Regional & national BREAKING NEWS:
September 2014 | Today's Tweets reposted live! A view to the world, from Sooke. News & views that 'put it all together' for inquisitive readers. Click on CURRENT August 29th EDITION for full colour 'print' edition.
for on-the-beat news updates.
CURRENT EDITION for this week's
print edition (PDF).
Quick LinksBC Parent Info about the $40/day/child (under age 13) payment from government, due to BC Teachers strike : www.bcparentinfo.ca
Subscriptions to Sooke Voice News (print edition and PDF by email link): after September 5 you will need a subscription to view the online PDF of the Friday print edition. www.sookevoicenews.com/subscriptions.htm
Sooke Municipal Election updates. www.sookevoicenews.com/election2014
Regional & national breaking news
Sept.2. The school information site at www.bcparentinfo.ca has been at moments not available this morning, likely to do bandwidth load as parents across BC seek more information on this first 'back to school' day when teachers are still on strike. Parents can apply on that site for $40/day/child under age 13, to help with child care costs that are incurred during the strike; one payment will be issued to parents at the end of the strike. Registration for this payment requires the student's Personal Education Number (PEN number) which can be found on any previous student report cards, or by contacting the student's school.
Sept.2. Schools in BC will not be open Sept.2 due to the ongoing education dispute between the BC Government and the BC Teachers Federation. In the Sooke School District, check for updates here and at the District's website at www.sd62.bc.ca (where you'll find links to each of the individual schools as well). Parents can register to receive $40 per day per student (under age 13) for days that the teachers strike is ongoing by calling 1-877-387-3332 or online at www.bcparentinfo.ca . One cheque will be issued at the end of the strike period. Google posted a 'Back to School' graphic today on their home page; but it doesn't apply in BC!
Sept.1. BC NDP Opposition Leader John Horgan has written an open letter to Premier Christy Clark today about "the prolonged education dispute". Horgan expresses disappointment with the government's failed approach to date, and urges the premier to directly involve herself in the negotiations, in support of the same request made by BC Teachers Federation president Jim Iker this past weekend. The letter asks Premier Clark to "set a new tone that respects teachers and our public education system," says a BC NDP news release today. Read the full letter: Letter about education dispute from Opposition Leader John Horgan to BC Premier Christy Clark
Sept.1. As the first Monday in September, today is Labour Day in Canada. See BC statements on Labour Day (from government and official opposition) on page 4 of the Aug.29th edition of Sooke Voice News.
Aug. 31. Today has been the 17th anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. She died in a car crash in a tunnel in Paris on August 31, 1997. There yet swirls debate over any possible mal-intent behind the fatal collision. This weekend, the 2006 Oscar-winning movie The Queen (starring Helen Mirren, who won the Oscar for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role) was broadcast on TV, in which a key part of the plot is how the death of Diana forever changed how the British Monarchy relates to the people of that country. Diana's eldest son Prince William is third in line to the British Throne, after his father Charles, Prince of Wales. William has made a definitive point of living his life (as much as can be possible) like a regular person, not royalty; Diana had hoped to impart to her sons William and Harry a sense of what it's like for their subjects in everyday life.
Aug.31. Sooke School District 62 Superintendent Jim Cambridge issued this statement this afternoon, Sunday August 31: "Further to the information that was distributed to parents last week, it appears that the talks between the BCTF and BCPSEA have broken down." "School will not be open for students Tuesday September 2.It is unclear when talks will resume and when school will start." "I realize this is frustrating and disruptive to families, we will endeavour to to keep parents up to date. Please monitor media reports and the district website."
Aug.31. The BC government is seeking input from parents, families and others in the community on a wide range of concerns and issues regarding youth mental health. There is a reading list prepared by the BC Government's Select Standing Committee on Children and Youth at https://www.leg.bc.ca/cmt/cay/docs/ReadingList-YouthMentalHealth-9June2014.pdf . Submissions can be made at https://www.leg.bc.ca/cmt/cay/submission.asp . The deadline for submissions is September 19, 2014. Article on natural options and alternatives to drugs and counselling (as published Aug 29, 2014, Sooke Voice News)
Aug.31. Schools will not be open Sept.2. The government will not be legislating teachers back to work (saying that just puts things back into the courts), said BC Education Minister Peter Fassbender today in an announcement to media at noon today in Vancouver, adding that the BC Teachers Federation is incorrect in saying the province isn't willing to negotiate. Negotiations are really only possible in any situation when there is some room for compromise. The appointed mediator (Vince Ready) said yesterday that the sides are too far apart, and walked out of negotiations around 5:30 pm. Fassbender added today that the government won't go into a deficit over "unrealistic demands" by the BCTF. Fassbender could not give a timeline on how long this strike could drag on. He called BCTF's demands unacceptable and unrealistic. BCTF president Jim Iker says he will speak to media at 4 pm today, and that the BCTF bargaining team is ready to meet today and tomorrow to reach a fair deal before Sept.2. He has asked for a personal meeting with Premier Clark to try and end the BC education dispute. Fassbender says the BCTF needs to bring realistic demands. He is is constant contact with Premier Clark and that she has given him the responsibility of dealing with the strike. "Class composition has much more of a significant impact -- it's more than numbers -- it's about a new look at classrooms for the future (as is being done in other parts of the world)," said Fassbender on CKNW Radio at 12:25 pm today. "We need to move forward to education of the future," said Fassbender. Sooke Voice News editorial on education (page 2, Aug 29 edition, SVN)
Aug.31. BC Government has Tweeted out that parents can register to receive $40 per day per student (under age 13) for days that the teachers strike is ongoing. www.bcparentinfo.ca . For families without access to a computer, registration by paper form is available by calling 1-877-387-3332 or 250-387-3332
Aug.31. BC Education Minister Peter Fassbender will address the media at noon today in Vancouver regarding the provincial government's dispute with the BC Teachers' Federation.
LIKELY NO SCHOOL ON SEPTEMBER 2. Aug.31. Still no evident progress on resolving the BC Teachers dispute. Yesterday the mediator (Vince Ready) who was a favourable choice for both government and teachers' union, walked out of the negotiations saying the two sides are too far apart to come to a resolution anytime soon. He said that positions on wages, benefits and class composition remains "a long ways apart", as told to reporters outside the building in Richmond, BC where talks were going on yesterday, Aug.30. The BCTF tweeted out yesterday that they have "not walked away from the table" and BC Premier Christy Clark said the government remains committed to a deal that is affordable for taxpayers. Rotating strikes began in the last week of May, with full strike action starting June 17. Parents will need to find alternate arrangements for child care after the long weekend, when classes would normally have started for the 2014-2015 academic public school year.
