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Keith Sashaw: Trans Mountain expansion project: How much is enough?

Fri, 03/16/2018 - 21:00

As an organization representing consulting engineers, ACEC-BC appreciates the need to study issues, weigh options and determine the most efficient and safest way to proceed. That is what our members’ clients expect when they engage a consulting engineer. We also recognize, however, that at some point further study and research is not going to yield any additional significant findings.

The Trans Mountain Expansion Project has gone through extensive public hearings and has filed voluminous reports on every aspect of the project. It has met the rigorous requirements of the National Energy Board and the federal government has given its approval to the project. 

The project is now facing further delays as the province of B.C. has announced it will be conducting further scientific research on the impact the project may have on B.C.’s coast.

There are 11 major international conventions and agreements regarding spill prevention and responses, including agreements that set standards for how a vessel is constructed to outlining measures dealing with pollution incidents. There are eight national processes or pieces of legislation that regulate marine shipping activities or marine spill responses. There are six provincial or regional entities that deal with marine-related issues. 

This network of agencies and programs led the National Energy Board in its May 2016 report to note “there are competent authorities responsible for this regime and that these jurisdictions cooperate with each other and other organizations in facilitating the safety of marine shipping. The evidence indicates that the regime is functioning appropriately.”

There is an agency dedicated to developing precise and reliable ways to measure the navigational risks associated with placing and operating marine terminals for large oil tankers. Transport Canada chairs the TERMPOL Review Committee for this Project. The following agencies and organizations have been involved in the TERMPOL Review Process: Transport Canada; Fisheries and Oceans Canada; the Canadian Coast Guard; Environment Canada; the Canadian Hydrographic Service; Pacific Pilotage Authority Canada; British Columbia Coast Pilots; and the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority.

The TERMPOL Review Committee supported key risk reduction measures proposed by Trans Mountain and concluded that it did not consider the overall increase in marine traffic levels to be an issue. The committee said that while there will always be some risk in any project, after reviewing Trans Mountain’s studies and considering its commitments, it had not identified any regulatory concerns associated with project-related tankers, tanker operations, the proposed routes, navigability, other waterway users or marine terminal operations.

Through the public hearing process, there were a number of precautionary risk-control measures that will mitigate risk due to increased tanker traffic that were identified.

These include:

• Establishment of a shipping channel for Burrard Inlet east of Ironworkers Memorial Bridge by Vancouver Fraser Port Authority.

• Expansion of laden tanker tug escort to cover the entire tanker shipping route through the Strait of Georgia and between Race Rocks and the western entrance to Juan de Fuca Strait.

• Training of pilots to disembark by helicopter near Race Rocks instead of Victoria.

• Enhanced Situational Awareness techniques that will require safety calls by pilots and masters of laden tankers and a boating safety program and notices to industry issued by Pacific Pilotage Authority.

In addition to all of this, the federal government, which ultimately has jurisdiction over Canada’s coasts as well as the regulation of interprovincial pipelines, has announced the Oceans Protection Plan, which will invest $1.5 billion over five years in coastal protections, with a plan to deliver results for the coming decade.

Our consulting engineers live and work here in B.C., and we care about B.C. We trust in the processes that are in place to protect our province, and we believe that we are in the best position to facilitate successful completion this project to the highest safety standards. We believe that enough research and study has been done. It is now time to get on with the project.

Keith Sashaw is president and CEO of the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies B.C.

Categories: Vancouver Sports News

Editorial: Don't wreck Kits Beach Park with unnecessary bike lane

Fri, 03/16/2018 - 21:00

It has been discombobulating to see cycling advocates and green crusaders battling over a proposed bike lane through Kitsilano Beach Park. More often they are on the same side, chanting anti-car slogans in unison.

For the beach-goers, picnickers, ball players, dog walkers, people watchers and others who treasure the little stretch of parkland that borders Arbutus to the east and salt water to the west, as well as the grassy knoll along Cornwall, the idea of laying a ribbon of asphalt through chestnut tree groves and verdant lawns is abhorrent. The hugely accessible beach and parkland attract thousands of visitors every summer. It’s one of the reasons people in the neighbourhood live there.

Cyclists, on the hand, cannot safely ride through the throngs of pedestrians on the existing path — although many try — and want a route that allows them to complete a seaside circuit without interruption or the inconvenience of vehicular traffic.

The matter was supposed to be decided at a Vancouver Park Board meeting this past Monday, but the board voted to refer it back to the engineering department for further study.

Considering that a bike lane through this park has been debated for five years or so, one might have thought that all the study would be done. But the total cost, the number of trees to be lost and other details are still unknown. 

The route from Balsam Street and Cornwall Avenue in the west to Ogden Avenue and Maple Street in the northeast would result in the loss of about 930 square meters of green space, roughly the size of two basketball courts. Demonstrators before the meeting carried signs reading: “Is concrete the new green?”

They have a point. Running a cycling speedway through the park will ruin it. Cyclists uncomfortable using Cornwall have the option of the York Avenue bikeway a block south. Side streets off Arbutus — Creelman, Whyte and McNicoll — have traffic-calming measures in place and are quiet, tree-lined streets suitable for cycling. 

Since the Vision Party-led council is determined to make driving as unpleasant as possible anyway, why would it not simply impose parking restrictions in the area to make cycling that much safer?

In its deliberations, Park Board staff should prioritize other alternatives for a cycling route — and consider whether it is needed at all — rather than compromise one of Vancouver’s most popular destinations.

Categories: Vancouver Sports News

Joan Rush: Gender equity on boards should start at Sauder

Fri, 03/16/2018 - 21:00

In 1988, I wrote to the late Dr. Peter Lusztig, dean of what was then called the UBC Faculty of Commerce and Business Administration, to complain that there were no women on his Faculty Advisory Committee. I had graduated in 1982 from the combined UBC Commerce and Law program and had become a corporate lawyer. Nearly 40 per cent of Canadian undergraduate business students were female at that time, but few women sat on Canadian corporate boards. I argued that women advisors and role models at the UBC Faculty of Commerce and Business Administration might encourage Canadian companies to appoint more women to their boards.

Dean Lusztig replied with the lament that there were no qualified women in B.C. to appoint to the committee. Typically, he explained, the faculty recruited people with the title of CEO or, if in government, deputy minister. Few women held these titles in 1988. The dean was willing to consider recommendations for his advisory committee if I could provide the names of women who possessed the required credentials.

Thirty years have passed since I wrote to Dean Lusztig. The UBC Faculty of Commerce and Business Administration is now known as the Sauder School of Business. Despite this rebranding, it seems that Sauder continues to struggle to appoint women to its advisory boards and committees. The business leaders who volunteer their time to Sauder provide tremendous expertise, but the boards and committees they sit on are anything but gender-equal.

The large Faculty Advisory Board to the Sauder School of Business, described on the Sauder website as including “some of Canada’s top business minds” has 36 members. Only eight of the members, or 22 per cent, are women.

The Sauder Management Information Systems program is supported by a 12-person advisory board. Only two members, or 16 per cent, are women.

The Ch’nook program at Sauder is designed to encourage business, management and entrepreneurship as career opportunities for Aboriginal students. The Ch’nook program is supported by the Ch’nook Advisory Board of 17 members. Only two of the board members are women and one of these women is the chief administrative officer to the dean of Sauder. Twelve per cent of the board is female, if we count the faculty chief administrative officer. Otherwise, six per cent of the Ch’nook advisory board is female. In either event, Aboriginal students may conclude that business advisors are typically male.

The most gender-equal Sauder advisory board, with 40 per cent female representation, is located at the Philips Hager and North Centre for Financial Research. However, this board includes only seven members, of which three are women.

There are seven “mentors” to the Sauder Creative Destruction Lab. Only one mentor is a woman. The executive committee of the Phelps Centre for the study of Government and Business at Sauder includes three members, all of whom are men.

According to a 2016 article by Jennifer Lewington: “Women are a growing presence at business schools globally … (but are) …under-represented in top leadership positions.” That statement holds true for Sauder leadership. Although Sauder hiring committees now receive training on equity and diversity, the dean is a man and only one of the five Sauder associate deans is a woman.

Darren Dahl, senior associate dean, faculty, and director of the Robert H. Lee Graduate School at Sauder is quoted in Ms. Lewington’s article regarding gender equity. “There’s lots of research to show that in business having a female perspective or a board that has diversity is going to lead to better decisions,” says Prof. Dahl. “And the business school is a microcosm of that.”

Corporate governance research confirms that corporate boards perform better when they embrace gender equity. Acceptance of gender equity begins in the classroom. Sauder advertises the business school as a world-class institution that is producing the business leaders of tomorrow. Sauder will teach these future business leaders the benefits of gender equity in all board rooms if it models gender-equal faculty advisory boards and committees for its students.

Joan L. Rush graduated from the UBC Faculty of Commerce and Business Administration in 1981, and the UBC Faculty of Law in 1982 and 2006. 

Categories: Vancouver Sports News

Letters: Anti-pipeline protesters are hypocrites

Fri, 03/16/2018 - 21:00

Re: Protests underline deep divide in B.C. over pipeline expansion, March 12

I would like to point out the hypocrisy of the recent anti-pipeline protest in Burnaby.

