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April 2015 | A view to the world, from Sooke. News & views that 'put it all together' for inquisitive readers. Current PRINT PDF EDITION | LOCAL NEWS
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Regional & national breaking news
Saturday, April 18. So much news! The April 17th edition of Sooke Voice News is now online. Front page articles include John Horgan's speech at AVICC, the passage of Sooke's motion at AVICC opposing increased oil tanker traffic, and SD62 inching closer to approval of their 2015-2016 budget. Page 2: affordable housing puts Sooke in spotlight at AVICC. Page 3: Winners of the Sooke Chamber business excellence awards. Page 4: Earth Day organizers ask municipalities to lead a 'green cities' initiative.
Friday, April 17. Class sizes in BC remain low and stable while the number of students successfully moving to the next grade has reached record highs, says the BC Ministry of Education after their review of 2013-2014 records. The transition rate for students entering Grade 12 increased by 7% over 10 years, rising to 89% in 2013-2014. The rate for students with special needs who transition to Grade 12 increased by 19% up to 85% in that same 10-year period.
Thursday, April 16. A 40-year-old Langford man arrested on Child Pornography charges was in court in the West Shore area of Greater Victoria today, following an investigation started by the Manitoba RCMP Integrated Child Exploitation (ICE) Unit, and now in the hands of West Shore RCMP as the full lead. "Crimes against children are serious and result in lifelong emotional scars," says Constable Alex Berube, spokesperson for West Shore RCMP [Photo of Alex Berube Copyright 2015 Sooke Voice News]. The man's arrest took place in a home on Silverstone Way in Langford.
Wednesday, April 15. The option for indicating one's preference about organ donation was made available starting April 1, 2015 at Service BC Locations. Currently more than 95% of British Columbian's support organ donations but only20% have registered their decision to be a donor, the Ministry of Health said in a news release this week. There are 61 Service BC locations throughout the province. There are 465 citizens on the transplant waiting list -- 350 of those await a kidney. A single donor can save up to eight lives. Registration by potential donors can be done online at www.transplant.bc.ca
Tuesday, April 14. NDP Leader John Horgan says the BC Liberals did a "secret land giveaway" at the end of 2013, without much business sense. A BC NDP news release says 14 parcels of land were sold to the same buyer for "only $85 million", which the NDP says is $43 million less than the appraised value. "The appraiser told the government to wait nine months and get a good price," says NDP Finance critic Mike Farnworth. Here is the news release.
Tuesday, April 14. NDP MPs would re-open the Kitsilano Coast Guard base, re-open the Marine Communications and Traffic Service Centre in Ucluelet, and stop closures of centers in Vancouver and Comox," said NDP Fisheries and Oceans deputy critic Fin Donnelly today. "We're urging Prime Minister Harper to listen to the public and act now. Last week's oil spill in Vancouver Harbour illustrated just how much is at risk," Donnelly (MP for New Westminster - Coquitlam) said in a news release today, following the delivery of a letter to Harper from 12 NDP MPs (including local Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca MP Randall-Garrison in whose riding is the DND base at Esquimalt), asking him to take immediate action to reverse cuts to Coast Guard services. A petition campaign has also been launched, at www.ndp.ca./bc-coast-guard . The Conservatives are being pressed for immediate action as "the coastline is too crucial to the ecosystem, economy and culture". NDP MPs say they have been on the forefront of fighting the Kitsilano Coast Guard closure since it was announced in 2012. After the oil spill at English Bay in Vancouver on April 8, Christy Clark said the responsibility for oil spill response should be handed over to the BC provincial government.
Monday, April 13. BC Official Leader of the Opposition John Horgan says the NDP [Photo at AVICC April 12, 2015 | Copyright 2015 Sooke Voice News] would reinstate BC Ferries as a crown corporation or integrate it back into the Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure after taking "a good hard look" at the Coastal Ferries Act, he said in his speech to about 240 delegates at the Association of Vancouver Island & Coastal Communities (AVICC) convention on Sunday, April 12 in Courtenay. For islanders in particular, Horgan said that BC Ferries is an integral part of an integrated transportation network in BC. Horgan's challenge to the BC Liberals was consistent throughout his speech: "If you don't understand the challenges of your communities, how is it possible that you can lead a province that seeks to have the cooperation that we need at all levels of government, to get the outcomes that our voters -- the electors of this great province -- want to see." He criticized the use of $5 million for the office of the Auditor General for Local Government which saw the person in the top job fired and little to no results forthcoming for municipalities. A collaborative and inclusive vision for the future of BC was outlined by Horgan in his 25-minute speech, including: "How we come together and make a better BC, not by holding fast to our flag, but holding fast to our values, which are mainstream values. All British Columbians want the same thing: safety, security, and a sense that the economy will grow for them, not over top of them." Horgan expressed high praise for the "personal and professional integrity of the people in our health care system", without which the health care system "would be crumbling at this moment". "Ignoring problems is never the way to get around it," he said, with reference to provincial government decision-making about the health care system. In an interview with Sooke Voice News after the speech, Horgan said that BC is the only province that requires premiums to be paid for health care, which is something that "needs looking at", including why MSP collections are handled by an American company outside of Canada). He said that former resource communities like Sooke and Shawnigan Lake are starting to adapt "because people want to live in those communities". Horgan was not impressed with Premier Clark's comments last week that BC should take over emergency preparedness for oil spll response. Horgan feels that it's a federal responsibility to take care of the coast, not provincial.
