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City budget is about what we can afford to pay


Can we afford this? City Council is forging ahead with its draft budget that calls for a 7.3-per cent tax increase. If that doesn’t get your attention, this is not a one-time blip. Projections call for a starting-point increase of 6.9 per cent in 2024, then 5.2 per cent in 2025. Council approved all 10 of the finance committee’s recommendations in the plan following an e-town hall meeting to get public feedback on the five-year financial plan. The draft financial plan will return to the council table Dec. 19 for three readings. Governments have no limits on spending, they can just go to the taxpayers. going wild on our credit card. MORE Also, listen to JUST A MINUTE

Heart patients in the mid Island can access vastly-improved facilities at the new Nanaimo Heart Function Clinic which opened Monday. There are more examination rooms, improved privacy and enhanced educational supports. The new heart clinic opened Monday  at 1621 Dufferin Crescent. It has three additional exam rooms and more space for new staff. There’s greater patient privacy, better patient flow, better parking and staff can see more patients concurrently. Planning is also under way to provide patients with educational clinics about self-management, lifestyle, nutrition, medications and exercise in the context of heart failure care. The number of patients accessing the clinic annually has nearly doubled in the last two years and so the space was needed, MORE 

Illuminus interruptus. Gabriola Islanders have to endure two more days of hyrdro interruptions. BC Hydro will cut power to more 4,000 customers  today and Thursday, between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. to conduct repairs. The problems were found Sunda, while TELUS crews worked to re-establish severed communication lines to the Island. MORE

The Nanaimo Clippers are cruising right along atop the Coastal conference of the B.C. Hockey League, and no wonder. Two Clippers have been named to play in the BCHL’s All-Star Game in the new year. Defenceman Ethan Mistry was voted by the fans and then Kai Daniells was also added  to the team. The all-star game Jan. 21 in Penticton will be held outdoors and played in a three-on-three tournament format. That should prove interesting. MORE

Ninety-five per cent of the province’s doctors have voted in favor of a new three-year physician master agreement, which promises better pay and more rural funding, among other things. The proposed agreement was announced at the end of October, along with a new family physician payment model. It includes a $708-million incremental cost increase by the end of year three, which will be used to fund the new payment model, more rural programs, after-hours services, enhanced physician benefits and the shift toward primary care networks. MORE

The ocean floor rumbled as a 4.6-magnitude earthquake erupted off the west coast of Vancouver Island on Tuesday morning, about 183 km west of Port Hardy, 10 km deep. No tsunami was expected, Earthquakes Canada said. There were no reports of damage. That’s the third quake to hit off the west coast in the last two weeks. Residents of Tofino felt a 4.8-magnitude quake that hit about 34 kilometres off the coast on Nov. 25, while a 4.0-magnitude one was registered almost 300 kilometres west of the Island one day earlier. MORE

Don’t take their guns. A group of First Nations in the Cariboo-Chilcotin is demanding answers on a federal gun control bill that appears to target some types of hunting rifles and shotguns. A Liberal amendment to federal gun-control Bill C-21 would enshrine a regulatory ban on so-called assault-style weapons by writing a definition for such firearms into law. The Tsilhqot’in National Government said in a statement Tuesday hunting rifles are necessary tools for hunting and exercising the Indigenous right to hunt. MORE

Newcastle community set to light it up with Illuminight


Newcastle Community is all set to get lit up again, with its third annual Illuminight, a month-long celebration to illuminate the residences and businesses of Newcastle. There are seven light-up categories which will be judged Dec. 11 from 4-8 p.m. Volunteer evaluators will select their favorites. New this year is the Luminous low-rise category for buildings four storeys or less. All the favorites will be acknowledged on social media Monday, Dec. 12. MORE 

The jingle is back. The BC Liquor Distribution Branch has changed its mind, it will again allow the Salvation Army to ring their bells in front of BC Liquor Stores. The distribution branch announced the reversal of a decision to restrict access in front of public liquor stores for the Salvation Army’s Kettle Campaign. The kettle campaign has been collecting money outside BC Liquor Stores for more than 30 years. The decision to limit fundraising efforts was made because there were already two other donation campaigns under way in stores. Good move. MORE

Bus schedules will not be the same during the Christmas season. Some adjustments to the transit system are effective December 18-31when school and university classes are not in session. More information can be found in the Rider’s Guide. For more information on fares, routes and schedules, please visitbctransit.com/nanaimo. For up to the minute route information, check NextRide. Go HERE to see which routes are affected.

