Environment Canada issues rainfall warning for Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley – BC News


The Canadian Press – Jun 2, 2024 / 3:57 pm | Story: 490461

A spokeswoman for Squamish Search and Rescue in British Columbia says an “active search” is underway for three experienced mountaineers who have been missing since Friday.

Christy Allan says in an interview that the climbers were last seen Friday morning on Atwell Peak, located on the southern edge of Mount Garibaldi.

She says the organization was contacted Friday night by the RCMP to help search for the overdue mountaineers.

Allan says the climbers, who have not yet been identified, were last seen in “really complex and remote terrain.”

She says members would usually access the region by air and ground, but visibility has been very poor and winter conditions, including avalanche risk, are making it difficult for the team to access the area.

But she says members have been able to get to the nearby Elfin Lake shelter and are “assessing all ways of trying to get into the area.”


A vehicle incident on the Coquihalla south of Merritt has brought delays to the highway.

The northbound lane to Merritt on Highway 5 has been closed after an incident near Exit 228 at Coquihalla Lakes Road.

Drivers are told to expect delays.

The incident at Coquihalla Lakes Road prompted what appears to be a helicopter response as seen on the Drive BC highway webcam at “Portia.”

Drive BC plans another update on the incident to be released at 4:00 p.m.

The Canadian Press – Jun 2, 2024 / 2:05 pm | Story: 490447

Vancouver police say they are recommending multiple dangerous driving and impaired driving charges for a man who crashed his car into several other vehicles and nearly hit pedestrians downtown last week.

They say the driver of a white Mercedes allegedly “smashed into and sideswiped” a grey Mazda CX5 on Alberni Street around 10 p.m. on Friday.

They allege he then accelerated through the Bute Street intersection, jumping a curb and nearly hitting pedestrians before crashing into a bike rack and street sign and splitting a tree in half.

Vancouver Police say the driver then crashed into three other vehicles before coming to rest on a sidewalk.

They say bystander saw the driver of the Mercedes get out of the car and run east on Alberni Street.

Police say officers found the driver, but did not specify how many charges they plan to recommend.


The Canadian Press – | Story: 490427

Environment Canada has issued a rainfall warning for Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, with up to 60 millimetres expected by Monday morning.

It says the warning comes as a moisture laden Pacific frontal system moves into the south coast of British Columbia, bringing heavy rain.

The weather agency says this will intensify by Sunday afternoon before easing into showers early Monday.

The warning says localized flooding is possible in low-lying areas, and that heavy downpours may also cause flash floods and water pooling on roads.

The weather office first issued a rainfall warning for Metro Vancouver on Saturday, but expanded the alert Sunday to cover the Fraser Valley, including Chilliwack and Hope.

The City of Vancouver issued a separate advisory warning that the weather would cause high flows for the North Shore’s Capilano and Seymour rivers.

It noted the rivers can change drastically without much notice.

“Metro Vancouver is urging those who enjoy spending time near the rivers, whether it be using nearby trails, fishing or kayaking, to protect their safety by being alert and extremely cautious,” the city’s news release said Sunday.

Jack Knox / Times Colonist – Jun 2, 2024 / 7:35 am | Story: 490410

Even at age 97, Earl Clark would still find himself flashing back to D-Day.

“Every once in a while you wake up in the night and, boom, you’re right there,” he said, gripping the arms of his wheelchair.

He could hear the mortar rounds raining down, see the machine-gun rounds slapping the water as the Canadian Scottish Regiment — all those Victoria boys, Nanaimo boys, Comox Valley boys — poured onto Juno Beach.

“As soon as the landing barges hit the beach, we had to race like crazy, because if you stayed on the beach for one second, you were going to get mowed down.”

Up the slope they scrambled, weighed down with gear — rifle, pack, a short-handled shovel.

It wasn’t any safer when they reached the top. “That’s where Jerry had his fortifications. He poured the lead at us.”

The Canadians had to keep their legs moving if they wanted to stay alive. “You’d go a few feet, hit the ground, roll over, and do that again.” Stay in one spot, the machine guns would zero in. “You just kept going.”

