BC's rockwork program can be dangerous but it keeps drivers safe

Dangerous but necessary

It’s not a job for the faint of heart.

British Columbia’s mountain landscape means our highways pass through challenging terrain. The B.C government's rockwork program ensures that rockfalls are quickly cleared from roadways, and that fragile rock formations are safely removed or pinned to mountainsides to improve driver safety. These workers are responsible for about 47,000 kilometres of roads and in any given year, the province of B.C. experiences 1,600 rockfall events.

Which means someone has to climb up the rock cuts and knock the loose rocks free and remove them before they fall and hit the highway or passing vehicles.

“The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s Rockwork Program is dedicated to reducing the rockfall hazard for highway travellers by identifying, prioritizing and mitigating rockfall hazards throughout the province. B.C.’s mountainous landscape,” says a spokesperson for British Columbia’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

British Columbia is home to some of the most picturesque landscapes in the country but with large amounts of precipitation, lush vegetation and mountainous terrain, it’s also prone to rock and debris falls.

That means a specialized team of professionals has to react every time there is a rock or debris fall.

“Our team of engineering geologists and geotechnical engineers have enhanced measures for reducing the impact of rock and debris fall,” said the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

Rockfalls happen more often in the spring when changing temperatures and increased rainfall affects the slopes above B.C. highways.

“Rockfalls are a natural process and can’t always be prevented. In those cases, the ministry and its maintenance contractors spring into action to ensure the highway is cleared and safe for travellers.”

@meltedby9am Could YOU do this job? #fyp? Iris - Natalie Taylor

Sidney North Saanich RCMP make arrest after 3 people are stabbed multiple times

Arrest in multiple stabbings

One man is in custody after allegedly stabbing three individuals multiple times inside a residence in North Saanich on Friday.

Sidney North Saanich RCMP officers received a 911 call on Friday night that multiple people had received serious injuries by someone still inside a residence with them in the 10000 Block of Derrick Road.

Police immediately attended and had to use force to enter the residence.

Three individuals were found inside the home who had been stabbed multiple times. RCMP stated that they located the man believed to be responsible on scene and arrested him without incident.

While the victims had received injuries that necessitated emergency transport to hospital, emergency first aid measures were conducted first by the officers until the scene was deemed safe for BC Ambulance Paramedics.

The victims were transported and are currently in serious but stable condition and are expected to survive the injuries, police said.

“Responding officers relied on their training and de-escalation skills to take this very agitated and violent individual into custody. I am grateful that all first responders acted in a professional manner to bring this very volatile situation to a safe end,” Cpl Andres Sanchez Media Liaison with Sidney North Saanich RCMP said in a news release.

RCMP said that there is no danger to the public and at this stage of the investigation, it is believed that the man arrested is known to the victims and that this was an isolated incident.

The man arrested remains in police custody pending further court proceedings.

As this remains an active investigation, no further details will be released at this time by police.

B.C. strata tried to pin gas leak on owner, tribunal disagreed

Gas leak not owner's fault

A Lower Mainland strata tried to pin responsibility for a 2021 gas leak on an owner, but B.C.’s Civil Resolution Tribunal disagreed and told the strata to reverse $9,231 in levied investigation fees and bylaw fines.

The situation began July 16, 2021, when owners, including complainant Bardia Tanavoli, reported smelling gas in the building’s lobby and other areas.

FortisBC was called in to investigate but was unable to locate the source.

There was no need to evacuate, said tribunal member Micah Carmody in a May 26 decision, because FortisBC confirmed the gas was not at a threatening level.

FortisBC recommended the strata have its HVAC contractor locate the source.

Tower HVAC attended, but unable to identify a leak, they shut off the main gas line for the evening.

On their return, Tower staff turned the gas line on and found a small leak in a gas line in the parkade near the mechanical room. It was repaired.

Soon, there were further reports of a leak, so the gas was once again shut off and the search resumed.

