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West Side of Vancouver Island.

Click on other pages for deeper stories and local news:  BC & NATIONAL | VANCOUVER ISLAND (island-wide impact) | LANGFORD, COLWOOD & METCHOSIN | SOOKE |  JUAN de FUCAREGIONAL EVENTS

  


 

Wednesday, June 21 ~ COASTAL BC. BC Ferries is doing their usual add-on of additional sailings for the busy summer travel season. Extra sailings will be on routes serving Vancouver-Victoria (Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay) and Vancouver-Sunshine Coast, as well as the inter-island routes.

Fare promotions this summer include a break on the rate for private passenger vehicles longer than 20 ft (that’s to Oct 1), and passenger vehicle and driver fares at $39, $49, and $59 on select morning/evening sailings (to Sept 15).


Wednesday, June 21 ~ NATIONAL – from the west coast.   It’s finally the first day of summer, which seems to have taken longer to arrive due to a dreary long winter and a spring with much more rain than usual. It’s almost as if winter lasted right up until it became summer!

The summer solstice officially marks the first day of summer. This year the solstice arrived at 9:24 pm Pacific Time last night on June 20, making today June 21 the first full day of summer.

On the west side of Vancouver Island it was also quite a windy day yesterday, as if to usher in summer with a bang and with a reminder that the climate is not following stable patterns as it used to.

For health in summer, people are reminded to wear sunscreen for their skin when outdoors, and UV-protective eyewear. Remember to stay hydrated and wear a hat when exposed to sunlight.

Most people’s veggie and herb gardens are well underway already. But now that warm weather is assured it’s a good time for planting any remaining vegetable or herb plants as well as flowers.

On the national political scene, Prime Minister Justice Trudeau has renamed National Aboriginal Day — as recognized each year at the summer solstice —  as National Indigenous Peoples Day.


Thursday, June 15 ~ VICTORIA/Vancouver Island. A recall of Island Farms milk products is open to all affected consumers. Products can be returned with or without a receipt. the recall also applies to products with the brand names Lucerne and Natrel.

Today June 15, the manufacturer — Agropur Dairy Cooperative — initiated a voluntary recall of numerous items in BC that were produced at the Victoria facility. The company said foreign material had been found in some of the products. No injuries or illnesses have been reported. The company said the recall is a precautionary measure.

Customers are advised not to drink the milk and are being asked to return the products to the store for a full refund.

The voluntary recall comes three days after Foremost-brand four-litre milk jugs from two Real Canadian Superstores on Vancouver Island were recalled due to sharp metal objects being found in the milk.

These are the affected Agropur products:

Brand Product Format UPC Distribution
Island Farms 1% Partly skimmed milk 2L 0 57726 00203 0 British Columbia
Island Farms 1% Partly skimmed milk 4L 0 57726 00139 2 Vancouver Island only
Island Farms 2% Partly skimmed milk 2L 0 57726 00202 3 British Columbia
Island Farms 2% Partly skimmed milk 4L 0 57726 00119 4 Vancouver Island only
Island Farms 1% Chocolate partly skimmed
milk
1L 0 57726 00166 8 British Columbia
Island Farms 3.25% Homogenized milk 2L 0 57726 00201 1 British Columbia
Island Farms 3.25% Homogenized milk 4L 0 57726 00109 5 Vancouver Island only
Island Farms Skimmed milk 2L 0 57726 00204 7 British Columbia
Island Farms Skimmed milk 4L 0 57726 00129 3 Vancouver Island only
Lucerne Skimmed Milk 2L 8 21954 07890 3 British Columbia
Lucerne 1% Partly skimmed milk 2L 8 21954 07892 7 British Columbia
Lucerne 2% Partly skimmed milk 2L 8 21954 07894 1 British Columbia
Lucerne 1% Chocolate partly skimmed
milk
2L 8 21954 07898 9 British Columbia
Lucerne 3.25 % Homogenized milk 2L 8 21954 07896 5 British Columbia
Natrel 1% Partly skimmed milk 4L 0 64420 44115 7 Vancouver Island only
Natrel 2% Partly skimmed milk 4L 0 64420 44317 5 Vancouver Island only
Natrel 1% Chocolate partly skimmed
milk
1L 0 64420 00199 3 British Columbia
Natrel 3.25% Homogenized Milk 4L 0 64420 44117 1 Vancouver Island only
Natrel Skimmed milk 4L 0 64420 44417 2 Vancouver Island only

 


Wednesday, June 14 ~ BC. Coastal Naturalists are on board again this summer on BC Ferries.

BC Ferries is again operating their Coastal Naturalist Program on select vessels this summer. On the Vancouver-Victoria route (Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay) and Vancouver-Nanaimo route (Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay), naturalists will engage with customers during 20-minute presentations, June 28 through September 4.

About 150,000 passengers participate in these presentations each year, and this is the 12th year. Again this year, travellers on BC Ferries can learn about the ocean, BC’s unique wildlife and marine life, coastal, nautical and cultural history.

The service is provided in partnership with Parks Canada. There is free entry to all of Parks Canada places in 2017.
The info sessions will be presented seven days a week on these vessels: Spirit of British Columbia, Spirit of Vancouver Island, Coastal Celebration, Queen of New Westminster, Coastal Renaissance, and Queen of Oak Bay. The Coastal Naturalist schedule is at www.bcferries.com/onboard-experiences/Coastal_Experiences

The educational backgrounds of these young naturalists can be an inspiration to high school graduates of 2017!

  • Michelle – Vancouver Island University grad (Anthropology and Geography)
  • Katie – BA in Environmental Studies & French, passion for sea slugs
  • Rachel – double major in Environmental Studies & Geography, in 4th year at UVic
  • Colin – sciences at Thompson Rivers University, and now in the education program at UVic
  • Hilary – finishing M.Sc. at Thompson Rivers university studying intertidal animals
  • Janna – studying Natural Resource Sciences at Thompson Rivers University
  • Jessica – 3rd year Psychology student at UBC with a focus on mental health
  • Joe – Bachelor in Environment and Health Studies from York University; plus Applied Coastal Ecology at Northwest Community College in Prince Rupert

Construction continues along Hwy 1 for the McKenzie Interchange. [Photo May 23, 2017 by West Shore Voice News]

Thursday, June 8 ~ VICTORIA AREA. The BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) has issued a traffic advisory about McKenzie Avenue and Highway 1 construction closures coming up next week.

Between Monday June 12 and Friday June 16, travellers are advised of overnight closures, detours and delays on McKenzie Avenue and Highway 1 as part of the McKenzie interchange construction.

The following closures will allow crews to install the Galloping Goose Trail bridge over McKenzie Avenue and the temporary pedestrian/cyclist bridge over Highway 1:

> Monday, June 12, from 11 p.m. to Tuesday, June 13, at 5:30 a.m. McKenzie Avenue will be closed between Burnside Road W and Highway 1.
Tuesday, June 13, from 11 p.m. to Wednesday, June 14, at 5:30 a.m. McKenzie Avenue will be closed between Burnside Road W and Highway 1.
> Friday, June 16, from midnight to 5:30 a.m. Highway 1 will be closed between McKenzie Avenue / Admirals Road and the Helmcken interchange.

MOTI says that every effort will be made to open these routes as quickly as possible, as soon as it is safe for both the construction crews and the travelling public. The work schedule may change due to weather and other conditions.

All travellers including drivers, cyclists and pedestrians are advised to plan alternative routes and to allow for extra time. Please also obey traffic control personnel and construction speed limits, and watch for workers and highway message boards. For up-to-date traffic advisories: www.drivebc.ca

The interchange, when complete, is expected to improve travel times between core areas, Saanich and the western communities of Colwood, Langford and beyond to Sooke.


Monday, June 5 ~ VANCOUVER ISLAND. Alistair MacGregor, MP (Cowichan-Malahat-Langford) in the news this week.

Improving access to healthy food for every Canadian, ensuring sustainable agricultural communities and resources, and promoting food in Canada and around the world will be discussed at a town hall meeting with Alistair MacGregor, MP (Cowichan-Malahat-Langford) and Ruth Ellen Brosseau, MP (NDP Critic for Agriculture) on Fri June 16 (5:30 pm) at Island Savings Centre – Heritage Hall, 2687 James St, Duncan.

“We need to look at the whole picture and bring an integrated approach to federal policy that connects agriculture, rural development, health and income security,” says MacGregor.

“Lack of support, attacks on supply management, struggles of small and medium farms, threat of NAFTA renegotiations, safety and sustainability, are daily concerns for farmers and agriculture workers.”

A program to clean up abandonned vessels along the coast was announced this week by the federal Liberals, but the NDP says it barely scratches the surface, calling it “a rudderless plan that cannot address the thousands of vessels abandoned on our coasts”. Says Alistair MacGregor: “The plan lacks any measures to improve vessel registration, build a vessel turn-in program, get taxpayers off the hook for clean ups, or support local marine salvage businesses. Additionally, the lack of resources included in the plan is dwarfed by what’s required for vessel removal. The cost of removing just one vessel last year off Vancouver Island was more than the annual budget for vessel removal.” Last month, the NDP tabled Bill C-352 in Parliament to create a comprehensive coast-wide strategy to clean up abandoned vessels which pose significant economic and environmental risks to coastal communities.


 

Friday, June 2 ~ VANCOUVER ISLAND. Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) is announcing new initiatives this summer, in recognition of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, and in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary. VIRL’s Read for Reconciliation offers a curated list of titles by indigenous authors that stimulate awareness, foster discussion, and facilitate a culture of learning.

June is National Aboriginal month and VIRL branches are hosting a range of programs and events in recognition and celebration of the vital role of indigenous communities. VIRL is also running a social media campaign, with the hashtag #Read4Reconciliation, as part of the campaign.

“As community hubs, libraries have an important role to play in both celebrating all that makes our country great, and in the healing and reconciliation that must occur so that we can all move forward under a common umbrella of understanding and unity,” said VIRL Executive Director, Rosemary Bonanno. “VIRL is committed to embracing and learning from our indigenous communities. We are also very excited to be part of the celebrations that are sweeping the country on Canada’s 150th anniversary.”

For Canada’s 150th, VIRL is launching a booklist of 150 titles from across the country and a mobile library that is travelling to events across Vancouver Island to promote library services. The mobile library will allow people to sign up for a library card, check out library materials (from the Read for Reconciliation and Canada 150 lists, and materials related to each event), purchase library swag, and test out VIRL’s new Virtual Reality.

At the mobile library, everyone will have an opportunity to be part of an exciting oral history project that aims to tap into and curate the rich tapestry that is our Island, and celebrate the stories and histories that unite us all. We will be recording 150-second stories at the community events and at all 39 branches.

The VIRL mobile library will be at the following events:

  • Port Alberni – Farmer’s Market – Saturday, June 17 – 9am–1pm
  • Nanaimo – Multiculturalism Day (One Community: Our City. Our Stories) – Tuesday, June 27 – 7–9pm
  • Downtown Duncan Day – Saturday, July 15 – 10am–6pm
  • Vancouver Island Exhibition – August 18, 19, 20

The complete Read for Reconciliation Booklist is available at virl.bc.ca/rfr and the Canada 150 materials are available at virl.bc.ca/150 .


Tuesday, May 30 [12:30 pm] ~ BC. The foundations of government in BC are shifting rapidly, in the wake of the BC election results and aftermath of an NDP-Green agreement to work cooperatively.

  • Today May 30 at 1:30 pm Premier Christy Clark will address media from her office in Vancouver.
  • At 2 pm, John Horgan, Andrew Weaver, and all MLAs-elect from the BC NDP and BC Green caucuses will pledge their support for the agreement “to form a stable new government that works for people”, at the BC Legislature. Their Confidence and Supply Agreement document will be discussed.

 

Thursday, May 25, 2017 ~ BC. News analysis. So you’d think the dust would have settled after the BC Election final count yesterday. But stay tuned for further action.

BC NDP Leader John Horgan is pushing an agenda for the public good… that the NDP with their 41 seats be given the lead by Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon to form government with the support of the Greens and their 3 seats.

That still pulls in only 44 seats. That’s the required number to form a majority (though one MLA would sit as speaker, leaving still 43 votes in the house). But it’s not all about numbers.

This is one of those starkly evident moments in the political life of a democracy where the values, insights, and positive intention of leaders must shine through.

Voters in BC obviously did not want the status quo, but they also didn’t want to lose stability. Hopefully wisdom prevails, and a coalition that works for the people of this province prevails.

During the 28-day election campaign, Horgan was the only leader of the three parties willing to actually articulate the frustration of the people. Remarkably, the fracture lines of that articulation has shone through, regardless of first-past-the-post riding count results.

Here is John Horgan’s statement from May 24 after the final results were announced by Elections BC:
“British Columbians have voted overwhelmingly to replace Christy Clark’s Liberals with a new government that works better for families. They voted for better schools, shorter wait times for health services, to defend our coast and to fix our broken political system. The newly elected BC NDP team will be working hard every day to ensure British Columbians get a new government that works for them instead of just the wealthy and well-connected.”


Wednesday, May 24 ~ BC. That official recount that everyone has had their eye on in Courtenay-Comox has produced a final victory for the BC NDP, by 189 votes. BC NDP candidate Ronna-Rae Leonard  is now the confirmed winner of that riding, over BC Liberal candidate Jim Benninger.

That leaves BC with the same election result as on Election Night, May 9: BC Liberals with 43 seats, NDP with 41 seats, and Greens with 3 seats.

Over 176,000 absentee ballots were counted during May 22 to 24, to determine the final election results in all 87 ridings in BC. There are 87 seats in the BC Legislature.

At this time, BC Liberal Leader Christy Clark continues as Premier of BC as first requested on May 10 by BC Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon. However, by a self-imposed deadline of May 31, BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver says he will announce which party the Greens would work with — BC Liberals or BC NDP — to form a coalition government. It will be up to Guichon to make the final call.

The percentage of popular vote was determined as BC Liberal 40.36%, BC NDP 40.28%, BC Green 16.84%, Libertarian 0.40% and Other 2.12%. Together, the BC NDP and BC Greens captured 57.12% of what could be called the progressive vote. BC NDP Leader John Horgan thereby says the people voted for a progressive government, and hopes that the 41 BC NDP seats plus the 3 BC Green seats will — as a combined 44 seats — be more representative of the will of the people.

Regardless of which party or combination of party seats forms a majority, one of the 44 MLAs will have to serve as Speaker, still leaving 43 MLAs to vote and that’s not a majority. As Premier Christy Clark seems to have newly discovered … the people of BC want all parties to work together.

The newly formed BC government may have to move forward by agreement on one legislative bill at a time. Any which way you look at it, it’s a fragile setup. Another election will eventually be called when whatever minority/coalition arrangement ends up happening then begins to fall apart.

In total 1,973,914 people cast counted ballots in BC for this 41st General Election.


Monday, May 22 ~ BC. That official recount that everyone has had their eye on in Courtenay-Comox has produced four more votes for the NDP. The BC NDP candidate there — Ronna-Rae Leonard — therefore still holds the win by a margin of 13 votes over BC Liberal candidate Jim Benninger.

Absentee ballots totaling 2,077 still need to be counted in that riding… the results of that count could be known by tomorrow May 23, or perhaps stretching into Wednesday, May 24.

In the initial results of the general election on May 9, the BC Liberals won 43 seats, the BC NDP won 41, and the BC Green Party nabbed three. That left the Liberals are one seat short of a majority government, and both the BC Liberals & BC NDP scrambling to line up discussion pathways with the BC Greens that appear to presently hold the balance of power.

On May 10, BC Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon asked BC Liberal leader Christy Clark to continue as Premier of BC until the final seat count is known.

A recount has also been completed in Vancouver-False Creek on the mainland. BC Liberal incumbent Sam Sullivan’s lead has grown from 560 votes to 569 votes over BC NDP candidate Morgane Oger. Officials in the riding will now be counting the 2,814 absentee ballots.

Officials have been counting absentee ballots all day this holiday Monday, in the 85 other ridings. There are now 87 seats in the BC Legislature for the upcoming session.


Monday, May 22 ~ VANCOUVER ISLAND. A team of volunteers will gather at the Empress Acres farm in Nanaimo June 3 and 4 to plant 20 acres of trees as part of an initiative to tackle climate change. The specially selected Empress Splendor trees will be provided by World Tree, a Victoria company, as part of their Carbon Offset Program.

The Empress Splendor is a non-invasive, hybrid species, that can grow in most the United States and Canada where it’s primary use is lumber. Empress trees grow best in places with summer temperatures of 70°F (21°C) and higher for at least 5 to 6 months a year at an altitude of less than 2,200 ft. The trees typically grow 10 to 20 ft in the first year and reach maturity in 10 years.

“Most people have never heard of the Empress Tree, even though there is a mature tree on the grounds of the legislature building in Victoria,” says Wendy Burton, CEO of World Tree. “This will be the first large-scale planting of these trees on Vancouver Island and we hope that it will attract more local farmers to the program.”

The project is backed by Canadian investors who want to offset their carbon footprint. The exceptional growth rate and large leaves of the trees makes them carbon sponges, absorbing 11 times more carbon than any other tree.

In addition to the environmental benefits, the trees will provide an important revenue stream to Empress Acres farm. The trees will be harvested at maturity and the income will be shared with all the stakeholders: the farmers, the investors and World Tree.

“The Empress Splendor has many benefits for the environment and for us as farmers,” says Angela Nauta, one of the Empress Acres owners. “The carbon capture is important for our sustainability, and we are also very happy to get the benefit of extra income in 10 years.”

Once they are harvested, the trees will re-grow from the stump providing ongoing benefits to the environment and the growers for many decades to come.

World Tree has been promoting the properties of the Empress Tree since 2002 and launched their Carbon Offset Program in 2015. This year they have planted over 100,000 trees with farmers in Canada, United States and Costa Rica which will offset over 5 million tons of carbon over the next 50 years. They are expanding their program and are actively seeking farmers.


Sooke Lake Reservoir at the top of the dam’s spillway, May 15 (CRD photo).

Friday, May 19 ~ GREATER VICTORIA.  The annual mid-year CRD reservoir decline has begun.

And as of May 1, the Capital Regional District (CRD) Stage 1 water conservation bylaw is in effect (to Sept 30). It’s part of an annual strategy to maintain water supplies for Greater Victoria through the drier months of the year.

In 2015 and 2016 in which warmer drier weather came earlier than it has this year, the level of water in the Sooke Lake Reservoir began its annual seasonal decline as of April 19 (99.8%) and April 10 (99.5%), respectively. This year, the first measurement below 100% was seen a bit further into spring, on May 7 (99.6%). The full pool level of Sooke Lake Reservoir is 186.75m, serving a CRD-region population of about 380,000.

According to weather forecasts, this Victoria Day long weekend will offer the first couple of sunny days in 2017 with temperatures in the high teens. In warmer weather, there tends to be more water usage.

Stage 1 conservation allows residential lawn watering twice a week (even addresses on Wed/Sat and odd addresses Thurs/Sun). Established plantings and vegetable gardens may be watered by a hand-held hose with shut-off or hand-held container, or micro/drip irrigation system, on any day at any time. Municipalities may water lawns and boulevards on Monday and Fridays [1am to 10am & 7pm to 10 pm]. www.crd.bc.ca/water

Photo: Sooke Lake Reservoir (at top of the dam’s spillway), May 15. | This article was first published in the May 19, 2017 issue of West Shore Voice News.


Tuesday, May 16 ~ BC. This afternoon May 16 in a news conference from her office in Vancouver, Premier Christy Clark emphasized that the final election results are not counted yet. So she started by thanking everyone who ran as a candidate in the 41st General Election that brought out about 60% of registered voters to the polls on May 9.

On election night the BC Liberals won 43 seats, the NDP won 41 and the Greens 3. All party leaders were returned to the legislature: Christy Clark for the BC Liberals, John Horgan for the BC NDP (Leader of the Official Opposition), and Andrew Weaver as the BC Green Party leader.

“All of us share a profound love for this beautiful province that we call British Columbia,” said Clark, adding that she “heard loud and clear” that people want the government to work across party lines. “We share so many goals in common,” said Premier Clark.

“They want us to do that regardless of what party we were elected to represent,” said Clark. Her critics might ask why cooperation was not forthcoming in the last 16 years of BC Liberal majority governments. The May 9 election results pushed that point and it seems to have stuck.

“We are listening. We have heard your voice, you want change. You want government to deliver on what matters to you,” the Premier said in the short media session.

Clark announced that Brad Bennett (son of former premier Bill Bennett and grandson of former premier WAC Bennett) will lead the BC Government transition team for the next few weeks.

“British Columbians want to get on with the things that are important to them. But they said they want us to remember the things that are important to them.  They want us to see past politicians and see them — that is the message in this election,” said Clark. “It’s a message we have heard and are determined to reflect back.”

BC’s Official Opposition Leader John Horgan met with media at 4pm today. 

When asked about his stand on the TransMountain pipeline, he said “we need to defend our coast from a seven-fold increase in tanker traffic” and that he would discuss the issue with Prime Minister Trudeau if the NDP becomes the majority government in BC after the BC Election recount (results expected May 24).

Horgan said he is eager to see the final election results involving over 170,000 absentee ballots after which “I can’t wait to get started”.

The BC NDP won 41 seats in the May 9 BC General Election. Final count comes May 24.

Meanwhile, Horgan aims to continue focusing on services that people in BC want such as improvements in health care and services for seniors. “My whole objective of my getting into politics was to make life better for people,” Horgan told media today. “I’m still involved and still want to do that.”

Regarding Premier Clark’s comments today about working to improve services for people in BC, Horgan said. “That message clearly has been lost on the liberals for the last 16 years.” He said there have been “no shortage of opportunities” for the government to work on behalf of the people.

Horgan said that almost 60% of those who voted were saying to the government they the people haven’t believed the government is working for them, that they were “more focssed on fundraising than on governing”.

“Almost 60% of the ballots were cast against the sitting government,” said Horgan, referring to the combined voting results of the BC NDP and the BC Greens.

And on proportional representation: “What we have is a real opportunity to demonstrate why proportional representation can work here in BC. We have an outcome that allows two parties with vast majorities to work together with opportunities for the people,” said Horgan today. “People are satisfied with the election results and want to make sure this minority situation works.”

Post-election analysis (‘Part One’, ahead of final vote count on May 24) is on pages 1 & 2 in the May 12, 2017 issue of West Shore Voice News.


Tuesday, May 16 ~  GREATER VICTORIA. BC Transit is looking for drivers — customer-focused and safety-conscious individuals who are passionate about serving the local community to join the Transit Operator team in Victoria.

A paid 9-week training program is provided for learning how to operate every kind of bus in the fleet. Trainees will be supported to earn a Class 2 commercial license with air brakes.

“Bring your passion for driving, and we’ll do the rest,” says one BC Transit rep. The career opportunity is considered to be challenging and rewarding, with competitive compensation and comprehensive benefits.

The six core values for employees are safety, customer service, sustainability, collaboration, integrity and innovation.
www.bctransit.com/careers


 

Sombrio Beach on Vancouver Island, BC

Monday, May 15 ~ WEST SIDE of VANCOUVER ISLAND. Over the May long weekend, access to the parking lot at Sombrio Beach will be temporarily restricted for safety measures, as in previous years, to discourage illegal activities such as parties and vandalism, as announced today by the BC Ministry of Environment.

Unauthorized activities within the park can impact the social, economic, cultural and ecological sustainability of both the park and the local communities.

The 2.5-kilometre gravel access road off Highway 14 to the parking lot at the Sombrio Beach trailhead will be closed to vehicle traffic from 7 am on Friday, May 19 to 12 am (midnight) on Monday, May 22.

All locations within Juan de Fuca Provincial Park, including the designated campsites at Sombrio Beach and the Juan de Fuca Marina Trail, remain open to the public.

The three remaining trailheads to the Juan de Fuca Trail at China Beach, Parkinson Creek and Botanical Beach are still accessible by vehicles.

BC Parks wants all park users to peacefully and safely enjoy recreational activities that Sombrio Beach and Juan de Fuca Provincial Park are known for, such as hiking, camping and wildlife viewing.


Thursday, May 11 ~ COASTAL BC. BC Ferries is adding over 85 extra sailings on the most popular routes for the Victoria Day long weekend: Thursday May 18 through Tuesday May 23.

That includes the Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay route (60 extra sailings), Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay, Horseshoe Bay-Langdale, Earls Cover-Saltery Bay.

The most popular travel times are expected to be Thursday and Friday afternoon, and Saturday morning. Monday is usually the busiest day for return trips.


Wednesday, May 10 ~ BC.  BC Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon has requested that Premier Clark continue to govern as Premier of British Columbia. Clark made the announcement at noon today from her Premier’s office in Vancouver.

Christy Clark has been asked by the Lieutenant Governor to carry on as Premier.

 

The vote count from last night’s General Election tally sits at 43 BC Liberal, 41 BC NDP, and 3 Green until a final count is produced on May 23 (which will include the absentee ballot count from around the province and any BC military/residents abroad).

Many people didn’t realize that if they took advantage of the “28 days of voting” at District Electoral Offices and by other means, that their vote would not be included yet in election-night tallies. The preliminary count of certification envelopes containing absentee ballots province-wide is 176,104.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has congratulated Clark for being the first woman to be re-elected as a provincial premier.

The NDP and Greens could bring down the present BC Liberal government and form a new one when the legislature meets. Much of the punditry is enthused about Green Leader Andrew Weaver holding the power card. He could decide to go along with the BC Liberals and the existing setup or side with the NDP to consolidate the progressive vote. Either way, all this is a potential powder keg for seeing another BC election ahead of the usual four-year schedule.


BC NDP Leader delivered a speech that emphasized waiting for definitive election results.

Wednesday, May 10 ~ BC. While in a sense there can only be one winner, the leaders of BC’s three main political parties each delivered an acceptance speech after midnight on Wednesday May 10.

And technically speaking, at the moment, a minority government is what is presently the case with no one party in the May 9 BC General Provincial Election having the required 44 seats to form a majority. The BC Liberals have 43 seats, the BC NDP have 41, and the Greens have three.

The late hour was all about waiting for definitive results from the Tuesday night election. But that was not to be. With so many advance votes and absentee votes still to be counted (as well as an official recount required in Courtenay-Comox due to a very close results), final results won’t be known until May 23.

Under those circumstances, BC Liberal Leader Christy Clark is still Premier, and said in her speech that the voters asked for new considerations. BC NDP Leader John Horgan claimed the moral victory in his speech out of Vancouver, saying voters have asked for change. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver knows that he has a powerful hand to play, in that his new group of three MLAs in a sense hold the balance of power.

More to come.


Tuesday, May 9 ~ BC.  Provincial election voting results will start rolling in from across BC after the polls close at 8 pm.

Over 614,00 thousand people (19.5% of registered voters) had already voted in six days of advance voting (April 29-30 and May 3-6) before the General Election Day voting opened today at 8am.

Polls are open tonight May 9 across BC, to 8pm Pacific Daylight Time.

WEST SIDE of VANCOUVER ISLAND FOCUS: Click here to see the detailed results for Langford-Juan de Fuca and Esquimalt-Metchosin as well as our followup with the candidates in both ridings.


Tuesday, May 9 ~ BC. EDITORIAL [West Shore Voice News]. Too busy, too tired, too ‘principled’, or think that you’re too under-informed to vote? Forget all that. Barring the severest of personal circumstances, today there is no reason to sit out this election.

Not only is this province, this country and the world at a critical turning point in terms of doing what’s right for people and the planet, many people over the decades, years, and centuries have fought, suffered and died for your right to vote and live in a free society.

Yeah, yeah, the political system is less than perfect. But if you ‘protest’ by intentionally not voting, you’re not only naive you are letting the pros who work the system shine their best.

Reasons people don’t vote [Ref: 2008 US election]

YOU shine your best today. Be part of the collective force that ushers in the next phase of living in BC. A lot of drops in the bucket will fill the bucket to overflowing.

Voting Places are open 8am to 8pm throughout BC for this 41st General Provincial Election. Take your Voter ID card and two pieces of ID. Or just show up with what you’ve got, as you’re probably on the list anyways.

What you’ve got is RIGHTS. Non-voters waive their right to whine later.

[Pie chart shows the reasons that people didn’t vote in the 2008 US election. “Too busy” counted for 17.6%. 18.4% had some ‘other reason’, didn’t know or refused. And 26.4% were ‘not interested’ or did not like the candidates. Only 6% had registration problems, and 2.6% forgot. Don’t forget.]


Monday, May 8 ~ BC. This final day of the BC election campaign saw BC Liberal Leader Christy Clark and Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver campaigning on Vancouver Island. Both of those parties hope to pick up seats from what has for a long time been an NDP stronghold.

BC NDP Leader John Horgan was taking the same tack, over on the mainland where he’s working to see the NDP grab seats in Surrey, Richmond and Delta. NDP ground-teams were out and about on Vancouver Island, taking voting reminder cards door to door.

This evening, Christy Clark will be joined by BC Liberal Fraser Valley candidates Simon Gibson, Darryl Plecas, Mike de Jong, John Martin, Laurie Throness, Mary Polak and Rich Coleman for a rally in Abbotsford.