Aug.30 (3pm). No update yet on the negotiations of the BC Government and the BC Teachers Union. Parents, students, employers and everyone affected by the strike still await word as to school getting off to a timely start on September 2. Sooke Voice News editorial on education in BC: (Aug 29th print/PDF edition, page 2).
Aug.29. The Aug.29th print/PDF edition of Sooke Voice News is now online.
Aug.28. This morning at 10 am, School School District 62 issued a letter to parents advising (just in case) the arrangement of alternate child care plans for next week, given the unresolved status of the BC teachers strike. If teachers are not back in the classrooms by Tuesday, September 2, then students hoping to access their schools would be crossing picket lines, and the only personnel in the schools (principals and vice principals) would be unable to provide adequate supervision for students. By this evening, the situation had not changed. See: Aug 28 letter to parents from SD62 Superintendent Jim Cambridge Check the www.sd62.bc.ca website for updates as Sept 2 approaches. Parents are invited to submit letters or comments to Sooke Voice News about the impact of the strike on their children, families and financial situation.
Aug.28. Starting September 5, you will need a paid subscription in order to view the colour PDF of the Sooke Voice News print edition. This is a realistic business step being taken by Sooke Voice News publisher Brookeline Publishing House Inc. Digging up and presenting news does not happen out of 'nowhere'; the costs of professional journalism, technology and distribution are some of the key factors in now requiring an online subscription fee. The online subscription (receiving a link to the full colour PDF each Friday), is $28+GST for 18 weeks. To receive the colour PDF link *plus* the greyscale print edition by postal mail, the fee is $33+GST for 18 weeks. To receive the PDF *plus* the colour print edition each week by postal mail, the fee is $33+GST for 10 weeks. Every subscription (whether digital/enews or print) includes an additional enews message called "In the Know", by email as news warrants. The free Friday enews headline bulletin (by opt-in email) will continue, but will *not* include a link to the full colour PDF. "The many hundreds of subscribers and thousands of online readers are very much appreciated," says SVN publisher and editor Mary Brooke. "This financial adjustment to the subscription process will help ensure the continued excellence of Sooke Voice News in the months and years ahead." Sooke Voice News will be closely following the fall 2014 municipal and school board trustee elections, including intensive news coverage and advertisements with information for voters. The fall 2014 print/PDF editions may expand beyond the usual 4-page format, in order to handle the increased news volume. News by SVN is available to read 24/7 online on this Breaking News (regional) webpage and the Local Breaking News web page, at no cost. The www.sookevoicenews.com website gets approximately 30,000 page hits per week, with the breaking news webpages and events webpage (as well as each week's current PDF edition) being the hot spots!
Aug.28. A broken sprinkler last night at the Royal BC Museum in Victoria leaves carpets, walls and some computers damaged from the water. The museum will be open today (admission by donation, except IMAX which is at the regular price). Visitors should enter through the main glass lobby of Belleville Street. Updates from the Museum on Twitter @RoyalBCMuseum.
Aug.28. The Earl and Countess of Wessex (Prince Edward and his wife Sophie) will be in BC Sept 12-16 on a working visit. They will be in Victoria Sept 12 & 13 (Countess to visit Children's Health Foundation of Vancouver Island, Our Place Society and UVic on Sept 13), then travel to Vancouver on Sept 14, then to Ditidaht First Nation on Vancouver Island on Sept 15, then do further engagements in Kelowna on Sept.16. Their full itinerary is to be released at a later date.
Aug. 27. Education Minister Peter Fassbender issued the following statement today, Wednesday August 27, after meeting with the BC Teachers Federation (BCTF) and the BC Public Schools Employers' Association (BCPSEA): "I invited the lead negotiators, Mr. Iker and Mr. Cameron, to meet with me today because we all want to resolve this strike. We want to see students in school next Tuesday. "To make that happen, both sides need to focus on the issues that can be mediated and settled immediately and set aside some matters that will be dealt with by the courts. "I proposed three specific steps to reach a settlement and clear the way for students to go back to school on schedule. "First, I asked the parties to set aside the matter of potential grievances stemming from Justice Griffin's decision. "The demand on potential grievances is nearly a quarter of a billion dollars a year. This matter is before the courts and will be addressed through the appeals process. "I'm not asking the BCTF to do anything prejudicial to their court case, but setting this issue aside as the appeals process takes place gives mediation a chance to succeed. "Second, I urged the parties to get into mediation as soon as possible. "I made it clear that setting aside the grievances is not a precondition for mediation but I stated my belief that doing so would allow negotiations to focus squarely on the key issues at hand: teachers' wages and class size and composition. "My hope is that it would move the parties into a zone where mediator Vince Ready sees an opportunity to start productive mediation. "We expect Mr. Ready will explore this development but - as it was agreed to by the parties - it remains up to Mr. Ready to decide when to start full mediation. "As soon as Mr. Ready indicates mediation should commence, we are ready. In fact, we are ready now. "And third, I asked the BCTF and BCPSEA to suspend all strike or lockout activities for two weeks when Mr. Ready starts mediation. "Government has no plan to legislate an end to this dispute and we are not asking either the BCTF or BCPSEA to give up their right to strike or lockout. We are just asking them to voluntarily stand down and let classes start while the parties are in mediation. "British Columbia has a world-class public education system and our students consistently rank among the best in the world. That is in large measure due to our great teachers. We need to resolve this dispute and work together to build on our success and prepare our students for the future."
Aug.27. The Sooke School District 62 board of trustees has issued a letter to Premier Christy Clark today, stressing that "students must be our collective priority". This letter comes as a result of a motion at the SD62 board meeting last night at the school board office, where trustee Bob Phillips made comments about the needs of students coming before any "government economic mandate". The letter, signed by SD62 Chair Wendy Hobbs, is also addressed to the Minister of Education, the BC School Trustees Association, and the BC Public School Employers' Association. The letter says that the settlement with teachers "must contain a fair wage increase for teachers, new class size and composition language and provisions for flexibility for Boards of Education". The remainder of the letter points at political motive on the part of the BC government: "The negotiated settlement must be the priority for BC public education, not a Provincial Government's rigidity concerning economic mandates." All trustees who were present at last night's meeting voted in favour of the motion to send this letter.
