Telus offering affordable internet packages for low-income seniors – BC News –

Low-income seniors in B.C. and Alberta will now have the opportunity to receive high speed internet for less than $10 a month, all thanks to the Telus.

The B.C.-based company is offering eligible seniors one of two Internet for Good plans with unlimited data: Internet 25 or Internet 50 for $9.95 or $19.95 per month, respectively. Seniors are eligible for the offer if they are receiving the Guaranteed Income Supplement from the federal government.

“Our country’s seniors have contributed significantly to the fabric of this nation, having built and supported the infrastructure, economy and social services that we enjoy today,” Telus CEO Darren Entwhistle said in a press release. “Disconcertingly, these same aging Canadians have been disproportionately impacted throughout the health emergency system as many do not have the means to stay connected to loved ones and support networks in order to stay safe.

“Through Internet for Good for Seniors we are providing some of our most vulnerable Canadians with access to the vital tools and resources they need to stay safely and meaningfully connected.”

Existing Telus customers who enrol in the Internet for Good program will have their monthly bill lowered to the cost of the plan they select.

Eligible seniors can apply for Internet for Good online here and are required to provide a copy of their Old Age Security T4A (OAS) that identifies them as a GIS recipient.

Projections indicate more than 400,000 seniors across B.C. and Alberta will be eligible for the discount.


Big changes at the top in the management of BC Emergency Health Services are being welcomed by the union representing paramedics.

Nearly seven months after the summer heat dome claimed hundreds of lives, an internal memo to staff confirms Leanne Heppell is the new executive vice-president and chief ambulance officer. She was given the role on an interim basis last July, as BCEHS came under criticism for its response to the deadly heatwave.

“I think it’s a good thing,” said Troy Clifford, president of the Ambulance Paramedics of B.C.

“She’s done a lot of good work. She seems to be really leading and trying to change things, as well as the new governance with the board, which was put in place in December.”

Interim Chief Medical Officer Dr. Wilson Wan has also been replaced by Dr. Mike Christian and there have been a number of other leadership changes, although the chief operating officer role is still being filled on an interim basis by Neil Lilley.

“Darlene McKinnon silently left the chief operating role recently. I think December, officially she left but she hadn’t been around since the heat dome. ”

Clifford also noted that Derek Rains, the new executive director of business operations and support, has been leading a lot of the initiatives that the Ministry of Health has recently introduced including mental health programs, the Rural and Indigenous Framework and the Unit Hour Utilization Review.

“What I’m proud of is the relationship we’ve had with senior leadership. Working how close we have with the board and Leanne and the new team. And they’ve been really working with us to listen to our solutions and work together. Which we hadn’t seen prior to that and that’s really been a positive thing. Our goals all should be the same and they are right now.”

While he said there have been positive changes, there are still a lot of challenges, especially on the recruitment and retention front.

The union issued a news release Monday raising the alarm about the spike in the volume of ambulance calls.

“In 2021, there were more than 840,000 dispatched ambulance events issued through BCEHS’ Ambulance dispatch system. We know, however, that many events involved multiple ambulances and resources that don’t get separate event numbers, so we are confident that our members responded to over a million calls for service in 2021 serving the citizens of BC. The numbers are staggering, to say the least,” said Clifford.

In 2018, ambulance paramedics responded to 714,00 calls; in 2019, they had 723,000, and in 2020 they saw over 751,000.

“With our worst staffing crisis in history, and BCEHS’ inability to recruit and retain sufficient paramedics, we are heading for serious trouble. These numbers are just not sustainable,” he added.

Without fundamental changes that address the mental health and wellness of paramedics, along with changes to wages and benefits to attract people to the profession, the union is worried the ability to respond to patients will suffer and wait times will increase.

Clifford noted the recent Omicron-related staffing challenges that have forced Interior Health to make a number of temporary service cuts at some hospitals in smaller communities will put added strain on BCEHS staff in those areas.

