Don’t whine about COVID restrictions – wine with them.
April is Wine Month in B.C. and the Wine Growers British Columbia (WGBC) are welcoming the annual event by saluting winemakers and grape growers throughout the province.
For the fourth year, the B.C. government has proclaimed April as the official province-wide wine month, inviting all British Columbians to enjoy B.C. wines farmed in their own province.
With 929 vineyards across the province – many of which are in the Okanagan – B.C.’s wine industry is doing what it can to protect the more than 12,000 jobs B.C. wineries support
“Many of our local wineries and vineyards are family-run businesses that have chosen farming and winemaking as their passion and their profession. This is a well-deserved recognition of the hard work and dedication of B.C.’s winemakers and grapegrowers,” said Miles Prodan, WGBC president and CEO. “It’s also an important recognition of the more than 280 licensed grape wineries and more than 400 independent grape growers which enhance the vibrancy and sustainability of B.C.’s vineyards and agricultural communities.”
Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries said throughout the pandemic, the B.C. wine industry “has shown resiliency and strength to help pivot sales, welcome local visitors to wineries and serve their customers. From shifting to online sales, creating seating bubbles and more outdoor seating and offering door-to-door delivery, the industry has put its customers first to ensure they always felt safe and welcome.”
In celebration of Wine Month, the WGBC has launched a multi-pronged marketing campaign titled “A Year in the Life,” aimed at celebrating B.C.’s winemakers and farmers.
“The goal of this campaign is to form a connection between the consumer and our province’s wine farmers,” said Kim Barnes, WGBC marketing director. “To put a face to the bottle and show consumers the passion and spirit that goes into a bottle of B.C. wine, not just during the spring or summer, but all year round. We want to ensure consumers see more than the bottle on the shelf, but also the vineyard it came from and the families who created it.”
The Canadian Press – Apr 1, 2021 / 8:57 pm | Story: 329847
Photo: The Canadian Press
Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on during a press conference in the rotunda at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Wednesday May 6, 2020.
A British Columbia Indigenous leader says a planned 201-bed hospital replacement project will become a place of healing for his people after decades of fear of the current hospital.
Cowichan Tribes Coun. Albie Charlie says when the new $887-million project replaces the current Cowichan District Hospital in Duncan, it will help erase long-held mistrust by Indigenous people in the area.
He says Cowichan Tribes members want to rebuild that trust after feeling they had to enter the current hospital through the back door.
Earlier this year, Cowichan Tribes leaders said racist comments were directed at tribal members by some members of the non-Indigenous community after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared on the reserve.
Health Minister Adrian Dix told a news conference that racism in health care exists, citing a report last year that found widespread systemic racism towards Indigenous Peoples in B.C.’s health-care system.
Dix says the new hospital will be three times larger than the current Cowichan District Hospital in nearby Duncan and will be complete in 2026.
The Canadian Press – Apr 1, 2021 / 6:21 pm | Story: 329849
Photo: The Canadian Press
Free Reformed Church is seen as people attend Sunday Service, in Chilliwack, B.C., on Sunday, February 21, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
An appeal has been filed in a British Columbia Supreme Court decision that upheld public health orders banning indoor religious services in response to the outbreak of COVID-19 in the province.
A statement from the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, which represents a group including three Fraser Valley churches, announced Thursday that it was asking for a higher court to review the decision.
Paul Jaffe, a lawyer with the advocacy group, argued during hearings last month that the orders by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry unjustifiably infringed on his clients’ right to freedom of religion.
Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson found the orders were justified and the question before the court wasn’t whether Henry struck the right balance on the infringement, but whether she acted reasonably given the information available to her.
No one from the Attorney General’s Ministry was immediately available for comment on the notice of appeal.
Justice Centre lawyer Marty Moore says in a statement the judge decided to “set aside the constitutional scrutiny” that applies to such laws “in favour of extreme judicial deference to an unelected bureaucrat.”
“A declared public health crisis does not permit courts to neglect their constitutional obligation to ensure that government actions respect the charter rights of citizens,” he says.
The notice of appeal dated March 31 seeks an order quashing Hinkson’s judgment and granting the original relief sought by the petitioners, along with costs.
Henry made changes to her rules for houses of worship last week that would have allowed for services of up to 50 people in indoor settings, but reversed that decision this week as COVID-19 cases reached a new peak.
Her orders now allow outdoor services under certain rules and restrictions.
Jaffe has said the petitioners, which include the Riverside Calvary Chapel in Langley, Immanuel Covenant Reformed Church in Abbotsford and the Free Reformed Church of Chilliwack, had been careful to adopt safety protocols similar to those approved by Henry in places that remained open.