On July 19, 2021, Tower traced the leak to the gas box on Tanavoli’s patio. He was not home at the time.

Tower’s investigation found gas odour “very present at air inlet to supply fan” and traced the duct to the outside of the building. They located the fresh air intake in a garden planter on Tanavoli’s strata lot.

They found the patio’s dual port BBQ box with both isolation knobs open, discharging gas into the planter right next to the air intake grills for the supply fans, Tower found.

Tanavoli said Tower’s photos show the gas outlets were in fact turned off when Tower found them.

He further said FortisBC’s investigation is more evidence that his patio was not the source of the gas leak as FortisBC investigated his patio using a gas detector and found no gas leak. He said a neighbour witnessed the inspection as did two strata employees.

The strata denied FortisBC or any strata employees attended Mr. Tanavoli’s patio on July 16.

Carmody found Tanavoli was negligent by having a hose connected to the gas outlet, not attached to any gas appliance, near the air intake, and uncapped.

However, Carmody also found Tower’s work was carried out as an emergency investigation to find the source of the leak, and not incidental to a repair process.

As such, Carmody, ruled, the strata could not bill Tanavoli.

From Ireland to India: Whistler family embarks on yearlong moto trip

Year-long motorcycle trip

Whistlerites Todd and Christina Lawson are no strangers to long-haul motorcycle trips.

Beginning in 2004, the couple rode the 47,000 kilometres from Whistler to Chile, hitting 23 different countries before ending their trip in 2006. They headed off on another big trip a year and a half later, travelling through 15 countries in Africa for most of 2008.

They’re embarking on another cross-continental ride this week, this time with an additional crewmember in tow: 10-year-old Seanna.

“We became addicted to the freedom of motorcycle travel and just the connections that you make with people on the road and we wanted to share that with our daughter," said Todd.

The family departed B.C. on Tuesday, May 24, boarding a flight headed for Dublin. There, they’ll kick-start a yearlong journey that will bring the trio from Ireland to India with countless stops in between.

The trip, now three years in the making, was timed carefully, Todd explained. “[Seanna’s] going to be old enough to remember everything, and life isn’t just about her friends yet,” he said. “We’re still her world, and it’s just a good time with everything.”

Their bikes are also making the cross-Atlantic trip courtesy of Air Canada cargo. They’ll be riding one Royal Enfield and one Ural, both specially purchased with this trip in mind. Seanna’s spot is in the Ural’s sidecar, which has been kitted out with a piece of sheepskin to make it extra cozy.

The only concrete plans the family has for their trip at this point is a campsite booking in Pamplona, Spain, where Todd will live out his lifelong dream of seeing the running of the bulls. “Our route off the start is only being dictated by the friends that we want to visit and see,” he said. “Then once we get to Eastern Europe where that sort of dissipates, we’re just going to wing it and see where the wind takes us.”

As sponsored stand-up paddleboarders, Todd and Christina will also be looking to spend as much time as possible surfing and SUP’ing on rivers, lakes and oceans across Europe. They anticipate taking a few multi-week breaks for off-bike adventures over the next year—like trekking in the Himalayas, for example.

Asked what part of the trip she’s looking forward to most, Seanna couldn’t pinpoint one part of the adventure. “I don’t really know,” she said. “I’m looking forward to all the stuff.” But when it comes to locations, the 10-year-old admits she’s “probably most excited” about visiting Greece, Italy and Spain.

Seanna’s teacher sent along some take-home work for her, while a couple of schoolbooks and her iPad will take up valuable space in her backpack alongside her sketchbook and pencil case.

Todd, a writer, photographer, photo editor and publisher of Mountain Life magazine, is preparing for the release of his book, Inside the Belly of an Elephant in fall 2023, while Christina, owner of Freeflow Yoga, can work with clients online and said she’s looking forward to instructing a few yoga classes on the road, “in glorious places of the world.” They’ve subletted their Whistler home for the duration of the trip.

