Vancouver Sports News

AFN candidates arrive in Vancouver for election of national chief

Vancouver Sun - Sun, 07/22/2018 - 21:33

On Wednesday, chiefs from across the country will take to the Vancouver Convention Centre to vote for the Assembly of First Nations’ next national chief.

Almost 640 chiefs or their proxies, collectively representing more than 900,000 First Nation people, will choose the next leader of Canada’s largest national Indigenous organization from within five candidates — including incumbent National Chief Perry Bellegarde, who has faced criticism from his rivals of being too close to the Trudeau government.

Throughout his campaign, Bellegarde has stressed that his work has gained momentum and is not yet done, adding that he hopes to keep building a new fiscal relationship with the Crown.

“You have to have a relationship with the policy and legislation decision makers in order to influence their thinking and as an advocate organization,” Bellegarde said. “When people say the Liberals and the AFN agendas are alike, it’s because we influence their policy platform.”

But candidate Russ Diabo, who has also been a vocal critic of the organization’s leadership, said Trudeau has not been held accountable for failing to uphold Indigenous rights, and cited the Kinder Morgan’s buyout as an example.

“He’s watered down free, prior and informed consent to just the domestic duty to consult, and same thing with buying the Kinder Morgan pipeline,” Diabo said, adding he would fundamentally restructure the AFN under his leadership.

Miles Richardson, the only candidate running from B.C., has said the Crown’s relationship with Indigenous people is “at a crisis.”

“I believe the way to change that is for us to stand up in our power and exercise and assert our rights,” said Richardson, the former president of Haida Nation.

In his campaign, Richardson has stressed that the AFN must aide each First Nation to build its own nation-to-nation relationship with Canada, in order to assert their authorities.

But the AFN’s own relationship with First Nations has not been sufficient in itself, said candidate Sheila North, grand chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak.

“We should be following their lead, so far AFN has been acting like a government, making decisions and accepting deals on their behalf without proper and full consultation of the sovereign nations,” she said.

Katherine Whitecloud, a former Manitoba regional chief for the AFN, was not available for an interview on Sunday, but has focused a part of her campaign on empowering all First Nations in their pursuit and practice of nationhood.

“When it comes to governance, it is your right to determine how you want to govern your people because you already have those in your language and you already have those understandings in your traditional knowledge,” she said at a forum in Brokenhead Ojibway Nation, broadcast by APTN.

A 60 per cent majority will be needed to secure a victory on July 25. B.C. holds the most voting power, with 200 First Nations.

bmahichi@postmedia.com

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Categories: Vancouver Sports News

Several injured in Coquihalla crash near Hope; Highway reopens southbound from Merritt after earlier collision

Vancouver Sun - Sun, 07/22/2018 - 21:30

A pair of serious crashes on the Coquihalla Highway have left several people injured and affected traffic in both directions on Sunday evening.

According to Drive BC, the northbound collision occurred at Exit 238. One person was taken to hospital via air ambulance in critical condition while four others were also transported to hospital.

BCEHS paramedics attended and cared for patients involved in two MVIs on Hwy 5 #Coquihalla.
1) South of Merritt – 1 patient transported in critical condition, by air ambulance. 4 patients transported by ground ambulance in stable condition.
2) North of Merritt – no transports

— Emerg Health Services (@BC_EHS) July 23, 2018

There is no detour available. The highway is expected to reopen around 9 p.m.

UPDATE – #BCHwy5 remains CLOSED Northbound between #HopeBC and #Merritt due to a vehicle incident, estimated time of opening is 9:00 PM #Coquihalla

— Drive BC (@DriveBC) July 23, 2018

The southbound accident occurred nine kilometres north of Merritt. No one was seriously injured in that collision. The highway has now reopened to single lane traffic in that area.

mraptis@postmedia.com

twitter.com/mike_raptis

Categories: Vancouver Sports News

Lax rules make addictions 'treatment' a fertile ground for scammers

Vancouver Sun - Sun, 07/22/2018 - 21:12

Even before William Griffith Wilson co-founded Alcoholics Anonymous in 1935, his physician explained that addiction isn’t a moral failing, it is a medical condition.

Yet, even though most of us know people in recovery, suffering from addictions or someone who has died in the current fentanyl overdose epidemic, addiction remains a largely unspoken illness.

It’s possible that the success of AA — a society that values privacy, where surnames are not used, and where strangers seek out others like them not by asking directly about AA but by asking whether anyone is a friend of Bill W. — has paradoxically contributed to the silence.

Regardless, people suffering from addictions have long been ignored by Canada’s health system. Evan Wood, the head of the B.C. Centre on Substance Use, blames a lack of leadership and governance, a failure to properly educate health care providers, and inadequate funding.

He ruefully notes that the Vancouver Detox Centre is in the old dog pound, which is a good metaphor for the shortcomings in the addictions treatment and recovery system.

“Recovery has just been off in its own world,” Wood said. “What’s missing is a continuum.”

If there is a positive outcome from the opioid overdose crisis, he said, it’s a growing awareness that the addictions treatment and recovery system is splintered, poorly regulated and provides no continuum of care.

Over the years, various levels of governments have struggled to keep people alive with harm reduction measures that include free naloxone kits, rapid response teams and overdose treatment sites.

But having rescued them, then what?

The recovery system is chronically underfunded, with residential treatment facilities among the worst off. It’s something that Addictions Minister Judy Darcy said the government is taking a look at. But there’s no money in her ministry’s budget for it. It would have to come either from the Health Ministry or the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction — both of which have other pressing needs.

“You can’t make a go of it on $30.90 a day,” says Susan Sanderson, executive director and co-founder of Surrey-based Realistic Success Recovery Society, which runs three recovery houses for men known as Trilogy House. “It’s at least $10 a day short of what we need.”

That $30.90 is the daily fee per resident that the B.C. government pays recovery house operators, who are somehow supposed to stretch that amount to cover the cost of feeding, housing and providing recovery support to addicts fresh out of detox. It hasn’t been raised in close to a decade even as housing prices have skyrocketed and the cost of living has risen.

Susan Sanderson runs Realistic Success Recovery Society House.

The financial crunch at Trilogy is self-inflicted — but in the best and most altruistic way. The society is committed to serving men just out of jail or recently plucked off the streets with no money, no jobs and no family who are willing or able to help them.

Many of B.C.’s 287 licensed and regulated recovery houses have a mix of government-funded beds and private-paid beds. For the private payers (including pilots, doctors, nurses, senior health authority staff and senior government officials with gold-plated extended health benefits), the cost can run as high as $350 a day.

To get government-paid care, addicts must prove they are destitute. They must be on social assistance with no assets and they have to have been on social assistance for a period of time before they qualify. In addition to getting residential care, these residents receive a “comfort stipend” of $95 a month.  

“Our clientele are people who were middle-class and are no longer,” Sanderson said. “Most are guys who have gone to jail because of their drug addiction — for doing B&Es (break-and-enter thefts), low-level drug selling and doing dial-a-dope, which is feeding middle- and upper-class people in their community.

“Most have had jobs in other sectors of the economy — could be accountants, worked in TV, movies on technical side, lots of different jobs.”

If there’s an empty bed, the society will take those who don’t qualify for social assistance. But Sanderson refuses to charge them more than $30.90 a day. Their families, she said, have already suffered enough because of their loved one’s behaviour. She’s not about to send them to the poorhouse as well.

Fortunately for the clientele she serves, Sanderson is a resilient and resourceful fundraiser.

The Realistic Success Recovery Society is licensed by the B.C. government, the health authority and the municipality. This means that residents live in homes that are safe and that their recovery is overseen by certified and licensed counsellors.

But in addition to an increase in government funding for residential addictions care, Sanderson wants more and better regulation as well as enforcement.

There are shady operators — unlicensed and unregulated — who are giving everyone in the field a black eye. They’re charging for services that they may or may not provide. It’s lining their pockets, but it sure isn’t helping addicts or their loved ones.

The B.C. Centre on Substance Use has made dozens of recommendations for change in its new report, Strategies to Strengthen Recovery in British Columbia: The Path Forward.

It’s recommending tough permitting and stringent standards for treatment facilities, all backed by funding for enforcement.

As for the care provided, the B.C. Centre on Substance Use recommends a mandatory certification program for recovery residence operators, templates for municipalities on zoning and licensing of these facilities, and a policy that ensures no one is transferred from a licensed and regulated facility to one that isn’t.

There’s plenty of proof that the current system isn’t working for anybody, least of all for addicts and their loved ones.

Chasing the bad

In the Wild West of British Columbia’s unregulated addictions treatment industry, municipalities have ended up playing whack-a-mole with the bad operators who are running little more than flophouses — single-room-occupancy hotels operating under the guise of treatment facilities.

Nowhere has it been as big a problem as in Surrey, which is also home to 667 of British Columbia’s 1,572 certified residential treatment beds (42 per cent) and three-quarters of those licensed by the Fraser Health region.

In Surrey, Jas Rehl’s team has become expert at spotting the telltale signs of unlicensed addictions recovery houses — closed drapes, unkempt yards and a general air of disarray.

“In 2014, there were 250 unregulated and unlicensed recovery houses and they were causing a lot of issues in every neighbourhood and not just in one pocket area. The neighbourhoods had become complete nightmares,” said Rehl, the city’s public safety manager.

Over the past four years, Surrey’s bylaw enforcement officers have shut down more than 250 of them. But, says Rehl, as soon as they shut one down, it pops up somewhere else — not always in Surrey, but perhaps in an adjacent municipality or even further afield.

At the worst of them, Rehl says it’s almost always the same scene inside.

“There are usually about 10, 12, 15 individuals. The rooms all have locks on the doors and there’ve been lots of alterations to add more rooms,” Rehl says.

“There are no supervisors. There’s a box of cereal on the table. People are left to fend for themselves. They aren’t getting help that they need. …  There’s no recovery going on in those homes. They’re using recovery as an umbrella to hide under.”

The problem is that municipalities don’t have many tools in their regulatory tool kit. But Surrey has aggressively used what it has.