The Nanaimo Canoe and Kayak Club’s insurance claim for a Nov. 34 fire was rejected, so now it’s starting from the bottom up to raise funds for a restart. The fire at Loudon Park destroyed two recently-restored Voyageur canoes, used by the club in their community outreach programs. Commodore Ashley Rowe said their insurance claim to recover was denied the cnoes were not stored in the locked cage area under lock and chain because of the inadequate space to store them. MORE

Good news and bad news. First the good news. Communications services on Gabriola Island have been restored for about 4,000 people after nearly a week.The lines had been severed during a winter storm last week. Now for the bad news. B.C. Hydro crews discovered damage to infrastructure likely as a result of the storm. BC Hydro, Gabriola Fire Department and the Regional District of Nanaimo have asked residents to conserve as much power as they can. MORE

The downer after Christmas, property assessment notices hit our mailboxes immediately after Christmas, and values are expected to rise about five to 15 per cent. Assessment values are determined on July 1 of this year, and are compared to the same time period from the year before. The market has changed as interest rates continue to rise and over all sales volume has declined. So your assessment may be higher than what the current value might be. An assessment increase does not necessarily translate into a property tax increase. MORE

B.C. health officials are planning a vaccine blitz at the end of this week to protect children during flu season. Dr. Penny Balem, Immunize BC’s executive director, was joined by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix, as they provided an update on the early and intense flu season. “I cannot stress enough the importance of influenza immunization right now,” Dr. Henry said Monday. While more than 50 per cent of people aged 65 years and older have received their flu vaccinations, only 20 per cent of children aged 11 years and younger are immunized. MORE

Three Bears return for a second helping at Nanaimo home


The three bears, chapter 2. As we described yesterday, three bears made their way inside a Nanaimo home and helped themselves. The next night, lo and behold, they were back. They couldn’t get into the house which owner Michael Killam has since secured, but they managed to open the doors of three vehicles and rummaged through them. At least they didn't drive away in them. MORE 

You may have to settle for a giant chicken for your Christmas dinner – turkeys are in short supply due to the avian flu. Amanda Brittain of the BC Poultry Association said the group is anticipating a 20 per cent drop in available turkeys compared to previous years, but there are currently no shortages of eggs or chicken. Brittain said the spread of the virus has been unprecedented this year across North America and especially troubling during migratory seasons in the spring and fall. MORE

The Chief Medical Health Officer has declared an outbreak of Haemophilus Influenzae type B (Hib) affecting homeless people on Vancouver Island. Details were revealed in the health authority’s website. Eight cases have been confirmed since late 2021 in Victoria, Nanaimo and Parksville and one person has died, reports Island Health. “This outbreak is affecting people experiencing homelessness, unstable housing, or supportive housing and using substances including drugs that are inhaled,” said Island Health in the newsletter. Those infected ranged from their mid-20s to 70s, and the average age is 47. MORE

China's zero-COVID pandemic rules are also fuelling a surge in requests to move to Canada. Immigration from China has bounced back from pandemic lulls to hit a new peak, according to Canadian government statistics, and immigration consultants report an ongoing surge of inquiries. MORE

Conspiracies, disinformation, misinformation, suppression

It is a mean world today, and there is little material in the mainstream or social media that we can trust. Increasing government muttering about the need to control misinformation is hilarious. They mean they feel a need to monitor misinformation they did not generate. Should we ask them to copyright their misinformation so we can identify it? FULL COMMENTARY