I live in northwestern Alberta and several years ago noticed a huge pipeline project being built that was to bring natural gas and fluids from B.C. into Alberta. I also note that the Site C dam is going to finish the job of destroying the Wood Buffalo wetlands (World Heritage Site) that the W.A.C. Bennett Dam started. This project will mainly provide energy to create Liquefied Natural Gas for the Asian market, which will mean more pipelines — but not in the Lower Mainland. This too will create a large revenue stream that will pave your roads, build your schools and pay your teachers.

If you want to be seen as environmentally aware, I would suggest that you ponder the record of your province in destroying the natural beauty of your neighbour. UNESCO has threatened to remove the World Heritage Site status of Wood Buffalo National Park unless steps are taken to maintain this hugely important wetland. Hundreds of Indigenous people live near and depend on this landbase, but they can’t vote in B.C. Millions of waterfowl and songbirds depend on the Wood Buffalo wetlands, but they don’t vote at all, and neither do the trees and animals that made up the thousands of hectares of forest that were stripped bare for your pipeline.

It’s a wonderful feeling to wrap yourself in a rainbow, hug a tree and commiserate with the Indigenous people in your backyard. Why not travel 1,500 kms and try it in mine?

Brian Hohner, North Star, AB

Resist B.C. NDP’s balkanization of Canada 

Premier John Horgan’s attempt to balkanize Canada should be resisted by all Canadians. The reason for federal control of ports is to prevent coastal provinces from denying land-locked provinces the ability to move and sell their resources to the world. All Canadians will lose if the pipeline project is blocked. Alberta and Saskatchewan lose jobs and the federal government loses tax dollars. The sad part is that the oil will be supplied by some other state in any event.

Howard Smith, Vancouver 

Restrictions could drive resource companies from Canada

Canada needs oil and gas to keep flowing and the pipelines to deliver it to market. These industries pay billions of dollars in income, property, sales and pipeline taxes and provide jobs that allow governments to pay for education, health care, infrastructure, treaty annuity payouts, police protection, the armed forces, and other services and programs. If we restrict their business, the resource companies will move to countries that allow them to work. And they won’t be coming back. We will have to buy our resources from other countries, which will be delivered by pipeline or ships. And we will have lost much and gained nothing.

Annie Maxim, Nanaimo

Cycling activists demand more — and get it

Re: Proposed paved bike path divides users of Kits park, March 12

HUB, the bicycle lobby group, wants more lebensraum — the German word for “living room”; that is, other people’s land. HUB wants the public’s land at Kits beach for cycling. Cyclists already have painted bike lanes, separated (at a cost of multiple millions of dollars) bike lanes, roads, and sidewalks. HUB, stymied a few years ago in its demand for a bike lane at Kits Point park and the beach, is at it again. HUB says gimme, gimme, gimme, and Vision Vancouver says yes, yes. yes. And the taxpayers’ pay for their get. 

Mike Tropp, Vancouver

Recall MLAs who support new housing taxes

There is a simple, efficient solution to the goofiest and most upsetting proposal to ever originate in Victoria, wherein a private investment in real estate made with after-tax dollars becomes subject to provincial taxes based on perceived value rather than realized profit.

The turn of events that has caused inflation in the housing market in no way justifies taxing the lifelong tax-free concept of real estate for personal use.

Axe the proposed tax by simply recalling the MLAs in these ridings where government members are in office. 

Rick Angus, Vancouver

Early death of men should be health priority

Re: Times a-changin for women’s health care, Opinion, March 8 

I agree with Genesa Greening that there is a gender disparity in health care. With unlimited resources, the health industry could tackle all issues. However, that is not the reality, so we need to prioritize. The main indictor of health has to be life itself. Women outlive men by a considerable margin. Until this discrepancy has been addressed, that is where research and funding should be directed.

Dan Bradley, Vancouver

Categories: Vancouver Sports News

Tim McMillan: Energy investment could make Canada a world leader

Thu, 03/15/2018 - 21:00

Canada is falling behind in the fierce global competition for energy investment — the very investment that spurs the crucial innovation that our growing world needs to produce more energy with less impact.

Energy-producing countries such as the U.S. and others — with lower environmental standards than Canada — are attracting more energy investment, while in Canada capital investment for energy is in decline. And that means energy is being produced around the world under less-robust environmental standards, which ultimately causes more global greenhouse-gas emissions. It doesn’t make sense, environmentally or economically.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Governments in Canada could help industry to accelerate clean technology for our world-class oil and natural gas resources.

As we welcome business and government leaders from around the world to the GLOBE Forum and Innovation Expo 2018 to discuss sustainability and innovation, it’s important we share the extraordinary story of how Canada’s energy sector is spearheading technological advances in oil and natural gas to change the future for generations to come.

For more than 150 years, since the first commercial oil well in Ontario, Canada’s oil and natural gas industry has evolved and innovated. From that first oil well to today’s advances in horizontal drilling, sustainable practices and lower-carbon processes they have made the Canadian energy industry a global leader in environmental performance.

Some of industry’s most noteworthy innovations include water-resource hubs in northeastern B.C.’s Montney formation that reduce the need for fresh water. Carbon capture and storage in central Alberta is safely storing two million tonnes of carbon dioxide underground. In Canada’s oilsands, a unique partnership of companies called Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA) has invested more than $1.33 billion to develop 936 distinct technologies to reduce the impacts on air, land and water.

As the world’s population grows, total energy demand will also increase. That energy will come from all sources, including oil and natural gas, hydro, nuclear and renewables. Currently there is no reasonable alternative to oil and natural gas for such applications as aviation and shipping fuel, industrial processes such as steel manufacturing and petrochemical feedstocks. In addition, as emerging economies continue to grow, people around the world want more access to reliable, affordable energy.

We are constantly innovating the way we produce, move and use Canadian energy to provide the most sustainable barrel at the lowest cost for the long-term. We are showing the world how to have more energy with less environment impact. How? Innovation and technology. That is our global leadership opportunity.

Canada can become a reliable, responsible and affordable supplier of energy for the world. This will not only benefit global citizens, but all Canadians as well. In 2017 the industry employed 530,000 people, generated $160 billion in federal GDP, and nearly $20 billion in government revenues across the country.

A strong energy sector ensures our nation’s prosperity, now and for the future. But a strong energy sector must attract capital to innovate and compete in the world. So we need government to do its part to attract more capital to accelerate innovation in Canada’s oil and natural gas industry.

In its own report released December 2017, Investing in a Resilient Canadian Economy, the Government of Canada calls for a comprehensive review of the country’s regulatory system and its burdens on industry. Nothing has been done to date. Nor was there any mention of new action in the 2018 federal budget to help Canada’s energy sector attract capital and generate prosperity for Canadians.

Our industry wants to continue innovating to make Canadian oil and natural gas the world’s energy for tomorrow. With investment in innovation and technology from industry and government, our natural resources can be used for generations to come, at home and around the world, and be a major contributor to Canada’s economic growth.

But it’s imperative government works with industry to encourage and stimulate growth in innovation and technology.

Canada should be leading the world, not lagging behind.

Tim McMillan is president and CEO of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

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Categories: Vancouver Sports News

The Happenings: Three things to do in Vancouver on Friday, Mar. 16

Thu, 03/15/2018 - 20:24

Looking for something to do in Metro Vancouver? Here are three suggestions for Friday, Mar. 16.

Beyond Words: Tanya Tagaq and Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory

Polaris Prize-winning throat singer Tanya Tagaq and Greenlandic mask dancer Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory come together for a special performance Friday night at the Chan Centre. You guys: This. Sounds. Amazing. The event is described thusly: “Together, these groundbreaking Canadian performers delve into the darkness and emerge into the light as they reclaim Indigenous women’s stories on a journey across themes of retribution and reconciliation.” Did I mention this sounds amazing? Go if you can. It promises to be unlike any other Vancouver show this weekend.

Where: Chan Centre, 6265 Crescent Rd., UBC, Vancouver
When: 7:30 p.m.
Cost: $29 – $49

FUSE: Transcendence/Destruction

I think there should be more parties at the Vancouver Art Gallery. But that’s a rant for another time. For now, let’s talk about FUSE, the one that goes this Friday. This late-night art party contemplates the space between transcendence and destruction in dialogue with the Vancouver Art Gallery’s spring exhibition season. It’s also full of performances, from prop comedy to experimental theatre to live music and animation, and even an artist bar. This sounds like a great, and wholly unique, Friday night in Vancouver. 

Where: Vancouver Art Gallery, 750 Hornby St., Vancouver
When: 8 p.m. – midnight
Cost: $29

The Dreadnoughts 11 Year Punkstravaganza

Vancouver rockers The Dreadnoughts return to the Rickshaw to once again host two nights of local punk, folk, ska and metal at their Punkstravaganza. These dive bar legends have curated a great list of performers for Friday and Saturday evening, with Daggermouth, SLIP~ons, The Staggers & Jaggs, Russian Tim and Pavel Bures, and AntEater all performing on Friday night. I don’t know most of those bands, but going on their names alone, this promises to be a fun, high-energy show.  

Where: Rickshaw Theatre, 254 E. Hastings St., Vancouver
When: Doors open at 7:30 p.m.
Cost: $20 for one night, $30 for two

See more events around Vancouver on our weekly calendar.