It was awful. Fallen Canadians. Fallen Germans. “It was just a sea of dead and dying. You never forget it.”

Clark reddened at the memory, trembled a bit. Behind him in their room at Saanich’s Veterans Memorial Lodge at Broadmead, his wife Margaret, her posture perfect, listened in silence.

That was in 2014, exactly 70 years after D-Day. There was no chest-thumping to his story, no flag-waving.

Clark wasn’t John Wayne in The Longest Day or Tom Hanks in Saving Private Ryan. He was an ordinary guy from Vancouver Island, not an actor, and what is Hollywood — or history — to the rest of us was real life to him.

Real life to a lot of other Islanders, too. Vancouver Island sacrificed disproportionately on June 6, 1944.

The soldiers of the first battalion of the Victoria-based Canadian Scottish Regiment were among the first ashore when 14,000 Canadians landed in Normandy. Other Islanders piloted landing craft through the mine-strewn surf or parachuted into the blackness of the pre-invasion night.

It has been a source of national pride ever since, Canada being assigned one of the five invasion beaches (Juno to the Canadians, Sword and Gold to the British, Omaha and Utah to the U.S.) on a landmark day in history.

The Royal Canadian Navy was there, too, 10,000 sailors in 109 ships bombarding the French coastline and ferrying troops and supplies through the heavily mined waters. The Royal Canadian Air Force also had a hand in Operation Overlord, the official name of the invasion of western Europe.

As time marched on, the Times Colonist told the stories of many D-Day veterans.

Chester Stefanek drove a transport vehicle while under fire. Bill Fisher’s role involved jumping out of a plane. Peter Ramsay led a company of the Canadian Scottish in the first wave to hit his section of French soil.

Bob Parlow was offshore aboard HMCS St. Laurent, which was firing at German positions. Frank Poole’s D-Day mission was to lead enemy fighters away from the Allied bombers. He was eventually shot down over Germany and ended up a prisoner of war.

The thing is, as we mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day this week, those stories have faded away like the old soldiers themselves — black and white images forgotten in a long-unopened drawer. That’s a shame, because what those Islanders did was worth remembering.

Take Clark. A logger before the war, he came from a hard-working family in Shirley, past Sooke, where he grew up with eight brothers and a sister.

He was a logger during the war, too, serving in the Canadian Forestry Corps in northern Scotland. That’s where he met Margaret at a dance. “At least I didn’t step on her toes,” he said. They married in 1942.

Clark was transferred to the Canadian Scottish just before D-Day. A Polish ship ferried his company across the English Channel. They scrambled down netting hanging from its hull to get to the landing craft that ran them to Juno Beach.

He remembered that a Major English was in charge. He remembered another officer, too. “His tank got hit and he lost both his legs.”

By the end of the day, the regiment was 10 kilometres inland, farther than anyone else.

The Canadian Scottish experience that day was well-documented in Ready for the Fray, the regimental history written by Reg Roy in 1957.

The infantry unit lost 87 soldiers on D-Day. More than 200 men, almost a third of the battalion’s pre-invasion strength, had become casualties by the fourth day of fighting.

The battle for the town of Putot-en-Bessin alone saw 45 Canadian Scottish killed and another 80 wounded. (The Royal Winnipeg Rifles suffered there, too, including a couple of dozen men who were flat-out murdered by SS troops after being taken prisoner.)

Some of the Canadian Scottish had been ferried across the English Channel aboard HMCS Prince Henry, which in peacetime served the B.C. coast as a Canadian National steamship.

That resulted in some Islanders stumbling into halfway-around-the-world reunions: As Canadian Scottish Lt. Stewart Ross marched up the gangplank in England, he dropped the 80 pounds of gear on his back and embraced 23-year-old Lt. Jack Davie, the leader of the ship’s flotilla of assault craft.

“Then Ross took Davie to a shipboard reunion with Maj. Dick Lendrum, who used to teach them both in the high school at Duncan, B.C.,” reported a newspaper journalist aboard Prince Henry.

