, she shortened the timeline for booster shots, and reduced the isolation period for fully vaccinated people. Henry says there have been a number of outbreaks in long-term care facilities since the new variant was found. JUST A MINUTE, she said “pregnant people” are particularly at risk for severe illness impacting the mother and baby, so they will be prioritized for third doses. FULL STORY.

Island Health asks staff on leave to return to work

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220101 – Island Health is trying to get its staff to return from their scheduled leave. Failing that, they may have to mandate workers to return due to staffing shortages. 

Dr. Elin Bjarnason, vice president of clinical operations, South Island, and Krista Allan, vice president of knowledge, practice and Chief Nurse Executive issued a memo to staff asking clinical staff to voluntarily end their leaves to return to work.

This period of the year tends to have staffing shortages due to staff taking holidays, but this year there is an added challenge with the Omicron variant causing high levels of illness in the community and staff to ensure an adequate level of staffing. READ MORE

January 1, 2022

COVID NUMBERS STILL CLIMBING – Island Health region reported 434 new positive tests for COVID-19 yesterday. Province-wide there were 3,795 positives over the past 24 hours. There are a record-setting 2,336 active cases in the Vancouver Island region after only 856 were reported Thursday. There are 20,811 active cases across the province. Three people died, including one in the island region. There are 53 people in Island hospitals, with 12 in critical care. FULL REPORT.

Container ship offloading completed at Duke Point

MV Kingston. Coast Guard photo. Jan 1, 2022

The ill-fated MV Zim Kingston cargo ship has completed unloading nearly 60 damaged containers at Duke Point. The ship pulled out of the Duke Point dock earlier this week but will remain in Nanaimo waters.

Port of Nanaimo president and CEO Ian Marr said the ship will be anchored off Duke Point until space is available for its expected final destination at Delta Port in Tsawwassen. MORE

City cancels all garbage collection until Tuesday, Jan. 4

All scheduled curbside garbage, recycling and organics collection is cancelled until Tuesday, Jan.  4. With a change in the weather forecast for this weekend and efforts still under way to clear the roads of accumulated snow, all collection (including the previously rescheduled weekend collection) is cancelled for all routes. Scheduled collection will resume on Tuesday, following the 2022 Collection Calendar. MORE

Cost comparison nixes new water plant in Nanoose Bay

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It’s cheaper to lease than to invest in a new water facility. The Regional District of Nanaimo will not build its own water facility in Nanoose Bay. A feasibility study determined it would cost more in the long run than extending its current lease in the South Parksville Industrial Park for its water operations. 

A significant lease cost increase led the RDN to study the cost-effectiveness of building its own water facility on RDN-owned land. The estimated total cost would have been $6 million that the RDN would have borrowed over 25 years. MORE

Enjoy the final day of this eventful and miserable year

Dec. 31, 2021

HAPPY NEW YEAR to all of our faithful followers in the deserts of California and Arizona, and Mexico, the winter snowbirds. Nanaimonet is the news source they rely on to know what’s happening on the home front. Keep your comments coming, we appreciate them.

THE WORST IS OVER Some rain mixed with snow is expected to begin this evening. It’s expected to turn to snow overnight and throughout much of New Years Day, before yielding to rain for Sunday, Jan. 2. Temperatures may drop back down to freezing in the first full week of January. FULL STORY

THERE’S NOTHING LIKE FIREWORKS to light up a new year – that’s exactly what the Nanaimo NightOwls are doing New Year’s Day. The baseball team, partnership with Kw’umut Lelum Foundation and other sponsors, will kick off the new year with a blast at 6 p.m. at the Serauxmen Sports Fields between Second and Third streets. Parking will be restricted and the team is asking the public to park elsewhere in the area. The NightOwls are holding a ‘Stuff the RV’ food drive at the ball fields during the day, before the fireworks. Food donations for Loaves and Fishes Community Food Bank will be encouraged from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

NURSES NOT BUYING IN – Nurses aren’t buying into the idea of some COVID-19-positive health-care workers being asked to continue working. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry floated the idea Wednesday at her news conference. It’s not known what capacity workers would be used in and whether it would involve interaction with patients. Quebec will be asking certain workers to stay on the job despite testing positive for COVID-19 or coming in contact with someone who is sick. The move is also being considered in Manitoba as critical staffing shortages impact health systems across the country.

A PAIN IN THE GAS – Fuel prices are skyrocketing again by as much as 12 cents a litre in Victoria on Thursday. Pump prices were hitting $1.629. That translates into $7.40 per Imperial gallon, for those who remember. In Nanaimo the prevailing price was $1.479 per litre at supper time. Dan McTeague of Gas Buddy said the hike comes from delays at two refineries due to freezing conditions. Dan sees prices dropping in about two weeks.

IT’S ALWAYS NICE TO BE WANTED, so the Nanaimo RCMP have nice warm cells awaiting two miscreants on the lam. A Canada-wide warrant has been issued for the arrest of 45-year-old Courtenay Cross. And they seek help in locating 41-year-old Robert Silva, who is wanted for Possessing Stolen Property under $5,000 and Driving While Prohibited. Check out the details and photos of the pair HERE.