Operators and property owners are fined $500 for every day they operate without a licence and another $500 for violating the zoning bylaw. They’re fined for any other violations — like too much garbage or for unsightly property. And, under the city’s nuisance abatement bylaw, every time police, firefighters or bylaw officers are called to the house, a $1,500 fee is added to the owner’s property tax bill.

Even with its aggressive enforcement, Surrey still has 10 to 15 dodgy-looking places that bylaw officers are watching closely.

Many of the unlicensed homes aren’t even safe. A recent study by Surrey’s top fire officers led by Chief Len Garis found that despite their unique characteristics and residents, recovery houses have no specific fire protection requirements. Among the study’s recommendations are that sprinkler systems be mandatory and that an in-depth study of life safety issues at recovery houses in Canada be undertaken.

Part of the reason people end up in these places is that the system is extraordinarily difficult to navigate, even for government officials. It took weeks for the provincial Addictions Ministry to respond to the Postmedia’s request for the most basic information about the number of licensed beds. The ministry had to collect the information from each of the health authorities.

There are 3,035 beds in all, including residential treatment, supportive recovery, transitional services, detox, sobering and assessment, low-barrier and supported housing. 

The health authorities have lists of licensed facilities posted on their websites. But Fraser Health’s, for example, doesn’t separate addictions treatment from hospice, long-term care, community living or homes for those with brain injuries.

The Health Ministry does have an assisted living registry link on its website, but when the Postmedia tried to use it, it returned an error message saying that the page didn’t exist.

Failure to register

The sidewalk on a quiet, residential street at the edge of a pretty park in Osoyoos is littered with cigarette butts and “snoose” tins emptied of their chewing tobacco.

The RCMP stops by frequently, checking in on the residents of a house that several months ago the Brandon Jansen Recovery Foundation said it was turning into a recovery centre.

Unsurprisingly, the neighbours are concerned about an unlicensed and unregulated recovery house operating without a business licence on land that’s zoned for single-family houses.

B.C.’s Community Care and Assisted Living Act requires centres with more than two residents to be registered. Failure to register can result in a fine of up to $10,000. The act also requires supportive housing to be licensed and inspected by the health authorities.

Neither the Brandon Jansen Foundation nor the Brandon Jansen Memorial Recovery Centre is on the assisted living registry or licensed by the Interior Health Authority. The foundation’s application was rejected in November.

“If they were regulated and registered, had regular inspections, fire inspections, why would you have worries? But they have none of that,“ says Lyle Warmington, a next-door neighbour and the last guy who would oppose a properly regulated and licensed recovery home.

Because of his family’s personal experiences with addictions treatment facilities, Warmington knows a lot about the differences between good ones and bad ones.

Osoyoos’s chief administrative officer is near his wit’s end as well. Although Barry Romanko won’t comment directly on that particular house, he says municipalities are left in a terrible situation.

Because recovery houses with fewer than three residents aren’t required to register or get permits, the municipality may not even know they exist.

“We don’t know what they’re doing,” Romanko says. “And standard of care that they get? I guess it’s buyer beware.”

dbramham@postmedia.com

Twitter: @daphnebramham

Addictions:
The real fix

Day 1: Emphasis needed on treatment/recovery

Day 2: More help needed to save young addicts

Day 3: Lax rules give scammers an opening

Day 4: Moms with kids, and other underserved addicts

Day 5: Don’t just keep them alive

Methadone is making its way onto the streets

“Free medication delivery all over Greater Vancouver.”

Pharmacist Alnazir Asaria was offering that in online ads that ran until March 2017, when the B.C. College of Pharmacists suspended him, put a reprimand letter on his file and forbade him from working as pharmacist until he passed an exam on the law.

Asaria’s offences included filling prescriptions in excess of authorized quantity, filling prescriptions after their expiry date, and filling prescriptions that were missing quantity, dose or directions.

He filled methadone prescriptions to patients without complete and signed forms and witnessed ingestion logs. He gave clients methadone pills or “carries” without a physician’s authorization. He handed out methadone without adequate documentation including lack of controlled prescription program hard copy prescription and controlled prescription program prescriptions without the patient’s signature.

And, Asaria made prescription changes without adequate rationale or documentation.

For nearly 50 years, methadone has been recommended for opioid users as a means to dampen their cravings and set them on a path to recovery. And, between 2011 and 2012, B.C. pharmacists dispensed methadone more than two million times to close to 16,000 patients. Then, as now, some of that methadone is making it to the street where it is resold.

Evan Wood, Director of the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use.

“That’s not an uncommon thing that we see in the hospital someone has overdosed on methadone that they’ve bought on the street,” Evan Wood, director of the B.C. Centre on Substance Use. He also cited a study that found methadone implicated one in four overdose deaths.

In British Columbia, Asaria was one of the largest dispensers, which is why he attracted the attention of the B.C. College of Pharmacists and the provincial Health Ministry. Together, they did an undercover investigation of 30 other pharmacists and nine pharmacies. Yee Kwok Henry Tung was also caught in the undercover investigation and was found to have put patients at risk because of his dispensing practices. In 2015, he agreed to no longer dispense methadone.

Of the others, three pharmacists were fined $15,000 each, while one was fined $5,000 and another $2,500.

Downtown Pharmacy at 348 Powell St. was permanently shut down. Native Vancouver Pharmacy at 108-50 East Hastings and its manager Mansour Djavanmard were suspended. Six pharmacies had their enrolment in Pharmacare terminated.

Because of regulations and enforcement provisions in various legislation, the good news is that pharmacists and pharmacies can be reported, investigated and disciplined. The bad news? Like all legal processes, it takes a long time and, in the interim, the misbehaviour likely continues.

By 2015, the number of times methadone was dispensed had risen to nearly three million. Between 2013 and 2015, the college received more than 130 complaints and tips about the dispensing of methadone.

Among the most serious complaints were that pharmacists were providing monetary and non-monetary inducements to attract clients, were processing prescriptions through B.C.’s computerized PharmaNet network without requiring patients to personally get their drugs, were failing to witness methadone ingestion when required by law, and, in some cases where doctors were allowing patients to take the drugs home with them, were changing prescriptions to daily dispensing, which meant higher fees for them.

The complaints led to undercover operations between 2015 and 2017 that targeted nine pharmacies. Those files are under review by the college’s inquiry committee.

During that period, another 41 pharmacies were selected for inspections based on the volume of their methadone dispensing, complaints and their geographic distribution — 13 of these inspections were in Vancouver, 10 in the Okanagan/Kootenays, five on the Sunshine Coast, four in Northern B.C. and three on Vancouver Island.

The inspections have resulted in suspensions, remedial education and pharmacy equipment improvements.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story had an incorrect date. Alcoholics Anonymous was founded  in 1935.

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Categories: Vancouver Sports News

REAL SCOOP: Police concerned about rise of the HA puppets

Vancouver Sun - Sun, 07/22/2018 - 20:14

I have written stories about so-called puppet clubs before – back in 2006 when the Outcasts and the Jesters were formed, then again in 2009 when several new ones like the Throttle Lockers and Handsome Bastards formed in the interior.

But police are saying there are more of the support organizations than ever, including at least two that have opened within the last 18 months. They are concerned the puppet clubs extend the criminal reach or the Hells Angels.

Here’s my story:

Police concerned about rise of Hells Angels puppet clubs KIM BOLAN Updated: July 22, 2018

NANAIMO — They arrived in unison, their faces covered by bandanas, and parked their Harleys in front of the old Hells Angels clubhouse here.

The patches on their backs said Los Diablos — The Devils — and featured the profile of a grim reaper with blood dripping from a fang.

Their bottom “rocker” stated their territory — the Tri-Cities.

And their presence at the invitation-only Hells Angels anniversary party this weekend established their bona fides as one of the HA’s newest puppet clubs.

Members of the Los Diablos, a puppet club of the Hell Angels, leave the Nanaimo Hell Angels’ clubhouse in Nanaimo, BC, July, 21, 2018. RICHARD LAM / PNG

B.C.’s anti-gang agency says there’s been a disturbing increase in the number of affiliated motorcycle clubs opening in B.C. with the Hells Angels’ permission.

“What we have seen is an expansion of the clubs themselves. People here on Vancouver Island will know the name Savages and the Devil’s Army — they are very high profile,” Staff Sgt. Lindsey Houghton, of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, said. “Over on the Lower Mainland there are groups like the Jesters and the Shadow Club.”

And now there is Los Diablos, currently using a local Starbucks as its clubhouse.

Diablos pulled their face coverings up higher to avoid police lenses as they entered the weekend party, attended by more than 200 bikers.

Houghton said the support clubs are dubbed puppets because the more established biker gang members are pulling the strings.

“The term couldn’t be a better term and that is their term. These guys are puppet masters in the truest sense,” Houghton said. “These are the farm teams for the Hells Angels.”

CFSEU biker experts have already seen puppet club members transfer over to become full-patch Hells Angels in recent years.

With the average age of a Hells Angel in B.C. at 49, new blood is needed, Houghton said.

“If they are going to survive, they need to replace those older members — many of them are retiring — with these younger guys,” Houghton said.

“These young guys are aggressive. They are the ones who want to make money. They don’t have the money and the stature and the reputation especially in the criminal underworld that these old guys have, having built from the early ’80s.”

Houghton said it is important for police to attend events like the anniversary party to documents associations between new puppet clubs and the Hells Angels.

Members of the Horsemen Brotherhood arrive at the Nanaimo Hell Angels’ clubhouse in Nanaimo, BC, July, 21, 2018. RICHARD LAM / PNG

Both the Devil’s Army and Langford Savages appeared to be helping with party preparations and were seen carrying in supplies. The Army, based in Campbell River, was manning the barbecue.

Also in attendance were the Throttle Lockers, from 100 Mile House, the Jesters and Shadow Club, both out of Surrey, the Horsemen Brotherhood and a few out-of-province puppet club members.

Houghton said CFSEU is tracking the puppet clubs.

“We know who they are. We watch them very closely and that’s why events like this are very important for us from an intelligence perspective,” he said. “This is an invitation-only event so you have to have some pretty significant status to get invited to this. It is a big event for the Hells Angels.”