Aug.26. ICBC rates may go up 5.2% (or about $36
per year per driver) as of November 1, 2014 if ICBC's request to the BC
Utilities Commission is approved.
ICBC says the rates need to go up to cover increased claims
that have resulted from an increase in distracted driving
which results in accidents.
The BC Liberals are allowing rates to skyrocket at ICBC,
making life even less affordable for British Columbians, say the BC NDP.
“The 5.2% hike proposed today follows years of hikes by
Premier Christy Clark’s government,” said New Democrat ICBC critic MLA
Mable Elmore (Vancouver-Kensington). “While she has been premier, her
government has brought in big rate hikes in three out of four years,
increasing rates by a total of 23% – that’s $140 more every year for the
average driver.” Because of ICBC’s policy of rate smoothing, drivers can
expect a rate hike next year that is within 1.5% of this year’s – that
could mean yet another hike of as much as 6.7%.
“This hike is just another blow to affordability in this
province,” said New Democrat finance spokesperson Carole James, MLA
(Victoria Beacon Hill). “While Premier Clark claims that she is not
raising taxes, her government is quietly raising hidden taxes that take
money directly from the pockets of British Columbians.” This rate hike
comes on top of a 28-per-cent Hydro rate hike and further increases to
ferry fares and medical service premiums – all within the last year.
“Hikes like this chip away at family budgets and make it
even harder to afford the necessities. The BC Liberals are showing once
again that they are not listening to British Columbians,” says the BC
Aug.26. There will be a public board meeting of the Sooke School District 62 tonight at the SD62 office at 3143 Jacklin Road, at 8 pm. The Sooke School District serves about 8500 students from Sooke, Port Renfrew, Metchosin, Colwood and Langford. As for trustees on the board, they are elected in and represent the taxpayers, families and students in two zones: Milne's Landing Zone (Sooke area west to Port Renfrew) and Belmont Zone (Colwood-Langford area). School board trustees will be running for 4 year terms in the November 2014 elections.
Aug 26. SOOKE VOICE NEWS EDITORIAL: As the teachers strike continues in BC, parents and students are now in 'hurry up and wait' mode. The current BC Government led by the Liberals (along the lines of what Gordon Campbell started in 2002), seems to be wanting to privatize education. The current scenario in BC schools is a weak remembrance of what a vibrant educational environment used to be in the 1960s to 1980s. The only reason the BC Government can claim good performance by BC students (on international performance barometers) is because teachers and parents have held the children above longer for as long as they've been able. But the load is almost now impossibly heavy. What choice will many parents have but to shift to private schools for their children's education, if the public system continues to falter? And only those who can afford that will do that. And the rest will falls into a deeper abyss than the current education system is now in BC. For many struggling families, the 'choice' will be to accept a sub-standard education for their children. And for the power of thought and education to be held by those who can muscle-management it in a private system, is an affront to the open-society that Canada claims to have. Education is the root of prosperity in a civilized society; making education into a have/have-not commodity is an ugly triumph of the greed and power over the spirit of the learning mind and the helping heart. Since 2002, the BC Liberals have systematically privatized the collection of MSP fees, invited private business into the electrical power generating system, have kept pushing up the user-fees for ferry transit (essential to the lifeblood of Vancouver Island which is predominantly held by NDP seats), have brought in three ICBC driver insurance rate hikes in the last four years (with another pending to add $36/year to driver insurance costs), and are now bleeding the education system to death (which robs every one of us of a better future). The 'corporate state' of BC is so eager to sell off our precious natural resources including the futures of our children. BC feeds on consumers and hard-working families, while systematizing 'the working poor' with support systems which rob independence, which further creates a 'have not' class that is tracked and digitized. Hopefully the Official Opposition and other parties in this province can do their job to protect the people and somehow raise awareness of and then put measures in place to stop this systematic breakdown of what was once a freedom-loving and openly prosperous society in BC. Prosperity is increasingly now in the hands of the few and everyone else is boxed in.
Aug. 25. Labour Day weekend is coming up (Aug.30-Sept.1) and as such is the last long-weekend of the summer. BC parks are often busy, as families enjoy another weekend for hiking and camping. Normally retail shopping for back-to-school is also busy (though parents are in the dark as to whether BC teachers will be back in the classrooms). BC's Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour Shirley Bond, in recognition of Labour Day (this year on Sept 1) says: "Observing Labour Day on the first Monday of September provides us with an opportunity to give thanks for the hard-working British Columbians who built our great province and made it an even greater place to live, work and raise our families." Labour Day is a statutory holiday. Banks, Canada Post and government offices will be closed.
Aug. 24. The Tour de Rock riders did a 143 km training ride today Sunday August 24, from Saanich to Jordan River, return. The riders (mostly RCMP but also 3 media and 1 teacher) left the Saanich Police Station at about 7:10 am, cycling along the Galloping Goose Trail until accessing Wale Road in Colwood. After turning onto Sooke Road they remained on the highway until it turned into West Coat Road. They took a slightly different route home. The team was greeted, cheered and waved-on by people all along the route. [Photo by Gerard LeBlanc]
Aug. 23. BACK TO SCHOOL??? No one knows yet if BC Teachers will be back on the job for the start of school in September. The BC Teachers Federation strike that began with rotating strikes in late May and the stalemate in negotiations with the BC government since June 30 has been hard on everyone: students, parents, families, teachers and government. How this one gets resolved successfully is anyone's guess at this point. Where is the leadership? Who makes the first concession? Parents in particular want to know.
Aug.22. The Aug.22 print/PDF edition of Sooke Voice News is now online. Front page news about the referendum question regarding funding for constructing a community centre. Council's decision to send a letter to the Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure regarding the agonies (there are no ecstasies) of road closures on Hwy14. The Sooke Family Resource Society has received $52,000 from the BC Government to operate their child/family support services. Only one mailbox now in front of the main Canada Post office on West Coast Road; all outgoing mail heads to Vancouver, so there's no longer any point in sorting 'local' from 'beyond'. HitchBOT made it to Victoria this week!