He said a lot of paramedics are booking off because of Omicron and it’s coming at a time when the system is already strained. “The last couple of weeks we started to see numbers up to 40 per cent or more at spike times of (ambulances) out of service.”

COVID-positive hospitalizations in British Columbia have increased by almost five per cent Wednesday.

There have been 2,387 new COVID-19 cases identified in B.C. in the past 24 hours, bringing the province’s active cases to 35,770. Of these cases, 895 people are now hospitalized, an increase of 41 since Tuesday, and 115 people are being treated in intensive care, an increase of three.

Active cases dropped by 1,397 since Tuesday.

Of Wednesday’s new cases, 550 came from the Interior. There are now 5,769 active cases in the region, and 99 people are hospitalized, including 17 in ICU.

Another 13 new COVID deaths have been reported throughout B.C. in the past 24 hours, including one in Interior Health, six in Fraser Health, four in Vancouver Coastal Health and two in Island Health. To date, 2,505 British Columbians have died after contracting COVID-19.

The new/active cases include:

  • 814 new cases in Fraser Health — Total active cases: 17,441
  • 487 new cases in Vancouver Coastal Health — Total active cases: 8,945
  • 550 new cases in Interior Health — Total active cases: 5,769
  • 260 new cases in Northern Health — Total active cases: 1,504
  • 275 new cases in Island Health — Total active cases: 2,095

There has been five new healthcare facility outbreaks in B.C., including one at Cranbrook’s Joseph Creek Care Village. There are now 56 ongoing outbreaks at healthcare facilities across the province.

In the past 24 hours, 59,169 doses of the vaccine were administered in B.C. As of Friday, 89.3% of eligible people five and older in B.C. have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine and 83.4% have received their second dose. To date, 35.5% of all eligible people 12 and older have received their third booster dose.

From Jan. 11-17, people not fully vaccinated accounted for 25.9% of cases and from Jan. 4-17, they accounted for 31.8% of hospitalizations.

Past week, cases per 100,000 population after adjusting for age (Jan. 11-17)

  • Not vaccinated: 428.5
  • Partially vaccinated: 186.4
  • Fully vaccinated: 311.5

Past two weeks, cases hospitalized per 100,000 population after adjusting for age (Jan. 4-17)

  • Not vaccinated: 70.5
  • Partially vaccinated: 41.4
  • Fully vaccinated: 15.5

Past week cases (Jan. 11-17) – Total 14,934

  • Not vaccinated: 3,208 (21.5%)
  • Partially vaccinated: 662 (4.4%)
  • Fully vaccinated: 11,064 (74.1%)

Past two weeks cases hospitalized (Jan. 4-17) – Total 1,062

  • Not vaccinated: 286 (26.9%)
  • Partially vaccinated: 52 (4.9%)
  • Fully vaccinated: 724 (68.2%)

Cameron Thomson, Vancouver is Awesome – Jan 19, 2022 / 4:41 pm | Story: 357546

The temperament of the Canada Goose is almost as famous as the bird itself and a historic Vancouver photo dating back to the mid-1950s proves it has been that way for a while.

Found in the City of Vancouver Archives, the photo depicts a rightfully terrified horse named Trooper turning its tail to a ferocious looking Canada Goose in mid-attack. Riding Trooper is Vancouver Police Constable Cliff Cooper according to the photo’s description. The photo was taken in Stanley Park in 1954.

Figuring out the famous fury

When you type into Google, “why are Canada Geese…” the third autocomplete suggestion is “so mean?” Obviously, this question has been pondered many times by Canadians and the world at large, and for good reason.

While most goose attacks on humans result in minor or no injuries, severe injuries can happen. Goose attacks have resulted in broken bones, head trauma, and emotional distress. Although, many of these injuries occur when the person tries to avoid an attacking goose and trips and falls.

The reason for their aggression may be a bit relatable though as the birds often become aggressive if they believe that their eggs or goslings are threatened. Even if you don’t see a nest, one may be nearby and if you get too close, a goose may attack to defend it.