Members of the Shadow Club, a puppet club of the Hell Angels, look at the bikes parked outside of the Nanaimo Hell Angels’ clubhouse in Nanaimo, BC, July, 21, 2018. RICHARD LAM / PNG

He said the puppet clubs have to mimic the Hells Angels in structure and rules. Not all of them survive. In recent years, the Renegades in Prince George folded after a series of arrests of members.

Hells Angels spokesman Rick Ciarniello, who attended the anniversary party, did not respond to requests for an interview.

Houghton said puppet clubs are used to protect Hells Angels members so “they are multiple degrees separated from the actual street-level distribution of drugs.”

“They do a very good job of insulating themselves. And quite frankly, that is one of the reasons why they’ve been successful. And it is a challenge for police to gather information and evidence to investigate them. Never mind the fact that people are fearful and they don’t want to come forward.”

Police stop members of the Los Diablos, a puppet club of the Hell Angels, in Nanaimo, BC, July, 21, 2018.RICHARD LAM / PNG

But they can also face risks when Hells Angels are targeted with violence and they are nearby.

“There are real consequences. Even just hanging out with them, it may seem like fun riding bikes with these guys for the weekend, but you are putting yourself at risk, you are putting your family at risk,” Houghton said. “And that’s why we are here to make sure that everyone stays safe.”

kbolan@postmedia.com

blog: vancouversun.com/tag/real-scoop

twitter.com/kbolan

Categories: Vancouver Sports News

Slide the City another wet and wild success in North Vancouver

Vancouver Sun - Sun, 07/22/2018 - 20:07

Thousands took part in Slide the City, North Vancouver’s annual waterslide party down Lower Lonsdale, on Saturday and Sunday.

It’s the fourth year that 1,000 feet of temporary water slide has run down Lower Lonsdale, this year beginning at Victoria Park at Keith Road and ending in a splash pool at Fourth Street. It has been a two-day event for the past three years.

There were 6,000 sliders and more than 100 volunteers, the city said, and perhaps as many as 4,000 onlookers.

The weather cooperated, with blue skies and highs in the mid-20s on both days.

Riding yellow inner tubes, sliders can reach speed of 15 kilometres an hour.

The City of North Vancouver came under some criticism because wheelchairs could not cross the street with thick water hoses blocking their way. The lack of handicap access had been brought up at council by a resident who lives on East 4th Street on May 28, who said last year she and her partner had to lift three wheelchairs over the hoses.

After someone tweeted about the “epic fail” on Saturday, city staff added additional runners for Sunday.

GordMcIntyre@postmedia.com

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Categories: Vancouver Sports News

Police concerned about rise of Hells Angels puppet clubs

Vancouver Sun - Sun, 07/22/2018 - 19:37

NANAIMO — They arrived in unison, their faces covered by bandanas, and parked their Harleys in front of the old Hells Angels clubhouse here.

The patches on their backs said Los Diablos — The Devils — and featured the profile of a grim reaper with blood dripping from a fang.

Their bottom “rocker” stated their territory — the Tri-Cities.

And their presence at the invitation-only Hells Angels anniversary party this weekend established their bona fides as one of the HA’s newest puppet clubs.

Members of the Los Diablos, a puppet club of the Hell Angels, leave the Nanaimo Hell Angels’ clubhouse in Nanaimo, BC, July, 21, 2018.

B.C.’s anti-gang agency says there’s been a disturbing increase in the number of affiliated motorcycle clubs opening in B.C. with the Hells Angels’ permission.

Related

“What we have seen is an expansion of the clubs themselves. People here on Vancouver Island will know the name Savages and the Devil’s Army — they are very high profile,” Staff Sgt. Lindsey Houghton, of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, said. “Over on the Lower Mainland there are groups like the Jesters and the Shadow Club.”

And now there is Los Diablos, currently using a local Starbucks as its clubhouse.

Diablos pulled their face coverings up higher to avoid police lenses as they entered the weekend party, attended by more than 200 bikers.

A members of the Los Diablos, a puppet club of the Hell Angels, leaves the Nanaimo Hell Angels’ clubhouse in Nanaimo.

Houghton said the support clubs are dubbed puppets because the more established biker gang members are pulling the strings.

“The term couldn’t be a better term and that is their term. These guys are puppet masters in the truest sense,” Houghton said. “These are the farm teams for the Hells Angels.”

CFSEU biker experts have already seen puppet club members transfer over to become full-patch Hells Angels in recent years.

With the average age of a Hells Angel in B.C. at 49, new blood is needed, Houghton said.

“If they are going to survive, they need to replace those older members — many of them are retiring — with these younger guys,” Houghton said.

“These young guys are aggressive. They are the ones who want to make money. They don’t have the money and the stature and the reputation especially in the criminal underworld that these old guys have, having built from the early ’80s.”

Houghton said it is important for police to attend events like the anniversary party to documents associations between new puppet clubs and the Hells Angels.

Members of the Horsemen Brotherhood arrive at the Nanaimo Hell Angels’ clubhouse in Nanaimo, BC, July, 21, 2018.

Both the Devil’s Army and Langford Savages appeared to be helping with party preparations and were seen carrying in supplies. The Army, based in Campbell River, was manning the barbecue.

Also in attendance were the Throttle Lockers, from 100 Mile House, the Jesters and Shadow Club, both out of Surrey, the Horsemen Brotherhood and a few out-of-province puppet club members.

Houghton said CFSEU is tracking the puppet clubs.

“We know who they are. We watch them very closely and that’s why events like this are very important for us from an intelligence perspective,” he said. “This is an invitation-only event so you have to have some pretty significant status to get invited to this. It is a big event for the Hells Angels.”

Members of the Shadow Club, a puppet club of the Hell Angels, look at the bikes parked outside of the Nanaimo Hell Angels’ clubhouse in Nanaimo, BC, July, 21, 2018.

He said the puppet clubs have to mimic the Hells Angels in structure and rules. Not all of them survive. In recent years, the Renegades in Prince George folded after a series of arrests of members.

Hells Angels spokesman Rick Ciarniello, who attended the anniversary party, did not respond to requests for an interview.

Houghton said puppet clubs are used to protect Hells Angels members so “they are multiple degrees separated from the actual street-level distribution of drugs.”

“They do a very good job of insulating themselves. And quite frankly, that is one of the reasons why they’ve been successful. And it is a challenge for police to gather information and evidence to investigate them. Never mind the fact that people are fearful and they don’t want to come forward.”

Police stop members of the Los Diablos, a puppet club of the Hell Angels, in Nanaimo, BC, July, 21, 2018.

But they can also face risks when Hells Angels are targeted with violence and they are nearby.

“There are real consequences. Even just hanging out with them, it may seem like fun riding bikes with these guys for the weekend, but you are putting yourself at risk, you are putting your family at risk,” Houghton said. “And that’s why we are here to make sure that everyone stays safe.”

Members and guests of the Hell Angels hang out on the back deck of the Nanaimo Hell Angels’ clubhouse in Nanaimo, BC, July, 21, 2018.

Related

Timeline of some events related to the Hells Angels in B.C. over the past decade:

July 13, 2009 – Four Hells Angels were convicted on a series of charges stemming from the E-Pandora investigation targeting the East End Hells Angels in Vancouver.

Aug. 14, 2011 – Hells Angel Larry Amero was seriously wounded in a targeted Kelowna shooting that left Red Scorpion Jonathan Bacon dead and two others wounded.

Hells Angel Larry Ronald Amero in file photo

Nov. 1, 2012 – Amero charged in Montreal with associates in the Wolf Pack with leading international cocaine smuggling ring.

Jan. 30, 2013 – Two Kelowna Hells Angels, Norman Cocks and Robert Thomas, pleaded guilty to manslaughter for beating Kelowna grandfather Dain Phillips to death as he attempted to resolve a dispute his sons had with some HA associates. They were sentenced to 15 years in jail.

Dec. 16, 2014 – Longtime Hells Angel Robert “Fred” Widdifield, a founding member of the Nanaimo chapter, was convicted of extortion and theft. He was later sentenced to five years.

Sept. 30, 2016 – Kelowna Hells Angel Dave Giles convicted of one count of conspiracy to import cocaine, one count of conspiracy to traffic cocaine, and one count of possession for the purpose of trafficking cocaine; James Howard was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to traffic cocaine and one count of possession for the purpose of trafficking cocaine; and Bryan Oldham and Shawn Womacks were found guilty of one count of possession for the purpose of trafficking cocaine.

Oct. 16, 2016 – High-profile Hells Angel Bob Green is found shot to death in Langley. A day later, his friend and gang associate Jason Wallace turned himself into police. He later pleaded guilty to manslaughter after telling the court his and his family’s lives were threatened after the drunken, drug-fuelled shooting.

Senior B.C. Hells Angel Bob Green.

Oct. 26, 2016 – White Rock Hells Angels prospect Mohammed Rafiq, 43, was shot in the face while driving near his Burnaby home. He survived.

March 19, 2017 – The body of Nanaimo Hells Angels prospect Michael Gregory Widner is found near Sooke, days after he was reported missing. He was murdered.

Aug. 30, 2017 – Montreal conspiracy charges stayed against Hells Angel Larry Amero due to delays in the case.

Jan. 25, 2018 – Hells Angel Larry Amero is charged with conspiracy to kill rivals Sandip Duhre and Sukh Dhak. Both were shot to death months apart in 2012. The murders are believed to have been retaliation for the 2011 Kelowna shooting.

April 23, 2018 – Civil forfeiture case begins in B.C. Supreme Court, more than a decade after the case began. It has now been adjourned until fall 2018.

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Seth Klein and Vyas Saran: Debunking a red herring: Electoral reform will not enable the far right

Vancouver Sun - Sun, 07/22/2018 - 19:00

It is now clear that a core assertion the “No” side in the electoral reform referendum will endlessly repeat in the coming months is that proportional representation should be rejected because it will enable far-right or “extremist” political parties.

It is a spurious claim.