Aug. 22. There was a good turnout at last night's Sooke Fire Hall tour at the main fire hall on Otter Point Road. Over 100 people mingled. Potential volunteers, families, and various folks from the community came to hang out at the fire hall from 6 to 8pm. The public viewed the trucks inside and out, chatted with firefighters, and had some snacks. Councillor Maja Tait (presently as Acting Mayor) was in attendance, and she did discuss her plans to run for Mayor in the upcoming municipal election in Novembers. About 30 firefighters were on scene, to explain about firefighting and they also served great hot dogs and supervised the bounce house for the kids. Level 1 firefighter training for new volunteers begins in October, but applications are being accepted now at the Sooke Fire Hall, 2225 Otter Point Road or contact Sooke Fire Chief Steve Sorensen for more information firstname.lastname@example.org . Sooke now pays an honorarium of $1,000 per year to active volunteer firefighters.
BACK TO SCHOOL??? Aug.21. Still no word for parents as the BC Teachers Strike continues. Negotiations for a contract settlement between the BC Government and the BC Teachers Federation failed at June 30, 2014 which has given everyone 'a summer off' but the patience and support of parents is likely wearing thin in many families and communities.
Aug.20. Twelve community organizations in BC have been selected to host new BC Early Years Centres that will help support families with children ages newborn to 6 years. The centres are expected to open this fall in these communities: Comox Valley, Delta, Golden, Langley, Mission, 100 Mile House, Penticton, Revelstoke, Saanich Peninsula, Sooke, Sunshine Coast and Vanderhoof. Each centre will receive $52,000 this fiscal year, from the Provincial Office for the Early Years, as part of a $5.5 million investment over three years. | BC Early Years Strategy
Sooke Council will be seeking voter participation on a referendum
question in November, to authorize borrowing of up to $1.5 million.
The final wording of the question was approved by
Council tonight, August 19, during a short "Special Meeting" that lasted
The wording of the referendum question (still to be approved
by the BC Government) is as follows: "Are you
in favour of the Council of the District of Sooke adopting Bylaw No.
603, Community Centre Facilities Loan Authorization Bylaw, 2014, which
authorizes the District of Sooke to construct multi-use community centre
facilities for the benefit of the community with the cost to the
District of Sooke, including principal and interest on borrowing up to
$1,500,000." (The wording about renovation from the previous
question did not appear in the new question.)
The meeting was chaired by Acting Mayor Maja Tait in the
absence of Mayor Wendal Milne.
Front page article in
Sooke Voice News Aug 22nd edition .
Aug.18. Sooke Council will be seeking voter participation on a referendum question in November, to authorize borrowing of up to $1.5 million. The final wording of the question comes to a special Council meeting (called today) to be held tomorrow Tuesday, August 19, in Council Chambers at 6:30 pm. There is one other item on tomorrow night's agenda, a report on a Letter to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. You can watch the meeting live online at www.sooke.ca . The meeting will be chaired by Acting Mayor Maja Tait in the absence of Mayor Wendal Milne.
Aug. 17. Today is Shirley Day for the community at Shirley, BC west of Sooke, at Pioneer Park off Sheringham Point Road. From 11 am t o 6 pm the community and visitors will gather for artists' display, information booths, and kids activities. A salmon BBQ will be held 4 to 6 pm. The annual event is organized by the Shirley Community Association. The Shirley area has many rural and oceanfront homes.
Aug.16. This morning in Ottawa, the wife and family of Liberal leader Justin Trudeau were asleep in their home when there was a break-in. Nothing was taken except possibly their long-term sense of safety ... a threatening note was left in the house. Trudeau was in Winnipeg at the time. There is government-paid security for the Prime Minister (Stephen Harper, Conservative) and also the Leader of the Opposition (Thomas Mulcair, NDP) but none so far for the Liberal-leader.
Aug.16. The intriguing historically-based one-woman stage performance of Cougar Annie by Katrina Kadoski had a sell-out audience of over 80 people tonight at Sooke Harbour House. Many of the folks had already seen the show once before; it's a fluid presentation that grows as Kadoski learns more about her muse California-born Ada Annie Jordan (1888-1895) who homesteaded near Tofino from 1915 to 1985. Annie Jordan apparently became pretty darn good at killing cougars (70 or more) as a way to supplement her gardening income by selling furs. The full house audience for the 8pm performance was a motivation for Sooke Harbour House co-owner Frederique Philip who says she may open up the big tent on the hill for more live theatre in the future.
Aug. 15. The August 15th PDF print edition of Sooke Voice News is now online. Front page story: Failed transformer puts mall in the dark. Art in the Park this weekend, Aug 16 & 17. Getting registered to vote in the municipal election. Society Act review - public input invited. 21 new hospice beds on Vancouver Island in 2014-2019. Yoga studio moving to new Hope Centre. Life of a pioneer woman put to music -- the Cougar Annie show! Fire Danger rating back down to Moderate. Crowd-source funding helps small businesses in post-recession economy that is dominated by large corporations. 'Call for heroes' now on fire truck. Level 1 Training starts for new volunteer firefighters in October. BC Fruit Testers coming to Sooke Fall Fair.
Aug. 15. There are just two days left (deadline is in the wee hours of Sunday, August 17) to pledge your support to the need for more insightful journalism on Vancouver Island, using a crowd-source funding portal on Kickstarter. While pledges are being considered a new way to buy ads (for businesses and organizations), what's also important is helping to keep journalism alive. As one local business owner said this week on Twitter: "In a time of dwindling real news reporting people might support a campaign for a regional news voice" (Tweeted by @thesticksooke on August 13). The publisher/editor of Vancouver Island Voice tweeted out today @VancIsVOICENews: "What is #journalism? Figuring out what to ask, who to ask, and not being afraid to ask -- then publishing with care." The pledging portal is available for anyone to use (make a pledge, get ads) to August 17 at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/vancouverislandvoice/vancouver-island-voice-news-2-goal-2500 . Pledges are made by credit card but do not process unless the total project goal of $2,500 is met. Some businesses have been confused, thinking this is a charity. Nope... all the projects posted on Kickstarter from around the world are small to mid-size businesses looking for a leg up in an economy that is dominated by large corporations. All of the projects on Kickstarter are creative (one of the ground-rules of using Kickstarter) and most of them include an element of positive change for communities and society.