It just seems Constable Cliff Cooper and Trooper learned that lesson the hard way 68 years ago.

The Canadian Press – Jan 19, 2022 / 4:10 pm | Story: 357538

Four Vancouver Island First Nations have reached an agreement with forestry firm Western Forest Products Inc. to defer harvesting of 25 square kilometres of rare, ancient and priority old-growth trees.

The two-year deferral between the four members of the Nanwakolas Council and the forest company includes preservation of 10 square kilometres of forest identified by an old-growth advisory panel as needing protection.

Another 15 square kilometres of priority ancient forests was also deferred through other agreements between the nations and the forestry firm.

In November, the government said it would defer the logging of B.C.’s most rare old-growth trees and gave 200 First Nations a deadline to say if they supported the deferrals or if they thought further discussion was required.

Nanwakolas Council president Dallas Smith says the agreement is important not only to protect the big trees but the habitat around them because some of the giant ones left standing alone in a clearcut have later blown down.

Forests Minister Katrine Conroy says temporary deferrals on logging of old-growth are an important measure giving First Nations and the forest industry time and space to develop long-term strategies.

The Manning Park “donut hole” is being protected from mining.

The B.C. government announced Wednesday it has reached an agreement with Imperial Metals and the Skagit Environmental Endowment Commission that will see the mining company return all mineral rights to the province related to the unprotected area between Manning and Skagit Valley provincial parks.

“Today’s agreement is another step in the right direction to protect the rich natural heritage of the Silverdaisy watershed and surrounding areas for generations to come,” said Premier John Horgan. “This milestone also reflects on the important relationship we have with our neighbours in Washington state.”

When Skagit Valley was elevated to provincial park status in 1996, the 5,800-hectare “donut hole” was left out due to mineral claims dating back to the 30s.

Imperial Metals, the current holder of the mineral rights, applied in 2018 to probe the area for copper and gold, sending environmentalists into an uproar on both sides of the border. The attention led the B.C. government to ban logging in the donut hole in 2019.

Nearly 300 First Nations, elected officials, businesses and conservation groups in Canada and the U.S. signed onto a coalition led by Washington Wild to oppose the mining proposal, which was still actively being pursued by the company last year.

The donut hole sits at the source of the Skagit River, which flows through Washington State before reaching the Puget Sound. As a result, the Upper Skagit watershed is protected by the Canada/U.S. High Ross Treaty.

“This is incredible news and represents a win/win for Indigenous peoples, British Columbia visitors to the Skagit and Manning Parks, downstream communities and businesses in Washington State and Imperial Metals,” said Tom Uniack, executive director for Washington Wild.

“It was clear that the coalition’s efforts played a key role in stopping the logging threats and now the mining threat to the iconic Skagit River and its headwaters.”

Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee applauded the move.

“The Skagit River is one of the most diverse salmon habitats in Washington state, including for Chinook, which are essential to the survival of the revered southern resident orca. This agreement is a shining example of the importance of cross-border collaboration when confronted with challenges that know no borders,” he said.

Consultation on the future use and protection of land within the Silverdaisy watershed will follow, said province.

Imperial Metals said in a statement it expects to pocket $24 million in the deal, covering prior investments.

Melissa Renwick, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Ha-Shilth-Sa – Jan 19, 2022 / 2:20 pm | Story: 357505

It’s been three months since 109 shipping containers were knocked from a cargo ship traveling through rough seas off the west coast of Vancouver Island, yet the location of all but four remain unknown.

Ashley Tapp, co-founder of Epic Exeo, said her initial optimism that the ship’s owner would be held accountable for the missing containers has begun to fade.

“I’m starting to get pretty discouraged,” she said.

Epic Exeo is a non-profit organization based out of Port McNeill that focuses on beach clean-ups along the north coast, where four of the containers were located on Oct. 29.

Despite specializing in the area, Tapp said it took at least a week before she was asked to coordinate clean-ups in the Cape Scott area, south of Palmerston Beach and Raft Cove, which were executed by volunteers.