The likelihood that we will see extreme, right-wing parties gain a foothold in our province if British Columbians choose to embrace proportional representation this fall are virtually zero.

Throughout the past century, democracies around the world have wrestled with the scourge of far-right, fascist and xenophobic political parties whose prominence tends to ebb and flow with political and economic events. Their political “success”, however, has had nothing to do with the electoral system.

No electoral system has a monopoly on either preventing or fostering far-right parties, and those advancing claims to the contrary are merely cherry-picking examples to make mischief in this referendum.

The record of First Past The Post

Our current first-past-the-post (FPTP) electoral system is actually the exception — not the norm — among democratic countries.

Most democracies employ some form of proportional representation. There are really only four democracies that exclusively use FPTP: the U.S., the U.K., India, and of course, Canada. These countries have also been more apt to elect hard-right governments with false majorities that impose radical right-wing agendas:

  • Most recently, the U.S. elected Donald Trump under a FPTP system. In that case, Trump won with less of the popular vote than his opponent Hillary Clinton. The U.S. Congress is also elected under FPTP, and the Republican Party (which currently commands majorities in both the Senate and House of Representatives) arguably has an immigration policy platform that is as, if not more, anti-immigrant than any European government;
  • The U.K. elected Margaret Thatcher with a false majority (she first won 100 per cent of the power with 44 per cent of the popular vote), the first hardcore neo-liberal government of the post-WWII era;
  • India under FPTP most recently elected the Modi government with a false majority (100 per cent of the power with 31 per cent of the popular vote), whose Hindu nationalist BJP party is seen as neo-fascist by many;
  • And then there is Canada. Our antiquated FPTP system has given false majorities to the likes of Stephen Harper, Gordon Campbell, Mike Harris, and most recently Doug Ford, all of whom received 100 per cent of the power to impose their austerity agendas.

In some cases, conservative parties elected under FPTP have quietly accommodated ultra-right elements within their big tents, granting these tendencies considerable power within our existing system (witness Trump’s inclusion of alt-right elements within his Republican government, or the Harper government’s dog-whistle appeals to anti-immigrant tendencies).

So it’s worth considering: What is better — knowing what power these far-right groups have because we can count their electoral seats and read the terms of a minority government policy program in black-and-white (as occurs under proportional representation), or having these groups lurk in the shadows of big-tent conservative parties without knowing how much political clout they wield?

This is not to suggest that FPTP inherently produces more hard-right governments. But rather, contending that FPTP will somehow save us from far-right political elements is rubbish.

What encourages the emergence of far-right parties?

The more relevant point is, historically speaking, whenever we have seen the emergence of far-right and neo-Nazi parties, it is clear they are a product not of the electoral system, but of neo-liberal policies and austerity.

This was most infamously true of Germany in the 1930s when Hitler’s National Socialist (Nazi) party capitalized on the humiliations that came with punishing economic reparations and depression after the First World War. In the 1980s, the U.K. saw an upswing in neo-Nazi movements under Thatcher’s cuts. More recently, in Greece, the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party has made political gains (winning seven per cent of the vote in 2015) in the face of punishing austerity imposed by Greece’s debt holders.

There are proportional representation countries like Austria, Hungary and Poland where far-right political parties have won disturbingly high seat counts. But these countries don’t have an electoral system problem, they have a neo-Nazi problem, or they have right-wing populist parties that would likely win regardless of the electoral system.

Some European countries are wrestling with a rise in anti-immigrant, right-wing parties. But this is driven by the largest refugee crisis since the Second World War (combined with austerity policies that leave people susceptible to scapegoating), not by the electoral system. With a few exceptions, their political systems are keeping these despicable parties at bay. For example, in the Netherlands, Geert Wilders’ far-right Party of Freedom came in second in their most-recent election, but the other parties have joined forces to keep it sidelined.

Politics and platforms matter much more than electoral systems when it comes to scuttling the far-right.

Nothing to fear in B.C.

So where does this leave us in B.C. as we decide what electoral system to embrace?

First, we really have nothing to fear.

This choice will not determine if our politics are about to be taken over by far-right or other extremist elements. If B.C.’s political culture has managed to avoid neo-Nazi and other radical fringe parties — which it thankfully has — that’s not going to suddenly change if we choose a new electoral system.

Second, with the three proportional representation options that will be on the ballot this fall, the new system will require that a party receive at least five per cent of the vote province-wide to be able to win a seat. This minimum threshold provides a safeguard against fringe parties getting into the legislature.

So there is no need to vote from a place of fear this fall. Vote for what you want. And then liberate yourself to vote your conscience from then on.

Seth Klein is director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives office in B.C.; Vyas Saran is a law student and the 2018 Rosenbluth Intern in Policy Research at the CCPA-BC.

Categories: Vancouver Sports News

Debate over appropriateness of cannabis down on farm

Vancouver Sun - Sun, 07/22/2018 - 18:07

Cannabis is likely to be a cash cow for companies angling to get in on the business and it’s looking more likely that it will also be a full-on, agricultural-crop opportunity for farmers once recreational weed is legalized in October.

Existing licensed cannabis growers have already bought into large greenhouse operations to ramp-up production, but federal regulations approved with the Cannabis Act that allow for outdoor cultivation opens new potential opportunities for farmers.

“There are some who see (cannabis) as a great opportunity and some who see it with a lot of concern,” said Reg Ens, executive director of the B.C. Agriculture Council, the province’s main farming lobby group.

However, if cannabis as a plant is going to be a legal product, Ens said the council’s take is that “farmers should have the choice to grow or raise that product on their farms.”

Where cannabis might fit under Canadian agricultural support programs made it onto the agenda of the annual meeting of federal, provincial and territorial agriculture ministers last week in Vancouver.

“It’s important to recognize that cannabis is an agricultural product like any other agricultural product,” said federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay Friday at the close of the Vancouver meeting.

And farmers will even be eligible for support for cannabis cultivation under the $3-billion Canadian Agricultural Partnership, though B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham said marijuana growers wouldn’t qualify for parts of that program related to backing business risks for farmers.

“There may be supports coming from our own province, but we really haven’t landed on that yet,” Popham said.

Outdoor cultivation is one way to introduce less-expensive cannabis for the recreational market, said Deepak Anand, vice-president of business development and government relations for the consulting firm Cannabis Compliance.

“It would be significantly cheaper,” said Anand, if growers don’t have to factor in building indoor facilities, “but keep in mind security, which is the biggest cost, still applies.”

The prospect, however, raises concerns about food security, that higher-value cannabis production would displace lower-value food crops and drive up already expensive agricultural land prices, particularly in B.C.

The Union of B.C. Municipalities, through a resolution, sought a moratorium on new proposals to grow cannabis on agricultural land and a comprehensive review on potential impacts on the Agricultural Land Reserve.

The province, July 13, responded with a change to its rules giving local governments and First Nations the authority to prohibit new concrete-floored, industrial-style cannabis facilities on ALR land in their communities.

However, the regulation change specifies that growing cannabis in the ALR “cannot be prohibited if grown lawfully” in an open field, a structure with a soil base or a facility that was legally permitted before July 13.

“It’s clear that (outdoor cultivation) is contemplated,” said Agricultural Land Commission CEO Kim Grout.

Grout said farmers have brought a lot of questions to the ALC since the regulation change was announced, but said she, the commission’s legal counsel and government are still working out the answers.

“It’s a good first step,” Delta Mayor Lois Jackson said about B.C.’s regulatory change, “but I’m still pretty concerned about displacement, even on open land.”

If a farmer wants to buy four hectares to expand a potato field, Jackson said it would be hard to stay in the bidding with a cannabis grower who has deeper pockets.

“Pretty soon you don’t have any farmers left growing anything,” she said.

To her, the step seemed to be another case of leaving the responsibility for sorting out issues related to legalizing recreational cannabis to municipalities and First Nations.

“Is growing pot more important or is being able to feed ourselves with the best land we’ve got?” Jackson said.

The Senate’s standing committee on agriculture and forestry voiced a similar concern in its consideration of the federal legislation.

“It is another loss of cropland in a long history of development in Canada,” said Diane Griffin, a senator from P.E.I. and chairwoman of the committee.

Ens cautioned that cannabis isn’t an open opportunity. From licensing to abiding by tight security requirements, it’s a heavily regulated product.

However, Ens said farmers grow other non-food-related crops, such as Christmas trees or other flowers, and cannabis would just be another product that can be worked into a producer’s business model.

“We definitely expect regulations to evolve over time,” Ens said. “It’s going to be a push-pull as we figure out what’s reasonable and what allows the business side (of cannabis production) to operate in a way that’s respectful to neighbours and creates opportunities to utilize farmland for society.”

Existing growers, however, don’t expect a huge demand for outdoor-grown cannabis because matching the quality indoor growers have achieved will be more difficult in a less-controlled environment, according to the industry association that represents major producers.

“I do not believe we will see endless fields of cannabis replacing other crops,” said Allan Rewak, executive director of the Cannabis Council of Canada.

The council’s members are the existing, licensed growers that have invested millions of dollars in large indoor facilities, so Rewak said the group remains “relatively agnostic” about the idea of allowing cannabis to be cultivated outdoors.

Their big concerns include cross-contamination by agricultural pesticides and maintaining the security of outdoor crops, Rewak said.

However, Anand said Canadian farmers should have the opportunity to grow a higher-value crop.

“From an industry perspective, we’d like to see cannabis be able to be grown on farmland,” Anand said. “It can and should be.”

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Categories: Vancouver Sports News

Carr wants green roofs made mandatory on new buildings in Vancouver

Vancouver Sun - Sun, 07/22/2018 - 16:46

Vancouver city staff will be asked at Tuesday’s council meeting to come up with a policy to make green roofs mandatory on new buildings.

Coun. Adriane Carr’s motion would apply to new commercial, institutional, industrial and multi-family residential developments, and renovations to older similar buildings.

Carr, who has been lobbying for such a bylaw for years, said the motion fits with the city’s new Rain City Strategy.

“I’ve been raising this for the last seven years,” Carr said.“With the increased storms and rain coming to Vancouver because of climate change, there will be a burden on our discharge system.”

