Vacant Old City Quarter house explodes Sunday night

Monday, Feb. 28

A vacant house was blown to smithereens in the Old City Quarter Sunday evening. Emergency crews attended the Pine and Fitzwilliam streets location after the blast next to St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church. The explosion could be felt kilometres away. Witnesses said a number of people appeared to have injured from broken glass. Homeowners in the area were advised vacate their homes while utility crews investigated and RCMP at the scene were telling people to stay back due to a gas leak.

ORCHID SHOW THIS WEEKEND – The Central Vancouver Island Orchid Society’s show returns to Nanaimo North Town Centre rom Friday to Sunday, March 4-6 with its first show since the pandemic started. It is open free to the public. The Orchid Society has been meeting for nearly 50 years, offering support and encouragement, education and social opportunities and now has about 50 members. 

WARM RESPONSE TO COLDEST NIGHT - Nanaimo’s Coldest Night of the Year raised a near-record of close to $100,000 for the Island Crisis Care Society’s work of improving the lives of those without a place to call home. Some of this year’s funds will support an employment project for existing ICCS clients facing barriers in achieving more independent lives. Co-ordinator Elspeth Erickson a new program called Project Rise involves customized pre-employment training for 10 participants. The experience is designed to lead to permanent work, or offer the skills and confidence for jobs elsewhere.

HELP FOR UKRAINE – British Columbians with ties to Ukraine are finding ways to help as the crisis of the Russian invasion grows. Members of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress B.C. handed out pamphlets at the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday. The Ukrainian Canadian Congress has launched a nationwide humanitarian aid appeal, with all proceeds going to help Ukrainian citizens stranded in their home country, refugees and the Ukrainian army. But, it comes with a caution – be careful of the charities you donate to. Check them out if you don't know them. There are more than 200,000 Ukrainian citizens living in British Columbia. All funds raised for the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and the Canadian Red Cross will get to Ukraine.

It's time to take a look in the mirror

Feb. 27, 2022

This is a good time for introspection – a self assessment by those who purport to be leaders. How would you react if a fight broke out in front of you, a much bigger bully on a weaker victim? Would you take a hand and move in to assist the innocent victim or would you try to find reasons not become engaged? MORE

GET READY, IT’S GOING TO BE BREEZY - Environment Canada warns of strong wind on North Vancouver Island beginning today. Southeasterly gusts of up to 110 km/h are expected to sweep over exposed sections of the North Island through this evening. The winds are forecasted to weaken overnight before picking up again on Sunday. Strong southeasterlies are forecats for late Sunday as another system makes landfall on the coast. 

SALUT – The B.C. government has pulled Russian vodka from liquor stores and is providing $1 million to the Red Cross to deal with the human cost of the invasion of Ukraine. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth made the announcement after the B.C. Liberal opposition called for it in the morning. He said B.C. is working with Ottawa on further economic sanctions against Russia. Gee, how about fossil fuel imports from Russia? That would make a significant impact.

THE INTENSIVE CARE UNIT at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital is in need of some intensive care itself. The Nanaimo Hospital Foundation and the Chamber of Commerce will focus on these needs at the monthly chamber luncheon at 11 a.m. Friday, March 11. Nanaimo has one of the oldest ICUs, with the worst physical space compared to any other Canadian hospital. In spite of that, the medical staff are among the best in Canada. Drop in for lunch, meet a lot of the people you’ve missed for months and months, and learn all about how you can give the fund raising campaign a shot in the arm. REGISTER HERE.

2022-4933.

What was the United Nations designed to do?

In view of the world events in the past few days, does anyone remember why the League of Nations was formed, later becoming the United Nations? The world appears to have forgotten that little safeguard against us all killing each other. Another useless bureaucracy with no benefit.

New nursing training coming to Vancouver Island University

HELP IS ON THE WAY – More nursing opportunities will flow from a new program at Vancouver Island University to boost nursing positions – for new and existing nurses to upgrade their qualifications. Patricia O’Hagan, dean of health sciences and human services at VIU, told NanaimoNewsNOW that it provides certainly for the industry. The first classes begin in May, when 24 nurses can upgrade. Eight new registered nursing seats will open in the fall. 

NEW JOB FOR ROUTLEY – Long-time Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley has a new job – parliamentary secretary for forests under minister Katrine Conroy. The appointment was made Friday during a minor shuffle of cabinet ministries. Another Island MLA Josie Osbourne was named Minister of Buzz Words –   land, water and natural resource stewardship and minister responsible for fisheries. The new ministry will have a budget of $92 million in 2022-23 and a staff of about 1,230, and will include co-management of land and resource management with local First Nations, as well as land use policy and planning, water policy and strategy, and biodiversity and ecosystem health.