Ross did not survive the war, but Davie and Lendrum remained friends. (“After the war I used to say to Dick that putting him on the beach in Normandy was my revenge for him trying to teach me Latin,” Davie recalled in 2001.)

When the Canadian Scottish were lowered from the Prince Henry for their 10-kilometre run into the beach, they did so with bagpipes echoing in their ears and, according to Roy, a much-appreciated lunch of two boiled eggs and a cheese sandwich provided by the ship’s crew to add to their rations.

Heavy seas swamped tank landing craft several kilometres from land. Soldiers became seasick. Concentrated mortar fire from the shore knocked out many tanks before the landing craft even reached the beach. While only one of the Prince Henry’s eight landing craft was lost, all eight belonging to another ship, the Prince David, were destroyed.

A reporter interviewed Davie after he returned to the Prince Henry: “Davie said the flotilla sailed through many beach obstacles to reach shore. In addition to rusty-looking mines and concrete pickets, there were trip wires stretched along the water’s edge.

“Davie’s holed craft was taken in tow by two other craft and brought back to the ship. The crew bailed furiously because they didn’t think they could make it.”

On shore, the fighting was relatively light in places, furious in others. An Indigenous soldier, Pte. B.M. Francis, killed two or three snipers, including one he shot from the hip without aiming from a distance of 50 metres, before himself being killed, Roy wrote.

Ordered to take out a dangerous German gun emplacement, Lt. Bernie Clarke replied with the now-legendary “Who? ME?” before doing the job.

A platoon led by Lt. Roger Schjelderup, a Canadian Scottish officer from Courtenay, ended the day with only 19 of 45 soldiers unscathed.

Schjelderup, among the wounded, was later photographed in a British hospital playing cards with another D-Day casualty, Salt Spring Island’s Ken Byron. Schjelderup, who had proven remarkable even before joining the army — in 1937, at age 15, he became among the first to climb Vancouver Island’s highest mountain, the 2,200-metre Golden Hinde — went on to become one of the most highly decorated Canadians of the Second World War.

In October, after leading a company that stubbornly held off a massive counterattack long enough for other troops to get in position to prevent the Germans from re-crossing the Leopold Canal, he was wounded by a grenade and captured.

Two weeks later, he and other Canadian prisoners used a hidden penknife to cut their way out of the boxcar in which they were held. They then hooked up with the Dutch Resistance, raiding German targets before, in January 1945, reaching a British unit, who fed them tea laced with rum.

That’s a very stripped-down version of a harrowing story that would been made into a Hollywood movie were Schjelderup from another country.

Instead, few of us even know his name. After Schjelderup’s death in 1974, it was left to his childhood friend and fellow outdoor enthusiast Ruth Masters, a much-respected Vancouver Island environmentalist, to drive the campaign to have a Strathcona Park lake named in his memory.

As for Byron — the wounded Salt Spring soldier photographed playing cards with Schjelderup — he had his own D-Day drama to relate: A bomb hit his landing craft the moment it dropped its ramp, badly wounding Lt. Hector Russell and leaving Byron, a sergeant, in charge.

“I was platoon commander as soon as I hit the beach,” Byron would later recall.

The 23-year-old didn’t have to wait long for his own wound. “Mortar bombs started to drop. I dove into a tank trap. My mortar man dropped right in front of me, dead. He got a piece of shrapnel in his temple. I got a piece in my cheek, cut the artery.”

A doctor patched up Byron to the point that, while coated in a mixture of sand and blood, he was able to lead the platoon inland. “I stayed in the battle for the rest of the day.”

He would survive until 2014, when he went out the way he wanted: in his own bed on the Salt Spring farm where he stubbornly lived alone. Tough old guy, just like his little brother Terry, another Canadian Scottish sergeant who would heal from his own wounds and return to Salt Spring where, like Ken, he farmed alone into his nineties.

Back in Victoria, the time difference with France allowed the D-Day story to be reported on the date it happened. “INVASION BEGINS/CANADIANS IN ACTION” blared the all-caps double-deck headline on the front of the June 6 Daily Colonist.

A day later, an article described the capital’s reaction: “News of the invasion of Europe by Allied forces did not burst like a bombshell on Victoria yesterday. It was received with sober calm. Many persons had expected it any day for a long time.”