To achieve a majority, one party will need to win at least 44 seats. There are 87 ridings in BC. A minority government could be formed by either major party (BC Liberal or BC NDP) that achieves fewer than 44 votes but can convince the Lieutenant Governor that they have the confidence of the House. That would likely mean the support of Andrew Weaver and the BC Greens.

Voting in the 41st BC General Election on May 9 will be open 8am to 8pm at all Voting Places throughout the province.


Monday, May 8 ~ Full results are in from the six days of Advance Voting in the BC provincial election. During those Advance Voting days, 614,389 registered voters cast their ballots, as reported by Elections BC. That’s a turnout of 19.46% (round up to 19.5%) — almost double the advance turnout seen in 2013.

Advance voting for this 2017 Provincial Election was held April 29 & 30, plus May 3 to 6, throughout BC. The full BC General Election is tomorrow on Tuesday, May 9.

Drilling down into action on this west side of Vancouver Island:

  • The advance voter turnout was 29.3% of registered voters in Esquimalt-Metchosin; in that riding BC Liberal candidate Barb Desjardins has name-factor recognition, up against the ground-game power of the BC NDP behind their candidate Mitzi Dean. The Greens are running a strong candidate in Andy MacKinnon.
  • The turnout was 24.3% in Langford-Juan de Fuca where the incumbent is BC NDP Leader John Horgan. The BC Liberals are running a tough race against Horgan, trying to unseat the NDP party leader in his own riding; fronting that is BC Liberal candidate Cathy Noel. Also getting definitive local support — especially in the Sooke end of the riding — is BC Green Party Brendan Ralfs.

Leaders: The 24.3% advance vote draw in BC NDP Leader John Horgan’s riding (Langford-Juan de Fuca) was stronger than the 19% turnout in BC Liberal Leader Christy Clark’s riding of Kelowna West. Advance voter turnout was 24.7% in Andrew Weaver’s riding of Oak Bay-Gordon Head.

Some other ridings to watch:

  • On the mainland: In Vancouver-Point Grey where high-profile NDP candidate David Eby is running in Christy Clark’s previous riding, the advance turnout was almost 26%. In Kamloops-South Thompson where incumbent Todd Stone (Minister of Transportation & Infrastructure under Christy Clark) the advance turnout was just 16.8%.  In Vancouver-Mount Pleasant where incumbent Melanie Mark (BC’s first First Nations MLA) is running for the NDP, the advance turnout was 16.9%.
  • On Vancouver Island: Turnout was 26.7% in Saanich North and the Islands where one of the tightest three-way races is taking place (in 2013 it was in fact the tightest race in all of BC election records); Green Party candidate Adam Olsen is running there against NDP incumbent Gary Holman, with Stephen Roberts edging in for the BC Liberals. In Courtenay-Comox the turnout was high at almost 27%.  The Comox Valley riding has been held by the BC Liberals since 2001, but Don McRae, the MLA since 2009, is not running for re-election, instead the Liberal candidate is Jim Benninger a former base commander at Canadian Forces Base Comox. The Greens are running Ernie Sellentin who operates an environmental restoration company. The NDP are running 3-term Courtenay city councillor Ronna-Rae Leonard. The Conservative candidate is Leah McCulloch, who has worked in health care.

Getting out to vote: So with that 19.5% advance turnout last week, still now 80.5% of registered voters could still make their way to the polls on General Election Day, May 9. Will that include you?  Take along your Voter ID card. Or if you don’t have that card, be sure to take along two pieces of ID (with at least one showing your current home address).


Monday, May 8 ~ BC.  EDITORIAL.  Still undecided? Here’s a flavour of the current BC Government that a lot of people don’t see, but it indicates how people have been treated in this province by their own government.

People who pay their MSP premiums through payroll won’t see this, lucky you. But others who pay direct to the BC Government for their health care, will know… if you fall behind, you get the squeeze. Ending up in the worst of cases with a lien on your property, or action through your bank. Not seeing the reasons why people fall behind, and helping them back out with a fair economy… that’s the underlying problem.

In every other province in Canada the provision of health care is not handled in such a punitive manner. Payment for health care in other jurisdictions is done through the income tax system, in many provinces based on a sliding scale of ability to pay.

The BC NDP have a grasp on the punitive collection system of the privatized government of the past 16 years.

We’re not coming out with a full endorsement of any one party, but if you’re a single-issue voter, use this issue as your reason to back the BC NDP with your vote on May 9.


And this is where it all ends up … at voting stations across the province.

Sunday, May 7 ~ BC. With only two days left for active campaigning in this 41st BC General Election, party leaders are out and about in strategic areas for their goals.

BC Liberal Leader Christy Clark will be in Surrey and Maple Ridge today, promoting jobs. One of her appearances will be at a construction site.

BC NDP Leader John Horgan will be in battleground ridings in Vancouver, Coquitlam and Delta today. And likely the Lower Mainland tomorrow as well, says their campaign team.  He’ll also be holding an evening Facebook Live event tomorrow (Monday May 8) from Delta North. The BC NDP captured the entire front page of the Times-Colonist newspaper on Saturday May 6, with a full page ad, pitching for not another four years of Christy Clark.

BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver will be on the mainland today in New Westminster, Creston and Nelson. One of the events will include another appearance with David Suzuki. On Monday, Weaver will be in Victoria, his home base. The BC Greens captured the entire front page of the Times-Colonist newspaper today Sunday May 7, with a full page ad asking people to read the Green Party platform.

Advance voting has been robust throughout BC over six available days, particularly in hotly contested ridings. Monday May 8 is the last active day of campaigning. The election is on Tuesday May 9. www.elections.bc.ca


BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver works the crowd at a Green Rally in downtown Victoria, May 6 [West Shore Voice News photo]

Saturday, May 6 ~ VICTORIA. BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver (incumbent, Oak Bay-Gordon Head) didn’t really have to work the room at a Green Party rally tonight in Victoria at the Ocean Pointe Resort. The room already had his back.

But for someone who says that politics is not his career choice, he has clearly learned the key moves. Humble introduction, rousing speech, thank-yous to people in the room.

Weaver was preceded to the podium by several other speakers including candidates Adam Olsen (Saanich North and the Islands), Sonia Furstenau (Cowichan Valley), Brendan Ralfs (Langford-Juan de Fuca), Kalen Harris (Victoria-Beacon Hill), and Chris Maxwell (Victoria-Swan Lake). Weaver’s speaking style is polished and relaxed at this point in the 28-day campaign with only two more days remaining to be out persuading voters to tip the desire for change to the direction of Green.

About 400 people filled the room for the Facebook-live event. Compared to other political rallies, this one was calm, with keen committed supporters who didn’t need wooing but didn’t mind it either. If the energy of a room can be described as clean and fresh, this crowd really did exude that.

BC Green Party candidate Brendan Ralfs (Langford-Juan de Fuca) at rally in Victoria May 6. [West Shore Voice News photo]

Weaver told the crowd that support for the Greens “has been overwhelming in every town… I’ve never seen anything like it before,” he pitched. “People love the Green Party because they’re so sick of the status quo.” He repeated the campaign theme that the Green Party platform is “grounded in evidence”.

While self-professed as quite new to politics, the most eloquent speech of the evening was delivered by candidate Brenda Ralfs (Langford-Juan de Fuca). After getting past the obligatory ‘rah rah’ stuff at the start of his speech, he obviously didn’t need notes. He described his background as a forest firefighter in BC as a backdrop to saying that BC’s natural areas are” not just beautiful, they’re sublime”. That natural wilderness interface for Ralfs created in him a “fierce desire to protect our home”.

Ralfs has quickly learned to justify his move into politics. When he first signed up, some of his friends told him “we didn’t know you were a politician!” Ralfs says that “politics matters in BC, and that politics can change lives”. He seems imprinted with the power to change things: “People in politics have an obligation to change lives for the better — not just for the few or the majority or many, but for all, for everyone.” To this there was a rousing cheer and more waving of Green Party signs throughout the comfortably carpeted ballroom.

“People are exhausted with politics in BC being divided and divisive,” said Ralfs, proposing to conclude that voters, therefore, have only a single choice, and that’s Green.

Adam Olsen, who was the interim leader of the party before Weaver stepped into that role as the only Green MLA in the BC Legislature after his win in 2013, said a few words too. He congratulated candidates for running “good clean local campaigns”. He was wearing a jersey with the number 17 on it, to help nudge along a victory in 2017. “It’s an honour to walk alongside Andrew Weaver,” said Olsen.

The rally set for 6 pm had finally gotten underway around 6:40 pm (after people found parking once the hotel parking lot was full), and wrapped up just before 8pm on a bright spring evening. And the rain had stopped.

Mallard in flight after Green rally in Victoria, May 6 [West Shore Voice News photo]

Weaver proposes that at least a handful of Greens will make it to the BC Legislature after the 41st BC Provincial Election on May 9, which he says will make a big difference for the people of BC. He’s spending Sunday and Monday in a few more towns, including one more visit to the Vancouver area and wrapping up on Monday in Victoria.

And so if you believe that life imitates art, check this out: a lone mallard duck (with a green head) was sitting outside the hotel after the rally, looking at the Green Party bus that was already revving up its engine to take Weaver to the next stop. Then the mallard took flight.

The rally was broadcast on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/BCGreens/videos/10158698505335215/


Friday, May 5 ~ BC.  In these last few days ahead of the May 9 general election, leaders of the three main parties are busy paying attention to any yet-unvisited sectors of their target voter base as well as visiting or re-visiting the ridings with tight races. And of course, finding precious-little time to romance the converted and keep them on track.

While every election is important, this one does plant BC at the precipice of a number of critical socioeconomic and environmental realities that require effective solutions.
The role of principled media during an election in an active democracy is to provide key insights from within the information overload, so that voters may be assisted in their voting choices.

We hereby present some thoughts about how things might work out, depending on which way you vote in the BC provincial election on May 9. Our three-part editorial starts with coverage on page 1, then splits out on page 2 this way:

  • The BC Liberals have been in power for 16 years now. / …
  • The BC NDP collective has been thirsting for ‘the top job’ for over 16 years now. / …
  • The BC Green Party has — until now — been one and the same as the face of their party leader and standalone MLA Andrew Weaver. / …

Read the full coverage in the May 5, 2017 “Election Eve Edition” of West Shore Voice News.


Friday, May 5 ~ VANCOUVER ISLAND. Starting at 11 am on Saturday morning May 6, the BC Green Party campaign bus will start a long day with a stop in Campbell River, then heading to Courtenay-Comox, then by 1:10 pm to Parksville-Qualicum, and by 2 pm to Nanaimo.

After that, the team will head on their bus to Shawnigan for 4pm in the south island area.

Then that evening to the Victoria Conference Centre for a Green Party Island Rally at the Delta Ocean Pointe Resort which starts at 6pm.

The Greens have been promoting their “evidence-based and fully costed” 2017 election platform, at www.bcgreens.ca


Friday, May 5 ~ BC. This is the last weekend of BC election campaigning, coming up May 6 and 7. Then on Monday, May 8 will be the last day of campaigning before the BC General Election on May 9.

Details on how to vote in the Advance Voting today and Saturday (May 5 & 6), and on election day May 9, are at: www.elections.bc.ca and locally on the EVENTS page of this website.

The Langford-Juan de Fuca race is one to watch, where BC NDP Party Leader John Horgan is the incumbent. The slate in that riding is: John Horgan (BC NDP Party Leader & incumbent); Cathy Noel (BC Liberal); Brendan Ralfs (BC Green); Willie Nelson (Vancouver Island Party); and Scott Burton (Libertarian). The area includes Highlands, Langford, Sooke and the Juan de Fuca area up to Port Renfrew. It’s the fast-growing area of BC (only Surrey on the mainland is growing faster), encompassing urban and rural.

The Esquimalt-Metchosin race is one to watch, this time without its long-time NDP incumbent and now a high-profile BC Liberal candidate. The slate in that riding is: Mitzi Dean (NDP); Barb Desjardins (BC Liberal); Andy MacKinnon (BC Green); Josh Steffler (Libertarian); Tyson Strandlund (Communist Party); and Delmar Martay (independent). The area has key transportation issues, as the area provides both employment and ‘bedroom community’ as well as rural lifestyles.


Government House Photo:
[Sept 2017 ~ West Shore Voice News]

Friday, May 5 ~ VICTORIA. Government House will be hosting its monthly public tours on Saturday, May 6 in celebration of Neighbour Day which, this year in Greater Victoria, is being celebrated on Sunday, May 7, 2017.

Neighbour Day is an opportunity to meet and greet the people with whom we share our neighbourhood, fences, and walls. It’s an invitation to meet your neighbours, be creative and bring neighbours together to deepen connections and strengthen neighbourhoods, lend a helping hand, or host a neighbourhood event.

“Anything goes, as long as it involves you and the people in your building or on your street,” it was stated in a news release from the Lieutenant Governor’s office today.

The one-hour public tours on May 6 at Government House (1401 Rockland Ave) will start at 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. Free admission, no registration required.  There is a maximum capacity of 100 people per tour, first-come, first-served basis.


Thursday, May 4 ~ BC.  BC Ferries is offering savings on over 1,600 select early morning and late evening sailings on routes between Metro Vancouver – Vancouver Island and Metro Vancouver – Sunshine Coast all summer long.  The “Sunrise and Sunset Savings” promotion runs from May 18 to September 15, during which time the passenger vehicle and driver fares will be offered at $39, $49 and $59 on select sailings between Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay, Tsawwassen – Duke Point, Horseshoe Bay – Departure Bay and at $39 return-trip between Horseshoe Bay – Langdale.

The idea is to provide discounts on less crowded sailings, and gives customers a choice of fare price if they have flexibility with the time-of-day they choose to travel. “With more traffic moving to less busy sailings, we make more space available for other customers during the rest of the day,” says said Janet Carson, BC Ferries’ Vice President of Marketing and Travel Services.

Space on the selected sailings is on a first-come, first-served basis. Reservations will guarantee a spot on one of the reduced-price select sailings. Reservations are $10 if booked seven days or more in advance.  www.bcferries.com


 

BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver with environmental activist David Suzuki, last month at a rally.

Wednesday May 3 ~ VANCOUVER ISLAND.  “Today, I am officially endorsing Andrew Weaver and the BC Green Party for the May 9 provincial election,” says David Suzuki.

“I have never endorsed a political party before and I never expected to. But the need for real change in BC is so great, I have decided I must do everything I can to help elect the party that represents the right kind of change.” He goes on to say that only the Green are “speaking to the greatest issues of our time with solutions that are practical and evidence-based”.

“The economy and environment are inextricably linked, and only the BC Green Party has taken that seriously,” said Suzuki in a statement to media. “Their platform is a real vision for the health and well-being of British Columbians, from education to housing affordability to the environment.”

BC Green Party leader Andrew Weaver together with David Suzuki and Sonia Furstenau (BC Green candidate for Cowichan Valley), will be hosting a campaign event tonight May 3. Doors open 6 pm, program 7 to 9 pm at S’amuna’ Big House, 5589 Club Road in Duncan.

Weaver was already a leading climate scientist when he was recruited in 2007 by then-BC Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell to provide advice on a climate action plan. In the 2009 provincial election the Opposition NDP promised to “axe” the carbon tax, but lost the election. The carbon tax survived.

BC Liberal premier Christy Clark has professed support for climate action and the carbon tax but her energies have gone into developing a new industry based on the export of liquefied natural gas.

Polished as a status-quo disruptor, in a rally mid-April with Weaver, environmental activist David Suzuki pitched for Greens to become a “dominant force” in provincial politics.


Wednesday, May 3.  As advance voting in the BC Election gets underway again today (May 3 to 6, 8am to 8 pm in all ridings), we can take a look at the trends from the first round of advance voting on the weekend of April 29 & 30.

On this west side of Vancouver Island:

  • Esquimalt-Metchosin brought in 4,226 votes last weekend (2,428 on Saturday and 1,798 on Sunday) out of a total number of 37,692 registered voters. That’s 11.2% of voters. Candidates in that riding are Mitzi Dean (BC NDP), Barb Desjardins (BC Liberal), Andy MacKinnon (BC Green), Josh Steffler (Libertarian), and Delmar Martay (independent).
  • Langford-Juan de Fuca saw 3,722 votes last weekend (2,087 on Saturday and 1,635 on Sunday), out of a total of 39,176 registered voters. That’s a 9.5% advance poll turnout. Candidates in that riding are BC NDP Leader John Horgan, incumbent (NDP), Cathy Noel (BC Liberal), Brendan Ralfs (BC Green), and Willie Nelson (Vancouver Island Party).

The highest turnout on Vancouver Island April 29 & 30 was in Courtenay-Comox with 4,260 votes cast; Esquimalt-Metchosin came in a close second with 4,226; Parksville-Qualicum saw 4,018; Victoria-Beacon Hill logged in with 3,773 votes; and Langford-Juan de Fuca came in fifth with 3,722.

On the mainland, Vancouver-Fairview delivered 4,106 votes, Penticton delivered 4,029 advance votes, Vancouver-West End saw 4,007 votes cast, and Vancouver-Point Grey (where the NDP’s David Eby beat out Christy Clark in the 2013 election) logged in with 3,787 votes.

This is the first time that voting has been available on a Sunday, and in many ridings the turnout was strong on April 30, in some cases with most votes cast than on the Saturday. Most of the polling stations were open on those first two days; on the west shore only Gordon United Church (in the Langford-Juan de Fuca riding) wasn’t available due to the Sunday factor.

It would seem that the ridings where party leaders are running are getting voters out with relatively equal strength. Premier Clark (BC Liberal leader) is running in Kelowna West, where 3,749 advance votes were cast this past weekend. In John Horgan’s (BC NDP Leader) riding of Langford-Juan de Fuca there were 3,722 votes cast. BC Green Leader Andrew Weaver is running Oak Bay-Gordon Head where 3,264 advance votes were cast April 29-30.

Advance voting results will be updated daily during this May 3 to 6 advance voting period.

All advance votes will be counted on the night of the general election Tuesday May 9. Any advance votes that are cast over the 28-day campaign at District Electoral Offices will be counted on May 22 in the home ridings for those votes. Final vote results will be provided by Elections BC on May 23.


Tuesday, May 2 ~ LANGFORD. Two custom bus services launched by the City of Langford have been cancelled.

Soon to go is the in-town trolley that has been servicing local shoppers and residents in the commercial areas of Langford since 2007. BC Transit services to and around the Langford area have improved over the years (apparently up 76%), so the trolley is no longer needed.

Also wrapping up (as of June 30) is the Langtoria Greenline bus, launched last fall to help ease commuter traffic round trip between Langford and Victoria. Low ridership was the main reason there. People still like travelling in their own cars despite the time in commuter traffic and the cost of parking in Victoria. Some of those who have used the Langtoria bus service may now carpool.

The idea for the Greenline came up when construction of the McKenzie-Admirals Road Interchange was announced, with the advent of even more traffic slowdowns during the construction period. Operated by Wilson’s Transportation, it has been following a route that stops at 21 spots in the West Shore.

Langford Mayor Stew Young says he will now push for high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes on Hwy 1 that would also accommodate buses, and continue to work with the province on getting to yes with transportation options along the E&N Rail corridor.


 

Tuesday, May 2 ~ WEST SIDE of Vancouver Island. Advance voting starts up again in the morning throughout BC! Advance voting Places will be open 8 am to 8 pm for the next four days: May 3, 4, 5 and 6.

On the west side of Vancouver Island:

  • Advance Voting is available in Langford at Belmont Secondary School, Four Points Sheraton, and Gordon United Church.
  • Advance Voting places in Sooke are at SEAPARC Leisure Complex and Sooke Community Hall.
  • Advance Voting for Esquimalt-Metchosin is at Colwood Pentecostal Church, Esquimalt United Church, Metchosin Community Hall, Songhees Wellness Centre, View Royal Town Hall, and West Shore Parks & Rec.

Ballots cast during Advance Voting will be counted on election night, after the main ballot boxes are counted on general election night May 9.

In this 2017 election, Elections BC has been promoting “you have 28 days to vote”, without vigorously clarifying that votes cast at District Electoral Offices that are open daily for 28 days will be counted in their home ridings (on May 22) after the paper ballots are distributed to the 87 ridings around the province.

However, if you can’t make it to an Advance Voting Station during May 3-6, these DEO offices make it convenient to vote on May 7 and 8 (as well as on election day May 9):

  • District Electoral Office for Langford-Juan de Fuca is at 111-2787 Jacklin Road in Langford. Inquiries: 250-952-5014.
  • District Electoral Office for Esquimalt-Metchosin is at 3-1905 Sooke Road in Colwood. Inquiries: 250-952-4408.

Tuesday, May 2 ~ BC.  Where you vote does count, for timing! Ballots cast at Advance Voting stations (April 29 & 30; May 3 to 6) will be counted on election night, after the main ballot boxes are counted, toward the May 9 general election night tally and results.

However, any votes cast at the District Electoral Office (one central office for each riding) will get counted on May 22, toward a final vote announcement on May 23.

In this 2017 election, Elections BC has been promoting “you have 28 days to vote”, without clarifying that votes cast at District Electoral Offices that are open daily for 28 days will be counted in their home ridings after the paper ballots are distributed to the 87 ridings around the province.


 

Monday, May 1 ~ SOUTH VANCOUVER ISLAND. Additional tech-related seats for the University of Victoria, Camosun College and Vancouver Island University were announced today. The goals is “to develop home grown talent to help British Columbia continue to be a leader in the innovation economy”, as announced by BC Liberal candidates David Calder, Alex Dutton and Paris Gaudet.

The BC Liberals say they have made a commitment to increase the number of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) graduates by 1,000 per year by 2022. UVic will receive 80 new seats and both Camosun College and VIU will receive 30 to contribute to that goal.


BC Liberal candidate Barb Desjardins (Esquimalt-Metchosin) at a business mixer in the west shore April 24. [West Shore Voice News photo]

Monday, May 1 ~ SOUTH VANCOUVER ISLAND. The BC Liberals today say the Capital Regional District (CRD) governance model needs modernizing to ensure decisions are being made effectively, residents are getting the services and accountability they deserve, and in the most efficient manner possible. The statement cam  from Barb Desjardins, BC Liberal candidate for Esquimalt-Metchosin.

In the BC Liberals Island Platform, they are stating a commitment to a full review of Capital Regional District governance – and working with any community that is in support of possible service integration and amalgamation.

“The model hasn’t been reviewed in decades, and it doesn’t reflect how the region delivers services today, or the associated challenges in delivering those services in the most effective manner,” said Desjardins, a three-term Esquimalt Mayor and past CRD chair.

“One practical example is housing development – an issue that I hear about from builders and the general public. Under the current governance structure, each municipality within the CRD has its own development charges, each interprets the building code differently, and the time it takes to move an application through each municipality differs. As a result, there is no consistency for builders, it means additional costs, and those costs are ultimately borne by the home purchaser or renter.”

“The other reality is that we have communities on the West Shore that have different needs than those in Victoria and the current structure doesn’t always recognize those views or needs – because of the CRD model,” Desjardins said in a release.

In an interview with West Shore Voice News today, Desjardins said that the small business sector grows in a municipality that has good governance. She cited the City of Langford as a good example.

The BC Liberals say they’re been clear that any community not wishing to participate in amalgamation or other governance changes will not be forced to participate.


Sunday, April 30 ~ WEST SIDE of VANCOUVER ISLAND.  People have been dropping by steadily to vote at District Electoral Offices (DEOs) for Langford-Juan de Fuca and Esquimalt-Metchosin in the past week, say staff at both locations.

Personnel hired specifically to execute all the many responsibilities of operating a Voting Station have taken training at each DEO. Being responsible for a ballot box during the Advance Voting days includes overseeing the whereabouts of that box when it’s not in active ballot-receiving mode, says David Garvey, Deputy District Electoral Officer for Langford-Juan de Fuca.

There is a step-by-step process to ensure secrecy of the ballots and their retention between the six advance voting days, explains Garvey.

Ballots that are cast at any DEO in BC are sent after 8pm on the General Election Day (May 9) to the riding where the vote belongs. Due to the time this takes, there is a final vote count on May 23, once all ballots have been received in their home ridings. Potentially this could swing a vote result in any given riding.

With the increased number of advance voting days (six days this election — April 29 & 30, May 3-6) and voting throughout the 28-day campaign period by any voter at any DEO in the province, that theoretically increases the number of ridings where final counts on May 23 could make a difference in the overall result.

The DEO for Langford-Juan de Fuca is at 111-2787 Jacklin Road in Langford. The DEO for Esquimalt-Metchosin is in Colwood at 3-1905 Sooke Road.

Visit the April 28, 2017 issue of West Shore Voice News to see photos of both DEO office locations plus hours and list of candidates, (page 6). List of all voting stations in both ridings, and open hours (page 8).


BC NDP party leader John Horgan (left) with Oak Bay-Gordon Head NDP candidate Bryce Casavant.

Saturday, April 29 ~ SOUTH VANCOUVER ISLAND.  The BC NDP say they will announce strong measures to clean up and protect waterways, at an event tomorrow Sunday April 30 in Cadboro Bay at Gyro Park.

On hand will be BC NDP Candidates Gary Holman (Saanich North and the Islands) and Bryce Casavant (Oak Bay-Gordon Head) with special guest Sheila Malcolmson, Member of Parliament for Nanaimo-Ladysmith.

They will talk about how John Horgan and the BC NDP would be the only government committed to keeping waterways pristine in BC.

The event on Sunday will start at 3 pm. Gyro Park is at 2625 Sinclair Rd in the Cadboro Bay area of Oak Bay.


 

BC NDP Leader John Horgan at his April 28 rally in Victoria.

Friday, April 28 ~ SOUTH VANCOUVER ISLAND. BC NDP Leader John Horgan held at upbeat rally in downtown Victoria this evening, stirring up and maintaining momentum for followers as the last leg of the 28-day BC election campaign period reaches the Advance Voting phase (April 29 & 30, plus May 3-6) and closes in on the May 9 election day.

On Saturday he will cast his vote in the Advance Voting station at Belmont Secondary School in his home town of Langford.

Then he will head to Duncan to make an announcement about health-care facilities that could be built there under an NDP government. The afternoon and evening for Horgan wraps up in Surrey and Burnaby where the voting base is large.


BC Leaders Debate was televised on Global TV tonight, April 26, from Vancouver.

Wednesday, April 26 ~ BC.  There was the usual wrangling expected in a leader’s debate.  However, in the 90-minute televised BC Leaders Debate on Global TV tonight, there were few moments that would have tipped the decision of the undecided voter.

Moderated in a competent and organized manner by Global TV’s Jennifer Burke, the audience heard statements, rebuttals and questions from and between BC Liberal Leader Christy Clark, BC NDP Leader John Horgan and BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver.

Clark appealed to her audience of those wanting lower taxes, and hammered home about the importance of putting job creation first. Horgan appealed to his audience of workers and families who’ve not been able to get ahead in a economy with an endlessly increasing cost of living over the past 16 years. Weaver appealed to the disciplined thinker who knows there are better ways to do things, but unfettered by a long party track record.

Weaver was not wrong to suggest that a party trailing third can come out with a majority government. In recent years it happened for the NDP in Alberta and the federal Liberals.  Clark used the fear card to warn British Columbians of what an inexperienced new government might not be able to handle in tough trade disputes with the US, or with the provincial budget that the BC Liberals have kept under tight rein to achieve their five balanced budgets and a triple-A credit rating. Horgan appealed at every turn for voters to remember the hardship experienced by families and many low-income workers over the past 16 years as many BC government interests and services became privatized and used first as a source for generating government revenue over and above providing appropriate or affordable services.

The point of these debates is to help voters either be reassured about their committed choices, or to provide new insights for the as-yet-undecided.  Absorbing the details of policy platforms is a lot of work for voters in a short campaign, and most people don’t go in that direction amidst their busy lives. Many undecided voters go with their gut… looking to who has the chops, the vision and the commitment to lead the province in turbulent times of change in the economy, technology and society.

While Horgan was challenged with a media-formulated question about being ‘mercurial’ (a term which was not, by the way, correctly defined by the moderator – she completely missed the intellectual curiosity and quick-footed aspect of being mercurial), it was clear that Canadians have almost lost the awareness of the passion it takes to truly lead from the heart. Facts are facts, and processes must be followed, but if the passion is not from a true place in politics, then a population is no farther ahead.

Clark was challenged on her own record and her government’s record, but in most cases simply dodged any pointed challenges and fell back to party talking points about jobs and balanced budgets. Money management is essential for a stable economy, but it is not only about that.

Weaver again (as in the April 20 radio debate on News1130) showed his strengths as a fact-based organizer of progressive thought. In a perfect world, this would be the calm road to take.  In a less than perfect world it might still be the road to take toward a revision of the political fabric in BC.

After tonight, it would seem that the BC population is still no farther ahead in grasping where BC might head after May 9. If everyone votes along party lines, that leaves a precious few who will tip the vote. The wild card in producing a surprise result in this 2017 provincial election might well be from among youth ages 18 to 25. That demographic tends to vote left on the political spectrum, which would give favour to the NDP and/or the Greens.