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Categories: Vancouver Sports News

Vaughn Palmer: The that-was-then, this-is-now NDP

Thu, 03/15/2018 - 20:09

VICTORIA — Green MLA Adam Olsen used his party’s segment of question period on Thursday to challenge the New Democrats for their recent almost-$4.5-million blitz of government advertising. 

“There is no bigger critic in this legislature of the B.C. Liberal approach to government-funded partisan advertising than the B.C. NDP,” he began, neatly underscoring the that-was-then, this-is-now hypocrisy of the New Democrats.

“They regularly, and rightly, levelled criticism at the Liberals for the way they treated public dollars as if they were part of their election campaign.”

But there were the New Democrats, spending $600,000 to promote the budget, another $3 million through B.C. Hydro to promote energy conservation, and presiding over an $800,000 sales job touting auto insurance reform at the troubled Insurance Corp. of B.C.

“In opposition, we heard promises that an NDP government would end the use of partisan government advertising, by having the auditor general check ads to make sure that they were neutral,” Olsen continued. “Where does the government stand today on the previous commitment to ensure that government advertising has independent oversight and that public tax dollars are not being used for partisan purposes?”

Answering for the government was Finance Minister Carole James, who proclaimed that she “couldn’t agree more about the need to do things differently” on government advertising.

“We are making sure that the advertising that we are bringing forward is non-partisan and that it talks about government programs that individuals in British Columbia need to apply to, she claimed.

Which is pretty much what the B.C. Liberals used to say about publicly funded advertising campaigns.

As for doing things differently,  James said the New Democrats “are in the process of developing new standards right now to ensure that British Columbians have confidence in the process.”

Olsen was not impressed. “We’re working on it,” was the excuse the government gave in September when asked the whereabouts of the oversight legislation.

In Opposition, the New Democrats three times introduced model legislation to have the auditor general vet all government advertising to ensure public funds were not steered to partisan purposes. Why not just introduce that onto the legislative order paper?

“Our caucus would support that measure now,” said the Green MLA. “People get cynical when we see a party saying one thing in opposition and another in government. When will the government fulfil the commitment to having independent oversight? What’s the timeline?”

No timeline, replied James. “But I can assure the member that the work is going on right now.” Standards are to include a ban on ministers appearing in ads as well as other trappings of partisanship.

Pointedly, she did not promise to go the full-blown vetted-by-the-auditor-general route, as in the bills the NDP touted when in Opposition.

Watching bemused while all this unfolded were the B.C. Liberals. They were in no position to criticize the New Democrats, having been oversight- and standards-free on advertising during their years in government.

While Olsen was challenging the government on advertising, party Leader Andrew Weaver underscored another failing of the Greens’ partner in power sharing.

“Pretty pathetic,” was his two-word dismissal of the NDP spring legislative agenda, consisting, as it did, of a single substantive government-initiated bill as the house adjourned Thursday, after five weeks of a scheduled 11-week session.

“We did not change governments to pass no legislation,” Weaver told reporter Justin McElroy of the CBC. “We changed government to ensure that some of the issues that have not been dealt with over the years are dealt with. And we’re waiting, and we’re waiting, and we’re waiting.”

In defence, NDP house leader Mike Farnworth attributes the slow pace in getting promised bills into the house to a shortage of staff on the team of specialists who draft legislation.

He’s promising key bills will be forthcoming in relatively short order when the legislature reconvenes April 9 for the final six-week stretch ending May 31. But already the B.C. Liberals are guessing that the session may go into overtime.

One consequence of the legislative drafting squeeze is evident from the information gap on the two most controversial provisions in the provincial budget.

Finance Minister Carole James announced both a payroll tax and a tax on real estate speculation. She’s faced myriad questions about the application of each: who will pay, who will be exempt, who will be compensated, and so on.

Unlike the usual practice with budget and tax changes, the government has yet to table enabling legislation for either, leaving the public and those who may be affected to guess or take the government’s word for it.

The guessing game has prompted Weaver to accuse the New Democrats of making up tax policy on the fly and of creating uncertainty with the speculation tax.

As of Thursday, the New Democrats were saying the application of the speculation tax will be clarified later this spring. But the actual enabling legislation won’t be ready until the fall.

The payroll tax may be ready in April or May, or it too could be delayed until the house reconvenes Oct. 1.

Putting things off to fall could pose political risks for the New Democrats. They will then be in the midst of their campaign to persuade British Columbians to change the electoral system.

They’ll not want any major controversies that could turn the hoped-for Yes vote into a referendum on their performance in government.

Categories: Vancouver Sports News

Victoria realtor gets tepid response to speculation-tax home-selling ad

Thu, 03/15/2018 - 20:07

A Victoria realtor who wants people to sell their homes now, in order to avoid a proposed NDP speculation tax that would come into effect this taxation year, said he’s had a tepid response so far.

Ron Bahrey said he’s only received “a couple of calls” since an ad appeared in the Times Colonist on Wednesday.

“I thought I’d get more calls,” Bahrey said in a phone interview Thursday.

“It hasn’t turned out the way I thought it would.”

The ad included a photo of the realtor along with the following text and his phone number: “Sell now and avoid the new B.C. ‘Speculation Tax’ Get top dollar for your Home or Investment property.” 

Bahrey, a realtor since 1983, said he was basing his expected response on the number of online comments to various stories about public reaction to the speculation tax, including Vaughn Palmer’s columns in The Vancouver Sun.

“I know there are lots of people upset,” he said.

A friend suggested that maybe Bahrey’s ad appeared too soon. The friend said he might receive more calls should it become law later this year.

Bahrey said he was personally against the proposed tax, which he described as oppressive and punitive.

“It’s a terrible tax on Albertans and people who live in Canada who have come here to retire,” he said.


Bahrey cited as an example an older physician from Alberta who bought a condo in Oak Bay for around $250,000 about 20 years ago. He expects the property’s value has increased to $350,000.

Homeowners such as the physician in Oak Bay, Bahrey said, constitute the bulk of his clients.

“They never bought that for speculation,” he said. “They bought it for use when they come from Calgary.”

Bahrey said he didn’t have a problem with people speculating on property.

“I think people should be allowed to speculate,” he said.

“They’re still being taxed on everything they do.”

The provincial government, in its February budget, proposed a new speculation tax to target absentee investor homeowners who declared little or no income in B.C. The tax would be based on assessed value: $5 per $1,000 of assessed value this year, rising to $20 in 2019.

The tax would be effective for the 2018 taxation year.

A Ministry of Finance tax information sheet says that principle residences and homes rented out for the long term will be exempt.

“A non-refundable income tax credit will help offset the tax for B.C. residents,” it says.

“This will leave the bulk of the tax levied on vacant and short-term properties owned by individuals who do not live in B.C., as well as satellite families.”

The information sheet defines satellite families as households with high worldwide income that pay little income tax in B.C.

In the budget, the province also proposed to increase the foreign buyers tax to 20 per cent from 15 per cent and expand the levy to Victoria, Nanaimo, the Fraser Valley and Kelowna.

Both measures would generate an expected $602 million in revenue for the provincial government by 2021.

The foreign buyers tax was introduced in August 2016 by then-premier Christy Clark.

The Real Estate Council of B.C., the provincial regulator of realtors, said in an email that its advice to consumers and real estate professionals “is to obtain independent legal or accounting advice about how any applicable tax may affect their real estate transaction.”

For more information, the council directed the public to the Ministry of Finance and its Tax Information Sheet about the proposed speculation tax.


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Vancouver to Seattle ultra-high-speed rail announcement scheduled for Friday

Thu, 03/15/2018 - 19:34

A fast train to Seattle looks to be a step closer to reality.

On the heels of the Washington state legislature voting to move forward on further study of high-speed rail in the region, the B.C. government has announced Premier John Horgan will be joined in Downtown Vancouver on Friday by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee to make an announcement regarding ultra-high-speed corridor service connecting Vancouver with Seattle and Portland.

The legislature voted Monday to approve the study, which will examine ridership, possible alignments and economic benefits of the alignment.

Advocates say the trip from Vancouver to Seattle would take 40 to 50 minutes, while the Seattle to Portland leg would take 30 minutes.

“With airports near capacity and highways increasingly unreliable, we need a revolution in intercity travel,” said Anthony Gill of the Cascadia Rail advocacy group. “High-speed rail hits the sweet spot, giving us the door-to-door speed of air travel, the clean energy of mass transit, and a better traveler experience all in one.”

The new study is required to be completed by June 2019.

A previous study released by the Washington department of transportation in December suggests an ultra-high-speed rail line — using magnetic levitation technology (“maglev”) — linking Vancouver to Seattle and Portland would cost between $24 billion and $42 billion US and attract around 1.8 million riders per year.

The study looked at three kinds of technology : high-speed rail, maglev and Hyperloop.

High-speed rail travels at about 350 kilometres per hour, has the greatest capacity, and is widely used around the world

Maglev uses magnets to lift a train off its tracks and move it along a guideway with no friction. Its current maximum speed is about 430 km/h, but it has the potential to go 600 km/h. Maglev systems already operate in China and Japan.

Hyperloop is a concept that is still in its infancy, but involves capsules travelling through vacuum or near-vacuum tubes at high speeds.