Principals led school children in prayer. Hundreds of Victorians flooded into churches that opened their doors.

As the years went by, the D-Day story became exactly that — a story, a black-and-white photo in a history text, not quite real to most of us.

Those who were there were often reluctant to talk about it, deflecting to lighter subjects instead. When Jack Davie was joined in his Maple Bay home in 2001 for a reunion of half a dozen of those who had driven landing craft onto Juno Beach, getting them to talk about D-Day was like trying to teach a cat to fetch.

They talked about Greenberg, the Jewish crewmate who arrived at the Prince Henry wearing a German uniform.

They talked about liberating a Jeep from a drunken U.S. army officer and hoisting it aboard their ship, where it proved useful as a port runabout until the crew discovered the American military police were still looking for it, at which point they traded it to some British 8th Army soldiers in Egypt for a new vehicle, which itself had to be given a buoyancy test in the Thames after being involved in a police chase in London.

The Prince Henry vets at Davie’s house were happy to rattle on about that stuff — but not about D-Day.

Earl Clark was similarly reticent. In 2014, his daughter Christine said she grew up knowing about his physical scars — in February 1945 a German potato-masher grenade put him in a Belgian hospital for 17 days, blinded him for six weeks and left him with shrapnel in one lung and behind one eye for the rest of his life — but that she hadn’t known how much he carried D-Day inside him for all those years.

Like so many of the veterans, he kept it to himself.

After the war, Clark returned to Vancouver Island and, eventually, a life in forestry.

He died on Remembrance Day 2016 at 100 years old.

Clark and the other Islanders at D-Day were part of what has often been called Canada’s Greatest Generation — raised in the Depression, robbed of their youth by war, then grateful for the chance to build a better life.

Meeting them, it was hard not to feel a little smaller, a little softer, a little less adequate in their presence.

This story was adapted from the book On The Rocks With Jack Knox: Islanders I Will Never Forget.

British Columbia’s newly resurgent Conservative party envisions sweeping changes to schools, housing, climate and reconciliation with First Nations if it’s elected to form government this fall for the first time in nearly a century.

The party, which has been climbing steadily in the polls and is now well ahead of the BC United, the current Opposition, would repeal the provincial Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act in favour of pivoting to an approach of “economic reconciliation” by signing business deals with individual First Nations.

As well, the party would strike a committee to review all school textbooks and literature to ensure they are “neutral,” party leader John Rustad said during a wide-ranging meeting with The Globe and Mail’s editorial board in Vancouver earlier this month.

“It shouldn’t be about indoctrination of anything, whether that’s environmental or whether that’s political or whether that’s sexual,” Mr. Rustad said, referencing his proposal to censor books deemed by his Conservative government to be inappropriate for students.

While the NDP still remain ahead in most B.C. opinion polls, the Conservative Party of British Columbia is in solid second place, eclipsing the Opposition BC United, formerly the BC Liberals, a party that held government in the province for the first decade and a half of this century. However, an Angus Reid poll released this week found that more than half of the 1,203 British Columbians it surveyed in an online panel couldn’t identify Mr. Rustad as the leader of his party.

On Friday, BC United’s caucus chair, Lorne Doerkson, who represents Cariboo-Chilcotin, crossed the floor to join the Conservatives, giving the Conservatives a caucus of three. The NDP holds 55 seats in the current 87-seat legislature and BC United now has 25. Independents and Green party have two seats each.

Mr. Rustad is a five-term MLA from the Nechako Lakes riding west of Prince George and, for four years, was the minister of Indigenous reconciliation in Christy Clark’s Liberal government.

Mr. Rustad and Bruce Banman, of Abbotsford South, both sit as BC Conservatives in the legislature after being elected as members of BC United in 2020. Mr. Rustad was ejected from the BC United caucus in 2022 after his social-media posts cast doubt that people are directly responsible for the climate changing around the globe. Mr. Banman crossed the floor to join Mr. Rustad last September and has refused to say whether he agrees or disagrees with climate change.