For some listeners, Donald Trump’s name got too much air time in this debate. And, as this publication is on the west coast of Vancouver Island, we note that none of the 1,300 public questions as received by Global were (as chosen for airtime) from Vancouver Island residents.

So this event was 90 minutes of a Wednesday evening that in many ways puts few of us any farther ahead toward a clear and bold vision for BC. There are just too many areas of mistrust or disbelief, and certainly a level of frustration among voters. The world is in crisis mode in many respects. To itemize just a few key problems: there are skyrocketing health care costs, a large aging population who will require adequate pension support (a topic not even mentioned in tonight’s debate), and high-impact climate change affecting crops, water supplies.

A final word … voters need to choose one of these party leaders based on who can really, truly lead. Not just pander to their own party, but put the provincial as a whole as their top priority. ~ Editor, West Shore Voice News


Tuesday, April 25 ~ BC. The BC NDP commitment to create urgent care centres across the province will benefit small communities, it was announced by the BC NDP today. 

Retired MLA Maurine Karagianis represented John Horgan at an All Candidates debate in his home riding April 25 in Sooke.

Representing BC NDP Leader John Horgan at an All Candidates debate in Sooke this evening, retired MLA Maurine Karagianis said Sooke would be one of the communities that could dearly use an urgent care clinic. There is a private medical clinic in Sooke town centre, and an old (analog) xray clinic open about 2 days a week; the nearest hospital is Victoria General Hospital about 30 minutes drive away along the winding Hwy 14.

“I am committed to taking real action to help families access the health care they need by opening Urgent Family Care centers in communities across the province,” said Horgan in a release.

Urgent care centres bring together doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, dieticians, pharmacists, mental health workers, midwives, occupational therapists and other health care providers to offer the right health services from the right provider at the right time. “We know that prevention and early interventions are the best way to protect people’s health and bring down health care costs,” it says in the NDP release tonight.

On Horgan’s behalf, Karagianis went to bat tonight for the hardest-hit sectors of BC society who have seen consistent erosion of services under the BC Liberals, including education, children and families, health care and seniors.

John Horgan is the incumbent NDP candidate in Langford-Juan de Fuca. He has held the riding since 2005.


 

Tuesday, April 25 ~ WEST SHORE of VANCOUVER ISLAND.  Last night there was a sparse turnout for a mixer co-hosted by the West Shore Chamber of Commerce and Esquimalt Chamber of Commerce.

The idea was to provide a casual opportunity for the community to meet provincial election candidates of two west-side ridings.

Candidates, campaign personnel and displays of election materials were on hand: BC Liberals, BC NDP, BC Greens. and the Libertarian Party for Esquimalt-Metchosin, as well as NDP, Green and BC Liberal for Langford-Juan de Fuca.

Each candidate gave a short 3-minute speech.  Visit the Langford-Colwood-Metchosin page for more…


Monday, April 24 ~ BC. Today BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver released the BC Green Party’s full election platform.

“Our platform highlights the fundamental differences between us and the other parties,” said Weaver. “Both the BC Liberals and the BC NDP are more focussed on advancing short term election strategies than they are on advancing a vision for the province. Our platform offers an ambitious plan to position British Columbia for success at the forefront of the emerging economy, through promoting sustainable business development and innovation, making historic investments in education, and modernizing income security.

“A BC Green government will ensure that people have the knowledge, skills and abilities to seize opportunities in the 21st century economy. We will ensure that the benefits of a strong economy flow to everyone,” Weaver said in a news release. “The BC Greens have a vision for British Columbia where government puts people’s interests first. We are putting forward a vision where policies are based on principles and evidence.”

Highlights of the BC Green Party platform include:
New economy: Positioning B.C. to succeed on the forefront of the emerging economy through investments in innovation and sustainable business development.
Lifelong learning: Making historic investments into education, providing free early childhood education and daycare; investing in public education and supporting post-secondary students.
Income security: Modernizing income security for the new economy, through moving towards livable incomes, raising social assistance rates and piloting basic income.
Climate action: Taking strong action to tackle climate change and reach our carbon emissions targets.
Affordable homes: Targeting speculation in our real estate market and investing in increasing the supply of affordable homes.


Monday, April 24 ~ VICTORIA. The BC NDP are holding a “Rally the Vote Victoria” event in downtown Victoria this coming Friday, April 28 from 6:00 to 7:30 pm. The event is expected to pack to overflowing the Alix Goolden Performance Hall at 907 Pandora Ave.

“Before British Columbians go to the early polls, we’re rallying the vote in Victoria. Come join John Horgan and special guest Nathan Cullen at Victoria’s iconic Alix Goolden Performance Hall.” It’s likely to be a high-powered, memorable event, now mid-way into the 28-day 2017 BC election campaign.

The BC NDP have been proposing various measures to boost affordability for families, seniors, and those on social assistance and other fixed incomes including a freeze on ferry fares, elimination of MSP premiums (blending it into the tax system), $10/day child care, and an increase in the minimum wage to $15.

Those wishing to attend are encouraged to RSVP, to assure a spot:  https://www.bcndp.ca/rally-the-vote


An NDP government would freeze ferry fares, says BC NDP Leader John Horgan.

Sunday, April 23 ~ BC. As the BC election campaign progresses, BC NDP Leader John Horgan has been issuing various policy announcements aimed at making BC more affordable for BC families, seniors and people on social assistance.

On April 20 surrounded by supporters, Horgan announced a plan to make seniors weekday passenger fares free on major BC Ferries sailing routes. “Life on Vancouver Island has been getting more expensive under Christy Clark. The increase in fees and hidden costs are hurting seniors on fixed incomes. We’re going to make life more affordable by bringing back free weekday ferry fares for seniors on major routes,” said Horgan on the shores of the Swartz Bay ferry terminal near Sidney, BC.

Under the BC Liberals, BC Ferries fares have increased by about 80% on the major ferry routes, and have more than doubled for the Gulf Islands, Sunshine Coast and North Coast routes. An NDP government would also freeze ferry fares on major routes for all passengers and cut fares on the smaller routes by 15%.

“After 16 years of Christy Clark and the BC Liberals the cost of ferries has gone through the roof while sailings were cut for many communities. John Horgan will make life more affordable for island families, boost tourism, and grow the economy,” it was stated in a BC NDP news release.

Specifically for seniors, Horgan said the BC NDP will make life more affordable for seniors by:
• Bringing back free weekday ferry rides on major routes for seniors
• Cutting ferry fares on minor routes by 15 per cent
• Freezing ferry fares on major routes
• Providing a $400 renter’s rebate, while maintaining the existing Shelter Aid for Elder Renters (SAFER) supplement
• Eliminating unfair MSP premiums within our first term in office


Wednesday, April 19 ~ BC. ‘Where to Vote’ cards are being delivered across British Columbia starting today. Elections BC is reminding voters to bring their card with them when they vote, to make the process faster and easier.

Chief Electoral Officer, Keith Archer says registered voters will receive a card that includes the dates, times and locations for advance voting in their electoral district. Each voter’s card also shows their assigned voting place for General Voting Day, May 9.

Elections BC will also be distributing the cards to addresses with no registered voters. These cards will inform eligible voters of the voting opportunities available to them and that they can register when they vote.

New for this election, is that the cards will be colour-coded to help election officials determine the electoral district in which a voter resides.

Over three million cards will be delivered up until advance voting starts on April 29. Advance voting takes place on April 29 and 30 and from May 3 to May 6. A complete listing of advance voting places is available at www.elections.bc.ca/2017-provincial-general-election/where-to-vote

Voters can also use Elections BC’s Where to Vote app to find voting places close to them and in their electoral district; it can be found at www.elections.bc.ca/wtv . Eligible voters can vote at any voting place in BC.


Wednesday, April 19 ~ BC.  A BC NDP government under John Horgan would eliminate interest on BC student loans and offer a $1,000 completion grant to people who complete their studies.

“At a time when more and more people are struggling to get by, Christy Clark and the BC Liberals have made it harder than ever for people to upgrade their skills and get ahead in life,” said Horgan at a news event in Vancouver today.

“We’re going to fix that. We will ensure every British Columbian has the opportunity to pursue post-secondary education and skills training programs by eliminating interest on BC student loans and offering $1,000 in student loan relief for people who complete their studies.

“We have a growing tech sector that is already employing more than 100,000 British Columbians, and they need more skilled employees. We’ll help them grow and help British Columbians succeed by making post-secondary more accessible and affordable,” said Horgan.

John Horgan and the BC NDP will train skilled workers and create opportunities for people by:

  • Making all current and future BC student loans interest free.
  • Providing a $1,000 completion grant for graduates of college, university and skilled trades programs to help pay down debt when they finish their programs.
  • Investing $100 million to expand technology-related post-secondary programs and investing in talent in information and communications, digital media and entertainment, life sciences and health, clean-tech, IT and engineering and more.
  • Eliminating fees for Adult Basic Education and ESL and keeping a cap on tuition fees at colleges and universities.
  • Introducing a new graduate student scholarship fund to encourage excellence in BC’s graduate programs.

BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver with candidates (in Vancouver last week).

Tuesday, April 18 ~ VICTORIA.  Andrew Weaver, leader of the BC Green Party, released the party’s health platform today in Victoria. He unveiled the platform at the campaign office of Dr. Chris Maxwell, BC Greens candidate for Victoria-Swan Lake, where tonight Maxwell’s campaign office launch event will take place at 7 pm.

“BC’s demographics are shifting. Already, many British Columbians are not getting the health care services they need in a timely fashion,” said Weaver. “British Columbians need an integrated, fiscally sound plan that invests in their health at every stage of life.

Weaver says the Green Party healthcare strategy “supports British Columbians to live healthier lives, and transitions BC towards preventive care”. He also outlined the idea to make strategic investments to increase access to primary care and focus on addressing mental health and addictions.

In the face of stiff competition from BC Liberals and deep-rooted momentum from the BC NDP, It’s a long shot that the Greens will have any substantial wins for MLA seats in the upcoming May 9 BC provincial election. So platform ideas are just that (and not all of them are new, for example ‘create a Ministry responsible for health promotion’ already exists). But discussion about them can tip the discourse of election debate and provides an important service to pushing forward social progress.

Dr Chris Maxwell, BC Green Party candidate, Victoria-Swan Lake.

Key components of the BC Greens health care platform include:

Promoting wellness

  • Create a Ministry responsible for health promotion, disease prevention and active lifestyles.
  • Invest $35 million in nutrition and physical activity programs to promote learning readiness and improve student health in the K-12 public education system.

Prioritizing prevention and primary care

  • Establish a task force to develop a plan to transition the balance of resources between acute/chronic care and primary/preventative care.
  • Allocate $100 million for the expansion of support for inter-professional, integrated primary care by healthcare professionals such as physiotherapists, nurse practitioners and midwives.
  • Develop a proposal to implement an essential drugs program.

Providing effective and efficient acute care

  • Invest $40 million in new long term care facilities to increase the availability of beds in acute care facilities.
  • Establish an innovation task force to reduce surgery wait times across the province.

Addressing mental health and addictions

  • Establish a Ministry responsible for mental health and addictions, which will be responsible for developing and implementing a Mental Health and Addiction strategy and a Youth Mental Health for early detection of mental health illness.
  • Allocate $80 million to fund early intervention, youth mental health initiatives, supervised injection sites and community based centres for mental health and rehabilitation.
  • Implement an Integrated Primary Care model specific to Youth and Mental Health.
  • Develop an immediate response to the fentanyl crisis based on successful programs in Europe that invest in treatment on demand, drug substitution, early-winning monitoring systems and coordinated response.

Supporting seniors and providing end-of-life

  • Invest $35 million over four years in home care to enable seniors and other people who need assistance to stay in their own homes.
  • Ensure the staffing at public and private care homes meets government guidelines and provide $200 million over four years to address staffing levels at public facilities.

Protecting children

  • Invest an additional $100 million over for years to enhance child protection services.
  • Identify strategies to address child poverty in the province, including specific actions to address poverty affecting Aboriginal children and families.
  • Work with stakeholders, including front line service delivery agencies, Indigenous people, local governments, educators, and community not-for-profit agencies to address recommendations made by the Representative for Children and Youth and the Select Standing Committee on Children and Youth.

Sunday, April 16 ~ EASTER SUNDAY.  Many Canadians are making a 4-day long weekend out of the Easter weekend. Good Friday was on April 14. There were many community activities including Easter egg hunts for kids, and stores were open and bustling on Saturday, April 15. Easter Monday is a Statutory holiday across Canada.

Ferry travel on the BC Coast is busy on Easter weekends. BC Ferries added 50 extra sailings on the Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay route carrying travllers between the Vancouver and Victoria areas.

For Easter Sunday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement to Canada on Easter:

“This weekend, millions of Canadians and people around the world will gather with friends and family to celebrate the Easter holiday. This year is special, as Christians in both the Eastern and Western churches are celebrating Easter on the same day.

“Easter, also known as Pascha, is a sacred time of year in the Christian tradition, and celebrates Jesus Christ’s resurrection and triumph over death.

“The Easter story reminds us of the sacrifices made for us, and of the forgiving power of compassion. It is also a call to hope, especially when hope feels most impossible.

“This year, as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation, let us take the opportunity to honour the many cultures, traditions, and beliefs that make Canada such a wonderful place to live. Christian Canadians of all backgrounds help make Canada the strong, diverse, and inclusive country it is today.

“As we gather with those most important to us, let us put into practice what it truly means to love our neighbours as ourselves, and do what we can to make the world a more just, compassionate, and peaceful place for all.

“On behalf of our family, Sophie and I wish all those celebrating a blessed and joyful Easter. We hope all Canadians, no matter their faith, find this a time of renewal and promise.”


Saturday, April 15 ~ ESQUIMALT-METCHOSIN.  The BC Sustainable Energy Association is holding an all-candidates debate for the riding of Esquimalt-Metchosin. “Energy is a pivotal issue in the upcoming provincial election and deserves a strong public airing and meaningful debate,” the organization says. “Voters need to know which candidates and parties are presenting the most sustainable path for British Columbia’s future.”

The Esquimalt-Metchosin riding includes Esquimalt, View Royal, Colwood and Metchosin. BC NDP candidate is Mitzi Dean. BC Liberal candidate is Barb Desjardins. BC Green candidate is Andy MacKinnon.

The Esquimalt-Metchosin riding also includes Colwood and View Royal. Esquimalt is home to a large Department of National Defense base on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Also along this coast travel tankers carrying oil products. Marine wildlife in coastal waters is integral to the ecosystems of the west coast, as well as economy and lifestyle.

The All Candidates debate on BC’s energy future will be held on Tuesday April 18 from at 6:30pm to 9 pm at Esquimalt High School Theatre, 847 Colville Rd.   www.bcsea.org/events/esquimalt-metchosin-all-candidates-debate


BC NDP Leader John Horgan in Comox: remind his island stronghold about how the Vancouver Island economy has struggled under the BC Liberals.

Friday, April 14 ~ Vancouver Island.  BC NDP Leader John Horgan says the BC NDP will roll back ferry fares and make life more affordable for people in coastal communities. In Comox on April 14, Horgan said improved services, creating sustainable jobs and fighting climate change are part of his plan to build a better BC.

“Life on Vancouver Island and in coastal communities has been getting more expensive under Christy Clark. Families need good sustainable jobs, a break on rising costs, and a government that works for the people who live here,” said Horgan.

Horgan’s plan includes rolling back ferry fares on small routes by 15%, freezing fares on major routes, and restoring the 100% seniors weekday discount.

“We will create good jobs in every community and make life more affordable by rolling back ferry fares, freezing hydro rates, stopping Christy Clark’s 42% ICBC rate increase, and improving the public services people count on, like healthcare and education,” said Horgan.

There is also an NDP plan to build 114,000 homes, create 96,000 good jobs with better wages in every corner of BC, and build a sustainable economy while tackling climate change.

“We should and can be a world leader in creating the jobs of the future. We’ll take action to create tens of thousands of new, sustainable jobs while reducing BC’s climate change emissions and growing the low-carbon economy. Our plan includes energizing the BC tech sector, taking action for BC forest jobs, and revitalizing tourism,” said Horgan.

“Christy Clark is looking out for the people at the top. My priority is making life better for people in every region, including our coastal communities,” said Horgan.

The NDP 3-year fiscal plan includes putting the corporate tax rate back up by 1% for those making over $150,000 per year (a tax break brought in by the BC Liberals).

Horgan says the NDP would have fiscal balance and live within their means but “not on the backs of kids and seniors and those who need help”. The NDP say they would reduce the small business tax rate down from 2.5% to 2% if they form government after the May 9 election.


Thursday, April 13 ~ Coastal BC.  BC Ferries has added 60 extra sailings for this Easter Long Weekend, to meet the demands of holiday travel.  The sailings will be during peak travel times between Vancouver and Vancouver Island on the Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay and the
Departure Bay – Horseshoe Bay routes.

  • 50 extra sailings are scheduled on the Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay route
  • 10 extra sailings are scheduled on the Departure Bay – Horseshoe Bay routeThe most popular travel times are expected to be mid-day Thursday to late morning Friday,
    with traffic returning on the holiday Monday afternoon. BC Ferries reminds customers with
    reservations to inform the ticket agent that they have a reservation when they arrive at the ticket booth.
    This self-identification helps expedite the check-in process.

Check the BC Ferries website for current conditions at popular times. For the most up to date travel information. They’re at @BCFerries on Twitter.


Tuesday, April 11 ~ West side of Vancouver Island. The 2017 BC provincial election campaign is on, officially as of today April 11. Party leaders were already slinging barbs and policy missives for the TV media to report out to the public.

As a policy of West Shore Voice News, we will *not* be reporting on election season polls. No matter how unbiased the pollsters try to be, there is no way of knowing the true attitudes of those being polled, and whether the methods of reaching poll participants are reliable (e.g. very few people have home phone lines anymore). The disastrous misjudgement of polls in the 2013 BC provincial election (predicting an easy win for the NDP, who ended up losing badly) should be lesson enough.

News coverage by West Shore Voice News will be focussing on the actual activities of the campaigns in two electoral areas on this west side of the island:

  • Langford-Juan de Fuca (includes voters in Langford, Sooke, and Juan de Fuca area): John Horgan, NDP (incumbent); Cathy Noel, BC Liberal; Brendan Ralfs, BC Green; Willie Nelson, Vancouver Island Party.
  • Esquimalt-Metchosin (includes voters in Esquimalt, View Royal, Colwood and Metchosin): Mitzi Dean, NDP; Barb Desjardins, BC Liberal; Andy MacKinnon, BC Green; Josh Steffler, Libertarian.

There will be two major All Candidates Forums for these two ridings.  One is on Monday, April 24 at the Royal Colwood Golf Course, 5 pm (for candidates of both Langford-Juan de Fuca and Esquimalt-Metchosin). The other forum for Langford-Juan de Fuca is on Tuesday, April 25 at the Prestige Oceanfront Resort in Sooke at 7pm.

The election date is Tuesday, May 9.  There will be a few Advance Voting dates ahead of May 9.


The Sheringham Point Lighthouse Preservation Society has received $550,000 for restoration and preservation.

Tuesday, April 4 ~ VICTORIA. A Vancouver Island lighthouse preservation group has received the largest private donation to a lighthouse restoration project in Canada.

The Sheringham Point Lighthouse Preservation Society (SPLPS) has received a multi-year financial commitment totaling $550,000 from the Ontario-based Westaway Charitable Foundation. Sheringham Point Lighthouse, located near the little town of Shirley — 57 km west of Victoria — is now owned by the society, one of 21 heritage lighthouses in BC. There are also 27 staffed lighthouse stations on the BC coast.

“Lighthouses are popular heritage sites in coastal Canada as well as being symbols of guidance and protection,” said SPLPS board member John Walls. “The Westaways’ supremely generous donation offers us a beacon to help us navigate through our ambitious restoration project, a gesture that is outstanding in Canada. As the recipients, we are honoured that the Westaways have such confidence in our plans. Their donation allows us to proceed with a major restoration to both the lighthouse and the lighthouse reserve property.”

The relationship between the Westaway Charitable Foundation and the SPLPS started with a small donation of $1,000. “We heard about the group and thought it deserved some financial support, so we sent a cheque,” said Foundation President Peter Westaway. “Later when I met the board members and volunteers, I was impressed with the planning expertise and their vision of this site as a coastal asset open to all. I am proud to be able to partner with SPLPS and magnify the substantive community-based financial support they have been given to further this important maritime heritage project.”

Westaway himself lives in the Old Cut Lighthouse on Lake Erie which he and his wife restored in 2000. Their restoration project won the Ontario Home Builders Award as well as the Canadian Home Builders Association Award in the Most Outstanding Home Renovation category.

Walls added that the total gift requires approximately half the required funds to be raised through the community, a large portion of which has been already completed.

Currently the SPLPS is working to restore power to the lighthouse and improve public safety. Then restoration of the tower and engine room will begin, including metal re-fabrication, re-glazing, painting and rustproofing, as well as concrete repairs. The plan is to have interpretive displays and educational programs at the heritage site.

The Westaway Charitable Foundation was formed in 1986 by Peter Westaway and his sister, Lynn, to support primarily the arts, medical research, and heritage projects. Major ongoing gifts have been made to further both ovarian and prostate cancer research, and to support theatre. Ellis Chapel, built in 1861 in Puslinch Township (in south-central Ontario) was completely restored with Foundation help. The Sheringham Point project is the first major gift by the Foundation to a lighthouse restoration project.

The Sheringham Point Lighthouse Preservation Society was formed in 2003 to protect, preserve and restore the heritage lighthouse and act as stewards of the surrounding property, located in Shirley (57 km west of Victoria). Ownership of the lighthouse was transferred to the society in 2015. The Lighthouse View Trail and Jennie’s Trail were created on private property and managed by the society for the first five years under an agreement with the Capital Regional District. The 3.4-km loop trail provides access to the lighthouse and the surrounding area.


BC-NDP campaign bus launch in Vancouver, April 4

BC-NDP campaign bus launch in Vancouver, April 4

Tuesday, April 4 ~ BC. BC NDP Leader John Horgan revealed his campaign bus that will carry his leader’s tour from now until the May 9 election day.

The campaign “for a better BC” kicked off in Vancouver this morning as Horgan was greeted by supporters and a team of Lower Mainland candidates at the BC NDP’s Vancouver regional campaign office. “This campaign is about building a province that works for real people, not just the wealthy and well-connected,” said Horgan.

“While Christy Clark spends her time with big donors and the people at the top, we’ll be travelling to communities across BC, meeting with real people and talking about our plan to make life better for families,” the leader said in a news release.

“After 16 years of BC Liberal neglect, families are paying more fees than ever for fewer services. Good jobs are harder to find. And they’re waiting longer for the services we all depend on, like health care and education. Throughout this campaign, you can count on us to be tough on Christy Clark’s record. We will remind voters of the choices she made that have hurt people, and we’ll contrast that with our vision for a better BC that works for you.”

“As we kick this election campaign into high gear, I’m looking forward to meeting people from all walks of life and sharing our vision for building a better BC,” said Horgan.


If elected in the May 9 BC provincial election, the NDP will ban grizzly bear trophy hunting. [John Horgan, left with Oak Bay-Gordon Head candidate Bryce Casavant]

If elected in the May 9 BC provincial election, the NDP will ban grizzly bear trophy hunting. [John Horgan, left with Oak Bay-Gordon Head candidate Bryce Casavant]

Saturday, April 1 ~ VICTORIA. A rally to ban the grizzly bear trophy hunt in BC will be held today Saturday April 1 outside the BC Legislature. The rally, hosted by Justice for BC Grizzlies, will run from 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm and feature a number of speakers.

Former conservation officer and BC NDP candidate in Oak Bay-Gordon Head, Bryce Casavant, will be speaking at the Rally for BC Grizzlies, in front of the BC Legislature. April 1 marks the beginning of the spring Grizzly bear hunt in most regions of British Columbia. Casavant will be speaking about the BC NDPs pledge to ban the grizzly bear trophy hunt in BC.

“I’m working hard to ensure that the BC grizzly bear, a species of special concern, is properly cared for now, and for all generations to come,” said Casavant, a former Conservation Officer who made international headlines when he refused to follow an order to kill two healthy bear cubs.

“An overwhelming majority of British Columbians, First Nations, and resident hunters oppose the killing of these bears for sport,” he said.

“As British Columbians, we have a proud outdoor heritage that includes hunting, fishing and a growing eco-tourism industry. Bear viewing creates more jobs in local communities and generates millions of dollars more than trophy hunting,” said the NDP candidate this week.

“If elected in May, John Horgan and an NDP government will ban grizzly bear trophy hunting in BC while ensuring decisions about the grizzly bear and all wildlife are science based with proper funding for habitat management.”

Bryce Casavant is a Vancouver Islander. After serving with the Canadian Forces (including in Afghanistan), Casavant worked in various environmental consulting capacities in BC and eventually joined the BC Public Service as a Conservation Officer. In 2015, he earned international attention when he respectfully declined an order to destroy two bear cubs. Bryce followed the law and stood up for BC’s wildlife. His actions inspired a dialogue about the sustainable conservation and safe treatment of animals in our province. The cubs he saved were released back into the wild in 2016 where they continue to grow and thrive.

Bryce is currently a Doctoral Candidate with Royal Roads University, where he is researching wildlife conservation and management. As a Natural Resource Officer with the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Bryce sees firsthand the impacts human action has on our lands and waters. He is standing with John Horgan because he knows that John will take real action to defend our environment and invest in sustainable, renewable energy solutions that create good jobs with good wages.


SpecialCrimeUnitFriday, March 31. Anti-gang police on Vancouver Island say that up to 200 motorcycle riders will be taking part in a ride from Nanaimo to Langford on Saturday, April 1. The event is in honour of a Hell’s Angel prospect murdered earlier this month.

Michael Gregory Widner, 39, of Sooke went missing earlier this month, and his remains were discovered days later along the Pacific Marine route near Port Renfrew. RCMP later confirmed that Widner had known connections to the motorcycle gang. The death continues to be investigated by Vancouver Island’s Integrated Major Crime Unit as a homicide and anyone with information is asked to call 250-380-6211 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

BC’s Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit says the memorial ride is expected to take place Saturday afternoon.

Rides like this serve as a reminder about the presence of the gang while at the same time they are paying respects to the deceased, according to the BC Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit. RCMP and gang unit members will monitor the ride from start to finish, ensuring public safety. The ride is expected to wind up at a club house on Spencer Road in Langford.

Motorists travelling on the Island Highway on Saturday afternoon might find themselves delayed due to the ride, police said.


film_training-generalThursday, March 30 ~ VANCOUVER ISLAND. A new pilot project to train North Island residents and First Nations to work in the film and TV industry has been backed by$488,000 from the BC government.

The funding was announced yesterday for a new pilot project at North Island College (NIC) that will train North Island residents and First Nations to work in the film and TV industry, and meet the growing labour need for locally trained crews in the region.

Michelle Stilwell, MLA for Parksville-Qualicum and Minister for Social Development and Social Innovation, made the announcement at North Island College’s First Nations Gathering Place in Campbell River on behalf of Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour. Stilwell was joined by representatives from NIC as well as local stakeholders in the film and TV industry, local First Nations and employment organizations, who are partnering in this project.

NorthIslandCollege-logoBritish Columbia is one of the top centres for screen-production excellence in North America, with a long history of producing award-winning feature films, television series, documentaries and commercials. Vancouver Island is a key destination for producers who are looking for diverse, spectacular scenery.

The purpose of this new pilot project is to provide innovative, short-term training to tradespeople and Aboriginal residents on Vancouver Island, so they can pursue local jobs in the film and TV industry, which, in turn, will provide the industry with the skilled crews it needs for future productions on the Island.

The project will pilot two separate courses, each with classes offered in Port Alberni and Campbell River. The new specialized trades program will help train carpentry and electrical journeypersons and apprentices to work in the film industry in areas such as set construction. The First Nations production assistant program will train First Nations students to work on productions taking place within the region.

The courses are expected to start in late September 2017, with course completion in early spring 2018 so students can be ready to work on productions planning to come to the Island next spring. The industry and training partners involved in this project also will evaluate the programs, once complete, for possible expansion into other areas of BC.

With 297 film and television productions, and direct spending of $2 billion in 2015-16, the BC Government says this province is one of the top production centres in North America. BC’s motion picture industry supports about 25,000 direct and indirect quality jobs that make up a talented, highly experienced and knowledge-driven workforce.

With over 60 studio facilities and over 2.5 million square feet (230,000 square metres) in stage space, BC’s motion picture industry can service over 50 productions at once and accommodate all sizes and types of production.

Foreign-made series accounted for $790 million in spending in BC out of a total $2 billion in production. That compares to $618 million for feature films. Foreign production account for three-quarters of total production spending in BC.

BC pursues a Creative Economic Strategy.