The study suggested maglev has higher capital costs but lower operating costs, and  would be able to cover its operating and maintenance costs by 2035.

Three routes were identified: one that would leave from Pacific Central Station and travel through city centres in Seattle and Tacoma before arriving at Portland’s airport; a second route that would be more suburban in focus, travelling from King George Station in Surrey, through Tukwila south of Seattle and arrive on Portland’s north side; and a third which would depart from YVR, travel via downtown Seattle and have its southern terminus in Portland’s Rose Quarter.

The third option was identified as having an annual ridership of two million per year by 2035, the highest ridership of the three proposed routes.

An economic analysis released last month — paid for by Microsoft and trade unions —  said an ultra-high-speed rail line between Vancouver and Portland would create hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions in economic benefits for the Vancouver-Seattle corridor.

The analysis estimated construction would begin in 2025 and take nine years to complete.

The study estimated that 38,000 jobs would be created each year during construction and there would be $29 billion in annual labour income. For the first 20 years of the rail line’s existence, operations and maintenance activities are expected to result in 3,000 long-term jobs per year in total and $5 billion in labour income.

On a wider scale, it’s estimated that as the line becomes more used it could result in 116,000 to 160,000 more jobs per year over the first 20 years of operation, and the associated labour income would be between $208 billion and $282 billion. Business output — which includes profits, taxes, subsidies, wages, income, benefits, and the costs of purchased goods and services — is estimated at $532 billion to $738 billion and value added, or gross domestic product, from the industry is expected to increase by $264 billion to $355 billion.

Critics told Postmedia the estimates weren’t out of line, but did note that looking 10 years down the road construction timelines could be longer and the costs higher than predicted — as much as 30 per cent, according to one.

— with files from Postmedia News

Categories: Vancouver Sports News

Kelowna latest municipality to raise the alarm about 'damaging' B.C. speculation tax

Thu, 03/15/2018 - 19:33

The provincial government’s controversial real estate speculation tax is facing increasing opposition as elected officials in affected municipalities and regions across B.C. field hundreds of angry calls flowing in from a broad swath of affected individuals and groups such as the construction industry and developers.

Local politicians across the province are reacting by appealing to the NDP government to exempt their regions — or cancel the tax outright — because it has such significant unintended consequences that it could cause what some term a “potential financial crisis.” 

“We know that there are serious issues in our community and we want to work with the provincial government to help rectify this situation, but we don’t think the speculation tax as proposed will necessarily have the positive impact and, in fact, could potentially have some very serious negative impacts,” said Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran.

The speculation tax was announced in last month’s provincial budget and will apply to any homeowners in six specific regions who don’t live in a property or rent it out long term. They will be taxed $5 per $1,000 of assessed value for 2018, increasing to $20 per $1,000 of assessed value in 2019.

The areas affected are the Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley, Capital and Nanaimo regional districts, along with the municipalities of Kelowna and West Kelowna.

A non-refundable tax credit will be available to help offset the tax for B.C. residents, but in many cases it will not cover the full amount of the tax.

Basran said Kelowna is not happy with the tax in its current form, which will operate more like a vacant home tax and won’t be as effective as a “flipping” tax aimed directly at those who buy and quickly sell properties.

Basran said he is hearing “in droves” from Albertans who own vacation homes in Kelowna that they see the speculation tax as a warning from the province that they shouldn’t be spending their money in his city.

“They’re taking real offence to this on the heels of the oil and wine dispute,” he said. “They feel this is an indication from our provincial government that they are not welcome in this province.”

As more information has emerged about the tax, Basran said British Columbians who own homes in the area are contacting him as well.

Another concern is the impact on the construction industry. Basran said there are two projects worth a total of about $300 million — one has been approved by council and one is going through the approval process — that could be in jeopardy because the developers have said they will put them on hold until the tax is clarified.

“More than anything, it’s the uncertainty that’s raising a lot of concerns and is damaging our economy, because when people don’t know, they’ll just sit and wait, and that’s not a good thing,” he said.

A staff report will be presented at Monday’s council meeting, and after it is received council will take an official position on the tax and decide on its next steps.

Basran’s comments come after the District of West Kelowna and the Regional District of Nanaimo, two of the six areas covered by the speculation tax, told the province that they want to be exempted or see the tax cancelled altogether.

On Tuesday, West Kelowna voted for the mayor to meet with Premier John Horgan and B.C. Green party leader Andrew Weaver to put pressure on the province to exclude West Kelowna from the tax.

“We’re very concerned about the overall economic impact,” said Mayor Doug Findlater. “We are fundamentally concerned this would push property values below the amount of equity people have in their homes. It’s a potential financial crisis.”

The Kelowna Chamber of Commerce and Greater Westside Board of Trade have asked that both Kelowna and West Kelowna be exempted from the tax.

Last week, the Regional District of Nanaimo board sent a letter to Finance Minister Carole James that said it appreciates the province’s goal of addressing the cost of housing in B.C., but pointed out that the speculation tax has unintended consequences that outweigh the benefits.

James said that the government is listening to communities across the province, but also read out notes in the legislature from people who are struggling to find housing. She did not commit to exemptions, saying instead that the government is working on the specific details of the tax, which will be out within months.

Those consequences include taxing recreation properties — some of which are in zones that prohibit year-round residence — penalizing those who are buying retirement properties a few years in advance, unfairly applying the tax to Nanaimo but not its neighbouring regional districts, and a lack of clarity about what will happen in homes with secondary suites.

On Tuesday, the Nanaimo board unanimously objected to the tax in any form, in any region or municipality in B.C.

“It should be eliminated altogether,” said board chair Bill Veenhof.

The board of the Capital Regional District — which covers southern Vancouver Island, from the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area to the Southern Gulf Islands, including Victoria — has not come out with a consensus position on the speculation tax.

However, the directors of two electoral areas included in the Capital Regional District said they are asking the province for exemptions.

Mike Hicks, the Capital Regional District director for the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area, is most concerned about the community of Port Renfrew. He said the Albertans and British Columbians who own vacation homes in the area bring in important tourist dollars and pay taxes that support services such as the volunteer fire department.

Hicks said the province’s speculation tax will cripple the area.

“We have a beautiful little economy going,” he said. “I feel that Port Renfrew is just on its feet and really rocking and doing really well, and this is going to be devastating.”

Hicks said he feels that the province is attempting to curb prices in the Victoria area, but has mistakenly applied the tax to rural areas. Horgan is his MLA, and he doesn’t believe that the intention is to hurt places like Port Renfrew.

“I’ve expressed my thoughts to him and have asked for an exemption for the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area from this tax for those reasons,” he said.

Wayne McIntyre, director of the Salt Spring Island Electoral Area, said he has written to his MLA, Adam Olsen, about having his area exempted from the tax, and expects the Southern Gulf Islands Electoral Area to ask for the same.

“We’re really rural communities,” McIntyre said. “We’re entirely different from the urban environment, and yet for a lot of the programs that exist we’re considered urban simply because of our relationship with the Capital Regional District.”

Metro Vancouver board of directors chair Greg Moore said the speculation tax has not been discussed at the regional district board.

A request for comment from the Fraser Valley Regional District did not receive a response.

On Thursday, Liberal MLA Michelle Stilwell, who represents Parksville-Qualicum, said in the legislature that the tax is causing chaos in her community and asked James if she would accede to requests from communities, like Nanaimo Regional District, that want to be exempted from the speculation tax.

Liberal MLA Ben Stewart, whose represents Kelowna West, called the tax “half baked” and asked whether there would be an exemption for West Kelowna.

Categories: Vancouver Sports News

Kennedy Jr. takes bullish stand on e-revolution fast overtaking oil

Thu, 03/15/2018 - 19:29

Expect peak oil production to arrive in something more like five years than the 50 years forecast by much of the energy industry, environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said Thursday.

It won’t be because the world is running out of oil, but because that’s how fast he’s betting innovations in cheap renewable power, batteries and electric vehicles will start to overtake traditional oil and internal combustion engines, Kennedy told the Globe 2018 conference on sustainable business in Vancouver.

Kennedy recounted a retiring Shell executive a year ago who talked about oil demand peaking in 10 years, “not because it’s too dirty to burn, because they’re not going to be able to sell it.”

Kennedy spoke as part of a Globe panel discussion with Vancity CEO Tamara Vrooman and Wal van Lierop, a leading clean-technology investor and founder of Chrysalix Venture Capital.

And he made the bold prediction on the day federal Natural Resources Minister re-committed to the Canadian government’s strategy of attempting to boost renewable energy and clean technologies while “making the best use” of its petroleum resources by ensuring Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion get built.

Talking to reporters after the panel discussion, Kennedy characterized that as “a political minefield (that Canada) is trying to negotiate.”

“I’m glad they’re spending that money on renewables, I wish they weren’t building the pipeline, that’s what I’ll say,” Kennedy said.

Globe, held every two years, puts some 2,000 business leaders and government officials together to talk about ways to do business more sustainably at a time of growing tensions between traditional resource industries and new, cleaner alternatives.

Kennedy and Van Leirop are among the most bullish of clean-technology boosters. Yet, with only 3,500 cars on the road as of 2017, electric vehicles are a small fraction of one per cent of passenger cars in B.C.