Long-time pollsters and conservative strategists in Western Canada say Mr. Rustad is clearly riding the popularity of federal Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre and that – if he wants to win as many seats as possible – he would do well to remain laser focused on that politician’s main message of how life is unaffordable for most people.

He must, they warn, stay away from campaigning on other more-divisive policies, which echo the reactionary “culture war” currents now animating Donald Trump’s Republican Party in the United States. In the past two months, three BC Conservative candidates have quit or been fired by the party, one for xenophobic and homophobic posts and two for supporting quack COVID-19 science.

Mr. Rustad acknowledged that Surrey and Vancouver Island’s myriad ridings will determine who wins this election and added that his party plans to run a full slate of 93 candidates. He said he reckons he’ll spend six days a week this summer travelling the province hammering home the multiple crises people face, including sky-high housing costs, spiking grocery bills, gaps in access to healthcare, the poisoned illicit drug supply, the ailing forestry sector and deficit spending.

At the meeting with The Globe, he said his party is not yet ready to unveil the planks of its election platform that will address these problems, but did say he wants to scrap most of the NDP’s housing policies.

“It’s more of the question ‘Is there anything I’d like to keep?’ Which is: probably not much,” Mr. Rustad said.

He singled out the “authoritarian” way the province has selected 30 communities to produce a targeted number of new homes over the next five years, an effort the NDP says is spurring these cities to do more to confront their housing shortages.

“I don’t believe that they should come in and override local government and local government decision-making,” Mr. Rustad said.

Regarding health care, he said Conservatives would commit to maintaining the universal system paid for by the government, but would look to increase the number of private clinics providing services and procedures such as hip replacements. This privately provided care would be covered for patients by the public system, he said, an approach that Ontario and Alberta have embraced as a way to reduce wait times and one even B.C.’s NDP government is increasingly using as well.

Mr. Rustad said a group of medical professionals recently told him the closest analogue to B.C.’s healthcare system is that of a totalitarian dictatorship across the Pacific.

“I’m told that there’s only one jurisdiction that even comes close to following what we do and that’s North Korea – and it’s not exactly a stellar model, from my perspective, of success in health care,” said Mr. Rustad, who added that his government would immediately fire Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry over her support for COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Mr. Rustad refused to identify the group of medical professionals that provided this analysis.

On climate change, Mr. Rustad has been vocal about ending the province’s carbon tax, which the BC Liberals created in 2008 as the first such levy in North America.

Mr. Rustad argues the science around human causes of climate change is “a theory and it’s not proven,” a position widely at odds with accepted science. But Mr. Rustad maintains there is no pressing need to legislate solutions.

“It’s not even a crisis,” he told The Globe.

These views prompted BC United Leader Kevin Falcon to kick Mr. Rustad out of caucus two summers ago on his birthday.

The animus between the two long-time politicians continues. Earlier this month, conversations between the BC United and the BC Conservatives aimed at providing a united front against the NDP fell apart. Mr. Rustad called his former colleague “irrational and unreasonable and prepared to lie.”

Mr. Falcon said that Mr. Rustad put his own ambition above ensuring a “free-market coalition” of conservatives return to power when he rejected the plan to split the ridings up with 46 for BC United and 47 for the Conservatives.

Mr. Falcon said in an interview this week that he remains confident that right-leaning voters will realize BC United has more in common with the surging federal Conservative party than its eponymous provincial party, which he characterized as “extreme” group that is now working with political operatives to pressure him to resign.

Ken Boessenkool was Christy Clark’s short-lived chief of staff in 2012 as the BC Liberals were contemplating two ways of dealing with the provincial Conservatives in order to beat the NDP the following year: “crush ‘em or merge with ‘em.”

But he said that may not work now.

“It’s not clear to me that Rustad is congenitally capable of moving to the centre and capturing those centre Liberal votes so it might be a little tougher for him to do the crush ‘em strategy,” he said.

The Canadian Press – Jun 1, 2024 / 9:30 am | Story: 490318

More than 500 workers are on strike at the Gibraltar copper mine in central British Columbia, about 200 kilometres south of Prince George.