“We’re a pretty tight little family of three … so if anything, I think this is going to draw us closer together,” said Christina. “We’ll have great challenges together and surpass them and work through them together. You know how travel is; it just enriches your life so much and we are so ready, post-pandemic, to just get out there and live freely on the road.”

The family plans to camp about “70 or 80 per cent of the time,” said Todd, with the remaining nights spent at the occasional hotel or at friends’ homes—whether those friends go way back or were made that day.

“Our No. 1 goal for this whole trip is just to expose Seanna to the road; to the wonders of the world on the road and just to the people and the serendipitous moments that happen that we don’t know about, that you have no way of planning for,” said Todd.

“At the end of the day, every country has its beautiful places and its amazing scenery, but you remember the people and those connections that you made.”

B.C. wants First Nations to agree before old-growth logging deferred on shared lands

Old growth FN consensus?

The British Columbia government wants First Nations to reach consensus before logging is deferred in old-growth forests on shared Indigenous territories.

Tara Marsden, sustainability director for the Gitanyow Nation's hereditary chiefs' office in northwestern B.C., said consensus represents a "high bar" in a complex process, which was not made clear when Forests Ministry staff introduced the province's deferral plan last November.

"I think the public who are concerned about old growth need to know that high bar, that it's very challenging to work in this landscape with multiple nations," said Marsden, the main point contact for her nation on deferrals.

Marsden said she had initially understood from the ministry's messaging that "if you support these (deferral areas), they're going to be protected."

Instead, there was an "unspoken expectation" from the province that consensus among nations with overlapping territories was needed, she said.

The B.C. government announced last fall that an independent panel of ecologists and forestry experts had mapped 2.6 million hectares of old-growth forests at risk of permanent biodiversity loss. It asked 204 First Nations to determine within 30 days whether they supported the temporary deferral of logging in those areas, or if they needed more time to decide.

Forests Minister Katrine Conroy told The Canadian Press that if consensus on deferrals could not be reached among First Nations with overlapping or shared territories, the province would assess the strengths of their claims.

"We can't automatically go with one deferral over another if nations aren't in agreement," Conroy said. "So we're trying to work that out and staff are working really hard with nations to look at, you know, what can we do to reach consensus, but in the end, it becomes an issue of strength of claim."

Asked how often shared territories are affecting deferrals,Conroy said there have been "some issues with some nations, but it hasn't been a lot."

Any deferrals would initially last two years, allowing for consultation with First Nations about forestry in their territories, the minister said last fall.

After that, the at-risk old growth would either remain off limits for logging or be included in new, more sustainable management plans, she said.

Last month, Conroy announced that the province had so far approved logging deferral on 1.05 million hectares of old growth identified by the expert panel. Out of the 204 First Nations, the province had heard from 188, of which 75 had agreed to the deferrals in their territories, she said.

Meanwhile, about 7,200 hectares of the at-risk old growth have been logged since the government announced the deferral plan, the Forests Ministry said.

The province was clear that 50,000 hectares of the 2.6 million identified by the panel overlap with cutting permits approved before November, it said.

Marsden said her nation hadworked hard to review and confirm their support for the deferrals in Gitanyow territory before Christmas.

It wasn't until she followed up with Forests Ministry staff this month that a regional manager told Marsden the deferrals weren't going ahead.

Portions of the proposed deferrals overlap with an area affected by the Nisga'a Treaty, and Marsden said she was told the Nisga'a weren't supporting the deferrals because they're invested in the forest industry in those areas.

The Forests Ministry later told The Canadian Press the deferrals in Gitanyow territory were implemented "with the exception of a small localized area."

A statement from the Nisga'a Lisims Government said the nation had yet to decide on the proposed deferral plan, "but instead continue to evaluate it and how it may affect our interests."

They've been meeting with forest licensees to understand how the deferrals may affect them and Nisga'a members working in the industry, it said.