After 5 summer concerts, Rock the Shores is taking a year off in 2017 [Photo: by Taylor Caspersen for West Shore Voice News]

After 5 summer concerts, Rock the Shores is taking a year off in 2017 [Photo: by Taylor Caspersen for West Shore Voice News]

Wednesday, March 29 ~ South Vancouver Island. Competition bites! A popular south Vancouver-Island rock concert series called Rock the Shores is facing competition for suitable headline talent in this Canada 150 year. So they’ve announced they will take a year off, promising to return in 2018

The Atomique organizers for Rock the Shores (RTS) say they have enjoyed building the event to what it has become. “We are proud of every artist we have booked, and we are so grateful to everyone who has helped us along the way, first and foremost our ticket buyers!”

Atomique says their goal from the beginning was to “build *the* annual rock festival for Islanders”. This year apparently there are multiple challenges towards pulling off the weekend-long outdoor concert that has been held the past five years outside the Juan de Fuca Rec Centre in Colwood.   The challenges apparently include limited availability of suitable headline talent coupled with increasing market saturation and competition in a year of national celebration.

Rock The Shores 2017 ticket holders may visit www.rocktheshores.com to view their options. Full refunds are available for all pass types already purchased, and for those that want to hold onto passes for 2018, Atomique is providing free, generous upgrades in all ticket classes.


bCFreshwaterFishing-2017to2019-Mar2917-webWednesday, March 29 ~ BC.  A new, updated guide to freshwater fishing rules and regulations in BC was announced today by the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson.

The 2017-2019 Freshwater Fishing Regulations Synopsis has been posted on the BC government fishing regulation website and print copies will soon be available at Front Counter BC, Service BC and stores that sell fishing licences. Use this direct link to download the regulations for Vancouver Island .

This synopsis is a comprehensive guide to the regulations, policies, and practices that guide freshwater fishing in BC. The Province updates the synopsis every two years, and regularly posts updates online.

The synopsis also includes important angling-related articles including information on stopping the spread of invasive aquatic species, catch-and-release best practices, and tips on how to help keep aquatic ecosystems natural, intact and healthy.

Freshwater fishing generates almost $1 billion towards the provincial economy annually. The Province collects $10 million each year from licence fees, money which goes directly to the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC. The Society supports angling-related research, conservation, stocking, access and education programs.

Under the federal Fisheries Act, the Province is responsible for non-salmon freshwater fisheries, including sea-run steelhead, trout, and char. The federal government is responsible for commercial and recreational fisheries in tidal waters, and salmon fisheries.

Find out more about the Freshwater Fisheries Society at: https://www.gofishbc.com


TravelAlert-BCFerries-Mar30&31&Apr2-2017-webTuesday, March 28 ~ BC SOUTH COAST.  BC Ferries says one of their large vessels the Spirit of Vancouver Island remains out of service until approximately April 7. The large ship was first taken offline effective last Saturday, March 24.

The Spirit of Vancouver Island which operates on BC Ferries’ Metro Vancouver – Victoria (Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay) route, remains out of service due to a hydraulic issue with the port side controllable pitch propeller. The vessel will dry dock on March 31 for approximately one week for repairs.

As a result of the mechanical issue, the following modified sailing schedule will be in effect for March 30, 31 and April 2:

Thursday, March 30 Friday, March 31 Sunday, April 2 
From From From From From From
Tsawwassen Swartz Bay Tsawwassen Swartz Bay Tsawwassen Swartz Bay
7 am 7 am 7 am 7 am 7 am 7 am
9 am 9 am 9 am 9 am 9 am 9 am
11 am 11 am 11 am 11 am 11 am 11 am
1 pm 1 pm 1 pm 1 pm 12 pm 1 pm
2 pm 3 pm 2 pm 3 pm 1 pm 2 pm
3 pm 4 pm 3 pm 4 pm 3 pm 3 pm
5 pm 5 pm 5 pm 5 pm 4 pm 5 pm
7 pm 7 pm 6 pm 7 pm 5 pm 6 pm
9 pm 9 pm 7 pm 8 pm 7 pm 7 pm
9 pm 9 pm 9 pm 9 pm

During the above dates, 11 of the 57 Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay sailings are cancelled. Customers with reservations on these sailings are being notified by BC Ferries’ Customer Care team and accommodated on the next available sailing.

There is the Nanaimo (Tsawwassen – Duke Point) route for customers who may wish to consider travelling that route as an alternative on Sunday, April 2:

  • From Tsawwassen 5:15 am and 7:45 am
  • From Duke Point  5:15 am and 7:45 am

Heavy traffic is expected on several sailings between Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island this weekend. BC Ferries anticipates Thursday, Friday and Sunday afternoon and evening to be busy. In particular, late Sunday afternoon at Tsawwassen will be extremely busy. Customers may wish to consider travelling earlier from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay on Sunday to avoid heavy traffic.

Customers travelling on the Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay route this weekend with a specific sailing time in mind may wish to make a reservation by calling 1-888-BCFERRY. Customers travelling on this route without reservations may wish to consider travelling via the Metro Vancouver – Nanaimo (Tsawwassen – Duke Point) or West Vancouver – Nanaimo (Horseshoe Bay – Departure Bay) routes.

Southern Gulf Islands Thru Fare. Customers are reminded there is another direct route to travel to the Southern Gulf Islands via the
Queen of Nanaimo. See www.bcferries.com for more info.

BC Ferries says they appreciate customers’ patience and will provide an update on the Spirit of Vancouver Island when more information is available.


DropCoverHoldonTuesday, March 28 ~ WEST SIDE of VANCOUVER ISLAND. Funding to support a wider tsunami warning range on the west side of Vancouver Island has been announced today by Emergency Management BC (EMBC).

Residents of Port Renfrew and the Pacheedaht First Nation will receive increased capability for tsunami warnings and the potential to provide earthquake early warnings, thanks to a $550,000 contribution from the BC Disaster Mitigation Program to the Capital Regional District (CRD), it was announced today March 28.

The funds will replace existing obsolete tsunami sirens with new warning technology to help residents to be quickly informed in the event a tsunami threatens the region. The tsunami siren upgrades will include voiceover capability and remote activation, expanding the audible warning zone to include the Pacheedaht First Nation community. The proposed system will have the potential to provide early warning prior to an earthquake actually occurring. This could allow residents time to drop, cover and hold on, and head to high ground.

The funding is all a part of a broader set of more than $80 million invested in emergency preparedness and mitigation. Some of these investments, which will have positive benefits throughout the province, include:

  • $32 million to the Community Emergency Preparedness Fund to be administered by UBCM that will include items like $3 million for flood risk assessments, floodplain maps and flood mitigation plans, $20 million to fund flood mitigation projects, and $4.2 million emergency social services.
  • $5.5 million for the BC Search and Rescue Association for essential supports to search and rescue (SAR) volunteers, the SAR prevention program AdventureSmart, the acquisition, maintenance and upgrading of rescue equipment, and deployable communication systems to assist in communication in BCs backcountry.
  • $500,000 to Avalanche Canada to support public education and avalanche alert throughout BC.
  • $100,000 to PEP Air to support capital purchases and recognize the effort of the volunteer air search and rescue teams throughout the province.

Mike Hicks, Director, Juan de Fuca Electoral Area [Photo 2017: West Shore Voice News]

Mike Hicks, Director, Juan de Fuca Electoral Area [Photo 2017: West Shore Voice News]

“͞This investment will provide a much needed replacement of the current tsunami warning system. It will be critical to the safety of the residents and visitors to Port Renfrew and the Pacheedaht First Nation,”‘ says Mike Hicks, director, Juan de Fuca Electoral Area. “This new world-class, state-of-the-art warning system will help to protect the community from the very real threat of tsunamis.”

“The over $80 million in investments in community emergency preparedness will help us better withstand floods, fires, or earthquakes that could impact our province. Emergency preparedness is a shared responsibility that begins in every home, in every business and across all levels of government. This funding is another of many provincial investments and initiatives to help keep British Columbians safe,” said Naomi Yamamoto, Minister of State for Emergency Preparedness.

“͞The threat of earthquakes and a resulting tsunami is part of Pacheedaht community life,” says Chief Jeff Jones, Pacheedaht Nation. “It is not a matter of if, but when the event will occur; this has been a part of Pacheedaht͛’s history since time immemorial. We are grateful for the upgrades to the tsunami warning system, and hope this builds momentum for other emergency preparedness initiatives in Pacheedaht traditional territory.”


TravelAlert-BCFerries-Mar25&26-2017-webFriday, March 24 ~ VANCOUVER ISLAND SOUTH COAST & MAINLAND.  BC Ferries has advised has the Spirit of Vancouver Island vessel has been temporarily removed from service with modified schedules on the Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay <Vancouver-Victoria> route for Saturday March 25 and Sunday March 26.

The interruption is due to a hydraulic issue with the port side controllable pitch propeller. Engineers continue to troubleshoot the issue and will determine early next week the further status of the vessel. This removal from service means only three vessels are available
to operate on the route on Sunday as opposed to four. There is no change in number of vessels operating the route on Saturday.

Heavy traffic is expected on some sailings between the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island this weekend. BC Ferries advises customers travelling on the Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay route this weekend with a set travel time in mind to make a reservation by calling 1-888-BCFERRY. Customers travelling on this route without reservations are advised to consider travelling via the Tsawwassen – Duke Point or Horseshoe Bay – Departure Bay routes.

As a result of the mechanical issue, the following sailings have been cancelled on the Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay route:

  • Saturday, March 25 – From Tsawwassen 2 pm | From Swartz Bay 12 noon
  • Sunday, March 26  – From Tsawwassen 12 noon & 4 pm |  From Swartz Bay 2 pm & 6pm
  • Customers with reservations on the sailings above are being notified by BC Ferries’ Customer Care team and accommodated on the next scheduled sailing.

To assist customers travelling between the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island and due to the reduced capacity, the Queen of New Westminster will perform additional sailings on the Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay route as follows:

  • Saturday, March 25 – From Tsawwassen 12 noon & 4 pm |  From Swartz Bay  2 pm & 6 pm
  • Sunday, March 26 – From Tsawwassen 10 am | From Swartz Bay 8 pm & 11 pm* (* by Coastal Rennaissance)

There are additional sailings on the Tsawwassen-Duke Point route:

  • Sunday, March 26  – From Tsawwassen 5:15 am & 7:45 am | From Duke Point 5:15 am & 7:45 am

BC Ferries says they appreciate customers’ patience and will provide an update when more information about the status of the Spirit of Vancouver Island is available.


EarthHour-lightbulbThursday, March 23 ~ BC. Most people are pretty good at conserving electricity nowadays, so Earth Hour doesn’t have the same megawatt-punch as it did when the one-hour worldwide event started in 2007, as most people actively conserve electricity nowadays.

In fact, the BC Government now sees it as a symbolic gesture: “While the one hour without lights is intended to be a symbolic act encouraging people to consider conservation throughout the year, the collective impact of this global action is significant. I encourage everyone to participate,” says Mary Polak, Environment Minister.

So here we go again — this Saturday night March 25, there will be Earth Hour 2017 activity between 8:30 pm and 9:30 pm (local time) around the world. People are encouraged to reduce their electricity usage as much as possible during that evening hour, particularly ‘lights out’ so as to make a visual impact.

The BC government says it will be demonstrating its on-going support for climate action by joining the worldwide grassroots movement, most noticeably by turning off the Jubilee Lights at the Parliament Buildings in Victoria and the Lions Gate Bridge lights in Vancouver to celebrate the 11th-annual Earth Hour. Where possible, more than 170 provincial government offices will power off non-essential lights and electronics.

Earth Hour is a global event in support of climate change action. Participants from six continents, over 170 countries and 24 time zones will be united as a global community through individual action.

The global event started in Sydney, Australia in 2007 by the World Wildlife Fund to raise awareness about the effects of climate change. Earth Hour has grown to engage more than 7,000 cities worldwide and continues to be recognized as a leader in uniting people all over the globe to combat climate change.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, Earth Hour is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m because it is the closest hour to sunset in both hemispheres, allowing for the biggest visual impact of lights out everywhere. Last year Earth Hour 2016 took place in more than 7,000 cities, in more than 24 time zones.

After Earth Hour, BC Hydro usually publishes the percentage reductions in electricity use for each town and city in the province.


WSV-ReadershipSurvey-March2017-webSPRING 2017 WEST SHORE VOICE NEWS READERSHIP SURVEY ~ March 22, 2017.

We invite all West Shore Voice News readers to take part in a 3-minute survey about reading our publication (print / online).

Your input will be anonymous, but only one set of responses per IP address will be accepted.

We appreciate your input. We are always striving to reach and serve our many readers in the best ways possible — technology, content, and marketing support.

Here’s the survey link. Responses will be accepted up to April 5, 2017. Thank you!


The Salish Eagle will service the Twassassen - Southern Gulf Islands route.

The Salish Eagle will service the Tsawwassen – Southern Gulf Islands route.

Monday, March 20 ~ VICTORIA.  The newest vessel in the BC Ferries fleet — Salish Eagle — is arriving in BC today. The vessel took 38 days to travel 10,440 nautical miles from Remontowa Shipbuilding S.A. in Gdansk, Poland.

This ship will make its way to Ogden Point in Victoria, where the public can take exterior photos of the vessel today. Once Salish Eagle clears Canadian Customs and final inspections are complete, the vessel will be officially handed over to BC Ferries. On Tuesday, March 21, the ship will proceed to BC Ferries’ refit facility in Richmond to prepare for operational service. The vessel will move to Tsawwassen terminal in mid-April for crew training and familiarization, and to continue to ready the ship for regular operation.

“We are proud to welcome Salish Eagle, our second natural gas-fuelled ship, home to BC and into our fleet,” said Mark Wilson, BC Ferries’ Vice President of Engineering. “The Salish Class are well-built vessels that will help reduce our environmental footprint and our operating costs.”

The artwork created to adorn Salish Eagle, designed by Stz’uminus First Nation’s John Marston, will be applied on the ship here in BC. The winter weather in Poland has temperatures below ideal for the application.

Salish Eagle will enter service on the Tsawwassen – Southern Gulf Islands route at the end of June. Her sister ship, the Salish Orca, will start service on the Comox – Powell River route late next month. Salish Raven, the third Salish Class vessel, will depart Poland for BC in April.

The 107-metre Salish Class ships will carry 145 vehicles and up to 600 passengers and crew. The vessels feature two car decks and have a service speed of 15.5 knots. Each ship is powered by three Wartsila 8L20DF engines. Gross tonnage of each ship is 8,728 tonnes.


ferry-TRUCKFriday, March 17, 2017 ~ VANCOUVER ISLAND.  BC Ferries rates for commercial vehicles that are 13 feet wide (or wider) will more than double on April 1, 2017 from $6.50/ft to $13.24/ft, to reflect that they take up two lanes, said BC Ferries in a news release March 16.

Probably in short order, this increase in shipping overhead will spill over into higher costs of consumer goods that are being transported by truck to Vancouver Island. It will also impact the cost of shipping raw products from the island.

It’s yet another way that the cost of living on Vancouver Island is expensive in unique ways compared to other parts of BC and Canada.


FerryFares-SouthCoastRoute-Apr0117-webThursday, March 16 ~ BC. Vehicle fares are going up on the Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay, Tsawwassen-Duke Point, and Horsehoe Bay-Departure Bay routes on BC Ferries sailings by 1.9% on April 1, 2017 — that’s up to $55.80 (from $54.80) for vehicles up to 20ft in length. There will be no increase in passenger fares on these routes. The current adult passenger fare on these routes is unchanged at $16.70 per person.

Effective April 1 there will also a $5 reduction in reservation fees (from $15 to $10) if you book seven days in advance on reservable routes. Reservations made less than seven days and up to one day prior will decrease to $17 (from $18.50). Reservations booked day of travel will go down to $21 (from $22).

Rates for commercial vehicles that are 13 feet wide (or wider) will increase from $6.50/ft to $13.24/ft, to reflect that they take up two lanes. In time, this increase will likely spill over into higher costs of goods that are being shipped by truck to the island.

Cancellation fees on northern routes will double, to discourage customers from booking space they don’t need, and to allow more customers access to the vehicle deck space.

BC Ferries says the increases are necessary to cover operating costs and major capital replacement projects. The company needs to replace one ship per year on average in order to maintain safe, efficient and reliable service, it was stated in a BC Ferries news release today.


Monday, March 13 ~ SOUTH VANCOUVER ISLAND. Another week on the BC provincial election campaign trail on this west side of the island.

BC Green Party leader Andrew Weaver will be meeting with homeschool students at the BC Legislature (Wednesday). Then on Thursday evening March 16 Weaver will be at Andy MacKinnon’s campaign launch (Green Party candidate for Esquimalt-Metchosin) at the Royal Colwood Golf Club in Colwood.

NDP MLA Maurine Karagianis (green scarf, black suit) got big thanks from John Horgan. Photo: West Shore Voice News

NDP MLA Maurine Karagianis (green scarf, black suit) got big thanks from John Horgan. Photo: West Shore Voice News

Towards the May 9 provincial election, the Esquimalt-Metchosin electoral area sees a race between Mitzi Dean (NDP candidate), Barb Desjardins (BC Liberal candidate), and Andy MacKinnon (BC Green candidate). Dean is a social services administrator, Desjardins is currently the mayor of Esquimalt and CRD Chair, and MacKinnon is a nature-study author.

The current BC NDP MLA for the Esquimalt-Metchosin riding that covers a voter base in Esquimalt, Colwood and Metchosin is Maurine Karagianis — she is retiring from politics. Karagianis was given upbeat accolades this past weekend at John Horgan’s campaign launch in Langford. Karagianis will be campaigning alongside NDP candidate Mitzi Dean to toward maintaining that side of the south island as part of the NDP stronghold.


BC NDP Leader John Horgan at his local campaign launch in Langford, as the candidate for Langford-Juan de Fuca [Photo Copyright 2017 West Shore Voice News]

BC NDP Leader John Horgan at his local campaign launch in Langford, as the candidate for Langford-Juan de Fuca [Photo Copyright 2017 West Shore Voice News]

Saturday, March 11 ~ LANGFORD.  BC NDP Leader John Horgan held his local Langford-Juan de Fuca campaign launch today, Saturday March 11, at the Langford Legion.

Over 400 people were there for the event including long-time supporters from throughout the riding, several MLAs (including Melanie Mark and Jodie Wickens who came over from the mainland), two local NDP MPs (Randall Garrison and Alistair MacGregor), some local municipal leaders, many campaign workers and some media.

Horgan cut into Christy Clark’s BC Liberals and chastised the current government for the hardship imposed on regular working British Columbians. Horgan urged teachers, health-care workers and seniors not to forget how the last 15 years in BC have been hard on them and most British Columbians who are not “wealthy or well-connected”.

Horgan promised to work on bringing in a $15 minimum wage if the NDP is elected to government, as one way to offer a bit of a break to struggling workers. He resurrected remembrance of the ground-breaking work of 1970s NDP premier Dave Barrett for having started ICBC as an affordable auto insurance entity, not as it is used today as a ‘cash cow’, said Horgan.

First Nations elder Shirley Alphonse gave her absolute support to “her friend Horgan”, as part of her opening blessing.

The upbeat event included Horgan’s 30-minute speech as well as remarks from NDP finance spokesperson Carole James and education spokesperson MLA Rob Fleming, along with NDP candidate for Esquimalt-Metchosin Mitzi Dean.

Horgan was invited to the podium by his nominator, SD62 School Board Trustee Ravi Parmar.


BCFerries-vesselFriday, March 10 ~ VICTORIA – The regular passenger fare will be half price fleet-wide on over 2,000 BC Ferries sailings during March 11 to 30. Youth age 11 and younger will travel free during that promotion period.

The 50%-off promotional discount is applicable on regular passenger fares for adult, BC senior, student and persons with disabilities. The complimentary travel for children 11 and under is applicable on a child’s fare.

On the Tsawwassen-SwartzBay route that means an adult will travel on available sailings for $8.60 and seniors for $4.30.

  • South Coast Routes: the promotion will be in effect Monday through Thursday, Saturdays and Sundays on select sailings March 11 – 30.
  • North Coast Routes including Port Hardy – Prince Rupert, Prince Rupert – Haida Gwaii and Alliford Bay – Skidegate routes as well as the Discovery Coast Connector: the 50% discount and kids-travel-free applies on every sailing March 11 – 30.

Experience™ Card users who receive a year-round discount that is less than 50% will have their discount increased to match the promotional fare. “This promotion allows those customers who do not participate in the Experience™ Card program an opportunity to travel at a discounted rate,” says BC Ferries.

Space on the select promotional sailings is on a first-come, first-served basis. Reservations are recommended. The discount is also available on select BC Ferries Vacations packages for customers looking for a Spring Break getaway.  www.bcferries.com


Candidates in two key west shore ridings on Vancouver Island. Click on image to enlarge.

Candidates in two key west shore ridings on Vancouver Island. Click on image to enlarge.

Thursday, March 9. And so the race card is firming up! West Shore Voice News is covering two electoral areas (ridings) on the west side of Vancouver Island during the election campaign toward the May 9 BC provincial election.

The main slate for the key riding of Langford-Juan de Fuca (which now includes Langford, Sooke and Juan de Fuca up to Port Renfrew — but no longer Metchosin) includes three candidates.  BC NDP Leader John Horgan has built and held a stronghold in the riding since 2005.

  • Long-time MLA John Horgan is the BC NDP incumbent candidate for Langford-Juan de Fuca.  Horgan is holding his local campaign launch this weekend on Saturday, March 11 in Langford (Langford Legion, 761 Station Ave, from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm). As party leader, he will be travelling all over BC during the campaign toward the May 9 election.
  • The BC Liberals are running Cathy Noel as their candidate in Langford-Juan de Fuca. Noel has a broad reach in the sport-fitness community.
  • The BC Green candidate for Langford-Juan de Fuca is Brendan Ralfs, a provincial emergency manager on southern Vancouver Island.

Another electoral area on the west side of South Vancouver Island long held by the NDP is Esquimalt-Metchosin (which includes Colwood). The current NDP MLA Maurine Karagianis is retiring from politics.

  • The BC NDP candidate is Mitzi Dean, a long-time advocate for well-funded social services through the Pacific Centre Family Services based in Colwood.
  • The BC Liberal candidate is Barb Desjardins, who is presently serving as both Mayor of Esquimalt and Chair of the Capital Regional District (CRD) board.
  • The BC Greens today announced Dr Andy MacKinnon as their candidate for Esquimalt-Metchosin. He is a  Professional Forester and Professional Biologist in BC, and author of books about plants of western North America.

 

Canada150-logoTuesday, March 7 ~ NATIONAL. Write it, snap it, draw it!

Are you age 8 to 18 and feeling creative? Try the Canada Day Challenge by submitting a story, essay, poem, photo or drawing in celebration of Canada 150. Deadline Friday March 31, 2017.

Winners will have their work displayed as part of a special summer exhibit at the Canadian Museum of History.

Check it out! http://canada.pch.gc.ca/eng/1449088858795


Firefighters Memorial at the BC Parliament Buildings, March 6, 2017 [BC Government Photo]

Firefighters Memorial at the BC Parliament Buildings, March 6, 2017 [BC Government Photo]

Monday, March 6 ~ VICTORIA. The 2017 Fallen Firefighters’ Memorial was held today at noon at the BC Legislature. Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour, issued the following statement on the observance of the 2017 Fallen Firefighters’ Memorial:

“Firefighters work tirelessly throughout the province to save lives and protect property for all British Columbians. The job they perform is difficult and dangerous, yet vitally important. Their skills, dedication and courage are touchstones of a profession that deserves our highest commendation,” said Bond in a government news release.

“That is why I was honoured to stand with provincial firefighters and their families today at the Fallen Firefighters’ Memorial to remember all who gave their lives to protect others,” she said. “We paid tribute to 14 firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty. Their sacrifice is an unimaginable loss for their families, friends and colleagues.”

“On behalf of the Province, we honour the sacrifices of the fallen, and we thank the BC Professional Firefighters Association, and all firefighters in British Columbia who continue to serve, for the work they do to keep our communities safe.”


BCElectionUpdate-Graphic-webMonday, March 6 ~ South Vancouver Island. Well, Saturday March 11 is ramping up to be a politics-of-the-left sorta day on the south island.

  • BC NDP Leader John Horgan will be holding his local campaign kickoff, in his home riding of Langford-Juan de Fuca. That’s at the Langford Legion from 10:30am to 12:30pm.
  • BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver will be holding a BC Green Party rally at the Grand Pacific Hotel in downtown Victoria, from 2 to 4pm.

The official BC provincial election campaign period (i.e. when the Writ drops and the current session of the legislature is dissolved) is expected to start April 11. The election is on Tuesday, May 9 (with plenty of Advance Voting opportunities ahead of that).

Voter registration notices went into the postal mail on February 14, says Elections BC. Registering to vote can be done online at www.elections.bc.ca/ovr or by calling 1-800-661-8683.


Click on image for larger view.

Click on image for larger view.

Friday, March 3 ~ WEST SHORE. Housing prices continue to surge upward in Greater Victoria, showing a raw average sale price of $852,111 in February.

The low number of properties listed for sale in February at 1,537 (very low compared to 2,562 a year ago) is only one pressure on prices. Buyers also hope to ‘beat the clock’ before super-low interest rates someday go up.

The raw average sale price of homes in getaway-lifestyle-Sooke has almost reached the half-million dollar mark ($495,789 in February). That’s up over $100,000 in one year.

In an economy where it’s mostly part-time and non-benefits jobs on the rise, the financial stability required for ownership of a single family home is increasingly beyond the reach of many.

This month’s MLS stats at www.vreb.org


Friday, March 3 ~ CAMPBELL RIVER. Building on the economic benefits and jobs created by getting to yes on major projects and provincial investments in infrastructure, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson today announced immediate investments and a long-term action plan outlined in BC’s rural economic development strategy that will create jobs and economic opportunities in Campbell River.

Building on our Rural Advantages: BC’s Rural Economic Development Strategy outlines the Province’s three-pronged approach to build, strengthen, and diversify rural communities. These investments are expected to support up to 26,600 direct and indirect jobs with an overall impact of $2.8 billion to provincial GDP. Targeted initiatives include $40 million to expand and enhance high-speed Internet and an extension of the $25-million Rural Dividend Fund to reinvigorate and diversify more local economies. These will ensure British Columbians in all regions of the province have the opportunity for good-paying jobs and a high quality of life in their community.

To strengthen the Province’s commitment to supporting rural communities and in recognition of the unique challenges and opportunities they face, Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett was recently appointed Minister of State for Rural Economic Development. Building on our Rural Advantages delivers on a key priority in the minister of state’s mandate letter.

“With the release of Building on our Rural Advantages, the Province is also making targeted investments that will benefit rural communities throughout BC, including Campbell River”, a release on March 3 stated:

  • $15 million over three years for trades equipment in BC secondary schools so students can explore the trades earlier in their education, including $716,400 in Campbell River.
  • $7.5 million over three years to upgrade BC Wildfire Service facilities throughout the province, including the Quinsam fire base, creating jobs and improving safety in rural communities.
  • More than $871,700 under the Rural Dividend Fund for projects in six communities, including:
    * $500,000 for the Regional District of Mount Waddington to develop a strategic economic development plan to create jobs in the forestry sector,
    * $100,000 for the Nanwakolas Council Society to deliver job readiness and skills training to youth,
    * $91,720 for the Village of Zeballos to develop local trails,
    * $90,000 for the Dzawada’enuxw First Nation to hire and train local workers and develop an overnight accommodation business in Kingcome Village,
    * $80,000 for the Village of Port Alice to support the redevelopment, expansion, and increased services for a campground, and
    * $10,000 for Port McNeill Kids in Motion Society to develop a summer camp geared for local youth with a focus on physical activity, health, and nutrition.

The rural strategy is a key commitment of the 5-Year Jobs Plan Update, which recognized the need for focused action to support rural communities. The new targeted actions outlined in the strategy build on the significant investments in Balanced Budget 2017 and respond to what government heard directly from British Columbians living in rural communities. To that end, the strategy includes immediate investments that will lay the foundation for economic diversification in rural BC:

  • A significant $40 million investment to extend high-speed Internet access to rural and remote BC communities, bringing faster broadband speeds that will create new economic opportunities and lay the foundation for new investment and jobs in BC’s burgeoning tech industry.
  • Extending the $25 million per-year Rural Dividend Fund for a fourth year to support the strength and sustainability of small rural communities.
  • $150 million for the Forest Enhancement Society of British Columbia to plant tens of millions more trees, which will help fight climate change and create over 3,000 jobs in rural British Columbia.
  • Begin phasing out provincial sales tax (PST) on business electricity purchases by reducing it to 3.5% on October 1, 2017, and eliminating it by April 1, 2019. The aim is to improve business competitiveness and economic performance, especially for resource industries that are key to rural BC such as commercial agriculture, forestry and mining.
  • Reduce the small business tax rate to 2% from 2.5%, effective April 2017, giving BC the second-lowest small business tax in Canada.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau jogging in Victoria, March 2, 2017 [Canadian Press photo]

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau jogging in Victoria, March 2, 2017 [Canadian Press photo]

Thursday, March 2 ~ VICTORIA.  [Posted at 5 pm]. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted out at 9:03 am this morning that he had arrived on the West Coast with Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan for a visit to Victoria today, March 2.