Friday, April 10. The April 10, 2015 web-courtesy sampler edition of Sooke Voice News is now online. Subscriptions are available in digital format (PDF sent to your email InBox), or by postal mail (you get the PDF with that too, for timeliness). Much of this edition focuses on the presentation that Kinder Morgan made in Sooke earlier this week, as well as the bunker oil spill that happened in Vancouver this week (see page 1, page 2). There are many events going on in Sooke this weekend, April 11 and 12. Check out the SOOKE AREA EVENTS webpage for details, or see Page 4 in the April 10th SVN.
Wednesday, April 8. Oil transportation giant Kinder Morgan made a presentation to the municipal council of the District of Sooke last night, and addressed public questions. Kinder Morgan have included five new spill response facilities in their application for pipeline and marine expansion, one in each of Nanaimo, Delta, Sidney, Sooke and Ucluelet. See full story on their Sooke presentation at Local Breaking News
Sunday, April 5. Local food growers are getting BC government funding through the Buy Local Program. A recent announcement was about $11,368 to a farm market in Cache Creek in the BC Interior to let their customers know that 90% of their produce is locally grown. The Buy Local program has received $6 million since 2012 to increase sales of locally grown and processed agrifood and seafood products throughout the province. Building the local market is a key commitment of the government's Agrifoods Strategy (a component of the BC Jobs Plan), it was stated in a news release on Easter Sunday. BC aims to grow the agrifoods sector into a $14 billion/year industry by 2017. Buy Local is administered by the BC Investment Agriculture Foundation. Applications are online at www.iafbc.ca
Sunday, April 5. World Health Day 2015 by the World Health Organization (WHO) is on Tuesday, April 7. Food Safety: How Safe is Your Food? is the theme, examining 'from farm to plate, make food safe'. WHO says that new data on the harm caused by food-borne illnesses scores the need for coordinated, cross-border action across the entire food supply chain. In Canada, food costs have skyrocketed in recent months due in part to safety issues (also transportation-related costs and the effect of the low oil prices on the Canadian dollar), with meat noticeably up about 12% this month.
Saturday, April 4. For most Canadians this is a 4-day long weekend, having started with Good Friday yesterday, and extending to include Easter Monday. For anyone dependent on postal mail, things have pretty much ground to a halt. No mail moving now until Tuesday. It's a good weekend for the restaurant industry -- lots of dinner specials in restaurants, and if you're making turkey dinner or ham for a special Easter get-together this is part of a little burst for the now high-priced meat industry.
Friday, April 3. The April 3 EASTER Edition of Sooke Voice News is now online. Front page news includes opening of the new Sooke Bike Park, the library project back in VIRL's hands for public RFP, Sooke taxes held at 0% increase for 2015, and SD62 explores 'slow recovery' in their 2015-2016 budget. Editorial (page 2): Don't throw away your "We are the 99%" T-Shirt just yet. Economy in BC (page 2): Getting smart about lining up immigration applications with what the BC economy needs.
Thursday, April 2. FEDERAL BUDGET. The 2015 federal budget will be delivered on April 21, it was announced today. Achieving a balanced budget is not necessarily a high priority for Canadians, according to a poll on CBC's Power and Politics today.
Wednesday, April 1. FAMILY ECONOMICS. Today two significant cost-of-living impacts come into effect in BC, notably an increase in BC Hydro rates by 6% (fast on the heels of last year's 10% increase, part of a five-year roll-out of rate increases covering 2014-2018 to be followed by further unspecified increases for five years after that.), and a 3.9% increase in ferry fares (to be followed by annual increases capped at 1.9% on average each year through 2020).
Tuesday, March 31. BC ECONOMY. A 90-day pause in accepting new immigration applications came into effect today in BC. The announcement was made by BC Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training Shirley Bond before noon today, stating noon as the cutoff for new applications under the existing program. Applications already in the system will be processed under the current guidelines. During March 31 to July 1, her Ministry will be developing a new strategy for immigrant application goals, notably spreading applicants across the range of federal employment classifications (generally covering executive, skilled worker, unskilled worker) and to represent and serve a spectrum of forward-looking economic needs in British Columbia. Stakeholders being consulted for the economic component of the review include these industries: food services, digital media, high-tech, trucking, and construction. Minister Bond sounded astonished that there is no online application process in her Ministry. A new online application process is to be developed during the 90-day pause period. Bond firmly expressed her goal that the immigration process work for both the success of applicants and for the province. Under the present system, the success rate for BC nomination to Canadian citizenship on the job skills side is about 80% while "refusal on the business stream is about 30% to 50%", Bond explained to media today.
Monday, March 30. In an investigation report released today, BC Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham is recommending that the District of Saanich disable key features of its employee monitoring software including keystroke logging, automated screen shots and continuous tracking of computer program activity. The reason given is violation of the privacy rights of employees and elected officials. All data collected by the Spector 360 software should be destroyed, it was said in the recommendations. The District also failed to provide adequate notice to employees and elected officials regarding the amount and type of personal information being collected. The investigation came following complaints from the new Mayor Richard Atwell [photo] who claimed he was being spied upon. Atwell had succeeded in winning the top seat in November 2014 municipal elections over long time Mayor Frank Leonard. The commissioner's report further recommended that the District of Saanich appoint a chief privacy officer to audit the district's current access to information and privacy practices, and provide staff training to make sure employees understand the follow through on access to information and privacy obligations.
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