Asked whether the ministry's communication could have be better, Conroy said "staff have been working full out" to help First Nations and determine if they need a portion of $12.7 million earmarked for the deferral process.

Terry Teegee, regional chief of the B.C. Assembly of First Nations, said the province's old-growth deferral process is still "a space where there's a lot of unknowns" and more clarity is needed when it comes to shared territories.

"On one hand, we as Indigenous nations do want to figure some of these things out on our own, but what if there is differences of opinion, then what?" he said.

First Nations are being asked to come to the decision-making table when many are stretched thin, with limited capacity and resources, Teegee said.

"Overall, what we need to do, is to really develop that space so we can have meaningful dialogue and come to an ability to make those decisions."

Gitanyow's situation underscores what Marsden sees as a problem with B.C.'s deferral process — a lack of compensation for First Nations and forestry companies that could lose revenue if old growth is off limits.

It puts the onus on multiple nations to agree on deferrals in shared or overlapping territories, she said, while "there's no financial compensation to say, 'Okay, well, you're actually not going to lose out on your investment.' "

The deferral process also lacks support for independent analysis that would help First Nations and the logging industry understand the potential effects on local jobs and revenue and how those could be managed, she added.

Conroy said First Nations hold diverse perspectives on managing old growth.

Some have "invested years getting involved in the forest industry, and they really consider it part of their path to economic independence," she said.

"We've had a number of people say to us, 'Well why didn't you just pay the nations?' and it's, you know, it's quite colonialist," Conroy said.

"We are respecting nations' wants, wishes and needs, and that's part of reconciliation. We need to respect that if a nation is involved in harvesting ... we need to respect that. If they want to defer, we need to respect that."

Compensation "never came up as an issue" in B.C.'s engagement on the deferral process with First Nations rights and title holders, Conroy added.

The province recognized that funding would be required to support permanent protection of old growth over the longer term, she said.

Where a First Nation has agreed to the proposed deferral areas,companies or communities who hold harvesting rights may voluntarily avoid those areas, or the minister may issue an order to prevent old-growth logging.

Under B.C.'s Forest Act, compensation is not required until at least four years have passed from the time the minister issues the order.

So far, the province has not had to issue any orders and "many" companies have indicated they will not proceed with logging in proposed deferral areas where discussions with First Nations are ongoing, the Forests Ministry said.

B.C.'s 2022 budget allocated $185 million over three years to support forestry workers, First Nations and others who may be affected by deferrals, as well as legislative changes that Conroy said would "reshape" forest management.

The vision is for a forest sector that "delivers higher value from our forests, with secure, long-term jobs and healthier ecosystems," she said last fall.

The province also announced last month that it was doubling the amount of Crown forestry revenues shared with First Nations, an increase of $63 million this year, while it works on a new revenue-sharing model for the long term.

FireSmart BC ask BC residents to prepare for wildfire now

Plan now, not later, for fires

FireSmart BC and Emergency Preparedness BC are calling on B.C. residents to start preparing for wildfire.

FireSmart says landscaping tasks and chores like watering and mowing the lawn, cleaning the gutters, and safely storing combustibles are proven to increase a home’s survivability from wildfire.

“The 2021 wildfire season was one of the most active on record,” says Jennifer Rice, B.C.'s Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness.

“I urge you to prepare for wildfire now by going to firesmartbc.ca. This is the time to get informed and take action for yourself, your family, and your community.”

Fire Smart BC says everyone can play a role in creating a more wildfire resilient province.

“While governments, municipalities, and other organizations all contribute to wildfire preparedness, your home and property’s wildfire risk level are within your control. Now is the time to take action. You won’t have time to get prepared once fire is at your doorstep," said Kelsey Winter, FireSmart BC program lead and chair of the BC FireSmart committee.

Homeowners can use the interactive FireSmart Begins at Home Manual, which outlines the FireSmart program and how each homeowner can make their property and neighbourhood FireSmart.