Their panel discussion, titled “beyond clean capitalism,” was billed by organizers as an update of the discussion they had at the 2014 edition of Globe to talk about how much progress there has been made since then in making sustainability the ‘cost of doing business.’

Van Lierop argued that in a lot of instances, economics are already pushing investment into clean technologies.

For power utilities, the cost to install solar wind power has dropped below two cents a kilowatt hour, van Lierop said, “so it’s no wonder that new capacities in energy generation have, primarily in North America, been the new stuff.”

“Clean energy has crossed the cost cap,” van Lierop said, and he questions whether new fossil-fuel projects approved today will have a lifespan of 40 or 50 years, the time frame typically expected to amortize large capital project.

“That’s a stretch,” van Lierop said.

Kennedy has “applied hope” for the future of clean technology, even as U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration continues to eliminate incentives for solar and wind energy and promote development of oil and coal.

That, Kennedy said, will hurt America, but won’t necessarily slow down innovation.

“India and China will step in where the U.S. leaves a vacuum,” in terms of developing renewable energy, Kennedy said.

However, Vrooman said for the transition toward clean technologies to move as fast as enthusiasts want, the world of finance will have to keep up.

Vrooman said that from Vancity’s research, the investment world remains very conservative. More of Vancity’s customers have indicated they would like to make so-called green investments than they have green investment products to put money in.


Part of Thursday’s agenda involved pushing government towards being friendlier to so-called clean innovations, perhaps a welcome distraction for federal ministers attending the event and taking criticism over Ottawa’s support of the Trans Mountain project.

“The key message is that clean innovation is a huge opportunity for all parts of the Canadian economy,” said Stewart Elgie, co-chair of the Smart Prosperity Leaders Initiative, a group of business leaders and academics.

Categories: Vancouver Sports News

Somebody left these military medals at a Surrey bus stop

Thu, 03/15/2018 - 18:41

Surrey RCMP are looking to reunite some found military medals and decorations with their owner.

Police say the medals, believed to be Indian military honours, were found at a bus stop around 72nd Avenue and 148th Street, last Remembrance Day. They were turned in to the Surrey RCMP last month.

Police have been unable to locate the owner and are now asking for the public’s assistance.

Surrey RCMP are looking to reunite found military medals and decorations with their owner.

“Somewhere in our community a veteran or their family is missing these medals,” said Surrey RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Elenore Sturko. “Personal items like these often have a deep meaning for their owners and we are really hoping we can send them home where they belong.”

Anyone with more information can contact the Surrey RCMP at 604-599-0502 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.


Categories: Vancouver Sports News

Hare, hare now: Big Bunny Run all ears meeting running families' needs

Thu, 03/15/2018 - 18:31

Forgive Baxter Bayer when he asks what day it is. The Vancouver man has a ton on the go and on his mind, including if the hare-style name on his Big Bunny Run bib is spelled correctly.

“Thumpidity-B, yep that’s right,” laughs the president of Running Tours Inc., who is excited to launch his new Big Fun Run Series on Saturday, March 31 at Jericho Beach, with, you guessed it, the Big Bunny Run 10K, 5K and 1K kids’ run.

But, before we go there, know this: Bayer just purchased fix-‘er-up property, began teaching at LaSalle College on Renfrew Street, recently ran in Motiv’s Surf City Half Marathon weekend in Huntington Beach, Calif., and was event director earlier this month for the record-breaking Care Canada’s Walk In Her Shoes project at Creekside Community Centre.

So, if his bib said Energizer Bunny it wouldn’t be much of a stretch.

Baxter Bayer, the head hare for the Big Bunny Run on March 31 at Jericho Beach, takes time to pose with last year’s participants at Stanley Park. (Gord Kurenoff photo)

The Big Bunny Run, on a new day (Saturday) and new location (formerly Stanley Park), will offer much the same fun as in past years — egg hunts, rabbit ears, music, kids’ games, treats — but for a few extra dollars will add a finisher’s medal and a few add-ons to the “hoppiest afternoon of the year” mix.

Participants in last year’s Big Bunny Run at Stanley Park were all ears for the infamous paws up, paws down warm-up exercise. (Gord Kurenoff photo)

“We want to emphasize the social aspect, the family fun, an event that appeals perhaps more to the recreational runner or weekend warrior looking to spend time with the family. We believe this event checks all the right boxes, including price point,” said Bayer, who dresses up as the Head Hare for the event.

“Why did we move to Jericho Beach? To be closer to the area’s bunnies,” laughs Bayer, who pointed out his strategy for the new series was to showcase new routes in new locations. His May 5 Fiesta Run will be at Burnaby Lake and the new Big Superhero Run on Aug. 18 will be at West Dyke Trail. Dec. 15’s Big Elf Run will remain at Stanley Park.

“We have some pretty funny self-generated names for the Bunny run — Cottonpie Crunch, Wonderhop Gingersnaps, Earsy and Squeaky Harehops. Even have a funny one for you, but that one remains secret until race day or until I can find it,” adds Bayer, who came up with the epic promo line “Get your high kicks with us — Carrot-tay.” (Think karate if you don’t get it!)

I’ve participated in all of Bayer’s past bunny runs and, for $15 advance entry fee, you really can’t go wrong. They are a lot of fun, the kids have a blast, and the adults get to run a timed 5K or 10K. And there are no shortage of rabbit puns.

“We are not tone-deaf to the rising cost of living in the Lower Mainland, so all our races are affordable and still contain an element to help our charity (Canucks Place Children’s Hospice). We don’t want the cost to be a reason you don’t participate,” adds Bayer from his modest Kitsilano office.

Blogger dressed up as “Super Bunny” last year and was hoppy to report the afternoon event was mic-drop worthy! (Lisa Kurenoff photo)

As race director for the successful James Cunningham Seawall Race last October, which attracted 1,000 participants despite a miserable, rainy day, Bayer said that Motiv — the company that assisted the Lions Gate Road Runners with the historic race — has indicated it will not be running the Vancouver Running Festival in 2018 due to scheduling conflicts.

“So that will give me more time to focus on our series, and the other things on my to-do list besides dressing up as a bunny or elf.”

Can’t wait to see what he’ll wear for the Fiesta or Superhero runs. Thumpidity-B’s not afraid, as they say, to be out there.

Meanwhile, here are a few other gems from around the race-loaded Lower Mainland:

Shannon Banal, holding Gord’s bib, hams it up for a photo with West Van Run leader Kirill Solovyev. (Gord Kurenoff photo)

Right woman for the moustache job

She has always seen the big picture, as a mom, community volunteer, runner and owner/photographer of her West Vancouver business Shannon Banal Photography.

After learning of my family’s tragedy last May, she was one of the first to reach out and offer support. She also invited me to run in the inaugural West Van Run Summer 5K and Ambleside Run. She “ordered” me to leave my notebook and camera at home and just “blow off some steam and run.”

Fortunately, I had the camera during the package pickup at Royal Oak Mall where we took some fun shots with the crew. I had just returned from the dentist and figured 230 (think tooth-hurty) was the appropriate bib number. It was there when Banal said something extra needed to be done to ensure men’s physical and mental health issues are made more of a priority.

Imagine my delight when Banal and friends resurrected Vancouver’s fun Moustache Miler, a one mile and 5K charity race in Stanley Park which benefits the Movember Foundation that shines a large light on men’s health.

Circle Saturday, Nov. 24 on your must-do calendar as runners will have Mo fun and Mo miles to add to this important event. Stay tuned to their new website for ‘mo details.’

This Fab Four showed up every year at the Moustache Miler dressed as something different but always something fun. And yeas, they could easily crush the 5K course in their outfits. (Gord Kurenoff photo)

Dana Sebal and Sophia Betegh, wonderful women making a difference in this world, initially got me involved in this great event a few years back, when I ran as Flash Gordo and then came back a year later as Gordy Moose, as in Moose-tache Miler Man! The event quietly went away for a couple years and was really missed.

Running around Stanley Park, in a costume, with a fake moustache, with hundreds of others, is a fun way to circle the seawall. And to raise awareness of issues that can be devastating if left untreated. Stay tuned.

Gwen McFarlan, 84, is one of the founders of the Forever Young Club in Richmond, She has set world age records and still clocks great times in the annual September 8K. (Forever Young Club photo)

Forever inspirational seniors

Warren Purchase, the events program manager at Richmond Olympic Oval, is pretty excited to announce that registration is open for the 2018 Forever Young 8K.

Purchase, whose facility will now oversee the fourth annual run for those 55 and older, said the event is very inspirational for participants and onlookers. Yours truly took part in the first two, and hope to be there this September trying to catch those speedy seniors — again!

Classy event founder John Young of Richmond, who runs, produces a neat club newsletter and organizes weekly events for the Forever Young Club, said right from the beginning: “We don’t want to be a small part of a big running event — we want to have our own running event.”

For more information, or to sign up and run with world champions and other neat seniors, click HERE.

The Run For Mercy 5K and Family Walk at Aldergrove Park is set for May and promises to be more educational and entertaining than previous years. (Gord Kurenoff photo)

Mercy making a difference

Andrea Slamaj, the awesome marketing and communications manager for Mercy Canada, has invited me to run in their annual Run For Mercy 5K and Family Walk on Saturday, May 12 at scenic Aldergrove Regional Park.