Contractors hired by the ship’s owner to organize beach clean-ups were not local and were unfamiliar with the geography of the area, said Alys Hoyland, Surfrider Pacific Rim beach clean coordinator.

“It was more than a week before any kind of clean-up effort started,” she said. “And the longer it took for the clean-up to start, the worse it got.”

Currently, the delegation of authority falls in the lap of the shipping company, who doesn’t have local ties to the area, said Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns.

Johns said he tried to reach out to Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray to help “provide guidance and connections to coastal communities and resources to help with the clean-up,” but she never responded.

Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council (NTC) President Judith Sayers raised similar concerns over the lack of communication with the 14 Nuu-chah-nulth nations along the coast who may be impacted by the spill for years to come.

“The ongoing incident involving the container ship Zim Kingston has brought to light numerous shortcomings in the overall marine emergency response capacity for the west coast of Vancouver Island,” Sayers wrote in a letter addressed to Transport Minister Omar Alghabra in mid-November after the incident occurred Oct. 22.

Hazardous chemicals are in at least two of the 105 missing 40-foot containers. Other contents include Christmas decorations, metal car parts, clothing, toys, as well as industrial parts.

In early-December, Hoyland said grey rubber mats linked to the cargo spill started washing up near Tofino in Florencia Bay and in the Hesquiaht Harbour. She hasn’t received any further reports of container debris in Clayoquot or Barkley Sound, but said “there’s quite a bit being reported up in Haida Gwaii.”

According to Ray Williams of the to Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation, large chunks of Styrofoam began populating the beaches around Yuquot in December. The problem has persisted, said Williams, who worries about the fish as the material breaks down into small pellets.

Nicole Gervais also reported that chunks of Styrofoam started washing ashore on the northern end of Long Beach, near the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation community of Esowista, in early-December.

Unlike the Styrofoam used for docking floats, Gervais’ daughter, Gisele Martin, said the pieces that littered the high-tide line all the way to Schooner Cove had edges carved into them.

It’s packing material, she suggested.

But without any way of tracking the Styrofoam, there’s no way of knowing where it came from.

In response to Gervais’ report, Surfrider Pacific Rim organized a beach clean along the Esowista Peninsula and Combers Beach, where Hoyland said they removed a metal barrel, a large plastic buoy, a tire, a section of a boat, plastic fragments, as well as single-use items such as plastic bottles, aluminum cans, and plastic packaging.

Beach clean-up organizations have not been given the full manifest, which identifies the contents of the overboard containers. Without it, Hoyland said it’ll be “incredibly hard” to prove the extent of the spread, or to hold the ship’s owner accountable.

The coast guard said it is “not at liberty” to share the manifest because they don’t own the document, but that debris from the Zim Kingston is “distinct from regular marine debris.”

“Typical marine debris tends to be plastic water bottles, fishing rope and nets, microplastics and hard plastic floats,” the coast guard said. “Debris from the Zim Kingston continues to be the same type of material that was originally seen in November [and] December, including Christmas decorations, clothing, toys, gym mats, boots and shoes, refrigerator parts, and other everyday items.”

It is required by law for the polluter to pay for any cleanup activities to the “satisfaction of the Government of Canada,” the coast guard said.

As of early December, the coast guard said around 47,650 kilograms of debris had been removed from the beaches along the northern coast of Vancouver Island.

By mid-December, the coast guard said the beaches where debris was reported were “considered to be clean.”

Tapp returned to Cape Palmerston and Grant Bay on Dec. 14 and found a pink blow-up unicorn, baby oil containers, cologne bottles, Paw Patrol bike helmets with zip ties still attached, as well as intact Styrofoam and bubble wrap in the area south of Cape Scott.

“[The government’s] definition of clean is completely different from ours,” she said. “You can’t just go and clean a beach and then wipe your hands of it. [Debris] keeps coming back.”