Trudeau and Sajjan started off the day with a jog from the Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt near Victoria, along with about 300 military personnel on their monthly timed 5K run. Trudeau reportedly achieved the five-kilometer jog in under 25 minutes.

He toured the HMCS Ottawa and HMCS Chicoutimi including a battle control room, calling those activities “a real treat”. There was a photo op meet-and-greet with military families. The HMCS Ottawa will soon be setting off for a 6-month tour in the Asia Pacific.

After 1 pm, Trudeau met with Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps at Victoria City Hall. Their discussion reportedly included aspects of affordable housing, innovative technology including green tech, and local opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, as well the opiate crisis and local infrastructure projects such as Crystal Pool and the Victoria fire hall. There was a large crowd – numbering in the hundreds – comprised of both anti-pipeline protesters as well as well-wishers.  There was heavy police security.

Some of the protest signage included messages like “We Vote No” and “You Promised Us Change”. Trudeau said briefing to media that “the environment and economy need to work together”, emphasizing the need for economic growth “while protecting the extraordinary natural inheritance” in BC.

In  the Greater Victoria area there are several shops selling marijuana products, ahead of changes to federal legislature that would make pot sales legal. Trudeau answered a media question about marijuana, saying the current law remains in place “until we have a framework to control and regulate marijuana”.

Mayor Lisa Helps said the meeting with Trudeau today was the beginning of a relationship. The last sitting Prime Minister to visit Victoria City Hall was Lester B Pearson in 1965. Trudeau was gifted with a pair of Converse runners, with orca images on one side, as a way to ‘take a walk in our shoes’.

After the brief meeting at Victoria City Hall, Trudeau headed by air to Vancouver to meet with BC Premier Christy Clark at the downtown Fairmont Hotel at 5:30 pm. They are expected to discuss the upcoming BC Election, the fentanyl crisis and softwood lumber issues.

On Friday (March 3), Trudeau will visit Vancouver’s Downtown East Side to get a firsthand look at the drug overdose situation.


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan [Photo taken in Poland, July 2016]

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan [Photo taken in Poland, July 2016]

Wednesday, March 1 ~ VICTORIA. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be in Victoria tomorrow, Thursday, March 2.

Trudeau and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan will be at Canadian Forces Base in Esquimalt, BC. They will tour the base later in the morning and meet with sailors, and be available to media at 12:30 pm.

Around 1:20 pm Trudeau will meet with Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps at Victoria City Hall.

The Dogwood Initiative group has called an ‘Emergency Town Hall’ to “make sure he hears the voices of real British Columbians”. They will be assembling at Centennial Square outside Victoria City Hall for 12:30 pm. Dogwood members have for several years been protesting any increase in oil tanker traffic off the coast of BC.

Trudeau is scheduled to meet with BC Premier Christy Clark at 5:30pm on Thursday, at the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel in downtown Vancouver, to discuss the opioid crisis and softwood lumber. On Friday, Trudeau will take a first-hand look at the drug crisis in Vancouver.


Brendan Ralf, BC Green Party Candidate in Langford-Juan de Fuca

Brendan Ralfs, BC Green Party Candidate in Langford-Juan de Fuca

Wednesday, March 1 ~ West side of Vancouver Island. The BC Green Party has announced their candidate for Langford-Juan de Fuca.  Brendan Ralfs — a provincial emergency manager on southern Vancouver Island — will be running on the same ballot as BC NDP Leader John Horgan and BC Liberal candidate Cathy Noel.

“After spending 20 years as a forest firefighter in BC I am passionate about seeing our province protected for future generations,” Ralfs said today in BC Greens news release. Ralfs has helped communities respond to a broad array of weather-influenced emergencies, including floods, storms and drought.

“I am honoured to welcome Brendan to our team. His experience managing emergencies across the province means he has a firsthand understanding of the impacts of climate change,” says BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver.

Ralfs calls Weaver a “clear choice to lead us in working together to ensure our home is a place where social justice prevails, the natural environment is protected and everyone has the opportunity to pursue their dreams while leading safe, productive lives”.


BC NDP Leader John Horgan will officially launch his campaign on March 11.

BC NDP Leader John Horgan will officially launch his campaign on March 11.

Monday, February 27 ~ West side of Vancouver Island. BC NDP leader John Horgan will kick off his 2017 re-election campaign in his home riding of Langford-Juan de Fuca on Saturday March 11.

The big-crowd event will be held at the Langford Legion, 761 Station Avenue starting at 10:30am.

Horgan has held the Langford-area riding (by various electoral area names, including Sooke and up to Port Renfrew) since 2005. He has also built an NDP stronghold on Vancouver Island that has repeatedly proven for him to have a far-reaching and deep reach into many communities and economic sectors.

For this election, the reboundaried riding has lost the largely rural area of Metchosin. Ridings are rebalanced over the years based on population numbers. Both Langford and Sooke have seen population increases in recent years, due mainly to the relatively lower cost of housing on the west side of south Vancouver Island.

The BC provincial election is set for Tuesday, May 9.


BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver

BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver

Monday, February 27 ~ VICTORIA. BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver, MLA (Oak Bay – Gordon Head) will be out campaigning in his riding on Saturday, March 4.

Ahead of that, this week he’ll be attending an all-candidates listening session on March 2 in Victoria. Then to Vancouver on March 3 to take part in a senior executive roundtable at the Business Council of BC, and a BC Chamber of Commerce Leaders’ Power Lunch in downtown Vancouver.

Weaver is presently the only Green Party MLA in the BC Legislature.


AlistairMacGregor-headshotSaturday, February 25 ~ VANCOUVER ISLAND. Alistair MacGregor, MP (Cowichan-Malahat-Langford) is elated that after several years of public pressure, the BC Liberal government has finally and permanently this week revoked the permit for the toxic soil dump near Shawnigan Lake.

MacGregor has stood in solidarity with the Shawnigan community and has supported its work in the fight against the toxic soil dump over the years. As a new MP, MacGregor introduced a bill (his first) in the House of Commons in Ottawa which would have brought federal protection to Shawnigan Lake under the Navigation Protection Act.

“Not only was the entire process that allowed the toxic soil dump permit flawed from the onset, but during the first serious rain event of its existence the project failed and discharged contaminated soil directly into the watershed,” said MP Alistair MacGregor.  “It shouldn’t have taken this long for the BC Government to put an end to this irresponsible and dangerous soil dump that risked inflicting irreparable damage to the Shawnigan watershed and its aquatic life,” MacGregor said.

“I want to specifically thank the Shawnigan Lake Residents Association and the Cowichan Valley Regional District for their hard work and diligence on this issue,” said MacGregor. “Our collective action is what makes our communities vibrant and strong, and this has finally forced the BC Liberal government to correct their mistake.”


The new AED installed in the waiting room at Long Harbour terminal. {Photo by BC Ferries]

The new AED installed in the waiting room at Long Harbour terminal. {Photo by BC Ferries]

Thursday, February 23 ~ VICTORIA.  BC Ferries has announced the installation of an additional 24 Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) at minor terminals for customers to use in the event of a medical emergency.

Heart disease and stroke take one life every seven minutes. February is the Heart and
Stroke Foundation’s ‘Heart Month’, a key time to reach millions of Canadians and alert them to the risks of heart disease and stroke. The Heart and Stroke Foundation has supplied BC Ferries with the signage and cabinets for this potentially life-saving equipment through the BC Public Access to Defibrillation Program (BC PAD).

With the advent of increasingly easy to use AEDs, BC Ferries saw an opportunity to improve the possibility of treating a customer or employee at remote locations in a timely manner. Training is not required to use the AEDs that BC Ferries has installed at the minor terminals as the devices are fully automated. The company has registered the locations of all the devices with the BC PAD AED registry so that in the event of a 9-1-1 call from a site with an AED, the dispatcher will be able to direct the caller to the location of the equipment.

“BC Ferries has been pleased to work with the Heart and Stroke Foundation over the past
year to implement an enhanced level of access to the devices for the public,” said Corrine Storey, BC Ferries’ Vice President of Customer Services.

“The safety of our customers and our employees is a top priority at BC Ferries and with 20 million people travelling throughout our system each year, this is another important way we are striving to become a world-class safety organization.” and CPR, the chance of survival from sudden cardiac arrest decreases by seven to 10 per cent for each minute that passes,” says Adrienne Bakker, CEO, Heart and Stroke Foundation, BC & Yukon. “It’s wonderful to see employers like BC Ferries take the initiative to ensure increased safety for their customers and employees by placing AEDs in their terminals.”

The major terminals (Tsawwassen, Swartz Bay, Horseshoe Bay, Departure Bay, Duke Point, and Langdale) as well as the vessels have had AEDs available for use by BC Ferries’ Occupational First Aid Attendants for a number of years. The AEDs for Denman Island East, Denman Island West and Hornby Island terminals will be installed later this year due to construction on the waiting rooms, which will bring the number of terminal locations up to 37. BC Ferries was not able to install the equipment at some minor terminals that do not have a secure waiting room.

Automated external defibrillators now available in the event of an emergency at the following terminal locations: Tsawwassen | Swartz Bay | Horseshoe Bay | Departure Bay | Duke Point | Langdale | Port Hardy | Prince Rupert | Skidegate | Bella Bella | Ocean Falls | Klemtu | Port McNeill | Sointula | Alert Bay | Campbell River | Quathiaski Cove, Quadra Island  | Heriot Bay, Quadra Island | Whaletown, Cortes Island  | Buckley Bay  | Litte River | Westview, Powell River | Blubber Bay, Texada Island | Saltery Bay, Powell River | Earls Cove | Nanaimo Harbour |  Descanso Bay, Gabriola Island |  Chemainus | Long Harbour, Salt Spring Island | Fulford Harbour, Salt Spring Island | Otter Bay, Pender Island | Village Bay, Mayne Island | Sturdies Bay, Galiano Island | Lyall Harbour, Saturna Island

Automated external defibrillators will be available in the event of an emergency at the following terminal locations later this year: Denman Island East | Denman Island West | Shingle Spit, Hornby Island.


Saturday, February 18 ~ WEST SHORE.  Last week the BC Liberals made a bit of a media splash with a Vancouver Island huddle to focus their island candidates on winning a few more seats on the island. It’s the first time they’ve had a platform focused on Vancouver Island, under the guidance of Don McRae, MLA (Comox Valley).

LangfordJdF-candidates-webThe BC NDP have for decades held Vancouver Island as a stronghold in BC politics. Juan de Fuca MLA John Horgan became their party leader in May 2014.

On this west side of the island there are two ridings gearing up for a robust race.

In the present Juan de Fuca riding (re-named and reboundaried as Langford-Juan de Fuca for the election and beyond) John Horgan is considered the frontrunner in his home riding. Meanwhile, brought in by the BC Liberals to give Horgan a race is entrepreneurial sport-enthusiast Cathy Noel. She announced her candidacy last fall and has been getting to know various aspects of the riding which includes Langford, Sooke and Juan de Fuca up to Port Renfrew.

EsquimaltMetchosin-candidates-webIn the present Esquimalt-Royal Roads riding current NDP MLA Maurine Karagianis is retiring from politics. The riding has been renamed and reboundaried as Esquimalt-Metchosin for the 2017 election and beyond. Running for the BC NDP in Esquimalt-Metchosin is long-time social services organizer Mitzi Dean. And as announced just this week, Esquimalt Mayor & CRD Chair Barb Desjardins is now running as the BC Liberal candidate in Esquimalt-Metchosin.

The Writ is scheduled to drop April 11 to officially start the election campaign period. The election is on Tuesday, May 9, with advance polls ahead of that.

The BC NDP is saying it’s time for change. Under the BC Liberals since 2001, the wealth gap has widened under near-relentless privatization. Families have struggled under the burden of increasing rates and fees including for hydro, ferries, and MSP.
The BC Liberals are saying they have strengthened the economy, and provided more job opportunities. They held back on adequate education funding until recently.


 

Thursday, February 9 ~ REGION. Due to the change in weather, there are multiple areas of flooding and pooling on highways in the South Island area. Drivers are advised to slow down and drive for the conditions of the road. There is the possibility of hydroplaning.

Trees and hydro lines are down in some areas. Road access will not be available for road clearing equipment until downed lines are cleared says Mainroad South Island Contracting.


Wednesday, February 8 ~ South Vancouver Island. Snow is forecasted to develop mid-afternoon today February 8, increasing this evening.

Snowfall over the Pacific Marine Route (including Sooke Road / Hwy 14 / West Coast Road), Lake Cowichan and the Malahat may be quite heavy, as well as featuring some freezing rain.

Mainroad South Island winter operations will be in effect on all highways. That includes additional personnel and equipment. The priority is highways, bus routes and school bus routes as well as main corridor roads. Side roads are done after that. Clearing access for police, fire and ambulance gets priority. Motorists are reminded to drive safely around highway maintenance vehicles.


MultiMaterialBC-depotsinCRD-Feb2017-webTuesday, February 7 ~ Greater Victoria area.   “Winter conditions on the Saanich Peninsula have made many roads icy and unsafe for recycling trucks to access safely,” says the Capital Regional District (CRD).

Blue box collection was cancelled in the Dean Park area of North Saanich yesterday. Recyclables will be picked up instead on Saturday, February 11 when CRD recycling contractor, Emterra Environmental, is planning to collect recyclables (weather permitting).

Residents whose collection was missed on Monday, February 6 but do not live in Dean Park, are advised to hold on to their recyclables until their next collection day or to drop items off at a depot listed here: https://www.crd.bc.ca/docs/default-source/recycling-waste-pdf/mmbcdepotsincapitalregion.pdf

For current updates on blue box service, please contact the CRD Information Line at 250.360.3030 or hotline@crd.bc.ca , or visit the CRD website at www.crd.bc.ca


Tuesday, February 7 ~ A relatively low number of BC Hydro customers –– 683 — are without power at this hour (11:45 am), with most of those in the Duncan and North Cowichan areas, as well as 71 in the Willis Point area near Brentwood Bay.

About five BC Hydro customers are without power in the 2800-block of Sooke River Road as of 11:16 am, with snow storm given as the cause. Crews have been assigned, no arrival time yet given.


Snow-on-Cars-webTuesday, February 7 ~ WEST SHORE of VANCOUVER ISLAND.  A few weather-related tips have been issued by Juan de Fuca Emergency Program Coordinator Jeri Grant:

“Make sure your vehicle is completely clear of ice or snow before starting the trip. Flying snow from cars causes accidents.

People really need to slow down when driving in this kind of weather/conditions and be mindful children are not at school and will be out playing in the snow, sometimes on the road.

The trees are weighed down with snow so be prepared for possible power outages, make sure your mobile phone and electronics are fully charged. If you see downed power lines stay back 10 m (30 feet) and call BC Hydro Call 1 800 BCHYDRO (1 800 224 9376) or *HYDRO (*49376) on your mobile.”


snowdayTuesday, February 7 ~ SOOKE. Schools in Sooke, Colwood, Langford and Metchosin are closed today in School District 62 (SD62) due to challenging road and sidewalk conditions.

Recent snowfall has piled up. “All Sooke schools closed due to ice & uncleared sidewalks,” was the official Tweet out from Sooke School District 62 (SD62) today.

Schools are also closed in Saanich (SD63) but are open in Victoria (SD61).


wsv-mpoweroutages-webMonday, February 6 ~ SOUTH VANCOUVER ISLAND ~ 5pm. POWER OUTAGE REPORT. While there has been a lot of snow falling steadily for about 24 hours (with the forecast indicating continued overnight snowfall), winds have been very light. Therefore, damage to power lines has been relatively minimal.  

Overall at this hour (approx 5 pm), 1,345 BC Hydro customers in the South Vancouver Island region are without power, mostly in the Duncan area.

In the Highlands/Saanich area a wire came down around 9:18 am this morning, leaving 205 customers without power all day. Crews are expected on site around 7pm.

In Metchosin, 19 customers have been without power since about 4:15 pm. Crews are expected to arrive around 5:30 pm.

BC Hydro says for all regions (right across BC): “Crews have made progress restoring remaining outages caused by the recent snow storm, including many smaller pocket areas. We’ve encountered widespread damage and access issues, but we’ll continue working into the evening to restore remaining outages tonight. Estimates will be provided as they become available so please check back for the latest updates. Please take caution as weather conditions remain poor. Thanks for your patience.”


Highway clearing is top priority for road crews. Photo: Feb 6 on WEst Coast Road, [ Copyright 2017 West Shore Voice News]

Highway clearing is top priority for road crews. Photo: Feb 6 on West Coast Road (Highway 14). Photo: Copyright 2017 West Shore Voice News

Monday, February 6 ~ SOUTH VANCOUVER ISLAND.  Snow that has been falling lightly but steadily since Sunday night, through today –with about 15 to 20 cm forecasted for overnight into Tuesday February 7 — sees Mainroad South Island doing operations on all highways.

The roads contractor announced this afternoon that regular winter crews are on shift 24/7 with additional personnel and equipment brought in as conditions warrant.

This 24/7 winter road crew status will continue “until the conditions change and highways are back to normal”, it was stated in a Mainroad news release.

Motorists and residents are reminded that during a snow event, winter operation services are provided on a priority basis. That means starting with highways, bus routes and school bus routes and main connector roads. The crews begin servicing side roads when the snowfall stops.

‘The public can be assured that in emergency situations where police, fire and ambulance are requiring assistance that our crews will assist them to reach their destination,” says Mainroad in their release.

During winter driving conditions everyone is reminded to drive safely, especially when approaching a highway maintenance vehicle.

“For visibility, It’s a good idea to keep your headlights fully on during the day in snow or rain, which also lights up the tail lights on your vehicle,” says Juan de Fuca Emergency Program coordinator Jeri Grant.

Highway conditions or issues can be reported to the 24-hour communications centre at 1-877-391-7310.

[Photo Copyright 2017 West Shore Voice News: westward view on West Coast Road on Monday, February 6]


082556_snowyforest-Feb0617-WestShoreVOICENews-webMonday, February 6 ~ WEST SIDE of VANCOUVER ISLAND.  Snow continues to fall today on south Vancouver Island (Greater Victoria area), though not nearly as heavily as what the BC mainland Metro Vancouver area is experiencing.

Our current issue of West Shore Voice News carries an editorial about how lucky we are to get “a bit of snow” each winter (as published on page 2, February 3, 2017 issue of West Shore Voice News):

“A little bit of snowfall on this lovely west side of the island this week, and people are rattled enough to change plans. Road safety is of course of the utmost importance, and if people’s driving skills or vehicles are not up to snuff for handling snowy, slippery roads then cancelling or changing travel plans is of course the responsible thing to do.

But it’s a reminder (perhaps an annual one) that we enjoy the blessing of mild weather virtually year-round. Unprepared as most of us are for snow or cold weather produces a chuckle (or chagrin) for most of the rest of Canada where sub-zero temperatures and months of weather-imposed inconvenience is the name of the game every winter.

This region is flocked to by many, but how many truly handle well the cost of it? South Vancouver Island is one of the costliest of Canadian regions. In the island cost-of -living (takes bucks to ship or fly things here) we pay dearly for the breathtaking views, the mostly non-interruptive weather, the long garden/crop growing season, the wonderful seaside air, the opportunity for outdoor recreation on a moment’s notice, and remoteness from the mainstream.

During a lengthy power outage in New Brunswick this past week several people died. Died right there in their homes, from the extended cold (well, mostly from the fumes of generators and gas BBQs that were being inadvisedly used for heating and cooking). If there were ever an extended power outage on this west side of this island in winter, well… it would be mighty uncomfortable, but if prepared, people could survive the temperatures for a week or more if properly sheltered and prepared with their emergency kits and stocked pantries.

Canada is a country of shared values of fairness, compassion, and oh yeah our worldwide reputation to be oh-so-polite. But regional economic disparities are becoming starkly clear — whether as seen in astronomical housing prices in the most sought-after cities (Toronto, Vancouver and Victoria), or evidence of failing infrastructure that challenges the basics of living (as seen in the NB outages). Stabilizing people’s economic well-being and building up community infrastructure hopefully remain as top priorities for leaders across Canada.”


 

1953-Hwy14-snowy-Dec0616-WestShoreVoice-webFriday, February 3 ~ 3:40 PM Pacific Time. Environment Canada has issued a snowfall warning for Greater Victoria. Total snowfall amounts of 15 to 25 cm are expected by Saturday morning.

“A low pressure centre is bringing heavy snow to the inner south coast tonight. 5 to 10 cm of snow has fallen since this morning. An additional 5 to 15 cm of snow is expected by early Saturday morning. The snow may become mixed with or change to rain at lower elevations especially near the Strait of Georgia tonight.”

“Be prepared to adjust your driving with changing road conditions. Surfaces such as highways, roads, walkways and parking lots may become difficult to navigate due to accumulating snow.”

Further Environment Canada alerts and forecasts are likely to be issued. To report severe weather, send an email to ec.tempetepacifique-pacificstorm.ec@canada.ca or tweet reports to #BCStorm.

[Photo by West Shore Voice News: Highway 14 after a light snow fall, December 2016]


BCFerry-fromBCFerriessiteFriday, February 3 ~ VICTORIA. BC Ferries has added sailings during peak travel times on the BC Family Day weekend. Heavy traffic is expected on some sailings between Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island.

The added sailings are on the Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay and the Departure Bay – Horseshoe Bay routes starting February 10. The extra sailings are:

Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay route:

  • Fri Feb 10 – 10:00 am, 2:00 pm and 6:00 pm depart Tsawwassen
  • Sat Feb 11 – 8:00 am and 12:00 pm depart Tsawwassen
  • Sun Feb 12 – 2:00 pm and 6:00 pm depart Tsawwassen
  • Mon Feb 13 – 10:00 am, 2:00 pm, 6:00 pm depart Tsawwassen
  • Fri Feb 10 – 12:00 pm and 4:00 pm depart Swartz Bay
  • Sat Feb 11 – 10:00 am and 2:00 pm depart Swartz Bay
  • Sun Feb 12 – 4:00 pm depart from Swartz Bay
  • Mon Feb 13 – 12:00 pm and 4:00 pm depart Swartz Bay

Departure Bay – Horseshoe Bay route:

  • Mon Feb 13– 7:00 p.m. depart Departure Bay
  • Mon Feb 13 – 9:00 p.m. depart Horseshoe Bay

As usual, travellers are advised to check the website for current conditions.

BC Ferries reminds customers travelling in vehicles with reservations to inform the ticket agent that they have a reservation when they arrive at the ticket booth. This self-identification helps expedite the check-in process.


Tuesday, January 31 ~ VANCOUVER ISLAND.  The Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) Board of Trustees held its Annual General Meeting on January 21. Officers and Executive Committee members were elected for 2017. The VIRL board — comprised of elected representatives from 28 member municipalities and 10 regional districts — administers a budget of over $20 million.

Barry Avis, VIRL Chair

Barry Avis, VIRL Chair

Barry Avis (Town of Qualicum Beach) was elected as Board Chair. A VIRL board member since 2015, Avis had also served on the Board and Executive in previous years. Elected as Vice-Chair, Brenda Leigh (Strathcona Regional District) has also served the Board in previous years on both the Executive and as Vice-Chair.

Brenda Leigh, VIRL Vice-Chair

Brenda Leigh, VIRL Vice-Chair

Nine members at large were elected to serve on the Board of Trustees Executive Committee (* = new to the board):

• Gordon Waterman (Village of Gold River)
• Bill Beldessi (North Coast Regional District)
• Howard Houle (Regional District of Nanaimo)
• Kerrie Reay (District of Sooke)
• Diane Brennan (City of Nanaimo)
• Jason Thompson* (Village of Masset)
• Steve Arnett (Town of Ladysmith)
• Ron Kerr (City of Campbell River)
• Tom Duncan (City of Duncan)

In addition to  executive member Jason Thompson (Village of Masset) being new to the board, newly appointed board members are: Hugh MacKinnon (Town of Comox), Frank Johnson (Central Coast Regional District), Rod Nichol (Comox Valley Regional District), Heidi Soltau (Regional District of Mount Waddington) and Fred Robertson (District of Port Hardy). More info: www.virl.bc.ca


Thursday, January 26 ~ Free Trade, Rural Canada and How to keep Canada from being Trumped ~ Op Ed submitted by Jan Slomp, President of the National Farmers Union. He farms near Courtenay, BC

NationalFarmersUnion-2015logoOver the decades since the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and later, NAFTA, was signed, Canadian agriculture has undergone a significant shift. There was once a multitude of diverse local and regional economic drivers, but now we have a “one size fits all” export-driven, low-priced commodity production model. Farm capital needs have sky-rocketed as illustrated by the massive $90 billion farm debt. Off-farm investors control more and more of Canada’s farmland. Production – per farm, per acre and per worker — continues to go up. And that production became increasingly export and transport dependent as NAFTA-driven deregulation accelerated consolidation and transnational ownership of handling and processing facilities. Farmer numbers are ominously declining, yet governments, and most farm commodity groups and agri-business corporations remain euphoric over each signed trade agreement and growing exports.

What is missing in this picture is a few very sobering facts.

The once mighty farmer cooperative handlers and processors have been dismantled and absorbed into a handful of transnational corporations. Eighty percent of Vancouver’s terminal capacity used to be owned and operated by prairie Pools. Now the private trade owns it all. With the Canadian Wheat Board gone there is no real economic participation by farmers beyond the farm gate, nor any referee to discipline the railroads. Prairie farmers, who once ran the majority of Canada’s grain industry, no longer have a direct connection to the customers and end-users that pay the real market value for their product.

Under NAFTA, Canada’s regulatory system facilitated North American integration of pork and beef slaughter, processing and marketing at the expense of regional and local processors, marketers and the jobs they provided. Despite trade agreements, Canadian exports are still disadvantaged due to transportation costs

Apart from supply management sectors and a brief spike after 2009, overall inflation-adjusted net farm income is dismal. Farm communities across Canada are suffering from chronic economic decline. This was camouflaged by off-farm manufacturing jobs in Central Canada and resource sector jobs in Western Canada, but those jobs are no longer easy to get. The decline of Canada’s rural economy is not often discussed, but four decades of loss — of elevators, rail service, machinery dealerships, manufacturing, processing, input suppliers, essential community services and retailing outlets — has steadily diminished the quality of rural life. Government cutbacks to agricultural research facilities, public plant breeding, the PFRA and government extension services have further aggravated prospects. The decline of rural Canada is stark and given little attention compared to the rural quality of life in other developed countries.

Canada’s growing dependence on food imports is another sobering fact. We can grow many of these products, but have lost our own market because trade agreements help integrated food companies operate across borders, depressing prices for producers while controlling the consumer price. Trade agreements also reward over-processing of foods by substituting basic ingredients with cheaper fats, vegetable oils, soy lecithin, corn starch, fructose and modified milk ingredients, hence North America’s infamous over-consumption of processed foods. If free trade facilitates efficiency, as claimed, why is the spread between prices at the farm gate and the grocery store constantly getting larger?

President Trump vilifies Mexico for the loss of US jobs, but fails to mention the American companies that flocked to the Mexican maquiladoras to take advantage of low labour and environmental standards. NAFTA allowed the US to flood Mexico with its heavily subsidized corn, pork, chicken, beef and dairy, destroying the livelihoods of millions of Mexican farmers. Many subsequently migrated (often illegally) to become super-exploited labour in American fields, factories and meat packing plants.

President Trump will likely find reasons to reject Canadian product coming across the border, so it is very important that Prime Minister Trudeau is prepared for the worst and applies the utmost diplomacy in dealing with the Trump administration.

It is important to understand that NAFTA was never the golden egg its promoters pretended it to be, and neither are the other free trade agreements signed since. NAFTA has caused a lot of damage to the Canadian rural economy and President Trump is likely going to add more trouble. The last thing rural Canada needs is more giveaways to the US in an attempt to persuade the Americans not to back out of the deal. It is time for our Prime Minister to stop trading away the livelihoods of Canadian farmers and to start repairing the damage these deals have done so our domestic and international markets can function in a way that will make farming profitable again.

The decline of the Canadian rural economy must be turned around. If Prime Minister Trudeau wants to prevent the election of a Trump-like Canadian leader in three years he will have to start fixing things in rural Canada. We need an agenda for agriculture that makes rural quality of life and viable family farms the priority.


Pacheedaht-mapTuesday, January 17 ~ PORT RENFREW. After three weeks, the identity of a man whose remains were found in a burned vehicle on Pacheedaht First Nation in Port Renfrew has been released. The deceased was Bruce Edward Carlson, age 49.

Sooke RCMP are calling the death suspicious but have not released details on suspects or whether the case is considered a homicide.

Carlson was a mechanic, carpenter and carver.  A memorial service and scattering of Carlson’s ashes is planned for January 28.

According to a report in the Times Colonist, in 2013 Carlson had been sentenced to 12 months in jail for an aggravated sexual assault that took place in Esquimalt. Carlson was ordered to produce his DNA and was on the national sex offender registry.

Carlson’s body had been found in the late morning on Tuesday, December 27, after a person called Sooke RCMP to report a burned grey 2004 Pontiac Grand Am with human remains inside.