SEA MONSTERS ARE RETURNING – One of the largest mid-Island events returns this summer after a two-year hiatus. The Parksville Beach Festival and sand sculpture competition usually attract tens of thousands of people to the Oceanside area for five weeks, beginning July 15. 

GREEN THUMBS UP – a major development in North Nanaimo cn proceed to the next stage after a public hearing and a city council vote. Councillors voted 8-1 in favour of an official community plan amendment bylaw for the Green Thumb Garden Centre property on Hammond Bay Road.

LOWE’S OFFERS JOBS – Lowe’s Canada is looking to hire about 120 people on Vancouver Island, but you’d better hurry. Full-time and part-time positions are available, in roles including receiving clerk, sales associate and night crew member, as well as administrative support and merchandising roles. The company says there are openings at both Lowes and Rona stores, offering competitive wages and benefit packages; plus, you don’t need to be an expert in home improvements. The hiring fair continues through Saturday. Apply in person at any Lowes or Rona store or online.

St. Jean's gets $1.25 million boost for indigenous fishery

Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022

ST. JEAN’S CANNERY will get $1.275 million as part of $11.8 million in federal funding for 30 Indigenous commercial fishing companies in B.C. St. Jean’s is owned by Nuu-chah-nulth Seafood Limited Partnership, is using federal funding along with its own money to for a new packaging machine to assist with processing, sales and marketing capacity. Nuu-chah-nulth Seafood will also get $130,000 for operational expenses.

AMERICAN TRUCKS ON THE MOVE - A convoy of truckers demanding an end to coronavirus mandates began a cross-country drive from California to the Washington, D.C., area on Wednesday. Several hundred people rallied in a parking lot before about two dozen trucks and a number of other vehicles hit the road. “To the truck drivers around the world: Now is your time to stand up. Now is your time to usher in a renaissance time of freedom,” truck driver and event organizer Brian Brase told the rally. Any chance Justin Trudeau will be the honorary parade marshal for this one?

This isn't going to end well, if it ever ends

This isn’t going to end well. If it ever ends. I’ve been holding back on the truck convoy protests because sooner or later a light should appear at the end of the tunnel.

This is no longer a question of thousands of Canadians protesting the actions of our government it’s no longer about trucks and blocking streets. It’s about our future and how we will fit into a mold designed by a political elite. It’s about power and control of the masses. The proverbial light at the end of the tunnel is just another bigger and nastier full-speed freight train. It's not a pretty picture. FULL COMMENTARY.

That’s my view, WHAT’S YOURS'?

Feb. 23, 2022

Due to the expected crewing challenges in the months ahead, and in an effort to provide reliable ferry service, the service adjustments implemented on January 28, have been extended until March 31 on the Horseshoe Bay – Departure Bay, Horseshoe Bay – Langdale and Earls Cove – Saltery Bay routes.  These schedule changes are reflected at BC Ferries.

UPDATE: The Nanaimo RCMP reports that 35-year-old Chris Chesnic, who was reported missing has been located. His family told investigators that Chesnic recently made some comments that were considered to be troubling. As a result, they are extremely concerned for his personal safety and well-being. MORE DETAILS

Provincial budget is not a cheque to be cashed

Wednesday, Feb. 23

We’ll talk about it for a few days and then it will go away. With this week’s B.C. budget I am reminded of our former MP, MLA and provincial finance minister Dave Stupich’s explanation.

“A budget is simply an outline or wish list of what the government expects and hopes to do in the next 12 months, nothing more.”

I’m paraphrasing but that’s the best explanation I have heard over the years without all the political bafflegab usually attached to it. There’s no penalty for overshooting targets and expectations. “Oh, well,” usually works.

Planned funding for groups and organizations are not a cheque to be cashed until signed. The budget is not that signature. Mother Nature has more control over government spending than any budget – forest fires, floods, storms . . .

Much like the throne speech, we now have an idea which direction the provincial government hopes to steer into. If the wind direction changes, “oh well.”

Are politicians living up to their own sermonizing?

Monday, Feb. 21, 2022

DID HE REALLY SAY THAT? Health Minister Adrian had a message that anti-mandate convoy protesters’ actions are beyond unacceptable. “It is not freedom to attack other people’s freedoms and rights and the expression of your own desires,” he said. “When people yell freedom but systematically impede other people’s freedoms, whether it be journalists, whether it be citizens in their homes, whether it be students, it is and will always be completely unacceptable,” Dix said. That same judgment has been levelled back at Dix in the past two years of restrictions, shutdowns and mandates. It’s moralistic. How tone deaf can a politician get? Freedom means putting up with opinions which may be unpopular. Dix’s view doesn’t make it right just because he disagrees with someone, it just makes it his view. Also, have we as a society or culture ever determined who should have the ominous role of deciding acceptability?