Tapp said she made reports of her findings to the coast guard but “nothing has come of that.”

Instead, she was asked to file future reports through their 1-800 number.

The recent heavy snowfall has made it impossible for Tapp to return to the area since, but she’s gearing up to head back to Cape Palmerston on Feb. 12.

No one has reached out to Tapp since she was originally contacted in early-November.

“We’re already past mid-January … and I’ve had nobody tell me any kind of plan as to what they’re going to do to move forward,” she said. “I’ve had no one reach out and ask if I’ve been out there again.”

Every few months, the coast guard said the ship’s owner will check the known accumulation sites for debris “likely to be from the Zim Kingston.”

“The Canadian Coast Guard will also monitor for debris when conducting overflights in the west coast Vancouver Island area and any reported debris believed to be from the Zim Kingston will be followed up on,” the coast guard added.

Given that debris remained on the beaches after they were declared “clean,” Tapp said “I’d really love to know what their definition of ‘monitor the beaches’ actually is.”

The coast guard said they continue to work with the ship’s owner to create a plan to conduct a sonar scan of the area where the containers went overboard, as well as an assessment of risk that the overboard containers could pose to the environment.

“The vessel owner has hired a contractor to conduct the scan but they need to wait for an appropriate weather window to complete the work,” the coast guard said.

Tapp said the weather likely isn’t going to change for another few months.

“By then, I worry that if they’re finding shipping containers that are close to shore they’re going to be breaking open,” she said.

Looking ahead, Tapp said she suspects the debris will likely become the responsibility of the coastal communities of where it washes ashore.

“It’s going to add into our regular beach cleaning at this point,” she said. “That’s not what I want, but I can’t just leave it and we have to continue on.”

Chuck Chiang, Business in Vancouver – Jan 19, 2022 / 2:16 pm | Story: 357503

A controversial Port of Vancouver program to remove older, more polluting trucks from its drayage operations has been postponed beyond its original Feb. 1 start date, but proponents are confident the delay will be minor.

The Rolling Truck Age Program, a part of the port’s updated licensing system for trucks operating there, originally called for trucks whose model years are 10 years old or older to be phased out starting Feb. 1. The goal was to have only trucks from model year 2012 onward at the port by June 1 (with some exceptions).

About two weeks out from the rollout, however, intense pressure from some truckers, unions and other groups appeared to have forced port officials to issue a letter to stakeholders – announcing that the truck age program’s implementation will be deferred for at least 90 days.

“Over the coming weeks, we will be providing an opportunity for industry and community stakeholders to further share information and feedback regarding specific aspects of implementation of the program,” the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (VFPA) said in the letter. “We will consider input received as we finalize implementation plans for the Rolling Truck Age Program later this year.”

In the letter, port officials said part of the reason in the deferral is the “recent extreme weather events and the COVID-19 pandemic” that have put additional pressure on truckers’ short-term ability to switch to newer-model trucks to comply with the new rules. Officials also said they took a letter from federal transport minister Omar Alghabra – asking the port to consider a short delay to the program – into consideration in its decision to postpone.

The trucking sector appears divided over support for the truck age program, which port officials said will improve air quality in Metro Vancouver while also creating a more reliable and socially responsible truck fleet at the port.

Dave Earle, president and CEO at the BC Trucking Association, staunchly supports the program to update Port of Vancouver’s truck fleet. Earle added that the postponement of the program’s rollout does not concern him.

“VFPA committed to pause to ensure that they have considered all aspects of the program,” he said. “We fully expect them to move forward with a truck age program once they have duly considered any further input.”

Unifor, the largest private sector union in Canada, was much less supportive. In a statement in response to the original truck age program rollout, Unifor national president Jerry Dias said the initiative – had it gone ahead as planned on Feb. 1 – would have caused “chaos in a system already under unique pressure from the pandemic, flooding and supply-chain issues.”

“Without action from Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, gridlock will overtake Vancouver’s ports,” said Dias in his statement. “Millions of British Columbians rely on the efficient operation of their ports. Ignoring the issue has only made matters worse.”