Sooke RCMP, the Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit, the B.C. Coroners Service and a forensic identification team continue to investigate. Anyone with information is asked to call Sooke RCMP or anonymously through Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477)


islandhealth-LOGOSaturday, January 14 ~ VANCOUVER ISLAND.  Island Health is asking Island residents to do their part to ensure they are using Emergency Departments appropriately, particularly at this time of year when patient visits increase due to influenza and other seasonal illnesses.

“When people use our Emergency Departments wisely it goes a long way in helping dedicated emergency room physicians, nurses and clinical staff provide timely, quality care to patients who truly need emergency care,” said Jeremy Etherington, Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at Island Health.

“People are reminded that emergency rooms triage patients and those in need of emergency or urgent care are seen first, meaning potential longer waits for those with non-emergency or urgent needs, such as a prescription refill.”

While emergencies are unavoidable, some simple steps to avoid unnecessary trips to the hospital emergency room include:
• If you need non-urgent care, book an appointment with your family doctor or visit a walk-in clinic;
• Get a flu shot;
• Wash your hands frequently to avoid getting sick and spreading germs;
• See your doctor before the weekend and/or holidays, if necessary, to avoid long wait-times in the Emergency Department;
• Note the weekend and holiday hours of your local pharmacy/drug store, and ensure your prescriptions are up to date;
• Make sure you have basic pharmaceuticals on hand to control children’s fever and pain;
• Become familiar with walk-in clinic locations in your area, and their hours of operation;
• Wear a seatbelt when operating or riding in a motor vehicle;
• Don’t drink and drive; and
• Wear the right footwear to avoid falling or slipping.

Should you feel you or someone in your care is in need of emergency medical treatment do not hesitate to go to the Emergency Department or call 911. If you are unsure about whether Emergency Department care is needed, call HealthLink BC at 811 to speak to a nurse, 24 hours a day.


WearingMaskFLUFriday, January 13 ~ VANCOUVER ISLAND.  Island Health says there has been an increase in respiratory illness bringing people to hospital on Vancouver Island in recent weeks. “It’s too soon to tell if we have reached the peak of influenza/influenza-like activity,” says Kellie Hudson, Island Health Manager, Media Relations/Issues Management.

As of January 10, a total of 181 influenza patients had been diagnosed between September 1, 2016 and January 10, 2017 as were admitted to an Island Health acute care facility (180 influenza A and 1 influenza B). The influenza A strain this year is H3N2.  As of January 10, there were still 66 patients in hospital.

“We are aware of five people who have died with confirmed influenza in Island Health facilities,” says Hudson. “While they were diagnosed with influenza, it may not necessarily have been the cause of death.”

As a result of increased patient volumes, Island  Health has opened up some overflow areas. The seasonal spike in respiratory illness has also led to a number of surgical postponements last week and into this week as well. Last week, approximately 13 surgeries were postponed across the island due to bed availability, says Island Health. “Surgical postponements are always considered a last resort as we work together to manage the capacity at the site.”

People are asked to wash their hands frequently, sneeze/cough into their sleeve, stay home if ill, and wear a mask if you must be out in public when you have a cold or flu.

Island Health facilities continue to have capacity to respond to critical and emergency cases. No one is turned away, but depending on urgency there may be a longer wait.


oystersFriday, January 13 ~ VANCOUVER. The BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) is warning the public following a spike in acute gastrointestinal illness associated with the consumption of oysters.

Since early December 2016, over 70 cases of oyster-related illness have been reported to BC health authorities. Illnesses have been reported to Island Health, Vancouver Coastal Health, Fraser Health and First Nations Health Authority. The outbreak is ongoing and more cases are expected.

People who have been ill have reported eating raw oysters or lightly-cooked oysters in restaurants or prepared at home.

“Testing in several of the cases confirmed the presence of norovirus, and we suspect norovirus in the others,” said Dr. Eleni Galanis, epidemiologist at the BCCDC. “In order to kill norovirus and other bugs, people need to cook oysters thoroughly, to an internal temperature of 90 degrees Celsius for 90 seconds.”

Dr. Galanis says oysters can make people sick at any time during the year. While raw oyster consumption during the summer months is linked to an increased risk of illness from “Vibrio” (Vibrio parahaemolyticus), other microorganisms like norovirus can be present all year, The investigation is ongoing.

Anyone becoming ill with diarrhea and vomiting after eating shellfish should call BC HealthLink at 811. If symptoms are severe or persist, they should see their physician.

About Norovirus: www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/norovirus-norwalk-like-virus | Safe consumption of fish and shellfish: www.bccdc.ca/health-info/food-your-health/fish-shellfish


brokenwatermainFriday, January 6 ~ SAANICH/VICTORIA. Highway Maintenance Advisory at 7pm this evening. 

Mainroad South Island Contracting is working with the District of Saanich to locate and repair a broken water line in the 5200-block of the Pat Bay Hwy (Hwy 17). That’s south of Saanich, opposite Elk Lake. Hwy 17 enables traffic to/from the peninsula (including airport and ferry terminal).

Fast lane closures will be in effect both North and South bound on Hwy 17 while scheduled maintenancee (6am to 3pm) is undertaken on Saturday, January 7.

“We encourage motorists and residents and the travelling public to avoid the area,” says Mainroad South Island general manager Rick Gill. The Mainroad 24 hr Hotline is 1.877.391.7310. Observations and concerns will be passed along to road crews.


Commons area at Royal Bay Secondary in Colwood.

Commons area at SD62’s Royal Bay Secondary in Colwood. Photo Copyright West Shore Voice News.

Thursday, January 5 ~ BC.  School Districts in British Columbia are in total receiving $50 million to hire more teachers for the remainder of the 2016-2017 school year.

BC Minister of Education Mike Bernier made the announcement today, explaining that it’s up to each school district in discussions with local BC Teachers Federation (BCTF) representatives, to determine what sorts of teacher or staff support hiring will be done with the additional 2016-2017 funds. Province-wide, the $50 million will allow for the hiring of about 1,100 teachers, said Bernier.

Bernier says that the $50 million announced today comes on top of the $5.1 billion already invested in public education in BC. The $50 million is a portion of what will finally be determined in negotiations between the BC Government and BCTF.

Most school districts already know where the needs are, so the additional funds are likely welcome.  The funds will be included in the 2017 provincial budget (coming in February), and so will carry forward into hiring considerations for school boards in 2017-2018.

The funds issued at this time are in response to the Supreme Court of Canada decision that reversed a decision made by the BC Government in 2002 that effectively cut back on teachers and funds available for schools to operate over the past 15 years. Since 2002 the continued cutbacks have impacted not only the teachers but the entire delivery of education in BC, as school boards were obliged to find all available funding (including teacher salaries) from per-pupil funding ratio revenues and other miscellaneous revenue sources.

In Sooke School District 62 (SD62) — which serves families and students in Langford, Colwood, Sooke, Highlands, Metchosin, Juan de Fuca and Port Renfrew — about 14 teachers (full time equivalents) will likely be hired pending discussions with the Sooke Teachers Association on January 6, says SD62 Superintendent Jim Cambridge.

Cambridge says that in SD62 the additional funds will probably be used to hire additional secondary school teachers, as well as additional special needs support for the elementary schools. He identified those as top priorities. He also mentioned the options of hiring educational assistants (EAs), additional half-time teachers for full classrooms, teacher-librarians and counsellors.



bchydro-outagemap-langford-jan0317Tuesday, January 3. It’s been windy the past few days on south Vancouver Island, with temperatures at or below zero today.
Winds picked up again this evening.

For BC Hydro customers in the utility’s south Vancouver Island region, the impact of weather on power lines presently (9:44 pm) sees 6,590 customers (about 19,000 people) without power. Several of those outages happened in the last one to three hours.

In a section of Colwood/Langford (see map) 1,297 customers have been without power since 8:30 pm.

In Duncan, 493 customers are without power, and the customer outage tally in Central Saanich at this hour is 187 in Central Saanich and the Highlands. The remaining 4,513 affected customers are various of the gulf islands.

Check for updates at www.bchydro.com


wsv-mpoweroutages-webSunday, January 1, 2017 ~ South VANCOUVER ISLAND.  About 1,988 BC Hydro customers in the south Vancouver Island area were without power this afternoon. And while some customers saw power restored, others lost power: still 1,502 had no power as of 11 pm this evening.

There was some light snowfall last night, with trees down on wires in some cases. Temperatures have been hovering around zero since last night. Wind speed picked up mid-evening.

AFTERNOON (2pm): Although the weather is calm and skies are bright, around 1:15 pm 673 customers lost power west of Otter Point Road in the Sooke area; also in the Sooke area about 135 customers lost power around Belvista Place. In the Highlands/Langford area 674 customers are without power west of Millstream Road. Power is also out for some customers on Ganges and in Duncan.

EVENING (11pm): At 11 pm tonight there were still 1,502 BC Hydro billing customers without power (that’s about 4,500 people). That includes 115 in Metchosin, a few in Langford, 828 in the West Coast Road area west of Sooke, 107
in the Blythwood/Woodlands area east of Sooke, 384 in the Lochside Drive area of Saanich, and a few on Galiano Island.

Updates: www.bchydro.com

 

 


2017-happynewyear-customwithwsv-web

fireworks-victoriaharbourThursday, December 29 ~ VICTORIA. Spirit of 150 Victoria – First Night will be held at the Inner Harbour in Victoria on Saturday from 5 pm to 9:30 pm, with the main stage at Government and Belleville Streets.

The event marks the beginning of celebrations for Canada’s 150th birthday and the Victoria party will be one of 19 across the country. Sponsors and federal grants help cover the costs. About 20,000 to 30,000 people are expected to attend in Victoria.

The outdoor evening event will include signing, dancing, a harbour ferry ballet, artwork projected onto building surfaces, a concert by Vancouver band Dear Rouge, and the fireworks show that is scheduled to start at 9pm.

The Weather Network’s Victoria forecast for that evening is presently a temperature of minus-1°C with a 20% chance of rain, and winds around 45 km/h.

The other 18 fireworks and festival events on New Year’s Eve December 31, 2016 will be held in Vancouver (two fireworks displays over the Burrard Inlet – the first at 9 pm, the second at midnight), Whitehorse, Calgary, Edmonton, Yellowknife, Regina, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Iqaluit, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Frederiction, Moncton, Charllottetown, Halifax and St John’s.


quakedec2915-injan0116wsv-webWednesday, December 28 ~ BC.  It’s coming up to one year that the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands experienced an earthquake — it came at 11:39 pm on December 29, 2016.

The 4.7 Magnitude quake occurred 8 km ESE of Sidney (17 km NNE of Victoria). As quakes go, it was deep — between 53 and 59 km below the surface. No tsunami warning was issued.

The quake was felt as far east as the Fraser Valley in the BC interior and as far south as Washington State. Shaking in the Sooke area lasted for about 10 seconds. No damage was reported and “none would be expected” said seismic officials.

To mark the one-year anniversary of that event which was a preparedness wakeup call for many, some earthquake preparedness information and tips have been released by Naomi Yamamoto, Minister of State for Emergency Preparedness:

Emergency Management BC (EMBC) works year-round with local governments to prepare for emergencies. For more information on how individuals and families can get prepared — including emergency kits, evacuation plans and reunification plans, visit:  www.gov.bc.ca/PreparedBC as see these guides:
How to build an emergency kit  |  Household preparedness guide  |  Household emergency plan

The so-called ‘big one’ is expected to happen at some point, based on the. That would be a 9.0 Magnitude quake or higher. The predicted Cascadia Subduction Zone (CSZ) earthquake will occur off the west coast of Vancouver Island. CSZ earthquakes have occurred, on average, every 500 years and the most recent 1-in-500 earthquake for this zone is thought to have occurred in the year 1700.

drop_cover_hold_on_eng_blue_orange3When an earthquake happens, the main thing to remember to do first is “drop, cover and hold on”. This drill is practiced annually in earthquake zones around the world.

In BC an earthquake drill is held on the third Thursday of October. See the Shakeout BC website for how to participate. in October 2016 over 800,000 people in BC participated in Shakeout BC.

  • When the shaking stops, you are hopefully ready to get your emergency kit(s) and be ready to do your evacuation plan.
  • If the quake was strong enough to knock you off your feet, you can expect a tsunami to follow. If you’re at or near the water, you would need to promptly make your way to higher ground.

crd-tsunami-modelling2013-arrivaltimeBased on seismic modelling released by the Capital Regional District (CRD) in June 2013, In the Port Renfrew area a tsunami would reach shore within about 35 minutes (possibly sooner for Tofino), taking about 60 minutes to reach the Sooke Harbour and 77 minutes to reach Esquimalt Harbour [click on Table to see more details].

On Twitter you can follow Emergency Management BC at @EmergencyInfoBC and Prepared BC at @PreparedBC . On Vancouver Island, check out the Juan de Fuca Emergency Program Twitter stream at @jdfemerg  for information that focuses on the west side of Vancouver Island in the CRD.

jdfemerg-halloween2016The Capital Regional District (CRD) preparedness website www.prepareyourself.ca is quite comprehensive for the south Vancouver Island area and emergency preparedness overall.

“We all have an individual responsibility to be prepared for emergencies. Do you know how much food, water, and other supplies are necessary to sustain you and your family for at least seven days?,” says the www.prepareyourself.ca website. In fact, it would be wise to prepare for an even longer period than 7 days on Vancouver Island, as transit systems and utilities may be disrupted for longer than a week after a major earthquake or natural disaster.

For other emergency preparedness and safety information: Floods |  Power Outages |  Landslides | Severe Weather


Wednesday, December 28 ~ SOUTH VANCOUVER ISLAND. Mainroad South Island Contracting advises motorists to drive with caution today as many locations are encountering black ice. They suggest allowing extra time for travel and to use caution.

Mainroad says that crews have been actively treating these areas around the clock to minimize any problems.


ferry-christmas-hollyFriday, December 23 ~ BC. BC Ferries sent cheques of $1,000 each to three worthy recipients this holiday season.

The funds were raised at their annual BC Ferries employee golf tournament, held this year in September. The tournament raised $3,000 this year, with those funds divided equally between the Denman Island Community School, Hornby Island Food Bank, and the Prince Rupert Salvation Army Food Bank.

In previous years, the tournament raised funds for food banks on the Sunshine Coast, Haida Gwaii, Salt Spring, Gabriola and Quadra Islands, as well as in Powell River, Chemanius and the Cowican Valley – all of which assist communities of BC Ferries customers, said BC Ferries in a news release this week.


2076-protesttankers-dec2116-westshorevoice-webWednesday, December 21 ~ SOOKE. In the wake of the federal Liberal approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, the not unexpected protests to protect the waters of the west coast have begun.

Tonight using the occasion of the winter solstice (from out of the dark comes the light), the Dogwood Initiative organization pulled together a strong crowd for an outdoor protest in the cold this evening.

Gathering at the roadside were over 70 people of all ages, steadfast in their commitment to making sure there is no increase in tanker traffic off the shores of Vancouver Island.

Several commuters in their vehicles on their way home from work honked in support of the roadside protesters who positioned themselves along Highway 14 (Sooke Road) in front of Edward Milne Community School (EMCS) at dusk.

2110-protestcrowd-fromacrossthestreet-dec2116-webBefore the roadside sign-waving, the group heard speeches of varying lengths and intensity from local activists including Diane Bernard, Mark Ziegler and Ralph Hull.

  • Diane Bernard, who operates a company dependent on seaweed from the ocean, said to the crowd: “I expect to have him (Prime Minister Trudeau) change his mind. The battle is not over.” She feels that Justin Trudeau “as a young west coaster” has let down the people of BC.  She lauded Sooke Mayor Maja Tait for taking the protest against increased tanker traffic to the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) to bring province-wide attention to the issue.
  • 2073-frederique-protest-dec2116-westshorevoice-webMark Ziegler, who used to work in Ottawa as an economist, said in a short speech: “I don’t think it’s fair that our coast is a bargaining chip,” saying that Trudeau has chosen Alberta over BC — oil economy over environment.
  • Ralph Hull, a fisherman and boat captain — who long ago was instrumental in helping generate a 30-year-moratorium on tanker traffic off the BC west coast (working with then Fisheries & Oceans Minister David Anderson) — inspired the crowd to keep on fighting.
  • Another speaker, one of the Dogwood organizers, said: “It’s the beginning. It’s going to be a long process. Watch this space there will be more.”

2063-girl-protest-dec2116-westshorevoice-webPeople held candles in the dark and a song sheet was distributed for people to sing along to inspirational songs before ‘hitting the road’ to stand in the cold along the highway.

Singing along to live guitar, some in the group sang along to “Take Back This Land” lyrics by Bill Henderson. On the flip side of the sheet, the lyrics to the perennial Beatles tune Here Comes the Sun (lyrics by George Harrison).

Other community leaders among the crowd: Jeff Bateman, Jo Phillips, John Boquist, Frederique Philip, Sinclair Philip, Heather Phillips, Rosemary Jorna, Dana LeComte, Gord Fulcher, Lis Johansen, Deb Wood, and Nicky Logins. Several youth from the local high school had made signs and took part in the event.

Signage included messages like: Climate Change, No Pipeline, No More Tankers; Think outside the oil barrel; Who will speak for us; Because our coastline supports many lives; Taking Back our Ocean; Justin: Water and life, please protect it; Keep it in the ground; we vote no.


crd-sookereservoirlevels2016-todec1816-westshorevoice-webWednesday, December 21 ~ GREATER VICTORIA AREA. In a season when there’s plenty of rainfall (or snow), water supply is not necessarily top of mind for residents of the Greater Victoria area. But keeping an eye on the pattern of reservoir level refill is important.

The Sooke Lake Reservoir is used by the Capital Regional District (CRD) to supply water to most of the Greater Victoria area, serving over 350,000 residents. The reservoir normally refills nicely each year, though dry summers in 2015 & 2016 have presented more dramatic drops. More water is used by residents and farmers to keep landscaping and crops sufficiently hydrated in hot weather. As well, dry soils and forested areas in the CRD watershed area that feeds the reservoir soak up needed moisture, reducing runoff into the reservoir.

The reservoir does refill each fall and winter and remains full through to spring. The full pool level of Sooke Lake Reservoir is 186.75m.

Sooke Lake Reservoir and the top of the Dam’s spillway. ~ CRD photo Dec 12, 2016

Sooke Lake Reservoir and the top of the Dam’s spillway. ~ CRD photo Dec 12, 2016

In 2015, refill to 100% was achieved by December 20. In 2016, the reservoir was last full to 100% capacity at April 3, dropping to its lowest point this year on October 9 — showing 64.6% of capacity in the CRD’s water watch reports.  At last check (December 18) the reservoir was back up to 96.5% of capacity.

Last weekend’s water main burst that saw a significant amount of water gushing onto Highway 1 for several hours (see page 1 in December 16, 2016 West Shore Voice News) would have taken a bite out of the expected refill pattern for year-end 2016.  Full restoration of the Sooke Lake Reservoir level to 100% is likely by year-end 2016.

The average 5-year (2011-2015) daily demand for December is 96.8 million litres per day (MLD). For December 2016 so far, the demand shows as 98.7 MLD, with a one-day maximum this month showing as 107.9 MLD.

The reservoir was last expanded in 2004. CRD maintains an ongoing target of deferring expansion of the water supply system for 50 years or to around 2067 before expansion of the reservoir is required.

In 2012, CRD articulated a number of challenges are facing the Water Supply System then and for coming decades:
• Climate change
• Reliance on an unfiltered water supply
• Reliance on Sooke Reservoir
• Lack of redundancies in the transmission system
• Monitoring trends in water use
• Managing outdoor water use
• Level of service policy for wholesale water customers
• Factors affecting the price of water
• Workforce demographics
• Increasing residential development adjacent to the Water Supply Area
• Legacy of past human activities in the Water Supply Area
• Potential establishment of undesirable species in the Water Supply Area


Santa and Elf, Gizelle flanked by (L-R): Paramedic George Madden, Helijet Capt. Bob Neve, Helijet Capt. Kim Carswell, Paramedic Darrel Hunsbedt. Photo as posted on Helijet.com

Santa and Elf, Gizelle flanked by (L-R): Paramedic George Madden, Helijet Capt. Bob Neve, Helijet Capt. Kim Carswell, Paramedic Darrel Hunsbedt. Photo as posted on Helijet.com

Tuesday, December 20 ~ VICTORIA. Thanks to the ‘magic’ of helicopter travel by Helijet, Santa was able to make some quick trips to visit children at Victoria General Hospital and Nanaimo Regional General Hospital this morning, with air support from BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS).

Each stop of the pre-Christmas Toy Run was for 45 minutes so Santa had time to meet with children at the hospitals. the event is coordinated and supported by Island Health.

The trip then carried on to Vancouver, New Westminster, and Surrey. Santa and one of his elves, Giselle Manese, flew between each stop in an air ambulance helicopter, with the help of BCEHS Infant Transport Team parademic George Madden and his partner.

“We’re thrilled to once again assist Santa on his air ambulance toy run to visit children in hospitals this holiday season,” said Helijet President and CEO Danny Sitnam. “Throughout the year our dedicated Helijet staff works closely with BCEHS paramedics to provide 24/7 helicopter service for hundreds of critically-ill patients across BC. Many of our patients are children, so all of us at Helijet are happy to help make this Christmas season special for these courageous kids and their families.”

For paramedics and flight crews, who often meet patients and their families during medical emergencies, the annual toy run is a special opportunity to interact with children and their families in a much happier environment.


wsv-mpoweroutages-webTuesday, December 20 ~ VANCOUVER ISLAND SOUTH. In conditions of high winds, trees are down across BC Hydro wires. That and other wind-related issues currently see power out in the Langford and Sooke areas as well as Ganges Island.

In the Sooke area, about 1,217 customers are affected across various areas including west of Otter Point Rd (out since 4:29 am, crews expected to arrive around 7:30 am), and southwest of Sooke Road east of Sea Lion Way (out since 5:06 am, crews have been assigned).

Power is also out in Langford (since 5:26 am) with crews expected to arrive around 7:30 am in an area affected north of Monnington Place, south of Jenkins Ave, west of Jacklin Road, and East of Colbourne, affecting 230 customers.

UPDATE at 12 noon:  Presently 10,402 BC Hydro customers (approx 30,000 people) in the south Vancouver Island area are without power as of noon today. That includes 2,321 in the Walfred/Metchosin Rd area (Colwood/Langford); 2,056 north of Hwy 1 (Saanich/Langford); 1,812 east of West Coast Road and west of Otter Point Rd; 417 in the West Coast Road area (i.e. west of Sooke); 2,826 in Esquimalt/View Royal; and locations in Duncan.  Most of those outages started mid-morning. A few outages from very early this morning (around 4:30 am in the Sooke and Langford areas) have been restored.


BCFerry-fromBCFerriessite

Tuesday, December 20 ~ BC. BC Ferries plans to ban smoking on all of its vessels and to not allow passengers to remain in vehicles on lower fully enclosed decks while vessel sailings are underway. 

BC spokesperson Deborah Marshall says:  “With regards to car decks, we are working to fully implement Transport Canada regulations limiting passenger access to closed car decks while ships are underway.” Closed decks are the lower vehicle decks on the larger ferries. Transport trucks and buses are parked on the lower deck; cars are also parked there when the upper deck becomes full. Customers will continue to be permitted to stay in vehicles on the upper (open) car decks.

“We will be fully implementing Transport Canada regulations to limit passenger access to closed vehicle decks while ships are underway. “Closed” decks are the main car decks. Customers will continue to be permitted to stay in vehicles on the upper (opened) car decks.”

With regards to smoking: “We are currently reviewing our policy with an aim to offer a smoke free environment in the future. The Province recently changed regulations regarding smoke free zones to from 3 to 6 metres away from a door or opening window. This proves challenging ‎on a ship.”

A formal announcement on these two new BC Ferries developments is expected in early January.


Sunday, December 18 ~ SOOKE. Not unexpectedly, it hasn’t taken long for an environmentalist activist movement to rise up following the announcement of pipeline approvals by the federal Liberals. 

dogwoodinitiativelogoA local organizing group called Dogwood Initiative is inviting Sooke residents to gather on Wednesday, December 21 “to support and protect the west coast’s still unspoilt ocean, intertidal zones and beach fronts”.

The Sooke team of Dogwood has organized the “Protect Our Coast: Gathering of the Light Celebration”. It will be held outside the local high school: Edward Milne Community School, 6218 Sooke Rd, starting 4 pm. “Bring a light (candle or flashlight), a sign (optional) and your resilient spirit.”

“Having voted strongly against increased tanker traffic in the District of Sooke’s 2014 plebiscite, local citizens can serve notice to both Kinder Morgan and the federal and provincial governments that Sooke remains steadfast in its opposition to the expansion of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline (TMX),” says a Dogwood Initiative release.

The evening vigil on Wednesday will include guest speakers and an open mic for public comment. Then they will set up alongside Sooke Road (Hwy 14) to demonstrate their concerns to homebound commuter traffic as the winter solstice (shortest day of the year) marks the return of the light.

Dogwood says the TMX would channel raw diluted bitumen (aka dilbit) from the Alberta tar sands to supertankers in the Port of Vancouver. From there, large vessels will sail under the Second Narrows Bridge and out into the Salish Sea, travelling past Victoria and then into the Strait of Juan de Fuca en route to the far east. A growing body of scientific evidence indicates that, unlike conventional crude (light) oil, bitumen will sink in a marine spill. There are no current techniques or processes to recover bitumen after a marine spill.

“No matter the skills of emergency workers, a single human or mechanical error in the Strait of Juan de Fuca could prove to be a calamity for our precious ocean and inter-tidal zones — devastating the richly diverse marine ecosystem and causing untold harm to businesses that rely on the ocean, our region’s tourism appeal, local real estate values and the overall quality of life in this magnificent part of the world.”


crd-watermainbreak-dec1616Friday, December 16 ~ 8 pm Update VICTORIA. CRD Water Supply Main Break along Trans Canada Highway (Southbound) between Burnside Road West and Helmcken Road

As a result of a large diameter CRD water supply main break located along the Trans Canada Highway (TCH) between Burnside Road West and Helmcken Road, southbound traffic flow is expected to be impacted through late Friday evening.

The CRD with the assistance of the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and its contractors have repaired the water supply main and are returning the system to service this evening. Highway repair work is also proceeding with paving work planned for late Friday evening. Single lane southbound traffic continues to be maintained at this time. All three southbound lanes are expected to be open to traffic Saturday morning.

The break occurred at approximately 11:50 pm on Thursday, December 15. The CRD Water Supply Main #3 is a 990 mm diameter steel pipe that serves the municipalities of Saanich, Victoria and Oak Bay.

There are no major water service interruptions expected as municipalities are being served via CRD Water Supply Mains #1 and #2 during the repair.

However, customers in the Victoria West, Tillicum, Esquimalt and View Royal areas may experience lower water pressure and notice a slightly increased level of turbidity in the tap water as a result of fine sediments in the pipe being disturbed through the sudden change in flow and pressure. If turbidity is noticed, it is recommended to run taps until the water is clear. In consultation with Island Health, the CRD confirms the water remains safe to drink.

The CRD Integrated Water Services apologizes for any inconvenience this event may have caused. [Photo by CRD]


Hwy 1 in the Burnside Area. [Google maps]

Hwy 1 in the Burnside Area. [Google maps]

Friday, December 16 ~ VICTORIA.  A water supply main break has occurred at the Trans Canada Highway (Hwy 1 / Southbound) between Burnside Rd W and Helmcken Rd in the Greater Victoria area.

As a result of the large diameter CRD water supply main break, southbound traffic flow is expected to be impacted through to the evening tonight, December 16. Repair of the steel pipe is estimated to take until late Friday evening, December 16 to complete.

The CRD has coordinated with the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) to maintain single lane southbound traffic through the site while crews complete repairs. Motorists are advised to use alternate routes into the Victoria area and to expect traffic delays in the area while CRD crews work as quickly as possible to conduct the repairs currently underway.

crd-watermainbreak-dec1616The break occurred around 11:50 pm last night, Thursday, December 15. The CRD Water Supply Main #3 is a 990mm diameter steel pipe that serves the municipalities of Saanich, Victoria and Oak Bay.

There are no major water service interruptions expected as municipalities are being served via CRD Water Supply Mains #1 and #2. However, customers in the Victoria West, Tillicum, Esquimalt and View Royal areas may experience lower water pressure and notice a slightly increased level of turbidity in the tap water as a result of fine sediments in the pipe being disturbed through the sudden change in flow and pressure. In consultation with Island Health, the CRD confirms the water remains safe to drink.

Relocating a main CRD water line has been the first task of many as part of constructing the McKenzie/Admirals Interchange on Hwy 1.

Around 3 pm, repair work on the large pipe was still underway (see CRD photo above). At 5:30 pm, CRD says work is still underway, and that another update will be issued around 8 pm this evening.


Lt Gov Judith Guichon during the official welcome of the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge, Sept 24 2016 [Photo Copyright 2016 West Shore Voice News]

Lt Gov Judith Guichon during the official welcome of the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge, Sept 24 2016 [Photo Copyright 2016 West Shore Voice News]

Wednesday, December 14 ~ VICTORIA.  The Honourable Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia is hosting two customary holiday events at Government House in Victoria. All holiday day events are free and family friendly. Government House is at 1401 Rockland Avenue.