DID IT EVER CROSS YOUR MIND how many of the world’s needy could have been housed and fed with all the money obscenely flushed down the drain with the Olympic Games? Really, think about it.

HAVING SERVED IN OFFICE, I have learned that no projects ever go away, no matter how often they are rejected. I was a Nanaimo Regional Board Director almost a decade ago when a number of region residents made a play to stay in the dark. Well, it’s back, the RDN is looking at minimizing light pollution over the district. As is always done, a study is ordered and the long dance begins. Suggestion – look up the study that was done the last time around.

GOOD OLD GORDY DODD –  We keep seeing harbingers of spring, but those harbingers have done very little for people who don’t have the bare necessities of life, especially a way to keep warm. Gordy Dodd, chief TV star and founder of Dodd’s Furniture, has been a part of the community for 45 years. If you can help, Gordy's gang are looking for donations of winter coats, jackets, toques, gloves and scarves all month at the three Vancouver Island locations. until February 28.

STEVE FONYO, who ran across Canada with a prosthetic leg, died Friday at age 56. His partner Lisa Herbert told Global News they were in the Vancouver area to have his prosthetic foot repaired, when he died just after midnight. “He had the biggest heart and he loved people. That’s why he did what he did,” she said. He was living in Powell River in recent years, where she said he was happy.

IT'S NO INSTANT FLIP OF THE SWITCH – British Columbia’s nurse training programs got a shot in the arm on Friday when the government announced 602 new nursing seats will be added to public post-secondary institutions. That’s a good start for the  B.C. Nurses' Union. This will include seats for 362 registered nurses, 40 registered psychiatric nurses, 20 nurse practitioners and 180 licensed practical nurses. You can’t go anywhere fast if you don’t have a starting point, and this looks like a good one.

SUNSHINE . . . great news. Coming with it are lower temperatures and strong winds for our area. Have a great Family Day today and charge up for the start of the new week by tomorrow.

Will we ever see a 'normal' way of life again?

Sunday, Feb. 20, 2022

I HOPE YOU ARE HAVING A GREAT Family Day weekend. Now that the Olympic extravaganza is over for another two (or four years), I guess things should return to normal.

Normal? What is normal? We’ve still got that great right wing extremist insurection flaring in Ottawa and across the rest of the Nation. Now there is word of some Americans planning to launch a support campaign for Canadian truckers.

The pre-weekend terrorist attack on the pipeline in B.C. leaves you to wonder how the legal industrty will judge them when compared to Truckers’ rights and freedoms. It will be interesting to keep an eye on that one

It’s been years in the making and now the Sandstone project in south Nanaimo finally has the go ahead after a public hearing last week. Sandstone is a 294-hectare, 2,200-home development planned for both sides of the Trans-Canada Highway. That includes long-range plans for 1,200 single-family homes or townhouses in Cedar and the Cinnabar Valley, 1,000 homes in a mixed-use residential and commercial centre in Cedar, and industrial development closest to Duke Point. The master plan also calls for 121 hectares of parks, trails and greenways and potentially space for a new school and community centre.

LOOKING AHEAD, the weather forecasters at Environment Canada suggest you not put away your umbrellas just yet. There's gallons and gallons of pre-spring gardening moisture still up in the sky, waiting to come down.

Dylan McKay

RCMP could use your help to find Dylan McKay who has had no contact with his family since the start of the year, which is out of character for him. His family and friends are concerned for his well-being, say police. McKay has no cell phone and has no fixed address. He spends much of his time living in tents and open spaces and frequents Nanaimo, Gabriola and Valdes Island. If you know where he is, please call the cops non-emergency line at 250-754-2345, and quote file No. 2022-4933.

A letter of endearmen and admiration from a son

Saturday, Feb. 19/

My Dearest Papa, 

All my life I have striven to emulate your accomplishments, and needless to say, it has not been easy most of the time even though I went overboard numerous times. You could be a clown and people thought you were funny; at least they responded that way. And you had not even paid off the media at that point.

There are so many things. For instance the way you got away with giving the finger to British Columbians at one point. Or the way you did a pirouette in front of the media and got headlines. Even with some of my antics like being a drama teacher and applying blackface just didn’t cut the mustard. And remember how silly my family and I looked when we went abroad and tried out native costumes and cultures.

I felt so close to you when I expressed my admiration for the Communist style of government ina China and my love for Fidel Castro in Cuba.