THE CITY HAS FUNDED the temporary daytime extreme cold weather space at Caledonia Park. The Nanaimo 7-10 Club is operating the day-use shelter since Dec. 27 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on days when weather is severe enough to present a threat to the life or health. There’s room for up to 12 people. The City also funded Caledonia extreme-weather space. Two other daytime warming centres are at 489 Wallace Street and 43 Commercial Street; operated by the Canadian Mental Health Association and Risebridge Midisland Culture Connection Society, neither of which are funded by the City. MORE

UNIVERSITY STARTUP DELAYED – University students are getting an extended Christmas break – Vancouver Island University has postponed the start of the winter-spring semester until Jan. 10. That follows the lead of provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, who delayed K-12 school start across the province. The delayed start may not be possible for students enrolled in compressed courses and programs, and they will be contacted. Campus will re-open as planned on Jan. 4. The full statement is available HERE

MOVING ON UP – Jan Ference is starting the new year with a big new job as executive director of Haven Society. She’ll finish as director of Pathways to Healing Partnership in February to move on to her new adventure. Good luck, Jan.

WELCOME TO 2022, the fourth anniversary of Nanaimonet. This is also when we look through the windshield of the new year with a glance in the rear view mirror to the unforgetable year just passed. COLUMN

JUST A MINUTE – Check it out here.

Dec. 30, 2021

Recycling pickup delayed due to snow, check the schedule

Dec. 30, 2021

GOOD MORNING from the igloo. The mail and the recycling services have been shuffled, but the news gets through to our readers.

RECYCLING PICKUP DELAYED city crews made a valiant attempt but could not beat the weather conditions and slippery roads. Collections in the city for Wednesday and today have been rescheduled to Saturday, Jan. 1 and Monday, Jan. 3. Residents are advised to bring their carts to the curb by 7:30 a.m. each day and take them back in by 9 p.m. or until collected. Road conditions will determine how efficient crews will be with compact snow still covering many residential streets. 

B.C. TEACHERS GOT what they wanted – the province has introduced a staggered restart for K-12 schools in January. While staff return next week, most students will be back in classes Jan. 10. The extra week will allow schools to develop enhanced safety measures for the Omicron variant. Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside said the delay will allow public health and education time to assess the impact of the variant. Schools will open next week for children of essential workers, including teachers, and special needs kids. FULL STORY

SOME FAMILY IS MISSING part of its history. The Vancouver Island Military Museum has a medal from the First World War. It was found by city staff while cleaning a homeless encampment early in December. The museum would like to return it to the family, so if you have information you can call them at 250-753-3814. FULL STORY

CONGRATULATIONS to the members of Nanaimo Search and Rescue (SAR), for nearly 30 years of volunteer service. They are now operating from their new permanent location. FULL STORY.

DR. BONNIE HENRY is not dismissing the idea of out allowing COVID-19-positive workers to return to the job, as the health-care system strains under the latest wave of the pandemic. Quebec announced Tuesday that it would allow some infected workers to return. Manitoba and Ontario have are looking at similar measures. Alberta has allowed unvaccinated health-care workers back on the job, provided they undergo regular testing. FULL STORY

UNEXPECTED SHOWER after a condo ceiling collapsed under pressure from a broken water pipe. All the residents were evacuated from the building on Stewart Avenue just before dinner time. Water rushing from the pipe accumulated in the attic and collapsed a ceiling and flooded much of the building.FULL STORY

DAMNED IF YOU DO – There’s a push on for Covid booster shots, but it’s becoming a harder sell than the first two injections. There is growing mistrust of government agencies pushing further vaccinations. Some experts in that field are now cautioning that too many vaccines can actually destroy natural immunity. So, damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

IF YOU GOT A CALL to book a COVID-19 test and didn’t respond don’t expect another call. Bookings on Vancouver Island are so busy they cannot contact anyone a second time. Previously, residents wanting a COVID test would call the provincial hotline, then leave their phone number with the automated callback system. Residents who do not answer the phone will have to go to the back of the line for bookings FULL STORY. 

THRILL OF THE CHILL – Frank Ney used to expound about polar bears and icebergs at Nanaimo’s Boxing Day polar bear swim. Thrill seekers had to forego this year’s swim in Departure Bay, and now the New Year’s day latecomers in other communities are also cancelling. They say it’s because of the surge in Omicron virus, but we know all the ice floes turned them chicken. Organized swims in VancouverWhite RockPort MoodySaanich and Peachland have been cancelled.

HEALTH CARE WORKERS who have tested positive for COVID-19 will stay on the job in some provinces. Hospitals and testing centres are reaching their limits, warning the real infection rate is likely much higher than stated. Quebec’s health minister said the move is necessary to keep the health-care system operational, and the decision would be made on a case-by-case basis under certain conditions.