Aug. 14. The 101st Sooke Fall Fair at Sooke Community Hall is upholding a theme of "Celebrating Family Farms" during their event Saturday September 6 from 1 to 6 pm, and Sunday September 7 from 10 am to 4 pm. Of particular interest to local homeowners and farmers, there will be BC Fruit Testers available at the fair on Sat Sept 6 from 1:30 to 2:30 pm who can identify fruit that you bring from your yard or farm. www.sookefallfair.com
Aug.14. The 12th annual outdoor arts festival called Art in the Park will showcase local art, craft and performing arts at Ed Macgregor Park in Sooke this weekend, August 16 & 17 (10-5 each day). The live entertainment on Saturday is primarily music and theatre, with Sunday's live action leaning more toward dance and demonstrations such as karate and Tai Chi. The event is organized by the Sooke Community Arts Council with recognized sponsorship from the District of Sooke and the BC Arts Council. www.sookecommunityarts.com
Aug 14. The BC Government has this afternoon released a statement through the Ministry of Environment saying that their water samples of August 10, 2014 from Quesnel Lake near the mouth of Hazeltine Creek (near the Mount Polley Mine tailings pond breach location) have been tested and confirm that samples continue to meet provincial and federal drinking water guidelines. They add that results "also fall below all BC Aquatic Life Guidelines, meaning there is no expected impact on aquatic life." Government website where info on Mount Polley Mine incident is updated regularly: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/eemp/incidents/2014/mount-polley.htm
Aug.13 [updated 3:45 pm]. Rain began in Sooke around 3:30am today, and has continued off and on all day, under grey skies. While this ends a 20-day stretch without appreciable rainfall (with most of that period seeing a Fire Danger Rating of EXTREME in the District of Sooke), the local drought of summer 2012 was considerably longer at 80 days. Sooke Fire Rescue Chief Steve Sorensen lowered the fire danger rating around 1:45 pm today (lowering it from Extreme to Moderate) after he reviewed the fire management weather updates. However, the forest floor is still very dry and that "with a drying trend in the forecast" the Fire Danger Level will be back to to EXTREME by Saturday or Sunday," Sorensen said this afternoon. The campfire ban is still in effect either way.
Aug. 13. The Mount Polley Mine tailings pond breach is one of the worst environmental disasters in BC history. At this point experts say it is unclear just how far-reaching the damage is and just how much it will cost to clean up the damage in the water and surrounding terrain. The BC government issued their latest daily tailings pond breach at 2 pm August 12: Water samples taken by BC Ministry of Environment staff from the southeast corner of Polley Lake on Aug 7 & 8 are being called "very close to historical levels (as taken prior to the Aug 4 tailings pond breach). Results indicate the concentrations of most of the parameters were below both BC and Health Canada Drinking Water Guidelines, with slight exceedances of pH and aluminum. These results are similar to test results taken from the shore of Polley Lake by mine-owner Imperial Metals. As a result of the latest testing, the regional health authority Interior Health has further rescinded its water use ban. However, a water ban will remain indefinitely for the impact zone directly affected by the breach which includes Polley Lake, Hazeltine Creek, and Quesnel Lake, but only the area within 100 metres of the shoreline plume where Hazeltine Creek runs into Quesnel Lake. Additionally, water samples taken August 7 from three locations in Quesnel Lake and along Quesnel River have been tested with "most of the parameters below" both BC and federal drinking water guidelines. The exception sample was taken from a localized area with a visible suspended sediment plume between Hazeltine Creek and Raft Creek -- tested as a worst case scenario. Results showed slight exceedances of copper, chromium, phosphorus and aluminum for aquatic life guidelines. "These levels would be expected near an aluminum/copper mine," says the August 12, 2014 news release from BC Ministry of the Environment. "The tailings liquid initially released moved very quickly through the system and was diluted greatly by the water in the lake, the Quesnel River and ultimately the Fraser River. As such, fish exposure was limited and not long enough for uptake into tissues." The only reported dead fish is a rainbow trout, as brought to the Environment Ministry's attention on August 6. As for salmon, "If any dead salmon are found in the Fraser River it is likely a result of temperature effects and not contamination from the tailings pond breach. This is not unexpected due to the summer climate in the region." Government website about the Mount Polley Mine Tailings Pond Breach at Likely, BC on August 4, 2014
Aug.13. This Saturday night at Sooke Harbour House, singer-songwriter Katrina Kadoski will entertain with her Cougar Annie Tales performance. It's her tale of a pioneering woman who used to live in an historical homestead (33 miles north of Tofino) that Kadoski moved into in 2007. The show starts at 8 pm, and the $25 at-the-door ticket price includes some refreshments. Advance tickets ($20) at The Stick in the Mud and Sooke Region Museum. www.sookeharbourhouse.com | www.katrinakadoski.com
Aug. 12. Sooke Centre Mall is back up and running thanks to fast action by the mall owners to bring in a huge generator that will power the stores and businesses in the mall until a new transformer can be installed. Enterprises that were closed from Sunday 4pm to about 11 pm last night include Village Food Markets, Coast Capital Savings, Wood Travel, B&K Jewelry & Gifts, Serious Coffee (Sooke), and McDonald's. Karma Hair Salon in the same mall was not directly affected on a business level, as they are normally closed Sunday-Monday. Frozen foods of Village Food Markets and McDonald's were kept intact in a freezer truck behind the mall, but Village Food Markets lost a good chunk of their perishables (dairy, meats, deli products) due to unavailability of refrigeration; some of the fruits and vegetables in the fresh produce section may wilt a bit sooner, said store co-owner Jerry Liedtke today. The temporary generator will burn about 200 litres of diesel fuel per hour for the next 10 days (with several on-site fuel fillups -- see photo Copyright 2014 Sooke Voice News), said store co-owner Bruce Logan on Monday evening.
Aug. 12. A public talk on how commuting shapes attitudes, moods & experience of environment will be given by two Vancouver-based urban planners (Dr Denver Nixon and Dr Meghan Winters), in Victoria on Thursday, August 14 from 7 to 8:30 pm. The event has been organized by the Capital Regional District and Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition, with support funding from the Federal Gas Tax. The talk is part of the Building Momentum: Trans-Form Speaker Series #2, and is being held (admission by donation) at Alix Goolden Hall, 900 Johnson St., Victoria.