I knew I would have to do something overboard to match you. You sure managed to screw over the west with the Western Engergy Agreement, but I think I’ve got that covered now. It was simple, really. I sold the ides of climate change and put a massive tax on it. And most people fell of that. After all, who doesn’t want to save the world?

The FLQ Crisis in Quebec was a dandy, applying the War Measures Act and depriving Canadians of many of their rights and liberties. That stretched on for days and days and the spotlight never dimmed. There was loss of life in that debacle.

Then it hit me. Get under the skin of a bunch of ultra-right-wing grocery delivery truck drivers with ridiculous COVID vaccination restrictions. Even when it was totally peaceful, we “found” some weapons, which the media were happy to trumpet. Then we moved in with the Emergency Act and took away a whole bunch of Canadians’ rights, put them in jail, seized bank accounts and private property. That even resulted in children and the families being separated. This part was so easy because all I had to do is refuse to life the senseless restrictions.

It’s still going on, Papa, but now you can look up to me with pride. 

Your son.

Want to contribuete you your two cents worth? RESPOND HERE.

It's cheaper in bulk, by the truckload

Good morning. Now there is the way to start a new day – a huge transport trailer load of horse manure direct from the front line in Ottawa. There’s an unwritten guideline in journalism to determine whether a speaker is peddling bull manure. If he/she starts with “Let me be clear,” the odds are the truth is nowhere to be found.

The prime minister resorted to a lot of bafflegab, not unexpected, but when he tried to claim “there were weapons. . .” it was hard not to fall out of the chair. From what has been shown in the media as “weapons and body armor” even had Saskatchewan gophers scampering out of their lairs in delirious laughter.

Trudeau tried to tell us there was no other option, our very way of life was at stake, he conveniently ignored that there was, all he had to do was remove the punitive travel mandates against truckers. The arguments in favor of those mandates are no longer valid since they are based on imaginary statistics.

DOWNTOWN STREET MARKET ­– Preparations are going ahead in high gear for the Nanaimo Night Market on Thursday nights this summer. Chamber of Commerce CEO Kim Smythe, the originator of the event, said it was a popular event in the past andi t’s time to bring it back. The weekly market drew thousands into the downtown core in 2018 and 2019, but was  due to public health restrictions.

CALEDONIA DROP IN CENTRE - The city’ finance meeting recommends providing daytime drop-in space at Caledonia Park daily in March for the homeless. The park is already home to a shower program and a shelter on days that meet an extreme-weather threshold. Nanaimo 7-10 Club Society has been operating the cold-weather shelter and has also opened it on some additional days that were not considered extreme-weather days.

WELCOME HARBINGER OF SUMMER – Dragonboat racing returns to Vancouver Island this summer in Nanaimo harbour and at Maffeo Sutton Park on July 9-10. The local event is part of a new Vancouver Island Dragon Boat Race Series hosted by the Fairway Gorge Paddling Club. It starts with sprints in Victoria in mid-May, followed by events in the Comox Valley, Nanaimo, and two more in Victoria.

JUST ASKING – Have you ever met a politicians who promised to control gasoline prices and then nothing happened? Me either, trick question.

Duke Point Ferry terminal closing on Saturday

BC Ferries will temporarily close the Duke Point terminal on Saturday, March 5 for upgrades to the ramp including replacement of the hydraulic valves and the control system. To accommodate this work, sailings will operate out of the nearby Departure Bay terminal for this one day only.

This routing requires a modified schedule for the Tsawwassen – Duke Point route (which temporarily becomes the Tsawwassen – Departure Bay route).

The last sailing from Tsawwassen on Friday, March 4, 2022 will depart at its customary 10:45 p.m. sailing time, but instead of travelling to Duke Point, the ship will off-load at Departure Bay. The route will then operate out of Departure Bay for the duration of Saturday, March 5, 2022. Service between Tsawwassen and Duke Point will resume Sunday March 6, 2022.

Sailings are just over two hours and will depart on the following schedule for Saturday March 5, 2022 ONLY:
 

LEAVING DEPARTURE BAYLEAVING TSAWWASSEN
5:05 AM 5:15 AM
7:55 AM 7:45 AM
10:25 AM 10:35 AM
1:15 PM 1:10 PM
3:55 PM 3:55 PM
6:35 PM 6:35 PM


Every effort is being made to minimize the impact on travel. For detailed schedule information visit bcferries.com.
 

Wednesday, Feb. 16

Fellow employees of an 80-year-old homicide victim who worked a the Buzz Coffee are raising money to help the business. The man's name has not been made public but a photo has been shown. Employee Kyah Hands said the co-owners approved the fundraiser and want the community to know that it was a “member of the Buzz Coffee House family” who died. She said she’s hoping to  cover things like funeral costs, counselling and employee wages.