UPDATE 5:15 p.m.
After a delay in reporting new variants of concern in B.C., the province announced 90 new variant cases Thursday, for a total of 2,643.
Of these, there have been 2,214 cases of the B.1.1.7 (U.K.) variant, 50 cases of the B.1.351 (South Africa) variant and 379 cases of the P.1 (Brazil) variant. There remains 192 active variant cases, down from 313 reported Tuesday.
But Thursday, Dr. Bonnie Henry said it’s too early to say if the dip in active variant cases is a promising sign.
In the Interior Health region, there have been 70 variant of concern cases, and five are still active.
Dr. Henry said early data has shown that some variants may be more transmissible and lead to more severe illness in some younger people.
UPDATE 4:30 p.m.
With the 832 new COVID-19 cases announced Thursday, there are now 7,571 active cases across the province, up by 166 since Wednesday. Active cases have been rising rapidly in recent weeks.
Of these active cases, 571 are from the Interior – up by 38 since Wednesday.
Hospitalizations have decreased for now though, and 296 people are currently hospitalized in the province with COVID-19. Of these, 16 are in the Interior, and eight are being treated in ICU.
The province has yet to release its updated numbers on variants of concern Thursday afternoon.
ORIGINAL: 3 p.m.
Another 832 British Columbians tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, including 42 people from the Interior.
The new cases bring the total positive tests since the beginning of the pandemic to 100,880. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry did not disclose the number of active cases in the province at the beginning of her press conference Thursday, but those numbers are expected later this afternoon.
There are now 296 British Columbians hospitalized with the virus, down by five since Wednesday, and 79 of these people are being treated in ICU.
Five more British Columbians have died from the virus, bringing the total deaths since the beginning of the pandemic to 1,463.
In the past 24 hours, 31,569 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were administered in B.C., for a total of 787,649 doses – 87,394 of which have been second doses.
The new numbers of variants of concerns are expected to be released later this afternoon.
Photo: Castanet News
Chris Campbell – Apr 1, 2021 / 4:37 pm | Story: 329835
Metro Vancouver Transit Police have identified and arrested a suspect believed to be responsible for a violent robbery on SkyTrain that included disgusting racial insults.
At approximately 9:10 p.m. on Tuesday, a SkyTrain attendant asked a man to step off the train at 22nd Street Station in New Westminster, as there was visible vomit on his clothes and the floor, said Transit Police in a news release. “The man took exception to this request and began threatening the attendant and hurling racially charged expletives at him,” said police. “The suspect then entered another train car and turned his racially-charged tirade toward a passenger there, allegedly demanding that the passenger give him all of his money. When the passenger told the man he didn’t have any money, the suspect came within inches of the victim’s face, allegedly, stating something to the effect of ‘give me your headphones … don’t make me stab you with this screw driver.’”
No screwdriver, however, was seen say police. When the train arrived at Royal Oak Station in Burnaby, the victim tried to take a photo of the suspect who was now walking away.
“This enraged the suspect, who forced open the doors of the elevator where the passenger had taken refuge,” say police. “The suspect then allegedly violently punched the victim upward of 30 times before stealing his headphones and leaving the station.”
Transit Police say the suspect returned to Royal Oak SkyTrain station a few minutes later, where he was arrested thanks to assistance from the Burnaby RCMP.
A suspect has now been charged with robbery and uttering threats. Remanded into custody is 31-year-old Clinton Sebastiano.
The Canadian Press – Apr 1, 2021 / 4:32 pm | Story: 329833
Photo: The Canadian Press
A lady places flowers at a makeshift memorial outside of the Lynn Valley library in North Vancouver, B.C., Monday, March 29, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
The man accused in a stabbing attack that left one woman dead and six other people hurt in North Vancouver appeared in provincial court on Thursday.
Twenty-eight-year-old Yannick Bandaogo, who faces a single charge of second-degree murder, attended the provincial court hearing via video link wearing a white prison outfit and a bandage on his arm.
Police have said shortly after Bandaogo was arrested near the scene of the stabbing at the Lynn Valley library last Saturday that he underwent surgery for self-inflicted wounds.
Through a French interpreter, Bandaogo agreed to meet with a French-speaking lawyer provided through legal aid ahead of a scheduled court appearance next Wednesday.
Judge Patricia Janzen told Bandaogo he has the right to a trial with a French-speaking judge if he makes such an application.
Bandaogo was first scheduled to appear in court via phone on Monday, but an RCMP officer said he refused to leave his cell to participate.