Unifor says its Local 3018 members voted to strike today because Vancouver-based Taseko Mines Limited, the operation’s owner, “refused to negotiate basic terms of a new collective agreement.”

A news release from the union says contract negotiations began in February and have involved “many hours of meetings.”

No agreement had been reached when the workers’ latest contract expired on Friday.

The release says Unifor Local 3018 represents about 550 workers at the mine, which is the second largest open-pit copper mine in Canada and the largest employer in the region.

Taseko Mines did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Canadian Press – Jun 1, 2024 / 6:15 am | Story: 490308

A Vancouver synagogue is set to hold its first service after an arson attack charred the building’s front door and left the Jewish community shaken.

Rabbi Andrew Rosenblatt says he anticipates the Schara Tzedeck synagogue on Oak Street will be “fuller than usual” today for Sabbath and he’s encouraging members of the congregation to turn out.

Rosenblatt says the arson attack in which someone used an accelerant to set a fire at the synagogue’s front door on Thursday night was a “cowardly” act.

He says the more worshippers who fill the building, the better the deterrent against a repeat.

Vancouver police say they are investigating the incident as a possible hate crime and are mobilizing at Jewish sites around the city.

The fire, which Rosenblatt says was put out by a synagogue member with his jacket, blackened the door and left a strong smell of burning inside.

The attack comes after bullet holes were found at two Jewish schools in Montreal and Toronto in recent days.

No one was injured in the Vancouver attack or the other incidents.

Political leaders including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, British Columbia Premier David Eby and Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim condemned the attack.

Jewish community members say they are facing a rising wave of antisemitism since the Israel-Hamas conflict began in October.

“We can’t let it keep us from doing what we do,” Rosenblatt said of the attack.

“We can’t let it deter our mission and hopefully, I anticipate that on Saturday this place is going to be fuller than usual, and it’s a sad state of affairs that that’s what brings people into the building.”

Rosenblatt said he would like to see increased security around the synagogue and other Jewish facilities, but it should be done “within reason” given these are still community spaces that should feel welcoming.

“It’s always a double-edged sword,” he said. “The more security you put, the more intimidating it looks for people coming to visit. So we’re trying to harden the target and soften the entrance. I’m not exactly sure how else to put it.”

Ashley Joannou, The Canadian Press – May 31, 2024 / 8:24 pm | Story: 490289

Police have arrested 14 people at a protest by pro-Palestinian demonstrators who were blocking rail lines in Vancouver on Friday.

Cst. Tania Visintin said protesters who were blocking the Canadian National Railway lines in East Vancouver refused multiple requests to move and some “became hostile” with officers.

She said in a statement that more than three hours after police were called, 14 protesters were arrested for mischief and obstruction at 2:30 p.m.

“Unlawful protests that block vital infrastructure put people’s safety at risk,” said Visintin.

She said the police action was “to prevent a prolonged blockade” and also involved CN Police — the railway’s private police force — and Metro Vancouver Transit Police.

The protesters had earlier issued a news release showing people on the tracks, saying they were demanding sanctions against Israel over its actions in Gaza.

Demonstrator Atiya Jaffar said police were aggressive and “violently arrested” people.

“I would say that the only people that were putting people’s safety at risk there were the police,” she said.

Jaffar said late Friday that she didn’t know whether those arrested were still in custody.

Visintin said investigators would recommend charges to Crown counsel.

Police and protest organizers both said about 100 people were at the demonstration.

Jaffar said protestors participated “in a peaceful demonstration to disrupt business as usual because we are witnessing a genocide and business as usual cannot go on during a genocide.”

According to the Gaza Health Ministry, 36,000 Palestinians, including both combatants and civilians, have been killed in Israel’s military response to the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas, in which 1,200 people were killed and 250 people were taken hostage.

The Canadian Press – May 31, 2024 / 5:14 pm | Story: 490268

British Columbia homicide investigators say a 49-year-old man has pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the 2021 death of his wife, Naomi Onotera.

A statement from the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team says Obnes Regis also pleaded guilty to the charge of indignity to human remains during his appearance at a New Westminster, B.C., courthouse on Friday.