Aug. 11. Sooke Centre Mall was unlit earlier this evening, as a power generator to keep the mall running could not be installed until about 11 pm. A transformer failed on Sunday night, August 11, cutting power to all stores and businesses in the centrally-located mall at 6661 Sooke Road.
Aug. 11. (6:15 pm). A transformer blew out in the electrical kiosk that provides service to the entire Sooke Centre Mall at 6661 Sooke Road on Sunday afternoon, August 10. Mall co-owner Bruce Logan says the resultant power failure occurred around 3:30 pm, and that all stores and businesses in the mall (including Coast Capital Savings, Serious Coffee, Wood Travel, B&K Jewellery & Gifts, and McDonalds) were closed by 4 pm. With power off overnight and through the day today Monday August 11, there are various business impacts, including: a) frozen foods from McDonalds and most of the frozen products from Village Food Markets have been housed in a freezer truck which has been left running behind the mall since last night; b) customers of Coast Capital Savings will have gone to the next closest branch which is a 25-minute drive away in Langford; c) customers normally in search of burgers and fries at McDonalds have found their way to Sooke River Grill and other fast-food outlets in the last 24 hours; Wood Travel has set up an automatic email advising customers of their premises opening again Tuesday morning. Co-owners Bruce Logan and Jerry Liedtke (in photo, looking up at transformer investigation work) were in the throes of decision-making around 5 pm today, after some technical investigations were done by skilled technicians from Prime Engineering of Esquimalt -- whether to bring in a new hydro transformer and switching unit (kiosk) from Chicago which would take 10 days, or put in a temporary one on loan from BC Hydro (which would be available tomorrow, but which may not fit the available physical space behind the Village Food Markets / McDonalds end of the mall. Either way, a generator is on its way over from Vancouver by ferry, expected to arrive at Village Food Markets by 8 pm tonight. That generator will consume 200 litres of diesel fuel per hour (4800 litres per 24-hour day) -- possibly for 10 full days, as Logan and Liedtke are leaning toward the new unit as their best option. The Sooke Centre Mall was built in 1995, but the transformer unit that failed yesterday was about 20 years old, says Liedtke; the transformer apparently had a lifespan of 40 years. If the generator that arrives in Sooke this evening is up and running on Tuesday morning, then businesses in the mall will be back to normal operations, says Logan. Earlier today, BC Hydro would only comment that it was a power outage "by customer request"; the outage was not listed on the BC Hydro website. Photos by Sooke Voice News Copyright 2014.
Aug. 11 (noon). Sooke Centre Mall at 6661 Sooke Road (home to Village Food Markets, Serious Coffee, Wood Travel, B&K Jewellery & Gifts, McDonalds and Coast Capital Savings) is closed today due to a power outage. As a result, the stores are busier than usual at Evergreen Shopping Centre across the street. The BC Hydro website does not list the outage under 'Current Outages' or under 'Planned Outages'. According to BC Hydro it was a 'customer requested outage', perhaps for some work to be done on the building. One store owner says that a transformer blew. More info to come as to the circumstances of closing active businesses for a full day in mid-summer.
Aug. 11. The Fire Chief in Sooke has a new decal on his vehicle ... showing a firefighter being appreciated by children as a community hero. The decal unveiling was held at the main fire hall on August 8, attended by the children who posed in the photo, their families and day-care caregivers, firefighters, and media. The visual promotion is part of the Sooke Fire Rescue Service's "Become a Community Hero" volunteer firefighter recruitment campaign.
Aug. 11. The Sooke Fire Rescue Service is gearing up to start training for another incoming group of volunteer firefighters. The need is for 10 more firefighters -- to cover for attrition as volunteers either find the work not suitable for their lifestyle or available time. For municipal insurance purposes, the fire department must have a certain number of trained volunteers. If the present group of seven interested volunteers pass their interviews and tests, their Level 1 training will begin the first weekend in October, say Sooke Fire Rescue Chief Steve Sorensen and Deputy Fire Chief Rick McLeod. There's room for three more. At the last neighbourhood get-together by the fire department (in Sunriver July 12) two potential volunteers came forward. There will be another casual information gathering for the community this month -- this time at Fire Hall #1 at 2225 Otter Point Road on Thursday, August 21, from 6 to 8 pm. Interested volunteers -- which the fire department is now seeking with their 'community heroes' campaign, may contact the fire hall at 250-642-5422 or email to Fire Chief Sorensen at email@example.com.
Aug. 10. The internationally recognized D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program equips children in Grades 5 and 6 with the critical thinking and life skills necessary to choose a drug-free life. The general public may donate to the 2014-2015 D.A.R.E. program online: www.darebc.com . Over 200 police officers teach D.A.R.E. each year to thousands of BC school children. Over 96% of the 3,050 parents surveyed in 2007 felt D.A.R.E. had a positive effect on their children's attitudes toward drugs and their children's decision-making skills. Of 284 teachers surveyed, 97% expressed 'very positive feelings' about having D.A.R.E. officres in their classrooms to deliver the program.
Aug.10. Water samples taken from the shore of Polley Lake on August 7 have been tested and are very close to historical levels prior to the August 4 tailings pond breach at Imperial Mines, says the BC Ministry of the Environment. The province and the Interior Health Authority have authorized Imperial Metals to use a discharge pipe to divert the build-up of water in Polley Lake into Hazeltine Creek; the water will then flow downstream into Quesnel Lake where it will be tested daily. See map of the discharge pipe route. Despite what are being called 'encouraging results' from water tests taken on August 8, the DO NOT USE Order for Quesnel Lake, Polley Lake by the Regional Medical Health Office remains in place until corroborating independent Ministry of Environment sample results from Polley Lake are reviewed by all parties involved (expected within the next two days, said the Environment Ministry on August 9). Daily water sampling will take place in accessible locations for the foreseeable future.
Aug.9. Today NDP Leader John Horgan will be at Sooke Flats (2259 Phillips Road, Sooke) to host his annual Hamburgers, Hotdogs and Horgan! It's a casual opportunity to meet John Horgan who has been the MLA for Juan de Fuca since 2005. The event will be held 12:30 to 2:30 pm.