Back on Jan. 7, Unifor demanded that the port convene consultations with stakeholders about the “fairest way to transition the trucks,” citing the fact that many truckers currently face too much financial hardship to comply with switching to a newer truck. A ban on trucks older than 10 years would have knocked many truckers out of port operations, Unifor added – leading to major disruptions to the port’s trucking capacity.

In its demand, Unifor asked for a two-year pause to the phase-out of older trucks as a starting point – a delay far longer than the 90 days announced by the port. Unifor officials also accused the VFPA of rushing the truck age program’s implementation without proper input from truckers.

Earle said opposition like Unifor’s is not surprising in the truck sector, as he has seen many in the industry push back. However, he also noted that truckers in B.C. could have been ready for the rollout of the program, since the VFPA has bee seeking comment on its plans since 2012.

“This is doable,” he said of the program, noting truckers should still be able to acquire trucks less than 10 years old to comply with the program. “I mean, you don’t have the selection [of newer trucks] you would have had if you did this a year ago, but this isn’t new. The port communicated the timeline last summer. It didn’t surprise anybody.”

Earle also noted that – while opponents often cite the recent floods and highway washouts as a reason why now isn’t a good time for a truck age program – the climate change that’s causing these extreme weather phenomenons should actually be the top reason why the trucking industry should be jumping onboard with a more sustainable truck fleet.

“This is absolutely critical, and it’s something we’ve built into our strategic plan [at the BC Trucking Association],” he said. “… [Climate change] is a real crisis. It’s here, we have to do something about it, and in B.C., the transport industry is number one in terms of GHG emissions.

“To pretend otherwise is ridiculous, and it’s critical that we change,” Earle added.

The difference between making the necessary changes and not, Earle noted, may be the trucking industry’s overall future well-being.

“When we look at the next generation, they are not interested in coming to an industry that pollutes, that isn’t trying to be sustainable and change for the better,” he said. “… When I look at the discussion that is happening, I despair. There’s no discussion that this needs to be done, only about how much money this will cost. There’s nothing else; and that tells me there’s always an opportunity to engage and to educate – but fundamentally, there comes a point where action needs to be taken.”

Jeremy Hainsworth, Glacier Media – Jan 19, 2022 / 2:02 pm | Story: 357501

The trial of three men charged with murder, accessory to murder or offering an indignity to a human body in connection with a woman’s fiery Surrey death has not only been delayed but may move to Vancouver from New Westminster Supreme Court.

Nineteen-year-old Bhavkiran Dhesi’s remains were found in a burned-out vehicle in South Surrey on Aug. 2, 2017.

Former boyfriend Harjot Singh Deo was charged in May 2019 with second-degree murder. A month later, police announced an additional charge of indecently interfering with or offering an indignity to human remains.

Gurvinder Deo and Talwinder Khun Khun are accused of being accessories after the fact to murder and for indecently interfering with or offering an indignity to human remains.

Police have said Harjot Singh Deo was in a romantic relationship with Dhesi, who had received a life-saving kidney transplant six months before her killing.

Lawyers for the three appeared before Justice Jeanne Watchuk for a pre-trial conference for the trial initially due to start Jan. 24. That has now been put back to Feb. 7 but could face further adjournments.

The 55-day judge-alone trial was due to hear from 130 witnesses, but submissions made in the case have cut 50 from that list. That number may be cut further as lawyers continue to work through further evidence, Watchuk heard.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also had an impact on scheduling the case for trial.

“These kinds of cases particularly during the pandemic are very difficult to schedule,” Harjot Singh Deo’s lawyer Richard Fowler said.

Police confirmed the Deos are brothers while Khun Khun is an extended family member.

Cornelia Naylor, Burnaby Now – Jan 19, 2022 / 1:57 pm | Story: 357499

A 25-year-old North Vancouver woman has been identified as the victim in a fatal stabbing at a Burnaby mall last month.