Took part in their event two years ago and came away feeling a whole lot better about the people who look after women with serious problems in this world.

Said Slamaj: “When you Run for Mercy, you support Mercy Canada’s residential program for young women who struggle with life-controlling issues, such as eating disorders, self-harm, drug and alcohol addictions, physical and sexual abuse, depression, unplanned pregnancies, and sex trafficking.

For more info about the run/walk or to register, click HERE.

Wendy Jordan-Olive, left, and Julie Barr do their customary good-luck, pre-race selfie with blogger Gord Kurenoff. They’ll pose in Hope Sunday morning at the inaugural 10K and 5K runs.

For some there’s still Hope

Julie Barr and Wendy Jordan-Olive, both with Abbotsford Running Room, are women who I really respect and look up to — and chase once the starting gun goes off.

The ladies reminded me this week they want the “usual good-luck before-selfie” of us at Sunday’s inaugural 10K and 5K in Hope, a new event to help that community’s food bank.

We have, over the past three years, put together a pretty funny collection of pre-race selfies from events such as Run For Women, the New Year’s Resolution Run, Abbotsford Santa Shuffle, Hypothermic Half and the Helping Hands Charity Run, to name just a few.

Sunday’s event, at Memorial Park in Hope, starts at 8 a.m., so expect a Beauties and The Beast photo, as I have to drive 90 minutes just to get there! Might have to borrow a mask/costume to not scare the kids!

Barr, who lost her left leg below the knee, all the toes on her right foot and left fingertips when she was struck by Strep A in November 2012, is not only back running and trash talking me as she easily breezes by, but she’s also mentoring people going through amputations.

Getting up extra early to be in HER picture is a privilege, and definitely worth the drive to Rambo’s backyard.

FINISHING LINES — Good luck to everyone taking part in Saturday’s BMO St. Patrick’s Day 5K at Stanley Park, Peninsula Runners’ F2F Trail Run 8K and Half Marathon on Sunday at Derby Reach (Township of Langley) and MEC Vancouver’s 5K and 10K at Pacific Spirit Park on Sunday and to all the weekend Vancouver Sun Run clinics — your April 22 10K race is getting closer!

Gotta run …


Moose-tache Miler enthusiast Gord Kurenoff mugs with Linda Hill of Abbotsford, left, and Vesta Giles of Kamloops during the 2015 Moustache Miler at Stanley Park. (Dennis Hill photo)

Categories: Vancouver Sports News

Review backs B.C.'s fish farm science, dismisses minister's concerns

Thu, 03/15/2018 - 18:07

VICTORIA — An independent review of a B.C. government scientific laboratory for its work on farmed fish concluded Thursday it was operating at a high standard, without any conflicts of interest among its scientists.

The review dismissed concerns raised by Agriculture Minister Lana Popham, who had at first targeted a specific ministry scientist who is disliked by environmental and First Nations activists opposed to open-pen ocean fish farms.

The reviews by Premier John Horgan’s deputy minister, Don Wright, and the independent consulting firm Deloitte, failed to back up any of the minister’s concerns and instead gave the Animal Health Centre in Abbotsford a clean bill of health.

“I am satisfied that the Animal Health Centre operates with strong professional, scientific and ethical integrity,” Wright wrote. “My review process found no evidence of ‘dubious data or conflict of interest.’”

Wright added he was “impressed with the professionalism, the attention to quality control and the dedication to good science that I observed during my visit.”

Deloitte concluded: “Our independent assessment of the AHC did not identify any evidence of financial or technical conflict of interest regarding the diagnostic activities of the AHC.”

The core of Popham’s concerns appeared to be a dispute between federal fish scientist, Kristi Miller, and a B.C. lab scientist, Gary Marty, over whether the B.C. lab had properly diagnosed farmed fish diseases that are a threat to wild salmon, and whether the lab’s additional work of doing fee-for-service tests for private fish companies put the lab’s science into disrepute. 

The two reviews entirely dismissed those concerns. Deloitte’s report said that while a lab that does additional paid work for the private sector might appear at first glance to be a conflict “this is normal practice in almost all veterinary diagnostic laboratories across North America.”

Wright concluded: “I am not troubled by a dispute between two government scientists. At a fundamental level, this means they are doing their job.”

Agriculture Minister Lana Popham.

Popham called the review “a good news story in the end” and the $100,000 cost of the review “money worthwhile spending.”

She said the government will follow the report’s nine recommendations. The recommendations in the report are prefaced by repeated statements that no wrongdoing of any kind was found.

Popham blamed the CTV news program W5 for airing an interview in October with  Miller, who accused Marty of conflict of interest. That was echoed by environmentalists who expressed similar concerns about B.C.’s science. Popham was also briefed by Miller before expressing public concern about the government lab.

“When our lab was discredited on national television it’s something that we took very seriously,” Popham said Thursday. “We have now shown there is no conflict of interest.”

The Deloitte report recommended federal Fisheries, B.C. and the fish farm industry work together to better define the characteristics of fish disease HSMI (heart and skeletal muscle inflammation) which environmental groups have said is spread from farmed fish to the wild population and threatens B.C. salmon.

It dismissed accusations from environmentalists that B.C. has deliberately ignored evidence of HSMI in coastal fish. 

“In addition to the depth of professional expertise, we observed a sophisticated system of quality management processes, technical reviews, separation of roles, and quality audit controls that would make collusion or deliberate alteration of diagnostic results very difficult to disguise,” report the report. “It is unlikely that all of these AHC diagnostic processes would fail to correctly identify pathogens or evidence of disease within a fish sample.”

Popham said one of the recommendations will involve strengthened conflict guidelines, including banning B.C. scientists from having their travel and accommodation paid by private groups if they are asked to speak at outside events. B.C. will cover the costs instead, which will add $15,000 to the ministry budget, said Popham.

The reviews were launched in October, after Popham found herself under heavy criticism for sending a letter to coastal fish farm company Marine Harvest that expressed concern it had restocked its open-pen salmon stock and warned that its provincial tenures would soon be up for renewal by her government. The letter was widely viewed as a threat, and the Opposition Liberals accused Popham of being an activist minister because she worked with environmentalists to oppose fish farms while in opposition.

Her letter cited the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as part of the tenure process, though Premier John Horgan later clarified that was not the primary issue.

Popham expressed public concern about the quality of fish farm science done by the provincial Animal Health Centre in her ministry. At first, Popham told Postmedia she would specifically investigate Marty for potential conflict of interest allegations following complaints from First Nations about his research.

Then, she cited CTV’s W5 program which had quoted Miller alleging conflict by Marty. The Opposition said a minister shouldn’t be targeting a civil servant. The review then morphed into a wider investigation of the entire animal health lab at which Marty works, which Marty said he welcomed.

Popham then claimed it was the federal government who asked for the review of B.C. science, which Ottawa denied.

Finally, Horgan intervened, removing the review from Popham’s control.

Categories: Vancouver Sports News

Police credit video surveillance after charges laid in Surrey break-and-enters

Wed, 03/14/2018 - 20:08

Surrey RCMP is crediting video surveillance after laying charges in three break-and-enters in the Fraser Heights area of Surrey earlier this year.

A suspect was identified thanks to video obtained from home security systems in the neighbourhood, police said.

The first burglary took place on Jan. 25, when Surrey RCMP investigated a report of a group of men tampering with exterior motion sensor lights and breaking a lock at a residence. Surveillance video later confirmed that there were three men.

On February 9, police investigated a reported break-and-enter at a residence, where, again, surveillance video showed three men had successfully gained access at the rear of a residence.

Four days later on February 13, Surrey RCMP investigated a third incident in which three men were captured on surveillance video tampering with exterior motion sensor lights at a residence.

Police said 35-year-old Glen Nelson of Vancouver has been charged with one count of breaking and entering, two counts of trespassing at night, and three counts of mischief.

The investigation continues.

“Security video played an important role in this investigation,” said Cpl. Elenore Sturko. “Locking doors and keeping your home’s exterior well-lit are also good measures for preventing property crime.”

Police are encouraging residents to voluntarily register their with home surveillance systems with Project IRIS, a secure online database managed by the City of Surrey that allows investigators easier access to CCTV cameras after a crime has been committed.

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Categories: Vancouver Sports News

Vision Vancouver motion asks park board to consider turning Langara golf course into a park

Wed, 03/14/2018 - 20:04

Mayor Gregor Robertson and Vision Vancouver want to redevelop the public Langara Golf Course into a public park.

The plan is still in its early stages, with the passage of a Vision-backed motion calling on the city to work with the Vancouver park board on “options and financial analysis for transitioning the Langara golf course lands into a public park with restored wetlands and ecosystems, trail network, sports fields and a track and field facility that adheres to international competition standards.”

“Council approved motion to ask @ParkBoard to consider transitioning some of Langara Golf Course into public park, natural ecosystem and sports fields,” said Robertson said in a tweet. “Win-win opportunity to open up more green (and free) space to all residents.”

Council approved motion to ask @ParkBoard to consider transitioning some of Langara Golf Course into public park, natural ecosystem and sports fields. Win-win opportunity to open up more green (and free) space to all residents. #vanpoli #greenestcity

— Gregor Robertson (@MayorGregor) March 15, 2018

“As a city, it is important that we think long-term about the future of public green space and how we can make sure our public parks are accessible and meet the needs of all residents,” said Mayor Robertson in a news release. “Langara College is adjacent to 114 acres of public land, yet they have no direct access or sports fields for their teams. As well, the Cambie Corridor is seeing tens of thousands of new people and families move into the neighbourhood as we add new housing along a rapid transit corridor.”