Friday, Dec. 16 ~ Open House and Carol Sing: 5 pm to 7 pm. Christmas carolling will begin at 5 p.m. in the Ballroom, led by Louise Rose.  Following the carolling, members of the public are welcome to stroll through the main floor and view the Christmas decorations. Food contributions or donations to support local food banks are encouraged and will be accepted at the door.

Sunday, Jan. 1 ~ New Year’s Day Levée: 10 am to 12 pm. Canada 150 celebrations will begin by greeting members of the public at the annual New Year’s Day Levée.  Guests will have an opportunity to enjoy refreshments and the music of the Naden Band of the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Scottish Regiment Pipes and Drums. Her Honour will deliver her remarks at 11:30 am. Guests are encouraged to arrive early to avoid a long lineup. Food contributions or donations to support local food banks are encouraged and will be accepted at the door upon entrance to the levée.

Earlier this week, Grade 3 students from various schools around the Greater Victoria area participated in the decorating of Christmas trees at Government House, including in Lt Gov Guichon’s office. As well, seniors from various seniors’ residences were invited to official Christmas teas being held on Dec 14 & 15.


ccs-logoWednesday, December 14 ~ SURREY, BC. Members of the Coast Capital Savings credit union have voted for that financial institution to become a federal credit union and operate outside the province of British Columbia.

The voting results were announced at a Special General Meeting on December 14, 2016 following a six-week membership voting period that ran October 17 through November 28. The outcome means that Coast Capital Savings may seek regulatory approval to offer its products and services across the country.

Of the 79,726 members who voted (representing about 20% of the membership), 79.2% of members cast their ballot in favour of the Special Resolution to become a federal credit union.  A two-thirds vote in favour was required for the Special Resolution to pass.

Normally only about 5% of members vote on issues pitched to them by the Board. The fact that a contest with cash prize was available to everyone who voted may well have increased the voter turnout. There are two winners, who will each receive $5,000: Mark H. of Richmond and Bruno B. of Langley.

“I’d like to thank all members who took the time to participate in this important vote, which has not only determined the future direction of Coast Capital Savings but also will provide Canadians with additional banking choices,” said Board Chair Bill Cooke. “With such a high turnout of voting members, it’s clear the vote represents the broad will of the membership.”

“Becoming a federal credit union will allow Coast Capital Savings to serve members better, enter new markets, attract new members, better manage risk through diversification, and compete more effectively in a rapidly changing marketplace,” said a Coast Capital Savings release today. “Growing outside the province will give the credit union more resources to invest in products and services, and to develop technology to serve members’ growing online and mobile banking needs. It will help the organization to support more communities and give more Canadians a co-operative option to national banks.”

President & CEO Don Coulter says this decision is the right one for Coast Capital Savings. “Our members are owners of this credit union and when our business grows, they benefit,” Coulter said in a release. “Existing members will continue to receive the friendly, helpful service we’re known for in BC and in future, they’ll also have the convenience of banking with us elsewhere in Canada. As a federal credit union, we’ll continue to improve the financial well-being of our members and retain our award-winning culture. And we’ll share the great things our members love about Coast Capital Savings with more Canadians.”

Coast Capital Savings is not a federal credit union yet. It must first seek regulatory approval from the Credit Union Deposit Insurance Corporation, Financial Institutions Commission, Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, and Federal Minister of Finance. This process is anticipated to take a year, with continuance, if granted, coming in 2018.

In 2012, the federal government proclaimed legislation that enabled credit unions to operate outside their provincial boundaries by continuing to a federal credit union. In July 2016, UNI in New Brunswick became Canada’s first federal credit union, and other credit unions have indicated their plans to follow suit. Coast Capital Savings was the first credit union in BC to put this opportunity to a member vote.


food-agriculture-cropwebWednesday, December 14  ~  Greater Victoria area. The Capital Regional District (CRD) Board has today approved their Regional Food and Agriculture Strategy (RFAS) which they say identifies the top issues facing the region‘s food and agriculture sector and provides recommendations for addressing challenges.

“The Strategy aims to enhance awareness of local agricultural issues and opportunities and increase local food production. The Strategy has been developed with the intent of complementing existing local agricultural area plans and provincial legislation/policy,” says a release from CRD today.

“Local food production is very important to our food security, local economy and environment. The Regional Food and Agriculture Strategy recognizes the benefits of developing local food systems and sets out concrete steps to support individuals, businesses and First Nations in accessing and adopting local options,” says CRD Board Chair, Barbara Desjardins.

Regional districts, municipalities and electoral areas do not have a specific mandate over food and agriculture. However, the food and agriculture sector is impacted by CRD services such as water delivery, environmental protection and conservation, watershed education and drinking watershed protection and management, liquid and solid waste management (including rural septic programs), invasive species eradication / native plant restoration, and more recently, wildlife (deer, geese, beaver, bullfrog) management. The RFAS identifies how these services relate to food and agriculture and provides recommendations.

The RFAS document identifies approaches to key issues such as:

  • increasing access to farm land through a potential land bank or farmland trust,
  • increasing farmers’ awareness of tools to address wildlife damage,
  • working with partners to increase economic development opportunities, and
  • addressing storm water and drainage issues.

Implementation will start with the formation of a regional food and agriculture task force. The task force will provide input to the Planning Transportation and Protective Services Committee to help set priorities and advance the Strategy recommendations. Task force members will represent non-profits, municipalities with significant agricultural land holdings or interests in food and agriculture, First Nations and the Ministry of Agriculture. “Task force appointments are intended to reflect the geographic and sectoral diversity of the Capital Region food and agriculture economy,” says CRD.

CRD says they had strong support and input from the agricultural sector, with the intent of complementing existing local agricultural area plans and provincial legislation and policy. They add that First Nations interests were strongly represented throughout the development of the Strategy.


Wednesday, December 14  ~ BC.  The BC government has distributed compensation for municipal property taxes to 56 communities around the province, totaling almost $16 million.

Grants-in-lieu of property taxes are distributed every November and reimburse municipalities for services that benefited government properties, such as municipally run sewers, roads and fire protection.

On south Vancouver Island, there were three communities in receipt of grants: Victoria $3,261,970.92; View Royal $184,724.03; Saanich $413,560.99. In the mid-island area Port Alberni received $49,292.33. In the north island area Campbell River received $75,497.34 and Courtenay received $36,051.13. The remaining funds were received by mainland municipalities.

Grants are issued in accordance with the Municipal Aid Act and are payable on land owned by the provincial government such as courthouses, provincial government office buildings and warehouses.

Schools and hospitals are exempt from paying municipal property taxes and are not part of the grants-in-lieu calculation. Other provincial assets such as highways, forests, parks or land under the control, management or administration of a Crown corporation are also excluded from compensation under the act.

Since 2002, the Government of British Columbia has distributed more than $254 million in grants-in-lieu to BC communities. A portion of the funds is paid by each community to its regional district, and both levels of local government use grants to help pay for local services.

The funds are distributed electronically on behalf of government by the Ministry of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services.


ferry-christmas-hollyMonday, December 12 ~ BC. 

BC Ferries is adding over 135 extra sailings on major routes to ensure smooth sailing over the holiday season. Of those, 98 sailings have been added to the Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay route (the busiest route in the fleet), and 38 have been added to Horsehoe Bay and Departure Bay routes.

Based on previous years, the busiest pre-Christmas day is expected to be December 23. After Christmas, there is heavy traffic on December 26 to 28, with December 27th usually the busiest.

Starting December 22, schedules will be expanded on routes using the Horseshoe Bay terminal (Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay, Horseshoe Bay-Langdale, Horseshoe Bay-Bowen.

BC Ferries reminds reservation-holders to identify that they have a reservation, to speed up flow-through at the arrival areas.

There will be sailings on Christmas Day.  See schedules and other info at www.bcferries.com


Friday, December 9 ~ BC. Police will be monitoring limousines and buses during the holiday season, says the BC Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure today in a news release.

Operators that allow the consumption of alcohol in their vehicles will be penalized and passengers in these vehicles also have a responsibility to adhere to the liquor laws. Operators who do not comply with liquor laws run the risk of losing their licence, and minors in possession of alcohol are subject to a $230 fine.

With the holiday season in full swing, the BC government is reminding British Columbians to celebrate safely and make good decisions when riding in limousines, including limo buses, during celebrations.

“Christmas is a time to celebrate the holidays and enjoy time with family and friends,” said Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Todd Stone. “Travel is often part of these celebrations, and we encourage everyone to think ahead about getting home safely by choosing a transportation option that will ensure a safe conclusion to any holiday gathering.”

Operators of limousines and buses with perimeter seating must have a Passenger Transportation licence plate and decal, or temporary operating permit, for every vehicle in their fleet. This allows government and law enforcement to better enforce the industry and motivate operators to provide a service that is safe and compliant with provincial laws.

Both operators and passengers should remember that consuming alcohol in any vehicle is illegal and unsafe. Advertising for limousine and bus services cannot allude to the consumption of alcohol in a company-operated vehicle.

Consumers, especially those booking trips for minors, are encouraged to look for companies that advertise strict policies related to drinking in vehicles.

“We all have a role to play to ensure that holiday festivities, formal or informal, are safe, including the transportation to and from these events,” said chief constable Neil Dubord, chair of the BC Association of Chiefs of Police Traffic Safety Committee. “Consuming alcohol in any private or commercial vehicle is illegal in BC, whether the vehicle is moving or not.

Police across the province will be out enforcing Motor Vehicle Act and Liquor Control and Licensing Act infractions – we can all help prevent a tragedy by always planning ahead for a safe ride home.”


8282-deer-on-drivewayFriday, December 9 ~ BC. Four BC municipalities have been approved for grants to support local governments that are experiencing challenges with urban deer.

Under the Provincial Urban Deer Cost-Share Program, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations is providing up to $100,000 in cost-share funding, to a maximum of $20,000 per eligible community, for projects that focus on deer culls and research into population control methods such as relocation and immuno-
contraception.

Successful grant applicants for this round of funding are Invermere,
Grand Forks, Elkford and Cranbrook. A fifth application from Oak Bay is still under consideration and ministry staff are working with that municipality to refine the proposal.

Grand Forks will receive $16,000 to cull 80 deer in the community, Invermere has been approved for $10,200 to cull 51 deer and Elkford’s application for $10,000 to cull 50 deer has also been approved. Cranbrook will receive a $19,900 grant that will be used to study the feasibility of relocating problem deer that have taken up residence in urban environments. Cranbrook’s study will build upon research that Elkford started last year, which involved urban deer in Cranbrook, Elkford, Invermere and Kimberley.

Oak Bay’s proposal involves the use of immuno-contraceptive drugs designed to prevent deer from reproducing, however this is a complex undertaking that requires further research into the availability of drugs and careful planning to ensure the drugs are delivered in a humane and effective way.

The Provincial Urban Deer Cost-Share Program follows through on a commitment made by government at the 2015 Union of BC Municipalities annual meeting. The program offers matching funds, and support varies for each region. Interior culls are eligible for $200 deer, while on the Coast, the rate is $300 per deer. Interior deer are less expensive to cull because winters are cold in the Interior, there is less food available and deer are more willing to come to baits.

The ministry’s call for proposals was issued October 26. Grant agreements with the successful applicants are scheduled to be finalized later this month and project completion reports from the recipients are due on or before March 17, 2017.

Urban deer management in BC factsheet


SD62-SOOKE-logoFriday, December 9 ~ SOOKE. For Vancouver Island where we can go several winters in a row without snow, there was a relatively big snowfall last night, but not enough to grind things to a halt.

Schools are still open in the SD62 School District (Sooke, Colwood, Langford, Metchosin), except in the Port Renfrew area. School buses are still running but might be behind schedule.

SD62 says it’s always up to parents whether it’s safe enough to send their children to school. www.sd62.bc.ca

Nighttime temperatures started falling below zero a few nights ago, so the snow does not really come as a surprise.


westshorercmp-logoWednesday, December 7 ~ WEST SHORE of VANCOUVER ISLAND.  In mid-September 2016, the West Shore RCMP Detachment’s Street Crime Unit and the Crime Reduction Unit joined forces to become one. This amalgamation aims to efficiently deploy resources to conduct targeted investigations against prolific offenders, those that are contributing the most to crime in the community.

The Crime Reduction Unit was created to proactively target property crime offenders, prolific offenders, and execute apprehensions on people with outstanding arrest warrants. The unit also proactively investigates and targets street level drug offenders.

“The unit’s message is clear: Crime is not welcome in the West Shore. We want West Shore to be safe and the unit is relentlessly going after those involved in crime, says Cpl Bryson Hill of the West Shore RCMP’s Crime Reduction Unit.

In the 10 weeks since the amalgamation, the Crime Reduction Unit has arrested 18 individuals and a total 34 charges have been recommended against them. Those charges range, but are not limited to: Breach of Recognizance, Possession of Property Obtained by Crime, Possession of Drugs for Purpose of Trafficking, Prohibited Driving, Theft, Breach of Conditional Sentencing Order, and Unlawful Possession of Firearms.

During this time, the Crime Reduction Unit has also seized substantial quantities of cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, OxyContin, fentanyl, steroids, cash, handguns and vehicles from the streets.

With an approximate population of 72,000 and growing, the residents in the communities that are served by the RCMP West Shore detachment (Langford, Colwood) play a major part in the fight against these criminals, says RCMP Media Relations Officer Cst Alex Bérubé. “It starts by providing an extra set of eyes and ears. Together, we are working together to make our family-oriented communities, a safe place to be.”

Anyone with information about drug trafficking or any other criminal activity in the West Shore is encouraged to contact West Shore RCMP at 250-474-2264 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).


westshorecrd-creatememories-webTuesday, December 6 ~ GREATER VICTORIA AREA.  Need some Holiday Recycling Tips, Green Gift Ideas, or Green New Year’s Resolutions? The Capital Regional District (CRD) wants to contribute to this being a “green” holiday season.

At the www.crd.bc.ca/memories website you’ll find information on holiday waste reduction, gift ideas that will help create memories – not garbage, tips on properly preparing recyclables at the curb, Christmas light recycling locations and much more!

While the winter holiday season brings good cheer and great times with friends and family for many people, it also brings a lot more consumer purchases and waste.

CRD says that the quantity of recycling generated during this time period increases dramatically as people shop more. Discarded items include holiday wrap, cards and ribbon, in addition to the enormous quantity of cans, bottles and plastic containers tossed after holiday celebrations.


cathy-noel-headshot-webThursday, December 1 ~ LANGFORD. Running as the BC Liberal Candidate in Langford-Juan de Fuca for the May 9, 2017 provincial election is Cathy Noel. She is a local entrepreneur and charity event organizer.

She will be running head to head with long-time Juan de Fuca MLA John Horgan, NDP who has served the region since first being elected in 2005. Horgan became the province-wide party leader of the BC NDP in 2014. Horgan lives in Langford. Horgan has years of background in handling key province-wide issues including energy, education, the environment and the economy.

“I’m ready to take my experiences as an Island business owner, entrepreneur, and mother and use them to make a real difference in our community,” said Ms Noel. She says that a growing riding needs “a strong champion for this growth in the Legislature who understands that the best way to look after the people we love is with a strong economy that creates good jobs on the Island and across BC”,” as stated in a BC Liberal news release.

Noel owns and operates a small business that has organized local charity events for dozens of not-for-profits across the Island. She is also the Race Director of two of the largest races on the Island: the GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon and the Victoria Goddess Run, and is past race director of the Times Colonist 10k, and past president of the Vancouver Island Runners Association.

Noel says her top priorities for the region are to grow the local economy to create jobs and opportunities in the South Island, and to get to the government table to deliver on regional needs such as health care, education, and transportation infrastructure.

Noel joins a team of 66 BC Liberal candidates already nominated province-wide.


snowtiresThursday, December 1 ~ SOUTH VANCOUVER ISLAND. Snow is forecasted to sea level on all of Vancouver Island with snow as early as Sunday December 4, but with forecasts for significant snowfall Wednesday, December 7.

Winter tires are mandatory on the Trans Canada Highway (Hwy 1) Malahat section, and on Highway 18 in the Cowichan Valley area, as well as on West Coast Road (Hwy 14) west of Sooke.

  • The Malahat on Highway 1 is well known for challenging driving conditions even in good weather. It is an unavoidable section of highway if travelling to/from the Greater Victoria area to/from upisland.
  • Highway 18 is a short, 42 km long main vehicle route in the Cowichan Valley Regional District on Vancouver Island, connecting the city of Duncan on the Trans-Canada Highway with the community of Youbou, on the north shore of Lake Cowichan.
  • Highway 14 (Sooke Road / called West Coast Road in the section that is west of Otter Point Road in Sooke town centre), requires winter tires anywhere west of the Grant Road West intersection (heading west to Kemp Lake and beyond).

In anticipation of this weather event, Mainroad winter operations will be in effect on all Highways. Their regular winter crews are on shift 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. “Extra manpower and equipment are brought in as conditions warrant and will continue until the conditions change and highways are back to normal,” says Leon Bohmer, Operations Manager, Mainroad South Island Contracting LP.

“During winter driving conditions we’re reminding everyone to please drive safe especially when approaching a highway maintenance vehicle,” says Bohmer. “Our 24 hour communications centre will pass on all your observations and concerns to our crews when contacted.”

The Mainroad 24hr Hotline is 1.877.391.7310.


alistairmacgregor-headshotWednesday, November 30 ~ OTTAWA.  The MP for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford on Vancouver Island, Alistair MacGregor, says he is dismayed at Trudeau’s broken promise on Kinder Morgan. 

“Yesterday, Justin Trudeau and the Liberals betrayed a clear commitment that they made to British Columbians during the campaign that the Kinder Morgan pipeline would not be approved under the Conservative’s broken review process,” said MacGregor in a news release today .

“I think it’s clear that Justin Trudeau has betrayed the trust of British Columbians after totally backtracking on his promises,” he said. “Many in my province of British Columbia actually voted Liberal because they were led to believe that this pipeline would not go forward under a Liberal government. That turned out to be untrue.”

MacGregor says that several Liberal MPs were elected stating that Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion could not be approved because it had not undergone a credible public review process. “The government’s hand-picked cabinet panel admitted that this project faces strong opposition from First Nations and local communities. The recent Bella Bella oil spill demonstrates that the BC coast is not prepared for a 7-fold increase in tanker traffic,” says MacGregor.

“The Prime Minister admitted that the environmental process was not credible under the Conservatives and then approved the project anyway,” said MacGregor. “They should have brought in a new review process to address environmental concerns rather than just following Stephen Harper’s lead on climate change,’’ added MacGregor.


RCMP CounterAttackTuesday, November 29 ~  ‘Light Up the Highway’ will be held by RCMP on Friday, December 2 in most areas of Vancouver Island.

Each year on Vancouver Island Police from Greater Victoria and Vancouver Island work tirelessly conducting road checks and impaired driving enforcement in their communities.

On December 2 police from across Vancouver Island will be “Lighting Up the Highway” as they conduct coordinated Counter Attack road checks from Victoria all the way up Vancouver Island highways to Port Hardy.

Impaired driving is the leading criminal cause of death in Canada. In BC, 86 people on average die every year in crashes involving impaired driving. On Vancouver Island 13 people on average are killed each year in crashes involving impaired driving. Most impaired-related crashes occur on Friday, Saturday or Sunday nights between 9pm and 3am.

“Island District Traffic Services Officers from across the Island are committed to making our roads and communities safer through road checks across Vancouver Island,” says Traffic Services Commander Inspector Ward Johnson.

This event is part of a larger Provincial campaign where police and ICBC are urging drivers to plan ahead and make smart decisions to get home safely this holiday season. “If your holiday festivities involve alcohol, plan ahead for a safe ride home,” says Colleen Woodger, local ICBC road safety coordinator.

“Arrange a designated driver, call a taxi or take transit – there are so many options to get home safe.” If you see an impaired driver you are encouraged to call 911.


Metchosin Schoolhouse

Metchosin Schoolhouse

Monday, November 28 ~ BC. The public and communities are invited to submit suggestions for new Stop of Interest signs in BC. The Stop of Interest signs were first established in 1958 to commemorate the Colony of BC’s centenary and recognize significant historical places, people and events.

In September 2016, the BC government announced its intention to create 75 new Stop of Interest signs around the province. Building on Heritage BC’s 2015 assessment project, the government is also repairing existing signs. The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is refurbishing existing signs in need of repair and updating language where necessary.

In addition to the 164 Stop of Interest signs located around B.C., the Province is adding up to 75 new Stops of Interest. British Columbians are invited to submit ideas for new Stop of Interest signs and share the interesting stories that could be told to people travelling BC’s highways. Submissions will be accepted through January 31, 2017.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure will install the majority of the new Stop of Interest signs in summer 2017.

A refurbished Stop of Interest sign was unveiled in Kamloops today by Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Todd Stone, “This Stop of Interest sign highlights Kamloops’ vibrant role as a hub for the mining, trapping and ranching industries long before BC even formally existed,” Stone said. “Over 200 years later, our resource industries are still extremely important to the Kamloops and provincial economies.”

To provide a suggestion for a new Stop of Interest sign see: http://engage.gov.bc.ca/stopsofinterest. Locational map of current locations of existing Stops of Interest: http://engage.gov.bc.ca/stopsofinterest/map/


gabriolaartscouncil-webSaturday, November 26 ~ GABRIOLA – Two new Job Creation Partnerships with the Gabriola Arts Council will provide skills training and paid work experience to four Gabriola Island residents, resulting in a year’s worth of arts and culture programming and a renovated community cultural centre. The BC government is providing $169,403 to the Gabriola Arts Council.

The first partnership will provide up to 43 weeks of work experience and skills training for three people in renovation and construction, including carpentry, plumbing, electrical, landscaping and project management. The participants will work alongside local professionals to update and renovate the 88-year-old Gabriola Arts & Heritage Centre, preserving a significant piece of Gabriola history and providing a high-quality, functional and accessible cultural space for the community. The second part of this project is the installation and completion – including foundation, electrical work, and roof installation – of a hand-built log structure, donated by Gabriola’s Island School for Building Arts, and destined to be the new administrative office for the Gabriola Arts Council.

The second partnership with the Gabriola Arts Council will provide up to 50 weeks of training and work experience to one individual in event planning, marketing and media, budgeting, communications and co-ordination of volunteers. The participant will assist in developing a year-long program of arts and culture events in celebration of Gabriola Arts Council’s 20th anniversary in 2017.

Programming will target all ages and support the local economy by drawing locals and tourists to participate in workshops, performances and other special events reflecting the diverse cultural history and active arts community of the island.


nodrugsalone-webFriday, November 25 ~ VICTORIA. Island Health has issued an urgent message to drug consumers: Avoid using alone.

In response to seven overdose deaths on Vancouver Island in the past week (five of those have occurred on the South Island and four of these in the last 72 hours), Island Health is issuing an urgent warning to individuals who are going to use illicit drugs.

Avoid using alone, and make sure someone is around who is willing and able to seek help if an overdose happens.

This warning applies to all methods of drug consumption – injection, inhalation, snorting, smoking or consuming with alcohol.

“While vulnerable, street-entrenched individuals are still very high risk for overdoses, we are finding that recent overdose deaths involve individuals who are in housing, whether that be a private residence or publicly-funded housing facilities, including shelters,” said Dr. Richard Stanwick, Island Health’s Chief Medical Officer of Health. “These individuals need to know they are at significant risk of overdose, especially if they use alone.”

Island Health is particularly concerned given the approaching weekend and this week’s issuing of social service cheques. In addition to warning regular and weekend recreational users, Island Health has issued an alert for its front-line staff as a well as community service providers. Island Health continues to work with community service providers to further increase outreach and overdose response capacity.

“The drugs on the street are more potent and dangerous than they have ever been before,” Dr. Stanwick said. “Do not use alone. Please, have someone around who is willing and able to seek help if an overdose happens.”

The following strategies can reduce the risk:
– Avoid using alone; fix with a friend
– Try a small amount of new drugs first
– Stagger use with friends so someone can respond if needed
– Avoid using more than one drug at a time (stacking drugs increases risk of overdoses and contributes to more severe overdoses)
– Carry and use naloxone and have an overdose response plan
– Be close to help

If someone overdoses:
– Call 9-1-1 immediately
– Provide rescue breathing (mouth-to-mouth)
– Administer naloxone


gvcocThursday, November 24 ~ VICTORIA. They tried, but amalgamation of the Greater Victoria chamber of Commerce and Esquimalt Chamber of Commerce is not going to proceed, it was announced November 23.

esquimalt-coc“Both Boards have determined the best option at this time is for the two chambers to remain separate organizations,” it was stated in a news release from both chambers.

“The door to integration remains open as both Boards continue to believe that services to members can be strengthened and enhanced by integration. The parties have benefited from the opportunity to get to know each other better and plan to continue to work together on areas of mutual interest.”


mckeznie-rockblasting-map-nov1816Friday, November 18 ~ VICTORIA.  Commuters, cyclists and pedestrians will have their travel schedules interrupted by rock blasting for the McKenzie Interchange highway improvement project on Highway 1 (Trans-Canada Hwy). The blasting begins today, Friday November 18.

Traffic interruptions will be intermittent. During the day the traffic waits will be about 15 minutes long, affecting drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. In the evenings traffic will be stopped completely when rock excavation takes place 8 to 10 pm Monday to Saturday. The rock excavation activity in the evening will continue to April 2017. There will be no construction activity on Sundays or statutory holidays.

Travelers using Highway 1 to reach Victoria from upisland, and those generally commuting between the west shore and Saanich and downtown, should check www.Drivebc.ca for the most up to date traffic advisories. Users of the Galloping Goose trail are encouraged to use alternate routes or be prepared to stop during the work periods. Motorists will need to incorporate additional time into their travel schedules.

Completion of the long-awaited McKenzie Interchange is expected later in 2018. Many in the Greater Victoria area have pushed for commuter traffic flow improvements at the intersection of McKenzie and Admirals Road, particularly to serve morning and evening commuter traffic between the western communities of Langford, Colwood and Sooke (which have become ‘bedroom communities’ to the Victoria/Saanich employment hub) and the core area of Greater Victoria.


poppy-artisticThursday,  November 10 ~ BC. Premier Christy Clark will be at the West Kelowna Memorial Service in honour of Remembrance Day. NDP Leader John Horgan will be in Vancouver at a ceremony for Remembrance Day, though today he attended a ceremony at Spencer Middle School in Langford.

On the west shore of Vancouver Island, Randall Garrison, MP (Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke) will be in Esquimalt for Remembrance Day ceremonies, and Alistair MacGregor (Cowichan-Malahat-Langford) will be in Langford at Veterans Memorial Park.

In Sooke, a wreath will be laid at the Sooke Cenotaph on November 11 by retired Sooke Fire Chief Steve Sorensen on behalf of Juan de Fuca MLA John Horgan.


210726-nov0916-crowd-sitec-nov0916-westshorevoice-web-smThursday, November 10 ~ SOOKE. Last night an energetic and attentive crowd articulated their concerns about Site C and other election issues, in a one-hour Q&A with BC NDP Leader John Horgan (MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca).

“Articulate your policies and we’ll get behind you,” said one enthusiastic NDP supporter, with reference to the upcoming May 2017 BC provincial election.

Horgan was clear that the economy is important to everyone, including of course providing jobs. He says an NDP government would be responsible with taxpayer finances and inclusive to everyone when it comes to education, health and economic growth in BC.

1573-johnhorgan-nov0916-sooke-westshorevoice-nov0916-web-midThe event held at Edward Milne Community School in Sooke was organized by Awareness Film Night. They screened ‘Peace Out’, a somewhat dated by impactful film about the environmental and community consequences in northern BC if BC Hydro’s Site C hydroelectric project is to proceed.

Horgan explained that electricity usage in BC is not increasing, due to many people doing their best at energy conservation. It might now be over 20 years until the output at Site C (or equivalent) would be required in this province. Wind and solar are two other ‘green’ electricity-producing options that BC Hydro could be investing its money in.

Horgan says that if elected as government in 2017, the BC NDP would focus on green technology as a way to help protect the environment, and which would also create a lot of jobs.


viewfromdurrancelakedam-webSunday, November 6 ~ HIGHLANDS. The loop trail at the east end of Durrance Lake, in Mount Work Regional Park, will be closed to the public on November 7, 8, 9 and 28.

Closure is required while the Capital Regional District (CRD) conducts an assessment of the dam, which includes drilling and other activities.

The CRD asks that park visitors use caution around equipment and crews, and follow the signs around the closed site within the temporarily fenced-off area. The parking lot, the loop trail outside the fenced area and other park facilities remain open.