A trial had been underway after Regis initially entered not-guilty pleas.

The homicide team says Regis is set to be sentenced in June.

Regis was arrested in December 2021, four months after Onotera’s family reported her missing from her home in Langley, B.C., east of Vancouver.

Onotera worked as a teacher in Surrey before she was killed.

Jane Seyd / North Shore News – May 31, 2024 / 4:39 pm | Story: 490265

The North Shore won’t be getting a lot of help from the rest of Metro Vancouver when it comes to paying for almost $3 billion in cost overruns on the problem-plagued North Shore sewage treatment plant.

In a series of votes Friday morning, directors of Metro Vancouver’s regional board rejected a request from North Shore board members to share significant costs of the sewage plant overrun.

Instead, directors approved a plan that will see sewage costs for North Shore taxpayers go up by $590 a year for the next 30 years (that’s on top of an average of $484 of current sewage costs). Costs to other Metro communities will rise by between $80 and $150 annually.

Friday’s meeting was the third special budget meeting directors have held to grapple with how to deal with the unprecedented $2.86 billion cost overrun on the sewage treatment plant. Politicians considered a series of options to spread the tax burden across the region.

District of North Vancouver director Lisa Muri urged board members to consider an option that would see sewage costs to North Shore households rise by $185 annually, rather than the $725 a year projected under the current funding formula. Under that scenario, additional costs for other areas would go up by $40 more than the $80 to $140 cost increase projected under the current funding formula.

Muri told directors that would allow “a manageable increase for the extraordinary cost” of the sewage plant for North Shore households, adding, “It is inconceivable to us that the burden of this project will lay the largest financial impact on the smallest sewage region in Metro Vancouver.”

City of North Vancouver Mayor Linda Buchanan told the board while the North Shore was prepared to pay original costs of the sewage plant – even as those budgets rose – there was no way to absorb an unexpected $2.86 billion into small municipal budgets.

“We represent seven per cent of Metro, but will take on almost 50 per cent of these costs, which is an overrun,” said Buchanan. “This is going to be too much for us to absorb.”

West Vancouver Mayor Mark Sager said even with help from other Metro communities, North Shore taxpayers would still be paying twice as much for sewage as most other Metro communities.

A number of other politicians – including directors from the City of Vancouver – supported the request to spread the costs out.

Director Lisa Dominato described the cost overrun as unprecedented. “We need to share that burden,” she said.

“When your neighbours are in trouble you hope that you rush in to help. And they really are in trouble,” said Vancouver director Sarah Kirby-Yung.

Maple Ridge director Dan Ruimy added the cost overruns are not the fault of the North Shore municipalities.

“It could have been any one of us,” he said. “I may not be using the washroom in North Van, but the reality is that sewage goes into our oceans and it affects us all. I don’t want to support this but I don’t think I have a choice.”

That perspective wasn’t shared by a number of other directors, however, with Gordon Hepner of Surrey pointing out the North Shore didn’t step in to help with the costs of building other sewage plants.

Mayor Brad West of Port Coquitlam said the North Shore proposal would shift 88 per cent of the project costs to the rest of the region, which wouldn’t be fair.

Muri tried to convince fellow directors to change their minds.

“This is the most serious issue the North Shore has ever faced in its history,” she said. “We’re talking about a project that started off at $600 million and it went sideways. It went significantly sideways.”

In a series of weighted votes, however, the majority of the board rejected options for more significant sharing of the costs.

Under the scenario adopted by the board, North Shore taxpayers will still be on the hook for 37 per cent of the almost $4 billion cost of the plant while the rest of the region will pick up 63 per cent of the tab. The North Shore’s annual cost increase will be phased in over a five-year period.

Those costs are on top of annual costs of $464 that North Shore taxpayers already pay for sewage treatment – an amount that is already the highest in the region.

Directors have also indicated they are willing to look at a different funding formula in future, which could combine all of Metro Vancouver into a single sewage area for the purposes of paying for large infrastructure projects.

Metro Vancouver Commissioner Jerry Dobrovolny has warned, however, that process would likely take a couple a years to complete and would likely be “a complex and difficult discussion.”