A real life fairytale with three bears


CHEK TV has a great story with video about a Nanaimo couple getting a real-life experience of living in a fairytale – the Three Bears. Michael and Jaqueline Killam were wakened by their barking dog in the middle of the night and when they went to check it out, they found bears had crawled through the doggy door and made their way around. The wine rack was tipped over, we had some bird food that was spilled over and a bag was ripped open and I could hear some snuffling sounds a made a hasty retreat back to the bedroom, Michael said. Their surveillance camera captured the intrusion involving two cubs and a mama bear. See the DETAILS AND VIDEO.

An Indigenous contractor has been shut out of work on the on the new Cowichan District Hospital. Owner and operator Jon Coleman of Jon-Co Contracting says the province refused to give a them a contract because none of its members were a part of a government-approved union. Jon-Co Contracting is a part of the Khowutzun Development Corporation which has several Indigenous-owned contracting companies. In 2018, the government established the BC Infrastructure Benefits, a crown corporation responsible for providing skilled trade workers for public-sector projects. According to BCIB, all workers are required to be a part of an accepted union. MORE

A man who was wanted on a province-wide warrant last month has been sentenced to one day in jail. The Vancouver Police Department says Mohammed Adada pleaded guilty to assault with a weapon and been sentenced to one day in jail, after credit for time served. He had been arrested and charged, but was released on bail and scheduled to appear in court. The warrant was issued after he failed to show up on his court date. Adada had been convicted for five different assaults since May 2021 and was considered "dangerous and a threat to public safety." MORE

Sadly Conservatives are toeing the Liberal/Socialist line

A reader has informed me of a recent survey conducted by the Conservative Party of Canada among its members. They provide a list of issues to the members and ask them rate them according to their impact on their lives. No mention of the covid vaccine impact, or the lockdowns and mandates impact on peoples’ health, jobs, business. The doctors who are being harassed, other people being harassed and the forced wearing of scientifically unhealthy masks – the unnecessary and dangerous covid vaccines being imposed on children and pregnant women. The many unexplained deaths. The heart problems, the blood clots. FULL COMMENTARY

No more snow forecast, but it's going to stick around

Okay, the snowfall should be over but it’s going to stick around for a while. Temperatures won’t be high enough to melt it for a while. Ross MacDonald, of Environment Canada, says the forecast for most of the Island for the weekend is sunny, with some areas expected to have some clouds tomorrow afternoon. Temperatures are forecast to be cooler over the weekend. For the snowfall on Friday, no records were broken. Officially, Nanaimo got nine centimetres though it was more in some areas of the city.

Gabriola Island out of touch, phone service still down


It could be up to a month before Gabriola Island residents get a permanent fix for phone, cell or internet service. Service dropped on Tuesday when a communications line connecting Mudge Island and Vancouver Island was severed during the winter storm. They’re living without home internet, unreliable cell phone service and no landline phones including the ability to call 911 for help. Gabriola Volunteer Fire Department chief Will Sprogis said the station has a mobile cell tower. “It’s hard for outside callers to call 911, they can’t call with a landline so they have to call the Fire Hall and we can get a 911 call out,” he said. MORE

Seniors and those with mobility and health issues may get home services such as community health workers, nurses, Meals on Wheels, prescription delivery, and more. However they may not be able to get those services if the area is unsafe due to snowed-in sidewalks. This would be a good time to step forward and help by shovelling a pathway to the door. You’ll feel better, even with aching muscles.