At around 11:40 a.m. on Dec. 19, police responded to a parkade at Metropolis at Metrotown Mall after multiple calls for assistance.

On scene, officers found a person who had been stabbed outside a parkade near the Metropolis at Metrotown Walmart.

The woman was taken to hospital but died of her injuries.

She has now been identified as Melissa Blimkie from North Vancouver.

The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team confirmed her identity at the same time as announcing second degree murder charges against Everton Downey, 32.

“This is an unimaginable loss for the friends and family of Melissa,” IHIT spokesperson Sgt. David Lee said in a news release. “We hope that this outcome provides them with some answers.”

Blimkie and Downey were in a relationship for some time prior to the homicide, according to IHIT, and investigators have released a photo of Blimkie in the hopes someone will come forward and tell them more about the nature of that relationship.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the IHIT information line at 1-877-551-IHIT (4448) or [email protected]

Kirsten Clarke, Richmond News – Jan 19, 2022 / 1:55 pm | Story: 357498

A plane carrying more than 200 Afghan refugees safely landed at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) last night.

The group is the largest to arrive in B.C. since the Taliban took over Afghanistan last August.

Most of the people aboard the charter flight, which departed from Islamabad, Pakistan, had work in Afghanistan that “involved a significant or enduring relationship with the Government of Canada, as well as their families,” said Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Sean Fraser, in a statement.

Fraser said 161 of the new arrivals will stay in Vancouver while the other 48 will settle elsewhere in the country, where they have family ties.

They were greeted at YVR by the Community Airport Newcomers Network – a resettlement assistance program provided by Success, a Richmond-based immigrant settlement organization, that provides an initial orientation, winter clothing and arranges transport for newcomers and their families.

Over the next few weeks, the group will also receive support from the Immigrant Services Society of B.C. (ISSofBC), which will help them find housing and provide information about finding a job.

Around 85 per cent of the government-assisted Afghan refugees who have arrived in B.C. since August 2021 have moved into permanent housing, according to the federal government.

Chris Friesen, chief operating officer of ISSofBC, told the Richmond News last December that while many Afghan refugees have had their first landing spot in Richmond – up to 100 at a time staying at a local hotel – none of them have found a permanent home in the city.

There is “absolutely” a need for more affordable housing in Richmond, including for refugees, he added.

Instead, most settle in Surrey while others have found homes in Burnaby, Vancouver and Coquitlam.

Friesen said at the time that the “ironic saving grace” of the COVID-19 pandemic is that there’s been more rental housing available due to less immigration and fewer international students competing for homes.

But refugees are expected to keep flowing into Canada over the next few years and Friesen said at the time that he doesn’t see any relief in sight as far as housing is concerned.

Last November, the B.C. government announced the $2 million Refugee Readiness Fund to help boost local services and supports for families resettling in B.C. due to the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

With Tuesday’s arrivals, the federal government said more than 7,000 Afghan refugees have landed in Canada.

Ottawa has promised to resettle 40,000 Afghan refugees across the country.

The Canadian Press – Jan 19, 2022 / 12:51 pm | Story: 357492

A First Nation on Vancouver Island has declared a state of emergency and banned the use of water for everything except flushing toilets after a barge severed a water supply line.

A message posted by the District of Ucluelet says the underwater line in the inlet between Ucluelet and the Indigenous community of Hitacu was damaged Monday, leaving the community without water for showers, drinking, cooking or fire suppression.

A statement from the Ucluelet First Nation says water is being delivered to the roughly 275 affected residents and trucks have been filling the community’s water tower to provide a backup supply.

It says the state of emergency can’t be lifted until that system is flushed and tested and the water is declared potable.

In the meantime, residents can fill water jugs at the community centre in Ucluelet and a local motel has made its showers available to those residents at least until next Monday.

The district says divers removed 300 metres of damaged water line on Tuesday and assessment and repairs are underway, but the line must still be returned to the inlet, anchored and flushed before the community has water again.

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