Now for something positive – I have always been a fan of tree plantings as living memorials. They have a tendency to have a longer lifespan that statues. The Central Vancouver Island Japanese Canadian Society is putting down roots in Bowen Park and elsewhere in Nanaimo. The long-standing Seven Potatoes Society (Nanaimo translates to seven potatoes in Japanese). They are planting Akebono flowering cherry trees. Members set the first 12 of about 100 of the trees it hopes to plant throughout the city around Bowen Park’s lower picnic shelter  on Tuesday. Four more of the trees will be planted at Rock Ridge Park later this year.

Baby steps on lifting restrictions – For some folks who have waited and waited for relieve from COVID restrictions, the province is loosing up the rules a bit, particularly as it applies to public gathering. Though Pandemic visas will remain in effect for a little while longer, people are looking forward to full-house gatherings as early as this weekend. So get ready to party, but do it responsibly.

New health regulations coming this afternoon

Feb. 15, 2022

We’re sitting on pins and needles to see how the provincial health ministry revamps public health restrictions/ British Columbia is expected to announce the plan today for easing public health restrictions. The most recent public health orders related to gatherings, events, bars and restaurants were set to expire on Wednesday. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said we could expect some restrictions on social gatherings to be gradually lifted by next Monday, Family Day. The press conference will be joined by Premier John Horgan and Health Minister Adrian Dix at 1:30 p.m. 

James Turok of Nanaimo has been remanded in custody after being charged with second-degree murder The 29-year-old Turok was arrested in connection with the discovery of a deceased victim on Saturday at the Buzz Coffee house at 4890 Rutherford Road. He was found inside the business by officers and taken into custody. The investigation is continuing and no further information will be released.

If your car license and insurance expires after May 1 you can renew online for personal ICBC auto insurance policies. Public safety minister and solicitor general Mike Farnworth said people will be able to renew ICBC personal insurance policies, update their address, find out if they are eligible for discounts, as well as change their listed drivers and how their vehicle is used, all of it online. Brokers on the back end will review any concerns and follow up with customers if required, while the traditional in-person renewal option will remain.

If you know something about economic development, the city may have a spot for you on its new Nanaimo Prosperity Corporation’s inaugural board. The economic development corporation will have representatives from the city, Snuneymuxw, Nanaimo Airport Commission, Chamber of Commerce, Nanaimo Port Authority and Vancouver Island University. Three members-at-large will round out the board hopefully from volunteer applications. Some of the initial work of the corporation will be to implement the recommendations of the city’s economic development strategy, working on initiatives to attract and retain businesses and employers, and more, noted the release. For more information, visit http://www.nanaimo.ca/goto/economicdevelopment.

Good morning and a happy Valium times day

It’s great to be sort of back in the saddle after a couple weeks to have new parts installed in this old aching body. Too often were fail to recognized all the dedication of all the folks at our hospital for going above and beyond during the past two years. They have battled illnesses, lockdowns and mandates, but they answer the call. Hopefully that’s about to end.

A friend who lives in Nanaimo and has a home in Eastern Canada to live in part time decided to apply for a job out east and joy the best of both worlds, delivering bills and statements and the like. She didn’t get the job, but the good news is another woman got the job and has set up a parttime household in Ottawa, commuting to work. The guy who previously had the job is rebuilding the business he left behind, more or less starting over. 

It used to be great advice for young people graduating from school to get a government job with all the benefits and amenities and unmatched job security. You could work for a couple of decades, or more, and build up a great pension. Then retire, get you old job back as a civilian and collect both penion and salary. It was called double dipping, and it still exists today. A lot of people are getting rehired in their previous jobs as civilian employees with full pay, plus pensions which they earned. Oh, me? I chose journalism.

An investigation is continuing after a homicide at a business at the Island Highway and Rutherford Road Saturday morning. The body was found at a business in north Nanaimo after police were called to the scene for a wellness check. A man at the scene was taken into custody but has since been released. MORE

Nanaimo has joined the line of communities asking the B.C. government for a complex care housing facility for homeless people who need a level of care beyond what supportive housing provides. DETAILS.

We appreciate hearing from out readers during our hiatus and love to hear from you now that we’re back. Click HERE to comment.

That came out of nowhere

I was on my way to the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital to have some parts replaced. It’s that parts replacement I was concerned with there was an extreme parts and labour shortage, they might not have have enough staff to perform their jobs. 

I was amazed at how proficient every everyone was, right from one was where they were supposed to be at the entrance way for the checking. All the steps were easy.