City council’s Finance and Audit Committee has approved the addition of 40 new firefighters and two new trucks. The multi-million-dollar decision will hit property owners with a 1.04 per cent tax increase next year. The first 20 firefighters would be hired for August, 2023 to staff a Rescue Pumper truck at the downtown Firehall. It will cost $1.3 million in 2023 and grow to $3.6 million in 2027. The $442,500 costs of the truck would be covered by a reserve fund. The second 20 firefighters would be hired for January 2025 to staff a Front Line Engine at Station #2, across from the Nanaimo Golf Course. The decision must be ratified by city council. MORE

Nanaimo RCMP need help in finding William McMurray, 23, who missed an urgent medical appointment late in November. Health-care providers are worried about his safety and well-being. He may be living in a tent in the Cedar area. RCMP have checked numerous homeless encampments and emergency shelters, but haven’t found him. He is 5’ 9”, weighs 165 pounds, and has brown hair and green eyes. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call Nanaimo RCMP’s non-emergency hotline at 250-754-2345, citing file No. 2022-41323.

A fire forced two families out of their home Thursday night. Firefighters responded to the fire in the 2700 block 105th Street just before 6 p.m. The people displaced from the residence included the homeowners and tenants. The fire appeared to have started on the main floor and the cause is under investigation.

Her life’s work has put smiles on a lot of kids, but now it’s the end or the line after nearly 30 years for Carolyn Kool as she closes her business, Kool & Child on Bowen Road, on Christmas Eve. In all, it’s more than 50 years in the family business, including 29 in Nanaimo. People have come to our store right from when they were children, now some of them have grandchildren, she says. MORE

Nearly 75 per cent of the people surveyed in an independent review of the province’s COVOD response said they didn’t trust information coming from the government. But despite being unprepared for the pandemic, the province showed “resilience, balance and nimbleness” during the emergency. Both the report’s authors and Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth say the online survey was not representative of the population as a whole. The review, involved 145 organizations and 15,000 respondents. It made 26 findings including recommendations around better communication, transparency, data collection and improved public trust. MORE

Expect more snow on Vancouver Island today


More snow is on the way. Environment Canada has issued a snowfall warning for much of Vancouver Island, including Ladysmith, Nanaimo and Parksville with accumulations of 5-15 cm of heavy, wet snow this morning. The heaviest snowfall is expected near the afternoon rush-hour Friday afternoon, continuing into to Saturday morning. For more information on weather conditions, go to WEATHER

Kristopher Stephen Smith, 44, of Nanaimo is one of four Vancouver Island men charged with drug trafficking following a four-year operation. The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of B.C. announced the charges, which came as a result of the joint operation with the RCMP’s federal serious organized crime unit. The men facing various charges include Smith, Sean Oliver Douglas Kendall, 44, of Port Alberni; William Bradley Thompson, 58, of Ladysmith; and William Karl Paulsen, 51, of Campbell River. Thompson has been arrested and released on a promise to appear. Arrest warrants have been issued for Smith, Paulsen, and Kendall. MORE

It's party time for Santa Claus this weekend, specifically Victoria Crescent. Dave Lawrence, president of the Victoria Crescent Association, said they have been planning the holiday block party for several months and is excited to again bring the community together. Seven businesses plan to take part, with some offering special discounts. Lawrence said there will be plenty of classic holiday tunes to “get in the spirit,” and a possible DJ guest appearance. Free hot chocolate will be provided to attendees, as well as vendor and artisan booths to peruse. MORE           

Mental Health and Addictions Minister Sheila Malcolmson has announced 33 new or expanded programs across the province to help addicted young people. Malcolmson says it's a “historic expansion” of services for youth and the programs will be supported by about 130 new health-care workers including therapists, clinicians, social workers, harm-reduction co-ordinators, nurse practitioners, epidemiologists, outreach workers and Indigenous patient navigators. The services will vary by health region and range from prevention and early intervention to intensive treatment and crisis health. MORE

Drivers travelling overnight on Highway 1 through Goldstream Provincial Park can expect delays from Monday until Wednesday, as crews continue geotechnical work. On those days, from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m., single-lane alternating traffic will allow crews to conduct geotechnical investigations for future planning purposes. Drivers may experience delays as long as 20 minutes. For up-to-date road-closure information, check: www.DriveBC.ca.