Aug.8. The August 8th edition of Sooke Voice News is now online. Full page story (on pg2) about the tailings pond spill at Mount Polley Mine near Likely in the BC interior. List of award winners from the 28th annual Sooke Fine Arts Show including the People's Choice and Children's Choice awards. Substance on the gravel parking lot at RBC Sooke is a wood-product polymer, not oil-based. John Horgan to meet with his flock at Sooke Flats on Saturday August 9 for his annual Juan de Fuca constituency BBQ.
Aug. 8. Island Health announced today that they have updated their end-of-life priorities with a variety of enhanced services designed to meet the different medical, psycho-social, emotional and spiritual needs that clients and their families face when dealing with, and planning for, end-of-life care. Hospice societies across Vancouver Island are working with their communities to develop quality care now and into the future, according to Gretchen Hartley, Regional Director of the BC Hospice Palliative Care Association. "The ability to deliver compassionate, timely and appropriate services to patients with a variety of medical needs and personal preferences is a key priority for Island Health," says Dr Leah MacDonald, Medical Director for the End of Life program. Hospice beds will be opened between 2014 and 2019 in these communities: Comox Valley (6), Oceanside (5), Sooke (2), Campbell River (3), Cowichan Valley (4), Mt Waddington (1), and in 2019-2020 in Nanaimo, the Gulf Island Victoria as priority areas (11).
Aug. 7. BC Premier Christy Clark and Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett participated in a televised event that started around 12:15 pm today in Likely, BC at which First Nations leaders and members led a grief ceremony for the loss to the environment in the Cariboo Region following the Mount Polley Mine tailings pond spill. [Photo is screenshot from CBC livestream broadcast] Aerial video of environmental destruction in BC internior area as released by Cariboo Region.
Aug.7. BC Premier Christy Clark is on her way to Williams Lake and the town of Likely today, to assess the impact of the Mount Polley Metals tailings pond breach. She will speak with media at noon. An article in The Province newspaper out of Vancouver today Aug 7 highlighted that it's been Energy & Mines Minister Bill Bennett in the media forefront since the tailings pond dam broke, and saying that Christy Clark would be in the limelight if it were to her political advantage. Perhaps the Mines issue was simply being handled by the minister in charge, but that mainstream media wanted political presence in the story? The dam broke at about 1:00 am on August 4 with a loud boom "like a 747" heard by local residents. The explosive force of water from behind the dam forged a swath of destruction through local forests, spreading water that contains many toxic chemicals into the landscape (there are several videos on the Web to show the path of the debris and the destruction that was caused). Aerial video as released by Cariboo Region. Piles of logs (trees stripped bare of branches by the force of their trajectory through the terrain) could pose impact problems for local residents and their homes. Industrial-waste chemicals in the water led local Cariboo Region officials to declare a state of emergency in that water should not be consumed or bathed in; water contaminant test results are expected back today (Aug 7) and portable showers will be in the Cariboo area by Friday (Aug 8), it was announced by Minister Bennett yesterday in a news conference. Salmon in the Fraser River Valley area could be impacted forever (once the chemicals are in the food system, their presence will be permanent, according to comments on CBC-TV yesterday by Mining Watch Canada). Our world needs metal-based products, BC needs economic investment, and people need jobs, but is this extent of damage worth the risk? Some of the other information still to come to light is whether the mine knew of problems with the tailings pond dam integrity previous to this incident. They did have one warning in May 2014 to which they responded immediately by the amount of contaminated water in the tailings pond. While Mount Polley Metals apologized to residents, BC Energy & Mines Minister Bennett said the government would accept responsibility if it can be proved that they were in any way at fault (e.g. if inspections were not done, or not done properly). In a news conference out of Williams Lake yesterday, Bennett covered a wide range of concerns and details. He outlined how water samples had been taken and were being assessed at a lab in Vancouver, with results expected back today August 7. Meanwhile, saying "everyone wants to err on the side of caution, so a drinking water ban is in place," he said to reporters present in the room and over the phone. Another concern was that any rainfall that might come would flow through the now-empty tailings pond and therefore contribute more contaminants to the surrounding terrain; the 1.5-metre thick dam was to be repaired by days-end yesterday Aug.6. Bennett did somewhat skirt around how standards may have been compromised after the 2001-2003 cost-cutting period (layoffs) in BC government, but that "resources came back up to 2011 levels by 2009, at the latest" (referring to inspections being done at the tailings pond). NDP Opposition Leader John Horgan says: "This breach has the potential to have a devastating effect on people, livestock and wild animals in the region for many years to come. Responsible resource development needs to be a priority for BC. Permitting industrial activity has an environmental impact that needs to be balanced against the economic benefits locally, regionally and provincially. This incident demonstrates how critical that balance is, and what happens when you get it wrong," he said in a news release Aug 5. Sierra Club BC says: "The BC Government must undertake everything possible to contain the disaster and reduce its effects. There have been reports of serious early warnings about disaster brewing at Mount Polley mine. This crisis should never have been allowed to happen." The BC Green Party says that in light of the "tragic industrial disaster at Mount Polley Mine" that they are "calling on the provincial government to require every mine in the province to undertake an independent engineering report of their tailings storage facilities".
Aug.6. BC Minister of Energy & Mines Bill Bennett had a full day today handling several media conferences about the tailings pond spill at Mount Polley Mine, where a breach at the copper and gold mine's dam has contributed possibly quite poisonous contaminants into the waterways, watershed, and overall environment of the area near the town of Likely (near Williams Lake). Test results for drinking water are expected from Vancouver labs tomorrow. Environmental groups and First Nations are concerned about the impact on salmon runs -- salmon take a route from the Fraser River through a 'bottleneck' at Hazeltine Creek through which all the mature fish must pass through in order to spawn at Quesnel Lake.
Aug. 5. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) says BC small businesses lead the country in confidence about the economy, even though their 'Business Barometer' dropped for both BC and the country as a whole. BC entrepreneurs are the most confident in Canada for the third month in a row, according to the latest monthly Business Barometer survey results. The Business Barometer index in BC dropped 1.4 points in July to 72.3, but still leads all provinces, and remains more than nine points higher than the national index of 63.2 which is notably the lowest Canada-wide confidence level registered since last December. “Survey results also show hiring intentions remain strong, and entrepreneurs continue to hold a positive view of the general state of business in the province”, states CFIB provincial director, Richard Truscott.