“We would like to collaborate with the Park Board and look at what a win-win solution could look like for the future of the Langara lands, one that could dramatically increase public green space that is free for the public to access.”

The news release also noted that Langara College currently lacks sports fields for their teams, South Vancouver lacks cricket and kabaddi facilities for its growing South Asian population, and Vancouver is without a track and field facility that adheres to international standards — three needs that could potentially be addressed by repurposing some of Langara Golf Course’s lands.

Green Party City Councillor Adriane Carr said she supports the motion.

“With so many people moving into the Cambie Corridor it makes sense to think about how to expand parks and recreation to meet their needs. I encourage people to get engaged in the discussion,” she said.

NPA councillor George Affleck immediately voiced his displeasure about how the motion was raised, however.

“We were having a report about drainage at Langara Golf Course,” he said. “The mayor then morphed that into what’s called a ‘strike and replace’, into a review to redevelop it into something else.

This ‘strike and replace’ was undemocratic in its presentation. It was a bait and switch, as far as we were presented with one report and suddenly we were debating something completely different.

Affleck added that he was open to the concept of development, had the issue been raised in a more democratic way.

“To me this is the last ditch effort of Vision Vancouver as they disappear off the face of the earth on October 20 and thank God for that,” he said.

But staff analysis is continuing and so far, the motion is only to begin talks with the park board. At the park board, the plan is sure to face opposition.

“I believe this move by Vision to try to repurpose park land by hijacking a drainage remediation report is a smokescreen,” said Vancouver park board commissioner Sarah Kirby-Yung, also with NPA. “Vision is not suggesting this to repurpose park space. They are doing it to reappropriate valuable green space for housing,” she charged.

Last fall, the city of Vancouver began a review of all parks and recreation facilities. The plan, Vancouver’s first such assessment in 25 years was to include a review of the three public golf courses on the city’s south side — Langara, Fraserview and McCleery.

The city already had plans to provide more public access at Langara. But those plans have clearly expanded since then, adding fuel to a heated debate that last raged six years ago.

In 2012, the city floated the possibility of converting all or part of Langara Golf Course into a park or a housing development. It was met with heavy opposition.

Malcolm Ashford, then a park board commissioner, was vocally opposed to the idea. He said it was a lazy way to create park space, adding that he would lead the charge to stop it, and galvanize many other former park board commissioners to do so as well. 

This position was echoed by John Coupar, the only current commissioner who was also serving the last time the idea came up.

“Our golf courses are not just golf courses,” he said in 2012. “They’re natural environments that are used by a lot of the community. So people are very protective of that space.” 

Since then, however, the cost of land in Vancouver has skyrocketed, as has the need for affordable housing, forcing the city to get more creative with their use of space. And, with golf course use stagnant in the region, it’s no surprise the city would investigate whether there is a better use of the 6,000-yard, par 71 course.

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Salmon Arm's Curtis Sagmoen faces 12th criminal charge

Wed, 03/14/2018 - 20:03

A 12th criminal charge has been laid against a man at the centre of a Salmon Arm-area investigation into assaults against women.

Curtis Sagmoen, 37, is now facing a charge of assault causing bodily harm.

Unlike the previous 11 criminal charges laid against Sagmoen in five months, the one laid Wednesday appears to be related to an alleged incident five years ago when he was living in Maple Ridge.

A Salmon Arm farm owned by his parents was the focus of a major police search in October last year where remains of a missing woman were eventually found. No charges have been laid relating to the discovery of the remains of Traci Genereaux, 18.

Police search a farm near Salmon Arm, B.C., on Monday, October 23, 2017.

In a release, Cpl. Dan Moskaluk said Sagmoen has been the subject of an “ongoing investigation” and new information that was uncovered led to the charge.

Sagmoen grew up in Maple Ridge. In 2007, he bought his own townhouse on Gilker Hill in that city.

In 2013, there were two assaults against women on a trail near this townhouse. When asked last year if the Ridge Meadows RCMP would now take another look at these assaults, Sgt. Brenda Gresiuk said she would “not comment on any current or ongoing investigations.”

Categories: Vancouver Sports News

Vancouver social-housing proposal would nix art-deco building

Wed, 03/14/2018 - 18:53

B.C.’s new housing minister, Selina Robinson, recently announced $83 million in funding for four new affordable-housing buildings in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. But she left out the fact that some significant heritage buildings would be torn down in the process, including the elegant Salvation Army Temple at 301 East Hastings St.

The streamlined art-deco structure was hailed “as modern as tomorrow” when it opened on Feb. 18, 1950. It’s so distinctive, it rates a listing on Canada’s Historic Places website.

But it has been owned by Vancouver Coastal Health since 2001, and has sat empty for the last 17 years. Coastal Health is now partnering with B.C. Housing to replace it with a community health facility on the main floor, and 75 units of social housing on top.

Still, the former director of the Carnegie Centre wonders why the building has sat empty for almost two decades, when it could have filled a dire need for community space in the DTES.

“It has a wonderful theatre auditorium, a great gym, all kinds of meeting rooms — just great working spaces for a community centre,” said Michael Clague. “This is an area where people’s own private space is so limited that they need public indoor gathering spaces. Carnegie for so many years has served as a living room for the area … well, other living rooms are needed as well.”

Clague said he has put several “feelers” out to Coastal Health about the building over the years, but been rebuffed.

“Health was never interested in talking about it, ever,” he said. “They just hung on to the thing. That’s the disappointment. They hung on, and let it deteriorate.”

In an email, Carrie Stefanson of Vancouver Coastal Health said “when Vancouver Coastal Health purchased the property, it did not have the financial capacity to develop a new community health-care centre on the site.” But thanks to the new funding, it “will now be utilized for health care and housing, which are both desperately needed on the Downtown Eastside.”

The former Salvation Army temple at 301 East Hastings St. has been a Downtown Eastside landmark since it opened in 1950.

Donna Spencer of the Firehall Theatre did a study that looked at converting the building into an arts centre.

“A number of us went in and had a look at it, and thought this could turn into a real asset for the community,” she said. “There’s a couple of places that could be performance spaces, there was areas (where you could) create a workshop for residents to come in and build things, or do their carving. There were all sorts of possibilities.”

Spencer has also been frustrated by Coastal Health sitting on the building, which heritage advocates call “demolition through neglect.”

“A lot of people in the community have gone to them and said, ‘Can we rent it? Can we use it temporarily?’ ” she said. “And it’s basically been no, no, no. They’re not that interested.”

Heritage expert Don Luxton thinks the goals of the proposed new building are fine. But he doesn’t understand why it has to built on the site of a unique heritage building.

“There’s lots of other places to put their facility, (but) there’s no other place down there left that is a purpose-built assembly hall,” he said. “What is the area crying out for? Not more (social) housing — there’s lots of housing being built, that’s all that’s being built in that area.

“What are (Downtown Eastside residents) going to do? What else are we going to have in the neighbourhood? It’s clearly identified by many proponents that there is a crying need for cultural facilities in the area.”

Luxton rejects the argument that the building has deteriorated to the point where it has to be torn down.

“It’s concrete,” he said. “A reinforced concrete building could be repurposed quite readily. The current condition of the finishes and interiors makes no difference.”

The Salvation Army Temple at 301 East Hastings at Gore streets when it opened on Feb. 18, 1950. Original cutline: SALVATION ARMY TEMPLE, which replaces the old citadel at Gore and Hastings, will be officially opened this evening by Attorney-General Gordon Wismer. The spacious new building contains much more commodious quarters than former citadel, and will be family welfare centre and divisional headquarters for all of B.C.

Luxton also thinks the old Sally Ann might be the last and best chance for a DTES arts or community centre.

“Nobody’s ever going to build new,” he said. “If you build a new cultural facility, it’s going to cost you more.”

The health authority purchased the building for $1.5 million in 2001. The Salvation Army used it as its local headquarters from 1950-1984, when it was sold to the Gold Buddha Monastery, which operated there for 17 years.

The building was designed by architects Mercer and Mercer, which built Vancouver institutions such as the Shaughnessy Hospital and the Waldorf Hotel. Legend has it that Jimi Hendrix played at the temple in his teens with a Salvation Army band.

The City of Vancouver said it hadn’t received a development permit application for 301 East Hastings, so couldn’t comment on any plan for the site. But Lindsay Byers of the provincial Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing said in an email that construction on the new building “will start in late 2018 and is estimated to be completed in late 2020.” The ministry is giving $15.7 million to the project.

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Feb. 19, 1948, photo of the Salvation Army Citadel that was torn down and replaced by the current art-deco building at Gore and Hastings streets.

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Categories: Vancouver Sports News

Douglas Todd: NDP could suffer from Jagmeet Singh’s links to 'blood hatreds,' say observers

Wed, 03/14/2018 - 18:38

The federal New Democratic Party could be hurt by growing revelations that leader Jagmeet Singh has been embroiled in the “blood hatreds” of his ancestral home, say political observers.