Wetter winters, hotter and drier summers and more extreme rainstorms have been predicted by climate-change models, and Vancouver’s infrastructure was not built to accommodate those extremes, she said.

Toronto introduced a green-roof bylaw in 2009. Cities such as San Francisco and Copenhagen also have green-roof bylaws.

The Vancouver Convention Centre’s green roof, completed in 2008, is the largest in Canada at 2.4 hectares. It reduces the heat inside by 95 per cent in summer and prevents 26 per cent of heat loss in winter, according to greenroofs.com.

Simon Fraser University’s Burnaby campus also has many green roofs.

The benefits of a living roof are many.

According to BCIT’s Centre for Architectural Ecology, a green roof retains 28 per cent of storm water and cleans what run-off there is; is energy efficient because it regulates indoor temperature; improves air quality by decreasing greenhouse gas emissions; reduces heat islands over urban centres (temperatures in urban cores can be three to five degrees warmer than rural and suburban areas); serves as habitat for birds, bees and butterflies; and lasts twice as long as conventional roofs.

A living roof can also be used for social space or urban agriculture.

“With more congestion, more density, people talk about quality of life in the city,” Carr said.

“Access to green space is very important and roofs are very under-utilized. For anyone living or working in a building with a green roof, it’s an incredible asset.”

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Soaring temperatures and high winds could worsen fires in B.C.’s southern Interior

Vancouver Sun - Sun, 07/22/2018 - 16:19

KELOWNA — Warm temperatures and gusty winds in the forecast could spell trouble for crews fighting wildfires in the southern Interior.

Environment Canada’s forecast for the Okanagan calls temperatures in the 30s and winds gusting over 40 kilometres per hour.

“What we don’t want to see is intense heat, direct sun, heavy winds … all of which could be in store starting as early as Monday,” said Jason Luciw with the Central Okanagan Emergency Operations Centre in Kelowna.

He said lower weekend temperatures with cloud coverage and calmer winds helped contain the growth of a fire near Mount Eneas, between Summerland and Peachland, to around 13.74 square kilometres, and cleared out much of the smoke seen in the area on Saturday.

B.C. Wildfire Service chief fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek said the weather outlook is problematic for the Interior — including unpredictable lightning strikes.

“Not only are we thinking that our existing fires are probably going to flare up a bit … but we are also bracing for the potential that a lot of new fires could start with that lightning,” he said.

Summerland Mayor Peter Waterman said no properties had been reported as damaged or destroyed by the Mount Eneas fire as of Sunday, and he was happy with the co-ordinated efforts of the wildfire service and local fire departments throughout the Interior.

“I’m quite pleased with the amount of people on this particular fire. It looks like they’re really aggressively going after it,” he said.

He added that the smoke in the area around Summerland had largely blown off by Sunday.

“I was out for about an hour-and-a-quarter bike ride early this morning, and you can smell it, but that’s about all.”

Waterman said that across Okanagan Lake from Summerland, the village of Naramata was dealing with two fires. Regional District Chair Karla Kozakevich, who represents Naramata, confirmed both are under control.

Kozakevich said while they are concerned about a fire in the Glenfir area of her district, the Naramata volunteer fire department and others have kept the blaze away from homes.

“We think all the homeowners there should be fine,” said Kozakevich.

She said residents always have concerns about tourism in the area when natural disasters such as wildfires and floods break out, but she wanted to reassure potential vacationers they will be safe and welcome.

“This is not impacting businesses, the wineries, even the residents — it looks like they will all be OK,” Kozakevich said.

There is currently an air quality advisory issued for many areas in the South Okanagan. For more information see: https://t.co/BWqetNxYER

— RDOS EOC (@EmergMgtRDOS) July 22, 2018

Along with the 35 properties already facing evacuation orders in the area, another 890 properties were on evacuation alert between the Central Okanagan and Okanagan-Similkameen regional districts, meaning residents may have to leave at a moment’s notice.

UPDATE: Burn operations may be conducted on the Mt. Eneas #BCwildfire, ~4km south of Peachland to decrease fire perimeter and bring the fire to workable, safe terrain for ground crew. A test burn will determine if the operation will go ahead. Increased smoke may be visible. pic.twitter.com/nEzz3dcfVu

— BC Wildfire Service (@BCGovFireInfo) July 22, 2018

The B.C. Wildfire Service also planned to conduct burn operations to merge the Mount Eneas wildfire and the nearby Munro Creek FSR fire. The result is that there will be decreased fire perimeter to be managed and will bring the wildfire off steep slopes and onto stable terrain for ground crews.

On Sunday morning, Environment Canada issued a special air quality statement for the southern Interior. Smoke from the wildfires is causing poor air quality and reduced visibility in the East Kootenay, East Columbia, Boundary, Central Okanagan and South Okanagan.

Those who experience difficulties breathing should stay indoors where it is cool and ventilated.

— With files from Postmedia

Categories: Vancouver Sports News

The Home Front: Maximizing urban gardens

Vancouver Sun - Sat, 07/21/2018 - 06:48

In dense urban areas in Canada and the U.S., homeowners are maximizing small outdoor living areas through clever design, says Joe Raboine, who has specialized in outdoor design and construction for over 18 years and now oversees the internal design department for hardscape company Belgard.

“A lot of retirees and empty nesters are moving into these areas,” Raboine says. “They’ve had these large suburban yards and want to do things like garden in their outdoor living spaces.”

It’s amazing what can be achieved in small spaces, he adds.

“A lot of urban yards are 300 or 400 square feet,” he says. “It’s just thinking differently about how that space is being used. On a suburban lot, you might have separate areas for cooking and dining and a fireplace or sitting and conversation area, and in these urban environments you can accomplish all these things with clever design.”

Green walls have been a huge trend in home design over the past five years and now vertical gardens are surging in popularity, he says.

“There’s lots of opportunities to integrate raised beds and planters and also make them functional seating wise,” he says. “So you could have one adjacent to a fire pit, for example, and then vertically. A lot of the time you’re able to go up six or eight feet, creating these vertical gardens that are essentially comprised of, let’s say, three to five horizontal troughs that could be any size or depth.”

Like all smart small-space design, vertical gardens work well in these spaces because they’re multifunctional, Raboine says.

“You’re able to grow a tremendous variety of herbs and peppers and tomatoes,” he says, “but they also creates a privacy screen, so there’s just different ways to think about design that can really accomplish a lot in a small space.”

Vertical gardens are also in sync with the whole farm-to-table food movement, says Raboine.

“You need some fresh basil, you just reach over and grab it and add it to your cooking.”

Vertical gardens will dry out faster than regular garden beds because they can be exposed to more sun and wind. Raboine recommends installing simple drip irrigation systems if you’re someone who travels a lot or lacks the time required to tend to a garden.

“You have it set up on a timer,” he says. “And these systems are fairly inexpensive to incorporate if you’re building out a space.”

Sustainability is increasingly front of mind in urban garden design, and it’s reflected in the products used and plants chosen, he adds.

“I don’t know if it’s just a general awareness, or driven by millennials but there’s definitely an interest in sustainability, and you can do it on a lot of different levels.”

Water management is the first place Raboine starts. Belgard produces lines of paving bricks that absorb all the water that lands on them, allowing it to seep back into the ground instead of running into storm drains.

People are also thinking more sustainably when it comes to the plants they’re choosing for their urban gardens.

“There’s definitely a shift away from just ornamental plants to native plants that are drought-tolerant and obviously evolved in those areas to withstand the sun and wind and are beneficial to the local pollinators, which are in decline in a lot of these areas — bees, and butterflies and things,” he says.

“And on top of that, the whole organic slow food movement ties into vertical gardens, because it’s like ‘hey if we’re going to plant something, why don’t we plant something we can eat or that benefits local wildlife.’ I think all these things are tremendously positive as a whole.”

Related

 

 

Categories: Vancouver Sports News

Luxia at Yorkson a fit for its Langley neighbourhood

Vancouver Sun - Sat, 07/21/2018 - 06:43

As Langley’s Willoughby Town Centre continues to grow, Luxia at Yorkson, a new townhouse development in the area, will relate to those surroundings and contribute to the identity of the emerging neighborhood, says project architect Maciej Dembek of Barnett Dembek Architects.

“The townhouse units along the perimeter [of the site] are designed to create a pedestrian streetscape and relate to their surroundings. We want to be part of the new town centre and help create the identity of the area,” Dembek.

The 138 three-bedroom townhouse development will be built on a 5.44-acre site at 7947 – 209 Street. Situated at the top of a gradual crest, Luxia at Yorkson will allow residents to enjoy views of the North Shore mountains, Dembek adds.

The architectural style of the development is modern with West Coast-inspired building materials including wood features and soffits, plus red, blue and sage-green cementitious panels.

“The panels give a colour punch against the more neutral walls,” he adds.

Inside, Natalia Kwasnicki, interior designer at Portico Design Group, has created a warm, sophisticated look.

Luxia at Yorkson is a project from Isle of Mann and Pollyco Group in Langley. [PNG Merlin Archive]

“The design is contemporary with smooth finishes and bold woods, but also maintains [some] traditional influences like the tiling in the kitchen and main bathroom, keeping in tune with the location. It’s welcoming and inviting, but also very polished and clean,” she says.

Homebuyers can choose from two colour palettes, Elm and Urban. At the sales centre at 180 — 20780 Willoughby Town Centre Drive, the lighter finishes of the Urban scheme can be seen in the two spaces – a kitchen and ensuite bathroom – built to showcase the interiors.

On the back wall of the kitchen, the stainless-steel slide-in 30-inch five-burner convection gas range and the refrigerator with french doors are by KitchenAid. The two-tone kitchen cabinetry has flat-panel wood-laminate lower cabinets and white matte uppers, while the elongated hexagon-shaped ceramic tile backsplash and the white quartz countertops enhance the roomy ambience of the space.

The backsplash is Kwasnicki’s favourite design element in the interiors.