I mention that because of the challenges plaguing medical system by the health care, minor irritants. Somebody had failed to get x-rays done. No big deal, just plow ahead.

I walked out of there with a new hip only a few days surgery, no challenge, off to the recovery room. Staff were all hands on deck. They said there were often about the needed staff on hand. It was enough to make you overlook the torture therapy known as the physiotherapy department.

If there was a bottleneck in the service, you hardly notice this by all those zooming around doing their job. There were hundreds just doing their jobs making sure their patients were looked after.

Thanks, everyone.

Police issue another warning about scammers.

Friday, Feb. 4, 2022

POLICE KEEP WARNING people, but scammers continue to succeed in defrauding vulnerable people. RCMP revealed three scams that have popped up in the new year. "It can happen to any of us," said Cst Sherri Wade with the Nanaimo RCMP. "We are busy; we click on a link that we shouldn't, we give personal information to people who are skilled in tricking us. I encourage people to go to the Canadian Anti Fraud Centre website which provides up-to-date information on the most recent scams, how to protect yourself and if you become a victim of a scam, how to report it." MORE

MORE MONEY FOR MILK – You are paying more for milk this week. Steep price increases are as high as 15 per cent in some provinces and coincide with a spike in the price farmers are paid for the milk they produce. This will affect everyone who consumes milk, but it will hurt low-income and food-insecure families most, consumer advocates say. The Canadian Dairy Commission announced in November that farmers would receive an 8.4 per cent increase to the price they’re paid for the milk they make beginning Feb. 1. On top of the price of the milk, there is now a deposit for milk containers as well as an eco charge. FULL STORY.

ORGAN DONORS – British Columbians set a record for organ donations last year, providing 529 people with life-extending transplants in 2021.The organs came from 150 deceased donors and 75 living kidney donors. The previous record of 122 deceased donors and 502 transplants was set in 2018. Those donated organs resulted in 66 lung, 22 heart, 97 liver and 340 kidney transplants. Four other procedures were for pancreas and multi-organ transplants. MORE

WHAT ABOUT CHEMAINUS? – The new bus service between Nanaimo and the Cowichan Valley is getting set to role, but Chemainus has been left out. North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring has an issue with the new service, start March 28. There are stops from downtown Nanaimo, South Parkway Plaza, Nanaimo Airport, Ladysmith, Cowichan Commons, Beverly Street at Canada Avenue, downtown Duncan and Village Green Mall. Siebring said it’s insulting to expect Chemainus residents to take a local transit bus to either Duncan or Ladysmith to connect with the NCX while there are four stops within two kilometres in Duncan. MORE

O'Toole lost connection with his own party members

Well that was quick . . . and decisive. Now it remains to be seen how bloodless the coup really was. Deposed Conservative party leader Erin O’Toole is a classic example of politicians who get elected on promises . . . and then wander off in their own direction. That didn’t wash with Conservatives who also got elected on those promises . . . and had to answer to their own rank and file members. VIDEO COMMENT

Island Health hospitalization numbers stay steady

Island Health reported two more deaths related C-19 on Thursday. There were 117 patients in hospital, a decrease of three over the previous 24 hours. Ten were in critical care, that's up by two.

Across the province, the hospitalizations dropped by three to 985 with 145 in critical care and 13 deaths.

Fiddling with the numbers confuses COVID fight

Statistics can prove anything someone wants them to prove. That appears to be the case with the Coronavirus counts. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry admits they are not accurate. As a matter of fact, they could be off as much as 60 per cent. When statistics lose credibility and people don’t trust them any more they become useless, and in fact, can become dangerous. VIDEO COMMENTARY. and SIDELINES.

A transfusion for Commercial Street and downtown

Thursday, Feb. 3, 2022

The city is working on a draft for Commercial Street with the goal of enhancing its role as a destination. "It’s no different than anybody renovating their own home," Mayor Leonard Krog told CTV News on Wednesday. "It gets tired, it is looking tired, and we need to make improvements that will attract people." Staff have worked with a consultant and stakeholders since the fall to create a master plan design for the downtown strip. MORE

A NEW PRESCRIPTION  – Not feeling up to par? Well, go take a hike . . . or a walk in the park. There’s an Rx for that now. Doctors can now prescribe a national park pass to patients in need of the physical or mental health benefits offered in nature. Canada’s national nature prescription program, PaRx, has a new collaboration with Parks Canada allowing its registered, licensed health-care professionals to provide a free annual Parks Canada Discovery Pass. MORE 

MORE MONEY FOR MILK – You are paying more for milk this week. Steep price increases are as high as 15 per cent in some provinces and coincide with a spike in the price farmers are paid for the milk they produce. This will affect everyone who consumes milk, but it will hurt low-income and food-insecure families most, consumer advocates say. The Canadian Dairy Commission announced in November that farmers would receive an 8.4 per cent increase to the price they’re paid for the milk they make beginning Feb. 1. FULL STORY.