You can learn more at https://firesmartbc.ca/prepare/.

Pioneer Square Mall on Vancouver Island 'totally lost' after third blaze

Mall burns down in fire

Much of the Pioneer Square Mall in Mill Bay collapsed Friday in the third blaze at the empty building in six months.

The part of the building nearest to the highway was still standing Friday afternoon, but other parts had caved in. Bystanders cheered as crews demolished what was left of the building.

The fire appeared to be largely out by 4 p.m.

Reached by phone at the scene of the fire earlier Friday afternoon, Mill Bay Fire Chief Ron Beck said the building was “totally lost,” before adding: “It’s collapsing, I gotta go.”

Heavy smoke billowed across the highway, which was closed in both directions at Shawnigan-Mill Bay Road.

Traffic was detoured via Cobble Hill Road and Shawnigan Lake Road, according to Emcon, which maintains the highways. Oversized vehicles were directed to take West Shawnigan Lake Road.

Firefighters with Malahat Fire Rescue and Cowichan Bay Fire Rescue were also at the scene.

A fire truck could be seen shooting water onto the building from above.

The Mill Bay Fire Department responded to similar fires at the 12,000-square-foot structure, built in 1972, in February and November.

Mill Bay resident Craig Perdue said Friday’s fire marked the fourth time he has seen the building ablaze.

Perdue said he and his two sons were walking to a fun fair at George Bonner Elementary School when they saw the fire about 12:30 p.m. “There were 10-foot flames out the top” and about 15 fire trucks at the scene, he said.

Bob Parent, a volunteer with the Mill Bay and District Conservation Society, said he was worried about runoff from the fire polluting Shawnigan Creek.

“This is where the [coho] smolts are starting to come down … that we’ve put up there,” Parent said. “All of this could have been avoided had this been knocked down sooner.”

Lora Naherniak, who lives in Shawnigan Lake, agreed, saying the building “should have been ripped down years ago.”

“I’d say that it was like tinder, more than tinder.”

The fire could have been much worse, she said, had it happened when the weather was hotter.

Tony Sullivan, who has been staying with his son in Mill Bay for a few months since his own home burned down, came out to see what was happening. He called the building an “eyesore.”

“Whoever owns it, they were in the process of taking it apart. It was an event like this waiting to happen, old tar paper and old wood stacked in one place,” he said.

Pioneer Square is part of a land parcel called the Stonebridge Property in Mill Bay, put together over three generations by the Garnett family.

The property was acquired by the Victoria-based Limona Group, a development company.

While it has plans for a large master-planned community on part of the Stonebridge lands, it’s unclear what Limona intends to do with Pioneer Square. The Cowichan Valley Regional District did issue a demolition permit for 850 Shawnigan Mill Bay Rd. in March of this year.

The structure is now owned by a numbered company — 1225548 BC Ltd — that appears to be controlled by Limona founders John Sercombe and Michael Baier.

The 6.25-acre property is valued at $1.436 million by B.C. Assessment.

Southern rural B.C. faces largest spike in violent gun crime in Canada

Local surge in gun crime

During the first year of the pandemic, firearm-related violent crimes climbed in southern rural British Columbia faster than anywhere else in Canada, says a new report from Statistics Canada and the Canadian Centre for Justice and Community Safety Statistics.

From 2019 to 2020, southern rural B.C. saw a 34 per cent increase in gun-related violent crimes. That puts the B.C. region ahead of northern rural Ontario and rural Alberta (both up roughly 32 per cent)) as well as the Northwest Territories, which saw a 23 per cent jump.

The gun-related violent crime was largely due to an increase in "certain types of crime," including discharging a firearm with intent, pointing a firearm, and using a firearm in an indictable offence, states the report.

The upward swing in rural gun violence is an acceleration of an increase that began in 2014 after years of declines. On average, rates for these offences from 2015 to 2020 increased over those reported from 2009 to 2014.