Mark Nielsen / Prince George Citizen – May 31, 2024 / 4:38 pm | Story: 490264

Quesnel Mayor Ron Paull has turned to the court to lift a censure imposed by fellow council members over his handling of a controversial book that questions claims about the conditions in residential schools.

A petition was filed Wednesday in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver seeking on Paul’s behalf seeking, in part, judicial orders to reinstate him to all boards and committees he had held prior to the censure and to declare the sanctions including, removing his travel and lobbying budgets, as unreasonable.

Council in the community of about 10,000 people 120 kilometres south of Prince George voted April 30 to censure Paull after it was learned his wife, Pat Morton, had been sharing copies of the book Grave Error: How the Meda Misled Us (and the Truth about Residential Schools.)

Paull had also been accused of suggesting the book as “reading material” to two Cariboo Regional District officials. In response, Paull has said a director at a CRD committee of the whole meeting raised concerns about book’s focused on sexual orientation and gender identity being available to children and youth in local libraries.

“At our CRD board meeting the next day, I brought my wife’s copy of Grave Error and after the meeting, I showed it to two of my colleagues, and wondered what the CRD library would do with it,” Paul said in an excerpt included in the petition. 

The matter was first considered by council at its March 19 meeting when a letter from the Lhtako Dene Nation was submitted as a late item. According to minutes included in the petition, Paull said it was his wife who had the book and asserted he had not read it. 

“To be honest, I have not even opened it, I looked at the cover but have no interest in looking at it,” Paull is quoted as saying. 

He went on to say he would “be the first” to “positively and meaningfully” reaffirm the memorandum of understanding between the city and the Lhtako Dene Nation and went on to list several of the city’s “accomplishments” regarding Indigenous relations and reconciliation.

His statement did not go over well with Coun. Laurey-Anne Roodenburg, the council’s Indigenous liaison. Roodenburg accused Morton of not respecting that Paull is the mayor and what she does not only reflects on Paull but “on our council and our community.’

The issue continued into the April 2 meeting when chiefs and elders from local Indigenous communities were invited to speak on behalf of their respective nations. When the floor was opened to the public for comments, Morton attempted to make her case but was told she could only ask questions or seek a point of clarity.

Once the hearing was over, Roodenberg brought a motion requesting that staff prepare a report on the potential censure of Paull. He was provided with a copy of the report on April 19 and in advance of the April 30 meeting.

In the petition, council is accused of breaching its duty of fairness owed to Paull and says he should have been notified of his alleged misconduct in a timely manner and given a “meaningful opportunity” to reply.

Council “ambushed” Paull at the April 2 meeting, the petition says. “Council orchestrated a public hearing into the allegations about his and his wife surrounding the Book without notice to the Petitioner.”

That an open discussion about the matter was not on the meeting’s agenda nor was the resolution seeking the report on the potential censure of Paull, according to the petition. 

It also says that under the city’s code of conduct, Paull should have been given 14 days notice of the censuring and sanctioning in order to provide hims with time to prepare a response.

The petition further alleges that the resolutions against Paull are unreasonable. The power to censure and sanction is not a tool to be wielded for “cheap political gain” but rather a means of regulating conduct where there has been a “substantial falling away.”

“The allegation in this case is that the mayor’s wife, who is not (word underlined) a member of council, shared the book with someone and that the mayor later showed (word underlined) the Book to two regional district directors after (word underlined) a meeting of the Cariboo Regional District. This is not a rational or reasonable basis for censuring and sanctioning an elected member of city council having regard for the legal and factual constraints.

“Further, council does not have the authority to prohibit the mayor from claiming legitimate expenses under its travel policy or to remove his lobbying budget. This policy applies to all (word underlined) members of council, regardless of whether they have been censured.

“Finally, the city repeatedly failed to comply with its own procedure bylaw with respect ot the adoption of the impugned resolutions.”

None of the allegations has been tested in court and the defendant, listed as the City of Quesnel, has not yet filed a response. It will have 21 days to do so from the day it has been served with the petition.

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