POLITICAL DONATION REPORTS – The BC New Democrats led the way in political contributions for the final quarter of 2021. Political party interim financial declarations for October 1 to December 31, 2021 are now available from Elections B.C. They show the NDP got $1,281,267.67 in contributions. The BC Liberals had about half that at $647,265 and the BC Green Party $462,837. The Conservative Party got $10,011 while the Rural BC Party picked up $50.  Click on party names for detailed reports, including names of donors. Interim financial reports are required for parties that receive an annual allowance. The five parties were eligible for an annual allowance in 2021.

SUCH TOGETHERNESS – BC Liberals may be shooting themselves in the foot before they even have a new leader following this weekend’s vote. A party member has filed a petition asking a judge to delay the results of the vote for 15 days. The petition filed in B.C. Supreme Court by Vikram Bajwa outlines concerns about the party's recent audit of new members who were signed up during the leadership contest. A hearing is scheduled for Friday in Vancouver. MORE

RCMP seek suspect in Fifth Street armed robbery

Nanaimo RCMP is seeking the public's assistance in identifying a suspect in an armed robbery at the 500 block of Fifth street on January 26. 

At 9 pm that day, The Nanaimo RCMP responded to a robbery with a weapon at the 500 block of Fifth Street, Nanaimo. The caller reported that the suspect had entered the business, pointed what appeared to be a handgun at an employee, stole money and lottery tickets and then fled. MORE 

Vancouver Island Health hospital figures remain steady

February 2, 2022

Centre for Disease Control reports Vancouver Island COVID-19-related hospitalizations remained steady over the previous day with 120, an increase of one. Critical care cases also rose by one but there were six related deaths.

Across the province, the hospital figure dropped significantly, down by 47 to 988. There were 136 critical care cases, a drop of three, and 18 more related deaths were declared. 

The CDC figures do not match those supplied by  provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry who said on Tuesday that many people were testing positive for COVID-19 while attending a hospital for a different matter, and that hospitalizations in the province have likely peaked.

"As much as 60 or 70 per cent (of hospitalizations), especially younger people, are here for other reasons and tested positive," said Dr. Henry.

Defining weekend for BC Liberals in choosing new leader

Feb. 2, 2020

It’s truth or consequences time for the BC Liberals as they elect a new leader this weekend, with the results to be know by Saturday evening. Will it be more of the same or a new direction? There are seven candidates, including three newcomers. What’s important for the party is whether the winner can defeat the NDP in the next election. Whomever the Liberal choose, ­will impact the future of British Columbia. VIDEO COMMENT

No kidding, snow forecast for Nanaimo this morning

SNOWFALL WARNING  – No, I'm not kidding, Environment Canada has issued a warning of possible snowfall this morning from Duncan to Nanaimo and up island to Campbell River. Between two and five centimetres is expected to fall over the area, including the Malahat. The snow is expected to transition to rain late this afternoon and evening. MORE

SHINING BRIGHT – A salute to the Ladysmith Show ‘n Shine which donated $2,500 from its show last year to Vancouver Island University. Despite COVID protocols it was the most successful show Ladysmith has ever experienced. The money was put into the Sam Bailey Memorial Automotive Award for VIU students in the technician program. MORE

BATTERIES A PROBLEM – Electric vehicles are selling at a rapid clip, but nobody seems to know what will happen when the batteries reach the end of life. Jurisdictions across the world are grappling with the problem. There are already more than 60,000 electric vehicles on B.C.’s roads, each equipped with a lithium-ion battery weighing several hundred kilograms, made up of materials like manganese, graphite, nickel, cobalt and lithium. MORE

UPDATE – TWO MISSING PERSONS LOCATED – The Nanaimo RCMP report this morning that need two missing persons have been found.

Megan Paquette is a 35-year-old woman with long brown hair and hazel eyes. She is 5'8 and 141 lbs. Megan had been at Nanaimo Regional Hospital between 10 am and 12:15 pm on January 29 and hasn’t been seen since. Attempts to contact her by phone and social media have not been successful.

Trevor Loffler, 30, is 5'6, 146 lbs, with short black hair, a goatee and brown eyes.
The night of January 29  his family dropped him off at 2114 Meredith Road and he has not been seen since.