During the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, police across Canada reported 8,344 victims of violent crimes where a gun was present.

And while southern rural B.C. saw the biggest increase in gun-related violent crime, other regions of the country reported much higher overall rates.

Saskatchewan, Manitoba and all three territories reported the highest rates of firearm-related violent crime in 2020.

In urban areas, the majority of victims of firearm-related violent crimes involved a handgun (63 per cent). In rural areas, rifles and shotguns were more commonly used, appearing in 43 per cent of such crimes. Pellet guns or flare guns, meanwhile, were involved in 30 per cent of crimes in rural areas as opposed to 20 per cent in urban areas.

Sawed-off rifles or shotguns and fully automatic firearms remain rare in Canada gun-related violent crimes at just five per cent in urban areas and seven per cent in rural areas, says the report.

In 2020, police reported a total of 743 homicide victims in Canada — in 277 of them, a firearm was used to commit the homicide.

The province with the highest rate of firearm-related homicides in 2020 was Nova Scotia. This was connected to the mass shooting in April 2020 that left 22 people dead. After this, the federal government amended regulations to prohibit over 1,500 models and variants of assault-style firearms.

Gang activity was confirmed or suspected in 39 per cent of all firearm-related homicides in Canada.

According to the report, one in four female victims of firearm-related violent crime were victimized by a current or former spouse.

Canadian law requires an individual have a valid license under the Firearms Act in order to own or possess a firearm or to purchase ammunition.

Elderly pedestrians struck by vehicle in Abbotsford

Elderly pedestrians struck

Two elderly people were struck by a vehicle in Abbotsford and are suffering serious, life-threatening injuries.

Abbotsford Police responded to the serious collision on Thursday at about 1:15 near Bourquin Crescent and Ware Street.

Once on scene, police discovered that two pedestrians, an 88-year-old man and an 85-year-old woman had been struck by a vehicle.

The pair were taken to the hospital with serious, life-threatening injuries.

"The driver and passenger of the vehicle are quite shaken, but they were uninjured, remained on scene and are cooperating with police,” says Const. Jody Thomas with Abbotsford Police.

Integrated Collision Analysis Reconstruction Service (ICARS) and police closed the intersection down for some time to conduct an investigation.

Anyone with dash camera footage or anyone who witnessed the collision is asked to contact police at 604-859-5225.

Vancouver airline pandemic job loss yields $168,609 court award

Airline ordered to pay up

B.C. Supreme court has awarded a Vancouver woman who lost her job with Cathay Pacific Airways due to pandemic cutbacks $168,609 in damages.

Justice Gary Weatherill’s May 26 decision said Frances Turcic Okano, 61, was employed full-time by the airline for almost 35 years. She spent her career in Cathay’s sales and customer service departments, rising through the ranks from a front line reservations agent to manager of the airline’s Vancouver Global Centre where she worked for the past 25 years.

“She was the most senior person in her business unit, with budgeting and hiring/firing responsibilities,” Weatherill said. “She reported directly to the defendant’s head office in Hong Kong.”

Okano’s termination came as the airline industry experienced a severe downturn in the pandemic as passenger flights were restricted.

Weatherill said Cathay’s monthly passenger numbers from March to December 2020 were less than one per cent of what they had been for the same months the previous year.

In response, Cathay introduced several measures to continue operations and reduce the need for mass employee terminations. This included special leaves and reduced salaries.

However, on Oct. 13, 2020, Cathay told Okano it was closing the Vancouver centre and her employment was terminated, effective Dec. 11, 2020. During that period, Cathay tasked Okano to handle the transfer of the centre’s operations to its Manila, Philippines office, train the Manila staff, close the Vancouver centre and terminate the 71 employees whom she supervised there.

She received a three-month severance package.

Okano filed a lawsuit alleging she was entitled to unpaid wages for the special leave periods as well as for other damages.

The airline said they were not unpaid wages but, rather, reductions as part of pandemic mitigation measures she agreed to.