Luxia at Yorkson is a project from Isle of Mann and Pollyco Group in Langley. [PNG Merlin Archive]

“The tile work is a lovely contemporary twist on a traditional style of backsplash, different [to] what you typically see, both in shape and orientation, which makes it feel modern and fresh,” she says.

At the sales centre, the kitchen island’s 36-inch wide quartz countertop includes an 11-inch overhang, providing plenty of space to comfortably accommodate four kitchen stools. The island also hosts an undermount stainless steel double sink with a pull-down Grohe faucet and the dishwasher and microwave in addition to storage space. The size of the islands in the development will vary according to floor plans, but most are between six and seven feet long.

Laminate floors (Nordic Oak Forged Iron or Nordic Oak Solitaire) throughout the kitchen, dining and living areas visually connect the spaces that will also benefit from great natural light through windows and sliding glass doors to the outside patio.

Neutral-coloured carpeting is soft underfoot on the upper floor and in the bedrooms.

In the ensuite bathroom at the presentation centre, a floating vanity with double sinks in a white quartz countertop and the frameless shower enclosure gives the space an airy quality. The chrome Grohe faucets and shower fixtures add a little sparkle while two full-height nine-inch-wide vertical strips of penny tile in the corner of the shower adds a custom touch.

At Luxia at Yorkson, all floor plans include a powder room on the ground floor. While the powder rooms feature quartz countertops and Grohe faucets, the floor tiles are laid in a herringbone pattern, another custom detail designed to enhance the overall interior design of the homes that range in size from 1,443 to 1,897 square feet.

Each townhouse has a patio off the main floor and master bedroom and a front yard. Most homes also have a backyard. The homes that don’t include a second ground-level outdoor space have another sought-after feature instead: a large rooftop patio.

Dembek acknowledges these rooftop spaces are among his favourite features in the development.

“The rooftop gardens will be delightful. They have open and covered areas and have two-by-two [foot] pavers,” he says, adding that homeowners can add planters, outdoor furniture and other accessories to suit their lifestyle.

The development has a central pedestrian spine with children’s play area and outdoor seating, plus the two-storey amenities building that comprises a fitness centre and billiards and games room.

“The [design of] the amenity building developed out of the linear pattern of the pedestrian space. The landscape architect laid out parallel lines of planting, and pavement and pavement patterns, and we wrapped the building with that linear pattern and incorporated the entire colour scheme – the wood, and the blue, red and green – and made the amenity building,” says Dembek.

Location is always important and Luxia at Yorkson is conveniently situated close to Willoughby Town Centre with its array of shops and services. It is also close to schools, restaurants, banks, the Colossus Cineplex and sports facilities like Redwoods Golf Course and Belmont Golf Course. The Walnut Grove Community Centre and the Langley Events Centre are also nearby.

All the townhouses have a ground-level double garage and a storage area.

Luxia at Yorkson

Project address: 7947 209th Street

Project city: Langley

Developer: Isle of Mann and Pollyco Group

Architect: Barnett Dembek

Interior designer: Portico Design Group

Project size: 138 three-bedroom townhouses

Unit size: 1,443 to 1,897 square feet

Price: from $639,900

Construction: Construction is underway, with the first homes are estimated to be completed this fall
Sales centre: 180 — 20780 Willoughby Town Centre Drive, Langley
Sales centre hours: noon — 5 p.m., Sat — Thurs
Phone: 604-318-0328
Website: luxialiving.ca

 

 

 

Categories: Vancouver Sports News

Industry and conservationists square off over B.C.'s Howe Sound

Vancouver Sun - Sat, 07/21/2018 - 04:00

In some parts of the world, the island-studded fiord called Howe Sound would have been locked up as a national park long ago, given its astounding natural beauty on the edge of a metropolis of more than 2.5-million people.

It’s a special place where steep-sided mountains plunge almost 300 metres into glacier-fed waters that are home to a wide range of marine life, including salmon, herring, whales, dolphins, porpoises, and fragile glass-sponge reefs.

But full protection is not what happened to Howe Sound.

Industry indelibly made its mark on the shoreline in 1904, with the opening of the Britannia mine, toasted as the “largest copper mine in the British Commonwealth.” The mine closed in 1974. But it lives on today as a national historic site and tourist attraction clinging to a hillside and as a continuing source of so much pollution that a treatment facility had to be built in 2006, with a budget of $3 million a year to remove an average of 226,000 kilograms of heavy metal contaminants each year.

Over the decades, industry continued to come and go in the sound, including the Western Forest Products Woodfibre pulp mill, closed in 2006, on the same site where B.C. Sulphite Fibre Company began operations in 1912.

The place remains a contamination nightmare.

The list of nasties includes lead paint, asbestos, an old landfill that needs to be capped and closed, and some 3,000 creosote pilings that must be removed without stirring up old contaminants lurking in sediments on the ocean bottom.

Old creosote-soaked pilings that will have to removed as Woodfibre LNG takes over the old Woodfibre pulp mill site.

“A lot of crap,” confirms Byng Giraud, who is managing construction of the proposed $1.6-billion Woodfibre liquefied natural gas facility on the old pulp grounds that would ship out 2.1 million tonnes of product per year. “You need deep pockets to take over one of these old abandoned sites. We’ve inherited all those liabilities.”

The other major industrial development gearing up along Howe Sound is the Burnco Rock Products Ltd. gravel mine at McNab Creek, a salmon spawning stream. The company promises to enhance the site to create better habitat for salmon.

Residents fiercely protective of 44-kilometre-long Howe Sound are tired of fighting one industrial project after another, but they aren’t giving up.

“We go from defeat to defeat with undiminished enthusiasm,” said Eoin Finn, co-founder of the citizens’ group My Sea to Sky.

WILL INDUSTRY THREATEN ECOLOGICAL RESURGENCE?

The closure of Woodfibre pulp mill and opening of the Britannia treatment facility, along with herring habitat improvements by the community, are considered largely responsible for an ecological re-awakening of the sound at all levels of the food chain. Salmon have even found their way back to Britannia Creek to spawn.

A kayaker on scenic Howe Sound.

The fear is that these environmental gains are now threatened by industry’s hand.

Finn is a retired partner with KPMG who lives in Kitsilano but has a property on Boyer Island, between Lions Bay and Horseshoe Bay. He would like to see Howe Sound declared a no-go zone for industry, and reserve the fiord for nature and the recreational enjoyment of people. The sound could be managed collectively by local municipal governments, with senior governments compensating industry for lost opportunities, he suggested.

“It’s the re-industrialization of Howe Sound,” he complained. “It’s not just NIMBY. This is a resource that all of Vancouver enjoys and the people who live up and down the sound use. They have a right not to have it re-industrialized.”

More motorists, including tourists taking side trips from Vancouver to Squamish and Whistler, are using the corridor all the time.

According to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, traffic on the Sea to Sky Highway has increased 24 per cent — a daily average of 19,000 vehicle trips through Lions Bay and Squamish and 10,000 through Whistler — since 2009 when the province completed $600 million in highway improvements for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Industry has different thoughts.

During a Postmedia News tour of the Woodfibre site, Giraud argued that industrial operations have a long history in Howe Sound and that liquefied natural gas has a good environmental track record internationally. This particular project will operate on hydroelectricity from B.C. Hydro and on is an isolated stretch of the sound seven kilometres from downtown Squamish.

Old equipment at the defunct Woodfibre pulp mill, where construction on an LNG plan is to begin next year.

Unlike its pulp mill predecessor, the LNG plant also won’t be pumping pollutants into the sound.

Giraud notes that the presence of industrial activities in Burrard Inlet has not diminished Vancouver’s lure as a global tourist destination, evidence that industry and environment can work together. “I was born and raised in this province. There are lots of special and important places, but I don’t think industry and tourism and special places are incompatible.”

The project is predicted to employ about 100 workers during operation at salaries of about $100,000 a year. Some prospective employees already showing interest in a 1,000-unit housing development proposed for Britannia, right across the sound from the mine. Residential development is also being proposed for Furry Creek, a 10-minute drive south on Highway 99.

The Woodfibre LNG project is headed by Singapore billionaire Sukanto Tanoto of Royal Golden Eagle, a man with a checkered environmental record in Asia, including pulp operations accused by Greenpeace of destroying Indonesian rainforests.

“This is not the sort of character you’d invite to be your neighbour,” Finn said. “We certainly don’t in a place like Howe Sound.”

Giraud responds that this is Canada, and Woodfibre LNG commits to meet or beat environmental requirements for its operation.

LNG accidents do happen. In 2017, a contractor was injured during a fire at a refrigerant line at a FortisBC LNG facility on Tilbury Island in Delta. In March 2014, six workers were injured in an explosion at the Williams Northwest Pipeline facility in Plymouth, Wash. Police said it was a miracle no one died as 100-plus-kilogram pieces of steel were tossed close to 100 metres.

Canoeists head out on Howe Sound, a fiord beloved of nature seekers … and industry.

Critics fear that a fiery explosion at Woodfibre LNG might spark a major forest fire, with a potentially worse disaster at sea. “The consequences would be massive,” Finn said. “You’d toast Howe Sound.”

Woodfibre LNG hopes to break ground next year on a four-year construction project. KBR, an engineering and construction firm based in Houston, Texas, is expected to provide a detailed cost estimate of the project soon.

A rebound in LNG prices recently makes Woodfibre more optimistic about its operation, which would ship out three or four laden LNG tankers a month, with tug escorts to the open ocean, to Japan and China. 

Shipping in Howe Sound is not without risks. A barge sank in Howe Sound near Port Mellon in early 2018, and a fuel tank on board leaked up to 200 litres of diesel fuel into the sound.

The Squamish Nation OKed Woodfibre LNG with 25 conditions, including that the plant be air-cooled, not water-cooled, and that an economic benefit agreement be reached. The company continues to work to resolve outstanding issues.

For a perspective on vessel traffic in Howe Sound: Squamish Terminals, which sustained major damage in a waterfront fire in 2015, receives about five cargo ships a month, mostly carrying less incendiary products such as wood pulp and steel products.

Additional shipping, however, affects whales buy raising the potential for ship strikes and by increasing underwater noise levels.