RCMP are concerned for both of them and ask anyone who may have any information that may assist the police to please call (250) 754-2345. PHOTOS

Two COVID cases at Berwick on the Lake long-term care

Two resident COVID cases have been identified at Berwick on the Lake long-term care as Island Health declared two new outbreaks and three have ended. The Berwick outbreak is only for the long-term care unit . The other new outbreak is at Tsawaayuus Rainbow Gardens long-term care home in Port Alberni where one resident was identified.

The three outbreaks that were declared over were at Royal Jubilee Hospital and Mount St. Mary Hospital long-term care home, both in Victoria and Comox Valley Seniors Village long-term care home in Courtenay.

COVID reporting results in confusing numbers

The COVID numbers are up in the air as the province reports a drastic increase in hospital cases while the Centre for Disease Contol dashboard shows the patient count in Island Health unchanged at 119, with seven patients in critical care, down two.

Dr. Bonnie Henry reported a dramatic increase to 151 cases. Her numbers include patients who came to hospital for other reasons but tested positive once there. No deaths were reported in Island Health.

There are 1,035 in hospital across the province, a decrease of 13 from Monday – 139 remain in critical care, an increase of one. Nine deaths were reported.

We have to protect the freedom to express our views

Feb. 1, 2022

I had a discussion with a friend the other day about freedom of expression. It’s been in the news in both Canada and the United States recently. Differences of opinions are essential pillars of a democratic society. We always have to have room for divergent views and the freedom to express them. There can be no dialogue if we don’t have a wide range of views from all sides. VIDEO COMMENT

COVID hospitalization cases top 1,000 for first time

The number of hospitalizations for COVID-19 in B.C. surpassed 1,000 over the weekend – 1,048, an increase of 58. Those in intensive care dropped by two for a total of 138 Monday. Island Health reported three COVID-19-related deaths over the weekend and 19 deaths across the province. The B.C. Centre for Disease Control lists 119 patients in hospital  on Vancouver Island, up by seven from Friday. FULL STORY

RCMP dog helps rescue lost senior in the bush

Feb. 1, 2022

LUTHOR TO THE RESCUE – Police dog Luthor came to the rescue Friday after a 75-year-old Nanaimo man called RCMP for help. He had been hiking on a trail off of Vipond Road in Nanaimo and had become disoriented. He told police dispatchers that he was very wet, and officers became concerned for his well-being as the temperature had dropped to 1 degree. Cst Hough of the RCMP Police Dog Services and Luthor came to help the patrol members on the scene; the police had narrowed down a search area by utilizing the GPS in the man's cell phone. Luthor tracked a few trails for approximately 350 metres and veered into the bush and found the man 200 metres from the trail. He was not injured. MORE

MEDAL RETURNED – A first world war medal for bravery, rescued from the trash, is back with the veteran’s family. The medal was awarded to Sgt. John Petrie Austin after he was injured during a mission to take an enemy trench position in 1917. The medal was found by Liam Robertson, a Nanaimo city worker who was part of a crew cleaning up garbage in a park in early December. It was returned to Austin's family during a presentation at Vancouver Island Military Museum yesterday. FULL STORY

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. A blue Mitsubishi was engulfed in flames when Nanaimo Fire & Rescue arrived. A man walked out of the smoke and told police he had been sleeping in the parkade and had awakened by the smoke. 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. 

$12 MILLION GRANT – Harmac Pacific pulp mill will get more than $12 million in funding to reduce its natural gas consumption. The CleanBC Industry Fund grant will upgrade the biomass boiler system atthe mill. Harmac president Levi Sampson said the upgrades are an important investment to creating a cleaner environment and the 320 full time employees. FULL STORY

DOG LICENSES DUE – The new year is in full swing, so don’t forget about Fido – dog licenses are due now. New license fees and charges are in effect to align with the Animal Responsibility bylaw adopted in 2021. Fees for sterilized dogs will remain at $30 and $60 for unsterilized dogs. You can register and pay online www.nanaimo.ca/goto/DogLicence or at the Services and Resource Centre (411 Dunsmuir St) and the Nanaimo Animal Shelter (1260 Nanaimo Lakes Road). New licenses must be registed in person. MORE  

SECOND TIME AROUND – Two repeat offenders were arrested after 10 Fairy Creek protesters blocked the Island Highway at Terminal Avenue. Police intervened when motorists became frustrated. Protesters were told they would be arrested if they did not leave the roadway; all but two people complied. Police arrested a 68-year-old man from Nanaimo and a 47-year-old woman from Denman Island.  Police are forwarding charges for Mischief, Intimidation and Breach of an Undertaking because both people had been arrested for the same offence in an earlier protest this month.

Jan. 31, 2022

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