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COVID-19: Outbreak at Kelowna church as three deaths reported over past three days


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Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on Monday reported a five-case community outbreak linked to the Calvary Chapel Church in Kelowna.

This is the first community outbreak reported in over a week, though there continue to be community exposures in schools and other spaces.

The Calvary Chapel is located on the grounds of the Kelowna Christian School, however the outbreak only impacts people who attended the 10:30 a.m. service on Sept. 13 and 20.

Henry said there were 267 cases of COVID-19 reported between noon Friday and noon Monday (68/125/74) and three deaths. Those deaths occurred in Fraser Health, Vancouver Coastal Health and Island Health regions bringing that grim toll to 233.

Henry said the person who died on Vancouver Island was in his 50s with underlying conditions and died at home. She said it was not known he had COVID until after his death.

There are now 1,302 active cases of the disease in B.C., of which 69 were being treated in hospital including 22 in intensive care. Henry said there were 3,372 people in isolation and being monitored by health authorities across the province after being potentially exposed to COVID-19.



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Controversial billboard tribute to JK Rowling in East Van taken down


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The famous British author was criticized this summer for a series of tweets based on her own experience of domestic abuse that were cited as discriminating against trans women.

The tweets opened the flood gates to comments from members of the LGBTQ community and gender activists, as well as from actors  Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, all of whom starred in the movies based on the author’s Harry Potter novel series.

Rowling tweeted about an opinion piece with the headline: Creating a more equal post-COVID-19 world for people who menstruate. Rowling said: “I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”

In later tweets, Rowling said: “If sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction. If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased. I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn’t hate to speak the truth. The idea that women like me, who’ve been empathetic to trans people for decades, feeling kinship because they’re vulnerable in the same way as women – ie, to male violence – ‘hate’ trans people because they think sex is real and has lived consequences – is nonsense.”


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Douglas Todd: ‘Birth tourism’ jumps 22 per cent in B.C.


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St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver is also fast turning into a hub for birth citizenship, experiencing a 38 per cent rise in births by non-resident women, one in seven of the total.

Virtually no country outside North and South America provides citizenship to babies solely because they’re born on their soil.

The newly released figures show there were 4,400 births in Canada in the past year to non-resident mothers, an overall hike of seven per cent. Ontario doctors still preside over the most non-resident births, 3,109, with one hospital in Toronto, Humber River, having a sudden jump of more than 119 per cent.

But Ontario’s volume of privately funded procedures has not risen nearly as fast as in B.C., which had a total of 868 non-resident births. That’s a six-fold increase from 2010.

Source: Canadian Institute for Health Information/Andrew Griffith

The new data, compiled by Andrew Griffith, a former senior director of the federal Immigration Department, comes from the Canadian Institute for Health Information, which captures billing information directly from hospitals up until the end of March. It doesn’t include births in Quebec.

Birth tourism has recently been strongly condemned by Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie, Liberal MLA Jas Johal (Richmond-Queensborough), former Liberal MP Joe Peschisolido (Richmond East), the head of Doctors of B.C. and others.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government, which controls immigration policy, has been silent on the matter. Former Conservative party Leader Andrew Scheer said in 2018 he would end birth tourism. NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has accused those who raise the issue of being guilty of “division and hate.”



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Dan Fumano: ‘Postpone and delay’ — council defers rental incentives


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But council didn’t approve, reject or modify the proposed changes. Instead, they voted, 6-5, to defer the decision to some point in the future pending further consultation.

There was a stark difference in the way some councillors described the situation at the July 24 meeting, which ran until 10 p.m. on a Friday as council worked through several days of packed agendas before their August break.

For NPA Coun. Colleen Hardwick, things were moving too fast, she saying these changes shouldn’t be “rushed through.”

“There is no need to push this through now,” Hardwick said. “We are in the middle of a pandemic, in the middle of summer, and many residents are not aware of the major changes being proposed here tonight.”

On the other end of the spectrum, Mayor Kennedy Stewart said this council is gaining a reputation for moving too slowly to address what most of them have described as a housing crisis.

“We’re criticized as a council for delaying, for being slower than most other municipalities,” Stewart told council. “I want to vote on this this evening, and I want to get on with building more rental housing in this city.”

As Stewart pointed out, in the commercial zones council was looking at, developers can currently build four-storey condo projects without seeking a rezoning. Stewart wants to push developers toward building more rentals, saying: “I cannot vote for more condos.”

Other councillors too insisted it was worth acting quickly. OneCity Coun. Christine Boyle, and NPA councillors Melissa De Genova, Lisa Dominato, and Sarah Kirby-Yung, also opposed the delay.



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Old Brewery Missions’s Matthew Pearce will retire in September


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Matthew Pearce, president and chief executive officer of the Old Brewery Mission since 2008, will retire from his post and step down in September, the organization announced on Thursday.

In a statement, Eric Maldoff, chair of the Mission’s board, praised Pearce for having “led the Old Brewery Mission through a period of significant growth and phenomenal transformation that have inspired other organizations to adopt the Mission’s approaches to end chronic homelessness. … He will be missed.”

During Pearce’s time as executive director, the Mission underwent significant changes that included:

Establishing new supportive housing models and programs adapted to the needs of specific homeless populations.

• The creation of  a research department in partnership with McGill Universityto gain greater knowledge of the root causes of homelessness.