“The risk is that the leader of the NDP is seen as too closely identified with his ethnic community and with some of the more militant elements within it,” said University of B.C. political scientist emeritus Philip Resnick.

“One of the greatest challenges to multiculturalism is the tendency for members of diasporic communities to bring the blood hatreds of their communities of origin to their country of adoption or birth. This seems to be the problem with respect to Jagmeet Singh and the question of Khalistan.”

Resnick was among the political observers responding to media reports Wednesday that Singh appeared at a 2015 rally in San Francisco at which speakers called for a separate Sikh nation in India, known as Khalistan, and honoured a violent Sikh militant.

It was reported Singh spoke on a stage during a parade that featured a poster of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, an armed religious leader killed during India’s raid on Sikhs’ Golden Temple in 1984, which soon lead to two Sikh bodyguards assassinating Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi, followed by a vicious series of riots targeting Sikhs.

Singh released a statement Wednesday saying he condemns all violence and terrorism. And despite his frequent denunciations of India’s politicians in the past, the federal NDP leader, elected just six months ago, also maintained that questions about the future of India are not for him to decide.

“To what extent (do Canadian voters) want this issue colouring the position of the NDP when it comes to relations with India?” asked Resnick. “And, just as importantly, to what degree do we want to see the internally divided politics of the Sikh community spilling over and influencing the politics of our federal parties? It’s not a happy position for the NDP to be in.”

Singh’s past activism in defence of Sikh separatists and their rights, Resnick said, might especially hurt the electoral cause of the federal NDP in Quebec,  “where they tend to be more critical of what many see as pandering to cultural minorities.”

The controversy over Singh’s involvement in grievances shared by what are believed to be a minority of Canada’s 500,000 Sikhs comes on the heels of Liberal Prime Minister’s Justin Trudeau’s trouble-filled February trip to India, during which former Canadian-based convicted attempted murderer Jaspal Atwal was invited to official government receptions, and top Indian politicians accused Trudeau and his many Sikh MPs of being soft on “Khalistani sympathizers.”


Kwantlen Polytechnic University political scientist Shinder Purewal said Wednesday that Singh picked up a large portion of the votes to win the leadership of the federal NDP from Sikh groups and temples, some of them with pro-Khalistan tendencies, in the heavily Punjabi-populated municipalities of Surrey and Brampton, Ont.

Although Purewal estimated that “not more than five per cent of (Canadian) Sikhs support the Khalistan movement,” he stressed that the federal NDP’s “one-person, one-vote” system for choosing a leader is highly vulnerable to block voting by ethnic, religious or minority groups. In contrast, Purewal said the federal Conservative and B.C. Liberal parties have reduced the impact of regional interest groups on leadership votes by giving equal voting weight to each riding and by adding a preferential ballot.

Purewal has previously emphasized Singh’s ties with the Khalistani movement. Over the years, Singh has helped Canadian Sikhs protest the visit of an Indian cabinet minister, Kamal Nath; supported Scottish Sikh militant Jagtar Singh Johal; opposed the death penalty for Sikh assassin Balwant Singh Rajoana; and, in the past year, refused to denounce some Canadian Sikhs’ glorification of Talwinder Singh Parmar, the suspected mastermind of the 1985 Air India bombing. Since 2013, India has refused to offer a visa to Singh.

Despite the conflicts with India and among Canadian Sikhs, Purewal said, the latest poll suggests 19 per cent of Canadian voters support the federal NDP. “Needless to say, they are not just Sikhs, let alone a tiny fraction of Sikh Khalistanis.”

The next federal election, Purewal said, “will be between the Conservatives and the Liberals, with Trudeau-mania missing. Singh’s NDP will pose some challenge on the left for the Liberals, while leaving a huge centre-right for (Conservative leader) Andrew Scheer. Even South Asian voters will be split among the three major parties.”

Former federal Liberal cabinet minister Ujjal Dosanjh, a one-time NDP premier of B.C. who decades ago was brutally beaten for opposing Sikh terrorists, said Wednesday that Singh has publicly acknowledged he was inspired to jump into politics because of what he insists on calling, against the opinions of human-rights specialists, the Indian government’s “genocide” of Sikhs in India in 1984.

The federal NDP’s electoral fortunes could stand up if Singh “disassociates himself clearly from those who support the dismemberment of the democracy of India,” said Dosanjh, adding that the NDP leader also needs to “unequivocally condemn Parmar,” whom a B.C. judge declared the leader of the attack on the Air India jet.

“If he did those things, I think he’d be clear. And I hope he does so. I have no ill will toward him,” Dosanjh said in an interview from India, where he is visiting relatives.

“But you can’t hang out with people who might be violent in the future. You can’t be equivocal on these issues and be the prime minister of Canada.”

Categories: Vancouver Sports News

Vaughn Palmer: Under NDP, B.C. Hydro backs off independent power deals

Wed, 03/14/2018 - 18:38

VICTORIA — Tucked into the last paragraph of a B.C. Hydro press release on Wednesday was news about the B.C. Liberal government’s experiment with buying electricity from large-scale independent power producers.

“B.C. Hydro supports the (NDP) government’s decision to take a closer look at energy procurement to ensure it provides the best value for its customers through their review of B.C. Hydro this year,” it read. “As a result, there are no plans at this time to issue any additional electricity purchase agreements until the review is complete.”

This following the announcement that Hydro was proceeding to negotiate electricity purchases from small-scale clean-energy projects with five First Nations.

Two of the five are for 15-megawatt wind farm projects with the Salteau and West Moberly First Nations, each with a link to the 1,100-megawatt Site C hydroelectric project under construction on the Peace River.

Salteau has a signed agreement with B.C. Hydro to share in the benefits of Site C and support for the wind farm might be part of the deal.

Less apparent is Hydro’s rationale for a deal with West Moberly. The First Nation is adamantly opposed to Site C and seeking an injunction to stop construction through a full blown hearing set for later this year in B.C. Supreme Court.

Hydro will also proceed with talks on a five-megawatt small scale hydro project with the Huu-ay-aht First Nation near Bamfield and a 500-kilowatt one with the Kanaka Bar Band near Boston Bar. Rounding out the quartet is a one-megawatt solar-power project under development by Tsilhquot’in National government at a site near Hanceville.

“Moving forward with the development of these energy projects is a step in the right direction in creating opportunities for First Nations in the province, while also contributing to B.C.’s clean energy future,” said Energy Minister Michelle Mungall in a press release.

But the combined 36.5 megawatts for the five projects is a far cry from some of the larger independent power projects under the B.C. Liberals. Altera’s Toba Montrose run of the river venture on the Sunshine Coast is rated at 235 megawatts all by itself.

After the release was out, I asked Mungall if this were the end of the line for independent power projects. She signalled it surely was for the large scale and corporate-backed ventures that went forward under the B.C. Liberals.

There will continue to be opportunities for First Nations to develop and sell electricity to B.C. Hydro, she assured me. The emphasis would be smaller-scale clean energy projects to wean communities off diesel-generated power and on developments that provide jobs and economic benefits to isolated First Nation communities.

In fairness to the B.C. Liberals,  First Nation partnerships were a substantial part of many of the projects undertaken on their watch. But the lingering controversy involves long-term contracts that were locked in at higher prices before a decade-long glut of cheap electricity.

Mungall and her NDP colleagues came into office as harsh critics of the power deals struck by the Liberals.

But their move against private power was made easier by the decision to proceed with 1,100 megawatts of public power at Site C and by the recent report from the B.C. Utilities Commission on the NDP request for a one-year freeze in Hydro rates.

The New Democrats didn’t like that the commission rejected the freeze. But they did like what it said about the financial woes that the Liberals left behind at Hydro, including those rooted in overpriced contracts with independent power producers.

“We learned that we have a bit of a financial mess at B.C. Hydro. It’s a mess that this government is going to have to clean up, and we will do that,” Mungall told me during an interview last week on Voice of B.C. on Shaw TV.

“We’re very clear that it was not right for ratepayers to have to pay inflated costs for these private power projects. The Liberals went ahead with that, and now that issue has come home to roost, and the BCUC highlighted it.”

In arguing that Hydro couldn’t afford the $140-million revenue loss of a rate freeze, the commission cited a number of factors, the high cost of contracts with independent power projects foremost among them.

Not to say the giant utility had not made some progress putting the squeeze on some of the less-flattering deals signed by the Liberals. The commission noted that B.C. Hydro has opted to terminate 14 electricity purchase agreements, to downsize and defer two agreements, and to delay the delivery of energy to B.C. Hydro under another 11 agreements. “As a result of these actions, B.C. Hydro has reduced electricity purchase commitments by $2.1 billion.”

Those savings notwithstanding, the three-member commission panel expressed concern “about the high unit costs of B.C. Hydro’s portfolio of (independent power) purchases and we are of the view that careful consideration be given to the need for and length of renewals.”

With that in mind, the panel requested an in-depth filing from B.C. Hydro on the cost of independent power projects and the “long-term commitments included in Hydro’s cost of energy.”

No doubt Hydro will be happy to oblige, particularly under a provincial government that never liked independent power in the first place. With the B.C. now committed to the most expensive public power project in provincial history, First Nations will likely remain the only players on the non-governmental front.

Categories: Vancouver Sports News

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