Aug. 5. BC NDP Leader John Horgan will meet with folks in his Juan De Fuca constituency at his annual free barbecue event, this year a few weeks earlier than usual due to his busy leadership schedule. On Saturday August 9 the event will be held at Sooke Flats, 2259 Phillips Road, in Sooke, from 12:30 to 2:30 pm.
Aug.5. A boost of $600,000 in provincial
funding was received today by the Advanced Specialty Certificate in
Community Care Licensing
at the Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC),
a one-of-a kind program in Canada.
"With the growing seniors' population in B.C. and a number of child-care
facilities, there is an increasing need for residential facilities
and community-care licensing inspectors to ensure that facilities
provide the best and safest care," said Health Minister Terry Lake.
"Investing in the certification of these inspectors now is a proactive
step towards filling a future need in our communities. While this is not
an overnight change, it will sustain training, consistency of practice
and accountability over the coming years."
The funding will help train new licensing officers and support existing
officers in upgrading their skills through enrolment in the Advanced
Specialty Certificate in Community Care Licensing.
More information on the community-care licensing officer training:
Aug. 4. A campfire ban went into effect on August 1 in the District of Sooke. However, BBQs, briquettes and propane are still permitted at this time, says Sooke Fire Rescue Chief Steve Sorensen.
Aug.3. The Prestige Oceanfront Resort in Sooke has broken a capacity record... three full nights for all 122 rooms have been booked this long weekend. Four wedding parties choosing the oceanfront hotel for their special day would have certainly had something to do with that peak level of business! On top of that, there is a lot of use for truck/trailer parking, with the Sooke public boat launch at the end of the driveway.
Aug.2. BC Premier Christy Clark has issued the
following statement on the
Aug. 2. The August 1st edition of Sooke Voice News front page story... Details of the July 31st house fire that backed up evening traffic for five hours on Hwy 14. Exhibit review of the 28th Annual Sooke Fine Arts Show (pg 3). RBC Royal Bank held an appreciation event for firefighters just hours before Sooke Fire Rescue Service headed into yet another July 31st blaze (that's two years in a row now). This is the BC Day long weekend ... lots of activities ahead in August (pg4).
Aug. 1. A campfire ban goes into effect at noon today, August 1 in Sooke. Also, cigarette butts that are not fully extinguished cause a lot of fires.
Aug. 1. Today is the opening day of the Water Pipeline Exhibit at Charters River Interpretive Center, 2895 Sooke River Road. Show runs Aug 1 to Sept.28, daily from 10 am. Admission $3 (kids under age 12 get in free). Co-sponsored with Sooke Region Museum. www.sookeregionmuseum.com
July 31. House fire that started around 4:30 pm in 5100-block Sooke Road has been doused. The Sooke Fire Dept arrived on the scene before 5 pm. The degree of heat and having no municipal water source were issues for the fire department. Water was trucked in from Sooke and Langford during the evening. At 7 pm the mopping up began, and Hwy 14 traffic was beginning to move slowly in alternating lanes. Recently prolonged dry weather may have been part of how extensive the burn was (house was destroyed) but lack of wind meant that surrounding trees were burned but that the fire didn't go much further. Shirley and Otter Pt Fire Dept trucks were seen retrieving water from nearby fire hydrants and relocating it to the scene. Sooke Fire Rescue Chief Steve Sorensen was on the scene with about 2 dozen firefighters from Sooke, Shirley, Otter Point and East Sooke. This fire has occurred one year to the day that the Evergreen Shopping Centre fire required the cooperative efforts of Sooke plus five other fire departments, elevating awareness in the community about the importance of firefighters. Despite alternating lane traffic from 7pm to 9:30pm, westbound traffic was backed up for 7 km to the east of the fire event -- seeing vehicles fully stopped all the way to mid-way of the 2-lane section of Hwy 14 until 9:30 pm when traffic was allowed to fully flow again, affecting the lives and schedules of hundreds of individuals, families and businesses. The blaze spread to a shed, car and RV trailer that were nearby. Apparently no one was home and there were no injuries. Exactly one year ago, there was a major fire at the Evergreen Shopping Centre in Sooke, also involving the help of five other fire departments, for which there was an appreciation event held at RBC Royal Bank Sooke earlier in the day today. The Sooke Fire Dept is continually seeking new recruits as there is a chronic shortage of "community heroes" as they're being called in a marketing push by the District of Sooke. Editorial about firefighters as heroes, pg.2 July 25 Sooke Voice News. [Top photo is an online screen shot from CHEK TV news report. Traffic photo on site by Sooke Voice News]
July 31. It was one year ago today that the Evergreen Shopping Centre in Sooke was up in a full blaze that ignited a chain reaction of events for businesses, residents, the fire department, the mall and its owners, and many others in the community. To this day, at least one business located in that front building of the mall has a sign indicating 'new location'. Today the local RBC branch is holding an 'appreciation BBQ'. Backgrounder on pg.4: July 25 Sooke Voice News.
July 30. The amalgamation issue has risen again in the southern Vancouver Island area. Would the region be better served with just 1 Mayor and a large council for what is currently governed by 13 Mayors and Councils? A regional group called Amalgamation Yes is pushing for the BC government to take leadership in this. Municipalities would need to include a referendum question on their election ballots in November 2014.
July 29. 'Graduates' of the Victoria General Hospital's Neonatal intensive Care Unit (NICU) are invited with families to the 30th annual reunion party of the unit. Staff who cared for infants at the unit will be there too. The event is being hosted by Island Health at the Janeece Place Patio at VGH, on Thursday August 14 (10 am to 12 noon). The NICU provides highly specialized medical and nursing care to approximately 600 babies each year. About 18,000 babies have spent time in the VGH neo-natal unit since it opened 30 years ago.
July 28. This weekend a significant historical exhibit will open in Sooke at the Charters River Interpretive Center at 2895 Sooke River Road in the picturesque Sooke hills. The Water Pipeline Exhibit (co-sponsored by the Sooke Region Museum) will open Saturday, August 1 and be open daily at 10am through to September 28. The exhibit illustrates the gigantic endeavour of bringing water from Sooke Lake to supply the City of Victoria, as built during 1911-1915. A manufacturing plant of the day produced 37,000 concrete sections. Admission is $3 for adults, free for children under 12. www.sookeregionmuseum.com
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