HOWE SOUND, B.C.: July 17, 2018 — Undated scenic photos of Howe Sound. For Larry Pynn story on the Howe Sound. Photo credit: Tim Turner [PNG Merlin Archive]

MINING SALMON HABITAT

At the Burnco site, south of Woodfibre, a family-owned Calgary company plans to start dredging McNab Creek next year.  The site is on about 70 hectares of private land and would operate for 16 years at a maximum production of 1.6 million tonnes a year. The project will include a barge-loading site to move gravel to company operations in Langley and Burnaby.

Earlier this year, B.C.’s Environmental Assessment Office supported the project despite “direct impacts from the permanent loss of fish and wildlife habitat, and some uncertainties about the time it may take for migration and offsetting to become effective.”

Critics say it’s just another example of a flawed environmental process, one that inevitably favours industry.

The 16-megawatt Box Canyon Creek run-of-river hydroelectric project — about 10 kilometres from Port Mellon pulp mill near Gibsons, the last remaining such operation in the sound — went ahead without a full environmental assessment because it was not large enough to require one. The Elemental Energy Inc. project, partnered with Squamish First Nation, launched in 2016.

The Burnco fish mitigation plan calls for a net gain of more than 700 square metres of in-stream habitat and 21,209 square metres of riparian habitat to the south of the mine site.

While supporting the project, the Environmental Assessment Office noted: “Socio-economic impacts would be most noticeable in areas adjacent to the mine, where a number of effects may occur concurrently, such as changes to air quality, noise levels, visual quality and real estate values.”

Critics sympathize with the owners of about 17 nearby recreational homes who came here for the peace and beauty. “It’s angered a lot of people,” Finn said. “Given how rich the B.C. coastline is in gravel deposits, why do they have to dig up a salmon bearing stream?”

Derek Holmes, B.C. land and resource manager for Burnco, said McNab Creek has several attractive attributes, including proximity to markets. “There are relatively few neighbours, it looks like it has the quality of sand and gravel deposits required for concrete, asphalt and general construction, and it seems large enough to be economically viable.

“It’s easy to say no to everything, and gravel seems to be one of those hot topics, but I don’t think people realize how much they use gravel, and how ubiquitous it is in our society. I’m curious to know how people … think you can do construction without it. Nobody wants it close to where they live or recreate. It’s a tough balance.”

Finn doesn’t toss a wet blanket on all industrial operations. He believes logging practices have come a long way, employing smaller and more creative clearcuts that help to protect viewscapes. “It’s a renewable resource and it’s improved greatly,” he said, adding that  “logging is an industry that’s been part of the B.C. coast for a long time.”

Logging operations can also hurt the marine environment.

Environment Canada guidelines on log storage and handling warn such operations can cause local environmental damage if wood waste, such as bark and chips, get into the water. They can smother water plants, benthic invertebrates and fish eggs and also reduce the living space for juvenile fish.

Work is underway to document important marine sites that could be damaged by development.

Willem Van Riet, a spatial analyst for the David Suzuki Foundation, is working with the Vancouver Aquarium’s Coastal Ocean Research Institute on a conservation assessment, a reference guide to the most important and vulnerable sites in the sound.

Started in June 2017, the assessment is scheduled for completion this September. “We want to identify ecologically unique areas, then lobby for their protection” Riet said. The results will be available online.

Ecological features include plant communities (kelp, eel grass and seaweed), important areas for marine life (fish, birds, mammals, invertebrates and reptiles), the physical environment (bathymetry, seabed classification, tides and currents), and marine use and activities (traditional uses and value, recreation, leases and harvesting).

A kite surfer off the Squamish Spit.

Closer to Squamish, industrial impacts assume an unlikely face.

The Squamish Spit, a long dike or “training dike” created for a coal port that never happened in the 1970s, is a popular area for wind sports. Reconfiguration of the dike, including a bridge, is under discussion to improve the area for juvenile salmon between the Squamish River and Squamish estuary, with a new access point for wind sports.

The Squamish River Watershed Society has received about $1.5 million from the federal Oceans Protection Plan, said Randall Lewis, environmental adviser for the Squamish First Nation. Currently, juvenile salmon coming down the Squamish River are shot out into the salt water rather than adjusting slowly to salt-water life in the estuary. “The main objective is the health and safety of the young fry — that’s number 1,” Lewis said.

A NEW SUSTAINABLE VISION

One might think there is no common ground to be found between conservationists and industry — but that’s not entirely true.

Ruth Simons, a former Lions Bay councillor who heads the Future of Howe Sound Society, says it’s time for a new way of thinking, a holistic approach that considers cumulative impacts — a big-picture view, starting now and into the future.

One option is to officially designate Howe Sound a UNESCO biosphere reserve, similar to Clayoquot Sound and Mount Arrowsmith, both on Vancouver Island. Planning has been going on for two years, with the aim of submitting the official nomination in 2018.

UNESCO says that a biosphere reserve, in part, “promotes solutions reconciling the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use” and includes “conflict prevention and management of biodiversity.”

The label cannot block development — that isn’t Simons’ goal — but it would set a tone for sustainability, letting industry and anyone who seeks to develop  know that they are entering a special area that requires extra attention.

“It would support more research and education,” adds Simons, who regularly patrols the sound in her eight-metre power boat. “And anyone who came here would have an indication of what to expect.”

Giraud says he could live with the designation, noting that sustainable logging continues in Clayoquot Sound. “A biosphere in not a park,” he said. “We feel we could be compatible.”

B.C.’s Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development is completing assessment reports on the cumulative effects of human activities on different natural resources around Howe Sound: aquatic ecosystems, visual-quality old-growth forests, forest biodiversity, grizzly bears, Roosevelt elk, and marbled murrelets. 

The reports are due for release this fall, and will likely set off a new debate on the future of Howe Sound.

lpynn@postmedia.com

Categories: Vancouver Sports News

Live: Kim Bolan covers the Hells Angels' 35th anniversary party in Nanaimo

Vancouver Sun - Sat, 07/21/2018 - 00:46

Crime reporter Kim Bolan is in Nanaimo to cover the 35th anniversary of the first Hells Angels chapters in B.C. She will be live-tweeting events Friday and Saturday.

Read her feature here, and follow her live updates below:

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Categories: Vancouver Sports News

Seven plucked from sinking fishing boat by nearby boaters in Pender Harbour

Vancouver Sun - Fri, 07/20/2018 - 23:34

A pleasure boat swooped in to rescue seven people on board a nearby sports fishing boat that was taking on water early Friday evening.

The 31-foot fishing boat was west of Pender Harbour when a mayday call was issued via radio at 5:20 p.m., reporting that the vessel was taking on water.

The Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre said rescue vessels from Powell River and Pender Harbour were dispatched.

About two minutes after the mayday broadcast went out, another pleasure boat in the area heard it and took all seven people on board, “just before the boat rolled over,” said marine search-and-rescue co-ordinator Dylan Carter.

The rescued boaters were taken into Pender Harbour.

The owner of the capsized boat arranged to have a salvage company retrieve the vessel, which did not sink, Carter said.

Read more Island news at timescolonist.com

Categories: Vancouver Sports News

IHIT called in after 32-year-old man found dead in Abbotsford

Vancouver Sun - Fri, 07/20/2018 - 22:31

A 32-year-old man was found dead inside his Abbotsford home Friday afternoon and police have confirmed he was a homicide victim.

The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team identified the victim as Sukhpreet Grewal, who was found in his home in the 3100-block Consort Court.

Abbotsford police said no one else was in the home when officers arrived.

According to reports earlier Friday, police taped off a residential area south of Maclure Park and homicide investigators were called in.

IHIT spokesman Cpl. Frank Jang identified Grewal later Friday night, noting he was known to police and that investigators don’t think the murder was random.

Anyone with information is asked to call the IHIT information line at 1-877-551-4448, or email ihitinfo@rcmp-grc.gc.ca. Those who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

This is the second time IHIT has been called to Abbotsford this month. On July 3, investigators took over a criminal investigation after a man was fatally shot on Canada Day. That shooting is believed to be an isolated incident, IHIT said.

Categories: Vancouver Sports News

North Vancouver man faces mischief charges after sending sex doll airborne

Vancouver Sun - Fri, 07/20/2018 - 22:20

A 19-year-old North Vancouver man was arrested earlier this week for sending a blow-up doll airborne into Vancouver Harbour flight paths earlier this month.

Just after 8 p.m. on July 3, West Vancouver police say one of their officers spotted two men on Ambleside Beach with 10 large helium balloons tethered to an adult-sized and adult-shaped inflatable.

 

After one of the men released the dirty dirigible, it floated several hundred metres into the air west of Lions Gate Bridge, prompting the police to report the incident to Transport Canada and the Civil Aviation Branch.

The officer believed the flying sex doll posed a hazard to seaplanes flying in and out of the harbour.

An immediate alert was issued for all aircraft in the area.

“The officer determined the balloon release was part of a video project,” said West Vancouver police Const. Jeff Palmer. “The pair was detained under the Aeronautics Act and a camera and cellphone being used to videotape the proceeding were seized.”

A YouTuber who broadcasts as BrodieTV took credit for the stunt on Twitter.

A censored Tweet from BrodieTV.

 

The two men were later released pending further investigation and their camera and cellphone were returned.

A video card remains under seizure.

One of the men, whose name was withheld, was arrested on Monday after turning himself in to West Vancouver police.

Got arrested yesterday and I'm going to court September 19th on a charge of mischief for letting a sex doll that was strapped to a few balloons fly away. Just wanted to let everyone know that in Canada you must have no fun. @KEEMSTAR WATCH ME NOW BOYYYY #DRAMAALERTNATION

— BrodieTV (@Brodie_hb) July 17, 2018

He was released pending a court appearance in September. Police are recommending to Crown counsel that he be charged with mischief.

sbrown@postmedia.com

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Categories: Vancouver Sports News

About 500 Shaw employees in B.C. vote in favour of strike action

Vancouver Sun - Fri, 07/20/2018 - 20:05

BURNABY — A union representing about 500 employees of Shaw Communications in British Columbia says they have voted in favour of strike action by a large majority.