Cathay added that Okano had failed to mitigate her losses by seeking new employment.

Wetherill said it was clear Okano loved her job and was devastated to lose it. Still, Okano “devotedly and successfully” managed the closure of the Vancouver operations, he said.

“I find that it is unreasonable to expect the plaintiff to have been proactively searching for a new job at that time,” the judge said.

Okano had created a resumé and looking for a job in 2021.

Weatherill said courts have been clear that, absent exceptional circumstances, the upper limit for reasonable notice is 24 months.

"In my view, given the plaintiff’s age, length of service, and management status with the defendant, this is an appropriate case for the upper limit of 24 months’ notice,” Weatherill said.

Okano was also awarded special damages of $1,784.

Summer in the can — three B.C. canned wines to try

Summer in the can

As the weather warms up and we load our picnic baskets and backpacks for trips to the beach, campsite or park, we’ll almost certainly be adding a few cans of wine.

After all, canned wine has some surprising benefits.

Canned wine is light, portable and convenient when you are on the go. Easy-breezy!

A can is a stable environment, meaning no oxygen can penetrate the packaging, so there is less necessity to add sulphur to preserve the wine.

Cans are environmentally friendly. Aluminum weighs less than glass, which is gentler on our carbon footprint, and cans have a higher recycling rate than bottles do.

The smaller serving size means you don’t have to commit to an entire bottle (or lug all that weight around) when you only want a glass or two.

Canned wines cool down quickly and stay chilled longer. Um, hello? Yes, please.

And the best reason for drinking wine out of a can is that there is no need for a corkscrew or a wine glass. Just pull open that tab and voilà! Your wine is served!

It is undeniable that the quality of canned wine has improved dramatically in the last couple of years. Some canned wines are even considered a luxury niche in a fast-growing category.

But no matter why you’re choosing it, canned wine will be the star of all summer’s outdoor activities.

Three B.C. canned wines to try

Corcelettes Estate Winery Santé en Cannette 2020 Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc blend
(Similkameen Valley, B.C., $7.50 per 250 mL can)
Lightly off-dry, bubbly and refreshing.

Stag’s Hollow Winery Syrah Rosé 2021
(Okanagan Falls, B.C., $8 per 250 mL can)
Watermelon, rhubarb with some zesty herbaceous notes.

Castoro de Oro Winery Merlot NV
(Oliver, B.C., $8.49 per 250 mL can)
Lush plum, mocha and vanilla.

New SkyTrain, electric buses part of B.C.'s $2.4B for transit in Metro Vancouver

$2.4B in transit funding

The B.C. government says a Surrey-to-Langley SkyTrain line and electrified bus fleets are among the projects that will benefit from a $2.4-billion investment in Metro Vancouver transit.

George Heyman, B.C.'s minister responsible for TransLink, announced the funds Friday, saying people throughout Metro Vancouver will have more affordable and convenient travel options, while reducing climate pollution.

The government says in a news release the funds are part of its commitment to cover 40 per cent of the 10-year vision for transit outlined by the regional mayors' council on regional transportation.

The investment plan for TransLink, which is Metro Vancouver's transportation authority, includes expanding transit service, building more bus-priority infrastructure and transitioning bus fleets from diesel to zero-emission vehicles.

The release says the plan will help TransLink replace more than one third of its diesel bus fleet, with about 500 buses that run on electric batteries or natural gas.

On Wednesday, TransLink said its recovery of ridership that plummeted during the pandemic has been stronger than many North American transit networks, but still hasn't returned to previous levels.

It says ridership across its system has rebounded to 70 per cent of pre-pandemic levels after reaching 59 per cent last year.

TransLink CEO Kevin Quinn says in a statement Friday the province's support for the investment plan will ensure the transportation authority is on solid ground while advancing priority projects.

"It has been a challenging few years, and we thank the provincial government for its commitment to ensure transit continues to serve residents throughout Metro Vancouver."

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