The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team has said Bandaogo has links to Quebec and doesn’t appear connected to any of the stabbing victims, who ranged in age from 22 to 78.
Photo: REVSAR file photo
Revelstoke Search and Rescue ended March on a very busy note.
The group of volunteers responded to five calls in 72 hours according to a March 30 post on their Facebook page.
“Thankfully everyone returned home safe. Sometimes we wonder however if everyone understands the limitations of search and rescue’s 100 per cent volunteer service,” said the post.
However, they were not referring to the number of calls, but rather the expectations of those being rescued.
“We are always happy to help. We rescue you. We don’t rescue your stuff,” the post said. “New sled with a mechanical issue? Nope. Touring gear that can’t fit in the heli basket? Nope. Gloves you’ve left on the ground after we’ve taken-off? Nope.”
REVSAR said people need to be prepared before heading out.
To the “greatest degree possible” people should be prepared for self rescue and to know where they are going and how long it will take to get there and back and what they would do if they couldn’t get back in time.
“These details get sorted out if you make a trip plan, takes five minutes. Run through a couple scenarios of things that could go wrong. SAR should not be the preferred way out, it should be your last resort.”
When the 100 or so volunteers get a call, they drop what they are doing – having dinner, home projects, sleeping – and “happily head out with the goal of bringing those needing help back to safety. We don’t mind the grey-area calls, the ones where you called early, out of precaution, and everything resolved quickly. We’re not thrilled about the ones where other options to return yourself to safety clearly existed, but a heli-lift was seen as a nicer option.”
REVSAR has responded to 46 calls over the winter.
Photo: The Canadian Press
It was a cruel April Fools’ joke, but British Columbians began paying more tax on several things, Thursday.
Coming into effect on April1 were an increase to the carbon tax, a new soft drink tax, streaming tax – and, to make it all sting just a little bit more, MPs got a pay raise we’ll all paying for as well.
And so did MLAs.
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation notes that the B.C. carbon tax has gone up to $45 per tonne, and that can of pop will now cost you more because the provincial sales tax has been added, whereas food and drink products were previously exempt.
The 7% PST has also been added to vaping products and now also applies to streaming services like Netflix, Spotify and others.
“It’s now going to cost you more to get to work, more to heat your home and more to watch your favourite shows,” says Kris Sims, B.C. director for the CTF. “This is not an April Fools’ joke. It’s going to cost everyday people more to live their lives, and the taxman is going to get you even when you’re relaxing at the end of the day with a drink.”
MLAs are getting a 0.8% raise, bringing their base salary up to $111,912 a year. The raise had been paused last year because of the pandemic, but went ahead this year.
The new B.C. carbon tax rate equates to 9.9 cents per litre of gasoline, 12 cents per litre of diesel or 8.8 cents per cubic metre of natural gas. That’s about $12 on a typical pickup fill.
The streaming tax should rake in about $16 million per year.
The soft drink tax is forecast to collect more than $37 million.
In Ottawa, our MPs will receive an average of $3,200 more per year, while ministers will receive $4,700 and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau $6,400. Their raises are calculated against the average annual increase in private-sector union contracts.
This on top of a base salary of $182,600 for MPs, $269,800 for ministers, and $365,200 for the PM.
Franco Terrazzano, the CTF’s Alberta director, called the raises “a slap in the face to the many taxpayers who have taken a pay cut, lost their job or their business.”
Elana Shepert, VIA – Apr 1, 2021 / 2:32 pm | Story: 329812
Charges have been approved following an incident in Gastown this week when a man followed a woman to her residence and allegedly exposed himself while acting aggressively.
Vancouver Police say charges have been approved by the BC Prosecution Service today following a Vancouver Police investigation of the sexual act Wednesday (March 31) morning, explains a news release.
“The victim in this file did exactly what we advise everyone to do when they feel unsafe or afraid,” says Constable Tania Visintin, VPD.
“She got to a place of safety and called police right away. From that, we were able to arrest the suspect within minutes.”
The female victim was walking back to her apartment near Carrall and East Cordova streets after being out for a run at around 7 a.m. on March 31. At this point, a male suspect approached her and used aggressive language. He then followed her to her building.
When the victim made it inside safely, she closed the door behind her and called police. The suspect then allegedly exposed himself while acting aggressively.
Christopher Larsen, 31, has been charged with an indecent act and resisting or obstructing a peace officer in the execution of their duties.
Larsen remains in custody until his next court appearance.