• Opening a triage and referral centre for first-time shelter arrivals to shorten their homelessness experience and ensure they are adequately housed and reintegrated into the community.

• Transforming the emergency shelter into a 24/7 resource centre that allowed residents to remain onsite and fully connected to counselling staff and services.

Pearce will be replaced by James Hughes, who was the Mission’s director-general from 2004 to 2008.

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Third motorcycle crash in July closes Hwy 99 for hours near Pemberton


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PEMBERTON — For the third time in one month police have been called to a serious crash along Highway 99 near Pemberton.

RCMP say the latest collision happened Sunday afternoon about eight kilometres west of the community and involved several motorcycles and vehicles.

Police have released few details about the crash, which affected traffic through the area for hours, but they say several people were hurt and one person was airlifted to hospital in Vancouver.

Squamish RCMP Sgt. Sascha Banks says the Sea-to-Sky Highway corridor is regularly seeing above-normal summer volume and she urged caution on highways and backroads through the region.

A 31-year-old motorcyclist died in a crash near Pemberton on July 3.

Another collision on July 5, involving three motorcycles and a car on Highway 99 near Joffre Lake, killed one rider and injured three other people, including a passenger in the vehicle.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 27, 2020



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Indigenous reconciliation position announced at B.C. university


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At the most basic level, Moran hopes his role will inspire students to seek more knowledge about reconciliation and Indigenous history.

“It’s a magnification and an amplification of this long-standing effort to both teach and repair some of the terrible damage done by some absolutely terrible decisions made in this country,” he said.

Jonathan Bengston, a senior librarian at the university, said he believes Moran’s appointment is one step in helping academic institutions grow.

“We are that cultural memory,” he said of libraries. “The goal is to re-examine our systems and structures within the academic library and to open them to different ways of knowing and being in this world. Indigenous voices are hugely important in Canada.”

Bengston said he wants Moran’s new role to inspire others.

“This is the first position of its type at a major Canadian university,” he said. “I hope it shows a path for others to follow as well.”

Cassels said he believes Moran’s role as the reconciliation librarian will better the relationship with Indigenous Peoples.

“His work will foster mutual understanding and will greatly contribute to our university’s goal of advancing respect and reconciliation,” Cassels said in a statement.



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COVID-19: Warning issued as cases in U.S. states rise while tapering off in B.C.


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The provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, said there are 183 active cases of the disease, with 16 in hospital of whom four are in intensive care. Those numbers continue to fall.

There have been 2,659 cases reported since COVID-19 appeared in B.C. in late January, and 167 deaths.

The contacts of the people who most recently became ill have all been traced.

Henry said there have been no new outbreaks in health-care settings between noon Friday and noon Monday. There are four active outbreaks in long-term care and assisted living facilities.

She said health authorities are working on plans to allow families to start visiting relatives in long-term care homes and that would likely begin in the “coming weeks.”

The outbreaks at Fraser Valley Specialty Poultry and Superior Poultry have ended.

Henry said summer travellers need to be respectful of any community they visit and to practise social distancing.

Dix said B.C. has received 4.8 million N95 respirators, two million sets of goggles and 30 million sets of gloves since the state of emergency was declared on March 18.

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#ICYMI: Heat wave, CHSLDs probe, day camps, more


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While the Quebec government recently announced day camps can open on June 22, soccer camps are still waiting to hear from public health officials on exactly how they’ll be allowed to proceed. Read more here.

Day camps say they need help

Day camps have been given the green light to open this summer, but many popular Montreal camps say they need government funding to cover increased salary costs. Read more here.

West Island day camps

What about day camps in the West Island? It’s a mixed bag of decisions. Read more here.

NHL unveils playoff plan

The National Hockey League will go straight into an expanded 24-team playoff format and all games will be held in two hub cities if action resumes this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Commissioner Gary Bettman said on Tuesday. Read more here.

Habs in playoffs without Romanov

Russian defenceman Alexander Romanov won’t be in the Canadiens’ lineup when they face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round of the 2020 NHL playoffs this summer. Read more here.

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Snowbirds to remain at Kamloops Airport indefinitely


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Some members of the Snowbirds team will call Kamloops home, remaining in the city to look after their CT-114 Tutor jets that remain grounded indefinitely on Fulton Field at Kamloops Airport.

On May 17, one of the jets crashed in Brocklehurst shortly after takeoff, claiming the life of Capt. Jennifer Casey and injuring Capt. Richard MacDougall who was piloting the plane. Both managed to eject from the plan before it crashed, but Casey succumbed to injuries suffered in the incident.

The Snowbirds were on a cross-Canada tour called Operation Inspiration, intended to salute frontline health-care workers and lift the spirits of the public amid the pandemic. The tour, which began on May 3 in Nova Scotia, has been suspended due to the tragedy.

Capt. Jenn Casey is seen in this undated handout photo from the Royal Canadian Air Force Twitter page. The family of Capt. Jenn Casey says the member of the Snowbirds aerobatic team died while supporting an important mission
Capt. Jenn Casey. HO/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Lt. Alexandra Hejduk, public affairs officer for 19 Wing Comox, said most members of the Snowbirds have now departed the city for Moose Jaw — the Snowbirds’ home base — via a Hercules plane, but a small contingent is staying behind, acting as stewards of the jets for as long as they need to be.



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