The 98 per cent of votes cast in favour of a strike at United Steelworkers Local 1944 provides a clear mandate, said union chief negotiator Lee Riggs in a statement.

“Our members showed determination in defending their rights against an employer that is showing little respect to them. I am proud of this strong strike vote, which shows how united our members are and that they are ready to fight back.”

Riggs said the USW’s main goal is to negotiate a new contract, not go on strike, but the union says it plans to issue a 72-hour strike notice to Shaw on Sunday.

The USW says Shaw is demanding wage freezes, the elimination of job security and an erosion of work done by its members.

The union says both its Surrey-Langley and its Vancouver-Richmond divisions voted in favour of strike action. Unionized Shaw employees in the four B.C. cities haven’t had a contract since March 23.

The employees are technicians who install internet, phone and television services for both home and business clients.

Shaw closed a unionized call centre in Windsor, Ont., in March and consolidated its work in Victoria.

Earlier this year, about 3,300 non-union Shaw employees decided to take a voluntary severance package, which wasn’t open to employees covered by a collective agreement. Departures were to be spread out over 18 months.

In an email statement on Friday, a spokesman for Shaw said the company remains “committed to the process” of reaching a new collective agreement with employees.

“We have said to our employees and the union all along that we look forward to continuing the discussions and reaching an agreement that allows us to serve our customers,” said Chethan Lakshman, Shaw’s vice-president of external affairs.

Categories: Vancouver Sports News

Letters: Mouse that roared: Canada outwits U.S. on trade

Vancouver Sun - Fri, 07/20/2018 - 19:56

Letters to the Vancouver Sun Saturday, July 20, 2018

Listening to U.S. President Donald Trump’s complaints about Canada’s trade unfairness and Sarah Sanders’ recent assertion that Canada took advantage of America’s kindness, I have come to realize that perhaps there is truth to these claims. It takes an honest leader to publicly admit he and his countrymen have been had all these years. It must be galling that Canada, with a total population smaller than that of the state of California, has managed to outwit the United States (pop. 327 million) and coerce them into handing Canada a sweetheart trade deal while they’re watching our backs militarily. And to think that the U.S. has been demonized worldwide as an economic imperialist while Canada is surreptitiously pulling the strings. The Canadian government should immediately own up to this unfairness and apologize for taking advantage of the soft-hearted Americans. These disclosures could be groundbreaking for analysis of the geo-political economic implications of how tiny Canada could hoodwink a country 10 times its size for generations — until President Trump uncovered the truth and went public.

Norman Ostonal, New Westminster

Cost of quota contributes to decline of family farm

Re: American Whining Much A-Moo About Nothing, Opinion, June 27

Wendy Holm claims in her column that “supply management is good agricultural policy.” Facts she does not present suggest otherwise. Canada’s dairy quota system limits the daily supply of butterfat below the free market level and pushes up the price of dairy products (bad for consumers). This quota has a market price ($/kg of butterfat produced per day) that ranges from $22,999/kg in N.B. to $38,500/kg in B.C. Potential new entrants interested in starting a small family farm are frozen out by these high up-front quota costs (about $4 million for approx. 100 cows in B.C.), while efficient farms (large industrial-sized farms) can afford to buy quota and still make money. Over time, our quota system has contributed to the decline of the family farm and the emergence of the industrial farm. The quota system and its strict controls also stifle innovation in the dairy industry and limits the range of specialty dairy products. Canada should end the dairy quota system and open up its dairy market in exchange for access to world markets. Canada’s wine industry took off with NAFTA, our dairy industry can too.

Joseph Schaafsma, professor emeritus (economics), University of Victoria 

Canada has private healthcare alternative: the U.S.

Re: What the Dickens is going on with medicare? Ian Mulgrew column, July 4

Columnist Ian Mulgrew states that if the B.C. government outlaws private pay surgery in local surgery centres, as it has vowed to do effective Oct. 1, patients will have “no choice” but to wait two years for out-patient surgeries.

Let me suggest that there is an obvious choice. Our organization facilitates surgeries of all types, including potentially life-saving cardiac procedures, for Canadians in “Canada’s other health care system” — the U.S. Wait times are as little as 24 hours.

Richard Baker, Timely Medical Alternatives Inc., West Vancouver

Commentary describes how council destroyed neighbourhoods

Re: Council killing our city, Opinion, July 3 

Every once in a while an article appears in print media that I want to forward to everyone I know. Prime example: Elizabeth Murphy’s brilliantly cogent analysis of how Gregor Robertson and his merry band of hypocrites on council have sold this city lock, stock and barrel to the developers they so loyally serve.

Murphy has crafted an extraordinarily incisive study of how planning in Vancouver really works, and how Vision has repeatedly used zoning changes and densification to favour developers. Murphy lifts the lid off the cesspool that is Vancouver’s housing and development policy and issues a clarion call for reform we desperately need but are unlikely to get.

Murphy’s piece should be read by all Vancouverites, especially those planning to vote in October’s civic election. Vision’s solution to the worsening housing crisis in this city seems primarily to consist of the Neighbourhood Plans that are in fact destroying neighbourhoods around the city. These can be summarized as follows: 1) Demolish unaffordable single-family housing; 2) replace with unaffordable multi-family housing; 3) problem solved!

Gordon Watson, Vancouver

Want to pay more politicians salaries? Vote for PR

The benefits of a Proportional Representation voting system are a myth. The reality is bigger governments, political instability, empowered radical fringes, politicized strategic voting, and not knowing who your representative is until well after the election. In B.C, with our First Past the Post system, we have 87 paid MLAs. Among places that use PR, Germany has 709 paid seats, Mexico has 628, and New Zealand, which is about a quarter the size of B.C., has 120. If you want to pay more politicians’ salaries, vote Yes to PR.

Jack Carradice, Chilliwack

Categories: Vancouver Sports News

Greens fail to convince how 'bluff and buckle' changes under PR system

Vancouver Sun - Fri, 07/20/2018 - 19:40

VICTORIA — When the New Democrats again this week stalled the implementation of ride-hailing in B.C., their partners in power, the Greens, tried to turn the news into a teachable moment about proportional representation.

“Ride-hailing has been treated like a political football by the two establishment parties due to its importance in swing ridings,” said the statement Thursday from Green MLA Adam Olsen.

“I encourage anyone frustrated by this delay to consider how this issue would have played out differently under a system of proportional representation.”

Later he expanded on the point about successive governments putting their partisan interests in protecting the taxi companies ahead of the public interest in ride-hailing services.

“This really is a result of the electoral system that we have right now,” he told host Jody Vance on radio station CKNW. “The former government kicked the can down the road. Now this government’s kicked the can. Time to stop kicking and get on with it.”

Nice try. But the argument sidesteps how the Greens could end the public frustration right now if they chose to make ride-hailing a condition of their continued support for the NDP.

They’ve not done so, even though Green Leader Andrew Weaver pioneered the enabling legislature for ride-hailing more than two years ago under the B.C. Liberals.

The Greens also hesitated to rein in their partners in power-sharing earlier in the week, when the New Democrats announced a sweetheart deal for the unionized building trades on public construction projects.

Under so-called community benefit agreements, workers on projects like the Pattullo Bridge replacement will have to join and pay dues to those unions (and only those unions) endorsed by the NDP.

Still, the initial statement from Weaver was pretty much an endorsement: “Community benefit agreements are a great way to invest in our province’s future and a key tool that government can use to advance social and environmental goals.”

Hedging slightly, he added: “I look forward to seeing the details of the government’s overall framework — to ensure that it is fair and effective from a policy perspective, rather than a political or ideological one.”

By Thursday, having got a whiff of the favouritism toward certain unions, he began to walk back his enthusiasm.

CBAs must not be used “as a tool to pay back political favours or to advance ideology at the expense of good policy,” said Weaver via a blog posting. “We have made this perspective clear to the government.

“We have also asked government to provide reasoning for why the two projects announced earlier this week had a unionization requirement for workers. CBAs should be applicable for both union and non-union trade shops.”

But it remains to be seen to what extent the Green view will prevail with the New Democrats — if at all.

For it would not be the first time that Weaver voiced a strong stand against something the New Democrats were intending to do, only to buckle when they went ahead and did it anyway.

On Site C, Weaver argued in the election the project should be killed outright. In negotiations on the power-sharing arrangement, he was placated by a clause that sent the hydroelectric dam to review by the B.C. Utilities Commission.

The commission reported back with what Weaver regarded as an open and shut case for cancellation. But when the New Democrats reached a different interpretation and decided to complete the project, the Green leader contented himself with accusing the New Democrats of betraying the expectations of voters.

“For us, the only correct decision based on the BCUC report was to cancel,” he told reporters. “Does this mean we are going to topple government? No.”

Related

Earlier this year, he threatened to defeat the New Democrats over continued support for the development of a liquefied natural gas industry. He later put the threat on hold to give them a chance to reconcile the LNG plan with greenhouse gas reduction targets.

Last month, Weaver said the Greens don’t support the NDP speculation tax in the current form “because 1) it doesn’t address speculation; 2) there are too many unforeseen consequences; 3) it is administratively burdensome.”

But again, it remains to be seen how this will play out in the fall session of the legislature.

Complicating things for the Greens is the fall referendum on electoral reform. The change to PR would improve their chances of winning seats in the next election.

But even if the referendum passes, the switchover won’t happen until 2021. Should the Greens bring down the government before that, the election would proceed under the current system.

So the hesitation to rein in the NDP is understandable. But it doesn’t help the case for electoral reform.

Advocates of PR say one of the main advantages will be more minority governments and more power-sharing arrangements like the one between the NDP and the Greens, where parties have to put aside partisanship to get things done.

However, we are living in the reality of a minority government right now. And we are seeing that when partisan self-interest is taken into account, the junior partner gives way and the senior partner proceeds as he sees fit.

Most times the threat to bring down the government is a bluff. That’s true in the current circumstances and the Greens have scarcely made the case that it would be any different under proportional representation.

vpalmer@postmedia.com

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Categories: Vancouver Sports News