The CRD is undertaking a geotechnical investigation and composition assessment of the earth dam at the east end of the lake to better understand what it is composed of and how it was constructed when it was originally built in the early 1900s. This project is part of the CRD Regional Parks commitment to ensuring its facilities are maintained to a high standard for public safety.


findyourfit-signageFriday, November 4 ~ VICTORIA. WorkBC’s ‘Find Your Fit’ will showcase BC’s in-demand jobs at Teen Fest Victoria tomorrow Saturday, November 5 at Pearkes Recreation Centre, 3100 Tillicum Rd (open to the public 11 am to 4:30 pm). Young people of Victoria will have an opportunity to learn the skills they will need for tomorrow’s in-demand occupations.

Find Your Fit is an interactive event where individuals of all ages can learn about BC’s in-demand careers and test out some of the skills they would need for those occupations. Participants will also get to know career planning tools – such as Blueprint Builder and Career Trek videos – and the job resources and labour market information WorkBC.ca offers. Parents, teachers and career counsellors may benefit, too – by discovering ways to educate and support youth in their career exploration.

Find Your Fit is part of BC’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint commitment to re-engineer education and deliver the skilled workforce needed in BC’s growing economy. The tour has had over 180,000 participants so far. The tour was most recently in Burns Lake. It’s next stop on Vancouver Island will be in Duncan on December 1. Other communities can also request a tour stop.

“Through BC’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint, we are committed to preparing the skilled workforce that our growing economy needs. The Find Your Fit tour ensures that our youth have the tools and resources necessary to consider the full range of in-demand occupations available to them,” says Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour.


randallgarrisonndp-photoThursday, November 3 ~  WEST SIDE of VANCOUVER ISLAND. Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke MP Randall Garrison is on his way back from Ottawa to his constituency today, to spend a week on this west side of the island and attend the Remembrance Day ceremony in Esquimalt on November 11.

He is in full support of NDP Leader Tom Mulcair’s statement in the House of Commons today that the Liberal government should hold an inquiry into RCMP/CSIS surveillance of journalists. He adds that while instances of media surveillance have surfaced in Quebec, it’s a bigger problem than that.

“If journalists are under surveillance, then people won’t talk to them. Free press is a fundamental part of our democracy for people’s right to know what’s going on,” said Randall Garrison, MP, today in a phone interview.


deeringbridge-nov0216-webWednesday, November 2 ~ PORT RENFREW. There will be bridge maintenance on Deering Bridge and Deering Road in the Port Renfrew area, starting Monday November 7 through Thursday November 10, from 8 am to 5pm, says Mainroad South Island.

The 3 to 5 km targeted stretch of roadway runs from Parkinson Road to Pacific Marine Road.


map-vancouverislandThursday, October 27 ~ VICTORIA. The BC Liberals are shoring up a political presence on Vancouver Island, where the BC NDP has built and maintained a political stronghold for decades.

Today Premier Christy Clark announced there will be a Vancouver Island-specific platform for the 2017 provincial election, with development to be led by MLA Don McRae who is retiring at the end of his current term.

The BC Liberal Party says it’s the first time they have developed a region-specific election platform for Vancouver Island.

Clark made the announcement in advance of her keynote speech to community and business leaders at the 10th annual State of the Island Economic Summit in Nanaimo.

“Vancouver Island is growing, vibrant, and unique – with its own opportunities and challenges that deserve government’s full attention,” said Clark. “That’s why I’ve asked MLA Don McRae to lead the effort to produce a specific set of commitments from our party to the people of Vancouver Island for the next election.”

“I’m excited to work with our Vancouver Island party members to identify what their families, communities, and businesses need in order to succeed,” said Comox Valley MLA Don McRae.

“We’ve had passionate discussions as part of the Party’s biggest-ever policy consultation, and we’re ready for a platform built for Islanders, by Islanders.” McRae’s sole Vancouver Island caucus colleague, Minister of Social Development and Innovation Michelle Stilwell agrees. “As a two-person caucus, Don and I have worked hard to deliver results for our communities and Vancouver Island as a whole. We want to achieve even more, which will be possible with additional regional representation in government.

“Today’s announcement of a standalone Vancouver Island platform is a welcome step in that direction,” she added.

Stilwell is the only government caucus member seeking re-election on Vancouver Island with her nomination in Parksville-Qualicum set for October 30. “Stilwell is joined by a strong, growing team of new BC Liberal candidates locally including Jim Benninger (Courtenay-Comox), Alana deLong (Nanaimo-North Cowichan), Paris Gaudet (Nanaimo), Steve Housser (Cowichan Valley), and Stephen P Roberts (Saanich North and the Islands). Dallas Smith (North Island) and Mathew Wilson (Powell River-Sunshine Coast) will be officially nominated on October 29 and November 12 respectively,” it was stated in a BC Liberal news release today.

“Candidates for Esquimalt-Metchosin, Langford-Juan de Fuca, Mid Island-Pacific Rim, Oak Bay-Gordon Head, Saanich South, Victoria-Beacon Hill, and Victoria-Swan Lake are expected to selected well in advance of the May 9th election,” it was stated in today’s release.

The news release says that the decision to craft a platform specific to Vancouver Island – a region broadly recognized as underrepresented in government – came out of a year-long consultation exercise with BC Liberal members throughout BC led by Minister of Education Mike Bernier and Minister of State for Emergency Preparedness Naomi Yamamoto. The process involved 20 local roundtables with 800 participants, generating over 1,000 policy ideas.

Last year, 12,000 jobs were created on Vancouver Island with an unemployment rate lower than the national average. Continued support for the forestry industry is needed while encouraging diversity and new economic development in areas with higher unemployment. New sectors like technology, artisan agriculture, tourism, and craft beer, liquor, and wine sectors have experienced tremendous growth.

BC NDP Leader John Horgan presently holds the riding of Langford-Juan de Fuca (won in 2013 as the Juan de Fuca riding). He has worked the Vancouver Island political scene for decades. Vancouver Island is considered to be an NDP stronghold in the BC political landscape.


stone-toddTuesday, October 25 ~ VICTORIA.  The Victoria Regional Transit Commission has been expanded by creating an additional seat, it was announced this morning by BC Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Todd Stone. The Victoria Regional Transit Commission was formed in 1982, and its mandate is to provide oversight and represent the transit needs of Greater Victoria. The board of directors, through the chair, reports to the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, who is the Minister responsible for BC Transit.

“Over the years, the population and demographic makeup of the region has changed with the western communities growing at a much faster rate than the rest of Greater Victoria, largely due to the relatively affordable housing, especially for young families. “It’s important that the western communities’ voice and needs are fairly represented on the Commission,” it was stated in the release.

1305-mayotait-closeup-oct1716“In response to the Victoria Regional Transit Commission’s request to expand the number of its members from seven to eight to reflect the growing population in the region, the Province is pleased to announce the appointment of District of Sooke Mayor Maja Tait to the Commission,” said Minister Stone in a news release.

Sooke Mayor Maja Tait has had some interaction with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure over the past few years, largely to pitch for attention to Highway 14 (Sooke Road) as it impacts the 12,000-resident population of Sooke which lies about 35 km west of Victoria. Since the demise of its resource-based economy last decade, Sooke holds onto its rural appeal for many long-time residents. But in the past 10 years Sooke has rapidly become a bedroom community for commuters to Victoria and other parts of south Vancouver Island in recent years. Tait had served as a District of Sooke councillor for two terms, before winning as Mayor in November 2014 with 68% of the vote.

carolhamilton-headshotCity of Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton also represents the interests of the residents of the western communities on the commission. Hamilton is serving in her second term as Mayor of Colwood, that she won with a strong return mandate of 84% from the Colwood electorate in 2014. She seems to be crafting Colwood as a bedroom community of choice, with a strong office/retail component to the municipality but less of the big-box stores and industrial enterprises than are seen in neighbouring Langford.

Transit service in Greater Victoria is governed by the Victoria Regional Transit Commission. It will now consist of eight members (six locally elected mayors and two councillors) who are appointed according to the BC Transit Act.

Under the act, the following representatives must be appointed to the commission: Victoria’s mayor, a Victoria councillor, the mayor of Esquimalt or Oak Bay, the mayor of Saanich, a Saanich councillor and one of the mayors of Sidney, North Saanich or Central Saanich, as well as two representatives of the western communities – the Mayors of Colwood, Metchosin, View Royal, Langford, Highlands, Sooke or the director of the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area. With Hamilton and Tait being the western communities representation (the only two women who are mayors in the western communities), that leaves the other mayors to focus on other specific needs of their areas.

“Today’s decision will help us continue to build on the transit investments and improvements we’re making in Sooke and the western communities,” said Minister Stone. “Over the last few years, BC Transit and the commission have added double-decker buses to increase capacity, installed additional bus shelters along Highway 14, has adjusted bus routes to improve service to and from SEAPARC Leisure Complex, introduced a Saturday night trip to and from Victoria, and built a new Park and Ride on Highway 14.”

Mayor Tait finally brought a traffic roundabout to Sooke town centre on Highway 14 last summer — which was not mentioned in the ministry release. Since final completion in fall 2015, the roundabout has improved traffic flow in and through Sooke.  In Sooke, Tait has overseen some town centre parking improvements, but cramped the style of parking at the Sooke public boat launch and never worked to resolve the issues of seriously impeding access to some businesses and residents with the restriction of turns at the Townsend/Sooke Road intersection, despite a public call to address it.

BC and the federal government have recently announced nearly $160 million in funding to further improve transit services throughout the province. This includes a $10-million extension to the Douglas Street northbound bus lane, from Tolmie Avenue to the McKenzie interchange that will reduce congestion on one of Victoria’s major transit routes servicing West Shore communities.”

“We will continue to work together toward improving and evolving public transit to meet the needs for everyone in Greater Victoria,” said Stone.  Victoria is of course the capital city of BC, with the legislature and government providing a lot of activity and employment for the south island region.

Transit service in Greater Victoria is governed by the Victoria Regional Transit Commission. It will now consist of eight members (six locally elected mayors and two councillors) who are appointed according to the BC Transit Act. Under the act, the following representatives must be appointed to the commission: Victoria’s mayor, a Victoria councillor, the mayor of Esquimalt or Oak Bay, the mayor of Saanich, a Saanich councillor and one of the mayors of Sidney, North Saanich or Central Saanich and two representatives of the western communities – the Mayors of Colwood, Metchosin, View Royal, Langford, Highlands, Sooke or the director of the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area.

The commission sets routes, service levels, fares and local taxes for transit purposes. It reviews and is responsible for raising the local share of the annual cost of transit in the region. The commission’s members are now:

  • Chair – Councillor Susan Brice – District of Saanich
  • Mayor Richard Atwell – District of Saanich
  • Mayor Lisa Helps – City of Victoria
  • Mayor Alice Finall – District of North Saanich
  • Mayor Barb Desjardins- Township of Esquimalt
  • Mayor Carol Hamilton – City of Colwood
  • Mayor Maja Tait – District of Sooke
  • Councillor Marianne Alto – City of Victoria

flushotFriday, October 21 ~ VANCOUVER ISLAND. Influenza (flu) causes more deaths than any other vaccine-preventable illness in Canada, says Island Health. “Arm yourself against influenza – plan ahead and get your flu shot early,” said Island Health in a news release today.

Frequent hand-washing, and perhaps avoiding handshakes is one way to avoid contracting or transmitting the flu. If you need to sneeze, use tissues or sneeze into your elbow, not into your hand or into the atmosphere. If you do get the flu, stay away from other people until you’re asymptomatic and feeling better.

Doctors, pharmacies and Island Health Public Health Units will be providing free flu shots to people at high risk of complications from influenza, their close contacts, and many other eligible groups. Free immunization clinics offered by Island Health’s Public Health Units run between October 24 and December 16, 2016.

For up-to-date information about Island Health’s Public Health flu clinic dates and times, Island residents can visit www.islandfluclinics.ca . Clinics are searchable by date and/or location. “Information on free public health vaccination clinic dates and times is also available on the Island Health website www.viha.ca/flu , and by phone,” said Dr. Dee Hoyano, Medical Health Officer, Island Health. “Planning ahead and getting your flu shot early is an important way to protect yourself and the people in your life who are vulnerable to complications of influenza,” she said in a news release today.

Most clinics are offered on a drop-in basis with no appointment necessary. Residents are encouraged to check ahead at www.islandfluclinics.ca for further details. BC CareCard or other government ID (valid driver’s license) is required. Wearing a short-sleeved shirt is recommended.

Eligible individuals may also get their free vaccine from their doctor or pharmacy.  Here is a list of eligibility in BC:

  • People 65 and older and their caregivers
  • Children and adults with chronic health conditions and their household contacts
  • Health care workers
  • Emergency responders
  • Healthy children from 6 months of age to less than 5 years old
  • Household contacts and caregivers of children from birth to less than 5 years of age
  • Pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy
  • Residents of nursing homes and other chronic care facilities
  • Owners and operators of poultry farms
  • Aboriginal peoples
  • People who are very obese (those with a body mass index of 40 or greater)
  • Corrections officers and inmates in provincial correctional institutions.
  • Those who provide care or service in potential outbreak settings housing high risk persons (e.g. crew on ships)
  • Visitors to healthcare facilities

islandhealth-LOGOFriday, October 21 ~ Vancouver Island.  Island Health says it is on track to deliver 93 substance use beds as part of the provincial plan to open 500 substance use spaces throughout British Columbia.

Island Health’s 93 beds are based on population proportion and will support and enhance existing substance use services, it was stated in a news release from Island Health today. Since the initiative began in 2014, Island Health has already opened 55 beds across its service area. Plans are underway to open the remaining 38 beds by early 2017.

“We understand the harms and incredible risks of substance use, and that’s why more beds are needed to help people get back on track,” says BC Health Minister Terry Lake. “Everyone deserves a chance. Adding beds on Vancouver Island shows that we value our strong communities, and can help individuals struggling with substance use with support recovery beds and services.”

The 55 beds which have already opened are located throughout the area served by Island Health:
• Victoria: 14 tertiary supportive recovery beds, 10 supportive recovery beds and five stabilization beds for adults and six supportive recovery beds for youth
• Nanaimo: Four crisis stabilization beds for Aboriginal youth with concurrent mental health and substance use challenges
• Courtenay: Six supportive recovery beds for women
• Port Alberni: Five stabilization and supportive recovery beds
• North Island: Five withdrawal management/community detox beds on the North Island located in Port Hardy

“I’m looking forward to the positive impact these beds will have on the community, and proud to support the number of beds that have already opened, helping countless adults and youth,” said Don McRae, MLA for Comox Valley.

The remaining 38 beds will be located in communities throughout the Island Health region. In addition, when Island Health residents need to attend residential treatment facilities on the Lower Mainland, Island Health teams coordinate referrals and provide funding assistance. These services are part of a continuum of mental health and substance use programming.

“Ensuring that both adults and youth have better access and improved outcomes for mental health and substance use is a top priority for Island Health,” said Don Hubbard, Island Health Board Chair. “This additional treatment capacity will be a significant improvement and will help ensure appropriate levels of supports and services are available to people who need them.”

Cheryl Damstetter, Island Health’s Chief of Population and Community Health said: “For people who are living with substance use issues, these beds – and the supportive recovery services that surround them – will help support individuals through their personal journey toward recovery and will benefit not only them but also their children, families and communities.”

On July 27, 2016, BC Premier Christy Clark announced a new Joint Task Force on Overdose Prevention and Response. The actions being taken under the task force support the ongoing work to support and treat British Columbians with substance use issues, a key priority of government.

The province has committed to meet the goal of opening 500 new substance use treatment beds in 2017, and today’s announcement of more beds and the treatment and intervention services that surround them will work to meet that goal. In the past two years, the Province has opened more than 220 new beds as part of this commitment to ensure better access to appropriate substance use treatment and supports.

Island Health provides health care and support services to more than 765,000 people on Vancouver Island, the islands in the Salish Sea and the Johnstone Strait, and the mainland communities north of Powell River.  www.viha.ca


johnhorgan-vanc-10childcare-oct1916-with2mlasFriday, October 21 ~ ELECTION BC 2017 campaign trail. Why vote NDP? That question was posed by West Shore Voice News to John Horgan in an interview today, as the BC NDP Leader was enroute from Richmond to Bella Bella.  Here’s what he says when BC voters ask him that question:

“The BC Liberals have been in power for 16 years, but is your life better today than 16 years ago?. Do the BC Liberals have your interest at heart or are they just holding onto government? When clinging to power, a government is not focussed on the best interest of the public.  It’s time for a change,” Horgan stated with conviction.

Earlier this week Horgan announced the BC NDP’s commitment to $10/day child care if the BC NDP form government after the May 2017 election. [Livestream Photo: in Vancouver with NDP MLAs Jodie Wickens and Melanie Mark].  While the BC Liberals issued in a statement that the cost of delivering $10/day child care is not possible, Horgan explains that an NDP government would achieve such a program with the likelihood of negotiating some federal partnership funding, something that Horgan feels wasn’t possible under the Harper government. Ultimately, the difference in approach between the two parties is about the political will to enable affordable child care as one component of an improved economy and society. When parents are confident about child care services, they are more productive employees, employers and contributors to the economy.

langford-jdf-map-smIn his home riding of Langford-Juan de Fuca, where Horgan has been the MLA since first being elected in 2005, the boundaries have changed (as well as the name of the riding over the years). But that’s because more people are moving to the area for relative housing affordability, so the boundaries over time have become smaller. Electoral area boundaries are reviewed and often revised every couple of years to ensure that the population count is similar among ridings.

“Langford-Juan de Fuca represents the cross-section of challenges that have developed under the BC Liberals,” says Horgan. “The challenges in Langford are the same as everywhere in BC: affordability, how to make family life easier, how well are schools funded, and good transportation options,” says the NDP Leader who saw two new NDP candidates nominated last weekend, with two more nominations coming up this weekend.

bellabella-oilspill-oct1416John Horgan is heading to the small coastal community of Bella Bella today to see for himself the damage to the pristine waters in the Great Bear Rainforest area due to an oil spill last Friday. Seafood harvesting areas that are critical to the Heiltsuk economy are being contaminated as a result of the spill from a tugboat.

Last month, the Duke of Cambridge delivered a speech in Bella Bella during the Royal Tour, stating his pleasure at protecting the Great Bear Rainforest as part of the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy which was created by Queen Elizabeth to help preserve natural wilderness ecosystems around the world.


BCFerry-fromBCFerriessiteThursday, October 20 ~ COASTAL BC.  BC Ferries announced today that a major fleet-wide pricing promotion of 50% savings on vehicle fares will be in effect starting mid-November.

Similar to a promotion last year in the autumn season, customers travelling on select sailings will receive the discount off the standard vehicle fare.

This year there will be over 3,100 promotional sailings, including select Sunday morning sailings.

  • For North Coast routes servicing Port Hardy, Prince Rupert, Haida Gwaii, Alliford Bay and Skidegate, as well as the Discovery Coast Connector, the half-price discount will apply on all sailings from November 14 – December 18.
  • On all of the other routes, the promotion will be in effect on select sailings Monday through Thursday, Saturday and Sunday from November 14 – December 18.

The half-price fare discount will apply to cars, motorcycles, trucks, SUVs, vans or recreational vehicles (discount applies to the first 20 feet of vehicle length only).

“BC Ferries is pleased to once again offer this vehicle promotion for customers to enjoy some savings this fall,” said Mike Corrigan, BC Ferries’ President and CEO. “We understand fare affordability remains a key concern for customers and hope they take advantage of this promotion when planning their fall travel. It was very popular last year and encouraged many passengers to travel on off-peak sailings, which helps shift traffic across our system.”

The promotions help reduce congestion at terminals by encouraging both foot and vehicle passengers to travel on off-peak sailings. BC Ferries is planning another pricing promotion for next spring.

Space on the selected sailings is on a first-come, first-served basis. Reservations are recommended to ensure a spot on the sailing of choice. www.bcferries.com


fentanyl-bagsThursday, October 20 ~ VANCOUVER ISLAND.  Vancouver Island RCMP have made a significant fentanyl seizure. The investigation is continuing after a significant amount of fentanyl was seized on Vancouver Island last week.

The seizure took place on Monday October 10 at about 5pm when members from the Nanaimo RCMP checked a suspicious vehicle just south of Nanaimo near Cassidy Airport. The vehicle was travelling southbound on the Island Highway when members pulled it over without incident.

The male driver, a resident of Vancouver Island, was arrested and the subsequent search of the vehicle located a sum of money and one kilogram of a powdered substance that has now been analyzed to be fentanyl. This makes the seizure one of the largest for the RCMP in British Columbia over the past few years.

“Locating and reducing the importation and distribution of fentanyl continues to be a priority for the RCMP, especially given the number of opioid deaths in British Columbia”, says Cpl. Tammy Douglas, spokesperson for Vancouver Island District.

In BC this year, the number of deaths as a result of fentanyl mixed into other illicit drugs has reached epidemic proportions, according to the BC Coroners Service.

“Our investigation is continuing to look for all those connected and responsible in the alleged trafficking of a harmful illicit substance in addition to determining the ultimate destination for the drug”.

Given the dangers fentanyl poses, precautions were taken in dealing with the seizure and now the storage of it. This active investigation is being handled by the Federal Serious and Organized Crime Group on Vancouver Island. The individual arrested was released pending charges.

Anyone with any information is encourage to call police or if you wish to remain anonymous you can contact CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).


owl-w-castWednesday, October 19 ~ VANCOUVER ISLAND. A rare avian patient has landed at the BC Wild ARC facility. “She’s a female adult Short-eared owl – a rare patient at Wild ARC – it’s been many years since we last admitted one,” says Heather Schmitt, assistant manager at Wild ARC. “Her injuries needed immediate surgical repair, as the bones needed to be pinned and stabilized in order for her to be able to fly again.”

Staff at the BC SPCA’s Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre (ARC) on Vancouver Island are hoping the public can help a short-eared owl fly again, after she was found by the side of the road with two severely broken bones in her left wing. “She’s a beautiful bird! We just want her to be able to fly again, and hunt for her meals the way owls are supposed to,” Schmitt says.

The feathered patient is expected to be in Wild ARC’s care for about eight weeks as she recovers, needing medication for pain, to prevent infection and to promote healing, specialized staff care including hand-feeding and therapies to help rehabilitate the wing, and flight testing before release. If all goes well, the owl will be returned to the wild when she is fully recovered.

The estimated medical costs associated with the owl’s treatment and recovery is expected to be over$4,000. As a non-profit organization, the BC SPCA relies primarily on public donations to carry out their work helping vulnerable companion, farm and wild animals. Donations are accepted by Wild ARC at their facility at 1020 Malloch Rd (off Rocky Point Road in the Metchosin area), or online at www.spca.bc.ca/medicalemergency . Info: 250-478-9453.


italogoTuesday, October 18 ~ VICTORIA. An investment of$5.2 million in Camosun College for skills training in high-priority trades seats was announced today by the BC Government. 

Greg Kyllo, parliamentary secretary for the BC Jobs Plan, announced the funding today on behalf of Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour, during a tour of Camosun College’s Centre for Trades Education and Innovation. The investment, through the Industry Training Authority (ITA), will fund 2,047 seats through to March 31, 2017, in various trades, including: Electrician, Welder, Carpenter, Cook, and Automotive service technician.

The funding is part of the ITA’s allocation to BC post-secondary institutions and training providers to run various training programs through out the province. In response to the objectives outlined in BC’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint and the McDonald Report, the BC government has worked in partnership with the ITA to begin building a demand-driven trades-training system with funding aligned to specific in-demand trades.

The provincial government invests more than $94 million annually in industry training through the ITA. The ITA leads and co-ordinates British Columbia’s skilled trades system by working with employers, employees, industry, labour, training providers and government to issue credentials, manage apprenticeships, set program standards and increase opportunities in the trades.

ITA provides more than 100 apprenticeship training programs in BC.,  including almost 50 Red Seal trades. There are currently more than 39,000 registered apprentices in the  industry training system (including youth) – more than double the 14,676  apprentices registered when ITA was created in 2004.  BC is expecting up to one million job openings by 2025 due to retirements and economic growth. Eight of every 10 of these job openings will require post-secondary education or trades training.


sd62-projhection-2017to2026-westshorevoice-oct1416Sunday, October 16 ~ West Shore.  The student population in School District 62 (SD62) is increasing as more families move to the west side of Vancouver Island in search of relatively affordable housing.

SD62 administration predicts that about 3,068 more students will need spaces in SD62 schools between 2017 and 2026. By volume, most of those student increases will be seen in Langford (1,630), followed by Colwood (681), Sooke (447), Juan de Fuca Electoral Area (170), Highlands (123) and Metchosin (17).

SD62 Superintendent Jim Cambridge projects that at least one new school will be needed in the coming years. This year, student population has already risen to nearly 10,000, that being about 500 more than last year.

This fall, four portables were added to the new Royal Bay Secondary school that opened in September 2015. Belmont Secondary will need a portable, adding to the new school that opened in September 2015. A new classroom is being built at Happy Valley Elementary.

Full article on page 3 in the October 14 issue of West Shore Voice News


wsv-mpoweroutages-webSaturday, October 15 ~ Vancouver Island.[posted at 8:15 pm]. Remnants of a typhoon are forecasted to affect Vancouver Island and the BC lower mainland this evening.

All regions BC Hydro crews are pre-positioned in key locations on Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland to move quickly into affected areas as strong winds are moving through parts of the province as expected. “Crews will be working through the evening to restore power as quickly and safely as possible for our customers. The safety of our crews and the public remains our top priority,” says a bulletin on the BC Hydro website this evening.

Vancouver Island South is presently experiencing 18 outages, affecting 4,779 BC hydro customers. Vancouver Island North has 15 outages as of 8:15 pm, with 9.703 customers affected. On the Lower Mainland and Sunshine Coast area, 12,152 customers are without power within 34 areas of power outage.

On the west side of Vancouver Island, about 1,295 customers are affected in the extended Sooke area including West Coast Road west of Grant Road (ETO 11 pm), north of Phillips Rd (no ETO), and various other areas around West Coast Road. Only 16 customers are presently without power in Victoria (Topaz Avenue area). There is one outage affecting five customers in the Highlands area. There are no outages presently reported for Colwood or Langford.


weatheralert-oct1116WEATHER.  Saturday, October 15 ~ Vancouver Island.Due to the expectation of high winds and dangerous conditions to occur this afternoon and evening, October 15, BC Ferries has today announced a rare cancellation of all sailings between Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland beginning at 3 pm today. All regular sailings will resume on Sunday, October 16.

The affected routes are between Swartz Bay<>Tsawwasen, Nanaimo’s Duke Point, and Tsawwassen and Nanaimo’s Departure Bay and Horseshoe Bay sailings. BC Ferries is also cancelling sailings from 3 pm Saturday onwards between Tsawwasen and the Gulf Islands.

The third in a series of strong storms is forecast to arrive at about 3 pm this afternoon with winds and wind gusts forecast to be as strong as 100 km/hour this evening on the east side of Vancouver Island. The storm is packing powerful rain and energy from the remnants of Typhoon Songda. There have been several days of warning for this storm, as released by Environment Canada on October 11.

As for road travel on the west side of Vancouver Island, Hwy 14 in both directions is expecting to have water pooling from Port Renfrew to Colwood (95.6 km). This morning on Hwy 14 (Sooke Road) there was a car in the ditch near Gillespie Road, causing a slow-down in traffic to and from Sooke.


SD62-SOOKE-logoFriday, October 14 ~ WEST SHORE.  The Sooke School District 62 (SD62) advises parents and families that school bus registration will close for the rest of the 2016-2017 school year, as of 9pm on Monday, October 17.  More info:www.sd62.bc.ca/2016/10/13/sd62-bus-registration-closure-refunds-and-passes/

Due to a high volume of riders, the SD62 buses are at or are nearing capacity. All registration must be completed online. All registrations will be placed on a wait list. Link to online registration:www.sd62.bc.ca/about/transportation – For questions about the registration process you can email to emailbussing@sd62.bc.ca .  Those who registered outside of the registration window last spring are wait listed and may be asked to move to a different bus if the bus they currently ride is full. Riders not registered will not be allowed on the bus.

SD62 administration is aiming to have all refunds completed by October 31. Their Finance Department has processed over 1,000 refunds, but they still have nearly 1,000 more to complete. “The system was not designed to handle so many refunds at once, so there are daily limits to what we can put through for refunds,” says the school board in an online release. “As a result, you may receive more than one refund. Please continue to check your credit card and bank statements for refund notification. Our goal is to have all refunds completed by October 31. You will receive your refund via the same method you paid, so by credit card or e-cheque.”

Bus Passes are required by Middle School and Secondary School students only. Students must present their passes each time they get onto a bus. Permanent bus passes will be issued to registered riders over the next few weeks. Until then, students are to use the temporary bus passes that have been issued.  Apparently the bus drivers will be diligent in checking for these.

The school bus rider registration fee refunds have resulted for anyone who already paid the fees or set up an auto-payment arrangement ahead of September. In the summer, the BC Ministry of Education announced that funds would be available to all school boards to cover the cost of bussing for students attending schools in catchment areas. In this regard, SD62 had a few wrinkles to sort out, as many students travel to schools outside their catchment area based on overcrowded schools and course selection.

While the SD62 board determined that their 2016-2017 budget would have a $115,000 shortfall despite $358,000 coming from the BC Government, the board decided to proceed with full bus fee coverage for all students.