Promises made, promises forgotten and not kept

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has pledged $42.5 million in support for James Smith Cree Nation in Saskatchewan. A deadly stabbing rampage nearly three months ago left 11 people dead and 18 injured. Trudeau met with leaders and family members of some of the victims Monday before the funding announcement. That’s all well and good. Remember that Trudeau also pledged funding for clean drinking water to other first nations years ago, and they’re still thirsty.

Wellness and recovery centre announced for Nanaimo

Hon. Sheila Malcolmson

Nanaimo is getting a new wellness and recovery centre which will expand and integrate harm reduction and treatment and recovery services to connectfor people with substance-use challenges.

The centre, funded by the Province and Island Health, will include an overdose prevention site, a range of services, including treatment options and other harm-reduction measures, and supports and referrals for people who use substances to reduce the risk of toxic drug poisonings.

"At this dangerous time of drug toxicity, we want services to meet people," said Nanaimo MLA Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. "Once complete, the Nanaimo wellness and recovery centre will connect people with substance-use challenges to the supports they need to stay alive and connect to care." MORE

Salvation Army kettles shut out of B.C. liquor stores

Salvation Army Kettles will no longer be in front of BC Liquor Stores. The Liquor Distribution Branch said it has two in-store campaigns already running during the Christmas season and did not want to overwhelm customers. BCL is running an in-store fundraising campaign in support of Food Banks BC. BCL’s Share-a-Bear program is also under way. As part of this program, customers are asked at the cash register to buy one bear to take home while its twin is donated to a shelter, hospital, or other worthy charity in their community. MORE

Trashing of Alberta's bid for sweeping powers was expected

Eyebrows were raised in Ottawa after Alberta Premier Danielle Smith introduced a bill that would give her province sweeping powers to overrule the federal government. It was expected that the federal government and mainstream media would rally to the defence of the status quo. Criticism of the federal government can prove to be costly. The misrepresentation of the Smith Bill was also expected. The federal government subsidizes the media. Don't bite the hand that feeds you. FULLCOMMENTARY

Trudeau's hypocrisy knows no bounds


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau got on his high horse again, saying everyone in China should be allowed to protest. He said Canada will continue to ensure that China knows we stand for human rights and with people who are expressing themselves. Oh the hypocrisy, supporting protests against COVID crackdowns in China while trampling on human rights in Canada by invoking the emergency measures act and tossing people in jail for protesting the mandates.

City gets funding for cold weather shelters


Two daytime warming centres have received funding from the city to operate during cold winter weather. The funding enables the  Risebridge Society at 520 Prideaux Street, to be open seven days a week. And a warming centre operated by the 7-10 Club centre will open Monday to Friday at St. Paul’s United Church at 100 Chapel Street. The centres will remain in operation December to March. Warm meals and outreach services are available. The funding came from the Union of BC Municipalities Strengthening Communities’ Services Program. MORE

Nanaimo has set a record with more drug-related deaths in 2022 than in any previous year. The Island and Northern health authorities are trending toward record losses of life for the year, causing at least 1,827 deaths in the province in the first 10 months of the year. Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe said the increased toxicity and variability of the illicit drug supply has created an environment where everyone who uses substances is at risk. MORE

The Hospital Foundation’s annual Light the Trees fundraiser is bigger and better this year. Foundation CEO Barney Ellis-Perry told NanaimoNewsNOW it’s moving beyond the main entrance and hospital tower. There will be lights around the emergency ward and ambulatory care area, and they’re popping a tree on top of the hospital. “It’s about sending a message of hope for our patients and workers in the hospital,” he said. MORE

Backup communication service is available through the Gabriola Volunteer Fire Department after Telus landline and cell service went down during Tuesday’s storm. The department can make calls to RCMP and ambulance for anyone who needs them, or contact the fire hall via Facebook Messenger. Gabriola residents have been without service since Telus landline and cell service went down. They should still dial 911 in case service has been restored. If they can’t connect, they’re urged to head to the nearest doctor’s office, police station or fire department if safe to do so. MORE