The Canadian Press – Apr 1, 2021 / 2:31 pm | Story: 329811
Photo: The Canadian Press
A homeless camp is pictured in Strathcona Park close to the downtown core of Vancouver, Tuesday, March 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
The B.C. government has purchased three more hotels to help house the homeless in Vancouver.
Housing Minister David Eby says in a news release the properties will help the province meet its goal of providing dignified indoor living spaces for everyone currently camping in Vancouver’s Strathcona Park by the end of the month.
The province says it is spending about $75.5 million to buy the Patricia Hotel and two properties on Main Street.
The buildings have a total of 249 units and about 114 are expected to be offered soon to people experiencing homelessness.
BC Housing will work with current long-term tenants at the Patricia Hotel to ensure they have appropriate accommodation as the building transitions to supportive housing, while tenants at the other two hotels will not be displaced.
This comes after a federal announcement of the purchase of three other properties through the Rapid Housing Initiative, including the Ramada Hotel on West Pender Street.
Together, all six buildings will provide about 340 permanent supportive homes, the B.C. government says.
“Street homelessness and encampments aren’t working for anyone in Vancouver — not for people who have been living outside over the winter in unsafe conditions without access to supports, and not for their neighbours who live nearby,” Eby says in a statement.
Initially, the Patricia Hotel will provide about 100 permanent homes with wraparound supports and a non-profit housing operator will be on-site to manage the building and provide services.
Daily meals, access to life-skills training, recovery services, employment assistance, counselling and physical and mental health resources will be available to residents, the government says.
BC Housing is reaching out to non-profit housing providers to explore support services for the two buildings on Main Street.
The Canadian Press – Apr 1, 2021 / 1:30 pm | Story: 329798
Photo: The Canadian Press
A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is given to a recipient at a vaccination site in Vancouver on Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Job-protected leave has been written into British Columbia’s Employment Standards Act to give workers time off to get their COVID-19 vaccinations.
Labour Minister Harry Bains says the safeguard will ensure that no one will lose their job if they need time away to get vaccinated.
The changes allow part-time and full-time workers to take as much time as needed to travel and receive the vaccine or to take a dependent family member to get their shot, though no specific time has been set out.
Bains says he know that most businesses understand the importance of having their employees vaccinated to provide a safe place for workers and their customers.
The regulatory changes also include expanding job-protection leave for reasons related to COVID-19, aligning with federal government sickness and caregiver benefits.
Those changes would allow a worker in the province to take leave if they need to care for other family members because of COVID-19 while their job remains protected.
Kyle Balzer, PG Matters – Apr 1, 2021 / 1:02 pm | Story: 329795
Northern B.C.’s newest multi-millionaire is Tammy Manning!
The McBride resident won $13 million from the March 19, 2021, Lotto Max draw, the only person in all of Canada to correctly match the seven numbers in the jackpot.
Early that morning, the BC Lottery Corporation (BCLC) posted the winning numbers to its website, citing the ticket was purchased in the ‘Prince George-Mt. Robson’ region.
Manning bought the ticket from the Husky/Esso station in McBride on NE Frontage Road, where she’s a known regular.
“I went to the Husky that I always go to and the retailer knows who I am,” she explained in a release today (April 1).
“I checked the ticket on the self-checker and suddenly the amount appeared across the screen. All I said was ‘No!’ I just didn’t believe it and kept saying ‘No!’ to myself. I had to have the retailer check the ticket on his machine.”
BCLC also spoke with Amber Bhaskar, the lottery retailer at the McBride Husky/Esso, who was behind the counter when Manning scanned her ticket and saw she won $13 million.
“When Tammy validated her ticket… she was about to fall down,” Bhaskar said.
“She’s a loyal customer since we moved here – it’s really happy to see somebody winning from the local town.”
Manning says she’ll never ever forget her big payday as she’s plans to get a tattoo of ‘March 19, 2021,’ on her arm by her son, who’s also a tattoo artist.
“I told my son I won while he was in the middle of doing a tattoo. He said ‘there’s no way mom – no you didn’t!’”
Manning says, after planning to spend the $13-million cheque for herself and her partner, she’s also going to gift some dollars to her family.
“It feels so good that I’m able to help and do something good with it. This will change my life and it means I can retire and can help those close to me.”
Manning explains she plans to pay off her house for her first expenditure from the $13-million cheque, then buying her and her partner a sailboat and property in the Caribbean.
The winning numbers were 2, 7, 8, 26, 30, 43 and 48 with 25 as the bonus.
BCLC says Manning bought the $20 Lotto Max pack and picked those digits using the Quick Pick option.