Don’t be surprised if your mail box is empty. Canada Post suspended deliveries in more than a dozen cities on Wednesday. A red service alert was issued just before noon Wednesday, halting delivery for the Nanaimo and Parksville areas and in 12 Metro Vancouver municipalities, and three cities in the Fraser Valley. “Delivery will resume once conditions improve and it’s safe to do so,” Canada Post Helps posted on Twitter Wednesday morning. MORE

B.C. teachers overwhelmingly accept new three-year deal

British Columbia public school teachers have voted 94 per cent in favour of a new three-year contract. BC Teachers' Federation president Clint Johnston says the contract boosts annual salaries for new teachers as much as $8,500 by the end of the third year while B.C.'s highest-paid educators will earn up to $13,500 more over the same period, which Johnston says pushes them above the $100,000-per-year threshold for the first time. MORE

Cancelled ferries, dangerous roads and emergency shelter


That was quite a day with the first snow storm of fall. It resulted in multiple vehicle accidents, cancelled ferries and airline flights. As much as 25 cm of snow fell in parts of Nanaimo. An emergency shelter was opened by volunteers downtown. Schools and VIU are also closed today. There were massive power outages, including parts of Nanaimo. The outlook for today is for some rain and melting, but beware of Friday, more of the same.

Do you really need to go out? If it’s not an absolute necessity, stay home. Nanaimo Fire Rescue have responded to numerous vehicle incidents in under four hours on Tuesday, while Nanaimo RCMP Reserve Cst. Gary O’Brien said people need to stay home. “If you’re not comfortable driving in these conditions, don’t drive, it’s as simple as that..”

The city’s emergency weather shelter is not yet open, so volunteers from Risebridge have opened an emergency daytime shelter at their Prideaux and Albert Street location. “We’re opening up a warming centre because clearly there’s a desperate need for it in Nanaimo,” said Tori Davies, a volunteer at Risebridge. Jovan Johnson, executive director of Risebridge, added it’s infuriating especially for outreach workers, support workers who are tirelessly working to support these individuals. MORE

BC Ferries cancelled sailings along major routes between Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland on Tuesday due to weather. Sailings between Departure Bay and Horseshoe Bay as well as the Duke Point route were from 3:20 p.m. until end of day Tuesday. The Gabriola Island ferry was also cancelled, some due to lack of crew. Please check with BC Ferries for updated schedules if you plan to travel.

A Nanaimo man was shot and killed by police in Washington State after he reportedly crashed a stolen semi truck earlier this month. The Thurston County Coroner confirmed to the News Bulletin that Neil Alexander Costin, 32, of Nanaimo, died after he was shot by police on Nov. 18. Social media posts from Trooper Robert Reyer, Washington State Patrol public information officer, said Costin hijacked a semi truck and rolled it, and then refused to exit the cab of the truck. MORE

Global News wants taxpayer to subsidize staff salaries


The parent company that runs Global News is lobbying Parliament for direct cash grants to subsidize employees’ pay. The Commons finance committee has released a petition by Corus Entertainment Inc. seeking 25-per-cent  payroll rebates. Unlike other Canadian news and broadcast content, Canadian broadcast news is not entitled to ongoing, direct financial support from the federal government, managers wrote in a submission to the finance committee. “Corus urges the federal government to redress this inequity.”

When democracy is forced to yield to tyranny


The excuses, embarrassing nonsense and outright lies we have suffered during the inquiry make it clear that the deranged denizens of the Trudeau cabinet and PMO are unfit for office. Deputy PM Christia Freeland’s commentary is fiction. The blockade of the Ambassador Bridge ended peacefully the day prior to the invocation of the Emergencies Act. Freeland’s narrative is misinformation writ large. FULL COMMENTARY